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Belly Misbehaving? You May Need The FODMAP Diet

Caroline Robertson | 20 Nov 2020
Is your belly misbehaving? You are not alone. Around 20% of Australians have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) at some stage during their lives. However, with a 75% success rate, the low FODMAP diet could tame your tummy.

The stomach struggle is real for IBS sufferers. Everyday can bring bloating, burping, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhoea and embarrassing gas. Once diagnosed with IBS, doctors often prescribe diet over drugs these days. 

Scientific evidence supports the low FODMAP diet’s success in reducing IBS symptoms. Devised by Dietitian Dr. Sue Shepherd along with Melbourne’s Monash University research team in the early 2000’s, the low FODMAP diet is gaining recognition worldwide. 

Since the 2012 launch of the regularly updated Monash Uni Low FODMAP Diet™ mobile app, the diet’s popularity is exploding. The inexpensive, easy-to-use app gives great guidance regarding recipes, foods, an information booklet, food diary, shopping list and tutorial. 

What Exactly Is FODMAPS?

FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides And Polyols. These fermentable short-chain carbohydrates are prevalent in most of our diets. 

But what do these very long winded names mean? And how do they affect people's digestion?

FODMAP Foes

Mark Twain’s saying, “to eat is human, to digest is divine,” highlights the imperative of good digestion. Some people have cast-iron colons while others suffer colon chaos from foods which may include FODMAPS

These fermentable short-chain carbohydrates are difficult to digest in the small intestine. Rather than absorbing they hover around generating hydrogen gas and attracting water. This breeds bacteria and uncomfortable IBS symptoms. The digestive discomfort is so extreme that an international study of 1,966 IBS patients revealed they would trade an average 25% of their remaining lifespan to be symptom-free. 

FODMAPS are present to different degrees in an array of edibles. The FODMAP traffic light grading system categorises foods as high (red), moderate (orange) or low (green). High FODMAP foods are to be avoided in the initial elimination phase of the low FODMAP diet. These include oligosaccharides (eg. garlic), disaccharides (eg. milk), monosaccharides (eg. glucose) and polyols (eg. sorbitol). Apparently innocuous foods like asparagus are high FODMAP along with a long list including apples, cauliflower, onions, legumes, mushrooms and wheat. 

3 Steps To A Serene Stomach

Once diagnosed with IBS, ideally get the guidance of your healthcare provider to navigate your way through the diet to avoid malnourishment and mistakes. Prepare for food restrictions for 2-6 weeks. Though the elimination phase requires dedication and discipline, many of my IBS patients experienced rapid relief from chronic digestive disturbances. 

Next step is to reintroduce one high FODMAP food at a time while observing your response over three days. This food is then withdrawn and another food is tested. This second stage continues for 8-12 weeks. Once FODMAP sensitivities are identified the modified maintenance diet ensues indefinitely. Some people find moderate amounts of high FODMAPS are well tolerated such as 10 almonds (low FODMAP) as opposed to 20 almonds (high FODMAP). Experimenting with quantities will establish a healthy threshold. 

Professor Jane Muir, Monash University Dietitian and Nutrition Scientist explains – “The FODMAP diet program - is a learning process and there are 3 important steps: 

Step 1 - Low FODMAP diet- involves swapping high FODMAP foods in your diet with similar low FODMAP alternatives to help reduce symptoms. 

Step 2 - Reintroduction - once your symptoms are stable you will work with a dietitian to re-introduce each FODMAP back into your diet, one-by-one, to identify which FODMAPs you tolerate and which trigger your symptoms.  

Step 3 - Personalization - this final phase of the diet program, the results of Step 2 are interpreted by your dietitian, who helps you find the balance between well tolerated FODMAP containing foods while avoiding or limiting the high FODMAP foods that can trigger your symptoms.”

Delicious Dishes Minus Indigestion

Though it's strict, nobody will starve on a low FODMAP diet. You will be surprised at how many mouth-watering meals you can make. The Monash Uni Low FODMAP Diet™ mobile app has tasty options to please all palettes. Breakfast could be oat and banana pancakes, Lasagne for lunch and Moroccan vegetables with quinoa salad for dinner. 

Other tips to drive digestion include eating at regular times, chewing well, sitting straight, boosting digestive enzymes and sipping warm water throughout the day. If your colon is off kilter probiotics, slippery elm, glutamine and marshmallow are other aids to consider. Your tummy will thank you. 

Disclaimer: As with any exercise or wellness program, please consult your medical professional before commencing any Complementary Medicine or Therapies. If you have an injury or other health issue, or any concerns at all, your medical professional will be happy to address these and explore what is an appropriate treatment for your health or a specific condition.

References

Irritable bowel syndrome | healthdirect.gov.au

Low FODMAP Diet Introduction | Michigan Medicine

Irritable bowel syndrome | betterhealth.vic.gov.au

Efficacy of the low FODMAP diet for treating irritable bowel syndrome | Journal of Clinical and Experimental Gastroenterology

Dr. Sue Shepherd | shepherdworks.com.au

Monash University | monash.edu

Low FODMAP Diet App | monash.edu

Mark Twain | knowyourquotes.com

What is a Low FODMAP diet? | Harvard Health Publishing

International Survey of Patients with IBS | Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology

Understanding the traffic lights in the Monash FODMAP Diet App | monashfodmap.com

Dietary Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols (FODMAPs) and Gastrointestinal Disease | Nutrition in Clinical Practice

Low FODMAP Meal Planner | fodmapeveryday.com

Jane Muir | research.monash.edu

Low-FODMAP banana and oat pancakes | bbc.co.uk

About Caroline Robertson

Since she was a small girl Caroline has enjoyed healthy cooking, massage, nature and yoga. She has an in-depth understanding of health with over thirty years experience consulting, teaching and writing. 

Caroline’s qualifications include Naturopathy, Homeopathy, Botanical Medicine, Remedial Massage, Nutrition, Certificate of Ayurvedic Medicine, Reiki 2, and Cert IV in Train the Trainer, and is one of our registered SoulAdvisor practitioners.

Caroline Robertson’s career encompasses clinics for ten years each in India, Cairns and Sydney. Her diverse interests include animal welfare, environmentalism, organics, somatic bodywork and spirituality. 

Caroline offers Skype sessions and face-to-face consultations in Sydney. You can find out more on her website

Disclaimer: This Content has been developed from our generous global community and is intended for informational purposes only. This Content is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon. Further, the personal views and experiences published are expressly those of the author, and do not represent the views or endorsement of SoulAdvisor through the act of publication on our site.