It is safe to say that many journeys in our life were often filled with challenges, lessons to learn and most importantly, enjoyable experiences. The Monash FODMAP team’s journey in defining and developing the FODMAP diet concept is no different. So what are some of the remarkable discoveries we found along the way?
In recent years, we have found growing evidence that supports the benefits of the FODMAP diet in IBS. Unlike trials investigating the effectiveness of pharmaceuticals, developing high quality dietary trials has its challenges. For example, ‘feeding’ trials will provide all meals to patients which can be more expensive, but the trial is of a higher quality. Other trials will provide dietary advice from a dietitian or health professional instead. Other factors to consider are length of trial design, how to assess adherence to the diet, as well as reduction in symptoms, to ascertain the effectiveness of the diet. Despite the challenges in designing clinical trials, there are now an increasing number of comparative studies and real-world clinical experiences from dietitians globally that have added credibility to the FODMAP diet.
We learnt that following the FODMAP diet requires a good knowledge of FODMAP compositions for many foods. You may ask, so what has the Monash FODMAP team done to ensure that IBS patients and dietitians have easy access to accurate FODMAP composition data? Throughout the years of research, we have:
We also found that the active involvement of a gastrointestinal specialist dietitian is essential to delivering and guiding a 3-step FODMAP diet. Working with a specialist dietitian means a nutritionally adequate and enjoyable dietary approach can be personalised for you. Did you know that calcium, fibre, B vitamins and iron can be inadequate on a low FODMAP diet if not followed properly? Speaking with a dietitian before commencing on a FODMAP diet is also essential to avoid nutritional risks, such as eating disorders and malnutrition, especially for older adults and children.
In addition to the FODMAP diet, other therapies being researched in IBS patients include probiotics and fibre supplements. Studies have also looked at whether following a FODMAP diet will change the bacteria profile in our gut. These research areas are still being widely studied and may provide an insight into the role of adjunct therapies in IBS.
Like many other researchers in the science and nutrition area, we are here to embrace the known and explore the unknown throughout our FODMAP research pathway. We cannot wait to share more innovative research findings with you, and as usual, we are pleased to have you join our FODMAP journey!
1. Gibson P, Halmos E, So D, Yao C, Varney J, Muir J. Diet as a therapeutic tool in chronic gastrointestinal disorders: Lessons from the FODMAP journey. Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. 2022.