Food app for IBS sufferers
18 December 2012
If you’re one of the every seven people in the world who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a new app based on Monash research could change your life. The app is an easy way for health professionals (and patients) to access the only database of foods shown by empirical research to trigger IBS.
The app lists a family of carbohydrates – FODMAPs (fermentable, oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols) – that are poorly absorbed by the digestive tract. 'Red' foods are high in FODMAPs and should be avoided, 'orange' foods contain moderate levels and may be tolerated by some people, while 'green' foods are low in FODMAPs.
Director of Gastroenterology at Monash and The Alfred Hospital, Professor Peter Gibson, and Dr Jane Muir, Head of Translational Nutrition Science at Monash, said accurately measuring FODMAP content allowed researchers to design a diet based on peer-reviewed, scientific evidence.
“In the past there have been many diets which were proposed to help IBS symptoms, whereas our research has been done to profile the evidence that enables health professionals to accept the information and change how they manage patients with IBS," Professor Gibson said.
“A smartphone application is an ideal way of delivering information to where it’s needed - to IBS patients, health professionals and scientists in the field,” Dr Muir said. “All foods have been tested carefully and scientifically measured so the information is entirely accurate and not based on guess work or anecdotal evidence.
"The app also lists specific serving sizes to guide how much food can be safely consumed. For example, half a cup of broccoli may be well tolerated but more than this can trigger symptoms.
Research Dietitian at Monash, Dr Jaci Barrett, said the app contains recipes, meal ideas and general information about IBS to help patients interpret and follow the diet.
“There are a lot of other resources about IBS on the internet but information has changed over the years as research has progressed,” Dr Barrett said. “The new FODMAP app allows us to give consumers and health professionals the most up-to-date information, based on our research.”