When suffering with stomach and bowel issues, your body can be put through many stresses and this can affect how you feel day to day. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is the most common of stomach and bowel issues, and it can affect a fifth of people in the UK, with symptoms including cramps, bloating, fatigue and constipation, to name just a few.
But with new research comes a brand new diet, the FODMAP diet, that can help IBS sufferers manage the condition and lessen the aches, pains and stress that comes with it.
What does FODMAP mean?
The term FODMAP stands for a group of sugar alcohols and “short chain carbohydrates”, that can be found in certain foods that are poorly absorbed by those with IBS.
- Fermentable – bacteria in the bowel breaks the food down
- Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides and Monosaccharides – are all types of sugar molecules, and
- Polyols – also known as sugar alcohols
There are a number of different foods from all kinds of food groups that contain these molecules. When eaten, the small intestine can sometimes fail to absorb them properly and as a result, they continue through to the large intestine, where gas is produced as they are broken down (or fermented) by the bacteria. These foods present in the large intestine can also encourage water into the large intestine, changing the way in which the intestine moves and digests food. From this, many of the common symptoms of IBS are created.
How can the FODMAP diet help?
By cutting out the food culprits that contain these molecules, the symptoms and stresses of IBS can be reduced or, for some people, diminished altogether. A diet low in FODMAP foods can also help improve concentration levels!
Introducing a low FODMAP diet into your lifestyle
If you suffer from symptoms of IBS and have been diagnosed with the condition by a medical professional, you should speak to a dietitian about incorporating a low FODMAP diet into your lifestyle.
It’s usually recommended that you begin with a strict low FODMAP diet for the first couple of months, where you remove all foods high in FODMAP from your diet. After this, you can begin to bring certain foods back into your diet, one at a time, to be able to clarify which foods are causing your stomach and bowel issues, should your symptoms flare up again.
To optimise the results of your low FODMAP diet, you should try to eat little and often, drink plenty of water and green tea, and avoid fizzy drinks and alcohol as much as possible. Only eat 3 portions of fruit a day but try to eat plenty of oats or linseeds, and probiotics. Intense exercise, meditation and yoga are also said to help.
So where do you begin? Well, read on to discover the ultimate guide to a low FODMAP diet created by MOMA, and consider contacting a recommended dietitian to begin your stress-free life without stomach and bowel issues.