Although Irritable Bowel Syndrome is described as the most common reason for visiting a gastroenterologist as it affects about 10-20% of the general population, therapy doesn’t seem to be satisfying and successful. The most frequent characteristics of Irritable Bowel Syndrome are abdominal pain or discomfort combined with altered bowel habit. Most of the patients consider food as the main reason of their symptoms. The association between food intake and triggering of the symptoms lead doctors and dietitians to a number of different dietary approaches in order to reduce Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms. Despite the number of approaches and attempts over the years, very few scientific evidence exists.
How does Low-FODMAP diet work?
According to a recently published paper, a diet that decreases the intake of foods containing indigestible and slowly absorbed short-chain carbohydrates, called “FODMAPs”has attracted scientists’ attention and resulted to a growing number of studies that support its positive effect in most of the patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. “FODMAPs” comprise oligosaccharides (mostly fructans, galacto-oligosaccharides), sugar polyols,fructose in excess of glucose, and lactose in lactose malabsorbers. FODMAPs are found in many foods such as wheat and other grains, some dairy products, some vegetables and some fruits. Because the above carbohydrates are poorly absorbed, they increase luminal water and induce gas production, so the target of a low “FODMAPs” diet is to minimize their intake and avoid the osmotic effects and gases. The success of this dietary approach depends on detailed knowledge about the FODMAP composition of food commonly consumed.
Common foods that their consumption should be limited Milk, Yogurt, Ice-cream, Fruit juices, High fructose corn syrup, Honey, Chickpeas, Apples, Wheat, Sugar substitutes such as mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol.
Do People lose weight on Low-FODMAP diet?
Despite the fact that the main purpose of this diet is not to battle obesity or cause weight loss, many people who are on a low-FODMAP diet, experience a reduction of their weight. This mainly happens when patients try to swap processed foods enriched with FODMAPS to fruits and vegetables. Low FODMAP diet means less simple carbohydrate consumption and this is another factor that can lead to weight loss. High fructose corn syrup is often considered as one of the causes of obesity, so the decreased consumption could help someone’s efforts on weight loss.
Level of Effort
The low FODMAP diet is usually recommended for 2-6 weeks. Although you have to limit the consumption of some certain foods, there are a number of good alternatives. For sure it is a diet that limits the food choices but it can improve the quality of life to a great extend. After a few weeks on the diet, you can try to eat a high FODMAP food in order to check how your body reacts with it. If there are no gastrointestinal reactions you can keep consuming this food and then try another food and gradually enrich your food choices. It is a process that needs time and effort but the results will reward you!
The low FODMAP diet can be tailored to meet each individual’s needs. Because of the complexity of the foods that should be avoided, the guidance of a trained dietitian is mandatory. The dietitian can ensure the sufficiency of your nutrition and provide healthy alternatives for the foods that you avoid eating .This diet does not cure Irritable Bowel Syndrome, but it can help you reduce the medication intake or even achieve a drug-free management of the symptoms.