FODMAPs are hot stuff right now, but some folks have never even heard the term before, let alone tried any low FODMAP diet plans, so let’s quickly go over what FODMAPs are and why they’re such a hot topic at the moment.
As you may have guessed, FODMAP is an acronym. Bear with me while we delve into a few scientific terms here.
F – Fermentable
O – Oligosaccharides
D – Disaccharides
M – Monosaccharides
A – And
P – Polyols
I realize that’s a lot of mumbo jumbo, so let’s try to quickly break it down into bite-sized chunks.
FODMAPs fall in the category of short chain carbohydrates. These sorts of carbs are said to be poorly absorbed in the small intestine, and some people have real trouble digesting them.
If you already have a digestive issue, such as IBS, ingesting FODMAPs is asking for real trouble.
And to add to that, it’s thought that the majority of people that suffer with IBS aren’t even aware that they have the problem.
I’m sure you’re probably wondering what type of foods fall under the FODMAP umbrella, so let’s that a look.
Oligosaccharides – Fructans and/or galactans are in this category. Some examples include pasta, crackers, and bread. Also included are artichoke, asparagus, garlic, onion, leeks, fennel, cabbage, and peas.
Disaccharides – This category contains simple sugars that most people are familiar with. Things like common table sugar and milk sugar, or lactose, are disaccharides. Another lesser known one is called malt sugar.
Everyone has heard of lactose intolerance. This occurs when an individual lacks a digestive enzyme known as lactase, which is instrumental in the breakdown of lactose. When this happens, uncomfortable digestive issues occur.
Monosaccharides – These are simple sugars, and therefore the simplest form of carbohydrates. This means that fructose, sucrose, and galactose fall into this category, and they’re found in all over the place in our diet. Some examples include candy, fruit and fruit juices, molasses, agave nectar, honey, and all sorts of processed foods that have added sugars. (Think soft drinks and most energy drinks)
Polyols – Polyols can be naturally occurring in fruits and vegetables, where they might not be so much of problem for us, but they are also prominent in things like diet or low and no calorie foods. Just some of the names they go by include sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, maltitol, isomalt, erythritol, and lactitol. Beware of these names in the foods you eat. They are known to cause symptoms of IBS in people who may have trouble absorbing them, and this is thought to be a large percentage of the population.
The problem is that our gut bacteria have a field day with these, rapidly fermenting them and causing bloating, gas, and even a laxative effect. Yikes!
The list below shows many of the foods that contain FODMAPs. Take a look to see if any of your favorites are here.
Vegetables and Legumes
Some fruits that are high in FODMAPS include the following:
There are also some cereals and grains that are high FODMAP foods:
Products that contain wheat, such as…
This is, of course, only a partial list of some of the more popular foods. My friends over at Casa De Sante have some great information for you. Give them a visit to see what they’ve been up to lately.
Alternately, there are a whole range of delicious foods that are low in FODMAPS that you can enjoy. Take a look at the list below to see if you recognize any in your diet.
Fruits That Are Low In FODMAPs
Low FODMAP grains include the following:
There have been scientific studies that indicate people with IBS could benefit from a low FODMAP diet.
IBS is a tough diagnosis for any medical professional. So many factors could be involved, but more and more studies point to dietary choices as a being a major contributor to gut health.
And an unhealthy gut sets up the whole body for a rough ride. It wreaks havoc on your immune system and leads to lowered absorption of nutrients, both of which can have a devastating effect on your health.
The benefits of a low FODMAP diet include the following:
Starting a low FODMAP diet might seem pretty intuitive; simply get a list of foods that are high in FODMAPS and remove them from your diet.
It’s not that simple, however.
I’d recommend speaking with your doctor or healthcare professional, for the simple reason that he or she knows what type of medication you’re taking and is familiar with your medical history.
If you have access to a dietician, that may be helpful as well.
A low FODMAP diet falls under the category of elimination diets, which means that you’ll be removing high FODMAP items that you think may be causing you problems, to see how your body reacts.
The specific length of time is generally open-ended, but at a minimum it would be at least a few weeks to see how your body adjusts and behaves. Remember that you’re trying to fine-tune your nutrition program and eliminate things that may be causing you gastrointestinal distress, so it’s worth the extra effort to take your time and make sure you’re doing things correctly.
Once you have eliminated as many high FODMAP foods from your diet for a certain period of time, you’ll want to begin reintroducing them one at a time to see which ones actually don’t agree with you.
Remember that many of the foods that are high in FODMAPs are actually very good for you, so if you find that some of them don’t bother your stomach, it would benefit you to have them back in your diet.
There are many websites that advertise low FODMAP diet recipes, so it’s a matter of finding some you’re comfortable with and that eliminate the foods you’ve identified as causing problems.
I’ll share my best resource with you here, because it will save you a lot of time searching and wondering if you’re getting the best possible information and results.
They also sell wonderful food products and recipe books that have delicious meals and authoritative recommendations.
In short, they really know their stuff, so check them out today!
While this can be a controversial topic among medical professionals, there is no doubting the science behind FODMAPs.
Below is some of the best advice I believe anyone could give to someone looking for relief from symptoms of IBS and poor gut health.
Don’t Change Too Much At Once – This is a classic mistake. If you change a large number of things all at once, such as your diet, supplements, and maybe drinking habits if that’s applicable, how in the world will you know what worked for you? Imagine finally finding some relief from your constant aching gut, only to be confused as to which change actually made a difference.
My recommendation would be to change just your diet and keep everything else constant while you try to determine exactly what helps you the most.
Not Seeking Medical Advice – Be sure to work hand-in-hand with your healthcare professional while embarking on a low FODMAP diet. They have access to all the latest information and can point you in the right direction if you need you to see a specialist such as a gastroenterologist. He or she will also be able to correctly diagnose IBS.
Not Listening To Your Body – One very important aspect of an elimination diet is how your body will react when you add and subtract certain foods.
Pay particular attention to your gut while you’re fine-tuning your diet. Don’t just rely on your memory, either. It will be to your advantage to keep a detailed journal to record your body’s reactions while you take this journey.
A low FODMAP diet may be just the thing your body is looking for.
It may not be easy, but the rewards certainly justify the time and energy spent trying to improve your health.
If you ever have questions or are in need of helpful advice, don’t forget to give my friends over at Casa De Sante a visit. They have wonderful resources that can be a really big help for you.
Ted is a writer and avid researcher on the subject of nutrition and general wellness. He has recently published books on Sugar Detox as well as the inflammation epidemic, and continues to improve his knowledge by constantly remaining up to date with the latest news and trends in the nutrition world. When not busy writing, you can find him playing banjo and guitar, or outside fishing.