digestion disorders

What’s a Possible Diet Fix for Digestion Ailments?

What is FODMAP? It’s not a misspelling of “food” and has nothing to do with any map.

FODMAP is actually an acronym that represents different types of compounds in foods. When these compounds, or molecules, are reduced or eliminated from the diets of some individuals, symptoms of several digestion-related disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome may improve or disappear.

The acronym FODMAP stands for:

  • Fermentable – This is a collection of compounds that can be broken down (fermented) by bacteria in the large bowel.
  • Oligosaccharides – “Oligo” means “few” and “saccharide” means sugar. These molecules are made up of individual sugars joined together in a chain.
  • Disaccharides – “Di” means two. This is a double sugar molecule.
  • Monosaccharides – “Mono” means single. This is a single sugar molecule.
  • And Polyols – These are sugar alcohols (not the drinking kind).

This collection of compounds — the FODMAPs — are what are known as short-chain carbohydrates. Some people have a hard time digesting these short-chain carbohydrate compounds.

If you or someone in your family has a hard time digesting these compounds, they can ferment in your lower large intestine (your bowel). The fermentation process pulls in water from your lower gastrointestinal tract (lower GI tract) and produces gasses such as carbon dioxide, hydrogen and methane. All this can cause your intestine to stretch and expand.

As you can guess, this stretching will cause a lot of discomfort in the lower GI tract.

Can You Benefit From a Low FODMAP Diet?

People who have periodic or regular lower GI discomfort might benefit from a low FODMAP diet. This type of diet reduces the compounds that can ferment in your system and create that uncomfortable gas build up.

Conditions that a low FODMAP diet may be helpful controlling include:

Before trying a low FODMAP diet, check with a registered dietitian or your health care provider. There may be other reasons for lower GI discomfort, such as celiac disease, a gluten intolerance, a poorly balanced diet, excessive stress or inadequate fiber, fluids or exercise.

A dietitian or health care professional may have another treatment option that could address your issues.

How Can You Reduce FODMAPs in Your Diet?

To determine if a low FODMAP diet is the right treatment, you may be asked to keep a food diary and track:

  • What you eat.
  • What symptoms you have.
  • When those symptoms happen.

With this information, you and your provider can start to narrow down the foods that may be a problem for you and steps you can take to further reduce any lower GI issues.

With a low FODMAP diet, you’ll want to cut back or stop eating these high FODMAP foods:

  • Beans, onions and other foods that may cause gas.
  • Fruits such as apples, apricots, blackberries, cherries, mango, nectarines, pears, plums and watermelon, or juice containing any of these fruits.
  • Large quantities of fruit juice or dried fruit.
  • Vegetables such as artichokes, asparagus, beans, cauliflower, garlic and garlic salts, lentils, mushrooms, onions and sugar snap or snow peas.
  • Dairy products such as milk, milk products, soft cheeses, yogurt, custard and ice cream.
  • Wheat and rye products.
  • Honey and foods with high-fructose corn syrup.
  • Products, including candy and gum, with sweeteners ending in “–ol,” such as, sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol and maltitol.
  • Drinks with alcohol or caffeine.

A registered dietitian or your health care provider can give you more specific guidance and start you on a journey to better wellness. 

If this type of information is helpful, visit the Aurora Facebook page for more health information. And plan to take a moment to like us!

Meet the Author

Dee Gabbard RDN, CD, is a dietitian at Aurora Health Care in Milwaukee, WI.

Read more posts from this author

The information presented in this site is intended for general information and educational purposes. It is not intended to replace the advice of your own physician. Contact your physician if you believe you have a health problem.

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