The Best Diet for IBS Sufferers – The Low-FODMAP Diet Explained
For those of you who don’t know, Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS for short, is a functional gastrointestinal disorder, which is fairly common in most part of the world, in fact around 15% of the population in countries such as Australia, USA, Europe and most part of Asia is suffering from it, although only about 5% are aware of it. The condition is mainly characterised by chronic and relapsing symptoms, such as:
- Lower abdominal pain and discomfort
- Alternation of diarrhoea and constipation
- and more
IBS can be classified in three predominant types:
constipation-predominant (IBS-C), or
with alternating stool pattern (IBS-A) or IBS-M for mixed.
Since the symptoms of IBS are many, diagnosis should always be carried out by a qualified medical practitioner before treatment can begin, also to rule out other conditions.
The low FODMAP Diet
So, what is a low FODMAP diet? Well, to start off, the acronym stands for:
F ─ Fermentable
O ─ Oligosaccharides, which basically means short chain carbohydrates
D ─ Disaccharides (lactose)
M ─ Monosaccharides (fructose)
A ─ and
P ─ Polyols (sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol and maltitol)
FODMAPs are mainly found in everyday foods such as: wheat, barley, rye, onions, garlic, legumes, dairies like milk and ice cream, fruits such as apples, pears, watermelon, prunes etc., some vegetables, sugar-free gum, mints, honey and this is just to name a few.
For a complete list of food, keep on reading…..
FODMAPs have shown to have a cumulative impact on gastrointestinal symptoms, and are poorly absorbed in the small intestine, consequently they ferment producing symptoms of IBS.
Patients that are on the first phase of a low FODMAP diet (elimination phase) go without consuming any high FODMAP-rich foods.
IBS sufferers should be followed by an experienced dietitian when undertaking the different phases of the diet.
Low FODMAPs Diet Is Not For Everyone
In a recent study, over 75% of IBS patients showed an improvement while on the low FODMAP diet. Research also backs the fact that ingesting high FODMAPs food increase symptoms in most people with IBS, while dietary restriction of FODMAPs improves their symptoms.
As it is with all forms of treatment, everybody is different and while some people will notice an incredible improvement by reducing their FODMAPs intake, there will be those who don’t.
It’s always best to discuss any changes you wish to bring to your diet, with your health professional, especially if you are suffering with IBS. If you are considering a low-FODMAP diet, talk to your doctor or dietitian first before making any drastic changes to your everyday routine and diet. The internet is filled with articles about the diet and IBS, some sources are more credible than others, so you should always validate them with an expert.
The Low FODMAP Diet iPhone and Android App from Monash University
One of the best tool available to IBS sufferers, who want to follow a low FODMAP diet, is the phone app created by Monash University, which is available for iPhones and for Androids.
My dietitian suggested me to download this app, when I was first diagnosed with IBS and I don’t know what I would have done without it, especially the first few months of following the low FODMAP diet. It is handy because you can consult it when you are out at a restaurant and need to quickly check if the food is high or low FODMAPs before ordering or when you go food shopping and also when your friends invite you for dinner and ask you what you can or cannot eat, in order not to flare up your IBS.
For those who have not an iPhone or android smartphone, you can find here the Low FODMAP Diet Shopping List Guide, which I have compiled by following the guide of the Monash University low FODMAP app (October 2016). You are welcome to use it, but if you can download the app, that has a lot of useful information and it is regularly updated.
The Low-FODMAP diet plan for IBS has a cumulative impact on gastrointestinal symptoms and can help patients suffering from abdominal pain, discomfort, bloating and altered bowel habits. Foods rich in high FODMAP include wheat, pears, apples, honey, mints etc. and avoiding them in a monitored routine with low-FODMAP foods and diet can bring significant improvements to your condition.
Please note that I’m not a doctor, a nutritionist, a registered dietitian and neither a fitness expert. In this blog I am sharing my experience with IBS, with food and life. This is purely my experience and it is not my intention to give you advice. When it comes to your health and fitness, consult your GP and do your research.