Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Fodmaps Diet: Why Not DIY?

The Wall Street Journal has, for once, run a useful health article: "When Everyday Foods are Hard to Digest" by Melinda Beck, November 8, 2011. The article says what some of us have known for awhile: certain carbohydrates can cause digestive problems for some people.

Now, a small but growing contingent of specialists is focusing on food intolerances as a possible culprit—and a new dietary approach, called the low-Fodmaps diet, is gaining attention around the world.
The theory is that many people with IBS have trouble absorbing certain carbohydrates in their small intestines. Large molecules of those foods travel to the colon, where they are attacked by bacteria and ferment, creating the telltale IBS symptoms of gas, bloating, constipation or diarrhea.
A long list of foods—including dairy products, some fruits and vegetables, wheat, rye, corn syrup and artificial sweeteners—can potentially create such problems in susceptible people. Collectively, they're known as Fodmaps, an acronym that for stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols.

I didn't have IBS, but I did have GERD so bad that it gave me an esophageal ulcer. Apples and wheat in particular--two foods on the article's eliminate list--were among the worst for giving me gas and bloating. An illustration in the article is a handy guide for which foods to eliminate and what to replace them with. But don't try this on your own!

For now, he [Dr. William Chey, director of the Gastrointestinal Physiology Laboratory at the University of Michigan Health System] and other experts say that because so many foods have Fodmap components and that reintroducing them can be tricky, IBS sufferers shouldn't try the diet on their own. But a growing number of dieticians are being trained in it— has started a registry—and academic medical centers are starting to offer it, too.

I know most of the public hasn't gone to medical school, but how tricky can it be to eliminate foods on a list for awhile and then slowly add them to see if they cause a problem? Given that it can take months to get an appointment with a gastroenterologist, people suffering from digestive problems might cure themselves while they're waiting.

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