What Are FODMAPs and How Could They Be Affecting Your Diet?

As a society, we generally have a better knowledge and awareness of food intolerances than we ever have before. Although some people can pinpoint exactly what foods it is that their bodies disagree with, for many of us it really is a case of trial and error to eAs a society, we generally have better knowledge and awareness of food intolerances than we ever have before. Although some people can pinpoint exactly what foods it is that their bodies disagree with, for many of us it really is a case of trial and error to establish what foods cause our digestive problems.

But did you know that FODMAPs really could be the explanation as to what foods are causing you issues? This article is all about FODMAPS, what foods are high and low FODMAPs and how these foods could be affecting your diet. 

What Are FODMAPs?

FODMAP stands for fermentable oligo-di-mono-saccharides and polyols which are essentially a form of carbohydrate that the body finds particularly difficult to digest. 

In general, the strains that are considered FODMAPs are sugars and include fructose, lactose, fructans, galactans and polyols. These sugars can be found in varying different foods from dairy to vegetables, alcohol to grains.

What is the Difference Between High FODMAP and Low FODMAP?

High FODMAP foods contain higher levels of the sugars listed above and are therefore more difficult for the body to digest and because of that, people with sensitive or compromised digestive systems find them more difficult to digest. 

Low FODMAP foods are generally more ‘gut-friendly’ due to containing lower levels of these short-chain carbs and are therefore easier for the body to digest. 

The high FODMAP foods that typically cause people the most problems are onion and garlic but other high FODMAP foods include wheat, fruit, cow’s milk, alcohol and fizzy drinks.

Low FODMAP foods, generally considered kinder to the digestive system include lactose-free dairy alternatives, vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and peppers, chicken, beef and pork, tuna or cod and gluten-free carbohydrate alternatives. 

Do You Need to Be on a Low FODMAP Diet?

The low FODMAP diet can be extremely complicated at the start, particularly as some fruits and vegetables are high whereas others are low yet to most of us, there’s no obvious reason why that is. 

The low FODMAP diet is typically recommended to people who suffer from IBS, also known as irritable bowel syndrome. IBS is difficult to diagnose, treat and manage yet as high FODMAP foods irritate and put strain on the digestive system, it is thought that avoiding these foods is one of the best methods for easing and managing symptoms of IBS.

IBS symptoms often mimic those of other digestive conditions such as Coeliac Disease or food allergies/intolerances, so tests for all of these conditions must be done before an official IBS diagnosis can be made. Symptoms of IBS can include abnormal bowel movements, stomach cramping, nausea, headaches and fatigue, however it is essential that anyone with any of these symptoms keeps a food diary and then goes to see their GP.

How Does the Low FODMAP Diet Work?

It is not recommended to start a low FODMAP diet without medical instruction and guidance as it can be even more complicated than it comes across. This diet isn’t just a case of cutting out all high FODMAP foods but it works in stages and to ensure you don’t damage or sensitise your digestive system anymore, it is important you follow the stages, so you aren’t unnecessarily cutting out foods you can actually tolerate.

The FODMAP diet starts by eliminating all high FODMAP foods and seeing if your body sees a change. If it does, over time you can start to reintroduce different high FODMAP foods you don’t believe to cause you an issue, reintroducing one by one, giving each a few days to get into your system and keeping note of the symptoms.

You can continue with this over time until you have a list of foods you know trigger unpleasant symptoms, these being the foods you can choose to permanently avoid.

The FODMAP diet really is a saving grace for some people and if you have been struggling with digestive problems before, during or after weight loss, IBS or another digestive issue may be the cause. Keep a food diary and head to your GP if you suspect you may have a problem! 

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