10 things to know about the Fodmaps diet

1. Fodmaps are all sugar…

The acronym Fodmaps designates 5 families of fermentable carbohydrates identified in the early 2000s: fructans (in cereals and vegetables), galacto-oligosaccharides (in legumes), disaccharides (lactose in certain dairy products), monosaccharides ( fructose of certain fruits or honey) and polyols (naturally present in certain fruits and vegetables or added as sweeteners in products without sugars).
Here are the main sources of Fodmaps carbohydrates: fructans (wheat, rye, onion, garlic, shallots, leeks, artichokes), galacto-oligosaccharides (legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, beans, soy, cashews, pistachios), fructose (apple, pear, cherries, mango, watermelon, honey, glucose-fructose syrup, asparagus), lactose (milk, yogurts, unripened fresh cheese) and polyols (sorbitol, xylitol, mannitol, maltitol in products without sugars, cauliflower, mushroom, avocado, yellow peach, apricot, plum). Be careful, just because a food can contain Fodmaps does not mean that it should be completely excluded from your diet in the event of digestive problems.

2. They are everywhere… or almost

Except in meat, fish , eggs and vegetable oils, there are almost all foods! They reside naturally in certain fruits and vegetables (but not all), dairy products, legumes, cereals … And as there are Fodmaps in wheat, milk, onion, garlic or apples , they are logically found in many processed products such as cakes, ready meals, industrial sauces, fruit juices …

3. Their fermentation can cause digestive disorders

The peculiarity of these carbohydrates is that they are fermentable. “Once in the intestines, they are quickly fermented by microbiota bacteria, which love them and eat them,” explains Julie Delorme, dietician of digestive pathologies, author of Fodmaps Diet: the supermarket buying guide. However, this fermentation produces gases and short-chain fatty acids, which can cause digestive disorders: bloating, flatulence, diarrhea and / or constipation-type transit problems, pain because the gases press on the intestinal walls…

4. An imbalance of the microbiota and it’s a disaster!

Fodmaps are part of the nutritional balance , we need them because they play a positive role in the intestines by feeding good bacteria. “But an imbalance in the microbiota can lead to an excessively permeable intestinal barrier and excessive fermentation which, associated with hypersensitivity of the nerves between the intestines and the brain, will cause bloating, pain and transit problems” , specifies Julie Delorme. In fact, a good part of people who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome develop an intolerance to Fodmaps, which can occur at any age. Fortunately, we can be intolerant to one or more Fodmaps but support the others well.

5. The crowding out diet of Fodmaps means that you have to review your whole diet

The plan provides for a first step of total exclusion from all Fodmaps, which lasts only four weeks on average, the time to observe the effects. The improvement can sometimes be felt after just forty-eight hours, sometimes after three weeks … But this diet can reduce certain bacteria beneficial to health, we never extend the experience more than eight weeks. Have you noticed a decrease in symptoms? It remains then to go to the second stage and to reintroduce in the food only one category of Fodmaps at the same time, to identify which or those which pose problem and those which can be consumed without difficulty.

6. It does not prevent eating a varied and balanced diet

At the end of the test period, the objective is to limit only the Fodmaps that are problematic in order to regain digestive comfort. But we do not always completely remove them and there are ultimately few prohibited foods, because, for some, the amount consumed or the method of preparation can affect tolerance. For example, a quarter of avocado can be tolerated without problem while we risk symptoms with a half, the green of the leeks can go into the soup but not the white and an oil flavored with garlic can be used to give taste, even if you can’t eat garlic as it is. It is therefore possible to continue to eat a varied and balanced diet by following this diet.

7. It is a precious ally in Crohn’s disease

About 40% of people with the disease also have irritable bowel syndrome. “If the exclusion diet of Fodmaps can not act directly on the inflammation of the intestine, it can on the other hand relieve the functional symptoms from which sufferers often suffer in phases of remission,” observes the dietician.

8. It has nothing to do with a slimming diet

Besides, Julie Delorme prefers to speak of the “method” of Fodmaps than of diet. It aims to limit pain and discomfort, but has no impact on weight, because we continue to eat everything in good quantity, and without focusing on calories for example. There is no point in trying it if you don’t have digestive issues.

9. You don’t start alone, especially after 60!

First because the list of foods that can be problematic is long (and sometimes contradictory from one site or from one book to another) and because the foreclosure regime for the first month is quite restrictive. It is easier to get help from a dietitian, who will give you advice based on your eating habits, depending on whether you cook a lot or eat outside. “With little tips, patients realize that it’s not that complicated”, reassures the expert. There is also a risk of undernutrition if you follow the first restrictive phase of the diet for too long. But, above all, it is always better to consult a doctor before trying the Fodmaps diet, so that he makes the diagnosis and makes further examinations if necessary. Otherwise, you risk missing out on more serious digestive illnesses, such as colon cancer or Crohn’s disease.

10. This is not necessarily the solution…

In people suffering from digestive disorders, this method makes it better in three quarters of the cases. But, sometimes, you don’t notice a clear difference when eliminating Fodmaps. “When it does not help to see more clearly, we must explore other avenues, because there are obviously other factors that can explain pain, gas and transit disorders, such as stress, excess fat or alcohol in the diet, or certain illnesses or intolerances ”, notes Julie Delorme.


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