Thursday, April 9, 2015

What are FODMAPS!?

This is part of a series. If you have not read "My IBS Story" please read that first, as this will make a lot more sense.

So What Exactly are FODMAPS you ask? The word "FODMAP" is an acronym deriving from "Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-Sacchrides And Polyols". These are all short chain carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine. These include short chain carbs such as (Oligo-) saccharide polymers of fructose (Fructans) and Glactose (Glactans), Disaccharides (Lactose), Monosaccharides (Fructose), and sugar alcohols (Polyols) Such as Sorbitol, Mannitol, Xylitol and Maltitol.

All of these short chain carbs are commonly found in the modern western diet. The  elimination/restriction of these FODMAPS from the diet has been found to have a beneficial effect on symptom control in people suffering from IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and many other Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (FGID). This diet was founded by the Monash University in Australia.

Poor absorption of these 5 short chain carbs are common, even in healthy individuals. However most individuals that do not have an FGID will not suffer any significant symptoms. Here is how it takes place. Your small intestine is where just about all of your digestive enzymes are located. Any FODMAPS that are not absorbed in the small intestine will then pass into the large intestine, where bacteria ferments them, causing gas, bloating, diarrhea and cramping. The main reason for this is due to the osmotic effect, which draws water into your stomach to push out the remaining FODMAPS as your large intestine cant digest or break the short chain carbs down. This effect results in all the symptoms above.

The reason that I like this diet is for 1- it actually works, and for 2- its not a fad or a one size fits all diet. Everyone will be intolerant to different FODMAPS and to different levels. This is where the classic IBS question comes from. "I don't understand what is going on. How come I can eat this sometimes without any symptoms, and other times while eating the same foods I get so sick?".

Remember, FODMAPS are cumulative. What that means is that they often build up due to lack of absorption. Think of your stomach as a bucket. If you put a little bit of water in it, your totally fine. Once it is filled to the brim it will leak over. That is pretty much what is happening with FODMAPS. You may be able to tolerate one serving of something a few times a day, but if you were to eat each FODMAP at the same time or for days in a row, you will overflow your bucket, hence causing you symptoms.

Above, I gave you some pretty big words to digest (No pun intended LOL). If you are like me, after reading about the short chain carbs, you were probably still pretty confused as to what that means, as well as what foods you should be avoiding and or eating, how to start this diet and for how long. Don't worry.. I will break all that down for you below.

First thing I want to make you aware of is.. THIS IS NOT A LONG TERM DIET! If you end up needing this diet for a long period of time or have other health conditions, I would consult your doctor and or nutritionist. This diet over a long period of time could in fact cause some malnutrition. A lot of people do contact a nutritionist either way, as this diet has a lot of dynamics. If you have a lot of will power and are mostly healthy other than IBS or FGID, you will probably be ok trying this yourself.

The first part is the elimination of ALL FODMAPS. If you search this diet on the internet you will find VERY conflicting information regarding the time limits as well as the foods that are allowed. Usually the elimination diet portion will last anywhere from 2-6 weeks. Rule of thumb is that you will want all of your symptoms under control before you start adding any FODMAPS back into your diet. I personally choose to do this part for 3 weeks. It seemed like a middle ground. I started to feel better in just 48hrs of eliminating FODMAPS from my diet. That gave me a lot of hope and convinced me not to cheat. The first three weeks were really hard for me, because I am a very picky eater and don't like eating the same few things all the time.

Lets talk about what kind of foods are considered high FODMAPS.

Sources of fructans include wheat, rye, barley, onion, garlic, artichoke, asparagus, beetroot, chicory, dandelion leafs, leeks, radicchio, the white part of spring onions, brussel sprouts, cabbage, fennel, chocolate, and prebiotics such as fructooligosaccharides (FOS), Oligofructose and inulin.

Sources of galactans are mainly beans and Pulses. This includes ALL beans and products made from Soy Bean. (Soy bean oil, and Soy protein are okay)

 Sources of Polyols are found naturally in some fruits (particularly stone fruits). They are also used as bulk sweeteners and include isomalt, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol and xylitol. Pretty much anything ending in "ITOL" stay away from.

Fruits (particularly stone fruits) including apples, apricots, avocados, blackberries, cherries, lychees, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums, prunes, watermelon and some vegetables, including cauliflower, mushrooms, and mange-tout peas. It is also found in honey some breads, and just about ALL junk food and soda contain Fructose or High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). HFCS is a good thing to stay away from FOREVER if possible. It does nothing good for the body and will keep you away from junk food.

Milk, yogurt, soft cheeses, sour cream, milk chocolate, ice cream, and really anything that has dairy in it.
These are of course just a small amount of these foods. I would get all of your information from Monash as they are always actively testing new foods and adding them as acceptable or non-acceptable foods. After you have finished your elimination diet, you will start to put one of these sort chain carbs back in at a time. Done get to excited... Once you test it, you have to take it back out, eliminate for about 3 days again, and then you can put the next one in. This diet will take about 2 months to complete.

Don't get discouraged by the list of things that you CANT eat. Just remember.. This is only temporary, and if you are like me and have had enough of your of your symptoms, this diet will be well worth it. Stay tuned to my "FODMAP" Series to follow my challenges.

Follow me on bloglovin or google+ to follow along with this series.

Comment below and let me know if you have ever tried FODMAPS or if you decide to try it let me know how its going.

How did your challenges go? What did you find out you had intolerances too?



  1. This is such a well written, informative post! Good job!


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