The low FODMAP diet has been a popular diet used to help people who suffer from digestive symptoms like bloating, gas and stomach pain.
There is also research to support the fact that a low FODMAP diet might help people who suffer from mood disorders such as anxiety and depression. This is no surprise considering the gut and the brain have a strong connection.
The acronym FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides And Polyols or sugar alcohols (if you aren’t familiar with sugar alcohols go listen to episode 8 to find out why they might be making your gut worse).
FODMAPs are natural sugars found in all foods that can be difficult for many people to digest, especially if you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis (IBD), hypothyroidism, celiac disease, or leaky gut.
The low FODMAP diet helps to reduce bacterial overgrowth by restricting foods that feed bacteria.
How do FODMAPs trigger symptoms?
When FODMAPs pass into the colon, they ferment and create gas. Once they reach the colon, they pull water into the intestinal tract. The water and gas build up, which can lead to bloating, cramping, pain, and diarrhea/constipation
These foods do not cause IBS, but limiting their intake might provide an opportunity for management of symptoms in some patients.
What can’t you eat on the low FODMAP diet?
It’s a pretty hefty list and it’s often overwhelming when my clients think that they aren’t going to be able to eat anything. What you will also notice is that these foods are nutrient dense healthy foods that most people would deem as being really healthy. The list includes things like beans, certain vegetables like broccoli, asparagus, brussels sprouts, fruits, onions and garlic, nuts, and certain sweeteners like honey and agave. You can find a full list here.
How do I use this diet in my practice?
A low FODMAP diet might help treat symptoms, but if someone has leaky gut or dysbiosis- both of which are treatable, I might do the modified version of this while we treat the root cause.
This is not meant to be a long term diet. The reintroduction phase is where people typically go wrong. This phase includes adding different groups of FODMAPS at certain times, with rest between exposures in order to pay attention to which groups might be your worst triggers and which you might be fine with.
Reintroduction or rechallenge of FODMAP foods is recommended based on individual tolerance and should be done under supervision of a professional. At 2-3 weeks you should see benefits. At the 2-3 week mark, I have my clients remain on the diet until they see peak level of improvement then we wait 1-2 months before going into the robust introduction of foods.
The Reintroduction Phase
Reintroducing foods will happen on a rolling 6-day schedule: 3 days of challenging, 3 days of washing out or “resetting”. Except for the food were introducing, we maintain a low-FODMAP diet during this entire reintroduction period. On days 1, 2 and 3, I have them consume one serving of a food from the FODMAP group they’ve chosen, increasing the serving size from small to medium to large each day as long as your symptoms do not return. I recommend beginning with galacto-oligosaccharides like chickpeas, split peas, white beans and kidney beans, as they typically have the most immediate prebiotic benefits.
It is important to work with a dietitian who specializes in gut health and the low FODMAP diet such as myself because if you are cutting out all these foods or are on any restrictive diet, you are at risk food nutritional deficiencies which could make your health worse than it was before.
To learn more about this diet and how I use it, listen to episode 10 on my podcast.
Have you tried the low FODMAP diet? If you are interested in working 1:1 with me to improve your gut health, go to NutritionRewired.com.
In great health,