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Published August 4th 2021
Manage Irritable Bowel Syndrome with FODMAP
Low FODMAP is a diet to manage the gastrointestinal symptoms associated with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). The low FODMAP limits foods that are rich in sugars, are hard to digest and ferment in the intestine of people suffering from IBS.
It is paramount to follow the FODMAP diet with a qualified dietitian or a healthcare professional with experience in nutrition.
The diet was developed by Monash University to alleviate and manage the symptoms of IBS. Please follow the link: www.monashfodmap.com
FODMAPs are SUGARS that aren't digested and absorbed properly in the intestine, triggering symptoms of IBS. Fermentation is the process in which gut bacteria ferment undigested carbohydrates (certain types of sugars) and produce gas.
FODMAPs are a group of sugars that aren't completely digested or absorbed in the intestine. When FODMAPs sugars reach the small intestine, they may attract water. When these sugars proceed into the large intestine, they are fermented by the intestine bacteria, producing gas. The extra water and gas cause the intestine to stretch and expand and send a signal of pain and discomfort to the brain.
FODMAPs are sugars that aren't absorbed properly in the intestine. These short-chain carbohydrates trigger IBS symptoms. FODMAPs sugars are naturally present in many foods:
OLIGOSACCHARIDES: FRUCTANS and GALACTO-OLIGOSACCHARIDES (GOS) are found in wheat, rye, onions, garlic, legumes and pulses.
DISACCHARIDES: LACTOSE, found in dairy products like milk, soft cheeses and yogurts.
MONOSACCHARIDES: FRUCTOSE, found in honey, apples, high fructose corn syrups, etc.
POLYOLS: SORBITOL AND MANNITOL, found in some fruit and vegetables and used as artificial sweeteners.
Onions have high FODMAP. They contains fructans which human body lack of the enzymes to break down these sugars. Photo: Mockup Graphics @mockupgraphics / Unsplash
The low FODMAP diet limits foods that are rich in sugars that are hard to digest and get instead fermented in people suffering of IBS.
Fructans (for example found in garlic) are chains of fructose sugars joined together by bonds. In order to absorb fructans, the human body needs to break down fructans into single sugars. But the human body doesn't have the enzymes that can break down the bonds in fructans. When the fructans travel in the large intestine, they are fermented and produces gases. In healthy people, this causes a bit of wind, which is normal. But in people with IBS, the intestine is hypersensitive and very mobile, this results in bloating, abdominal pain and altered mobility.
Garlic contains fructans, type of complex sugars which the human body lack the enzymes capable of breaking them down. Fructans move in the intestine and get fermented by the gut microorganism causing bloating. Photo: Mockup Graphics @mockupgraphics / Unsplash
The same process happens with GOS (for example found in legumes) that are chains of galactose sugars joined together. Again, the human body doesn't have the enzyme able to break down the bonds between the galactose sugars, so the galactose sugars move through the intestine unabsorbed and fermenting causing IBS symptoms.
Legumes are high FODMAP food. They contain sugars that the human body cannot break down for the lack of enzymes. Photo: www.facebook.com/MonashFODMAP
The team at Monash University measures the FODMAP content in different foods. The information about the FODMAP content is then posted on the phone app, the Monash University FODMAP Diet App. FODMAPs, the indigestible sugars, are found in many foods, including fruits, vegetables, breads, nuts, legumes and many confectionery. The app uses a system to indicate the foods that are low, moderate or high in FODMAPs.
Hopefully, more people became aware of the FODMAP diet and improve their life if they have been diagnosed with IBS.
Vegetarian diet, gluten-free and vegan dietary requirements have a big place in restaurants, cafes and supermarkets. It would be great if also low FODMAP food can be served in restaurants and cafes and be easier to shop in the supermarkets.