Low FODMAP Diet & Digestive Health News

With the public’s growing concern for eating healthy and more awareness about Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), we are seeing a greater focus on digestive health. Amidst the publishing of new research and the release of new products targeted at improving digestive health, it can be difficult to keep up-to-date. Here are this week’s highlights.

MONASH UNIVERSITY UPDATES

Monash University is regularly adding new food items to the app and certifying newly released Low FODMAP products. With constant changes it can be difficult to keep up, but our team is working hard to highlight the latest updates to the app as they happen so you can continue eating well for your health and your gut, without all the confusion and guesswork.

If you are following the Low FODMAP diet and haven’t already downloaded the app, we recommend you do. This is the best tool to provide you with an up-to-date list of low, moderate, and high FODMAP foods. New foods are regularly added in addition to updates for existing items based on the latest testing and research.

Fibre Intake on the Low FODMAP Diet

Recently, Monash did a series on fibre discussing insoluble fibre, soluble fibre and prebiotic fibre (resistant starches). They discuss not only the importance of eating fibre but eating the “right mix” of fibre for your type of IBS.

Like we mentioned earlier, they recommend those with IBS-C eat a variety of fibre but introduce fibre slowly into their diet. They also mentioned that common fibre supplements like psyllium may not be tolerated by those with IBS so they suggest starting small and monitoring your symptoms.

We hear a lot about soluble and insoluble fibre, but the article goes into detail about two less familiar types of fibre: resistant starch and prebiotic fibre. Resistant starch (RS) is a type of insoluble fibre with four subtypes: RS1-4. Each subtype is considered resistant for a different reason: we lack the digestive enzyme to break down RS1, foods with RS2 are generally harder to digest, RS3 is due to how the food is prepared, and RS4 is any chemically modified starch. These starches act as a prebiotic, meaning they are food for bacteria in our gut and we receive benefits from them. Many resistant starches are also high in FODMAPs but here are some that have the green light: 1 cup of cooked oats and ½ cup of cooked lentils, pomegranate seeds, and chickpeas. Adding these food items into your diet will allow you to get those good for your gut prebiotics without causing a flare up in symptoms.

High fibre on the Monash Low FODMAP App

Low FODMAP Food Sources of Soluble Fibre:

Vegetables: eggplant, potatoes
Fruit: blueberries, oranges, grapefruit
Grains: oatmeal,oat bran, brown rice
Legumes: lentils, chickpeas

Low FODMAP Food Sources of Insoluble Fibre:

Vegetables: corn, eggplant, green beans, broccoli, spinach, kale, legumes (e.g. chickpeas, lentils etc.)
Fruit: grapes, kiwi, strawberries, rhubarb, raspberries, pineapple, blueberries, raisins
Bread: gluten free multigrain, wholemeal
Grains: brown rice, burghal, oat bran, rice bran, buckwheat, quinoa
Nuts: peanuts, almonds, walnuts
Seeds: pumpkin, chia, sesame

MEDIA UPDATES

Dealing with Bloating During the Holidays

Symptom flare-ups are common during the holidays with so many food focused social gatherings. Express, a UK based magazine, released an article all about tackling those tricky IBS symptoms like bloating, heartburn and gas during holiday festivities. They suggest creating a self-care plan during the holidays. Whether it’s “taking 10 minutes of me time every day to sit quietly and focus on deep breathing [or] relaxing in a hot bath”. Both suggestions sound like a great way to spend an evening to us. They also suggest not straying from your regular exercise routine although it can be tempting with many social obligations. Probably one of the hardest suggestions to follow is to be mindful of how much you eat and what you are eating, especially during the holidays. With the average person consuming up to 6000 calories on Christmas Day alone, taking a moment to be mindful of what you are eating can greatly reduce the chance of flare-ups.

Women More Likely to Suffer from Digestive Health Issues

A probiotic company, Renew Life Probiotics, conducted a survey in November asking 1,127 American women about their digestive health. The survey is a part of the “Get to Know Your Gut” campaign the company is launching. They wanted to determine women’s attitudes and awareness about digestive health issues.

Their survey shows that almost three quarters of women have experienced digestive health issues within the past year. Not surprisingly, most women (64%) are not willing to discuss these issues with friends or family. This places women in a predicament since having a supportive network is one of the factors that can help them deal with their digestive health issues. Many women are “shocked to learn that the gut is the center of overall health and wellness” and its influence on the rest of the body. Specifically, women were not aware that factors like, stress, diet, aging, and their environment could all influence the bacteria in their gut.

The “Get To Know Your Gut” campaign hopes to address this by encouraging women to have open conversations with loved ones about their health and by supporting a good-for-your-gut lifestyle. We believe that building a supportive community of people to help you along your journey is key to improving your digestive health. We can all help eachother out by providing encouraging words, and sharing advice and experiences related to lifestyle choices that will improve overall health.

The Low FODMAP Diet Listed as a Food Trend

Registered dietitian Liz Weber appeared on WZZN news where she discussed healthy food trends to look out for in 2017. Guess what diet made the list? The Low FODMAP diet was one of the healthy food trends noted, which means more companies creating and promoting delicious Low FODMAP options. Increasing access to wholesome snacks will help those on-the-go stay on the Low FODMAP diet without worrying about symptoms.

The top 6 food trends include:

Low FODMAP foods
New Low FODMAP options include pasta sauce, drinks, protein bars, and salsa.

Fermented foods
A push to promote good gut bacteria by consuming fermented foods, including probiotic drinks.

Plant-based diet
Companies are now including interesting plant-based options in their frozen food sections like mushroom and quinoa burgers. Although not necessarily Low FODMAP new vegetarian dishes mean a greater variety and options in those following a plant-based diet.

Convenient whole-grain options
Packaging whole-grain snacks and meals in pouches, cups and portable packs will make it easier for anyone looking to increase their fibre intake.

Low carb pasta
Pasta made out of lentils, chickpeas, edamame, and mung beans is a new trend. Hopefully, some of these options will be Low FODMAP as well!

Seeds
There is a push to increase the popularity of seeds.

RESEARCH UPDATES

Why Fibre is Important in the Low FODMAP Diet

We’ve been hearing quite a bit about fibre in the media lately. Balancing fibre intake while managing symptoms on the Low FODMAP diet can be tricky. You often hear experts and loved ones say, “eat more fibre” but increasing fibre with IBS isn’t always easy. Experiencing changes in your symptoms based on the type of fibre or quantity consumed is a barrier for those living with IBS. Researchers are now tackling this issue by working with food companies to develop Low FODMAP options for those with IBS.

Fibre affects IBS in different ways depending on your IBS subtype. While people with diarrhea-predominant IBS (IBS-D) may find relief by increasing soluble fibre, those with constipation-predominant IBS (IBS-C) may find they need to increase both insoluble and soluble fibre slowly to avoid symptoms.

Adding Variety to the Low FODMAP Diet

We know fibre is important but many high fibre products including multigrain, rye, and wheat breads are considered high in FODMAPs. Rye bread is especially high in oligosaccharides and fructose. Researchers at the University of Helsinki in Finland wanted to investigate if a Low FODMAP rye bread would affect IBS symptoms. Their results were published in the July 2016 edition of the Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics journal.

They studied 87 people, mostly females that were already following a Low FODMAP diet. One group received regular rye bread, while the other received a low-fructan rye bread developed by Fazer, a Finnish food company.Participants were asked to consume 7-8 slices of bread per day. Although this is probably more than the average person would regularly eat, the researchers determined this was the amount needed to accurately assess symptoms. Researchers then assessed participants using symptom journals and hydrogen breath tests.

What did they find? Participants in the Low FODMAP rye bread group did in fact, report fewer symptoms. People suffered from less cramps and gas, and also reported feeling less bloated. Researchers also noted there was significantly less gas produced in participants consuming Low FODMAP rye bread. This not only supports the efficacy of the Low FODMAP diet, but also the need for developing more Low FODMAP foods. Being able to consume Low FODMAP rye bread means that those following a Low FODMAP diet have increased variety in their diet, and a new way to increase their fibre intake. It’s exciting that more companies are interested in working with researchers to develop greater options for those following the Low FODMAP diet.

PRODUCT AND SERVICE UPDATES

Aire: The personal digestive tracker

At the beginning of December, a start-up company out of Ireland called FoodMarble, launched Aire, a personalized hydrogen breath test device. The device works alongside the Aire app which allows you to track your progress and symptoms. After consuming a high FODMAP food you blow into the device and it determines the amount of hydrogen gas produced. It will then give you a reading from 1 to 100, the higher the value the higher the “fermentation score”. Once you’ve completed the test for fructose, lactose, and sorbitol, it will compare it to foods in their app and give you a personalized food list. The list comes with suggestions of how much of each item you should consume. You can also create meals and snacks with the items suggested. There is also a feature to track symptoms. You can track your food intake, gas levels, stress and sleep to get a picture of how your symptoms change with your diet over time. Think of the app as a FitBit but for your digestive health. You can pre-order the device for $99 and the estimated shipping date is August 2017. The expected retail price will be around $149.

A little background on hydrogen breath testing. Performed in a clinical setting, a hydrogen breath test requires an individual to come in to multiple appointments. The first reading is a baseline reading which will tell doctors how much hydrogen you normally produce prior to eating. Clinicians will test each carbohydrate (fructose, lactose, sorbitol and lactulose) on separate days to get a clear reading. You’ll take a small amount of one of the carbohydrates and take readings periodically, typically every 15-30 minutes for the next 2 hours. The more gas you produce the less your body is able to absorb that type of carbohydrate tested. However, some people who are considered “non-responders” do not produce any hydrogen gas. In this case, they use a different breath test that measures the amount of methane gas produced. These tests are also not definitive and require more testing before a diagnosis is made. Additionally, these tests cannot identify issues with fructan and galacto- oligosaccharides malabsorption, which is a common problem for those with IBS.

Therefore, a product like Aire should not be seen as a diagnostic tool or a tool to replace the guidance of a dietitian or doctor but an added source of information. It may help you better understand your body and give your health professional a better understanding of the changes in your symptoms.

 

Written by Adi Hazlewood, News & Culture Editor

 

References

  1. Laatikainen R, Koskenpato J, Hongisto SM, Loponen J, Poussa T, Hillilä M, and Korpela R. Randomised clinical trial: Low-FODMAP rye bread vs regular rye bread to relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics. Taken from: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/apt.13726/full
  2. Dwyer E. Dietary Fibre Series- Prebiotic Fibre. Taken from: http://fodmapmonash.blogspot.ca/2016/11/dietary-fibre-series-prebiotic-fibre.html
  3. PR Web. FoodMarble Launches AIRE, the personal digestive tracker. Taken from: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2016/12/prweb13909575.htm
  4. AIRE. How it works. Taken from: https://www.foodmarble.com/#how-it-works
  5. Barret J. Dietary Fibre Series- Resistant Starch. Taken from: http://fodmapmonash.blogspot.ca/2016/11/dietary-fibre-series-resistant-starch.html
  6. Turrill K. Beat the festive bloat: how you can deal with tummy troubles this Christmas. Taken from: http://www.express.co.uk/life-style/life/740994/bloating-stomach-gas-pain-symptoms-causes-tips-christmas
  7. Newswire. New study reveals women may suffer from digestive health issues in silence. Taken from: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/study-reveals-women-may-suffer-180700171.html
  8. Pritchard D. Food trends you need to know about. Taken from: http://www.wzzm13.com/entertainment/television/programs/my-west-michigan/food-trends-you-need-to-know-about/352359806
  9. Monash University Low FODMAP App