The FODMAPs diet seems to be the latest craze for IBS and IBD sufferers. FODMAPs stands for Fermentable Oligo-, Di- and Mono-saccharides and Polyols; short-chain carbohydrates for us lay people. The basic idea is that because these carbs are not very well absorbed in the small intestine they are prime candidates for fermentation, and that’s not what you want happening in the depths of your gut.
The fermentation occurs when the bacteria in the colon fall on these lovely FODMAP carbs with undisguised glee. That leads to more gas and more water in the digestive system, and that causes intestinal distension and all of the horrible IBS symptoms we know so well.
The acronym was coined by researchers in Australia who are now conducting further studies, so it’s certainly a diet that’s come from a good scientific source. The researchers have measured the level of water in the intestines by using patients with ileostomies and gas production is measured by the good old hydrogen breath test made famous by Dr Mark Pimentel and his small intestinal bacteria overgrowth theory.
So what do you eat on the diet? Well, unfortunately there’s a whole heap of foods that are high in FODMAPs, including apples, wheat, milk, onions and peas. On the bright side, meat, fish and dairy are all suitable for a low FODMAPs diet, as are a range of other fruits and veg.
Looking at the lists of high and low FODMAPs foods I think the main thing to remember is that this is a very specific diet – you can’t just cut out all dairy foods and be done with it, you need to find out exactly which fruits are OK, which veggies are OK, and so on. But then going dairy-free or gluten-free isn’t a walk in the park either, so maybe it would be worth a try.
I’m hoping to find an IBS sufferer who’s tried the FODMAPs approach to interview for the site – if that sounds like you then please get in touch! Doesn’t matter if it was successful for you or not, I’d like to hear all experiences.