rsz dollarphotoclub 56892930How often have you heard "you are what you eat"? This is true to some extent, however, even those eating the healthiest diets need a functioning digestive system in order for food to be processed properly and for the benefits to be reaped.

Poor digestion may mean that nutrients are not being absorbed. Absorption difficulties may result in food sensitivities, skin rashes, headaches, diarrhoea or lack of weight gain, particularly in children. Bloating, belching and gas may be an indication that you are fermenting food rather than digesting it.

Do you suffer with any of these symptoms?

  • Abdominal bloating
  • Belching or flatulence
  • Acid reflux/heartburn
  • Constipation, diarrhoea or both
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Pale stools and/or stools that float

Have you started to limit certain foods because they don't agree with you?
Have you had a doctor's diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
Have you had a doctor's diagnosis of an auto-immune disease?

However, imbalances in the gut do not always manifest as digestive symptoms and changes in cognitive function, mood changes, headaches, joint pain, fatigue and behavioural problems may all indicate that digestive health needs to be assessed.

Laboratory testing is often helpful in identifying imbalances in the gastrointestinal tract, these may include:

  • Stool tests
  • Urine tests
  • Breath tests

Underlying imbalances that may lead to digestive discomfort include:

  • High or low stomach acid production
  • Poor enzyme production or secretion
  • Poor bile production or bile flow
  • Imbalance of gut microflora including yeast, parasites or low levels of "friendly bacteria"
  • Leaky gut
  • Lack of dietary fibre-high
  • Poor chewing and rushed eating

 

How can NutriJen help?
Improving your digestive function can have a positive impact on your overall well-being and quality of life. If you have any of the symptoms above and wish to reap the benefits of what you are eating then I can help to assess and identify the underlying cause and support you to make the necessary changes to your diet and lifestyle.

 

Please be aware that some digestive symptoms require more urgent medical care:

  • Severe pain in the stomach or abdomen
  • Persistant changes in bowel habit
  • Blood in the stool, sputum or vomit

 

A word about FODMAP's and Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Many people have occasions when they feel bloated or have abdominal cramping, diarrhoea or constipation. These symptoms may be mild and too infrequent to worry about. However, for those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), these are chronic symptoms that affect daily life. There is a lot of information that suggests that there is a link with food and people with IBS may be told to limit foods such as caffeine or alcohol as well as increasing fibre and fluid intake. However, as digestive symptoms vary from person to person, managing them with a one-size-fits all approach is not ideal. Following a low-FODMAP diet is a relatively new therapeutical approach to manage symptoms in most people with IBS.

FODMAP's are complex molecules that are found in many of the carbohydrates foods that we eat and we are encouraged to incorporate some, such as legumes, lentils, fruit and vegetables as part of a healthy diet. However, some people have difficulty digesting and absorbing these molecules and they ferment in the intestines causing many symptoms that are associated with Irritable Bowel Syndrome: abdominal pain, bloating and distension, nausea, altered bowel habits (constipation, diarrhoea or alternating between the two), flatulence.

FODMAPs is an acronym (abbreviation) referring to Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols.
Some food examples are:
Fructose – honey, high fructose corn syrup and some fruits: apples, watermelon, pear, mango
Lactose – all milk and milk products, including sheep and goat milk
Fructans (fructo-oligosaccharides, FOS) – wheat, onions, rye, garlic, artichokes, cashews, pistachios, chicory
Galactans (galacto-oligosaccharides, GOS) – legumes, lentils, chickpeas
Polyols – apples, apricots, cherries, pears, plums, prunes, sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, eythritol

The low FODMAP's diet was developed at Monash University in Australia for the relief of symptoms of IBS and more people are becoming aware of excluding FODMAP's from their diet, however, it is a restrictive diet and not intended to be followed long-term. Indeed, following this long-term could result in some nutrient deficiencies.

FODMAP's and Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
Fermentation of FODMAP's in the small bowel may result in an overgrowth of bacteria causing digestive discomfort and IBS. SIBO may be detected by conducting a Hydrogen Breath Test, this may be done privately or through the NHS in some areas. A strict restriction of all high FODMAP foods for only 2-6 weeks alongside specific supplements to address the SIBO is then followed by the careful reintroduction FODMAP foods.

The introduction of a low FODMAP diet should be done under the supervision of qualified nutritional therapist or dietician.