Healing Our Gut With The Low-FODMAP Diet

What the f*ck is a FODMAP? …you could rightfully ask! FODMAPs are a group of carbohydrates that are fine for many people but are troublesome for others. The low-FODMAP system works by cutting them back to a minimum in our diet.

There’s lots to love about the low-FODMAP diet and it’s gained in popularity in recent years. It’s been proven to ease the horrible symptoms of many common gut ailments and some doctors are prescribing it to their patients with IBS.

However it’s not a magic bullet. Certain foods are permitted on the diet that are known to be bad for our gut and overall health. Also the diet doesn’t offer any solutions for rebuilding our community of friendly bacteria that are so crucial to gut health.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is thought to affect 10 – 15% of us at one time or another. Many people have it all their lives. The symptoms include chronic diarrhea and/or constipation, bloating, heartburn and depression. It can be highly unpleasant and generally make you feel horrible.

The low-FODMAP diet is designed to help people with IBS and other gut conditions such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD – a more serious version of IBS, where the gut lining becomes inflamed).

The diet was created by a research team at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. By their own description it is a short-term strategy for ‘managing symptoms’ of IBS rather than getting to the root cause.

fodmap

What’s Involved?

The low-FODMAP diet works by cutting out foods that contain certain carbohydrates (called FODMAPs for short) that are difficult to digest. These offending carbs hang around in our gut where they mess with the fluid balance and become food for bacteria, the theory goes.

The result is that bacteria break down the carbs through fermentation and the by-product is gas, which in turn leads to uncomfortable bloating and irritation of the gut.

You think, ok that makes sense, bacteria feed off this stuff and produce gas which makes us fart and feel bloated etc. Cut back these foods and the bacteria die back. Job done?!

Not so fast! It’s actually perfectly normal and healthy for friendly bacteria to break down food we can’t digest. That’s essentially what fibre is. Have you heard of PREbiotics (as opposed to PRObiotics)? They’re exactly the same thing: food for our friendly microbes. They are known to be a good thing for our gut health.

So…the low-FODMAP diet works by taking out prebiotic foods that nurture and support our friendly bacteria? Wait, what? That doesn’t makes sense!

This lack of clarity over how it works is one reason it’s probably best not to follow the low-FODMAP diet long term but instead to use it as a short-term strategy to help your gut settle down.

Does low-FODMAP Really Work?

Scientific studies have shown the diet to be effective in helping the symptoms of IBS in more than 50% of sufferers. This is great, no question.

The studies have been small but scientists describe the results as ‘promising, but the effects on gastroinstestinal health require further investigation’

Reasons To Love Low-FODMAP

  • We know that it works to alleviate people’s gut problems.
  • Because of scientific studies showing it works, doctors are more willing to recommend it to their patients. Other diets such as Paleo or GAPS may also be effective or even better but don’t yet have clear results from studies on people with gut problems.
  • The positive scientific studies help to demonstrate that diet has a role to play in chronic gut problems. You might think that’s as obvious as the nose on your face but the medical establishment has been sceptical and nutrition is not taught in medical school.

Reasons To Be Careful With Low-FODMAP

The diet’s single-minded focus on reducing FODMAPs means that certain foods are allowed in the diet which are believed to be AWFUL for gut health, such as:

  • refined sugar
  • processed ‘gluten-free’ flours made of tapioca, corn, rice and potato starches
  • processed, packaged foods including sauces and spreads. If you want to get up to speed on the problems with this, check out 7 Huge Reasons To Avoid Processed Food
  • soy, which messes with our hormones and is almost always genetically modified

Also foods are excluded that are generally considered to be great for gut health because they support our friendly bacteria and reduce inflammation, such as:

  • onions, garlic, asparagus
  • apples
  • honey
  • full fat yoghurt and cheese: these are excluded from the diet because the creators are coming from the now-discredited perspective that saturated fats are bad for us. Saturated fats are actually good for us!

There’s nothing in the low-FODMAP diet about taking care of our friendly bacteria. No gut-healing diet is complete in my opinion unless it involves eating live cultured food every day, just as our ancestors did.

We now know the friendly bacteria in our microbiome are fundamental not just to our gut health but also to our immune system, our metabolism, our hormones, our brain and our entire body in fact.

Should I try Low-FODMAP?

Consider it if:

  • you’ve been diagnosed with IBS or IBD
  • you haven’t been diagnosed but do have gut or digestion issues

If you’re already on the FODMAP diet, well done for taking action to deal with your gut health! Now consider taking it to the next level with:

Alternative Options

Key Takeaway Points

I have mixed feelings about the low-FODMAP diet. It’s helped thousands of people who are suffering with chronic gut problems. That’s outstanding and the creators have done a fine thing.

However, it may not be a long term gut solution as its focus is so narrowly on the small group of carbohydrates called FODMAPs. This means that unhealthy foods like refined sugar or processed flours are permitted in the diet. Also nothing is prescribed in the diet for boosting our all-important friendly bacteria.

To take it back to the title of this post, can we really heal our gut with the low-FODMAP diet? Perhaps not, but I welcome it as a valuable option in the gut-fixing toolbox.

LET US KNOW WHAT YOU THINK IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!
WE LOVE TO HEAR YOUR VIEWS AND QUESTIONS!

Whenever you’re ready to become a fully-fledged Gut Geek™ here are 4 ways we can help you heal your gut, get your sh*t together and transform your health

1. Subscribe to receive regular strategies and hacks that you can use TODAY

All our blogposts and social media are focused on bringing simplicity to the baffling world of nutrition and supplements. We also provide easy-peasy action steps that you can use to start seeing immediate improvement. Subscribe to get the very best of our content straight to your inbox!

2. Follow our daily social posts and video stories religiously

Our content is produced in a combination of written posts and video stories, all neatly tied together around the topic of the week. This gives you constant learning in manageable, bite-sized chunks.

3. Join us for a live online workshop

Head to our workshop registration page for info on our next free online training, and get ready to geek out

4. Join our coaching program

There’s nothing like 1-on-1 coaching to massively accelerate your progress and achieve the results you dream about! We’ll create your very own personalised gut-healing roadmap and then guide you through it. Just send us a message telling us a little about your current challenges and what you’d most like help with and we’ll get right back to you.

7 thoughts on “Healing Our Gut With The Low-FODMAP Diet”

  1. Thank you for the great information. Has been a struggle of mine almost my entire adult life. Great information and I very much appreciate it. I learned quite a few things that might help me.

  2. This is such a fantastic read! I have heard of this before and had a friend that was put on the diet…have you given it a go?? It seems the most difficult diet to follow because of the ‘random’ things that you’re not allowed to eat, but I do find it fascinating. Also, (I should research this but) is there any way of testing for IBS? My dad has food problems so I’m wondering if he should try the Fodmap diet. Thanks for posting!

    Taylor
    http://www.theusoftay.com

Let us know what you think

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share this article

Help spread the word! Every share matters.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on whatsapp
Share on linkedin

Other recent blog posts

Weight Loss: Is The Secret In Our Bacteria?

On the face of it there is no obvious connection between the microbes in our gut and being able to lose weight. We know these bacteria help us digest food but so what?

Four Powerful Steps to Reverse Autoimmune

Autoimmune conditions bring misery to an estimated 20% of the population. Conventional wisdom is that they are incurable but many people are beating these conditions by healing their gut. Let’s see how they’re doing it.

Why Cod Liver Oil Is Ridiculously Useful

Opinions are always shifting on which health supplements are best but one perennial favourite is cod liver oil. So what’s the big deal? It turns out that cod liver oil isn’t just Grandma’s favourite. It’s actually a vital supplement for healing our gut.