The beverage industry has experienced exponential growth in recent years, transforming into a multi-billion dollar market that shows no signs of slowing down. With a diverse range of products and an ever-expanding consumer base, the industry is constantly adapting to meet the demands of the modern beverage enthusiast.
Innovation in the industry has paved the way for exciting new products and experiences. With the rising popularity of specialty drinks and flavored beverages in the market, it can be increasingly tricky to identify which options align with a low FODMAP diet. Ingredients, such as sweeteners, high-fructose corn syrup, and other potential triggers need to be taken into consideration in order to maintain digestive comfort and prevent IBS symptoms from exacerbating.
Taking the time to read the labels and familiarize oneself with the ingredients list becomes very important in making informed beverage choices. While some may find it discouraging to navigate through the vast array of options, it is worth noting that there are indeed low FODMAP-friendly alternatives available.
In this article I am going to discuss which drinks are low in FODMAPs and which need to be checked for the presence of high FODMAP ingredients.
Water or Infused Water
Water is always a safe and reliable choice of hydration for people with IBS since it is naturally free from FODMAPs. Infusing water with slices of low FODMAP fruits like blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, kiwis, lemons, limes or oranges can provide a burst of flavor. You can also mix in low FODMAP vegetables, such as cucumber, daikon, ginger root, turmeric root, or jalapeno peppers. I also like to add fresh herbs and spices for more flavor: mint, peppermint, sage, basil, rosemary, thyme lemon grass, all spice, cardamon, cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg, and others. Sparkling or carbonated water, with no added honey, agave syrup or high fructose corn syrup, can also be a satisfying alternative to traditional carbonated beverages.
Freshly brewed or instant coffee is generally low in FODMAPs, which means they are well-tolerated by people who follow a low FODMAP diet. When consumed plain, without any additives, coffee can be enjoyed without worrying about their FODMAP content. However, once you start adding milk, whipped cream, or sugary syrups to your coffee, the FODMAP content can increase significantly and may lead to development of adverse gut symptoms, such as bloating, excessive gas, diarrhea or abdominal pain. Some people may be also sensitive to caffeine found in coffee, thus substituting for decaffeinated beverages would be an option.
Black or green tea are considered low in FODMAPs and can be a great alternative to sugary drinks. You can enjoy it hot or cold all year around. Some people prefer adding milk to teas, which makes it high in FODMAP. So, if you want to drink tea with milk, you can add lactose free milk or enhance the flavor by adding lemon, mint or small amount regular sugar. Tea blends are tricky because they may contain ingredients high in FODMAPs, such as fruit pieces, spices and sweeteners, so carefully reading the label can help you to avoid consumption of high FODMAPs and prevent the adverse reactions.
Herbal teas can also be a great alternative for those seeking a soothing and flavorful beverage without the presence of high FODMAPs. These teas are made by infusing various plant materials such as leaves, flowers, seeds, or roots in hot water, releasing their aromas and beneficial properties. Peppermint, dandelion, ginger, or rooibos teas are widely consumed herbal teas that are low in FODMAPs. Their invigorating flavor and refreshing aroma make it a favorite choice for many. Peppermint tea is often praised for its potential to relieve indigestion, bloating, and abdominal pain. The menthol component in peppermint leaves can have a soothing effect on the gastrointestinal tract, making it a natural option for digestive support. However, there are some herbal teas that are high in FODMAPs and should be avoided on a low FODMAP diet, such as chamomile, fennel and oolong teas.
While juices can be nutritious beverage option, it is important to be mindful of the FODMAP content in the ingredients used. Juices made from high FODMAP fruits and vegetables, such as mangoes, apples, pears, watermelon, and beets, can potentially trigger IBS symptoms in susceptible individuals. This is because these fruits and vegetables contain sugars like fructose and sorbitol, which are considered high FODMAPs and can ferment and pull extra water into the gut, causing discomfort.
To minimize the risk of experiencing adverse reactions, it is advisable to either reduce the amount of high FODMAP fruit and vegetable juices, dilute these juices with water or substitute them with low FODMAP alternatives. Low FODMAP juices, such as cranberry or tomato juice, can be a suitable replacement in small amounts.
Soda, such as Pepsi or Coca Cola, is undeniably one of the most popular beverages in the United States. Its refreshing fizz and wide range of flavors have made it a staple in households, restaurants, and convenience stores across the nation. However, it is important to note that soda can be sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, agave syrup or low-calorie polyols, such as sorbitol, and should be avoided for people on a low FODMAP diet. You can choose other carbonated beverages sweetened with stevia or plain sugar.
While many alcoholic beverages, such as brandy, vodka, tequila, beer or dry wines are generally low in FODMAPs, some individuals may still experience symptoms after consuming alcohol. This can vary from person to person, as everyone’s tolerance and sensitivity levels may differ. If you find that alcohol tends to induce symptoms for you, consider giving up drinking alcohol altogether or try non-alcoholic versions of popular drinks, such as virgin mojito or margarita. If you still wish to enjoy a night out with friends, it may be worth experimenting to find an alcoholic beverage and the right amount that doesn’t cause any symptoms for you personally. It’s a process of trial and error, as certain ingredients or mixers used in cocktails may trigger the symptoms.
Many alcoholic cocktails include various juices or sugary syrups to enhance the flavor. If your drink of choice is a simple cranberry vodka, you should be fine on a low FODMAP diet as cranberries are generally low in FODMAPs. However, if the cocktail contains mango juice, even in small amounts, it may pose a higher risk of triggering symptoms for individuals sensitive to FODMAPs. Other high FODMAP alcoholic beverages are rum and sweet wines and should be avoided if you are sensitive to fructose.
Milk and Milk Alternatives
Cow’s milk is considered high in FODMAPs due to the presence of lactose, which is a very common trigger for people with IBS. When you are on the low FODMAP diet, cow’s milk is swapped either for lactose-free cow’s milk or milk alternatives, which are mostly derived from plant sources. For example, nut milks, such as almond, walnut, or macadamia are considered generally low in FODMAPs because they are made from low FODMAP nuts. However, consuming dairy alternatives made from cashews or pistachios can be problematic for people who are sensitive to these nuts. Rice and quinoa milks are also low in FODMAPs and can be consumed on a low FODMAP diet without fear of developing adverse GI reactions. On the other hand, soy milk made from soybeans contains GOS and should be avoided on a low FODMAP diet. Even though plant based dairy alternatives are low in FODMAPs, there may be other high FODMAP ingredients present that may lead to development of gastrointestinal discomfort.
If you are not sure if you are following the low FODMAP diet correctly, it is wise to schedule an appointment with a registered dietitian who can help you to choose the right beverages and create a plan to succeed on the low FODMAP diet.