What is the Low FODMAP Diet?
By Dietitian Edwina McDonald
Our gut plays an important role in the digestion and absorption of nutrients from foods. Food intolerances are becoming increasingly more common. While fructose and lactose are two of the more common intolerances. FODMAPs refer to a group of dietary sugars including; fructose lactose, ploys, fructans and galactans.
So, now knowing that FODMAPs are a group of poorly absorbed sugars, who will actually benefit from following a low FODMAP diet?
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects 1 in 7 adults. IBS symptoms can include diarrhoea, GI pain/ discomfort, flatlets’, bloating, constipation and generally feeling tired and unwell. Recent research investigating causes and irritants of IBS has focused on these carbohydrates. The limited research available is showing that the low FODMAP diet does provide an effective approach for the management of patients with functional gut symptoms.
Who malabsorbs FODMAPs? We all malabsorb some FODMAPs to some extent. Most of us however will only notice mild bloating, discomfort and changes to bowel habits if we eat them in excess.
Do we all need to follow a low FODMAP diet? NO, one only needs to trial a low FODMAP diet (under the guidance of a dietitian) if they are hypersensitive to FODMAP containing carbohydrates.
Can I do a test for malabsorption? Currently you can only do a physical hydrogen breath test for fructose, lactose and sorbitol. If you suspect a FODMAP intolerance you should always consult an accredited practising dietitian to assist with the diagnosis.
Do I need to follow a low FODMAP diet forever? NO, a low FODMAP diet is not a long-term diet and should only be trialled for a limited time followed by a review by a dietitian to see which foods and in what quantities can be reintroduced.
The low FODMAP diet can bring relief to those suffering from IBS symptoms. This diet should always be trialled under the supervision of a dietitian who can guide you through the process from elimination, reintroduction and tolerance of these carbohydrates.
Edwina is a Dietitian at our 120 Collins and Docklands Clinics.