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What Are FODMAPs?

Are FODMAPs what’s causing your gas and bloating? Maybe. Maybe not.

There’s a new acronym floating around the health and nutrition landscape. If you’re dealing with digestive issues, such as gas, bloating and diarrhea, it’s likely you’ve crossed paths with FODMAP in your search for relief.

FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides Disaccharides Monosaccharides and Polyols. FODMAPs are a type of carbohydrate found naturally in these types of food:

  • Fruits: Apples, applesauce, apricots, blackberries, boysenberries, cherries, canned fruit, dates, figs, pears, peaches, watermelon
  • Sweeteners: Fructose, honey, high fructose corn syrup, xylitol, mannitol, maltitol, sorbitol
  • Dairy products: Milk (from cows, goats and sheep), ice cream, most yogurts, sour cream, soft and fresh cheeses (cottage, ricotta, etc.), whey protein supplements
  • Vegetables: Artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, beetroot, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, garlic, fennel, leeks, mushrooms, okra, onions, peas, shallots
  • Legumes: Beans, chickpeas, lentils, red kidney beans, baked beans, soybeans
  • Wheat: Bread, pasta, most breakfast cereals, tortillas, waffles, pancakes, crackers, biscuits
  • Other grains: Barley, rye
  • Beverages: Beer, fortified wines, soft drinks with high fructose corn syrup, milk, soy milk, fruit juices

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Infographic with list and icons of foods consider high FODMAP

Should You Avoid FODMAPs?

For most people, eating food high in FODMAPs isn’t a problem. In fact, most foods high in FODMAPs are good for you, and many of them feed the good bacteria in your gut. But some people are sensitive to them, and their body doesn’t digest them well. That means these foods stick around in your digestive tract and ferment, causing gas. FODMAPs also draw water into your digestive tract, which can cause bloating and diarrhea.

Sensitivity can range from mild gas and bloating after finishing off your nightly bowl of chocolate chip ice cream, to consistently dealing with gas, bloating, abdominal pain and diarrhea after eating, symptoms people who are diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) deal with.

Should You Try a Low FODMAP Diet?

If you have digestive discomfort, there’s a good chance a low FODMAP diet will help uncover the source of your digestive problems. The diet works like this: You eliminate high FODMAP foods and switch to eating low FODMAP foods for four to six weeks. Low FODMAP foods include:

  • All meats, fish and eggs, unless they have added high-FODMAP ingredients like wheat or high fructose corn syrup
  • All fats and oils
  • Most herbs and spices
  • Nuts and seeds: Almonds, cashews, peanuts, macadamia nuts, pine nuts, sesame seeds (not pistachios, which are high in FODMAPs)
  • Fruits: Bananas, blueberries, cantaloupe, grapefruit, grapes, kiwi, lemons, lime, mandarins, melons (except watermelon), oranges, passionfruit, raspberries, strawberries
  • Sweeteners: Maple syrup, molasses, stevia, most artificial sweeteners
  • Dairy products: Lactose-free dairy products and hard cheeses (including brie and camembert)
  • Vegetables: Alfalfa, bell peppers, bok choy, carrots, celery, cucumbers, eggplant, ginger, green beans, kale, lettuce, chives, olives, parsnips, potatoes, radishes, spinach, spring onion (only green), squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, turnips, yams, water chestnuts, zucchini
  • Grains: Corn, oats, rice, quinoa, sorghum, tapioca
  • Beverages: Water, coffee, tea

If FODMAPs are at the root of your problems, you should get relief from digestive discomfort within a few days. You gradually reintroduce foods one at a time for a few days at a time, and closely track signs and symptoms of digestive problems. For instance, you may find that you can eat dairy foods with no problems, but when you begin eating foods with wheat, the symptoms flare again.

The low and high FODMAP food lists include many more types of foods that what’s listed here. That’s why it’s important you work with your doctor and a dietitian to develop a low FODMAP diet that still provides the nutrition you need.

Want to talk nutrition with one of our dietitians? Give the McConnell Heart Health Center a call!


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