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What is the FODMAP diet?

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Quick Answer

The low-FODMAP diet involves restricting foods high in short-chain carbohydrates, also known as fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. Short-chain carbohydrates contribute to irritable bowel syndrome symptoms because they are poorly absorbed in the small intestine and are fermented instead.

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Full Answer

People who want to try the low-FODMAP diet should consult an experienced dietitian. Typically a person on the diet restricts problematic FODMAP foods for six to eight weeks until symptoms improve. Dieters substitute high-FODMAP foods with lower options or reduce the total FODMAP load consumed each day. After the six- to eight-week period, small amounts of FODMAP foods are reintroduced and gradually increased to tolerated levels.

A low-FODMAP breakfast includes gluten-free bread with a sucrose-sweetened spread, tea, poached eggs and spinach. A menu example for lunch is soup with low-FODMAP vegetables and a green salad with dressing and tuna. A dinner meal includes meat or fish with low-FODMAP vegetables. Suitable snacks are yogurt and low-FODMAP fruit.

IBS is a common condition, affecting up to 1 in 5 Americans. People with IBS experience abdominal pain, bloating and changed bowel habits, which lead to a reduced quality of life. The low-FODMAP diet is increasingly being used as primary treatment for IBS in Australia. The diet also improves gut symptoms in patients with inflammatory bowel disease. Those without a colon also experience benefits.

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