In our desperation for a cure, most IBS sufferers will try almost anything. When something as revolutionary as FODMAPs enters our view there is an understandable clamour to try it.
Our role at IBS-Health is to provide you with the information required to make your own choices, hence we will provide a balanced view of any ‘treatment’. Currently the internet is awash with FODMAP plans, guides and recipes. There are thousands of Blogs claiming that FODMAPs are the answer we have all been waiting for.
While FODMAPs certainly answer many of our common sense conditions there are many caveats to the diet which many are negating to include in their desire to ‘sell us FODMAPs’.
The fundamental argument of FODMAP exponents, relates to the malabsorption of certain carbohydrates. The FODMAP foods are poorly digested in the small bowel resulting in a fermentation of those carbohydrates. It is this process which may contribute to digestive problems like diarrhea, constipation, gas, pain and bloating.
For most IBS sufferers those are familiar symptoms, so instantly we are draw into the world of FODMAPs. Some 74% of those researched found that they improved significantly, so far so good. Again drawing on our common sense theory it is hard to pick holes in this diet.
Another factor which many will recognise is the motility issues, which again can be attributable to FODMAP’s. The large molecules left by the poorly digested carboydrates not only ferment, they also draw in liquid. At worst this can generate osmotic diarrhea, in the best case scenario it can create a very high frequency of bathroom stops.
Have we finally found a cure ?
From what we have discussed so far FODMAPs certainly look very promising, however there is one major caveat. While FODMAPs are a big step forward and provide us with an IBS ‘management’ system they are not a cure. FODMAPs will without question improve the quality of life for many (not all) sufferers, but they simply do so by acknowledging that certain foods are hard to digest. The real breakthrough will come when the issue of poor digestion itself is tackled, this may well lead to further developments in that field, but for now it is a work around (albeit a very good one for most).
One final point on FODMAPs, relates to a key issue of digestive balance. Most FODMAP guides will recommend that over time you gradually reintroduce so of the non FODMAP foods, in particular those with ‘pre-biotic’ properties. Many of the foods on the FODMAP list do not contain ‘pre-biotic’ properties and as such that will either need to be supplemented or reintroduced after a period to ensure that you have healthy digestive flora.
This is clearly not a major issue, but one that must be born in mind. It must also be born in mind that whilst it worked for the majority of sufferers, it did not work for all. If you are one of those for whom it makes no difference, you must not lose heart, as we say throughout this website, we are all individual and unique, you will get there.
Great Podcast on the Science behind this topic: http://scdlifestyle.com/?powerpress_pinw=4905-podcast
FODMAPs What does it stand for ?*
F is for Fermentable – In this context the fermentation of these carbohydrates occurs either in the small or large intestine. In many cases, this is normal and happens in healthy people. But in people affected by IBS the fermentation causes more pain than normal. The theory here is in affected people a reduction in all fermentation will improve patient’s quality of life.
O is for Oligosaccharides –“Oligo” is a Greek prefix for having few or little and saccharide is another word for sugar. So this is a word that means short chain carbohydrates and in the case of FODMAPS, we’re talking specifically about fucto-oligosaccharides (fructans) and galacto-oligosaccharides (galactans). The fructans group is comprised of FOS and inulin. Glacatans are made up of Raffinose and Stachyose (mostly found in beans).
D is for Disaccharides –“Di” meaning two, saccharide = sugar. So it means two sugar molecules linked together. Interestingly, in the case of FODMAPs, researchers don’t believe all disaccharides are problematic, only lactose (milk sugar).
M is for Monosaccharides –“Mono” meaning one, this word is used to describe one basic sugar molecule. In the context of FODMAPs, researchers don’t implicate all monosaccharaides, only fructose.
P is for Polyols – Which is another name for sugar alcohols such as sorbiotiol, mannitol, xylitol and isomalt. These sugars are malabsorbed by everyone and are free to be fermented by bacteria where ever the bacteria find them. Even healthy people eating sugar alcohols can experience digestive problems.