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The Low FODMAP diet is an emerging, scientifically proven and very promising diet for those suffering with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
Common symptoms of IBS include: abdominal pain, bloating, cramping, and changes in bowel habits. The frustration is that there is usually no clear food-symptom link.
The Low FODMAP* diet originated in Australia, and research shows that 3 out of 4 people find tremendous success on this lifelong diet.
The FODMAP diet is complex and should be implemented using a knowledgable Dietitian who is familiar with FODMAPs. Your dietitian can assist you in adapting your diet to be low in FODMAPs and nutritionally balanced.
FODMAP is an acronym that stands for Fermentable Oligo-saccharides, Di-saccharides, Mono-saccharides and Polyols. If you think that is a mouthful, you are not alone!
FODMAPs are a group of poorly absorbed, short-chain carbohydrates or ‘fermentable sugars’. In other words, they are indigestible sugars that provide “fast food” for bowel bacteria. Since FODMAPs are poorly digested sugars, they cause the bowel to distend and generate gas when they are broken down. This is what causes symptoms of discomfort. In effort to resolve symptoms, this diet substitutes foods that are low in FODMAPs.
Again, FODMAP is a term used to describe the family of poorly digested sugars that contribute to IBS symptoms and include:
Fructose: Found in fruits such as pears, apples, mango, watermelon, dried fruits, and canned fruit in natural juice. Fructose is also in honey, agave and high fructose corn syrup.
Lactose: Found in milk from cow, goat or sheep. Lactose is also found in custard, soft cheese like ricotta and cottage cheese, ice cream, and yogurt.
Fructans: These are chains of fructose molecules and found in garlic, onion, asparagus, artichoke, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, eggplant, fennel and leek. Fructans are also present in wheat and rye. Fructans also include inulin which is added to processed foods like cereals, granola bars and yogurts.
Galactans: These are chains of sugars found in legumes (baked beans, kidney beans, soy beans, chickpeas and lentils).
Polyols: Sugar alcohols including sorbitol, xylitol, mannitol and maltitol. These are often found in artificially sweetened gums and candies.
The goal of the Low FODMAP diet is simply to improve IBS symptoms and to enhance your quality of life. The process of transitioning your diet and seeing noticeable improvement takes around 2-8 weeks. After symptoms have resolved, there is a systematic re-introduction of foods. Working with your Registered Dietitian makes this process less daunting!
The Low FODMAP diet is scientifically-based and extremely promising for improving your IBS symptoms. IBS suffers are sensitive to FODMAPs, whereas others (without a sensitive bowel) can tolerate these sugars. Your dietitian can help with planning a nutritious, Low FODMAP diet that leaves you and your gut happy.
*FODMAPs are fermentable carbohydrates that are partly responsible for causing symptoms in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). For more info, read this article.