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Irritable Bowel Syndrome

For many people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), avoiding foods that are high in FODMAPs reduces IBS symptoms.


FODMAPS stands for:


F - Fermentable.
O - oligo-saccharides (galacto-oligosaccharides [GOS] and fructans).
D - Disaccharides (lactose).
M - Monosaccharides (fructose).
A - and
P - Polyols (sorbitol, xylitol, isomalt, maltitol, and mannitol).


FODMAPs are an unrelated group of short chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols that naturally occur in the foods we eat. FODMAPs are also added as ingredients to many processed foods. For example:


•  Fructose is found in high concentration in certain fruits, dried fruits and fruit juices. Sometimes fructose is added to foods, such as cereals or confectionary, to sweeten them.
•  Lactose is found in most dairy products.
• Polyols are used as artificial sweeteners in many products including confectionary, diet soft drinks and other ‘diet’ products and sugar free chewing gums.




Generally, FODMAPs are not absorbed properly in the small intestine digestive tract. The FODMAPs then end up in the large bowel where, in some people, they cause symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), which include:


•  abdominal bloating and distension.
•  excess wind (flatulence).
•  diarrhoea, constipation, or a combination of both.
•  abdominal pain.
•  nausea.


For many people with IBS, avoiding foods that are high in FODMAPs reduces IBS symptoms. However, individual results vary and it can take 8-12 weeks for the diet to work. So you have to be patient but if your symptoms improve (most people’s do) it will certainly be worth it in the end!


How the FODMAP diet works


You will have to avoid foods that are high in FODMAPs for 12 weeks. After 12 weeks, if your symptoms have improved, we will slowly re-introduce FODMAPs back into your diet one at a time from each category. These are called ‘food challenges’ and allow us to determine which FODMAPs are causing your symptoms and how much of each FODMAP you can tolerate.



This article was written by SEH dietitian and nutritionist, Julie Markoska. If you have symptoms of IBS please call SEH to make an appointment for more personalised nutrition advice.






Sydney Essential Health is situated in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs, 5 minutes walk from the centre of Bondi Junction and close to Woollahra, Double Bay, Rose Bay, Bellevue Hill, Paddington, Edgecliff, Randwick, Coogee and Bondi. Also only a quick train or bus ride from the city of Sydney and Sydney CBD. Click here for map and contact details.

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