What is the low FODMAP diet?
The low FODMAP diet was originally developed in Australia by Dr Sue Shepherd and the Monash University and later adapted for the UK at King’s College London and implemented at Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospitals. It was discovered that limiting FODMAPs from the diet helped reduce symptoms of IBS (such as abdominal pain and bloating from excess wind and constipation and/or diarrhoea).
So, what are FODMAPs and why does eliminating them help?
FODMAP is an acronym for a group of fermentable carbohydrates which are poorly absorbed by some people – Fermentable, Oligo-saccharides, Di-saccharides, Mono-saccharides And Polyols.
‘When the molecules are poorly absorbed in the small intestine of the digestive tract, these molecules then continue their journey along the digestive tract, arriving at the large intestine, where they act as a food source to the bacteria that live there normally. The bacteria then digest/ferment these FODMAPs and can cause symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)’. (Source – Dr Sue Shepherd’s website Shepherd Works).
Reducing FODMAPs from your diet can significantly reduce the symptoms of IBS. It really worked for me and helped provide the tools to better understand my diet and which foods were causing problems. (Read more about high FODMAP foods).
FODMAPs have a cumulative effect. Tolerance and symptoms will vary depending on how much FODMAP containing food you eat over a period of time. Personally, understanding the cumulative effect has been key to unlocking the freedom to enjoy delicious and varied food. (Read more about the cumulative effect).
Please do be aware that I’m not a dietician, nor do I have medical training. If you have any IBS-like symptoms please do speak to your doctor before attempting a low FODMAP eating plan. Do tell them what you’ve learned about the low FODMAP diet and ask them to refer you to a specialist dietician who will be able to provide further information and assistance in following the plan correctly.
Here are some links to the experts to find out more. They also have some very helpful FAQ pages.
There are some serious conditions which can have similar symptoms to IBS (i.e. Crohn’s disease, Coeliac disease and bowel cancer). Therefore, it is very important to seek medical advice if you feel unwell or experience any of these symptoms. As my symptoms were unclear at first, I went through some initial tests, including a full endoscopy and colonoscopy, to rule out anything which required further medical treatment.