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This diet plan is particularly associated with treatment for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other digestive system complaints. IBS causes stomach pains, bloating, diarrhea and constipation. It is also quite widespread, for example, about 1 in 7 of the population of the UK is supposed to suffer from IBS. Usually, doctors prescribe medicines, but recent research indicates that the majority of patients benefit from changes in diet. The idea of a low FODMAP diet is to identify the carbohydrates that the bodies of IBS sufferers cannot easily absorb. If these are eliminated from the daily menu, it should bring from these unpleasant IBS symptoms.

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What is a FODMAP?

FODMAP is a word invented by a dietician. The first letter represents fermentable, and it refers to substances that bacteria in the gut break down. The remaining letters come from the terms, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols. If you are a trained dietician you will understand these terms, but for the average person, it should suffice to say that they refer to various molecules found in foodstuffs. If the body cannot properly digest these substances, it causes pain and releases unpleasant gases.

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What is the idea of FODMAP diet?

The general idea is easily absorbed – to cut out or reduce the foods that contain substances the body finds it hard to digest. You relieve stress and pain in the bowels if you save the body from having to struggle with these digestive problems. Scientific studies support the FODMAP theory. According to some clinical trials, it seems that within a week of starting the diet patients notice a reduction of 50% in the severity of IBS symptoms, and as many as 75% of the patients gave the diet a successful rating..#

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Remember this is only a temporary measure

If anyone finds the idea of following a low FODMAP diet is off-putting, it should help to keep in mind that it only a short-term plan. It is unwise to deprive the body of many of the excluded foods for a long time since they also contribute to healthy intestine functioning. Therefore, the dietician puts the patient on this diet for approximately two months. Once this time has passed, they gradually reintroduce some of the "banned" foods to test how the patient's body responds. It is thus possible to find out which particular FODMAP foods could be the source of problems.

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How do you know which foods contain FODMAPs?

This diet is by nature very restrictive. The labels on food packets offer the best guide to manufactured products to products it is OK to use and those you need to avoid. The diet also omits many kinds of grains, vegetables, and dairy foods. The dietician should provide detailed advice on permitted natural products, but there is little comfort for anyone with a sweet tooth.

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Which typical vegetables and grain products you might have to go without on a low FODMAP diet?

The fructans you might expect to forgo all foods made from wheat, rye, and barley, and you must add beer, whiskey, and other popular alcoholic drinks to this exclusion list. You might also need to give up on garlic, onions, lentils, and legumes amongst other vegetables. Cauliflowers also could be a problem (although they are polyols rather than fructans).

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Which fruit and animal products are usually excluded from the diet?

Popular fruit like apples and pears are normally out of bounds for people on the low FODMAP diets. They also need to avoid all animal milk and dairy products because of lactose issues. Another issue to keep in mind is the need to avoid the sugar alcohols commonly used in sweeteners and chewing gum.

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A low FODMAP diet without a dietician

There is so much material available in written form and online that some might be tempted to make up a low FODMAP diet without a dietician's help. Even though in theory this sounds an excellent idea, in practical terms it poses significant challenges. The complexities of devising and monitoring such a diet plan will discourage all but the most determined and knowledgeable. Only a trained dietician has the tools to analyze your present dietary problems and tailor a diet plan to your specific needs.

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Does a low FODMAP diet need to be non-gluten?

Some mistakenly assume that gluten is carb and therefore products that contain it do not belong in a low FODMAP diet. Since gluten is a protein, it does not fit into the FODMAP group, but those on a FODMAP diet still stand to gain if they also stay gluten free. As a general rule bear in mind that the foods suitable for people sensitive to gluten also happen to be on the low side in FODMAP. It thus makes sense to give gluten-free foods precedence over others in your FODMAP diet.

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The value of probiotics supplements

Everyone knows about how antibiotics help fight illnesses. For low FODMAP diet adherents, it seems that supplements of the bacteria called probiotics may contribute to improving the success of their plan. Some scientists claim that when FODMAP ferment they create a bacterial imbalance in the gut. A probiotics supplement can help you to correct this imbalance. While yogurts and pickled vegetables also provide a healthy dose of probiotics, they are insufficient by themselves, so supplements have a role to play.

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How to manage while eating out

Even though the low FODMAP diet runs for just a few months, many dieters are reluctant to suspend their social life during this time. Fortunately, there is no need to go into seclusion to stick to the diet. With a little planning, you should be able to find workaround solutions. For example, instead of a regular coffee ask for lactose-free milk in your coffee. You can also request non-gluten bread and cereals. It is even possible to fit in the occasional small French fries at the fast food outlet and the popcorn at the cinema without wrecking your diet.

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Disclaimer

This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.