It’s hard to talk about carbs without talking about wheat, and it’s hard to talk about wheat without talking about gluten. Gluten is not a carbohydrate; it’s a mix of proteins found in wheat and its close relatives (including spelt, kamut and farro), as well as in barley and rye. It’s what gives bread its elasticity, but it also sets off the immune system of people with celiac disease, damaging the small intestine and sometimes producing painful and unpleasant symptoms.
Even some people who don’t have celiac disease feel better when they don’t eat wheat. They may assume that they have gluten sensitivity, but some researchers believe that it’s not the gluten they’re sensitive to. Instead, it’s fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols, or FODMAPS.
Never was a group of molecules more desperately in need of an acronym. FODMAPs are a group of carbohydrates that don’t get broken down and absorbed in the small intestine. Instead, they pass through to the large intestine, where they draw water into the gut and start to ferment. The process by which FODMAPs are broken down and fermented can cause gastrointestinal distress: diarrhea, bloating, pain, flatulence and constipation. Wheat and rye are high in FODMAPs, as are onions, garlic, apples, stone fruit, pistachios and many other foods.