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Low-FODMAP Diet

12 June 2015 1 comment
Food in Map AU

Is this diet for you?



No we are not talking about a Food Map! The word FODMAP is an acronym which stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides And Polyols. Cool term huh? They’re basically short chain carbohydrates that share the common characteristic of being poorly absorbed in your intestinal tract. Some people have difficulty with FODMAP foods and may have symptoms suggestive of a FODMAP intolerance. Here are some examples of foods high in FODMAPs:

Carbohydrate Group Examples of Each Group Sources
Oligosaccharides

Fructans – polymers of fructose

  1. Rye, barley, wheat (except spelt)
  2. Onion, garlic, artichoke, asparagus, chicory, dandelion leaves
  3. Broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts
  4. Yacon, agave
  5. Prebiotics in foods/supplements: e.g. Inulin, FOS (fructooligosaccharides)
Oligosaccharides

Galactans – polymers of galactose

  1. Legumes and pulses (except tofu and tempeh)
Disaccharides

Lactose

Dairy products, particularly:
Cow’s milk, yoghurt, soft cheeses, cream, ice cream

Monosaccharides

Fructose

High fructose corn syrup, honey

Polyols

Sugar alcohols:
Maltitol, xylitol, sorbitol, erythritol and mannitol

Other polyols

Xylitol - naturally found in mushrooms, oats and berries

Sorbitol - naturally present in stone fruits e.g. peaches, cherries, nectarines, prunes, and apricots

Sugar alcohols are used in foods as low calorie sweeteners

Polyols are also in stone fruits, apples, pears, blackberries, watermelon and cauliflower

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Note: If you have a sensitivity to FODMAPs, try to reduce your intake of the foods in the table above.

The Biochemistry and Physiology of FODMAPs in a Nutshell



FODMAP carbohydrates are generally poorly absorbed in our intestines, however not everyone experiences symptoms as a result of this. Any leftover FODMAPs from our small intestines pass into the large intestine where they’re fermented by our beneficial gut bacteria. In those who have a gut hypersensitivity or who have altered gut microflora, the large amount of gas produced leads to bloating, flatulence and discomfort.

Bloating and flatulence distend the lumen of your intestines. To some people, that distention can be quite uncomfortable and painful. In addition, distention decreases the motility of your intestines. Motility ensures that your food travels down and eventually out the other end. Too many FODMAPs in your diet increase your chances of poor bowel motility and constipation.

Low-FODMAP Excess Wind

Who is a Low-FODMAP diet for?



People who experience too much bloating and flatulence can get relief from a low-FODMAPs diet. If you’re diagnosed with a FODMAP intolerance by your healthcare practitioner, you will need to shift to a low-FODMAP diet. Additionally, those suffering from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD - such as Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or symptoms of bloating, excessive gas, diarrhoea or abdominal discomfort can also benefit from a diet low in FODMAP foods.

How do you know that you have a FODMAP intolerance or sensitivity?



You may have a FODMAP intolerance and not know it. Here are some symptoms which suggest a FODMAP intolerance:

  • constipation 1. Bloating, diarrhoea and constipation. When oligosaccharides aren’t absorbed in your small intestines, they proceed to your large intestines where they’re treated like aliens (foreign substances). The resident bacteria react by producing excessive gas. The result? A lot of bloating. Bloating is a feeling of being full which may be accompanied by abdominal pain. It’s an uncomfortable sensation which brings a lot of discomfort to your daily activities. At other times, bloating can also be accompanied by diarrhoea and/or constipation. Either you’re too familiar with your toilet seat or you miss it! Diarrhoea relieves your discomfort while constipation seems to prolong it.

  • 2. I’m already eating healthy food! You begin to wonder why you still suffer from the same symptoms over and over again, even though you’re already eating healthy food. What’s worse is that as time passes, the healthy food that you’re eating is worsening your symptoms. For most people in the western world, healthy food generally equates to vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans. However if you have a FODMAP intolerance, many of these foods can be quite problematic for you.

  • 3. The trip to your healthcare practitioner didn’t help much. Many people afflicted with a FODMAP intolerance have visited their doctors and several other doctors for help with their medical problems that don’t seem to go away. Most of them are misdiagnosed as having irritable bowel syndrome and told to go on a high fibre, vegetable and fruit diet. FODMAP intolerance is not well recognised by most doctors.

  • 4. You begin to worship your digestive system. Thinking about what to eat all the time in order to avoid your symptoms can have a dominating effect on your life. You’re always wondering which foods might bring you discomfort. Some people have difficulty getting through each day just because of this.

Note: In order to establish whether you have a FODMAP intolerance, consult a healthcare practitioner who has a background in nutrition. A nutrition expert or dietitian can also be of great value to help you increase your list of low FODMAP foods.

What Foods to Eat



And now you want to know which foods you can eat? Here is our list of foods and food groups that are low in FODMAP’s.

Food Group

Specific examples with low FODMAPs

Nuts, legumes, dairy alternatives

nuts
  • Nut butters (except peanut which is a legume)
  • Nuts e.g. walnut, macadamia, pecan, pine, almond
  • Tempeh, Tofu
  • Milk alternatives e.g. coconut, rice, soy or almond milk
Meats, poultry, eggs, fish

egg-meat
Turkey, chicken, beef, eggs, fish, pork, lamb, shellfish

Vegetables

Vegetables
Tomatoes, turnips, water chestnuts, zucchini, bok choy, carrots, cucumbers, green beans, pumpkin, potatoes, alfalfa/bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, bell peppers, rutabaga, seaweed, spinach, squash

Fruits

fruit
Tangerine, strawberries, raspberries, pineapple, passion fruit, orange, lime, mandarin, bananas, blueberries, rock melon, grapes, cranberries, honeydew, kiwifruit, lemon

Grains

Grains
Spelt or gluten free grains e.g. rice, quinoa, corn, oats
Pasta, bread and cereal made from the above grains. Tapioca flour is another good wheat alternative.

Beverages, Desserts

tea
Use the above permitted foods to make these

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While a FODMAP diet is not fixing the underlying problem, it can help to resolve most digestive symptoms caused by poor digestion of these short chain carbohydrates. If you suspect you may have a sensitivity to one or more of the FODMAP foods, talk to your healthcare practitioner about modifying your diet to one low in FODMAP’s to improve your feeling of health and well-being.

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References

Legumes: Essential Things to Consider - Return2Health 15 June 2018 at 8:12 pm
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