Challenges of the low FODMAP diet for managing irritable bowel syndrome and approaches to their minimisation and mitigation

Proc Nutr Soc. 2021 Feb;80(1):19-28. doi: 10.1017/S0029665120006990. Epub 2020 May 29.

Abstract

Dietary restriction of fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols (FODMAP) is clinically effective and a commonly utilised approach in the management of functional symptoms in irritable bowel syndrome. Despite this, the low FODMAP diet has a number of challenges: it can alter the gut microbiota; impact nutrient intake and diet quality; is complex to understand; requires the patient to be adequately supported to follow the diet accurately and safely; and lastly, not all patients respond to the diet. The current review highlights the evidence for the clinical effectiveness of the low FODMAP diet, but focusses on the challenges associated with the diet to the patient, health professionals and the wider healthcare service. Finally, the review discusses research findings and practical guidance for how these challenges can be minimised and mitigated. The low FODMAP diet is a useful management strategy for irritable bowel syndrome, with data from clinical trials suggesting a 50-80% response rate, and when administered appropriately, the challenges to implementing the diet can be overcome so that these outcomes can be realised effectively and safely in clinical practice.

Keywords: Dietitian; Irritable bowel syndrome; Low FODMAP; Microbiota; Nutrient intake.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't