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IBS stands for Irritable Bowel Syndrome and it affects 11% of the global population. Typically, its symptoms include excessive flatulence, abdominal pain, and bloating. In addition to that it can also cause altered bowel habits including diarrhea and constipation. All of these can make life with IBS very uncomfortable and severely lower someone’s quality of life. However, can cutting down on foods classified as FODMAPS within your diet reduce these symptoms?

What is IBS?

Diagnosing functional gastrointestinal disorders like IBS can be difficult due to the fact that they do not appear to be caused by physical or structural abnormalities within the digestive system. They are caused by a functionally abnormal gastrointestinal tract. Without biomarkers that determine a person’s illness, doctors have to pay attention to a patient’s symptoms instead. There are several theories as to what might actually cause IBS, including infections of the gastrointestinal tract, psychological stress, abnormalities in gut motility, and gut-brain axis (the link between the brain and the digestive system) problems.

There are some treatments that could help with the primary symptoms in some people, but they are not able to fully cure disorders like IBS. As of yet, it is incurable. However, other researchers and studies have investigated the effects of certain foods in their effects on IBS symptoms due to comments by patients.

What are FODMAPS and why are they bad for IBS?

“FODMAP” means Fermentable, Oligo-saccharides, Di-saccharides, Mono-saccharides, and Polyols. They are short-chain carbohydrates that cannot be absorbed by the small intestine easily. As a result, they get passed onto the large intestine, through which bacteria works away at fermenting these carbohydrates. The breakdown of carbohydrates by bacteria in the large intestine creates a significant amount of gas (mostly hydrogen and methane). This happens to all people, but for those suffering from IBS it seems to be much more excessive. That is why some researchers have suggested that cutting down on FODMAP foods is a way of treating IBS symptoms.

Although a systematic review conducted in 2015 showed that foods low in FODMAPS were somewhat effective in reducing symptoms of IBS, the authors of the 6 studies within this review concluded that more controlled studies needed to be done for longer periods of time in order to gauge the efficacy and safety of a low-FODMAP diet.

So, IBS – a functional gastrointestinal disorder – is incurable, but the symptoms can be eased through varying methods. These may include certain medications, as well as altering one’s diet with foods with fewer FODMAPS in them. For example, foods that you should avoid if you have symptoms of IBS are caffeinated drinks (including fizzy drinks), dairy products, very fatty or spicy foods, and heavily processed snacks. However, further studies are required to determine longer term effects of different treatments and possible causes of IBS symptoms and FODMAPS.

Primal Bite

IBS, a functional gastrointestinal disorder, causes severe discomfort to approximately 11% of the world’s population, but there is no clear cause.

Although IBS is incurable, some remedies are thought to alleviate symptoms, including changes in diet and some medications.

Avoiding FODMAPS appears to have some positive effects on IBS sufferers, but more research is needed to conclude the total efficacy of cutting FODMAPS out of one’s diet.