You may have heard of the Low FODMAP Diet in the media and especially if you are one of the many Americans suffering from regular gastrointestinal disorders.

FODMAP stands for Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, And Polyols. These are groups of carbohydrates comprised of sugars and fibers which are “short-chain carbohydrates and have been shown through research to be poorly absorbed in people with significant gastrointestinal issues such as irritable bowel syndrome.

Moreover, some people with mild gastrointestinal difficulties can also experience abdominal pain, bloating, gas, constipation and/or diarrhea when high FODMAP foods are ingested on a regular basis.

Fermentable foods are those which are quickly broken down in the digestive system and produce gas.

Oligosaccharides are found in certain vegetables, legumes, fruits, grains, nuts and teas; notably in wheat, rye, onions, artichokes, red kidney beans and cashews. Disaccharides are lactose based foods found in some milk and milk products including yogurt and ice cream.

Monosaccharides are foods which contain an excess of fructose such as honey, agave and high fructose corn syrup. Finally, Polyols include sugar alcohols like sorbitol and mannitol and include blackberries, apples, cauliflower and snow peas.

For people suffering from digestive disorders, oftentimes the actual high FODMAP foods are not the root cause of the underlying problem, but rather these foods are the trigger which initiates the symptoms of gastrointestinal stress (i.e. bloating, gas).

High FODMAP foods exacerbate underlying conditions because these foods can be poorly absorbed in the small intestine, cause excess water to be drawn into the intestines and cause excess fermentation in the colon leading to gas. When these reactions are triggered, the buildup of water and gas in the gastrointestinal tract lead to abdominal bloating, cramping, diarrhea and/or constipation.

A health care professional proficient in gastrointestinal disorders can assist in structuring an effective low FODMAP meal plan.

There are two phases of this plan; in phase one, which can last anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks, high FODMAP foods are removed from the daily diet.

Phase two involves reintroducing certain FODMAP foods step by step to establish trigger foods causing discomfort.

Carey Stites is a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor and a Registered Dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition. Carey is currently the Registered Dietitian working with Wellstone in Harker Heights. Contact her at carey.stites@smchh.org.

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