Your tummy and food sensitivity

Ever notice that your stomach hurts after eating ice cream, but you can have coffee with half and half and not have any problems? Or, have you ever heard of someone saying they are allergic to garlic? It may not actually be a real allergy, but there may be an explanation for what is going on!

What’s the Best Diet for IBS upset stomach cartoon

The article, “When Gluten Sensitivity Isn’t Celiac’s Disease” by Jane E. Brody in The New York Times “Well” section explains what be going on inside your gut:

“Recent studies have strongly suggested that many, and possibly most, people who react badly to gluten may have a more challenging problem: sensitivity to a long list of foods containing certain carbohydrates.

In 2011, Dr. Peter Gibson, a gastroenterologist at Monash University in Victoria, Australia, and his colleagues studied 34 people with irritable bowel syndrome who did not have celiac disease but reacted badly to wheat, a gluten-rich grain. The researchers concluded that non-celiac gluten sensitivity “may exist.”

Many of their subjects still had symptoms on a gluten-free diet, however, which prompted a second study of 37 patients with irritable bowel syndrome and non-celiac gluten sensitivity who were randomly assigned to a two-week diet low in certain carbohydrates, collectively called Fodmaps.

All patients on the special diet improved, but got significantly worse when fed gluten or whey protein. Only 8 percent of the participants reacted specifically to gluten, prompting the researchers to conclude that Fodmaps, not gluten, accounted for most of the distress.

Fodmaps is an acronym for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols, sugars that draw water into the intestinal tract. They may be poorly digested or absorbed, and become fodder for colonic bacteria that produce gas and can cause abdominal distress. They are:

■ Fructose: A sugar prominent in apples, pears, watermelon, mangoes, grapes, blueberries, tomatoes and tomato concentrate, and all dried fruits; vegetables like sugar-snap peas, sweet peppers and pickles; honey; agave; and jams, dressings and drinks made with high-fructose corn syrup.

■ Lactose: The sugar in milk from cows, goats and sheep, present in ice cream, soft cheeses, sour cream and custard.

■ Fructans: Soluble fiber found in bananas, garlic, onions, leeks, artichokes, asparagus, beets, wheat and rye.

■ Galactans: Complex sugars prominent in dried peas and beans, soybeans, soy milk, broccoli, cabbage and brussels sprouts.

■ Polyols: The sugar alcohols (sweeteners) isomalt, mannitol, sorbitol and xylitol, present in stone fruits like avocado, cherries, peaches, plums and apricots.

People with irritable bowel syndrome often find that their symptoms lessen or disappear when avoiding foods rich in Fodmaps; however, it can take six to eight weeks on a low-Fodmap diet to see a significant improvement.”

I encourage you all to read the whole Times article and to take a hard look at the list of LOW Fodmap foods and HIGH Fodmap foods released on Stanford Healthcare’s website to see if you can start to narrow down what might be hurting your tummy. For example, parmesan and feta cheeses are LOW, while milk (ANY KIND – Goat too!) and creamy/cheesy sauces are HIGH. This certainly explains a lot for me. If I even look at something like fettuccine alfredo, my stomach starts to turn, but I can devour a cheese plate with ease and feel ok…come on folks – just a small cheese plate. I always assumed this had something to do with fat content, but it looks like I was wrong. Soy has also always been a big trigger for stomach pains, but it might also depend on type. Looks like soybeans (edamame) and soy milk are HIGH while tofu is LOW.

I have definitely been inspired by this article and am going to start a food journal to see if I can figure out my specific triggers. Won’t you join me?




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