Low FODMAP diets have been shown to improve the digestion for those with gastrointestinal problems, including “irritable bowel syndrome” (IBS).
What are FODMAPs?
FODMAPs is an acronym for “Fermantable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polysaccharides,” in other words, fermentable carbohydrates.
The limiting of such carbohydrates has recently been shown to improve the digestion for people with gastrointestinal issues, such as “irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)”
“When we talk about what is a FODMAP, it really is a group of small-chain carbohydrates that are commonly mal-absorbed,” says Kate Scarlata, a low FODMAP educator, blogger, writer and educator.
FODMAPs essentially draw water towards the gut, creating unpleasant tummy symptoms.
Accoridng to Peter Gibson, the leader of the Monash University research team that developed the low FODMAP diet, said:
“You would recognize foods were causing you a problem, but you wouldn’t recognize correctly which foods cause symptoms, because we eat a lot of varied things in our diet,” Dr. Gibson told BETTER. “What the diet has done is by recognizing the components in the foods, you have the power to know what you can and can’t eat.”
The Low FODMAP Diet
The diet is comprised of three phases.
“The initial phase is an elimination diet,” said Scarlata. “That’s where we remove all the high FODMAP foods from the diet. The patient will follow that for two to six weeks until they feel symptom control.”
The second phase is reintroduction of FODMAPs into the diet.
“FODMAPS are innately healthy foods,” says Scarlata. “There is no reason to restrict them for 85 percent of Americans who do not have IBS or IBS Symptoms. So if you have no problem digesting broccoli by all means, digest broccoli.”
The third and final phase is the “maintenance mode.” In this phase, each person focuses on what personally affects their digestion. For many, such as Scarlata, stress can seriously affect digestion.
“When [people] have a lot of emotional stress, [it] affects our gut, and if you've got bad symptoms, that's going to feed your anxiety,” says Gibson. “It's a vicious circle going on.”
“The gut-brain axis is very interesting, it’s a bi-directional communication between the gut and the brain,” says Scarlata.
“Irritable bowel syndrome is all about gut-brain axis,” says Gibson. “You can use the brain to influence the sensitivity of the gut. And we have done studies. And we are very interested in gut-directed hypnotherapy. And there is some good evidence that it works.”