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Low FODMAP Summer Cleanse for Bloating
Posted 8 months ago by Katie
Low FODMAP Summer Cleanse for Bloating
Change is in the air as we launch into summer Solstice season and start to feel positive shifts in our energy levels and vitality. If you feel that you are lagging behind due to a compromised digestive system and are prone to suffering from bloating, distention, pain, and trapped gas, then it may be time to consider balancing your digestion with a summer FODMAP cleanse. Now is the time to listen to what your body needs as we launch in to the season of growth and where we watch our manifestations come in to fruition. Chances are you may have already tried an elimination diet cutting out dairy, gluten, and sugar, and yet you are still suffering from ongoing symptoms. The low FODMAP diet has become increasingly more popular and is often recommended now by GP’s who want to help clients suffering from symptoms associated with I.B.S, Crohn’s, S.I.B.O, coeliac disease and other digestive disorders. One in ten people suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (I.B.S) across the world and the low-FODMAP diet can help you identify problem foods and remain symptom-free.1 If you're looking ahead to a bloat-free summer, then read on for tips on how to reset your digestion this season.
What are FODMAPs?
The FODMAP acronym stands for Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides (and) Polyols. They are a group of short-chain carbohydrates found in certain foods, which some people find hard to digest and absorb, resulting in symptoms such as gas, bloating, fatigue, brain fog, diarrhoea, and abdominal pain. These carbohydrates have the potential to cause discomfort as if they are not properly absorbed in the small intestine, as when they reach the colon they are fermented and broken down rapidly by bacteria in the large bowel, resulting in the production of gases. In people with IBS, reactions can occur due to factors such as a higher production of gas in the large intestine, an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine (SIBO), gut hypersensitivity, and dysbiosis. The low FODMAP diet was first developed in 1999 by a team at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia with the aim of relieving digestive symptoms associated with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). It has since been adapted by researchers at King’s College London and implemented at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in London.
FODMAPs are found in a variety of healthy foods such as onions, garlic, apples, pears, avocado, beans, lentils, chickpeas, cauliflower and so the diet is only to be followed short-term and monitored by a qualified dietician, nutritionist or nutritional therapist as it can be quite restrictive.
> Oligosaccharides-Fructans (wheat, garlic, onion, artichoke, inulin etc) Galactans (legumes such as beans, lentils, chickpeas, soybeans, etc)
> Disaccharides-Lactose (dairy)
> Monosaccharides-Fructose (fruits, honey, asparagus, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), etc)
> Polyols (sweeteners containing isomalt, mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol, apples, cauliflower, stone fruits such as avocado, apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches, plums, etc).
How do FODMAP’s cause bloating?
When FODMAPS are not digested properly as they pass through the small intestine, when they reach the large intestine they are fermented by the multitudes of bacteria which live in the bowel - they literally act like ‘fast food’ for the bacteria, and as a by-product of this fermentation, gases such as hydrogen, carbon dioxide and methane are produced which can cause bloating - research done at Monash University suggested that FODMAPs increase gas formation and bloating through the fermentation of these carbohydrates, and bloating symptoms were worsened because FODMAP molecules cause further distension by drawing in more fluid into the bowel.1 Evidence of this process is measured using a hydrogen breath test which can confirm whether the sugars are being fermented and gases are being produced by the bacteria in your gut. The degree of bloating depends upon the total FODMAPs consumed, not just the amount of any individual FODMAP consumed because they can have a cumulative effect. Many clinical studies have been published supporting the use of a low-FODMAP diet in the reduction of functional gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating.2
How do I start a low FODMAP cleanse?
Here are 7 tips to prepare you for your FODMAP journey, and help you feel rejuvenated and ready to get the most out of your summer:
1. Intuitive Eating
Before launching into a low FODMAP diet, start with the foundations of supporting a healthy digestive system. Don’t overeat, and enjoy your meals whilst eating slowly. Overeating and binge eating can increase the chances of you suffering from IBS symptoms such as bloating and distension so I always advise my clients to not eat on the go. Practice intuitive eating by allowing enough time to anticipate what you are about to eat (smell is a big part of this); acknowledge what you are eating and whether it is nourishing or depleting, and take time to digest what you have eaten for at least 15 mins before you rush back to your desk.
2. Start a food Symptom Diary
Starting a food diary can be a useful way to work out which foods are causing your symptoms to flare up. It is also useful to assess your tolerance to certain foods containing high FODMAPs so that you can personalise your intake. A food diary is also useful if you decide at any point to contact a registered nutritionist or nutritional therapist for additional support.
3. Consume a FODMAP friendly smoothie.
Fresh juices and smoothies are a great addition at this time of year to support the bodies natural cleansing and detoxification capabilities. Fruits and vegetables are rich in essential vitamins, minerals, fibre, and antioxidants which are all needed to cleanse the gut and improve the health of your gut microflora.
I am a big fan of adding Saccharomyces boulardii in to my morning smoothies, for an extra digestive cleanse boost. Saccharomyces boulardii is a non-pathogenic probiotic yeast which supports the clearance of pathogenic microbes including E. coli, Giardia, Salmonella, Shigella and Candida from within the GI tract. This friendly yeast has also been shown to enhance intestinal and mucosal barrier function and the uptake of nutrients.
The following fruits and vegetables are all FODMAP friendly:
– Berries (Blueberries, Cranberries, Raspberries, Strawberries
– Citrus (Oranges, Grapefruits, Tangelos, Lemons, Limes)
– Melons (Cantaloupe, Honeydew)
– Passion Fruit
– Star Fruit
- Leafy Greens (Bok choy, Lettuce-romaine, iceburg, watercress, Parsley, Swiss chard, Spinach)
– Alfalfa sprouts
– Broccoli heads*
- Green beans
- Bell peppers
- Foods marked with an asterisk might be problematic for some people with IBS, despite being in the low-FODMAPS category.
FODMAP Friendly Smoothie and Juice Recipes:
Keep your morning smoothie simple and bloat free with these gut friendly recipes that are easier on your digestion than shop bought versions. I would suggest using no more than two fruits and always include a leafy green which is loaded with nutrients such as magnesium and the liver supporting mother of all antioxidants, glutathione. If you wanted to add a protein powder I would suggest using brown rice powder which is low fodmap and a good source of insoluble fibre.
Strawberry Mint watercress
150g fresh strawberries
1/2 banana (frozen)
1 handful watercress
10 fresh mint leaves
125ml almond milk (sugar free)
> Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
Ginger Pina Colada Smoothie
1 cup / 225g frozen pineapple chunks
juice of 1/2 lime
1cm piece of fresh ginger
240ml plant based/lactose-free milk
Breakfast Energy Smoothie
2 tbsp quinoa or buckwheat flakes (gluten free)
1 frozen banana
1 tbsp chia seeds
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1tsp maple syrup
2 capsules Saccharomyces Boulardii (open capsule)
240ml plant based milk of choice/lactose-free
Monday Detox Juice
225g pineapple chunks (fresh)
2.5cm fresh ginger
1 lemon, peeled.
* If you don't have a juicer you can blend in a blender and then push through a fine mesh strainer or nut milk bag to remove the pulp.
4. AVOID excessive intake of bad fats, sugar, caffeine, and alcohol.
Support your digestion by consuming a nutrient-dense diet and try to reduce your intake of anti-nutrients which can aggravate symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Refined sugars suppress the immune system and create dysbiosis in the gut, which can lead to an overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria.
5. Low FODMAP Apps
Download an app for your mobile phone to help you easily navigate the foods you should eat and the foods you should avoid. Monash University have developed an excellent app for on the go IBS support.
6. Take live cultures to support the gut microbiome whilst on a low FODMAP diet.
Supporting your overall digestive health is always an important consideration as part of any health regime, and part of that process is maintaining optimal levels of friendly bacteria. Antibiotics, poor diet, stress, medications, sugar, and travel can all lead to an imbalance in your gut microbiome which can disrupt digestion, and lead to a build up of gases in the digestive system resulting in bloating symptoms. I recommend using a live cultures supplement for a 4-6 week period and see if your symptoms lessen. This should keep your gut bacteria populations supported and help improve digestion and reduce bloating - you can read more about probiotics for bloating here. When it comes to choosing a live cultures supplements, I would recommend taking a good quality well researched probiotic It is important to look for strains which have been clinically trialled for IBS such as L. Acidophilus NCFM® which is one of the most researched strains out there. Be careful not to choose a probiotic that contains high FODMAP containing probiotics such as fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), inulin, or chicory. OptiBac Probiotics ‘For Everyday Extra Strength’ contains 5 strains including 5 billion live cultures of L. Acidophilus NCFM® and does not contain FOS.
7. Eat low-FODMAP prebiotic fibre rich foods
The down side to a low-FODMAP diet is that it limits the intake of prebiotic fibres in the diet which act as a food source for the friendly bacteria, and promote the growth/activity of good bacteria. On this basis, as recommended above, it is advisable to take a probiotic on a low FODMAP diet to maintain an optimal level of good bacteria in your microbiome. But it is also good to make sure you are eating foods to keep your microbiome well-supported. You can still eat foods containing prebiotics on a FODMAP diet, you just need to choose the right ones - some of my favourite low-FODMAP foods are banana, tomatoes, rhubarb, nuts/seeds, berries, and gluten free grains such as buckwheat, millet, and wild rice which are all rich sources of prebiotic fibres.
If you believe FODMAPs are a trigger for your bloating, I would always advise you to seek advice and guidance from a registered nutritionist or dietician to ensure that you are maintaining a well balanced diet.
You may also be interested in reading the following articles:
1 Shepherd S & Gibson P. 2014, The Complete Low FODMAP Diet, Random House, UK.
2 Halmos, E.P. et al, 2014, ‘A diet low in FODMAPs reduces symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome’, Gastroenterology, Jan;146(1):67-75
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