Overview

Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is a common medical condition with vague etiologies and pathophysiology. This ailment has no curative treatment and presents with diverse signs and symptoms that go through periods of flareups and remissions.

For instance, you may experience severe symptoms for one week, then go through a remission period for a month.

According to statistics, the international prevalence of IBS is 11.2%, which is a significant number. However, this number varies in different regions around the globe, where some countries report a prevalence of 7% and others reaching up to 21%.

These reports only emphasize the widespread of IBS and the number of patients affected, which is why we need credible information about IBS and the available treatment options.

Despite the vagueness that surrounds IBS, experts identified the following risk factors:

  • Smoking
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Young age
  • Psychological and physical stress
  • Imbalanced diet
  • Hormonal dysregulation

Fortunately, there seems to be one diet that is particularly effective in improving the symptoms of IBS, as well as indigestion.

In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about the FODMAP diet, including how it helps patients with IBS and its limitations.

What is the FODMAP diet?

The FODMAP diet focuses on limiting/excluding certain food elements from daily intake to prevent the induction of IBS flareups and other symptoms of indigestion.

FODMAP stands for the following:

Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-Saccharides, and Polyols.

These terms describe a wide range of foods that were shown to cause bloating, gas, and abdominal cramping, which is especially unwanted for patients with IBS.

Here are a few examples of these foods:

  • Oligosaccharides: wheat, legumes, fruits, and vegetables (e.g., garlic, onion).
  • Disaccharides: milk, soft cheese, yogurt, and all lactose-rich products.
  • Monosaccharides: figs, mangoes, honey, and agave nectar.
  • Polyols: blackberries, lychee, and low-calorie sweeteners.

The main goal of FODMAP is to limit these foods from the diets of patients with irritable bowel syndrome, which should prevent flareups and improve digestion.

In a 2015 comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis, researchers analyzed the effects of this diet on thousands of people across more than 30 studies.

The results showed that the low FODMAP diet offers significant benefits to IBS patients, as researchers concluded that “This meta-analysis provides strong evidence to support the efficacy of a low FODMAP diet in reducing functional gastrointestinal symptoms associated with IBS.”

For this reason, adopting the FODMAP diet while keeping your fiber intake high would be the perfect solution for IBS.

Featured Photo by Mikhail Nilov from Pexels