Relevance of low FODMAP diet for IBS

Short answer – it depends, based on each individual’s reaction to various food combinations.

Long answer – there is considerable interest in this low FODMAP diet for IBS as FODMAP intake, specifically fructose, has increased in Western diets over the past three decades owing to increased availability of fruits and concentrated fruit juices and the extensive use of high fructose corn syrup in a wide variety of processed foods and beverages ranging from soft drinks, to yoghurts and breads. The low FODMAP diet was developed based on the poor absorption of the short-chain carbohydrates in the small intestine which causes gas production and increases intestinal osmolality due to their rapid fermentation and osmotic action.

When a person knows the difference between high and low FODMAP foods, it makes it more straightforward for them to incorporate them into a diet. Both categories contain a wide range of food groups. It is best to speak with your physician or dietitian before starting a low FODMAP diet. This diet plan is not for long-term adoption, as it eliminates some essential, nutrient-rich foods.

A low FODMAP diet involves three phases:

  • Elimination: Typically, 3–8 weeks depending on a person’s response to the diet, when a person eliminates all high FODMAPs.
  • Re-introduction: Once symptoms have subsided or improved, get individual FODMAP food items into the diet, usually one item about every 3–7 days. This can help identify trigger foods.
  • Maintenance: Return to a regular diet, limiting only the FODMAP foods that cause IBS symptoms.

A low FODMAP diet may help improve symptoms of IBS, but not everyone responds well to this diet. Assess benefits and risks with your physician before you start.

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