Food & Nutrition Blog

Demystifying the Low-FODMAP Diet

By November 21, 2019 No Comments
Nov 21

If you’re feeling like each day there’s a new diet that the media recommends you simply must be adopting, you’re not alone. Atkins, South Beach, Keto, Vegan, Flexitarian – the list goes on. Today we turn the spotlight on the low-FODMAP diet, which has been gathering momentum over the past few years. Major work in this field has been conducted by researchers at Monash University in Melbourne.

Is the low-FODMAP diet for you? Read on…

 

What is the low-FODMAP diet?

Quite simply, a low-FODMAP diet involved the reduction or removal of certain foods from the diet which contain various types of sugars (carbohydrates) that are not well absorbed by the small intestine. Specifically, the sugars that are reduced or removed as part of the low-FODMAP diet are:

  • Fermentable Oligosaccharides
  • Certain disaccharides
  • Certain monosaccharides
  • Polyols

Some might consider that to be quite a mouthful (ironic considering we’re discussing a diet).

Individuals who choose to follow a low-FODMAP diet choose to do so to reduce symptoms of digestive dysfunction, such as IBS. Specifically, the symptoms that may be associated with IBS include flatulence, diarrhoea, bloating, nausea and constipation.

When following a low-FODMAP diet, foods that are typically avoided include:

  • Chickpeas
  • Dairy – yoghurt, milk, soft cheese
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Apples
  • Some grains – barley, wheat, rye
  • Green peas
  • Some artificial sweeteners


Is the low-FODMAP diet a long-term lifestyle change?

A low-FODMAP diet shouldn’t be undertaken on a whim. It is certainly not a fad diet and should be undertaken with the support of your doctor or dietitian, who will be able to guide you through the process of reduction / removal of high-FODMAP foods from your diet to address the symptoms associated with IBS. They’ll also be able to help you pin-point the foods that trigger your IBS and assist you with gradually reintroducing certain foods into your diet. This process may also help to identify factors other than your diet that can trigger IBS to flare up – such as stress, caffeine or even eating a high-fat diet.

Depending on your individual concerns, the low-FODMAP diet is usually followed for between two and six weeks, to allow the symptoms associated with IBS to settle and to confirm the link between FODMAP consumption and the symptoms of IBS

 

Benefits of a low-FODMAP diet

Naturally, the first benefit of following a low-FODMAP diet is that it can be an effective way to address the symptoms associated with IBS. When you consider that 50% of Australians experience some form of digestive health issue, and that 1 in 7 Australians suffer from digestive health problems at are classified as ‘distressing’, there is a significant number of people who may adopt a low-FODMAP diet to see if it lessens their symptoms.

The low-FODMAP diet can also be diverse and interesting – and can also encourage exploration of new foods in replacement of those that have been reduced / removed. Whilst the removal of foods such as garlic and onion might sound like a recipe for a very bland dinner, there are many herbs, spices and seasonings that can be included in this diet. Why not try chives, lemongrass, saffron or turmeric with your meal for a new flavour profile?

In addition to this, there are plenty of foods that are low-FODMAP – in fact, all food groups are represented when it comes low-FODMAP choices.

  • Protein rich foods such as most meats, shellfish, eggs and tofu\
  • Some wholegrains – brown rice, millet, quinoa
  • Some fruits – particularly graps, citrus fruits, pineapple and papaya
  • Some vegetables – particularly green, leafy vegetables
  • Some nuts (not pistachio or cashew) and seeds
  • Dairy – hard cheeses and lactose-free milk

A low FODMAP diet does affect the gut microbiome, possibly adversely and researchers have advised that such a diet should not be recommended for asymptomatic population.So, there you have it. The low-FODMAP diet really isn’t for everyone – it should only be reserved for those who are suffering from IBS and its related symptoms, and should be undertaken with medical guidance and support.

If you feel that this diet may benefit you, it’s time to make an appointment with your doctor.

Intended as general advice yesterday. Consult your Health Care Professional to discuss any specific concerns.

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