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"Understanding FODMAPs: A Comprehensive Guide to Managing IBS"

Updated: Feb 21


Did you know our nutrition clinics specialise in helping clients improve their gut health? Our nutritionists and dietitians are trained to provide expert evidence-based nutrition advice to help you overcome and manage your gut-related symptoms.

Today, we're diving into the world of FODMAPs – a term that's been gaining attention in the realm of digestive health. If you've been experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms like bloating, gas, abdominal pain, or irregular bowel movements and have been diagnosed by your GP as having IBS then reading about the FODMAP diet may be a much-needed helpful next step to see if it helps reduce your symptoms.

This article is here to provide you with a comprehensive guide on what FODMAPs are and how they could help your IBS symptoms - we do not recommend commencing a low FODMAP diet without speaking to a dietitian.

What exactly are FODMAPs?

FODMAP is a term that stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols. These are types of carbohydrates that are not fully absorbed in the small intestine and instead are fermented by gut bacteria in the large intestine, leading to the production of gas and other IBS type symptoms.

FODMAPs are found in many common foods and can be challenging for those with certain digestive conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or other gastrointestinal disorders.

Here's a breakdown of the different types of FODMAPs:

Onions and garlic - High in Oligosaccharides

Oligosaccharides: These are complex carbohydrates that include fructans and galactooligosaccharides (GOS) and are found in foods like wheat, rye, onions, garlic, legumes, and some fruits like

watermelon and nectarines.

Milk - a drink often rich in lactose and to be avoided on a low FODMAP diet

Disaccharides: These are double sugar molecules, a common example of this is Lactose. Lactose is found in dairy products like milk, yoghurt, and soft cheeses.

Monosaccharides: These are single sugar molecules, a common example of this is fructose. Fructose is found in some fruits like apples, pears, and honey, and also in high fructose corn syrup used as a sweetener in many processed foods.

Polyols: These are sugar alcohols like sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, and maltitol, which are found in some fruits and vegetables, and are also used as artificial sweeteners in some sugar-free products.

FODMAPs and IBS symptoms.

What researchers have found is that one or several types of the FODMAPs listed above can trigger symptoms like bloating, gas, abdominal pain, and diarrhoea or constipation. This is due to their poor absorption in the small intestine which means these carbohydrates then get fermented in the large intestine producing gas and sometimes drawing water into the gut causing diarrhoea.

Important to read

However, it's important to note that not everyone is sensitive to FODMAPs, and these carbohydrates can be well-tolerated by many people. It is also very important that people do not cut out all FODMAPs or restrict foods without the support of a registered dietitian as this will result in nutrient deficiencies and will reduce fibre and prebiotics from your diet.

How can a Health nutritionist professional help?

If you have been diagnosed with IBS and have already tried to improve your diet and lifestyle but still have IBS symptoms then we can help you start a FODMAP elimination plan. Our low-FODMAP diet is an evidence-based approach that can help identify and manage FODMAP sensitivity. It involves three stages that crucially need to be delivered alongside support from our registered dietitians or FODMAP-certified registered nutritionists.

What are the stages of a Low FODMAP diet?

Elimination Phase: In this stage, high-FODMAP foods are eliminated from the diet for a period of 2-6 weeks to determine which FODMAPs trigger symptoms in your specific case. Common high-FODMAP foods to avoid during this phase include wheat, rye, onions, garlic, legumes, lactose-containing dairy products, specific fruits and vegetables, and artificial sweeteners.

Reintroduction Phase: Once the elimination phase is completed, FODMAPs are gradually reintroduced back into the diet one at a time, in small amounts, to identify which specific FODMAPs trigger symptoms for you. This phase helps personalise the diet and determine your individual tolerance to different FODMAPs.

Personalisation Phase: After identifying your triggers, we customise your diet to include well-tolerated foods and avoid foods that trigger your symptoms. We ensure that your diet is manageable long term and we ensure that it will fit into your usual routine and lifestyle. We educate you on how to ensure your diet is nutritionally complete and if you do have to avoid a certain food, we will guide you into making healthy swaps so that you do not become deficient in any nutrient.

A low FODMAP diet has been found to help improve IBS symptoms and often with the support of your dietitian, we can help you identify the triggers. Please be reassured it is often only one or two trigger foods that cause your symptoms and we aim to get you eating a wide variety and balanced diet without unrealistic restrictions. Through our expert guidance, we also ensure you eat enough fibre and prebiotic-rich foods whilst on the FODMAP elimination phase.

If you are seeking support speak to our team today and we can help advise you if this diet is suitable for you.

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