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5 Reasons Your Low FODMAP Diet Is Not Working

If you are following a low FODMAP diet because you have SIBO and you are not experiencing the expected improvement in symptoms, it can be a bit frustrating to say the least. In today’s article I want to share with you 5 Reasons Your Low FODMAP Diet Is Not Working. Lastly, I will also review one of the most important tests you may benefit from, if and when you hit a plateau.

5 Reasons Your Low FODMAP Diet Is Not Working

Why Your Low FODMAP Diet Is Not Working For You:

There are few possible reasons why your low FODMAP diet is failing you.

  1. Misidentification of Trigger Foods:

One reason where a low fodmap diet is not working for you is that you may be misidentifying your trigger FODMAP foods.

FODMAPs are specific types of carbohydrates, sugars and fibers that can be difficult to digest for some individuals, leading to digestive symptoms such as bloating, gas, abdominal pain, diarrhea, or constipation, especially in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or other digestive disorders.(*)

The diet is typically divided into three phases: the restriction phase, the reintroduction phase, and the personalized maintenance phase.

During each of these SIBO phases FODMAPS – (Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols), are restricted and then reintroduced.(*) Different foods fall into different categories. The low FODMAP diet is complex, and it can be challenging to pinpoint specific foods that are causing your symptoms. Keep in mind that food is not the only source of why you may not be experiencing improvement.

Why Most SIBO treatments Fail Part I and Why Most SIBO treatments Fail Part II might be worth reading.

It is essential to work closely with a Functional Medicine Practitioner who specializes in digestive health to ensure you are correctly selecting and eliminating FODMAP foods from your diet.

  1. Non-FODMAP Triggers:

While FODMAPs are a common trigger for digestive symptoms, there may be other non-FODMAP foods that are causing your symptoms. This can be important for those who have not progressed into the food re-introduction phase. This is another reason why it may seem like a low FODMAP diet is not working for you.

It is possible that you have food sensitivities or food intolerances to foods that are not part of the low FODMAP diet.(*) Keeping a detailed food and symptom diary might assist you but the problem with intolerances is that they don’t create immediate symptoms. This is why food sensitivities and intolerances are delayed food reactions, sometimes taking 24-48 hours to cause problems. Without testing, it’s almost impossible to identify these potential triggers outside of FODMAPs.

5 Reasons A Low FODMAP Diet is not Working.

  1. Underlying Health Conditions:

Another reason why your low fodmap diet is not working comes down to other underlying health conditions that exist alongside SIBO.

If your symptoms persist despite following the low FODMAP diet, it is crucial to consult with a Functional Medicine Practitioner to rule out or explore other potential underlying conditions.

In a perfect world, it would be nice to take all our symptoms and put them in the SIBO box. Unfortunately, after 25 years of working with patients with all kinds of chronic health problems, it’s very rare where a patient only has one problem causing all their health challenges.

It’s essential to consider that there may be underlying conditions contributing to your symptoms that are not directly related to FODMAPs.

Conditions such as Fat malabsorption, H.pylori infection, Pancreatic insufficiency, Small Intestinal Fungal Overgrowth (SIFO), Celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Leaky gut, Hiatal Hernia, Parasites, or other digestive disorders can cause similar symptoms. (*),(*),(*),(*),(*)

There are also a host of Metabolic disorders that can complicate the treatment of SIBO including Hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s, Anxiety and Depression, Diabetes, Hormone imbalances, Sleep disorders, CIRS, Lyme Disease, High Cortisol and Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome to name a few.(*),(*),(*)

  1. Other Lifestyle Factors:

While diet plays a significant role in managing digestive symptoms, other lifestyle factors can also contribute to your overall well-being. Factors such as stress, inadequate sleep, lack of physical activity, or medication side effects can impact your symptoms. It is important to address these factors alongside your dietary changes and metabolic imbalances to create a comprehensive approach to managing your symptoms effectively.

  1. Individual Variation:

Every individual’s digestive system is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. It might be easy to give up on a low fodmap diet and just think it’s not working but we are all different.

Some individuals may experience partial relief or may need to modify the low FODMAP diet to suit their specific needs. Some individuals may progress too quickly through the restriction and reintroduction phases.

There are no hard rules when it comes to time frame and food restriction. In other words, 2 weeks of FODMAP restrictions might work for some but for others, they may need to restrict FODMAPS for a longer period.

One other suggestion is to pay close attention to portion sizes when reintroducing high FODMAP foods. Start with a small amount and gradually increase to assess tolerance levels. An excessively large portion can lead to an overreaction and make it harder to pinpoint specific triggers.

Working closely with a Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner can help you fine-tune your diet, explore reintroduction of FODMAP groups, and determine the best approach for your individual situation.

In functional medicine we treat the individual rather than the disease. If we treat the disease, then every patient gets the same protocol, the same diet, the same antimicrobials, and the same counseling.

5 Reasons Your Low FODMAP Diet Is Not Working

Don’t Overlook Testing

When a low FODMAP diet isn’t working, its sometime necessary to dig a bit deeper. Testing for food sensitivities or food intolerances when you have SIBO can be incredibly helpful if you feel you have hit a plateau.

Testing for food sensitivities when You have Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)

Testing for food sensitivities when dealing with Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) can be crucial in managing symptoms and promoting overall gut health. You might thing that you can navigate FODMAPS without testing but here are a few reasons why testing can help you get over a plateau.

  1. Identification of Trigger Foods: Food sensitivities or intolerances can exacerbate SIBO symptoms, causing further inflammation and discomfort. By getting tested for food sensitivities, you can identify specific foods that may be triggering or aggravating your symptoms. This knowledge allows you to make informed dietary choices and avoid those trigger foods, promoting relief from SIBO-related symptoms.
  1. Reduction of Inflammation: Food sensitivities can trigger an immune response in the body, leading to increased inflammation throughout the gastrointestinal system. Inflammation can worsen SIBO symptoms, including abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and diarrhea. By identifying and eliminating any foods that are causing an immune response, you can significantly reduce inflammation, providing relief and supporting the healing process.
  1. Personalized Dietary Approach: Every individual with SIBO may have different food sensitivities and trigger foods. By undergoing food sensitivity testing, you can receive personalized recommendations tailored to your specific sensitivities. This allows for a more effective and targeted approach to your SIBO treatment plan. Customizing your diet according to your test results can support gut healing, reduce symptoms, and improve overall well-being.
  1. Preventing Nutrient Malabsorption: SIBO can impair nutrient absorption in the small intestine, leading to deficiencies in essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Food sensitivities can further exacerbate this issue by causing inflammation and damage to the gut lining. By identifying and eliminating trigger foods, you can prevent prolonged inflammation, support gut integrity, and enhance nutrient absorption, ensuring your body receives the necessary nutrients for optimal health and proper functioning. Here is an article and video on the most common nutrient deficiencies seen in SIBO
  1. Enhanced Treatment Efficacy: Incorporating a tailored diet based on your food sensitivity test results can enhance the effectiveness of your SIBO treatment plan. By removing trigger foods, you create an environment that is less conducive to bacterial overgrowth and inflammation, allowing treatments such as antibiotics or herbal therapies to work more efficiently. This synergy between diet and treatment can lead to better outcomes and a faster recovery from SIBO.

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Here’s What You Need to Remember About Today’s Article

If you are following a low FODMAP diet and not experiencing the expected improvement in symptoms, there can be many reasons. The devil is always found in the details.  Be sure to check out Why Most SIBO treatments Fail Part I and Why Most SIBO treatments Fail Part II.

Testing for food sensitivities when dealing with SIBO is essential for identifying trigger foods, reducing inflammation, personalizing your diet, preventing nutrient malabsorption, and enhancing treatment efficacy.

By working closely with a Functional Medicine Practitioner, and Functional Nutritional therapist, you will receive the most appropriate testing and dietary guidance on creating a customized diet plan that supports your SIBO treatment and overall gut health.

In summary, if your low FODMAP diet is not bringing expected relief from symptoms, it is important to assess the accuracy of your food choices, consider other potential trigger foods and underlying conditions, address lifestyle factors, and recognize that individual variations exist.

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