Spelt is a grain that leads to some confusion in the low FODMAP diet. Spelt products are often recommended by dieticians in the Netherlands to eat on the low FODMAP diet and many fodmappers think that spelt is a safe choice. There are also quite some people with IBS who tolerate spelt well and therefore, it is often named as a low FODMAP option. Still, the question “Is spelt low FODMAP” can not be answered with yes. There are quite some spelt products that are not low FODMAP.
If you look at the different kind of grains (see the image below), most FODMAPs are found in rye and wheat. Spelt comes in the third place after them. Spelt contains quite a lot of fructans and is therefore high in FODMAPs, but less high than wheat and rye. This is why some people tolerate it better. Gluten-free flours made from oats, rice or corn are even lower in FODMAPs because they contain little fructans. These flours are safe to use in larger amounts on the low FODMAP diet.
But spelt is a difficult product. If spelt is processed in a certain way, it can become lower in FODMAPs and therefore, some spelt products are (limited) low FODMAP.
This is what Monash says about it in the app:
“Spelt flour is high in FODMAPs. Products made using spelt flour without additional processing (pasta, spelt flakes, bread) tend to be high in FODMAPs. Additional processing that reduces the FODMAP content involves using the spelt flour in a traditional sourdough bread. Traditional sourdough bread involves a long fermentation of the dough using sourdough culture which further breaks down the FODMAPs. Sourdough spelt bread tends to be low in FODMAPs. To be confident of the final FODMAP content – the final product should be tested for total FODMAP content”. (Source: Monash FODMAP app)
It is difficult to give a general advice about spelt and it really depends on the product and the processing whether it is low FODMAP or not. Monash does give an advice about a few spelt products and we will discuss them below.
Sourdough spelt bread and spelt bread
If we look at the Monash app, sourdough spelt bread turns out to be a safe low FODMAP choice. Next to that, 100% spelt bread that was tested in the Netherlands is safe too. The latter is still something to be careful with because, as Monash says, every product is different and the FODMAP content can differ per product.
- Sourdough bread, 100% spelt: is high in fructans from more than 3 slices up. Two to three slices of sourdough spelt bread are allowed. You can buy sourdough spelt bread in certain supermarkets, at bakery’s or you can make it yourself using this recipe.
- 100% spelt bread: is high in fructans from more than 2 1/2 slices. Two slices of 100% spelt bread are allowed. Make sure no other high FODMAP ingredients have been added.
Other spelt products that are limited low FODMAP
Next to bread, there are some more spelt products that have a low FODMAP serving size:
- Spelt pasta: a serving of 1/2 cup (or 74 gram) of cooked pasta is low FODMAP. No idea why they give the cooked serving size because that is really difficult to measure, but this is what the app says. This is not a large serving. 2/3 cup (or 101 gram) of pasta contains a moderate amount of fructans and from 1 cup (148 gram) spelt pasta is high in fructans.
- Sieved spelt flour, organic: the Monash app says that sieved spelt flour is low in FODMAPs. 100 gram of sieved spelt flour is a low FODMAP serving. Monash says that products made using sieved spelt flour tend to be low in FODMAPs. But it is important to note that other ingredients added during the food processing and the type of processing may increase the FODMAP content of the final product. Therefore it is important to test the final product to be sure whether it is low FODMAP or not.
- Spelt flakes, organic: the app is not completely clear about this product either. Organic spelt flakes from the Netherlands that have been tested, have a low FODMAP serving size of 1/8 cup (or 15 gram). Organic spelt flakes from Denmark that have been tested, don’t have a low FODMAP serving size. Spelt flakes are therefore also something to be careful with.
These spelt products are high in FODMAPs
- Wholegrain spelt flour: is high in fructans
- White spelt flour: is high in fructans
As you can see, there are, except for 100% spelt bread and sourdough spelt bread, little spelt products that are low FODMAP in a normal serving size. Therefore, spelt is something to be very careful with on the low FODMAP diet.
Important to remember!
The fact that most spelt products are not low FODMAP, doesn’t mean that you cannot tolerate them. I often hear from people with IBS that they tolerate spelt very well and therefore it is definitely worth testing it for yourself. If you tolerate it, it will immediately give you some more options.
In the elimination phase and reintroduction phase of the diet, I would advise to only eat sourdough spelt bread and 100% spelt bread and leave the other spelt products out of your diet. You want to avoid getting more symptoms than necessary on the elimination phase and in the reintroduction phase, you want to avoid everything that can mess with you test results. After the reintroduction phase, you can test more spelt products and see what you tolerate.
I hope that I have been able to answer the “is spelt low FODMAP or not” question and that everything around spelt is a bit more clear now. If you have any more questions, feel free to ask them in the comments below. What are you experiences with spelt?
Sources used for this article:
- Are all spelt products low in FODMAPs – Monash University
- Spelt flour – high or low in FODMAPS – FODMAP Friendly
- The FODMAP content of spelt – R&M Dietetic
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