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FODMAP stands for fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols. The term was coined in 2005 in a hypothesis paper. In 2011, a research team in Melbourne, Australia developed a diet low in FODMAPs to relieve symptoms of IBS. FODMAPs are short-chain carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine. These food molecules are broken down by gut bacteria in the distal small intestine and in the large intestine, causing excess gas, bloating and pain in susceptible individuals. Small undigested portions of oligosaccharides also have what is called an osmotic effect, drawing water into the large intestine and causing diarrhea. FODMAP intolerance is just that, an intolerance to certain types of food, not an immune response as in gluten sensitivity.

Foods that are high in FODMAPs include wheat, all lactose-containing dairy products, certain fruits including stone fruits, apples, and watermelon, certain vegetables including broccoli and onions, and legumes. Polyols are sugar alcohols like xylitol and sorbitol which should also be avoided on the FODMAP diet.

The low FODMAP diet has been the subject of extensive research over the last few years. For example, recent research demonstrated that patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) have a decrease in their symptom scores on the low FODMAP diet. If you or your child has symptoms of IBS, it may be useful to check this list to see if there is a pattern to your symptoms that correlates with the intake of any of the high FODMAP foods.

Everyone's gut microbiome makeup is different; those trialing the low FODMAP diet are encouraged to experiment with adding back in higher FODMAP foods to test tolerance to different amounts of these foods. For example, my husband Andrew cut out garlic and onion initially but now has been able to add garlic back into his diet without having resultant gastrointestinal symptoms. However, certain onions are still a no-go for him so we have substituted with scallions.

I hope you have enjoyed this food for thought. Have a wonderful day!

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