In the next months and years we will be hearing a LOT about FODMAPs and low FODMAP diets. Partly due to the recent gluten intolerance study (which I walk talk about in an upcoming post) and partly in due to an increasing number of people suffering from IBS. A low FODMAP diet first originated from a research team based at Monash University in Australia and is gaining popularity with research suggesting more than 75% of IBS patients will improve on the low FODMAP diet. So my purpose of this post is to provide a basic understanding of FODMAPs.
What Does FODMAP Mean?
FODMAP: Fermentable Oligo-Di-Monosaccharides and Polyols
FODMAPS are short chain carbohydrates (sugar) found in food.
How FODMAPS Affect The Digestive System
Not everyone has the same reactions to these foods. For those who are sensitive, the following are how FODMAPs affect the gut:
- Osmatic – they pull water into the intestine.
- These foods are not digested or absorbed well and sit in the intestine.
- They cause rapid fermentation by bacteria in the intestine when eaten in excess.
- Leads to increased water and gas in the GI tract.
Symptoms of FODMAP Sensitivity
Many of those with IBS find that FODMAP foods are the culprit.
- Abdominal Pain
- Constipation ans/or Diarrhea
These are the FODMAP foods. The ones that cause intestinal distress. Oligosaccharides (fructans, galactans), Disaccharides (lactose), Monosaccharides (fructose), and polyols (sugar alcohols)
- Fructans: Also known as inulin (wheat, garlic, onion…), Inulin is added to many foods to increase its fiber content
- Galactans: beans, lentils, legumes, soy, peas, broccoli, cabbage…
- Lactose: Dairy from cow, sheep, and goats milk (milk, butter, yogurt, soft cheeses, ice cream, buttermilk, cottage cheese, sour cream…)
- Fructose: Fruit Sugar (fruits, honey, agave, table sugar, high fructose corn syrup…)
- Polyols: Sugar Alcohols (sweeteners ending with ‘ol’ like sorbitol), Stone Fruits (apricots, avocado, cherries, nectarines, peaches, plums…)
How To Combat FODMAP Sensitivity
Eliminate high FODMAP foods from the diet for 6-8 weeks. Then slowly add these foods back into your diet 1 at a time (every 4-5 days) and determine which of these foods trigger the symptoms. Allow 1-2 weeks before adding another food once a trigger food is determined. Eliminate those trigger foods that cause the most harm.
Hopefully this helps with a basic understanding of FODMAPs. If you suffer from IBS, maybe a low FODMAP diet could help your gut.