Bummed out my bloating? Gas got you down? Tummy troubles taking over you life? Wondering what the heck this causing these symptoms? You could be especially sensitive to certain foods called FODMAPS.
Before I get into discussing these mysterious FODMAP creatures, let’s back up a bit and talk about our gut. Our gut or gastrointestinal tract (which includes the small and large intestine) has an important role to play in maintaining health. Our gut is a large and complex organ than contributes to the proper functioning of a healthy immune system as well as supporting a large and diverse community of bacteria. However the primary function of our gut is the digestion and absorption of nutrients from the food we eat.
There are a number of disorders that affect the proper functioning of the gut including celiac disease, inflammatory bowl disease (Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis) and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). IBS is a common functional gastrointestinal disorder affecting as much as one in seven adults! IBS is characterized by GI symptoms that are not exactly explained by other disorders, including:
- low abdominal pain
- excessive gas
- loose stools or constipation
What Triggers IBS?
Recent research investigating diet and IBS symptoms has focused on a large group of dietary sugars called FODMAPS. FODMAPS stand for Fermentable Ogli-saccharides, Disaccharides, Mono-Saccharides and Polyols. These sugars can be poorly absorbed in the small intestine and instead make there way to the large intestine (where food doesn’t belong) and are fermented by bacteria, which produces gas. FODMAPs are osmotic meaning they pull water into the intestinal tract, causing loose stools. Many individuals have trouble absorbing these sugars, however in individuals with IBS, the symptoms are much worse.
Where are FODMAPS Found?
Found in: Fruits such as cherries, apples and watermelon, honey, high-frucose corn syrups (HFCS)
Glucose and sucrose are easily absorbed in the small intestine, although fructose is poorly absorbed.
Found in: Cow, goat and sheep milk, ice cream, soft cheeses (cottage cheese or ricotta), chocolate, sour cream
Individuals with IBS may be able to tolerate low-lactose dairy or lactose-free dairy, including plain yogurt or lactose-free yogurt, goat or feta cheese or cream cheese.
Found in: wheat, rye, onions and garlic
Typically individuals with IBS do better with gluten-free foods. This is not specifically due to the gluten, as gluten is a protein, and FODMAPS are carbohydrates. It just so happens that gluten-containing foods are also high in FODMAPS such as fructans.
Found in: legumes such as chickpeas, beans, black-eyed peas, lentils and soy
Although beans are good for your heart, they do tend to make people with IBS ____.
Found in: sorbitol and mannitol, which are found in some fruits, but also often added as artificial sweeteners. Fruits containing polyols include cherries, apricots, peaches, plums and nectarines.
Say no to that sugar-free diabetic candy – you will get a hearty dose of polyols!
Do I Eliminate FODMAPS Forever?
The FODMAP diet is an elimination diet, which should last about 6 weeks. FODMAP containing foods are then gradually reintroduce into the diet, one at a time, in order to manage symptoms. Following a low FODMAP diet under the advice of an experienced dietitian is vital. The dietitian will ensure your diet remains balanced and nutritionally adequate while following a low FODMAP diet. Make an appointment with Nicole if you would like to learn how to follow a low FODMAP diet and manage your GI symptoms!