Experiencing digestive problems such as gas, abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, constipation or diarrhea? You may be consuming something from a group of foods (FODMAPs) containing small carbohydrates (sugars) that are not being adequately broken down in your small intestine. These FODMAP foods then have to move down into your large digestive tract (colon) where they draw water into the colon and bacteria begin to ferment them rapidly. The combination of water and gas stretches the colon leading to some or all of the above mentioned digestive problems.
Of course, if you have any of the above-listed symptoms, you may have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and should speak with your healthcare provider. Regardless of the cause, following a diet low in FODMAPs may help improve your symptoms. The first step is to keep a food diary, identify any food that might be associated with your symptoms, and if it seems that high FODMAP foods may be at fault, try an elimination diet to determine which food(s) may be causing your digestive problems. A low FODMAPs diet is not a useful diet if you are generally healthy.
High FODMAP foods include: Vegetables – artichokes, asparagus, avocados, beetroot, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, green bell peppers, mushrooms, snow peas, raw spinach, radicchio lettuce, corn, garlic, leeks and white onions, and garlic and onion salts or powders; Grains – barley, rye or wheat (in large amounts), foods with high amounts of added inulin (fibre); Legumes – beans and lentils; Dairy with lactose – cow, goat, sheep, condensed and evaporated milk, ice cream, margarine, yogurt; Cheese – soft and unripened cheese; Fruits – apples, apricots, cherries, peaches, pears, prunes, plums, blackberries, watermelon, figs, mangoes; Dried fruits and fruit juice concentrates; Sweeteners – anything that ends with -itol, (e.g. sorbitol), isomalt, agave, high fructose corn syrup, honey; Alcohol.
Low FODMAP foods include: Vegetables – yellow, orange & red bell pepper, bok choy, bean sprouts, butter lettuce, carrots, eggplant, green beans, tomatoes, potatoes, garlic or onion infused oils;
Grains – any gluten-free bread, pasta, rice cakes, potato chips but check the ingredient list for any high FODMAPs such as honey and agave are not present; Dairy – lactose-free products; Cheese – cheddar, parmesan, swiss, mozzarella; Fruits – ripe bananas, blueberries, grapefruit, grapes, lemons, limes, oranges, raspberries, strawberries, honeydew, passion fruit, kiwi; Sweeteners – table sugar, maple syrup.
This is not an exhaustive list, if you believe a particular food is causing you difficulties, check it out on the Canadian Digestive Health Foundation website, www.CDHF.ca.