‘Gluten-Free’ in the City? Why ‘FODMAPS’ May Have Something To Do with It.

‘Gluten-Free’ in the City? Why ‘FODMAPS’ May Have Something To Do with It.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Chances are that you are one of the estimated 10 to 15% of the global population who suffer from this condition of the digestive system, ranging from mild discomfort and frustration to being completely debilitating.

It’s particularly common amongst City workers, with their stressed-out busy lives and poor eating habits largely resulting from stuffing down whatever food they can get their hands on during their ‘break’ whilst eating at their desk and staring at their screens. It is a common sight across City trading floors and office plans. Not that I’m really much better, I must admit.

Stress, they say, is the number one cause of IBS. Change your lifestyle, and all will be fine, so the theory goes. Until now. The role of diet has often been casually associated with IBS. Stay away from gluten, dairy, eggs etc… and other common known ‘allergens’ has been the common advice amongst gastroenterologists and GPs struggling to make sense of clear colonoscopy results.

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It’s like, 2 days preparation of sitting on the loo, clearing the bowels and fasting is definitely worth the price to pay for peace of mind, but now you want me to keep a food diary? Forget it.

You can get various food intolerance tests that may reveal that you have a problem with ‘gluten’, and for the estimated 1% of the global population that are diagnosed with coeliac disease, it’s a life-long “love affair” with avoiding everything that contains gluten, and there’s many. Think soy sauce, as an example.

However for the remaining, ‘non-coeliac gluten sensitive’ sufferers, gluten is still a big issue. Or it appears to be at least. On my recent yoga teacher training, there was a lady doing the course who had a wide range of food sensitivity issues, including gluten. She was also one of the most anxious, nervous people I had ever met. I couldn’t help but feel there was a connection between what she ate and her state of mind. Perhaps.

However, what caught my eye this weekend was this headline in a UK newspaper:

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The findings confirmed what I suspected and have read about all along. ‘Gluten’ alone isn’t the culprit. It’s this awkward acronym called FODMAPS that could be the issue. FODMAPS stands for:

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A mouthful huh? In short, FODMAPs are short-chain fermentable carbohydrates that may be poorly absorbed by some people. After moving through the small bowel, these molecules find their way to the large bowel where they are consumed by the bacteria that normally live there, causing symptoms associated with IBS. There are a whole host of fruits, vegetables, dairy products, grains and legumes that are high in FODMAPs. Wheat grain and wheat-containing foods in particular contain fructans. Therefore it is suggested that people known to have a ‘perceived’ sensitivity to gluten, should avoid these foods. You can read more about FODMAPS, here.

My own experience with gluten suggests that there may be some truth to this, although as I have previously noted, it’s also about ‘what bread you eat’, rather than eating gluten per se.

The same paper that brought these eye-catching headlines made a spectacular own goal when their food columnist, Eve Simmons, in her column proudly announced that:

there remains no scientific evidence that gluten has any negative effect on the body.”

The paper headline though tells a different story. Priceless.

Aside, if you suffer from IBS and think gluten is causing the issue, perhaps its worth a conversation with a nutritionist. In London, I can recommend Lisa Blair, or Rae Guerrero at Well Works, who are both qualified functional medicine specialists and are knowledgeable in this subject matter – such diets should only be undertaken under the supervision of qualified dietitians or nutritionists.

That said, the truth be told that the FODMAPS diet looks quite daunting for the average City slicker and requires a lot of discipline. SIBO (Small Intestine Bowel Overgrowth) is another avenue to explore in dealing with IBS, which equally involves an elimination diet.

If you do suffer from IBS, I wish you all the best on your own unique journey. When worst comes to worst, there’s always the ‘fecal transplants‘ option. Or maybe not.

YB

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  • OMG i can’t even hover my mouse over your ‘fecal transplants’ link *lol* for fear of what may pop up!!!! ? ? ? *shudder*

    I cut sugar and carbs (all processed/added sugars and processed carbs) last year. I have NEVER felt better in my life! My GP felt I could be gluten sensitive (not celiac) and without testing etc I ditched glutens and wow, what a difference to how I feel! So there is def something in it!

    I should pursue this now, reading your blog post… thanks for that!

    January 22, 2018
    • Great that you had some results with cutting out processed carbs CJ! It’s a real journey of self-discovery so glad that’s helped for you. Lucky then you don’t need a fecal transplant ??

      January 23, 2018
  • Seb Bowden | Nutrition4Guys
    REPLY

    I’m a nutritionist and can tell you that not all dietitians or nutritionists have had specialist training in FODMAP therapy. It’s a painful process trying to find out which foods are causing the symptoms and you need bags of patience. Intolerance tests aren’t based in robust science and you might find different tests will give you different results. For some, it’s gluten, for others its stoned fruits etc…. You’re best keeping a food and symptom diary and showing it to a nutrition professional as you suggest!

    January 22, 2018
    • I agree, patience is the key. Do you look at SIBO too? I’ve been exploring that with my nutritionist. I’ve had good results using natural antibiotics such as oregano oil and grape seed oil extract. I must say, keeping a food diary is a real challenge since symptoms aren’t always immediate.

      January 23, 2018
    • Seb Bowden | Nutrition4Guys
      REPLY

      SIBO is really only just being recognised to be honest, so it’s a tricky one to really know how to both recognise and treat (probiotics/prebiotics could make it a whole lot worse). Yes, that goes for so many intolerances – it can take a few days for the symptom to manifest, and hence why trigger foods are so often missed! Noticing patterns is difficult, I admit – but your nutritionist will be able to help you “remove” and “reintroduce” problem foods to find the culprits. You then stay away from that food for a good period of time (1 or maybe 2 years) and then reintroduce as some intolerances aren’t permanent. Glad to hear you’re getting good results with natural remedies.

      January 24, 2018
    • Yes that’s right. I (thought) I had a problem with eggs, and an early IG test revealed that, but I’m fine now with them (not that I’m eating them this month doing veganuary!). Have you heard of the blood group diet? That’s an interesting read. I’ve had some correlations with my blood type and food. Thanks for your thoughts Seb.

      January 28, 2018
    • Seb Bowden | Nutrition4Guys
      REPLY

      There are only 4 principle blood types, so it’s difficult to see how the blood group type and diet would work with the thousands of different compounds we ingest through food. There’s zero in the science literature about it. Intolerance tests through Ig are a bit complicated – if you had 5 different tests with 5 different companies, you’ll be told many different things. It’s the same with gene testing (eg 23andme etc). They don’t stand up to comparison testing. One thing you might be interested in (and I don’t mean this to be a plug for my own blog), is vitamin D http://nutrition4guys.com/2018/01/28/ibs-vitamind/ – it’s an interesting potential finding! Would be interested in your thoughts?

      January 28, 2018
    • Thanks Seb. I just read your post. Thanks for linking to my post! I think you are on to something there. ?

      January 30, 2018
    • Ps the connection between blood type and food is quite simple: certain foods react with or blend well with certain blood types. Just like blood types may or may not be mixed, certain foods are known to react with certain blood types, given that our body produces antibodies to the foods we eat. I only mention this because everything the diet recommends for me is what I thrive on and are known to have issues with. Correlation you may say, but interesting nonetheless! ?

      January 30, 2018
    • Seb Bowden | Nutrition4Guys
      REPLY

      Definitely interesting! Just because something cannot be proven doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. For us in the nutrition world, we’re not really supposed to recommend anything that doesn’t have a wealth of evidence behind it. But if it’s not harmful and works, then why not? Nothing changes unless we experiment.

      January 30, 2018
    • That’s right. I think it’s difficult when so much research is coming out yet that research may not stack up but there could be something to it. Are you based in London?

      February 1, 2018
    • Seb Bowden | Nutrition4Guys
      REPLY

      No, I’m based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

      February 1, 2018
    • Cool. I’m working on a new project looking to connect with london nutritionists. If it extends up the border, I’ll let you know!

      February 2, 2018
    • Seb Bowden | Nutrition4Guys
      REPLY

      Sounds intriguing! Well I wish you well with that and always happy to collaborate on projects! And even bounce ideas off from time to time!

      February 2, 2018
    • Thank you Seb, and you! ??

      February 3, 2018

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