Healthy You - Every Day

What’s the Fuss About FODMAPs?

FODMAPs - what they are and could they make your gut feel bad?

FODMAP isn’t a trendy app. It’s an acronym that stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. These types of carbohydrates are found in a range of foods. Examples include:

  • Fructans: Wheat products, onions and garlic
  • Galactans: Chickpeas, beans and broccoli
  • Lactose: Cow, goat or sheep milk and some dairy products made with them
  • Fructose: Honey, soda and other products with high fructose corn syrup, and fruit like mangos and watermelon
  • Sugar alcohols: Cauliflower, mushrooms, apples, pears, and gum and other products with artificial sweeteners like sorbitol and xylitol

Should I worry?

“Luckily, many people eat foods containing FODMAPs without any problem,” says Michael Mandarano, DO, LVPG Family Medicine–Dunmore. However, for some, these carbs can trigger a rather unpleasant reaction from the gastrointestinal (GI) system, including:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Cramping
  • Fatigue
  • Gas
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea

“If you’re struggling with any or all these symptoms and have an inclination they’re tied to certain foods, talk with your health care provider and consider seeing a dietitian nutritionist before removing FODMAPs from your diet,” Mandarano says.

What’s the point?

Your provider and a dietitian can help you figure out what’s likely causing your GI symptoms, so you may find relief. This includes ruling out or diagnosing conditions such as food allergies or irritable bowel syndrome.

“Talk with your health care provider and consider seeing a dietitian nutritionist before removing FODMAPs from your diet.” - Michael Mandarano, DO

As part of the process, your provider may ask you to follow a three-phase, low-FODMAP diet. The first step is to remove foods high in FODMAPs from your menu. Next, you slowly start adding foods back into your snacks and meals to see how your body responds. Lastly, they’ll help you use this information to adjust your eating habits long term – and keep as many healthy foods in your repertoire as possible.  

While it’s certainly OK to skip gum and soda, you shouldn’t dive into a low FODMAP diet on your own. “You could miss out on key nutrients and harm your overall health,” Mandarano says. And this eating plan isn’t a good fit for everyone. You may not be a good candidate if you are already at risk for malnutrition, have an eating disorder or have a complex medical history, for example, so it's important to talk with your primary care doctor first.

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