Dietary modification is one of the most potent ways to unlock your body's potential and overcome various health disorders. It is a common treatment approach for many health issues. We have read and heard of multiple fad diets as cures in recent times.
One such diet is the FODMAP diet. So, if you are wondering what a FODMAP diet is, you have landed at the right spot. Read on to learn all you need to know about this particular diet!
What Is a Low FODMAP Diet?
A low FODMAP diet is specially designed to help improve digestive health in those suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). FODMAP refers to Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols. These are short-chain carbohydrates known to cause digestive issues in some people with a sensitive gut.
Foods high in FODMAPs are not digested by the small intestine in some people, leading to gas, bloating, diarrhea, etc.Research shows that irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) patients have difficulty digesting certain food macromolecules. The study notes that a reduction in the intake of FODMAP leads to alleviating symptoms. That led to the development of a low FODMAP diet.
What Foods to Avoid?
Below is a list of the foods that contain high levels of FODMAP in them. Avoid these to ease your IBS symptoms:
Research shows that milk and soy products are rich in saccharides. You will find the following compounds in dairy products:
Monosaccharides (glucose, galactose, and fructose)
Disaccharides (sucrose and lactose)
These components in yogurt and milk items worsen the inflammatory symptoms in IBS patients. Keeping your hands away from ice cream can be tough for those with a sweet tooth, but the flavorful delight does not do any good to your intestines.
Wheat Products (Cereals, Crackers)
According to a 2020 study, whole wheat, and rye flour are high in fermentable sugars. Consuming cereals and bread made out of whole wheat is discouraged in the FODMAP diet. However, you can consider taking refined wheat flour.
Residents of East and Southeast Asia frequently consume lentils and beans. Soya beans and other types are major FODMAP sources, so you must avoid them. If you plan to shift to the FODMAP diet, you must also give up legumes and pulses.
Saccharide-Rich Vegetables and Fruits
Several veggies are abundant sources of fermentable saccharides. The list of vegetables includes:
Consuming certain fruits will also fill your body with large amounts of polyols. IBS patients have reported worsening conditions after eating fruits such as:
What Foods Can I Consume on a FODMAP Diet?
This diet requires you to rely on natural items with a low FODMAP content. These include:
Whole grains are good for IBS patients. This category includes foods including rice, corn, oats, quinoa, and more. These natural edibles are rich in starches but do not contain fermentable sugars that are harmful. Whole grain cereals are good foods for people on FODMAP.
Individuals taking a low FODMAP diet need to compensate for the energy lost from not consuming fermentable sugars. Eggs are excellent sources of protein and safe for consumption while on FODMAP.
Experts suggest adding boiled eggs to FODMAP for energy. The dietary routine containing eggs has shown promising results in Egyptian patients.
You can eat lean meat during the diet. Different varieties of meats are safe for consumption by intestinal patients. Poultry and seafood are good options as they are low in fermentable sugars. Beef is rich in proteins and safe for you.
Meat helps you gain muscle and is an excellent source of energy.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts are rich sources of unsaturated fats that have multiple health benefits. Luckily, nuts like peanuts, walnuts, and almonds are low in fermentable sugars. So, you can take them without much issue.
Almond milk is nutritious and safe for digestive patients. You can also eat sesame, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds. Coconut milk is also a safe product that effectively hydrates your body.
While you must restrict yourself from most dairy products, you can eat some forms of milk and cheese without trouble. Almond and soy milk are safe to consume, and so is cheese.
Every different type of cheese carries its unique taste and aroma. Brie, cheddar, and camembert cheese are also easy to digest.
Low-Saccharide Vegetables and Fruits
Plant-based diet keeps you healthy and safe from digestive disorders. Vegetables like potatoes, carrots, and potatoes are low-FODMAP edibles. Other ideal vegetables include cucumbers, eggplant, and zucchini. So, vegans can happily stick to a low FODMAP diet.
You can also enjoy mushrooms (canned, oyster, etc.) and lettuce of all types. Spinach is also low in fermentable sugars; therefore, safe for the gut.
Likewise, the list of some safe fruits includes:
A low FODMAP diet does not mean you deprive yourself of rich flavors. You can add condiments like saffron, cinnamon, and coriander to your favorite foods.
Experts advocate using condiments to keep your dieting a fun and tasty experience.
Keto Diet vs. FODMAP Diet
The ketogenic and FODMAP diets are similar in some aspects, like eliminating certain foods, but both diet plans are different. While both aim to eliminate carbohydrate intake, the goal of diet plans is not the same.
The Keto diet requires you to give up all sorts of carbs and rely mostly on fats and proteins. Most people adopt the keto diet to reduce weight, treat prediabetes and avoid metabolic syndrome.
On the other hand, a low FODMAP diet eliminates only fermentable sugars to restrict the triggering of IBS symptoms.
Who Needs a FODMAP Diet?
A low FODMAP diet is only suitable for people suffering from bowel pathologies, particularly IBS and SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). Symptoms common to most bowel problems include:
Stomach upset (diarrhea or constipation)
Studies reveal the aggravation of these symptoms on consuming fermentable oligo-, mono-, disaccharides, and polyols.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
IBS is a chronic digestive system disorder characterized by cramping, bloating, and indigestion. Fermentable, the small intestine poorly absorbs short-chain carbohydrates, which leads to the worsening of the symptoms. Research shows a strict, FODMAP-free diet is a viable initial therapy for the condition.
A low FODMAP diet has a positive effect on the microbiota of the colon (intestine) in IBS patients. The specific diet alters the fecal pH and helps alleviate disease symptoms.
Small Intestinal Bacterial Growth (SIBO)
Blind loop syndrome is a condition with excessive bacterial growth in the small bowel. It presents in a way similar to IBS. Modern research advocates the adoption of a low FODMAP diet for such people.
There is increasing evidence highlighting the impressive effects of the FODMAP diet on SIBO symptoms.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or Crohn’s disease is a chronic intestinal pathology that causes abdominal pain and digestive malfunction. Patients experience malnutrition and suffer from severe diarrhea and fatigue.
A diet free of fermentable sugars can ameliorate the intensity of symptoms. According to a study, the FODMAP diet effectively improves the quality of life in patients with Crohn’s disease.
Many believe dietary restriction can also work for exercise-induced digestive problems and diverticulitis patients.
How Does It Work?
IBS patients experience digesting fermentable sugars. These food compounds are partially digested (or undigested) in the gut. Inside the intestine, FODMAP gets fermented by gut bacteria. This breakdown results in the production of gas, which causes bloating and flatulence.
The sugars force water into your digestive tract and alter bowel motility. Therefore, they trigger symptoms of stomach upset, such as constipation or diarrhea.
Research shows that prebiotic carbohydrates promote the growth of positive bacteria such as bifidobacteria, whereas short-chain fermentable sugars cause GI symptoms by altering the luminal water of the intestines.
To better upgrade the outcome, it is advisable to add exercise to your daily routine. Losing weight and exercising daily improve digestive health and decrease bloating and flatulence issues.
Benefits of the FODMAP Diet
Shifting to a low FODMAP diet can have multiple benefits for your body, including:
Improvement In Digestive Symptoms
IBS patients have a highly sensitive gut. Therefore, they frequently suffer from issues like indigestion, diarrhea, and abdominal bloating.
The restriction of short-chain carbohydrates eliminates the trigger for a gut upset. Latest research shows that 50 to 80% of IBS patients report significant improvements in the following global symptoms:
According to a systematic review, reducing your FODMAP intake also helps relieve symptoms of non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
This restrictive diet can also help reduce gastric symptoms among Fabry disease patients. It is regarded as an essential aspect of the multidisciplinary care model for patients.
Fermentable carbohydrate restriction significantly improves the gut microbiota, which reduces colonic gas.
A systematic review suggests that long-term adherence to a low FODMAP diet results in evident improvements in functional gastrointestinal symptoms.
Better Quality of Life
IBS is a chronic condition that negatively impacts your quality of life. People suffering from infirmity have a persistently upset stomach and irritating symptoms like gas that affect their day-to-day functionality.
Reviews show that a low FODMAP diet reduces abdominal pain and discomfort in patients, bringing noticeable improvements in their quality of life.The diet has potential long-term effects on digestive health. Compared with control diets, the FODMAP diet displays evident enhancements in the quality of life.
Does It Work?
Low FODMAP diets remove the stimuli that trigger gastric symptoms in IBS and SIBO patients. The gut microbiota performs better in the absence of indigestible carbohydrates.
Twelve years of extensive studies conclude that FODMAP is an efficacious, easy-to-adopt diet for managing digestive maladies. Therefore, a low FODMAP diet is readily accepted as a front-line therapy for gastric issues like IBS.Per a meta-analysis, the efficacy of a low FODMAP diet is greater than controlled diets. Another meta-analysis finds FODMAP to be highly productive for global IBS symptom management.
How to Start a FODMAP Diet?
You must follow a dietary routine to get the maximum benefit from FODMAP. There are three different stages of the diet, including:
The first stage is complete abstinence from all high-FODMAP foods. As certain minerals and vitamins in FODMAP foods are essential for overall health, eliminating them in the long term can lead to serious health concerns
FODMAP diet is a systematic process that involves restriction for some time, followed by low FODMAP alternatives.
The restrictive phase lasts for a period of four to eight weeks. Limiting yourself to low FODMAP edibles relieves symptoms and helps you regain digestive health.
The duration of the appearance of results varies between individuals. Some start noticing changes after four weeks, but others have to wait for the entire period, i.e., eight weeks. According to a study, the effective period for most patients is four to six weeks.
There is no hard and fast rule regarding the first phase. You can progress to the next stage once you feel adequate relief from symptoms.
ReIntroduction of High FODMAP Foods
Once your digestive health improves from the dietary restriction, you should start consuming FODMAP foods in your daily diet gradually.
You must take one FODMAP-rich food at a time and notice the appearance of symptoms. The average duration of this stage is six to 10 weeks.
The sequential and systematic introduction of FODMAP foods has a couple of benefits. Firstly, it helps you identify which food types you are sensitive to that trigger your symptoms. Secondly, reintroduction one at a time allows you to establish the amount you can take safely for a specific food item.
Modified Low FODMAP Diet
A low FODMAP food list includes items such as meat, seafood, lactose-free dairy products, fruits such as strawberries, oranges, and grapes, and vegetables such as potato, tomato, eggplant, and carrots. You can also consume dairy alternatives, most nuts, and grains such as rice, quinoa, and corn flakes.
Some foods high in FODMAPS include nuts such as cashews and pistachios, wheat, rye, fruits such as apples, cherries, mango, and watermelon, and vegetables such as cauliflower, onion, mushrooms, garlic, and snap peas. You should also avoid dairy products containing lactose.
FODMAPs are sugars and short-chain carbs that the body struggles to digest. If you suffer from digestive and gut health issues such as IBS or SIBO, you may want to seek information about a low FODMAP diet. If not, the average person does not need to be concerned with whether their food products are high in FODMAPs.
According to the Monash University low and high FODMAP food lists, eggs are a low FODMAP protein source. Most meats, aside from processed meats, are low FODMAP foods. Other low FODMAP options include nuts, many fruits, and dairy alternatives.