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So what about FODMAPs?

By Kris Jasper (Naturopath/Nutritionist).

This weekend I attended the Free From Show in Melbourne to investigate healthy snack options for clients who have allergies and intolerances. There were many stall holders advertising products which claimed to be low FODMAP. So, what does this actually mean?

Fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols (FODMAPs) are currently perceived as common culprits for digestive symptoms, particularly those experienced in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). These components in foods are short chain carbohydrates which are poorly absorbed in the small intestine. Removing these foods which may include things like apples, onions, asparagus, garlic, certain mushrooms, cabbage and artichoke is a common dietary strategy for reducing digestive complaints associated with FODMAP malabsorption. 

FODMAP containing foods are also prebiotic  foods for the digestive system, meaning they feed the beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT).

Although removing FODMAP containing foods from the diet can initially help with relieving digestive symptoms associated with malabsorption, the lack of prebiotic fibre will mean bacteria in the gut aren't getting the fuel they need to flourish. Therefore, this will prolong the digestive symptoms in the long run. 

This is important to note, as although many of the companies and brands at the Free From Show exhibited reduced FODMAP foods, there was no emphasis on the long term impact of a low FODMAP diet. In other words, it was not made clear that reducing intake of high FODMAP foods in the long term could be potentially damaging for populations of beneficial gut bacteria. 

With any change in dietary pattern, there will always be pros and cons to different approaches. The reasons why the FODMAP intolerances may have occurred can be due to many factors which are unique to each individual. This is why it is always advised to seek the advice of a qualified Naturopath or Nutritionist to help assist you with making any necessary dietary changes.

If you think you have an issue with FODMAP containing foods, any food intolerances or digestive complaints, you can make an appointment with our Naturopath here.


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