Beth Kitchin PhD RDN blogs on health and nutrition. Her blogs are fact-based and offer a common sense approach to a healthier life. She's a food lover so don't expect her to tell you what not to eat! Beth is a an Assistant Professor in the University of Alabama at Birmingham's Nutrition Sciences Department and the patient educator at UAB's Osteoporosis Prevention and Treatment Clinic. She also appears weekly as a guest contributor on WBRC's morning show "Good Day Alabama".
Monday, January 30, 2017
Eating for IBS: The FODMAP Diet
This is a re-post from a few years ago. This topic is getting continued interest so I thought I would re-visit it!
registered dietitian, I have been counseling patients with a variety of medical
needs for years. The condition that has always left me empty handed when it
comes to patient advice is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Most of our nutrition
texts simply state “the patient has to figure out for themselves what foods
they can and cannot tolerate”. Big help huh? Well, after a little searching, I
found a little-known diet based on a little-know hypothesis that may help with
little background on IBS:
IBS is one of the most common disorders that doctors
as 20% of Americans have IBS.
good thing about IBS is that it is not a dangerous disease. There is no damage
to the intestines with IBS and no risk of any long-term complications. Other
intestinal diseases like celiac disease or Crohn’s disease where the intestine
is actually physically damaged.
bad thing is that IBS can wreck your life. People who have it experience
bloating, abdominal discomfort, and can alternate between diarrhea and
constipation. And there really isn’t a cure for it.
the good news is that some people may respond well to a diet called the “Low
The idea behind it is that foods from
5 different groups tend to ferment in the intestine and contribute to the
symptoms of people with IBS. The idea was developed and studied by an
Australian nutritionist. While more research is needed to find out if it really
works, it can’t hurt to try it. The foods are abbreviated by the acronym FODMAPS: Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides and Polyols.
High FODMAP foods tend to ferment in your intestines and cause the symptoms of
IBS. High FODMAP foods include prunes, apples, milk, watermelon, asparagus,
avocado, corn, and wheat. But there are many more.
have to completely eliminate all of the foods on the list – you may be able to
handle some in small amounts. You may be more sensitive to some than others.
So, if you are struggling with IBS, I recommend that you eliminate the FODMAP
foods for several days to a week. If you find that your symptoms subside, then
you can add back individual foods (one at a time) from the list to see which
are more problematic for you. Obviously, keeping a detailed food record will be
very important for sleuthing out the foods you need to ditch from your diet.
recommend that you work with a registered dietitian to help you develop your
own healthy, low FODMAP diet! You don’t need to simply eliminate all high
FODMAP foods. In fact, cutting them all out could be bad for your diet. However, here is a list from Barbara Bolen, PhD, a leader in this research:
Kitchin, PhD, RDN
Assistant Professor, Nutrition Sciences
University of Alabama at Birmingham