Studies have shown low FODMAP diets can help improve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

FODMAP stands for ‘fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols.’ FODMAP foods are types of carbohydrates, including sugars that easily inflame the digestive system and those that are poorly absorbed in the gut.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a widespread gastrointestinal disorder affecting 11 percent of the world’s population, this according to a report from Clinical Epidemiology.

Contents of this article:

  • Diet is the best way to manage IBS symptoms.
  • Low and high FODMAP foods include many types vegetables, meats, fish, cereals, grains, and eggs.
  • Knowing the difference makes it easier to go on a low FODMAP diet, and alleviate IBS symptoms.

What is IBS?

Woman at desk experiencing stomach pains.
IBS symptoms may include recurring, continuous pain or discomfort in the abdomen, bloating, nausea, and indigestion.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, about 10 to 15 percent of adults in the United States are affected by IBS.

Of that number, less than 7 percent will receive a diagnosis of IBS, either because a doctor is unsure or because the individual is not seeking help for symptoms. It seems that women are affected by IBS in higher numbers than men.

IBS causes the following symptoms:

  • abdominal discomfort in the pain or abdomen
  • bloating and gas
  • feeling bowel movements are incomplete
  • inability to empty bowels
  • white mucus in stool
  • diarrhea
  • nausea

The exact cause of IBS is unknown. People with IBS can find symptom relief with diet changes, medication, stress management, behavioral therapy and various alternative therapies.

Low FODMAP diets have shown promise for managing IBS.

What is a low FODMAP diet?

Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries.
Blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries may be eaten freely on the FODMAP diet. Blackberries, however, should be avoided.

The FODMAP diet was developed by a team of researchers from Monash University, Melbourne, Australia. The team, led by Peter Gibson, was the first to prove low FODMAP diets improved IBS symptoms.

FODMAP foods are classified as high, medium and low. The diet details that those with IBS should avoid high FODMAP foods, eat some medium FODMAP foods, and depend on low FODMAP foods as staples.

Low FODMAP foods (things to eat freely) include:

  • Vegetables: Lettuces, chives, cucumber, fennel, eggplant, broccoli, and baby spinach.
  • Fruits: Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, pineapple, grapes, and kiwifruit.
  • Fish: Crab, lobster, salmon, tuna, and shrimp.
  • Fats: Oils, seeds, butter, peanuts, and walnuts.
  • Starches, cereals, and grains: Potatoes, gluten-free bread, quinoa, brown rice, tortilla chips, and popcorn.

High FODMAP foods (things to avoid) include: