What are FODMAPs?

What are FODMAPs?

FODMAPs are short chain carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine.

This is why people suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome and other digestive problems seek to have a low FODMAP diet. It has been found that a low FODMAP diet improves symptoms in about 70% of IBS patients. Not that the doctor told me this but on my research through the internet I’m seeing more and more about low FODMAP foods and how avoiding high FODMAP food can help with my problems and digesting food.

However it is a relatively new diet which makes it highly advisable to speak with a registered dietitian who knows the low FODMAP diet well. It is not as easy as an ‘eat list’ and ‘do not eat list’ especially when it comes to packaged foods (knowing how to read labels properly helps) and eating out.

It is essential when wanting to try this diet to seek professional help as it is individualised to each persons requirements and needs, in order to provide all the nutrients you require. The main thing to note is this is a very strict diet and not following it properly means it is unlikely to be effective.

Which now I know about this diet it makes a lot of sense, your gut is sensitive so you wouldn’t want to be putting pressure on it with the type of foods it finds hard to digest.

But how do I know if a food is low or high in FODMAP?

FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. These are types of carbohydrates that aren’t easily broken down and absorbed by the gut. This means they start to ferment in the gut relatively quickly, and the gases released during this process can lead to bloating.

They can be found in a range of different foods:

  • Oligosaccharides: e.g. fructans (found in wheat, rye and some vegetables) and galacto-oligosaccharides (found in pulses and legumes)
  • Disaccharides: e.g. lactose (found in mammalian milk)
  • Mono-saccharides: e.g. free fructose (found in honey, some fruit and fruit juices)
  • Polyols: e.g. sorbitol and mannitol (found in some fruits and vegetables)

A low FODMAP diet essentially involves restricting your intake of various foods that are high in FODMAPs, such as some fruits and vegetables, animal milk, wheat products and beans.

Although I have found a lot of conflicting comments, such as – yes broccoli is a low FODMAP food but it does cause bloating. So you really have to find out what foods suit you and in what quantities, going back to my very first post.

How do I restrict certain foods?

Restricting food, keeping to our example of broccoli, instead of a whole bunch of broccoli taking up quarter of the plate or having broccoli in several meals in the day, only have half a cup / two or three stems in the day.

This for me was very hard as I started off by having half an avocado everyday with eggs… not anymore, recommendation I found somewhere is to have 1/8 an avocado… 1/8!? that’s one mouthful, avocadoes are High in FODMAPs therefore avocadoes are not in my diet anymore however I did see myself improve from not having them every morning.

It is things like this where you are still not feeling right but you can’t think of what you are eating wrong because you have eaten them everyday where one can get blinded to what food is doing more damage than good. Avocadoes do have a lot of good properties but in the right quantities.

If you want to find out more, I have found www.lowfodmapdiets.com useful and you can download a useful FODMAP diet shopping list on the website too, if you do not have access to The Monash University Low FODMAP diet App (like me) where it gives you a recommendation of restricting certain foods from your diet to help know what foods are low in FODMAPs more easily.

A very interesting and super informative YouTube video from a lecture about IBS and the low FODMAP diet is useful to listen to, it is long (1hr20mins) but can have on in the background, looking at the video slides is not really needed.


Join in the conversation by commenting below and following on Facebook and Twitter. Let’s educate ourselves on digestive health and support others to Find a Friend in Food.

 

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Serotonin and Symptoms

Serotonin and Symptoms

This post is similar to my post Emotions and Symptoms because your emotions are affected by your serotonin levels. Although this post will be more scientific and relate to what foods are best to eat to increase serotonin levels.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, meaning it is a chemical messenger, sending and receiving signals / messages from around the body. It is located in the brain but also is produced from specialised cells in the gastrointestinal tract (it does not travel between the two). Serotonin’s main purpose is to regulate signal intensity and in turn this regulates our basic function and mood.

In short, when serotonin levels are low, we are depressed and when they are high, we are happy.

Your gut produces around 80-95 percent of serotonin in your body and changes in your serotonin levels can affect your gut as well as your brain.

Roles it can have on gut function include:

  • Contractions in our intestines
  • Mobility of bowels – how fast food moves through your system
  • How much fluid, such as mucus, is secreted in your intestines
  • How sensitive your intestines are to sensations such as pain and fullness from eating
  • Acts on the guts nerves to signal pain, nausea and other gut problems
  • Influences how full we feel, therefore how hungry we are feeling

Exercise and relaxation techniques like meditation can alter your serotonin levels enough to have a positive impact on your symptoms. Scientists have found that even sunshine can alter your serotonin levels – no wonder people like to holiday somewhere sunny in the winter months!

There are also foods that can improve with your serotonin levels.

Serotonin-rich foods include:

  • Walnuts
  • Bananas
  • Kiwi
  • Pineapple
  • Plums
  • Tomatoes

However, your body needs an amino acid named, tryptophan in order to produce serotonin. The foods below contain this amino acid:

  • Bananas
  • Turkey
  • Milk
  • Yoghurt
  • Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Beans
  • Fish
  • Some cheeses, including Cheddar

Your vitamin intake can also affect serotonin, the most important are thiamine (vitamin B1) and folic acid (vitamin B9), two components of Vitamin B Complex.

Deficiency symptoms, relating to digestion in the vitamins above include nausea, stomach pains and a poor appetite.

Food sources containing, Thiamine, Vitamin B1:

  • Brown Rice
  • Pork
  • Peas
  • Peanuts
  • Pulses

Food sources containing, Folic Acid, Vitamin B9:

  • Liver
  • Green, leafy Vegetables (spinach, broccoli)
  • Peanuts
  • Bananas (forget about an apple a day, have a banana!)

There are more foods I could add to each list but I have tried to keep the list for foods best for your stomach and as always if you have a food intolerance, allergy or any unwanted symptoms with any of the foods above it is best to avoid them – choose something else on the list to try, otherwise supplements are readily available, just make sure you keep to the correct dosages.


I hope this has given an insight into how food can impact our mood.

Join in the conversation by commenting below and following on Facebook and Twitter. Let’s educate ourselves on digestive health and support others to Find a Friend in Food.

Emotions and Symptoms

The three main emotions which will interfere with digestion are: anxiety, depression and stress. Of course, it works the other way round too, gut problems can cause all of the above.

Anxiety is associated with tension in the gut muscles, with spasms of pain. In an ongoing anxiety state your appetite can go either way, from complete loss of appetite to compulsively eating, even things you may not enjoy. Loose motions are likely in anxiety.

Depression is a lowering of mood and slowing up of all your mental and physical processes. Even the response of food to the stomach is sluggish and as digestion has not started there can be twinges of indigestion and nausea. Making food unenjoyable, taste bland and hard to swallow. Constipation is likely with depression and pain in the abdomen can be intensified when you are depressed.

Stress results from too many demands on you; threats to your finances, home, health, job or key relationship; and physical stresses such as cold, fatigue, pain or infection. Stress on your body can decrease nutrient absorption, decrease oxygenation to your gut, decrease enzyme production and a decrease metabolism. So, if you didn’t have a gastrointestinal disorder already you could after a long period of stress.

 

How to prevent the above emotions ruling over your digestive system:

It’s all about relaxing and finding a way to increase those endorphins, the happy hormone, designed to release stress. Many people find meditation and yoga effective to take them into a state of where the body is fully relaxed.

Sometimes it can be as simple as breaking your normal routine and taking 15 minutes to sit down with your favourite book or drink or both. Although avoid tea and coffee as they speed up the heart rate and tend to increase your anxiety. Make sure you get enough sleep and exercise. A long walk, run or swim can clear the mind.

Major life events can have big changes and cause stress so try not to have more than one close together (like marrying or moving house).

It is definitely about finding and doing something you enjoy.

I encourage you to create your own ‘space’, a place where you can relax and take time out from your busy life and focus on creating your own happiness in doing something you love.

For me, I love being creative, so I have created a space to make greetings cards and all things crafty. I have my crafty supplies but also my favourite animals depicted in some way and above the desk are pictures of my nieces and nephew. Also, a desk for researching, blogging and writing. Converted from a lovely old writing bureau.

That’s my resting go-to, my exercise go-to is hula hooping and music, completely losing myself in the music and the feel of the hoop around me.

 

crafty-desk

My Crafty Desk

 


What’s your own ‘space’? Perhaps you are now planning on creating one?

What do you like to do to relieve emotions of anxiety, depression and stress?

If you suffer from the above the site MOODJUICE can help you on your way to overcome emotional problems.