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Is FODMAP friendly the new gluten-free?

Is FODMAP friendly the new gluten-free?

With dairy and gluten free-from products popping up on supermarket shelves, a new health trend is spreading across the UK all the way from down under.

What is FODMAP?

A new form of the free-from diet, called the FODMAP diet has been designed for people with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) to fill a gap in the market. 

Currently people with digestive problems and IBS can be confused and often frustrated in knowing what they can and can’t eat. 

IBS and the unknown cause

IBS is the most common gastrointestinal disorder seen by GPs in the UK. It accounts for 50% of patients visiting gastroenterology clinics. The IBS prevalence rate is around 15% in the UK. Treating IBS patients costs £45.6 million annually, which is a big concern for the NHS.

The cause is often unknown, but stress, a poor diet, psychosocial factors and hypersensitivity of the intestine have been identified with the disease, though most of the symptoms are food related.

Is FODMAP the solution?

The low FODMAP diet was developed at the Monash University in Melbourne in 2008 to control symptoms associated with IBS. Valid studies show that IBS symptoms were mitigated significantly by 70% of IBS patients.

In 2011, the FODMAP diet entered the British Dietetic Association IBS Guidelines. FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols, which are different types of carbohydrates found in many common foods.

For many people FODMAPs are difficult to digest, leading to unpleasant symptoms associated with IBS, such as abdominal pain, cramps and bloating. A low FODMAP diet has been proven to help relieve digestion-related symptoms and to improve affected people’s well-being.

The FODMAP friendly diet is a temporary diet. It involves reducing a group of poorly-digested carbohydrates for six weeks and then reintroducing carbohydrates gradually depending on symptoms. The aim of the diet is to find a long-lasting and individual diet plan depending on your own tolerance.

High FODMAPs can be found in:

  • Oligosaccharides: wheat products (bread, cereals, pasta) and indigestible vegetables (Legumes, onions, garlic, cabbage, cauliflower etc)
  • Disaccharides: dairy products that are high in lactose (Cow milk, yoghurt, cream cheese, etc)
  • Monosaccharides: fruits and vegetables high in fructose (apples, pears, peaches, avocado, etc)
  • Polyols: sugar alcohols, such as sorbitol, isomalt and xylitol found naturally in some fruits and vegetables, but also in processed ‘diet’ foods (eg sweeteners)

There is a long list of high and low FODMAPs making the diet very complex and difficult to apply. Eating low FODMAP means basically cooking everything from scratch

FODMAP – the untapped potential

Today’s busy lifestyles don’t make it easy to investigate what’s in supermarket products and it is definitely not time-efficient to cook everything from scratch.  

To support the target group of IBS sufferers, and to simplify food choices in supermarkets, there is an increasing trend for FODMAP friendly convenience foods, such as ready-meals, cereal bars and snacks on the market in Australia, US and increasingly in Europe.  

While more and more low FODMAP brands are being launched, such as FODMAPPED in Australia and Trueself Foods in the US, in the UK you can find only a few FODMAP friendly products in online shops. Although recently, a company called Fodilicious has been launched in Scotland with the aim to target this market.  

Building on Scotland’s success in developing and manufacturing products across the free-from sector, there is a certainly a foundation to exploit this growing opportunity. 

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