- Integrative Medicine
- Health Blog
The FODMAP diet is considered to be one of the most effective diets in the management of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). IBS is a common gastrointestinal disorder the developed world where it affects one in seven adults. It is characterised by abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, wind and stool changes often swinging from diarrhoea to constipation. However, there is often no pathological change detected in bowel studies. FODMAP is an acronym that stands for: Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. These substances are essentially all types of sugars or sugar alcohols. It should be noted that the typical western processed food diet contains a large amount of these sugars as added ingredients – examples include galactose, lactose, fructose, sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol and maltilol.
All of these types of sugars are poorly absorbed in the human small intestine, leading to fermentation, toxicity and gas production by bowel bacteria. Weakening and stretching (distension) of the intestinal walls by this digestive dysfunction leads to the symptoms of IBS. People with fructose sensitivity and lactose intolerance are more specific examples of the general FODMAP sensitivity found in some people and will also benefit from this diet, which was developed by a team at Monash University in Australia.
Apart from processed foods mentioned, many of these sugars are found naturally, though in much smaller amounts. People who have developed IBS may be sensitive to fruits and vegetables containing FODMAPs, even though they were not sensitive previously. Some examples of foods are listed below:
Fructans: Wheat, Rye, Barley, Onion, Garlic, Spring Onion, Leek, Beetroot, Chicory, Dandelion leaves, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Fennel, Chocolate
Galactans: Beans and pulses
Polyols: Stonefruits, Apples, Avocados, Blackberries, Lychees, Pears, Watermelons, Cauliflower and Mushrooms
A rule of thumb is that fruits, onions and vegetables of the cabbage family are to be avoided on the FODMAP diet as is lactose containing dairy food.
Vegetables: bok choy, cucumbers, capsicum, carrots, corn, eggplant, lettuce, leafy greens, pumpkin, potatoes, yams, zucchini
Fruits: bananas, berries (not blackberries or boysenberries), rock melon, grapes, grapefruit, honeydew, kiwifruit, kumquat, lemon, lime, mandarin, orange, passion fruit, pawpaw, pineapple, rhubarb, tangerine, tomatoes
Proteins: meats and fish all OK, nuts (except cashews and pistachios), seeds
Grains: gluten free grains and their products, oats, quinoa, rice, tapioca
Beverages: Water, coffee and tea. Avoid fruit juices.
Dairy: Lactose free dairy products, hard cheeses, alternative milk products (soy, rice and almond milk)
Monash University has a website with further information on IBS and the FODMAP protocol: