The Low FODMAP Diet Should Not Be Followed Forever

The Low FODMAP Diet Should Not Be Followed Forever

It is not a secret that I am a big advocate of the low FODMAP diet; I have been blogging about my experience with IBS and the diet for many years and I also have a podcast about this topic. I am definitely passionate about spreading the message, as this diet has changed my life. I can’t even describe the joy I had from going to everyday IBS symptoms, to a few symptoms per year.

Fortunately for me, I was one of the 70% of IBS sufferers, who responded well to the strict elimination phase.1
If you are not yet familiar with the low FODMAP diet, what should be understood first, is that it is a complicated diet and to be successful it should be undertaken only with the assistance of a qualified dietitian or health professional, who have received specialized training and who will be able to personalize it, according to your needs. These professionals can properly guide you through the elimination of high FODMAP food and subsequently their re-introduction and eventually assist you with creating a healthy and balanced diet plan, going forward.

Nowadays my diet is still around 80% low FODMAP, but I can safely consume some high FODMAP food every day, without triggering symptoms. This allow me more freedom to eat out and socialize with friends and family, which is something very important to me, but because of my recurring symptoms after eating, I avoided it for a period of time.

Why is it important to include high FODMAP food back into our diet, once our symptoms have improved?

The experts agree2 that the low FODMAP diet should not be followed long-term and that the ultimate goal, once our symptoms have improved, is to be able to re-challenge high FODMAP food and reintroduce as many of those aliment, as we can tolerate.

Some people may be worried about reintroducing food that were found as the cause of their IBS symptoms, but it’s critical to understand that consuming high FODMAP food, it’s not just recommended in order to have a good variety of nutrients in our diet, it is important because some high FODMAP food contain prebiotics, which help nourish the ‘good’ (probiotic) bacteria in our gut. When we restrict FODMAPs, we are possibly also restricting prebiotics and causing alteration in our gut flora.3

How do prebiotics help us?

Prebiotics are a type of fiber that we cannot digest nor absorb in our small intestine and therefore reach our large intestine almost intact, where they become food for probiotics, helping them grow and multiply and ultimately promoting our gut health.

Prebiotics and probiotics play an essential part in supporting our gut microbiome. These microorganisms have a role in digesting what we eat, absorbing nutrients, protect from harmful bacteria, fight diseases, control infections, stimulate our immune system etc.
Many high FODMAP food such as asparagus, garlic, onion, Jerusalem artichoke, some legumes, wheat, barley, rye, just to mention a few, are good sources of prebiotic and hopefully like me, also you may be able to reintroduce, at least some of them, in your long-term diet plan, after your IBS symptoms have improved.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The IrritableBowelSyndrome.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.
View References
  1. de Roest RH, Dobbs BR, Chapman BA, Batman B, O'Brien LA, Leeper JA, Hebblethwaite CR, Gearry RB. Int J Clin Pract. 2013 Sep; ‘The low FODMAP diet improves gastrointestinal symptoms in patients with irritable bowel syndrome: a prospective study.’ 67(9):895-903. PubMed PMID: 23701141.
  2. Dr J. Varney, Monashfodmap.com. (2015). ‘Low FODMAP diet – not a ‘lifetime’ diet.’ [online] Available at: https://www.monashfodmap.com/blog/low-fodmap-diet-not-lifetime-diet/
  3. Staudacher, H. M., Lomer, M., Anderson, J. L., Barrett, J. S., Muir, J. G., Irving, P. M., & Whelan, K. (2012). ‘Fermentable carbohydrate restriction reduces luminal bifidobacteria and gastrointestinal symptoms in patients with irritable bowel syndrome.’ Journal of Nutrition, 142(8), 1510 - 1518. DOI: 10.3945/jn.112.159285

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