Fructose & Fructans: Just 2 Pieces of the FODMAPS Puzzle

22 Apr

FODMAPS is an acronym that stands for Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, & Mono-saccharides And PolyolS. What?!  In simple terms, these are carbohydrates that some people malabsorb.  Included under this FODMAPS umbrella: lactose, fructose, fructans, polyols, and galactans.  Some folks with FructMal may find additional relief by limiting other FODMAPS on top of the fructose and fructans restrictions.

I mentioned in an earlier post that some studies have linked a low-fructose diet with IBS symptom relief.  The symptoms of IBS are similar to those of FructMal: constipation &/or diarrhea, gas, bloating, abdominal pain.  IBS is considered a functional rather than structural disorder.  This means there isn’t a problem with the intestines themselves but in the way in which they respond to stimuli.  It’s all about hypersensitivity.  Basically, your digestive system is broken.  :/ What a person without IBS might experience as a “bit of gas”, a person with IBS may feel as knives trying to stab their way out of their insides.  This is not an exaggeration.  The pain is real whether or not it can be shown on an X-Ray.

A reduced FODMAPS diet has been implicated in the dietary treatment of IBS.  What does this mean in layman’s terms?  Limiting/avoiding the following types of foods may help ease some of the uncomfortable digestive symptoms associated with a touchy tum tum:

Lactose: Milk is the biggest culprit for problems with this category.  Hard cheeses & yogurts are sometimes more tolerable since they contain bacteria to help partially digest some of the lactose.

Fructose & Fructans: You should already be an expert on these categories! 🙂

Galactans:  Cabbage, lentils, & Beans! Beans! The magical fruit…you know the rest ;-).  Everybody malabsorbs beans to a certain extent due to inherent indigestible fibers.  The trick to incorporating beans is to build a tolerance to ’em over time.  Start by eating smaller portions on a regular basis.  Through consistent exposure, your body can actually begin to develop more of the enzymes necessary to digest them.  Isn’t the body AMAZING?!

Polyols: Sugar alcohols such as sorbitol (which we’ve already talked about) and others such as xylitol found in mushrooms, certain fruits, & some sugar-free gums

This is a bare bones description of the FODMAPS diet for IBS.  In general, limited portions and spacing (such as with my current FructMal diet) are key strategies that can be applied to all FODMAPS.  The more FODMAPS consumed at 1 time or within 1 day, the greater the chance for symptoms.

The book IBS-Free At Last! by Patsy Catsos provides all of the tools a person wishing to undertake a FODMAPS elimination diet might need.  An updated second edition was just released this month.  For more information, visit:


Catsos, P. (2008) IBS-Free At Last. Pgs.19-21.; 60-65.


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