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04 Jan, 2024

Understanding FODMAP & IBS

This is your essential guide on understanding and managing Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) with the low FODMAP diet, according to nutritional therapist Marilia Chamon. As a nutritional therapist focused on gut health, my aim is to demystify these topics, offering clarity and practical advice for improved digestive wellness.

Health

Understanding IBS

Irritable Bowel Syndrome, commonly known as IBS, is a functional gastrointestinal disorder characterised by a combination of symptoms including abdominal pain, bloating, and altered bowel habits such as constipation and diarrhoea. The exact cause of IBS is not fully understood, but it's believed to result from a complex interplay of factors including gut-brain axis disturbances, gastrointestinal motility issues, visceral hypersensitivity from the gut, and disturbances in gut microbiota.

  • Symptoms of IBS can vary significantly from person to person but typically include:
  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Bloating and gas

Changes in bowel movements (diarrhoea, constipation, or alternating between both) Diagnosing IBS often involves ruling out other medical conditions such as Coeliac Disease and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). This process might include a medical history review, physical examinations, and various tests. IBS is often identified based on symptoms aligning with established criteria, such as the Rome IV criteria.

The Low FODMAP Diet

The low FODMAP diet, developed by researchers at Monash University, has emerged as a key dietary strategy for managing IBS symptoms. FODMAPs are a group of carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine and can be problematic for individuals with IBS.

  • Understanding FODMAPs: The acronym FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols. These short-chain carbohydrates are found in a wide range of foods, including certain fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy products.

The Diet's Phases

  • Elimination: Temporarily removing high FODMAP foods to alleviate symptoms.
  • Reintroduction: Systematically reintroducing foods to identify triggers.
  • Personalization: Developing a long-term, personalised eating plan.

Foods to Avoid and Include:

High FODMAP foods like onions, garlic, apples, wheat, and dairy products with lactose are initially reduced. Low FODMAP alternatives are encouraged, such as vegetables like carrots and potatoes, fruits like oranges and kiwis, and gluten-free grains.

Why Seek Professional Guidance

Undertaking the low FODMAP diet should be done under the supervision of a healthcare professional for several reasons:

  • Tailored Approach: Individual responses to FODMAPs vary widely. A professional can help tailor the diet to your specific needs and preferences.
  • Nutritional Adequacy: It's crucial to maintain a balanced diet while avoiding certain foods. A nutritionist can help ensure that your diet remains nutritionally complete.
  • Emotional and Educational Support: Navigating dietary changes can be challenging. Professional support provides not just dietary guidance but also emotional and educational support.

Lifestyle Considerations and Additional Tips

Managing IBS isn't just about diet. Lifestyle factors play a crucial role too:

  • Stress Management: Stress can trigger or worsen IBS symptoms. Techniques like mindfulness, yoga, and regular exercise can be beneficial.
  • Regular Exercise: Physical activity can improve bowel regularity and reduce stress.
  • Adequate Sleep: Poor sleep can exacerbate IBS symptoms. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night.

Conclusion

Living with IBS can be challenging, but with the right strategies, including the low FODMAP diet and lifestyle modifications, it's possible to manage symptoms effectively. Remember, each person's journey with IBS is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Seeking professional guidance is key to navigating this journey successfully.

    Marilia Chamon is a registered nutritional therapist, gut health and IBS expert, and the founder of Gutfulness Nutrition. Marilia has trained on the use of the low FODMAP diet with Monash University and is certified in Applying Functional Medicine in Clinical Practice from the world renowned Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM). Marilia is also a SIBO trained practitioner. Her practice is rooted in science-based nutrition and her advice is based on the latest scientific research.

    Website: https://www.gutfulnessnutrition.com
    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/gutfulnessnutrition/