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10 Foods to Avoid if You're on a Low FODMAP Diet

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By Dr. Megan Rossi

Food is a common trigger of digestive issues. In particular, foods that are high in fermentable carbs can cause symptoms like gas, bloating and stomach pain.

A group of these carbs is known as FODMAPs and foods can be classified as either high or low in these carbs.

Restricting high-FODMAP foods can provide remarkable relief of gut symptoms, particularly in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

This article discusses 10 common foods and ingredients that are high in FODMAPs.

What Does High-FODMAP Actually Mean?

FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides and Polyols. These are the scientific names for carbs that may cause digestive issues.

A food is categorized as high-FODMAP according to predefined cut-off levels (1).

Published cut-off levels suggest that a high-FODMAP food contains more than one of the following carbs (2):

  • Oligosaccharides: 0.3 grams of either fructans or galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS)
  • Disaccharides: 4.0 grams of lactose
  • Monosaccharides: 0.2 grams more fructose than glucose
  • Polyols: 0.3 grams of either mannitol or sorbitol

Two universities provide validated FODMAP food lists and apps—Monash University and King's College London.

It's also important to be aware that not everyone should avoid FODMAPs. In fact, FODMAPs are beneficial for most people.

To help decide whether restricting FODMAPs is right for you, read this article. Then, if you do decide to restrict them, make sure to look out for the following 10 foods.

1. Wheat

Wheat is one of the single biggest contributors of FODMAPs in the Western diet (3).

This is because wheat is consumed in large quantities—not because it is a concentrated source of FODMAPs.

In fact, compared to the other nine sources discussed in this article, wheat contains one of the lowest amounts of FODMAPs by weight.

For this reason, foods that contain wheat as a minor ingredient, such as thickeners and flavorings, are considered low-FODMAP.

The most common sources of wheat include bread, pasta, breakfast cereals, biscuits and pastries.

Suggested low-FODMAP swaps: Brown rice, buckwheat, maize, millet, oats, polenta, quinoa and tapioca (4, 5).

Summary: Wheat is the main source of FODMAPs in the Western diet. However, it can be replaced with other, low-FODMAP whole grains.

2. Garlic

Garlic is one of the most concentrated sources of FODMAPs.

Unfortunately, restricting garlic in your diet is notoriously difficult because it's added to many sauces, gravies and flavorings.

In processed food, garlic may be listed among the ingredients as flavoring or natural flavor. Therefore, you need to avoid these ingredients if you are following a strict low-FODMAP diet.

Fructans are the main type of FODMAP in garlic.

However, the quantity of fructans depends on whether the garlic is fresh or dried, as dried garlic contains about three times as many fructans as fresh garlic (6).

Despite being high in FODMAPs, garlic is associated with many health benefits. This is why it should only be avoided in FODMAP-sensitive people.

Suggested low-FODMAP swaps: Chives, chili, fenugreek, ginger, lemongrass, mustard seeds, saffron and turmeric (6, 7, 8).

Summary: Garlic is one of the most concentrated sources of FODMAPs. However, garlic has many health benefits and should only be restricted in FODMAP-sensitive people.

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