In another post I’m writing (hope to post today), I intended to go on a slight tangent and say a few words explaining what a low FODMAPs diet is. It turned into a giant tangent and enough text to be its own post, so here it is.
I have a lot to say about a low FODMAP diet. First of all, it is not a nutrient/healthy type diet in its purpose. There are plenty of unhealthy, low FODMAPs foods and plenty of healthy ones; it is up to the person following it. Second of all, it is not based on a hypothesis or personal experiences (how diets such as the Paleo diet are). It is a diet based on loads of research and the science of how certain types of carbohydrates behave in your intestines. Third, unless you had a list, you’d probably never figure out the foods your intestines can and cannot tolerate if FODMAPs are your issue. It varies from person to person (FODMAPs is an acronym for the types of carbs, some people have to avoid all of them, some people only one type; you figure this out via an elimination diet). Examples of how it can be confusing to figure out without a guide include: apples are out, but blueberries are okay, 2 cups of blueberries is not okay, but 1/4 cup or so is, high fructose corn syrup isn’t okay, but small amounts of corn syrup is and white granulated sugar is okay. You get the gist. The researchers who did the research to gather data about this diet make an incredibly pricey app (search for “Monash University FODMAP”) to help dieters and also to fund their research.
I have made many dietary changes, all for different reasons, but FODMAPs was a change made because I had unpredictable bloating despite having identified many trigger foods. It has allowed me to predict my digestive system. I no longer have to plan outfits around my stomach bloating up. I know each day I will wake up with a flat belly, and if I don’t, it is because I chose to eat a food high in FODMAPs, misjudged a food, or I’m experiencing gastroparesis, which is a completely different type of bloating.
When I went gluten, dairy, soy, egg free, the bloating decreased significantly, but still came around. Well guess what? This makes sense in the context of FODMAPs being my big bloating issue. Many grains which contain gluten (barley, wheat, rye) are high in FODMAPs. It is the reason many people who do not have Celiac benefit from a gluten free diet. Soy is high FODMAPs. Dairy contains lactose which is not advised during elimination. I have more than lactose/FODMAPs issues going on with dairy because casein and whey bother me, but still, it makes sense dairy free has helped me.
When I first heard of this diet from my fellow POTSie friend (FODMAPs is unrelated to POTS, we both just have silly intestines), I refused to try it because it was so difficult sounding and I’ve never been diagnosed with IBS (I probably could be, but it is a diagnosis of exclusion and I’m not interested in any IBS medications), but it turns out it helps me a lot.
“Some foods, from beans to sugar-free gum, contain carbohydrates called FODMAPs, which may trigger symptoms… When people have problems absorbing FODMAPs, extra water is drawn into their intestines…. In addition, these carbohydrates are fermented by intestinal bacteria, causing gas….. Individuals with IBS seem to be more vulnerable to the aftermath of poorly digested FODMAPs, perhaps because of the greater amount of gas produced in their intestine, or because the disordered movement of their intestine traps gas and fluid.”
You may be like me and FODMAPs may not be enough in and of itself to get your gut to behave normally. Everyone varies on if extra measures need to be taken.
As far as I know, low FODMAPs is in no way related to Sjogren’s, EDS, POTS, etc. aside from if you have gut issues and it helps, it is one less thing for your body to deal with. I do feel like my gastroparesis (stomach not emptying properly due to Dysautonomia) has become more manageable since I went low FODMAPs and figured out which foods my digestive system as a whole does best with. I believe it is an indirect benefit. I am making the leap that a gut which doesn’t bloat almost every time I eat, and isn’t irritated, allows the stomach to more smoothly move food into it. I’d also think it is nicer on my body overall not to have this source of inflammation. Systemic Sjogren’s already effects the entire GI system through effecting the lining, so I think every little thing I can do counts.
So, that’s that. If you want to learn more, the links I provided are good place to start for some articles. After that, Googling should bring you all sorts of blogs and websites devoted to the topic, including recipes. Also, your gastro should be informed about this diet since it is a popular IBS treatment approach.