What are FODMAPs?

Understanding FODMAPs: Learn what they are, how they affect digestion, and their significance in your diet

The Composition and Effects of FODMAPs in Our Diet

FODMAP is an acronym that represents four groups of short chain carbohydrates (or sugar molecules) found naturally in a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes and milk products. When food or drinks containing FODMAPs are consumed, they can be poorly absorbed in the small intestine. This means they continue their path along the digestive tract to the large intestine where they are rapidly fermented by the healthy bacteria that live there, potentially resulting in unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms such as excessive wind (flatus), abdominal pain, bloating and distension, and changes in bowel habits (diarrhoea and/or constipation).


Rapidly fermented by healthy bacteria in the large intestine


Fructo-oligosaccharides (Fructans) and Galacto-oligiosaccharides (GOS)




Fructose in excess of glucose



Sorbitol and Mannitol

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Why do FODMAPs cause symptoms?

FODMAPs are not harmful in any way, but the fermentation of these sugars during digestion can cause symptoms in people with a sensitive stomach. As FODMAPs move along the digestive tract two processes occur that may lead to discomfort.

1. Certain FODMAPs are highly osmotic (they draw water into the intestine). Because of this, they create pressure within the gut, and may cause diarrhoea.

2. FODMAPs are fermented by the healthy bacteria that naturally live in the large intestine. This fermentation creates large volumes of gas. For those with a sensitive gut this can result in bloating, cramping, excessive wind and altered gut motility (either diarrhoea or constipation).

© Everyday Nutrition Australia 2018


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