Did you know Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) affects between 25 and 45 million Americans? It affects women more than men, and it can be fairly debilitating for some people. The symptoms of IBS include abdominal pain, gas, bloating and can cause diarrhea, constipation or switch periodically from one to the other.
Some patients fail the gold standard treatment that is suggested to manage IBS, which includes avoiding gas-forming foods, adding soluble fiber and eating small meals throughout the day.
Emerging evidence suggests that the elimination of specific carbohydrates that promote fermentation in the gut may help relieve symptoms. The diet is called a low FODMAP diet. FODMAP is an acronym for Fermentable* Oligosaccharides, Dissacharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. The diet consists of foods low in these types of carbohydrates. To see a list of foods low and high FODMAP, visit the Australian-based MONASH University website, which is where this diet originated and continues to be actively studied.
A registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) serves a critical part of the treatment team when prescribing restrictive diets such as the low FODMAP diet. This general advice is to follow the low FODMAP diet for 2-6 weeks and then reassess symptoms with the dietitian. It is at this time when a plan for foods better tolerated would be slowly added back one at a time. It is not advised to be super strict or to fully follow the diet long-term, as it could inhibit the growth of helpful gut bacteria.
One of the confusing things about the low FODMAP diet is that many people think that all foods containing sugar must be avoided. As you know, foods that have naturally occurring sugars like fruit are also very nutrient-rich. There are plenty of fruits that are low FODMAP. Here is a wonderfully tasty FODMAP-friendly smoothie recipe that is great for a breakfast on-the-go:
Banana Flax Smoothie
- ½ cup lactose-free skim milk
- ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 ½ tablespoons ground flax seeds
- 1 very ripe medium banana
- juice from ½ an orange
- 4 ice cubes
- Combine all ingredients in a blender set to the smoothie setting. Mix well.
Nutritional information: calories 295, fat 2.9g, saturated Fat 0.4g, cholesterol 7mg, sodium 119 mg, carbohydrates 53.5g, sugar 34.4g, fiber 6.1g, protein 19.8g.
For more information on IBS Awareness Month, visit the International Foundation for Function Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) website.