The Tummi App Blog
All the latest knowledge on managing IBS, how the Tummi app can support you, some helpful recipes and a few personal success stories
What is IBS?
IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) is the most commonly diagnosed gastrointestinal condition. It is a chronic, relapsing condition which is typically lifelong. However, that is not to say that IBS symptoms cannot be well managed with the right changes made in day-to-day lifestyle. These changes include things like managing stress-levels and changes in diet. IBS symptoms are wide ranging and people with IBS will often describe very different symptoms. It is important that you see your doctor to receive a diagnosis, that process allows other more serious conditions to be excluded.
What is the low fodmap diet?
A low FODMAP diet is a diet low in Fermentable Oligo, Di, Mono-saccharides and Polyols. It’s not the catchiest acronym, in all fairness, but in essence these are carbohydrates that are rapidly fermented in the guts. This dietary approach to the management of IBS was pioneered in Melbourne, Australia. It’s been the subject of many years of research and has been shown to be effective in treating gut symptoms such as bloating, wind, abdominal pain and altered bowel habits. The diet involves restricting various foods including grains, vegetables and fruits that are naturally high in fodmaps.
What are the chances of success with the low fodmap diet?
The low FODMAP diet is effective for around 70% of those with IBS who try it. It works by improving the gut symptoms associated with IBS. There are some peripheral symptoms associated with IBS that include headaches and joint problems and the FODMAP diet will not provide effective relief in regard to these.
Is the success rate relating to fodmap to treat IBS backed by science?
A randomised clinical trial conducted in Australia showed improvement in overall gastrointestinal symptoms in 70% of patients following the intervention for 3 weeks in a highly controlled setting. Compared to a typical diet, abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence and dissatisfaction with stool consistency all improved within one week and this beneficial effect on their IBS was sustained on an ongoing basis.
I want to try the low FODMAP diet. What should I do?
The diet is quite complicated and so it is important to receive high quality advice on how to follow it. A registered dietitian, preferably with experience of offering guidance for those on low FODMAP, will help you to follow it carefully. They can help you to follow a healthy balanced diet by providing you with ideas for suitable low FODMAP alternatives. Your doctor or gastroenterologist should be able to refer you to a dietitian, although you may need to ask for them to do that.
There is a lot of fodmap information on the web. Could I try the FODMAP diet myself?
There are good reasons why you should only explore the FODMAP diet with the guidance of a registered dietitian. On the face of things it looks like a list of foods to avoid during the restriction phase and a list that you can eat. However the complexity of the food chain, particularly in regard to prepared foods, is such that the dietitian can explain about guidance via food labels and navigating menus when eating out.
Secondly as the low FODMAP is relatively new much of the information on the web can be out of date. This can create some confusion for the patient and it is important that the diet is correctly adhered to in order to ensure a high level of success for those treating their IBS symptoms.
Lastly, there are certain foods that everyone should eat regularly in order to have a balanced, healthy nutritious diet. Your dietitian will support you through the process and ensure the steps are followed correctly and that a healthy diet is not accidentally left behind.
Do I have to see an NHS dietitian?
There are dietitian’s working in the NHS and privately who have formal training in the fodmap diet. The most appropriate thing is to enquire with your GP if your NHS trust provide that support to IBS sufferers. Some patients may prefer to make an appointment directly with a private dietitian with fodmap training in order to facilitate speed and convenience.
Dietitians are experts in motivating and empowering patients to self-manage their condition in the long term, taking a holistic approach which encompasses dietary, personal and social factors to make sure the therapeutic approach is tailored to the individual.
My friend has recommended their nutritionist to help get me going with the fodmap diet?
Dietitians are the only qualified health professionals that assess, diagnose and treat dietary and nutritional problems at an individual and wider public health level. They work with both healthy and sick people. Dietitians use the most up to date research on health, food and disease. In fact it was dietitians who discovered the fodmap diet through research conducted at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.
Nutritionists do not have a protected legal title, so anyone can call themselves a nutritionist. There is no requirement for a degree of a BSc or equivalent with a nutritionist and they are not qualified to work in a clinical setting.
Dietitians can complete a specialist course for the fodmap diet that is run by King’s College London, which is the UK centre for excellence in the fodmap diet for irritable bowel syndrome.
What support materials would I need to successfully complete the fodmap diet?
Whilst there is a good deal of information available on the web the best route to support materials is via a suitable fodmap app for your smartphone or through the official booklets that King’s College London offer through their dietitians.
What are the general do’s and don’t of IBS?
The fodmap diet is a highly successful therapeutic path for those suffering from IBS. It should be completed under the supervision of a dietitian. Use of a food diary and symptom log will greatly increase the chances that you successfully make fodmap work for you, relieve your symptoms and settle on a personalised, balanced and nutritionally balanced diet.
- Cook from scratch. Homemade made meals from fresh ingredients will give you the greatest flexibility as you progress through the diet
- Find suitable ways to relax, never ignore the impact the mind has on the gut
- Get regular exercise
- Probiotics can help IBS sufferers, many people try them for a month to see if they have a positive impact on their symptoms
- Drink an appropriate amount of water each day (at least 8 cups)
- Start to log your meals, flare-ups and other relevant triggers like stress. The Tummi App is good for this and it runs on all Android phones
- Do not delay or skip meals
- Avoid being rushed and eating too quickly
- Avoid excessive spiced, fatty or processed foods
- Chew gum
- Do not eat more than three portions of fresh fruit in day
- Do not drink more than three cups of coffee or tea in a day (or other caffeinated drinks)
- Reduce consumption of carbonated drinks (even sparkling water)
- Do not overindulge on either alcoholic drinks, sugar-free fizzy drinks (sorbitol is a fodmap) or sugar-free mints
What other treatments are there for Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
The fodmap diet is one of the most effective methods of easing symptoms in IBS sufferers. Up to 75% of IBS patients have used a prescription drug to treat their IBS, often with medications being prescribed for more than 100 days. Fodmap provides symptomatic relief without the need for prescription medication.
What things can I do to reduce a flare-up in my symptoms?
Simple go-to’s to reduce bloating, cramps and wind
- Avoid foods that are hard to digest (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, beans, onions and dried fruits)
- Gentle exercise, even regular walks
- Meditation or other relaxation techniques