What You Need To Know About The Low FODMAP Diet

What You Need To Know About The Low FODMAP Diet

What You Need To Know About The Low FODMAP Diet

What You Need To Know About The Low FODMAP Diet

What You Need To Know About The Low FODMAP Diet

What do you need to know about the Low FODMAP diet?
If you have been experiencing irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) the likelihood is you have heard of the low-FODMAP diet. 


What are FODMAPs?

FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols, a group of carbohydrates that are difficult for the gut to digest and absorb allowing certain bacteria to feed on them, causing fermentation. This fermentation produces byproducts and waste materials including gases, leading to symptoms such as gas, bloating, changes to bowel habits and discomfort. If this is repeated regularly it can lead to an overgrowth of these bacteria in the small intestine which may contribute to other health conditions. FODMAPs are not inherently unhealthy or harmful, however for those with sensitive digestive tracts they may cause these GI symptoms.


What is the low-FODMAP diet?


The low-FODMAP diet is the most extensively studied elimination diet for IBS. Elimination diets involve removing multiple foods from the diet and slowly reintroducing them one-by-one to observe the body’s response and identify any personal food sensitivities. There are three stages of the low-FODMAP diet: elimination, reintroduction and maintenance. 


Elimination stage: Remove high-FODMAP foods for 4-8 weeks, depending on your response to the diet. If your symptoms reduce or vanish quickly, you can move onto the next stage.


Reintroduction stage: Once you have excluded FODMAPs from your diet for sufficient time to see a reduction or disappearance of symptoms you can begin to reintroduce them. Try to add food items back into your diet one by one, every 6 days or so, monitoring your symptoms as you go. If you notice one triggers your symptoms, you can exclude it more permanently or look into long-term support.


Maintenance stage: This is where you return to a regular diet as best you can, limiting only the high FODMAP foods which cause your symptoms to flare up. Some people are able to reintroduce all or most high-FODMAP foods, while others may be able to incorporate some in smaller quantities. If most or all of the high-FODMAP foods continue to trigger gastrointestinal symptoms, you should seek the advice of a healthcare professional.


What can you eat?

A low FODMAP diet involves removing a range of foods, including some dairy products, fruit, vegetables, beans and wheat products. In general animal proteins such as meat, poultry and seafood, do not contain carbohydrates, meaning they should be fine to consume on the low FODMAP diet, however if you are choosing more processed foods be sure to check the ingredient list.


We’ve created a non-exhaustive list of foods which would be considered high FODMAP and low FODMAP, however preparation of the food and portion sizes also play a role in determining the FODMAP content. 


High FODMAP
Grains - Barley, bran, couscous, rye, semolina, spelt, wheat (bread, pasta).
Nuts and seeds - Cashews, pistachios. 
Fruits - Apples, apricots, avocado, ripe bananas, blackberries, cherries, dates, grapefruit, mango, peaches, pear, plums, raisins, sultanas, watermelon.
Vegetables - Artichoke, asparagus, savoy cabbage, cauliflower, garlic, leeks, mange tout, mushrooms, onions (red, yellow, spring), sugar snap peas.
Dairy products and plant-based alternatives - Cow milk, goat milk, sheep milk, yoghurt, ice cream, milk, soft cheese, soy milk.
Protein - Most beans and legumes (black, broad, kidney, lima), processed meats (e.g. chorizo, sausages, breaded).
Drinks - High sugar drinks including fruit juices, rum.


Low FODMAP
Grains - Buckwheat, cornflour, corn tortillas, gluten-free foods, oats (½ cup), popcorn, rice, quinoa.
Nuts and seeds - Almonds (up to 15), chestnuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, peanuts, pecans (up to 15), poppy seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts.
Fruits - Blueberries, cranberry, grapes, kiwifruit, lemon, lime, melon, orange, papaya, pineapple, rhubarb, strawberry, unripe bananas.
Vegetables - Aubergine, bean sprouts, bok choy, broccoli, cabbage (common and red), carrots, celery (less than 5cm), corn (½ cob), courgette, cucumber, kale, lettuce, olives, potato, radish, spinach, squash, tomato.
Dairy products and plant-based alternatives - Almond milk, coconut milk, hemp milk, lactose-free milk, oat milk (up to 30ml), rice milk (up to 200ml), cottage cheese.
Protein - beef, chicken, chickpeas (¼ cup), egg, seafood, pork, turkey, tempeh, tofu.
Drinks - wine, beer, spirits, coffee, herbal tea, water.
The following ingredients are often added to foods that would otherwise be low-FODMAP, they are best to be avoided during the elimination phase: high fructose corn syrup, wheat, onion, garlic.

Note: There are some awesome apps available to help you idenfity foods and qualities that are considered high - medium and low FODMAP. Which is a great tool to have on standby to help make your life easier - therefore we strongly recommend! 


Why can’t I follow this diet indefinitely?

The elimination stage of this diet should only be followed for 4-8 weeks. FODMAPs are prebiotics, meaning they feed the beneficial bacteria in the gut and restricting them may starve the bacteria or reduce their abundance. Healthy and varied gut bacteria are essential for our overall health and wellbeing. In addition to this, any long-term restrictive diet increases the risk of nutrient deficiencies influencing our mood, energy levels and immune function. 


Safety

The low-FODMAP diet is to be used for a short period of time only, this is not a long-term solution. It is always advised that this diet is adopted under the guidance of a professional, whether that be a nutritionist or dietitian. Removing such an extensive list of foods from your diet can result in a number of vitamin or mineral deficiencies, and a nutrition professional can support you through this to ensure you are undertaking the diet safely, while monitoring your symptoms. The low-FODMAP diet is not recommended for anyone with a complicated medical history, history of eating disorders or anyone at a heightened risk of nutrient deficiencies.

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