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.
IBS and Coexisting Conditions
For some time now we have known that a link exists between IBS and mental health, but what about other conditions that seem to present alongside IBS? Researchers are taking a deeper look at conditions that typically coexist with IBS, and are trying to find out if there is a relationship. Conditions that are commonly linked to IBS include fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, anxiety, depression, gastro-esophageal reflux disorder (GERD) and pelvic pain. Researchers are not sure why individuals with IBS tend to have an increased risk of these conditions, but some believe there may be a common mechanism that’s involved. It is most likely a mix of factors such as genetics, psychology, and sociological factors that increase risk.
Increased Incidence of IBS
The number of people being newly diagnosed with IBS has been increasing worldwide. Previously considered a condition found in mostly Western countries, we are now seeing cases pop up in non-Western countries as well. It is likely that a better understanding of the disorder has resulted in higher detection rates. Environmental changes and increased amounts of processed foods in our diet could also be affecting our gut bacteria. Researchers believe IBS is caused by a complex interaction of genetics, hormones, diet or sudden onset of an infection, but we are still not sure. Interestingly, women are more likely to suffer from IBS than men. Some doctors believe this is because of hormonal difference between men and women.
IBS and Women’s Health
A recent study conducted at the University of Gothenburg found that men and women perceive their IBS symptoms very differently. Interestingly, even if men and women rated their symptoms as the same (i.e. abdominal pain as severe), women perceived their symptoms as having a greater impact on their lives. Generally speaking, women experience increased pressure to look and feel good. Many of the symptoms associated with IBS are considered to be unfeminine and may result in feelings of shame or embarrassment which negatively impacts quality of life. One way to combat this pressure and embarrassment is to increase the dialogue about digestive health so people, especially women, experience less shame about living with IBS.
Diversity of Gut Bacteria
It seems like every day we are learning something new about the bacteria in our gut. University Affairs, an online research magazine, talked with researchers Brett Finlay and Marie-Claire Arrieta from the University of British Columbia about their new book, “Let Them Eat Dirt: Saving Your Child from an Oversanitized World”. They explained that our greater understanding of the gut microbiome has led scientists to believe that increasing the diversity in our gut bacteria is very important. The say that our well-intentioned efforts to reduce our exposure to germs may be doing a disservice after all. For instance, researchers have found that children born by caesarean section are 20% more likely to develop asthma than those born by a natural delivery. It is hypothesized that natural delivery exposes newborns to the mother’s diverse microbiome which is key in developing the child’s immune system.
IBS in Canada
Canada has the highest rate of IBS and IBD in the Western world. Many Canadian researchers are asking why Canada has such high rates of these conditions and why we are seeing an increase in IBS and IBD, as well as allergies and asthma. A large collaborative project is underway in Canada to help deepen our understanding of the gut microbiome. Featuring 17 research centres and 75 scientists, the IMAGINE project hopes to shed some light on the link between diseases like IBS and changes in our gut bacteria. Although the gut microbiome may not hold all the answers, scientists are hopeful that increasing our knowledge in this area will help provide better treatment options for people with gastrointestinal diseases and conditions.
How to Reduce Bloating
Diet vs Disease, a science blog, recently wrote an article about ways to relieve bloating. They define bloating as the sensation of increased pressure in the abdomen, with the exact cause varying, but typically involving one or more of the following factors: gut bacteria, FODMAPs, slow digestion, or distress. Research has shown there are several ways to help ease bloating. Following a Low FODMAP diet, eating foods high in probiotics or taking a probiotic supplement, eating small portions slowly, and limiting food that can irritate the gut (ie. coffee and carbonated beverages) are all strategies that may decrease your chances of experiencing bloating.
IBS and Student Life
The Daily’s, Rebecca Gross recounts what it’s like living with IBS as a student in her article “Tummy Talk: College life and Irritable Bowel Syndrome don’t always mix”. She talks about figuring out her triggers and how she learned to avoid them. She also incorporated other strategies into her self-care plan, including exercise. It’s important to know that wherever you are on your IBS journey that there is someone out there that has experienced a similar struggle. Feeling supported is one of the most important keys to success on your journey to better digestive health.
PRODUCT AND SERVICES UPDATES
FODMAPPED Foods Available in the US
FODMAPPED, Australia’s first food company dedicated to Low FODMAP foods, is now available in the United States. The FODMAPPED line of food products includes soups, broths, and sauces which are now available through Amazon. All products in the FODMAPPED line are gluten-free and free from added artificial flavours and preservatives. Additionally, the entire line is certified FODMAP Friendly, which is an independent Low FODMAP certification program to help consumers identify Low FODMAP foods. Some of their products include: butter chicken sauce, green curry, lamb and vegetable soup, and a red wine pasta sauce. Sounds delicious!
IBS Diet & Low FODMAP Tracker
The IBS Diet & Low FODMAP Tracker mobile application, developed by Sturgess Enterprises LTD, enables users to track their symptoms on their iPhone. Users can record and track their symptoms by category (ie. pain/toilet, mood, or pain/bloating). You can also rate your symptoms using a simple scale (i.e. none to very bad). Over time, the application will graph your data so you can monitor how your symptoms are changing over time. The note feature can be used to record details such as food and stress triggers, and medications. All data entered into the app can be exported as a PDF so you can easily share it with your dietitian or doctor.
Written by Adi Hazlewood, News and Culture Editor
- IBS Diet & Low FODMAP Tracker
- FODMAPPED. 2017
- Bosworth T. Gastroenterology and Endoscopy News. 2017. Low FODMAP Diet Offers a Broad Range of Benefits in IBS.
- Leech J. Diet vs Disease. 2017. How to get rid of bloating.
- Gross R. The Daily. 2017. Tummy Talk: College Life and Irritable Bowel Syndrome Don’t Always Mix.
- Rich P. University Affairs. 2017. Gut science is radically changing what we know about the human body.
- Bjorkman. EurekAlert. 2017. IBS affects women’s quality of life more than men’s.
- Thomas L. News Medical. 2017. Irritable Bowel Syndrome Comorbidities.
- Lambert C. The Telegraph. 2017. Was it something you ate? Why more people are getting IBS than ever.