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Are we really all that different? IBS and diet

starch FODMAPs gas flatulence IBS diet low flatulogenic diet fibre

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#1 tummyrumbles


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Posted 04 July 2014 - 08:21 PM


A lot of people here believe that they have underlying physical reasons for their IBS, and that diet makes no difference. If this is true then a meal made up of Brussels sprouts, baked beans and pizza will have the same effects as steamed fish, mashed potato and pumpkin. 


It’s possible that most of us do have a genetic weakness or susceptibility to IBS, which could affect any number of physical processes involving miscommunication between the brain and colon. This doesn't mean that diet has no effect. Gas is not only a symptom of IBS, but may also be a direct cause. Studies suggest that methane can slow gut transit while hydrogen may cause rapid transit.


A good IBS diet (not necessarily a healthy diet) benefits everyone. 100% of people here would benefit from a diet that reduces their IBS symptoms.


Foods that produce gas are typically foods which are poorly digested: alcohol, milk, certain fats, starches, high FODMAPs and soluble fibre. These foods produce gas in most people, not just those with IBS. Bloating is common in the general population as well. IBS means that we produce more gas than the average person, and this could be due to SIBO or bacterial dysbiosis in the colon. Where we differ is our individual degree of gas threshold. Some of us have a higher tolerance to certain foods than others, however the problem foods are still problem foods. Whether you have IBS-C or IBS-D, your symptoms will be reduced if you completely evacuate retained gas in the colon and work towards a diet that doesn't produce so much gas in the first place.


Some of us will have different symptoms to certain foods depending on our individual bacterial make-up and any enzyme deficiencies. Most people lack lactase to a varying degree. Some people can’t tolerate milk at all. Sometimes people develop a mind-body reaction to certain foods, e.g. seafood. If a certain food once made you sick, the body can remember this and set up a reaction every time you eat that food. Despite these differences for most of us digestion gas exacerbates IBS symptoms. It makes sense then to reduce colonic gas as much as possible. A pre-existing weakness such as pelvic floor dysfunction doesn't produce the gas. The gas comes from digestion and/or malabsorption of carbohydrates.


Bacteria feed on starch and soluble fibre. Different foods have different starch levels according to the method of cooking. French fries have a much higher starch level than mashed potatoes (23 grams as opposed to 8 grams per serving, respectively). Potato crisps have a very high starch level of 58 grams. It isn't a matter of “giving up potatoes” so much as learning which forms of potato, for instance, have the highest levels of starch.


Breakfast cereals are generally very high in starch, and Rice Krispies are the highest at 72 grams closely followed by corn flakes. Instant boiled oats have the lowest starch of all breakfast cereals.

Some problem foods are low in starch (e.g. nuts) but high in fibre. Carrots are low in starch but their fibre content is much more easily digested if cooked well. High FODMAP vegetables and fibre can also ferment in the colon causing gas. A low flatulogenic diet excludes food high in starch and FODMAPs. Longer cooking may reduce the FODMAP level of foods but there are no studies on this as far as I know.


Starches and FODMAPs are potential problem foods for everyone. Even normal people get bloating from bread and legumes. All of us benefit from experimenting with our diet to see which foods are better tolerated. One particular starch might be better tolerated by another. Some might find that not all FODMAPs are alike. Mushrooms might be better tolerated than onions for instance.


Working towards an ideal diet is very difficult and frustrating. We generally love starches and giving these up is hard. We have to persevere. There might only be a handful of foods that are considered "safe". Once we find this list, we at least have a starting point.




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