Low-FODMAP Supplements: What You Need to Know
Three nutrients you need, and how to avoid sneaky saboteurs.
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.