The Hidden Cause Of Bloating That’s Laced In Our Food

You're planning to head out for the night with your friends, but you ate a piece of toast or some dried fruit, and now you have a bloated stomach that's taking away the aesthetic of your new dress. Sounds familiar?

If it’s any solace, you’re not the only one experiencing this. 96% of people with functional gastrointestinal disorders experience bloating. Meanwhile, up to 30% of the general population is also affected by bloating, with most of them saying the issue affects their daily activities. In fact, some have to resort to medication use.

Americans seem to be particularly affected by this problem, considering 1 in 7 Americans experiences bloating every week. Such a high number makes you wonder if bloating has something to do with our diets.

Yes, it does! FODMAPs might be responsible for your frequent bloating, and here’s what you need to know about them.

If you’re interested in following a low fodmap diet, take a look at this guide to getting started.

What Are FODMAPs?

FODMAP stands for fermentable oligo-, di-, monosaccharides, and polyols. FODMAPs are foods containing these saccharides or sugars.

These are short-chain carbons that resist digestion. Unlike other foods that absorb into your body, these sugars go to the end of your intestine, affecting the gut bacteria living there.

The gut bacteria use FODMAPs as their diet and produce hydrogen as a by-product of their metabolic reactions. The excess of this gas can cause bloating and other digestive issues in people with sensitive stomachs.

FODMAPs don’t cause trouble for everyone but can be harmful to people with irritable bowel syndrome. People with IBS may experience the following symptoms when experiencing digestive distress due to FODMAPs:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Cramping
  • Bloating
  • Flatulence

What Are Common FODMAPs?

As mentioned, FODMAPs are a type of polyol (multiple hydroxyl groups chained together) and saccharides (carbon chains forming sugars). Here are some common types:

  • Polyols: These are sugar alcohols, such as maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol, and xylitol. They are found in veggies and fruits. Some, such as mannitol, are also used as sweeteners in confections, chewing gum, and chocolate coatings.
  • Fructans: These are chains of fructose molecules with a glucose molecule at the end. They are found in fruits like nectarine, ripe bananas, watermelon, raisins, prunes, and dates. Some vegetables, such as leeks, beets, artichokes, asparagus, and snow peas, also contain fructans.
  • Lactose: It is common in dairy products, especially milk.
  • Fructose: The common sugar in fruits, vegetables, and table sugar is fructose.
  • Galactans: These are present in legumes.

Which Foods Are High In FODMAPs?

If you suffer from IBS or tend to get bloated easily, it’s important to learn about the foods containing FODMAPs. Eliminate or limit the consumption of these foods to keep bloating in check.

  • Fruits: Some fruits that contain FODMAPs include watermelon, pear, peaches, figs, blackberries, dates, cherries, canned fruit, apricots, and boysenberries.
  • Dairy Products: Milk, soft cheese, most yogurts, whey protein supplements, and ice cream contain FODMAPs.
  • Grains: Rye and barley are rich in FODMAPs, along with some wheat-based products, such as naan and white bread.
  • Vegetables: Artichokes, asparagus, beetroot, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, mushrooms, okra, onions, peas, shallots, cauliflower, fennel, garlic, and leeks contain FODMAPs.

Besides these foods, some beverages can also cause bloating due to the presence of FODMAPs. These include fruit juices, soy milk, beer, and fortified wines. Any soft drink with a high fructose content can also cause bloating.

If you want to try a low fodmap diet, click here.

Low FODMAP Diet: How to Avoid Bloating?

A low FODMAP diet can be a successful way to keep bloating at bay. The diet is a three-step process that helps you determine which foods you can eat and which you should never let entry into your pantry.

Step 1: Stop Eating High FODMAP Foods

The first step is to cut high-FODMAP foods from your diet. The list mentioned above can help you determine which of the foods from your kitchen you need to stop eating.

Step 2: Introduce Foods Slowly

Since so many foods contain FODMAPs, you cannot possibly cut out all of them from your diet. So, you should slowly reintroduce some foods in your diet to see which of them cause bloating.

For example, you can start with one of the vegetables that contain FODMAPs, such as leeks. Eat a small portion of it and wait for 24 hours to see if you experience bloating. Do the same with other high-FODMAP foods you commonly eat.

Step 3: Avoid Symptom-Causing Foods

With this experiment, you will learn which foods cause gastrointestinal distress symptoms in your body. Limit the consumption of those foods significantly. If possible, avoid them altogether.

You can also look for low-FODMAP alternatives for high-FODMAP foods you eat. For example, substitute soy milk or cow’s milk with almond milk. Instead of soft cheeses that cause bloating, opt for cheddar or feta.

As for grains, you can eat oats, quinoa, and rice. Fruits like oranges, grapes, pineapples, and strawberries are also good in a low-FODMAP diet.

How Does a Low-FODMAP Diet Help?

A low-FODMAP diet has plenty of benefits for your body. Here are some of them.

Reduces IBS Symptoms

People with IBS are at a higher risk of experiencing the side effects of FODMAPs. Research shows that a diet low in FODMAPs can reduce IBS symptoms. In fact, 76% of the individuals in a low-FODMAP study reported satisfaction with symptom response. 82% of them reported reduced bloating, while 85% said they had little to no abdominal pain.

Prevents Digestive Concerns

Besides bloating, FODMAPs can also cause several digestive concerns in some people. These include gas, constipation, and stomach pain. A low-FODMAP diet can prevent this.

Reduces Stress

People who experience frequent bloating are often under high stress due to their digestive concerns. Reducing FODMAPs can significantly reduce your stress levels.

The Takeaway

Foods rich in FODMAPs may have plenty of other nutrients, but the saccharides and polyols can be a nuisance for your stomach and self-esteem. Cutting out or reducing the quantity of FODMAPs in your diet can help reduce the symptoms of IBS, improve digestive function, and lower stress levels.

If you’re interested in following a low fodmap diet, take a look at this guide to getting started.

If you have serious digestive issues or specific nutritional needs, talk to a professional before removing or incorporating a food item into your diet.

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