What are FODMAPs?

FODMAPs are sugar molecules!

‘FODMAP’ is an acronym which stands for ‘Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Dissacharides, Monosaccharides & Polyols’.

These words are names of a range of poorly-absorbed short-chain sugars found in many different plant foods known to us, forming a part of our everyday diet.These sugars are called fructose, lactose, fructans, galactooligosaccharides (GOS) and sugar alcohols (polyols), like sorbitol and mannitol. To learn more detail about the names of the different FODMAP groups, click here.

How do FODMAPs cause me gut upset?

In our small & large intestine, these FODMAP molecules deliver an osmotic effect, meaning that they bring fluid into the bowel. FODMAPs are also quickly fermented by bacteria living in the large intestine, producing gas as a by-product of fermentation.

The result of increased fluid and gas in the bowel ‘distends’ or ‘stretches’ the bowel, causing you to feel like you are bloating, with/without abdominal discomfort or pain. These osmotic effects also influence the contraction of the muscles in the small bowel, causing increased muscular movement, leading to diarrhea. In some people, this can also cause constipation.

When consumed in food or drink, FODMAPs can be poorly absorbed in the small intestine, continuing their path along the gastrointestinal tract until they reach the large intestine, where these 2 things can happen:

  • The FODMAPs are readily fermented by bacteria in the large bowel, contributing to gas production there.

  • FODMAPs are highly osmotic, which means they attract water into the large bowel, which can result in increased bowel actions, and/or alterations in normal bowel habits.

These 2 processes can trigger undesirable symptoms like flatulence, bloating, diarrhoea, constipation or a combination of both.


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