IBS is a common functional disorder of the gut that can cause pain, bloating, wind, constipation and diarrhoea. Up to one in five people develop IBS (my daughter being one) at some stage in their life and it is twice as common in females as in men. It can affect anyone at any age, but it commonly first develops in young adults and teenagers.
This new form of dietary intervention called the Low FODMAP diet has been described as a significant advancement by leading gastroenterologists. With a success rate of 70% among those who are already following it, the diets success is attributed to the restriction of foods containing poorly absorbed sugars or FODMAPs from the diet. Common foods containing FODMAPs include :
Excess Fructose: Honey, Apples, Mango, Pear, Watermelon, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup Solids and stone fruits, such as peaches, plums and nectarines
Fructans: Artichokes (Globe), Artichokes(Jerusalem), Asparagus, Beetroot, Chicory, Dandelion leaves, Garlic (in large amounts), Leek, Onion (brown, white, Spanish, onion powder), Raddicio lettuce, Spring Onion (white part)
Wheat (in large amounts), Rye (in large amounts), Inulin, Fructo-oligosaccharides.
Cabbage, cauliflower and brussels sprouts traditionally regarded as ‘windy’ vegetables
Lactose: Milk, icecream, custard, dairy desserts, condensed and evaporated milk, milk powder, yoghurt, margarine, soft unripened cheeses (eg. ricotta, cottage, cream, marscarpone).
Galacto-Oligosaccharides (GOS): Legume beans (eg. baked beans, kidney beans, bortolotti beans), Lentils, Chickpeas
Polyols: Apples, Apricots, Avocado, Cherries, Longon, Lychee, Nectarines, Pears , Plums, Prunes, Mushrooms,
Polyol sweeteners, mannitol, xylitol, maltitol, and Isomalt which are often added to sugar-free varieties of gums, mints and chocolate
The diet works on the principle that not all sugars can be successfully broken-down and absorbed within the small intestine. As a result, these sugars are rapidly fermented by bacteria in the bowel which draws in fluid and produces gas. This can cause a number of symptoms for those with a functional gut disorder, such as IBS, including bloating, abdominal pain and diarrhoea.
The diet is not as restrictive as some diets and most people find it easy to stick to. My daughter has been following it for about eight weeks now with great success. However, at Christmas she noticed straight away how bad her IBS has been, when she slipped up on some of the foods she had been without.
In the past, dietary intervention has mainly been non-specific and often just revolved around the removal of wheat and dairy products. However, everyone is different and what works well for one person with a functional gut disorder, may not work well for another. This new diet offers a really positive outlook for IBS sufferers and one which you can manage to stay on indefinitely.
For anyone interested in the recipe for the spelt bread which you can on this diet, I have just put it onto my tea4twoblog.