Lifestyle | Health & Wellness

FODMAP Content in Food Is Variable

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FODMAP Everyday® has been committed to bringing you evidence-based articles, resources, and recipes since 2017. Our entire Success Team, including our Monash University trained Registered Dietitians and trained lead recipe developer, participate in continuing education, maintain consistent contact with both Monash University and FODMAP Friendly, and stay up-to-date on the developing science.

FODMAP Science Is Evolving

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In Monash University researcher’s own words: “the science of FODMAPs and IBS is evolving over time…there is still so much we don’t know and new discoveries to be made!”

It is of primary importance for everyone following the diet to understand that FODMAP content in food is not static – and neither is your GI tract. Low FODMAP serving sizes presented in both the Monash University smartphone app and the FODMAP Friendly smartphone app are meant to be used as GUIDES. They are not absolutes.

Again, as Monash has stated, “unsurprisingly, we have found that the FODMAP content of foods (especially fresh produce) can vary significantly from country to country” and from lab test to lab test. 

Why Does FODMAP Content Change?

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We have written extensively about why FODMAP content changes in our article, When Low FODMAP Lab Test Results Differ, and we strongly suggest that you read it.

Here is a snapshot:

  • There can be thousands of varieties of any given fruit or vegetable, and we typically do not know what variety is tested.
  • Microclimates (temperature, soil, air, water) of farms vary hugely and can affect FODMAP content.
  • Differences in agricultural methods, such as fertilizer use, ripeness upon harvesting, storage conditions and more can influence nutrients in crops.
  • Research has demonstrated that plants can change their chemical structure when exposed to stressors in their environment. 
  • Cold storage, pests, disease, and environmental changes, for instance, can lead to the development of fructans where they did not exist before.
  • Increases in fructose content are also known to occur in these environments.

It is literally impossible for the food that you buy today, next week, or next month to be the same as what was lab tested. This is why the app entries are guides.

How Does Variable FODMAP Content Affect You?

Knowledge Empowers You. KEY.
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If you have been eating a food and digesting it well, then continue to enjoy it. Everyone’s FODMAP tolerances are unique and their approach to the low FODMAP diet should only be as restrictive as necessary based on your individual symptoms.

If you have had difficulties digesting a food in the past, and the food is retested with new FODMAP threshold results, then these new outcomes might provide some insight. Consider reintroducing the food in the newly recommended serving sizes to see if they’re better tolerated.

What About Recipes and Articles That Reference Older Lab Tests?

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All the lab testing that Monash University and FODMAP Friendly have done, years ago as well as currently, is trustworthy. The results are accurate for the batches of food that were tested at the time.

It is literally impossible for the food that you buy today, next week, or next month to be the same as what was lab tested. This is why the app entries are guides.

If a food showed no FODMAP content at one point, it demonstrated that it is possible for that food to contain no FODMAPs. If subsequent tests show certain levels of FODMAPs, then it demonstrates that that food item is capable of that FODMAP load as well. This is not contradictory. It is to be expected that FODMAP content varies, therefore, recipes developed with prior lab testing results are just as valid as recipes using updated results. 

You Are Not A Lab

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FODMAP thresholds that are demonstrated in lab tests are simply snapshots in time of a particular batch of food tested. You are not a lab. Just as FODMAP content in food is variable, your GI tract is not static, either. 

The Takeaway

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We understand that this can be frustrating and appear confusing. We suggest that you look at it as being freeing. The fact that there is so much variability in food, and so much variability in your individual FODMAP tolerances, means that the entries in the apps are to be used as guides and discovering your tolerances will be realized through structured Elimination and Challenge phases, which we highly recommend that you undertake along with a Registered Dietitian (RD). The diet was always meant to be undertaken along with a RD, particularly because of these nuances and complexities. 

All of our recipes are developed using lab test results that are current at the time.

Here are articles that pertain to lab testing for FODMAPs. We suggest that you read them all:

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