FODMAPs: What you need to know
FODMAPS: Are you on a low FODMAP diet?
Have you been told to avoid all FODMAP-containing foods?
Did you know that FODMAPs should not be avoided long term? - Even in IBS sufferers who feel better avoiding them!
Let's take a step back...
What are FODMAPs? FODMAPs is the acronym for Fermentable Oligosaccharides Disaccharides Monosaccharides And Polyols. So not surprising, FODMAPs is easier to say. They are short-chain carbohydrates and include a very wide range of foods including celery, apples, broad beans, lentils, honey, ricotta cheese and barley. Two fo the most common high fodmap vegetables are garlic and onion.
What do FODMAPs do?
FODMAPs arrive into the large intestine largely intact. From here, the gut microbes use them as food and energy. In essence, they are like fertiliser for the gut microbiome and are called prebiotics.
Fodmaps are also converted into usable products which are released into the bloodstream. These products offer a wide range of benefits to the rest of the body.
These benefits include strengthening the cell walls of the intestine, improving the absorption of other nutrients, providing food for the brain and stimulating the immune system. So the benefits are far and wide within the body.
Why do I feel sick eating FODMAPs?
When we eat fodmap-containing foods, gasses are produced, water is drawn to the gut area and there may be some bloating. This is a normal response. However in some individuals, stomach pain, extreme gas, diarrhoea and/or constipation, accompanies the bloating. And the bloating may be more severe. So when symptoms persist, it is common to remove fodmap rich foods.
Avoiding FODMAPs Longterm:
A MetaAnalysis published in Nutrients in 2017 reported there was a statistically significant reduction in abdominal pain and bloating when IBS sufferers follow a low-fodmap diet.
This sounds great!
the research now shows long term avoiders of fodmap-rich foods have less gut microbes in total and less variety of gut microbes than fodmap eaters. Whilst this may not seem like a big deal, it actually is.
You see LESS microbial diversity and abundance is associated with:
- Immune system changes
- Less protection from infections
- Pain threshold decreases
- Excess gas and water reactions in the gut
- Less nutrient extraction and absorption from foods, which may lead to other issues of malnutrition
- Lowered strength of the gut-brain axis
- Lowered strength of the gut - axis to the lungs, liver, kidneys and skin
So what should you do?
Definitely speak to a trained professional for personal advice (I can assist you).
There is a 3-part process that should be adopted.
Three Staged Approach:
Step 1: Follow a Low FODMAP diet. This is not an elimination diet, rather an investigation. It may also involve switching up your favourite fodmap rich foods to lower fodmap options.
Step 2: Reintroduction. This stage is the most important. There is a very specific methodology to re-introducing fodmap containing foods. It is important for this stage to be done properly to work out which foods trigger symptoms and which do not. How much of the foods and when to eat them can also play a large part in how the body responds.
Step 3: Personalisation: A fodmap eating pattern should be customised to each person. Every person with fodmap sensitivities is going to vary in their tolerance threshold. This is why googling any ol' fodmap diet is never recommended.
If you suffer with fodmap sensitivities, please let me know. I would love to help you.