Short for Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides and Polyols, FODMAP is a large term, with deep connections to your digestive health.
As a general idea, the definition includes everything your body cannot digest and reaches the large intestine where it fuels the bacteria residing there, creating gas, bloating, constipation and other nasty digestive symptoms (among which you can also count diarrhea).
While not everyone is sensitive to these types of carbohydrates, FODMAPs are at the base of diseases such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) – which in many situations remains undiagnosed. These are actually regular short-chain carbs that, in most people, are broken during their journey through our digestive system. Still, when they’re not broken down, the result is flatulence (because the bacteria feeding on FODMAP produce hydrogen, not methane), pain, or other uncomfortable disorders.
What exactly are FODMAPs?
These are nothing more but regular carbs that cannot be processed by your digestive system (kind of what happens with gluten on people who have Celiac disease). Here are a few examples that may clear up the things a little bit:
- Fructose – a type of sugar, usually found in fruits.
- Galactans – mostly in legumes.
- Lactose – specific to milk and dairy products.
- Polyols – a type of carb used as sweeteners and found in fruits and vegetables.
- Fructans – while you may have never heard of it, this carbohydrate is usually contained by grains such as wheat, rye, spelt and/or barley.
As you can see, FODMAP is nothing special and many of the foods that contain them!
The Solution: A Low-FODMAP Diet
For some, this is the most effective way to avoid irritating your digestive system as health specialists are not yet sure why this problem appears. So, if you find yourself bloated and otherwise digestively uncomfortable after having a piece of fruit or some specific veggies, it’s best to talk to your doctor.
The low-FODMAP diet proved successful in many cases, but there are other things you can do to help your digestive system fight back.
Healthy Foods for Your Gut
Given that the problem starts in your gut, you should adopt a lifestyle that doesn’t harm or disturb the bacteria residing there. The best gut health foods are the ones that nourish and protect your intestine and promote perfectly-functioning digestion. For this, always include in your diet foods like bananas, cruciferous vegetables, artichokes, fermented plant-based foods, blueberries, beans, and more like these.
Also, avoid sweets, fast-foods, greasy foods, and alcohol – these irritate the intestine and aggravate any existing problems.
Besides eating healthy, it’s important to promote a healthy lifestyle in general. This means doing yoga, practicing a sport you enjoy, or even going to the gym to get back in shape. You should also adopt a healthy sleep cycle (regardless of how busy your life is) and take care of your general level of happiness and life satisfaction.
It may be difficult to believe, but stress and an unhealthy lifestyle have a strong impact on your gut bacteria, which creates a vicious circle leading to a series of affections that can be quite serious. So, if you feel your body can’t really process certain foods, make sure to lay off of it, and talk to a healthcare specialist about this.