Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, may affect around 10 percent of Americans. It causes physical pain and can also have a severe impact on the quality of life.
It’s easy to talk about diarrhea, gas, bloating, and stomach pain that IBS can cause. But that’s only half of the story. It can also cause anxiety and contribute to depression, potentially clouding a life under fear.
Diet is one way to manage the painful symptoms of IBS. Professionals often suggest an elimination diet to help identify potential triggers that elicit symptoms.
But there’s a problem. Eliminating foods from your diet, and knowing which are having an effect, can be a strenuous task.
Following a low FODMAP diet, on the other hand, maybe a more suitable option. This diet can be a helpful first step in identifying and removing trigger foods.
FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols. Each of those is poorly absorbed short-chain carbohydrates that are often associated with IBS symptoms.
- Oligosaccharides are found in wheat, onions, garlic, beans, lentils, and soy.
- Disaccharides are found in lactose.
- Monosaccharides are in fructose. Apples and honey are high in fructose.
- Polyols are found in some fruits, veggies, and artificial sweeteners. Stone fruit and mushrooms are high in polyols.
A low FODMAP diet takes a comprehensive approach to limit these compounds. It works by eliminating most FODMAP foods for two weeks to a month and replacing them with alternatives.
Monitor how you feel in a diary, then begin to reintroduce foods you’re missing or would like to include back into your diet over a six-to-eight-week period. Keep a chart to identify which foods you’ve reintroduced, how much, and how they make you feel.
Research has shown that a low FODMAP diet can improve the physical symptoms of IBS, like boating and diarrhea, in addition to reducing anxiety and improving quality of life.