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Low FODMAP diet alters your gut microbiome which may impact your health

Are you following a low FODMAP diet? If your answer is ‘yes’, read on to learn more about a  little-known fact about following a low FODMAP diet that could be impacting your health.

Research shows that your gut microbiome changes within 3 weeks of starting a Low FODMAP diet, negatively impacting the number and types of beneficial bacteria in your gut1.

Your gut microbiome is the community of gut bacteria living in your gut. There is more and more research coming out showing us how important a healthy gut microbiome is for our overall health, so by ‘starving out’ the good bugs when you follow a low FODMAPs diet for a longer period you may be setting yourself up for a other health issues later in life including increased risk of

  • Weight gain
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Mental Health issues including depression and anxiety

Your gut microbiome is the community of gut bacteria living in your gut. There is more and more research coming out showing us how important a healthy gut microbiome is for our overall health, so by ‘starving out’ the good bugs when you follow a low FODMAPs diet for a longer period you may be setting yourself up for a other health issues later in life including increased risk of2

  • Weight gain
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Mental Health issues including depression and anxiety

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t try a low FODMAPs diet to help you improve symptoms of IBS, we frequently use this first step strategy with our clients as research shows that 3 out of 4 people with IBS get some symptom improvement on a low FODMAPs diet.

However our dietitians aim to transition our clients from a low FODMAPs diet so that they are able to

  • Broaden their diet to a full range of foods again, which makes cooking at home and socializing with friends much easier
  • Feed up their good gut bacteria which will help to
    • Reduce gut inflammation so their gut is happier and less sensitive to stress
    • Reduce inflammation through the rest of their body as well which can help to2
      • Maintain a healthy body weight
      • Improve heart health, such as cholesterol and triglycerides
      • Improve blood sugar control
      • Improve mood and mental health

When a low FODMAPs diet was first identified as a way to improve IBS symptoms there was no conversation about how this may impact gut bacteria. To be fair, at that stage we didn’t even really understand how important gut bacteria were at that stage!

What worries me is the number of people who have been following a low FODMAP diet for months or even years without realising it may be doing them harm.

I fell into the same trap myself, before I started to learn about how important the gut microbiome is and how it can be impacted by a low FODMAP diet!

The hard part is, that for many people on a low FODMAPs diet they’ve tried to re-introduce FODMAPs foods but always get their gut symptoms back when they try. Let’s face it, if it was easy they would already be eating everything, because no-one follows a restrictive diet just for fun!

What I’ve noticed when we conduct a Microbiome Analysis stool test in people with IBS is that typically people with the lowest levels of beneficial gut bacteria struggle the most to re-introduce FODMAPs foods as they get lots of uncomfortable IBS symptoms. The good news is that with the right support to nurture the good gut bugs it IS possible to get FODMAPs back into the diet again!

Bacteria cells
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

If you want to improve your IBS symptoms, I don’t want you to be scared of a low FODMAPs diet, but I do want you to understand how it is just 1 step in the journey. Our dietitian helps our clients to improve their symptoms of IBS using our ‘Towards a Happy Gut’ programme which incorporates

  • an investigative diet to eliminate potential trigger foods that may be irritating your gut (the low FODMAP diet may be one part of this)
  • advice on how to improve your digestion
  • understanding the science and research behind helpful nutrients and probiotic strains that can assist in gut health
  • considering and addressing the underlying cause of symptoms
  • working on lifestyle factors that have been shown to influence gut health and symptoms, including stress management techniques
  • optimising your long-term diet for gut health and symptom management
  • tailored recommendations considering your personal health history
  • Further investigations if your symptoms don’t improve, to consider if you have SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) or other issues that mimic IBS symptoms

So if you’re still following a low FODMAPs diet and you are ready to start nurturing your good gut bugs so you can enjoy eating again click the button below to get started with our gut-focused dietitian, Amy Minogue.

  1. Diets that differ in their FODMAP content alter the colonic luminal microenvironment. Halmos, EP. Gut. 2015 Jan;64(1):93-100
  2. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/gut-microbiome-and-health

Liz Beavis

Author Liz Beavis

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