The ‘FODMAP’ diet has probably made its way into your vocabulary while discussing diets, or health trends and other funky facts about wellness. And to be fair, this conversation is totally backed by a bunch of serious studies (thanks to Monash University, Melbourne AUS) – so the topic isn’t messing around!
When people mention ‘FODMAP’ diet they usually are referring to a diet low in FODMAP, as it is designed to help people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Small Bacterial Overgrowth and Inflammatory Bowel Disease, as it can help determine foods that a (temporarily) problematic to the digestive system, and which foods to reduce to allow the stomach to repair.
What is FODMAP?
FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols, which are short-chain carbohydrates (sugars) that the small intestine absorbs poorly. When this process happens, they draw water into the intestine where gut bacteria reside. The bacteria munch away on these foods, causing a build-up of hydrogen gas. People who have damage to their microbiota (IBS/IBD) can experience the most discomfort when consuming FODMAPS.
What symptoms indicate poor absorption?
Some people can experience digestive discomfort after eating certain FODMAPS. Symptoms include:
- Stomach bloating
- Gas and flatulence
What food groups trigger FODMAP sensitivities?
Lactose – A disaccharide found in dairy products like milk, ice cream and some cheese.
Fructose – A simple sugar found in many fruits (cherries, watermelon, apples), some veggies (broccoli, mushrooms artichokes, asparagus)
Fructans – Oligosaccharides found in a variety of foods including gluten-containing grains (wheat, barley, rye) as well as fruits and veggies (garlic and onion).
Galacto-oligosaccharides – Complex sugars mainly found in beans
Polyol – Sugar alcohols found in artificial sweeteners and some fruits and veggies.
So what about the low FODMAP diet, how does it work?
Low FODMAP is a three-step elimination diet:
- First, you stop eating certain foods (high FODMAP foods).
- Next, you slowly reintroduce them to see which ones are troublesome.
- Once you identify the foods that cause symptoms, you can avoid or limit them while enjoying everything else worry-free.
This is recommended over a two to six-week period. Keep a food diary and track your symptoms to figure out whether your gut health is improving. Every three days you can add a high FODMAP food back into your diet, one at a time to see if it causes any symptoms. If you notice symptoms, remove completely until your stomach is healed.
Where’s the best place to begin the low FODMAP diet?
Foods that trigger symptoms vary between individuals..
To ease symptoms, it’s essential to avoid high FODMAP foods that aggravate the gut, including:
- Dairy-based milk, yogurt and ice cream
- Wheat-based products such as cereal, bread and crackers
- Beans and lentils
- Some vegetables, such as artichokes, asparagus, onions and garlic
- Some fruits, such as apples, cherries, pears and peaches
Instead, base your meals around low FODMAP foods such as:
- Almond milk
- Grains like rice, quinoa and oats
- Vegetables like eggplant, potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini
- Fruits such as grapes, oranges, strawberries, blueberries and pineapple
Doctors and Google have ample information about this!
Who qualifies for this diet?
The low FODMAP diet is extremely valuable to those who experience IBS or SIBO symptoms. People have noticed up to an 80% reduction. As for those with IBD, it’s best to approach this diet under supervision of a registered doctor because your situation is a little more complex.
If you feel as though this could be the right ‘temporay’ diet for you, then it’s important to speak with professional about the best way to integrate these practices into your life. We also recommend that lifestyle and environmental changes in conjunction with the low FODMAP diet can be super beneficial to your overall health and wellbeing.