What are FODMAPs?

As I explained in my previous post, FODMAPs are fermentable carbohydrates that can contribute to IBS symptoms in some people. The term ‘FODMAPs’ is actually an acronym for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols.

Oligosaccharides are short chain carbohydrates. The name literally means “a few sugars”. There are two types of oligosaccharides – fructo-oligosaccharides (fructans or FOS) and galacto-oligosaccharides (galactans or GOS).

  • Fructans (FOS) are found in foods such as onion, garlic, wheat-based products (e.g. bread, pasta, couscous, crackers), watermelon, asparagus, peas and inulin.
  • Galactans (GOS) are found in foods such as barley, most legumes and beetroot.

The term ‘disaccharides’ is referring to lactose. Lactose is found in many dairy products such as cow’s milk (including skim, low fat, full fat and A2 varieties), goat’s milk, sheep’s milk, soft cheeses such as cream cheese and cottage cheese, milk powder, ice cream and yoghurt. Lactose tolerance does vary between individuals, and many people who are lactose intolerant can tolerate a moderate amount of ice cream, hard cheese (e.g. cheddar, parmesan) and yoghurt, especially natural or Greek-style yoghurts. Butter is a dairy product but it’s low in lactose.

The term ‘monosaccharides’ is referring to fructose in excess of glucose. This means foods that contain more fructose than glucose. These include honey, apples, mangoes and sugar snap peas.

Polyols are sugar alcohols. An easy way to spot polyols on an ingredients list is any name that ends in ‘-ol’. For example, sorbitol, mannitol, maltitol and xylitol. Polyols are also found in foods including apricots, lychees, avocadoes, cauliflower and mushrooms.

To learn more about what foods contain FODMAPs, click here to download the Monash University low FODMAP diet smartphone and tablet app. This is available for both iPhone and Android and is worth the $AU13.00 download fee. For specific advice on how to manage your IBS symptoms and whether the low FODMAP diet is right for you, click here to request an appointment with me (either in person at the Brisbane clinic or via Skype) or click here to read more about the services I offer.

Ashleigh Jones

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