FODMAP is a peculiar acronym that very few of us know about but have the potential to affect us on an everyday basis (if we have a sensitivity) without us having any idea.
FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols and they are short chain carbohydrates (sugars) that are present in some foods. These sugars can cause digestive issues in those with IBS; irritable bowel syndrome or SIBO; small intestinal bacterial overgrowth and it is often confused with gluten sensitivity. In these cases, it is recommended that they go on a temporary low FODMAP diet to figure out which foods in particular cause your system the most distress.
The Low FODMAP Diet UK
The symptoms caused by these FODMAPs in those with IBS and SIBO includes cramping, diarrhea, constipation, bloating and gas, which makes it hard to function on an everyday basis.
What Foods Are High In FODMAP
As an overview some foods that are particularly high in FODMAPs include some dairy like ice cream and milk, wheat, beans, lentils, vegetables such as onions, garlic, and artichokes, sweeteners like xylitol and high fructose corn syrup and fruits like apples, pears and peaches. FODMAPs can be found in many foods but let’s get a little more in depth and have a look at some foods in particular.
Out of all the high FODMAP foods wheat is by far the biggest contributor to digestive issues not because it is highly concentrated but because of the volume we tend to eat on an everyday basis. But you don’t have to put away your toaster on this diet. Check out our gluten free bread recipe and focus on these FODMAP alternatives …
Wheat based ingredients can be replaced by whole grains like brown rice, maize and oats that are also generally a healthier option anyway. The fact that wheat contains FODMAPs is the main reason why sensitivity to them is often misdiagnosed as gluten sensitivity. Eating a gluten free diet will lower your exposure to wheat based FODMAPs and therefore appear to be a treatment for your symptoms however it will not cancel out your exposure to them because they are present in other foods, which is why a temporary low FODMAP diet might be more beneficial.
This aromatic staple is by far the ingredient with the highest concentration of FODMAPs due to a particular protein called fructan. It is one that is particularly challenging to cut out because it is so widely used especially in processed foods when it is often used dried as a flavouring. In its dry form it contains three times as many fructans as its fresh counterparts, so it is even more potent in these dishes. Garlic can be substituted with other ingredients that have an aromatic presence such as chives, garlic, and mustard seeds.
Technically all fruits contain FODMAPs because they all contain the sugar fructose, which is a very common FODMAP. However not all fruits are considered high FODMAP foods because their fructose levels vary. Another sugar that is found in fruit is glucose, which is a non-FODMAP sugar that assists the body in absorbing fructose. Due to this fact as long as a fruit is high in both fructose and glucose, or the glucose outweighs the fructose then then it is considered low FODMAP. However even low FODMAP fruits, when eaten in large quantities, can cause digestive issues so it is recommended that those with a sensitivity eat only one portion of fruit in one sitting. Some low FODMAP fruits include blueberries, papaya and rhubarb.
This is the category of foods that contain the most diverse range of FODMAPs and several vegetables contain many variations of these proteins rather that just one. However since vegetables are essential part of any healthy diet its important to directly substitute the high FODMAPs with low FODMAP alternatives to help maintain a balanced diet. Eggplants, capsicum and spinach are an example of a few low FODMAP vegetables.
These are very high in FODMAPS but the level of these proteins found in them varies depending on the variation with shallots being the highest in concentration. This is another one that is very hard to avoid as it is used all over the world as a base to many dishes. Although they are completely unique, they can be substituted in flavour with the Indian spice asafetida.
What Does A Low FODMAP Diet Entail
Basically, this diet involves completely eliminating high FODMAP foods and only eating low FODMAP foods for a particular window of time. Some low FODMAP foods include eggs, meat, certain cheeses like cheddar and brie, some plant-based milks like almond and oat milk, grains like oats and rice, veggies like potatoes and cucumber and fruit like strawberries, pineapple and oranges.
This very restrictive diet is a temporary diagnostic tool that allows a patient to determine which high FODMAP foods are affecting them specifically so they can eliminate them from their diet. Since this diet is so restrictive it should always be done under the supervision of a doctor and should never be used as a weight loss tool.
The diet works on a three-step process:
- Cut all high FODMAP foods out of your diet completely. This should only be done for 2 to 6 weeks.
- Every 3 days slowly reintroduce high FODMAP foods into your diet and monitor which seem to be affecting your digestion.
- Avoid or limit specific foods from your diet completely that you have identified that you are sensitive to.
Low FODMAP Diet UK: Summing Up
Which foods have the greatest effect on the body changes from person to person as we are not all built the same way so this process of elimination is important so you can tailor your diet to fit you. This quick diet has proven to be effective in reducing symptoms in up to 86% of people who tried it. If you suffer from digestive issues or have IBS or SIBO and are looking for relief consult your doctor about the possibility of trying a low FODMAP diet.