IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a condition characterized by gas, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea or constipation. One of every five Americans suffers from this limiting illness.
Many people affected by IBS believe that gluten aggravates their symptoms; the number of gluten sensitive/ intolerant people has grown enormously in the last few years, creating and industry of gluten free products with sales predicted to top $16 billion by 2016.
Although sometimes there is an improvement of symptoms when gluten is avoided, other factors may also come into play. Researchers in Australia have discovered that people with IBS are sensitive to a sugar present in wheat, not necessarily the protein (gluten). This group of short chain carbohydrates named FODMAPs is also present in other foods like dairy, some legumes and some fruits and vegetables.
FODMAPs have a cumulative effect and that is why it is so difficult many times for the person with IBS to identify the problematic foods.
Following a 6 to 8 weeks diet eliminating FODMAPs promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria and reduces inflammation in the gut, greatly improving symptoms. Foods are then slowly reintroduced at the end of the program. It is advised to work with a FODMAP dietitian to ensure compliance and proper nutrient and fiber intake.
Barbara Bolen in her book “FODMAP Diet, all you need to know to be successful on the diet” has a lot of good information.
Monash University has published a Phone app “lowFODMAPdiet” explaining all aspects of the diet, providing meal plans, recipes and shopping lists. It also allows, once sensitivities are recognized, to personalize the diet.
This is not a lifetime program; worth giving a try if IBS is an issue.