Researchers at Monash University in Australia created the FODMAP acronym to classify a groups of carbohydrates, sugars and fibers found in many foods and discovered the low FODMAP diet. These carbohydrates are poorly absorbed, highly fermentable and often cause intestinal fluid shifts for people with IBS and other digestive disorders. Consumption of high FODMAP foods often results in abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea and/or constipation. The low FODMAP diet has been proven to provide symptom management in ~75% of IBS sufferers.
FODMAP stands for the following:
F = Fermentable - Quickly broken down by gut bacteria in the large or small intestine producing excessive gas
O = Oligosaccharides - Found in many cruciferous vegetables, legumes, fruits, wheat, onions, garlic, some nuts and herbal teas
D = Disaccharides (Lactose) -Also called milk sugar which is found in cow's milk and milk products
M = Monosaccharides (Fructose) - Found in some fruits, vegetables and sweeteners
A = And
P = Polyols (Sugar Alcohols) - Found in may stone fruits, vegetables and sugar free, no sugar added products.
It is important to remember that the low FODMAP is a three part diet journey.
- The first part is the elimination stage which can last 3-6 weeks.
- The next part is the challenge or reintroduction stage where one adds back FODMAP groups in a slow, methodical process with the goal of determining which FODMAP groups they are intolerant to and hopefully learning safe thresholds of these foods.
- The last part is learning how to live on a modified low FODMAP diet forever to keep IBS symptoms in control.
It is not recommended to remain on the elimination diet forever and in some situations this may not be the best first approach. It is highly recommended to work with a registered dietitian who specialized in the low FODMAP diet. The end goal is to have the most varied diet one can tolerate. Many high FODMAP foods are rich in prebiotics which play an important role in gut health