Let’s Talk Tummy Troubles – IBS

IBS

Did you know up to 30% of Australians may experience symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) at some point in their life?

IBS is extremely common, so don’t feel like you are suffering alone.

What is IBS?

IBS is characterised by lower abdominal pain more frequently presenting on the left side of the abdomen. It may be worse in the morning and improves after evacuating the bowels or releasing flatulence.

There may be urgency to reach a toilet to evacuate bowels, but the evacuation may feel incomplete. Some experience incontinence, where poor muscular function of the gastrointestinal tract prevents the ability to hold on until access to a toilet is available. Many complain of bloating, gas, abdominal pain and distension which may become worse again towards the end of the day.

For some suffers IBS can become self-limiting and socially embarrassing. Fear of not being able to access a toilet quick enough may prevent people from leaving their home, or fear of un-welcome flatulence may limit conversations and leave people feeling isolated.

Those who suffer with IBS may feel as though everything they eat triggers their symptoms, so they refuse to or avoid eating outside of home.

Poor muscular function and urgency may reduce the suffers confidence in engaging in exercise, only to weaken muscles further.

Symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Fluctuations between diarrhoea and constipation
  • Bloating and abdominal distension
  • Gas/flatulence
  • Urgency to pass bowel motions
  • Undigested foods or mucus in the stools
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety

What causes IBS?

  1. Stress and anxiety

Just as IBS can cause stress and anxiety, stress and anxiety can contribute to IBS symptoms. The gut-brain axis is being recognised as a very real event by medical researchers. Our body has many messenger paths connected to our nervous systems that interact closely. When the brain is not happy, it disrupts the messages and functionality of the digestive system, contributing to symptoms such as nervous diarrhoea.

2. Intolerances

Food sensitivities and intolerances are becoming more common. These intolerances create inflammation and gaps in the gut wall (leaky gut) which aggravate the digestive system and the healthy bacterial colonies that reside in the intestines, leading to gas, bloating and constipation or diarrhoea.

3. Previous disruptions to the gastrointestinal tract

Travellers diarrhoea and attacks of gastroenteritis have been linked to increased cases and symptom presentation of IBS. The toxins that are released during an active infection disrupt intestinal wall and nerves that line the gastrointestinal tract. This damage lingers long after the infection has been effectively cleared.

4. Medication

A long history of medication use and polypharmacy (many medications at once) can damage and inflame the gastrointestinal tract and may aggravate or contribute to leaky gut.

Did you know women may experience a worsening of symptoms during their menstrual cycle?

What are some of the dietary and lifestyle factors that may aggravate your symptoms?

  • Drinking alcohol
  • Drinking large amounts of caffeine
  • Eating high amounts of sugars
  • Medications that may contribute to constipation (iron, pain medications, NSAIDS, sedatives, blood pressure medication, antidepressants, OCP).
  • Medications that contribute to diarrhoea (antacids, laxatives, blood pressure medications, antibiotics)
  • Fatty, fried foods
  • Food sensitivities
  • Stress
  • Environmental toxins
  • A history of traveller’s diarrhoea infection

What are dietary treatments and management options?

Nutrition professionals will often suggest a FODMAP dietary protocol for those with IBS.

FODMAPS (Fermentable, Oligosaccharide, Disaccharide, Monosaccharide and Polyols) are fermentable sugars found in many common foods, some of which are foods that would normally be considered healthy in a normal healthy person. In someone with IBS, some FODMAP foods may cause the bacteria in the gut to ferment these sugars leading to IBS symptoms.

The program is a strict, drawn out protocol with a step by step process, which requires a great deal of commitment and compliance, though, the results are often very pleasing for IBS sufferers. It can improve symptoms and move someone from feeling as though every single food creates symptoms, to identifying exactly which foods are causing aggravations while enjoying others first thought to cause problems. It is recommended that the protocol be undertaken while under the support and guidance of your nutrition professional.

Overall Guidelines for improve digestion

  • Reduce portion sizes and frequency – allow your body to efficiently digest foods
  • Eat a healthy, varied diet
  • Drink adequate amounts of fluids – particularly water and herbal teas
  • Chew your food thoroughly to assist in the digestive process
  • Identify actual intolerances – do not exclude food groups long term ‘thinking’ they may be causing symptoms to become aggravated
  • Ensure dinner is eaten as early as possible to avoid going to bed on a full stomach
  • Keep track of what you are eating and notice the symptoms – not all symptoms will present immediately – take these to a nutrition professional for assessment
  • Stay active – this will improve digestion, reduce stress and enhance circulation
  • Reduce stress and anxiety
  • Fibre is important but find your balance
  • Avoid alcohol as much as possible
  • Avoid caffeinated beverages – soft drinks, coffee and black tea
  • Protect and enhance your healthy gut bacteria because they will return the favour!

Have you considered Copper as an important dietary nutrient?

Almonds

We have been taught to be afraid of toxic levels of the metal copper.

Ever considered Copper as an important dietary nutrient?

But were you aware that copper is extremely important to our health in many vital ways?

Deficiencies can present a variety of health complaints that we may not attribute to a lack of copper unless functionally tested.

First, copper assists in the development of several enzymes within our body that assist in:

  • the production of energy
  • how we metabolise iron
  • the elastically of our skin
  • how our immune cell functions
  • prevention of neurological damage
  • it is a component of antioxidant activity.

Our bones, tissues and liver harbour our body’s copper stores and these storage locations are affected greatly when excesses or deficiencies occur.

Suffering from low energy?

My guess is that copper deficiency has never crossed your mind as a potential cause. Our energy system operates via the transport of various nutrients through a cycle called the citric acid cycle and an electron transport chain. Copper facilitates energy production at the electron transport chain as a cofactor to enzymes.

Are your bones prone to breaking or osteoporosis? Or is your skin easily broken or sagging?

Calcium and Vitamin D are one a small piece of the puzzle. Copper is essential to making cross-links in collagen for bones and elasticity of skin to prevent fractures and maintain healthy skin. Your blood vessels are also made up of connective tissue and require copper to maintain their elasticity for blood flow, preventing arterial complications and haemorrhage.

Are you metabolising iron effectively?

Most people’s first thought for low energy recovery is iron. Although iron may be the culprit, copper may also be required. Copper is necessary for iron transportation and linking iron to its transport protein to be sent to cells for healthy blood development. A lack of copper may just be contributing to iron deficiency.

Food sources of copper

Food should always be considered as medicine before vitamin supplements are factored in to your regime. You can ensure you are receiving enough dietary copper by eating a variety of the following foods:

  • Organ meats (liver, kidneys etc.)
  • Spirulina
  • Oysters
  • Shiitake mushrooms
  • Almonds or Cashews
  • Leafy greens (spinach, kale, chard)
  • Dark Chocolate (>70%)
  • Sesame seeds
  • Chickpeas
  • Avocado
  • Goat cheese
  • Tempeh

Step up your digestive game with these simple steps

sauerkraut

1

Make fermented foods a staple in your diet.

Foods that have been fermented allow for the introduction of healthy gut bacteria into the digestive system to assist in digestive processes. Fermented foods themselves are easier to digest.

Fermented foods include:

  • Kefir
  • Sauerkraut
  • Kim chi
  • Organic natural yoghurt
  • Kombucha
  • Tempeh
  • Miso

Probiotic supplements can also increase the healthy colonies of bacteria that reside in your digestive system.

2

Increase dietary fibre

Soluble and insoluble fibres are essential to a healthy gastrointestinal system and reduce constipation. It is important to keep hydrated any time fibre is increased. Additionally, fibre is an effective waste eliminator as it binds to waste materials along the gastrointestinal tract and takes it out of the body with bowel motions.

Psyllium husk is an easily accessible supplementary form of fibre that can be added to water, juice or cereal.

3

Embrace the power of Apple Cider Vinegar

Combat indigestion, reflux, bloating, gas by adding 1-2 tsp ACV and a squeeze of fresh lime juice to warm water prior to each meal.

4

Drink up!

Water that is…

Hard stools are never fun and being dehydrated is a significant factor in hard stools, straining and constipation. For most healthy adults more than 2L of water daily is recommended.

5

With pro come pre-biotics

Prebiotics are indigestible carbohydrates that are fermented by the healthy bacteria (probiotics) in the digestive tract. The fermentation process provides food or fuel for probiotics to enhance growth and functionality in digestive processes.

Prebiotic foods include:

  • Artichokes
  • Leek
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Beans
  • Asparagus
  • Slippery elm
  • Psyllium

6

Enzyme supplementation

No matter how perfect your diet may be, a lack of digestive enzymes will hinder your digestive capabilities. Supplementation with digestive enzymes prior to meals can assist in reducing the uncomfortable symptoms associated with poor digestion. You can obtain certain enzymes from foods such as, papaya, kiwi fruit and pineapple.

7

Herbal teas not cawfees

Coffee has stimulative and irritative effects on the gut, which can contribute to digestive discomfort, inflammation and diarrhoea. Herbal teas are soothing and nourishing to the gut and increase hydration. Certain teas such as ginger, peppermint, turmeric, chamomile and liquorice tea can reduce flatulence, decrease inflammation and bloating.

8

Mooove

Remaining active increases circulation and stimulates peristaltic muscle movements that push food around and through the digestive tract. Even short gentle exercise after meals can go a long way in the fight for a healthy digestive system.

9

Stress less

Stress is a significant driver in poor digestion. It seems strange and totally unconnected but, the energy that would normally be used in digesting foods is diverted to the brain and muscles to manage stressresponses.

Manage stress with:

  • Deep breathing
  • Meditation
  • Epsom salts baths
  • Adequate sleep
  • Engaging in arts and crafts or any down-time hobbies

Out with Gout!

Gout

Anyone who has suffered from gout or knows someone who does, understands the often painful, debilitating effects of the condition. Gout is a form of arthritis which is marked by significant inflammation, redness, swelling and pain. Gout has been recognised as the condition of ‘over-indulgence’. This agonising condition is caused by higher than normal uric acid levels in the blood and body tissues.

Uric acid is a by-product of the breakdown of purines in the body often derived from diets high in:

  • meat products
  • oily seafood
  • alcohol
  • caffeine

Other medical conditions can become risk factors for gout and high uric acid levels including:

  • hypertension
  • heart disease
  • diabetes
  • obesity
  • some medications
  • kidney disease
  • recent medical surgery
  • family history of gout
  • male >40 year

What are the current medical treatment options for gout?

  • Medications that inhibit uric acid production
  • Anti-inflammatories
  • Corticosteroids
  • Medications that increase the excretion of uric acid

Unfortunately, these medications are not without risks and side effects. When prescribed gout medications, be sure to request information sheets from your GP on the possible side effects.

Going Natural

Celery seed and sour cherry have demonstrated efficacy in reducing uric acid and gout symptoms with few side effects and are generally well tolerated.

Celery

Celery has presented some great results in inflammatory cases such as joint pain and rheumatism. Celery consists of several natural chemical compounds that act as anti-inflammatory agents and antioxidants that crusade in the reduction of oxidative damage that harms joints and tissues.

Sour Cherry

Tart cherry juice has long been used by natural enthusiasts in the fight against attacks of gout when used regularly over several months. Like celery, sour cherry can reduce the pain associated with attacks and reduce characteristic inflammation and oxidative damage due to its high antioxidant content.

If you or someone you know suffer from attacks of gout, speak with a medical professional or a natural medicine practitioner about the benefits of celery and sour cherry in its reduction of gout symptoms and incidences.

It should be noted that diet and lifestyle play are significant role in the presentation of gout and other inflammatory conditions and addressing the imbalances in these factors can greatly reduce the likelihood of gout interfering in one’s life. Remember, prevention is better than a cure!

Keto Bread Rolls (cut carbs)

keto bread rolls

The keto craze has well and truly kicked off and to those of you who are just starting up on their merry way, here is a recipe that will help you cut carbs without even knowing it! Bread lovers behold the ‘Keto Bread Rolls’.

The Keto Bread Roll Recipe

Ingredients 

Dry Ingredients

  • 5 tbsp. psyllium husk
  • 1 1/4 cups almond meal/flour
  • 1 tsp Celtic/Himalayan/Sea salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • optional 2 tbsp. sesame seeds (I let these out in this instance)

Wet Ingredients

  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3 egg whites (you can make flax eggs if you can not eat eggs)
  • 1 cup water, boiled

Method

Preheat your oven to 175C fan forced.

Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl.

Add all wet ingredients (boiling water, vinegar and egg whites) to dry ingredients.

Using a hand mixer, beat ingredients for 30 seconds (be sure not to overbeat).

Pre-grease a baking tray lined with baking paper.

With moist hands pull out six pieces of dough and lay them side by side with enough space to expand slightly on the tray.

Place in the oven on the lower shelf for approximately 50-60 minutes or until a tap on the bottom of the rolls produce a hollow sound.

Enjoy fresh or store airtight.

Magnesium: The Natural Anti-Depressant and Stress Reliever

Magnesium

If there is one supplement that we should all consider adding to our health regime it would be magnesium. Magnesium is a mineral that is found in each and every cell (the most important and basic structural, functional, and biological unit of all known living organisms) of the body.

Magnesium takes part in over 300 internal reactions that help us to function at our best. This is one heck of a mineral! It supports the nervous system and brain functioning by regulating hormones known as neurotransmitters (messengers – our happy hormones). But as you will soon read, there are many other important roles that magnesium plays in the body.

Australian Health Surveys have found that many Aussies consume below the recommended daily intake of magnesium in their diet. This can be attributed to more than just poor dietary intake. The foods that we consume which, in their most pure form should be high in magnesium, are often stripped of their mineral content in processing. For example, grains should contain an abundance of magnesium, however, in the milling process of white rice, pastas and breads this magnesium is removed, along with fibre and other minerals. Therefore, without the inclusion of wholegrain foods in the diet we are depriving ourselves of important nutrients.

Other dietary and lifestyle factors can reduce our absorption and deplete our body’s magnesium levels. High levels of calcium, sodium or salt, caffeine (black tea, coffee, energy drinks and pre-workout/caffeine supplements), alcohol and loss of minerals through sweating can all impact how much magnesium our body obtains. Stress that lasts for long periods of time or frequent stressors, can also play a role in the depletion of magnesium.

Did you know?

Stress accelerates the release of our fight-or-flight hormones cortisol, adrenalin and noradrenaline. This process alone can lead to rapid magnesium depletion, with the result being increased transportation of intracellular magnesium out of the cell to be removed from the body.

Another neurotransmitter glutamate is known to be excitatory. Magnesium plays a role in reducing the release of glutamate, therefore reducing hyperexcitability of neurons (the basic working unit of the brain that transmit information to other nerve cells, muscle, or gland cells) allowing us to relax and remain calm. Magnesium also enhances the conversion of glutamate to GABA. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter which works to calm a hypersensitive nervous system, such as that which presents in anxiety.

When we experience magnesium deficiency, the above mentioned processes can not take place and there becomes no reprieve for the excitation leaving us exhausted.

Depression and magnesium

It is thought that magnesium may help improve depression severity by the reduction of excitatory and fight or flight hormones cortisol and adrenocorticotropic hormone. This incredible mineral has even demonstrated the ability to act on the blood brain barrier and reduce the aforementioned stress hormones from accessing the brain.

Other benefits of magnesium

Magnesium has shown promise in:

  • regulating blood glucose 
  • protein synthesis
  • enhanced muscle and nerve function and recovery
  • increasing energy production
  • maintaining electrolyte balance
  • reducing oxidative damage
  • prevention of osteoporosis
  • regulating blood pressure
  • and more…

What are the symptoms of magnesium deficiency?

  • Headaches/Migraines
  • Body fatigue
  • PMS/Menopausal symptoms
  • Poor sleep
  • Anxiety/ Inability to cope with stress/ Depression
  • Brain fog/confusion
  • Irritability
  • Cramping/Muscle twitches
  • Restlessness
  • Osteoporosis

Speak with your Nutritionist or Health Practitioner to see if magnesium may benefit you. Contact Danielle at Beta Me Nutrition