ASK THE NATUROPATH... “How can I ease tummy troubles?”
question: I have had tummy problems for years. My doctor has diagnosed IBS. What causes it? answer: Irritable bowel syndrome ( IBS) is a very common digestive complaint. Symptoms are variable, but often include abdominal pain, diarrhoea and/or constipation, bloating and flatulence.
There are many possible triggers for IBS, including gluten sensitivity and stress. Finding the right diet and remedies for IBS takes a fair amount of detective work, as each individual is unique. Fructose malabsorption is a newish area of study spearheaded by Dr Sue Shepherd, a Victorian dietitian, who has conducted extensive research into this area.
Fructose malabsorption may well be a trigger for many IBS sufferers. Fructose is a naturally occurring sugar found in fruit and other food. When not digested adequately, fructose and its biologically similar compound, fructan, ferment in the intestines, attracting water and the wrong kind of bacteria, resulting in diarrhoea, flatulence and bloating. There is some early evidence that fructose malabsorption may also be related to obesity, fatty liver disease, reflux and depression.
Diagnosis is via a breath test. However, by avoiding food high in fructose or fructans for a couple of weeks, you will get a good idea if fructose malabsorption is a problem for you. Foods to avoid include: + Fruit: Fresh or tinned apples, pears, nashi, papaya, quince, star fruit, watermelon, cherries, grapes, lychees, guavas, honeydew melon, mangos and coconut. Dried currants, raisins, sultanas, figs, prunes, dates, apples and pears. + Vegetables: Onion, leek, asparagus, Jerusalem and globe artichoke, radicchio, chicory, spring onion, shallot, garlic, Lebanese cucumber, coconut water, coconut cream and coconut milk. + Sweet foods: Honey, corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate, soft drinks, fructose in processed foods. + Sauces: Tomato sauce and paste, plum sauce, chutneys, relishes and barbecue sauce. + Wheat products: flour, bread, cereal, pasta, crispbread.
If changing your diet suggests you have fructose malabsorption, seek help from a qualified professional.