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What are FODMAPs and Should You Worry About Them?

By Dr. Juan Salinas

Our nutritional choices play a huge role in how we feel and how well we can function. 

Prevailing wisdom suggests that eating healthy leads to more energy, improved cognition, good work productivity, and a sense of well-being.

But, eating healthy can be challenging, and one new addition to the conversation relates to FODMAPs. So, we’ve put together this post to examine FODMAPs, see what they are, and answer the question, “Should you worry about them?”

Let’s dive in.


What Are FODMAPs?

FODMAP stands for fermentable oligo-, di-, monosaccharides, and polyols. FODMAPs are types of short-chain (simple) carbs resistant to digestion. 

When you consume a regular carb, your body breaks it down into simple sugars, which it can use to fuel itself. The issue with FODMAPs is they pass through your digestive tract and accumulate near the far end of your intestines. Gut bacteria feed on these carbohydrates, producing hydrogen gas and leading to gastrointestinal issues in susceptible individuals.

In some cases, ingesting FODMAPs might lead to diarrhea because they draw large amounts of water in the intestine. 

Some of the most common FODMAPs include fructose, polyols, lactose, and galactans.


What Are The Most Common Food Sources of FODMAPs?

FODMAPs occur naturally in many foods. For example, fructose, also known as fruit sugar, is present in almost every fruit. This FODMAP is also found in fruit juice, asparagus, and peas.

Lactose, another popular FODMAP, is common in dairy products. Because of that, folks who suffer from lactose intolerance experience bloating, cramps, nausea, gassiness, and other adverse effects from consuming milk and similar foods. 

Polyols, also known as sugar alcohols, occur in some fruits and vegetables and are often used as sweeteners. Xylitol is one famous example. 

We also have galactans, a polysaccharide with a chemical formula that allows food manufacturers to use them as gelling and thickening agents. Some of the most common sources include legumes––chickpeas, lima beans, and such.


What Benefits Does a Low FODMAP Diet Offer?

A low FODMAP diet isn’t necessarily beneficial for everyone, but it can be great for susceptible individuals or those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). According to research, following a low FODMAP diet can relieve:

  • Gassiness
  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps

There is also a hypothesis that following a low FODMAP diet can reduce the risk of mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety. The idea is that impaired gut health can increase the risk of such conditions, and limiting your intake of FODMAPs would prevent that from happening.

You should consult your doctor if you suspect that you might have an intolerance to FODMAPs. Modifying your diet could lead to significant gastrointestinal health improvements and a better quality of life.


Final Words

FODMAPs have been under the spotlight recently, and you might feel reluctant to cut out any foods that contain even the smallest amounts of these carbs in them. But, as with most things, the solution here isn’t black or white. 

Take, for example, P-Nuff Crunch snacks. One of their main ingredients is beans, but the snack is low in galactans, including raffinose and stachyose, making it low FODMAP and gut friendly.  Moreover, the snack is rich in fiber, protein, and other nutrients that support your health on many fronts.