FODMAPs and IBS

What is IBS?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common gastrointestinal condition, estimated to effect between 10% and 20% of the general population. For many people, the cause of IBS is unknown and symptoms vary from person to person. The most common symptoms include stomach cramps, bloating, wind, diarrhoea or constipation and other non-gastrointestinal symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, backache, anxiety or depression. 

Monash University in Australia have been researching IBS and have formulated a diet that is known to help relieve symptoms for 70% of people suffering with IBS. This diet is called the low FODMAP Diet. 

What are FODMAPs?

FODMAPs are a collection of fermentable short chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols known to cause unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms in sufferers of IBS. They can be found in foods naturally or as food additives. 

FODMAP is an acronym and stands for:

Fermentable: This refers to the bacterial break down of FODMAP sugars to produce gas.

Oligo-saccharides: There are two main types of oligo-saccharides.
The first type is fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) found in foods like wheat, rye, onions and garlic. The second type is galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) found in legumes and pulses.
Both types can cause IBS symptoms.

Disaccharides: This is a double sugar molecule. An example of a disaccharide is lactose, found in milk, yogurt and soft cheeses. 

Monosaccharides: This is a single sugar molecule and specifically relates to fructose. Fructose is potentially malabsorbed if it is present in foods in amounts greater than glucose. Foods high in fructose include honey, apples and cherries.

And

Polyols: These are sugar alcohols found naturally in some fruit and vegetables and are used in artificial sweeteners. These include sorbitol and mannitol. 

By reducing intake of foods containing the above, symptoms relating to IBS can be managed.

What is the low FODMAP Diet?

The low FODMAP Diet should be followed under the direction of an accredited certified dietitian or doctor. Diet is one of the triggers for IBS, but not the only one. Before following the low FODMAP diet, you should eliminate other known triggers by reducing stress and increasing exercise.

The diet has two phases. The first is the Elimination phase, which lasts up to 8 weeks and eliminates all FODMAPs in your diet.

The second is the Reintroduction phase, which systematically reintroduces FODMAPs. This phase works out the type and amount of FODMAPs you can tolerate before experiencing symptoms. It is important to reintroduce FODMAPs to the extent that they can be tolerated as FODMAPs typically contain prebiotics that aid good digestive health.

Failure to reintroduce food containing FODMAPs may damage your gut and have long term detrimental effects to your health. If you are struggling with this phase, you must look for help from your dietitian or doctor.

Reintroducing the FODMAPs you can tolerate widens your food choices. In the long term you should be following a FODMAP controlled diet rather than a low FODMAP diet (i.e. only restricting the FODMAPs you are intolerant to). 

The role of FODMarket.co.uk 

All products on FODMarket are suitable for those in the Elimination phase of the low FODMAP diet. Once you are through the Elimination phase and completed your Reintroduction phase, you will know which FODMAPs you can tolerate and which ones cause IBS symptoms. In the long term, you may still wish to purchase low FODMAP foods, but you should supplement your diet with food containing the FODMAPs you can tolerate.

So for example if you are intolerant to onion or garlic (fructans), you may still wish to purchase the low FODMAP sauces, but then cook them with fresh mushrooms (polyols) or with a side of garden peas (oligo-saccharides).

 

The information above reflects our understanding of the diet and should not be relied upon. If you are suffering from IBS, please consult with an accredited certified dietitian or doctor who will be best placed to provide advice and support.

 

Watch this educational video from Monash University: