The low FODMAP diet helps treat gastrointestinal problems in children and adolescents aged 4 to 17, according to a new study conducted in 29 children from a hospital.
Although the low FODMAP diet contains strict restriction of carbohydrates, it can help release digestive symptoms like bloating and stomach pain, and can be applied as a useful treatment.
About the study
Among the children involved, 92% of them had bloating, 87% diarrhea and 77% abdominal pain. The little participants were asked to follow the low FODMAP diet under the guidance of specialists.
"To our knowledge the present study is the only one to report efficacy and safety data for the low FODMAP diet in children with functional bowel disorders in a real-world setting," said leader author of the review, Professor Andrew Day.
Over 50% of the participants who complete the FODMAP restriction and reintroduction process totally recovered from gastrointestinal disorders. For the ones with lower GI (gastrointestinal) symptoms, the effectiveness was more obvious.
Most participants reported a “substantial improvement” of their symptoms. Those with abdominal bloating had the highest rate of improvement, followed by those with abdominal pain.
As for which kind of carbohydrates triggered GI symptoms, here are the data collected:
Polyols, fructose, and galactose oligosaccharides: 7%
In addition, 6 children specified that apples (fructose and sorbitol) triggered symptoms.
A guide to the low FODMAP diet
FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligo-, Di, Mono-saccharides And Polyols, the scientific terms used to classify groups of carbs that can trigger digestive symptoms like bloating, gas, and stomach pain.
FODMAPs are found in a wide range of foods in varying amounts. Some foods contain just one type, while others contain several.
The main dietary sources of the four groups of FODMAPs include:
Oligosaccharides: Wheat, rye, legumes and various fruits and vegetables, such as garlic and onions.
Disaccharides: Milk, yogurt and soft cheese. Lactose is the main carb.
Monosaccharides: Various fruit including figs and mangoes, and sweeteners such as honey and agave nectar. Fructose is the main carb.
Polyols: Certain fruits and vegetables including blackberries and lychee, as well as some low-calorie sweeteners like those in sugar-free gum.
A low FODMAP diet has been proved to improve digestive symptoms in about 70% of adults with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), thus increase the quality of life.
The application of a low FODMAP diet includes three stages: restriction, reintroduction and personalization.
In the first stage, you need to strictly avoid all high-FODMAP foods for about 3 to 8 weeks to improve your gut health.
In the second stage, you should systematically reintroduce high-FODMAP foods, through which way you can identify which types of FODMAPs you tolerate, and establish the amount of FODMAPs you can tolerate, known as your “threshold level.”
In the third stage, you restrict your FODMAP intake following the types and amount guideline you concluded for yourself in stage 2. In this way, you are able to increase your diet variety and flexibility.