Sunday, February 1, 2015

Could FODMAPs be Causing Your Discomfort?

It's been a few years now since I started my journey to understanding what was causing my digestive issues. Since then I've been tested for Celiac, Lupus, and allergies. The first two came back negative, thank goodness, but the allergy testing did show some mild food allergies. A few of those were grains, so I've adopted a gluten free diet in an effort to avoid some of those grains. I'll admit, I'm not as strict as I should be, and because of this, I still have symptoms from time to time. For me, this means I suffer from stomachaches, gas, bloating, headaches, and joint pain. It's not fun, and I don't know exactly what causes it. Yes, their are foods that I know, for sure, that if I eat them, I will be in pain, but without an official diagnosis of anything other than some allergies (mild at that... which tend to cause a stuffy nose and some mouth itching), I just do my best to avoid known issues. The rest is guess work.

I have read that Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity does not exist. I've read that it does. I've read that it could be sensitivity to pesticides, and I've read that it could actually be a sensitivity to FODMAPs.
Pesticides are an intriguing theory, especially with all the politically charged arguments about Monsanto, but it does make some sense. Pesticides can cause damage to the nervous system, and some of my symptoms are nerve related. But is it the true cause, and if it is, what can I do about it? It's not like food companies are listing pesticides as ingredients or labeling what pesticides are used in the production of their food sources. So, that leaves me to check in to the FODMAP notion. At first I was completely befuddled. What the heck are FODMAPs? If you want the actual definition, you can check it out on Wikipedia, but to put it into simple terms, FODMAPs are foods with certain carbohydrates in them. It's believed that some people have difficulty digesting them and they cause gastrointestinal discomfort in those people. Stanford University Health Center has a quick and easy information sheet with an explanation and list of foods. For me, this list makes some sense. I have difficulty with dairy, wheat, rye, and sugar substitues (mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol)... all on the list. The problem, though is that foods like apples are on the list too, but I don't ever recall having difficulty with apples. I guess I'll have to watch more carefully to see if other foods on the high FODMAP list irritate my gut as well.

So, the FODMAPs could explain some gastrointestinal discomfort, but it doesn't explain the joint pain. Perhaps my issues run deeper than just a single cause. Perhaps it's a combination of many different problems co-mingling. The search continues, but in the meantime, I'll keep trying to eliminate some possible culprits.

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