Thursday, 20 July 2017

Research Update: Long-term impact of the low-FODMAP diet on gastrointestinal symptoms, dietary intake, patient acceptability, and health care utilization in irritable bowel syndrome

By Erin Dwyer (Research Dietitian)

Ever wondered what the impact of a low FODMAP diet is long term, in regards to nutritional adequacy and quality of life? This study is the first comprehensive report on the long term implications of a low FODMAP diet - here is a summary.
Participants: 103 patients who had received dietitian led education on the low FODMAP diet, as well as completed the short term restriction followed by FODMAP reintroduction.
Method: This prospective study provided participants with a questionnaire regarding their long term reintroduction of high FODMAP foods, dietary intake, acceptability of the diet and food related quality of life. To analyse the data they separated the participants into those following an adapted* FODMAP diet and those who had reverted back to their ‘habitual’ (pre FODMAP) diet.
The findings:
  • Over half of patients (57%) reported long term symptom relief even when using an ‘adapted’ FODMAP diet.
  • Those following an adapted diet found it did not negatively affect their food related quality of life, health care utilization or work absenteeism any more than those who returned to their regular diet.
  • Dietitian led education helps enable patients to have a nutritionally adequate diet on an ‘adapted’ diet. Participants on an 'adapted' FODMAP diet met their fibre requirements more often than those eating their habitual diet and calcium intake was also adequate across both groups. These two particular nutrients can be areas of concern for those following a low FODMAP diet.
  • The group following an adapted diet ate significantly less onion and garlic than those eating their habitual diet.
  • The adapted diet was broadly accepted by the participants and they felt it had improved their quality of life.
So remember:
  • A strict low FODMAP diet is not to be used long term, and
  • Enlist the assistance of a dietitian to help guide you through the low FODMAP diet restriction and reintroduction.
*In this study ‘adapted diet’ means they no longer follow a strict low FODMAP diet, but they have been able to reintroduce high FODMAP foods according to their individual tolerance

To read the full article

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Carrot, Walnut and Linseed Cake or Cup-Cakes

By Trish Veitch (Research Chef)

This satisfyingly filling, moist, tasty and naturally (but not too) sweet recipe makes either a whole cake or individual cup-cakes that the whole family will love! The cakes are great for any occasion such as quick snacks, lunchboxes, afternoon tea or a sweetish treat after dinner. The cakes are simple and easy to make and are good keepers if stored at room temperature in an air airtight container. They are also handy to freeze as either individual cake slices or cup-cakes. Additionally, they are pretty healthy as they are a source of dietary fibre, minerals and even sneak in some vegetables and linseeds into your diet.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Apple Cider Vinaigrette (Salad Dressing)

By Trish Vetch (Research Chef)

As a follow up to our recent blog post about short chain fatty acids (SCFAs), we thought you may enjoy trying a recipe that incorporates apple cider vinegar, a rich source of the SCFA, acetate. While we don’t yet know whether consuming SCFAs through diet confers any health benefits, we think it can’t hurt to include them in the meantime.
This dressing is a terrifically easy and tasty way to incorporate the SCFA, acetate into your everyday diet. Many salads (see some suggestions under tips) require a dressing and this versatile recipe can be used to enhance their flavour. It is also has a really good shelf life so can always be ready for those quick meals after a long day. Or why not take a jar to work to pour on your healthy lunchtime salads?

Thursday, 6 July 2017

The health benefits of fermented foods – is it the probiotics, their by-products or both?

By Lyndal McNamara (Research Dietitian)

Fermented foods are constantly promoted for their health benefits, particularly when it comes to improving digestion, gut function and the balance of good bugs living in our gut. In the past, these benefits have been attributed to the probiotics, or beneficial bacteria naturally found in fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut and kombucha. But what if there is another side to the fermented foods story? One which until recently, has received relatively little attention….

As well as probiotics, fermented foods generally contain the by-products of bacterial fermentation – namely acetate, which is the main organic acid responsible for the sour taste of many fermented foods. Apple cider vinegar for instance is a fermented liquid that is a particularly good source of acetate (1). 

Acetate, like its big brothers butyrate and propionate, is a type of short chain fatty acid (SCFA). You may be familiar with the term SCFA, which are produced by beneficial bacteria in our gut as a by-product of the fermentation of dietary fibre (2).

It is these SCFAs that appear to act as an intermediate between our gut microbiome and the rest of our body to deliver health benefits (2-4). For example, butyrate is used as a major energy source by the cells lining our gut, helping to keep them healthy and functioning at their prime (2). In recent years, scientists have turned their attention to studying SCFAs and exactly how they confer health benefits. Although human research is still in its infancy, there is ample animal data to suggest that SCFAs play important regulatory roles within our immune system, particularly when it comes to reducing inflammation and allergic responses (3-4).

Whilst all of the research so far points to the importance of consuming a high fibre diet for optimal SCFA production in the gut itself, there remains a huge question mark around how dietary sources of SCFAs might also play a role. For example, can a dose of acetate from drinking apple cider vinegar have any direct effects on the immune system in humans?

Paul Gill, one of our students here at Monash University is currently conducting his PhD on this very topic. Up until now, the actual amount of SCFAs contained in different foods and beverages was largely unknown. Paul’s research so far has seen him develop methodology for quantifying levels of SCFAs in different foods and drinks and he has now developed a database with over 30 different fermented foods and drinks. Paul now plans to explore the immune effects of high dietary sources of SCFAs in human trials. We hope that this research will add to our understanding of SCFAs and whether oral sources are of any additional benefit to a high fibre diet.

Whilst time will tell, in the meantime, it can’t hurt to try incorporating more fermented foods into your diet where you can – but be sure to check the app first, as not all are low in FODMAPs (read more about fermented foods and FODMAPs here:

  1. Budak NH, Aykin E, Seydim AC, Greene AK, Guzel-Seydim ZB. Functional properties of vinegar. Journal of food science. 2014;79(5):R757-64.
  2. Wong JMW, de Souza R, Kendall CWC, Emam A, Jenkins DJA. Colonic Health: Fermentation and Short Chain Fatty Acids. Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology. 2006;40(3):235-43.
  3. Tan J, McKenzie C, Potamitis M, Thorburn AN, Mackay CR, Macia L. The Role of Short Chain Fatty Acids in Health and Disease. Advances in Immunology. 2014;121:91-119
  4. Rooks MG, Garrett WS. Gut microbiota, metabolites and host immunity. Nat Rev Immunol. 2016;16(6):341-52. 

Friday, 23 June 2017

Double Chocolate and Teff Bliss Balls

By Trish Veitch (Research Chef)

Are you craving some date packed bliss balls that are normally so problematic? Well, the problem is solved, so now you can indulge in these delicious, chocolaty treats from time to time without having to worry about FODMAPs! Teff is a cereal with the healthy benefits of dietary fibre, calcium, iron and protein. Toasting teff gives it a delectable crunch and makes it a perfect coating for these easy to make balls. These bliss balls keep well and are great snacks at any time of the day, good in lunch-boxes, go really well with coffee and kids will love them too.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Eating out on a Low FODMAP Diet – Italian, Chinese, French and Indian!

By Erin Dwyer – Research Dietitian
Last week we gave you 5 tips on how to eat out on low FODMAP diet. Today we investigate some go-to meals and tips for popular cuisines. Also, don’t forget to follow the tips from last week and most importantly, enjoy dining out!