If you are struggling with IBS or IBD, the low FODMAP diet could be for you. In this week’s video, we examine three studies that suggest the low FODMAP diet could help those with IBS or IBD through three different mechanisms, beyond the influence on the bacteria.
Beyond the Bacteria – 3 Benefits of the Low FODMAP Diet
The low FODMAP diet is proving to be a beneficial option for those struggling with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
The low FODMAP diet is a temporary diet that eliminates grains, fruit, dairy, sugar, and some vegetables such as asparagus and broccoli. What you’re left with is a basic yet healing diet of seafood, meat, and vegetables such as carrots, green beans, bok choy, squash, and pumpkin.
The low FODMAP diet works by reducing the food source available to the bacteria of the gut. The major criticism of this diet is that it also reduces the food source of beneficial gut bacteria. But studies are coming out that suggest there’s more to the low FODMAP story than bacteria.
In fact, there are three areas the low FODMAP diet seems to improve in patients with IBS and IBD – the low FODMAP diet improves:
- Enteroendocrine cell density
- Leaky gut
Let’s take a look at three studies that examine each of these benefits.
Low FODMAP diet improves large intestinal endocrine cell density
A 2016 study found the low FODMAP diet normalizes large intestinal endocrine cell density in patients with IBS.
IBS causes a difference in density in the endocrine cells in the gut. Your gut endocrine cells are responsible for the production of serotonin. *Serotonin in the gut plays an important role in motility or the flow of food. *Link to weekly tip #118
This study found the low FODMAP diet improved the density of the endocrine cells in patients with IBS so that they were more like their healthy counterparts. This could reduce symptoms of IBS and IBD.
Low FODMAP diet improves leaky gut
Another 2016 study found the low FODMAP diet improved nociceptive pain through changing gut microbiota and intestinal permeability in patients with IBS. This study found that the low FODMAP diet reduced leaky gut (as measured by LPS, or lipopolysaccharide). This suggests that the low FODMAP diet does more than reduce bacteria, it actually repairs the intestinal lining.
This is exciting news for those struggling with a leaky gut.
Low FODMAP diet improves histamine levels
A 2017 study found the low FODMAP diet altered symptoms and the metabolome of patients with IBS. Meaning, there was an improvement in markers of immune system activation, more specifically histamine.
Histamine is a signaling molecule in the gut – which is important for notifying the immune system when there’s a problematic material introduced to the body. The problem with histamine is it can be over-reactive.
Specifically, IBS and IBD patients usually have an overactive gut immune system. If someone doesn’t have a normal functioning gut immune system, it seems logical we should consider alternative approaches to improving gut health as it is related to the immune system. This includes the use of probiotics and other methods that increase gut bacteria overall.
Reducing gut bacteria overall through the low FODMAP diet could be beneficial to those with IBS and IBD because of their faulty gut immune system. When the low FODMAP diet prunes the gut bacteria back temporarily, this could be welcomed by the immune system and allow for a more harmonious system in the interim.
Don’t get tunnel vision with the low FODMAP diet
I think it’s important to look at the wide range of impacts the low FODMAP diet has on gut health beyond gut bacteria. Studies are continuing to come out that reveal the low FODMAP diet as a powerful and safe tool for curbing the impacts of IBS and IBD on patients.
Additionally, if you are on the low FODMAP diet and see positive clinical improvements and you’re experiencing relief – remember, this is a temporary diet, and so to over worry about the overall reduction in bacteria seems unwarranted.
Finally, the focus on IBS and IBD diagnostics and solutions have become heavily bacteria focused – it’s always important to take a step back and reexamine what we think we know.
If the low FODMAP diet is working, could it be for reasons other than its influence on bacteria?
Here we looked at three studies which indicate exactly that.
The low FODMAP diet appears to help those with IBS and IBD through improving enteroendocrine cell density, leaky gut, and histamine levels.
If you’re struggling with IBS or IBD, it’s worth considering the low FODMAP diet. This easy and safe method could find you the relief you’re looking for and reboot your gut for an improved quality of life.
What do you think? I would like to hear your thoughts or experience with this.
Dr. Ruscio is your leading functional and integrative doctor specializing in gut related disorders such as SIBO, leaky gut, Celiac, IBS and in thyroid disorders such as hypothyroid and hyperthyroid. For more information on how to become a patient, please contact our office. Serving the San Francisco bay area and distance patients via phone and Skype.