FODMAP Diet To Stop Heartburn

FODMAP is an acronym that stands for Fermentable Oligosacharides, Disacharides And Polyols. It stands for a specific group of sugars that can cause acid reflux, heartburn and irritable bowel syndrome.  Testing this diet can be particularly useful if you have both stomach heartburn and bowel problems.

Slowly Digesting Sugars

When you put sugar in your coffee, it is absorbed within 20 minutes into your blood stream. Ordinary table sugar is a very efficient and quick source of energy.  

FODMAP sugars are different because they take longer to digest. They hang out long enough in your small inestine to feed bacteria that start a fermentation process. 

The different types are:

  • fructose (fruits, honey, high corn fructose syrop,...)
  • lactose (milk and dairy)
  • fructans (wheat, garlic, onion,...)
  • galactans (beans, lentils, soya, ...)
  • polyols (sweeteners and stone fruits)

For an easy overview, click here

Pressure On Stomach 

Since fermentation produces gas, it puts pressure on your digestive system. Upwards on your stomach and further down on your bowels.  

If you have a stomach weakness like a hiatal hernia, this raised pressure can be enough to push acid out and produce acid reflux and heartburn.

The increased pressure also pushes on your bowels and makes them swell.  If you have sensitive bowels, this can be very painful. Recent research shows that a low fermentable sugar diet can be very beneficial for people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

FODMAP For Everyone?

Don’t worry about small intestinal fermentation if you have a strong stomach and healthy bowels.  Apart from burping and farthing, fermentation doesn’t cause any discomfort.  

In fact, a healthy digestive system needs an amount of these sugars to create balanced microflora in your gut.  They feed good bacteria in your gut. This is the prebiotic effect of bacterial fermentation.  

Don't try this diet in order to lose weight. Cutting back all fermentable sugars for more than a month will mess up your intestinal health. That is because you stop feeding you good bacteria too. If you want a healthy diet, go for a a diet that leans towards a gluten free diet or a paleo-diet.

FODMAP For Stopping Acid Reflux?

A FODMAP diet works on your bowels, so you can't state that it has a direct effect on your stomach. Still many people who try a fodmap diet  become completely heartburn-free. Two reasons:

  1. The pressure in your bowel diminishes a lot. Less excess gas and fluid in your intestines means less upward pressure on your stomach, which is the main culprit for acid reflux.
  2. If you look at the diet, you will notice that you can eat, well...  almost nothing. That means less quantities of heavy meals in your stomach. Which is a perfect way to stop heatburn.

Remember that consuming less heavy meals and drinking water instead of soda, coffee or alcohol is an easy way to control acid reflux.

FODMAP Action Plan

  1. Stop eating fermentable sugars for a month
  2. Test each group at a time for two days and check if reflux or bowel problems come back
  3. Avoid the food group that gives you trouble
  4. Reintroduce the other groups or good intestinal health

How Long?

This diet isn’t for life.  You need to follow it strictly for a month to allow your stomach and intestines to calm down and your bacterial flora to normalize. 

After this initial fase, you can introduce the different groups of slowly digesting sugars once at a time. Once you have found the group that is causing your stomach problems, you know what to avoid. 

Introduce food groups that don't cause any digestive troubles to a level that you can tolerate them. This is important, because you need a certain amount of bacterial fermentation to create healthy intestinal microflora.

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