Could a special diet help your child’s tummy aches? (Low FODMAP diet for IBS)
Irritable bowel syndrome is a functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorder that affects children and adults. It is estimated that 5-20% of children may develop IBS, with symptoms such as:
- Tummy pain,
- Bloating or visible abdominal distension
- Excessive gas
Many parents are eager to find a dietary solution to IBS, and a low FODMAP diet is worth considering.
What are FODMAPs?
FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides Disaccharides Monosaccarides and Polyols. Essentially, these are all types of fermentable carbohydrates, meaning that once they reach the lower part of large intestine they are acted upon by the bacteria that live there. For some people this results in symptoms of IBS as the bacteria ferment these carbohydrates and produce gas and other irritating products of fermentation. Over the past several years, research into the use of a low-FODMAP diet has found that it can be very helpful in managing IBS and identifying problematic foods and food groups.
FODMAP’s in the diet include:
Fructose: Fruits, honey, high fructose corn syrup
Lactose: Milk, ice cream, cheese and yogurt (typically lower in lactose than milk)
Fructans: Wheat, garlic, onion, inulin
Galactans: beans and legumes
Polyols: Avocado, stone fruits such as plums, sugar alcohols (sorbitol, etc)
In order to determine is your child is reacting to these foods, a low FODMAP diet can be trialed for 2-8 weeks. If improvements are noted in that time frame, a FODMAP challenge will help to narrow down the most likely culprits. The good news is that most people who respond won’t need to follow a strict low FODMAP diet forever, but may need to be careful with certain foods or food groups.
In addition to a low FODMAP diet, may people find additional relief from including a good quality probiotic and incorporating mindfulness based strategies to manage stress. (See our article on How To Choose a Probiotic.) Talk to your ND about which is the best strategy for your child.