I’m so excited to share this guest post from Kate Scarlata RDN. She’s a Boston-based registered dietitian and New York Times Best Selling Author with more than 25 years of digestive health experience. I’ve followed her since first being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis back in 2011, and I love everything that she has to offer. I’m a subscriber to her newsletter and very much enjoy the information and delicious recipes she regularly shares. Kate is an expert on the low-FODMAP diet as well as gut health, and she just released a new cookbook, The Low-FODMAP Diet Step by Step, which I am thrilled to help promote. Please check out her guest post about the low-FODMAP diet and enter for a chance to win by leaving a comment below!
Hello! It’s Kate Scarlata—a Boston-based registered dietitian and gut health expert taking over for a quick post on diet and gut health.
I have been a dietitian for 25+ years…and I have to say, nutrition has never been so interesting and exciting now that we are beginning to understand the role of the tiny microbes that live in our intestine.
Yes, we do have trillions of microbes in our intestine! It’s been said, our colon is one of the richest ecosystems on Earth! These microbes in our colon feast off foods that we don’t digest.
Novel research in this area of science reveals that an imbalance of microbes in our gut plays a potential role in the onset of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). An imbalance in gut microbes plays a role in depression, anxiety, heart and liver disease, diabetes and obesity too.
We know what we eat is key to our health. Now we are adding another layer of understanding to why diet it is so important! Animal studies show us that a diet free of fiber leads to detrimental changes in our protective intestinal barrier. Think of this barrier as your winter jacket that protects you from the cold elements. The intestine has a protective mucus layer that helps keep microbes and their toxic metabolites in the intestine and away from the blood stream. Without enough dietary fiber, microbes in our gut will actually eat our mucus intestinal barrier, as this protective layer is a source of carbs! Most microbes prefer carbs over any other food source. Interesting, right?
Since we are just scratching the surface on diet and gut health, we don’t have all the answers yet. But, eating a diet rich if fruits and vegetables with less processed foods and additives and not too much animal protein, has been shown to provide a healthier balance of gut microbes.
One of my areas of expertise is a diet called the low FODMAP diet. FODMAP containing foods are innately healthy and for most people, they can be enjoyed liberally in the diet. But…for some people with a sensitive intestine, FODMAP intake can lead to digestive distress…think: bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, and pain.
Yeah… not fun.
The role of FODMAPs for people with IBS has been well studied. About 50-70% of those with IBS will benefit from restricting FODMAPs from the diet. For those with inflammatory bowel disease, the role of FODMAPs is less clear but in my nutrition practice, many patients with IBD who also experience IBS-like symptoms benefit from reducing some FODMAPs in their diet. IBS-like symptoms occur in 35-57% of those with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) even when in remission.
What is the low FODMAP diet?
The low FODMAP diet is a science-based diet that helps alleviate symptoms of bloating, gas, abdominal pain and alteration in elimination habits. In essence, the low FODMAP diet is a learning diet. It is followed by individuals that experience irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or IBS-like symptoms commonly seen in celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
The low FODMAP diet is not designed to be followed forever. In fact, it is a 3-phase diet.
- The first phase (2-6 weeks) is the elimination phase where high FODMAP foods are eliminated from the diet including: wheat, onion, garlic, apples, pears and more.
- The second phase is the re-introduction or ‘challenge’ phase which involves a systematic re-introduction of high FODMAP foods to help identify food triggers.
- The third phase is the integration phase, during which tolerated FODMAP containing foods are gently added back into the diet.
The goal of this learning diet is to help identify personal food triggers to manage symptoms while enjoying the most liberal and least restrictive diet.
How do FODMAPs cause symptoms?
FODMAPs are small sugars and fibers that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine. Because of their small size they pull water into the intestine, causing stretching and potentially frequent trips to the loo. They are rapidly fermented by the microbes that live in our colon, resulting in gas. The gas stretches the intestine, which can lead to debilitating pain in a person that has a sensitive gut.
Eating low FODMAP can be easy and tasty with the right help!
As with any diet modification, you may think the low FODMAP diet will be boring and bland! But there are a many tricks of the trade that help make the low FODMAP diet delicious and easy to follow. My latest book, The Low FODMAP Diet-Step by Step provides all you need to get started and walks you through the 3-phase process.
Don’t self diagnose!
If you are suffering with digestive woes, always discuss your symptoms with your doctor. You never want to self diagnose. You doctor can screen you for more serious illness and provide some general recommendations about changing your diet. If the low FODMAP diet is recommended, try to work with a registered dietitian who can provide proper guidance and make the diet much easier, healthier and tastier to follow!
BIO: Kate Scarlata is a Boston-based registered dietitian and New York Times Best Selling Author with 25+ years of digestive health experience. She is a world-renowned low FODMAP diet and gut health expert, as well as an invited speaker at numerous international and national health conferences.
Kate’s passion is to help advocate for patients with gut disorders. She has done this in part with her grassroots campaign called “I Believe in your Story” which has helped raise research funding and awareness for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO).
She is the co-author of the New York Times best seller, The 21 Day Tummy Diet, The 21 Day Tummy cookbook, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Eating Well with IBS and her most recent book, co-author of The Low-FODMAP Diet Step by Step.
Here’s your chance to win a copy of The Low-FODMAP Diet Step by Step. Just leave a comment below to enter. I’ll randomly pick a winner next week!