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Everything to know about gut health & the FODMAP Diet

Uncategorized Nov 29, 2022

If you’re one of the legions of people suffering from digestive issues, feeling bloated and uncomfortable after eating, then you may be surprised to learn that the solution could be as simple as altering your diet.

Many common foods contain fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols—otherwise known as FODMAPs. For too many, a diet high in FODMAPs can cause digestive issues like bloating, gas, diarrhoea, and constipation. If that sounds a little too familiar, you may want to consult with a registered dietitian and ask about the FODMAPs diet.

A low-FODMAP diet is a temporary elimination diet that can help to provide relief from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and symptoms (like abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhoea and constipation). Research has shown that the low-FODMAP diet can be an effective treatment for IBS, with up to 75% of people experiencing symptom relief. While the low-FODMAP diet may seem daunting at first, your dietitian is there to help you along your journey to improving the quality of your life.

We know you may have many questions, so keep reading to learn more about what the low-FODMAP diet is and how you can follow it successfully to decrease complicated gastrointestinal symptoms and live a high-performance lifestyle.

What are FODMAPs?

FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharide, Di-, Monosaccharide, and Polysaccharide. FODMAPs are a type of carbohydrate that is not well absorbed by the gut. These carbohydrates are usually fermented by our gut bacteria and in a person suffering from IBS, can cause a range of digestive issues like bloating, gas, diarrhoea, and constipation. 

Foods high in FODMAPs include certain fruits (like apples and pears), vegetables (like garlic and onions), dairy products (like milk and yoghurt), grains (like wheat and rye), legumes (like beans and lentils), and sweeteners (like honey and agave).

Why are FODMAPs difficult to digest?

banner for foodmap diet

Photo by Carolina Heza on Unsplash

These carbohydrates are poorly digested and absorbed by humans because they are linked together in long chains, so they’re too big to pass through our small intestines. They are fermented in the large intestine by our gut bacteria and this is why we call them Fermentable Oligosaccharide Polyols or FODMAPs for short.

So, when you eat something containing FODMAPs, it takes longer for your body to break them down. Because of this, some people experience bloating, gas, stomach cramps, diarrhoea, constipation, flatulence, and abdominal pain. For the majority of people, this isn’t an issue, but a person suffering from IBS tends to have a more sensitive gut so these symptoms are increased. 

Are FODMAPs bad for everyone?

The problem arises when these fermentable carbs trigger inflammation in the intestines, causing uncomfortable symptoms like bloating, cramping, flatulence, stomach pains, and diarrhoea. Some people experience these symptoms even without eating anything else. This is called irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS.

While there's no cure for IBS, many people find relief by taking prebiotics and/or probiotics. Prebiotics help feeds good gut bacteria, probiotics increase the number of good bacteria in the gut. However, it should be noted that not all prebiotics and probiotics are created equal and symptom relief is strain specific. 

What is the FODMAP diet and how does it work?

image of diet acronym

Photo by Jamie Matociños on Unsplash

The aim of the FODMAP diet is to help you learn which foods trigger symptoms and which you are able to tolerate. It is a 3 step temporary elimination diet that in the first step eliminates all foods high in FODMAPs for a period of time (usually 6-8 weeks). After that elimination period, step 2 is where you will slowly start to reintroduce foods back into your diet one at a time to see how your body reacts. This process will help you identify which FODMAPs trigger your symptoms so that you can avoid them in the future and which FODMAPs you are able to tolerate. In step 3 the aim is to expand the foods included in your diet and establish a long-term FODMAP diet specific to you. It is important to note that tolerance levels of foods can change over time so food challenges should be repeated. 

What are the benefits of the FODMAP diet?

couple prepare healthy food

Photo by Wasa Crispbread on Unsplash

The low FODMAP diet is one of the most effective treatments for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). In fact, it works better than many medications prescribed for the disorder. This dietary approach is based on research showing that certain types of carbohydrates trigger gastrointestinal distress, especially in people with IBS. 

A recent study showed that patients who followed a low FODMAP regimen reported improvements in both physical and mental health. For example, participants experienced that the FODMAP diet provided relief from digestive symptoms like bloating, gas, diarrhoea, and constipation. 

For some people, following this diet can also help reduce anxiety, improve their mood, and enjoy greater energy levels. This diet can also help you figure out what foods make your symptoms worse so you can avoid them in the future.

A low-FODMAP menu might include some foods that don't sound appetising, such as cauliflower rice, quinoa pasta, and applesauce. But there are plenty of delicious choices too, including brown rice, sweet potato fries, and some others.

If you're struggling with digestive issues, the FODMAP diet might be worth a try. 

With that said, a low FODMAP diet is intended for people who have been medically diagnosed with IBS. It is important to exclude other conditions that may present with the same symptoms as IBS. . At 4th Discipline, our team has a wealth of clinical experience for a best-in-class result tailored to you.

To know more about the FODMAP diet, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us, and take a moment to learn about our 6-Step Science-Led Journey supported by high-performance clinical dietitians and nutritionists. It will help your own journey to better health and overall wellness. 

3 common questions  about the FODMAP Diet

  1. What is the FODMAP diet?

The fodmap diet is a temporary elimination diet that eliminates all foods high in FODMAPs (Fermentable Oligosaccharide, Di-, Monosaccharide, and Polysaccharide) for a period of time (usually 6-8 weeks). After that elimination period, you will slowly reintroduce foods back into your diet one at a time to see how your body reacts. This process will help you identify which foods trigger your symptoms so that you can avoid them in the future.

  1. What are the benefits of the FODMAP diet?

The fodmap diet can provide relief from digestive symptoms like bloating, gas, diarrhoea, and constipation. For some people, following this diet can also help reduce anxiety and improve mood. Additionally, this diet can help you identify which foods trigger your symptoms so that you can avoid them in the future. 

  1. Can vegetarians follow a low FODMAP diet?

A well-balanced vegetarian diet is often recommended for people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). However, some people find it difficult to follow due to the inclusion of certain types of food in the diet. In particular, the presence of fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols (FODMAPs) can cause symptoms similar to those experienced by IBS sufferers.

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