What are FODMAPs and how do they affect us?

By Chloe McLeod, Dietitian

If you have ever had problems with your gut, chances are you have stumbled across the term ‘FODMAPs’ in your googling. But what are FODMAPs? How do they affect us? And how do we work out which FODMAPs affect us?

Approximately 20% of the Australian population has IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). Given the effect stress can have on symptoms, in our busy, fast paced lives, it is no wonder that so many of us are struggling. Where do FODMAPs come in? Reducing consumption of FODMAPs, and determining which ones are your triggers is the best way of managing IBS, and help those with it live healthier, happier lives.

So, what are FODMAPs?

FODMAPs stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. These are all different types of carbohydrates that either don’t absorb or digest properly and ferment in the gut, resulting in wind, constipation, diarrhoea and other uncomfortable things!

How do they affect us?

For most of us, FODMAPs digest without any issues. Consumption of the healthy foods they are found in is great for you. However, for those with digestive issues, especially IBS, consumption of FODMAPs can be extremely uncomfortable, and often embarrassing. If you’ve ever had to run for the nearest bathroom, or felt uncomfortable and like you need to pass wind in a business meeting, you may understand what I’m talking about!

How do we test?

The most effective way of testing for FODMAP intolerance is through eliminating, then reintroducing high FODMAP foods from your diet. This is done through a series of food challenges. For example, for the lactose challenge, 2 cups of milk or yoghurt is recommended, for up to 5 days in a row. Sometimes symptoms can take a couple of days to appear. Breath tests are available, however their validity is currently being questioned by the research. Using food is the most reliable test!

Which foods contain FODMAPs?

One of the most common sentences I hear from my clients is ‘I eat so well, what is wrong with me?!’. Unfortunately, many healthy foods are high in FODMAPs; apples, pears, mango, onion, garlic, mushroom, avocado, chickpeas and bread are all commonly consumed high FODMAP foods. To find out more about which foods are high FODMAP, check out this list.

Have you ever followed a low FODMAPs diet? How did you find it? Let us know in the comment section below!

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