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.
Essential Oils for Digestion
There’s been a growing interest in alternative therapies recently with more people wanting to include natural remedies into their self-care regimen. The Ground Report discussed a few essential oils that are associated with digestive heath. Essential oils are oils created using various parts of plants such as the leaves, flowers, seeds, or stem. The oil is extracted from the plant using distillation, a process that separates the oil from a liquid mixture. Due to their high concentration, essential oils are used in small quantities or diluted to decrease the chance of causing harm. Although quite a few essential oils have been linked to improved digestive health, The Ground Report article only includes peppermint, ginger, lavender, lemon, and spearmint. It is important to discuss essential oils with a trusted health care professional to ensure they are used safely and effectively.
Peppermint oil can help relax abdominal muscles which can ease pain associated with IBS.
Ginger is known for easing upset stomachs, but can also aid in digestion.
Adding a couple of drops of lemon oil to drinking water may aid with digestion.
Lavender can help with stress relief, which is a common trigger for IBS symptoms. Rub a small amount of lavender oil at your temples to help you relax and unwind.
Ease abdominal pain by rubbing a couple drops of spearmint oil on your abdomen.
Natural Remedies for IBS
The New Zealand Herald recently included an article touting the benefits of a holistic approach to treating IBS. One of their suggestions was keeping a food and symptom journal to determine when your symptoms arise. This will help you tailor your diet to decrease the chances of triggering your symptoms. It is best to focus on eating a variety of fresh, whole foods to ensure you are meeting your nutritional needs and eating with your gut health in mind. The article also went into natural remedies for digestive health issues, including peppermint, fennel seed, dandelion, and chamomile.
Herbal Teas for Digestive Issues
Even if you don’t have IBS or IBD, most people experience digestive health issues from time-to-time. Whether it’s an upset stomach or abdominal pain, we can all relate to how disruptive these symptoms can be. The Gazette Review wrote an article about herbal teas that help with digestive health issues. For those with IBS, they recommend trying different strategies to help you create a plan that works for your individual symptoms. This particular article focuses on less familiar teas that are associated with easing digestive issues.
Licorice Root Tea
Licorice root acts as a soothing agent to help calm the stomach and the lining of the throat. Glycyrrhizin is the component of licorice root which is responsible for many of the benefits associated with the tea. Licorice root may interact with a number of medications and isn’t meant for long-term use, so consult your doctor to help you determine if it’s right for you.
Dandelion Root Tea
Made with the leaves and flower of the dandelion plant, dandelion tea may soothe the digestive tract and help with constipation.
There are a few compounds found in fennels seeds that contribute to its muscle relaxing properties. It also has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.
Triphala tea is a Ayurvedic mixture of three herbs associated with relieving digestive health issues. Ayurveda is a centuries old medical system originating from India which focuses on looking at the body in a holistic way. This herbal mixture is associated with promoting healthy bowel movements and gut health.
Tumeric contains a compound known as curcumin that is associated with many of its health benefits including reduced inflammation and improved digestion.
Can Bacteria Cause Anxiety?
If you live with IBS you may have noticed changes in your symptoms depending on your level of stress. Scientists have studied this link and have discovered that those with IBS suffer from increased rates of depression and anxiety. Researchers have also noted a difference in gut bacteria in those with IBS compared to individuals without digestive health issues. Huffington Post recently wrote about the relationship between our gut bacteria and mental health in their Lifestyle section.
The relationship between anxiety and our gut bacteria isn’t simple, but we know that two strains of bacteria, in particular Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum, reduce anxiety-like behavior in animal studies. Subsequent studies have also found that these “good” bacteria strains can decrease stress-induced symptoms associated with IBS. One study found that healthy individuals that took probiotics had decreased feelings of anxiety once they started taking the supplements. Our diet also plays an important role in determining the makeup of the bacteria in our gut. Processed foods and antibiotic medications can all influence the diversity and number of bacteria in our gut. This may lead to gastrointestinal issues and perhaps anxiety-like symptoms. However, mental health issues like anxiety and depression are caused by numerous factors such as genetics, major life stressors, and medications. Gut bacteria imbalances can be just one of the many issues that can contribute to anxiety.
For those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, changes in gut bacteria may increase one’s susceptibility to IBS. Staying on the Low FODMAP diet without challenging and re-introducing foods can also result in a decrease in diversity of the bacteria in the gut. Like with most things in the science world, the relationship is complicated, and that’s why it is important to consider how multiple factors might be working together to produce a certain effect. Taking a holistic approach to your health is a good way to help reduce your symptoms, since many factors are interconnected.
PRODUCT AND SERVICES UPDATES
Nima Portable Gluten Tester
For individuals with celiac disease, dining out can be a stressful event. Reviewing menu items, questioning restaurant staff, and interrogating friends about foods being served can really take the enjoyment out of the whole experience. For many people, the potential debilitating consequences of unknowingly consuming gluten is just not worth the hassle.
Nima is an exciting new product that promises to change the way those with celiac disease dine out. Nima is a portable gluten-testing device created by a start-up company called 6SensorLabs. It works by placing a small sample of a liquid or solid into a one-time use capsule which is then placed into the device. After a few minutes, Nima will indicate if the item is safe to consume. Items are considered safe if the device detects less than 20 parts per million of gluten. This is the level the FDA requires for a food product to be labeled ‘gluten-free’.
Nima is also capable of connecting to your phone. You can upload your test results and join the Nima community where you can share advice on what to eat at particular restaurants. You can look at a map that identifies places where people have tested foods and recommend different places to eat. All very exciting news for people following a strict gluten-free diet!
Gut Feeling Cookbook
Looking for delicious Low FODMAP meal ideas? Lorraine Maher and Paula Mee, both Registered Dietitians from Ireland, have released a new cookbook aimed to “soothe the symptoms of a sensitive gut”. Their Low FODMAP cookbook contains 100 recipes so you’re bound to find a yummy dish you love. Recipes include prawn salad, Mexican chicken fajitas, and Mediterranean meatballs.
We’re pretty excited about the steady interest in providing delicious Low FODMAP options for people living with IBS. The latest addition to the Low FODMAP dining scene is sezamee. Based out of London, England, sezamee’s unique concept involves organizing Low FODMAP pop-up kitchens at different locations! Dates and locations will be announced via their social media and website, so be sure to check in with them if you are in the area.
Fodify Foods is a range of spices and sauces for those living on the Low FODMAP diet. Janet and Hannah, two dietitians, developed the line after they realized the limited options for those following the Low FODMAP diet. At the moment, their online shop includes spice blends with delicious flavours such as Moroccan spice, Thai spice, and Mexican spice, as well as a range of sauces including curry and tomato pasta sauce.
Written by Adi Hazlewood, News and Culture Editor
- Nima. 2017. Support. https://support.nimasensor.com/
- Gill Books. 2017. Gut Feeling Cookbook. https://www.gillbooks.ie/cookery/cookery/gut-feeling
- Sezamee. 2017. Gut Loving Food. https://t.co/hbM6uNnYE7
- Sanders L. Ground Report. 2017. Essential oils for nausea http://www.groundreport.com/essential-oils-nausea/
- Fodify Foods. 2017. About. https://www.fodify.co.uk/about
- Keck Medicine of USC. Huffington Post. 2017. Can Bacteria Cause Anxiety? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/quora/can-bacteria-cause-anxiet_b_13896042.html
- Clair S. New Zealand Herald. 2017. Your health: Natural remedies for IBS. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/lifestyle/news/article.cfm?c_id=6&objectid=11790080
- Deboit A. Gazette Review. 2016. Best holistic herbal teas for stomach and digestive problems. http://gazettereview.com/2016/12/best-holistic-herbal-teas-stomach-digestive-problems/