“Mindful eating is eating with intention while paying attention.” – Katie Konersman RD, CDE
If you are present in the digestive health community or simply into diets, you might have heard of something called the Low-FODMAP Diet. The diets abbreviation stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. The fancy names simply refer to a collection of food molecules that can be poorly absorbed in some people. The low-FODMAP diet has increasingly became acknowledged by the masses. Like all diets, what are truths, falsehoods, and risks it may hold?
In the 90s, the term ‘“low-FODMAP,” did not exist. Doctors were recommending a diet in fewer shorter-chain carbohydrates, including lactose, fructose, sorbitol, and fructans. Such carbohydrates have been known to cause gastrointestinal issues. In the early 2000s, the term low-FODMAP arose in a hypothesis paper testifying that foods that contained short-chain carbohydrates were poorly digested. Indigestion would active the GI tracts nervous system and result in IBS like symptoms. The hypothesis was grasped by researchers and soon enough became a recommended diet for those who experience chronic digestive problems.
Not an IBS Healing Diet
Every diet portrays its self like the end-all-be-all solution to your IBS. The low-FODMAP diet may come across like this by the way some dietitians play it up. To take into consideration, several individuals have received relief from this diet, but it does not work for everyone. Low-FODMAP was created to decrease IBS symptoms like gas, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation. 80% of IBS cases are from microbiome disturbances such as SIBO (small intestine bacteria overgrowth). Although low-FODMAP foods reduce feeding bad bacteria in the gut, it is almost impossible to completely starve the bacteria from following the low-FODMAP. It is claimed that an overload of the bacteria, for example, candida, will thrive off of sugars. The statement is true, especially when consuming lactose, fructose, sorbitol, and fructans. It should be known that candida will feed off of any sugar natural or not. Not consuming any sugars is unrealistic in the mass majority of people. The overall purpose of the low-FODMAP diet is to reduce feeding overgrown bad bacteria to help with digestion. To help SIBO induced IBS, antibiotics are the route to go as well as your own personalized diet.
Dietary therapy is an adequate solution for a digestive condition. Like some therapies, a backlash may occur. In spite of the low-FODMAP diet is extremely beneficial to one’s journey with IBS, several IBS patients have followed this diet for years and still experience symptoms. How so?
One hypothesis is, the diet itself in longer-term usage is nutritionally restrictive. Cutting out foods high in micronutrients like gluten, dairy, some nuts, and veggies, are taking away patients main sources of vital vitamins for good health. To prevent this from happening, follow the guidelines of the low-FODMAP diet. Patients should only follow the diet for 2-6 weeks at most. After this time period, people should reintroduce moderate/high-FODMAP foods back into their diet and reduce known problem foods.
To continue on, FODMAP foods are high in pre-biotics, which feed your gut bacteria. Highly restricting them can result in starvation of your good bacteria. You can take a probiotic (good bacteria supplement), but you may be simply giving your body what it does not need. When it comes to the low-FODMAP diet and using its tools correctly, remember to do both steps in the diet (eliminating and reintroducing phase) as well as eating enough macro and micronutrients to support overall digestive health.
The low-FODMAP diet is a revolutionary step in the right direction when it comes to healing yourself from a functional perspective. The diet can be healthy and beneficial if done in the right way and circumstances. If you find yourself still experiencing IBS like symptoms after following the diet, don’t worry, there are more options! Personally, I followed the diet close to perfect and my digestive issues were still prominent in my daily life. My next step was to get food sensitivity tested. I am highly prone to inflammation when I consume oats and almonds, but according to the low-FODMAp diet, these foods are perfectly safe. I could have only known this if I got tested. Another action was seeing a functional GI doctor. Physicians like these are more compassionate when it comes to IBS related issues and want to find the cause rather than mask symptoms. All in all, do not worry if the low-FODMAP diet did not work for you or the next claimed “gut healing diet”. You call the shots for your health and any type of recovery is a journey.
The low-FODMAP diet is shown to help patients who suffer from chronic long-term digestive issues. The diet is a basic layout for possible high inflammation foods and may not be suitable for all. Abuse with the diet is prevalent in people who do not follow it’s intended length. This may elude to nutritional deficiencies and other GI issues. It is important to talk with your healthcare provider about how your diet may affect your IBS.
Hill, P., Muir, J. G., & Gibson, P. R. (2017). Controversies and Recent Developments of the Low-FODMAP Diet. Gastroenterology & Hepatology, 13(1), 36–45.Julie, (?)., (2018). 3 Reasons Not To Stay on the FODMAP Diet Long-Term, 1(1)