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The low FODMAP diet was developed at by the research team at Monash University in Melbourne headed by Peter Gibson and Susan Shepherd.

They developed a diet to control gastrointestinal symptoms associated with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and other functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGID) focusing on a group of carbohydrates called FODMAPs.

Current research strongly suggests that this group of carbohydrates contributes to IBS/FGID symptoms.


1. Donahue R, Attaluri A, Schneider M, Valestin J, Rao SS. Absorptive capacity of fructans in healthy humans: a dose response study. Gastroenterology. 2010;138:S709.

2. Fedewa A, Rao SSC. Dietary fructose intolerance, fructan intolerance and FODMAPs. Current gastroenterology reports. 2014;16(1):370


The process through which gut bacteria degrade undigested carbohydrate to produce gases (hydrogen, methane and carbon dioxide)


     •     Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) found in; wheat, rye, onions and garlic

     •     Galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) found in ; legumes/pulses


Lactose found in; milk, soft cheese, yoghurts


Fructose (in excess of glucose) found in honey, apples, high fructose corn syrups


Sugar polyols (eg. sorbitol, mannitol) found in some fruit and vegetables and used as artificial sweeteners

What does FODMAP mean?

In the same way that starch is a polymer of glucose molecules, fructans are polymers of fructose and glucose molecules.  Fructans are contained in large amounts in onion, garlic, asparagus, coconut flesh, wheat, barley, rye (old style spelt wheat is low in fructans), leek, watermelon, chicory and also in grass (where they can cause metabolic problems including laminitis in horses).

These foods are identified in the FODMAP diet as problematic for people who are sensitive to fructans.  

The human body has only limited ability to break down these fructan polymers and therefore only absorbs 5 – 15% of fructans in the small intestine (1). The mechanism for malabsorption and intolerance is related to the lack of enzymes to fully digest the complex sugars (polysaccharides).  It results in the malabsorbed fructans reaching the colon, where they are then fermented. Furthermore, the small molecule of fructans draws more water into the intestine which can also result in bloating and diarrhea.  

The consumption of fructans is believed to have increased due to high fructan-containing diets being very common in the Western diet, especially as more wheat-based products (breakfast cereals, pasta and bread) are consumed. This, alongside the gut porosity enhancing and irritating effects of gliadin (part of the gluten protein in wheat) may have increased the number of people who are intolerant or sensitive to fructans (2).

Read more about fructose.

More about one of these groups, FOS (or fructans)

Foods you can eat - Low FODMAP

Alfalfa, bean sprouts, green beans, bok choy, capsicum (bell pepper), carrot, chives, fresh herbs, choy sum, cucumber, lettuce, tomato, zucchini.

Banana, orange, mandarin, grapes, melon

Lactose-free milk, lactose-free yoghurts, hard cheese

Meats, fish, chicken, Tofu, tempeh

Gluten-free bread and sourdough spelt bread, rice bubbles, oats, gluten-free pasta, rice, quinoa

Almonds (<10 nuts), pumpkin seeds

Foods you can't eat - High FODMAP

Asparagus, artichokes, onions(all), leek bulb, garlic, legumes/pulses, sugar snap peas, onion and garlic salts, beetroot, Savoy cabbage, celery, sweet corn

Apples, pears, mango, nashi pears, watermelon, nectarines, peaches, plums

Cow’s milk, yoghurt, soft cheese, cream, custard, ice cream


Rye, wheat-containing breads, wheat-based cereals with dried fruit, wheat pasta

Cashews, pistachios

For more details and to download their app to help in planning your low FODMAP diet, please visit The Monash Universtiy FODMAP Project Homepage.

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