I think every single person in their life experienced problems with the stomach, whether it was gas, bloating or other problems. It is an uncomfortable topic that people don´t discuss every day. You have to take care of your health and be aware of the causes that can bring you pain and discomfort. Reasons for abdominal pain can be different, food intolerance, allergies, poisoning or irritable bowel syndrome. Most causes of abdominal pain aren’t worrisome, and the right diet can do magic. Normally, your gut and brain work together to control digestion. This happens via hormones, nerves, and signals released by the good bacteria that live in your gut. When you have pain in the stomach, these cooperative signals become distorted, leading to uncoordinated and painful tension in the muscles of the digestive tract
When I started my fitness and the healthy eating journey I also had some digestive problems. I couldn´t understand what makes me feel so bad, if it was too much food, too little food or if it was a specific product. It took a lot of time to investigate the reasons and now I know some secrets that I want to share with everyone.
What are FODMAP´s?
During my researches and cognition of the world of food and nutrition, I started to notice that some specific foods I ate had a strange influence on my body. I read that there can be gluten and dairy intolerance, so I decided to eliminate these products from my diet first. It helped a bit, but there was still something wrong. One day I was reading an article of a fitness coach who mentioned FODMAP products and their influence on our stomach and gut. So what is that?
FODMAP stands for “Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols”
These are short-chain carbs that are resistant to digestion. Instead of being absorbed into your bloodstream, they reach the far end of your intestine where most of your gut bacteria located. Your gut bacteria then use these carbs for fuel, producing hydrogen gas and causing digestive symptoms in sensitive people. FODMAPs also draw liquid into your intestine, which may cause diarrhea. Although not everyone is sensitive to FODMAPs, this is very common among people with irritable bowel syndrome.
Here are the main groups of FODMAPs:
- Oligosaccharides: Carbs in this group include fructans (fructo oligosaccharides and inulin) and galacto oligosaccharides. Key dietary sources include wheat, rye, various fruits and vegetables, pulses and legumes.
- Disaccharides: Lactose is the main FODMAP in this group. Key dietary sources include milk, yogurt and soft cheese.
- Monosaccharides: Fructose is the main FODMAP in this group. Key dietary sources include various fruit, honey and agave nectar.
- Polyols: Carbs in this group include sorbitol, mannitol and xylitol. Key dietary sources include various fruits and vegetables, as well as some sweeteners like those in sugar-free gum.
FODMAP´s can be found in a wide range of everyday foods. Sometimes they are naturally present in products, while other times they’re added to improve a food’s appearance, texture or flavor.
What happens when you eat FODMAPs?
FODMAPs can cause gut symptoms in two ways: by drawing fluid into the intestine and through bacterial fermentation.
Drawing Fluid Into the Intestine
Because FODMAPs are short chains of sugars, they are “fluid active.” This means they pull water from your body tissue into your intestine. This can lead to symptoms like bloating and diarrhea in sensitive people
When you eat carbs, they need to be broken down into single sugars by enzymes before they can be absorbed through your intestinal wall and used by your body. However, humans cannot produce some of the enzymes needed to break down FODMAPs. This leads to undigested FODMAPs traveling through the small intestine and into the large intestine. In fact, your large intestine is home to trillions of bacteria. These bacteria rapidly ferment FODMAPs, releasing gas and other chemicals that can cause digestive symptoms, such as bloating, stomach pain and altered bowel habits in sensitive people.
List of high FODMAP foods to avoid
A low FODMAP diet cuts out many common products that contain certain foods. The principle behind the diet is to give the gut a chance to heal, especially if you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Remember, it is not a long-lasting diet. You have to keep Low FODMAP diet maximum for 8 weeks, to reduce symptoms.
A list of common foods that you should avoid include:
- Some vegetables
- Snow peas
- Sweet corn
- Brussels sprouts
- Fruits, particularly “stone” fruits like:
- Dried fruits and fruit juice concentrate
- Beans and lentils
- Wheat and rye
- Dairy products that contain lactose
- Soft cheese
- Ice cream
- Cottage cheese
- Nuts, including cashews and pistachios
- Sweeteners and artificial sweeteners
- Sports drinks
- Coconut water
If you noticed that you have trouble with digestion and you know you don´t have food intolerances or allergies, try to avoid FODMAP foods as it can be a cause of your discomfort. The low FODMAP diet has been tested and is considered safe for adults. However, be sure to choose foods high in fiber and calcium, consult reputable resources and rule out possible disease. Elimination of some products can really help you and make you feel more self-confident. But if you suspect any serious food intolerance or allergy, please go to doctor and make some necessary tests. Stomach problems can be a symptom of serious disease. Otherwise, if you don´t take care of your body, where are you going to live? 🥰