Breaking up with your favorite foods

Heartburn and indigestion are not the hallmarks of a good relationship.

They say that breaking up is hard to do, and that takes on new meaning when you've had a love affair with certain foods. But sometimes our bodies can no longer tolerate our favorites, forcing us to say goodbye to everything from onions, beans, and jalapeos to yogurt and marinara sauce. "Anyone over 30 knows that our body doesn't always work the way it once did, and that gets worse as we get older. The upper and lower digestive tract seem most susceptible to the changes of aging," says Dr. Kyle Staller, a gastroenterologist with Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.

Suspicious sweethearts

The naturally occurring sugars known as FODMAPs (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols) can become harder to digest in older age. These include sugars found in dairy products, wheat, rye, onions, garlic, legumes (chickpeas, lentils, beans), honey, pistachios, cashews, asparagus, and artichokes, among other foods. Some fruits (including mangos, pears, and peaches) contain FODMAPs, as do drinks with fructose or certain artificial sweeteners. Dr. Staller says we don't always know what makes a person develop sensitivity to particular FODMAPs. We do know that eating FODMAPs can result in cramping, diarrhea, bloating, and gas.

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