top of page

Fretting about FODMAPs? Don’t Worry- We’ve got Your Back…and Gut!


low FODMAP, IBS, SIBO, Married to Health, Nutrition, Good Gut


What you will learn in this article: 

  • More context about elimination diets.

  • What are FODMAPs?

  • Are FODMAPs beneficial or dangerous?

  • A great tool to help with FODMAPs.



Hey Good Gut Gang! With elimination diets sounding like an appealing means-to-an-end to long-standing gut issues; conflicting opinions coming from healthcare professionals, influencers, and your random co-worker- all claiming to be gut experts; and endless ads for the latest-and-greatest “gut cure”, how is one able to truly understand the cause of their gut symptoms and identify science-backed tools to help them ‘Heal With Each Meal’? Don’t worry, as Integrative Registered Dietitian Nutritionists trained in translating the science of nutrition, marketing, and research with over a decade of experience and certifications in Gastrointestinal Nutrition, Environmental Nutrition, Plant Based Nutrition, and more, we’re here to clear the air- from misinformation and excessive gas! 


Nowadays, almost anyone will tell you they eliminated “X” food or food groups, and their symptoms all disappeared! Most of us who have experienced gut issues hear this and are willing to eliminate just about anything besides the air we breathe in order to feel better and get back to living without regular gut discomfort. This is why we are seeing a rise in extreme diets (i.e. extremely low-carb, “Carnivore”, “Keto” and various forms of “Paleo” diets). All of these are just extreme and long-term versions of elimination diets. While some of these “Elimination Diets” can be chalked up to individual allergies or intolerances, many of them have scientific reasons to explain why cutting out certain foods helps decrease gas, bloating, gut pain, diarrhea, constipation, and more of the symptoms that may be holding you back from living your best life. However, eliminating symptoms is great and all, but that is not the only measure of actually having an optimal and thriving gut microbiome. Some of the most common foods people recommend eliminating to reduce that foul smelling gas, belt-busting bloat, and Olympic-winning bathroom runs tend to be 

  • Onion

  • Garlic

  • Broccoli

  • Beans


 Though these foods have been known to be more fermentable (don’t worry, we’ll explain what that means in a second), we always like to clear the air and remind you that there are no gassy foods, only gassy people!


If one finds themselves constantly feeling discomfort or self-conscious of their symptoms after eating certain foods, it’s important to try to understand why and ask which part of a well-functioning gut is off. There are 3 factors to a healthy and thriving gut: 

  1. Structure-the barrier, which regulates production of enzymes and more. 

  2. Function-the movement AKA motility, regulating the rate at which food, bugs, and other substances travel through the digestive tract. 

  3. Population-the bugs/microbes (causing gut imbalance AKA dysbiosis)


Remember- lack of symptoms does not mean you’re cured! It just means you’re avoiding something trying to help you identify your root cause. Symptoms are there for a reason, and if we just turn them off without understanding why they turned on to begin with, we could be in more trouble down the road. Think of actually seeing a great mechanic for your “check engine light” vs just unscrewing the bulb that makes the light glow. Now let’s get some background on why those foods cause the discomfort they do and what can be done about it with some amazing new researched backed tools.


What are FODMAPs?

low FODMAP, IBS, SIBO, plant-based, integrative registered dietitian

FODMAP is an acronym for categories of short-chain carbohydrates that may contribute to or trigger symptoms of IBS. FODMAP stands for:


Fermentable

Oligosaccharides 

Disaccharides 

Monosaccharides (single carbohydrate chains) and

Polyols 

FODMAPs are Fermentable carbohydrates (fiber, starch, or sugar) that can provide food/ substrate for microbial feeding. These carbohydrates can cause discomfort by:

  • Drawing additional water into the gut, leading to pain and bowel urgencyand/or

  • Increasing gas produced in the intestines by fermentation, increasing feelings of discomfort caused by intestinal hyper-permeability/ “leaky gut” as well as constipation- causing gasses. 

Common examples of high FODMAP foods include:

  • Oligosaccharides (long chains of multiple- 3 or more- carbohydrates): Tend to be highly fermentable, producing large amounts of gas in the intestines. 

    • Fructans are found in wheat, barley, legumes, garlic, onions, artichokes, asparagus, sugar snap peas, cabbage, shallots, leeks, cauliflower, mushrooms, and green peppers.

    • Galactans (Galacto OligoSaccharides/ GOS) are the primary carbohydrate found in beans, lentils and legumes.

  • Disaccharides (chains of 2 carbohydrates): Sucrose (fructose + glucose), lactose (glucose + galactose), and maltose (glucose + glucose). Disaccharides tend to be highly fermentable, producing large amounts of gas in the intestines as well as drawing high amounts of water into the intestines, causing discomfort.

    • Foods high in the carbohydrate lactose include: dairy products like milk, yogurt, kefir and soft cheese products. (we prefer plant-based versions of these)

    • Foods high in the carbohydrate sucrose include: sweet fruits like dates, mango, apricots, bananas, etc. Vegetables such as beets, peas, starchy squashes, garlic, onions. Starchy grains, legumes, and sweeteners.

    • Foods high in the carbohydrate maltose include: wheat, cornmeal, barley, sweet potato, and edamame.

  • Monosaccharides (single carbohydrate): Monosaccharides draw high amounts of water into the intestines, causing discomfort. Fructose foods are natural sources of fruit sugar. Galactan foods are natural sources of starches such as raffinose and stachyose. Glucose foods can also be natural and refined sources of sugar.

    • Fructose containing food sources include: mangoes, apples, honey, pears and watermelon.

    • Galactan containing food sources include: beans, lentils, soybeans, cabbage

    • Glucose containing food sources include: Honey, Agave, Molasses, Dried fruit, Fruits, Fruit juices, Sweet corn

  • Polyols: Also called “sugar alcohols”. Polyols tend to be highly fermentable, producing large amounts of gas in the intestines

    • These carbs are often found in processed foods such as: sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, maltitol and erythritol.

    • Whole polyol foods include: pitted fruits like avocado, apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches and plums.


Prebiotics and Fructans: The Benefits

Fructans–which include wheat products, onions, garlic, artichokes and inulin–fall under the “oligosaccharides” category of FODMAP and can be further subcategorized into fructooligosaccharides (FOS) and inulin. Because foods containing fructan are high FODMAP foods, individuals avoiding these foods may be missing out on the prebiotic benefits that fructans provide to our bodies, including nourishing important bugs in our gut which can help the gut heal in the long-term. 


Long story short, FODMAPs are really good for you and you do not want to eliminate them long-term from your diet. 


Prebiotics are nutrients that, when digested by the bacteria in your gut, produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). Once these SCFAs are produced, they can be transported into our bloodstream and other parts of the body. Research has shown that SCFAs contribute to gut maintenance by healing the gut’s lining, support of the immune system, and they also have the potential to provide health benefits including anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor effects as well as cholesterol metabolism. 


So, how are fructans prebiotics? The chemical formula of fructans allows for them to not be digested in the small intestine and continue into the large intestine- unless one has dysbiosis, that is when they are overly-fermented in the small intestine. This can be a condition called SIBO/IMO/SIFO. In the large intestine, the Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus bacteria ferment the fructans increasing the probiotic quantity of these bacteria populations. Thus increasing the production of SCFAs.


Prebiotics feed probiotic populations, so prebiotics are important for probiotics to function effectively in your gut. Some health benefits of these prebiotics include improved intestinal barrier function and laxation, increased insulin sensitivity, decreased blood triglycerides and an improved lipid profile, increased calcium and magnesium absorption, and increased satiety. These all are important for overall gut function and health. 


What can I do to Increase and Tolerate more FODMAP Foods in my Diet?

While fructans are found in a variety of foods, sometimes our lifestyles prevent us from eating enough fructans; and when we aren’t able to control what goes into our foods, we may feel distress. FODMAPs may also be difficult to digest for those with gut barrier, gut motility, and gut balance issues (i.e. IBS, SIBO, IMO, etc). Even if you may be sensitive to FODMAPS, you can still incorporate fructans into your diet by using heavily-researched, science-backed enzymes specifically designed to break down FODMAPs. Enzymes along with a root-cause action plan can be extremely beneficial in helping with immediate symptoms, while you are working on long-term success with your care team. Don’t have a care team? Check out how we can help!


It is extremely important to: 

  1. Understand why you are having GI symptoms.

  2. Work on a solid action plan to address the root causes of those symptoms.

  3. Along the way you can use key resources to address current symptoms while ensuring the symptoms stay away long-term. 


It can take time to rebuild the structure, function, and population of your gut, so in the meantime there are many tools we use to help our patients find relief. One of those tools is our favorite FODMAP-digesting enzyme combination is FODZYME®. FODZYME® is a novel enzyme blend that breaks down the FODMAPs fructan, galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS), and lactose into more digestible simple sugars. FODZYME® is also vegan and dairy-, soy-, gluten-, and casein-free. It is a powder that can be used on foods high in GOS, lactose, and fructan to promote your FODMAP tolerance. Help your body flourish by including fructans in your diet so you can continue to ‘Heal With Each Meal’- especially those containing FODMAPs! Use our code for 15% off: https://partners.fodzyme.com/MARRIEDTOHEALTH



In Summary

  • You cannot eliminate your way to health, the key is to add as many plant foods as possible. 

  • FODMAPs are not only a natural part of many healthy foods, but you want to eat as many FODMAPs as possible. 

  • While you are healing, it is great to use resources like enzymes along with other forms of medical nutrition therapy to restore gut population, structure, and function for sustainable success. 

  • This can all be extremely overwhelming, so don’t go it alone. Contact our office to learn more about working with an Integrative Gut Health Dietitian. 



James Marin, Dahlia Marin, Integrative Registered Dietitian
James Marin, RD, EN & Dahlia Marin, RDN, LD, CGN

Want more FREE recipes and resources? Click Here

Sign Up for Our Newsletter Click Here

Become our Patient Click Here

Meet the Team: See which Dietitian is right for you! Click Here





References

Akimova, T., Alva-Murillo, N., Aoyama, M., Arora, T., Boffa, L. C., Cavaglieri, C. R., Cousens, L. S., Cronin, M., Davie, J. R., Dewulf, E. M., Donohoe, D. R., Fast, A. G., Fernandez-Rubio, C., Gupta, N., Hinnebusch, B. F., Hoverstad, T., Ingersoll, M. A., Kida, Y., Kim, H. J., … Damman, C. J. (2013, December 31). The role of short-chain fatty acids in health and disease. Advances in Immunology. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/B9780128001004000039?via%3Dihub 

Davani-Davari, D., Negahdaripour, M., Karimzadeh, I., Seifan, M., Mohkam, M., Masoumi, S. J., Berenjian, A., & Ghasemi, Y. (2019, March 9). Prebiotics: Definition, types, sources, mechanisms, and clinical applications. Foods (Basel, Switzerland). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6463098/ 

Ellis, E. (2022, April 12). Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Fedewa, A., & Rao, S. S. C. (2014, January). Dietary fructose intolerance, fructan intolerance and FODMAPs. Current gastroenterology reports. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3934501/ 

Flamm, G., Glinsmann, W., Kritchevsky, D., Prosky, L., & Roberfroid, M. (2001, July). Inulin and oligofructose as dietary fiber: A review of the evidence. PubMed. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11497328/ 

Hughes, R. L., Alvarado, D. A., Swanson, K. S., & Holscher, H. D. (2022, March). The prebiotic potential of inulin-type fructans: A systematic review. Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8970830/ 

Shi, Y., Si, D., Zhang, X., Chen, D., & Han, Z. (2023, September 16). Plant fructans: Recent advances in metabolism, evolution aspects and applications for human health. Current Research in Food Science. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2665927123001636?via%3Dihub 

Wang, M., & Cheong, K.-L. (2023, February 7). Preparation, structural characterisation, and bioactivities of Fructans: A Review. MDPI. https://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/28/4/1613 

What is the Low-FODMAP Diet?. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. (2020, August 10). https://www.eatright.org/health/health-conditions/digestive-and-gastrointestinal/what-is-the-low-fodmap-diet

178 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page