If you eat and drink healthily, exercise regularly and cope well with stress, but suffer from constant diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating and cramping, it might be time to get familiar with FODMAP:
F = fermented and refers to the fermenting of foods by bacteria in your gut.
O = oligosaccharides and includes fructans – found in wheat, garlic and onion, and galactans – found in beans, lentils and soybeans.
D = disaccharides and refers to lactose, the sugar found in dairy products.
M = monosaccarides and the culprit here is the fructose found in honey and corn syrup.
P = polyols which are sugar alcohols found in sweeteners like sorbitol and stone fruits such as avocaods and apples
Foods with a high FODMAP content pull water into your digestive tract. They are not easily digested or absorbed so tend to hang around in your intestines. This gives extra time for their fermentation. Whilst this is a normal process , for some people it becomes exaggerated and causes the uncomfortable symptoms. It can also contribute to Irritable bowel disorder and exacerbate inflammatory bowel disease.
A low FODMAP eating plan is not about losing weight. Although a happier gut tends to lead to some weight loss and of course your stomach will be flatter if you are not bloated or constipated. It is also not about eating healthier. You may already have a very nutritious diet. Eating FODMAP friendly is about working out which foods you are intolerant or sensitive to and eliminating or limiting them for a happier digestive system..
The theory behind the low FODMAP diet is that if you reduce your ingestion of these sugars, there is less to be fermented, inflammation in your gut will reduce and symptoms will subside. The trick is to remove all foods containing high levels of FODMAPs for 4-6 weeks and see how your body feels.
You then slowly add foods back in checking your reaction to each, so you know which you need to avoid totally and in what quantity you can eat others, before symptoms start. You may discover you are fine with lactose, very reactive to fructose and can tolerate small amounts of fructans. This means you can eat dairy, no beans and need to limit bread containing wheat to twice per week.
To find out more check out the Monash University FODMAP app or seek the help of a dietician or gastroenterologist. It may seem complicated at first, but it could change your life.
By Rachel Livingstone Personal Trainer & Owner of The Health Hub www.healthhub.net.au
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