Food Intolerances and FODMAPs

As I’ve got older, my body has developed intolerances to certain foods. And it’s not just me, more and more people are experiencing this to almost epidemic proportions.

It’s certainly affected my ability to run and to find suitable things to eat to fuel my runs.
Over time and through trial and error and a process of elimination, I have discovered the foods I need to be careful about. Some foods I need to avoid a certain food entirely. Others its a matter of finding out how much I can take before experiencing side effects.

The foods I need to avoid or cut down are onions, tomatoes, bread, pasta, diary milk, any processed food, anything with a lot of sugar, including oranges.
My side effects are stomach bloating, wind, diarrhoea and skin blemishes.
The foods and side effects will be different for different people.

Two years I read about FODMAPs in a Listener magazine article, and it re-affirmed what I had found. But more importantly, it identified why my body behaves likes this and how I can deal with my food intolerances.

So what are FODMAPS?
Its a mnemonic that stands for:
Fermentable (meaning broken down by bacteria in the bowel)
Oligo-saccharides, -(such as fructans)
Di-saccharides, -(such as lactose)
Mono saccharides -(such as fructose)
And Polyols -(sugar alcohols that include sorbitol, xylitol)

These are types of carbohydrate found in certain foods that can cause tummy discomfort. If poorly digested they can ferment in the lower part of the large intestine and can trigger Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
Take a look at

IBS is a group of functional gastro intestinal disorders with a broad range of symptoms are abdominal discomfort, bloating, heartburn, nausea, changes in bowel habits, excessive wind and incomplete defecation.

Some typical FODMAP foods I need to avoid are:

  • Lactose is a natural sugar found in diary products. Some people, due to genetics or age, do not produce enough of an enzyme that can digest lactose in the body.
  • Consuming too much sugar promotes the proliferation of bad bacteria in the gut.
  • Grains -(gluten, protein found in grains) can irritate the gut lining.
  • Deadly nightshade vegetables -potatoes, tomatoes, aubergines

Food intolerances can manifest as body inflammations  and can trigger auto immune responses. The lining of the gut is supposed to be like a thick shag pile. But with a poor diet the lining may thin out, there may be rips in the shag pile causing a leaky gut. Undigested food may find their way intro the bloodstream, the body activates an auto immune response, triggering inflammation. Some symptoms  may be skin acne, psoriasis or a lower immune system -the body cannot digest the required vitamins and trace elements

Why are more people experiencing symptoms of IBS?
It’s the modern western diet.We are just not eating enough fruit and vegetables. We need to eat lots of different types of veg. Eating lots of vegetables is a gut healthy diet that promotes growth in the mucus lining of the gut and allows healthy bacteria in the gut to flourish.

What can you do about it
A diet low in FODMAPs can relieve symptoms of IBS.
The key is to identify the foods that cause you problems.

Eat whole foods; not processed foods. I always ask good runners what they eat. The answer always is healthy home cooked whole foods. Which also means eating less takeaways and knowing what goes into your stomach and how it is cooked.
When possible, raw is best, such as salads and smoothies.
Also consider adding pickles, sauerkraut, kim chi.
Add nuts to your diet for their trace elements.
Consider trying out kefir -a probiotic yoghurt type drink, that re-introduces healthy bacteria into the gut.

You can seek help from a nutritionist, keep a food diary.

There is even a test you can take, by taking a sample of your hair and determine what food intolerance you have and what trace elements or vitamins you are low in.

I highly recommend the book “The Gut Makeover”. It explains everything you need to know, provides you with a four week program to recovery and suggested recipes.
So get to it.


Refer to

All You Need To Know About A Low FODMAP Diet

  • The book “The Gut Makeover” (in 4 weeks) by Jeannette Hyde -highly recommended
  • The book “Gut” Giulia Enders -explains the science in layman terms.

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