If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), or a much-dreaded combination of both, you probably don’t see Cabrales cheese the same way that most people do.
When most people go to the cheese counter at the supermarket and look at the moldy, vacuum-sealed pieces of Cabrales cheese, they see… um, well, Cabrales cheese. But when you look at it, you see a dairy product and a potential irritant. An irritant that can cause all kinds of digestive problems, from cramps to constipation to diarrhea.1(n.d.). Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/irritable-bowel-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20360016
The FODMAP diet can help you identify the culprits. As explained in a Johns Hopkins Medicine article, when you go on a FODMAP diet, you stop eating high-FODMAP foods, then gradually reintroduce them one by one until you figure out which foods are giving you trouble.
So, where on the FODMAP does Cabrales cheese sit? After all, some cheeses are okay to be eaten on a low-FODMAP diet, and others are not. So is Cabrales cheese high- or low-FODMAP?
According to the FODMAP food database Fodmapedia, Cabrales cheese is low in lactose and is therefore classified as low-FODMAP. So you can enjoy it, in moderation, of course, with little to no consequences to your small intestine.
This is because Cabrales cheese is an aged cheese. And the longer a cheese is left to age, the more lactose sugar is converted by the bacteria in it into lactic acid that doesn’t irritate the intestines.
How Does the FODMAP Diet Work?
If you’re not very familiar with the FODMAP diet, you may be wondering exactly how it works.
To make a long story short, the FODMAP diet is an exclusion diet. It excludes certain carbohydrates that are difficult for your body to digest from your diet and then reintroduces them so you can observe your body’s reaction to them and draw your conclusions.
The FODMAP diet consists of three steps:2(n.d.). FODMAP Diet: What You Need to Know. Johns Hopkins Medicine. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/fodmap-diet-what-you-need-to-know
Step #1: The first step is to stop eating high-FODMAP foods, which are most likely to be causing you discomfort.
Step #2: The second step is to slowly but surely start adding those foods back into your diet — preferably one at a time — while carefully observing your body’s reaction to each.
Step #3: The third step is to make note of the foods that are triggering your symptoms, and then reduce or give them up altogether.
Do You Have to Give Up Cabrales Cheese on the FODMAP Diet?
Okay, let’s clear up a misconception that most people have about the FODMAP diet, Cabrales cheese, and dairy products as a whole. This misconception is that you’ve to give up ALL dairy products when you’re on the FODMAP diet.
This isn’t necessarily the case.
“FODMAP” stands for “fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols,” which are all types of carbohydrates that our bodies tend to have difficulty digesting.
The carbohydrates of interest in dairy products are disaccharides. Lactose — the problematic carbohydrate in dairy products — is a disaccharide composed of one part galactose and one part glucose. All cheeses contain lactose to one degree or another, but some contain more while others contain less.
High-lactose cheeses are a high-FODMAP food that you should probably eliminate first from your diet; low-lactose cheese is a low-FODMAP food that really shouldn’t have much effect on your body. Since Cabrales cheese is low in lactose and therefore low-FODMAP, it’s not one of the foods you’d want to exclude from your diet first… or at all.
How Long Can You Stay on the FODMAP Diet?
No matter if you choose to keep Cabrales cheese in or out of your diet, there’s one important thing about the FODMAP diet that you should know:
The FODMAP diet is not meant to be followed forever. Johns Hopkins gastroenterologist Hazel Galon Veloso, M.D., calls it “a short discovery process” to figure out which foods are problematic for you.
In the typical elimination phase, you omit FODMAP-rich foods for 4 to 6 weeks. Once your digestive symptoms subside, you work high-FODMAP foods back into your diet in the FODMAP reintroduction phase, Doctor of Natural Medicine Dr. Ruscio explains on his website.
- 1(n.d.). Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/irritable-bowel-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20360016
- 2(n.d.). FODMAP Diet: What You Need to Know. Johns Hopkins Medicine. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/fodmap-diet-what-you-need-to-know