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Disease Summary:

The low FODMAP diet eliminates certain foods. These foods may worsen symptoms in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).  FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols.  FODMAPs are short chain carbohydrates (sugars).  When these foods reach the colon, they are fermented by bacteria, turning them into gas and chemicals.  This may cause abdominal bloating, distention, or abdominal pain in some individuals.  It may also result in diarrhea, constipation, and nausea.  Not everyone will have the same reaction to FODMAPs.  There are many factors that influence your body's ability to tolerate these foods.


The diet was created more than five years ago in Australia and is the main treatment for IBS in Australia.  A number of studies show that a low FODMAP diet improves symptoms in about one-half to two-thirds of patients with irritable bowel syndrome.  Some see improvement within two weeks, but some may not see improvement for four weeks.  If there is no improvement after four weeks, it is not worth continuing the diet.  Bloating, abdominal pain, and diarrhea are the symptoms most likely to improve.  If IBS symptoms improve on the low FODMAP diet, one should eventually reintroduce FODMAPs, one at a time, to identify foods that trigger symptoms and those that do not.  A food and symptom diary may help.  This diet is not recommended in individuals without gastrointestinal symptoms.


A low FODMAP diet does not cure IBS, but may lead to drug-free management of symptoms and improved quality of life.  Individuals with improved symptoms on a low FODMAP diet may still require medication, exercise, and other treatments for their irritable bowel syndrome.  One should not begin a low FODMAP diet until consultation with their physician.  Please see the links for more details on the diet.

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