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What are FODMAPs?

FODMAP is an acronym that represents four groups of short chain carbohydrate (or sugar molecules) found naturally in a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes and milk products. When foods containing FODMAPs are consumed in food or drinks, they are poorly absorbed in the small intestine. This means they continue their path along the digestive tract to the large intestine where they are rapidly fermented by the healthy bacteria that live there, potentially resulting in unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms such as excessive wind (flatus), abdominal pain, bloating and distension, and changes in bowel habits (diarrhoea and/or constipation).

Fermentable

Rapidly fermented by healthy bacteria in the large intestine

Oligosaccharides

Fructo-oligosaccharides (Fructans) and Galacto-oligiosaccharides (GOS)

Wheat, barley, rye, onion, garlic, artichokes, watermelon, inulin/chicory root, legumes and certain nuts

Disaccharides

Lactose

Milk, yoghurt, ice cream, cream, custard, ricotta cheese

Monosaccharides

Fructose in excess of glucose

Honey, agave, mango, pears, apples, watermelon, asparagus, sugar snap peas, high fructose corn syrup

And

Polyols

Sorbitol and Mannitol

Mushrooms, cauliflower, peaches, plums, sugar free gums and mints

Why do FODMAPs cause symptoms?

FODMAPs are not harmful in any way, but the fermentation of these sugars during digestion can cause symptoms in people with a sensitive stomach. As FODMAPs move along the digestive tract two processes occur that may lead to:

1. Certain FODMAPs are highly osmotic (they draw water into the intestine). Because of this, they create pressure within the gut, and may cause diarrhoea.

2. FODMAPs are fermented by the healthy bacteria that naturally live in the large intestine. This fermentation creates large volumes of gas. For those with a sensitive gut this can result in bloating, cramping, excessive wind and altered gut motility (either diarrhoea or constipation).

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© Everyday Nutrition Australia 2018