# IBS and Digestive Issues: 5 Categories of FODMAP Trigger Foods Could Cause Countless Symptoms

From: Body Ecology Newsletter June 2012

Bloating, cramping, and gas. Do you ever wonder why some foods wreak havoc on your digestive system, while other foods pass through unnoticed?

As it turns out, many foods that we commonly enjoy are high-residue foods. This means that they leave a lot behind for bacteria to feed on. When bacteria feed and proliferate, this is what is known as fermentation.

When food ferments or rots in the gut, our inner ecosystem gets thrown out of balance.

Some foods have the tendency to ferment faster than others.

These foods are called FODMAPs.

FODMAP is an acronym that stands for fermentable, oligo- di- mono-saccharides and polyols. These are sugars that we cannot digest, which end up feeding bacteria and fungal overgrowth in the gut.

Gastroenterologist Dr. Peter Gibson developed the FODMAP list of foods to treat patients with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).

All FODMAP foods rapidly ferment somewhere along the gastrointestinal tract, specifically in the far end of the small intestine or in the large intestine.
Do you feel like you have to avoid certain foods to steer clear of unpleasant digestive systems like cramping, bloating, gas, and even headaches? Trigger foods, known as FODMAPs, can wreak havoc on your digestive tract by causing fermentation to throw your inner ecosystem out of balance.

What does this rapid fermentation look like? There may be:

  • Bloating
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Gas
  • Heartburn
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Brain fog

When we eat FODMAP foods, there is a chance that small amounts are well tolerated. While each person has their own FODMAP threshold, the FODMAP trigger foods fall into 5 categories.

Remembering these 5 categories can be helpful when pinning down exactly which food is at the root of an imbalanced inner ecosystem.


  1. Beans and lentils: Oligosaccharides are short strands of simple sugars. Common foods in this group are several varieties of beans and lentils.
  2. Wheat, onions, and cabbage: Also an oligosaccharide, wheat contains a type of sugar called afructan. Fructans are found inulin and other common foods such as Jerusalem artichokes, cruciferous vegetables like cabbage and cauliflower, onions, scallions, garlic, and avocados.
  3. Dairy: Lactose is a milk sugar and a disaccharide. Cow, sheep, and goat’s milk all contain lactose.
  4. Fruit, agave, and honey: Fructose is fruit sugar and a monosaccharide. Fruits high in fructose fall into this category, such as mango and watermelons. Some sweeteners contain fructose, such as high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), honey, and agave. Apples, peaches, celery, and pears are natural sources of polyols (sugar alcohols).
  5. Xylitol: Polyols are sugar alcohols. Examples of sugar alcohols are xylitol, maltitol, and sorbitol. These sugar alcohols taste sweet but are not absorbed as sugar. They are commonly used in “diabetic candy”, sugar-free mints, toothpastes, and chewing gum.

Solutions! Tips to Make a Low-FODMAP Diet Work for You

If you find that you still have episodes of bloating, gas, and other signs of digestive discomfort, you may want to experiment with combining low-FODMAP rules.

Fructans: Onions contain fructans. If you like to cook with onion, experiment with low-FODMAP choices like chives or the green portion of scallions. You can also gently warm crushed cloves of garlic in coconut oil or ghee until the garlic flavor infuses into the oil. This method only works with oil – not water such as in a broth – because the fructans in garlic are water-soluble.

Lactose: If you avoid dairy and are concerned that you are missing out on key nutrients, ferment your favorite dairy with a Kefir Starter. If you decide to avoid dairy altogether, a high-quality fish oil is rich in vitamin D. Also, experiment with ghee, a type of clarified butter. While ghee boasts a number of nutrients, it contains very little common food irritants, such as milk sugar and milk proteins.

Fructose: Because we can only digest 20-25 grams of fructose in one sitting, it is essential to remember the Body Ecology food combing principle and the principle of 80/20. If you eat more fructose than your small intestine can absorb, it will ferment, becoming food for bacteria.

Polyols: If you find that you have trouble with sugar alcohols like xylitol, try using Stevia or Lakanto, which contains erythritol. Erythritol is a four-carbon polyol and, unlike other polyols, it is well absorbed.

What to Remember Most About This Article:

For so many people, certain foods trigger digestive issues, while others don’t cause a reaction at all. Many foods that wreak havoc on the digestive tract are high-residue foods, which leave behind large amounts of food particles that bacteria can feed on to cause fermentation.

Foods that ferment quickly in the digestive tract are known as FODMAPs. This fermentation quickly leads to symptoms like bloating, cramping, diarrhea, fatigue, headaches, and much more. Even though small amounts of FODMAP foods may be well tolerated, each person has their own threshold for these trigger foods that fall into 5 specific categories, including:

  1. Beans and lentils
  2. Wheat, onions, and cabbage
  3. Dairy
  4. Fruit, agave, and honey
  5. Xylitol

To get rid of unpleasant digestive symptoms and protect your inner ecology at the same time, consider a low-FODMAP diet. Principle of food combining. Just like the Principle of Uniqueness states, we all function differently. Make sure to track your FODMAP intake so that you can avoid trigger foods and keep your digestive health on track.

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