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People with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) have diets that are typically lower in fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols (FODMAPs). These foods are poorly absorbed in the small intestine and can cause symptoms of IBS. Read the FODMAP Diet for more information.

IBS is a debilitating modern condition which affects more than 35% of the population. But the causes are not entirely understood.

Dr. Saundra Dalton

Research suggests FODMAPs, short-chain carbohydrates and food intolerances may be important. If you experience uncomfortable symptoms while you’re on a diet, it might be a sign that diet is affecting your IBS symptoms.

IBS is a gastrointestinal disorder characterized by abdominal pain, cramps, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and usually rumination or emotional distress. Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity may cause more severe symptoms. Read on for information on research linking diet to IBS and the impact of correct identification of diet ingredients on IBS symptoms.

eggs bell pepper frittata FODMAP food
Source: Everyday Health

Sugar may cause immediate bloating, urination problems, and abdominal cramps. A 2018 study found intake of fructose on average causes symptoms in as little as 10 days.

Foods such as milk, white or fermented foods, bread, rice, aloe vera, and alcohol may cause symptoms.

Research linking dairy products and IBS was reviewed by the American College of Gastroenterology, And revealed that people with problems with milk appear to be individuals with IBS. Those with digestive issues with an intolerance to gums and plaque found milk and dairy products. To be positively impacted by an elimination diet. Those patients told their doctors they had been experiencing intestinal cramps prior to their dairy hiatus since the onset of symptoms.

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Whitney Barkman, Nutritional Therapy Specialist, explains, “Eliminating dairy cheese and milk causes the small intestine to become malnourished, the patient’s symptoms worsen, and the patient can experience chronic diarrhoea causing constipation.” This is likely due to undigested lactose, a sugar that is hidden in milk and found in many fermented foods.

According to Barkman, this is also the reason she does not recommend a lactose-free diet. For those with IBS or for those who are intolerant to lactose.

Eating foods that cause pain in the gastrointestinal tract can also trigger intestinal distress in those without IBS. According to Barkman, “Some foods can cause cramps”.

Some IBS symptoms are seasonal, with the onset during flu season. While some people who report symptoms live with them continuously, others adapt very well to the symptoms. It is important to note that it is normal to have seasonal patterns of gastrointestinal symptoms as you age and it is not always related to the flu.

Whitney Barkman

Research collaboration between the Department of Clinical Sciences, University of Kansas. And the National Library of Medicine revealed a connection between lactose malabsorption and acute intestinal distress.

Physiologically, non-essential (unnecessary) FODMAPs can be considered highly addictive. Humans do not actually have intact cells that can break down FODMAPs, so their digestive enzymes cannot perform this task. Consequently, they are thought to trigger cravings, leading to relapse.

Although this has not been completely proven. Non-compliance with VSL#3 diets has increased the chance of relapse when people have a gastrointestinal (GI) problem.

Foods that cause IBS

Symptoms of IBS can resemble gluten sensitivity, digestive distress, or celiac disease. Symptoms may vary, but when patients go to the toilet or otherwise get food into their GI tract, they experience a range of more than sixty (or more) foods that trigger symptoms.
Studies have shown that about three-quarters (or more) of IBS patients have at least one intolerances, i.e. foods that they experience unpleasant symptoms upon ingesting.

Several food items that cause IBS symptoms in some individuals, “trigger” the condition for others.

People with IBS seem to be more sensitive to caffeine. Some of them may experience heartburn, anxiety, sleep disturbances, or irritability when consuming coffee.

Several foods, including garlic, onions, soy, and onion, garlic-containing spices such as onion powder, carrot cake, garam masala, dulse seaweed, kombucha, cloves, are also believed to reduce anxiety or spike blood pressure.

There appears to be no actual cause and effect relationship between onions and heartburn, at least in humans. However, endomorphins are responsible for the slightly high feeling that onions cause.

Certain nuts, including walnuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, and walnuts, can increase the number of good gut bacteria and alleviate inflammation. In some individuals, eating too many nuts can exacerbate heartburn.

Gut Bacteria Ecology

The fermentation of fibre into SCFAs, play a key role in the gut bacterial ecology, and they have anti-inflammatory and possibly anti-diabetic effects. SCFAs also increase the absorption of water and minerals in the gastrointestinal tract, leading to improved bowel health.

Sugar is not the sole culprit for triggering a situsiative response. Beverages containing beverages with artificial sweeteners, like diet soft drinks and coffee, can also cause symptoms.

Read more: Natural remedies for IBS — foods for IBS


When gut bacteria become impaired due to dysbiosis, SCFAs and other chemicals emitted by gut bacteria can be released into the blood circulation. Additionally, people with IBS experience an increase of SCFAs after eating fermented foods or fibre-rich foods (such as raw organic fruits and vegetables). SCFAs may also cross the blood-brain barrier and produce an effect on the brain called “intolerances” which can lead to mood disorders like anxiety and depression.

IBS is an inflammatory condition that affects the gut-brain axis.


These oligosaccharides are found in low levels in many foods including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, herbs and medications like anti-anxiety medications and diabetes medications.


The dose limits for IBS and IBD are different. The World Health Organization’s (WHO) suggested daily intake for IBS is two or more standard meals, three or more times daily, or six or more times weekly.

The IBD Alliance recommends up to 4–6 standard meals or snacks daily. Certainly the low-FODMAP diet is restrictive, but trying a diet like this for any longer than 60 days without experience is probably too short of a period and isn’t sustainable.

That said, I tried the low FODMAP diet for five weeks without ending up back on my previous diet. (I must say any diet is possible, but only for about five weeks.) What worked best for me was being mindful of what I was eating and accepting that eating a larger amount of healthier foods might help ease my symptoms.


The low FODMAP diet may have you cutting out fruit, dairy products, grains, legumes, nuts and even certain vegetables like broccoli.

You’ll be trying to decrease your overall intake and have only one food group per day for sustenance. Don’t worry, the diet is flexible.
Here are a few great tips for sticking to the low FODMAP diet:

    This year, Tom Cruise’s first father-son celebration was held in Hawaii, a traditional favourite. During this event, he was surrounded by these special people. The DVD set was displayed throughout the dinner and even included photos from the occasion. The Controversy has it that he took a bite of one of the dainty amargue prior to diving into the sea, and since he had been dieting for a month and a half prior, everyone thought he was having a heart attack! But he was very careful and ate the rest of the meal as though nothing had happened. It was a great way to honour the occasion and also emphasizing how special it is to celebrate a father-son special day.
    Take a medical doctor’s advice. While this “diet” is restrictive, it is still possible to heal nutritionally if used properly. While elimination of foods you love (and many vegetables) will be the only foods you can eat forever, there are always other healthy foods to be enjoyed and increased fiber intake should be supported.
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A lot of work has gone into bringing you this post. We hope you found it interesting and informative. If you have a question, please ask it in the comments at the foot of this post.

If you don’t have a question you can use the comment to say “Hi”. If you have MS – stay strong and follow the warrior code.

The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to the FODMAP Diet

Stephen Walker is a blogger who has been living with Multiple Sclerosis or MS since 1994. He devotes a lot of time to researching this dreadful autoimmune disease, looking for answers and possible treatments.

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