Teff – The Perfect Low FODMAP Grain

Sharon Rosenrauch (AKA The FODMAP Friendly Vegan) is an expert in all things digestive health. With degrees in psychology, nutrition, fitness, and as an accredited yoga instructor, she (due to her own struggles) has a passion for promoting a holistic view on optimal digestive health and is motivated to help relieve the suffering of those who follow a plant-based diet and struggle with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Sharon is also the author of an award-winning recipe and resource eBook – The FODMAP Friendly Vegan (www.thefodmapfriendlyvegan.com). Today, she shares with us why Teff is the perfect low FODMAP grain.

What are FODMAPs?

FODMAPs are a collection of short chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols found naturally in certain foods or as food additives. FODMAPs include fructose (when in excess of glucose), fructans, galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS), lactose and polyols (such as sorbitol and mannitol). While these carbs are not readily absorbed my most people, in some (those like myself with an intolerance), they lead to severe symptoms of digestive distress and affect the absorption of food nutrients.

FODMAP is an acronym that stands for:

F – Fermentable – i.e., they are broken down (or fermented) by bacteria in the large bowel

O – Oligosaccharides – “oligo” means “few” and “saccharide” means sugar. Thus, these molecules are made up of individual sugars linked in a chain.

D – Disaccharides – “di” means two (so this is a double sugar molecule)

M – Monosaccharides – “mono” means single (so this is a single-sugar molecule)

A – And (the easiest to remember!)

P – Polyols – these are sugar alcohols (but they don’t lead to intoxication)

When those with FODMAP insensitivity consume foods and/or drinks high in FODMAPs, these carbs, which are poorly absorbed in the small intestine, pass through to the large intestine, where:

  1. The FODMAPs are readily fermented by bacteria in the large bowel, leading to gas production and/or
  2. The FODMAPs, which are highly osmotic (i.e., they attract water into the large bowel), alter bowel movements

These two processes can trigger symptoms associated with “Irritable Bowel Syndrome” (or IBS) including excess wind, abdominal pain, bloating and distension, constipation or diarrhoea, or (the best) a combination of both. IBS affects approximately one in seven Australians.

What is the low FODMAP Diet?

A low FODMAP diet is the only science-backed diet that has been shown to relieve the symptoms of IBS in most who abide by it. The diet is not intended to be followed forever, but rather is used a diagnostic tool to identify food triggers, allowing you to then modify your long-term diet to keep as much variety as possible while minimising those undesirable IBS symptoms. It is crucial that you work with an appropriately qualified professional while implementing the diet, which involves 3 phases:

  1. Elimination: this is a 2-6 week protocol which involves removing all possible triggers from your diet.
  2. Challenge/Reintroduction: this phase is all about challenging foods to identify which ones are the main culprits in your symptoms. It is crucial this phase is planned by a professional so you get accurate results. Challenge foods must be chosen carefully, and must contain only one type of FODMAP.
  3. Modified Low FODMAP Diet: it is important to re-introduce FODMAPs as they contain important nutrients like pre-biotics, essential for overall health. By stage 3 you know which FODMAPs are your biggest triggers, and which ones you tolerate well. With the guidance of your professional, you can begin to first reintroduce the well tolerated FODMAPs into your daily diet in lesser amounts, then build up.

Why is Teff the Perfect low FODMAP Grain?

The amazing team at FODMAP Friendly [may wish to include link] have recently tested Teff and revealed that both the grain and flour (up to 50g) are FODMAP-friendly. Great news for you foodies out there as Teff tastes delicious and is an incredibly versatile and healthy ingredient to frequently incorporate into your daily diet. While Teff is the tiniest grain in the world, don’t be fooled by its size … it packs a massive nutritional punch! Some reasons why Teff makes the perfect low FODMAP grain alternative include:

  • Vegan & Vegetarian
  • Sugar, Dairy, Nut & Gluten Free (great for us sensitive folk!)
  • High in protein (including essential amino acids) – important for strong muscles, promoting satiety and immunity
  • Low GI & Fibre – helps with blood sugar regulation
  • High in Iron – helps with healthy blood and brain development, as well as immune function
  • High in Calcium – important for strong bones and teeth
  • Great source of resistant starch – important for maintaining intestinal health (crucial for IBS sufferers)

 How do I Incorporate Teff into my Diet?

Easy! Teff is one of the most versatile grains. Boasting a slightly nutty taste, the grain can be easily incorporated into a range of dishes – including puddings, stir fries, soups, casseroles [include hyperlinks to recipes on your website], and the flour is a great alternative for pancakes, breads, cakes and cookies [links] … the options are endless!

So what are you waiting for? Step outside of your comfort zone and experiment a little with this phenomenal grain. Your tum will thank you for it!