FODMAP and IBS – A Scientific Solution

Can a low FODMAP diet help IBS

Note from Katie: My own health struggles have been thyroid and autoimmune related, but I’ve received many questions from readers who suffer with digestive struggles like Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Since I don’t have any firsthand experience, I asked my friend Suzanne, who works as a coach for those with IBS, to talk about a scientifically backed solution for it. Enter Suzanne…

Are you feeling confused and depressed because your life is ruled by your digestive system?

Do you live with a bloated stomach that could rival that of a pregnant woman?

Do you either have to rush to the toilet several times a day or feel the urge but the effort to have a bowel movement almost has you passing out?

Have you tried every diet on earth – lactose-free, gluten-free, Paleo, SCD, Keto, but nothing has helped?

Have doctors poked and prodded you, scoped you from end to end, scanned you, and taken enough blood to fill a blood bank?

And still no real answer as to why your life is so miserable. Maybe doctors have told you that you have irritable bowel syndrome, a diagnosis of exclusion, and to go away and live with it – there is no solution. They may have even inferred that it is all in your mind. Some have given you gut-churning fiber supplements or habit-forming medicines that have your bowel movements dependent on them, weakening your natural ability to eliminate even further.

You no longer trust anyone or anything. You have been through the wringer and spat out, exhausted, humiliated and desperate.

But there is an answer – a magical, miraculous, scientifically proven answer. The Low FODMAP Diet.

What is The Low FODMAP Diet?

FODMAPs are short chain carbohydrates which are poorly absorbed in the small intestine. The low FODMAP diet was developed at Monash University in Melbourne by Dr Peter Gibson and Dr Sue Shepherd and has been scientifically proven to significantly help 75% of people with IBS. This is not a fad diet but an incredible, scientific breakthrough in the treatment of IBS. Research into the FODMAP levels in individual foods is ongoing at the research center of the Monash University.

Let’s Break Down the Word FODMAP

  • Fermentable: the process through which gut bacteria break down undigested carbohydrate to produce gases (hydrogen, methane and carbon dioxide).
  • Oligo-saccharides: a) fructo-oligosaccarides found in wheat, rye, onions and garlic etc. b) galacto-oligosaccharides found in legumes/pulses.
  • Disaccharides: lactose found in milk, soft cheese, yoghurts etc
  • Mono-saccharide: fructose (in excess of glucose) found in honey, many fruits and vegetables, high fructose corn syrups etc.
  • And
  • Polyols: sugar polyols (eg. sorbitol, mannitol) found in some fruit and vegetables and used as artificial sweeteners.

All this time, the problem has been the high FODMAP carbohydrates in our food which don’t get well absorbed in the small intestine and travel down into the large intestine where they get fermented by the bacteria there, resulting in uncomfortable bloating along with either diarrhea, constipation or a mix of the two.

If you don’t send excess FODMAP down into the large intestine, in the face of no other underlying problem, there will be no bloating or embarrassing elimination problems. You can live a happy healthy life like everyone else.

Let’s be clear – there is no cure for IBS. But this is the solution for the unpleasant symptoms. A very big thank you goes out to Dr. Peter Gibson and Dr. Sue Shepherd. They have transformed so many lives with this diet.

However, this diet is complex and not just a list of good foods and bad foods, and you will need guidance where the amounts, combinations and accumulation of FODMAP are concerned, but it is the answer that you have been seeking for years, if not decades, for your IBS symptoms.

How to Eat a Low FODMAP Diet

The first stage is to go on an elimination diet and cut out all high FODMAP foods like wheat, lactose, onions and garlic (to name a few). This has to be done very strictly and very carefully because even one high FODMAP food or one too many low FODMAP foods in the same meal and your symptoms return, which can be very discouraging. People fail and give up on this diet, a diet which could have saved them, all because they don’t have enough knowledge or experience to implement it correctly.

Once you have no more symptoms at all on the elimination diet, it is time to reintroduce high FODMAP foods one at a time in a very scientific way in order to see how far you can expand your diet. It is highly unlikely that you will malabsorb all the FODMAP groups, and it is necessary to find out what your tolerance levels are.

Your expended diet will probably be a diet you will have to maintain long term, but you can re-test foods every six months or so to see if something has changed and you can now absorb higher levels of certain FODMAPs.

The news of this diet is spreading throughout the world, changing lives. If your health practitioner hasn’t heard of it, don’t give up – find someone who has both the knowledge and personal experience of the diet to help you implement it correctly and to integrate it into your life.

An Example of Low FODMAP Foods

Vegetables:
Broccoli (½ cup), common cabbage (1 cup), bell peppers (½ cup), carrot (1), celery (¼ stalk), cucumber (½ cup), eggplant (½ cup), green beans (10), kale (1 cup), leeks (green part only -½ cup), lettuce (1 cup), peas (¼ cup), potato (1), pumpkin (½ cup), radishes (2), spinach (1 cup), spring onion (green part only – 2), sweet potato (½ cup), tomatoes (1), zucchini (½ cup).

Fruit:
Bananas (1), blueberries (20), cantaloupe (1/2 cup), grapes (20), honeydew (1/2 cup), kiwifruit (1), lemon juice (1 tsp), oranges (1), passionfruit (1), paw paw, (1/2 cup), pineapple (1/2 cup), raspberries (10), rhubarb (1/2 stalk), rock melon (1/2 cup), strawberries (8).

Grain:
Gluten-free bread and cereals, amaranth, arrowroot, brown rice (1cup), buckwheat, millet, oats (1/4 cup), oat bran (2 tbsp), gluten-free pasta (1 cup), polenta (1 cup), potato starch/flour, quinoa, quinoa flakes (1 cup), white rice (1 cup), rice noodles (1 cup), sorghum, sourdough oat bread (1 slice), puffed wheat (1/2 cup), sourdough spelt bread (2 slices).

Legumes/pulses:
Chickpeas – canned (1/4 cup), Lentils – canned (1/2 cup), lentils green/red, boiled (1/4 cup). Note: you can have more canned lentils than fresh as long as you drain and rinse them because most of the FODMAPs have leeched out into the liquid.

Dairy:
Cheddar (40gms/1.4oz), cottage cheese (4 tbsp), feta (1/2 cup), halloumi (50gms/1.8oz), ricotta (2 tbsp), lactose-free milk (1 cup), hard cheeses including brie and camembert (40gms/1.4oz), lactose-free yoghurt (1 small pot), butter. Note: dairy products like hard cheeses and butter are very low in lactose because they are mainly fat.

Do you struggle with IBS? Have you tried any of these suggestions? Share below!

About the author: Suzanne Perazzini is the author of two low FODMAP cookbooks, Low FODMAP Menus and Low FODMAP Snacks. She is also the creator of the Inspired Life Low FODMAP Coaching Program. She lives in New Zealand in a house overlooking the Pacific Ocean with her husband and son. Since discovering the low FODMAP diet, her irritable bowel syndrome issues, which she has suffered from all her life, have all but disappeared. Her blog, Strands Of My Life, focuses on the low FODMAP diet and features videos, recipes and articles on irritable bowel syndrome and the diet. Her mission in life is to help those who suffer from IBS to implement the low FODMAP diet and to integrate it into their lives. If you want to have a complimentary, obligation-free conversation with Suzanne, fill out this application form and she will call you for a chat about your IBS issues and her program.

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