IBS. It’s a polite acronym for Irritable Bowel Syndrome, which we suspect won’t be a topic of discussion around the dinner table tonight.
However, with research showing that 18 per cent, or one in every 5.5 Australians having this chronic abdominal pain, bloating and alteration of bowel habits, it is with delight we reveal that amidst the serenity of Clayton Bay there are those making history in providing relief for these poor souls.
Local resident Ronnie Banks is one of the sufferers, and having grown tired of missing two or three days work every six weeks for 20 years on average because of the impact IBS has had on his life, he chose to go on a FODMAP diet – another acronym for a group of short-chain sugars explained far right of this page.
An internationally-acclaimed research team at Monash University found that these sugars are poorly absorbed in the small intestine once they pass into the large intestine where they are fermented by bacteria, thus causing gas and an increased delivery of water into the bowel, which in turn contributes to the symptoms of IBS.
We won’t get into the real specifics, but the amazingly positive impact this diet had on Ronnie led to he and his wife, Martine, with her background as a project manager in software and development, doing their own research. They discovered there was only one food brand in the world dedicated to the development and manufacture of low FODMAP food. Now there are two – Ronnie and Martine’s SOME Foods.
It is a clever name because they promote the line: When you’re following a low FODMAP diet to help manage the symptoms of IBS there are many foods you can’t eat, but you can eat SOME.”
The SOME Foods range is a selection of sauces that go with their absolutely delicious and simple recipes that don’t include those wicked sugars and especially onion and garlic, which generally cause IBS sufferers the most grief. They include dishes like Martine and Ronnie’s flavoursome Northern Indian Butter Chicken, Southern Indian Madras, a Thai Green Curry or a Thai Massaman Curry each featuring one of their SOME Foods sauces.
Forgive the commercialisation, but what Martine and Ronnie have achieved since launching their range in July is remarkable; the potential to expand their growing state-wide market across the nation and overseas.
Ronnie, who works in the health care field with medical supplier Smith + Nephew, spoke of the horrors of IBS, and when a colleague put him on to the FODMAP diet he experienced a dramatic improvement.
“Martine and I embraced the whole idea of this diet,” Ronnie said. “We love cooking, and it was easy avoiding the ingredients that I could not eat. But there were also times when I became lazy and I wanted something that was convenient.
“We were cooking something one weekend and we just thought it would be nice if every now and then we could open a jar of something and make life easier. It led to Martine doing a lot of research to see if there was anything out there to accommodate people with these same problems and we kept thinking there had to be something. There just wasn’t, and that’s how we came up with the recipes for the sauce products.
“I have worked in health care industry all my life, and I have always been sceptical about a new diet; whether it has a lot of scientific research behind it. There are lots of different diets and fads on the go, and when I first heard about this FODMAP diet I thought, oh, here’s another one of those things people have thought of; another cleansing diet.
“When we studied the research behind this diet from Monash University, a very credible institution with these findings published worldwide and the Therapeutic Goods Administration of Australia now recognising it as the only treatment for IBS – I thought this is worth giving a go.
“The diet has not yet caught a lot of attention by the public despite being a good option, even tough it has been well researched the past 10 years, and studies undertaken suggesting 76% of people affected will get some relief.”
While the manufacturing takes place in Prospect, Martine and Ronnie conduct the rest of their business from their home in Clayton Bay.”
The amazing thing is, we’re talking about preventative measures that don’t come with the usual horrible taste for which medicines are renowned.
“The ingredients are easier for us to digest whether you have IBS or not,” Martine explained. “The core people we are reaching are those who have IBS and are using a low FODMAP diet to manage their symptoms, but more broadly we want everyone to love our recipes so they can make quick meals on a week night, like grabbing a jar of the Thai Massaman Curry, opening a tin of tuna, adding some peas and corn, mixing it together and popping it in the oven for 20 minutes until it is heated.”
Ronnie said the project was not just about the products. “Don’t get us wrong; like everyone we want to make a dollar, but we love it when we do a tasting and we hear how our product is helping someone with IBS and can have a semi-normal life again,” he added. “That is incredibly rewarding to someone who has IBS.” CL
What is the FODMAP diet? FODMAP is an acronym for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. Common examples of foods containing these sugars, which IBS sufferers should avoid, include:
Oligosaccharides: onion, garlic, beetroot, artichoke, wheat, rye, legumes.
Disaccharides: (lactose) milk, cream, yoghurt, ice cream
Monosaccharides: honey, pear, watermelon, mango.
Polyols: apple, apricot, prune, mushroom, cauliflower, celery, sweet corn.
A lovely Clayton Bay couple are producing some sensational sauces and recipes for those who find meals a pain.