Coronavirus (COVID-19), IBS and the FODMAP Diet
The following is not medical advice but is aimed as a resource of information on how the outbreak will affect IBS patients and those on the low FODMAP diet. Please see your doctor, dietitian or gastroenterologist if you have any concerns regarding the COVID-19 outbreak.
What is the Coronavirus (COVID-19)
COVID-19, commonly called Coronavirus, is a new outbreak that originated in China but is spreading at a fast rate worldwide. The illness affects the lungs and airways and is easily spread. To help reduce the transmission of the virus and number of cases countries are advising techniques to slow down the infection rate so health services are able to cope with the increased demand. Some helpful methods are:
- Social distancing where members of the public should all try to reduce social interactions between people particularly vulnerable people such as elderly and those with certain preexisting conditions.
- Washing your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds
- Avoiding touching your face
- Wearing face coverings
- Depending on your country - if you have any of the symptoms to go into self isolation or seek further advice
Vaccines are beginning to be approved by countries but IBS sufferers are not going to be considered top priority for vaccination so it may still be a while before you can be vaccinated.
Where To Find Latest Advice
The following government websites offer helpful advice depending on where you reside:
UK - https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
Europe - https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/novel-coronavirus-china/sources-updated
USA - https://www.usa.gov/coronavirus
Australia - https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert
New Zealand - https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus
FODMAP and Coronavirus
Having IBS and following the FODMAP diet can be challenging and with the current outbreak things can feel even more difficult. Those of us with only IBS affecting our health are not considered a higher risk group. If you also have a weakened immune system that can be part of having an IBD (Irritable Bowel Disease), such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, then you need to try and be extra careful. The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation has good advice concerning COVID-19 and IBD.
Two papers have been published investigating the impact of the coronavirus on the digestive tract   that has led to some useful findings. Many coronavirus patients have diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea and abdominal discomfort before they get respiratory symptoms. The viral RNA is detectable in stools of patients who are suspected of having coronavirus meaning that the virus leaves traces in the stool and transmission from gastrointestinal infection can last after the virus has cleared the respiratory tract. See the American Gastroenterological Association for more analysis on these findings.
Low FODMAP Meals
With the possibility of self isolation or being unwell it is helpful to have a few weeks of food available. Due to panic buying it is harder for us with IBS to get the foods we need so be sure to plan your grocery shops and keep your 1 or 2 week food supply topped up. Go through the low FODMAP food list to discover new foods that you could try and use the time at home to learn new low FODMAP recipes and enjoy new dishes.
Ordering home delivery for food is a great option whether you are doing a grocery shop or ordering a takeout that is delivered. There are some FODMAP friendly dishes that are often low in FODMAPs, see the Monash University article on eating out. One other option is to order premade meals from a meal delivery service that specialises in low FODMAP diet meals.
Low FODMAP Fresh Meal Delivery Services
Epicured is a low FODMAP and gluten free subscription meal delivery service that offers a great range of freshly prepared meals as well as new freezable bundles – perfect for stocking up for the outbreak. Epicured have kindly provided us with a special $20 off your first order.
Modify Health provides delicious, home-delivered low-FODMAP (organic, gluten-free, non-GMO) meals at an affordable price. Their vacuum sealed, BPA-free packaging allows for meals to be stacked, reducing the amount of refrigerator space needed, and allows meals to remain fresh for an average of 7-10 days after receipt (or up to 4 months in your freezer). They also offer telenutrition visits for those who need support with navigating all phases of the low-FODMAP diet. Modify Health has provided us with a special offer when you use code “IBSDIETS4FREE” - simply add 8 or more meals to your cart at checkout and you will receive 4 of those meals for free.