Benefits of a diet low in FODMAPs

Benefits of a diet low in FODMAPs

When a person goes on the FODMAP diet they usually have one or more of the following symptoms: bloating, abdominal swelling or pain, excessive gas, constipation or diarrhoea

Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and the thing you often want to do is to eliminate Fodmaps from your daily diet. Do we know what they are and what they consist of?

What is the low-FODMAPS diet?

This is a type of diet that suppresses certain carbohydrates (known as FODMAPs) to improve problems related to gastrointestinal diseases and pathologies, especially irritable bowel syndrome.

The low FODMAP diet was developed at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia in the late 1990s.

Carbohydrates

FODMAPs are certain types of sugars and hydrates found in many of the foods we eat every day, from fruits and vegetables to dairy, legumes and nuts.

FODMAP is the acronym for “Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols”, i.e. short chain carbohydrates easily fermentable by intestinal bacteria.

Where are FODMAPS foods found?

  • Fructose: fruits, vegetables, honey…
  • Lactose: dairy products…
  • Frucan: wheat, barley, spelt…
  • Galectins: legumes
  • Polyols: sugar alcohols (xylitol, sorbitol, maltitol and mannitol)

This list does not indicate that these foods are unhealthy

In fact, many foods containing FODMAPs also benefit intestinal flora

The FODMAPS Food Problem

Having a low level of digestibility of FODMAPs means that they are not absorbed correctly in the small intestine, since the enzymes that degrade them are lacking and therefore they move on to the large intestine intact where they are fermented by bacteria.

Intestinal flora

The main problem is that they cause symptoms similar to those such as irritable colon, abdominal pain, gas, painful digestions and a long list of complications such as diarrhoea since they are capable of absorbing water from the intestine causing strong diarrhoea.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

IBS is a common digestive disorder that includes symptoms such as gas, bloating, stomach cramps, diarrhea and constipation. The causes are not totally known; however, certain foods do have effects on the patient.

Symptoms

Stress can also trigger the symptoms

The low-FODMAP diet can be an alternative for people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, and thereby improve their quality of life

Benefits of a low FODMAPS diet

If you suffer from intolerance to fermentable foods, the following conditions can be reduced by means of the above protocol:

  • Abdominal swelling
  • Flatulence
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal pain
In addition to the relief it brings on a physiological level, it is important to stress its contribution on a psychological level, producing a mental release, reducing anxiety and lowering stress

How can you follow a FODMAPs diet?

It is important that a low FODMAP diet is well thought out by a specialist to ensure sufficient intake of essential nutrients

It usually develops over a period of two to eight weeks depending on the individual, during which time all FODMAPs are completely eliminated to reduce symptoms.

Foods fodmaps

At the beginning, this type of diet may seem very restrictive, but knowing how to apply it correctly it is not so restrictive

The aim is to reduce their consumption, i.e. to eat foods with low FODMAP content, although it may also be worthwhile to consume a food with a high FODMAP content but in very small quantities.

The mission in the case of fructose is not to eliminate it completely, but to eliminate the excess of fructose in the daily diet.

Later on, some foods are reintroduced and it is determined which ones generate the problems.

Each carbohydrate is introduced, one by one in small quantities, which will allow the identification of the sugar or sugars that cause the symptoms and proceed to avoid them definitively.

Who is it for?

Since 2005 several studies have supported that it can be an alternative for patients suffering from ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, irritable colon or similar intestinal discomfort, always being supervised by a specialist so that it does not produce nutritional deficiencies.

Intestine

Despite this, the effect of the FODMAP diet on the intestinal flora is still being studied and there is still a lack of research to support its application.

Food Table Diet FODMAP

Foods fodmaps 1

Intolerance to Gluten

It has been proven that people who believe they suffer intolerance to gluten experience an improvement in their symptoms by reducing their consumption of FODMAPs.

Therefore, perhaps gluten is not the cause of their symptoms.

Gluten diet

The relationship between a coeliac-friendly diet and a low FODMAP is that both reduce grains such as wheat, barley and rye as they contain gluten and high FODMAP levels, however, FODMAPs are found in carbohydrates and not protein.

Recent studies show that increasing fibre intake improves symptoms in 1 in 30 people, while reducing consumption of FODMAPs improves symptoms in 3 in 4 people

Use of Probiotics and Digestive Enzymes

In addition to eliminating FODMAPs for a period of time, it is recommended to use probiotics and digestive enzymes:

  • Probiotics: Living microorganisms that help keep the gastrointestinal flora healthy, reducing harmful bacteria and improving intestinal mobility.
  • Digestive enzymes: Molecules generated by our own organism, which are fundamental for the correct metabolisation of the food we eat, a deficient diet or one that is ageing and oxidising can reduce its production.
The most common example of an enzyme is lactase. A deficit of this enzyme leads to lactose intolerance. If this is our problem, providing daily digestive enzymes will reduce stress on the walls of the stomach and intestine by improving digestive function and strengthening the immune system.

Conclusions

Following a FODMAP diet does not strictly imply a gluten-free diet, which is recommended in cases of coeliac disease. The reason for excluding wheat, barley or rye is because of the presence of fructo-oligosaccharides, not gluten.

Visiting a specialist to confirm the diagnosis, identifying harmful habits and managing your stress levels in daily life will be the recommended actions in cases of illnesses related to the digestive system.

Sources

  1. Salud Nutrición, bienestar.
  2. Mario Bautista Trigueros y María Michela Mancarelli “El intestino feliz: Dieta FODMAP y síndrome del Intestino Irritable” 24-nov-2015.
  3. Barrett JS, Gibson PR. Fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols (FODMAPs) and nonallergic food intolerance: FODMAPs or food chemicals? Therap Adv Gastroenterol. 2012 July; 5(3) 261-268.
  4. Shepherd SJ. (2014, March 26). Is Gluten Really the Problem? The Role of FODMAPs in Gluten-Related Disorders.
  5. Halmos EP, Power VA, Shepherd SJ, Gibson PR, Muir JG. A Diet Low in FODMAPs Reduces Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Gastroenterology 2014.

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About María José García
María José García
María José has been connected to sport throughout her whole life. She has competed in several sport disciplines such as skating, swimming or gymnastics since she was a little girl.
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