ME Association Website Survey: Why are we asking about the FODMAP diet? | 06 June 2018

June 6, 2018


Dr Charles Shepherd, Hon. Medical Adviser, ME Association.

We know that some people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) benefit from a diet that is low in what are called fermentable carbohydrates – the Low FODMAP diet.

FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols, which are more commonly known as carbohydrates.

These can be further divided into five groups called fructans, galacto-oligosaccharides, lactose, excess fructose and polyols.

The diet originated in Australia and has been adapted for the UK by researchers at King’s College, London.

FODMAPs are different carbohydrates found in a wide range of foods including onions, garlic, mushrooms, apples, lentils, rye and milk.

These sugars are poorly absorbed and pass through the small intestine and enter the colon, where they are fermented by bacteria.

Gas is then produced, which stretches the sensitive bowel causing bloating, wind and pain.

This can also cause water to move into and out of the colon, causing diarrhoea, constipation or a combination of both. People with IBS are more susceptible to the problems that are associated with this.

Assessment for suitability of the FODMAP diet should always be made through consultation with a dietitian. This because the FODMAP diet is complex and nutritionally restrictive. It is also more expensive and requires a lot of effort.

The restriction is normally for around two months – this is not a diet for life.

After the initial period there is a systematic tolerance testing of the foods that have been omitted.

As irritable bowel type symptoms are also quite common in people with M.E., the FODMAP diet may also be helpful as part of your M.E. management plan.

We know from feedback that some of you have found it useful for managing their IBS symptoms.

However, others have found it too restrictive and difficult to maintain or too expensive.

So, the aim of this website survey is to obtain a better picture on how many people with M.E. have tried the FODMAP diet, or are currently using it, and what effect it has had on symptoms.

You can locate the website survey half-way down the homepage of our website

If you want to provide more information on a personal experience with the FODMAP diet please do so in either the website comments section below, on our Facebook page, or by contacting the ME Association via email.

More information

More detailed information on the FODMAP diet from the BBC and Stanford Healthcare can be found here:

  1. BBC goodfood: What is a low FODMAP diet?
  2. Stanford Healthcare: Our approach to the low FODMAP diet

The ME Association has information leaflets covering:

  1. All aspects of the management of irritable bowel type symptoms, and,
  2. Ways to maintain a healthy diet with M.E. written by our dietary advisers.



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