FODMAPs are short chain carbohydrates and related alcohols that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine. FODMAP is an acronym that stands for:
Fermentable – The process of breaking down carbohydrates by bacteria in the large intestine.
Oligosaccharides – (“oligo” means “few” and “saccharide” means sugar) Fructo-oligosaccharides found in wheat, rye, onions and garlic and Galacto-oligosaccharides found in legumes and pulses.
Disaccharides – (“di” means two) Lactose found in milk, soft cheese and yoghurts.
Monosaccharides – (“mono” means single) Fructose found in honey, apples, high fructose corn syrups.
Polyols – These are sugar alcohols found in some fruit and vegetables and used as artificial sweeteners.
Poor absorption of most FODMAP carbohydrates is common to everyone. Any FODMAPs that are not absorbed in the small intestine pass into the large intestine, where bacteria ferment them and produce gas. FODMAPs also attract water into the large intestine and can alter how quickly the bowels move. As a result, symptoms including excess wind, abdominal bloating and distension, abdominal pain, constipation or diarrhoea, or a combination of both, can be triggered.
The low FODMAP diet was developed at Monash University in Melbourne by Peter Gibson and Susan Shepherd. It has been scientifically proven as the most effective dietary therapy for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and symptoms of an irritable bowel. IBS is a functional gastrointestinal disorder affecting around one in seven Australian adults. FODMAPs are not the cause of IBS, but managing them in the diet provides an opportunity for reducing symptoms.
The table below is a list of some of the low and high FODMAP foods (sourced from The Monash University):
|Food Category||High FODMAP foods||Low FODMAP food alternatives|
|Vegetables||Asparagus, artichokes, onions (all), leek bulb, garlic, legumes/pulses, sugar snap peas, onion and garlic salts, beetroot, Savoy cabbage, celery, sweet corn||Alfalfa, bean sprouts, green beans, bok choy, capsicum, carrot, chives, fresh herbs, choy sum, cucumber, lettuce, tomato, zucchini.|
|Fruits||Apples, pears, mango, nashi pears, watermelon, nectarines, peaches, plums||Banana, orange, mandarin, grapes, melon|
|Milk and dairy||Cow’s milk, yoghurt, soft cheese, cream, custard, ice cream||Lactose-free milk, lactose-free yoghurts, hard cheese|
|Protein sources||Legumes/pulses||Meats, fish, chicken, tofu, tempeh|
|Breads and cereal||Rye, wheat-containing breads, wheat-based cereals with dried fruit, wheat pasta||Gluten-free bread and sourdough spelt bread, rice bubbles, oats, gluten-free pasta, rice, quinoa|
|Biscuits (cookies) and snacks||Rye crackers, wheat-based biscuits||Gluten-free biscuits, rice cakes, corn thins|
|Nuts and seeds||Cashews, pistachios||Almonds (<10 nuts), pumpkin seeds|
For more information, visit the FODMAP website.