Meet the FODMAP’s and learn why a gluten-free or paleo diet may not improve your gut health.
With the rise in Australians suffering poor digestive health over the last decade, thousands have singled out Gluten as the villain and are now reaching for the gluten-free options over the glutinous and bloating alternative.
And yet many are still suffering from random bloating, cramps and other gastrointestinal distress for seemingly mysterious, unknown reasons even though Gluten is nowhere in sight.
Which makes one wonder…
Does gluten have an unsuspecting partner in crime? What else could be causing such debilitating symptoms? And are we really pointing our finger at the right offender?
Meet The FODMAPs
FODMAPS stands for:
- Oligosaccharides (fructans in grains, vegetables including onion and garlic),
- Disaccharides (lactose in milk),
- Mono-saccharides (fructose in fruit)
- Polyols (such as sorbitol in sweetened products).
FODMAPs are fermentable short chain carbohydrates that are:
1) inefficiently absorbed in the small intestine meaning they pass into the large intestine where they
2) linger, drawing in water osmotically and are
3) eventually fermented by bacteria.
It’s this trilogy of issues that create bloating, altered bowel movements including diarrhea or constipation, as well as flatulence and other gastrointestinal symptoms. And the symptoms of don’t stop at gastrointestinal issues. Brain fog, depression, anxiety, fatigue and other psychological conditions are also common.
You might recognize some of those symptoms – they are symptoms that sit under the umbrella term of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). IBS is diagnosed when a malfunctioning bowel is present in addition to discomfort for at least 3 months along with changes of bowel habits and bloating.
(Sounds like half the population right?)
Fortunately, there is growing evidence that most IBS sufferers can find relief following a low FODMAP diet. Essentially when they eliminate the high FODMAP foods, they are eliminating the sugars that can’t be digested easily, reducing the chance for opportune bacteria to ferment and feed on these sugars, consequently reducing digestive stress.
So why is it that one person can have debilitating effects, whilst the man next door has none?
Firstly, it’s important to remember that everyone is unique – no two people are built the same. Some people might lack digestive enzymes that break down the sugars for easy absorption; others lack the carrier Glut 5 that helps with facilitated diffusion of fructose; whilst others have a poor state of gut health with either an increased permeability of the gut wall (known as leaky gut) or an imbalance of gut flora (dysbiosis).
And interestingly, many IBS and FODMAP sufferers can also have a condition called Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) – where bacteria from the large intestine moves into the upper gastrointestinal tract causing IBS-like symptoms.
So what foods are considered FODMAPS?
Fructans – wheat, onions, garlic, veggies
Galatco-oligosaccharides – legumes, lentils, chickpeas
Lactose – Milk sugar, such as in dairy
Fructose – Fruit, soft drinks, HFCS, grains, vegetables
Sugar alcohols – Fruits such as pear, peach, watermelon and sugar free, artificial sweeteners such as in chewing gum.
For an easy to read, printable low fodmap paleo chart, go HERE.
Source: Aglaée Jacob, MS, RD, author of Digestive Health with REAL Food, 2012. RadicataMedicine.com
So next time you have a tummy bloat or excessive gas, before you go blaming the restaurant for potential gluten exposure, consider the chewing gum you have been munching on or the onions in your lunch.
If you suspect that you have digestive issues that may be due to a FODMAP intolerance, IBS or even SIBO, I suggest trying a 30 day low fodmap paleo elimination diet with intense focus on healing your gut. After which time, you can slowly reintroduce each food and keep an eye out for any negative side effects or digestive stress caused by each particular food.
If you want help in healing your gut, register your interest in the 12 week gut healing program at www.getrealliving.com.au/12-week-program