People with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) know the frustration of recurrent abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, gas and diarrhea. Since the exact cause of IBS remains unknown, there is no sure-fire treatment that works for everyone, so trial and error is often involved.
However, scientists in Australia have identified a collection of trigger foods that cause symptoms in most people with IBS. They have grouped these foods together under the acronym FODMAP, which stands for Fermentable Oligo-saccharides, Disaccharides, Mono-saccharides and Polyols.
Yes, it’s a mouthful – but if you have IBS, it’s a word worth remembering. That’s because randomized controlled trials show that around 80 percent of IBS patients finally find relief when following the FODMAP plan.
Fixed with FODMAP?
The FODMAP foods are fermentable carbohydrates, which cause gas, diarrhea and bloating as they reach the colon of people with IBS (if you don’t have IBS, you don’t need to avoid these FODMAP foods).
A registered dietitian can help you implement the FODMAP diet, which requires avoiding FODMAP foods, then slowly reintroducing them while watching for adverse reactions. It’s called an elimination diet, and since it is complex, it’s best if done with the help of a dietitian who will test your reaction to fermentable carbohydrates such as:
- lactose (in dairy products)
- inulin (a type of fibre)
- excess fructose (some fruits; corn syrup)
- sorbitol (in sugar-free candies).
Once trigger foods are identified, the dietitian can help you know which foods to continue to avoid and will help plan your balanced diet.
And to make the eating plan easier to follow, there’s now an app to help people choose the right low FODMAP foods.