What is FODMAP?

FODMAPs are short chain carbohydrates present in various food items consumed by us. FODMAP is the short form of Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharaides and Polyols.

Short chain carbohydrates are: Lactose, fructose, sorbitol, fructans and glacto oligo saccharides. Some people have difficulty in digesting such short chain carbohydrates and consequently suffer more from the existing irritable bowel syndrome and gastrointestinal disorders. In view of this, FODMAP diet consumption is streamlined by the dietician.

Consumption of FODMAP diet is restricted in persons to who have irritable bowel syndrome and those who have gastrointestinal disorders.

FODMAP is known to be described only during the last decade to comprehend indigestible and slowly absorbed short chain carbohydrates.

FODMAP in detail

Consumption of fodmap food items are not considered bad for health. On the contrary in some cases, they may prove to be healthier. Whether one should go for a low or high fodmap diet is based on individual requirement or health conditions.

Fermentation is the process by which glucose and other organic nutrients are converted into energy in the form of ATP. ATP is Adenosine triphosphate which is a neurotransmitter very essential for the body.

Some examples of the contents of fodmap are fructans and glacto oligo saccharides, (Oligo saccharides) Lactose (Disaccharides), excess Fructose (Monosaccharaides) and Sorbitol, Mannitol, Xylitol and  Isomalt( Polyols).

In simple terms their source can be described further for clear understanding.

  • Fructans are found in the common food containing gluten, like wheat, rye and barely.
  • Oligo saccharides are found in legumes
  • Disaccharides are the lactose present in dairy products.
  • Monosaccharaides are the sugar content in fruits and vegetables.
  • Polyols are the sugar containing alcohols like sorbitol, mannitol, malitol and xylitol which are generally found in various fruits and vegetables and sweeteners used in food preparations.

Dieticians have listed out various sources of food which have high FODMAP content. Some of them are:

  • Oligo saccharides: Legume beans, Chickpeas, red kidney beans, baked beans, soya beans and Lentils
  • Disaccharides (lactose): Milk, milk powder, Milk products including yogurt,icecream, deserts prepared out of dairy products and soft and fesh cheese.. Milk refers to all the available sources of and commonly used milk from various milch animals like cow, goat and sheep.
  • Monosaccharides (fructose): Watermelon, mango, pear, corn syrup (containing high fructose), apple, dates, figs, cherries and honey. Vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, garlic,onions, peas,beetroot, broccoli and asparagus. It is also high in wheat products like bread, pasta, biscuits, cereals and pancakes. In addition many fruit juices, soy milk, beer, fortified wine and soft drinks are also a rich source.
  • Polyols: Plums, Pears, Nectarines, Apples, mushrooms

The list is only indicative and not exhaustive. Based on continuous studies on the subject classifications are done as and when new things come to light.

FODMAP and digestive disorders

For people with general digestive disorders, a low FODMAP diet consumption can provide significant benefits.

It is established that FODMAP has direct and strong correlation with many digestive disorders like bloating, formation of stomach gas, constipation, stomach ache and even diarrhea. Fodmap promotes the process of osmosis and draws water into the intestine causing diarrhea.

A low fodmap diet is prescribed for people who suffer due to IBS and gastro intestinal disorder only. However it may lead to other issues like malnutrition. Hence following only a low fodmap diet for ever may be practically impossible but can be only of an academic interest in general.

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Low FODMAP diet that can be consumed to reduce the disorders of the digestive system are:

  • Fruits like bananas, oranges, grapes lemon, kiwi, lime, blueberries
  • Vegetables like carrots, cucumber, green beans, ginger, kale, lettuce, sweet potatoes, radish, olives, tomatoes etc.
  • Peanuts, cashew, almond, sesame seed.
  • Hard cheese and lactose free dairy products
  • Meat, fish and egg without adding high fodmap items like wheat or corn syrup.
  • Rice, oats, tapioca and corn
  • Coffee and tea
  • Herbs, spices, oils and fats

 

Low and High fodmap food items mentioned above are not the conclusive and complete list and there can be many such items.

The ideal method to follow is to avoid consuming high fodmap items after a few weeks or till such time IBS and or gastrointestinal disorders recede. Depending upon various symptoms experienced by a person individual food item can be added or avoided to ensure appropriate intake. It is for the individual concerned to identify each food item and its suitability for him in order to get rid of the problems.

Completely avoiding certain food may result in malnutrition and care has to be taken to ensure against unnecessary restriction of diet.

Kripa Sivasubramanian, MBA, earned her Master’s degree in Business. After a long stint in the Technology sector, she took up courses in natural medicine and yoga. Ms. Kripa is certified in Ayurvedic yoga for Dosha. She is also certified by Stanford University School of Medicine in Introduction to Food and Health.