FODMAPs: How Healthy Foods Can Cause Acne

By Seppo | Diet

FODMAP rich foods

An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but only because it gives you such bad gas that no one wants to be around you…

Fruits and vegetables are rightfully considered health foods. But in some situations even they can cause problems. Many plant foods contain substances that may irritate the digestive track and cause digestive problems. In this case I’m talking about FODMAPs. FODMAP is an acronym for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides And Polyols.

FODMAPS are short-chain carbohydrates (often sugars) that are poorly absorbed from the small intestine. People with FODMAP sensitivity experience gas, bloating and other digestive symptoms after eating them. As they irritate the digestive track they cause gut problems and possibly aggravate acne. This can also lead to Candida infection in the gut.

Giving credit where it’s due this post was inspired by Chris Kresser’s excellent post FODMAPs: Could common foods be harming your digestive health? Here are the important points from his article:

  • FODMAPs are found in many fruits, vegetables, legumes and other healthy foods. See this helpful FODMAP food chart for guidance.
  • The bacteria in the gut ferment the sugars causing gas and bloating.
  • Sugars also bind to water causing symptoms such as loose stools and diarrhea.
  • Fermentation and increased water are a major cause of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms.
  • One possible cause for FODMAP intolerance is small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), see the gut-skin axis article for more on SIBO. Harmful bacteria may interfere with proper digestion and ferment the remaining FODMAPs.
  • Addressing SIBO is a key to treating, and possibly eliminating, FODMAP intolerance.
  • Low FODMAP diet is also required to allow the gut to heal itself. Several clinical trials have shown that low FODMAP diet is the most effective dietary treatment for reducing IBS symptoms.
  • People differ in their FODMAP intolerances. So even if you are FODMAP intolerant you may not have a problem with all of them.

My comments

Following a low FODMAP diet is not easy. You need to cut out many of commonly eaten fruits and vegetables. Some examples of high FODMAP foods are onions, apples and cabbage. So this is not something you try at first, especially if you don’t experience any digestive problems (such as stomach pain, gas, bloating, and loose stools).

Luckily you can get tested for this. FODMAP malabsorption can be detected with breath test. So please talk to your doctor if you believe this is an issue for you.

At this point I can’t say if FODMAPs are an issue for people who don’t experience overt digestive problems.

But if you do have some chronic digestive issues, this could be something to try out. Contrary to many other ‘gut healing regiments’, such as the GAPS diet, FODMAPs are a scientifically recognized issue. And there are already several studies that show the effectiveness of a low FODMAP diet. I also don’t think that you have to stick to the low FODMAP diet indefinitely. Probably 2 to 3 months is enough to allow your gut to heal, after which you shouldn’t have any issues with FODMAPs anymore.

Also for those who are already at the end of the road low FODMAP diet can be something new to try.

Low FODMAP diet resources

Please check out these sites for more information about low FODMAP diet:

Other things to consider with low FODMAP diet:

  • Probiotics – either as supplements or daily consumption of fermented foods (the preferred method).
  • Stomach acid (HCL) supplements. Low stomach acid often leads to SIBO. Low stomach acid means incompletely digested proteins make their way into the small intestine where they encourage the growth of harmful bacteria.

Do you have any experience with this? Please share it in the comments below so that we all can learn from you.


About the Author

Seppo Puusa, a.k.a. AcneEinstein shares rational advice about natural and alternative acne treatments. Read more about me and my acne struggles at the page.

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