Recent evidence shows that a diet low in “FODMAPs” can reduce the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
FODMAP stands for:
Particular types of carbohydrates and sugars,
when these molecules are poorly absorbed in the small intestine,
continue arriving at the large intestine
where they act as a food source to the bacteria that live there normally.
Undigested FODMAP foods can act like a sponge drawing water into the gut and trapping it there.
The combination of bacteria and FODMAP foods in the large intestine produce excess flatulence (wind) which results in the all too familiar: bloating, pain, diarrheoa and/or constipation, not surprisingly all the classic IBS symptoms.
FODMAP carbohydrates include:
certain natural sugars in foods,
certain types of fibre in foods.
It is not apparent which foods contain FODMAPs and which don’t and so Dietician or Nutritional Therapist guidance is needed.
Here are some examples:
Some fruits: apples, apricots, cherries and pears should be avoided, but others such as bananas, blueberries, cranberries, oranges or strawberries cause no ill-effects.
Vegetables: beetroot, garlic, leeks and onions can be culprits,
but carrots, courgettes, peppers, parsnips and tomatoes are FODMAP friendly.
Wheat, rye and barley (in large amounts) are a big NO!
Note that FODMAPs don’t have anything to do with gluten or coeliac disease, it’s just a coincidence that FODMAPs are contained in these gluten containing grains.
Milk sugar (lactose) can be problematic
All types of legumes: baked beans, kidney beans and bortolotti beans, also lentils and chickpeas.
Professor Peter Whorwell, Gastroenterologist from the University Hospital of South Manchester says “there is emerging evidence that a diet low in FODMAP’s seems to help reduce the symptoms of IBS. Certainly it is easy to implement and a patient should adhere to it for two to three months after which they can make a judgement about whether it has helped or not. If it helps they should continue and if it doesn’t then they should abandon the idea as it does not work for everybody”.
There are other non-FODMAP foods that IBS sufferers may wish to try avoiding:
Foods high in fast releasing sugars:
insoluble fibre such as bran.
Soluble fibre such as that contained in oats is usually more tolerable.
Saturated fats from red meat may exacerbate symptoms and stimulants such as coffee, tea and sugary carbonated drinks.
important to remember that each IBS sufferer will have different food triggers and combining information about known IgG reactions (2) with other likely culprit foods to try and remove may help.