What Does FODMAP Stand For?

The term FODMAP was first used in a 2005 opinion and theory piece about the influence of environmental factors, as opposed to genetic, on the development of Crohn’s disease.1 Westernization was already thought to be tied to Crohn’s, and food was a natural suspect. It was a perfect example of a modern lifestyle causing havoc across digestive systems through things we should have already known not to eat. The article, by Peter Gibson of Monash University, posited that excess short-chain carbohydrates, tiny carbs found in foods, were a central cause of all our digestive problems. He named them Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides and Polyols, FODMAPS.

FODMAPs are short chain carbohydrates. In comparison to long chain carbs such as glucose, they consist or only a few linked sugars. FODMAPs take more effort for our small intestine to digest, and can cause a little discomfort in some and life-altering and incurable conditions such as colitis and Crohn’s in others, because the human body never promised to be fair. FODMAPs include fructose, a simple sugar found in fruits, vegetables, and other sugary foods; lactose, a carbohydrate found in dairy; fructans, found alongside gluten and vegetables such as artichokes and onions; galactans, found in legumes; and polyols, found in some fruits and vegetables as well as artificial sweeteners such as sorbital and xylitol that are used to lower caloric content.

Fine upstanding gut bacteria sit in the front of the intestine and turn foods into methane. FODMAPs are more difficult for that bacteria to digest and usually reach the end of the intestine, where the bacteria of the distal small intestine and proximal large intestine rapidly ferment them into hydrogen before they can escape. It’s not quite a hive of scum and villainy, these bacteria aren’t criminals, they are also doing their jobs. The culprit here is the western diet and our genes. Modern diets cause us to consume far more FODMAPs than the bacteria in the front of our intestine are trained to handle, so the rest must quickly digest the excess and produce unusually high volumes of hydrogen. On top of that, many of us have a unique genetic disposition that causes our bacteria to doze off in class and become less effective at processing certain foods, if at all. This can be a common genetic issue, but is certainly more common in IBS. For many of us they may not be the villains, but they are certainly corrupt.

The hydrogen produced from the fermentation of excess FODMAPs leads to increased intestinal permeability, which contributes to the development of IBS and IBD.2 Excess hydrogen causes many familiar IBS and IBD symptoms, such as gas, distention of the gut, bloating, cramps, constipation, and pain. On top of those, FODMAPs are often partially absorbed or not absorbed at all, and bring excess water into the intestine through osmosis, which causes diarrhea.

The paper suggested that the western diet and our own personal biology lead to two issues worth researching, which foods and what quantities of them will lead to adverse conditions. The researchers at Monash launched a long-term and exhaustive investigation into testing and retesting exactly how much of which food is too much. The low FODMAP diet is derived from this information and will help you perform your own investigation to solve the mystery of who is killing your intestines or causing your IBS or IBD. The answer may shock and confuse you. Is it a network of fruits and vegetables forming an unlikely criminal network after decades of feuding? Is it the notorious gluten crime family? Or maybe… it was the beans all along.

What Is The FODMAP Diet?

The low FODMAP diet (colloquially, FODMAPs) is a relatively new diet founded at Monash University. It is one of the most sound and conclusive methods to successfully combat pain and discomfort from IBS and IBD. It is not only useful as a diet for the relief of digestive conditions, but as a system for to identify what foods are individually problematic.

As IBS and IBD have taught us all, not everyone reacts the same to everything. One of the most useful things about FODMAPs, is that it’s a restrictive diet. Once you have eliminated every FODMAP for a few weeks and seen results, you can enter what is called the challenge phase, and gradually start reintroducing eliminated food for a few days to see if IBD or IBS symptoms begin to creep back into your guts, and if they do you’ve caught them in the act. You can determine if a specific food is causing you problems and decide if it should be removed permanently or partially. While you can attempt restricting different FODMAPs on your own, it may save you some time if you consult with a doctor or dietician, who can test to confirm whole groups of foods or FODMAPs to avoid, such as fructose and lactose, and help you manage your diet. You should discuss the diet with a professional regularly.

FODMAPs is the most promising non-medical therapy for IBS and IBD and has no direct side effects. 75% of IBS cases benefit from a low FODMAP diet, often significantly. Even though the early FODMAP research was for treating Crohn’s disease, it is more successful in treating IBS than IBD. If you have Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis or pancolitis, there is a 50% chance it will significantly benefit you. The diet is supported by over ten years of research at Monash University, who constantly research new findings and retest old ones.

If you do not have an IBS or IBD, or a related condition, the low FODMAP diet will be a complete waste of your time and energy. If you have IBS or IBD, no other conflicting factors, and a lifestyle that will not interfere with the diet or your adherence to it, you should at least be trying the low FODMAP diet.

High FODMAP Foods

While researching this list, we discovered a lot of contradictory, out of date, and sometimes incorrect information. We strive to keep our information to the highest standards, and found that one significant reason for this misinformation was that many foods have certain thresholds of daily consumption, that will lead to problems. When interpreting this data, many sites choose to classify only as low or high FODMAP foods, which can lead to contradiction. In our list, we are defining both low and high FODMAP foods, but foods marked by an asterisk* can be consumed in significant amounts, and will be listed with an appropriate volume in the Moderate FODMAP Foods section.

Fruits

Apples (All varieties, except Apple Cider Vinegar)
Bananas (Ripe)
Blackberries
Blackcurrants
Blueberries*
Boysenberry*
Cherries
Cranberries (Juice is fine)
Currants
Dates
Feijoas
Fennel
Figs
Goji Berries
Grapefruit*
Guava (Unripe)
Lychee (All varieties)*
Mangos
Nectarines
Peaches
Pears
Persimmons
Pineapple (Dried)
Plums
Pomegranates*
Prunes
Raisins
Raspberries*
Sultanas
Tamarillos
Watermelon

Vegetables

Artichoke (One serving of canned artichoke hearts is fine)
Asparagus
Adzuki Beans
Baked Beans
Beetroot (Fine when pickled or canned)
Black Beans
Broad Beans
Broccoli Heads and Rabe
Broccolini (Should be avoided as a whole, but the stalks are safe)
Brussels Sprouts
Butter Beans
Butternut Squash
Cauliflower
Celery
Chickpeas
Fava Beans
Garlic
Haricot Beans (Navy Beans)
Jerusalem Artichoke
Kidney Beans
Leeks
Lima Beans
Mung Beans*
Mushrooms (All but Oyster and Canned)
Onions (Also when pickled)
Savoy Cabbage*
Sauerkraut
Scallions and Spring Onions
Shallots
Snow Peas
Soya Beans
Split Peas
Sugar Snap Peas (Mange Tout)

Grains and Nuts

Almonds*
Amaranth Flour
Barley
Bran
Cashews
Coconut Flour
Cous Cous
Einkorn Flour
Freekeh
Granola
Muesli
Pistachios
Rye
Semolina
Spelt (Some breads are low FODMAP)
Tahini
Wheat Germ
Wheat Pasta
Wheat Noodles

Dairy

Buttermilk
Custard
Kefir
Milk
Yogurt

Sweets and Sweeteners

Agave
Fructose
High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
Molasses
Inulin
Isomalt
Lactitol
Maltitol
Mannitol
Sorbitol
Xylitol

Alcohol

Rum

Other

Ketchup

FODMAP Categories

If you find that you react to one FODMAP more than others, this list will help intuitively understand what foods and FODMAPs you should personally avoid.

Oligos

Almonds*
Artichoke (One serving of canned artichoke hearts is fine)
Asparagus
Adzuki Beans
Baked Beans
Bananas (Ripe)
Barley
Beetroot (Fine when pickled or canned)
Black Beans
Blackcurrants
Blueberries*
Bran
Brussels Sprouts
Butter Beans
Butternut Squash
Cashews
Chickpeas
Cous Cous
Cranberries (Juice is fine)
Currants
Dates
Einkorn Flour
Fennel
Figs (Dried)
Freekeh
Garlic
Goji Berries
Granola
Grapefruit*
Haricot Beans (Navy Beans)
Jerusalem Artichoke
Ketchup
Kidney Beans
Leeks
Lima Beans
Mangos
Muesli
Mung Beans*
Nectarines
Persimmons
Pineapple (Dried)
Pistachios
Plums
Pomegranates*
Prunes
Raisins
Raspberries*
Savoy Cabbage*
Semolina
Shallots
Snow Peas
Soya Beans
Spelt (Some breads are low FODMAP)
Split Peas
Sugar Snap Peas (Mange Tout)
Sultanas
Tahini
Watermelon
Wheat Germ
Wheat Pasta
Wheat Noodles

Fructose

Asparagus
Balsamic Vinegar (Moderate at 2 tbsp)
Boysenberry*
Broad Beans
Broccoli Heads and Rabe
Broccolini (Should be avoided as a whole, but the stalks are safe)
Cherries
Fava Beans
Feijoas
Figs (Fresh)
Guava
Jerusalem Artichoke
Pears
Rye
Rum
Sultanas
Tamarillos
Watermelon
Wheat Noodles

Polyols

Apples (All varieties, except Apple Cider Vinegar)
Bell Peppers (Green)*
Blackberries
Cauliflower
Celery
Cherries
Fennel
Lychee*
Mangos
Nectarines
Peaches
Pears
Plums
Prunes
Sauerkraut
Snow Peas
Sugar Snap Peas (Mange Tout)

Lactose

Buttermilk
Custard
Kefir
Milk
Yogurt

Moderate FODMAP Foods

Fruits

Avocado (1/4 of a whole avocado)
Bananas Chips (More than one serving size, about 15 chips)
Bitter Melon (1/4 cup)
Blueberries (Moderate at 2/3 cup)
Grapefruit (Moderate at 1/2 cup)
Melon (Moderate at 2/3 cup)
Quince (Moderate at 1 tbsp)
Passion Fruit (Moderate at 2 servings, about 4 fruits)
Pineapple (Fresh: 1 1/4 cup, Dried: 1/8 cup)
Pomegranate (Moderate at 1/3 cup)
Raspberries (Moderate at 35 berries)

Vegetables

Bell Peppers (Green) (Moderate at 1 serving)
Broccoli (Whole) (Moderate at 3 cups)
Cabbage
Garbanzo Beans (Moderate at 1/2 cup)
Jicama (Moderate at 1 1/4 cups)
Lentils (Moderate at 1/2 cup)
Mung Beans (Fine at 1/4 cup)
Savoy Cabbage (Moderate at 3/4 cup)
Zucchini (Moderate at ½ cup)

Grains

Almonds (10 nuts)

Dairy

Ice Cream (Moderate at 1 serving)

Other

Balsamic Vinegar (Moderate at 2 tbsp)

Low FODMAP Foods

Fruits

Dragon Fruit
Grapes (All)
Guava (Ripe)
Kiwi (No more than 1 serving)
Oranges (Juice is high FODMAP)
Passion Fruit (No more than 1 serving)
Star Fruit
Strawberry
Tamarind

Vegetables

Alfalfa
Arugula
Bamboo Shoots
Basil
Bay Leaves
Bean Shoots
Bean Sprouts
Broccoli (Stalks only)
Bok Choy (No more than 1 serving)
Buckwheat
Cabbage (No more than 1 serving)
Cardamon
Carrot
Cassava (No more than 1 serving)
Chard/Silver Beet
Chayote/Chokos (No more than 1 serving)
Chives
Chilies (Beware, chilis may offend your IBS in general)
Choy Sum
Cinnamon
Cloves
Collard Greens
Coriander
Cucumber
Curry Leaves
Eggplant (No more than 1 serving)
Endive
Fennel Seeds
Fenugreek
Galangal
Ginger
Green Beans
Greens
Kaffir Lime Leaves
Kale
Kohlrabi
Lemongrass
Lentils (Canned)
Lettuce
Mint
Mushrooms (Canned)
Okra (No more than 1 serving)
Olives
Oyster Mushrooms
Pandan Leaves
Parsley
Parsnip
Peppercorns (Black, White, Red, Green)
Poppy Seeds
Pumpkin
Radish
Red Bell Peppers
Red Cabbage (No more than 1 serving)
Rhubarb
Rutabaga
Sesame Seeds
Spinach (Baby spinach is moderate)
Squash (Acorn, Buttercup, Delicata)
Summer Squash
Swede
Sweet Potato/Yams (No more than 1 serving)
Swiss Chard
Taro (No more than 1 serving)
Thai Basil
Tomato
Watercress

Seasonings and Spices

Allspice
Anise
Basil
Bay Leaves
Cardamon
Chilies
Cinnamon
Cloves
Coriander
Cumin
Curry Powder
Fennel Seeds
Fenugreek
Lemongrass
Mint
Mustard Seeds
Nutmeg
Paprika
Parsley
Peppercorns (Black, White, Red, Green)
Poppy Seeds
Rosemary
Saffron
Sage
Star Anise
Tarragon
Thai Basil
Thyme
Turmeric

Dairy

Cheese (All)
Cream Cheese
Whipped Cream
Cottage Cheese
Regular Fat Cream

Alcohol (Try to limit to one drink and with food)

Beer
Wine
Vodka
Whiskey
Gin

Other

Licorice (Bonus: Licorice is also good for IBS!)
Mayonnaise
Mustard
Oils
Vinegar (Except Balsamic)*

  1. Gibson, P. R. and Shepherd, S. J. (2005), Personal view: food for thought – western lifestyle and susceptibility to Crohn’s disease. The FODMAP hypothesis. Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 21: 1399-1409. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2036.2005.02506.x
  2. See our excellent article about the carnivore diet for more information about intestinal permeability