Which one of the following statements about farts is false?
- 99% of the gas you produce do not smell.
- Men and woman fart equally.
- Meat causes flatulence since they are high in FODMAPs.
- Farts have been clocked at 10 feet/second.
You’ll figure out the answer by the time you finish this post.
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What are FODMAPs?
FODMAP (Fermentable Oligo-Di-saccharides And Polyols) stands for a group of short-chain carbohydrates and alcohol sugars (polyols). They are a class of food that are linked to a lot of stomach problems including flatulence, bloated stomach, bad breath, stomach pains, diarrhea and constipation. This includes fructose, lactose, fructo-and galacto-oligosaccharides (fructans and galactans) and polyols (such as sorbitol, manitol, xylitol and maltitol).
Simply put, all FODMAPs has these common functional properties:
- They are not easily absorbed into the small intestine: In the case of fructose, this is because of a low capacity for transporting the molecules across the epithelium. With lactose, enzymes have a reduced capacity to break them down; with fructans and galactans there may not be enough enzymes. And finally in the case of polyols the molecules may just be too large for simple diffusion (that means passing through the enterocyte membrane without the need for a transporter molecule).
- These are all molecules that are actively osmotic: That is, they attract water. An example of this effect was shown with a synthetic FODMAP, lactulose. When administered in sufficient doses it has a laxative effect, as it can increase the amount of fluid in the lumen and consequently intestinal motility.
- They are easy for bacteria to ferment: Bacteria and yeasts can easily make use of this type of fiber as an energy substrate, fermenting it.
How do these FODMAP properties affect us?
Basically, these types of food stay in the small intestine for a long time, during which they may become fermented by bacteria and fungi, giving rise to typical symptoms of gas and discomfort. This bacterial fermentation can leave behind a residue of methane that can pass into your bloodstream and cause a characteristic bad smell on the breath after eating. Yeast fermentation leaves a residue of ethanol, and it is this ethanol that generates the extreme sleepiness that some people experience after eating, as if they were a bit drunk.
These functional properties have recently been confirmed in studies comparing the effect on humans of diets high and low in these types of fibers. In one of them, comparing the effects on 10 people with damaged intestines, faecal consistency improved significantly when FODMAP foods were removed from their diet. In another study on volunteers, a diet rich in FODMAP fibers was introduced and the level of intestinal gas produced was much higher than might have been expected from breath hydrogen measurements, one of the markers for its production.
Following the FODMAP diet
Following a diet like this with my clients at the clinic leads me to two important conclusions:
- If you want to succeed, it’s important to cut out ALL FODMAP FOODS at the same time. Since these fibers all share similar characteristics, limiting just some of them (fructose or lactose, for example) will not get the results you want.
- FODMAP foods do not cause the functional problems that patients suffer from, but they offer an important opportunity to reduce the symptoms experienced.
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Foods that have High and Low FODMAP
According to the Journal of Gastroenterology you should take a look on there two list that we provide to find if the food you are eating is FODMAP or not:
LIST of High FODMAP foods (not recommended)
List of Low FODMAP foods (not recommended)
Low FODMAP diet plan
This example of the FODMAP diet was drawn up by Blanca Gomez, our assessor and therapist from Regenera.
A final note
The FODMAP diet is a useful clinical tool for clients to tackle functional gut disorders. We should bear in mind that the client will not see lasting improvements, since if these foods are reintroduced and nothing further has been done to address the problem, the bloating will return.
Even if you improve your stomach condition by following low FODMAP diet, it is highly recommended to look at what had caused the excess gas and bloating in the first place. It could be one of the following:
- Bacterial overgrowth in the large intestine (SIBO)
- Problems with producing the digestive juices (not enough stomach acid (hypochloridia), or insufficient pancreatic enzymes)
- Yeast overgrowth
- Problems with bowel motility.
This is a very interesting but wide topic and beyond the scope of this post. We will come back to it sometime soon. Follow our blog to stay updated.
If you suffer from the winds or have a bad breath but prefer not to start a low FODMAP diet, checkout this illustrative video about why we tend to enjoy our own gases: