Is Low Fodmap for IBS?


No, Fodmap Is Not A Typo For “Foodmap”, Although Fodmaps Do Help You With Mapping A Healthier Food Journey!

Many people know that diet plays a huge role in the way you feel on a day-to-day basis. However, when it comes to dealing with gastrointestinal diseases, people often turn to medications that can be prescribed by clinicians. However, as of recently, clinicians are adapting to a multidisciplinary approach. Coordinated care between registered dieticians and clinicians is becoming more popular, resulting in a less pharmacological approach and, instead, a focused diet therapy. Integrative medicine aims to empower patients with various gastrointestinal diseases by having options other than medication, such as using food as medicine. How can you use food as medicine for your gastrointestinal disease? 

In order to answer this question, we must first uncover the root cause of gastrointestinal diseases, specifically focusing on Irritable Bowel Syndrome. There are many different ways that IBS presents itself from person to person. Overall, the main symptoms of IBS include pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation. Statistically, 60-80% of patients with IBS report that certain foods trigger their symptoms, making diet therapy a great place to start preventing symptoms. Moreover, the specific foods triggering symptoms in IBS patients all fall into one category conveniently acronymed, FODMAPS. The fodmap diet investigates the role of poorly absorbed short-chain carbohydrates, also known as fodmaps, on the genesis of symptoms in patients with gut disorders, like IBS. 

Limiting fodmaps in your diet is effective in 3 out of 4 patients with IBS for various reasons: 

  1. Short-chain carbohydrates are small in size and are not absorbed well in the intestines, making them osmotically active. Meaning, they draw water into your intestines twice as much as non-fodmap carbohydrates. Almost like a water balloon. 
  2. Short-chain carbohydrates are rapidly fermentable. Enzymes in the small intestine are supposed to break down these carbohydrates, however, some people do not have adequate enzymes to do so. Since fodmaps are not broken down, they then travel into the large intestine or colon where bacteria are able to break down fodmaps into gas, similar to a hot air balloon. 


Overall, the drawing of fluid into your intestines due to osmosis, combined with fermentation, leads to diarrhea, constipation, bloating and pain that patients with IBS experience. So, is the low fodmap diet for IBS patients? In short, yes, and in order to implement this diet in your everyday life we must understand what fodmaps consist of. 

Fodmaps stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Discarrhides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols. Let’s break this down. These are the foods you should avoid in each category when implementing a low fodmap diet: 

  1. Oligosaccharides are fructans and GOS (galacto-oligosaccharides), which include foods such as onion, garlic, wheat, rye, legumes, and nuts 
  2. Disaccharides are lactose and milk sugar, such as ice cream and yogurt 
  3. Monosaccharides are excess fructose products, which include honey, apples, pears, watermelon, mango, and asparagus 
  4. 4. Polyols are sugar alcohols like mannitol and sorbitol, like mushrooms, cauliflower, blackberries, pears, stone fruits, and artificially sweetened gums and mints 


The longer fodmaps, oligosaccharides, are more fermentative, while the shorter fodmaps, monosaccharides, are more osmotically active. Importantly, a low fodmap diet does not mean eliminating these carbohydrates but instead replacing these foods containing high fodmap concentrations with lower fodmap alternatives. 


Implementing fodmap diets: 

  1. In the first 2-6 weeks all high fodmap foods are removed from the diet.
  2. The next 6-8 weeks determine sensitivities by reintroducing certain foods back into the diet to identify trigger foods.
  3. The third phase, personalization, adds successfully reintroduced foods back into the diet.

Essentially, we learn from our own mistakes! Starting a low-fodmap diet can be overwhelming, which can counteract the effectiveness of the diet due to diet-related stress triggering GI symptoms. But do not worry, Epicured makes implementing a low fodmap diet easy and effective for battling IBS! 

Be sure to download the Epicured low FODMAP cheat sheet on!