First of all, it’s important for us to highlight that the people who may benefit from a low FODMAP diet are those who suffer with irritable bowel syndrome or irritable bowel disease. People who suffer from these diseases have a variety of symptoms that can fluctuate, making the disease difficult to diagnose. In general, IBS symptoms include extreme abdominal pain, changes in bowel movements, bloating and distension, flatulence, and fatigue.
Most people do not have to follow the low FODMAP diet to have a happy and healthy life. However, those who suffer from IBS may find this food plan the best way to manage the painful symptoms of the disease and feel their best.
So, let’s get to it.
What are FODMAPs?
FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, And Polyols. These are all types of carbohydrates that the gut absorbs poorly. Gut bacteria feast on them and cause excessive and painful gas. Let’s take a closer look at each letter.
This means that the gut doesn’t properly break down and utilize these carbohydrates, so the bacteria in the gut utilize them and produce gas.
These are carbohydrates found in wheat, rye, onions, garlic, and legumes.
This type of carbohydrate is found in lactose. All dairy products contain lactose.
Fructose is the carbohydrate found in honey, apples, pears, mangoes, cherries, watermelon, peaches, and dried fruits.
Sorbitol and Mannitol are found in fruits like watermelon, sweet potatoes, snow peas, and mushrooms. They are also used as artificial sweeteners, which are notorious for causing excessive gas.
As we look over this extensive list, we can see that all the foods high in carbohydrates that may irritate the GI tract are filled with nutrient dense fruits and vegetables. These also have the fiber that is so important to support the beneficial bacteria of the gut.
Let’s look at bananas, for example:
- An unripe banana (100g) is low in oligo-fructans, making it safe to eat on a low FODMAP diet.
- A ripe banana is high in oligo-fructans, making it high in FODMAPs. However, a third of a ripe banana (33g) will likely be tolerated by most individuals with IBS.
There are plenty of fruits and vegetables that are low in FODMAPs, but they often do require a bit more creativity in preparation, or perhaps just a little more acquired effort. Unlike food allergies, you do not need to completely eliminate FODMAPs from your diet. In fact, they are beneficial for gut health, so you should include them in your diet as tolerated.
Written by Lorilyn VanDyke