WHAT IS THE LOW FODMAP DIET?
15% of the world's population has IBS (that's 1 in 7!) and the low FODMAP Diet, created by Monash University in Australia, is scientifically proven to help with their symptoms (it’s also sometimes recommended for people with SIBO, Crohn’s disease, colitis, and other functional GI disorders.) Research shows that around 75% of people who try the diet see an improvement in their symptoms.
The goal of the diet is to help you understand your IBS triggers and therefore, control your symptoms. It’s not going to cure IBS unfortunately, but it is going to make it A LOT more bearable.
The 'FODMAP' part of the diet is an acronym that stands for:
Fermentable - the process where gut bacteria ferment undigested sugars & produce gas
Oligo-saccharides - Fructans & GOS - found in wheat, onions, garlic, pulses
Di-saccharides - Lactose - found in dairy products
Mono-saccharides - Fructose - found in honey, apples
Polyols - Sorbitol & Mannitol - found in some fruit & veg and artificial sweeteners
These are all sugars that aren't properly absorbed by the gut, triggering symptoms in people with IBS. As you can see, they are found in a huge variety of foods (damn it!).
There are 3 distinct phases to the low FODMAP diet. The principle of the diet is to limit foods high in FODMAPs for an initial period of 2-6 weeks (phase 1 - ‘elimination’). You then focus on gradually reintroducing the foods in groups so you learn what your triggers are (phase 2 - ‘re-challenge’). The end result is a personalised low FODMAP diet for YOU, that fits around your specific tolerance and is sustainable long term (phase 3 - ‘personalisation’).. As a result, this should improve your personal gut symptoms for life!
Despite being called a 'diet' it's not about losing weight or restricting your diet long term. It's about learning YOUR unique tolerance levels. The aim is to reintroduce as many high FODMAP foods as your gut can handle, so you can eat as healthy and varied a diet as possible. I like to think of it as a 'learning diet' - learning about your gut so you can get to the perfect balance between reducing your symptoms and eating healthily. Wouldn't that be lovely?!
WHAT IS IBS?
Put simply, IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) is the name given to a group of gut symptoms that can include stomach pain, bloating, heartburn and a change in bowel habits.
IBS is a type of functional bowel disorder (FBD). FBDs include a whole range of gastrointestinal disorders where the gut is just functioning differently to normal. This shows up in the symptoms above.
FBDs include IBS, functional diarrhea, constipation and bloating, and opiod induced constipation. Although these are all slightly different things, there’s lots of overlap. However, IBS is by far the most common and it affects about 15% of the population worldwide.
Irritable bowel syndrome refers to a group of symptoms coming from the bowel. There’s no disease (which is great), just a change in how the gut moves (this is called gut motility). This change in gut motility causes symptoms and changes in your poo! If motility increases, it means food moves through your system more quickly, so you’ll suffer with diarrhoea. If it decreases, food will move through your system more slowly and you’ll suffer from constipation and bloating.
15% of the world's population has IBS (that's 1 in 7!)
The symptoms normally associated with IBS are diarrhoea, constipation, stomach pain, gas and bloating. However, there are also lots of less common ones like lack of energy, fatigue, heartburn, back ache, bladder problems and feeling sick.
IBS is a chronic disease, meaning that it persists for a long time, or comes and goes. So, symptoms can wax and wane and the severity of symptoms can totally vary between people. As symptoms vary so much, diagnostic criteria (the Rome criteria) have been developed to classify patients depending on their sub-type.
If you’ve read through this and you’re thinking it’s something you want to try, let’s chat.
Click the button below to find out how I could help you with the low FODMAP diet.