You may be familiar with the low FODMAP diet or you might have even seen it mentioned in a cookbook or online blog
FODMAPs are found in a number of foods that we commonly eat, such as legumes, vegetables, fruit, dairy and even wheat.
The acronym stands for a number of specific short-chain carbohydrates that can cause symptoms in the gut such as bloating, gas and diarrhoea. This does not occur in all people, but it is fairly common.
Basically, these molecules are incompletely broken down and poorly absorbed in some people, which can cause very uncomfortable gut symptoms.
These molecules enter the intestines, and instead of being absorbed, they become a food source for the bacteria in the gut. When the bacteria digest and ferment these molecules, excess gas is produced, which ultimately leads to the symptoms that are experienced by some people.
Let’s break it down…
F = Fermentable - Referring to the short-chain carbohydrates that can be broken down in the gut.
O = Oligosacchardies – This includes Fructans and Galactans, which are predominantly found in wheat, legumes and beans.
D = Dissacharides – Lactose is the main culprit here. Lactose is found in dairy products
M = Monosaccharides – These are smaller carbohydrates such as fructose. Fructose can be found in many fruits and vegetables, honey and sweeteners.
A = And…
P = Polyols – These are sugar alcohols that are present in mushrooms, artificial sweeteners and certain fruits.
These molecules are found is a wide range of foods, and not everyone who is sensitive to FODMAPS will experience symptoms to the same foods.
Fructose = Apples and pears, Mango, Watermelon, Honey, and High Fructose Corn Syrup
Fructans = Garlic and Onion, Artichoke, Wheat, Barley and, Rye
Lactose = All dairy products, except hard/mature cheeses
Galacto-Oligosaccharides (GOS) = Beans, Lentils and Chickpeas
The low FODMAP diet is a safe, evidence-based and Dietitian approved diet that can assist in reducing gut symptoms and identify specific trigger foods for each individual. The diet has been shown to reduce symptoms by up to 75% in some people.
The diet consists of 3 important steps:
1. Eliminate all high FODMAP foods for 2-6 weeks
Ensuring that all food groups and nutrients are still included in the diet by using swaps rather than simply removing foods for the 2-6 week period
2. Reintroduction of FODMAPS
Over a period of 8-12 weeks, introduce one FODMAP food at a time over 3 days, increasing the serving size each day. This step will allow each person to identify which foods they can tolerate and what serving size they can tolerate before they experience symptoms.
3. Individualised FODMAP diet
Once the reintroduction step is complete, you’ll know exactly what you can and can’t tolerate. Simply avoid trigger foods, and continue living your life, symptom free!
Finally, it can be really helpful to see a Dietitian or Nutritionist to help you through this process, and to ensure that you are supported nutritionally throughout the elimination and reintroduction phase of the diet.
If you have any concerns, or if your symptoms do not resolve, it is important to see a Dietitian or GP to explore your symptoms further.
Written By Esther Rijk, Dietitian
Do you want to know more? Contact Esther on firstname.lastname@example.org