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What are fodmaps (and why you might be a victim)?

Fodmaps stand for: Fermentable, Oligo-saccharides, Di-saccharides, Mono-saccharides and Polyols. Despite the complicated sounding names, they are just different types of carbohydrates (and they are found in a wide variety of foods). The reason that they’re important is that they may be the ‘suspect’ causing symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

Do you regularly experience diarrhea, constipation, bloating, abdominal pain and wind a few hours/days after eating? These symptoms characterise irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS. They can also occur in people who have other conditions, like coeliac disease and inflammatory bowel disease, so it’s important to rule these out first. Making small dietary changes can alleviate irritable bowel syndrome-like symptoms. And these changes involve reducing the amount of fodmaps you eat. breakfast-bagel

How does it happen? Fodmaps are not absorbed in the small intestine, so pass along to the large intestine where they are fermented by the many millions of bacteria, which results in wind and bloating, while fluid changes in the large intestine can also lead to diarrhoea or constipation.

Where are they found? Oligo-saccharides, like galactans and fructans, are typically found in pulses and legumes (so foods like chickpeas and lentils), and wheat products, respectively. Disaccharides – like lactose – are found in animal milk (i.e. cow’s, sheep’s and goat’s), so these foods might include milk and yoghurt. Monosaccharides include fructose, and this is found in fruit, fruit juices and honey. And polyols are sugar alcohols (mannitol and sorbitol), and can be found in various fruits and vegetables, as well as chewing gum.

teameWhat to do?

Why not see a GP, and perhaps obtain a breath test to see if you can tolerate fructose and lactose. Then seek the advice of a dietician trained in the low fodmap diet. (See the table for some effective, low-fodmap, food swaps). Hopefully you’ll then be in a position to reduce your intake of fodmaps, and that should see a marked reduction in symptoms. It is then recommended to conduct a food ‘challenge’ such that you work a variety of foods back in to your diet to ascertain your own personal tolerance level of specific food items. It is hoped that most individuals will not have to stick rigidly to a completely fodmap free diet for the foreseeable future, and that the process of re-introducing fodmaps should help a person figure out a more flexible, low(er) fodmap diet that’s both sustainable and beneficial (to their health).

Receive your low-fodmap meal plan

For more information on fodmaps, Read my post HERE, and see the links below:

The blog at Monash University:

Dietary approach:

Effects of fodmaps: