By Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN
So many different diets claim to be the “it” fix when it comes to helping ease gastrointestinal symptoms. While some of the diets out there with large claims may be effective, many of them may in fact not be so well supported.
One of the diets that may actually have some gusto behind it for helping to ease gastrointestinal symptoms in those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the FODMAPs diet. FODMAP’s is an acronym for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosachharides and polyols – very basically they are types of carbohydrates found in some fruits, vegetables, beans, dairy and grains may not be completely digested and absorbed in the intestine, and therefore may be fermented by gut bacteria and in some cases may cause water to be pulled into the intestine and cause an upset stomach.
What classifies as a FODMAP?
|Food types||Foods (High FODMAP foods)|
|Fruits||Apples, nectarines, white peaches, boysenberry, figs, mango, pear, watermelon, dried fruit, apricots, blackberries, lychee, plums|
|Vegetables||Asparagus, artichokes, sugar snap peas, garlic, leeks, onions|
|Grains/beans/nuts||Barley, wheat, rye, chickpeas, baked beans, kidney beans, lentils, cashews, pistachio nuts|
|Dairy||Custard, condensed milk, dairy dessert, evaporated milk, ice cream, milk, milk powder, unripened cheeses (ricotta, cottage cheese, cream, yogurts)|
|Other||High fructose corn syrup, xylitol, mannitol, sorbitol, maltitol, chickory, honey|
*Note that different sources may have slightly different lists for high vs low FODMAP foods
Who is the FODMAP’s diet meant for?
The FODMAP’s diet is one that has been found to be reasonably effective for those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), at least in the short term when it comes to symptom reduction.
There are a few issues though. The first is that long-term cutting out all of these fruits and vegetables as well as grains and beans may not promote optimal health due to severe restriction of healthful nutrients. The second is that everyone is different, so there is no one clear path to success for most people. Finally, this diet isn’t meant to be one that’s long term, and instead is meant to be shorter term to help with symptom reduction; as experts will often recommend bringing back foods one at a time once symptoms have eased.
This diet aims to include those FODMAPs that are tolerable, while removing those that aren’t in efforts to reduce symptoms; it’s also important to note that everyone will be able to tolerate different FODMAPs better than others. Therefore, it is key as part of this diet to include those that work and exclude those that don’t.
How to find a plan with FODMAPs that works best?
If you’re someone who is interested and curious about the FODMAPs diet and how it may benefit you, start by researching the topic further to see if it’s something that might truly be right for you. If you’re unsure if it might be right for you or you’re curious how to get started, it’s best to get in touch with your doctor or a Registered Dietitian to help you come up with a plan that’s feasible and also safe for the longer term.