Gastrointestinal Symptoms and Diets in EDS
We previously posted information on Nutrition and EDS – including supplements. Now, we move this topic further to answer a commonly asked question – “Is there a diet I should be following that can help my GI symptoms?”
There is a lot of discussion over specific diets and their ability to treat GI symptoms. Some of the diets you may have heard of include gluten-free, dairy-free, low FODMAP, Anti-GERD, low histamine, full elimination diet, low salicylate, low oxalate, and many others. How do you know if these diets can help you? To better navigate this, it is important to take a thorough inventory of the foods you are consuming, the GI symptoms you experience, your current emotional and physical state, and the time of onset – for at least 1 week. This can identify your specific trends and triggers for certain symptoms.
Below is an example of a food log that can be implemented:
When reviewing your weekly record there are some questions you may want to consider asking yourself before determining if a particular diet is appropriate for you. These can include:
- What is the overall quality of my diet?
- Am I incorporating foods that are anti-inflammatory?
- Am I incorporating foods that can have the potential to drive inflammation?
- Ex. Fried foods, hydrogenated oils, excessive intake of omega 6 oils (corn oil, sunflower oil, palm oil, etc), food dyes, sugar substitutes, excessive sugar intake, refined grains, etc.
- What is the timing between my meal intake?
- What are the portions of foods that I am able to tolerate?
- What was my physical and emotional state around mealtimes?
- Were GI symptoms present when physical and emotional symptoms were present either around mealtimes or during non-mealtimes?
If there are improvements you can make to the quality of your diet, meal timing and consistency, that may be a first place to start – without implementing a specialized diet. If GI symptoms are present along with physical and emotional symptoms, more exploration into the causes and potential treatments of these symptoms can be considered prior to implementing specialized diets. Some examples can include:
- Potential electrolyte, blood sugar, and fluid imbalances with physical symptoms of dizziness or lightheadedness
- Quality of diet for pain control or other therapeutic measures to manage pain
- Potential mind-body practices for stress management to help stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system to help relax the gastrointestinal tract
If you review your food record and you notice a significant trend of GI symptoms with the intake of certain foods, investigate what component within that food or specific foods could you be most sensitive. Trialing an elimination plan may provide some benefit. When taking at this approach, we target a broad range and narrow it down as sensitivities or various foods can present with similar symptoms. Common suspects can include food proteins such as red meat, seafood, nuts, soy, eggs, gluten, dairy, and corn. We then go into different fermentable carbohydrates such as the Low FODMAP diet. If no improvement can be seen through these diets, then we start to look at chemicals that can be found within foods where a sensitivity may occur. These can include histamine, salicylate, oxalate, and many others. The type of diet chosen will depend on the foods consumed and the GI symptoms experienced. It is important to mention that reaction to foods may not occur immediately following meals and can be delayed up to 72 hours. GI motility can also impact when a reaction may be experienced. Stay tuned for our follow up post on this topic here! Please share in the comments below if you have any experience with food logs or diet journals. Are there certain diets that work for you?
Author: Lisa Mejia, RDN, LD/N