The digestive system plays a major role in good health because it helps to deliver key nutrients like protein, carbohydrates and fats from the food we eat and drink to the body for energy, growth and repair. However, most people don’t think about their digestive health until something doesn’t feel right and if you’ve ever experienced stomach distention and the discomfort that comes with it after eating certain foods, you know exactly what I mean. These symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating, gas, constipation, and diarrhea that can go on for days.
If you struggle to find a balance between what you eat and gastrointestinal peace, maybe it’s time to consider the low fodmap diet that was developed in Australia. This type of eating has been successful for treating and managing the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome with great results. To say it can help improve the quality of life is not an understatement.
Fodmap stands for
These are short-chain carbohydrates found in many foods that are resistant to digestion. When a fodmap reaches the colon, it gets fermented and used as fuel by bacteria in the gut, but in those sensitive to fodmaps, it causes painful symptoms. Fodmaps increase the amount of fluid in the intestinal tract and cause gas and bloating. The increase in fluid also changes the speed in which food is digested, and can result in diarrhea or constipation. Reducing the intake of high fodmap foods can decrease the symptoms.
Some of the more common types of fodmaps include:
Lactose – found in dairy products
Galactans – found in beans and some nuts
Fructans – found in cruciferous vegetables like Brussels sprouts, asparagus and broccoli, as well as grains like wheat, rye and barley
Fructose – found in fruits, vegetables and sweeteners like honey and added sugar like high fructose corn syrup
Polyols – found in sugar alcohols i.e. xylitol, sorbitol and mannitol in sugar free products as well as some fruit and vegetables
It’s important to note that not everyone has the same problems with all these foods. I’ve worked with people who can tolerate dairy, but had trouble with beans or nuts. Others could enjoy fruits and veggies with no problem, but had difficulty with sweeteners like honey. The low fodmap diet isn’t meant for long term use. The idea behind this type of eating is to limit the food in a specific category if it is bothersome, but not the whole food group. Determining which type of fodmap causes symptoms can be somewhat of a puzzle, and that is where a registered dietitian can help you make sense of it all and ensure you’re getting all the nutrients you need. If you’ve been struggling with bloating and discomfort and would like to see if the low fodmap diet is right for you contact [email protected] to get started.