For many people, a successful way to help relieve IBS symptoms is to stay away from foods that include a family of carbohydrates known as FODMAPs.
What is IBS?
Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is a common condition that affects the functioning of the large intestine. IBS has a range of symptoms such as abdominal cramping, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation.
Managing IBS with a low FODMAP diet
Many people with IBS find their symptoms can be greatly improved by staying away from foods that contain a family of carbohydrates called FODMAPs (fermentable, oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols).
- Many dietitians and doctors now recommend a low-FODMAP diet as a key part of a treatment plan for people with IBS. (1)
- Most people with IBS who have tried the diet have experienced a great improvement in their symptoms and a reduced need for medication. (1)
What are FODMAPs?
Some dietary ingredients can cause the bowel to stretch and expand. This happens because they attract fluid and quickly produce gas when they come in contact with (or are fermented by) bacteria in your bowel.
The most common dietary ingredients that do this are called fermentable, poorly absorbed, short-chain carbohydrates. These are sugars that your body can't digest but which become a quick meal for bacteria. These sugars are known as FODMAPs:
- Fermentable — rapidly broken down by bacteria in the bowel.
- Oligosaccharides — fructans and galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS).
- Disaccharides — lactose
- Monosaccharides — fructose.
- Polyols — sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol and maltitol.
If this seems too complex – just remember that 'saccharide' is a different word for sugar. Polyols are sugar alcohols — meaning sugar molecules that have an alcohol side-chain attached. You might already know some of these sugars or have seen them in ingredients lists on food packaging.
Food, FODMAPs and IBS: What to eat and what to avoid Healthy Live Media Limited, 2015
About low FODMAP Monash University, Australia, 2012
Low FODMAP smartphone app Monash University, Australia, 2015
The Low-FODMAP App for Irritable Bowel Syndrome Food & Nutrition Magazine, 2015
The Monash University Low FODMAP Diet booklet Monash University, Australia
- Food, FODMAPs and IBS: What to eat and what to avoid Healthy Live Media Limited, 2015