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This is how the FODMAP diet helps with irritable bowel syndrome

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  • What exactly is irritable bowel syndrome?
  • What does FODMAP mean?
  • What is the FODMAP diet supposed to do?
  • Where are FODMAPs contained?
  • What foods can you eat on the FODMAP diet?
  • How does the FODMAP diet work?
  • This is how you can successfully implement the FODMAP diet
  • The FODMAP diet does not promise a cure, but rather an improvement

Stomach pain, bloating and regular discomfort after eating are neither normal nor something you should just put up with. These are all possible symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. A special diet is intended to naturally alleviate the symptoms: the so-called FODMAP diet.

We’ll tell you here what’s behind this name, how it works and whether it makes sense for you to try out the diet.

What exactly is irritable bowel syndrome?

It’s a topic that is admittedly uncomfortable for many. However, many more people suffer from long-term and chronic stomach and intestinal problems than you might think. According to studies, 9 to 23 percent of the population suffer from the gastrointestinal problems typical of the disease. Irritable bowel syndrome is one of the most common diseases of the gastrointestinal tract.

Since the symptoms often vary greatly and the cause of irritable bowel syndrome is not clear, the diagnosis often takes forever and is therefore accompanied by a great deal of suffering. The German Society for Digestive and Metabolic Diseases (DGVS) cites this impairment of quality of life, chronic persistent symptoms and the exclusion of other diseases as the main characteristics of the disease.

Many attempts at therapy for irritable bowel syndrome are unsuccessful. However, diet can be the key – in the form of the so-called FODMAP diet. It is considered the best nutritional therapy for irritable bowel syndrome, as numerous studies have proven in the past, as this summary meta-analysis shows.

If you suffer from the following symptoms and they do not get better, it may make sense to test the FODMAP diet – in consultation with a family doctor or internist:

  • stomach pain
  • Bloated stomach and flatulence
  • Diarrhea
  • constipation
  • Mucus in the stool

What does FODMAP mean?

FODMAPs are special sugar and alcohol compounds that are found in a variety of foods, such as sweets, but also fruit and wheat. The abbreviation stands for Fermentable Oligo-, Di- und Monosaccharides and (and) Polyols – FODMAPs for short. Still pretty cryptic, right?

Many people suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, but the causes are uncertain

This refers to fermentable multiple sugars, double sugars (such as lactose), simple sugars (such as fructose) and sugar alcohols (sweeteners). They cause problems when they cannot be absorbed into the blood in the small intestine. They then move on to the large intestine, where intestinal bacteria trigger a fermentation process that produces gases that can cause bloating, flatulence and irregular bowel movements – all possible symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

In addition to the acute symptoms, FODMAPs can also cause long-term consequences in the intestinal flora if they are intolerable. The entire microbiome (i.e. all the bacteria that are needed in your intestine – including the good ones) then becomes unbalanced.

What is the FODMAP diet supposed to do?

The FODMAP diet is about consuming as few FODMAPs as possible – i.e. eating low-FODMAP foods. This is intended to relieve the gastrointestinal tract and alleviate the symptoms

The specific goals of the FODMAP diet are:

  • Improvement of digestive problems
  • Increase in quality of life
  • Eat a balanced diet and avoid malnutrition
  • The development of an individual permanent diet

Exercise can also improve the quality of food and exercise has a positive effect on digestion. Start running and see if it works for you.

Where are FODMAPs contained?

Foods containing FODMAPs are harder to recognize than with other intolerances and are not spelled out, such as lactose or fructose. That’s why you need a certain amount of know-how.

FODMAPs can be found in a variety of food groups:

The good thing: Most people don’t react to all FODMAPs or not to all foods that contain FODMAPs. That’s why it’s about filtering out the relevant foods and controlling the quantity.

What foods can you eat on the FODMAP diet?

FODMAPs are found in almost all food groups. That’s why there are clear lists that differentiate between low-FODMAP and high-FODMAP foods – like this one as a free download.

However, within individual groups there are foods to which some people react more or less. It’s best to start making your own list during the test phase so that you have a compass that you can use to align your diet.

It’s not that easy to keep the go’s and no-go’s in your head when it comes to the FODMAP diet

How does the FODMAP diet work?

The aim of the FODMAP diet is to control and alleviate symptoms through the controlled intake of special carbohydrates. They definitely have their place and provide important nutrients. In order to avoid nutrient deficiencies, it is therefore recommended that the FODMAP diet only be followed by an expert.

In order to bring the intestines back into balance and flatulence, abdominal cramps, etc. to disappear, foods containing FODMAPs are completely eliminated from the diet for a while. Food is then slowly reintroduced piece by piece before a long-term implementation plan is developed.

These three phases are distinguished:

  1. Elimination phase: In order to find out whether the FODMAPs are really the cause of the symptoms, you have to follow a strict diet for six to eight weeks. ALL foods containing FODMAPs are taboo.
  2. Test phase: Whether, how much and which FODMAPs cause symptoms is very individual. That’s why the second phase is used to try out individual foods and quantities. This works best with a food diary.
  3. Long-term nutrition: In the end, the first two phases should serve to find an individual diet that enables a life that is as pain-free as possible.

This is how you can successfully implement the FODMAP diet

In order to successfully implement the FODMAP diet and not trigger any negative health effects, you should pay attention to these points:

a) Stick strictly to the FODMAP diet for the allotted period of time

Otherwise the whole concept doesn’t work. Since the goal is not to completely avoid foods containing FODMAPs for longer than the specified time, the rules must be strictly followed.

Unsure if the product contains FODMAPs? If in doubt, leave it alone

b) Seek professional support

Completely eliminating entire food groups can lead to deficiencies in certain nutrients. That’s why specialist forums and experts such as the NDR Nutrition Docs strongly recommend that it be carried out with a doctor or nutritionist and also remind you that this is a service that is covered by the health insurance company.

c) Test digital offers

Instead of just accepting offline offers and support from doctors and nutritionists, an app called Cara Care was developed, which is certified as a medical product in Europe. This means: The health insurance company covers the costs incurred and you can get a prescription from your doctor to use it. The app takes a holistic approach, but also relies on the FODMAP diet when it comes to nutrition. You can read how to test them here.

The FODMAP diet does not promise a cure, but rather an improvement

It would be nice that your symptoms would disappear forever. But we don’t want to paint the wrong picture here. Irritable bowel syndrome doesn’t just go away. It’s more about finding a way to live well with it. The FODMAP diet can definitely help you with this.

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