A Low FODMAP diet is a temporary, restrictive elimination diet that restricts consumption of forms of carbohydrates that cause digestive distress in some people.
It was created by Dr. Sue Shepard and Dr. Peter Gibson, and is used to provide relief from IBS and other digestive disorders, while helping identify the particular foods which are triggering digestive issues. The diet is believed to give gut bacteria an opportunity to rebalance, and may allow some healing of leaky gut issues while calming the immune system.
“Controlled trials continue to find that a well-designed and supervised low FODMAP diet improves symptoms by about 50% in as little as one week. The average success rate is 68-75% of patients that try it.”
Although it’s not specfically part of the diet, taking probiotics starting several weeks before the diet begins and continuing through it may give better results.
This is a complex and difficult-to-adhere to diet, especially for those who must socialize or travel for business. Getting professional guidance from a nutritionist or through our Hong Kong Gut Health Centre is recommended.
The low-FODMAP diet eliminates most dairy, grains, legumes, many fruits such as apples and pears, several vegetables such as asparagus and onions, many grains, garlic and more. There are some excellent low-FODMAP food lists here. Even low-FODMAP foods can be a problem if portions are too large.
Who Is The Low FODMAP Diet For?
IBS, SIBO and other digestive disorders may be relieved with a Low FODMAP diet. Symptoms that may be improved include:
- digestive pain or cramps
- chronic gas
What are FODMAPS?
FODMAP is an acryonom for the foods that are temporarily eliminated on this diet – some people have a FODMAP intolerance to one or several of these:
F – Fermentable (foods that are fermented by bacteria in the large intestine)
O – Oligosaccharides (foods that contain molecules made up of individual sugars joined together in a chain)
D – Disaccharides (foods that contain double sugar molecules)
M – Monosaccharides (foods that contain single sugar molecules)
A – And
P – Polyols (foods that contain sugar alcohols – this isn’t the kind of alcohol that makes you drunk)
How Long Does The Low FODMAP Elimination Diet Last?
It is generally three phases. The first phase, the elimination phase, eliminates all consumption of potential trigger foods containing FODMAPS (see below). Because this is a very restrictive and hard-to-adhere to diet, it is temporary. The first phase allows the gut to heal and symptoms of distress to subside.
The second phase, the reintroduction/rechallenge phase, takes place three to eight weeks later, and slowly reintroduces these foods one at a time, while being alert for symptoms to reappear.
A food which triggers the reappearance of digestive issues such as abdominal pain or indigestion is permanently eliminated.
Once those foods are identified, the third and final phase is a modified low-FODMAP diet that restricts only the FODMAPS you particularly have issues with.
Why Can’t I Just Get An Allergy Test?
Allergy tests such as skin prick tests or breath tests can identify food allergies, where you have an immune system response to a certain food. They’re a great place to start, and we use them in our medical practice frequently. However, they don’t do so well in identifying food intolerances, where your body (or gut bacteria) reacts to a certain food, but it is not an immune system response. A low FODMAP diet can help you discover these food intolerances.