With so many types of diets out there, it’s difficult to know what each one entails and which one is right for you. Although the low FODMAP diet is one that’s a little less popular with the masses (it definitely can’t compete with the number of people following vegan diets or keto diets!), it’s rapidly growing in popularity, with more and more people choosing to follow it’s guidelines in the hopes their overall health and wellbeing will improve.
But, what really is a low FODMAP diet, and should you be following it?
In this article, I’m going to give you the low down on the low FODMAP diet, talking about what it is, who it’s suitable for, the rules, how to still ensure you’re having the right intake of micronutrients whilst on this diet, and the warnings that come with this diet.
This is your low FODMAP 101, so let’s get into it.
What Is ‘FODMAP’?
FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. These are all short-chain carbohydrates (sugars) that aren’t most people’s digestive systems can’t properly absorb. Instead, these carbohydrates sit in the colon and ferment. This is then used by bacteria in the gut as fuel, but unlike fiber that releases methane when used fuel by bacteria, FODMAPs release hydrogen.
This causes gas, bloating, pain in the stomach, and can lead to serious problems in the digestive system if this happens consistently for a period of time.
What Is A Low FODMAP Diet?
A low FODMAP diet is a diet that essentially just cuts out, or restricts, the consumption of foods that are high FODMAP foods.
Different foods are put into categories depending on if they’re low or high FODMAP, and obviously, as the name suggests, people on low FODMAP diets must only eat from the list of low FODMAP foods.
What Are The Benefits Of A Low FODMAP Diet?
The low FODMAP diet reduces the release of hydrogen by bacteria in the gut by FODMAPs and increases the healthy fuel for the good bacteria in the gut.
So, the main benefit is a reduction in gas, and therefore a reduction in bloating.
Low FODMAP diets also reduce inflammation in both the digestive system and the overall body, reduce the likelihood of cramps and stomach pain, can make bowel movements more regular, and reduce the likelihood of digestive illnesses such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Who Should Be On A Low FODMAP Diet?
Although a lot of people may benefit from eating cleaner, low FODMAP foods, there are certain people that should be on this kind of diet.
Anyone who suffers from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) should really give the low FODMAP diet a go, especially because the diet was actually produced for this very reason – to help relieve symptoms of IBS.
There’s also been an extensive amount of research done on the link between IBS and the low FODMAP diet, showing that the diet reduces symptoms of IBS and promotes higher levels of health and wellbeing.
Women that suffer from endometriosis are often also advised to stick to a low FODMAP diet.
Which Foods Should You Eat On A Low FODMAP Diet?
There are hundreds of foods that are low FODMAP and should be eaten on this kind of diet. I’m going to share a few from each category with you.
If you’re interested in doing this diet and want a more extensive list, you can find a full list of low FODMAP foods here.
- Vegetables: Carrots, cucumber, peppers, kale, lettuce, olives, potato, pumpkin, tomato
- Fruit: Bananas, blueberries, grapes, lemon, orange, pineapple, rhubarb
- Meat: Beef, chicken, pork, lamb, Quorn
- Fish: Tuna, cod, haddock, salmon
- Cereals/Grains: Gluten-free bread, gluten-free pasta, porridge, popcorn, rice bran, rice crackers
- Dairy: Butter, eggs, margarine, lactose-free milk, lactose-free yogurt, tofu, tempeh
Which Foods Should You Avoid On A Low FODMAP Diet?
You need to avoid, or completely restrict high FODMAP foods when following a low FODMAP diet. Obviously, there’s an extensive list of these foods, which you can find here.
However, I’m going to share some of the most important foods you should avoid if you’re on a low FODMAP diet, split into categories just like above.
- Vegetables: Garlic, onions, cassava, kidney beans, soybeans, mushrooms, peas
- Fruit: Apples, avocado, mango, peaches, raisins, watermelon
- Meat: Sausages, cured meats
- Cereals/Grains: Wheat products such as wheat bread, pasta, and cereals, cakes, pastries, udon noodles, rye bread
- Dairy: Cheese, buttermilk, cream, ice cream, yogurt
How Can You Ensure Your Nutrition Intake Is Sufficient On Low FODMAP?
If you want to ensure that you still have proper nutritional intake whilst on a low FODMAP diet, you need to make sure that you’re consuming a wide range of foods that will provide you with essential vitamins and minerals.
If you’re not sure which foods contain essential vitamins and minerals, or you’re unsure if you’re going to have a balanced diet every day, it’s probably beneficial to take a supplement containing essential vitamins and minerals.
The best type of supplement you can take to ensure your nutrition is taken care of daily is a super greens powder.
Consuming a super greens powder every day will provide you with essential micronutrients, as well as provide you with more specific benefits such as a stronger immune system, protection from radical damage, and better heart health.
Most super greens powders are suitable for those on low FODMAP diets, just make sure you’re choosing one with no sugar and no high FODMAP foods.
Low FODMAP Diet Precautions & Warnings
Although most people choose to do low FODMAP diets for a long period of time, the diet was initially intended to only be used for a short period of time (up to six weeks, maximum).
Pregnant and breastfeeding women, children, people on medication, and those with illnesses should avoid a low FODMAP diet unless specifically instructed by a medical professional.
If you are wanting to start a low FODMAP diet, it is always best to speak to a medical professional or a nutritionist first, before making any drastic changes.
The Bottom Line
The low FODMAP diet is definitely a beneficial diet for those suffering from IBS. However, it is a restrictive one that should be followed with caution, and not for a long period of time unless specifically instructed by a medical professional to do so.
If you don’t have IBS and you’re thinking about giving the low FODMAP diet a go, it might simply be best to reduce the number of high FODMAP foods you’re consuming, rather than eliminating them from your diet completely – this diet may not be suitable for you and therefore not produce the benefits you might expect it to.
Overall, a low FODMAP diet is powerful and extremely useful for those suffering from digestive tract issues, but it should also be respected and followed diligently.