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What are FODMAPs?

Fodmap Diet

With so many people talking about them, including your doctor, many people are asking the question “What are FODMAPs”? The low FODMAP diet was developed by an Australian dietitian; Dr Sue Shepard, at MONASH University. She went looking for a solution for otherwise poorly managed Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

What is IBS?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (or IBS) is a collection of symptoms (diarrhoea, constipation, bloating or/and excessive wind) not explained by any disease process. It is important to have IBS diagnosed by a medical professional, not by yourself because you might be missing a more dangerous diagnosis (like Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s or Coeliac Disease). Depending on your symptoms you might need a colonoscopy or/and gastroscopy to make sure there is nothing more sinister happening.

Who is a low FODMAP diet for?

We are increasingly seeing more people in our community with IBS symptoms (currently about 20%). While the list of causes of these symptoms is long, diet is certainly one of them. Australian research out of MONASH University in Victoria has shown that ~ 60 – 80 % of people with IBS symptoms respond well when implementing a low FODMAP diet.  

What are FODMAPs?

FODMAPs are a collection of molecules that are found naturally in food. They’ve been shown to cause gas and fluid shifts into and out of the small and large bowel which leads to symptoms such as diarrhoea, constipation, bloating and abdominal pain. Reducing your consumption of these foods high in FODMAPs reduces the presentation of those nasty symptoms.

What does FODMAP stand for?

FODMAPs are broken down by bacteria producing gas in a process called ‘fermentation’. This produces more gas in your intestines and can cause discomfort.

Oligosaccharides are a number of small carbohydrates found in foods like wheat, onion, garlic, pulses and legumes. They are poorly absorbed by some people and can cause gastrointestinal upset.

Disaccharides are two simple sugars that are attached to one another. A common disaccharide is lactose, which is found in dairy foods. Many people are intolerant to lactose due to a lacking of the lactase enzyme present in their gut to help break it down.

Monosaccharides are simple sugars such as glucose and fructose. Consuming foods that are low in glucose but high in fructose can cause an individual to mal-absorb fructose, which can cause cramping. Such foods include honey, apples and high-fructose corn syrups.

Polyols are sugar alcohols, such as sorbitol and mannitol, that are found in some fruits and vegetables. They’re often extracted for use as an artificial sweetener and can be found in many manufactured foods in place of sugar and are known to cause diarrhea at high intake levels.

Which foods contain FODMAPs?
This is actually quite a tricky question. If you search google you will find ‘lists’ of foods and these are often inconsistent. At SS Diets we will go through research with you, so you clearly understand why foods do or do not contain FODMAPs, based on research (scientific research, not ‘Google research’).

How does it work?

The low FODMAP diet is a ‘test diet’ very similar to an MRI or CT Scan, used as an investigation tool.  You should only follow the low FODMAP diet for a few weeks before reviewing its effect and starting to progress through challenges. You should follow the diet as strictly as possible during this time, it’s not a ‘jump on, jump off’ process.

Where can I get more information?

Information online about the low FODMAP diet is inconsistent and frustrating. Our team of Dietitians are all certified by MONASH University to support clients though the low FODMAP diet. Contact us to book an appointment with our team.

You can find our certifications with MONASH University here: