The Lowdown on the Low FODMAP Diet
The low FODMAP diet has been getting a lot of attention these days, but don’t worry - it’s not just another fad diet! The low FODMAP diet was created by Monash University, and has been shown to reduce gastrointestinal symptoms in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). IBS can cause a variety of symptoms that affect quality of life, including bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and constipation. The low FODMAP diet involves a phase of eliminating high FODMAP foods, followed by a reintroduction phase for IBS sufferers to identify any potential dietary triggers for their symptoms. Because IBS is so individualized (everyone’s symptoms are different!), the low FODMAP diet is also highly individualized. It can get pretty confusing, so before starting the low FODMAP diet, seek advice from a Registered Dietitian or physician who specializes in gut health.
What are FODMAPS?
FODMAPs stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. Now the real question is, what do those mean?! Oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols are types of carbohydrates that are found in a variety of different foods and they are highly fermentable. This fermentation process is a normal, healthy part of digestion. However, someone with IBS can experience unpleasant symptoms as a result from the fermentation process, including bloating, abdominal pain, gas, diarrhea, and/or constipation.
Examples of low and high FODMAP foods
For a full database of low and high FODMAP foods, go to https://www.monashfodmap.com/
FODMAP containing foods are categorized into fructans/galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS), lactose, excess fructose, and polyols. To make it more confusing, some foods can be high in more than one type of FODMAP, and portion sizes matter! A food can be low-FODMAP with a small serving size, but be high-FODMAP with a larger portion. Here are some examples of low and high FODMAP foods.
Fructans & Galacto-Oligosaccharides
High: Wheat, barley, rye, onions, garlic, ripe bananas, dates, beans, cashews, dates
Low: Sourdough bread, blueberries, cantaloupe, grapes, lemons, pineapple, almonds
High: Milk, yogurt
Low: Lactose free milks, most cheeses
High: Honey, high fructose corn syrup
Low: Carrots, green beans, spinach, potatoes, sweet potato
High: Sugar alcohols, sugar free gum, cauliflower, apricots
Low: Maple syrup, white & brown sugar
Note: please check the Monash website or app for more information about portion sizes.
Do I need to follow this diet?
This diet is for people who have been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome. There is no evidenced benefit to following this diet if you do not have IBS. Before being diagnosed with IBS, your healthcare professional should rule out other conditions, such as celiac disease or inflammatory bowel disease. After you have been diagnosed with IBS, your registered dietitian or physician can walk you through the elimination phase, reintroduction phase, and maintenance phase. Remember, this diet is highly individualized, so someone else’s low FODMAP diet may not be the same as your low FODMAP diet!
The information provided is strictly for informational purposes, and not intended to provide medical advice or to diagnose or treat medical conditions. Please seek advice from your physician or registered dietitian if you would like to know more about the low FODMAP diet.
The Low FODMAP Diet. Monash University. https://www.monashfodmap.com/
When a Registered Dietitian Becomes the Patient: Translating the Science of the Low FODMAP Diet to Daily Living. Carol Rees Parrish, M.S., R.D.. Nutrition Issues in Gastroenterology. https://med.virginia.edu/ginutrition/wp-content/uploads/sites/199/2018/05/Low-FODMAP-Diet-May-18.pdf