Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Food Facts and "Passing Wind"

Over the years, I have developed an aversion to some foods. I just don't tolerate them, so I avoid them. I see them, my tummy goes, "ouch, gas, farts, pain". I make the sign of the cross, and quickly look the other way.
Demon Foods, Stay Away!
These are not horrible foods, in and of themselves ...they just give me ....GAS!
But you know, I'm perfect and my farts don't smell ...well, at least not as bad as my 15year old son's farts - which are absolutely, traumatically horrible. I guess that's why the Low FODMAPs diet caught my tearing eyes. 

FODMAPS is an acronym that stands for: Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. These seem like crazy, complex terms, but they really just stand for a collection of molecules, found in the foods we eat, which are not very well-absorbed. Once consumed, these food molecules travel along the digestive tract, and eventually make their way to our large intestines - where our good bacteria hang out. Our large intestine bacteria
FODMAPs ...they just eat them up! Literally!
The result: GAS!
Eric Cartman, King of Cartoon Farts!
I like researching things like this because as a runner, little bubbles in your gut can ruin a perfectly good run and absolutely destroy a great race. Runners are constantly fighting IBS (irritable bowl syndrome) type symptoms - it just comes with the territory - all that jostling. So, why not be aware of foods that might give you gas?
So, what are FODMAPs? 
The idea of FODMAPs is relatively new - it's part of Dr Sue Shepard's PHD research since 2001. Dr Shepard is a dietitian, from Victoria, Australia, who developed the Low FODMAPs diet to help patients suffering from lactose and fructose intolerance, but found that it also helped her patients suffering from IBS and IBS-type symptoms.

Since the original FODMAPs list, there have been some changes. The list I present here, although the most recent, will probably be fine-tuned again, some time in the future.
Dr Shepard's up-to-date list includes the following:
Fructose (Polyols): Honey, apples, apricots, cherries, mango, nectarines, pears, plums, prunes, & watermelon. Some veggies: avocados, cauliflower, & mushrooms. Also, sweeteners: High fructose corn syrup, corn syrup solids as well as artificial sweeteners: Sorbitol, maltitol, mannitol, xylitol and isomalt.
Fructans: Onion, leeks, raddichio lettuce, artichokes, asparagus, chocolate excess wheat, rye and garlic as well as inulin (a starch marketed as fiber & used in processed foods like juice and yogurt - aka your prebiotic).
Galactans: Pulses and beans: Chickpeas, Lentils, Kidney beans, Navy beans.
Lactose: Milk, ice cream, custard, evaporated milk, milk powder, yogurt, margarine, soft cheeses (ricotta, cottage cheese, cream cheese, mascarpone).

Personally, pears, watermelon, beans, soft cheeses and all sugar alcohols (those ending in ol) 
can make me double over in pain.
On the other hand, I am completely fine with apples, mangoes, garlic and onions ...
In other words, 
if you find yourself a fervent farter, 
take ownership of this FODMAPs list 
Use it as a reference 
to understand your potential unfaltering farting dilemma!

Dr Sheppard's Low FODMAPs diet is about balance. I believe she chose the word "low" purposefully - it's not a total avoidance of all foods on this list. The FODMAPs list links foods that share common characteristics. These foods may behave differently when consumed by each person, but knowing which foods are on the list, could help you become aware of foods that cause you to have gas. And maybe you want to avoid passing wind on certain days - like long run days, race days, long car rides with your teen-aged son, first day on the job, anniversary or special event, maybe like your wedding day?
Knowing the Low FODMAPs diet is just another way to 
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