FODMAPs are short chains of carbohydrates disaccharides, monosaccharides and related alcohols that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine. The restriction of these FODMAPs from the diet has been found to have a beneficial effect for sufferers of irritable bowel syndrome and other functional gastrointestinal disorders.
Poor absorption of most FODMAP carbohydrates is common to everyone. Any FODMAPs that are not absorbed in the small intestine pass into the large intestine, where bacteria ferment them. Below are two lists of FODMAP unfriendly and FODMAP friendly foods. Generally abstinence of these inflammatory foods is advisable but if you really need certain items try and keep the usage down to a minimum.
High FODMAP food (things to avoid / reduce)
Vegetables and Legumes
Garlic and onions – avoid entirely if possible, artichoke, asparagus, baked beans, beetroot, black eyed peas, broad beans, butter beans, cauliflower, celery – greater than 5cm of stalk, kidney beans, leeks, mange tout, mushrooms, peas, savoy cabbage, soy beans, split peas, scallions / spring onions (bulb / white part), shallots
Fruits that contain high fructose
Apples, apricots, avocado, blackberries, cherries, currants, dates, grapefruit, lychee, mango
Beer – if drinking more than one bottle, dandelion tea, fruit and herbal teas with apple added, orange juice in quantities over 100ml, rum, sugar free fizzy drinks – such as diet coke, sports drinks, wine – if drinking more than one glass.
Banana, blueberries, boysenberry, cantaloupe, star fruit, cranberry, durian, grapes, grapefruit, honeydew melon, kiwi, lemon, lime mandarin, orange, passion fruit, pineapple, raspberry, rhubarb, strawberry, tangelo.
Suitable vegetables and legumes
Alfalfa, bean sprouts, bok choy / pak choi, broccoli – avoid large servings, brussel sprouts, butternut squash – 1/4 cup, cabbage, carrots, celery – less than 5cm of stalk, corn / sweet corn, courgette, chick peas, chives, cucumber, eggplant, fennel, green beans,green pepper, ginger, kale, Leek leaves, lentils, lettuce, okra, olives, parsnip, parsley, radish, red peppers, potato, pumpkin, scallions, spinach, baby squash, sweet potato, tomato, turnip, zucchini.
This article focuses on the foods to be avoided and taken on a FODMAP diet. When considering a diet that involves avoiding a long list of foods, it is beneficial to look at foods that are acceptable on the diet.
Salicylates are naturally occurring chemicals that are found in various plants. Their function is to protect plants from diseases and insects, but they can have an adverse effect on people to varying degrees. People who are sensitive to salicylates may experience the following symptoms:
- Rapid heart rate
- Nausea or vomiting
- Acid reflux
- Sleep disturbances (sleep apnea, insomnia, night terrors)
- Nasal congestion
- Anxiety or panic attacks
- Joint pain
Salicylates are also believed to worsen the symptoms of asthma and ADHD. They may also have an adverse effect on people who suffer from clinical depression.
If you suspect that you’re sensitive to salicylates, you should avoid tomato products, citrus fruits, most berries, dried herbs and spices, tea and mint. Obviously, this means that you won’t be consuming several foods that are considered good for you, so you’re going to have to be sure that you consume other foods that will provide you with proper nutrition.
Lentils and beans are low in salicylates. Approach fresh vegetables and non-citric fruits with caution – choose only produce that has fully ripened. Pears, apples, carrots, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, pumpkin and leeks are all low-salicylate. Peel fruits and vegetables before eating – there is more salicylate in the skin.
If you must have a hot drink, coffee is better for you than tea. If you feel that you can do without the caffeine, decaffeinated coffee is much lower in salicylates than regular coffee.
It should be noted that salicylates don’t occur just in food. Acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) is present in many medications – you probably know it best under the name aspirin. For most pain-related conditions, you can substitute acetaminophen or ibuprofen, or see your doctor for a prescription medication that doesn’t contain salicylates.
Salicylates are also found in many personal care products. You might, for example, find it in shampoo, toothpaste or mouthwash.
People are sensitive to salicylates to varying degrees. Quantities that could cause extreme discomfort in one person might produce only mild symptoms in another. Given the presence of salicylates in so many of the foods we consume and in the other products we use daily, a totally salicylate-free diet may not be practical. However, avoiding foods that haven’t fully ripened and removing heavily processed foods from your diet is a very good start.
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It’s natural to find colourful food appealing – as humans, we’re visual creatures. Think about what draws you, for example, to produce in the supermarket – you like bright red strawberries, yellow bananas, blueberries, dark purple grapes, cherry red tomatoes, brilliant green peppers, and so on. You wouldn’t want to eat, for example, a grey carrot or a beige peach.
Following a colour free diet doesn’t mean that you give up the natural foods you love; it means eliminating dangerous dyes that are added to your food. Did you know, for example, that a bowl of rainbow-colored cereal can contain compounds that can cause allergic reactions, and have even been implicated in neurological illnesses?
Red 40, Blue 1, and Yellows 5 and 6 have been linked to allergic reactions. Granted, this isn’t common, but it’s reason enough to avoid dyed foods whenever possible. Studies have also indicated that these dyes could cause hyperactivity in some children. Additionally, these dyes along with Blue 2 and Green 3 have been shown to cause cancer in lab animals. Yellow 5 was also linked to mutations.
Food dyes are a relatively new additive. They came into common use when food processors decided to capitalize on our visual nature. At one time, food dyes were natural – beet juice, for example, was used to create red coloring. Of course, food processors are always looking for ways to lower their costs, and artificial dyes are considerably cheaper than natural ones.
In the States, FDA standards for approving food colorings are fairly low. If the risk isn’t actually proven beyond any doubt, the dye gets FDA approval. The laws are similar in Australia. This doesn’t mean that the dye isn’t harmful, just that cause and effect can’t be inextricably linked.
So, how can you follow a colour free diet? Hard as it may be, you should start by eliminating most types of candy. Pure chocolate is dye-free, but colorful marshmallow candies, coated chocolate, jelly candies and waxy candies, to name just a few, all contain dyes.
Read the labels on anything that’s processed. Many cereals are huge offenders when it comes to food dyes. You’ll also find dyes in soups, snack cakes, and even some meats. Yogurt is usually thought to be a healthy food, but read the labels on the fruit varieties – many of them contain little fruit and rely on dye to give the appearance of higher fruit content.
Generally speaking, if a food looks really colorful, and it’s not a fresh fruit or vegetable, it could contain dye. When in doubt, give it a pass.
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If you’ve stopped adding salt to your food, you could still be getting too much sodium. Almost 80% of the sodium people consume on a daily basis comes from processed foods, and you may be eating these regularly without ever reaching for the saltshaker. Therefore going sodium free takes a little bit of work.
Sodium is found in obvious sources, like potato chips and pretzels, but it also hides in a lot of other foods. Because it’s present in virtually everything that’s canned, and also in most frozen foods as well, no one is ever going to be in any danger of getting too little sodium.
Actually, you need some sodium in order to stay alive. It helps maintain cellular fluid levels and facilitates the transmission of information to nerves and muscles. It also aids in nutrient absorption in the small intestine. Too much sodium, though, can play a role in strokes, heart disease and kidney disorders. If you’re thinking of cutting down on your sodium, it’s likely because you’re aware of those health concerns.
Fresh foods are your best friends when it comes to reducing your sodium intake. Choose fresh vegetables instead of canned, and don’t add any salt to the cooking water. If you must use canned vegetables, look at the label, make sure it says, “no salt added,” and then rinse thoroughly just to be sure. One exception to the fresh vegetable rule is celery – it’s actually very high in sodium compared with other vegetables. Three and a half ounces of raw celery contains approximately 130mg of sodium.
Fresh fruits are also fine, as well as whole grain products. When choosing meats, stay away from anything that’s been processed. Ham, bacon, sausage, frankfurters, lunchmeats and cold cuts are sodium minefields. Instead, select lean cuts of meat and poultry, and don’t season with salt. Fresh fish is a good choice, but if you’re going to use canned, make sure it’s packed in water.
Many condiments, and also anything pickled, can be very high in sodium, so keep the use of these products to a minimum.
If you’re serious about cutting back on sodium, consider getting back into the kitchen and making nutritious meals from scratch. There’s very little that you can make from natural, unprocessed ingredients that’s going to contain an excessive amount of sodium. Now just put the saltshaker away, and you’re off to a good start.
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If you are planning to follow a raw food diet, you won’t be spending a great deal of time cooking. Raw food advocates believe that cooking not only destroys nutrients, it can actually make foods toxic.
If you are planning to adopt a raw food diet, it may be because you’ve read that it can help with memory, boost immunity, and give relief to arthritis sufferers. Eating raw foods exclusively is also believed to help with headaches. Other people choose to eat raw foods as a means of losing weight.
Most of what you eat on a raw food diet will be high in vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber. However, you may find that you’re not getting enough iron, protein and calcium so you might want to consider taking a daily multivitamin.
On a raw food diet, you can eat raw vegetables, nuts, seeds, sprouted grains, and raw fruits. Some raw diet adherents will also consume unpasteurized dairy products, while others forego dairy. In most areas, it’s actually illegal to sell unpasteurized dairy products. Raw food adherents may or may not consume raw meat, fish and eggs.
If you’re planning on adopting a raw food diet, you’re going to be spending a lot of time in the kitchen, even though you won’t be cooking. Preparation of raw foods can be very time consuming. You’ll also have to spend a lot more time shopping, since most of the foods you can consume will be organic. Foods can be blended or hydrated, and you can also sprout seeds and germinate nuts. Be careful doing this, though, because there can be a risk of contamination.
Another thing to be concerned about with a raw food diet is foodborne illnesses that can occur with unpasteurized and uncooked foods. You’re going to have to be very careful with cleanliness when it comes to food preparation, and make sure that you’re choosing only the freshest ingredients. Wash your food very carefully, and give extra attention to green onions, lettuce, and raspberries. These are foods that are particularly prone to contamination.
Because of the increased risk of food poisoning, raw food diets are not recommended for people who have weak immune systems or chronic medical problems, such as kidney disease. Raw food diets are also not recommended for seniors, young children, or pregnant women.
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The two types of dietary fiber are soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber helps the body eliminate toxins and waste, and encourages helpful intestinal bacteria. It also slows the digestive process so that you feel full for a longer time after eating, and it helps to regulate the blood sugar.
If you’re considering following a high fiber diet, it’s probably because you want to be healthier. Perhaps you’re troubled by diverticular disease, constipation or hemorrhoids. Low fiber is also connected to excess weight and heart problems.
When increasing your consumption of fiber, you should also make sure to drink more water as well – this aids in the digestion and helps you to avoid stomach discomfort. There are no foods prohibited on a high fiber diet, but there are several that you’re encouraged to eat.
Apples are inexpensive, and readily available. They’re a great source of fiber. Ideally, you should eat apples with the skin on to maximize your intake of fiber. Pears are also a great fruit – with their coarse texture, you can practically feel the benefit!
Most vegetables provide high amounts of fiber. For maximum benefit, don’t overcook your vegetables – steam or stir fry instead of boiling. Broccoli is high in fiber and also provides a number of other nutrients. In the green family, Brussels sprouts are also desirable, but admittedly not to everyone’s liking. You might try cooking them in a cheese sauce, or roasting them in olive oil.
Carrots are best consumed raw, as cooking destroys some of the fiber. If you’re fond of carrots, you might also try parsnips – they look like carrots, except that they’re white and have a much stronger taste. They’re an even better source of fiber, packing twice the content of carrots.
When considering fiber, you almost certainly think of grains, but note that they have to be in their whole form – when grains are processed, the bran is removed, and that dramatically reduces the fiber.
Seeds, especially flax or chia, are excellent sources of fiber.
Don’t overlook legumes – they not only provide fiber, they’re a great source of protein, so if you’re upping your fiber intake while also following a vegetarian or vegan diet, you’re getting double the benefit. Lentils are a common ingredient in several global cuisines, and they lend themselves well to various methods of cooking.
A high fiber diet is easy to follow because you don’t have to take anything away – you just have to add more fiber to your diet, and if you’re fond of the foods listed above, it should be easy!
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