There are many different ways we can approach which foods we choose to introduce into our daily eating plans. There is a portion of the population that experience digestive upsets when they consume certain food groups. Lets’ look a little closer at one of these the FODMAP diet.
FODMAP is an acronym for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. These are a group of short-chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols (polyols) found in grains, vegetables, legumes, milk, fruit and sweetened products. For people that struggle to digest high FODMAP foods some of the common digestive symptoms that they may experience are:
· Altered bowel movements (diarrhoea or constipation)
· Bloating or distension of the stomach
· Abdominal pain
We get these symptoms primarily because of the way our gut bacteria interact with the carbohydrates in these foods. In FODMAP sensitive people the fermentation (breaking dwown) process of the carbohydrate, alongside the tendency of these carbohydrates to draw water into the colon, may result in a the above gastrointestinal presentation.
The application of a low FODMAP diet will often lead to short term results, in the quantity of gastrointestinal symptoms, however understand that a FODMAP diet is NOT a long-term solution.
Two other factors to consider:
#1 Do you have SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth).
A low-FODMAP (or low-carbohydrate) diet will keep symptoms under control so long as you adhere to the change in diet because it decreases the availability of the sugars in FODMAP foods in the gut. These sugars act as a food source for bacteria overgrown in SIBO. When these bacteria don’t have food to eat, they aren’t able to metabolise that food and produce gas (and other symptoms associated with this condition).
Starving the bacteria over the short term may decrease symptoms but it does not eradicate the bacteria, it just leads to the bacteria lying dormant until food becomes available again. FODMAP restriction shows exactly what we imagine would happen when restricting the food source for our microbiome. The overall amount of good probiotic bacteria (i.e. lactobacillus and bifidobacterium) in the large intestine is decreased, and this in effect can cause more issues going forward. The diversity of different species of bacteria within our digestive system is what infers health to us.
#2 How well is your digestion actually working?
Ever year after the age of 25 our digestive capacity decreases by 1%. This means that foods that you might have consumed in the past with no issues can suddenly feels as though they are upsetting your digestive system. This may happen slowly or it may happen quickly as there are other factors that also impact our digestive function (stress, sleep deprivation, medications, food combining)
When your stomach is working optimally it should be able to digest sugars and carbohydrates so that there is not a fermentable substrate (sugar) that is passed into the small intestine (beneficial bacteria will thrive on a high fibre diet - this is why vegetable intake is so important).
Ensuring that your body has access to all of the nutritional building blocks to make digestive secretions that help to break down food (stomach acid / bile /enzymes), as well as eating making sure when you eat and what you eat suits your body constitution all impact on getting your digestion on track.
If you need help with your digestion then book in for an appointment today.