The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Science-fair tummy, part 2

Sliced figs

I thought I was on the mend with my hummingbird diet...and then I started trying to add a few foods back in and it all went to pot. This is the trouble with uncontrolled experiments where you change more than one variable at a time. Luckily, you can always come up with a new hypothesis and try again.

Low FODMAP diet

So I pored over the internet some more and came up with another alternative --- carbohydrates known as FODMAPs could be irritating my gut. I was leery at first of adding back in delicious ingredients that I'd assumed had far too much fat or fiber for my bowels to handle. But I was thrilled to learn that aged cheeses, oranges, clementines, lettuce, leafy greens, and carrots have all been well received down there as long as I cook the last two into submission to increase digestability. I almost feel like I'm eating real food again!

The plan this time around is to do two weeks of a severely restricted FODMAP diet, then begin trialing the five categories one per week. In case you'd like to start a betting pool, I'm guessing I don't have issues with lactose or galactans but do with fructose and, to a lesser extent, polyols and fructans. Don't you love home science experiments?

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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glactans and polyols are what??--thanks!--mom
Comment by adrianne Fri Oct 21 08:30:24 2016

Do you filter your water or have you tested your water?

Recurrent gastro-intestinal illness = Coliform bacteria

Comment by Dan Fri Oct 21 09:43:13 2016

Mom --- You can see the foods broken down by category on the second page here.

Dan --- That could possibly have been implicated at the beginning, but water definitely isn't the issue now since Mark put me on store-bought water a couple of months ago just to be safe. And, to be fair, my illness isn't recurrent --- it's just slow to heal and never stopped.... But I appreciate your input!

Comment by anna Fri Oct 21 13:04:21 2016
Have you tried beano? It is supposed to digest the oligosaccharide portion of fodmap. It also looks like not everyone has every part. I think Robert probably has this issue ( only the oligosaccharide) since all the foods that bother him are listed as top offenders. I do not but with food allergies, I found the best test was to eliminate almost every thing and add a single item in only once every 3 days to make sure my tummy agreed. It maybe that tummies just take time to heal and the bacteria needs to rebalance after drugs and a diet change. If I have an allergic reaction, it takes me 4 months to stop the diahrea and calm my system.
Comment by Rebecca Fri Oct 21 15:03:26 2016

@adrienne: Alcohols are are substances that consist mainly of carbon (C) and hydrogen (H) atoms but contain one or more oxygen/hydrogen groups (OH). Ethanol (C₂H₅OH) is an alcohol with a single OH group. Alcohols with more than one OH group are called polyols. Galactans are polymers of galactose (milk sugar); multiple galactose molecules linked together.

@dan: Even healthy guts are filled with coliform bacteria...

@anna: Even if you switched to bottled water (taking away a possible source of infection) that won't solve any infections you might have. And since you also handle manure and presumably goat and chicken poop, there are plenty of other infection sources around.

Comment by Roland_Smith Fri Oct 21 15:16:40 2016

Roland --- I've been trying not to dive into the nitty gritty of diagnosis here because even the doctors aren't sure what I have/had and I don't think debating my symptoms with the non-medical is helpful.

That said, I have done a round of heavy duty antibiotics that may have wiped out the original problem. And I'm pretty careful with all the manure I play with so I doubt I've reseeded any bad critters.

Most likely, I did get some kind of infection (either waterborne or foodborne or possibly just a shift in gut bacteria toward the baddies and away from the goodies) in the first place. Unfortunately, it was bad enough it upset my gut enough to make it really sensitive to...well...anything.

Technically, it's not irritable bowel syndrome until I have it for six months and have also definitively disproved other possible causes like microscopic colitis with a colonoscopy and other tests. I have high hopes to lick this problem before that deadline. But, otherwise, that's the most likely current diagnosis and why the FODMAP diet is likely to help.

Comment by anna Fri Oct 21 15:28:22 2016
Because it seems to me that a diagnosis of IBS basically means "we don't know what's wrong with your gut". :-(
Comment by Roland_Smith Fri Oct 21 17:06:04 2016

Reading these comments is like listening to a discussion of religion down at the corner pub ;-)

Diarrheal diseases can be basically broken down into 3 categories: (1)damaged mucosa preventing proper absorption of nutrients & water &/or causing excessive leakage of water into gut [b] osmotic-- poor absorption of certain foodstuff that draw excessive water into bowels and [3] motility disorders.

Things like IBS or enzyme deficiencies & allergies don't usually start suddenly. Most infectious diseases (but not all- eg: giardiasis or amoebiasis) are self limited, lasting only a few days. Endocrine diseases like hyperthyroidism or pancreatic tumors are often over-looked as causes. Presumably stool samples have been submitted for detection of infectious agents/parasites. A colonoscopy seems to have been done. Scoping the upper GI should also be done to detect celiac disease as well as peptic problems.

When the diagnosis is not definite, non-specific treatments are in order: start with liquid diet, adding in solids one at a time, avoiding the obviously hard to digest, like fatty meats, or high cellulose/starch foods. Immodium can be used to make life a little more convenient, hopefully to be eventually discontinued.

While Anna's rustic lifestyle makes us suspicious that some infectious/parasitic agent may be at work, it doesn't necessarily have to be.

Comment by doc Sat Oct 22 07:14:54 2016
Just in case I was not clear before,. What I really wanted to say was thank you for pointing out fodmap, which I had not heard of before it will probably help my husband now that we can plan in advance which foods are likely to cause problems. Also do not worry that things are not back to normal even if you are doing g everything right, and it sounds like you are, it can take months for the gut to be happy after a single insult.
Comment by Rebecca Sat Oct 22 07:55:51 2016

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