After finding that foods high in certain short-chain carbohydrates can cause gastrointestinal discomfort, the research team at Monash University developed the Low FODMAP Diet.

Implementing translational nutrition

The Department of Gastroenterology at Monash University conducted major research into the effectiveness of diet to treat disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Diet therapy is effective for the management of diseases such as coeliac disease, but is underdeveloped – and underutilized – for other chronic intestinal diseases.
Gut disorders are a significant burden on the health and wellbeing 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).
IBS is a common functional gastrointestinal disorder (FGID) that is prevalent in the USA, Europe and many Asian countries. It is characterized by chronic and relapsing symptoms such as:  
  • Lower abdominal pain and discomfort 
  • Bloating
  • Wind 
  • Distension
  • Altered bowel habit (ranging from diarrhea to constipation) with no abnormal pathology.
The diagnosis of IBS/FGID should be made by a medical practitioner.
A major focus for the team was understanding why many non-coeliac sufferers experience intolerances to wheat and gluten. Our research examined whether gluten can cause gut and systemic symptoms in the absence of coeliac disease (so-called ‘non-coeliac gluten sensitivity’ or ‘NCGS’) and has gained considerable international recognition.


The Low FODMAP Diet

The Monash team is known worldwide for the development of the Low FODMAP Diet – a diet therapy to treat the gastrointestinal symptoms associated with IBS. 

This approach involves restricting certain poorly absorbed short-chain carbohydrates named ‘FODMAPs’ (an acronym for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols) from the diet of patients with IBS. Because these carbohydrates are poorly absorbed in the small intestine, they are fermented by gut bacteria to produce gas. Current research strongly suggests that this group of carbohydrates contributes to IBS/FGID symptoms. 

FODMAPs are found in a wide range of foods, contributing to the discomfort of many individuals with IBS. Our research laboratory has established techniques to measure FODMAP levels in foods, helping people find relief from their symptoms through a low FODMAP diet.