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Fodmaps and Fibre.  How do they affect gut health?

03 June 2023

Last Updated

Author: Warren Gouin

Fodmaps and Fibre.

What Are Fodmaps?

FODMAPs are short-chain carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine, and continue to the colon where they are fermented. They can produce discomfort in some people due to the gases that are produced through the fermentation process. FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. In patients with healthy gut function, many of these FODMAPs are beneficial, and help the growth of healthy gut microbes. In patients with digestive disorders and an imbalance in gut bacteria, they can make symptoms worse.
The FODMAP diet is a diet that removes or minimises the foods that will cause excessive discomfort in the colon for some people.It’s often tried for people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).The idea is that if you remove certain foods that ferment strongly and produce a lot of gas in the colon, you can reduce the discomfort.This diet is more popular and more mainstream than diets such as the GAPS diet, and it’s easier to stick with than GAPS for most people.
Many fruits with high levels of fructose are considered FODMAPs.It’s important to remember that high amounts of fructose from fruits and drinks cause an imbalance in gut bacteria in almost everyone, even those that don’t have IBS.If too much fructose is consumed, the small intestine won’t absorb all of the fructose, and some will continue to the colon where it’s fermented.They tend to feed yeasts and unwanted bacteria more than the wanted bacteria.
The FODMAP diet will have some long term benefits, but it won’t be as effective at removing harmful bacteria long term as the GAPS diet.
I agree with the removal of FODMAPs to remove unwanted microbes, but in my opinion, appropriate antimicrobials should be added.


What Is Fibre?

Fibres are components of plants that resist digestion in the small intestine, and reach the colon and act as a prebiotic. This means that fibre feeds bacteria in the colon. They include resistant starch. Cooking and cooling foods (such as potatoes and rice) that are high in starches, can convert those starches into resistance starches that can promote gut health.
Fibres are different from FODMAPs in that they ferment more slowly in the colon, and often require a community of beneficial bacterial species to digest them. Fibres are therefore a key ingredient in your diet when you want to promote beneficial bacteria.
Don't focus on promoting beneficial bacteria initially, when you are in the stage of removing overgrown microbes. The GAPS diet, for instance, eliminates fibres in the initial stages. This is why GAPS is so successful at rebalancing the gut because it’s starving bacteria out. It removes the bacteria that is causing the issues.
In my opinion, for most people, GAPS starves bacteria for too long. We should be removing the unwanted microbes as soon as possible through starving unwanted microbes and using antimicrobials, then introducing low FODMAP vegetables as quickly as possible. Low FODMAP vegetables will feed the wanted bacteria. As the wanted microbes become more abundant, they regain control of the colon.
Fibre is a crucial component of  gut healing. Any diet that restricts fibre should be short term only. There should be a plan to increase fibre when appropriate. If there is discomfort caused by fibre, the objective must be to remove the underlying reason for the discomfort. Fibre is a healthy and important part of the diet but, for some people, fibre restriction may be necessary for the short term.

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