Grain based products are one of the first food groups that is blamed as the culprit for triggering digestive symptoms including bloating and diarrhea. As a result, more and more people are eliminating carbohydrates and restricting gluten containing products from their diet. Even if you find you don’t tolerate some grains, it is likely that certain types and quantities of grains can still be included in your diet. Today we will be focusing on all things low FODMAP grains. In particularly how important they are to remain in your diet.
FODMAPS in grain-based foods
The main group of FODMAPs found in grain-based products are sugars belonging to the oligosaccharide family including fructans and galacto-oligosaccharides. Universally, these sugars are poorly digested in the small intestine. As a result, they undergo fermentation by our gut bacteria in the large intestine. Thus, those diagnosed with IBS may find eating grain-based products even more problematic. But that doesn’t mean you need to cut them out of your diet. LOW FODMAP grains that can be used as alternatives are found in the below list. But first, let’s look into what a wholegrain actually is!
What are Wholegrains?
We hear a lot about wholegrains, but what specifically are they?
Grains have three distinct components. The outer most layer of the grain is known as the ‘bran layer’, mostly made up of fibre containing protein and minerals. The ‘endosperm’ is the largest component of grains as it is the storage site of the starch granules. Inside grains is a nutrient rich core known as the ‘germ’, which contains all the essential nutrients.
As shown on the left, wholegrains refer to grains that have all these three layers intact. These grains are rich in carbohydrates, protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals i.e. ‘nutrient dense.’ However, when grains undergo food processing such as milling, the two most important layers of the grain are removed. These ‘Refined Grains’ are the main constitute of white grain-based products including white bread and pasta which are more energy dense.
The Importance of Wholegrains
The diverse microbiota living inside your gut requires fibre as its only source of fuel to survive. You should aim to feed your gut with 25-30g of fibre a day to ensure its proper bowel functioning and to reduce the risk of chronic diseases including cancer and Type 2 Diabetes. Grain based products including breads and cereals makes up 45% of our fibre intake and the remaining comes from the consumption of fruit and vegetables (National Nutrition Survey 1995). By consuming more wholegrain foods as part of your diet you could be providing your gut with over 50% of its fibre requirements.
Have you ever had breakfast and then an few hours later felt hungry again? This may have been because there were no grains. Due to the high fibre content of wholegrains they keep you fuller for longer which aids with weight management. This is clearly stated in the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines. They recommend basing meals on wholegrains and eating plenty of fibre rich foods for healthy weight maintenance. Various studies have also found high intakes of wholegrains (three servings per day) being associated with lower BMI and central adiposity.
Low FODMAP Grains to include in your diet:
Oats (whole, oatmeal, oat bran)
- Porridge: Mix 1/3 cup of rolled oatswith 1/3 cup almond milk, 1/3 cup lactose free yoghurt, 1/3 cup berries and 2 teaspoons of rice malt syrup.
- Pancakes: Mix ½ cup rolled oatswith 1/3 cup rice flour. Then add 1 egg, 1 unripe banana, 100ml of lactose free milk and ½ tsp of cinnamon. Cook in batches on a shallow pan with some butter till golden.
- Protein balls: Combine ½ cup of rolled oatswith ½ cup of almonds, 2 tablespoons cacao powder, 6 dates, ¼ cup chia seeds and 2 tablespoons of water. Roll into balls and refrigerate.
Quinoa (grain, flakes, flour, pasta)
- Salads: Toss boiled quinoa grainsinto all your favourite salads.
- Pasta: Use quinoa pastaas an alternative to white pasta when making any pasta dish
- Fritters: Combine 1/3 cup quinoa flourwith 1 egg, 2 cups of shredded sweet potato, canned tuna and some herbs for a simple lunch.
- Bread: Combine 2 cups of buckwheat flourwith 1 tsp with gluten-free baking powder, 1½ cups of Greek yoghurt, 1 tbs of water and 2 tablespoons of olive oil to make a soft dough. Roll out the dough on baking paper, cook till golden and enjoy as an alternative to bread.
- Salads: Incorporate boiled buckwheatwith roasted vegetables to make a warm salad
- Soups: Add buckwheat to any soup making it more satisfying
- Side dish: Use brown ricewith a stir-fry or curry
- Salad: Incorporate some brown rice as the base of a refreshing salad bowl
- Porridge: Use milletas an alternative to oats in a breakfast dish
- Patties: Add some boiled milletinstead of breadcrumbs to form crispy patties
Take some time experimenting with these low FODMAP alternatives and seeing how much you can tolerate. Men and women aged 19-50 years should aim for 6 serves of grains a day. A serve of grain is simply 1 slice of bread or ½ a cup of rice/ quinoa/ pasta/ buckwheat or ½ cup of cooked porridge. Click here to find out more.
Start today and incorporate low FODMAP grains into your diet. You shall feel the benefits!
By Tatiana Bedikian, and Chloe McLeod
Start feeling better now! By signing up to The FODMAP Challenge you will receive meal plans, recipe ideas, and regular support with other resources, to make this as easy for you as possible.