By GMB Nutritionist Chloe McCloud
Did you know approximately 20% of Australians suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)? Along with the emerging research of the role of gut health in all other aspects of our lives, it’s no wonder there is so much interest in gut health, and how best to manage the symptoms of IBS. So, what are FODMAPs, and how can they help IBS?
What are FODMAPs?
FODMAPs in an acronym for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. These are all different types of carbohydrates that are either poorly absorbed or digested. When these are poorly absorbed, increased water may be drawn into the gut, which may result in diarrhoea. In other cases, the carbohydrates travel to the large intestine where they are fermented by bacteria, which then produces gas, which can lead to bloating, constipation, flatulence, pain and diarrhoea.
What is IBS?
Irritable bowel syndrome is a functional gut disorder, which presents with symptoms mentioned above. Individuals may experience all or some of these symptoms. Understandably, this can have a significant impact on quality of life, with many sufferers reporting they often find it challenging to leave the house or attend social occasions, due to the anxiety their symptoms can cause.
So, how to manage IBS?
Reducing consumption of FODMAPs is the most effective way of managing IBS, with approximately 75% of people responding positively and finding symptom improvement. By reducing intake of high FODMAP foods, symptoms of IBS can clear up within a few weeks! This is where a low FODMAP diet comes into it.
It’s recommended to start with a strict low FODMAP diet, using it as a diagnostic tool. This is to help you to identify your trigger foods. Then, moving through a series of food challenges to determine which FODMAPs are your triggers. Most people aren’t intolerant to all types of FODMAP. For phase 3, this is where higher FODMAP foods are reintroduced, and you will follow your personalized modified FODMAP diet. It’s a good idea to work with a dietitian experienced in this area, as sometimes it can be tricky to do it on your own.
Which foods are low FODMAP?
Common High FODMAP Foods:
Asparagus, onion, garlic, cabbage, celery, sweet corn, legumes, apples, pears, mango, watermelon, yoghurt, cow’s milk, soft cheese, ice cream, wheat-based breads, cereal, pasta, cashews and pistachios
Low FODMAP foods to enjoy:
Cucumber, carrot, lettuce, tomato, zucchini, banana, orange, mandarin, grapes, lactose-free milk and yoghurts, hard cheese, meats, fish, gluten-free breads and pastas, quinoa and rice
What about snacks?
Having low FODMAP snacks can be a challenge, especially if you’re looking for a sweet treat, or something to have on the go. See below for 5 of my favourite sweet low FODMAP snacks (that come in a packet) to recommend, along with a few that don’t come in a pack as well!
Fresh low FODMAP snacks:
Raw walnuts, macadamias, pecans and brazil nuts
Carrot and cucumber sticks
Low FODMAP fruit, such as banana, berries or pineapple
Sweet low FODMAP snacks (that come in a packet):
Kez Choc Orange Bar
Carmen Fruit Free or Dark Choc Espresso Bar
Food for Health Fruit Free Bar With Coffee and Cacao or Sea Salt and Caramel
Coco Frio Icecream Range
Lactose free yoghurt + strawberries, blueberries and raspberries
*All the packaged options have been tested by either Monash University or FODMAP Friendly for their appropriateness to be low FODMAP. Remember to stick to the recommended serve size.
Chloe McLeod is owner of The FODMAP Challenge, which is the online course to help you determine your FODMAP triggers of IBS. Hit this link to sign up now!