Abdominal bloating not only looks bad but can also cause physical discomfort. … Michael Jensen, MD, an endocrinologist and obesity researcher at Mayo Clinic, says unless your stomach bloating is caused by a medical condition such as liver or heart disease, the only real cause is intestinal gas – not “water weight.” – source
Digestive issues are incredibly common. Not surprisingly, the stuff we put in our bellies can have a major effect on what goes on in there. This brings us to the topic at hand, FODMAPs. These are tiny carbohydrates found in certain foods, including wheat and beans.
Studies show strong links between FODMAPs and digestive symptoms like gas, bloating, stomach pain, diarrhea and constipation.
For most people, including the ‘experts’, healthy food means fruit, vegetables, beans and whole grains. All three of those can be problematic for those with an intolerance to any or all of the FODMAPs. All fruits and vegetables contain fructose and many contain fructans and polyols, which can cause us folk problems. Some are lower in these substances than others and so can be tolerated in small helpings. Whole grains, in particular wheat, rye and barley, are high in fructans while beans contain fructans and GOS (galacto-oligosaccharides) – these are not at all good for us.
Low-FODMAP diets can provide remarkable benefits for people with common digestive disorders.
FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, And Polyols. These are all types of carbohydrates found in many different types of fruits, vegetables and grains. The most common Paleo foods high in FODMAPs are:
- Fruits: apples, avocados, cherries, mangos, peaches, pears, watermelons, fruit juice and dried fruit
- Vegetables: onions, garlic, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, artichoke, mushrooms, cauliflower
- Dairy products: milk, yogurt, soft cheeses
- Other: sugar alcohols (any sweetener that ends in –ol), honey, agave
This isn’t a complete list (a full list of FODMAPs commonly eaten on Paleo is here), but it does give you an idea of what kinds of foods contain FODMAPs, especially the variety of fruits and vegetables that can be problematic. Other foods, like beans, wheat, and rye, also contain high levels of FODMAPs, but since these foods are also harmful in so many other ways, they aren’t a good idea for anyone to eat, FODMAPs-sensitive or not.
Because they’re so difficult to digest and absorb, FODMAPs are strongly correlated with symptoms of all kinds of functional gastrointestinal disorders (digestive problems that aren’t caused by a physical abnormality, like IBS). In one study, a FODMAPs-restricted diet showed a 75% success rate for treating patients with IBS – the FODMAPs didn’t cause IBS to develop, but removing them from the diet was very helpful in controlling symptoms. This makes FODMAPs prime suspects for inexplicable digestive symptoms on a strict Paleo diet: not only are they very common in the diet, but restricting them also has a high likelihood of doing some good.
FODMAPs and Digestion
One of the reasons all these different types of carbohydrates are so irritating is that they aren’t completely digested by the time they reach the large intestine. Chemically, anything you eat is broken down by one or more enzymes: these are chemicals that digest foods into energy that your cells can actually use. The main enzyme responsible for carbohydrate digestion is amylase, which is first produced in your mouth as you chew, and continues to work on the carbohydrates as they travel through the digestive system. As the carbohydrates travel from your mouth through your stomach and into the gut, amylase breaks them down into their individual sugars. Then, the cells lining your gut can absorb them and distribute them to other parts of your body for energy.
Your digestive system rules your life
Of course, this rules your life. I have always wondered what it would be like to not have to constantly think about this issue and how it would impact on each of my decisions in life. I know now because I have it under control – finally. I seldom worry about toilets any longer but must always be aware of what goes into my mouth. If I suffer or not is now up to me. Not to fate.
Avoiding Carbs Called “FODMAPs”
Giving Foods Another Chance
Once your tummy calms down, you can bring back foods one at a time at a rate of one item per week. You might discover that you’re only sensitive to one or two FODMAP carbs, not all of them.
For instance, maybe dairy is a problem, but grains are OK for you. Or maybe you have trouble digesting high-FODMAP fruits or vegetables, but nothing else is a problem.
The goal is to figure out what foods trigger your digestive problems and create a diet that gives you all the nutrients you need but only includes the FODMAPs you can handle.
Help solve IBS
IBS by the low Fodmap diet and a bunch of changes I have made to my lifestyle. I am so stoked at this radical change in my life after having had IBS forever
The gluten free diet is very helpful for suffers of IBS with celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity and wheat allergy. You will find there is a bit of a cross over with the gluten free diet and the FODMAP diet as many gluten free foods are useful when doing the restrictive FODMAP diet. If you have had a diagnosis of having coeliac disease or have found you have a sensitivity or allergic reactions to gluten or wheat then it is advisable to follow a gluten free diet.
Low FODMAP Diet Plan
It is recommended by Monash University that you follow the typical FODMAP diet plan. The plan is to eliminate or reduce all sources of FODMAPs as best you can for 6 – 8 weeks and then slowly add high FODMAP foods one at a time to help you identify any food that triggers your symptoms. Be sure to use a food and symptom diary to help you keep track of what foods may be causing any symptoms.
Gluten Containing Foods – foods to avoid
- Cereals (except a few from the good list below)
- Chocolate bars
- Corned beef
- Malt beverages e.g. whiskey
- Malt vinegar
- Monosodium glutamate
- Sauces – many have wheat as a thickener
- Soups – many have wheat as a thickener
- Wheat flour
Trawling the Supermarket
When you go to the supermarket you will need to be constantly checking the ingredients on food items. Any items with onion or garlic products you will need to leave behind as they can be big contributors to feeling unwell. Another easy thing to check is any items with wheat – often companies list allergy advice and specify if there is any gluten present. Head for the free from food aisle if your supermarket has one as that helps a great deal and buy lots of gluten free bread and other gluten free items. In the free from aisle be sure to avoid any foods with soya in them as they are quite a common dairy free product. Be wary of seemingly safe items such as chicken stock cubes as they often have gluten and/or onion and/or garlic.
Breakfasts can be gluten free porridge, gluten free bread toasted with a serving of low FODMAP fruit. Or perhaps rice crispies with chocolate oat milk which makes a very tasty cocopops substitute.
For lunches I tend to make gluten free bread sandwiches with sandwich meat (be sure there’s no gluten or onion!), lettuce, mayo (check the label, some mayonnaise is not suitable) and sometimes I put tortilla chips in them. Yum.
Dinners can be a variety of things from stir-frys to rice dishes like risotto. Jacket potatos with butter served with a nice steak goes down lovely. Drinks don’t just have to be water, you are allowed the odd beer or wine and also any of the “full fat” soda drinks like coca-cola and pepsi are OK (assuming they do not contain HFCS like they do not here in the UK) in small dosages.
Take Home Message
It’s important to keep in mind that FODMAPs aren’t “bad.”
Many of the foods that contain FODMAPs are considered very healthy.
People who aren’t FODMAP intolerant should NOT go on a low-FODMAP diet. That is absolutely pointless, and may even be detrimental.
For some people, FODMAPs are a clean source of energy, or may function like other prebiotic fibers, helping to support the friendly bacteria in the gut.
However, in people who truly have FODMAP intolerance, they feed the wrong type of bacteria and help them cause all sorts of symptoms.
If you have digestive issues that are causing problems in your life, FODMAPs should be on your list of top suspects.
Although a low-FODMAP diet may not eliminate all digestive problems, the chances are very high that it can lead to significant benefit.
You can get a full list of FODMAPs here
For more information click here
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