Debunking the FODMAP diet

Debunking the FODMAP diet - A Free From Life

I’ve talked about FODMAPS before, here on A Free From Life. What makes them so interesting to me is their link to IBS and other digestive disorders. As an IBS sufferer, who could never seem to work out which foods were causing the symptoms, it makes sense to finally have something to which I can lay the blame.

Having said that, the term FODMAPS, which stands for Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols, is enough to make anyone run a mile screaming. When you’re told that foods containing FODMAPS include wheat, beans, pulses, some vegetables, dairy products and fruit, it immediately sounds warning bells. A diet without these things is surely impossible to maintain isn’t it?

There’s another thing too. You have to experiment with FODMAP foods as you may find that some affect you more than others, depending on how high the levels of active ingredients. Yes it’s confusing and it’s not a diet you can embark on without professional help, but because of the evidence backing up FODMAPS as a potential cause of IBS, is it not worth considering?

In response to the confusion surrounding a low FODMAP diet, Australian dietitian, Dr Sue Shepherd, has been working with a team to create a FODMAP certification programme. Dr Shepherd, who developed the low FODMAP diet back in 1999, has also recently launched her own low FODMAP food range. The certification programme, known as FODMAP Friendly, is an Australian Government-approved accreditation system. It includes a logo designed to help consumers pick out foods that are suitable for them to eat on this diet and in order for products to display this logo, they must first go through vigorous laboratory testing. FODMAP Friendly foods are set to be a new addition to the free from aisle and should help those following a low FODMAP diet to choose foods with confidence.

Debunking the FODMAP diet - A Free From Life

The team at FODMAP Friendly kindly sent me the app that accompanies their website. This app gives lots of useful information about the programme and how the foods are tested. It also breaks down what FODMAPS are and provides advice for following the diet. As they don’t recommend anyone to follow this diet without first seeking professional help, the app contains information on where to find a dietary specialist in a number of different countries. I’m sure that this list will be added to over time.

The app also has a list of certified products, with links to the relevant websites. At the moment, most of these products are Australian and not available in the UK, however, I was informed that the FODMAP Friendly website will be selling these products worldwide in the very near future.

Individual foods are listed with a simple breakdown of the total fructans, excess fructose, sorbitol, lactose, mannitol and GOS levels. Don’t worry if that means nothing to you because a simple ‘Pass’ or ‘Fail’ stamp tells you whether it is suitable. This is great information to have at your fingertips, but what I would like to see are recipes that you can make at home using suitable ingredients. It can be very off-putting to see a great big long list of foods with a ‘Fail’ stamp across them. I’m sure many people would appreciate some tips on how to cook in a FODMAP friendly way, myself included.

Debunking the FODMAP diet - A Free From Life

I think this is a really positive step towards debunking FODMAPS and helping individuals to conquer their IBS and digestive disorders. There are so many people who believe they have a gluten intolerance, yet they still seem to suffer symptoms and cannot understand why. I think they need to appreciate that this complex condition is down to more than one food group and also that controlling the symptoms is possible. If this accreditation system works and it spreads to the UK, it will be a breakthrough for IBS. Awareness of this condition is still poor and there are doctors who continue to mis-diagnose and send patients away having told them to take an antacid medication. Just because IBS is a complex condition doesn’t mean that it should be ignored or swept under the carpet. I believe it is important to look at the cause and not just treat the symptoms and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that more people will become aware of FODMAPS through this accreditation scheme.

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