Gut Instincts

It’s amazing how quickly five days can evaporate when, between delicate personal issues, work and other distractions, you don’t get anywhere near your daily journaling.

Anyway, as I’ve alluded to a little, my preoccupation at the moment happens to be my digestive system. Always a little bit sensitive, I’ve had three fairly significant IBS-like episodes in the past 4-5 months. Since a significant GI change after 50 can be indicative of something more serious than food sensitivity, I’m treating it with respect. Not in the OMFG way, but giving it the attention it deserves.

Oversimplified, but a start …

I’ve been playing with reducing my intake of FODMAPs a little over the past week or two, but you can really only go hard on low FODMAP when you’ve a) eliminated the possibility of more serious things going on, and; b) consulted with a dietitian to do it correctly. There are some foods I’m very sure are significant triggers for me, so I’m pretty much eliminating those and then playing a little with the ones that may be issues, but which I haven’t paid much attention to. FODMAP sensitivity is a real killer when you’re a fairly strict vegetarian, as they’re mostly found in plant foods, with some in dairy.

In a nutshell, it’s the fermentable aspect that’s key. If you can’t digest these sugars, when they reach your lower intestine they ferment and can cause everything from excess gas, to diarrhea, constipation or both.

More on FODMAPs:
FODMAPs are a collection of short chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols found in foods naturally or as food additives. FODMAPs include fructose (when in excess of glucose), fructans, galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS), lactose and polyols (eg. sorbitol and mannitol).

Anyway, I had a blood test for some markers a week ago and I’m meeting with my doctor next Tuesday to discuss the results, ask about any additional tests I might consider and to probably push for booking a colonoscopy. I’m on the bi-annual FIT plan, but that only determines if you should be tested for colon cancer by detecting hidden blood in the stool. It doesn’t help in flagging other digestive or gut conditions. My doctor is also a little passive for my liking and I tend to need to push for certain things. I don’t have any red flag symptoms (lethargy, dropping weight, blood, etc), but I believe the symptoms I am experiencing are worth scoping things out properly.

This all brings me back to the dietitian. I’ve got a line on what seems to be a pretty good one, who is well-versed in FODMAP elimination and reintroduction diets, and she specializes in vegetarian/vegan diets. Not only do you have to be careful about nutrients when you’re not eating meat, fish, poultry, eggs or much dairy when eliminating a bunch of stuff, but you have to reintroduce things properly to identify triggers. Doing low-FODMAP properly is basically a restrictive diet + meticulous journaling + following process.

Whether I can go there soon will depend on where things go with my doctor. We’ve had some back and forth by email and if my medical approach shows nothing serious, I’ll likely be hiring her.

Wow, I’m impressed. I managed to write a journal post about my health and not even talk about my back problems.