How’s your digestion ? Who’s In Charge?
My dad loves to tell jokes and stories. He used to tell me this story….
“One day the different parts of the body were having an argument to see which should be in charge. The brain said, “I do all the thinking so I’m the most important and I should be in charge.” The eyes said, “I see everything and let the rest of you know where we are, so I’m the most important and I should be in charge.” The hands said, “Without me we wouldn’t be able to pick anything up or move anything. So I’m the most important and I should be in charge.” The stomach said, “I turn the food we eat into energy for the rest of you. Without me, we’d starve. So I’m the most important and I should be in charge.” The legs said, “Without me we wouldn’t be able to move anywhere. So I’m the most important and I should be in charge.” Then the rectum said, “I think I should be in charge.”
All the rest of the parts said, “You?!? You don’t do anything! You’re not important! You can’t be in charge.”
So the rectum closed up.
After a few days, the legs were all wobbly, the stomach was all queasy, the hands were all shaky, the eyes were all watery, and the brain was all cloudy. They all agreed that they couldn’t take any more of this. So they put the rectum in charge.”
For many this is just a funny story, but from my dietitian point of view the moral of the story is : Digestive health is incredibly important! Even if it’s not always comfortable for people to talk about it.
Your digestive system is a complex and organized group of organs that are working together to convert the food you eat into energy and to get the nutrients and minerals that our body needs to work well. Did you know that our digestive system can measure up to 30 feet long. All neatly folded inside a 5 to 6 feet tall body! Along this long tubes, many things can happen that affect our gut’s health.
Amongst all gastrointestinal issues, the most commonly known are diarrhea and constipation. According to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the most common functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorder. Worldwide, 10 to 15% of people suffer from IBS ranging from mild to severe conditions. IBS symptoms can include abdominal pain (periodic or continuous dull pain), variable and frequent constipation or diarrhea, bloating, nausea, headache, fatigue, bloating, cramping or flatulence.
Does that sound like your day to day?
If so, you might be wondering what could help you?
Research found that a diet low in FODMAPs can help alleviate IBS symptoms, especially in regards to diarrhea. You probably wonder what is a FODMAP! You are not alone.
FODMAP is acronym (abbreviation) for 5 types of sugars : Fermentable, Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols. Those carbohydrates (sugars) are highly fermentable meaning that the sugars are transformed into gas and chemicals in the gut’s bacterias. In addition to that, they are not well absorbed by the digestive system. For about 75% of patients, reducing the presence of those sugars in what they eat can ease their digestion.
The Low-FODMAP diet was developed by Susan Shepherd and Peter Gibson, two Australian researchers. After discussing your digestive symptoms with a doctor and receive a diagnosis of IBS, you can seek the help of a Dietitian, to navigate the specific procedures to implement and adjust the FODMAP diet to meet your personal food preferences and lifestyle and make sure that you provide your body with all that it nee
ds. After eliminating certain food for 2 to 4 weeks, and monitoring if the symptoms improve, your dietitian will guide you to re-introduce FODMAPs, one by one and identify the foods triggering symptoms.
If your digestion affects you in more ways than it’s supposed to, you are in charge; talk to a doctor or a dietitian. We are here to listen and help.
Learn more about dietetics here.