The Fodmap diet has revolutionised my life, well so far. I have been following a low Fodmap diet for 6 and a half weeks and I am just entering the reintroducing stage. But right now this may not mean anything to you.
Food is made up of lots of things that we all would recognise proteins, fats and carbohydrates, which, includes sugars. Some of this food does not get absorbed by our small intestines, it passes along our gut to the bacteria laden large intestine, where it has a little fermentation party leaving us with wind, bloating, distension, pain constipation; and, where there is also production of water, diarrhoea.
Fodmaps are carbohydrates that our small intestines cannot absorb, fermenting in the large intestine and leaving the individual with a bombardment of symptoms.
IBS (and all bowel and gut problems to a certain extent) is a gut hypersensitivity. Some Fodmaps can be poorly absorbed by lots of people but may not cause symptoms in everybody. For us individuals that are affected, our body is sensitive to the gases, water and food residues that can occur in the large intestine.
At this point I would like to add, I am not a doctor or medical expert in anyway this is a diet I have been given by a dietitian that is working for me. And I want to get the information of how it has helped me, what I eat and how I do it out there. If you are reading this and it sounds like you and it could help you please contact your GP for a dietitian referral asap.
The Fodmap diet was developed in 2001 by Dr Sue Shepherd, an Australian Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian, who herself was diagnosed with coeliac disease - please click the link to read more about this remarkable lady.
So, I hear you ask, what the hell are Fodmaps?
Fodmap is an acronym for Fermentable, Oligo-saccharides,
Disaccharides, Mono-saccharides And Polyols. All of these are carbohydrates.
Fermentable as they ferment in our intestines.
Oligo-saccharides are fructans and galacto-oligosaccharides.
Di-saccharides are lactose.
Mono-saccharides are fructose
Polyols are Sugar Alcohols.
Fructans and galacto-oligosaccharides are poorly absorbed in all people, we simply do not have the ability to break them down. Restriction of these helps most people with IBS symptoms.
Fructans can also be known as fructo-oligosaccharides and are chains of sugar fructose. In the real world this means wheat products, some vegetables i.e. onion and garlic and when they are added to processed foods and FOS, oligofructose or inulin.
Galacto-oligosaccharides are chains of sugar glucose. In the real world this means beans and pulses.
Polyols are sugar alcohols i.e. sorbitol and xylitol. These occur naturally in some fruits and some vegetables.
They are also added as sweeteners to many low sugar products such as sugar free chewing gum and mints.
These are the main groups that when starting the Fodmap diet all sufferers must stay clear of for at least 6 weeks before entering the reintroduction stage.
There are two further groups, Fructose and Lactose.
Fructose can be found in large amounts in different foods especially in some fruit and honey. It is also added to many food products as a sweetener or flavour enhancer. So its time to start checking food labels in supermarkets I am afraid.
Lactose is something we will all have heard of. It is found in animal milk and milk products.
These last two groups are not malabsorbed in everybody with symptoms and certainly breath tests normally tell you if you have a problem here.
So that is the science bit, if you have never heard of it but think it may help your symptoms. I beg you please get to your GP, ask for a referral to a dietitian and insist on help for the Fodmap Diet. Doing so you will be given all the tools you need to start making yourself better, like what food you can eat, what you can't, starter recipes to get you cooking good low Fodmap meals, snacks and brands that are good for you.
This Diet cannot be entered into off your own back, you must use a dietitian. Trust me you will have too many questions to try and attempt it on your own. You must also ensure that your diet is still balanced and healthy, we are trying to make ourselves better here.
Also have a look at Low Fodmap Diet Factsheet . This give some more information on what types of foods needs to be avoided and what categories food falls into.
I had to get this science bit out of the way as I felt that nothing I ever said or did on here without it would have made sense. I hope it has informed and not bored. But mostly I hope it will allow some people to jump up and down until they get the information they want to try the Fodmap diet for themselves.