So many diet plans crop up every now and then that you are totally confused about all of it. The low FODMAP diet, created to manage the symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome, is the latest buzz. So, what exactly is this diet and is it ok to adhere to its eating principles?
What Is a FODMAP?
FODMAP is an acronym for Fermentable Oligosaccharides Disaccharides Monosaccharides and Polyols. These short-chain carbohydrates are present in our everyday foods and share three important properties:
- They are poorly absorbed in the intestine
- Draw extra water into the intestine
- Rapidly fermented by bacteria in the bowel
An individual’s quantity consumed and tolerance levels can lead to increased gassiness, bloating, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Before going on a FODMAP-specific diet, consult with your physician to rule out celiac disease, cancer and food allergies or intolerances. Once your doctor gives a green signal to FODMAP diet, get in touch with a registered dietitian nutritionist at www.firsteatright.com to plan a personalized diet plan.
These oligosaccharides can be categorized into two different groups called fructans and galactans. Wheat products, onions, garlic, artichokes and inulin are good sources of fructans whereas, broccoli, beans, Brussels sprouts and soy-based products are galactan sources.
Lactose, the most common disaccharide present in milk and other dairy products, requires lactase, a digestive enzyme, for absorption. Puddings and dairy products such as yogurt, soft cheeses, milk and ice creams are some of the disaccharides containing lactose.
Fructose, a monosaccharide present in fruits, is absorbed more when combined with another type of sugar called glucose. So, in FODMAP diet, all fruits are not equal. Those that contain equal amounts of fructose and glucose are better tolerated than the rest. Some foods such as agave, honey, mangoes, watermelon, sugar snap peas and high fructose corn syrup that contain higher fructose levels can lead to gastrointestinal symptoms.
Polyols, sugar alcohols, are found in fruits such as stone fruits (such as cherries and nectarines), pears and apples; vegetables such as mushrooms and cauliflower and in some sugar substitutes containing xylitol or sorbitol.
Reintroduce FODMAP-containing Foods
The diet starts with a low FODMAP period ranging between six and eight weeks. After this initial period, the physician will recommend introducing certain FODMAP-containing foods into the patient’s diet plan. During such periods, the patients are advised to look out for the slightest signs and symptoms of gastrointestinal distress to help identify the food offenders.
Such reintroductions are essential to avoid nutritional deficiencies imposed because of extreme restrictions. Avoiding different fruits, vegetables, plant-based proteins and dairy foods from the diet can result in fiber, calcium, protein (for vegetarians or vegans) and vitamins A, C and D deficiencies. An RDN is the right person to help the patient sail though the reintroduction phase by designing an eating plan that meets the individual’s nutrient needs. Be aware that all the while we have been discussing about a low FODMAP diet and not a no FODMAP diet. This diet was developed to help manage symptoms and not cure them completely.