Low FODMAP Diet for Digestive Health

The low FODMAP diet is designed to alleviate gastrointestinal discomfort caused by certain carbohydrates. Explore the benefits of a low FODMAP diet for managing digestive discomfort. Read more to learn low FODMAP foods and essential steps of the diet.

Key takeaways:

What is FODMAP?

FODMAP refers to fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols, which are rich fermentable short-chain carbohydrates found in many foods.

A low FODMAP diet aims to resolve gastrointestinal discomfort by removing foods that may cause digestive problems such as gas, distension, abdominal discomfort, and bloating.

It is generally recommended for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), which are conditions of the digestive system causing bloating, diarrhea, constipation, stomach cramps, and so on.

FODMAP-rich foods

Rich FODMAP foodsLow FODMAP foods
VegetablesOnion, garlic, mushrooms, artichokes, asparagus, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage.Kale, spinach, pumpkin, squash, radish, red bell pepper, sweet potato, white potato, and zucchini.
FruitsApples, cherries, avocados, blackberries, dried raisins, dried dates, pears, and watermelon.Bananas, blueberries, grapefruit, grapes, kiwi, lemons, limes, oranges, pineapple, raspberries, strawberries, and tangelos.
DairyMilk, yogurt, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, and ice cream.Kefir, lactose-free milk, lactose-free cottage cheese, lactose-free yogurt, hard or aged cheeses, butter, cream, and cream cheese.
Grains and cerealsWheat, barley, rye, and breakfast cereals.Quinoa, millet, rice, and gluten-free products.
Sugar and sweetenersHigh fructose corn syrup (HFCS), crystalline fructose, sugar beet molasses, honey, agave, and sugar alcohols.Granulated sugar, brown sugar, brown rice syrup, pure maple syrup, sugar cane molasses, and stevia.
Nuts and seedsCashews and pistachios.Macadamias, peanuts, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds.
LegumesSoy, beans, chickpeas, and lentils.Firm and medium tofu.
DrinksSoft drinks that include HFCS or other high-FODMAP sweeteners, fruit juices, apple cider, instant coffee, and chamomile tea.Espresso, filtered coffee, peppermint tea, green tea, and black tea.

A rich FOODMAP diet increases fluid and gas in the bowel leading to gastrointestinal symptoms.

A low FODMAP diet temporarily restricts high FODMAP foods to ease symptoms.

Is the low FODMAP diet right for me?

Although the low FODMAP diet may reduce digestive symptoms, especially in patients with IBS, it should be a short-term dietary restriction that can help you to find out the foods affecting your digestive system. It's crucial to understand the very restrictive nature of this diet. Therefore you should only follow protocols that your healthcare provider suggests.

Keep in mind that FODMAPs do not cause discomfort or digestive problems to everyone. Unless it's recommended by your healthcare professional, do not follow a low FODMAP diet.

Steps to follow on the low FODMAP diet

The low FODMAP diet consists of three essential steps.

  1. Elimination. In the first step, you cut high-FODMAP foods. This helps to alleviate symptoms and provide relief from digestive issues.
  2. Reintroduction. Then you slowly reintroduce those foods to spot the ones resulting in digestive symptoms. This step helps identify which foods trigger digestive symptoms in each individual.
  3. Personalization. Follow your usual diet after you only eliminate or limit the foods resulting in digestive symptoms. This phase allows for a more personalized approach, ensuring you can still enjoy a wide range of foods while managing your digestive health.

Starting restrictive diets is challenging for most people. Starting with small, more manageable steps can help the process. You can eliminate packaged products that are usually high in FODMAPs like fructose, crystalline fructose, HFCS, honey, and sugar alcohols. Read the nutrition facts label before buying packaged products.

The low FODMAP diet can offer relief for those suffering from digestive discomfort. However, seeking guidance from a healthcare professional is recommended before starting a low FODMAP diet to get ahead of nutritional deficiencies and potential side effects.

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