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Digestive health

4 facts about FODMAPs

FODMAPs are a type of carbohydrate (or sugar) that’s found in common foods. For some, though, these FODMAPs are poorly absorbed in the small intestine. And as they move down the digestive tract, they draw water (which can cause a feeling of being bloated) and ferment (which can produce excess gas).

The FODMAP diet is being more popular with people who have digestive problems. Want to know why? These four facts about FODMAPs are a good start in understanding what they are and how the FODMAP diet can help.

1. FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides Disaccharides Monosaccharides And Polyol.

Here’s what all that means:

  • Fermentable — these carbohydrates are digested by our gut bacteria, which produces gas
  • Oligosaccharides — fructans (wheat, rye, onions and garlic) and galacto-oligosaccharides (found in legumes, beans, lentils and soybeans)
  • Dissacharides — lactose (the sugar found in milk, soft cheese and yogurt)
  • Monosaccharides — excess fructose (found in some fruit, honey and high-fructose corn syrup)
  • Polyols — sugar alcohols found in artificial sweeteners and some fruit and vegetables

2. FODMAPs don’t cause digestive disorders, but they can trigger symptoms.

For most of us, FODMAPs are a problem only when we eat too many. But some of us are sensitive to them.

If you have a digestive disorder, like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), sensitivity to FODMAPs can result in unpleasant and painful symptoms, including:

  • Abdominal pain, cramping and bloating
  • Excessive gas
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea

Keep in mind though that avoiding FODMAPs doesn’t help everyone.

3. Eliminating FODMAPs may not be forever.

The usual recommendation is to eliminate high FODMAP foods for about six to eight weeks. During this time, you may notice that your digestive troubles have calmed down. Once this elimination phase is completed, you can start to re-introduce foods — carefully and one at a time — to see if you’re sensitive to only some FODMAP foods. Foods that don’t cause a problem can become part of your eating routine again.

4. Replace high FODMAP foods with low ones for good nutrition.

FODMAPs aren’t bad. They actually encourage good bacteria in your gut to grow.

So if you are sensitive to FODMAPs, the goal isn’t to eliminate them. Instead you want to replace high FODMAP foods with low ones. You may find that eating this way helps improve your gastrointestinal symptoms while still enjoying a nutritious and well-balanced diet.

Here’s a small example of high FODMAP foods and their low FODMAP alternatives:

Type

High FODMAP

Low FODMAP

Fruit

 

  • Apples, apricots, blackberries, cherries, figs, mangoes, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums, watermelon

 

 

  • Bananas, blueberries, grapefruit, grapes, honeydew melon, kiwi, lemons, limes, oranges, raspberries, strawberries

 

Vegetables

 

  • Artichokes, asparagus, avocados, cauliflower, garlic, green pepper, mushrooms, onions, pumpkins, snow peas, spring onions

 

 

  • Bok choy, bell peppers, carrots, celery, corn, eggplant, green beans, tomatoes, potatoes, spinach

 

Grains

 

  • Barley, rye, wheat (in large amounts)

 

 

  • Gluten-free breads/cereals (as long as they don’t contain honey and agave), rice and corn pasta

 

Legumes

 

  • Beans, chickpeas, lentils, soybeans, soy flour, some soy milk

 

 

  • Firm tofu

 

Dairy products

 

  • Milk (cow, goat or sheep), ice cream, margarine, powdered milk, yogurt
  • Soft/un-ripened cheese (cream or cottage cheese, ricotta or mascarpone)

 

 

  • Lactose-free milk and milk-product alternatives
  • Some cheeses including cheddar, parmesan, swiss and mozzarella

 

Sweeteners

 

  • Agave, corn syrup solids, high-fructose corn syrup, honey
  • Sorbitol, mannitol, isomalt, maltitol, xylitol

 

 

  • Table sugar, maple syrup,
  • Glucose, aspartame

 

According to the BC Medical Journal, eliminating fructose, lactose or both are the most common culprits.

For more information and support, visit Find Support and search “digestion” for organizations and resources in your area.

4 facts about FODMAPs
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