The IBS Elimination Diet and Cookbook by Patsy Catsos

COVER Catsos IBS elimiation diet

It isn’t a topic that is often discussed with strangers (if at all), but anyone who suffers with IBS knows there is SOMETHING going on in their digestive system that isn’t quite right. And that person has probably spent years searching for the answer. Thanks to Crown Publishing / Harmony and NetGalley, I had the opportunity to read an advance copy of The IBS Elimination Diet and Cookbook in exchange for my honest review.

This book explores the relationship of FODMAPs to IBS. While IBS is a well-known term, we are only recently hearing much about FODMAPs. The idea of a low-FODMAP diet as part of the treatment for IBS has been gaining traction in the past year. Go ahead, Google it – a quick search for “fodmap” returns 31 million hits!

So what’s a FODMAP anyway? The word is an acronym for “fermentable oigo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols,” which are a group of hard-to-digest carbs found mostly in wheat, milk, beans and soy (along with some fruits and veggies). Not everyone with IBS is sensitive to the same things, so it’s important to find out just what your senstitivites are. This book, originally self-published as IBS—Free At Last, has been expanded to include recipes and is designed to walk you through eliminating all the FODMAPs from your diet, then adding them back one at a time to uncover your individual sensitivities.

It is estimated that there are over 60 million IBS sufferers in the U.S, along with many others who suffer from Crohn’s, celiac disease and ulcerative colitis. Monash University in Australia has led the way in learning about FODMAPs and providing hope for millions who are all too familiar with the problem (whether they choose to talk about it or not!), but easy-to-understand specific information has been somewhat scarce.

Written by Patsy Catsos, MS, RDN, LD, who is a medical nutrition therapist and FODMAP expert, as well as an author, this guide would seem to be a good starting point for those unfamiar with FODMAPs as well as a source for some recipes to help cope with the day-to-day reality of IBS. Four stars.

The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan by David Perlmutter, M.D.

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My husband was heavily influenced to modify his eating after reading Dr. David Perlmutter’s book Grain Brain a couple of years ago. The follow-up title, The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan, is a practical book—much less theoretical than his previous books. As he states: “The main purpose of this book is to help you put my ideas into practice in the real world and to show you that living your best life is about much more than what you put in your mouth.”

For those unfamiliar with the basic premise of his work, Dr. Perlmutter advocates eating more fat and fiber, lessening the emphasis on carbs and protein, and getting rid of gluten completely.

In Part I, of the book reviews, Perlmutter explains the “what, why, and how of the program. I’ll detail the ground rules, present new data, and offer a 3-step framework that will help you execute my recommendations.” Part II gets into the details on how to use his program, and spells out which foods to eat. Part III includes “final tips and reminders,” plus snack suggestions, shopping lists, and a 14-day meal plan with recipes.

I liked the fact that in Part I, when  he explores the sad state of American health, he includes mental health: “The United States is among the ten wealthiest Western nations where death from brain disease, most commonly dementia, has skyrocketed over the past twenty years . . . 5.4 million people are living with Alzheimer’s disease, and that number is predicted to double by the year 2030!”

I hate to call it a “diet,” so let’s go with “food plan.” This one provides 80 to 90 percent of calories from fat, and the rest from fibrous carbohydrates and high-quality protein. Instead of the traditional “old fashioned” meals with a big protein-packed entree and small side dishes, the Grain Brain plan swaps things around: the main entrée is mostly “fibrous, colorful, nutrient-dense whole fruits and vegetables that grow above ground, with protein as a side dish.”

There is quite a bit of information the role of nutrition in relation to Alzheimer’s, including the role of exercise. He cites studies showing a huge reduction in Alzheimer’s for those at high levels of exercise: “Those at the highest level of exercise activity experienced an incredible reduction of risk for Alzheimer’s of 50 percent when compared to those who were more sedentary.” We’ve heard it before, but he reminds us that the best thing to do is pick a routine you can sustain over time.

Personally, I have a problem with eating recreational sugar, but it’s a big deal for many people to include sweets in their food plan. They will be happy to see that the recipe section includes desserts and healthy snack ideas. But don’t get too excited: when it comes to snacks, he suggests things like “a handful of raw nuts, olives, and/ or seeds (no peanuts), a few squares of dark chocolate (anything above 70 percent cacao), chopped raw vegetables, or hard-boiled eggs.”

All in all, this is an excellent book that MIGHT influence some people to change their eating habits. At the very least, it should inspire hope that positive results will come to those who are willing to change. I appreciate the opportunity to receive an advance copy of this title in exchange for my honest review. With thanks to Little, Brown & Company and NetGalley, I give this five stars.