Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) can be unpredictable and debilitating, with symptoms including gas, bloating, cramping, constipation and diarrhoea. While no one knows what causes IBS and there is currently no known cure, the good news is it can be well managed with a low FODMAP diet. At Everyday Nutrition, our dietitians are here to help you get off the IBS rollercoaster and rediscover the joy of eating.
There are many functional gastrointestinal disorders which cause similar symptoms to IBS, including Coeliac Disease, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Crohn’s and Colitis) and even some cancers. It is essential to rule these out and investigate any “red flags” with your doctor before exploring dietary modifications such as an Irritable Bowel Syndrome diet. Once you have been given the all clear, Everyday Nutrition can help you enjoy a better quality of life with qualified diet advice and treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome in Melbourne.
FODMAP is an acronym for four groups of short chain carbohydrates, or sugar molecules found naturally a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes and dairy products (eg lactose intolerance). When we consume FODMAPs in food or drinks they are not absorbed properly in the small intestine. They stay in the digestive tract and continue their path to the large intestine, or colon. There are two processes that can occur as FODMAPs pass through the digestive tract that may trigger symptoms in certain people including; bloating, cramping, wind, diarrhoea or constipation and abdominal pain:
1. Certain FODMAPs are highly osmotic (they draw water into the intestine). Because of this, they create pressure within the gut, and often cause diarrhoea.
2. FODMAPs are fermented by the bacteria that naturally live in the large intestine, which can create large volumes of gas. For those with sensitive nerve endings (i.e. IBS patients) this can result in abdominal distention, bloating and cramping.
It’s important to remember that this fermentation is a normal process, and is actually a sign that the food you are eating is providing fuel and nourishment to your gut microbiota. So a small amount of bloating and wind is ok and healthy. If your bloating and gut symptoms are excessive and impacting on your quality of life, you may like to try the low FODMAP diet to see if it reduces the severity of your gut symptoms.
Most people are not sensitive to all of the FODMAP groups, and since limiting FODMAPs restricts nourishment to your healthy gut bacteria it is not recommended to follow a low FODMAP diet indefinitely. For this reason, the low FODMAP diet is conducted in three phases:
Phase 1 – Low FODMAP phase: This phase lasts 2-6 weeks. During this time, you will avoid foods high in all FODMAP groups, so that we can assess your overall response to restriction.
Phase 2 – Re-challenge phase: During the re-challenge phase, your dietitian will guide you through FODMAP challenges to help you determine your level of sensitivity to the different FODMAP sugars. This phase needs to be well structured and challenge foods need to be chosen carefully to help you get clear results.
Phase 3 – Modified low FODMAP diet: Once you know your trigger FODMAPs and level of sensitivity, your dietitian can help you to reintroduce some high and moderate FODMAP foods. This stage is important, to ensure that your diet is balanced in the long term for optimal health, wellbeing and of course to keep your gut healthy!