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.
Rice Milk and FODMAPs
Rice is considered a Low FODMAP food, so the assumption that rice milk would also be low in FODMAPs seems logical. Yet, until recently, rice milk was considered high in FODMAPs. This is because the processes used to produce rice milk create large carbohydrate molecules, also known as oligosaccharides. It was believed because rice milk is high in oligosaccharides that it would be an issue for those with IBS. However, the oligosaccharides derived from the breakdown of rice are not the same as the oligosaccharides that cause issues for those with IBS (i.e. fructans and galacto-oligosaccharides). Rice milk still contains some fructans which is why the Monash app limits the serving to 200 mL (about ¾ of a cup).
Trauma and the Gut
Experiencing emotional or physical trauma can have a lasting effect on your gut. Bustle, an online women’s magazine, recently wrote about the influence trauma has on our digestive health, prompted by a 2014 study which found that people with IBS were also likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Researchers are now only starting to understand the complex relationship between our minds and the gut; in particular, how traumatic experiences may increase the likelihood of developing IBS.
After a traumatic event, the nervous system – which regulates our digestive system – may have problems communicating with our brain. It may send too many signals or the wrong signals which can lead to common symptoms associated with IBS. There is also evidence pointing to low levels of the neurotransmitter associated with PTSD, neuropeptide Y, and IBS. Neuropeptide Y is responsible for a host of bodily functions including reducing anxiety, stress, and pain perception. Low levels of neuropeptide Y may cause increase motility and other symptoms associated with IBS-D. This relationship works two ways: the gut influences the brain and the brain influences the activity of the gut. It’s no wonder that those with IBS have to take multiple approaches to manage their symptoms.
Celiac Disease Misdiagnosed as IBS in the UK
An article in the UK’s Daily Mail discusses four illnesses commonly misdiagnosed; one of them being IBS. Official guidelines state that anyone experiencing symptoms associated with IBS should receive testing for celiac disease, but this does not always occur. That’s why it’s important to receive a thorough examination prior to getting a diagnosis since it can change your treatment options.
Dealing with IBS and IBD
Univadis, an online magazine for healthcare professionals, published an article summarizing the latest research on IBS and IBD. The study, published in the journal Inflammation, looked at 6309 people with IBD and found that a high number of people with IBD also had IBS. These co-existing conditions were also correlated with increased use of medications. This indicates the increased need for understanding how people manage both disorders and strategies to tackle living with both IBS and IBD.
Gut Sensitivity May Indicate IBS
Dr. Nina responded to a reader’s question about ongoing bouts of diarrhea and constipation in the health section of The Independent. Dr. Nina suggests IBS might be the cause, but warns that certain symptoms such as fever and blood in the stool are signs of a more serious condition requiring a thorough examination and diagnosis. She mentions keeping a food and symptom journal to help identify triggers, following the Low FODMAP diet, and alternative therapies such as acupuncture and yoga to help manage symptoms.
The Personal and Economic Impact of IBS
April Cashin-Garbutt of News Medical talked with Dr. Maura Corsetti about the economic and personal impact of IBS. We regularly discuss the debilitating symptoms of IBS, but rarely talk about the other ways that IBS can impact people’s lives. The IBS Global Impact Report aims to do just that; reveal how IBS affects people with the condition and society at large. Reports such as the IBS Global Impact Report allow us to see gaps in health care and areas where we need additional research.
Surprisingly, people with IBS wait approximately 4 years to receive a definitive diagnosis in the UK. The reasons for this can range from doctors being unaware of the different ways IBS can present in patients, to ruling out conditions such as colon cancer before getting to an IBS diagnosis. Furthermore, once people are diagnosed, there isn’t a widely accepted standard of care. Some doctors may prescribe medications while others may suggest the Low FODMAP diet. This can leave people confused with what course of action to take, and leave them trying to determine what is best on their own through trial and error. Dr. Corsetti suggests that different agencies across various countries need to collaborate to create a universal standard of care for people with IBS.
How Does IBS Affect Daily Life?
Beyond the shortcomings of the healthcare system, how does IBS affect people in their daily lives? Waiting four years for a diagnosis means that people may not be receiving the appropriate treatment. Additionally, since the condition is so widely misunderstood, people may avoid social activities because they have difficulty controlling their symptoms. They may also miss time at work or school due to the pain associated with their symptoms. Plus, if they do attend work or school, they may find that their symptoms decrease their productivity. This can have a huge personal costs including not being considered for promotions, and working decreased hours which can cut into wages earned. There are also social consequences for planning one’s life around their IBS symptoms which can impact relationships with friends, relatives, and partners.
So what can be done to address these issues? Increased awareness about IBS will help create a more accepting environment where people with IBS can talk openly with friends, family, and employers. More comprehensive training of health care professionals will help them learn how to identify IBS sooner. A more integrated approach with other health care professionals will ensure that all people diagnosed with IBS are referred to a dietitian specializing in digestive disorders. Lastly, more research needs to be done to fully understand the mechanisms and causes behind these disorders, since we are still unsure about so many contributing factors.
Foods That are Good for Your Gut
Bustle, an online women’s magazine listed 11 foods that are good for your digestive health. According to the article, these foods help with bloating and abdominal cramps. Here are 4 Low FODMAP options from the list:
Keep your gut happy with a steady supply of probiotics found in Greek yogurt. Top it off with your favourite Low FODMAP fruit such as blueberries or banana slices, plus a little Low FODMAP granola or a nut and seed mix for an easy snack or breakfast.
Fermented Red Cabbage
Fermented foods such as yogurt, pickles, and red cabbage help maintain the healthy bacteria in your gut.
Tumeric is associated with relieving bloating, gas, and indigestion. Add some turmeric to your shake or spice up some chicken with a sprinkling of turmeric.
Papaya is rich in vitamin A and beta-carotene. Although there is no research to support this, some say papaya may aid in digestion since it contains the enzyme papain.
Written by Adi Hazlewood, News and Culture Editor
- Thorpe JR. Bustle. 2017. Trauma affects your digestive health in very real ways. https://www.bustle.com/p/trauma-affects-your-digestive-health-in-very-real-ways-31764
- Elkins L. Daily Mail. 2017. The 4 illnesses that are too often misdiagnosed. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-4149234/The-4-illnesses-MISDIAGNOSED.html
- Wardle A. Univadis. 2017. IBD: 1 in 5 patients has coexisting IBS. https://www.univadis.com/viewarticle/ibd-1-in-5-patients-has-coexisting-ibs-482752
- Byrnes N. Independent. 2017 A sudden sensitive gut and dealing with smelly feet. http://www.independent.ie/life/health-wellbeing/health-features/a-sudden-sensitive-gut-and-dealing-with-smelly-feet-35365785.html
- Cashin-Garbutt A. News Medical. 2017. Impact of IBS on patients. http://www.news-medical.net/news/20170116/Impact-of-IBS-on-patients.aspx
- Baum I. Bustle. 2017. 11 surprising foods that can help balance your digestive health. https://www.bustle.com/p/11-surprising-foods-that-can-help-balance-your-digestive-health-28580
- Jane Muir. Monash University. 2016. Rice Milks Revisited: Moving from red to green rating in app. http://fodmapmonash.blogspot.ca/2016/05/rice-milks-revisited-moving-from-red-to.html