What are FODMAPs? [Low FODMAP DIET]

What is FODMAP Definition?

FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols

FODMAP is a term coined by researchers at Monash University in Melbourne to describe a group of sugars that can be poorly absorbed, contributing to the onset of symptoms of stomach issues like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

FODMAPs are a class of carbohydrate that some people have trouble digesting. The word “FODMAP” is an acronym for the different sub-classes of carbohydrate included in the designation: Fermentable (which applies to all of them), Oligo-saccharides, Disaccharides, Mono-saccharide and Polyols. Different people have different reactions to the particular sub-classes; some people might digest Disaccharides fine but have trouble with Polyols.

FODMAPs are carbohydrates in foods and drinks that are fermented by bacteria in the colon, because they have ‘escaped’ digestion in the upper gut. The term is made up of the first letter of specific carbohydrates:

  • Fermentable
  • Oligo
  • Disaccharides
  • Monosaccharides
  • And
  • Polyols
what are fodmaps?
what are fodmaps?

WHAT IS THE LOW-FODMAP DIET?

The Low-FODMAP Diet is a program created by researchers at Australia’s Monash University to help people suffering from the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) such as abdominal pain, gas, bloating, constipation and diarrhea.

By eating only foods low in FODMAPs (a type of carbohydrate—see below), some 75% of patients found a huge reduction in their symptoms. It is now considered one of the most effective treatments for IBS symptoms, and it involves no special medications or products, just a careful approach to cooking and eating.

WHAT ARE SOME FOODS THAT CONTAIN FODMAPS?

The list of foods that contain FODMAPs is long, and not always predictable. Broadly, though, it includes vegetables like onions and garlic; fruits like apples, pears, and basically all stone fruits; dairy products that contain lactose (which is not, it should be emphasized, all dairy); legumes like lentils, and gluten grains like wheat and rye.

WHERE CAN I FIND A LIST OF LOW-FODMAP FOODS?

I’ve put together a handy list of high- and low-FODMAP foods here. Monash University also offers a useful app for iPhones, which I’ve found helpful when out shopping and planning meals.

CAN I COOK THE FODMAPS OUT OF MY FOOD?

I wish! Unfortunately it doesn’t quite work that way. Though are some workarounds, such as cooking garlic in oil to imbue it with flavour and then discarding the garlic pieces, there’s no way to get rid of FODMAPs by cooking or heating them.

HOW EASY IT IS TO CUT OUT FODMAPS?

Short answer: easier than it might seem. The Low-FODMAP lifestyle can be intimidating at first. Most people find it hard enough to cut out lactose or gluten grains alone, but both at the same time, as well as a seemingly random assortment of fruits and vegetables? It seems tough, and for the first few weeks it can be. But you’ll soon find your habits changing, and—most importantly—if you indeed have trouble digesting FODMAPs, you’ll (probably) start feeling a lot better.

This blog was started as a resource for people going through that transition. When I started, there were very few resources on the web, or places to find recipes, advice, etc. I’m hoping that by sharing my journey I can make it easier for others on the Low-FODMAP path to feeling better.

DO I NEED TO STOP EATING ALL FODMAPS FOR LIFE?

Definitely not. Researchers recommend that you gradually re-introduce individual categories of FODMAP foods after about 6 weeks. Some FODMAPs are prebiotics, meaning that they help foster healthy bacteria in your gut—the stuff you need!

After the re-introduction period, you may not end up being able to eat everything you enjoyed before, but more likely than not, you will go back to consuming some. For more information, check out this great post on Monash’s blog.

IS THE LOW-FODMAP DIET THE SAME AS GLUTEN-FREE DIETS?

There is definitely some overlap, but they are not the same. For one, you’re cutting out a lot more than just gluten, which is definitely more difficult, but on the other hand, you don’t have to be as strict about it. Remember, this is a LOW-FODMAP plan, not a NO-FODMAP lifestyle. You can consume a little—soy sauce, for instance, is fine—and not need to be as strict as people on the gluten-free lifestyle.

Please note, though, that Low-FODMAP eating is not appropriate for celiac disease sufferers, who must completely exclude gluten grains. If you have celiac disease, do NOT attempt this. And if you have any doubt at all, make sure you check with a qualified physician beforehand.

What are FODMAPs?

FODMAPs is a term used to describe the variety of short-chain carbohydrates that are found in many common foods. FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligo-, Di- and Mono-saccharides, and Polyols. I think you’ll agree, FODMAP is much catchier!

It is believed that FODMAPs cause problems for people with IBS and other gastro-intestinal issues, like bloating, gas, stomach cramps, diarrhoea and constipation. Therefore, if you suffer from these symptoms, eliminating foods which contain FODMAPs in high levels could be beneficial. However, there are still ongoing studies looking at the accuracy of the FODMAP diet in terms of its effectiveness for IBS sufferers.

FODMAPs are divided into the following 5 groups:

  • Fructose
  • Lactose
  • Fructans
  • Galactans
  • Polyols

A detailed list of foods that contains these FODMAPs can be found below.


High FODMAP Foods

High in Fructose

Fruit:
Apple
Mango
Pear
Watermelon
Tinned fruit
Fruit in large quantities
Dried fruit (some, like raisins, are ok for some)
Fruit juice

Sweeteners:
Honey
Corn Syrup and High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCP)


High in Lactose

Milk Products:
Milk from cows
Milk from goats
Cream
Custard
Ice cream
Yoghurt

Soft Unripened Cheeses:
Cottage cheese
Cream cheese
Mascarpone
Ricotta


High in Fructans

Vegetables:
Artichoke
Asparagus
Beetroot
Broccoli (ok for some people)
Brussel sprouts
Cabbage
Egg plant
Fennel
Garlic
Leek
Okra
Onion
Shallots
Spring Onion

Cereals:
Wheat & Rye e.g. pasta, bread, cakes, biscuits etc.

Fruit:
Persimmon
Watermelon

Others:
Chicory
Dandelion
Inulin
Pistachio


High in Galactans

Legumes:
Baked beans
Chickpeas
Kidney beans
Lentils
Soy beans


High in Polyols

Fruit:
Apples
Apricot
Avocado
Blackberry
Cherry
Lychee
Nectarine
Peach
Pear
Plum
Prune
Watermelon

Vegetables:
Cauliflower
Green pepper
Mushrooms
Sweetcorn

Sweeteners:
Sorbitol (420)
Mannitol (421)
Isomalt (953)
Maltitol (965)
Xylitol (967)

Below is a list of low-FODMAP foods suitable for the low-FODMAP diet.


Low-FODMAP Foods

Low-FODMAP Fruits

Banana
Blueberries
Boysenberry
Cantaloupe
Star fruit
Cranberry
Durian
Grapes
Grapefruit
Honeydew melon
Kiwi
Lemon
Lime
Mandarin
Orange
Passion fruit
Paw paw
Pineapple
Raspberry
Rhubarb
Strawberry
Tangelo

Alternatives to Wheat

Rice
Corn (not ok for some)
Potato
Amaranth
Tapioca
Quinoa
Millet
Sorgum
Spelt
Buckwheat
Arrowroot
Sago

Alternatives to Lactose

Butter
Hard cheese, like parmesan
Brie
Camembert
Lactose-free products
Gelato
Rice milk
Sorbet

Low-FODMAP Vegetables

Alfalfa
Aubergine*
Bamboo shoots
Bean shoots
Bok choy
Broccoli*
Capsicum
Carrot
Celery
Chives
Choy sum
Courgette*
Corn*
Cucumber
Endive
Eggplant*
Ginger
Green beans
Lettuce*
Marrow
Olives
Parsnip
Parsley
Peppers (Not green)
Potato
Pumpkin
Silverbeet
Spring onion (green part only)
Spinach
Squash*
Swede
Sweet potato
Taro
Tomato (not concentrated e.g. tomato paste not ok)
Turnip
Yam
Zucchini*

Alternative Sweeteners

Sweeteners that do not end in -ol
Glucose
Golden Syrup
Maple syrup
Sugar
Treacle

Notes on Fruit

  • It is best to buy organic fruit and veg wherever possible.
  • Some people are ok with dried fruits and others are not, so please test.
  • Limit your intake of the above fruits to one serving per meal. e.g. one whole banana or orange or small handful of berries.
  • Juice should only be drunk in small quantities e.g. a third to half a glass.

Notes on Veg

  • The starred (*) items may not be ok for some people. Please test in small quantities.
  • There is undeclared onion hidden in many processed foods including sauces, marinades, dehydrated vegetables, stocks, gravies and soups.
  • Onion is one of the biggest contributors to IBS. Complete avoidance is recommended.

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Hello I am the LowFodMap Guy from London.As a fellow sufferer of both IBS / SIBO - I have been in successful recovery thanks to the low fodmap diet.Please ask me any questions below

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