What are FODMAPs?

And what happens when you eat them?

FODMAP stands for fermentable oligo-, di-, and mono-saccharides and polyols.

These are short-chain carbohydrates that many people cannot digest, especially those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). 

FODMAP SymptomsSo what happens if you’re one of the people who can’t digest FODMAPs?

  • They make it all the way through your large intestine without being digested and absorbed into your bloodstream. At this point, they will pull water from the surrounding tissue into your intestine, causing bloating, gas, stomach pain, diarrhea, and constipation. (This occurs in most people, but only those with a sensitivity have a reaction.)
  • Your large intestine is home to trillions of healthy bacteria. This bacteria rapidly ferments FODMAPs, which releases gas and other chemicals. In sensitive people, this causes bloating, stomach pain, and diarrhea or constipation.

What exactly are FODMAPS and which foods have them?

  • FRUCTOSE is a simple sugar found in many fruits and vegetables. It also makes up the structure of table sugar and most added sugars.
  • LACTOSE is a carbohydrate found in dairy products like milk.
  • FRUCTANS are found in many grains, including wheat, spelt, rye and barley.
  • Large amounts of GALACTANS are found in legumes.
  • Sugar alcohols like xylitol, sorbitol, maltitol, and mannitol contain POLYOLS. They are found in some fruits and vegetables and often used as sweeteners.

For how long should you avoid FODMAPs? 

Any time you basically eliminate one or more food groups, it’s difficult to meet your nutritional requirements. Calcium and fiber take the biggest hits on a low-FODMAP diet (since you’re eliminating many fruits and vegetables as well most dairy products), so experts recommend only following this diet for 8 WEEKS OR LESS. 

At this point, they recommend slowly reintroducing FODMAPs into your diet. Basically, you need to find your personal tolerance and not exceed that amount. (Sounds fun, right?)

I think it goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway), digestive issues can mask underlying diseases, so it’s important to consult your physician before starting a low-FODMAP diet. 

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