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Follow a low-FODMAP diet for better digestive health

Protein-rich seafood fall in the low-FODMAP category.

A diet that contains a low amount of fermentable carbs can help you get relief from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Read on to know more.

Your digestive health is defined by the food you eat. There are many foods that can cause problems with digestion. Likewise, many foods can make your digestive system healthy. Experts say that a diet that contains a low amount of fermentable carbs can help you get relief from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). This is the low-FODMAP diet. FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. Sounds complicated, right? It's not, when we break it down to simple laymen language. It is basically a term used for groups of carbs that trigger bloating, gas and abdominal pain. These are nothing but short chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols that your body is unable to absorb properly. This results in abdominal pain and bloating. FODMAPs occur in some foods naturally or as additives. You need to avoid these foods in this diet plan.

About the diet

There are three stages in this diet. In the first stage you need to restrict certain foods that are high in FODMAP. You can do this for about 3 to 8 weeks but not longer. This is because foods that are high in FODMAP are actually good for gut health and long time restriction can harm you. You will probably notice an improvement in your symptoms in the third week itself. When you notice any improvement, you can go on to the next stage.

This stage calls for reintroduction of high-FODMAP foods in your diet. This will help you identify which types of FODMAPs you tolerate. You may be sensitive to some but not all of them. You include one food and see your reaction to it for three days. This will help you identify the foods that you are sensitive to. Other than this one food, you will have only low-FODMAP foods.

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Once you have identified the foods that cause you pain, go on to the third stage, that is personalization. Here you have to follow a modified low-FODMAP diet. It means that now you will include those foods that you can tolerate in your diet. But your overall diet will still be low-FODMAP.

Benefits of this diet

This diet reduces symptoms of digestive problems like IBS. It gives you relief from abdominal pain, bloating, gas, reflux and diarrhea. It not only reduces the pain of irritable bowel syndrome but also increases energy levels and improves overall health and fitness. But you must remember that this diet is not for people who have a healthy digestive system. It is specifically meant for people with IBS and may be harmful for others. Moreover, it is not recommended for children and pregnant women.

Who needs to follow this diet?

If you have digestive issues like the ones listed above, you may try out this diet. People who don't respond to other therapy for irritable bowel syndrome are good candidates for this diet.

Things to keep in mind

You need to be sure that you have IBS before starting this diet. Consult a doctor before going on this diet because sometimes IBS symptoms may actually indicate a more serious condition that may need immediate medical attention.

Low-FODMAP foods

You can stock up on these foods if you go on this diet. Protein-rich foods like meat, poultry, seafood, dairy and tofu are all low-FODMAP. You can also have brown rice, buckwheat, maize, millet, oats and quinoa. Most vegetables and fruits fall in this category as do nuts and seeds. You can have bananas, blueberries, kiwi, citrus fruits, papaya, pineapple and strawberries. Bell peppers, carrots, choy sum, eggplant, kale, tomatoes, spinach and zucchini are all low-FODMAP foods.

High FODMAP foods

Avoid wheat, rye, legumes, milk and soft cheese. Garlic and onions are high-FODMAP foods. Fruit like mangoes, blackberries, litchi and sweeteners like honey and agave nectar also fall in this category.

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