Part 1: IBS Series – What are FODMAPs?
Exploring FODMAP for Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Part 1 of a 4 part series to get to the root of your digestive woes and explore the role of a low FODMAP diet in managing Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Confused about the FODMAP diet for IBS? This article breaks down what FODMAPs are and why they may be important to consider in your digestive health journey!
FODMAPs – an acronym you’ve likely heard thrown around on social media, perhaps discussed in your doctor’s office, or even something you’ve heard friends or family members talking about in relation to their digestive health. Perhaps you struggle with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and have been told that eating low FODMAP might be right for you, but you’re overwhelmed with all of the information out there.
Have no fear – this blog series is for you! In the upcoming articles, we’ll dive into the nitty gritty of what the heck FODMAPs are, the role of FODMAP for IBS management, how to complete a 3-phased FODMAP Protocol, and more when it comes to solving your digestive health woes.
An Intro to FODMAPs
What are FODMAPs?
First and foremost, FODMAPs is an acronym that stands for:
These are scientific terms describing different types of short-chain carbohydrates (sugars) that behave in various ways in the intestine. These carbohydrates are smaller in size and poorly absorbed or not absorbed at all in the gut, which results in more water being drawn into the intestine. These components are also readily fermented by the bacteria living in our large intestine, which leads to the production of gas. As a result of these actions on the intestines, we see a stretching and expanding of the intestinal wall, which stimulates the nerves of the gut. For a video depiction of this, click HERE. In healthy individuals, FODMAP foods can cause normal changes in the gut, for example some bloating and gas that is a normal part of digestion. However, for people with hyper-sensitive guts or disturbances in gut motility (i.e. those with IBS), FODMAP foods higher in FODMAPs can lead to painful episodes of bloating and abdominal pain.
What foods are high in FODMAPs?
FODMAPs are found in a variety of foods, including produce, grains and cereals, nuts, legumes, lentils, dairy products and a variety of processed foods. This can make following a low FODMAP diet tricky, as you can’t intuitively tell which foods will be high or low in FODMAPs. Additionally, FODMAP amounts can vary based on the type of food, the serving size of the food, and the combination of various FODMAP containing foods consumed in one sitting. If you’re looking for more resources and support on creating a low FODMAP plan for your unique food preferences and eating style, I highly recommend working with a digestive health dietitian who can tailor things for you!
The best up-to-date resource for determining the FODMAP composition of a food and the right serving size is the Monash University FODMAP App, as it is constantly being updated based on the ongoing research being conducted.
In general, below is a list of each of the 6 FODMAP categories and some foods that are high in these types of FODMAP:
- Fructose: this is a sugar found in many fruits, honey, and high fructose corn syrup. Food examples include most fruit juices, apples, mango, honey, and agave syrup.
- Lactose: this is the main sugar found in milk and other dairy products including yogurt and ice cream. Note that some dairy products such as hard cheeses are naturally lower in lactose and thus are considered low FODMAP.
- Mannitol & Sorbitol: these are both types of naturally occurring sugar alcohols that are commonly found in fruits and vegetables such as avocado, blackberries, cauliflower, and mushrooms.
- Fructans: found primarily in wheat products, fructans can also be found in many vegetables (most notably garlic and onion), as well as some food additives, such as inulin. Food sources include wheat, rye, barley, garlic and onions.
- Galacto-oligosaccharides: also called galactans or abbreviated to GOS, these FODMAPs are often found in legumes and beans. Food sources include kidney beans, chickpeas (in larger servings), and baked beans.
Why should I care about FODMAPs?
For individuals struggling with IBS, manipulating the FODMAP content of their diet through a 3-phased FODMAP protocol can be one possible therapeutic strategy to identify food triggers and bring symptom relief. Having more clarity on foods that are triggers can help to reduce fear and anxiety around food, and empower you to make the best choices for your health and nutrition.
Research is also ongoing regarding the role of a low FODMAP diet as an adjunct therapy in other conditions such as endometriosis and IBD, as a short-term intervention for mothers with infants with colic (very preliminary research here!), and as a potential strategy in the role of reducing gas and bloating in individuals with SIBO (although again, more research and clearer diagnostic criteria needed here!).
Navigating digestive woes can be challenging, and you don’t have to do it alone! Reach out and book an appointment with one of our digestive health dietitians. We’d be happy to tailor a plan that works for your unique needs to help make food feel good again!
Do you have specific questions regarding your diet and your health? Are you living with IBS or another chronic disease and want advice on how to build and maintain a balanced diet?
Contact our team of IBS Dietitians to get your questions answered!
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Disordered eating, intuitive eating, mental health, digestive health, emotional eating, chronic disease
One of the first things you’ll notice about Britney is her energy, zest for life and love of food! Britney is passionate about supporting her clients in developing a healthy and satisfying relationship with food and their bodies, allowing them to live life to the fullest. Britney specializes in disordered eating, intuitive eating, mental health, digestive health, emotional eating, and chronic disease.