Amy Burkhart, MD, RD

Amy Burkhart, MD, RD

Amy Burkhart, MD, RD, is a board-certified emergency medicine physician and registered dietitian. She also trained in integrative medicine with Dr. Andrew Weil at the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine. Her practice is located in Napa, CA.
1100 Lincoln Ave. Suite 200
Napa, CA 94558
(707) 927-5622 Office
About 10 years ago I was traveling to Australia with my husband, daughter and my suitcase full of gluten-free food. The pleasant but curious guard at the security checkpoint politely asked me, “Are you moving here?”  As I was sure he could not understand the need for my personal supply of sustenance, I explained my need for a special diet. He smiled, as he didn’t think it was so special at all, ”Everyone here understands gluten free and it is available everywhere. You don’t need that extra food. You can find gluten-free options all over.”

Oh, I wish I had called him prior to packing up the already copious montage of equipment required for an infant in addition to my dietary staples for the month. The United States is finally catching16106209_s up in accommodations for the gluten-free community that were so readily available there 10 years ago, but the Australians are once again moving ahead on another front.

Without much notice here in the United States, the Australian Government instituted a new “FODMAP-friendly certification program” this past month.  FODMAPS is an acronym for a group of sugars found naturally in foods. In many individuals, these sugars can trigger symptoms of fatigue, gas, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea or constipation. They are found in foods such as wheat, apples, onions, garlic, honey, legumes and milk.

An intolerance to FODMAPS may be the cause of many cases of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), but is also commonly seen in conjunction with celiac disease, gluten sensitivity and inflammatory bowel disease.  I recently wrote two related articles clarifying the topic of fructose malabsorption and explaining why FODMAPS may be a factor in gluten sensitivity.

It is estimated that 35% of consumers in Australia cannot tolerate FODMAPS, and the incidence in the United States may be similar or higher. The low FODMAPS diet is life changing for people suffering from an intolerance to these foods, but it is also complicated and time consuming.  Any tool that can simplify eating for the population on a low FODMAP diet is a welcome addition! The FODMAP friendly logo makes it easier to identify and select foods that will not be problematic for those on a low FODMAP diet. Each food product is analyzed independently before it is given the accredited logo. Participation in the program is voluntary for manufacturers.

Given the length of time it has taken to get gluten-free labeling implemented in the United States, it may be awhile before this type of logo appears here, but I am hopeful the United States will follow suit eventually. Given the high incidence of fructose malabsorption, I anticipate that the U.S. food industry will play a pivotal role in the speed at which FODMAPS becomes a more familiar term in the United States. The drive for profit may outpace awareness in the medical community, as has happened with gluten-free manufacturers and food retailers moving faster than medical information.

So, the development of this new logo by the Australians reminds me how thankful I am for the progress made surrounding awareness of the gluten-free diet (and my need for less luggage while traveling), and it tips us off about the next likely trend in U.S. food manufacturing.

Recommended resources for a low FODMAP diet:

1.  Monash University Low Fodmap App for I-phone and Android

2.  Monash University Website:  The leaders in research and information on the low FODMAP diet

3.  Patsy Catsos, RD – Fantastic website with information on following a low FODMAP diet

4.  Pinterest site with photos of low FODMAP products

5.  Kate Scarlata, RD – A terrific blog with recipes and information on a low FODMAP diet

6. An explanation of the study that discusses the role of FODMAPS in gluten sensitivity

7.  The Complete Low FODMAP Diet: A great consumer friendly book, a resource for anyone on a LOW FODMAP Diet. Written by Dr. Sue Shepard and Peter Gibson from Monash University.