If you haven’t heard of “FODMAPs” you probably will soon. Based on numbers alone, low-
FODMAP foods may eclipse the multi-billion- dollar “gluten-free” category.
FODMAPs are carbohydrates that can be harder to digest for some individuals with so-called functional gastrointestinal disorders. FODMAPs stands for Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. FODMAPs are all poorly-digested short-chain carbohydrates that are present in a wide variety of foods, including wheat, onions, garlic, legumes, milk, honey, apples, dried fruit, some sugar substitutes and added fibers.
For those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), foods containing these poorly-digested short- chain carbohydrates (FODMAPs) may cause stomach aches, abdominal distension, gas, bloating, diarrhea and/or constipation. According the American College of Gastroenterology, IBS is one of the most common GI disorders, accounting for 40 percent of all appointments with gastroenterologists.
Some studies show that up to 75 percent of those who have IBS-like symptoms can benefit
from following a low-FODMAP diet. A low-FODMAP diet is so effective at managing IBS that it is often recommended by gastroenterologists in lieu of costly prescription medications that come with side effects.
The number of people with IBS — around 45 million in the U.S. alone— is about 15 times
greater than the estimated three million who have Celiac Disease, which requires avoidance of gluten to manage symptoms. Over the past decade, gluten-free food sales have skyrocketed – from just under one billion dollars in 2006, to a projected seven billion dollars by 2020.
Since a low-FODMAP diet is often the recommended first line of treatment for IBS, the low- FODMAP category is well poised to become even larger than the gluten-free market. While the low-FODMAP foods category has just emerged in the past few years, there are many national brands available, including Rachel Pauls Foods, with many more expected to enter the market in the near future.
There are several healthy habits you can establish to help treat your IBS symptoms. According to Rachel Pauls, M.D., founder of Rachel Pauls Low-FODMAP Food, a more holistic approach that includes lifestyle changes, behavior modification, stress reduction and natural therapies often provides the most long-lasting benefits for those with IBS.
Dr. Pauls recommends talking to your doctor about these seven healthy strategies to see if they are right for you:
- If your doctor recommends the low-FODMAP diet, then this would likely involve
eliminating foods that are high-FODMAP and see if your conditions improve. If so, you would then likely start adding back specific foods based on the type of FODMAP they contain, such as fermented foods or those high in fructose. This handy FODMAP food guide will help you plan GI-friendly meals and snacks.
- Eat at regular times. Try to eat a “normalized” meal pattern, which means three meals and two snacks daily at about the same time each day.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise helps improve mood and decrease anxiety and stress, bothof which can trigger IBS symptoms.
- Perfect your portions. Following a low-FODMAP lifestyle is always in context of portion sizes. For foods with FODMAPs, stick to the recommended portion sizes to keep your overall daily FODMAPs to recommended levels.
- Keep tabs on your total daily FODMAPs. FODMAPs need to be limited throughout the
entire day, not meal by meal. If you experience a bellyache after dinner, it may be
related to your lunch or afternoon snack, not what you ate at dinner.
- Try some peppermint. Peppermint is a natural way to relax the muscles in your GI tract. Ask your medical advisor about the best way to incorporate peppermint to help manage your symptoms.
- Consider a daily probiotic. Probiotics are "good" bacteria that normally live in your GI tract; some studies suggest that probiotics may help relieve IBS symptoms.
For more information, check out www.rachelpaulsfoods.com.