Manja Bloglove: FODMAPS & Improving Digestive Health with MindfulMeals Blog
We at LiveLoveManja adore mindful eating blog, MindfulMeals: Eat Real Food.Mindfully by RDN Lauren Fowler. Fowler recently posted an article introducing FODMAPS and how readers can improve digestive health, IBS symptoms, and intolerance issues through knowledge and awareness.
Firstly, lets address FODMAPS. What are FODMAPS exactly? Technically, FODMAPS stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides Disaccharides Monosaccharides and Polyols. Don’t worry, we don’t speak “hieroglyphics” either. In comprehensible words this translates to short chain carbohydrates which ferment in the gut and cause digestive symptoms and discomfort. Main product or symptom of digestive symptoms? GAS (yuck)! No wonder the body is feeling cranky.
When gas is a bi-product, it draws water into the intestines. For people with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) this can cause diarrhea, constipation, and/or severe bloating. For sufferers of IBS-D there is more ethanol present, where as those with IBS-C produce more methane gas.
FODMAPS are classified into four categories. Lactose, Fructose, Fructans/GOS, and Polyols. Naturally occurring sugars and carbs such as these are found in whole foods that we are taught are healthy and nutritious such as dairy, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and other healthy compounds. Sadly, these combinations are not ideal for those suffering from IBS symptoms because they are triggers of the cause of IBS symptoms (gas and water retention). Just because a food is healthy does not mean that it’s a good and nutritious food for your unique digestive system. Similar to clothing styles and cuts - one size does not fit all. Just like a forced and ill fitting outfit will not flatter the individual, a diet containing IBS triggers and provoking compounds will not be digested easily by the intestines.
Navigating a FODMAP Friendly Diet:
This is a tricky road because digestion can be temperamental and unique to each person. The body is interconnected (domino effect) meaning that one mistake can offset numerous symptoms. Numerous issues can cause digestive discomfort such as IBS, SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth), celiacs disease, stress, and other various medical conditions. Finding the unique combination for you and noting what works with your body and your system is key in obtaining digestive comfort, health, and overall well being.
A FODMAP diet begins with a six week elimination diet (as you readers with food allergies are well accustomed to) in order to isolate triggers, allergens, and inflammation/gas producing compounds. We recommend keeping a food diary so you can track what you are eating and any associated symptoms with specific food groups. It’s much easier to identify mal-absorption and discomfort causes when there are notes available to refer back to. Fowler refers to a food diary as a “symptom log”. For FODMAP diet and directions go to her article here.
Do FODMAPS diets work? Fowler says she has experienced much success and has been able to identify foods she responds well to, foods she can tolerate, foods she can consume sparingly, and foods that she cannot tolerate at all. Once foods that are not tolerable are identified, it is key to removing them completely from your diet. Consistency and maintenance is also key in a successful and healthful FODMAP friendly diet. Once flared, it takes the body and intestinal tract some time to completely detox and remove the trigger/allergen/intolerance from the body. Each flare is healable, but it will set your success back. So discipline and awareness is key in this type of diet’s success. It’s not a fad, it’s not a quick fix, it is a lifestyle. Incorporate it. Be kind to it. Be honest with yourself. And be forgiving with yourself. Good things take time.