Yes, a low-FODMAP diet can help you manage your symptoms.
The studies show the effectiveness of low-FODMAP diets to reduce
bloating, abdominal pain and discomfort, diarrhea and constipation.
And so do both my clinical experience as a registered dietitian and
my personal experience as a past IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) sufferer.
But you might need to go beyond the typical low-FODMAP diet to heal your gut… unless you want to eat low-FODMAP for the rest of your life and deprive yourself of many of the delicious and healthy high-FODMAP foods, such as onions, garlic, avocado, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, mushrooms, asparagus, beets, pears, apples, peaches, watermelon and nuts like cashews, pistachios and almonds just to name a few.
Especially that we now know that FODMAPs play an important in keeping your gut flora balanced and healthy (read my previous post on the safety of low-FODMAP diet for your gut flora in the long-term). And more and more studies are showing that the health of your gut flora is important for just about EVERYTHING, including your digestion, immune health, weight regulation, hormonal balance, mental health, and so much more.
Just to be clear, I’m not saying that a low-FODMAP diet can’t help you feel better in the short-term. What I’m saying though is that the conventional low-FODMAP diet is not necessarily the healthy, anti-inflammatory and nutrient-dense diet you need to truly heal your gut and live the healthy life you deserve.
Managing your gut symptoms is not the same as healing your gut
I definitely applaud you for taking your health in your own hands and using
food as medicine to control your digestive issues naturally.
However, symptom management is not synonymous with healing.
It’s time to differentiate these terms.
Symptom management is just like putting a band-aid on a wound. It might help you feel better
and prevent it form hurting as much but it won’t necessarily help it heal.
Not unless you address the root cause.
What caused the wound in the first place? Is it infected? Is there a splinter? What factors are contributing to the cascade of inflammation now causing you to feel pain and no be able to use your wounded finger (as an example) normally? What does your body need to heal this wound? And what can you do to prevent another similar wound in the future?
These are the hard questions you need to address and find the right answers to
if you want to take your health to the next level.
Going to the root of your FODMAP intolerance
From both my personal and clinical experience, I don’t believe FODMAP intolerance
is a permanent problem. Not like a peanut or egg allergy.
This is why it is important to identify the root cause of your FODMAP intolerance. Do you have SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth)? Or another form of gut dybsiosis (imbalance in your gut flora)? Do you have a problem with the transit speed and motility of your gut? A lack of digestive enzymes or inadequate stomach acid? Is your past / current diet contributing to gut inflammation, leaky gut (increased intestinal permeability) or an imbalance in the types of bacteria, yeasts or other microorganisms living in your gut?
The answers to these questions can vary between different people,
even though you might all have FODMAP intolerance in common.
Did you know? Did you know that the word Radicata (the name of my website) means root in latin? I love this word because I understand the importance of going to the root cause of any health issues and using the root of medicine (nutrition) to heal ourselves.
The typical low-FODMAP diet is NOT healthy
Have a look at this typical low-FODMAP menu:
- a couple of gluten-free or spelt toasts with margarine and strawberry jam, or
- a bowl of corn flakes with lactose-free milk and a serving of low-FODMAP fruit (orange or kiwi)
- ham or tuna sandwich on gluten-free or spelt bread, or
- gluten-free pasta with margarine and tomato
- tofu with quinoa and low-FODMAP vegetables, or
- lean meat or poultry with potato or rice and low-FODMAP vegetables
- lactose-free yogurt and gluten-free muffin, or
- rice cakes with peanut butter,
- a serving of low-FODMAP fruit (banana or cantaloup), or
- gluten-free pretzels
Unfortunately, the typical low-FODMAP diet is high in processed carbs and low in nutrients.
Although avoiding FODMAPs is helpful in controlling the excess intestinal fermentation responsible for your bloating, pain and abnormal bowel movements,
it is not a diet I would recommend to anyone, let alone those with digestive issues.
Is it wise for people with digestive issues to consume grains, even gluten-free ones?
And dairy? And soy? And vegetable oils? And sugar?
Where are the healthy fats? Where are he anti-inflammatory foods? And where are the gut-healing superfoods like homemade bone broth, fermented foods (i.e. sauerkraut), fermented cod liver oil and nutrient-dense liver from pastured animals?
Combine your gut healing tools!
The low-FODMAP diet is a powerful and effective tool you can use to identify what is going wrong with your digestion and finally start keeping your symptoms under control. But if your goal is to go beyond basic symptom management and truly heal your gut, you will definitely need to go beyond the typical low-FODMAP diet.
While addressing the root cause of your FODMAP intolerance, you will need to prioritize anti-inflammatory foods to allow the lining of your gut to heal and regain the ability to produce and secrete the digestive enzymes you need to better digest and absorb your food.
You will also need to pack as much nutrition as you can (within the limits of a low-FODMAP diet) to correct the nutritional deficiencies often associated with a FODMAP intolerance and digestive issues and give your body all the building blocks it needs for the healing process.
And you’ll need to take the right steps to balance your gut flora if you want to eat onions, apples and avocados again, like me and many of the people I worked with in the past have been able to do.
The solution =
low-FODMAP + anti-inflammatory + nutrient-dense + gut healing
But don’t settle for a conventional low-FODMAP diet if you want your gut to heal.
Health starts in the gut and gut health starts with REAL food.