Prebiotics, probiotics, gluten free, FODMAP, fibre, low cholesterol.
What do all of these have in common?
They are just some of the big diet and food issues around right now and their popularity is just increasing.
The idea that the bowel is connected to the brain, is becoming a way of life for many. If your gut is healthy then you will be more active and happy. At least that is what seems to be driving these trends. It’s all about a thing called “digestive wellness”.
The only problem is that there are ideas around which may be myths and may not be worth the expense and hassles which people are having in pursuing these trends for digestive health. The following are five of the common beliefs surrounding the idea you are what you eat.
Once you have gone on a FODMAP diet, you have to stay on it always.
FODMAP is Fermentable, Oligo-, Di-, and Mono-saccharides and Polyols, and a diet which addresses these issues is known as the FODMAP Diet. It is about eliminating those foods which contribute to the FODMAP issues. The belief is that once a person goes on this diet, they have to then saty on it forever. This is not the case, as it is usually not all of the FODMAPs which cause problems for people, it depends upon the individual. So if that person stays off all of the foods involved, they have a potential risk of mucking around with their nutrient intake and creating other health problems, particularly the fibre containing carbohydrates. So the best way to do this diet is to go off all the FODMAP foods and then slowly reintroduce them back into the food intake until it is found which foods do not cause issues.
A regular Detox is good for you.
If the liver is in good condition, we already have a natural self contained system for detoxing the body. So not drinking too much alcohol and maintaining a health fat intake will help keep our livers healthy, so detoxing is really not needed.
A gluten free diet is good for everyone
According to CSIRO, only 1 in 70 Australians actually have coeliac disease, but 1 in 3 of us are preferring to eat a gluten free diet, because we believe it is better for us. This self diagnosis is driving a whole industry and massive number of products in supermarkets. Gluten containing foods have been a key part of the Western diet for hundreds of years, and they provide much needed nutrients. If people take these foods out of their diet, they may be missing these nutrients, eg; wholegrains.
Fibre is good for digestive health
This is true but it needs clarification. It is not only about the amount of fibre consumed each day dietary guidelines recommend 30g a day), but what type of fibre is being eaten. The important issue here is that for the bacteria in the gut to grow and do what is needed, they need prebiotics. Some fibres are better at providing this than others, as an example we should be eating what is known as resistant starch. Most of the fibres commonly eaten do not provide much or any of this key dietary intake.
Everyone should have a dose of probiotics everyday.
There are both dry and liquid probiotics readily available but they are not much use if the gut does not contain enough prebiotics to allow the bacteria to grown and function properly. Some of these products now also contain prebiotics as the manufacturers have realised that they are necessary for their products to be effective.
It is becoming very apparent that nutrition is not a one size fits all and is very much about the individual. We are what we eat but it is a good ldea to talk with experienced and qualified people to help you work out what is needed to help you be a healthy as possible.