Clinicians around the world are recommending the low FODMAP diet as a treatment for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Research suggests that over two-thirds of people with IBS report symptom improvement or resolution when following the diet.
FODMAPs are certain types of poorly absorbed carbohydrates that are highly fermentable in the presence of bacteria. They can cause a variety of uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms, such as bloating, gas, abdominal pain and diarrhea.
Many people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) also struggle with IBS and continue to experience GI symptoms in the absence of inflammation.
A brand new study published in the IBD Journal investigated the effectiveness of a low FODMAP diet in managing various degrees of IBS-like symptoms in eighty-eight people with inactive inflammatory bowel disease.
The results are promising.
Participants noted significant improvement in all of the following symptoms when following the low FODMAP diet: abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence, belching, borborygmi (aka GI rumbling), fecal urgency, incomplete evacuation, nausea, heartburn, acid regurgitation, and lethargy. They also reported more normal frequency and consistency of bowel movements.
These outcomes are consistent with my observations from clinical experience. I’ll often recommend a 2-3 week FODMAP elimination diet to patients with inactive IBD who complain of ongoing GI issues in hopes of improving symptoms and identifying food triggers. Bloating and gas almost always improve on a healthy version of a low FODMAP diet.
While a low FODMAP diet appears safe in the short-term, it’s important to work with an experienced dietitian who can help navigate the diet’s peculiarities, ensure that you’re meeting your nutritional needs, and instruct you on how to reintroduce FODMAPs.
I suspect that this is one of many studies to come on the low FODMAP diet, so stay tuned!