Low FODMAP Diet

The word ‘diet’ has been coined in the 21st century and mainstream media as a way to lose weight and something that you start and stop constantly in the hopes of achieving a better lifestyle. However, I can assure you the low FODMAP diet is not one of the mainstream diets like keto or juice cleanses but used in the healthcare setting to help people with major health problems. So let’s break it down (and you may need a cup of tea for this as it is a bit of a read but it’ll be worth it ;))…

What are FODMAPs?

FODMAPs are found naturally in many foods and are a collection of short-chain carbohydrates or sugars that are not absorbed properly in the gut. FODMAP stands for:

  • Fermentable
  • Oligosaccharides
  • Disaccharides
  • Monosaccharides
  • Polyols

A lot of big words there so here’s a bit more of a breakdown. Fermentable is the process through which gut bacteria ferment undigested carbohydrate to produce gases (cue a burp or fart). Oligosaccharides are a type of carbohydrate knowns as fructans and GOS completely found in foods such as wheat, rye, onions, garlic, and legumes/pulses.
Disaccharides or more commonly known as lactose is found in dairy products like milk, soft cheeses, and yoghurts.
Monosaccharides is commonly labelled as fructose, and you can find it in honey, apples, and high fructose corn syrups
Polyols encompasses two types of short-chain carbohydrates known as sorbitol and mannitol which is found in some fruits and vegetables and used as artificial sweeteners.

What is the low FODMAP diet and why use it?

The low FODMAP diet is a 3-step process:

  1. Low FODMAP (2-6 weeks): strictly swap out high FODMAP foods for low
  2. FODMAP Reintroduction (8-12 weeks): reintroduce individual FODMAPs to identify which one/s you tolerate and which one/s trigger symptoms
  3. FODMAP Personalisation: include the FODMAPs that you tolerate back into your regular diet

As FODMAPs are rapidly fermented in your intestines to produce gas and these foods can also pull water into your gut. The water and gas production can stretch and bloat your gut which can trigger IBS symptoms or other gastrointestinal and reproductive health issues. IBS or irritable bowel syndrome is where individuals have sensitive bowels that easily ‘upset’. Its unpleasant symptoms are experienced by around one in five Australians that includes abdominal pain, mucus in stools and alternating diarrhoea and constipation. Hence, these individuals can utilise the low FODMAP diet as research shows three in four people with IBS feel better.

Does this mean I have to cut out dairy or bread completely?

NO! The low FODMAP diet does not remove whole food groups but rather swaps foods high in FODMAPs to similar foods that are low in FODMAPs.

Resources:

Monash FODMAP: https://www.monashfodmap.com/

IBS: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/irritable-bowel-syndrome-ibs

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