The low FODMAP diet is frequently recommended by health professionals to those who suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) which currently effects 10 -20% of the UK population. FODMAPs are short-chain carbohydrates that, if poorly digested, ferment in the bowel which can cause IBS type symptoms in some people. A low FODMAP diet is designed to temporarily restrict the amount of FODMAPs consumed. The question which is often raised is whether or not to follow the diet and whether it will help to lesson the sometimes debilitating symptoms of IBS.
Here are some answers that you may find useful.
- The low FODMAP diet is also sometimes recommended to those who suffer from other forms of functional gastrointestinal disorders and inflammatory bowel disease. It has been shown to significantly improve symptoms in some cases.
- It is not advisable to follow the diet without the support of a health professional preferably someone who has experience of low FODMAP, this could be a dietitian, nutritionist or nutritional therapist.
- This diet doesn’t suit everyone. It does involve restricting a lot of foods which for some people can be difficult. There are many resources available including our low FODMAP resource and recipe book which can be downloaded from here http://menumentors.co.uk/fodmap/ . You can also search on Amazon for low FODMAP recipe books. Planning is key when following a low FODMAP diet. Try and plan your weeks meals and stock up with low FODMAP foods. The important thing is to make sure that you are following a balanced diet whilst cutting out low FODMAP foods.
- If the diet is too restricting then you can start by cutting out gluten, wheat based foods and lactose to start with to see if that helps. Many IBS sufferers find that cutting out these foods can really help. Keep a food symptom diary and write down any symptoms that may occur after eating certain foods. This can help to identify which foods trigger symptoms. Again I would recommend that you do this with the support of a health professional.
- Think about what other things may be contributing to your IBS. Often it is a combination of stress and diet. Stress can often trigger IBS and therefore it is important to think about ways of managing this. Some people find that reducing and controlling their stress can in its self reduce their symptoms.
- The low FODMAP diet does not work for everyone with IBS. It may be that your IBS type symptoms may be triggered by a food intolerance which could be a low FODMAP food for example soya or rice. If the diet doesn’t work then it is worth exploring other possible causes and consider having a food intolerance or digestive stool analysis test which may highlight some other reason. Functional testing can be very useful for identifying gut issues. Speak to your local nutritional therapist (NT) about test options, you can find a list of NTs who practise in your local area on the British Association of Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapists website. http://bant.org.uk/bant/jsp/practitionerSearch.faces Registered Nutritional Therapists use a wide range of tools including tests to assess and identify potential nutritional imbalances and understand how these may contribute to an individual’s symptoms and health concerns.