Constantly dealing with a temperamental stomach? You’re not alone!
Research shows that 1 in 5 Australians suffer from Irritable Bowl Syndrome (IBS) – a common condition defined by digestive discomfort.
Although the exact cause is not yet known, symptoms of IBS can be managed by identifying and avoiding potential triggers including high stress levels and intolerances to certain foods known as FODMAPs.
Here, Chloe McLeod, Dietitian and Creator of The FODMAP Challenge, gives us the low-down on a low-FODMAP diet and how this can help eliminate IBS-related issues.
First up, what are some common symptoms of IBS?
Bloating, wind, constipation, diarrhoea, pain and nausea. Some people get all these, some only a few. For example, some people are more likely to get diarrhoea, others constipation.
How does a low FODMAP diet help address these issues?
FODMAPs stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. These are all different types of carbohydrates. When these carbohydrates are poorly absorbed in the small intestine, it can result in increased water being drawn into the gut, causing diarrhoea, or gas if the carbohydrates travel to the large intestine where they are fermented by bacteria.
Following a low FODMAP diet can help determine triggers of IBS, however it is not recommended for it to be followed strictly long-term. Initially, removing all high FODMAP foods is recommended. Then, moving through a series of food challenges to determine which types of FODMAPs you’re intolerant to is recommended. This is so that some high FODMAP foods can be reintroduced back into your diet, so it is not so restrictive long-term. Knowing your triggers can make managing your symptoms so much easier, improving your quality of life significantly.
What are some common high FODMAP culprits?
Asparagus, onion, garlic, cabbage, celery, sweet corn, legumes, apples, pears, mango, watermelon, yoghurt, cow’s milk, soft cheese, ice cream, wheat-based breads, cereal, pasta, cashews and pistachios.
What are some FODMAP friendly foods?
Cucumber, carrot, lettuce, tomato, zucchini, banana, orange, mandarin, grapes, lactose-free milk and yoghurts, hard cheese, meats, fish, gluten-free breads and pastas, quinoa and rice.
Stress can also be a trigger of IBS. What do you recommend for managing this?
Stress is one of the key contributors to the symptoms of IBS. Research indicates that people with anxiety or stress-related disorders are more likely to suffer from IBS. One in four Australian adults report moderate to severe stress levels. Sometimes simply dealing with stress is enough to exacerbate symptoms, even if more serious mental health issues are absent.
Stress can be managed in a number of ways. Some people find simple breathing exercises can help. Meditation, mindfulness and even colouring in have also recently become popular. Exercise that you find helps relax you, be it a walk, yoga, swim or whatever it is that you enjoy also makes a great stress reliever.
Ready to take control of your gut health? Click here to learn more about THE FODMAP CHALLENGE! Next round starts February 10.