What is FODMAP ?
FODMAP is a term usually used for certain sugars (7) present in certain kind of foods which can cause indigestion and irritable bowel syndrome.
FODMAP is a heterogeneous group of highly fermentable but poorly absorbed carbohydrates and polyols. FODMAPs are widespread in the diet and comprise a monosaccharide (fructose), a disaccharide (lactose), oligosaccharides (fructans and galactans), and polyols. Polyols are dietary sugar alcohols which includes tens of compounds used widely and unpredictably by the food industry as thickeners and sweeteners.
The acronym FODMAP was first coined in 2005 at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia when a new hypothesis is proposed, by which excessive delivery of FODMAPs to the gut was linked to development of Crohn’s disease and other type of gastric problems.(1)
Soon after, the Australian group focused on the use of a low-FODMAP diet in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Foods high in FODMAP ?
- Wheat : wheat is one of the single biggest contributors of FODMAPs in the Western diet (3) It has been proposed that FODMAPs like fructan ( not necessarily gluten) reach the large intestine undigested, where they’r fermented by bacteria in the gut. That process produces gas and can lead to discomfort for some people — particularly in those with the chronic gut disorders. Wheat and other gluten-containing grains (like rye, barley, wheat) also contained high levels of fructans.
- Dairy food : The main FODMAP present in dairy foods is lactose. Dairy foods that are high in lactose include soft cheeses, milk and yogurt.
- Meat : High FODMAP options include marinated meats, processed meats (e.g. sausage / salami) and meats served with gravy/sauces that may include high FODMAP ingredients.
- Sugar and sweetners: (7) High FODMAP sugars include honey, high fructose corn syrup and sugar-free confectionery.
- Vegetables: The main FODMAPs present in vegetables are fructans and mannitol. Vegetables particularly rich in fructans include artichoke, garlic, leek, onion and spring onion. Vegetables particularly rich in mannitol include mushrooms, cauliflower and snow peas.
- Fruits : The main FODMAPs present in fruit are sorbitol and excess fructose. Fruits particularly high in excess fructose include apples, pears, mangoes, cherries, figs, nashi pears, pears, watermelon and dried fruit. (4)
- Legumes and pulses : The main FODMAP present in legumes and pulses is GOS. Legumes and pulses particularly high in GOS include red kidney beans, split peas, falafels and baked beans.
- Nuts: The main FODMAPs present in nuts are GOS and fructans. High FODMAP nuts include cashews and pistachios.
- Beverages: Chai tea, chamomile tea, coconut water, dessert wine and rum are high in FODMAP (5)
With the Monash University FODMAP Diet app you’ll have easy access to recommendations about the foods you should eat and those you should avoid at every meal.
How does the low FODMAP diet work?
Low FODMAP is a three-step elimination diet:
- First, you stop eating certain foods which are high in FODMAP foods.
- Next, you slowly reintroduce them to see if your symptoms return.(6)
- Once you identify the foods that cause symptoms, you can avoid or limit them in your diet.
Low-FODMAP diet is a very restrictive diet which carries risks of nutritional inadequacy and of fostering disordered eating. Strict FODMAP restriction also might induce a potentially unfavorable gut bacteria. Studies of the low-FODMAP diet are few but do suggest benefit. However, such a strategy should be implemented with care due to the psychological and nutritional risks of a restrictive diet.