Gut Health, IBS and The Low FODMAP Diet

If you are dealing with gut issues, this is the episode for you. In episode 137, we ways to support a healthy gut microbiome, help for IBS flare-ups and how to follow a low FODMAP eating plan.

Your gut microbiome is a diverse group of microorganisms in your GI tract containing at least 1,000 different species of bacteria. These bacteria help digest food, assist in vitamin production, support your immune system and much more scientists are still researching. To maintain a healthy gut microbiome, try these 6 tips:

  1. Avoid taking antibiotics unless necessary

  2. Eat less sugar and sweeteners

  3. Eat fermented foods like kombucha or take probiotics

  4. Eat prebiotic foods like oats, asparagus, apples and garlic

  5. Exercise regularly (yet another great reason to exercise!)

  6. Avoid smoking cigarettes

Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, is a common disorder that causes symptoms like cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and diarrhea or constipation, or both. It's one of the most common GI problems, but little is known about the cause. As more research on gut health and probiotics is discovered, scientists may find specific probiotics to help treat IBS and other conditions. For more information, check out the National Health Institute's Human Microbiome Project research projects.

To reduce symptoms of IBS, several things can help. Diet is important if you do not know your trigger foods. Try an app like Cara Care to document what you eat and your symptoms.

If food doesn't seem to be the trigger, and it often is not, check your stress levels. Stress not only can trigger symptoms, but often make them worse and last longer. Here are some strategies that may help with IBS-related stress.

  • Yoga: take a class once a week or more to help reduce IBS flares. Online classes are a great option too. Peloton offers classes on their platform as well.

  • Meditation: stop, sit and breathe. Simple to complex forms of meditation can manage the anxiety of having IBS. Try Headspace or Calm or look into a class at your local library.

More people are turning to diets like the low FODMAP diet to see if their IBS symptoms improve. FODMAP refers to a group of sugars that are in certain foods. In general to follow a low FODMAP diet you will have to avoid many fruits, some vegetables, dairy, wheat and beans.  After avoiding these for 4 to 6 weeks, add in one food at a time to see if symptoms return over the next 8-12 weeks. The Monash FODMAP app is a good tool for trying the low FODMAP diet. It's $12.99 but that’s a small price if you’ve ever had GI issues. Many find that fructose is one of their biggest troublemakers after following a low FODMAP diet. Fructose malabsorption is the digestive disorder in which the body is unable to break down fructose which is the sugar in fruit, honey and some vegetables. When this happens it causes bloating, stomach pain, heartburn, diarrhea and gas. If you find this is your biggest culprit it’s best to avoid foods that are high in fructose and all high fructose corn syrup. 

Learn more about starting a low FODMAP diet at

Listen to this full episode here.