Could the Low FODMAP Diet Be Right for You?

Could the Low FODMAP Diet Be Right for You?

If you’re prone to gassiness, bloating, pain, or constipation associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or a digestive disorder like inflammatory bowel disease, consider a low FODMAP diet.

This dietary approach limits foods that contain high levels of potentially bothersome sugars to keep your symptoms to a minimum.

Dr. Sreelatha Reddy and the team at Houston Gastrointestinal & Liver Clinic, P.A. in Sugar Land, Texas, diagnose and treat IBS and other causes of abdominal pain to help you lead a fuller, more comfortable life.

Here’s a closer look at the low FODMAP diet, including potential benefits and how to get started if you’re a good candidate.

FODMAP basics

FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. As types of natural sugar, FODMAPs provide the carbohydrates you need for energy. 

While energy is a good thing and carbs are essential, FODMAPs aren’t as easily absorbed by your bowels compared with other carbohydrates. As a result, having a condition like IBS might make you sensitive to them.

If you’re sensitive to FODMAPs, consuming large amounts could trigger or worsen symptoms like gassiness, cramping, and diarrhea.

Foods high in FODMAPs include:

Because foods high in FODMAPs are also quite nutritious, it’s important to eat plenty of lower FODMAP alternatives when you limit them. 

Low FODMAP diet guidelines

The low FODMAP diet can be an ongoing lifestyle or a diagnostic tool that helps you and your provider better understand your specific food sensitivities.

There are no universal low FODMAP diet guidelines, but the diet often goes through three phases, including:

  1. Shifting from high FODMAP to low FODMAP foods for 2-6 weeks
  2. Reintroducing higher FODMAP foods — or one every three days, for 8-12 weeks
  3. Settling on a balance of high and low FODMAP foods that works well for you

In the first phase, rather than eating cherries or apples, for example, you can enjoy low FODMAP fruits, like bananas and blueberries. And in place of most cruciferous veggies, eat kale, red bell peppers, and spinach. 

Examples of low FODMAP grains include quinoa, rice, and millet — so gluten-free bread and cereal could be good options.

When to start a low FODMAP diet

A low FODMAP diet can be challenging to figure out or follow well without the guidance and support of a qualified professional. On top of that, it’s not helpful for everyone.

One study showed that people with IBS who followed the diet had 68% symptom control, compared with only 23% helpfulness in those who didn’t. But some people with a condition like IBS or inflammatory bowel disease fare better by simply avoiding, for example, lactose. 

Dr. Reddy and her team can help determine if a low FODMAP diet is ideal for you. She can also work with your dietitian to monitor your digestive health while you follow a provided plan. Dr. Reddy might also recommend other steps, such as a probiotic supplement. 

Avoid starting a low FODMAP diet on your own, especially if you experience unexplained digestive symptoms. If you have a serious condition, such as celiac disease or colon cancer, proper diagnosis and treatment are key.

To learn more about low FODMAP diets or get the digestive care you need, call Houston Gastrointestinal & Liver Clinic, P.A. or request your appointment online today.

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