What is a FODMAP?2018-12-12T17:18:33-07:00

What is a FODMAP?

The name FODMAP is an acronym for a diet we are going to hear a lot more about. At the moment, when I mention the low FODMAP diet to people, they often say, “the low what diet?” After all, FODMAP sounds like a word my four year old made up while smashing his trucks together. It is, however, a perfect acronym for a diet that is known to help 3 out of 4 people with irritable bowel syndrome. Here is what it stands for:

  • Fermentable: Our colon is naturally full of bacteria. When carbohydrates reach the colon, the bacteria convert them to gas with a process we call fermentation.

  • Oligosaccharides: “Oligo” means a few or little. “Saccharide” refers to a chain of sugar molecules. Therefore, an oligosaccharide is a little chain of sugar molecules. There are two types of oligosaccharides. Fructooligosaccharides (fos) are found in wheat, onions and garlic and galactooligosaccharides (gos) are found in legumes. Regardless of whether you have IBS or not, no one digests oligosaccharides very well hence the song Beans, Beans the Musical Fruit…

  • Disaccharides: “Di” means two, so a disaccharide is a short chain of two sugar molecules. It this case, the disaccharide we refer to is lactose.

  • Monosaccharides: “Mono” means one, so a monosaccharide is one single sugar. In this case it is fructose.

  • And – This one is easy, phew!

  • Polyols: These are sugar alcohols. Polyols are found naturally in certain fruits and vegetables and are added as sweeteners to things like sugar free gum. You can always spot a polyol on a food label because it ends in “ol” such as sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol and erythritol. Like the oligosaccharides, no one digests polyols well either.

The FODMAP problem

Why are these little carbohydrates so troublesome for people with IBS? The short answer is that FODMAPs are poorly digested carbohydrates. Some of them will pull water into the small intestine, while others pass through the small intestine and are rapidly fermented by the bacteria in the colon. This leads to a combination of gas, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea and/or constipation depending on the person.

We know that by eliminating high FODMAP foods temporarily for a period of 2-6 weeks, 3 out of 4 people with IBS will feel significantly better! Be sure to watch the excellent video by Monash University below. For trusted information about dietary management of IBS and the low FODMAP diet, contact me—a Registered Dietitian—for a free call or check out my nutrition counselling programs.

Use your health care benefits!
Did you know that most health care plans include coverage for a registered dietitian?
In addition, I can direct bill with many insurance companies including Great West Life, Medavie Blue Cross and Manitoba Blue Cross.
Don’t have health care coverage? You can claim services from a registered dietitian as a medical expense on your income taxes.