In the modern age when health and weight loss are the holy grail for many people, more and more kinds of diets have been created and practiced. They are diverse, from the caveman-style Paleo Diet heavy on proteins to vegan diet that totally does away with meat. But some diets have more to do with keeping illness at bay rather than losing weight. Low-FODMAP diet is one of them.
What is a low-FODMAP diet?
FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligo-saccharides, Di-saccharides, Mono-saccharides And Polyols. Unless you’ve got a bachelor’s degree in chemistry or biology, the term alone is enough to drive many people crazy. In layman’s term, FODMAPs are certain types of carbs, like sugars, starches, and fiber in foods, that your body has difficulty absorbing.
Such poor absorption, if occurring in the long term, can lead to symptoms and illnesses, the most common of all is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). A low-FODMAP diet is designed to help people with IBS have better control over their conditions. The main principle behind it is to simply restrict certain kinds of food that worsen their symptoms.
What is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)? IBS is a common and long-term disorder affecting the digestive system. It causes symptoms like stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhea and constipation. Those symptoms can last for days or weeks and reoccur many times. One good thing about IBS is that it is usually not life-threatening. The bad news is that it has no cure and requires lifelong treatment. You can relieve the situation by changing lifestyles, such as adopting a low-FODMAP diet. Research shows that about 3 out of 4 IBS patients experienced less severe symptoms after following it.
Who should follow a low-FODMAP diet?
You should only adopt a low-FODMAP diet if advised so by your doctor or diagnosed with IBS. Cutting down on FODMAPs when there is no medical reason to do so will do you more harm than good.
It must be made clear that FODMAPs aren’t inherently harmful. On the contrary, they are considered healthy food and important to the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. Still, many people absorb FODMAPs poorly. Due to their sensitive digestive system, those carbs stay in the large intestine and ferment during digestion. The process draws in water and releases gases that cause bloating in the intestine. Even so, problems only arise if FODMAPs are consumed in large quantity.
What food is high in FODMAP?
Oligosaccharides: wheat, barley, and rye products (including pizzas, cereals and pastas), legumes and various fruits and vegetables, such as garlic, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, artichokes, mushrooms, Brussels sprouts and onions.
Disaccharides: lactose found in dairy products such as milk, yogurt, soft cheese, pudding and ice cream.
Monosaccharides: fructose found in various fruit, such as figs and mangoes. Sweeteners such as honey and agave nectar also count.
Polyols: Certain fruits and vegetables such as blackberries and lychee. Especially fruits that have pits or seeds like apples, avocados, cherries, peaches, or plums. Artificial sweeteners and sugary drinks count as well.
What are the benefits of a low-FODMAP diet?
Reduced digestive symptoms: you’re going to experience less severe and frequent symptoms like gas, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation.
Improved quality of life: it’s certainly far from fun to carry a lifelong illness with you. But by taking a low-FODMAP diet, you can easily manage your symptoms without taking any medicine and live a normal life.
What food should be included in a low-FODMAP diet?
Vegetables: potatoes, bean sprouts, bell pepper, carrots, green beans, cucumbers, lettuces, tomatoes, bamboo shoots, eggplants, gingers, chives, olives, turnips.
Nuts and seeds: almonds, macadamia, peanuts, pine nuts, walnuts (fewer than 10-15/serving for nuts), pumpkin seeds.
How to follow a low-FODMAP diet?
It’s a three-step process:
Restriction: After consulting your doctor, you should stop eating foods high in FODMAP for 6-8 weeks, to see if your symptoms improve. If yes, move to the next stage.
Reintroduction: After your digestive health has improved, you can gradually rediscover foods you were forced to abandon. This should be done at a slow rate, like one item per week. The best-case scenario is that you only respond negatively to several FODMAP carbs, not all of them.
Personalization: It’s time to find out which foods trigger your digestive problems through trial and error and remove them permanently from your diet. Now you have meals consisting of FODMAPs carbs you’re OK with.
Is a low-FODMAP diet bland?
Not at all. Though some key spices such as garlics and onions must be removed due to their high content of FODMAPs, many other herbs can fill in the void. Even better, you can easily substitute fresh garlic with black garlic infused extra virgin olive oil. Black garlic retains the unique smell but not the FODMAPs, making it the ideal choice for your cooking. Don’t know where to look for? Come to Ilias and Sons and we will show you how flavorful a low-FODMAP meal can be.