What is the low FODMAP diet?

You have probably heard the term FODMAP thrown around recently, but many people don’t know exactly what it means.

FODMAPs (aka Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols) are a collection of short-chain carbohydrates (sugars) which are not properly absorbed in the gut. This can trigger symptoms in people with IBS or food intolerances. FODMAPs are found naturally in numerous foods and food additives.

The low FODMAP diet was developed by researchers at Monash University and involves limiting the foods that contain FODMAPs that aggravate the gut and cause symptoms like bloating, gas and abdominal pain.

The low FODMAP diet is to be followed for 2-6 weeks until symptoms improve, followed by re-introduction challenges to determine which foods an individual is sensitive to. The ultimate goal is to have a wide and varied diet that only has to exclude or limit the foods that aggravate symptoms.

It is important to proceed through the re-introduction phase of the diet as such as restrictive diet in the long term can actually be worse for gut health as many high FODMAP foods are a great source of prebiotics. Long term restriction can worsen gut symptoms over time.

In addition, despite being named a ‘diet,’ the FODMAP diet is not a weight loss diet.

If you are suffering from IBS or any of the above gut symptoms and you think you’d benefit from trying a low FODMAP diet, it is best done under the guidance of an Accredited Practising Dietitian or health professional for optimal long term outcomes and symptoms relief.

Gibson P.R.1, Shepherd S.J. (2010). Evidence-based dietary management of functional gastrointestinal symptoms: The FODMAP approach, J Gastroenterol Hepatol ,25, 2, 252-8
Shepherd S.J., Parker F.C., Muir J.G., Gibson P.R. (2008). Dietary triggers of abdominal symptoms in patients with irritable bowel syndrome: randomized placebo-controlled evidence, Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol, 6, 7, 765-71.