What Are FODMAPs?
The first thing you need to know is that your bowel contains bacteria. Certain foods are fermented by this bacteria faster then others. Fodmaps refers to the foods (mainly sugars) that cause this fast fermentation reaction. These foods have been given the acrnym FODMAP, which stands for:
- Fermentable- rapidly broken down by bacteria in the bowell
- Oligosaccharides- fructans and gatacto-oligosaccharides [GOS]
- Disaccharides- lactose
- Monosaccharides- fructose
- Polyols- sorbitol, mannitol, maltitol, xylitol, polydextrose, and isomalt.
NOTE* Remember that saccharides is just another word for sugars. A monosaccharides has one sugar, a disaccharide has two and oligosaccharide has a few more ( less then 10). Polyols are just sugar alcohols. This may be confusing, but you do not need to know more of the chemical make up then this.
FODMAPs have all the same characterics:
- They are poorly absorbed in the small bowel.
- They are small molecules, consumed in a concentrated dose.
- They are “fast food” for the bacteria that live naturally in the large bowel.
Multiple types of FODMAPs are usually present in any one meal. Because they all cause distension in the same way once they reach the lower small bowel and colon, their effects are cumulative. This means that the degree of bowel distension can depend upon the total FODMAPs consumed, not just the amount of any individual FODMAP consumed. If someone who cannot digest lactose well and absorbs fructose poorly eats a meal that contains some lactose, some, fructans, some polyols, some GOS, and some fructose the effect on the bowel will be 5 times greater than if they ate the same amount of one type of FODMAP. This is why it is important to consider all FODMAPs in food when modifying our diet.