Thursday, February 12, 2015

Fifty shades of carbohydrates

Low fermentation pancake cookies
Carbohydrates are like people. Both are difficult to understand because they are complicated and complex.
That's why I say there are 50 shades of carbohydrates because there is so much gray area, confusion, misunderstanding and  myths.

There is nothing easy to understand about carbohydrates except that we love them. They can be combined into decadent recipes that feed our pleasure senses. A study showed that most women would choose to go without sex for a month rather than go without chocolate for a month.

We try to put carbohydrates into categories such as high carb vs. low carb or good carb vs. bad carb or low glycemic vs. high glycemic or simple vs. complex. Those categories may work for some people but if you have an autoimmune disease like fibromyalgia, you need to know your carbohydrates like the back of your hand.

An acquaintance of mine recently was told to go on a low carb diet. She thought that meant eating mostly protein and few carbohydrates. She asked me to give her quick tutorial on carbs. Let's see, I think it might take a wee bit longer to explain.


Tasty treat with fibro-friendly carbs
Why won't the popular categories for carbs (e.g. low vs. high glycemic) work for someone with fibromyalgia or other autoimmune disorder? Fibromyalgia sufferers often suffer from digestive disorders with symptoms  including gas, cramping and alternating diarrhea and constipation. These symptoms are described as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). In fibromyalgia sufferers, these IBS symptoms usually can be linked to bowel infections such as bacterial overgrowths (e.g. candida) and food intolerances of some kind that affects their ability to digest carbohydrates.

SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth) was found in 83 percent of 101 IBS patients in one research study. The causes include motility issues, antibiotic use, reduced stomach acid, immune deficiency and carbohydrate malabsorption (which overgrowth bacteria depend and thrive on).
Overgrowth of bacteria in the intestines (candida or SIBO) results in the production of toxins, enzymes and intestinal gases that disrupt digestion, cause intense physical discomfort and damage the small intestines. Enzymes produced by these invading bacteria result in damage to our own carbohydrate digestive enzymes. It's a "vicious cycle" because once our digestive enzymes are damaged, there are more undigested carbohydrates and more unfriendly bacteria.

 How do you outsmart these invading bacteria? You need to understand more than high carb/low carb. You need to understand the chemistry of carbohydrates. Are you beginning to see why I called this post "Fifty shades of carbohydrates"?

I believe I have found something that actually helps reduce my symptoms. It's called the "fermentation potential" of carbohydrates. The molecular bonds in carbohydrates are quite complex and depending on how complex may cause them to be absorbed or poorly absorbed. Those malabsorbed carbohydrates are what I called food intolerances. They result in fermentation and bacterial overgrowth, and cause the unpleasant symptoms.

What I am calling the "fermentation potential" diet is based on the book, Fast Tract Digestion IBS: Science-based Diet to Treat and Prevent IBS and SIBO without Drugs or Antibiotics by Norman Robillard.

The diet builds on the science behind the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), FODMAPs, Paleo and GAPS eating plans. Many of the foods, allowed on these diets, are too high in fermentation potential (FP) for individuals like me who have SIBO and/or candida, and lack digestive enzymes and stomach acid.  FP is based on glycemic index, net carbohydrates (total carbs minus fiber), sugar alcohols, dietary fiber and types of sugars.

The book includes FP tables which list foods, serving sizes, glycemic index and FP. You select foods to eat based on a low fermentation potential. The goal is to have a total low FP for the day of beween 20 and 30. A low FP for a single meal would be 0-7.

Yes, getting the FP that low can be challenging. It requires a food scale to weigh carbs to get the correct amount to prevent going too high on total FP. I have been trying to stay between 20-25 total FP to get my symptoms under control. 

Here are some examples of vegetables with low FP:

bok choy, 2.8 ounces, FP 1
zucchini, 2.8 ounces, FP 2
leafy lettuce, 2.8 ounces FP 2
celery, 2.8 ounces, FP 2
spinach, 2.8 ounces, FP 3
cauliflower, 2.8 ounces FP 3
chard, 2.8 ounces, FP 3

Many of the foods I had been relying on (e.g. winter squash, carrots, coconut flakes, coconut flour, coconut butter, kale, avocado) are too high in FP. Along with focusing on FP, I also am working on trying to elevate my stomach acid through the use of HCL-pepsin supplements. I also take digestive enzymes with every meal or snack. I get a lot more success in digesting my meal if I take them supplements as well as following the FP protocol.

You thought carbohydrates were starches, sugars and fibers. They are but so much more. Each one has a distinct coding that requires specific enzymes for digestion. You know like lactase for lactose; amylase for amylose; protease; cellulase; and there lots more. But as a fibro sufferer you have damaged digestive enzymes. That's why when you eat carbohydrates you get the IBS symptoms because you can't digest them.

Okay, that's the "quickbook" of carbohydrates for fibro and IBS sufferers. Basically, you need to eat carbohydrates that have a low fermentation potential. Get the book, Fast Tract Digestion, for yourself as a Valentine's Day.

 In the meantime, try this tasty fibro-friendly, low fermentation treat for Valentine's Day. It's like a pancake or a crepe filled with farmer's cheese and melted homemade chocolate. Serve it with a dollop of your favorite yogurt.

For the pancakes:
1 egg from free-range chickens
1 tablespoon of lactose-free farmer's cheese (substitute ricotta, if tolerated)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Mix ingredients in a small bowl. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper spritzed with olive oil. Divide the mixture into four small pancakes. Bake until set, about 10 minutes.

For the filling:
1 tablespoon farmer's cheese
stevia, to taste
optional mix-ins such as sunbutter or other seed or nut butter
small square of chocolate

Blend the filling ingredients in a bowl with a spoon. Set aside.

For the chocolate:
Mix 3 T. melted coconut oil with 2 T. cocoa powder
stevia, to taste
1/4 teaspoon raw vanilla powder or alcohol-free vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder

Pour the melted mixture into a small loaf pan or other small pan. Freeze until firm. Then, break into small pieces. Store in the freezer.

To assemble:

Spread your filling on one pancake. Top with a square of chocolate and another pancake. Return to the oven until the chocolate melts. Serve with a dollop of your favorite yogurt on the side for dipping.

"I like soft stuff better than anything."---Misha
Recipe contributed to:

1 comment:

Blogger said...

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The meaning of this is that you literally burn fat by consuming Coconut Fat (in addition to coconut milk, coconut cream and coconut oil).

These 3 studies from big medical journals are sure to turn the traditional nutrition world upside down!