FODMAPs; the foods that give you gas
Have you ever wondered why some meals leave you with a belly full of gas? There's the magical fruit that makes everyone toot, raw onion, garlic, and then it's muddy waters with our unique bio-systems. However, if you investigate your food journals, you will probably come to the conclusion that FODMAPS's are the foods that give you gas. FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligo-Di-Monosaccharides And Polyols. It's a mouthful for the very difficult to digest carbohydrates in foods that often result in gas and bloating. If you suffer from IBS, diarrhea, constipation, colitis, or other digestive disorders, FODMAPs will definitely aggravate your system. FODMAPs potentially irritate the gut lining, especially if you suffer from any of the symptoms I listed.
When FODMAPs give you gas...
- Low stomach acid - If you are not producing enough acid to properly digest food or are taking an acid blocker, you will definitely suffer from indigestion of FODMAPs. Old science claimed acid levels were too high with GERD, but new science has revealed that low stomach acid is the cause, acid blockers are dangerous, and will allow the wrong bacteria to grow in the digestive tract.
- Dysbiosis - We are full of essential bacteria in our bodies but some people are cultivating the wrong types of bacteria. Overly feeding your gut sugars, simple carbs, antibiotics, and antacids will allow the wrong bacteria to proliferate. This dysbiosis upsets the digestive process and allows foods, especially FODMAPs to ferment in the gut and create gases and bloating.
- Inflammation - If you have inflammation in your gut, then foods will not be properly digested. They will sit longer than optimal and can ferment, create a dysbiosis, and hence a gassy belly.
FODMAPs are often high in fructose, lactose, and fiber that is difficult to digest and impossible to absorb such as beans, some fruits and vegetables, and most whole grains. You DO NOT have to avoid these foods 100% for the rest of your life because they have valuable nutrients. However, following a low FODMAP diet and limiting your high FODMAP foods can eliminate the gassy tummy and make you more comfortable immediately. The ultimate goal is to be able to reintroduce the high FODMAP foods without suffering from indigestion and bloating.
A qualified practitioner in functional medicine can walk you through your digestive system and help you locate the root cause as to why these foods are causing you pain. Although there are not enough studies to adopt a low FODMAP diet into medical recommendations, the anecdotal evidence is overwhelming. You can wait 10 years for the evidence based studies to make change or you can temporarily remove these foods from your diet until you feel better.
Gassy Belly HIGH FODMAP Foods
Vegetables: asparagus, artichokes, onions, leek, garlic, sugar snap peas, beet, cauliflower, mushrooms, celery, and sweet corn
Fruit: apples, apricots, avocados, blackberry, cherry, prunes, figs, grapefruit, guava, lychee, pomegranate, pears, mango, watermelon, nectarines, peaches, dates, pineapple, and plums
Dairy: cow’s milk, yogurt, soft cheese, buttermilk, and cream
Protein: soy, legumes and pulses, sausages, and processed meats
Grains: wheat, rye, amaranth, spelt, semolina, and bran
Nuts: Cashews, pistachios
Some of these may upset your digestion more than others. It may also depend on what foods you pair them with and how calm and present you are when you sit to eat your meals. In pairing for example, it is never a good idea to eat fruit and grains in the same meal. They compete for enzymes, the grains always win, and the fruits sit and ferment in your belly.
I ignored this advice for a long time, not ready to take away my iconic American school lunch: a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. What about my other fermentable delicacies: apple crumble, peach pie, apple pie (a la mode)? No wonder I had a stomach ache throughout my entire adolescence. When you think about it, every meal in America most likely has a combination of fruits and grains.
I'm not asking you to suddenly change your entire diet. The point I am trying to make is this: If you are suffering from gas, bloating, indigestion, IBS, etc., you will feel immediately better if you limit these foods until you find the root cause of your symptoms.
Don't get stumped on what to eat, check out this list of LOW FODMAP alternatives and say good bye to that gassy belly.
LOW FODMAP alternatives
Vegetables: bean sprouts, green beans, broccoli, bok choy, bell pepper, carrot, chives, fresh herbs, cucumber, lettuce, brussel spouts, turnips, eggplant, pumpkin, swiss chard, radish, tomato, sweet potato, kale, fennel, and zucchini
Fruit: banana, orange, raspberry, plantain, mandarin, kiwi, rhubarb, strawberry, grapes, and melon
Dairy: hard cheeses, butter, and ricotta
Protein: fish, chicken, pork, seafood, eggs, and chickpeas
Grains: corn, oats, rice, buckwheat, and quinoa
Nuts and seeds: almonds, pecans, macadamia, sesame, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds
Use this list as a tool to eliminate the gases in your belly. Limit the reds and focus on greens. If you don't have a gassy tummy, lucky you! As a bonus for reading this article, the next time you hear the word FODMAP in your social circle, you'll be able to sound knowledgable and say. "FODMAPs, yeah, you mean the really hard to digest carbs that give you gas."