Low FODMAP: is it for me? Is it forever?
In case you’re new to FODMAPs – well, even if you’re not – let's begin with an introductory video from the founders of the Low FODMAP movement, Monash University. It will explain the link between FODMAPs and symptoms.
Who is the Low FODMAP diet for?
The low FODMAP diet can potentially help anyone having symptoms of gastrointestinal distress such as bloating, nausea, cramps, diarrhoea, constipation, acid reflux, and heartburn. If you have any symptoms such as blood in your stool, sudden and sustained diarrhoea, fever, anemia, weight loss, or if you are over 60, you should go to your doctor as soon as possible.
People with IBS will definitely benefit from following the low FODMAP diet. For those with IBD, SIBO, leaky gut syndrome, candidiasis and other bowel issues, the low FODMAP diet along with additional support is recommended. You may of course still find it helps you even if you aren't diagnosed with any specific problems.
The low FODMAP diet may not be suitable for those who are at risk of malnutrition, those prone to disordered eating, or those who can not purchase or prepare their own food. It is always recommended that you talk to your doctor or a FODMAP trained dietitian before starting a new diet to help keep you safe and to make sure that you have sound and trustworthy information and advice that's right for you.
Why aren’t FODMAPs a thing for everyone?
Your gut contains a whole host of bacteria called your microbiome. It is estimated that in a 70kg individual there 100 trillion microorganisms weighing a total of about 200g. These bacteria play an important role in the digestive process, helping to break down your food in to nutrients that your body can absorb.
Natural variation in the microbiome can lead to people have varying degrees of success in breaking down different foods, as can changes in bacteria due to illness, antibiotic use, and stress. For some people the undigested elements of their food pass through with no symptoms. For others they can become fermented by bacteria, leading to symptoms such as bloating, nausea, cramps, and diarrhoea.
There is emerging research about why microbiomes vary from person to person, but more needs to be done. For now the best way to manage your symptoms is by learning which foods work for you.
Can I get a test to see if I need to go Low FODMAP?
Unfortunately there are no medical or lab tests that can tell you if you're sensitive to FODMAPS. Keeping a food journal can help you to spot patterns in your symptoms and make links with the foods you ate, and can make it much easier for your health professional to indentify the root cause of your symptoms. Be sure to get professional advice before embarking on the Low FODMAP diet!
If I do the Low FODMAP diet, will it be for ever?
Low FODMAP forever is not recommended because restricting for too long will reduce your gut bacteria diversity. Restricting is only recommended for a short period of time (up to two months) to allow symptoms to subside. The aim of the low FODMAP diet is to help you learn new long-term dietary habits to prevent symptoms of gastrointestinal distress. The foods that you can and can not tolerate may change over time, and will be different from person to person.
Some people find that they need to avoid FODMAPs to a greater or lesser extent on an ongoing basis after doing the elimination phase, though most find that they are only sensitive to one or two types of FODMAPs. There are also products available such as FODZYME® Enzymes to help you eat high FODMAP foods without symptoms. (NB we recommend waiting till after you have completed the elimination and reintroduction phases before using enzymes as they may skew your results.) If you are struggling then you should get professional advice from a FODMAP trained dietitian.
Whatever works for you, Fodpod is here to support you through your journey with information and products that you can trust.