As more and more knowledge is gained about the foods we eat, more and more is understood about how they can contribute to or protect against various ailments. One ailment that has become better understood and diagnosed over the years is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). New research has indicated that dietary changes can play a key role in managing IBS.
IBS is an ailment that is estimated to afflict between 10 and 15 percent of Americans, yet only a small percentage of those people are ever diagnosed with the condition. Some of the symptoms of IBS include abdominal discomfort, bloating and gas, a feeling of inability to completely empty the bowels, as well as constipation, diarrhea, and nausea. As you can see, many of the symptoms of IBS are shared with many other conditions, or could often be diagnosed as a bad reaction to something that has recently been eaten.
In response to IBS, researchers have identified that certain foods known as FODMAPs may exacerbate the effects of IBS. FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols, and refers to types of sugars and other carbohydrates that can irritate the digestive system. IBS patients who adhere to a diet low in FODMAPs have been shown in many studies to suffer fewer negative effects from IBS.
High FODMAP foods include garlic and other members of the onion family, mushrooms, asparagus, blackberries, peaches, avocados, sausages, breaded meat and fish, almonds, cashews, beans, wheat and rye bread, and pasta. That’s not by any means an exhaustive list. Most foods can be categorized as high FODMAP, medium FODMAP, and low FODMAP.
Those who suffer from IBS may want to consider starting on a low FODMAP diet if nothing else they have tried has worked. You may want to consult with a doctor before doing so, just to make sure that there are no health risks.
Even if you don’t know that you suffer from IBS, you may also want to think about a low FODMAP diet, particularly if you are prone to suffering from gas, bloating, or other digestive problems. Many of the high FODMAP foods are known to cause gas or bloating, so reducing or eliminating them from your diet may help you with any digestive issues you may have.
Once you’ve identified a food that might be causing you difficulty, you can slowly start to reintroduce it to see if symptoms come back. A low FODMAP diet is intended to be temporary, to discover what foods may trigger IBS symptoms, as permanently eliminating all high FODMAP foods can deprive the body of many important nutrients.