FODMAPs: How Can They Affect You?
When you have EDS, gastrointestinal issues are often an unfortunate side effect. The symptoms, including bloating, constipation, and acid reflux, can be overwhelming and a constant source of stress and discomfort. That’s why it’s so important to reflect on our diet and take into consideration what we put into our bodies. One type of food that can have a serious impact is one that is high in FODMAPs.
FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols. They are short-chain carbohydrates that take longer for the body to digest – foods high in FODMAPs ferment in your gut, which can lead to stomach pain, cramping, and other symptoms. These foods are not necessarily unhealthy, but the way in which our body absorbs and digests them can be problematic for some of us.
Foods that are high in FODMAPs include fruits such as apples, cherries, and peaches; vegetables like broccoli, garlic, and onions; and wheat and dairy products. If you think your GI symptoms could be affected by the amount of FODMAPs in your diet, it is important to note that it may not be necessary to cut all of these foods out of your life entirely. Instead, it is beneficial to keep track of what you’re eating and how it correlates to how you’re feeling. Simply reducing portions of certain foods down can make a dramatic difference!
In addition, you can incorporate lower FODMAP foods into your diet instead. Most meats, fish, and gluten-free products contain less FODMAPs and therefore decrease your risk of gastrointestinal upset. For EDS patients specifically, we have observed we have a better response if we eliminate dairy products altogether, in addition to lactose. For your reference, there are many resources available online that specify which foods are low and high FODMAPs and can even give you guidance on what portions are safe to eat on a daily basis.
The most important thing to remember is that each of our bodies are different. How I may process avocados, for instance, will be different than how you process it – even if we both have EDS or another gastrointestinal disorder! No specific diet is perfect or ideal considering that we all have individualized needs. We should all have an intake of a variety of fruits, vegetables, and grains within our diet, making sure that they are low FODMAP. The quantity with each type of food is key - overeating certain foods can make you prone to digestive discomfort. In general, smaller portions are more digestible than large meals.
We highly recommend keeping a food journal to take note of what you’re eating and how you feel afterwards. This can help you identify potential food allergies and sensitivities over time. If you choose to do so, make sure to note what seasonings you use to prepare your foods, and keep track of how you feel not only immediately after eating, but within the coming days as well.
Most importantly, be sure to consult with your primary care physician or other medical professionals in regards to your medical concerns. This text cannot and should not replace advice from the patient's healthcare professionals. Any person who experiences symptoms or feels that something may be wrong should seek individual professional help for evaluation and/or treatment. This post is for informative purposes only.
If you'd like to learn more about the implications of your diet and joint hypermobility/EDS, you can refer to our book, Unlocking the Secrets to the Hypermobility Puzzle.