When IBS Strikes

It happens when we least expect. You may be out to dinner on a Sunday evening, enjoying the company of your loved one, eating your favourite foods, but within minutes you are in excruciating pain. All of a sudden you have the urge to get to the closest bathroom.

You are feeling uneasy. You are extremely uncomfortable. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) has stricken.  Once you have an IBS attack like this, it is constantly in the back of your mind. You are always wondering, and waiting when will the next one happen?

Nowadays, IBS is extremely common. IBS is a functional gastrointestinal disorder that affects about 1 in 7 Australian adults’. (1) It is characterised by a number of chronic, excruciating symptoms that occur over and over. But there is good news. We can prevent these attacks from happening.


What Are FodMaps

FODMAPs, refer to the abbreviation of Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols; a collection of molecules found in the foods we consume on a daily basis. Most of us absorb these molecules wholly, but within a growing population, these molecules are poorly absorbed. This poor absorption occurs in our small intestines.

When we consume food, the first point of digestion should occur in our small intestines. This is where digestion should happen. ‘But when the molecules are poorly absorbed here, they continue to the large intestine. When undigested food molecules get to large intestine they become a food source for the bacteria living in the large intestine. IBS occurs when these bacteria of the large intestines digest these molecules.’ (2)

Examples of the most common FODMAPs include:

Lactose; when we struggles to absorb milk and milk related sugars. This causes a reaction to milk and other milk products like yogurt and cheese.

Fructose; when we struggle to absorb fruit sugars. We experience a reaction to food products such as honey, corn syrup and agave syrup.

The most common symptoms Irritable IBS include:

– Bloating
-Stomach discomfort

Please note symptoms of FODMAPS for all individuals will vary.


The FODMAP Elimination Diet

The FODMAP Elimination diet is a method that we can used to monitor our symptoms. The elimination diet will help figure out which foods are causing the symptoms. The most common way is with a food diary. This allows you to remove the molecules (mentioned above) you think are causing the issue from your diet to try alleviate the symptoms. You can record your symptoms on a food diary too. It works with a trial and error approach. With guidance from a qualified health professional you can slowly reintroduce the molecules back into your diet.

Please note the Elimination diet is not designed to restrict your diet or eliminate essential foods. The aim is to find a diet that your body will tolerate. A FODMAP diet is not a fad diet. It should only be followed if it has been recommended by a qualified health professional.

1. Jacqueline S. Barrett and Peter R. Gibson. Fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols (FODMAPs) and nonallergic food intolerance: FODMAPs or food chemicals? Therap Adv Gastroenterol. 2012 Jul; 5(4): 261–268.

  1. 2. Halmos EP, Power VA, Shepherd SJ, Gibson PR, Muir JG. A diet low in FODMAPs reduces symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Gastroenterology.2014 Jan;146(1):67-75.e5. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2013.09.046. Epub 2013 Sep 25.


Disclaimer: Results may vary. Exercise and proper diet are necessary to achieve and maintain weight loss. Consult with your health care processional before beginning any diet or exercise regime.

Tammy Kacev
Nutrition Expert

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