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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions


Q: What is Digestive Health?

A: The American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) defines digestive health as “a digestive system that has appropriate nutrient absorption, intestinal motility, immune function and a balanced microbiota.” The way that many of us determine our digestive system to be healthy is usually based on the lack of digestive symptoms, since most people with good digestive health do not regularly experience symptoms of discomfort. These symptoms can include - excess gas, abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, or a combination of any of these and will vary from person to person. Read more here.
Also visit The International Foundation for Functional and Gastrointestinal Disorders or the patient-directed resources at the American College of Gastroenterology, which can help you gain a deeper understanding.

Q: What is the Low FODMAP Diet?

A: A Low FODMAP Diet is often recommended as first-line nutrition or diet therapy for people with digestive sensitivities. Its premise is to eliminate individual food triggers, with a keen focus on specific short-chain carbohydrates found in foods and beverages, known as FODMAPs. Aside from further reading here on lowFODMAPcentral.com, we find Low FODMAP Diet expert Kate Scarlata to be an incredibly helpful resource for people on this subject.

Q: How do you follow a Low FODMAP Diet?

A: First, be sure to confirm this eating plan is right for you by consulting with your healthcare professional. Second, a FODMAP knowledgeable registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) can help you get started with a 2- to 6-week trial elimination phase where foods high in FODMAPs are removed from the diet. Read more here.
After the elimination phase, the RDN will provide guidance on the re-introduction of FODMAPs, in a step-wise process, to distinguish individual FODMAP triggers and tolerances. Then they will prepare a tailored, but well-balanced eating plan designed to minimize triggers and maximize nutrition.
Delicious low FODMAP recipes on this web site can help get you started.
Also visit these links for more:

Q: Who is the Low FODMAP Diet meant for?

A: A Low FODMAP Diet is not for everyone. With the help of a skilled healthcare professional well-versed in the Low FODMAP Diet, this dietary approach can help individuals with digestive sensitivities, including those who suffer from recurring digestive sensitivities, find relief and improved quality of life. Medical direction for people of all ages is important as common symptoms can be signs of other more serious medical issues that cannot be overlooked.

Q: Convenience foods and products would really be helpful to follow a Low FODMAP Diet. Are there any out there?

A: A Certified low FODMAP grab-and-go beverage called ProNourish® Digestive Wellness Drinks are available throughout the United States and would certainly suit your needs. It comes in three great flavors: Chocolate, Strawberry Banana and French Vanilla, and can be purchased online or in the diet management aisle at many grocers and pharmacies across the country.

Q: What is the difference between Gluten and FODMAPs?

A: Gluten is a protein that people with Celiac disease cannot digest. FODMAPs are specific types of short-chain carbohydrates that also can be difficult for some people to digest. What they have in common is that wheat, rye and barley (and all foods made from these) contain both gluten and FODMAPS in the form of oligosaccharides (fructans). While gluten-free products may seem like a good idea on a Low FODMAP Diet, many gluten-free items may contain higher FODMAP ingredients. In fact, some people who think that are gluten sensitive may actually be sensitive to FODMAPs.

Q: What is the difference between dairy and lactose?

A: Dairy refers to any milk or products made with milk that comes from animals. People avoiding dairy would eliminate all foods and beverages made from milk and milk derivatives, including casein and whey proteins, which are often used in non-dairy foods. Lactose is a type of sugar found in milk products. People who are unable to properly digest lactose, may be able to use lactase enzymes to help breakdown these sugars, and continue to eat the dairy foods they enjoy. They may also choose to use lactose-free dairy products, which are widely available. A lactose-free diet is not sufficient for someone interested in eliminating all dairy. A dairy-free diet is overly restrictive for someone needing only to eliminate lactose.

Q: Can fiber help me with constipation? How do I choose the right fiber for me?

A:  Consuming fiber is key to supporting regularity with your bowel movements. Whether by dietary intake or a fiber supplement for days you might fall short, soluble and insoluble fiber can play a role in keeping your natural bowel movement comfortable and gentle. Here are some simple tips to help you decide which type you might need more of in your diet:

Soluble fiber = Think, Movement
Soluble fiber is found in foods like oats and barley as well as some fiber supplements such as psyllium and partially hydrolyzed guar gum. Soluble fiber is fermentable which means it provides fuel for the intestinal microbiota. Some forms of soluble fiber are viscous and can hold water. This can assist with softening hard stool and firming liquid stool.

Insoluble fiber = Think, Bulking
Insoluble fiber is found in foods like wheat bran and cabbage and ingredients like pea fiber. Insoluble fiber is non-viscous, meaning it does not absorb water, but acts rather to create bulk in the bowel.

If your constipation is long lasting (more than just occasional) consult with your HCP priori to introducing a fiber supplement.

Q: Why do some fiber supplements worsen by bloating and constipation?

A:  Fiber supplements may also contain high FODMAP ingredients (such as inulin or chicory root). Therefore, it is important that you carefully read the nutrition labels if you are looking for a fiber supplement that is also low in FODMAPs. One example of a low FODMAP fiber is PHGG (Partially Hydrolyzed Guar Gum).

Q: What are probiotics? What do they do for Digestive Health?

A:  Digestive health relies upon a complex community of bacteria and other live microorganisms, archaea, viruses and fungi, also known as gut flora, or the microbiome. We often refer to the healthy bacteria as probiotics or fungi (yeast).

The World Health Organization (WHO) offers this definition: Probiotics are live microorganisms that when conferred in adequate quantities provide a health benefit. Read more on this subject within the Probiotics section of this site.

Another excellent resource for more scientific information on this subject is the International Life Sciences Institute.

Q: Who needs probiotics?

A:  Probiotics may be beneficial for several indications:

  • Supporting by helping to balance good and bad bacteria
  • Managing digestive symptoms such as gas, constipation, etc.
  • Helping restore “good bacteria” when taking antibiotics

Make sure that you read labels for specific indications and clinical efficacy of a probiotic. If needed, consult with a healthcare professional.

Q: How do I choose the right probiotic for me?

A:  Today, there are so many different probiotic options on the market that it can be hard to know which one is right for you. All probiotics may support the digestive system, though some strains have a larger body of clinical evidence to support other roles in the body and the benefits they may provide. Learn more in the Probiotic section of this site.

Q: What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

A:  The symptoms of IBS can vary from person to person and may include abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and excess gas, which are all signs of potential digestive imbalance. There is no widely accepted diagnostic test for it at this time, which means that diagnosing IBS relies on symptoms that a patient might report to the doctor. The standardized diagnostic criteria are set by the Rome Foundation in what is referred to as the Rome IV criteria, defined as:

  • Recurrent abdominal pain on average at least 1 day a week, in the last 3 months, with two or more of the following:
    • Pain related to moving bowels
    • Pain associated with a change in how often you move your bowels
    • Pain associated with a change in the consistency of what you pass, when you move your bowels
  • Symptoms must have started at least 6 months ago

More information about IBS can be found at the American College of Gastroenterology and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

What Are FODMAPs?