Posted on Feb 21, 2023, 4 p.m.
Complaints about conditions such as bloating, pain in the abdominal area, and diarrhea in some cases after eating certain foods are common. These could all be symptoms of a condition known as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), of course, you would need to see a doctor to get a professional diagnosis.
In the USA, about 25 to 45 million people suffer from IBS. This portrays the dire situation surrounding IBS as a medical condition. Due to its negative effect on the quality of life of a person, a lot of medical practitioners have worked on discovering the cause of IBS and working on finding cures for it.
Medical professionals discovered that IBS is caused by the intake of certain carbohydrates, commonly referred to as FODMAP. For people with IBS, these carbohydrates are hard to digest. When they are not digested, they ferment and take in a lot of water, and release gases. The gases released cause bloating, severe abdominal pain, and constipation. In some cases, it can also lead to diarrhea.
With FODMAP identified as the carbohydrates that cause IBS, medics recommend going on an IBS diet. IBS diets consist of foods that contain low FODMAP. People with IBS can use the Monash FODMAP app or another gut health app to know the low FODMAP foods list to avoid their trigger foods. People with IBS must be aware of the foods that they cannot take and those that they can take. This is the fundamental concept behind an IBS diet.
Finding IBS Trigger Foods
To many people, IBS diets are very restrictive and irritating. However, the restrictive nature of the diets is not used as a permanent solution for IBS. The diet is only used for a short period to identify certain trigger foods and to identify those that you can take without any issues.
IBS diets have several phases in them. Each of the phases in IBS diets has a specific benefit. The phases are:
- Elimination Phase
This phase of IBS diets entails eliminating all foods that contain FODMAP from your diet. This can be done with the help of low-FODMAP veggies or you can take advantage of low-FODMAP meal plans.
Once all FODMAPs are eliminated from your diet, the cases of stomach upset do not occur. The elimination phase is meant to last for several weeks. During the weeks, symptoms clear, and one’s health and quality of life improve.
- Reintroduction Phase
After being on a FODMAP-free diet for a couple of weeks, reintroduce the foods gradually. During the reintroduction phase, FODMAP foods are added to the diet one at a time. After adding every FODMAP food, monitor your health and responses.
If a food triggers IBS, document that and avoid taking it again. This process of finding one’s trigger foods also offers the benefit of identifying foods that one can take without triggering IBS symptoms.
- Diet Personalization Phase
Once you are aware of the various foods that you can take and those that trigger IBS symptoms, now personalize your diet plan. The diet plan will include FODMAP foods the person can take. Once this phase is done, the diet plan and foods listed to take are what you will take for your meals.
Diet personalization is vital for ensuring you do not limit your intake of certain FODMAP foods even though they do not affect you.
You cannot take up an IBS diet to identify your trigger foods if you do not know the various foods that have FODMAPs and other low FODMAP foods.
High FODMAP Foods to Avoid
FODMAPs are found in many common foods that are in popular dishes. There are various carbohydrates that you should avoid to prevent IBS triggers.
- Fructans - They are found in foods such as onions, broccoli, garlic, asparagus, wheat, and rye.
- Fructose - They are found in fruits such as watermelons, pears, apples, and mangoes. They are also found in honey, agave, and a type of corn syrup referred to as high-fructose.
- Galactans - They are found in legumes such as soybeans, lentils, chickpeas, and beans.
- Lactose - It is found in dairy products such as ice cream, milk, yogurt, and custard.
- Polyols - It is found in fruits that have seeds or pits such as plums, pears, cherries, figs, avocados, apricots, apples, etc.
With knowledge about the various FODMAP carbohydrates and the foods that contain them, you can execute the first phase of the IBS diet easily. However, knowledge of supplementary low-FODMAP foods is also required to ensure your diet is not affected too much.
Low FODMAPS Food to Add to Your Diet
There are various substitute foods available to replace foods that have high FODMAP content.
- Fruits - Fruits such as limes, oranges, strawberries, kiwi, grapefruits, blueberries, and bananas have low FODMAP.
- Protein - Tofu, eggs, fish, beef, chicken, and pork are good low-FODMAP foods
- Grains - You can replace high FODMAP grains with rice bran, oat bran, corn flour, white rice, quinoa, gluten-free pasta, and oats.
- Vegetables - Olives, turnips, lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, chives, cucumbers, bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, bok choy, ginger, and eggplant are low FODMAP vegetables.
- Seeds/Nuts - When it comes to nuts and seeds, the quantity is limited to around 10-15 for each food. The low FODMAP nuts and seeds are walnuts, pine nuts, peanuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, Brazil nuts, and hazelnuts.
- Dairy - There are several dairy substitutes to replace regular dairy which has lactose. The substitutes are coconut milk, almond milk, lactose-free milk, hard cheeses, and lactose-free yogurt.
When working on your IBS diet, you should increase fiber and water intake. While doing this, you should avoid consuming caffeine. This means staying off soda, tea, chocolate, and coffee.
Keeping track of low-FODMAP foods to take and those to avoid while on your IBS diet can be a difficult task. You can use various food and diet apps to help. Creating a food journal or using an app such as the Monash University FODMAP app helps people to easily note the foods they should not take. The benefit of using a gut health app is that it could be easier than a food journal, and it also allows one to track the various low or high FODMAP foods and their impact on their body.
This article was written for WHN by Daniel Martin who has had hands-on experience in digital marketing since 2007. Creating winning content teams is his passion. He has built high-performance teams that have produced engaging content enjoyed by millions of people. In addition to playing ping pong and photography, Dani loves to travel.
As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement.
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