Oh fart, what’s a fodmap?

brooke-lark-254998.jpgPhoto by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Gas… cramping… bloating… diarrhoea…

This week, we’re talking about an interesting subject: FODMAPs!

What are they?

FODMAP is an acronym that stands for fermentable oligo-, di-, and monosaccharides, and polyols¹. What?! That’s a MOUTHFUL! Basically, FODMAPs are very small carbohydrates or sugars (think of fruit sugar aka fructose, and milk sugar, aka lactose) and sugar alcohols (like maltitol in sugar free gummy bears)¹. Our gut bacteria can eat these up so fast that it makes some people feel very sick¹. These carbs can also bring more water into our intestines, which can give us some problems when there’s too much¹. Symptoms can include gas, bloating, diarrhoea, as well as abdominal pain and cramping¹. Does this sound familiar? These are also symptoms that doctors can cluster together to help diagnose IBS, irritable bowel syndrome¹.

Examples of high-FODMAP foods and their low-FODMAP replacements:


(Table adapted from article¹)

Who might benefit from a low FODMAP diet?

First of all, what is it? It’s simply a diet that removes or limits the foods that have a lot of FODMAPs in them¹. A low-FODMAP diet could be for those of us who eat a lot of fruits and veggies, dairy, lentils, beans, and grains, AND have explosive and uncomfortable symptoms like those listed above¹. Not everyone needs to be on a low-FODMAP diet, neither should everyone be on this diet¹. FODMAPs do serve a function to help our guts work well by increasing fiber and food for our gut bacteria¹. If you think your symptoms could be helped by any type of diet, including low-FODMAPs, meet with your doctor to discuss this. They have testing that they can do and questions to ask to help you find out what could work for you¹.

The views stated here are opinions of the author and are not affiliated with SCNM, its faculty, or staff. Information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to treat, cure, or diagnose any disease or condition and is not a replacement for medical advice or a doctor-patient relationship. Be sure to talk to your doctor before embarking on any new health or dietary strategy.


1. Gibson P, Shepherd S. Evidence-based dietary management of functional gastrointestinal symptoms: The FODMAP approach. Journal Of Gastroenterology And Hepatology [serial online]. February 2010;25(2):252-258. Available from: MEDLINE Complete, Ipswich, MA. 

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