I know you have Googled, “Why Can’t I Digest Sweet Potatoes?”
And do you know how I know this? Because 5 Reasons Why You Might Not Be Able to Digest Sweet Potatoes still remains a top blog post on my website, and I wrote it back in 2012. But furthermore, most people don’t stop with reading the post. They instead email me with their own stories, and then many end up working with me 1-on-1 so that they can figure out how in the heck to be able to properly digest sweet potatoes.
I don’t blame you for Goggling, and I don’t blame them for reaching out.
According to the fall foods blog post I wrote about a year ago, sweet potatoes are currently in season. I failed to mention in that post, though, that sweet potatoes are super incredible, delicious and that I have a semi-obsession with them. In fact, we have been eating this Sweet Potato Hash dish almost weekly at our house recently. Because I can….I am tolerating sweet potatoes currently, so I’ll ride this out as long as I quite possibly can.
However, like many of you, I used to also Google, “Why Can’t I Digest Sweet Potatoes?”
In my previous post on the topic I named these 5 reasons:
- Fructose and Fiber
- Root Vegetable
Let’s investigate some more.
Why Can’t I Digest Sweet Potatoes?
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- Mannitol. Sweet potatoes contain a type of sugar called mannitol. If you have SIBO (or any other intolerance to FODMAPs), the mannitol found in sweet potatoes might be too much for your body to handle. “Mannitol is a polyol and only one-third of the polyols consumed are actually absorbed by our bodies.” (Source)
- SIBO. Going along with the point on mannitol is SIBO in general. According to The Monash University App (which I recommend everyone who has SIBO gets on their phone immediately), sweet potatoes are a clear “red zone no-no.” 1 serving, which is 1 cup (140g), contains polyols, which those with SIBO must avoid. “This serving size contains high amounts of the Polyol – mannitol and should be avoided if you malabsorb mannitol.” That said, at 3/4 cup (107g), there is a “yellow light,” meaning proceed with caution, and at just 1/2 cup (70g), a “green light,” meaning you should be able to tolerate them. This tells us that if SIBO is your issue, you might want to try starting with 1/2 cup, then proceeding from there.
- Starch. Part of the premise for overall gut healing says that all starches should be avoided in the early days. I know this is debatable, but it worked for me when I did it for the first time in 2009. I have studied, and will always be a student of, Breaking the Vicious Cycle and Gut and Psychology Syndrome. Sweet Potatoes are, obviously, a starch. That just might be your main issue with them.
- Raffinose. Raffinose is a specific type of Oligosaccharide. It is also found in beans. “Humans are missing an enzyme required to break down raffinose sugars found in beans. The bacteria in our gut feast on these sugars, giving off hydrogen and carbon dioxide and causing intestinal gas” (source).
I didn’t want to give up my sweet potatoes. I desperately wanted to live life. So I healed to a place where I could eat them again. I did many, many things, and I continue to do many, many things.
I started with an appropriate diagnosis.
Then, I did the things I preach in The Gutsy Girl’s Bible because for me it was tried and true.
Sometimes I have to be 100% AIP.
Always I have to believe that I will continue to be the healthiest me.
It didn’t happen overnight, and I do still relapse from time-to-time. But I do love those sweet potatoes, so I’ll just keep on keepin’ on to make sure they can stick around.