Beth Kitchin PhD RDN blogs on health and nutrition. Her blogs are fact-based and offer a common sense approach to a healthier life. She's a food lover so don't expect her to tell you what not to eat! Beth is a an Assistant Professor in the University of Alabama at Birmingham's Nutrition Sciences Department and the patient educator at UAB's Osteoporosis Prevention and Treatment Clinic. She also appears weekly as a guest contributor on WBRC's morning show "Good Day Alabama".
This is a re-post from a few years ago. This topic is getting continued interest so I thought I would re-visit it!
registered dietitian, I have been counseling patients with a variety of medical
needs for years. The condition that has always left me empty handed when it
comes to patient advice is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Most of our nutrition
texts simply state “the patient has to figure out for themselves what foods
they can and cannot tolerate”. Big help huh? Well, after a little searching, I
found a little-known diet based on a little-know hypothesis that may help with
little background on IBS:
IBS is one of the most common disorders that doctors
as 20% of Americans have IBS.
good thing about IBS is that it is not a dangerous disease. There is no damage
to the intestines with IBS and no risk of any long-term complications. Other
intestinal diseases like celiac disease or Crohn’s disease where the intestine
is actually physically damaged.
bad thing is that IBS can wreck your life. People who have it experience
bloating, abdominal discomfort, and can alternate between diarrhea and
constipation. And there really isn’t a cure for it.
the good news is that some people may respond well to a diet called the “Low
The idea behind it is that foods from
5 different groups tend to ferment in the intestine and contribute to the
symptoms of people with IBS. The idea was developed and studied by an
Australian nutritionist. While more research is needed to find out if it really
works, it can’t hurt to try it. The foods are abbreviated by the acronym FODMAPS: Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides and Polyols.
High FODMAP foods tend to ferment in your intestines and cause the symptoms of
IBS. High FODMAP foods include prunes, apples, milk, watermelon, asparagus,
avocado, corn, and wheat. But there are many more.
have to completely eliminate all of the foods on the list – you may be able to
handle some in small amounts. You may be more sensitive to some than others.
So, if you are struggling with IBS, I recommend that you eliminate the FODMAP
foods for several days to a week. If you find that your symptoms subside, then
you can add back individual foods (one at a time) from the list to see which
are more problematic for you. Obviously, keeping a detailed food record will be
very important for sleuthing out the foods you need to ditch from your diet.
recommend that you work with a registered dietitian to help you develop your
own healthy, low FODMAP diet! You don’t need to simply eliminate all high
FODMAP foods. In fact, cutting them all out could be bad for your diet. However, here is a list from Barbara Bolen, PhD, a leader in this research:
Kitchin, PhD, RDN
Assistant Professor, Nutrition Sciences
University of Alabama at Birmingham
The MIND diet was one of
U.S. News and World’s top diet picks in last week’s big reveal of the best 2017
diets. Some studies show that following the MIND diet is associated with a
lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease and better cognitive function.
How good is the
research? The data is really preliminary – observational studies that can’t
show cause and effect, just associations or correlations. So, what you’re reading
is likely over-hyped. But what isn’t overhyped in nutrition news? However, if
you’re interested in the MIND diet, it is a healthy, plant based diet that does
not cut out large categories of foods. Even if it doesn’t live up to the hype,
you could end up with benefits such as weight loss, heart health, and lower
blood pressure because it is basically a combo of the Mediterranean diet and
the DASH diet. These two diets have stronger research to support their
Let’s take a look at
foods that supposedly give your brain a boost, and the foods you should limit.
Supposedly Brain Healthy
Leafies (think kale, romaine lettuce, spinach) every day
Vegetables – at least one a day in addition to the green leafies
– particularly blueberries and strawberries – a half cup several times a week
& Seeds on most days
Beans – every other day
Oil – use it as your primary cooking oil
Whole Grains – like brown rice, whole grain breads and cereals – 3 servings a
– a glass a day - but if you're a non-drinker, just skip this one!
at least once a week
twice a week
– less than one tablespoon a day
Meat – 3 servings or fewer servings a week
– fewer than 1 serving a week (undoable for cheese lovers and probably not necessary to cut it out anyway)
Foods/Fast Foods – no more than once a week
– 5 or fewer a week
Here’s a sample one day
MIND meal plan:
Breakfast 3/4 cup bran flakes with ½ cup blueberries
1 slice whole grain toast with 2 tsp peanut butter
1 cup romaine lettuce
½ cup raw vegetables
1 tablespoon sunflower seeds
Olive Oil Dressing
Salad: 1/2 cup
romaine lettuce 1/2 cup baby spinach 1
tablespoon olive oil vinaigrette
3-ounce salmon cooked in
1/2 cup brown rice
1/2 cup zucchini and asparagus spears
1 cup lima beans
5 ounces red wine
Snack 1/2 cup sliced almonds
Now, let me tell you
what I don’t like about this diet. Some of the restrictions are
reasonable – others are not:
·For us cheese lovers, eating less than one ounce of cheese a week
is crazy. And it’s probably not even necessary. And, yes, I have bit of a bias about cheese! I love it and will never give it up!
·No mayo on your sandwich? For some that’s fine, others it’s not.
·I think the red meat guideline is pretty good – eating several
servings a week is not too rigid.
·But I think with sweets, you can have a small amount every day to
satisfy your sweet tooth. We should definitely limits sweets – but if you’re
like me – I need a little chocolate every day!
So, here’s what I
recommend. Start by focusing on the “brain healthy” foods like berries, nuts
and seeds, olive oil, fish, and lots of green leafies. Find olive oil based
salad dressing that you like or make your own and dress up your salad with nuts
and seeds, tuna, chicken, and yes, a little cheese if you like it. You don’t have to eat all your green leafies
in salads. For instance, you can sautee spinach and kale in olive oil. Berries
can be expensive – so look for frozen blueberries and strawberries and add them
to yogurt or smoothies.