FODMAPS is a collective term given to a group of carbohydrates. It stands for (wait for it) Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides And Polyols.
Australian researchers at Monash University in Melbourne developed the FODMAP diet following studies conducted amongst self-diagnosed gluten sensitive individuals. The research indicated that in patients whose diets were low in FODMAPS, gluten did not produce a specific negative effect. Since many FODMAP-containing foods also contain gluten, they concluded that it’s possible to control symptoms by reducing these carbohydrates in the diet.
So what are they I hear you cry?
This group of carbohydrates are poorly absorbed in the small intestine and when eaten they alter the fluid content of the colon. Bacteria in the colon ferment undigested material, producing gases such as hydrogen and methane and this can result in symptoms such as bloating, constipation etc.
Oligosaccharides (such as fructans and galactans)
These are found in wheat, beans, pulses and vegetables such as onions. They also come in the form of inulin and fructooligosaccharides (both food additives).
These include lactose found in cow’s milk and goat’s milk, cheese and yoghurt.
Fructose is a monosaccharide – found in fruit and honey and added to many processed foods (high fructose corn syrup, for example).
These are sugar alcohols found in diet and sugar-free foods in the form of sorbitol and xylitol. They occur naturally in peaches, plums mushrooms and cauliflower.
I first came to hear about FODMAPS via the consultant who treated my husband. He has a hiatus hernia and suffers from gastrointestinal reflux. An alkaline diet partially controls his symptoms, along with prescribed medication, but he has also found that reducing FODMAP foods from his diet helps enormously.
As an IBS sufferer, I am very interested in FODMAPS. I put up with my symptoms for a long time because there never seemed to be anything specific that triggered them. It’s so difficult to pinpoint the problem foods and I didn’t consider it a problem that required medical attention. I didn’t think a doctor would be interested to be honest and back then, they probably wouldn’t have been.
Since then, I’ve found that avoiding nightshade foods, namely tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and aubergines leaves me symptom free. There are some foods on the FODMAP list of no-no’s that I can’t eat but there are others that I’m fine with, for example onions and mushrooms. Unfortunately, these don’t agree with my husband at all and neither does cauliflower, which I love as an alternative to mashed potato. You can’t win when you are trying to cater for different food avoidance issues!
My thoughts on FODMAPS?
This PDF from ibsgroup.org is stuck on my fridge door and I use it as a guide. As far as my husband is concerned, following a low FODMAP diet significantly reduces his symptoms. The key is to consider it as a reduction of these foods not a complete elimination. After all, with so many foods on the list you could end up with a very limited choice for your diet. This is never a good thing. It’s possible that not every food on the list will aggravate your symptoms, so it’s best to try omitting a few at a time and see how you get on. In my husband’s case, if he fancies eating a cooked breakfast and it comes with grilled mushrooms, he will eat them. As long as he sticks to a restricted diet most of the time, the occasional break doesn’t do any damage. It depends whether you are prepared to suffer the consequences of falling off the wagon, so to speak.
Have you come across FODMAPS and if so, does it work for you?