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Low FODMAP Diet – Here’s Exactly What You Should Know

Do you experience any digestive stress almost every single day? Does this stress make you feel not only physically tired and exhausted too? If yes, then the reason behind this could be a problem with your diet. If you are thinking about making a change in your diet, then you can give a try to a low FODMAP diet.

A low FODMAP diet is a promising diet that offers a common treatment approach by restricting certain foods which cause abdominal pain. So if you experience digestive disruption from time to time and feel bloated or gassy; experience occasional diarrhea, you can start this diet having a well organized FODMAP diet plan.

But before that, let’s have a look at FODMAPs.

What are FODMAPs?

FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols. The word ‘FODMAP’ is an acronym for various categories of poorly absorbed carbohydrates and sugar alcohols (according to the length of their chains) which results in abdominal discomfort. Generally, FODMAPs are found in some foods naturally or they are used as additives.

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To have a better idea about the FODMAP diet, it is important to understand major dietary sources of these carbohydrates. The major dietary sources of these four groups of FODMAPs are:

  • Oligosaccharides: Various fruits and vegetables, like garlic and onions, wheat, rye and legumes.
  • Disaccharides: It includes main carbohydrate-lactose present in milk, yogurt and soft cheese.
  • Monosaccharides: Fructose, the main carbohydrate present in various fruits such as figs, mangoes, and sweeteners such as honey.
  • Polyols: It includes sugar alcohols like xylitol, sorbitol, maltitol and mannitol. Found in fruits like blackberries and lychee, as well as some low-calorie sweeteners like those in sugar-free gum.

The History Behind the Low FODMAP Diet

Did you know the history behind the development of this diet? If not, then let’s get a quick look at the historical journey of a low FODMAP diet. The diet was initially developed by the researchers working at Monash University, Australia for the treatment of people suffering from Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The researchers recognized some low and high FODMAP foods. These foods helped people with IBS so that they could easily identify the foods they should consume or avoid.

What Exactly Happens When You Consume Foods Containing FODMAPs?

Well, it is a bit interesting to know. So, when you consume foods containing these FODMAPs, firstly, they are absorbed in the small intestine, and then they travel to the large intestine where most of the gut bacteria use these foods for fuel and produce hydrogen gas. The production of hydrogen gas causes stomach pain, bloating, constipation, which is highly problematic. Further, the FODMAPs also draws liquid into your intestine, which may lead to diarrhea. This condition is commonly seen in relevant in people with IBS.

So whenever you hear, about people talking about low FODMAP diet, it means they are following a strict diet to avoid FODMAP containing different foods.

Strategy To Follow A Low FODMAP Diet

In general, a low-FODMAP diet is somewhat more complex than you may think. But you can easily tag on the diet by following the below-mentioned strategy to achieve it:

  • Strict avoidance: This low FODMAP diet strategy involves strict restriction of all high-FODMAP foods. Most of the consumed foods are high FODMAPs. This strategy is generally recommended to abolish all the high FODMP foods for a few weeks (3-8 weeks). However, this diet will not work if you only eliminate high-FODMAP foods but not others. This is because it is essential to incorporate FODMAPs in the diet for maintaining gut health.
  • Reintroduction: It involves the systematic reintroduction of high FODMAP foods one at a time for three days each. By following this you can easily identify the FODMAPs which your body tolerates. This ultimately helps you to understand which food is responsible for causing the IBS symptoms. So if you are intolerant to a specific type of food which upsets your digestion, you can avoid that food permanently. Before starting low FOMAP diet, it is advisable to seek medical advice or a certified dietitian.
  • Personalization: The last step in this strategy is to increase the variety of your diet and confine only to those FODMAP-containing foods you are sensitive to.

Type of foods to be avoided

If you have IBS, then try to avoid the following high FODMAP foods.

  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Apples
  • Green peas
  • Different marinated meats
  • Milk
  • Yoghurt
  • Wheat, barley
  • Rye-based bread

Benefits of a low FODMAP diet

The low FODMAP diet is extremely helpful for those who struggle with GI problems including Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and IBD. In general, the low FODMAP diet is a temporary diet that eliminates grains, fruit, dairy, sugar from your daily intake and reduces the food source available to the gut bacteria. This eventually prevents fermentation and improves digestion-related complaints. Let’s take a look at the potential benefits of this diet:

  1. Improvement in the large intestinal endocrine cell density: Research studies show that a low FODMAP diet improves the density of the endocrine cells in IBS patients than healthy counterparts and also reduced symptoms of stomach pain and bloating.
  2. Improves leaky gut: The diet also improves intestinal permeability in patients with IBS, suggesting that this diet reduce bacteria and also helps to repair the intestinal lining.
  3. Improves histamine levels: Histamine is a signaling molecule in the gut which notifies the immune system when there’s a problematic material introduced to the body. Following a low FODMAP diet, leads to an improvement in the markers of the immune system and histamine activation.

Also, read about 5 Common Gastrointestinal Diseases & their Symptoms

Is FODMAP Diet Really Helpful?

Definitely. If you restrict some foods which trigger IBS, and consume foods which are low in fermentable carbohydrates, IBS can be effectively managed and hence it is clinically recommended too.

Here’s how to succeed on your low-FODMAP diet

If you are following a low-FODMAP diet, then the following mentioned tips can be extremely useful to have a healthy gut.

  1. Get familiar with Low-and High-FODMAP Foods: In order to have a low FODMAP diet, the very first thing is to get acquainted with the low-and high-FODMAP foods. If you still find some difficulty in knowing these, you can even prepare a FODMAP diet chart and mark the foods that you like the mist on the low-FODMAP list. This can help you to showcase your creativity in selecting and setting your meal plans too.
  2. Keeping a note of food and symptoms: Another important tip to achieve your low FODMAP diet is to keep an eye on the food which you eat and the symptom caused due to the food. By doing this, you can easily avoid the foods which are not suitable for you and maintain the path of having a healthy digestive system.
  3. Know about the low-FODMAP servings: Your gut needs a wide variety of nutrients to maintain a good balance of bacteria. So whenever you want to have a low FODMAP diet, keep in mind about the servings and the quantity of low or potentially moderate or high FODMAP foods. By following this, create a balanced plate at every meal and you can avoid too much of one food. Having balanced meals by avoiding overloading of the gut with only of one food is essential especially for those with sensitive guts. However, there are some low FODMAP diet foods which do not have a limit for how much you can eat, but others do. For instance, iceberg lettuce only has low FODMAP servings, but there are no limits for it to have like moderate or high serving.
  4. Plan your meals regularly: Whenever you are hungry, do not simply open your refrigerator and start eating instantly. Alternatively, you can plan your meals. Planning meals regularly works for everyone. You can do this by marking low – FODMAP foods you like best from your low – FODMAP grocery list by including:
  • Proteins: Like lean meats, tofu and eggs
  • Vitamins and minerals: Get some vitamins and minerals from low-FODMAP vegetables and use it in salads, omelettes, sandwiches, soups etc.
  • Low-FODMAP fruits: Include these in your as snacks along with corn flakes, smoothies
  • Oils: You can also have olive oil, coconut oil or safflower oil as well as low-FODMAP nut butter, nuts and seeds for vitamins, minerals, omega-3s and healthy fats.

Are There Any Adverse Effects Of A Low FODMAP Diet?

There are no adverse events associated with the diet. But as such it is important that you seek your dietician before you start this diet so that you can have ample nutrients.

Bottom Line

Thus, a low-FODMAP diet is a dietary approach that can overcome possible triggers of IBS without the use of pharmaceutical drugs. So, if you’re struggling with IBS, it’s worth considering to initiate the low FODMAP diet. This easy method will definitely provide the relief you are looking for and rejuvenate your gut for a better quality of life.

Also, read about 4 Acupressure Points For Gas & Bloating here

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