FOOD : The Main Course Conference Overview

If you follow along on Instagram, you may have noticed I was in Michigan for a digestive health conference at the end of September. I was able to connect with other dietitians across the country that work with gastrointestinal disorders, and learned a ton from the speakers.

I had a few requests to share what I learned and share about low FODMAP products that were featured during the conference, so here we go! This may seem a bit scattered, as I am literally sharing my top takeaways, so comment at the bottom of the post if you have any follow up questions or want to dig deeper in a specific area.

Science

Before we talk food, let’s talk science. There is a lot of research coming out for IBS and other digestive disorders. It’s fascinating and will hopefully lead to breakthroughs in medical care. I had a lot of takeaways, so I’m going to break down the ones that are related to IBS:

  • The pathophysiology (cause) of IBS has evolved over time. We originally thought it was a psychological disorder (the all in your head idea), then it moved to impaired gut motility (movement) and hypersensitivity. Today, we know these all play a role, but we also include causes of genetics, changes in the microbiome, gut-brain axis, immune activation, and increased gut permeability.

  • Research shows that environment influences the gut microbiome more than genetics. Environmental factors include birthing method, infant feeding, antibiotic use, exposure to microbes, and stress.

  • IBS versus controls in research shows a significant difference in microbiome makeup, and continued to show differences between each individual. In general, those with IBS has elevated amounts of lactobacillaceae, bacteroides, and enterobacteriaceae; and had reduced amounts of bifidobacterium and faecalibacterium. This could be beneficial for identifying IBS and developing a treatment for dysbiosis of the microbiome.

  • While evidence is still lacking for probiotic use for IBS, we generally see an improvement in symptoms and won’t do much hard recommended probiotics. There is conflicting data on which strains to recommend, so this is an area we can learn more.

  • There is some evidence to support probiotics for anxiety and depression, which could also be beneficial for those with IBS. B. longum is the strain that was studied.

  • There is a study showing a potential benefit to prebiotic therapy (basically adding in FODMAPs) versus low FODMAP for IBS. The study showed the same effectiveness, which is promising for improving the gut microbiome. Not used in practice yet.

  • We may start seeing breath testing for IBS and possible Rifaximin use for IBS. Won’t work for everyone, so we need to develop a way to test first and treat those that will be more successful with this treatment.

  • The number one nutrition approach for IBS is still the low FODMAP diet. We also see a benefit with the Mediterranean diet, which may be a valuable transition after the low FODMAP diet.

  • Mast Cell disease can cause similar symptoms to IBS. Rare, but could overlap. Histamine is the most common mediator here, and symptoms of diarrhea and pain are more commonly seen. Can also present with allergy-like symptoms, including hives. This is all new information and we are still studying it to find clear biomarkers for this disease.

LOW FODMAP PRODUCTS

There were many low FODMAP brands present to share their products and how that may benefit those with IBS and other digestive disorders. Before giving specifics, I was also introduced to the FODMAP Friendly Food Program. They test and certify food as low FODMAP, giving products a label that you can trust. They have an app, so grab it and have a list of products on hand at all times. Here are the brands that stood out the most to me:

  • Schar gluten free products - most are low FODMAP! Their ciabatta bread and pizza crusts are so so good. Excited to try more.

  • Fody Foods - we love them, we know them, but they’re still a fave.

  • Epicured - they sell premade low FODMAP meals and deliver them to your door! Only available in select areas of the United States now, but may be expanding soon!

  • Enjoy life - they had chocolate chips, chocolate bites, and breakfast bars to try. I don’t love their chocolate bars (I prefer simple dark chocolate) but it’s still a great option for a protein-rich snack.

  • Freshcap Mushrooms - low FODMAP mushroom powders are here! If you’re into that, these are certified and a great option.

  • Fodmapped For You - premade soups! Hello easier meal prep. I can’t believe it took me so long to experience these!

  • Casa de Sante - they have bars, dry soup mixes, protein powders, spice mixes, and more! A great place to try different flavors.

  • Rachel Pauls Food - their Happy Bars are unique and completely low FODMAP!

  • Eat Bobos - oat bites are low FODMAP and easy to find in most health food stores.

  • 88 Acres - they were highlighting a chocolate bar that was incredible! They also have seed butters and other bar flavors.

  • Wow - they shared a packaged gluten free cookie that’s also low FODMAP. Would be a great option for a kiddo.

  • Blue Diamond Nut Thins - my favorite low FODMAP crackers! Perfect plain or with cheeses!