Garlic – the fodmaper’s enemy?

Garlic contains fructans (an oligosaccharide) and is for some people a potent cause of symptoms in IBS. It is a shame that it does as it is found in many ready meals and processed foods so can be a challenging part of the diet to avoid. Fructans is a non absorbable sugar that increases fermentation in the gut and gives some people with IBS symptoms. Cooking method is the key with avoiding fructans, they are soluble in water and this property means that if you use oil only, to cook the garlic, the flavour is imparted but non of the fructans. As the fructans are not soluble in oil. So, by all means fry your garlic in a small amount of oil then remove the garlic pieces from the pan before adding any water based liquid to the pan, such as stock, sauce or tomatoes. If you don’t wish to do that, then a good option is garlic infused oil, ensure the oil is clear and free of garlic pieces and you should not go wrong.

One reason why it is important to re-introduce fodmaps to the diet is to relax the diet and you might find that you can tolerate a small, or large amount of garlic. This means that you can have foods containing garlic and it makes looking for suitable foods a little easier.

What about wild garlic, or Ramsons? Is it low in fructans? It might be assumed that because the green leaves of spring onion and leek are, so must the leaves of wild garlic. As far as I am aware they have not been tested, so it is wise not to assume. It is also wise, if you do not have an issue with garlic to use the foragers code – if you are unsure of what you are gathering, then don’t pick the leaves. See the image below from which explains about poisonous plants that have a similar appearance to wild garlic and you would not want to get them mixed up.

So, is garlic an enemy? For some people, for sure – it results in symptoms but my opinion is that we have no food ‘enemies’. For some lucky people they can eat garlic with impunity. This is always the case with IBS – every situation is different.

If you can eat it the image is a salad based on cucumber, pine nuts, capers, anchovy, pea shoots wild garlic flowers and drizzle of balsamic vinegar – yum.

But if you can’t eat garlic you can impart that glorious flavour in other ways and to see a carpet of garlic flowers in the spring is a joy that is guaranteed not to have any untoward effects!

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I am a state registered dietitian. My speciality is dietary treatment of gut disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome, crohns disease, ulcerative colitis, coeliac disease, lactose & fructose malabsorption and multiple food intolerances. I have had lots of experience in other areas of dietetics and I wished to start this blog to spread the word about evidence based dietary treatments and dispel much of the quackery that is common with these diseases. All information on this site is of a general nature and is based on UK based treatments and guidelines. Please see your healthcare practitioner should you need more country specific information.

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