What is the Low FODMAP Diet?
The Low FODMAP diet is an elimination diet often used to manage Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). People with IBS have recurrent abdominal pain associated with a change in the frequency or type of stool. Symptoms may include abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence, constipation and diarrhea. The Low FODMAP diet consists of three phases.
During the four week elimination phase, specific types of carbohydrates, called FODMAPs, are taken out of the diet. The reintroduction phase follows the elimination phase. During this time, FODMAPs are reintroduced back into the diet one group at a time. Hopefully, one or two groups of FODMAPs are identified as contributing to symptoms. Using this information, the diet is modified long term to avoid specific trigger FODMAP group(s).
What are FODMAPS?
How Does the Low FODMAP diet work?
FODMAPs are short chained carbohydrates. Enzymes in the small bowel break carbohydrates down into smaller pieces so they can be easily absorbed. FODMAPs are sometimes “missed” by these enzymes and digested without being broken down. Poor breakdown and absorption of FODMAPs can increase water production in the intestines leading to diarrhea.
Millions of “good” and “bad” bacteria make up the gut microbiome. The poorly digested FODMAPs can be fermented and used as food for the “bad” bacteria in your gut. This increases gas production which can cause bloating and pain. Eliminating FODMAPs from the diet starves out the “bad” bacteria in your intestines. The goal of the Low FODMAP diet is to re-establish a healthy ratio between the good and bad bacteria that make up your microbiome.
Low FODMAP Diet Summary and Tips
- Schedule a visit with our Registered Dietitian, Madden Wilson, if you think you are a good candidate for the Low FODMAP diet. You will likely have 2-3 office visits with Madden over a couple of months to initiate the diet and plan the reintroduction phase.
- The Low FODMAP diet works best for highly motivated patients. It is important to be compliant with the elimination phase the entire four weeks. Otherwise, you risk reintroducing “food” for the bad bacteria in your gut and in turn, not getting the desired results.
- FODMAPs are carbohydrates only. Foods such as meat, eggs, and oils that contain only protein or fat would not need to be modified on the Low FODMAP diet.
- The Low FODMAP diet eliminates a lot of healthy foods from the diet. It can be low in calories and fiber, especially for picky or restrictive eaters. Consult with one of our physicians or dietitians prior to starting the diet at home.
- There are many resources available for the Low FODMAP diet. Prior to starting the diet, it may be helpful to take a week or so to familiarize yourself with the diet.