Meet The FODMAP Friendly Certification Team And Learn More About The Great Work They Do In The Low FODMAP Diet Space
Today’s guests are the creators of the FODMAP Friendly certification and the FODMAP Friendly app for smartphones. In this episode the FODMAP Friendly team will talk about what they do and how they are able to help many IBS sufferers around the world. We’ll also talk about various types of breath testing useful to identify Fructose, Sorbitol and Mannitol Malabsorption and Lactose and Sucrose Intolerance and Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO).
In this episode, you’ll learn:
- What is the FODMAP Friendly certification program?
- What it means when you see the trademarked FODMAP Friendly logo on products.
- Why they created the FODMAP Friendly trademark.
- How the FODMAP Friendly app helps IBS sufferers.
- Where can the app be found.
- How to get the FODMAP Friendly certification.
- What is the difference between FODMAP Friendly and no FODMAP?
- Where can we find FODMAP Friendly certified products
- Tips on reading food labels?
- What is breath testing and how reliable is it?
- What are the different types of breath testing?
- Where to go for breath testing.
LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD THE LOW FODMAP DIET & IBS PODCAST EPISODE 9 HERE
Can’t listen to this episode right now? Read the transcript below!
LARAH: Welcome to the Low FODMAP Diet and IBS Podcast. The guests on today’s podcast are Laura Ross, Atlanta Miall and Tim Mottin from FODMAP Friendly.
Laura is a clinical nutritionist and at FODMAP Friendly, she is in charge of nutrition, business development and marketing.
Atlanta is an accredited practising dietitian and an accredited sports dietitian.
Tim Mottin is the co-founder of the FODMAP Friendly organisation including food program and certification trademark.
LARAH: Hi guys, it’s so great to have you here.
LAURA, ATLANTA & TIM: Hi, Larah.
LARAH: Would you like to introduce yourselves one at a time and explain your roles at FODMAP Friendly?
LAURA: I look after of a few different aspects of FODMAP Friendly. As a nutritionist, I take care of all of the nutrition and dietetic aspects of our work. So that includes working with manufacturers, with health professionals and with consumers as well. It also encompasses working with manufacturers throughout the actual certification process, which includes margin testing and license agreements. I also provide educational presentations at health and medical conferences to professionals as well to consumers, and I look after all our social media communications in the office.
ATLANTA: As you said, Larah, I am an accredited practising dietitian and accredited sports dietitian and I assist FODMAP Friendly with technical aspects wherever applied.
TIM: Hi Larah. I am the liaison with all our partners — both manufacturers and professionals – globally, as well as the strategic growth internationally of the FODMAP Friendly food program.
LARAH: Thank you, Tim. Thank you for introducing yourselves guys. My first question goes to Tim. Being the co-founder of FODMAP Friendly, could you please, Tim, explain to our listeners, first of all, what is the FODMAP Friendly certification logo and why did you decide to create it?
TIM: Yeah. Starting from the beginning, my background is in hydrogen and methane breath testing for FODMAPs, but over time, I all too often witnessed the frustration and lack of options for those that had been tested for FODMAP sugar malabsorption. These IBS sufferers only option was to consistently cook their own meals at home from scratch and I had very limited information about this. I witnessed the frustration of those sufferers trying to read ingredient labels, which was very complicated and difficult, so I wanted to provide a solution for those people and eliminate the guesswork from supermarket shopping. We work closely with Shepherd Works dietetic practice, from an identification and treatment perspective. We then joint a co-partnering on the FODMAP Friendly certification trademark. This meant that foods and packaged foods could now be tested for their FODMAP levels and deemed suitable or unsuitable for those using this approach to manage their IBS type symptoms. The FODMAP Friendly certification trademark is the only registered certification trademark worldwide, certifying FODMAP levels in packaged foods. And this is really significant, Larah, because as a certification trademark, the rules are being approved by the relevant regulatory authorities to ensure that publicly available standards are provided consistently to the correct certification trademark.
LARAH: Thank you, Tim. That’s amazing work that you guys are doing and I can totally relate to the fact that, yes, there isn’t that much that people with IBS and on a low FODMAP diet can get from the supermarket, so the work that you guys are doing is just so useful for all of those people, like me, who suffer from IBS. They don’t necessarily want to cook every single meal from scratch, or every single snack from scratch.
TIM: That’s right. Well thanks for the compliment, and, yes, this provides that alternative so that IBS sufferers will have an option for just convenient shopping.
LARAH: Yes, absolutely. In addition to the FODMAP Friendly certification, you have also created a FODMAP Friendly app for smart phones. Can you please tell us how this app can help people on the low FODMAP diet and where it can be found, and if it’s available for both iPhones and Androids?
LAURA: Yeah, definitely. So we launched the FODMAP Friendly app about a year ago, so that was mid-2015, and the app was really created to be another resource for people who were really eager to know the FODMAP levels in all different types of foods. So we had collected data that had been independently tested, but we hadn’t yet shared it with our worldwide audience. It made sense for us to translate this into a usable tool for all those FODMAPers out there. The FODMAP Friendly app contains data on hundreds of tested foods and we actually list individual sugar breakdowns within the data. We included this information because we know that for those people, who are following a low FODMAP approach to manage their IBS type symptoms, they actually want that kind of information in detail. We know, as well, that FODMAP labels can be highly individual, despite the general guidelines around the diet as a whole, so the inclusion of the specific sugar breakdowns really allows the patient or the user to tailor things individually and it’s just makes the app an even more valuable tool for them.
LARAH: Yes, I completely agree with that, Laura, because when you look at a particular food, yes, it is absolutely important to know if it’s high or low FODMAP, but also, having the nutrient content helps you to make a better choice, about the food you’re going to consume.
LAURA: Yeah, and to address to your second question, all the information about the app can be found on our website which is just FODMAPfriendly.com and we do have the app available for both iPhones via iTunes app and Androids as well for those who use Google Play, so you can use it on all types of smartphone devices.
LARAH: Yes, fantastic, thank you. And does the app get updated regularly every time you have a new food that gets tested?
LAURA: Well, we try to update as much as we can. We are constantly working on improving the app and we get a lot of great feedback from the low FODMAPers out there. We’re constantly adding in more functions, more tested foods, more certified products, and even more specialists to the world wide database in the app as well. We’re constantly making improvements and updates on both those versions.
LARAH: Okay, that’s great. So whoever downloads the app…and, by the way, it’s very affordable…
LAURA: It is.
LARAH: …so everyone that follows a low FODMAP diet should not hesitate to download this app. And knowing that it gets updated regularly, it’s just fantastic.
LAURA: Yeah, yeah.
LARAH: So going back to the FODMAP Friendly certification, what do food manufacturers need to do in order to get their product FODMAP Friendly certified? Also, if they’re not food manufacturers but someone from the public like me –I come up with new ideas for FODMAP friendly products every week. So someone that is not in that field, how easy is it for them to be able to get their food tested and certified?
TIM: The priority is that manufacturers must comply with the Rules of a Certification Trademark which has been approved by the ACCC. It’s just the number one priority of what must be adhered to. In terms of whether it’s an existing manufacturer or just a general cook at home, who wants to create their own line of foods, the procedure is exactly the same for both. They complete a preliminary application form which is downloadable from our website. We review the products and ingredients within those products. The products are then sent to an approved laboratory which is approved in accordance with the ACCC rules we have, and then those food products, if they are tested to be below the threshold criteria, the product can then be approved, and a license agreement is then entered into with the manufacturer or the person who submitted the products. The manufacturer is then able to display the FODMAP Friendly Certification Trademark logo on the products and it has to be displayed in the approved manner…and everyone must then continue to abide the Rules of Certification Trademark.
LARAH: Okay, that seems pretty straightforward. Obviously, we don’t know all the details about this process and the cost and all that, but what would you suggest to people who are interested? Should they just contact you as a first step and then take it from there?
TIM: Absolutely. We are getting continuous enquiries from manufacturers and as you say, some may be home cook manufacturers looking to develop the product. They contact us via our website or they phone us and we discuss it with them and guide them through the process. Obviously, the first requirement is to complete the preliminary application form. It provides us with the raw data information so that it’s consistent.
LARAH: And I can see it expanding more and more. I can see the low FODMAP diet becoming similar to the gluten-free diet in term of products available in the shops in the future.
TIM: Well actually, Larah, we’re probably seeing that it’s much larger than that, as those who require a gluten-free diet are around 1 in 120, whereas those requiring a diet low in FODMAPs is around 1 in 7. It’s 15 times more and we see FODMAP Friendly as being much more significant in the future than gluten-free.
LARAH: Yes, yes. Just to specify, you already talked a little bit about the fact that the FODMAP Friendly certification is the only certification available in the world. Can you go into detail about which countries are now starting to show products with the FODMAP Friendly logo?
TIM: For starters, we’re a government registered certification trademark and it’s being registered in many, many countries around the world. There’s about 32 countries and it covers countries such as the USA, UK, Ireland, Germany, France, Italy, China, Japan and basically, it covers the majority of the main countries throughout the world, at the moment…and that’s growing.
LARAH: That’s great. It’s expanding more and more and the world is the limit!
Okay, just something that I wanted to clarify with you in terms of the FODMAP Friendly products — does it mean that there are no FODMAPs at all? I just wanted to clarify this for the listeners. Sometimes they might think, “Ah, okay. I can’t have that product even though it has a FODMAP Friendly certification because I’m intolerant to this or that.” So can you explain the difference between FODMAP friendly and no FODMAP?
LAURA: Yeah, definitely. As opposed to complete exclusion diets like gluten-free or completely dairy free, FODMAPs is, in fact, all about thresholds. So when someone is embarking on a low FODMAP approach to manage their IBS type symptoms, what the research shows us is that small amounts of FODMAPs can actually be tolerated without exacerbating or setting off the symptoms. So what this means is that the person doesn’t actually have to be FODMAP free per se, but rather, needs to adopt a diet that’s low in FODMAPs or eat foods in a FODMAP friendly amount. These are really common misconceptions.
LARAH: As we said before, people have different levels of intolerances and their thresholds might be different for certain foods, so it’s very good to explain that FODMAP friendly doesn’t mean that there is no FODMAPs, but that it will be suitable for IBS sufferers. If people suffer from other intolerances then obviously, it might not be suitable for them. Every person has to look at that individually, I guess.
LARAH: Also, in terms of the products that are FODMAP friendly, are those products suitable for the elimination phase of the low FODMAP diet?
ATLANTA: Yeah, yeah they definitely are, Larah. They are suitable for the elimination phase of the low FODMAP diet. They are all FODMAP Friendly certified products that are being tested for their FODMAP levels and they fall under the threshold and cut-off levels, so this means that they meet the criteria for the elimination portion of the low FODMAP diet.
LARAH: Yeah, thank you for that, Atlanta. That’s great news for everyone just starting the elimination diet and struggling with what they can or cannot eat. I know that was the case for me. Being able to have some products that are ready, will be a great help for people.
Alright, great. I just wanted to ask you now, where can people find products that have been tested and approved by the FODMAP Friendly certification?
TIM: Okay, Larah. In Australia, we have numerous FODMAP Friendly certified products that can be found across supermarket shelves throughout Australia. Two major supermarket chains, Coles and Woolworths, carry FODMAP friendly certified products as well as the independent groceries stores and health food stores as well. Obviously the products can be purchased online via the manufacturer’s websites, and the range is continually growing. We’re actually excited to announce this shortly — our first US manufacturer will launch their line of FODMAP Friendly certified products in the US and it is a milestone for overseas countries, that will pave the way for other manufacturers and it will help satisfy the needs of the many people following a diet low in FODMAPs.
LARAH: Thank you Tim, that sounds fantastic for our listeners in the US.
TIM: Yeah, absolutely. It’ll be a great assistance and it’s paving the way. We’re currently working with a number of other manufacturers through the testing procedure to have their products certified as well, so hopefully, in the future, there’s going to be a greater range available in the US. In addition, a number of our Australian manufacturers, that have FODMAP Friendly certified products, are looking at distribution launch to move their products in the US, but it’s not just the US; we’re actually working with a number of manufacturers throughout Europe as well, and we would expect very shortly, that there is going to be a greater variety of products available worldwide.
LARAH: Yeah. We can’t wait to see that everywhere in the world. All the IBS sufferers on the low FODMAP diet will finally have a place where they can purchase products that are FODMAP friendly.
TIM: They’ll be FODMAP Friendly certified and so all they are going to have to do is to look for the green logo of the certified trademark, so it will be great.
LARAH: That’s actually a great logo that you have. It’s just so visible. Straight away you can recognise the products. When I go to Coles, straight away I can see the FODMAP Friendly logo in the health section, so that’s very well done.
TIM: Yeah, thank you Larah.
LARAH: In terms of some of the products that you have… For instance, I’ve been struggling to find the FODMAP friendly Alpine bread range. I looked in different supermarkets in the Gold Coast and around the Gold Coast, but I haven’t been able to find it yet. Does it mean that some of these certified products are only available in select stores?
LAURA: Most of the products are available nationwide. There are some supermarkets that have yet to stock the whole range, but what Alpine has just done is launch their online store. So for all the FODMAPers out there, they can now get the Alpine products online, if they’re not available in their local supermarket. So that’s a really great development.
LARAH: Yeah, that’s really good to know. I can put a link on the show notes that goes to the Alpine bread website, because I know that bread is a big thing for people on the low FODMAP diet.
LAURA: Definitely, and you know Alpine is so successful and they’re such a popular choice for people. We are seeing, as well, that certified products continue to grow every month with supermarkets stocking more of the products, so it’s getting bigger.
LARAH: That sounds really good. Now, talking about people that are following a low FODMAP diet and struggling to understand if a certain packaged food is okay to eat or not, would you have any tips for listeners on how to read food labels and reduce the chances that the product they’re going to buy is not going to make them sick?
LAURA: Sure. So our number one tip is to look for the green approved FODMAP Friendly logo on the product. This symbol means that the product has been independently and lab tested and quantified for its FODMAP levels and is a suitable choice. The guesswork and confusion that you’re describing is precisely why we created the certification trademark — to really make life easier for the all of the low FODMAPers out there. The thing is, is that FODMAP is a complicated science and labels can be really misleading to the consumer. We see this particularly in the initial stages of someone adopting a diet low in FODMAPs. So, for example, if you look at a yoghurt label that may say lactose-free or dairy-free on the label, you may not realise that it has inulin — which is used as a congealing agent — or it might have fruit concentrate used as a sweetener. So those are two really common examples of poor choices that people accidentally make.
Another potential pitfall is that… Take gluten free products, as an example. We know that wheat and gluten are different things, but many people confuse the two, and assume a product that is gluten-free is, by extension, always a safe choice in terms of FODMAPs. So as an example, we recently had soy flour tested because this is a really popular ingredient in many gluten-free foods and we’ve always had our doubts about this type of flour. Not surprisingly to us, we got the test results back and it failed. This just goes to show you that FODMAPs are all about thresholds. It really is the sum of all of the FODMAPs in the product that need to be taken into account…and the product needs to be lab tested, gluten tested and validated to be deemed a FODMAP friendly option overall and considered to be a good choice for all of these people.
LARAH: Thank you, Laura. That is very interesting, it sometimes seems really hard to be able to understand what the labels on products really mean.
LAURA: Yeah, that is exactly it. The other thing is that people at the shops there are everyday people. They aren’t expected to be food scientists or chemists, so we want to make their lives as easy as possible.
LARAH: That’s perfect.
At FODMAP Friendly you don’t just deal with the packaged food certification and the low FODMAP friendly app. I know you’re also associated with a breath testing clinic and you work with a number of specialist dietitians. Are we able to talk first about the breath testing and what it is and how can breath testing help people with IBS symptoms…and also different types of breath testing available?
ATLANTA: Yes, sure, Larah. I’m a dietitian, but also the manager at Stream Diagnostics, which is where we do breath testing. So I guess how to explain it, is to tell you what we’re looking for in the breath and how we can help people with IBS and their symptoms.
Various foods we eat contain FODMAP sugars. In normal digestion, when we eat the sugars, they pass down through the esophagus and into the stomach, and then into the small intestine where various enzymes reside. These enzymes break down these sugars into single sugar molecules so that can be easily absorbed through the intestinal wall and then into the bloodstream. For a variety of reasons, the ability of the small intestine to absorb the sugars undergoes change leading to partial or a total inability to absorb different sugars. This results in the sugar continuing into the large intestine, where a colony of bacteria resides. These bacteria are really excited by the presence of sugar, so they want to eat it up, initiating a fermentation process. During this fermentation process, hydrogen, methane and carbon dioxide gases are produced. This gas production may be nothing more than a small rumble, but to others, it can be very uncomfortable leading to numerous IBS type symptoms. The symptoms can include distention, bloating, flatulence, constipation and they can all also have an osmotic effect, drawing water into the bowel, and we have diarrhoea as a consequence. This gas has been absorbed into the bloodstream, taken into the lungs and then exhaled by the breath, where it can be easily quantified. The level of gas produced increases with the level of malabsorption, so this is exactly what we’re looking for in your breath, when you’re undertaking a breath test, as normal digestion levels of hydrogen and methane along in expired air. So bench-marking these gases and any changes allows us to help pinpoint specific offending FODMAPs in the diet and ultimately further helps us in the management of IBS patients and the reduction of their symptoms.
LARAH: Thank you, Atlanta. That was a very comprehensive explanation.
ATLANTA: No problem.
LARAH: It was very complex, but comprehensive, so hopefully the listeners have got it. Otherwise, don’t worry; you can just go and read it on the show notes.
So I’ve personally done some breath testing that my doctor recommended which was the lactose and the fructose. I just wonder, for the listeners that might not be sure if they should do breath testing or not, how reliable is breath testing?
ATLANTA: Breath testing is a very simple, non-invasive, inexpensive and reliable method to diagnose sugar malabsorption and intolerance issues, as well as SIBO which is known as Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth. It’s actually bacteria from the large intestine has come up into the large intestine in a place where it’s not supposed to be. But, in saying this, the breath test is only reliable if the strict standardised protocols are in place such as pre-test diet, fasting and machine calibrations in high quality collection and testing equipment are used. At Stream Diagnostics, we use something that is called NATA accredited, which is the National Association of Testing Authorities. This accreditation provides a means of determining and formally recognising and promoting the competence of our facilities to perform high quality breath testing. Also, it has a methane breath test, that is added to our research to determine sugar malabsorption and intolerance, so obviously, they’re quite valid tests.
There are also some pre-test requirements to join breath testing. You have to follow a low FODMAP diet two days prior, to reduce the amount of FODMAP sugars in the intestine. We only test for a particular sugar. We know it is that sugar which is responsible for the increase in hydrogen and methane gas and symptoms and not any residual sugar that you consumed a couple of days prior.
There’s also some fasting involved and you must refrain from taking certain medications and supplements just to make sure that the results are as accurate as possible. Also, everyone has to complete at least one test which is called lactulose. Well, everyone has to complete at least two tests, but everyone has to complete the lactulose test. So lactulose is a man-made sugar which malabsorbs completely, and this will allow us to see how you malabsorb. Do you produce hydrogen; do you produce methane; do you produce both perhaps? It’s also gives us an insight into your transit time and it can indicate whether SIBO, that small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, may be present, and you may have to do a glucose test.
LARAH: I’ve done a lactose breath test. The results came back that I’m mildly lactose intolerant. So breath testing can even give you a specific answer and can identify if you’re very highly intolerant, or not intolerant at all, or mildly intolerant. Is that accurate?
ATLANTA: Yeah, definitely. So the more fermentation that is going on, and the more gas that is being produced, means the more your malabsorbing a particular sugar. So if you are borderline, your malabsorbing some, but not the full load of the sugar. With lactose, for example, you may be able to have a glass of milk, but if you have a milkshake with milk, ice cream and maybe some chocolate in there as well, then you might have extreme symptoms. But with one glass of milk, you may be fine.
LARAH: Yeah, that sounds about what happens with me. For example, I can have a dash of milk, but yes, if I have a whole ice cream or full hot chocolate, then it’s not so good anymore.
ATLANTA: Yeah, I know.
LARAH: Thank you for that explanation, Atlanta. Can this also be done at home or is it better to go to a clinic?
ATLANTA: Yes, so if all protocols are done correctly — and we do home testing kits and in-clinic tests — but if all protocols are done correctly with the home testing, the results are definitely just as accurate as the in-clinic test, but there a couple more variables that could go wrong by doing it at home rather than coming into clinic.
LARAH: Okay, for people that are not able to get to a clinic near their home they can just request a home kit through you?
ATLANTA: Yes, that’s right.
LARAH: And you ship everywhere, not just in Australia?
ATLANTA: Yeah, we’re shipping to Canada at the moment …to China, a lot to New Zealand and the US, and also England…so all over.
LARAH: That’s perfect. So we know that in some other countries, it’s not as easy as in Australia to find dietitians who have a great knowledge of the low FODMAP diet. Do you have any resources which can help at all?
LAURA: Definitely. We are fortunate to have relationships with many dietitians, who are FODMAP trained including some of the most prominent health professionals around the world. In addition to this, the FODMAP Friendly app has a database of FODMAP specialists, and this is a global database. It’s a great resource for and we regularly add to this list, in the hope of providing more help to people who have downloaded this application.
LARAH: That’s perfect. So again, for the listeners, that’s the low FODMAP app that FODMAP Friendly has launched and they will be constantly updating it with a list of dietitians that are able to provide advice on the low FODMAP diet. That’s great.
LAURA: Yeah, and that’s for both the Google and the iPhone version of the app, so whichever device you use, you are able to get help, basically.
LARAH: Yes, that sounds good. Thank you so much, Laura.
LAURA: I guess, I just have to say in closing, we just want to reiterate that we realise that managing IBS type symptoms and adopting a diet in low FODMAPs can be really daunting for people, but it really doesn’t have to be. We really encourage people to look for the logo, download the FODMAP Friendly app, and just make life easier for themselves by using as many tools as possible.
LARAH: Yes, those are very good tips. Thank you, Laura. The last question I would like to ask you is how can listeners get in touch with you and find you on the internet and on your social media?
LAURA: Sure, so we are really fortunate to have a fantastic and enthusiastic following of FODMAPers worldwide, who are really passionate about using this approach to manage their IBS type symptoms, which is amazing for us to witness, and we do have a really interactive relationship. So we’re very active across all our social media channels. You can find us talking all things FODMAPs. If you go to FODMAPfriendly.com, that will have links to our Facebook, our Instagram and Twitter, and, of course, you can find both versions of the food FODMAP friendly app from that website as well.
ATLANTA: Yes, and at Stream Diagnostics we have a website which is www.breathtest.com.au which has our phone and email address, or you can find this by Facebook. And as a dietitian, I also see patients in-clinic or via Skype with those who completed breath testing or who are following a diet low in FODMAPs. This private practice is called FODMAP Nutrition and Dietetics. We are recognised as well, as being leading experts in the FODMAP field. You can find us by our website www.fodmapdietetics.com, which has an informative blog revolving around all things FODMAP, and you can also find us via Facebook or Instagram under the name FODMAP Dietetics.
LARAH: Perfect, thank you so much again for participating in this podcast. Thank you, guys.
FODMAP FRIENDLY TEAM: Thanks, Larah.
LARAH: I hope you have enjoyed this episode with the team at FODMAP friendly, the creators of the FODMAP friendly logo certification, which makes recognising suitable products very easy. Please join me again next time for a new episode and don’t forget to check out the show notes and all the links for this episode on my website. Until next time, I wish you a great and a healthy week. All the very best from me to you and take good care. Goodbye.