The Road to RDville: PCOS and FODMAPs 1

Happy Monday! It’s another exciting week on the Road to RDville. I may be done with classes, but I am learning soooo much.

I did a lot of reading on polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) last week, since it pertains to my nutrition and fertility practicum. I also listened to the National Institutes of Health briefing on the findings from their workshops on PCOS back in December. Lots of exciting recommendations on how future research on PCOS should be handled, as well as how healthcare practitioners should address it.

Even though PCOS is the leading cause of infertility due to irregular ovulation, it is also a metabolic disorder (it greatly increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and other metabolic problems) that can affect women after their reproductive years are over. The NIH panel is also recommending the PCOS be renamed, with the yet-to-be-determined name being more reflective of the metabolic aspects of the disease. That’s fantastic, because a woman doesn’t even have to have polycystic ovaries to have PCOS!

While I did see one PCOS patient last week, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) was the big theme last week.I helped counsel a few patients on how to follow a low-FODMAP (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols) diet. If you haven’t heard of the low-FODMAP diet, basically it starts by eliminating food sources of fermentable carbohydrates that most people don’t have a problem with (ironically, many of them act as food for the good bacteria in our large intestines), but cause major problems for other people (i.e., bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation).

A low-FODMAP diet is one of the go-to treatments now for IBS. The diet starts by eliminating all potentially offending foods, then once the person feels better (assuming that they do…it’s always possible that high-FODMAP foods are not the issue), foods from the various FODMAP groups are added back one group at a time to isolate which substances are causing the problem. Then the person knows what foods to avoid to keep their intestinal symptoms at bay.

One reason last week was so great was because one of my assignments this term is to devise an “alternative” diet for myself (i.e., a diet I don’t already follow), and I had decided to do a low-FODMAP diet. I won’t start it until sometime next month, but I’m happy to learn all I can about it in the meantime. This is obviously a subject I will be writing  more about!