FODMAPS are a group of short-chain carbohydrates that can cause downstream issues in the digestive tract, like bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. It stands for Fermentable Oligo-, Di- and Mono-saccharides, and Polyols (1), (28).
These short-chain carbs and sugar alcohols cannot absorb well by the small intestine. IBS affects around 10 to 20 percent of the population in America and Europe (28), (29), (30). It comes with abdominal pain and changes in bowel patterns. High FODMAP food is one of the worst types of foods that those with IBS can eat. Due to the poor absorption of these carbs and sugar alcohols, they cause many issues (1), (2), (3).
Polyols are a type of sugar alcohol that is in many foods. This type of sugar alcohol is often a contributing factor of IBS in many individuals. That is because they cannot be completely absorbed in the small intestine, negatively affecting gastrointestinal health (4).
Summary: High FODMAP foods can cause uncomfortable symptoms for those with digestive disorders, especially irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, and Mono-saccharides, and Polyols. It is recommended to work with a registered dietitian if following a low FODMAP diet protocol.
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Foods High in FODMAPs
What makes a food high in FODMAPS? It is all according to a certain scale where certain foods have too many sugar alcohols or short-chain carbs in that category. Look at the foods high in FODMAP below to see if you can benefit to scrap some of these from your diet.
1. Apples and Apple Juice
Too much apple juice consumption shows to lead to chronic cases of diarrhea in young children (6), so this evidence proves it can be a bad idea for those with IBS. Try to avoid apples as well as apple juice, because they are also on the high FODMAP list. There are plenty of other fruits you can enjoy if you need to follow a strict low FODMAP diet, like blueberries, kiwi, strawberries, and more. Apples are not one of them. Speak to your dietician or nutritionist if you are unsure about what you should eat.
Summary: Apples and apple juice are high FODMAP foods. Too much apple juice in general can lead to chronic cases of diarrhea in young children, and can cause uncomfortable symptoms for those with IBS.
2. Some Other Fruits
Some other fruits should also be eliminated from your diet if you want to avoid high FODMAP foods.
These include pears, peaches, cherries, watermelon, and mangoes (1). You may be wondering why some fruits ok when others can significantly affect IBS. This is because the fruits listed here, along with apples, are all high in fructose. Fructose is a form of fruit sugar that is hard for those with IBS to digest properly (7).
Summary: Pears, peaches, cherries, watermelon, and mangoes are other high FODMAP fruits. Theses fruits, plus apples, are high in fructose which is a form of fruit sugar that can be hard to digest, especially if you have pre-existing gut issues.
3. Some Sweeteners
Sweeteners that are high in FODMAPs include honey, agave, mannitol, xylitol, sorbitol, and maltitol. Besides honey and agave, you normally see the other sweeteners in gum or mints, or even cough medicine. Although honey and agave sweeteners are the natural versions of sugar, they cause negative effects for those who need to follow a low FODMAP diet (1). And for those very reasons.
Honey and agave are high in alcohol sugars that are fine for those without IBS or digestive issues (8). They are usually a better option because they are not made of refined sugars like table sugar. If you suffer from IBS and need to avoid high FODMAP foods like these, see if the sweetener stevia works well for you. Stevia may be safe because it is from a plant and there is little evidence that it can cause further irritations with IBS.
Summary: Some sweeteners are high in FODMAPs, including honey, agave, mannitol, xylitol, sorbitol, and maltitol. Some of these sweeteners can even be found in gum, mints, or sugar-free candies.
4. Vegetables high in Fructans
Fructans are one group of FODMAPS also called fructooligosaccharides. Foods high in them can be hard for those with IBS to digest (9). That is why they are a part of the high FODMAP list of foods.
Vegetables high in Fructans include asparagus, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, garlic, beetroot, and onions (1), (10). Not to worry. There are other vegetables, even cruciferous ones, that can be a part of a healthy low FODMAP diet. Make sure you read the ingredients list well on every food item you purchase to make sure there is not anything in it that can affect your gastrointestinal health.
Summary: Vegetables high in fructans include asparagus, broccoli, brussels sprouts, garlic, beetroot, and onions. There are plenty of other vegetables that are tolerable, speak with your registered dietitian to learn which ones are lower in FODMAPS.
5. Wheat and Rye
Foods that contain wheat and rye are also high in Fructans, so they can be hard for many with IBS to digest as well (9). Both foods are high in FODMAPS, so pay attention to the ingredients with these foods. Wheat is in many different foods, for example, even ones you may normally not suspect.
Wheat and rye are also high in gluten, which can cause extra irritation for those with digestive disorders such as IBS. Gluten can lead to bloating, digestive distress, and more for those who may even be sensitive or allergic to it (11). Whole grains without wheat or Rye are the best option for a low FODMAP diet.
Summary: Wheat and rye are also high in fructans, They also contain gluten, which can cause symptoms for those with IBS as well.
Mushrooms are another food in FODMAP because they are also high in polyols, which are low-digestible short-chain carbohydrates (13).
Some vegetables are accessible for those who suffer from digestive disorders like IBS. But if you need to follow a diet low in FODMAPS, stay away from mushrooms as much as you can. Instead, look into vegetables that are easier to digest so you can avoid any common triggers like abdominal pain, and much more (12).
Summary: Mushrooms are high in polyols, which is part of the FODMAPS group. Look for other vegetable options if you love mushrooms and experience symptoms after eating them. Your registered dietitian can provide you a list of low FODMAPS vegetables.
Chickpeas are naturally high in galactooligosaccharides, also known as GOS. Although chickpeas can be a healthy legume, they can aggravate the gastrointestinal tract for many who cannot eat foods high in FODMAPS (14).
Look out for foods that are high in chickpeas when you go to the grocery store. The most common food made with chickpeas is hummus. Try to avoid hummus if you suffer from IBS. Read the ingredients well, especially if you know this food can negatively affect your digestion.
Summary: Chickpeas are naturally high in galactooligosaccharides, or GOS. Chickpeas in general are healthy, but may aggravate the gastrointestinal tract for those with IBS. Chickpeas are found in many prepared foods, such as hummus, soups, and salads. So if you experience symptoms to chickpeas, check the label on pre-packaged foods.
Lentils are another common food that is also high in GOS. That is because lentils are also a type of legume that can negatively affect digestion (15).
As you may already know, it can be extremely difficult for a vegetarian or vegan to follow a strict low FODMAP diet. Lentils and other legumes are often a necessary staple for a typical vegetarian or vegan diet (16). It is possible to follow a low FODMAP diet as a vegetarian or vegan, but it’s necessary to carefully monitor your protein, fiber, and essential nutrient profile.
Summary: Lentils are high in GOS as well. This can be hard for those who also have to follow a low FODMAP diet and also follow vegan or vegetarian diets. Ask your registered dietitian for a list of plant-based proteins that are lower in FODMAPS to ensure protein intake is met.
Cauliflowers are also high in the common sugar alcohol and short-chain carbohydrate, polyols. Try to steer clear of this cruciferous vegetable that is high in FODMAPS if you have digestive problems (18).
There are other vegetable options you can pick from, though. Instead of cauliflower, choose vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, and much more (18). Talk to your doctor, nutritionist, or dietician if you need assistance to help you plan a diet low in FODMAPs to better your health. Choosing foods like cauliflower that are high in FODMAPS can significantly increase your symptoms of IBS if you suffer from it already.
Summary: Cauliflower is high in polyols, which may cause symptoms. Choose carrots, sweet potatoes, or other cruciferous vegetable choices to make sure you are still getting adequate vegetable intake. Reach out to a registered dietitian for a complete list of low fodmap vegetables.
10. Snow Peas
Also high in polyols, snow peas are a part of the vegetable group to stay away from too. That is if you need to follow a diet that is low instead of high in FODMAPS (19).
Snow peas are a crunchy type of pea that is usually easier to cook, but much harder to digest for many. That is because of the high content of polyols, a short-chain carbohydrate and sugar alcohol that is hard to pass through the small intestine during the digestion process. Try to avoid snow peas if you have IBS and see if it helps your symptoms improve (20).
Summary: Snow peas are also high in polyols, but may even be hard to digest due to its high fiber content. Ability to digest snow peas vary among everyone, so if you experience any symptoms after consuming them, you may need to eliminate them from your diet.
11. Kidney Beans
Kidney beans are high in protein, many essential nutrients like vitamins and minerals, and galactooligosaccharides or GOS. Kidney beans are the main type of bean to avoid if you have digestive issues because they are high in FODMAPS (21).
If you do not suffer from digestive disorders like IBS, kidney beans are a healthful alternative to get plant-based protein, vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and many healthy plant compounds. Kidney beans can also help with weight loss, blood sugar moderation, and assist with colon health improvement (22), (23), (24).
Summary: Kidney beans are high in protein and essential for vegan and vegetarian diets, but they are also high in GOS. If you don’t have symptoms after eating them, they are a perfectly healthy and full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protein.
12. Soy Products
Soy products can be healthy for some, but detrimental for others because they are also high in GOS (1). Soy products like tofu, tempeh, edamame, miso, soy milk, soy sauce, other meat alternatives like seitan, and more.
Soy is one of those high FODMAP foods that are often in many foods, ones you may not be aware of. There are many ways to avoid soy if you need to follow a diet low in FODMAPS. Choose lean sources of animal protein instead to get your essential nutrients and vitamins in your diet. Be cautious of your grocery items, as many ingredients will come with a soy label even if it’s not very obvious to the type of food.
Summary: Soy products can be healthy for some, but may cause digestive issues because they are also high in GOS. Tofu, tempeh, edamame, miso, soy milk, soy sauce, and many meat alternatives contain soy. If you experience symptoms after eating soy, check the food labels to ensure there is no soy in the product.
Lactose is one of the hardest foods to digest for countless people, not only those with digestive disorders like IBS (26). Lactose is in many different dairy products like cow’s milk and yogurt, ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, ice cream, custards, and various other desserts.
Many foods contain this high FODMAP food to add flavor, vitamins, and consistency to products, especially desserts. Milk from goat milk may not be as irritating for those with IBS, because they are lower in lactose (27). Although, lactose-free milk is the safest option if you need a low FODMAP dairy option. Pay attention to ingredients, especially when it comes to lactose as it often hides in bread, canned goods, frozen food, and much more.
Summary: Lactose may also be hard to digest for those with gastrointestinal issues. Cow’s milk and yogurt, ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, ice cream, custards, and cheese all contain different amounts of lactose. If you notice lactose causes issues, try goats milk instead. Or reach out to your registered dietitian for non-dairy low fodmap food options.
Low or high FODMAP foods are in many different foods. The types of FODMAPS vary greatly among a variety of food groups and items. High FODMAP foods can cause a plethora of digestive issues for many, especially those who suffer from IBS.
Do you think you could benefit from a low FODMAP diet? It doesn’t have to be hard or lack flavor. Simplify everything in the kitchen by choosing whole foods that are a part of the low FODMAP list. Personalize your diet to fit your specific needs because they are truly unique.