Is the low FODMAP diet a good solution for digestive issues?
Wondering what the heck it is? Let’s start there.
FODMAP stands for - fermentable, oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. These fun things are all carbohydrates. So following a low FODMAP diet means reducing the amount of these carbohydrates in your diet.
The list of foods that contain FODMAPs is quite extensive. As a general guide FODMAPs are found in certain fruits & vegetables, dairy and legumes.
Good question. It doesn’t sound very fun, right?
FODMAPs are easily fermentable by bacteria in your gut. This means they are used as a food source by your gut bacteria. In a person with a healthy gut this is a good thing. However, in a person with an overgrowth of bacteria in their gut these easily fermentable carbohydrates can exacerbate symptoms like gas, bloating & pain.
So, by reducing FODMAPs you reduce the amount of fermentation, which may reduce gas, bloating & pain.
Symptom reduction - the low FODMAP diet can be very effective for reducing symptoms of gas, bloating & abdominal pain (especially if the root cause of the problem is bacterial overgrowth)
Reduce inflammation - the low FODMAP diet is fairly anti-inflammatory (reducing sugar, dairy & processed foods); reducing inflammation can help promote growth of beneficial vs. pathogenic bacteria
Restrictive - the low FODMAP diet is very restrictive and the foods that are allowed vs. not allowed are not very intuitive. Long-term use of restricted diets can have deleterious effects on both physical & mental health
Microbiome changes - the low FODMAP diet restricts a lot of the foods that your gut bacteria normally feed on. This can have a negative effect on the diversity of your gut microbiome
Root cause - using the low FODMAP diet as the only treatment tool does not address the root cause of most gut problems
The low FODMAP diet can be a good short-term solution for digestive complaints - especially ones with severe bloating, gas & pain.
However, I don’t think it makes sense as a long-term solution. The low FODMAP diet makes symptoms go away while you’re following it but it doesn’t correct the root cause of the problem. If instead we address the root cause of digestive symptoms (ex. stress, overgrowth of bacteria/yeast, parasites, etc.) we can make the symptoms go away permanently.
If you’re curious about the root cause of your digestive issues let’s get on a call!