What have onions, garlic, rye flour, bread and wheat pasta in common? ­čĄö


They can all cause stomach-ache and digestive problems­čśĺ




Because all these products contain fructans.


Fructans belong to the short-chained carbohydrates, to be exact, they are chains of fructose molecules. We have not got an enzyme in our small intestine to digest the fructans, instead they are fermented from our helpful bacteria. For people with sensitive bowels, this can cause flatulence, pain, gas, cramps and other bowel problems.


Many people think they react to bread due to the gluten contained, because when they eat gluten free, their problem decrease. But it might not be the gluten that is causing problems, it could be the fructans that can be found in some flours.


That means, it is not necessary to eat completely gluten free, just food with less fructans has to be consumed (unless a gluten intolerance or allergy has been officially confirmed)


Flours like rye, wheat and barley contain high fructans, whereas spelt contains less. That is why sometimes spelt products are easier to digest as wheat products. A spelt sourdough bread is a good alternative to a bread made from wheat.

If you do choose gluten free products, always check the ingredients. Many gluten free products contain sugar sorts (for the taste) that are not digestible for people with a fructose malabsorption.


Also, ripe bananas contain fructans. Many think ripe bananasàmore sugaràmore fructose. Yes, that might be, but it may be the fructans that are causing problems, nit the fructose.


Other foods with a high fructan content are for example:

  • leek
  • asparagus
  • beetroot
  • artichoke
  • grapefruit
  • soy beans (but not soy protein)
  • watermelon
  • dates
  • cashews and pistachios
  • chicory
  • inulin

Inulin is found very often in industrial products. It is used for example, to increase the fibre amount in the product.


With garlic and onions, it is not just the vegetable that can cause problems, but also salt, powder and extract containing them.


It doesn┬┤t mean to say that every time you eat something that contains fructans, problems occur.

Why? Because the fructan level is not always stable. The fructan content is dependent on many factors like the weather, temperature, rain and where and how something has grown (like with fructose)


Just because you have digestive problems after eating some bread, doesn┬┤t mean to say that you have a fructan intolerance.

Many people have a wheat sensitivity or intolerance. Or even a gluten intolerance or allergy.

But if you have bowel problems after consuming garlic or onions, it could be a connection to fructans.


There are no medical tests to find out if you can tolerate fructans or not, just ÔÇťself-testingÔÇŁ. There is also no level for how many fructans can be tolerated and not, everyone is different. You just have to find out yourself or with the help of a nutrition coach (like me).


I have found out that when I reduced the amount of food containing fructans, my stomach and bowels are a lot calmer ­čśŐ

I bake with spelt flour and every so often gluten free. I do not use garlic or onions directly, but use an alternative­čśë




As always, what I write is what I have learnt, heard, read or found out for myself. I give no guarantee that everything is to 100 % correct or tolerable for everyone ­čśŐ