Feeling sluggish, bloated and gassy … again!? If just eating a stalk of celery causes your tummy to stick out, read this before you give up wearing your favorite skinny jeans ever again. The villains may be FODMAPs, a category of short-chain carbohydrates that your body may have trouble digesting. Just as people who are intolerant to lactose or gluten avoid foods containing those ingredients, if you’re sensitive to FODMAPs, a low-FODMAP diet may help relieve your symptoms.
The good news is that more foods labeled Low FODMAP are now appearing on supermarket shelves. There’s also an app created by the FODMAP experts at Monash University to help you identify low-FODMAP foods and ingredients.
What’s a FODMAP?
The term FODMAP stands for Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. FODMAP is much easier to remember! And if your body has trouble digesting FODMAPS in the upper part of your gut, here’s what may happen:
The FODMAPs travel to your large intestine, where they are fermented by your gut bacteria.
This fermentation process causes your intestines to draw in water. It also creates hydrogen, carbon dioxide and methane gas, all of which can cause your intestines to expand.
The result may be visible tummy expansion, bloating and other uncomfortable symptoms.
Healthcare professionals are finding that low-FODMAP diets may be useful for addressing symptoms of:
Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A condition in the large intestine characterized by abdominal pain, cramping, gas, bloating and possibly constipation and/or diarrhea.
Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth: A condition characterized by having an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine, which then ferment food particles and nutrients.
The surprising foods you may need to avoid
Everyone’s microbiome – the trillions of bacteria that live inside us – is unique. Determining which FODMAPs trigger your symptoms may require some trial and error. For instance, while you may subscribe to the adage that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, apples are considered a high FODMAP food. You may discover they contribute to your digestive issues.
Other high FODMAP foods include (but are not limited to):
Wheat-based cereals and breads
Be careful! Following a low-FODMAP diet may trigger a cascade of problems
Consult a healthcare professional before embarking on a low-FODMAP diet, because you may be cutting out common food groups, and missing out on essential micronutrients and macronutrients.
Another big concern is that low-FODMAP diets are typically also low in dietary fiber. We all need 25 to 30 grams of fiber a day. Most of us are already fiber deficient. Following a low-FODMAP diet can easily worsen that deficiency.
Fiber contributes numerous health benefits, including:
Feeding the “good” bacteria or probiotics in your gut
Regulating your bowel habits
Maintaining healthy blood sugar and cholesterol levels
Satiety and weight management
Using a fiber supplement is a good solution, but be selective. Monash University, the world’s leading source of FODMAP research and information, advises that some fiber supplements may actually increase gas production in the gut as they are high in FODMAPs. (That’s not exactly good news when you’re trying to beat the bloat!) These include fiber supplements containing inulin, wheat dextrin and IMOs, all ingredients which should be avoided by those looking to reduce FODMAPSs in their diet.
Regular Girl, the synbiotic blend of patented premium prebiotic fiber and specialized probiotics, is Low-FODMAP Certified by Monash University. Its prebiotics help to nourish the probiotics in your digestive system, helping to balance your gut microbiome. Regular Girl blends invisibly into water, without altering the taste, texture or aroma.
What else is on the low-FODMAP menu?
Foods that are generally safe for those avoiding FODMAPs include (but are not limited to):
The low-FODMAP eating approach is gaining momentum. It may be worth a try if you suspect that certain foods are playing havoc with your digestive system, and keeping you from feeling your best. Eliminating FODMAPs may help to slim your middle and flatten your belly.
For a full list of low-FODMAP foods and ingredients, go to monashfodmap.com.
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