4 out of 5 people recover from IBS when they follow a low FODMAP diet. Fodmaps are short chain sugars which are:
- Osmotic – they pull water into the intestines
- Are poorly digested
- Are fermented by the gut bacteria.
A diet high in FODMAP foods, if you are sensitive, can cause gas, bloating, cramps, constipation and diarrhoea. FODMAP refers to Fermentable Oligo-Di-Monosaccharides and Polyols. A bit of a mouthful! FODMAP foods aren’t an allergy and very small amounts won’t produce symptoms. So whereas coeliac patients need to avoid even trace amounts of gluten, for the FODMAP sufferer a small amount of wheat, barley or rye won’t be consequential. Likewise a drop of milk in a cup of tea may be OK, but a skinny cappuccino could send you rushing to the toilet.
FODMAPS from different foods add together. I you eat a pizza (wheat), with cheese (dairy) on top, with onions then the FODMAPS from each of these foods combine to give a larger total and a nasty upset tummy.
A low FODMAP diet may also be helpful for Crohn’s disease, coeliac disease and other digestive disorders.
If you want to assess whether you are sensitive to FODMAPS then you need to follow the low FODMAP diet for 6 weeks or more. Hopefully you will find that you can get your symptoms under control. Then re-introduce foods one at a time to see which you react to, which you don’t and how strongly if you do. Allow 48 hours between testing each food. For a great book with more details and recipes see The Complete Low-FODMAP Diet: The revolutionary plan for managing symptoms in IBS, Crohn’s disease, coeliac disease and other digestive disorders