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By Donna Gates

Bloating, cramping, and gas. The dreaded symptoms of IBS. Do you ever wonder why some foods wreak havoc on your digestive system, while other foods pass through unnoticed?

As it turns out, many foods that we commonly enjoy are high-residue foods. This means that they leave a lot behind for bacteria to feed on. When bacteria feed and proliferate, this is what is known as fermentation.

When food ferments or rots in the gut, our inner ecosystem gets thrown out of balance.

FODMAPs – A Guide To IBS Trigger Foods

Some Foods Have The Tendency To Ferment Faster Than Others. These foods are called FODMAPs.

FODMAP is an acronym that stands for fermentable, oligo- di- mono-saccharides and polyols. These are sugars that we cannot digest, which end up feeding bacteria and fungal overgrowth in the gut.

Gastroenterologist Dr. Peter Gibson developed the FODMAP list of foods to treat patients with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).

All FODMAP foods rapidly ferment somewhere along the gastrointestinal tract, specifically in the far end of the small intestine or in the large intestine.

Do you feel like you have to avoid certain foods to steer clear of unpleasant digestive problems like cramping, bloating, gas, and even headaches? Trigger foods, the FODMAPs, can wreak havoc on your digestive tract by causing fermentation to throw your inner ecosystem out of balance.

What does this rapid fermentation look like?

You may recognize some of these symptoms of IBS:

  • Bloating
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Gas
  • Heartburn
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Brain fog

When we eat FODMAP foods, there is a chance that small amounts are well tolerated. While each person has their own FODMAP threshold, the FODMAP trigger foods fall into five categories.

Remembering these five categories can be helpful when pinning down exactly which food is at the root of an imbalanced inner ecosystem. Avoiding or moderating these IBS trigger foods can help you to manage the symptoms of IBS.

The FODMAP List (IBS Trigger Foods)

Beans and lentils: Oligosaccharides are short strands of simple sugars. Common foods in this group are several varieties of beans and lentils.

Wheat, onions, and cabbage: Also an oligosaccharide, wheat contains a type of sugar called a fructan. Fructans are found in inulins and other common foods such as Jerusalem artichokes, cruciferous vegetables like cabbage and cauliflower, onions, scallions, garlic, and avocados.

Dairy: Lactose is a milk sugar and a disaccharide. Cow, sheep, and goat milk all contain lactose.

Fruit, agave, and honey: Fructose is fruit sugar and a monosaccharide. Fruits high in fructose fall into this category, such as mango and watermelons. Some sweeteners contain fructose, such as high-fructose corn syrup, honey, and agave. Apples, peaches, celery, and pears are natural sources of polyols (sugar alcohols).

Xylitol: Polyols are sugar alcohols. Examples of sugar alcohols are xylitol, maltitol, and sorbitol. These sugar alcohols taste sweet but are not absorbed as sugar. They are commonly used in “diabetic candy,” sugar-free mints, toothpastes, and chewing gum.

Solutions! Tips To Make A Low-FODMAP Diet Work For You

If you find that you still have episodes of bloating, gas, and other signs of digestive discomfort, you may want to experiment with combining low-FODMAP rules with the principles of the Body Ecology Diet to help manage your symptoms of IBS.

Fructans: Onions contain fructans. If you like to cook with onion, experiment with low-FODMAP choices like chives or the green portion of scallions. You can also gently warm crushed cloves of garlic in coconut oil or ghee until the garlic flavor infuses into the oil. This method only works with oil — not water such as in a broth — because the fructans in garlic are water-soluble.

Lactose: If you avoid dairy and are concerned that you are missing out on key nutrients, ferment your favorite dairy with a Kefir Starter. If you decide to avoid dairy altogether, a high-quality fish oil is rich in vitamin D. Also, experiment with ghee, a type of clarified butter. While ghee boasts a number of nutrients, it contains very little common food irritants, such as milk sugar and milk proteins.

Fructose: Because we can only digest 20 to 25 grams of fructose in one sitting, it is essential to remember the Body Ecology food-combing principle and the principle of 80/20. If you eat more fructose than your small intestine can absorb, it will ferment, becoming food for bacteria.

Polyols: If you find that you have trouble with sugar alcohols like xylitol, try using Stevia or Lakanto, which contains erythritol. Erythritol is a four-carbon polyol and, unlike other polyols, it is well absorbed.

If you are on the Body Ecology Diet, chances are you have already eliminated several FODMAP foods. With the Principle of Uniqueness, it is important to track your FODMAP intake to ensure that you can identify and avoid trigger foods to protect your inner ecology!

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