If you experience IBS symptoms such as abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, gas, and bloating, then you know the serious impact that it can have on your quality of life. One in five Americans suffer from IBS and many also experience anxiety or depression along with their painful digestive symptoms. But, did you know that a dietary approach can eliminate or significantly reduce IBS symptoms?
Following a low FODMAP diet has been clinically shown to provide an effective approach to managing IBS/functional gut disorders. FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides And Polyols.
An Australian research team developed this dietary approach and it is considered the primary management strategy for IBS in Australia. FODMAPs are specific types of carbohydrates (short-chain carbohydrates), which are incompletely absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract. As a result, they stay in the small intestine where bacteria feed on them and produce byproducts and waste materials. These carbohydrates also exert an osmotic effect, which increases fluid movement into the large bowel. The fermentation and osmosis caused by these undigested carbohydrates contribute to IBS symptoms and can also lead to an overgrowth of unhealthy bacteria and fungi in the small intestine.
Below is a basic overview of the FODMAP diet. Because it can be such a big diet change for most people, I highly recommend seeking the guidance of a skilled nutritionist. He/she can help create an initial food elimination plan, reintroduction, as well as a long term diet plan. Beyond following the FODMAP diet, it is necessary to address bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine and optimize digestive function with supplements such digestive enzymes and probiotics.
Helpful resources include:
The Complete Low-Fodmap Diet, Sue Shepherd and Peter Gibson. 2013. New York, NY: The Experiment LLC.
Chick peas or lentils cooked from dry beans
Red kidney or small red beans
Dairy / Dairy Alternatives
Cheeses (2 oz. or less)
Brie, Cottage, Feta, Ricotta, Mozzarella, Swiss
Lactose Free Milk, Yogurt, Kefir
Grains and Starches
Wheat (bread, breakfast cereal, pasta/noodles, couscous, crackers, cookies)
Rye (bread, crackers)
Oats (oatmeal, steel cut, oat flour)
Mung bean pasta
Wheat-free soba noodles (buckwheat)
Gluten free breads, cookies, cakes, crackers
Chicory-based coffee substitutes
Black or green tea
Most herbal teas
|Medium-FODMAP(Eat in Moderation)
Almonds (up to 10)
Hazelnuts (up to 10)
One handful daily of all nuts and seeds
2 TBSP of nut or seed butters (peanut butter, tahini, almond butter)
High Fiber Foods
Inulin (found in high fiber food products)
Fructo-oligo saccharides (found in some probiotic supplements, some yogurts, and some probiotic rich drinks)
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
Sugar Alcohols: Maltitol, Mannitol, Sorbitol, Xylitol
Sucrose (table sugar)
Photo from here, with thanks.