LOW FODMAPS DIET
A diet that is trendy right now is the LOW FODMAP diet. So, what is this diet anyway? Will it benefit me and is it safe to do long term?
These are just some of many questions I have coming into my clinic right now for the FOD MAP diet. So here is a short blog post about my take on it. Like any diet I do believe short term is okay, long term is not sustainable and can be damaging to your health. Here’s why:
What are FODMAPS?
Fodmaps are a group of carbohydrates that are easily fermented in the gut. They can be difficult to break down for some people and they react in the small intestine.
“FODMAP” is the acronym for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols, a group of short-chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols (polyols). These nutrients are ubiquitous in the diet.
Act as prebiotics-feed the gut lining, encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria. They can be fermenting in the wrong place, creating IBS like symptoms.
The key FODMAPs are:
- Oligosaccharides, such as fructans/ fructo-oligosaccharides (found in grains and vegetables) and galactans/galacto-oligosaccharides (found in legumes).
- Disaccharides, such as lactose (found in milk).
- Monosaccharides, such as fructose (found in fruit) .
- Polyols, such as sorbitol (found in sweetened products).
Food such as:
- High lactose foods (e.g. milk, yoghurt).
- High oligosaccharide foods (e.g. chickpeas, lentils).
- High fructose foods (e.g. certain fruits and honey).
- High fructan foods (e.g. wheat, onion).
- High polyol and polyol-sweetened foods (e.g. certain fruits and confectionery).
The main reason someone will try a FOD MAP diet is usually to combat digestive upsets that resemble IBS like symptoms, therefore a low FOD MAP diet is so beneficial for a person who suffers from IBS.
Yes, short term you will see results however just by taking the foods out you haven’t fixed the problem. I like to describe this to people as if you have a leaky roof and it’s raining, once the rain has stopped the roof is no longer leaking, however if we don’t fix the roof the leak will return next time it rains.
What we can do to fix the problem is removing the food short term while we heal the gut. Then after usually about 6 weeks we can start the add the foods back in slowly and hopefully you will be okay to eat them again without it causing anymore digestive upset. One way I can help as a practitioner is to give a product with high levels of glutamine in it, this is very good at fixing the leaky roof while we have stopped it raining, support enzyme production and give a specific strain of good bacteria such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus (LGG) which is one if the best strains to help heal the gut lining. This will help reduce the reaction and increase immune tolerance.
Why should FOD MAPs only be removed temporary?
FOD MAP foods do play a role in a healthy gut, they feed our good bacteria so are known as prebiotics. So long term can starve our good bacteria. The foods are healthy so it’s important to keep them in the diet.
In summary yes, a LOW FODMAP diet will help short term, however this is just a Band-Aid solution and FODMAP foods do play an important role in our gut health. So yes, best to avoid short term while we fix the primary cause of the problem so after a short amount of time you can start adding these foods back in with no more intolerance to them.