The deal with the Low-FODMAP Diet

The Low-FODMAP diet, as developed by Dr Sue Shepherd, has gained momentum in recent time as a management plan for people suffering from IBS, fructose, gluten and lactose intolerances. The momentum is warranted, with the diet scientifically proven to help sufferers stay symptom free in the short and long-term. While the diet will not cure IBS, it has helped many sufferers to prevent the trigger of symptoms.

So what are FODMAPs?

Certain food components cause the bowel to swell by drawing in additional fluid and quickly generating gas when they are fermented by bowel bacteria. The main dietary components that do this are fermentable, poorly absorbed short-chain carbohydrates. Put simply, they are indigestible sugars that provide ‘fast food’ for bowel bacteria. These sugars have been given the acronym FODMAP, which stands for:

  • Fermentable – rapidly broken down by bacteria in the bowel
  • Oligosaccharides – fructans (including wheat products, and some vegetables) and galacto-oligosaccharides (legumes)
  • Disaccharides – lactose (all animal milks)
  • Monosaccharides – fructose (fruit, honey, some vegetables and wheat)
  • And
  • Polyols – sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol and maltitol (occur naturally in some fruits and vegetables, & are often used as water binding agents and artificial sweeteners).

The Low-FODMAP diet aims to reduce the intake of all FODMAPS, so that IBS symptoms are reduced as much as possible.

Who might benefit from the Low-FODMAP diet?

Those who have a food intolerance, suffer the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) – i.e. abdominal pain and bloating, excessive wind and diarrhoea and/or constipation.

All FODMAP’s can cause IBS symptoms, and if they are eaten together their effect is cumulative. However, precisely which FODMAP/s bring on your symptoms depends on how much and how often you consume foods that contain them. Following the dietary plan closely may bring sufferers great relief.

Does it work for everyone?

Although the Low-FODMAP diet has been scientifically proven to be very effective, it is not a cure, with approximately one in four people finding little impact on their IBS symptoms. However, this is typically because these individuals have failed to follow the diet closely.

Which foods are suitable for a Low-FODMAP diet?                                        

 Food Type  Low FODMAP Foods High FODMAP Foods
Fruit Bananas, blueberries, grapefruit, grapes, honeydew melon, kiwifruit, lemons, limes, lychee, mandarins, oranges, passionfruit, paw paw, raspberries, rockmelon, strawberries tomatoes. Nectarines, custard apples, persimmon, watermelon, white peaches, tamarillo
Vegetables Alfalfa, bok choy, broccoli, capsicum, carrots, cucumber, eggplant, green beans, lettuce, olives, parsnips, potato, pumpkin, silverbeet, spinach, spring onion (green part), squash Artichokes, garlic, golden shallots, leek, onion, spring onion (white part),
Milk Products Lactose-free milk & yoghurt, rice milk, hard & ripened cheeses, for e.g. brie, cheddar, camembert, gelato, sorbet, butter, margarine. Cow, Goat and Sheep milk and milk products, custard, ice-cream, evaporated milk, condensed milk
 Meat  Plain red meat, fish, poultry, bacon Sausages and other smallgoods (typically containing onion & dehydrated vegetable powders.
Grains Gluten-free bread, arrowroot, buckwheat, oats, polenta, potato, rice Wheat based products, i.e. bread, breakfast cereal, pasta noodles, couscous
Sweeteners Maple syrup, golden syrup, sugar, glucose, stevia Honey
Nuts All excluding cashews and pistachios Cashews, Pistachios,

Putting the FODMAP diet into action

The Low FODMAP diet is recommended to be followed for two months, and once (and if) an improvement in symptoms is apparent, individuals can consider re-introducing the FODMAPs one at a time, to determine which contribute to their symptoms, and how much of each they can tolerate.

If you would like specific guidance on implanting a Low-FODMAP diet reach out to me via my blog nutritiousndeliciouseats.com or via email at nutritiousndeliciouseats@gmail.com.