Mature woman holding hot water bottle over her stomach

The FODMAP Diet and IBS

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. This site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you can read the post here.


When I first saw the word FODMAP a few years ago I thought it was a misspelling of the word foodmap. Even with that misinterpretation, I had no idea what foodmap meant, either. Then I started to see a lot more mentions of FODMAP and realized it wasn’t a typo. There was a food story here and I was prepared to follow its trail to see where it took me, map or no map.

If you like culinary excursions, this is a journey worth knowing about.

What is FODMAP?

This string of letters is an acronym for the words Fermentable Oligosaccharides Disaccharides Monosaccharides And Polyols. They represent specific types of sugars and carbohydrates commonly found in foods.

Why are FODMAPs getting attention?

Some people have difficulty digesting or absorbing these substances, which can lead to gastrointestinal (GI) problems when they pass into the large intestines and are fermented by the bacteria normally found there. This fermentation can cause gas, bloating, cramping, diarrhea and other gastrointestinal distress.

Which sugars and carbohydrates are FODMAPs?

The oligosaccharides include carbohydrates classified as fructans and galactans. Fructans are found in a variety of vegetables, cereal grains including wheat and rye, and the soluble fiber called inulin. Galactans can be found in canned beans such as baked beans and kidney beans, plus dried beans, peas and lentils. The main disaccharide on the list is lactose. It is found primarily in milk products from cows, goats and sheep and is used as an additive in other foods.

Fructose is the main monosaccharide identified in FODMAPs. It is naturally found in honey and most fruits, especially dried and canned fruits and fruit juices where it is concentrated. It is also in the sweetener high fructose corn syrup.

Polyols are naturally occurring in many fruits and vegetables and are found in sugar substitutes such as sorbitol, mannitol, maltitol, xylitol and isomalt.

Who might be a candidate for a low FODMAP diet?

People who have been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease are often recommended to use this diet to relieve their symptoms, along with anyone who has unresolved GI problems and suspects they may be sensitive to one or more FODMAPs. The first step is an elimination diet trial to see if your symptoms are triggered by FODMAPs, and if so, which ones. This involves removing all sources of FODMAP foods for one to two weeks to see if the symptoms disappear. If they do, the FODMAPs are gradually reintroduced, one category at a time, to see which ones are tolerated and which ones cause problems for you.

How strict must you be on a FODMAP diet?

After the elimination diet trial, you know which foods you don’t digest well. You may find you can tolerate certain ones in small quantities, but not several different ones in the same day. The goal is to have as varied a diet as possible without suffering from the side effects.

Where can you get help with a FODMAP diet?

It is very important to work with a FODMAPs trained registered dietitian who can develop a personalized food plan that insures all of your nutritional needs are being met once the offending foods are removed. This diet should not be attempted without professional advice since there is no simple list of foods high in FODMAPs, so you may continue to eat products containing them and have symptoms without realizing why.

For more news on digestive disorders be sure to read:

  • Prebiotics Feed Bacteria in the Gut
  • Constipation: How to Cure It
  • Is Diarrhea a Sign of a Food Allergy?
  • Which Foods and Fibers Can Prevent Constipation?
  • Latest Crash Diets: Going Gluten and Wheat Free
Posted in Diet and Disease, Digestion, Eating Right, Fad Diets, Food Groups, HEALTH GOES STRONG, Ingredients, Nutritional Needs, Therapeutic Diets and tagged , , , , , .

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