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The FODMAP diet was developed for folks with IBS, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Basically, the FODMAP Foods to Avoid List are foods that are known to, in one way or another, irritate the gut.
FODMAP stands for Fermentable, Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols, which are short chain carbohydrates or sugars that, for many, act as triggers to stomach upset.
IBS affects about 10-15% of the population, and mostly affects women. (1) It can cause gas, abdominal pain, bloating, variable bowel function and a variety of other digestive issues.
The basic concept is that there are many foods we all consider quite healthy that actually have bowel irritating properties.
What Do the FODMAP Foods Have in Common?
These FODMAP category foods tend to pull water off the gut wall, rendering the gut wall dehydrated and subsequently irritated. As a result of irritation, mucus is produced in excess, which proliferates bad microbes and accelerates fermentation, gas, bloating and pain.
Because these foods are short chain carbohydrates, they act more like sugars, fermenting quickly and irritating the bowel. According to Ayurveda, fermented foods are very acidic and heating, so it makes sense that too many of them would amount to an intestinal irritant.
Some of the Big No No’s Are:
- Lactose from dairy products
- Fructose and polyols from certain fruits (although there are some good fruits)
- Coconut products
- Fibrous veggies
- Certain beans that are high in fiber and/or fructans (chains of fructose molecules that end in a glucose molecule)
- Certain fats
As I have discussed, fat and fiber are two of our modern day deficiencies. As we all know, these are quite good for us, but in the case of IBS and according to the FODMAP theory, the natural balance of good microbes has been lost and bad gut-irritating bugs have taken over. As a result, fat and fiber, which are wonderful bug foods, become irritants until balance is restored.
This may be why high dosages of certain strains of probiotics like bifidobacterium have been shown to maintain the microbiological balance. (2)
For many folks with severe IBS symptoms, the FODMAP diet can be very valuable. The FODMAP strategy is to avoid these foods (listed below) for 6-8 weeks and then slowly reintroduce some of them to determine the foods that you are particularly sensitive to, and then just avoid those as opposed to all of them. It really requires a lot of discipline, and for some, it is just too difficult.
Searching Out the Root Cause
I have to say the FODMAP list is long and scary and, while I have no doubt this diet has merit and has helped many suffering with digestive issues find relief, I still wonder why we are not trying to fix the underlying problem.
Avoiding hard-to-digest foods makes sense, but only if we are at the same time asking ourselves, “why I am not digesting them well in the first place?”
We now have enough research to suggest that poor digestion and stress alter the microbiology of the gut, which can result in digestive distress (and just about everything else, considering how foundational digestion and assimilation are to all the functions in the body).
In Ayurveda and at LifeSpa, we are dedicated to helping folks re-boot their digestive strength, repopulate the gut with good bugs, and learn how to manage stress to minimize its devastation on our bodies and minds.
After you take a look at The FODMAP Foods to Avoid List below, please go to the Digestion & Elimination section of my site to watch and read my video articles on how Ayurveda suggests re-booting your digestive power.
The FODMAP Foods to Avoid List: (3)
- Plums and prunes
- High concentration of fructose from canned fruit, dried fruit or fruit juice
- Cous Cous
- Lactose-Containing Foods:
- Ice cream
- Milk (cow, goat, sheep)
- Soft cheese, including cottage cheese and ricotta
- Yogurt (regular and Greek)
- Dairy substitutes (almost milk and US soy milk)
- Baked beans
- Black-eyed peas
- Butter beans
- Kidney beans
- Lima beans
- Split peas
- High fructose corn syrup
- Brussels sprouts
- Scallions (white parts)
- Sugar snap peas
- Snow peas