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Avoid FODMAPS for IBS?

What are they? Should you avoid them?

If you’re googling things like “Why does bread make me bloated?” you’ve likely stumbled upon talks of something called “FODMAPs”. But between remembering what it stands for to figuring out wtf to actually eat, the entire low FODMAP conversation probably leaves you more confused than before.

Onion, Garlic, FODMAPS, Bloating, Gas, IBS
FODMAPS: Onions & Garlic

When I was dealing with uncomfortable digestive symptoms like bloating and gas, I eliminated certain trigger foods that I later learned were high FODMAP. Though I didn't know the terminology then, through an elimination diet and careful reintroductions, I identified ingredients that aggravated my system.

These days, I don't have issues with most foods thanks to targeted gut health protocols that resolved underlying causes. But I stay mindful that overdoing high FODMAP foods can still provoke occasional discomfort if I'm not careful. By customizing based on my unique tolerance thresholds, I've unlocked sustainable, mostly symptom-free freedom in my diet.

My journey has taught me that while FODMAPs may intensify digestion issues for some, customized moderation is key for long-term nutrition and freedom. After resolving my underlying gut health imbalances, I can now enjoy a wide range of delicious foods in balance with attention to my own tolerance thresholds.

In the guide below, I’ll explain more about striking that optimal balance tailored to your unique body. My goal is to provide simple education revealing how to pinpoint your own problem FODMAPs so you can dial in the perfect diet diversity that keeps your symptoms at bay without over restricting because food should be joyful even on the most sensitive stomach!

Let’s uncover exactly how to decode what works best for you!

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From Obscure Theory to Common Culprit: The Rise of FODMAP Awareness

While research on low FODMAP diets only kicked off in 2005 out of Monash University in Australia, awareness has skyrocketed in recent years. Tracing symptoms like gas, bloating, and diarrhea back to groups of difficult-to-digest carbs has proved to be one lightbulb moment after another.

If you’ve ever wondered “Why do onions disagree with me?” or thought “If one more person says ‘Maybe it’s just stress!’ I’ll crack” then learning that your body may lack enzymes to break down certain sugars and fibers might provide some refreshing validation.

Now, over a decade of research shows eliminating high FODMAP foods offers a 70% chance of significant IBS symptom relief. Yet long lists of “cannot eat” ingredients leave many throwing up hands in defeat...and end up retreating to the same pain and frustration as before.

It doesn’t have to be so black and white if you understand one central key: the power is customizing to YOUR unique tolerance thresholds. That’s where this guide comes in...

FODMAPS Explained

What are FODMAPS?

F - Fermentable (broken down by gut bacteria)

O - Oligosaccharides (wheat, garlic, onions)

D - Disaccharides (lactose)

M -Monosaccharides (fructose aka fruit sugar)

A - And Polyols (sweeteners like xylitol)

For IBS sufferers, these short-chain carbohydrates can end up feeding gut bacteria and getting fermented rather than properly digested. This produces excess gas, making you feel uncomfortably bloated and distended.

The resulting inflammation triggers other delightful IBS symptoms like abdominal cramping, bloating, pain, and sudden urgent trips to the bathroom.

Distinguishing the Biggest FODMAP Culprits

Rather than memorize lists, it helps to know the main categories that are high or moderate in these funky carbs:


- Wheat and grains with fructans

- Legumes and soy with galactooligosaccharides - (that's just fun to say! try it! and then 5 times fast!)

- Milk, yogurt, and soft cheese with lactose

- Vegetables like garlic, onions, artichokes, apples

- Sweeteners with fructose and polyols


- Some breads and cereals

- Certain fruits and veggies

- Some nuts and sweeteners

The Mechanism-Why do FODMAPS trigger gut problems?

Fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols make up a group of short-chain carbs that some people lack the small intestinal enzymes to properly digest.

When undigested FODMAPs move into the large intestine, two issues arise:

1. Gut bacteria feed on these FODMAPs for fuel, proliferating rapidly. This overgrowth causes excess gas production, resulting in bloating, distension, and flatulence.

2. The undigested FODMAPs also pull water into the intestine through osmosis. This can lead to loose, urgent bowel movements.

Furthermore, proteins and fats can also move through the gut walls more easily alongside liquid (aka the diarrhea) contributing to IBS flare-ups.

The cumulative result of undigested FODMAPS making their way down to the large intestinal tract leads to inflammation, impairments in muscle contraction, and the cascade of cramping, pain, and other unpleasant IBS symptoms.

More Than Gas Producers: Prebiotic Potential of FODMAPs

While excessive gas from bacteria-driven fermentation causes issues in the short term, eliminating FODMAPs indefinitely also comes at a cost. Many prebiotic fibers have enormous benefits in nourishing our microbiome terrain when properly digested.

The goal of a low FODMAP diet should not be lifetime avoidance, considering the health properties associated with prebiotic, fermentable fibers. Once other dysbioses are addressed through strategic protocols that heal gut flora imbalance and inflammation, a diverse array of plant fibers can contribute tremendously to microbiome diversity.

This means discovering your individualized FODMAP tolerance thresholds through careful elimination and methodical reintroduction is key. Ensuring these prebiotic fibers in your whole food, plant-rich diet selectively feed your beneficial flora will then enable a thriving microbiome terrain.

A Vicious Cycle: Dysbiosis Impairs Enzyme Function Impairs Dysbiosis

Balancing the microbiome terrain and promoting the "good guys" will boost your robustness in producing the enzymes to handle FODMAPs appropriately on your own. There is an interdependent relationship between dysbiosis and missing enzyme function where:

  1. Undigested FODMAPs can feed imbalanced microbes like SIBO (they thrive when our indigenous flora are compromised).

  2. The dysbiosis also impairs our natural production of disaccharidases like lactase to break FODMAPs down.

It goes hand in hand:

  • Dysbiosis allows invading bacteria to prosper more rapidly when we ingest things like lactose, fructans, etc that they know how to feast on.


  • The dysbiosis also reduces our intrinsic ability to properly digest those compounds on our own via impaired enzymatic function.

Shift the Cycle: Change Starts Now

Armed with a deeper understanding of FODMAPs, you now have insight into what ingredient groups commonly trigger unwanted symptoms - along with why based on the body's difficulties properly digesting these compounds for some. Eliminating high FODMAP foods provides relief for many with IBS and similar conditions. However, balance is essential long-term to nourish your microbiome with prebiotic, fermentable fibers as you discover your unique tolerances and balance your gut microbiome.

Strategic testing identifies exactly which intolerances and microbial imbalances underlie your digestion issues so they can be precisely addressed. From there, careful systematic reintroduction of FODMAP-containing foods helps rebuild diversity which perpetuates improvement in gut symptoms.

As a Master Restorative Wellness Practitioner, I utilize specialized labs to assess the interplay between microbiome balance, food sensitivities, and digestive enzymes. Pinpointing underlying issues is the first step in breaking the cycle of dysfunction.

Schedule a complimentary strategy call with me to explore whether customized testing and targeted protocols could help you unlock enhanced digestion, nutrition absorption, clear skin, balanced energy, and a transformed microbiome landscape.

With knowledge comes freedom - freedom to indulge in balance in delicious flavors without pain or worry. Let’s chat about how we can work together towards your overarching well-being. The first step begins when you reach out. I’m here to listen and ready to help.

Kelly Greenway, Sandpoint Idaho, Master Restorative Wellness Practitioner
Kelly Greenway, FNTP, MRWP

Kelly Greenway is a functional nutritionist based in Sandpoint, Idaho, who specializes in gut health, food sensitivities, and holistic approaches to chronic conditions. With a passion for empowering individuals in their health journey, Kelly combines her expertise in nutrition with a deep understanding of the body's intricate systems.

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