Did you know that one in seven adults suffers from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)? Lower abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, altered bowel movement, and gastrointestinal upset sometimes characterize this condition. Research conducted at Monash University suggests that the best way to alleviate the symptoms associated with IBS may be to limit a group of small chain carbohydrates (such as sugars and fibers) that may be poorly digested. This group of carbohydrates, known as FODMAPs, is well tolerated by most and, in fact, FODMAPs feed healthy gut bacteria. But for those individuals who do not fully digest these molecules, they enter the large intestine where fermentation causes undesirable symptoms.
The low-FODMAP diet has gained popularity for its usefulness in reducing symptoms associated with IBS and other gastrointestinal disorders. So what exactly are FODMAPs? FODMAP is an acronym that stands for:
Disaccharides (lactose, milk sugar)
Monosaccharide (excess fructose)
Polyols (sugar alcohols)
Some common foods high in FODMAPs include apples, peaches, pears, onions, garlic, wheat, barley, rye, mushrooms, and more. Even chewing gum can trigger IBS-related symptoms, as sugar alcohols, like erythritol, are high-FODMAP.
A low-FODMAP diet
The low-FODMAP diet is a temporary elimination diet rather than a lifetime prescription. The elimination phase is about 2-6 weeks and involves the removal of all high-FODMAP foods from the diet, followed by the gradual reintroduction of these foods by FODMAP category. It is important to work through the reintroduction period with a registered dietitian for guidance on appropriately reintroducing foods and how to accurately assess tolerance. The objective of this method is to identify which foods trigger symptoms. Adhering to a low-FODMAP diet for a period of time can be difficult but there are a variety of resources that may be useful. A low-FODMAP meal plan used in conjunction with the Monash University app can guide individuals.
Not every high-FODMAP food causes symptoms in everyone so the slow re-introduction of higher FODMAP foods back into the diet may be important in pinpointing which foods trigger individual symptoms and in what quantities.
Interested in learning more?
Please contact Jeanne Petrucci, MS, RDN or call 908-234-1160 to schedule an appointment.
Written by Brianna Rosa, Dietetic Intern
Reviewed and edited by Jeanne Petrucci, MS, RDN