"What are FODMAPS?"--in plain English, please!
FODMAPS is an acronym that refers a certain group of carbohydrates in your food. Believe me, I wish the acronym was catchier, but nobody asked me when they were making it up! If I told you what it stands for, this post wouldn't be in plain English any more, so click here if you want the details.
FODMAPS carbohydrates include certain natural sugars in foods such as milk, fruit, honey and high-fructose corn syrup. FODMAPS also include certain types of fiber in foods such as wheat, onions, garlic, and beans. (No, FODMAPS has nothing to do with gluten--its just a coincidence they are both in wheat).
All FODMAPS carbs have a few things in common:
- They are sometimes poorly absorbed in the small intestine. As the hours go by after a meal, these carbs move along into the large intestine.
- They are the favorite foods of the bacteria that live in the large intestine. When bacteria eat FODMAPS, a lot of gas is produced. (Sometimes people have "inappropriate" bacteria in their small intestines that can ferment carbohydrates, too.)
- FODMAPS can act like a sponge to draw and hold excess fluid in the large intestine.
With a little imagination you can picture the combination of gas and fluid causing the large intestine to stretch. People with IBS experience this as a painful bloating sensation. They may pass an excessive amount of gas or have watery diarrhea. Depending on the person, which FODMAPS are involved, and which type of bacteria colonize the gut, sometimes constipation is the result. Sometimes diarrhea and constipation alternate. Chaos. I would have liked to name this group of carbs, "Chaos Carbohydrates."
It may be plain English but it still doesn't sound like poetry, does it?
Patsy Catsos, MS, RD, LD is a dietitian in private practice with a special interest in nutrition therapy for gastrointestinal disorders. She is the author of IBS--Free at Last!, Pond Cove Press, 2009. Buy IBS--Free at Last!