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What’s the fuss about FODMAP?

Posted by: Patrick Catanzariti on March 31, 2016

It’s been around for a little while, but the ‘low-FODMAP’ diet can still be confusing to many. What actually is a FODMAP, and should you be on the diet too?

The short answer is that FODMAP is the name given to a collection of short chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols.

The longer answer is that FODMAP stands for:

  • Fermentable: they’re broken down by bacteria in the gut.
  • Oligosaccharides: a type of sugar that is found in wheat, rye, legumes & onions.
  • Disaccharides: sugars found in lactose
  • Monosaccharides: sugars found in fructose, including honey, mangos, watermelon and apples; as well as food sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup.
  • And
  • Polyols: sugar alcohols, which are found in apples, pears, stone fruits, and products sweetened with polyols.

They occur naturally in food as well as in some food additives.

Basically, these don’t get absorbed easily in the stomach and so they pass into the gut. Here, FODMAPs are fermented, which produces gas. People with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) react strongly to FODMAPs. This is what causes the wind, bloating and pain that IBS suffers experience.

A low-FODMAP diet has been found to limit the symptoms of IBS, although the particular foods people are intolerant to vary from person to person. Everybody is a little bit different, so figuring out what does and doesn’t work is a very individual process.

So should you be limiting your intake? If you think you might have IBS, head to your doctor for a diagnosis. Otherwise, you can try limiting your intake of foods high in FODMAPs – but make sure you’re still getting a nutritionally balanced diet. Once you’ve limited your intake for about eight weeks, you can start slowly reintroducing foods into your diet to try to work out which ones don’t agree with you. But always check things out with a doctor if you notice anything unusual!

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