Managing Endo Belly with The Low-FODMAP Diet: Part 2

Read Part 1 here

After familiarizing myself with low and high-FODMAP foods, and downloading the Monash University app, I headed to the grocery store to fill up on approved items.1 Asparagus, most beans, and cauliflower were out. The fresh garlic and onion I sautéed every night, along with their powdered counterparts, were also a negative.

While I don't have a problem with gluten (low-FODMAP), I found out I can't handle large amounts of fructans (high-FODMAP). Research shows this carbohydrate found in wheat is often the culprit behind non-celiac gluten-sensitivity.2 On the bright side, the fermenting process involved in sourdough means I can still eat bread. Which is fine, because it's my favorite anyway.

While there were a lot of foods to avoid, there were plenty of delicious options still available. I could keep eating blueberries, bananas, and broccoli — just in smaller amounts. And I could stock up on favorites like carrots, squash, and kale.

What the research shows

My abdominal bloating decreased substantially within the first two days. More importantly, my overall pain lessened. Three years later, I've fine-tuned my diet and I'm still experiencing relief. I'm not the only one. In a recent study, more than 70 percent of the participants with both endometriosis and IBS-like symptoms reported bowel relief when they eliminated high-FODMAP foods.3

"The low-FODMAP diet just de-stresses the gut," Dr. Rebecca Burgell, a gastroenterologist at Monash, explained in February. "Because it reduces the distention of the bowel and it reduces the amount of gas formed in the bowel, it just seems to de-stress the bowel in those that are over responsive to normal stimuli."

According to research released in February, women who consumed higher amounts of vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts were more likely to get a diagnosis of endometriosis.4 It could be that since these foods are high in FODMAPs, gastrointestinal symptoms are influencing pain which is more likely to lead a woman to the doctor, explained Holly Harris, an epidemiologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle who worked on the study, shortly after the study's release.

Everything is connected

Before I tried cutting out high-FODMAP foods, I dreaded eating anything. I never knew what my triggers would be. And when my intestines expanded, everything hurt more. It's possible that having chronic abdominal distention activated pain elsewhere in my body, Dr. Christian Becker, a gynecologist and associate professor at the University of Oxford, told me in February.

"The pain that women feel is connected to many other things," said Dr. Becker. "It's a complex network of nerve endings from different areas of the abdomen. Whether it's the bowel, or the bladder, or the peritoneum, they all seem to be interconnected."

Taking away the irritation that came from my intestines may have had a beneficial effect on how other signals were perceived, improving my pain symptoms, he said.

Read Part 3 here

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