Have you been suffering from digestive problems but cannot find an effective cure for it? No matter how much treatments and medications you incorporate, those persistent problems always return after some time. Well, have you ever thought it may be the diet that is the root of all your problems and by alternating your current diet by some other form of nourishment can be beneficial for you?
Yes, you heard that right, your food can cause digestive problems for your body, especially if it is high on FODMAP. Sounds little confusing right? Well, let us help you out.
What is FODMAPs?
Food is the most common trigger for digestive issues and if foods are high in FODMAPs it causes stomach pain, gas and bloating. FODMAPs stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharide Disaccharide Monosaccharide and Polyols. It is the collective name given for carbs which cause digestive problems.
FODMAPs are short-chain carbohydrates which can be generally classified as dietary fibres by a nutritionist. They instead of being absorbed by the bloodstream, pass through the intestine unchanged as they are completely resistant to digestion.
FODMAPs reaches the end of the intestine where most of the gut bacteria reside and these gut bacteria use these carbohydrates as a fuel for the body and produce hydrogen gas in return. The production of this hydrogen gas is the main reason for bloating, stomach cramps, pain and constipation and the other common digestive problems in sensitive individuals.
A person who is suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome(IBS) upon consumption of a diet rich in FODMAPs can lead to worsening of the situation. This FODMAPs can sometimes draw liquid into your intestine causing diarrhoea in the affected individual. It also causes distention of the gut making the stomach look bigger.
Foods high in FODMAPs
Common FODMAPs include
- Fructose- A simple sugar generally found in fruits and vegetables and makes up the structure of table sugar or most added sugars.
- Lactose- Dairy products’ carbohydrates
- Fructans- Carbohydrates generally found in grains like wheat, barley and rye.
- Galactans- Carbohydrate found in legumes.
- Polyols- Generally known as sugar alcohols, these are found in fruits and vegetables and are used as sweeteners.
According to a published cut-off, it has been studied and researched to find that food who have the following conditions or the food items which generally contain more than one of the following carbs are considered to be high in FODMAPs
- Oligosaccharides- more than 0.3 grams of fructans or galactooligosaccharides
- Disaccharides- having more than 4 grams of lactose
- Monosaccharides- containing 0.2 grams of fructose more than glucose
- Polyols- when it contains 0.3 grams of mannitol more than sorbitol.
The most common food items that are considered high in FODMAPs are listed down below and also provided are some alternatives for that nutrient so that you could have the same nutritional value but your risk of having digestive problem decreases.
Garlic and Onion-
Could you have thought that the ingredients which are used in almost all dishes are the biggest reason for causing digestive upsets. Garlic and onion have the highest concentration of FODMAPs as they have a high amount of fructans present in them.
Dried garlic and onion have three times more fructans concentration than fresh ones and can cause stomach cramps, bloating or even diarrhoea in FODMAPs sensitive people.
Instead of garlic and onion consider having fenugreek, chives, mustard seeds, asafoetida which are low in FODMAPs and can boost your digestive system instead.
Fruits and Vegetables-
Fruits like Apple, apricots, cherries, figs, mangoes, peaches and plums are concentrated sources of FODMAPs as they have a rich amount of fructose present in them.
Whereas in the case of vegetables, it has the most diverse range of FODMAPs present in them. FODMAPs rich vegetable like Asparagus, cauliflower, bitter gourd, mushrooms and leeks have fructans, galactooligosaccharides, fructose, mannitol and sorbitol present in them which for a FODMAPs individual can be extremely detrimental.
Instead of the above mentioned ones, go for the low FODMAPs concentrated vegetables like zucchini, capsicum, carrot, eggplant, tomato and spinach and include them in your diet.
Grain, legumes and pulses-
These key ingredients are mostly considered to be the biggest contributors to excessive gas and bloating.
Legumes have high concentrations of galactooligosachharides(GOS) present in them which can cause uneasiness in the body. Therefore, it is always advised to eat boiled lentils as GOS is water soluble and then it can produce a less impact upon the body.
In the case of grains, wheat is generally considered the biggest source of FODMAPs in the body. However, it is not actually what it seems. Wheat has a very low amount of FODMAPs present in them but since it is consumed in large quantity, an imbalance is created most of the times.
Rye is considered to have twice the amount of FODMAPs present in it than wheat and it is generally advised to consume sourdough rye bread for FODMAPs sensitive people.
Instead of consuming high FODMAP dairy products like cottage cheese, cream cheese and milk which provides high lactose content in them, go for low FODMAPs dairy products like cheddar cheese, cream, feta cheese and lactose-free milk which provides the same taste and is more beneficial for the body.
What to keep in mind?
Most of the food items that are considered high in FODMAPs and cause digestive problems in FODMAPs sensitive people are extremely important to the body for maintaining the proper functionality of the body.
Vegetables and fruits provide the nutrients for the body and stopping the consumption of this high FODMAPs nutrients can create a more serious problem for the body in future.
So now you may ask what to do to solve the problem?
Well, stopping the consumption of some of the above mentioned nutrients is never the solution. Instead, go for a low FODMAP content nutrient diet which helps you to achieve all your desired results.
It has been observed that people on consuming diet low on FODMAPs have reduced the symptoms of digestive upsets and also have caused an impressive improvement of health and immune system. The conditions caused by food rich in FODMAPs dies if you start following a low FODMAP diet.
So now you know what to do when you are suffering from digestive upsets. Foods considered high in FODMAPs is most of the times extremely important for the body and we cannot cut them off. Instead, we can control the amount we consume and also swap our high FODMAPs diet with a low FODMAPs one. All nutrients are beneficial for the body, however, we just have to keep in mind what works best for us.