If you’re one of the 10 to 15 percent of people in the world with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you might think you’re doomed to a life of abdominal cramps, diarrhea, constipation or alternating episodes of both. But a growing body of evidence suggests that limiting your intake of fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols — commonly known by the acronym FODMAP — may calm your fussy gut.
FODMAPs are short-chain carbohydrates found in many foods that either absorb too slowly or don’t digest at all in the small intestines. By the time these carbs reach the large intestines, they begin to ferment. For people with more sensitive guts, this creates gas, which stretches the intestines and causes bloating and pain.
The Low FODMAP Diet restricts foods that are high FODMAPs, then gradually reintroduces foods from different high FODMAP categories back into the diet in order to identify which foods trigger symptoms. Armed with this knowledge, those with IBS know what foods to avoid in order to stay symptom free.