What is the Low FODMAPs Diet?

is the low fodmap diet right for you

It​ ​is​ ​estimated​ ​that​ ​about​ ​​10 to 15 percent​​ ​of​ ​the​ ​population​ ​suffers​ ​from​ ​irritable​ ​bowel​ ​syndrome, or​ ​IBS. This​ ​disorder​ ​is​ ​commonly​ ​characterized​ ​by​ ​changes in​ ​bowel​ ​habits​ ​like​ ​diarrhea,​ ​constipation, gas,​ ​bloating​ ​and​ ​abdominal​ ​pain​ ​or​ ​discomfort.​ ​SIBO,​ ​or​ ​small​ ​bacterial​ ​overgrowth, is​ ​a more​ ​specific​ ​condition​ ​that impacts ​digestion.​ ​Many​ ​people​ ​with​ ​IBS​ ​or​ ​digestive​ ​issues​ ​find​ ​SIBO​ ​to​ ​be​ ​the​ ​root​ ​cause.​ ​In​ ​both​ ​cases, ​a low​ ​FODMAP​ ​diet​ ​has​ ​been​ ​shown​ ​to​ ​be​ ​an effective​ ​tool​​ for​ ​managing​ ​and​ ​decreasing​ ​symptoms.​ ​Before​ ​you​ ​start​ ​following​ ​this​ ​diet, it’s important​ ​to​ ​understand​ ​what​ ​foods​ ​contain​ ​FODMAPs ​and​ ​if​ ​a low FODMAP diet is​ ​right​ ​for​ ​you.

What​ ​are​ ​FODMAPs?

FODMAPs​ ​are​ ​carbohydrates​ ​that​ ​ferment​ ​in​ ​the​ ​digestive​ ​tract​ ​and​ ​lead​ ​to​ ​gas​ ​and bloating.​ ​The​ ​types​ ​of​ ​carbohydrates​ are​ ​Fermentable​ ​Oligo-saccharides,​ ​Di-saccharides, Mono-saccharides​ ​and​ ​Polyols​ ​(FODMAP). The​ ​specific​ ​sugars​ ​that​ ​make​ ​up​ ​these carbohydrates​ ​include​ ​fructose,​ ​lactose,​ ​the​ ​polyols,​ ​sorbitol,​ ​mannitol,​ ​fructans,​ ​and galacto-oligosaccharides.​ ​Some​ ​people​ ​have​ ​a​ ​harder​ ​time​ ​breaking​ ​these carbs and sugars​ ​down, which​ ​can trigger​ ​gas,​ ​bloating​ ​and​ ​other​ ​symptoms​ ​of​ ​IBS.

Not​ ​everyone​ ​is​ ​sensitive​ ​to​ ​every​ ​fermentable​ ​sugar.​ ​The​ ​best​ ​way​ ​to​ ​discover​ ​sensitivities​ ​is​ ​to eliminate​ ​all​ ​sugars​ ​and​ ​then​ ​slowly​ ​reintroduce​ ​them​ ​back​ ​into​ ​the​ ​diet.​ ​Below​ ​are​ ​some common​ ​food​ ​examples​ ​of​ ​each​ ​fermentable​ ​sugar:

  • Fructose –​ ​mangoes,​ ​figs,​ ​guava,​ ​honey,​ ​agave,​ ​asparagus,​ ​sugar​ ​snap​ ​peas
  • Lactose​ ​–​ ​milk,​ ​cheese,​ ​yogurt,​ ​cream.
  • Polyols
    • Sorbitol –​ avocados,​ ​blackberries,​ ​peaches,​ ​plums,​ ​coconut,​ “unsweetened” chewing​ ​gums​ ​and​ ​protein​ ​bars
    • Mannitol​​ – celery,​ ​sweet​ ​potato,​ ​mushrooms
  • Fructans – cabbage,​ ​garlic,​ ​onions,​ ​shallots​ ​(green​ ​part​ ​only),​ ​leeks,​ ​snow​ ​peas,​ ​barley, oats,​ ​spelt,​ ​wheat,​ ​buckwheat,​ ​dried​ ​fruits
  • Galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS)​​ -​ ​most​ ​beans​ ​such​ ​as​ ​lentils,​ ​chickpeas,​ ​kidney​ ​beans, as​ ​well​ ​as​ ​almonds,​ ​peas

Check​ ​out​ ​this​ ​​app​​ ​for​ ​a​ ​more​ ​in-depth​ ​overview​ ​of​ ​what​ ​foods​ ​to​ ​avoid.

When​ ​should​ ​you​ ​follow​ ​a​ ​low​ ​FODMAP​ ​diet?

If​ ​you’re​ ​diagnosed​ ​with​ ​SIBO​ ​or​ ​IBS,​ ​following​ ​a​ ​low​ ​FODMAP​ ​diet​ ​may​ ​help​ ​alleviate digestive​ ​symptoms.​ ​It’s​ ​important​ ​to​ ​understand​ ​that it’s not​ ​a​ ​long-term​ ​diet; it ​should​ ​only​ ​be followed​ ​for​ ​2 to 6​ ​weeks​ ​since​ ​the nutrient restrictions​ ​can​ ​negatively​ ​impact​ ​the​ ​gut​ ​microbiome. You​ ​should​ ​see​ ​a​ ​change​ ​in​ ​your​ ​symptoms​ ​within​ ​two​ ​weeks.​ ​If​ ​you​ ​don’t​ ​notice​ ​a difference,​ ​this​ ​diet​ ​may​ ​not​ ​be​ ​right​ ​for​ ​you.​ ​It​ ​is​ ​also​ ​important​ ​to​ ​note​ ​that this​ ​diet​ ​should​ ​not​ ​be combined​ ​with​ ​medication​ ​or​ ​specific​ ​supplements​ ​geared​ ​towards​ ​treating​ ​SIBO.​ ​It​ ​is​ ​always best​ ​to​ ​check​ ​with​ ​your​ ​doctor​ ​or​ ​healthcare​ ​practitioner​ ​before​ ​making​ ​a​ ​large​ ​dietary​ ​change.

IBS​ ​is​ ​a​ ​very​ ​broad​ ​term​ ​for​ ​many​ ​different​ ​digestive​ ​issues, and​ ​managing​ ​symptoms​ ​can​ ​be challenging.​ ​Work​ ​with​ ​your​ ​doctor​ ​or​ ​functional​ ​medicine​ ​dietitian​ ​to​ ​see​ ​if​ ​a​ ​low​ ​FODMAP​ ​diet is​ ​right​ ​for​ ​you.​ ​Healing​ ​your​ ​digestion​ ​and​ ​figuring​ ​out​ ​the​ ​root​ ​cause​ ​of​ ​digestive​ ​disturbances are​ ​the​ ​keys​ ​to​ ​optimal​ ​health.

Registered Dietitian, Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics


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