FODMAPs for IBS Relief

Have you been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome? Not sure what to eat? In the past, your doctor might have automatically recommended a high fiber diet. A high fiber diet is certainly worth a try considering fiber’s many well-known health benefits; increasing fiber intake with high fiber foods and fiber supplements can resolve some cases of IBS. However, if a high fiber diet made your symptoms worse, instead of better, it’s time to learn about FODMAPs, a promising new nutrition approach for IBS.

 

If you’ve never heard the term FODMAP before you are not alone! The term FODMAPs was coined by a Australian researchers Susan J. Shepherd and Peter R. Gibson; they found that a low FODMAP diet helped up to 75% of their IBS patients.

A low FODMAP diet avoids foods containing certain sugars and fibers capable of causing diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating and abdominal pain in people with IBS. Examples of FODMAPs include:

  • Lactose (also known as milk sugar, found in milk, yogurt and ice cream)
  • Fructose (also known as fruit sugar, found in fruit, high-fructose corn syrup, honey and agave syrup)
  • Sorbitol, mannitol, and other “-ol” sweeteners (found in certain fruits and vegetables as well as some types of sugar-free gums and candies)
  • Fructans (a type of fiber found in wheat, onions, garlic and chicory root)
  • GOS (a type of fiber found in beans, hummus and soy milk)

These five types of FODMAPs have several things in common: They can be poorly absorbed during the digestive process. They are rapidly fermented by the bacteria that live in your gut. They can alter the fluid balance in your gut. Together, these effects can lead to bouts of IBS symptoms within hours of eating a high FODMAP meal or snack. By reducing the overall dietary load of these carbohydrates, you can often reduce your troublesome GI symptoms.

Ironically, many high-FODMAP foods are otherwise healthy choices, and are often recommended by health care providers. For those who can tolerate them, high FODMAP fruits, vegetables, milk products, legumes and whole grains may be wonderful foods!  But people with IBS often have to limit their portions of these foods or suffer the consequences.

By Patsy Catsos, MS, RD, LD

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