The low FODMAPS diet (low in short chain poorly absorbed and highly fermentable carbohydrates) has been found to be successful in lowering IBS symptoms in 50-80% of patients, based on results from controlled experiments. The diet’s key action is to reduce the amount of gas produced by bacteria in the gut, which then reduces the amount of pain experienced.
Intestinal gas doesn’t cause pain in everyone. Why would it cause pain in some people but not others? The causes of IBS are so far unconfirmed while possible mechanisms include visceral hypersensitivity, altered gut microbiota and immune system activation.
Today FODMAPS diets are so popular that you can find low FODMAPS foods and meals in supermarkets, on menus in restaurants and you can search for low FODMAPS recipes online. The thing that is lesser known is that FODMAPS diets were essentially designed to be a 2-6 week test diet, followed by challenging of particular carbohydrates in each FODMAP group (eg fructose, fructans, mannitol, sorbitol etc) followed by the reintroduction of tolerated foods. Challenge foods are selected to be high in one particular short chain carbohydrate and low in others to give you a clearer idea of which type of FODMAPS you may be reacting to.
A dietitian experienced in FODMAPS diets can guide you through the diet itself followed by the challenges to test your reaction to each type of FODMAP. Depending on the results of the challenges, the dietitian can provide you with a final specialised list of foods and suggested meal plan that is expected to be better tolerated, coupled with a list of foods higher in the particular FODMAP/s you reacted to.
Staying on a complete low FODMAPS diet long term may mean you are unnecessarily missing out on some healthy foods as well as making it harder to select foods to eat. Be sure to get some experienced dietitian advice to help you manage your symptoms of irritable bowel.
Jane Whitbread B. Nut. Diet
Accredited Practicing Dietitian