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Irritable bowel syndrome and FODMAPS

Irritable bowel syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a widespread disorder of the bowel causing symptoms such as abdominal pain, cramps, irregular stools (both diarrhoea and constipation), trapped gas and bloating.

While IBS is common, it should never be assumed that similar symptoms are IBS without diagnosis by a medical professional who has ruled out a more serious bowel condition.

Along with stress, one of the most common triggers of IBS is a reaction to some foods.


FODMAPS (an acronym for Fermentable Oligosaccharides Disaccharides Monosaccharides and Polyols) is a group of molecules and sugars found in both natural and processed foods. In some cases, the compounds are poorly absorbed in the bowel and have been proven to contribute to the symptoms of IBS.

How FODMAPS trigger IBS symptoms

Unabsorbed FODMAPS ferment in the large bowel causing an excess of bacteria which leads to flatulence, bloating, abdominal pain and discomfort.

A short-term low FODMAP diet has been proven to reduce the symptoms of IBS and may be recommended to treat severe cases of IBS.

High FODMAP foods (foods to avoid)

Developed by Monash University, the following have been identified as high FODMAP foods.

Vegetables: Artichoke, asparagus, cauliflower, garlic, green peas, leek, mushrooms, onion.

Fruits: Apples, cherries, mango, dried fruit, nectarine, peaches, plums, watermelon.

Dairy: Cow's milk, custard, ice cream, soy milk, yoghurt.

Protein: Legumes, pulses, marinated meats, processed meats, seafood.

Bread and cereal: Wheat, rye, breakfast cereals, biscuits.

Sugars: High fructose corn syrup, honey, sugar-free sweets.

Nuts and seeds: Cashews, pistachios.

Low FODMAP foods (foods to include)

The following foods have been identified as low FODMAP foods and should be included in a low FODMAP diet.

Vegetables: Aubergine, eggplant, bok choy, capsicum, cucumber, lettuce, potato, tomato, zucchini.

Fruits: Cantaloupes, grapes, kiwi fruit, mandarin, orange, pineapple.

Dairy: Almond milk, brie, camembert, feta, lactose-free milk.

Protein: Eggs, tofu, poultry, seafood.

Bread and cereal: Oats, quinoa, rice, corn pasta, rice caked, sourdough bread, wheat-free bread.

Sugars: Dark chocolate, maple syrup, rice malt syrup.

Nuts and seeds: Macadamias, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, walnuts.

Tips for following a low FODMAP diet

Following a low FODMAP diet can be confusing, and you must always consult with a professional before making significant changes to your nutrition program. Eliminating whole food groups without preparation can be detrimental to other areas of your health and should be avoided unless instructed under professional guidance.

Re-introducing FODMAPS

A low FODMAP diet is a short-term change recommended for a maximum of six weeks. If a low FODMAP diet is followed for too long, the diet may reduce the good gut bacteria that aids digestion and can become detrimental to your overall wellbeing.

After six weeks (or on the recommendation of your dietician), start to re-introduce higher FODMAP foods gradually and monitor your body’s response.

There are further ways to reduce the symptoms of IBS (such as using a probiotic or with prescribed medication), but it's advisable to introduce one treatment at a time to pinpoint the specific symptoms and implement prevention strategies for the future.

If you're suffering from IBS and you require more information about following a low FODMAPs diet, call the Core Specialist Group to make an appointment with a specialist on 07 5598 0955

* We recommend that you always consult with a professional before beginning a low FODMAP diet.