The FODMAP Diet
A low FODMAP diet is a diet low in Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides and Polyols. These are types of carbohydrates that are rapidly fermented in the gut. It is a relatively new dietary approach for the management of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms and was pioneered in Melbourne, Australia. It has been researched for a number of years and been shown to be effective in treating gut symptoms such as bloating, wind, abdominal pain and an altered bowel habit. The diet involves restricting various foods including those grains, fruits and vegetables that are high in FODMAPs.
The low FODMAP diet is effective for about 70% of people with IBS who try it. It works by improving the gut symptoms associated with IBS. There is no evidence that it works for non-gut symptoms that are sometimes associated with IBS, such as headaches and skin or joint problems.
The diet is not recommended to be used without specialist dietary advice from a registered dietitian who is trained in the low FODMAP approach. This is for a number of reasons:
Firstly, it is not as simple as following a list of ‘foods to eat’ and ‘foods not to eat’. High FODMAP ingredients are often hidden in packaged foods. You will need to learn about how to read food labels and how to make sensible decisions when eating out.
Secondly, as the low FODMAP diet is relatively new, much of the information available on the internet, and from other sources, may be out of date and create confusion regarding which foods to include and which foods not to include. This makes it difficult to work out how to follow the diet.
Thirdly, if you follow a low FODMAP diet without professional support from a registered dietitian, you may miss out certain foods from your diet that are essential to good health.
Finally, if you do not follow the low FODMAP diet properly, it is unlikely to be effective. Therefore, it is best to get advice from a registered dietitian who is trained in the low FODMAP approach in the first instance.