What is the low FODMAPs diet and should you be on it? Firstly it’s important to know what FODMAPs is and what it means – Fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. So you can see why it’s commonly referred to as FODMAPs!
The FODMAP concept was first hypothesised in the Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics Journal in 2005 with the low FODMAP diet being developed at Monash University in Melbourne.
Put simply the Low FODMAP diet targets natural carbohydrates (sugars) in foods that don’t break down easily, causing fermentation in the gastrointestinal system. Fermentation is the chemical breakdown of a substance by bacteria, yeasts, or other microorganisms. This fermentation in the gut creates unpleasant symptoms such as smelly gas, bloating, and abdominal pain. So where are the FODMAPs hiding in our food?
Oligosaccharides are found in certain plants such as artichokes, burdock, chicory, leeks, onions, and asparagus.
Three common disaccharides are sucrose, lactose and maltose and which include sugar cane, milk products and barley, wheat and rye.
Monosaccharides are found foods containing fructose (fruit sugars), glucose (carbohydrate sugars used in the body for energy production) and galactose (found in mammal milk). Examples of these are honey, apples or high fructose corn syrups.
Polyols are sugar alcohols which are commonly added to foods because of their lower caloric content than refined sugars. Maltitol, sorbitol, xylitol, and erythritol are some of the more common types.
The aim of the low FODMAP protocol is to identify triggering foods for the individual symptoms. FODMAPs is commonly recommended to those suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) with studies showing the low FODMAPs diet to reduce IBS symptoms by up to 70%.
If you are suffering from unpleasant gut problems or digestive complaints firstly speak to your GP to rule out any major gastrointestinal conditions. It is not recommended to start the low FODMAP diet on your own as there is more to this diet than just excluding certain types of foods. It is a challenging and stressful dietary protocol and ensuring you are following the elimination and reintroduction of food correctly is key to achieving effective results. It is also not ideal to be on the low FODMAP diet long term as, like any diet, it can be nutritionally imbalanced. Seek support from a nutritionist or naturopath trained in identifying food intolerances and supporting holistic gut health before making any changes to your diet.
Optimal gut health is a challenging goal to accomplish and speaking to your nutritionist or naturopath about the ideal goals for you is most important. If you want to begin your gut health journey, a great place to start is by eliminating refined sugars. Processed sugar is highly inflammatory and is often the cause behind major health conditions in the western diet.
Not sure where to start with good gut health? Read What’s the difference between prebiotics and probiotics.