various fruits and veggies

The word ‘diet’ has been coined in the 21st century and mainstream media as a way to lose weight and something that you start and stop constantly in the hopes of achieving a better lifestyle. However, I can assure you the low FODMAP diet is not one of the mainstream diets like keto or juice cleanses but used in the healthcare setting to help people with major health problems. So let’s break it down (and you may need a cup of tea for this as it is a bit of a read but it’ll be worth it!)…

What are FODMAPs?

FODMAPs are found naturally in many foods and are a collection of short-chain carbohydrates or sugars that are not absorbed properly in the gut. FODMAP stands for:

  • Fermentable
  • Oligosaccharides
  • Disaccharides
  • Monosaccharides
  • Polyols

A lot of big words there so here’s a bit more of a breakdown:

  • Fermentable is the process through which gut bacteria ferment undigested carbohydrate to produce gases (cue a burp or fart).
  • Oligosaccharides are a type of carbohydrate knowns as fructans and GOS completely found in foods such as wheat, rye, onions, garlic, and legumes/pulses.
  • Disaccharides or more commonly known as lactose is found in dairy products, e.g. milk, cheeses, and yoghurts.
  • Monosaccharides is commonly labelled as fructose, and you can find it in honey, apples, and high fructose corn syrups
  • Polyols encompasses two types of short-chain carbohydrates known as sorbitol and mannitol which is found in some fruits and vegetables and used as artificial sweeteners.

What Is the Low FODMAP Diet and Why Use It?

The low FODMAP diet is a 3-step process:

  1. Low FODMAP (2-6 weeks): strictly swap out high FODMAP foods for low
  2. FODMAP Reintroduction (8-12 weeks): reintroduce individual FODMAPs to identify which one/s you tolerate and which one/s trigger symptoms
  3. FODMAP Personalisation: include the FODMAPs that you tolerate back into your regular diet

As FODMAPs are rapidly fermented in your intestines to then produce gas and can also pull water into your gut. The water and gas production can stretch and bloat your gut, which can secondly trigger Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) symptoms, or concurrently other gastrointestinal and reproductive health issues.

IBS is a condition in which individuals have sensitive bowels that are easily ‘upset’. It’s unpleasant symptoms are experienced by around one in five Australians. These symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Mucus in stools
  • Alternating diarrhoea and constipation. 

Hence, these individuals may utilise the low FODMAP diet, as research shows three in four people with IBS feel better having done so.

Does This Mean I Have To Cut Out Dairy Or Bread Completely?

NO! The low FODMAP diet does not remove whole food groups but rather swaps foods high in FODMAPs to similar foods that are low in FODMAPs.

If you think you may benefit from trying a low FODMAP Diet, speak to your practitioner at your next appointment.

Better Health Channel. (2021). Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/irritable-bowel-syndrome-ibs
Monash University. (2019). The Low FODMAP Diet. Monash University. https://www.monashfodmap.com/


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