FODMAPs are well-known for their ability to trigger irritable bowel symptoms by increasing gas production and fluid movement into the gut. Whilst similar physiological effects also occur in people without irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), it is the presence of ‘increased gut sensitivity’ that determines what level of symptoms will occur in IBS. The accumulation of gas and fluid in the small and large bowel stretches the bowel walls which leads to symptoms of abdominal pain, bloating, distension, excessive wind and, alternating bowel habits.
Check out our
animation on how FODMAPs cause symptoms in IBS here.
On the other hand, we
don’t really understand what FODMAPs can do in the upper gut and how FODMAPs
may also affect our mood. In this
latest research by Masuy and colleagues at the University of Leuven, Belgium, large
solutions of either fructans or glucose were infused into the stomach in
individuals with IBS until they were satiated. The purpose of the study was to
assess the effect of FODMAPs on upper gut motility (motility refers to movement
of the gut and the contents within it), and on gastrointestinal and
psychological symptoms. Individuals without IBS were also included and were infused with similar solutions. They then measured each individual’s stomach pressures and emotional states (fatigue, vigour, anger, tension, and sadness) during the infusion.
Interesting findings to note from the study included:
To sum up the
findings, fructans, when ingested in excessive amounts, can trigger upper gut
symptoms by an increase in the pressure within the stomach. These effects may
occur via hormonal changes or
through the nervous system that control the motility and symptom responses
within the gut. It also highlights that food can influence our mood.