The Gut Stuff Reader:
I have suffered with IBS for 4 years and I am struggling to find a solution that helps. At least a couple of times a week I have discomfort and painful cramps. I have tried Alflorex for a few months but I haven’t noticed much a difference. I have read a lot about FODMAP diets however, I don’t know where to start! Any advice would be great.
Hello! Thank you for getting in touch and sorry you’ve still continued to have symptoms.
The FODMAP diet was developed by MONASH University to manage symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), including intestinal bloating, gas, loose stools and tummy pain. Research has shown that 70% of those following the FODMAP diet found it effective as relieving IBS symptoms. This doesn’t mean it works for everyone nor that FODMAP foods aren’t good for you but it may be something to explore to support symptom relief. However, it isn’t for everyone and doesn’t assess the underlying causes but it might be worth trying to support temporary symptom relief.
FODMAP is an acronym for a group of carbohydrates that don’t get digested well in your gut. FODMAP stands for:
• Fermentable (processed in the gut to ferment undigested carbohydrate, which produces gas),
• Oligosaccharides (fructans and galactooligosaccharides, – from wheat, rye, onions, garlic, legumes, and pulses)
• Disaccharides (lactose – present in most dairy products, including milk, soft cheeses, and yogurt)
• Monosaccharides (fructose – mostly in honey, apples and high fructose corn syrup)
• Polyols (sorbitol and mannitol – present in some fruit and veg and used as artificial sweeteners)
The FODMAP diet restricts these sugars over three phases (elimination, reintroduction, and personalisation). The FODMAP diet was designed for short term (12-14 weeks) and should be done under the supervision of a qualified professional who is trained in the FODMAP diet. FODMAPs don’t all behave the same and how much you eat of a particular food can make a difference as to whether a FODMAP is tolerated or not and varies person to person. Long term use of a generic low FODMAP diet may increase gastrointestinal symptoms. The end goal is to work out what FODMAP foods work for you and reintroduce slowly (including varying the amount or quantities) to get a personalised solution for you. But the first step would be to find a practitioner to work with. Your GP may be able to refer you to an NHS dietician or you can find a local practitioner who specialises in IBS. You also want to know what category of IBS you have been diagnosed with.
The FODMAP diet isn’t the only option for if you have IBS, you can look at:
1. Stress management and try mindfulness, meditation or yoga. This has been shown to help manage the symptoms of IBS.
3. Working with a registered and regulated nutritionist to assess what might be underlying your symptoms through functional testing and a tailored health plan.
I hope this helps.
No advice in this column is designed to override any by your medical doctor and should not be relied on as a substitute for specialist dietary advice. If you have any concerns about your health, visit your general practitioner, or medical consultant.
Do you want to ask a nutritionist a question about your gut issues? You can do that HERE!