First in FODMAP Research

In 2005, researchers in the Department of Gastroenterology at Monash University identified a group of short-chain carbohydrates found in food that are either poorly absorbed in the small intestine or impossible to digest. The Monash team named these carbohydrates FODMAPs, an acronym which stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols.

The research team measured the FODMAP content of a wide range of foods, including fruit, vegetables, breads, cereals, nuts, legumes, dairy products and processed foods. This food composition information allowed the team to develop the first low FODMAP diet. The team used this low FODMAP diet in the first research studies which showed that a low FODMAP diet reduces symptoms in people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

Gut disorders are a significant burden on the health and well being of the Australian community. Research shows that: 

  • 1 in 100 individuals have coeliac disease

  • 1 in 200 individuals have inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease) 

  • 1 in 7 individuals are affected by irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

The diagnosis of IBS/FGID should be made by a medical practitioner.

Monash researchers also identified the mechanisms by which FODMAPs trigger symptoms of IBS. They discovered that because FODMAPs are relatively small in size, they attract water into the small intestine. When they reach the large intestine, they are fermented by resident gut bacteria, producing gas. The additional gas and water inside the gut stretches the bowel wall and triggers IBS symptoms such as abdominal pain, gas and bloating, distension, constipation and diarrhoea. 

Another major focus of the team was understanding why many non-coeliac sufferers experience intolerance's to wheat and gluten. Monash research examined whether gluten can cause gut and systemic symptoms in the absence of coeliac disease (so-called ‘non-coeliac gluten sensitivity’ or ‘NCGS’). This research has gained considerable international recognition.

Since the original research over 10 years ago, the team’s contributions have helped millions of people with IBS across the globe to manage their symptoms using this highly specialized IBS diet. The database of foods is available via the Monash FODMAP App allowing patients to easily access information of foods they can eat and foods they should avoid whilst undertaking the low FODMAP diet. 

Thanks to Monash University’s extensive work in this area, IBS patients can take their gut health back into their own hands by managing their symptoms through diet and improve their overall quality of life.

Monash University’s globally esteemed research reputation

Founded in 1958 in Melbourne, Australia, Monash University has rapidly grown into a large network of campuses and international centers that have facilitated strategic partnerships across the globe. We are now proudly Australia's largest university.

Despite its relatively young age, Monash University has developed a global reputation for conducting ground breaking research, particularly in the areas of clinical medicine and health sciences. Without the passionate work of Monash University researchers, seat belts in cars, influenza drugs, IVF and the Low FODMAP Diet wouldn’t exist today.

As the youngest member of the prestigious Group of Eight, Monash has already developed an impressive history of innovation through research collaboration and engagement with leading industry partners. Monash was ranked 73rd in the latest Times Higher Education World University Rankings and is considered one of the top 50 universities worldwide in the medical and health science fields. Today, Monash continues to lead and partner with teams around the world to conduct first class research in over 150 different areas of study. 

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