Despite all the hype surrounding the nutrient density of vegetables, I recently learnt a valuable lesson in the importance of bio-individuality. That is, the need to truly listen to your body in regards to how food really makes you feel – not the person next to you. If your neighbor, with the gorgeous glowing skin, swears by chia seeds in her smoothies, yet every time you add it, your stomach doesn’t feel right afterwards- take heed. Your body is trying to tell you something very important.
This concept of individuality was heralded recently, after my recent trip to London - where the word on everyone’s lips was ‘FODMAPS’ (if indeed that’s a word!). FODMAPS - which has been slowly cropping up in several health magazines and studies – was actually pioneered by a team at Monash University. A team at Monash University, led by Professor Peter Gibson and including Dr Sue Shepherd and others, developed the low FODMAP diet.
Given the prevalence of IBS today and the amount of emails I receive from concerned mum’s and individuals, I thought it best to shine some light on what appears to be a very successful treatment for BANISHING THE BLOAT."
FODMAPS stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. These are complex names for certain molecules in foods which can be poorly digested by those afflicted with IBS. Essentially, these molecules, when poorly absorbed by our small intestine, move onto our large intestine- where our good bacteria ferment these molecules. This process of fermentation leads to IBS symptoms.
Simply googling FODMAP’s often leads to more confusion as to what one can actually put in their mouth! Again-FODMAPS isn’t a one size fits all approach and while some people can happily eat Polyol molecules but categorically no Disaccharides, others find they cannot eat both. Furthermore, as research uncovers the amount of certain FODMAPS in foods, some previously ‘banned’ foods are being slowly integrated into a FODMAPS friendly diet. This is good news for Coconut lovers- up until recently Coconut products were listed on the FODMAPS list as they contained Polyols. However, while coconuts contain Polyols, the amount they contain is so negligible that they have been (happily) taken off the forbidden list!
For the most current version of the diet, Monash University updates their FODMAP food list every year and sells a low FODMAP diet information booklet, here. All the money from the booklet sales funds the research team! Not bad.
In a nutshell however FODMAP Foods to Avoid include:
- Excess Fructose: Honey, Apples, Mango, Pear, Watermelon, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup Solids
- Fructans: Artichokes (Globe), Artichokes (Jerusalem), Asparagus, Beetroot, Chicory, Dandelion leaves, Garlic (in large amounts), Leek, Onion (brown, white, Spanish, onion powder), Raddicio lettuce, Spring Onion (white part), Wheat (in large amounts), Rye (in large amounts), Inulin, Fructo-oligosaccharides.
- Lactose: Milk, ice-cream, custard, dairy desserts, condensed and evaporated milk, milk powder, yoghurt, margarine, soft unripened cheeses (eg. ricotta, cottage, cream, marscarpone).
- Galacto-Oligosaccharides (GOS): Legume beans (eg. baked beans, kidney beans, bortolotti beans), Lentils, Chickpeas
- Polyols: Apples, Apricots, Avocado, Cherries, Longon, Lychee, Nectarines, Pears , Plums, Prunes, Mushrooms, Sorbitol (420), mannitol (421), xylitol (967), maltitol (965) and Isomalt (953).
A few pointers I would suggest if you are considering eliminating FODMAPS from your diet would be:
- Gluten free doesn’t necessarily mean FODMAP free. Honey and onion are criminal offenders for example and are often in ‘gluten free’ sauces and packaged goods.
- If you miss your onions in your cooking, try adding chives, the green parts of spring onions or the Indian herb asafoetida, more about this herb in a future blog.
- Inulin- the cheap and ‘healthy’ food bulking agent is in everything! It is touted as a wonderful pre-biotic- but tread carefully- for many this is the major trigger! Pay particular attention to store bought yoghurts and ‘healthy’ muesli bars.
If you are thinking of testing your stomach for FODMAP sensitivity, start off with eliminating the key culprits for a good 6-8 weeks. Once you have allowed time for your stomach to settle- slowly start introducing one molecule/FODMAP group at a time- pay attention to how you react. If you experience no symptoms, you can safely add it back to your diet.
And if this FODMAP diet seems simply too daunting…just remember…FODMAPS are forms of carbohydrates, so if all else fails….Good FAT, is your friend and you can consume healthy coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil in moderation.