Low FODMAP and Paleo

By Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

In the realm of special diet regimens, it can be rather confusing to know which ones are going to work best for you. That is why it is important to look at the research available of the diet plans that interest you.  Along with this information, think about what your specific health needs are and find a diet regimen that is going to help you meet your health goals and fit your lifestyle.  Two popular diet regimens that will be explored include the low FODMAP diet and Paleo diet regimen.

About the low FODMAP diet

The low FODMAP diet has been confirmed by research time and again to help those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) find relief from their symptoms. Therefore, this way of eating can be trusted to help those with IBS.  Some foods to avoid on the low FODMAP way of eating include:

  • High fructan vegetables such as garlic, onions, cauliflower and asparagus.
  • Legumes that are high in galacto-oligosaccharides such as beans, chickpeas, and lentils, which can be gas-producing.
  • Limited intake of fructose by avoiding such high fructose fruits such as apples, peaches, pears, plums, and watermelon, to name a few. Also, avoid sugar alcohols, agave, honey, and high fructose corn syrup containing products.
  • Dairy products that contain high amounts of lactose. Therefore, stick to plant-based milks or lactose-free dairy products.
  • Gluten and processed food products that may contain gluten. Stick to gluten-free grains such as quinoa, rice, oats, buckwheat, corn, and gluten-free breads and pastas.

The low FODMAP diet includes a wide range of delicious fruits and vegetables that are not on this restricted list. This regimen also permits high protein foods such as animal meats, seafood, nuts, seeds, lactose-free dairy, soy protein, and quinoa.  Low-lactose cheeses such as cottage cheese, cheddar, and mozzarella provide calcium, while gluten-free whole grains provide high-fiber forms of energy and nutrients.

About the Paleo diet

The Paleo diet was created by Loren Cordain, Ph.D., a researcher from Colorado State University, that claims that the Paleo diet is the way humans were genetically meant to eat.  The diet claims say that eating this regimen could help reduce risk of heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis and focuses on foods that are easier for the body to digest. There has not been any confirmed research that these claims are true though. In addition, many health experts are afraid that this regimen may be low in important nutrients and hard to comply to for the long term. Some features of the Paleo diet include:

  • No processed, man-made, or pre-packaged food
  • Avoiding grains of any kind, even if they are gluten-free
  • No legumes, including peanuts, no potatoes, and no vegetable-based oils
  • Consume ideally all organic and local produce
  • Not consuming any dairy products of any kind
  • Using sea salt instead of iodized salt
  • Eating only natural sugars from fruits; no added sugar
  • Stick to pasture-raised, grass-fed, or wild caught animal proteins

Although this diet claims to reduce disease risks, health experts report that cutting out all grains and legumes reduces sources of certain B vitamins. Although B vitamins can be found in organ meats such as liver, these are not foods that are commonly eaten by the average consumer. Also, cutting out dairy could potentially lead to a calcium deficiency. Dark leafy greens and sardines with the bones could provide calcium, but again these are not foods that the typical person would eat every day. Finally, this diet regimen is especially concerning regarding vegetarians since grains, legumes, and dairy eliminates many of their protein sources.

The Verdict

When choosing a diet plan that is right for you, it is important to remember what regimen will provide the health benefits that will meet your specific needs and that you will be able to stick to for the long term. Ultimately, the decision of how you choose to eat is up to you. However, always remember to do your research and talk with your healthcare provider before starting any new diet regimen. For more information on the low FODMAP, visit the Casa de Sante site.


Written by Staci Gulbin, MS, RD a Board-certified dietitian.

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