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We Need FODMAPs!

The low FODMAP diet is a great way of managing gut symptoms if you have a sensitive gut. However, FODMAPs form a very important part of our diet for many different reasons.

  • The greater the variety in our diet of healthy food choices the better our nutrient intake

  • Foods contain more than just nutrients - so diversity of foods is important to receive the range of benefits different foods provide

  • When we reduce our FODMAP content of our diet it has been shown that we also reduce prebiotics by 50%

Prebiotics enhance the growth of your friendly bacteria while probiotics refer to the friendly bacteria that live in our gut and provide us with a huge range of health benefits linked with our mental health, immune systems and ultimately our gut health.

FODMAP foods are generally regarded as prebiotics as they support our friendly microbe colones in our gut. Switching the foods available to these bacteria may not be the best solution for our health in the long term.

So how to work around this?

By going through the whole FODMAP Elimination Diet- all 3 phases - from the initial elimination to the challenges and finally including the FODMAPs back into your diet at a level you can manage. This will help our friendly gut microbes to flourish and promote a healthy gut going forward.

The risk is that many people just avoid all the high FODMAP foods without realising that they may only be reacting to one group of FODMAPs so are avoiding the rest needlessly. By identifying exactly what you are reacting to with the proper elimination and challenges you can avoid this. And stay healthy longer!

Furthermore, once you have identified the foods you are reacting to- you can sneak small amounts back in to work out how much you can actually eat before any problems arise.

This way you get to have your cake and eat a safe amount of it too! 

Friendly bacteria in our gut need FODMAPs to flourish

 Keeping FODMAPs in the diet

  • MAKE SURE you complete the 3 phases of the low FODMAP diet: 1. Elimination  2. Challenges and 3. Reintroduction as tolerated

  • Reduce FODMAPs only where required (don't over restrict). This requires food challenges to identify which FODMAP foods are actually causing your symptoms.

  • Include FODMAPs in your diet as much as can be tolerated. This maximises the prebiotics.

  • Consider probiotics (healthy bacteria that normally live in the gut)- several studies have shown that some probiotics effectively alleviate the symptoms in patients with IBS, particularly abdominal pain and bloating although much more research is required to guide which type of probiotics should be used in which situations. It is not recommended to commence probiotics during the elimination stage, wait until after challenges and monitor for at least 4 weeks. You may need to trial different probiotics to see which type suits you best.

  • Include some low FODMAP fermented foods in your diet such as lactose-free yoghurt and weak kombucha

  1. Steer, T., Carpenter, H., Tuohy, K. & Gibson, G. R. Perspectives on the role of the human gut microbiota and its modulation by pro- and prebiotics. Nutr. Res. Rev. 13, 229–254 (2000).

  2. Kajander, K., Hatakka, K., Poussa, T., Farkkila, M. & Korpela, R. A probiotic mixture alleviates symptoms in irritable bowel syndrome patients: a controlled 6-month intervention. Aliment. Pharmacol. Ther. 22, 387–394 (2005).

  3. O’Mahony, L. et al. Lactobacillus and bifidobacterium in irritable bowel syndrome: symptom responses and relationship to cytokine profiles. Gastroenterology 128, 541–551 (2005).

  4. Saggioro, A. Probiotics in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. J. Clin. Gastroenterol. 38, S104–106 (2004).

  5. Whorwell, P. J. et al. Efficacy of an encapsulated probiotic Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 in women with irritable bowel syndrome. Am. J. Gastroenterol. 101, 1581–1590 (2006).

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