FODMAP diet on the Long Term
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Many people follow the FODMAP diet, in order to reduce their Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) symptoms. In 75% of the people with IBS, the FODMAP diet can be a great solution to reduce symptoms! But there is a catch…. If you stay on the low FODMAP diet for too long, you might get stuck there….. What are the dangers of the FODMAP diet on the long term?
The FODMAP diet
The FODMAP diet is an elimination diet. During the diet, multiple food groups are being cut out of the food pattern for a short period (preferably 2-6 weeks) before reintroducing them back and finding your triggers.
If you want to read a more extensive explanation about the FODMAP diet, check out the article I wrote about it.
When the diet is followed correctly and with the guidance of a specialized dietitian (like me! Click here for a free symptom assessment) it certainly is a good diet to help reduce IBS-symptoms and identify your IBS-triggers.
But many of the clients that come to me, have not been guided through the diet correctly or have been following the diet on their own. This has led them to stay in the low FODMAP phase for way longer than the intended 2-6 weeks and this can result in damage to the intestinal microbiome.
The Dangers of the FODMAP Diet
When done correctly, the FODMAP diet poses no danger to (gut) health. But a prolonged low FODMAP diet has shown to reduce bacterial diversity in the intestines.
Bacterial diversity is a marker for a healthy gut and the healthy bacteria in your gut also play a vital role in keeping you healthy. For example, with the production of Butyrate (click for my article about it).
The reason the FODMAP diet affects bacterial diversity is a lack of fiber (and a variety of fiber) in the diet. Fiber is the main source of energy for our healthy gut bacteria and fiber makes sure your healthy gut bacteria stay strong and thrive in your gut.
FODMAPs are carbohydrates that are hard to digest. In some cases, the FODMAP itself is a fiber. In other cases, the foods that contain FODMAPs also contain a lot of fiber. Studies on the FODMAP diet have shown that for this reason, the FODMAP diet can easily be lacking in dietary fiber.
When our gut bacteria aren’t getting fed (fiber), they will starve and diminish. Leaving us with a less healthy and less diverse gut.
In the case of FODMAP digesting bacteria, this can be even more worrisome. When the bacteria that digest FODMAPs are getting fed very little for a long time on the low FODMAP diet, they will also reduce. But with FODMAP digesting bacteria gone, it will be harder to get FODMAPs back into your diet.
You might recognize it. Doing your FODMAP reintroductions and feeling like you react to everything? It’s probably worth it to try and strengthen your gut microbiome first and then continue on! Schedule a free symptom assessment call with me and I’ll show you how.
What to Do When I’ve Been Following Low FODMAP for Months??
You’ve been following the FODMAP diet for a long period and didn’t have success reintroducing FODMAP groups? Strengthen your microbiome first, then continue on with the reintroduction.
It has no use to try and reintroduce FODMAPs to a weakened gut. You will get symptoms.
Make sure to work in enough fiber in your diet and low amounts of FODMAP containing foods. This way you’ll feed your healthy gut microbiome and are strengthening the FODMAP digesting bacteria. Want some help with this? Schedule a free symptom assessment with me, and I’ll show you how I can help!
After about 1-2 months of strengthening the gut, you can try and start reintroduction again. Building a healthy microbiome takes time! So don’t try to rush this.
Did you have problems reintroducing the FODMAP groups? Let me know your story in a comment below!
Hi there, I’m Manon.
In my daily life I work as a registered dietitian in the Netherlands with a special interest in gut health.
During my workday I get loads of questions about healthy food, recipes and lifestyle to make it a little easier to get healthy. On Positive Gut I collect my best recommendations, tips and recipes to make your healthy lifestyle a little easier!