DIGESTION PROBLEMS? TRY THE LOW-FODMAP DIET
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Abdominal discomfort? Fluctuating bowel symptoms?
We all have experienced one or the other digestive problem at some point in our lives, blame of which we always tend to put on our unhealthy lifestyle.
But if the symptoms persist, there is a possibility that you might have to consult a gastroenterologist to determine the underlying problem, who could rule it out as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
Affecting the physical health and quality of life of more than 10-20% of the UK population, IBS is a gastrointestinal disorder identified by a series of common symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, pain, which cannot be explained by any other disease. Although there is no clear cause of the disorder, dietary management has been observed by the patient to have significantly help with IBS. One such widely acclaimed approach to alleviating the signs and symptoms of IBS is Low FODMAP Diet.
What Is The Low FODMAP Diet?
Low FODMAP diet is a health management approach developed by Australian nutritionist Dr. Sue Shepherd along with his colleagues wherein cutting down or entirely removing certain food products from the diet can help relieve people from the intensity and symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
FODMAP is an acronym of different sources of carbohydrates found in various food items, and are responsible for aggravating the symptoms of digestive problems. It stands for Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, Polyols. The four food groups contain fruits, vegetables, products which are high in fiber:
- Garlic, onions, wheat, legumes;
- Milk, cheese, yogurt;
- Mango, figs, honey
- Blackberry, lychees
- Low fructose vegetables:
- Lettuce, potatoes, green beans, eggplant, bell peppers;
- Low fructose fruits:
- Banana, clementine, grape, lemon, lime, strawberries;
- Low polyols vegetables:
- Sweet potato, celery stalk;
- Low polyols fruits:
- Dragon fruit, papaya, kiwi, oranges, cantaloupe;
- Low lactose products:
- Almond milk, goat cheese, coconut milk
But since there are several essential food nutrients you would be avoided; it is strictly advised against to follow this diet on self-guidance. Consult a dietician or nutritionist, who will help chalk out a proper Low- FODMAP plan including the adequate nutrients, vitamins, and minerals supplements to substitute on what you can't eat.
Effectiveness Of Low FODMAP
Research in this theory is limited but substantial. Around 75% of IBS patients who participated in the studies saw positive results after weeks of adhering to the program. Healthy control group participants did not show any difference between an unrestricted diet and the FODMAP diet. Per a study conducted by NCBI, following a low FODMAP diet helped improve stomach pain and bloating by 81% and 75% respectively. The same survey also revealed reduces flatulence, and constipation frequency.
Tips To Properly Incorporate Low FODMAP Diet In Your Routine
Incorporating a food plan like this can be tricky. Here are some tips on how to start on the FODMAP diet successfully.
1. Speak With A Professional
It is important to consult a dietitian/nutritionist. Each person is unique in their dietary requirements. Someone who is properly trained in nutrition can assist with designing a FODMAP program that works for you.
2. Slowly Introduce Yourself Into The Diet
Ease into the program by changing a few food habits a day. Developing new food routine can be difficult due to your body craving other foods you are trying to avoid.
3. Keep A Food Diary
Keep a diary of what you eat is an easy way of making sure you are on the right track. It does not have to be complex, but you want to track the following:
- The foods in each meal
- High FODMAP foods you have consumed
- Symptoms that you experienced after each meal
- Things that are affecting you (Stress, menstrual cycle, etc.)
Low FODMAP Diet Mistakes To Avoid
Following the FODMAP diet can be effective to relieve your digestive disorder symptoms. To stick to the right program, avoid the following mistakes.
Have An Accurate Diagnosis And Plan
IBS and other digestive disorders share many symptoms. See your doctor to properly diagnose your condition. There are some digestive disorders this diet does not work for. See a dietitian/nutritionist to create a diet plan that will work for your needs. You will want an accurate food list from a trained professional.
Keep Up Your Other Health Needs
IBS patients know that the disease is multifaceted. Eating the right foods is not enough. Exercise, stress reduction and other factors also affect your syndrome.
Part of the food plan is keeping to the other restrictions that make it effective. Some habits that lead to ineffectiveness of the program include:
Be Diligent About Your Adherence
- Irregular eating/missing meals
- Not reading labels
- Ignoring portion sizes
- Low fiber intake
One Last Reminder
As we enter the new year, countries around the world are preparing to start mass vaccination in an effort to end the COVID-19 pandemic. Multiple vaccine candidates have been approved by different health authorities worldwide, and some countries have already started vaccinating their citizens.
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