What You Need to Know About FODMAPs and Nightshades

by | Sep 21, 2015 | Blog

Lots of questions lately about FODMAPs and nightshades, what they are and if they should be avoided. I’m absolutely going to go into what they actually are, why some people should avoid them, who probably doesn’t need to worry and how you can reduce any potential negative impact of fodmaps and nightshades.

Can we just agree that “FODMAPs” and “nightshades” are really freakin’ weird names? They don’t even sound like they’re remotely related to food! But they are.

I’m not a fan of complicated, complex definitions or using Scrabble words when they aren’t needed (are they ever needed outside the board?) so I want to keep this as simple as possible.

FODMAPs and nightshades are two different classifications of food that trigger negative reactions in certain people.

FODMAP is an acronym that stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. C’mon. Too many Scrabble words. Here’s what all that means: carbs that prone to fermenting in your gut. Foods that fall into the FODMAP category are tough to digest, so they often hang out in the intestines and become food for the bacteria that naturally live within you.

Doesn’t sound too bad, does it? Well, that’s exactly the whole point. Some people can eat FODMAPs and not experience any negative symptoms. Other people become very uncomfortable. They experience bloating, gas, cramping and/or diarrhea shortly after eating these foods.

So what foods are we talking about? This is an awesome visual to see what foods are FODMAPs and those that aren’t but if we were to classify them, these are the most common offenders:

  • Sugar alcohols
  • Dairy
  • Some fruit (dried fruit, apples, mangoes, peaches and watermelon)
  • Some veggies (brussels sprouts, asparagus, broccoli, garlic, onions)
  • Coconut products

Chances are, you know if you have a sensitivity to one or many of these foods. This is yet another reason why I’m a huge fan of tracking what you eat and your hormonal biofeedback. Seeing trends with any food or type of food will let you know what you should dial back on.

Nightshades. Let’s talk about nightshades. Same kinda thing. Nightshades are a group of plant foods that some people have specific sensitivities too. Individuals with sensitivites to nightshades can experience joint pain, inflammation, autoimmune conditions or digestive challenges when they eat them. If you have any of those symptoms, doing a simple nightshade elimination will quickly let you know if nightshades are part of the problem! Many people can consume nightshades without any issue.

Nightshades are a smaller and more direct list than FODMAPs. They include:

  • White potatoes (not sweet potatoes)
  • Eggplant
  • Peppers (bell peppers, spicy peppers and spices made from them like cayenne and paprika but not peppercorns)
  • Tomatoes and products made from tomatoes

If you think you might have a sensitivity to nightshades, like I said, the best thing to do is to do an elimination trial. Cut them out for a couple weeks and carefully monitor whatever symptoms you feel might be related to their consumption. There are also some things you can do to reduce the negative impact of nightshades if you consume them.

  • Peel your potatoes before you eat them
  • Avoid green tomatoes – immature veggies are bigger offenders
  • Don’t eat any nightshades raw. Be sure to cook them to reduce any potential negative impact

So here’s the deal in short:

  • FODMAPs are specific carbs that aren’t easily digested. Because they aren’t easily digested, they spend more time in your intestines and ferment (or become food for bacteria). This can produce digestive distress for people sensitive to FODMAPs
  • Nightshades are a class of veggies that trigger inflammatory or autoimmune systems in sensitive individuals.
  • Not everyone is sensitive to FODMAPs and nightshades
  • A basic elimination test will allow you to see if your symptoms improve without them
  • Your body has all the answers

What other questions do you have? What topics do you want me to tackle next? Let me know!!! I really want to make sure I’m addressing your questions and concerns.

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