This short-term diet is not meant for everyone.
Why go on a low-FODMAP diet
FODMAPs, or Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols, are short chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols found in many foods. Because FODMAPs are poorly absorbed by some people and have been linked to digestive issues including abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhoea and gas, a low-FODMAP diet is considered effective in reducing the frequency and severity of these symptoms.
For patients suffering from gut and bowel health issues such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), a low FODMAP diet is often recommended to relieve them of their symptoms. A clinical trial conducted in 2014 showed that IBS patients experienced less abdominal pain, bloating and flatulence after consuming a low-FODMAP diet for 21 days.
FODMAPs are actually good
But not everyone experiences distress from ingesting foods that are high in FODMAPs. FODMAPs help keep your gut healthy by promoting the growth of good bacteria, also called probiotics.
If eating FODMAP-rich foods does not cause you any discomfort, perhaps there is no need for you to go on this diet. But if you have been diagnosed with IBS or other GI disorders, you may want to consult with a FODMAP-trained dietitian to know whether this diet can bring you symptomatic relief.
How a low-FODMAP diet works
A low-FODMAP diet will require you to reduce or temporarily stop your consumption of FODMAP-rich foods, including green vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli and cauliflower, fruits such as apples, mangoes and pears, beans, bread and cereals made of wheat, and lactose-containing dairy products including milk, soft cheeses and yoghurt.
The good news is there are plenty of low-FODMAP foods for you to choose from in place of these FODMAP-rich foods. Vegetables including bell peppers, carrots and tomatoes, fruits like bananas, grapes and oranges, gluten-free bread, rice and oats, lactose-free milk and hard cheeses are all low-FODMAP foods.
A low-FODMAP diet is an elimination diet that should only be done from 2-6 weeks. It is not a diet that you must follow for life because FODMAPs play an important role in your gut health. After 2-6 weeks, you are encouraged to slowly reintroduce FODMAP-rich foods back into your diet.
The idea behind the short-term elimination of FODMAP-rich foods from your diet is to figure out exactly which FODMAP-rich foods are causing your digestive discomfort. Once you have identified which particular FODMAP-rich foods are triggering your symptoms, you are in a better position to adjust your dietary plan and minimise the occurrence of your symptoms.
Ready, set, go low
So, is a low-FODMAP diet healthy?
As with any other diet or external health treatment, the answer depends on your body’s condition. What is considered “healthy” for your neighbour may actually put you at a greater health risk, so there is not a single, universal answer to this question.
This is why consulting with a FODMAP-trained dietitian before you embark on your low-FODMAP diet journey is critical for your health and safety. Working closely with your accredited dietitian will help you to maximise the benefits of a low-FODMAP diet while ensuring your body receives the proper amount of nutrition for your optimal performance.