FODMAP–What is it ?

What is FODMAP?

FODMAP is an acronym for–“Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols”

“And what that means is when you eat something that is a short-chain carbohydrate, which for you is highly indigestible,  your gut bacteria will then use these carbs that didn’t digest as fuel to produce hydrogen gas which will cause you extreme pain and/or discomfort in your digestive system. You may also experience mild or severe diarrhea because this process also draws water into your intestinal tract.”  This information was found here.

I’ve blamed my inability to be able to eat sauerkraut, kombucha, onions, even grapes on allergies, intolerances, even IBS for years. Turns out IBS may have been part of it all along. I’ve had IBS since I was an eleven or twelve-years-old (maybe I’ve had it all my life?), but didn’t get diagnosed until I was in my twenties. For me, that meant an upset stomach and bouts of both constipation and diarrhea in the same day. There has never been enough known about IBS to say that there are known foods to avoid. So, I’ve never avoided food because of IBS. That said in the last fifteen years I have experienced a lot of food intolerances starting with gluten. If I eat something that has wheat germ or wheat protein in it I get seriously sick. On the other hand, if I eat one piece of bread with wheat flour I may only get a small rash. I have been unable to eat onions, garlic, kombucha, relishes–basically, anything fermented or that ferments for about twenty years. As the years have gone on the list has gotten progressively longer and finally about a year ago I decided to continue my research and find out why. Finally, I found the problem-FODMAP, that’s my problem.

So what can I do? The first thing I can do is to follow a low FODMAP diet.

So what is a low FODMAP diet?

A low FODMAP diet is one that requires you to no longer eat those foods and drink that are high FODMAP.

So, here are some foods that are high in FODMOP (this list is not complete):

Apples, applesauce, peaches, berries, cherries, canned fruit, and watermelon. All sweeteners–high fructose, honey, sorbitol, and xylitol to name a few.  All dairy products. All the gas-producing vegetables (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli +more), onions and garlic. Beans, lentils, baked beans, and soybeans. Bread, pasta, most cereal, tortillas, waffles, and pancakes. Also–crackers and chips. Barley and Rye and Wheat–so beer, fortified wines, soda with high fructose, soy milk, and fruit juice.

After reading that list you might ask yourself what’s left? Is cardboard at least safe? Because that’s what I thought I was reduced down to eating– my mind just reeled. On one hand, I had found the mysterious issue I have long dealt with and on the other, just about everything available for humans to eat (there’s a lot of healthy food on the do not eat list) was going to have to be eliminated from my diet.

So what did I have to personally eliminate from my own diet? Thankfully I’ve always been a picky eater so here’s the list–peaches, watermelon, soda, honey, onions, garlic, beets, peas, sour cream, cottage cheese, pasta, crackers, and chips. There is a lot of other stuff like–no longer do we eat in restaurants because I’m also sensitive to food additives and preservatives (xanthan gum, guar gum, carrageenan, msg, and sodium nitrite). None of those preservatives or additives are good for you anyway, so I’m kind of glad I can’t tolerate them. It’s hard to eat at other people’s homes or get-togethers because people become so offended if you don’t eat or end up bringing your own. Unfortunately nowadays several of our friends have some of the same issues I do so diets have really changed among our little group. The middle aisles of any grocery store have long been my enemy. We haven’t brought canned, frozen, or boxed food, packets, mixes, sauces, or spices into this house in almost fifteen years. So there’s that. It would have been really hard for me to take all of the restrictions at once. Fortunately or not several years ago I changed my diet drastically because I thought I was suffering from gluten intolerance.

So what can I/you eat — a low FODMAP diet includes:
Fish, red meat, eggs, fats, oils, bananas, raspberries, strawberries, all nuts except pistachios, maple syrup, lactose-free dairy products, tomatoes, turnips, yams, zucchini +more, corn, oats, rice +more, water, coffee, and tea.

*None of the above lists are definitive or exhaustive*
*Also everyone is different and what works or doesn’t work for some may work for others*
*Consult your physician before changing anything in your diet*

What does my new diet look like? Well, I still eat dairy. I’ve been eating yogurt, drinking probiotics and milk for years, and I do not have any plans to stop. I do not get gas, bloat, or discomfort from eating dairy. All of my dairy products are organic except my yogurt. I eat Activia yogurt every day. I don’t really eat any red meat or eggs, but I do eat a lot of fish and nuts, and peanut butter, and the occasional small helping of baked beans. I eat a lot of carrots, lettuce, yams, zucchini, and tomatoes. As far as fruits go I eat a banana every day (I like the partially green ones), I also eat strawberries and raspberries year round. I don’t snack so no worries that I can’t eat crackers, or cookies, or chips. I drink water, tea, and have the occasional cup of coffee now. I bought a Chemex coffee maker and have discovered the rich taste of coffee. Up to now coffee always tasted awful to me. Now I know why–the oils from the beans weren’t making it to my cups of coffee. With the Chemex pour-over style of coffee making the oils make it to each and every cup. What a game changer for me!

I’ve also got to watch that I don’t use condiments because of the likelihood there is garlic or onion in most. So–no BBQ sauces, or most salad dressings, pickles other than Vlasic found in the refrigerated section, no chili, or taco or fajitas seasonings. I stopped eating tacos and fajitas –actually, anything really spicy about 15 years ago when I quit smoking. I probably never liked spicy stuff, but smoking made eating them tolerable. I’m one of those rare creatures that actually like to taste what my food really tastes like. I don’t cover up, or enhance, or flavor anything except with salt and pepper. As far as my husband’s diet goes he still eats everything he has always eaten–with the exception of most of the stuff in the middle aisles of the grocery store. That said he has never been one for boxed or frozen food as he grew up with a mom who loved to cook/bake and she made everything fresh or from scratch –three meals a day/365 days a year.

One last thing that is worth mentioning is to be aware of your supplements and vitamins when you have an issue with short-chain carbs or sensitivity to food additives.  I’ve taken supplements for almost 30 years–I use a Vit D. spray that is really working miracles on me, and I get a vitamin b12 shot regularly, plus magnesium, and iron every day. Recently I researched a better way to get magnesium and ordered some plant-based magnesium. I thought that I had researched everything, but what happened was I hadn’t. Turns out plant-based magnesium is red algae and extracted from red algae are polysaccharides which are better known as carrageenan, which I get very sick from. And sick I was, I was sick with a stomach ache/pain and diarrhea for 3 days. Once it was all out of my system I was fine. From this point on I’m going to stick with what I’m currently taking and not try anything new if I don’t have to.

To say I wasn’t sad years ago when my entire diet changed would be an understatement. I mourned and mourned for a long time. But the pain I experienced was so bad that I was willing to do anything to make it stop. I have been tweaking my diet for years and years and now may be the final tweak? Looking at all the forbidden foods makes me think I have always had this issue. I’ve had stomach aches, and distention, and pain in my digestive system for as long as I can remember. I think poor nutrition as a child played a major role. I also think my skipping meals, not eating enough good food, and at times eating too much nutrition lacking junk food finished me off. In my case, I compounded all of this with many years of drinking mountain dew and abusing alcohol for several years until I stopped drinking alcohol and smoking in 2003. I had stopped drinking mountain dew in 1997.

I’ve been changing my diet by trying something and either eliminating or sticking with it since 2000. First, it was dairy, which I fixed with buying organic dairy. And then it was gluten, which I fixed with the elimination diet, and then I discovered additives, preservatives, onions, and garlic bothered me. If you’ve ever looked at a food label you’ll know preservatives are in almost everything, and onions and garlic are in everything else.

Now, as I’ve said, I know what my issue really is and it is FODMAP. I don’t know what really causes this but I do know diet changes have helped me immensely. There are still plenty of things one can eat– you just need to try and then eliminate if need be and then try the next food item. And on and on until you create the right diet for yourself and move forward. You will adjust and no longer feel that there is virtually nothing left for you to eat. Good Luck and I hope my article helps you on your path to better eating!

Here are links to the information I found that has helped me:
What you can and can not eat on the low FODMAP diet
What are FODMAPS?


Building a strong immune system–what’s in my medicine cabinet

Headache/Sinus Headache/Facial Migraines –Peppermint Essential Oil.

Pain-bone spur pain, arthritis pain, bursitis pain–Copaiba Essential Oil

Colds, Flu, Sinus Issues- 1 tsp elderberry syrup every 1-2 hours for 12 hours.

Mood- I diffuse Orange and sometimes Lemon Essential Oil.

Menopause issues- I eat yams–roasted, pureed, anyway they taste good. Sometimes mixed with mashed potato and sometimes with applesauce. They help a lot with hot flashes.

Sleep- Lavender Essential Oils on the bottom of my feet, and I take 320 mg of magnesium a day. Magnesium works great for constipation as well. I found a great article on using Magnesium supplements here.

Rollerball for applying oil–15 drops of lavender EO and fractionated coconut oil. Put the 15 drops of lavender EO in rollerball and then fill the rest of rollerball up with fractionated coconut oil. Shake before each use.

Stress- Frankincense Essential Oils on the bottom of feet.

Same recipe as Lavender Essential Oil recipe for sleep, but you use Frankincense not the lavender with fractionated coconut oil.

Sore achy muscles- we take Epsom salt baths several times a week. Epsom salt is great for relieving muscle aches and pain and also detoxifies your body.

Not everything I use to support mine and my husband’s health is an essential oil. For over 20 years I have incorporated healthy living and a healthy diet into our lives. It’s been many years since my husband or I were sick. I don’t say this lightly–it takes work and considerable money.

Our diet– I’ll start by saying 60% of our diet is organic. I know some people are going to say to themselves I’m a food snob or? But I’m really not. I’ve had Fibromyalgia most of my adult life–probably close to thirty years now. I spent four years researching diets, food, and food safety and discovered that it was possible to feel better and live the life I wanted to if I changed my diet. So I did. It hasn’t happened overnight. We are still working on several changes in our diet. All total we’ve been working on a complete 360 almost fourteen years.

We aren’t big meat eaters. Before I got married I had been a vegetarian for over ten years. Since being married I’ve been a vegetarian for another ten years. We eat red meat once a week. We eat poultry or fish twice a week, and the rest of the week is meatless. We don’t eat out more than 12 times a year. When we eat out we usually choose homemade food restaurants or a local pizza place. I can’t think of anything we eat that we overeat. I don’t use any cheese in my cooking, processed foods are out, and most of what we eat is fresh and usually locally grown. When we grocery shop we shop in the outside aisles for the most part. I don’t buy anything in cans, boxes, or the freezer section except ice-cream.

We don’t drink alcohol and neither of us smokes. We also don’t use any OTC medications except Tylenol.

We weren’t always this healthy I assure you. Twenty-some years ago we had a cold every year, sometimes twice a year, just like everyone else. We also had the stomach flu a time or two. But overall I think we’ve been fairly lucky, considering I worked for almost twenty years in healthcare.

Having fibromyalgia has been the hardest thing for me because so many other things have come with it. I’ve dealt with IBS off and on since I was a teenager, but since changing our diet most of my IBS symptoms are gone. I’ve also had IC for about twenty years and that can be a very frustrating thing to have. But again diet plays a major part in controlling the symptoms of IC.

Before I quit smoking I had a lot of allergies. I probably had a severe allergy, that caused me to miss work, or be in bed all weekend, 3x a week. Now, I maybe have a couple of bad allergy episodes a year. Though in the last few years I have been getting facial migraines from sinus issues. I probably get two or three facial migraines a year. I also deal with jaw pain at times which is also something found in people who suffer from fibromyalgia.

Another important thing for me to add in about my health is that I suffered from malnutrition most of my young life. I was diagnosed at eight years old. Growing up not only was I a picky eater, but I also had major issues regarding food. From a baby until eight or nine my diet was extremely limited. This aversion to food caused by malnutrition remained an issue until I was in my late thirties. To give you an example of the degree of malnutrition I had.  I weighed 60 lbs in 5th grade. When I graduated high school I weighed 92 lbs. I tried twice in the eighties to join the military and twice weight issues prohibited me from being able to join.

To say my health was extremely fragile when I was 30 and met and married my husband would be an understatement. I shouldn’t really be as healthy as I am now. I owe most of my good health to eating right and using a homeopathic approach to all of my health issues.

In addition to my homeopathic approach, I am also careful about getting the flu shot. I have never had a flu shot–I’m certain this statement will cause some readers to become very unhappy with me. But it’s true– no flu shot ever. I’m allergic to eggs and penicillin–and in the old days you couldn’t get a flu shot if allergic to eggs (and I’m sticking with that recommendation, even though the CDC has now relaxed it). I still have issues with eggs if they’re not organic eggs from Organic Valley. In my whole life, I have had to use an antibiotic 3 times. Once in my childhood, once with strep throat, and once when I had foot surgery. That’s it. My husband has used an antibiotic just twice in his life– he too is allergic to penicillin.

Sometimes I am convinced that being allergic to penicillin has been a good thing for both my husband and I. I once sat in a room with 15 students and our instructor and was the only student not to get the swine flu. My husband is 1 of 2 people out of 100 people not to get the flu this year. It’s on its third time around in his workplace.

Three Secrets to a Strong Immune System

  • Probiotics- I eat Activia yogurts 3 x a week. I stop using them if I start to get too much gas or bathroom activity. That tells me I have enough active strains in my system and need no more at this time.
  • Sleep- 8 hours every night.
  • Drink 1/2 your body weight in clean filtered water every day.

I’d like to say we drink kombucha a lot or eat kimchi on a regular basis but we do not. We’ve tried both but unfortunately did not like them. Probiotics were difficult for both of us at first. I tried several brands of probiotic supplements and had varied results. If you’ve been reading my blog awhile you’ll remember I thanked Accuflora–a probiotic tablet, for helping me to recover from a serious intolerance to gluten. I took Accuflora off and on for about two years with great success and then switched to Activia.

Other things that can be done to assure strong immunity and healthy living–

  • Wash bed pillow often or change it out.
  • Keep all toothbrushes separate from other toothbrushes and not out in the open in your bathroom. I keep mine on a piece of paper towel in my medicine cabinet. Change out toothbrushes every 2 months and more if you’ve been sick. Change out the piece of paper towel or cup it is kept in every 2-3 days for the cup, once a week for paper towels.
  • Wipe down doorknobs if there is someone that has been sick in the home.
  • Wipe down toilet flusher on toilet daily with a baby wipe or antibacterial soap.
  • Clean toilets once a week or more.
  • A banana or apple a day really does keep the doctor away.
  • Wash hands often. Don’t touch your hands to your mouth when out shopping in stores. Try not to touch bunker railings (where the meat etc. are kept in the meat and dairy department). Every time I’m at Walmart I see someone sneeze and wipe their hands all along the bunkers in the meat and dairy department.  My husband and I do use hand sanitizer all the time. We have heard that is really doesn’t work, but for us, it works even if it is semi somewhat psychologically. Maybe it’s because that is what is on our hands vs. germs from the meat bunkers in Walmart? No clue.

I understand that not everyone can follow a homeopathic approach to their health. Many people have very serious issues that do indeed require regular doctor visits and prescribed medication. Other than my having Fibromyalgia and back issues my husband and I do not have health conditions that warrant being under a doctor’s care. Believe me when I tell you we do not take our good health for granted. At any time, for many reasons, our story could change. If you have some of the less serious issues I have mentioned I would encourage you to give essential oils, good herbal teas, and probiotics a try. I hope this post is helpful to some of you. I wish everyone good health in 2018!



Kombucha Recipe

One of the most important things you can do for you and your family’s health is to improve your gut health. Most people are under the impression things like that take care of themselves. They don’t. They probably did take care of themselves fairly well many years back before our food contained large amounts of fertilizers, pesticides, GMO’s and preservatives. At one time most of the people in this country preserved their food. Most people’s diets contained several pickled and fermented foods. Pickles of all kinds, coleslaw, and sauerkraut were table staples.  These foodstuffs helped keep human guts balanced with the proper bacteria. Bacteria and enzymes in our gut help to break down our food.  The food we eat, once broken down, travels off to different parts of our body to nourish us. We need to stay well nourished to stay healthy.

My experience with gut problems began about thirteen years ago as I detoxed from years of smoking and not so smart eating habits. First came the transition to a healthier diet, then came transitioning to organic foods, and then came my intolerance to everything gluten.  After suffering for about 5 years with gluten issues I read an article about gut health. Before I get started let me show you where your gut is and what parts of your body make up your digestive system.

The gut, otherwise known as your digestive track,  has many components– it starts with your mouth and teeth and technically ends where your waste exits. The stomach is one of three parts of your gut that absorbs and digests food, with the small and large intestine being the other two parts that break down, digest, and absorb nutrients. The linings of our small and large intestines are the largest part of our immune system. Now, this was a big find for me. Not only did I not have a clue our immune system is in our gut, but I was simply blown away discovering the largest part of it is the mucosal lining of our intestines. Nutrients enter the blood stream, once broken down, from our small intestines. There are tiny villi all along our intestinal wall. These villi are how nutrients enter our bloodstream.  The intestinal wall is permeable to some extent so that these nutrients can pass through. In a normal, healthy gut the good stuff passes through and the bad stuff does not. But sometimes bad things start passing through, and sometimes the intestines become damaged and the lining develops holes allowing undigested food to pass through.

Learning all of this information made me wonder- was there a way I could heal my gut lining if in fact it was damaged or malfunctioning? So  I began reading about the gut lining and found that there were other people, just like me, experiencing issues with “out of the blue” food allergies and/ or intolerances who were using probiotics as a way to improve their overall gut health. Probiotics as we know help to maintain the good bacteria in our digestive tract. That good bacteria is part of a large ecosystem of bacterial flora that lives mainly in the large intestine.

Gut flora is the complex community of microorganisms that live in the digestive tracts of humans and other animals, including insects. The gut metagenome is the aggregate of all the genomes of gut microbiota. (Wikipedia)

So I made an appointment with our family physician and asked for his opinion on whether or not starting on a probiotic would be a good thing or bad. He didn’t see how taking one could hurt and so I began using a probiotic about two years ago. Of course, I should note before I forget– a steady diet of kombucha and other fermented food in your diet would alleviate your need(most likely) to have to depend on a store bought probiotic. A lot of my gluten intolerance issues went away about one year after I started using probiotics. I still have problems with food that contain a lot of additives, preservatives and maybe GMO’s? Corn still bothers me, as does soybeans and oats.  Although I check labels and watch what I eat, sometimes things are hidden or ? and I experience pain, pressure, a lot of bloating and usually diarrhea.

A lot of my gluten intolerance issues went away about one year after I started using probiotics. I still have problems with food that contain a lot of additives, preservatives and maybe GMO’s? Corn still bothers me, as does soybeans and oats.  Although I check labels and watch what I eat, sometimes things are hidden or ? and I experience pain, pressure, a lot of bloating and usually diarrhea. I currently take a probiotic daily, but I’ve also incorporated fermented foods and kombucha into my diet as well.

Other than those very rare occasions I am presently symptom-free from issues associated with gluten intolerance. I believe the probiotic healed my gut to some degree by restoring the healthy bacteria I needed to process and digest my food. Some of the ways you can contribute to having unhealthy gut flora — a diet high in sugar (which I had for years) and low in fiber (that too).  Chronic stress(yes!) and chronic use of NSAIDs (yes to that too). Also if you are a person that has a lot of infections and relies heavily on antibiotics (thank goodness I can say nope to this one) you are at risk for having an unhealthy gut.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my post about Kombucha, probiotics and gut health as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. Until next time–be well!