Could in-activity or over-activity be affecting your gut health?

digestive health and exercise

Most of us are well aware of the benefits of exercise and movement for heart, mental, bone and muscle health. There is also no disputing its benefits in maintaining a healthy weight. What most of us are oblivious to, is the impact exercise can have on gut health, in a positive or negative way. Especially if you suffer from some of the most common gut health complaints that I see in clinic, SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), IBS or reflux.

What are the BENEFITS of regular exercise for digestion?

  • Your gut microbiome (the healthy guys that live in her gut) rely on good and consistent circulation to the stomach to perform their duties, such as immune support, mood, metabolism, the creation of hormones and to regulate the digestion of food.
  • Exercise also alters the diversity (variety) of our gut friends, to ensure the good ones outnumber and are stronger than the bad ones.
  • Sure, we know about the importance of building the muscles that we can see from the outside. But the gut also has particularly important muscles along the digestive tract. These muscles also need to be toned and strengthened by exercise to perform digestive functions.
  • These same muscles are required to twist, churn, and push leftover food and metabolic waste through the digestive tract to be eliminated. Imagine if you did not have those important muscles you use to do number two! Moving makes sure your bowels also keep moving.

It is best to clear it with your doctor to make sure that the level of exercise is safe for you, but whatever you do, just get moving. Walking, jogging, riding, bushwalking, hiking, Pilates, yoga, gym classes are all great options and can be tailored to your fitness and mobility levels.

What about the flip side, how might my symptoms worsen with exercise?

  • Exercising too quickly after food may increase reflux.
  • Eating heavy foods before exercise may increase flatulence, bloating, reflux and abdominal discomfort due to the bodies ability to switch off digestive function to activate its “fight or flight” response in exercise.
  • While adequate exercise can be effective at reducing inflammation in the long term, over exercising is inflammatory and can stress the body. This causes an increase in a hormone called cortisol, which can lead to digestive complaints and fatigue.  
  • It is important to incorporate recovery days or low impact and gentle exercise into your regime to reduce inflammatory damage and digestive disturbances.
  • High intensity exercise is great for keeping your heart in shape but overdoing it can contribute to diarrhea, especially in those susceptible to loose bowel motions (e.g. IBS). Why? When we run, the flow of blood is diverted to the legs and digestive organs are being thrown around creating disorder in the gut and bowels. 

So, while food can absolutely be a major contributing factor to digestive discomfort, other lifestyle factors such as exercise and sleep can also play an important role.

If you are newly taking up exercise, start slow, set small, achievable goals such as a 10 minute walk for the first week and slowly increase from there, but be CONSISTENT.

Or, enlist the support of an Exercise Physiologist or other exercise specialist along with your Nutritionist to build a holistic, supportive and motivating approach to your gut health goals.

Happy and safe exercising!

Danielle x

COLLAGEN – The gut and skin wonder nutrient

Collagen

The collagen market has hit the health and wellness industry by storm. Everyone wants a piece of the beauty pie. Claims of increasing skin elasticity, firming up sagging skin, healing damaged skin and on a less vein level, supporting joints and healing the gut have people scrambling at local health food stores, pharmacies and beauty houses for all things collagen. Now I have suggested here that the vanity side of things might be completely separate from the gut, but in reality, the gut and skin are very closely connected.

We all begin life as just one lonely little cell, in the comfy and warm womb of our mothers. From here, we very rapidly divide into many cells and develop until we become a fully grown baby. As we continue this growth some of our original cells and remain linked together. Our gut, skin and brain are connected closely by our original tissues.

This has led research to identify a clear link between the gut, skin and associated skin conditions.

Did you know the skin is our body’s largest organ?

As a structural organ, the skin plays a very important part in maintaining a healthy body from:

  • UV damage (from the sun)
  • Dietary and environmental factors that cause free radical damage
  • Environmental pollutants
  • Physical stress placed on the skin

Other factors may affect the health of our skin including:

  • Hormone imbalances
  • A poor diet
  • Alcohol
  • Dehydration
  • The dysfunction of other organs such as the liver and gut

So, what about collagen then?

Collagen is found naturally in the structural makeup of our skin. It plays a large role in skin elasticity, ensuring that our skin does not sag and wrinkle, which is why the beauty industry has made a fortune out of topical collagen products. Collagen is also found in the gut lining playing a similar healing and protective role, but on a deeper level that we cannot see. Although, those with gut problems such as leaky gut will soon discover the benefits after taking collagen supplements or increasing collagen naturally with food.

PLUS Vitamin C

Collagen is heavily reliant on the incredibly famous antioxidant known as Vitamin C for production in the body. Including several sources of Vitamin C rich foods in the diet daily can boost your chances of producing enough collagen to achieve that beautiful, firm glow you have been searching for, as well as do some fabulous healing work in the gut. Because both organs are so connected and so vital to overall health, it is important to work on both the skin and gut.

Here are some vitamin C rich food sources:

  • Broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower
  • Capsicums
  • Chillis
  • Leafy greens (spinach, cabbage, kale etc.)
  • Sweet potatoes, pumpkins
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Mango
  • Pineapple
  • Papaya
  • Watermelon
  • All berries
  • Thyme
  • Parsley
  • Lemons, oranges, grapefruit

Sources of Collagen

  • Fish
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Lean beef
  • Citrus fruits
  • Egg white
  • Garlic
  • Berries
  • Cashews
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Soy products
  • Tomatoes
  • Capsicum

The road to healthy skin

The diet plays a key role in the health of our skin. The skin relies on essential nutrients to preserve its integrity and elasticity. Eating nutrient-rich foods often can ensure we are getting the variety of nutrients require for that all-important glow and youthfulness.

Enjoy Your Fruit & Veggies Plentifully

Fruit and vegetables are a given, we all know it, but we sometimes need to be reminded of this in these times of fast food and time-poor lifestyles. The antioxidants and phytochemicals (plant chemicals and nutrients) found in our fruits and vegetables help to maintain skin elasticity and integrity below the surface of the skin, as well as what we can see in the mirror. Fruit and vegetables also offer the gut the nutrients it requires to produce collagen and stressless hormones.

Eat Seasonally

Eating seasonally increases the nutritional profile of fruits and vegetables meaning you will get the most out of them!

Healthy Fats

Healthy fats are important in helping to build cell membranes and hydrate and plump the skin. Omega-3, omega-6 and monounsaturated fatty acids are the best of the fats.

Sources of healthy fats include:

  • Avocado
  • Nut butters
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Eggs
  • Oily fish (salmon, tuna, cod, sardines)
  • Olive oil
  • Olives

Prebiotics – Improve the health of your friendly gut bacteria

Our colon (the large bowel) has an enormously diverse number of healthy bacteria. Like us, they are living and these very live and operating healthy bacteria require fuel, much the same as we require fuel (food) to live.

What do they eat?

The preferred fuel source of our healthy friends are called indigestible carbohydrates known as pre-biotic fibres to undertake the vast array and very important roles they play in our health.

What do they do for us?

Our healthy bacteria are responsible for regulating the immune system, metabolism, energy production and much more.

It is important to ensure we are consuming enough pre-biotic fibres from our food to sustain our friendly colonic bacteria. Because, let’s face it, without them and their health, we would be sick, tired and lethargic and that is just the beginning. Unfortunately, many of those who presented to clinic have already reached the sick, tired, and lethargic stage and require supportive treatments to reorganise, rebuild and repopulate their healthy bacteria.

Why are pre-biotics considered indigestible?

  • They are resistant to the acid and enzymes found in our stomach
  • They are fermented by our healthy bacteria (as their food and energy source)
  • They become a source of fuel to help the healthy bacteria grow and produce the materials required to keep us healthy and happy.

What is Guar Gum?

Guar gum is a pre-biotic fibre that is popular in many packaged food items and baked goods. In these food forms, guar gum may not offer its full nutritional potential. However, on its own guar gum is seen as a gut friendly ingredient that feeds our little gut ‘besties’.

What are the benefits of Guar Gum?

This gum is tasteless, odourless and helps to improve toileting habits by increasing the bulk of the stool, drawing in water and reducing the straining that often accompanies constipation.  Guar gum has been praised for its positive effects in Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and other digestive complaints such as gas, bloating and discomfort.

Some popular dietary fibres have demonstrated risks for nutrient absorption. Guar gum however, has not shown the same risks and is therefore suitable for those suffering from iron, zinc and calcium deficiencies under the care of a health professional.

Simple use tips

You can add Guar gum to smoothies or protein shakes to make them like thick shakes or play around with the quantities to blend protein powder and water into a mousse. You may also like to thicken home-made soups, stir fry sauces or salad dressings.

4 Pantry Makeover Tips + Pantry Staples List

You’ve seen those perfectly set out pantries with the fancy labelled glass jars and perfectly arranged herbs and spices, the satisfaction it gives you by just looking at it, longing for the fairies to arrive and present you with the same perfect pantry with the wave of a wand.

You open your pantry, but the fairies still haven’t been. It’s chaos, mayhem, anxiety boiling over and all you feel like reaching for is those chips and biscuits you shouldn’t have because you can’t possibly see all of the healthier possibilities beyond that mess! It’s a proven fact that disorganisation and chaos present us with nothing less than anxiety and in a pantries case, bad decisions. Even the shopping becomes a disorganised mess of unnecessary food items that sit in half opened packets, littering your otherwise beautiful pantry.

How do you fix it?

With these 4 simple tips

Tip 1 ~ Ditch the crap!

I’m sorry to be so blunt but it must be said… In the bin go the unhealthy chips, biscuits, lollies, chocolates, cakes sugary cereals, vegetables oils, cordials, cokes and soft drink. You know them well and they are no good!

Tip 2 ~ Waste not

Open your fridge and take a look at the half-used or near empty condiment, curry or sauce jars that have been sitting in there for months! Get creative and use them up or throw out the out of date contents. Glam them up by washing them in the dishwasher or sink and removing their sticky label with nail polish remover. Gather any empty coffee jars and do the same. Voila! You have perfectly beautiful glass jars to store loose pantry items in an airtight container. You can also buy new jars on the cheap for Kmart if you do not have enough.

Tip 3 ~ Get organised

Start making that pantry a place to be proud of. Pretty it up with those nice glass jars you just recycled. Tip any opened bags of oats, rice, pasta, dried lentils, nuts and seeds into the jars and place them onto one shelf – this will become your grains, nuts and seeds shelf.

Kmart also stock some lovely baskets to arrange snacks, unopened packet foods such as taco seasonings and root vegetables into their own respective baskets.

By doing this you will know exactly where everything is when you want to access it and the pantry will begin to look pleasantly neat and tidy, making it easier to create healthy meal ideas for the family.

Tip 4 ~ Plan ahead of your shopping trip

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Begin your shopping trip at home by creating a shopping list of healthy pantry staples. In my home, I have a magnetic whiteboard on the fridge that we write on as soon as someone uses up the last of one of our staples. The list gets added to so we know in the next shop we must get it and we never run out! To get you started here is a list of pantry staples that encourage a healthy lifestyle.

Pantry Staples

Grains & Pastas
  • Brown rice
  • Wholemeal pasta
  • Quinoa (technically a seed)
  • Dried lentils
  • Oats
Flours
  • Wholemeal or spelt flour
  • Flaxseed meal
  • LSA
  • Nutritional Yeast
  • Bicarb soda
  • Aluminium free baking powder
Canned Foods
  • Organic canned tomatoes
  • Organic canned kidney beans
  • Organic canned chickpeas
  • Organic canned cannellini beans
  • Organic coconut milks and creams
  • Canned tuna
Cooking oils & Sauces
  • Coconut oil
  • Olive oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Organic broths
  • Coconut aminos or GMO free soy sauce
  • Apple cider vinegar  
Nuts, Seeds & Nut Butters
  • Unsalted, natural nuts (walnuts, almonds, brazil, pine, cashews etc.)
  • Unsalted natural seeds (chia, pepitas, hemp, sunflower etc.)
  • Pure peanut butter – I also like Mayver’s
  • Almond butter
Herbs & Spices
  • A nice collection of herbs and spices (turmeric, curry powder, cumin, thyme, rosemary, ginger, chili, Italian seasoning, cayenne, paprika, nutmeg, bay leaves, kefir lime leaves, oregano, caraway, coriander)
  • Himalayan salt
  • Black pepper corns
  • Ground cinnamon
Root Vegetables
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Sweetpotato
Naturally Sweet Additives
  • Pure maple syrup
  • Natural honey
  • Xylitol or stevia
  • Rapadura sugar
  • 70%+ dark chocolate
Other
  • Eggs (if they haven’t been kept in the fridge where you have purchased them)
  • Long life almond milk
  • Pure natural vanilla
  • Plant based protein powder

Happy organising! Nutritionist Danielle x

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Be Nice To Your Gut & Yourself This Festive Season

Christmas parties and family feasts are an exciting time for social interaction and for treating your taste buds. It is lovely to sit around the table with friends and loved ones chatting and enjoying each other’s company, telling stories of the year that has passed.

But the indulgent meals and snacks that hit the Christmas table can cause your tummy to do backflips and cartwheels, for some, even by just looking at it. Your eyes and taste buds are saying “oh goody yes, yes Christmas food!”. But your gut is saying “nooooo don’t do this to me!”. Then, come the New Year celebrations not long after. Where is the time to rest and digest?

Here are some tips and tricks to guide you through the silly season.

Stress is enough to churn your gut

Preparing large meals for a big group of people can be stressful. By doing the majority of the prep work the day or night before, you will reduce your stress levels, make your gut happy for Christmas day and be able to enjoy yourself as you should.

Christmas lunch/dinner doesn’t have to be unhealthy

Turkey is a fantastic source of tryptophan, which helps us make our happy hormones serotonin and melatonin, both helping you to feel more relaxed and happier. Also, a lean source of vitamins B and protein, turkey is a great way to fill you up and give you energy for the socialising ahead. Remember to remove the skin to reduce the saturated fat you eat for the day. Fill your plate with mostly vegetables to fill your tummy with goodness and leave less room for dessert and nibbles that are not so tummy friendly.

You booze you lose

Well kind of. Its okay to have a drink or two with loved ones to celebrate gathering together but take care of the types of alcoholic beverages you choose. Reduce your champagne, wine and beer intake to just 1 and opt for vodka or gin and soda. These carry less calories and little sugar to disrupt your friendly little guys in the gut. Alcohol in general is enough to aggravate some gut conditions so know your limits.  Stay hydrated between alcoholic beverages.

Get ahead of the dreaded post feast bloat

Stick to one smaller size plate with half vegetables and some protein. Chew your food slowly and thoroughly. Teas can be beneficial in reducing any bloating and nausea post meal, including ginger and peppermint tea.

Get your move on or your groove on

Exercise in the form of walking, pre-event gym or dancing with some Christmas music can help your body to prepare, process and digest food. It will also help you to burn off some of those extra calories.

Have fun, be merry and enjoy your Christmas.

Danielle x

Golden Sweet Potato Muffins

We all lead busy lives, whether we are a full time stay-at-home mother or father, a family juggling work, kids and their additional sporting, schooling and friendship commitments or business people. It is easy to push our nutritional needs to the wayside when our life seems to be in chaos. Unfortunately the repercussion of poor nutritional intake often means we crave sweet, salty and carbohydrate dense foods to give us an instant but short lived boost of energy to get us by.

Not with these beautifully golden muffins! They concur both your sweet and savoury cravings as well as provide sustained energy with balanced carbohydrates. They are also a quick and easy option to run to the car with.

What else have these babies got going for them?

  • They contain turmeric, praised for its anti-inflammatory abilities
  • They boast an enormous his of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants
  • They are flour and dairy free
  • They are low GI

Golden Sweet Potato Muffins

Serves: 12 muffins

Prep time: 10 mins

Cook time: 60 minutes or until cooked through

Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled, cubed
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 2 cloves garlic (chopped)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground sea salt
  • 2 green onions, chopped or ½ brown onion
  • 2 cups oat flour (2 cups regular oats blended down into flour)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 170°C (fan-forced) and line muffin tray with cases
  2. Steam sweet potato until completely soft
  3. Mash sweet potato with a folk or place into blender.
  4. Using an electric beater, beat the mashed sweet potato, eggs, olive oil and salt together in a large mixing bowl until combined.
  5. Stir through chopped spring onion, garlic and turmeric.
  6. Add oat flour and baking powder and fold it into mixture until combined.
  7. Using a large dessert spoon, spoon mix into muffin cases and bake in the oven for 35 minutes-1 hour or until lightly browned and cooked through. Allow to cool in the tray.

You may store muffins in an airtight container in the fridge or freeze them. Re-heat them in the oven or microwave before serving.