Does a FODMAP diet help clear acne? It comes as no surprise that your diet impacts the quality of your skin. There is a common idea that greasy, fried foods and potato chips cause breakouts while blueberries and fresh veggies are absolutely fine in any quantity. Food affects your skin in a host of other ways, including through slowing your digestive abilities and changing your blood sugar.
We have all heard to avoid dairy and gluten to help clear our skin but there are actually other dietary caveats that are significantly less explored. With the anti-FODMAP diet, you can avoid many of the acne triggering foods that often go overlooked.
So, What is FODMAP?
FODMAP is an acronym for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. These scary, scientific sounding words are simply sugars that our bodies struggle to absorb that are typically found in plant and dairy based foods.
FODMAPS are linked to several health problems, including digestive health issues.
When your small intestine cannot absorb the short-chained carbohydrates that make up foods that are categorized as FODMAP, they begin to ferment in your body, causing gas buildup, abdominal pain, and acne due to hormonal releases associated with the immune response your body initiates when your digestive system is not running smoothly.
Being unable to efficiently and easily process FODMAP foods is referred to as FODMAP Intolerance and is actually surprisingly common!
If you feel you have a FODMAP Intolerance, it is first important to understand that many doctors have not even heard of the disorder.
In fact, it is so recently discovered that not much is known in general aside from there being a distinct correlation between the foods that comprise FODMAP and the prevalence of digestive issues and acne.
No one is telling you to outright avoid the foods forever but if you suspect there may be some type of issue, perhaps try cutting them out for a short period of time and see how your body reacts before making any long term decisions.
The symptoms of FODMAP intolerance can vary from person to person but are generally comprised of a similar set of issues stemming from consuming trigger foods. Gas, bloating, abdominal pain, irregular bowels, loose stools, and constipation are some of the most common effects that are experienced.
They happen in people without FODMAP from time to time, especially with the consumption of beans. If you only occasionally react, chances are you are not intolerant. Intolerance comes with consistent, predictable reactions that are likely intense from eating triggering foods.
The Types of FODMAPS
Oligosaccharides are where things get a bit more complicated due to the structures of these types of sugars being more complex, causing more people to be minorly sensitive without being fully FODMAP Intolerant. The three main types of oligosaccharides are raffinose, galactans, and fructans.
Raffinose is a trisaccharide, meaning it contains three types of sugars: fructose, galactose, and glucose. Raffinose can be found in foods like beans, whole grains, and green veggies like broccoli, cabbage, and asparagus, along with other various vegetables.
Fructans are simply a chain of fructose molecules; these are in foods like root vegetables including onions and agave along with things like wheat, asparagus, and artichokes.
The third type of oligosaccharide is galactans. Galactans are a combination of raffinose and stachyose and include foods like lentils, chickpeas, and beans.
Oligosaccharides main dietary sources: Wheat, rye, legumes and various fruits and vegetables, such as garlic and onions.
You are likely also familiar with disaccharides, which is commonly referred to as lactose. While this is technically not entirely the same as the rest of FODMAP reactions, it still counts due to the nature of the symptoms associated and the involved sugars.
In people who react to disaccharides, their body lacks lactase, the enzyme necessary to process lactose. These people are lactose intolerant and experience the same symptoms as the rest of the FODMAP symptoms.
If you are lactose intolerant you will likely need to avoid foods like cheese, yogurt, and butter along with drinks like milk.
Disaccharides main dietary sources: Milk (cow, goat, sheep), yogurt and soft cheese. Lactose is the main carb.
There are also the monosaccharides. This classification only includes fructose, which you have probably heard of if you watched the popular American juice commercials that used smiling children to announce their products contained no “high fructose corn syrup”.
It would seem that we have known for a while that fructose is not the best for our bodies based on brands boasting not using it. Sometimes called “the worst sugar on earth”, fructose has been linked to a host of health issues, including fatty liver disease.
People without FODMAP intolerance can consume fructose easily due to their guts containing an enzyme called GLUT-2, but those with sensitivity lack this enzyme and are unable to process the sugar, causing it to ferment and create issues.
Foods like honey, corn syrup, and agave all contain fructose but, surprisingly, you will also encounter it in sugary fruits like apples, watermelons, blackberries, mangoes, pears.
Monosaccharides main dietary sources: Various fruit including figs and mangoes, and sweeteners such as honey and agave nectar. Fructose is the main carb.
Last, there are the polyols, which are basically sugar alcohols commonly found in fruits and low-sugar processed food products. These may be listed on food packaging as sorbitol, xylitol, mannitol, maltitol, or another variance of the terminology.
Many foods contain polyols naturally, including apricots, peaches, apples, watermelons, bell peppers, mushrooms, and cauliflowers among other common ingredients. This type of FODMAP is the hardest to avoid, as it is in almost any processed food from potato chips to cookies and frozen lasagna.
Polyols main dietary sources: Certain fruits and vegetables including blackberries, lychee, as well as some low-calorie sweeteners like those in sugar-free gum.
Living with a FODMAP Intolerance does not have to be miserable. Most people can eat FODMAP foods in moderation and be absolutely fine, if not a bit gassy. If you have a severe reaction to these foods, reach out to a medical professional for guidance. Many can provide you with a complete list of what foods to enjoy moderately or avoid all together.