Medical science is interested in your gut. Seriously, GI health is a hot topic right now. So how many of you can honestly say that you’ve heard of the FODMAP diet? I can hear you groaning now. But wait! Before you roll your eyes in disgust at the thought of another diet, let’s take a look at what FODMAPs are and whether or not you may have issues with them.
What Is FODMAP?
As you may have guessed, FODMAP is an acronym.1
F – Fermentable
O – Oligosaccharides
D – Disaccharides
M – Monosaccharides
A – And
P – Polyols
In simple language, these are foods considered to be small chain carbohydrates that are in a lot of the stuff we already eat. Things like onions and garlic are Oligosaccharides, while cheese, milk, and yogurt are Disaccharides. The problem arises when we consume too many at once.
The result in those sensitive to FODMAPs can be diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and gas. These symptoms can cause considerable discomfort for some people.
Why Are FODMAPs A Problem?
FODMAPs can be a pain for some people to digest. Literally! We have a huge population of different types of gut bacteria available to help with digestion, and these bacteria obtain their energy from processing FODMAPs.
Everyone’s gut is slightly different, however, in the way it can handle fermenting foods, and some people experience no problems or discomfort whatsoever.
When Should You Try A Low FODMAP Diet?
A low FODMAP diet is not for everyone. It’s not a fad diet that people hop on and off to lose weight, and it’s not for anyone who wants to “cheat” on their diet on certain days. Rather, it’s a scientific approach to a very specific problem that can really help someone who wants to improve their health through learning more about how their body reacts to specific foods.
People who have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, or those that exhibit symptoms of IBS, such as cramping, gas, bloating, and unpredictable bowel habits may benefit from a low FODMAP diet.
How To Adopt A Low FODMAP Diet?
Since adopting the low FODMAP diet is very complicated and detailed, those who think they might benefit from FODMAP elimination should only do so in conjunction with a medical professional, such as a dietitian or gastroenterologist.
Because everyone’s gut is different, you can work together with your healthcare provider to develop a plan around your particular symptoms, lifestyle, and personal tastes. But be aware that any elimination diet can be tricky and tough to pull off correctly.
3 Steps Of FODMAP Diet
There are 3 basics steps with the FODMAP diet plan. Let’s take a look.
The first thing you need to do on the FODMAP diet is to eliminate any FODMAPs that you consume on a daily basis. It may be impossible to eliminate every FODMAP from your diet, but the goal should be to eliminate as many as possible. Here is a list of high FODMAP foods as well as alternatives to them.2
The second step in the process is to slowly reintroduce foods you have eliminated in step 1. It’s critical to add foods back one at a time and wait for adverse reactions that could indicate a certain food may be giving you trouble. Remember, it’s not a group of foods you introduce, but one thing at a time.
At this stage, all that’s left is to develop a plan for eating from the FODMAP food group. With the remaining foods that don’t cause IBS symptoms, and along with the help of your healthcare professional, you should be able to come up with a well-balanced and satisfying list of foods that are delicious and nutritious.
FODMAP Diet Is Temporary
The FODMAP diet is designed to be temporary and is not sustainable long term. Many of the foods that are high in FODMAPs are also very good for you, and if you can tolerate them you’ll want them to be a part of your normal diet.
While there is no set amount of time any one person might be on the FODMAP diet, a period of 4-8 weeks is probably the norm. Just remember that everyone is different and your journey may be a bit longer or shorter.
FODMAP And Gut Health
There are thoughts in the scientific community that the FODMAP diet may also disrupt your normal gut flora. Since your digestive system is always in a delicate balance, this is another reason not to linger on the FODMAP diet. It’s now thought that many chronic metabolic diseases use your gut as the starting point.3 An unhealthy digestive system can lead to chronic inflammation, which is thought to be a driver in many dangerous diseases, such as diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease.
Is The FODMAP Diet Right For You?
If you have IBS, or frequently suffer from IBS symptoms, perhaps it’s time you tried the FODMAP diet. Just remember that you should only do so with the partnership of a trained healthcare provider.
It’s also recommended that you keep a detailed food diary to track all the foods you’re eating and the specific symptoms you suffer with. A food-based approach to managing illness and disease is all natural and gives individuals much more control over their health situation.
There’s no better feeling than to take control of your own health.
|↑1||Barrett, Jacqueline S., and Peter R. Gibson. “Fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols (FODMAPs) and nonallergic food intolerance: FODMAPs or food chemicals?.” Therapeutic advances in gastroenterology 5, no. 4 (2012): 261-268.|
|↑2||Low FODMAP diet. The Monash University.|
|↑3||Quigley, Eamonn Martin. “Gut bacteria in health and disease.” Gastroenterol Hepatol (NY) 9, no. 9 (2013): 560-569.|