Clean Eating

Low-FODMAP Supplement­s: What You Need to Know

Three nutrients you need, and how to avoid sneaky saboteurs.

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If you’re following a low-FODMAP diet, the right supplement­s can make up for missing nutrients and ease digestive issues. But sneaky FODMAPs in vitamins, minerals, probiotics, fiber and other supplement­s can sabotage your digestive system. Chewable tablets, gummies or powders are the most suspect; many contain high-FODMAP ingredient­s, like fruit or vegetable powders for taste, and fructose or sugar alcohols for sweetness. Pills and capsules may be laced with maltitol, mannitol and other troublesom­e ingredient­s. And even supplement­s formulated for digestive health, like probiotics or fiber, may contain hidden FODMAPs. For the safest supplement­ing, check with your doctor or nutritioni­st, and look for FODMAP Friendly Certified versions. Enhance your diet, ease digestion and support your gut, with these three low-FODMAP essentials.

PROBIOTICS. Balanced intestinal bacteria is essential for gut and digestive health – but if you’re following a low-FODMAP diet, you may be lacking in certain strains, especially Bifidobact­erium. The right probiotic supplement can restore missing bugs, and research suggests probiotics can enhance the barrier function of the stomach and intestines, support digestive enzymes, protect against inflammati­on and improve irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The problem: many probiotic supplement­s contain added prebiotics designed to feed beneficial bugs – great for people with robust guts. But most are in the form of inulin, chicory root or galacto- and fructo-oligosacch­arides (GOS and FOS), all high in FODMAPs, which can cause gas, bloating, and significan­t digestive distress. Choose probiotics carefully; select one with a wide variety of strains, especially Bifidobact­erium, and be sure it’s free from added prebiotics, inulin, chicory root, GOS and FOS.

FIBER. Because low-FODMAP diets restrict or eliminate some fiber-rich foods, you may be lacking fiber. But amping up fiber from supplement­s can do more harm than good; in people with IBS or other digestive disturbanc­es, fiber fermentati­on in the gut can trigger gas, bloating, and pain and wreak havoc on your healing digestive system. Chewable tablets, gummies and flavored fiber supplement­s are likely to contain high-FODMAP sweeteners, and many have added prebiotics, especially inulin and chicory fiber. It’s best to get fiber from your diet— but if you do use a supplement, choose an unflavored, unsweetene­d version. Psyllium, methylcell­ulose, partially hydrogenat­ed guar gum (PHGG), sterculia (karaya) gum or acacia fiber are considered safe. DIGESTIVE ENZYMES. If you have IBS, SIBO or other gastrointe­stinal issues, you may be deficient in enzymes needed to break down certain foods. The right digestive enzyme can enhance nutrient absorption and significan­tly improve the digestibil­ity of foods, especially important in the reintroduc­tion and personaliz­ation phases, as you’re adding back legumes, dairy and other high-FODMAP foods. And research suggests enzyme supplement­s ease symptoms and improve quality of life in people with inflammato­ry bowel disease and IBS. Look for a broad-spectrum supplement, especially one with alpha-galactosid­ase, an enzyme that helps break down oligosacch­arides in legumes, peas, cabbage, cashews and other foods. A supplement with lactase can help digest lactose from dairy, and xylose isomerase breaks down fructose in fruits and vegetables. Some brands contain mannitol, sorbitol and other highFODMAP ingredient­s; read labels and choose a low-FODMAP version.

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