New Bowel Cancer Screening Test

Bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer, claiming a life every 30 minutes. Yet almost half of those invited to take a free bowel cancer screening test at home simply don’t bother to return the test, despite the fact that in more than 90% of cases, early detection leads to effective treatment.

Cancer cells detected early

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In an effort to improve these response levels, the government is introducing a brand new bowel cancer screening test across England, which has been shown to improve responses by at least 7% overall, and much more in ‘hard to reach groups, such as men, who typically have a much lower response rate.

How does bowel cancer screening work?

Bowel cancer can have no symptoms in the early stages, so screening is very important if the cancer is to be detected early enough for successful treatment. Screening works by detecting very small amounts of blood in your poo, which are a sign that you have a bleed somewhere in your bowels. There is usually not enough blood to be seen by the naked eye, but it can be detected in the lab.

Bowel cancer screening kits are sent out every two years to everyone aged between 60 and 74. The test comes in the post and includes full instructions for completing it in the privacy of your own home. Once you have taken the samples needed, you simply post it back for analysis. There’s no clinic to attend, no doctor to see and so there’s no embarrassment involved in taking the test.

It is important to remember that there are many causes of blood in the faeces, so a positive test does not automatically mean you have cancer. However, it does mean that you should have further tests. Typically, this will involve an investigation of your bowel using a camera, called a colonoscopy.

So what’s new?

The existing test, called the guaiac-based faecal occult blood test, or gFOBt, requires you to take two samples from your stools on three different days, and it is thought that this complexity may be one of the factors in the low uptake rate. The new test, called the faecal immunochemical test, or FIT, requires just one stool sample, making it much easier to complete.

Not only is the new test easier to do, it also delivers better results from lower levels of blood in the stool. Cancer detection rates doubled in the test groups, with advanced adenoma detection increasing five fold.

When does the new test start?

The government has recently approved the new test for use in England, and it is hoped that the rest of the UK will soon follow suit. The UK National Screening Committee is ‘keen to see this new, improved kit fully available as soon as possible’.

While the new FIT may be easier, the importance of completing either bowel cancer screening test cannot be overstated. Of course, no one enjoys taking a stool sample, but whether you need to do it just once, with the new FIT, or three times with the old style gFOBt, that few minutes of unpleasantness could save your life.

So when your test arrives in the post, ask yourself this simple question: would you rather be amongst the 90% who are diagnosed early and treated successfully, or be one of the 16,000 people who die from bowel cancer every year?

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TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF – World Digestive Health Day

Sunday 29th May is World Digestive Health Day and this year’s theme is ‘Your Diet and Gut Health’.World Digestive Health Day

It’s a theme that raises some interesting questions about exactly who is responsible for our health, and to what extent our health is in our own hands. After all, you are what you eat, as the saying goes, and many digestive complaints, such as IBS, can be traced directly back to the effects of diet and lifestyle.

Sadly, in the era of modern medicine, we are all too quick to abdicate responsibility for our health and wellbeing, assuming there will be a pill that will make us better, however badly we treat our bodies. For many of us, it has become the NHS’s responsibility to look after our health, not our own.

While this is fine as far as it goes, it does encourage a lazy attitude towards diet and lifestyle, making us feel that it is ok to have conditions like high blood pressure and heartburn, as long as we take the right tablets. As the anti-biotic crisis clearly shows, this attitude is simply not sustainable in the long term.

Take responsibility

Ironically, despite the widespread dependence on the ‘medical model’, most people would prefer not to take medication for their conditions if there was another way. And of course, in many cases, there is just that. By simply taking responsibility for our own health, through sensible changes in diet and lifestyle, we can ‘self care’ and live happier, healthier lives without the pills.

You can manage a wide range of digestive complaints, like IBS, yourself (although of course, diseases like IBD do require medical treatment). What’s more, there are a wide range of complementary therapists, such as ARCH registered colon hydrotherapists, who are on hand to give you all the help and support you need to make positive changes in your life.

Empowering Change

Your local ARCH therapist can empower you to make the changes you need to take control, not only of your gut health, but also of your wellbeing as a whole. As well as a good clear out to rebalance your gut, they can offer you personally tailored diet and lifestyle advice, from what and when to eat, to managing stress in your day to day life.

ARCH therapists have far longer to listen to you than your GP has during your 7 minute appointment, so we can delve deeper and help you to identify where things are going wrong and what changes need to be made. And unlike your doctor, your therapist will be there to support you through these changes, giving you all the advice and encouragement you need, and helping you to feel great about the new you.

Start now!

Sadly, many people wait until their deteriorating health gives them a sobering wake up call before they make the changes they need to their diet and lifestyle, but you don’t have to let things get that far. You can choose to start looking after yourself right now, today, taking responsibility for your health and caring for your complaints yourself in the choices you make every day.

So don’t wait until the New Year to resolve to change; make World Digestive Health Day the day you start taking care of your digestive health, with the help of your local ARCH therapist. Find your nearest therapist here and get started right now.

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World Inflammatory Bowel Disease Day – Thursday 19th May

Thursday 19th May is World IBD Day. But what is IBD? How does it differ from IBS? And what are the treatment options available?World IBD Day

What is IBD?

IBD stands for inflammatory Bowel Disease. This is an umbrella term for a group of auto-immune conditions that can occur throughout the digestive system. IBD is a physical problem, which affects the lining of the gut wall, as opposed to IBS, or irritable bowel syndrome, which is a functional problem.

There are two main types of IBD:

  • Ulcerative colitis – which is confined to the rectum and colon
  • Crohn’s disease – which can occur anywhere along the digestive tract (although it is most often found close to the junction of the small and large intestine)

How common is IBD?

There are estimated to be around 300,000 people in the UK with IBD, with around 1 in every 250 people affected, split roughly equally between ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. It is slightly more common in women, white Europeans and people of Jewish decent. 20% of IBD sufferers have a close family member with the condition.

What causes IBD?

The causes of IBD are unknown, although it is thought to be either an auto-immune condition, where the body’s defences attack its own tissue, or an over-reaction to naturally occurring bacteria in the gut. IBD is rare in the poorest communities in the world, suggesting that the sanitised Western environment does not expose us to enough germs to learn healthy immune responses.

What are the symptoms of IBD?

The symptoms of IBD can be inconvenient, embarrassing and exhausting and include:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Abdominal pain and cramps
  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Blood in the stools
  • Weight loss
  • Anaemia

Fortunately, these symptoms only occur during flare-ups, with weeks or even months of remission in between where the bowel functions normally.

How is IBD diagnosed?

Following blood tests for inflammatory markers, IBD will normally be confirmed by a direct examination of the lining of the gut. This can be done using:

  • Colonoscopy – in which a camera is inserted via the rectum to examine the colon up to the point where it meets the small bowel (used mainly for ulcerative colitis, but may show Crohn’s disease)
  • Gastroscopy – in which a camera is inserted via the throat to examine the upper digestive system and small intestine
  • Capsule endoscopy – in which a small camera is swallowed allowing the whole of the digestive system to be examined

How is IBD treated?

There is no cure for either of the main forms of IBD, and treatment focuses on bringing the symptoms into remission and then retaining that remission for as long as possible.

Treatments include anti-inflammatories, steroids and immunosuppressants, along with cutting edge biological treatments that target the proteins involved in the inflammation. The initial dosage is reduced to a smaller maintenance dose once remission is achieved.

Surgery for IBD

One in five people with ulcerative colitis and three out of four people with Crohn’s will need surgery, either to remove a blockage, repair a perforation or to remove damaged parts of the digestive tract. Surgery for ulcerative colitis normally involves the removal of the colon, which will prevent the disease returning. Surgery for Crohn’s usually involves the removal of just a short length of bowel but the disease always returns.

Surgery can also be used to rest the gut by forming a temporary stoma on the skin surface while the gut recovers, then reconnecting it again at a later date.

Living with IBD

Living with IBD is tough, especially during flare-ups. However, there are steps you can take to improve your health, such as:

  • Low residue diet – to reduce the strain on your gut
  • Eating a little and often – to reduce the volume of food in your gut
  • Drinking plenty of water – to avoid dehydration due to diarrhoea
  • Taking supplements – to avoid aneamia and low vitamin levels

There are lots of support groups who can help you manage your condition, such as the Crohn’s and Colitis UK and the Ileostomy & Internal Pouch Support Group.

Can colonics help?

Unfortunately not. Since IBD weakens the bowel wall, the condition is contra-indicated for colonics. That means that your therapist will not perform the treatment if your consultation leads them to suspect you may have IBD.

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Coeliac Disease Awareness Week 9th to 15th May


The second week in May is coeliac disease awareness week, but what exactly is coeliac disease, how is it treated and how can colonics help you with the symptoms?

What is coeliac disease?


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Contrary to popular belief, coeliac disease is not an allergy to wheat or a food intolerance. It is an auto-immune condition. The immune system wrongly identifies one of the components of gluten, a protein called gliadin, as a threat to the body and attacks it, causing inflammation of the small intestine.

This inflammation prevents the surface of the intestine from absorbing nutrients in the usual way, as the fine filaments, or villi, that line the gut are flattened by the swelling, reducing the surface area.

What are the symptoms of coeliac disease?

Because the intestine is not able to absorb nutrients properly, coeliac disease can lead to a range of symptoms, including diarrhoea, bloating, flatulence and abdominal pain. The lack of absorption can also lead to malnutrition and anaemia, which will leave you feeling tired and lack luster, and can lead to unexplained weight loss.

How common is coeliac disease?

Coeliac disease is surprisingly common, affecting as many as 1 in 100 people in the UK. Often, however, milder forms of the disease go undiagnosed, or are dismissed under the catch-all diagnosis of IBS.

It is important to identify coeliac disease early, as long term exposure can result in damage to the small intestine and has even been associated with bowel cancer. If you think you may have coeliac disease, you should ask your GP for a blood test as soon as possible.

What causes coeliac disease?

The exact causes are not fully understood, but you are more likely to have the coeliac disease if you have a close relative who has the condition. You are also more likely to have the disease if you had a digestive infection, such as rotavirus, as a small child.

It is thought that the risk of coeliac disease may be increased if you introduce gluten into your baby’s diet too early, before the age of three months, especially if you are not breast feeding at the time.

Can coeliac disease be cured?

There is no known cure for coeliac disease, however, following a gluten free diet will usually reduce and eventually eliminate the symptoms. Following a gluten free diet will usually lead to a significant improvement within just a few weeks, although it can take as long as two years for your small intestine to recover from the damage caused by the disease.

A gluten free diet

Following a gluten free diet is not as easy as it sounds. You may not think that you consume that much wheat, barley or rye, but these grains are found in a wide range of common foods, including:


  • Bread
  • Pasta
  • Cakes
  • Biscuits
  • Pies
  • Breakfast cereal
  • Sauces and gravy
  • Ready meals
  • Beer

When you are initially diagnosed, you will usually be referred to a dietician to help you to work out a balanced diet that is gluten free. There are also numerous support groups across the country, coordinated by Coeliac UK. Once diagnosed with coeliac disease, you will have to remain on a gluten free diet for the rest of your life.

How colonics can help

Colonics cannot cure coeliac disease, but the treatment can help to ease symptoms such as diarrhoea, bloating and painful wind. Once you have been diagnosed, colonics can support you through the first few weeks until your symptoms ease as a result of your dietary changes, and can continue to support you as your gut recovers.

In the longer term, even the most careful coeliac sufferer will occasionally consume gluten by mistake, and it can take just a small amount to trigger a return of your symptoms. Your local ARCH therapist is always available to help when this happens, easing your symptoms until you re-establish your proper eating regime.



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When a right angle is the wrong angle #pootaboo

If you are heading off to far flung places on your holidays this year, then you may come across squat toilets, which amount to not much more than a hole in the floor. We so-called advanced Westerners tend to frown on these facilities as ‘backward’ and ‘unhealthy’, but in fact, studies show that as humans, we are meant to squat when we empty our bowels. Our bodies are designed that way.

We’ve been squatting for centuries

Humans squatted to poo for centuries before the W.C. was invented, and most small children will still instinctively squat until they are taught otherwise.

The toilet, with its upright seating position and right angles at the knees and hips, is a relatively modern invention. What’s more, it may be at least partly responsible for many of the modern bowel problems that ARCH therapists see every day in our clinics.

Why should we squat not sit?

The end of the colon joins the rectum at what is called the anorectal angle. This is a bend in the passageway, held in place by a muscle called the puborectalis muscle, which helps us to stay in control of our bowel movements.

When we sit down to use the toilet, this muscle relaxes a little, but a significant anorectal angle is still maintained and the muscle still pulls on the passageway. That’s why we feel we have to push or strain to evacuate our bowels.

When we squat, however, the puborectalis muscle relaxes almost completely, leaving the anorectal angle virtually straight, with no pressure on the passageway. This creates a wide and clear route for the waste to pass through.

Why change now?

It’s strange to think that you have been doing something as fundamental as pooing the wrong way all your life, but it is never too late to change. Learning to squat when you go to the loo can help you to clear out your bowels far more effectively, and can help with a number of functional bowel problems.

Just like a colonic clears out your bowels, squatting to go to the toilet can also clear you out, easing such problems as bloating, wind, and most importantly, really helping with one of our most common problems, constipation.

Easing constipation can in turn help to ease pressure on existing haemhorroids (piles), as well as preventing new ones from occurring. Reduced straining can also help prevent the kind of problems with your pelvic floor muscles that can lead to continence problems and prolapses. It is even thought that a full and thorough evacuation of the bowel may help prevent diseases such as colon cancer and diverticulitis.

A step in the right direction

Getting started with squatting is easier than you think. There are a number of ‘health steps’ on the market that slip easily and discreetly around the base of your loo, ready to pull out when you need them. Perhaps the most famous of these is the Squatty Potty, which found notoriety last year with its distinctly odd promo video, which has been watched over 20million times. The Squatt Loo Stool is another popular step.

Your ARCH therapist is always happy to help you to regain and maintain bowel health, so talk to them about the benefits of squatting at your next appointment. You can find a therapist near you quickly and easily via our website directory.

And remember, if you want the best for your bowels, don’t just sit there, squat there.


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Food For Thought – Increase Your Fibre Intake

Fibre - Increase your intake

In July last year, the government’s independent Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition published wide ranging new guidelines on diet and health. These included a recommendation that people should increase their fibre intake to around 30g a day, from the current UK average of just 18g. But what exactly is fibre, what does it do in our bodies, and why do we need it?

What is fibre?Fibre - Increase your intake

Fibre comes from plant based foods, and is essentially the cellulose ‘wrapper’ in which plant nutrients are stored. You can only get fibre from plants, nuts, pulses and seeds and there is no fibre in meat, fish or dairy products.

Fibre comes in two types: soluble fibre, which is found in oats, barley and rye, root vegetables and fruits, and insoluble fibre, which is found in beans and pulses as well as fruit and vegetables. Soluble fibre can be digested by the guts, whereas insoluble fibre will simply pass through your system.

What does fibre do?

Fibre has no direct nutritional value. For example, bran, one of the most well known fibre sources, is nothing more than the outer casing of cereal grains.  However, soluble fibre does feed the gut bacteria, encouraging a healthy microbiome, while insoluble fibre is an important bulking agent for your body’s waste.

Fibre has also been liked with a number of health benefits, including lowering cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart disease, strokes and diabetes, and even preventing certain cancers, including colorectal cancers.

Fibre also plays an important role in health digestion, performing many key functions in the digestive process:

  • Hydration – soluble fibre carries water through the gut, preventing constipation from hard dry stools
  • Feeding – soluble fibre feeds the gut bacteria
  • Cleaning – insoluble fibre cleans the gut as it passes through keeping the gut wall healthy
  • Packaging – insoluble fibre is essential to package our digestive waste in a way that makes it safe to pass
  • Thickening – insoluble fibre makes the stools thicker and easier to pass, preventing diarrhoea
  • Strengthening – insoluble fibre bulks out stools giving the gut muscles something to push against, keeping them strong and healthy

How to increase your fibre intake safely

Before you set out to achieve the new government target of 30g of fibre per day, there are two things you need to consider. Firstly, it is important to remember that diversity is as important as quantity. Different gut microbes feed on different types of fibre, so if you go heavy on one source of fibre, you risk upsetting the delicate balance in your large intestine. It’s much better to eat a mix of soluble and insoluble fibre, from a variety of sources, to encourage a healthy, balanced gut.

Secondly, you need to ease yourself into your new higher fibre routine. Remember, your gut microbes are ready and waiting to ferment and digest any soluble fibre you put in, so if you suddenly increase your intake, you could end up feeling bloated, with stomach cramps, and will almost certainly experience an altered bowel habit as either diarrhoea or constipation.

The best strategy is to gradually increase your fibre intake from a variety of sources, introducing them into all your meals and snacks through the day, rather than going fibre crazy with your main meal. This will give your digestive system time to adapt to small regular increases. It is also important to drink plenty of water as you increase your dietary fibre, as fibre will absorb water from your system.

There is lots of advice available online about the kind of foods you should eat to increase your fibre intake, and how you can incorporate these foods into your diet at different meals. The British Nutrition Foundation is a good place to start.

Kick off with a colonic

If you’re serious about starting a high fibre diet, then you should consider a colonic to give you a kick start. Colonics offer similar benefits to fibre in cleaning the gut, hydrating the body and exercising the muscles in the gut wall. A colonic can also help to rebalance the gut bacteria, clearing away any existing imbalance and creating a level playing field in which your new, fibre-fed good bacteria can thrive.

Talk to your local ARCH registered therapist today for a range of diet and lifestyle support as well as a kick start colonic. Click here to find your nearest therapist.

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Think about what you drink

Red Bull may give you wings, but simple water can give you tons of energy too, as well as many other benefits. Best of all, it’s available 24/7 straight from the tap in all our homes and workplaces. Yet it is estimated that as many as two thirds of us actually go through life dehydrated, leaving our bodies starved of this most basic and useful of resources.

So before you reach for an energy drink to give yourself a boost, or put the kettle on for a coffee to wake you up, have a think about what you are about to drink.

waterThe elixir of life

Water is essential for a whole host of processes in your body, from lubricating your joints to moistening your eyes and nose. It regulates your body temperature, carries nutrients to your cells and helps eliminate toxins and waste products.

Between 50% and 70% of your body is water, rising to as much as 75% in your brain, so it’s no surprise that we feel sluggish and tired when we are dehydrated. It is estimated that just a 5% drop in fluid levels can cut your energy by as much as 30%. We even reflect this in the words we use, describing ourselves, rather appropriately, as feeling ‘drained’.

Essential for digestion

One of the most common symptoms of dehydration, and one that ARCH therapists come across all the time, is constipation. Quite simply, if there is not enough water in your body, the colon will extract as much as possible from the waste passing through it, making your stools much drier and bulkier. What’s more, since the colon itself is left drier by dehydration, passing these bulky stools becomes even harder.

Our clients find that colonics can help with constipation through dehydration in two ways. Firstly, the gentle wash out can ease the passage of dry and bulky stools, and secondly the introduction of water into the colon can rehydrate it, allowing it to work more effectively.

Drinking more

You might think that you’re already getting plenty of fluids through tea, coffee and carbonated drinks, but these can actually have the opposite effect. Caffeine and sugar are both diruetics, so drinking them will cause you to lose more fluid than you gain. Alcohol is also a diruetic and so has a similar effect, however many pints you drink.

Drinking more water couldn’t be easier. Keep a glass or bottle of water on your desk, or choose water instead of coffee on your break, and you’ll soon notice a huge effect on your health, energy and vitality.

Not only will you feel more energized, you’ll also enjoy smoother, clearer skin, less stress, better muscle tone, and of course, better bowel movements. You may even lose weight, as the sensation of thirst is often confused with hunger.

Make the change today

Many people are intimidated by guidelines that say that we need to drink so many glasses or litres per day, but you don’t need to aim so high to start with. Like a dried out pot plant, suddenly adding loads of water will just flood your system and result in lots of trips to the loo! It’s better to gradually increase your uptake and give your system time to adapt to its new hydrated state.

Talk to your ARCH therapist today about how water can improve your health, and get a kick start to the new you by hydrating your colon with a gentle, soothing treatment.



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For the sake of….who?

A fresh start in the New Year shouldn’t be done for the sake of old lang syne, it should be done for the sake of you. After weeks of over indulgence, chances are you will be feeling heavy, sluggish, lacking in energy and, if you’re honest, a little disappointed in yourself for eating so much and exercising so little.

But don’t worry, because you’re not alone. Your local ARCH registered therapist will have helped hundreds of people just like you, and they are ready and waiting to help you get back on track and start feeling energized and healthy once again.2016

Kick start with ARCH

A colonic is a great way to start your healthy New Year’s resolutions, because it will give you a fresh, clean feeling like you’ve washed away all of that over indulgence. Of course, it’s not as simple as that, and at ARCH, we don’t promise quick fix solutions or instant weight loss.

What your therapist will do, however, is sit down with you and talk about your diet and lifestyle as part of your consultation. There’s no judgment and no public weigh ins, just a friendly chat with a knowledgeable therapist. They will discuss any ongoing digestive problems you are facing and help you to identify your health goals and how you would like to feel.

Then following your consultation, they will perform our gentle, cleansing treatment to help you feel better about yourself inside and out.

Fresh thinking

It can be really helpful to talk to one of our expert therapists, because they can offer a complete, holistic picture of your health and wellbeing that you simply won’t find in the glossy diet magazines or at the expensive weight loss clubs. Our therapists are trained to understand how your digestive system works, and how diet and lifestyle can affect everything from your weight and comfort to your moods and energy levels.

We don’t offer a magic wand to wash away your problems, but we can play a big part in helping you to make the changes you need to to leave you feeling healthier and happier.

Completely safe

Unlike some of the crazier crash diets that always appear this time of year, colonics are a completely safe way to kick start your healthy New Year. There are no pills or special supplements to take and no complex diets to follow. Your therapist will simply help you to find ways to eat better and exercise more often, which you can incorporate easily into your daily life – supported by regular colonics to keep things moving and help maintain a healthy bowel.

New Year, new you

So this year, don’t waste your money on gyms, diet clubs and special shakes. Invest in expert help from someone who really understands your body and can guide you to make the kind of long term changes you long for and help you feel lighter, brighter and more energized than you have ever felt before. Click here to find your nearest ARCH registered colon hydrotherapist and book your appointment today.



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Lights! Camera! Action! Help ARCH with its brand new video

ARCH has always been at the forefront of professional colon hydrotherapy in the UK, and part of that role is to inform and educate the public about how our therapy works and what you can expect when you come for a treatment.
We hope that you’ll find most of the information and answers you need on our website. This has been written to be as friendly and informative as possible, reflecting our motto of a professional approach from approachable professionals.
To back up our website, we produced our first educational video in 2011, which you can still find on You Tube here.

Now we’re putting together a brand new, updated video to be filmed and released in the spring of 2016 – and we need your help!

What is the new film about?

The aim of the new video is to explain clearly and concisely exactly what is involved in a colon hydrotherapy treatment. The first part of the film will show you what happens from the moment you arrive until the treatment is complete, explaining the treatment in detail, and giving you all the facts you need to understand what it involves.
In the second part of the film, we will try to answer as many questions and concerns as we can about colon hydrotherapy, dispelling the myths and giving straightforward, friendly information to help you feel at ease.

How can you help?

Don’t worry; we’re not looking for volunteers to star in our new film! What we do need is your insight into the kind of questions and concerns that we need to cover in the film. The more our director and production team understand their audience, the more effective they will be in producing a film that you understand and can connect with.
Our therapists get asked all sorts of questions, and naturally we will be consulting with all our members to see what they think needs to be said. But we also want your suggestions and ideas about what we could consider putting in our film.

    • Is there anything you don’t understand about our therapy?
    • Have you got any concerns about colonics?
    • Is there something you’ve always wanted to know but were embarrassed to ask?
    • Do you have any safety or hygiene concerns?
    • Is there anything you’d like to know about ARCH, its standards or its members?
    • Are there any questions or comments your friends make that you don’t know how to respond to?


Let us know

We want to make sure that our new video answers all the questions that our clients have got, and gives you all the information you need to be able to book a treatment with confidence and understanding, and recommend our therapy to your family and friends. So please let us your suggestions for the new film and what questions you think we should be answering.

You can make your suggestions by emailing our special email address at All emails will be treated in the strictest of confidence.

We really hope you can help, because at the end of the day, we’re making this video for you, to help you understand our therapy better and to answer your questions and concerns.

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Low FODMAP diet

If you follow the @ARCHCOLONICS Twitter feed, you will have seen us retweet a plea from the Digestive Health Alliance about the lack of public knowledge about the Low FODMAP diet:


@WeAreDHA: A1: Seen a lot of interest in the low #FODMAP diet among #IBS sufferers; not sure knowledge of it extends to general public.”

FodMaps eating plan
Always happy to help, we decided to use this month’s blog to extend that knowledge…


The term FODMAPs refers to Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. You may not have heard of these, but you’ll find them in many of the foods you eat every day, from fruits and vegetables, to pulses, wheat and milk products.

You can find a full list of foods containing FODMAPs online.

FODMAPs are sugars that are not absorbed properly in the small intestine, and so pass into the colon where they start to ferment. As we all know, fermentation causes gas, which stretches the sensitive bowel of IBS patients, causing bloating, pain and discomfort. They can also increase the amount of water in the gut, causing diarrhea.

The low FODMAP diet

The low FODMAP diet is an Australian treatment that is relatively new in the UK. In simple terms, it involves cutting out the foods that contain these sugars in order to relieve the symptoms of IBS. It is not a cure for IBS, but it can be a good way of finding relief from the discomfort it causes. One study found that 70% of people with IBS found their symptoms reduced when using the FODMAP diet.

In practical terms, the low FODMAP diet can be very hard to follow, as there are FODMAPs in so many foods that we eat on a daily basis. It can also be quite expensive. However it can well worth the effort and there is plenty of help and support available online, including information on affording the FODMAP diet and even a FODMAP app for your smartphone. Our friends at the IBS Network also have lots of information as does Kings College London, and there are discussion pages on the Digestive Health Alliance website where you can find support and share your experiences with fellow IBS sufferers.

Finding your FODMAP problem

The good news is that it is unlikely that you are sensitive to all of the FODMAP foods to the same extent. The level and types of FODMAPs affect different people in different ways, so chances are you will be able to reintroduce many of these foods and isolate just a few specific FODMAP foods or types of food, which cause you problems.

Before you start a FODMAP diet, it is important that you need to get professional advice. You should have your IBS diagnosis confirmed by your GP and you should also get expert nutritional advice from a registered dietician or nutritionist if you can, to ensure that your body still gets the nutrition it needs, especially during the initial period.

Getting started

Even if you have a good idea of which foods cause you problems, it is best to begin by cutting out all FODMAP foods for four to eight weeks until your symptoms have eased. Then you can begin reintroducing the different FODMAP foods one by one to see how your body reacts. Keep a diary of what you have eaten and how your body reacted, and you should soon see where your main sensitivity lies.

FODMAP for life

The initial low FODMAP diet is highly restrictive, and not something you would want to follow on a long term basis. However, once you have identified which FODMAP foods cause your symptoms, you will be able to create your own personal version of the low FODMAP diet that you can live with and integrate successfully into your life.


There is lots of information on the low FODMAP diet available online, including:

Low FODMAP books on Amazon

Low FODMAP videos on YouTube

Low FODMAP recipes

Low FODMAP diet tips