Is the FODMAP diet right for you?

Is the FODMAP diet right for you?

By Leslie H. Price, MD
Gastroenterologist

FODMAPs is an acronym, coined by two Australian researchers, that refers to Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols.  These are small chain sugars, fibers, and sugar alcohols that are poorly digested by humans, but are easily digested by the bacteria in your intestine and colon.  When the bacteria consume FODMAPs, they produce gas, which leads to symptoms of gas, bloating, abdominal discomfort, and changes in bowel movements.  The FODMAP diet is used to alleviate the impact these types of foods have on your gastrointestinal tract. 

A diet low in FODMAPs food was designed to help minimize symptoms in individuals that suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and functional bloating.  You should discuss your symptoms with your physician prior to starting this diet since other gastrointestinal related disorders need to be excluded first (i.e., celiac disease, thyroid disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and others). 

If a diet low in FODMAP is recommended for you, we advise that seek the guidance of a dietician with experience in this area.  Many patients report improvement on this diet, but this diet can be difficult to follow and therefore guidance from a knowledgeable dietician can be extremely helpful.  Foods and beverages such as milk, apples, pears, mango, honey, agave syrup, watermelon, broccoli, onions, garlic, wheat, barley, peaches, apricots, blackberries and common fiber additives, such as inulin or chicory root extract are all sources of FODMAPs. 

Once you have established a plan with your dietician, we recommend that you follow the diet for 6-8 weeks and then review the results with your physician. The goal of the trial period is to determine whether a diet low in FODMAP provides relief of symptoms.  Afterwards, you can work with your care team to begin the important reintroduction of certain FODMAP-containing foods into your diet.

For more information, visit this site with recipes and resources from an internationally recognized FODMAP diet expert or click here for a printable table on FOMAPs food to eat and avoid.

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