By Lisa Zarny, MS, RD, CD-N, Clinical Nutrition Manager
Uncomfortable and inconvenient digestive issues are very common today. It is estimated that 14% of people in the United States have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), a gastrointestinal disorder that causes cramps, abdominal pain, gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and other uncomfortable symptoms. To help deal with IBS and other digestive problems, nutrition researchers have suggested a diet that is low in FODMAP-containing foods. FODMAPs, which stand for “Fermentable Oglio-, Di-, Mono-saccharides and Polyols,” are short-chain carbohydrates that can be difficult for the body to digest. FODMAPS include: fructose sugar found in fruits, vegetables, and added sugars; lactose found in dairy products; fructans found in grains; galactans found in many legumes; and sugar alcohols called polyols that are found in some fruits and vegetables and can also be used as a sweetener. Once digested, these carbohydrates are used by bacteria in the gut. This bacteria produce hydrogen gas, which leads to bloating, gas, cramps, pain, and constipation.
Foods high in FODMAPS include: apples, pears, peaches, honey, high fructose corn syrup, milk, yogurt, ice cream, asparagus, broccoli, mushrooms, onions, peas, beans, lentils, soybeans, barley, rye, fruit juices, beer, wine, and soft drinks.
Although many of the foods listed above are considered to be healthy, they can be problematic for people who are affected by FODMAPs. Foods that can be enjoyed on this diet include all fish and eggs, fats and oils, almonds, peanuts, bananas, grapes, strawberries, oranges, maple syrup, peppers, carrots, celery, lettuce, sweet potatoes, zucchini, corn, oats, rice, quinoa, coffee, and tea. If FODMAPs are the cause of your digestive problems, relief may be experienced in just a few days. However, it is recommended to eliminate all high-FODMAP foods for a few weeks in order to experience all of the possible benefits. If you are experiencing uncomfortable digestive symptoms, talk to your doctor or registered dietitian about trying a FODMAP-free diet. Relief could be just around the corner!
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