Learn About FODMAPs Nutritional and Prebiotic Benefits
There seems to be a consensus going around online about regarding the low-FODMAP diet that FODMAPs are bad or evil! Not all FODMAPs are bad, in fact, many foods containing FODMAPs are beneficial due to their nutrient and prebiotic content.
FODMAPs are only truly “bad” when they cause gastrointestinal discomfort OR if they are devoid of nutrients. An example of a high-FODMAP containing food devoid of nutrients is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), also called glucose-fructose, isoglucose and glucose-fructose syrup [wiki]. HFCS is a sweetener made from corn starch that has been processed by glucose isomerase to convert some of its glucose into fructose. HFCS is the “M” in FODMAP = Monosaccharide. When walking down the aisles of a typical supermarket in the U.S., HFCS seems to be everywhere and is cheap to make. If you like soda, sports drinks or processed foods, chances are HFCS is a daily thing for you. With the low-FODMAP diet, HFCS is to be avoided.
Furthermore, for your own health and wellness, the World Health Organization has recommended that people limit their consumption of added sugars to 10% of calories, but experts say that typical consumption of empty calories in the United States is nearly twice that level. [Lindsay H Allen; Andrew Prentice (28 December 2012). Encyclopedia of Human Nutrition 3E. Academic Press. pp. 231–233. ISBN 978-0-12-384885-7. Retrieved4 April 2013.]
So forget about HFCS for a moment – what about foods containing FODMAPs that are actually good for you? There are plenty of beneficial foods that are high in FODMAPs, and if you didn’t know, many FODMAPs are prebiotics as well.
When we eat a diet rich in prebiotic fibers we are giving our guts a chance to have a nice balance of gut bacteria. This nice and healthy balance of bacteria is said to improve digestion, enhance our immune system (the majority of it being in our guts) and help with the absorption of minerals. Prebiotics can also help lower inflammation (among many more great benefits). And to that end, staying on the low-FODMAP diet long-term is not a safe or smart option; if you’re really too scared to stop the diet because you’re worried about experiencing symptoms of IBS again, please consider speaking with a FODMAP-trained expert. They can help you move through the rechallenge and reintroduction phases.
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After you’ve completed the low-FODMAP diet and know your FODMAP threshold (what FODMAPs you can consume and how much at a time), you can start a modified low-FODMAP diet.
Once on a modified low-FODMAP diet, get to know your choices in foods containing high FODMAPs and learn about their nutritional benefits! After all, a wide variety of whole foods can help our bodies function properly. Properly working bodies mean we can have better digestion, more energy, less room for pathogens to bring on sickness or disease and we can enjoy the world around us due to a happier, more balanced mood. You really are what you eat!
FODMAPs Let’s Be Friends!
Here are just a couple examples of foods high in FODMAPs and the nutritious benefits these foods can bring into your life after you’ve safely completed the low-FODMAP diet. Items marked in bold are high in prebiotics.
Apples- high in fiber and vitamin C as well as polyphenols, which function as antioxidants.
Bananas (under-ripe is high-FODMAP) -high in prebiotics and loaded with potassium. Just one cup of mashed banana provides you with 23 percent of your recommended daily values (RDV) of potassium.
Blackberries -are a good source of vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), folate, magnesium, potassium and copper, and a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K and manganese.
Cherries- sweet cherries are loaded with potassium, rich in beta carotene, vitamin C, as well as anthocyanins and quercetin, which may work together synergistically to fight cancer.
Watermelons -contain vitamins A, B6 and C and is rich in lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. A two-cup serving of watermelon is also a great source of potassium.
Jerusalem Artichoke (source of inulin) -(raw) high in prebiotics – one of the best sources of dietary fibers, especially high in oligo-fructose inulin. Also high in iron and potassium and contains small amounts of anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E.
Beetroot- “Beets are high in nitrates, which act like couriers to quickly deliver oxygen to your muscles, providing improved strength and stamina when exercising. Beets also aid in cardiovascular wellness with their heart-healthy vitamins, minerals and antioxidants,” says Matt Herzog, President of Beet Performer, a canned beetroot juice that’s 100% juice and contains vitamin B12. If once you’re done with the low-FODMAP diet and find you can consume beets, Beet Performer may be a great product to add to your health regimen. Matt adds that “vegetable juices are 10 times more nutrient-rich than fresh vegetables.”
If after you’ve completed the diet and are juicing at home, just be sure you know your FODMAP threshold before mixing too many vegetables together at once. For juicing while on the diet, I like this low-FODMAP Green Detox Juice recipe from She Can’t Eat What?!.
Chickory root (source of inulin) – (raw) excellent source of antioxidants, as well as a “terrific system cleanser” according to Dr. David Perlmutter. Ahhh cleansing the gut always feels nice!
Garlic – (raw) high in prebiotics and also loaded with tons of nutrients, including manganese, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C and selenium. Garlic and onions are Oligo-saccharides and they help promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the colon, which then discourages growth of harmful bacteria such as C. difficile and E. coli.
Leeks – (raw) high in prebiotics. A serving of raw leeks (one cup) including the bulb and stem will give you 52 percent and 18 percent of your RDV of vitamin K and vitamin C, respectively.
Mushrooms – are a good source of B vitamins, including riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid, which help to provide energy by breaking down proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Mushrooms are also a source of important minerals such as selenium, ergothioneine, copper and potassium
All items below if lactose-free will be low in FODMAPs as long as they are not made with FODMAPs like inulin, high-FODMAP fruits etc.
Kefir – (probiotic) is high in lactobacilli and bifidobacteria and also rich in antioxidants.
Regular milk- is a good source of vitamin D, riboflavin, vitamin B12, calcium (think strong bones!) and phosphorus.
Yogurt – (probiotic) is highly nutritious and is an excellent source of protein, calcium and potassium. It provides numerous vitamins and minerals and is relatively low in calories. Look for yogurts (and kefirs) with strains of healthy bacteria including Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Streptococcus thermophiles, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei and Bifidus. Steer clear of yogurt made with added sugar, artificial sweeteners, and artificial flavors.
Pistachios – a 1 oz. serving of pistachios has 3 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein. They are an excellent sources of vitamin-E; especially rich in gamma-tocopherol. They are packed with many important B-complex groups of vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6, and folates. Pistachios also contain minerals like copper, manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium.
Cashews – contain zero cholesterol, 31% of the RDV for copper, 23% for manganese, 20% for magnesium and 17% for phosphorus. They are rich in unsaturated fatty acids and plant-based protein; dietary fiber; plus antioxidants in the form of phytosterols and phenolic compounds.
Baked beans – contain folic acid, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium and vitamin B6.Folic acid is excellent for pregnant or child-bearing women. Iron helps promote healthy blood cell production. Vitamin B6 helps with metabolism and potassium regulates fluids in the body. Manganese is important for your bones, the thyroid, sexual health and the metabolism of food. Magnesium is necessary for bone formation and cell function. It also keeps the heart functioning properly and lowers cholesterol.
Fava beans (broad beans) – are high in protein and fiber. They are also especially rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium and iron. Favas even contain L-dopa, a precursor to dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain responsible for regulating mood and libido. However, please be aware that the ingestion of fava beans by some individuals with the hereditary glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency can cause a disorder known as favism, which can result in hemolytic anemia and kidney failure.
Rye bread – provides protein, lots of fiber, B vitamins, and high amounts of the antioxidant mineral selenium.
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Check out the infographic above for some examples of foods we consume almost daily that are high in FODMAPs, and also high in nutritional value. Download the infographic here: fodmap-examples
**Remember that if you choose any of the foods above that are high in prebiotics, if you cook them, you will lose some of the beneficial prebiotic fiber. If you need to cook them, try to lightly steam instead.
- Superfoods: Nutrient-Dense Foods to Protect Your Health (book)
- The Nutrition of Baked Beans FitDay
- Cooking with Legumes: Fava Beans Dr. Weil
- United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service , National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28
- Dr. Perlmutter Brain Maker Foods
- Benefits of Beets Dr. Mercola
- Mushroom Council
- Mushrooms – Duyff, R. American Dietetic Association’s Complete Food and Nutrition Guide. Third Addition. Wiley & Sons. NJ. 2006.
- Dairy Council of California
- GI Society, Low-FODMAP Diet
- Monash FODMAP app
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Be good to yourself and your gut!
Certified Nutritionist Consultant
Founder FODMAP Life & BonCalme