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Digestive issues and the FODMAPS Diet


If you are a sufferer of IBS or have other similar digestive problems, one diet which may help you is the FODMAP diet.  FODMAP is a word which refers to short chain carbohydrates and monosaccharides that the small intestine has a difficult time absorbing.  The acronym is short for “Fermentable, Oligo, Di-, Mono-saccharides and Polyols.”  This is a diet that was developed by scientific researchers at the Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.


How does it work?  According to the theory underlying the diet, if you eat foods which contain FODMAPs, you can make your digestive problems worse.  Since the small intestine struggles to absorb the nutrients, the result is abdominal cramping, gas, bloating and other symptoms of IBS.  It holds that if you then avoid foods which contain FODMAPs, your IBS symptoms should decrease.  If you try out the low FODMAP diet, you probably want to talk to a nutritionist so that you can make sure you’re doing it correctly and also that you aren’t cutting essential nutrition out of your diet.


High FODMAP Foods


Foods with a lot of FODMAPs in them include a number of different fruits:  apples, apricots, cherries, nectarines, pears, plums, prunes, and mangos.  Notice that these foods are healthy for you in general.  So if you cut them out of your diet, you will want to make sure you’re not cutting all fruit from your diet.  Other high FODMAP foods include custard, ice cream, milk, yogurt, soft cheese, and margarine.  Artificial sweeteners often have high FODMAPs as well.  Those are easier to cut out of your diet because they provide your body with nothing useful.  We suggest replacing them with stevia, a natural sweetener which is safe and herbally derived.


There are a ton of high FODMAP vegetables.  Once again, these are nutritious foods, so if you eliminate some of them from your diet, you have to find a way to get that nutrition some other way.  Also, note that you may do better by just eliminating some of these foods, and not all of them.  Take notes to see which high FODMAP foods give you problems.  The vegetable list includes:  artichokes, asparagus, avocado, broccoli, mushrooms, garlic, okra, peas, shallots, onions, and more.


Low FODMAP Foods


There are also foods which are low in FODMAPs which you can add to your diet to improve your digestion.  Low FODMAP fruits such as banana, blueberry, grapefruit, grapes, kiwi, lemon, lime, orange, strawberry, and raspberry may help you with your problems.  As far as lactose containing items go, try replacing your margarine with actual butter, and replace your soft cheese products with hard cheeses.  Gelato or sorbet is a good alternative to ice cream, and you can try rice milk if lactose milk gives you grief.


There are also some vegetables and grains on the low FODMAP food list that you may want to try eating more of:

carrots, celery, corn, eggplant, bell peppers, bok choy, green beans, parsnip, lettuce, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes.  Oats, spelt grains and gluten-free grains may also contribute positively to your diet.

If you don’t feel like making a drastic change right now, but recognize some of your problem foods on the list, maybe now you understand why they give you so much trouble.  You may want to start out by making some simple substitutions and cutting out a few of the worst foods and seeing if that results in any improvements.


Paula Tipton-Healy L.M, CiHom

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