Prebiotic Supplements and FODMAP Stacking


The Low FODMAP Diet is difficult to adhere to because so many foods contain FODMAPs.  These soluble, rapidly fermenting sugars feed the microbiome but also cause discomfort and stress in people with FODMAP sensitivities.  Reducing the dietary intake of FODMAPs has been demonstrated to reduce IBS symptoms and improve the quality of life for affected individuals. 

Although there is growing FODMAP awareness, people wishing to follow a Low FODMAP Diet must understand not only what a FODMAP is but also the quantity of FODMAPs found in various foods.  This is because Low FODMAP Diets aim to keep the daily consumption of FODMAPs from all sources below a certain level.  Unfortunately, many foods considered to be ‘safe’ for the Low FODMAP Diet still contain FODMAPs, a detail that many people find frustrating.  Portion size and frequency of Low FODMAP food consumption are the keys to adhering to this diet.

While the Low FODMAP Diet can improve IBS-related symptoms, it can also starve the gut microbiome by substantially reducing the abundance of prebiotic fiber.  This has led gut health conscious individuals on the Low FODMAP Diet to seek out low FODMAP prebiotic supplements.  But here again, there is a risk of FODMAP stacking if the prebiotic supplement contains low doses of FODMAPs.  This is especially the case for blended supplements, in which small amounts of FODMAPs can easily find their way into the formulation.

There is a way to allay FODMAP stacking fears while supporting your gut microbiome with prebiotics – choose FODMAP-free foods and supplements.  Determining whether something is truly FODMAP-free is more easily done with whole foods and single ingredient prebiotic supplements.  In the case of supplements, processed and modified prebiotics gums from acacia and guar seed may be FODMAP-free if they contain only long chain prebiotic fibers.  But resistant starch is better because it has the added benefit of being insoluble, so there will be no effect on water movement in the intestines.  High quality sources of resistant starch, like those from potato, provide a natural prebiotic fiber that can be added to the diet without worrying about FODMAP stacking.