When tummy trouble is a red flag, try this

It’s not unusual to have the occasional bout of stomach trouble — stomach pain, gas, diarrhea or constipation can happen to anyone from time to time.

But if you’re dealing with these symptoms on a regular basis, it could be a sign of a gut disorder…

And if after tests, your doctor can’t find a specific cause or food allergy, the odds are good that your chronically cranky gut is the result of irritable bowel syndrome.

Irritable bowel syndrome is fairly common… but it’s extremely uncomfortable — and stressful — and can take over your life, leaving you afraid to wander far from any bathroom.

It’s also a serious red flag that you’re not digesting your food properly — that means you’re not absorbing the critical nutrients you need to stay healthy.

But the latest research shows there is one diet in particular that can banish your IBS symptoms, restore your gut health and help you live a normal life again…

The low FODMAP diet

FODMAP is an acronym that stands for Fermentable Oligo-Di-Monosaccharides and Polyols.

It’s a mouthful, but it’s basically the more scientific name for different carbohydrates (sugars) found in foods — specifically fructose, lactose, fructans, galactans and polyols.

The goal of the diet is to decrease your intake of foods that are high in these compounds because they are difficult for your body to digest. When you eat a lot of them, they end up sticking around in your gut too long and fermenting… which does not make your stomach very happy.

A study conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan Health System found that 50 percent of people with IBS who followed a low FODMAP diet for six weeks experienced a significant improvement in their symptoms.

And, interestingly enough, only 20 percent of those in a control group that followed a common sense “healthy” diet that involved reducing portions and eliminating common IBS triggers like caffeine and alcohol experienced an improvement.

IBS sufferers following the low FODMAP diet were also more likely to report a major improvement in their quality of life than those in the control group following a common sense “healthy” diet: 61 percent versus 27 percent.

How to eat FODMAP

So it seems the low FODMAP diet may really have an advantage over other “healthy” diets when it comes to managing chronic gut issues like IBS.

But, be warned: the low FODMAP diet can seem a bit complicated at first. Here’s quick rundown of some high FODMAP foods you may have to avoid:

  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Dairy items that are high in lactose like milk, ice cream, buttermilk, soft cheeses and sour cream.
  • Grains that contain gluten like wheat, barley and rye
  • Certain fruits like apples, mangoes, peaches, pears and plums.
  • A handful of vegetables like artichokes, cauliflower, mushrooms and sugar snap peas

Now, if you only suffer from an occasional bout of stomach trouble, the low FODMAP diet is probably too strict and complex for you. But if your stomach complaints are chronic, it could be the key to restoring your stomach health. Here’s a more extensive description of the low FODMAP diet requirements so you can decide for yourself whether it’s the stomach solution you’ve been looking for.

  1. Irritable Bowel Syndrome — Mayo Clinic. Retrieved May 26, 2016.
  2. Clinical trial demonstrates success of low FODMAP diet — The University of Michigan Health System. Retrieved May 26, 2016.
  3. The Low FODMAP Diet — Stanford Hospital and Clinics. Retrieved May 26, 2016.
Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine, TheFix.com, Hybridcars.com and Seedstock.com.