What is IBS?
Simply put Irritable Bowel Syndrome is...
✔️ Irritable = extra sensitive
✔️ Bowel = meaning large intestine
✔️ Syndrome = a group of symptoms
For those with IBS, the acronym might feel more like Irritating Bathroom Stops – too many trips to the loo, too few, or maybe your habits ping-pong back and forth.
IBS is a common gut condition, but the cause is unknown. It can be responsible for chronic, relapsing symptoms such as abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, gas, constipation, and diarrhea. These symptoms can also mean something more serious is wrong like celiac disease, colon cancer, or inflammatory bowel disease. Do not self-diagnose. Please consult with your doctor to rule out the scary stuff. What do apples, multi-grain bread, cauliflower, yogurt, high-fiber breakfast cereals, and hummus have in common?
◾ Short answer: These “healthy” foods all contain fermentable carbohydrates.
◾ Long answer: These “healthy” foods all contain FODMAPs, a variety of specific carbohydrates.
F = Fermentable
O = Oligosaccharides
D = Disaccharides
M = Monosaccharides
P = Polyols
FODMAP Background: The low FODMAP diet was created by researchers at Monash University in Australia. There is now proof that changing the types of sugars and fibers in your diet can help you achieve lasting relief from IBS symptoms. The low FODMAP diet may be the most effective way to manage IBS with diet. Up to 85% of patients report significant improvement of their IBS symptoms when they have followed a low-FODMAP diet.
Why do FODMAPs trigger symptoms for individuals with IBS? Because FODMAPs are very small carbohydrates, they can pull water into the small intestine – imagine a water balloon being filled. This can contribute to diarrhea in an individual with a fast-moving intestine. For the individual more prone to constipation, you may feel like you have a water balloon in the middle of your gut! FODMAPs are also food for your gut microbes, which causes the FODMAPs to ferment creating excess gas in your intestine – imagine a hot air balloon being filled. This can contribute to bloating, abdominal pain, and cramping in individuals with a sensitive GI tract. The combination of gas and water in the intestine can alter the movement of the intestine and contribute to diarrhea or constipation. Since all FODMAPs are carbohydrates, diet can help alleviate symptoms.
What is the low FODMAP diet? The low FODMAP diet is a 2-6 week elimination diet that involves removing high FODMAP foods from the diet to assess whether high FODMAP foods are triggering your GI symptoms. The low FODMAP diet is a learning diet rather than a forever diet. The goal of the diet is to help you determine your personal dietary triggers. After the elimination phase, high FODMAPs foods are reintroduced methodically to assess your tolerance to various FODMAP-containing foods. The ultimate goal of the diet is to discover your triggers while expanding your diet as much as possible. Many people will find they can relax their FODMAP diet restrictions and only need to restrict some high FODMAP foods.
If you’ve been diagnosed with IBS, a low FODMAP diet may be a solution. I’ve had clients reduce their symptoms significantly in just 2 weeks! They were also able to know exactly what they could eat, expand their diet with confidence, and alleviate their symptoms. If you are ready to take the mystery out of IBS when it comes to diet, contact me today to get your first appointment scheduled.