FODMAP Diet Provides Relief for Irritable Bowel Syndrome


Do you suffer from frequent stomach cramps, gas, bloating and diarrhea or sometimes constipation?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS, is a common digestive disorder that causes these uncomfortable symptoms.  We don’t know what causes this functional disorder; there is no sign of any abnormality in the bowel of people with IBS, they just have a hypersensitive gut.  Until recently, the treatment for IBS has been a lot of sensible, albeit somewhat vague, lifestyle and diet recommendations with more than a fair bit of trial and error to figure out what foods are not well tolerated.   

A study of the low FODMAP diet published in The Journal of Gastroenterology last month, provided strong evidence that 70% of people with IBS felt better on the low FODMAP diet, compared with a typical Western diet.  The study proved that the FODMAP diet reduced digestive symptoms by 50% in people living with IBS.

Of course, the general lifestyle recommendations for IBS are still important: stress, alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine, greasy foods, chocolate and fizzy drinks are all triggers for a sensitive gut.  Also, you may need to focus on foods with soluble or insoluble fibre, depending on whether you tend to have IBS with diarrhea or constipation.  Once you’ve figured out these basics and you want to go the extra mile to get significant relief, you can try the FODMAP diet for IBS, which takes the guesswork out of finding the “safe” and “offending” foods.

FODMAP stands for the names of five fermentable sugars that are poorly absorbed by people with IBS, causing abdominal pain, gas, bloating and diarrhea.  Foods high in FODMAP include certain fruits and vegetables, rye, wheat, dairy, legumes, fructose and sugar alcohols. The FODMAP diet explains the somewhat arbitrary nature of IBS food sensitivities, such as why bananas and oranges are fine, but apples and cherries wreak havoc on the IBS gut.  The idea is that you only eat foods that are low in FODMAP and must avoid the foods that contain these fermentable sugars and the result is: symptom relief within a matter of weeks.

Unfortunately, this diet is not simple and not necessarily nutritious because many ‘forbidden’ high FODMAP foods happen to be common, healthy foods like apples for example.  For these reasons, it is important to work with a dietitian when starting the FODMAP diet, you will appreciate a diet coach to make your diet nutritious and keep you motivated.

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