11 Myths About Gut Health: Debunking Common Misconceptions


11 Myths About Gut Health: Debunking Common Misconceptions

Gut health has become a buzzword in recent years, especially if you struggle with gut-related issues like IBS. However, as the interest in gut health grows, so do the myths surrounding it. In this blog post, we’re here to set the record straight. So, let’s delve into the 10 most common myths about gut health and uncover the truth behind them.

Myth 1: Low FODMAP is the Only Answer for Gut Symptoms

Low FODMAP diets have become increasingly popular in addressing irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). While undeniably beneficial and highly effective for some, it’s important to know that IBS is not a one-size-fits-all, and low FODMAP diets are not the answer for everyone. In fact, in some people a low FODMAP diet actually worsens the situation. The good news is that low FODMAP is not the only option for addressing IBS and we have other options and diets that some people do much better with. The key is to get the approach that fits your needs, not try to make your needs fit the diet.

Myth 2: Removing Foods is Necessary for Good Gut Health

Eliminating entire food groups isn’t always necessary for a healthy gut. We know from The American Gut Program that people who have more abundance and variety of plant foods in their diet have a more abundant and diverse gut microbiome. While it’s true that some people may be sensitive to things like dairy or wheat, these are not problematic for everyone and restricting them unnecessarily is more likely to result in a dysbiosis of the gut microbiome or a nutritional deficiency. In fact, we often see peoples gut health improve when more variety is incorporated into their diet rather than less. Ditch the restrictive diets and focus on adding rather than subtracting to your day.

Myth 3: Low FODMAP is Gluten Free

Wheat contains a protein portion (gluten) and a carbohydrate portion (FODMAPs). These are two different molecules that are often in the same foods. Not all gluten free foods are low FODMAP & not all low FODMAP foods are gluten free. On a low FODMAP diet, wheat is limited to small serves due to the Fructans (FODMAPs) it contains. You can read more about the difference between FODMAPs & gluten here.

Low FODMAP foods that contain gluten include:

  • 1 slice wheat bread
  • 1/2 cup wheat pasta
  • Soy sauce, oyster sauce, teriyaki sauce
  • 2 slices sourdough or FODMAP certified bread
  • LoFo Pantry flour (this flour goes through an extra step in processing to reduce the fructans
  • 1 cup Panko crumbs
  • 2 Plain biscuits
  • Vegemite

High FODMAP foods that are gluten free: onion, garlic, apples, milk, honey and more.


Myth 4: Low FODMAP is Dairy Free

Lactose is the sugar or carbohydrate found in milk and milk products. It’s made up of two sugar molecules (glucose and galactose) which are bound together tightly. Humans require an enzyme (lactase) produced in the small intestine to separate the two sugar molecules for digestion. If a person only has low levels of the lactase they may not be able to fully digest large serves of milk. The good news is that lactase can be added to milk commercially to break down the sugars in preparation for digestion. This is known as lactose free milk. Lactose free milk can also be used to make yoghurt, custard and ice cream. Lactose free dairy is suitable for all stages of a low FODMAP diet, the only thing to be careful of is if high FODMAP flavours (e.g. mango or cherry) have been added in large amounts).

When it comes to cheese, cheese is made from the fat and protein part of the milk. It does not contain the mil sugars (lactose), so its naturally lactose free. You will see cheese labelled as lactose free at the supermarket, btu it’s good to know that cheese naturally meets criteria to be labelled lactose free without making any changes and there is no difference between lactose free cheese and regular cheese in terms of FODMAPs. You can read more about lactose and dairy here.

Rule of thumb:

  • if you can slice or grate it, its lactose free.
  • If you can put your finger in it and swish it around, it contains some lactose and check your Monash app for serve sizes.

Myth 5: Detoxes and Cleanses Improve Gut Health

Detoxes and cleanses promise quick fixes, but they’re not the secret to gut health. Our bodies naturally detoxify themselves. Instead, opt for sustainable habits like staying hydrated and consuming whole, nutrient-dense foods, prioritising sleep and looking after your mental health.


Myth 6: Gut Health is Solely Managed with Diet

While diet plays a significant role in gut health, other factors like stress, sleep, and physical activity also influence gut health. IBS doesn’t have one cause, instead it has multiple influencing factors. A holistic approach that considers these factors is more effective in maintaining a balanced gut.

No Thanks my gut is perfect

Myth 7: All Bloating Indicates Poor Gut Health

Occasional bloating is normal and can stem from various factors, including diet, gut transit, tight clothing and hormonal fluctuations. Persistent or severe bloating might warrant investigation, but it’s not always indicative of poor gut health. Think of your bloating on a scale from 1-10. If the bloating sits below 4 and is occasional, it likely falls into the “normal’ category. If its persistent and regularly goes over 4/10, then it’s likely worth investigating with a specialist dietitian.  


Myth 8: Everyone Should Take Probiotics

Probiotic’s have gained attention for their potential to support gut health. The thing is because all our gut microbiomes are different, probiotics behave differently in different people. Research indicates that probiotics are hit and miss at best and are just as likely to do nothing or make someone worse as they are to help. At this time, there is no way at this time to predict how your gut will respond to a particular probiotic, so if you want to try them, its trial and error to see what does or doesn’t work for you.

Also, keep in mind that if you are exploring dietary triggers for your symptoms probiotics can cloud results, so it’s often a good idea to leave them on the shelf until you have clarity on how food affects your symptoms.


Myth 9: You Should Have a Daily Bowel Movement

The frequency of bowel movements can vary greatly from person to person. Anything from 3 times a day to 0nce every 3 days falls within the realm of normal. What matters more than frequency is the consistency and comfort of your bowel movements. If they are easy, comfortable and satisfying, you’re good. If not, you might like to read our blog article on How to Poop Well here.


Myth 10: Apple Cider Vinegar Aids Digestion

While apple cider vinegar has been touted as a digestive aid, scientific evidence fails to show it does anything for gas, constipation or bloating. Additionally, vinegar is well known for worsening reflux, and it can damage tooth enamel. At the end of the day, like a lot of things, it makes a nice salad dressing, but is not a magic cure for IBS. It’s best to focus on a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle for optimal digestion.


Myth 11: A Lectin-Free Diet Repairs the Gut Wall

Lectins are proteins found in nuts, cereals and legumes. Lectins have been shown to interfere with the absorption of calcium, iron, phosphorous and zinc, earning them the name “anti-nutrients”. In recent times, the interweb claims they are drivers of inflammation, weight gain and chronic disease. However, diets that contain high amounts of these foods (i.e. the Mediterranean diet), are actually associated with improved long-term health and well-being, decreased inflammation and decreased risk of chronic disease. Additionally, boiling, steaming, fermenting or sprouting foods that contain lectins has been shown to significantly decrease lectin content.


Final Thoughts:

As we navigate the realm of gut health, it’s crucial to separate fact from fiction. We all deserve accurate information to make informed decisions about their health. Remember, a holistic approach that considers various factors is the key to nurturing a healthy gut. So, let’s bid farewell to these myths and embrace a well-rounded understanding of gut health for a happier, healthier you.


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  • Where do the consultations take place… Id like a face to face approach… and not limited to just one appt… a support program… ie: as many appts as I feel necessary. I font want all the science, just.. you can eat this, but not that…. after the testing stage of course. Fibro fog doesnt help info to be retained, so a fiet plan gor say 2 weeks, is all I need. Say… 3 choices of breakfast, 3 lunches, and maybe 5 dinners (a mix of easy prep and recipes to follow). It shouldnt be more difficult than this… and what foes F O D M A P… actually stand for?!

    • Hi Bee, we do face to face in Burwood and East Bentleigh in Melbourne. We can definitely help make it simple with what you can eat and how to reintroduce. Happy to provide as much or as little science as you are interested in.

      FODMAP = Fermentable Oligosaccarides, Disaccharides, monosaccharides & Polyols. These are just the scientific names for certain sugars. No need to remember that at this stage though. Once you know whaich are your triggers, we can provide the info you need on those particular ones.

  • Hi, Joanna!

    Thank you for pointing out that there is no scientific evidence showing that apple cider vinegar aids digestion. Many people believe it is a cure-all and may not know that it can damage their teeth and worsen acid reflux.


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Meet Joanna


Joanna is a passionate advocate, communicator and educator in the fields of gut health, nutrition and wellness.