The low FODMAP diet was created by researchers at MONASH University in Australia in 2005 when doing a major study on how to manage symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). During their study, they identified that a group of short-chain carbohydrates were either being poorly absorbed in the intestine or were completely indigestible.
These carbohydrates were called FODMAP which stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols
For those of us who have a healthy digestive system the FODMAPs do not cause symptoms, but for some who suffer from digestive conditions, these cause symptoms such as bloating, distension, abdominal pain, wind, constipation and diarrhoea. This is because the FODMAPs have not been properly digested, attract water into the small intestine and in the large intestine they are fermented by the gut bacteria which produces gas.
FODMAPs are found in many common foods that we eat daily, and some of these have been listed below. Monash University has developed an app has a comprehensive database with a traffic light system which identifies the foods, depending on their serving size, as either high, moderate or low. The effect of having these foods for those suffering from IBS will vary from person to person.
Found in honey, high fructose corn syrup and some fruits such as apples, pears watermelon and mangoes,
Found in milk and yogurt
- Sugar polyols
Examples include sorbitol and mannitol – found in fruits and vegetables such as apples, pears, plums, nectarines, celery and mushrooms. Also found in chewing gums which have sorbitol.
Found in wheat, rye, onions and garlic
- Galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS)
Found in legumes such as baked beans, kidney beans, lentils and soya beans.
There have been many significant scientific studies done on low FODMAP diets. In a study done on those suffering from IBS and who had fructose malabsorption showed that when they were on a low-fructose and fructan diet 74% of the patients responded positively in all symptoms. Having low FODMAP foods has been shown to reduce symptoms of diarrhoea, bloating and abdominal pain.
However, this does not mean that FODMAPs are “bad” foods. They are just not properly digested by some and cause them severe uncomfortable symptoms like gas, bloating or constipation which also affects the quality of their daily lives. Before self-diagnosing and introducing a low FODMAP do always consult with your wellness team. This is because some of the symptoms of IBS are also experienced for other serious conditions such as bowel cancer and coeliac disease.
Sujata Din is a Certified Holistic Health Coach and Certified Professional Cancer Coach based in London. Sujata assists clients worldwide via individual consultations, Skype, phone and email. She equips clients with the tools, information and strategies that lead them to better health, higher energy levels and ultimately a happier disposition. She offers individual health and nutrition consultations, leads workshops on nutrition, cooking demonstrations and pantry overhauls.
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MONASH University Discover the research behind the Low FODMAP DietShepherd SJ, Gibson PR. Fructose malabsorption and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome: guidelines for effective dietary management. J Am Diet Assoc. 2006 Oct;106(10):1631-9.\Emma Altobelli, Valerio Del Negro, Paolo Matteo Angeletti, and Giovanni LatellaLow-FODMAP Diet Improves Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptoms: A Meta-Analysis
Nutrients. 2017 Sep; 9(9): 940.