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.

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!

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

Spruce Up Your Grocery Trolley with These Healthy Additions

HEALTH

Fit out your trolley with these fit and healthy must haves

Think real food and plants!

Hair, skin, nails, the immune system, our joints, our guts, literally everything to do with our body can benefit from a diet that is largely plant based. This is scientifically proven!

The detoxifying effects of the antioxidants and water in plants sets us up for the perfect summer of not only looking great but feeling energetic. This doesn’t mean rushing out and purchasing the newest, most expensive discoveries in superfoods. Some common house-hold food items will do the trick without breaking the bank. Boosting the nutritional value of common food items lays within its preparation. Prep techniques can either make or break a superfood. The goal of eating should be, to boost nutritional content including vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. Each one of these vital components of food is deeply impacted by processing. Processing may include applying heat, adding stabilizing or preserving ingredients such as sugar, sodium, acids or artificial preservatives. Each of which extend the shelf life and taste appeal of the food item but reduce its nutritional content.

I am excited to throw you some little life hacks in this blog to really get you going on a nutritional boosting path.

Have you ever thought of putting your mushrooms in the sunlight? Why on earth would you bother doing that! You ask. Well, the sun enhances the vitamin D status of the mushrooms. Mushrooms are in Vitamin D2 form, not active D3. They do need to undergo conversion for use by the body. None the less, a boost in D2 will do some spectacular things for your health. 1-2 hours is a good sun baking timeframe for our meaty friends.

CITRUS HEAVEN

Citrus foods boast a whole lot more than just the vitamin C they are commonly recognized for. The spray you in the face juiciness of citrus contain an array of free radical scavenging antioxidants which have been shown to guard you from a range of disease states such as cancers, age related brain diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s, heart disease, diabetes and help you to have beautiful skin. 

Rich colored citrus such as ruby red grapefruit and blood orange offer even greater antioxidant content.

Don’t throw away the good parts!

Closer to the outer edges (around the skin and between each segment) of citrus fruits contain some great benefits and is where most of the nutrients lay. Eating the pith can greatly increase your nutritional benefit and boost the antioxidant profile.

Make them crispy

You can enhance some of the benefits of citrus fruits by drying them in an oven. How?

Preheat oven to 100C, slice oranges, place on an oven tray and bake for 1.5 hours on one side and another 1.5 hours on the other. Keep checking on them to see if they have already gone crispy, you don’t want them to burn! This process brings out some of those lovely antioxidants.

AN APPLE A DAY KEEPS THE DOCTOR AWAY

An old saying but it remains strong in the world of health. For such an accessible food the health benefits of apples are HUGE!  Apples are fantastic appetite controls. They help to regulate blood glucose levels, reduce cholesterol, support intestinal health and reduce the risk of diabetes. Green apples (Granny Smith) are lower in sugar and contain the prebiotic fiber, known as pectin, which helps to support healthy gut bacteria function and development.

DON’T throw away the skin! Like all fruit and vegetables, the most nutritious parts of the apple can be found within or just under the skin. Cutting away the skin could mean losing so many wonderful nutritional benefits such as fiber, antioxidants, vitamin A and C.

Wash them

Be sure to wash your store-bought apples. Supermarkets love to have beautiful, enticing fruit and vegetables, but this often means placing sprays and waxes on them to make them shine and keep them looking beautiful for longer.

SPICE UP YOUR SALADS

As a rule, dark, richer coloured leafy greens pack the greatest nutritional punch in a salad bowl. Rocket adds a digestive component to your salad, with its peppery, slightly bitter taste it kicks your digestive juices into action. Baby spinach oozes with antioxidants, iron, vitamin C, vitamin A, K and folic acid, giving you the protective power you need to fight off free radicals and flood you with a boost of energy. These nutrients are also extremely nourishing to the cardiovascular system. Kale is another salad green that rivals rocket and spinach on nutritional punch. Skip the old school iceberg lettuce which carries little more than water and include these superheroes of the salad world. They also make for a far prettier and more interesting salad. As mentioned in the paragraph on mushrooms, vegetables obtain and develop much of their antioxidant properties from sunlight. Salad leaves that are open to the sun such as kale, baby spinach and rocket are given the opportunity to enhance their nutritional profile, more so than tighter more enclosed varieties.

Did you know that the vitamin C found in lemon juice can enhance the absorption of the iron content in spinach? This is great news for vegans and vegetarians as non-heme (non-animal) sources of iron are less easily taken up by the body than their heme counterparts. Adding vitamin C to non-heme sources increases its chances of absorption.

TATOMO TOMATO

Although, greatly recognized for their high lycopene content often related to prostate health, tomatoes have so much more to offer. The carotene that lurks within the beautifully red tomato supports healthy cardiovascular function and prevents skin from sun damage, no wonder they are a mainstay in the Mediterranean diet. Its collagen boosting properties are shown help to repair the skin and slow the ageing process. Once again, the skin is where the money is (nutritional benefits).

Cook them up!

The cooking process increases and activates the tomatoes lycopene potential. Home made spaghetti sauces and baked beans using chopped up tomatoes are a great way to boost the nutrient value of your food.

Keep them out of the fridge

We need those perfect antioxidants to continue to develop long after they have been picked. Refrigerating tomatoes can holt this process and reduce the antioxidant potential of the tomato.

BERRY BONANZA

We all know berries are good for us. They have long been included in the list of superfoods. Why? Berries contain high levels of antioxidants and collagen boosting vitamin C. These, superb inclusions for skin health. But, in a less vein sense, berries are fantastic supports for cardiovascular health.

Look for rich reds and purples. The richer the colour, the greater the nutritional benefit. Some research has shown that the proteins found in milk products reduce the absorption of vitamin C so try to skip the addition of milk. Instead, opt for a non-dairy based milk such as coconut, almond, oat to combine with your smoothie or choose yoghurt varieties utilizing these milk bases.

DIGESTIVE PREPARATION

Brassica vegetables such as broccoli or cauliflower should be rich in colour and slightly steamed, not eaten raw.  Research suggests that brassica vegetables can inhibit thyroid function. It is also difficult for some to effectively digest raw brassica vegetables. When prepared properly, brassica vegetables support liver function, contain significant calcium and vitamin K levels and can become a versatile addition to most meals such as cauliflower rice, pizza bases, vegan cheeses, vegetable bakes and much more.

As you can see, boosting the nutritional content of your shopping trolley is easier than ever and can be achieved with common, every day superfoods. Colour and proper preparation is the key to enhancing these nutritional benefits. Happy shopping!

Are Intestinal Parasites Affecting Your Quality of Life?

Intestinal Parasites

 

Intestinal parasites are far more common than most would think or hope. They may not be easily identified and seen with the naked eye, however, these shifty, not so friendly residence of the body can be wreaking havoc. Parasites can be anything from teeny tiny little organisms, right up to large worms that span much of intestines…and that’s LONG!

These nasty fellows can cause wide spread inflammation in the muscles, skin, gut, and brain. Some of the outward symptoms that may be seen can include:

  • IBS
  • Gastritis
  • Joint pain
  • Allergies, sensitivities and intolerances to various food items
  • Seasonal allergies
  • IBD etc…

In addition to the above malady’s parasites are nice enough to feed on our blood and take nutrients from us. This can lead to nutrient insufficiencies such as iron and protein malabsorption and deficiency.

Some are even clever enough to be able to access the blood stream and enter our vital tissues, feeding off of them like vultures and sometimes leaving behind ulcers and scaring. Tissues that can be impacted include

  • Liver
  • Stomach
  • Muscles
  • Lungs

So how do we get lucky enough to contract parasites?

  • Contaminated water and food
  • Touching feces
  • Insects e.g. mosquitos
  • Bodily fluids such as in sexual intercourse and kissing
  • Nasal passages
  • Having a low immune system
  • Poor hygiene

Some major symptoms of infection with parasites, such as commonly know Giardia and Cryptosporidium include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Dehydration
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal discomfort

These are often immediate symptoms but can also last long after the initial infection.

Before deciding on a treatment, it is extremely important that you refer to your healthcare practitioner for testing to be conducted to determine exactly which parasite you need to address, if any.

But, despite all of this horrific information, fear not. Not all hope is lost if you do happen to be stuck by a troublesome little parasite. Food and herbal treatments have shown efficacy in eliminating or reducing the toxic and life altering effects that parasites can inflict.

Pumpkin Seeds or Pepitas

They are not only a delicious addition to your salads and snacking routine, adding both flavour and texture, but are praised for their anti-parasitic activity. They are paralytic to parasites, particularly helminths such as worms.

Speak to a natural health practitioner on what some of the preparation techniques are for using pumpkin seeds as parasite evacuators!

Oregano Oil

The oil from this delightful culinary herb is highly antimicrobial and can be effective in knocking parasites out of the park (or intestines). It is important to use the oil of oregano under the guidance of a trained health professional for dosing safety, quality and efficacy.

Garlic breath anyone?

I don’t know about you, but I would take garlic breath over the pain of intestinal parasites any day of the week.  

The sulfur rich amino acids and allicin that are found in garlic dominate parasitic infection. These compounds are released only through the fine dicing or mincing of the fresh garlic bulbs. They should be left to sit for approximately 5 minutes before consumption.

Oil of Clove

In short, simple and effective explanation, clove oil is effective at eradicating parasitic eggs. As with the previous remedies supervision and guidance from a qualified health professional is recommended for safety and effective dosing.

Papaya and Pineapple Fruit

These pretty, sweet tropical fruits boast amino acids and the digestive enzymes known as papain (papaya) and bromelain (pineapple). These actives create an unfavorable living space for intestinal parasites. Papaya seeds have demonstrated significant benefits in the eradication of intestinal parasites, although caution and professional support should be obtained before commencing with these natural treatments.

Reducing parasites through diet

Enzymes and acids play an active role in reducing susceptibility and eliminating parasitic infections. The idea is to develop an environment that makes it difficult for the parasite to thrive and survive. Enzymes and organic acids make up a portion of all fruits and vegetables including:

          kiwi fruit, papaya, pineapple, avocado, citrus, berries

          sauerkraut, kimchi, green leafy vegetables, broccoli etc.

A good intestinal flora is also a vital preventative and treatment to the nasty parasitic bugs that can enter our system uninvited. Fermented food products such as apple cider vinegar, unsweetened kefir, sauerkraut and kombucha along with a good quality probiotic support a healthy gut colony.

Sugar and its parasitic loving powers

Sugar and low GI (low fibre) carbohydrates set up the perfect environment for a healthy parasite to thrive and continue to wreak widespread havoc on the body. Sugar and carbohydrates feed and give energy to parasites and allow them to grow and become active throughout the body. Eliminating sugary, high carb foods and alcohol (of course) can reduce susceptibility to parasites and diminish the ability for active parasites to survive.

If you know you have a parasitic infection or suspect you may have based on your symptoms, it is important that you contact a health professional to begin eradication and the healing of the gastrointestinal system as soon as possible. Long term parasitic infections that are allows to remain dormant or active in the intestines can lead to longer term complications that can impact the entire body including digestive complaints, joint pain and nervous system complications.

Contact Danielle

Gut Health: Our Gut and Brain Talk to Each Other

Our Gut and Brain Talk to Each Other

Our gut and brain are more connected than we think

Nutritionists, Naturopaths and Psychologists alike are discovering the power of what is now called the gut-brain axis and the role our gut health plays in mental health.

Did you know we host an entire nervous system in our gut?

Even more fascinating is that this nervous system sends signals to our brain and the brain responds, sending signals and messages back to the gut!

This means, under times of high stress, our gut health can often suffer the consequences, presenting as:

  • IBS, gas, bloating, constipation
  • Weight gain, weight loss
  • increased or decreased appetites
  • blood sugar spikes and dips
  • even vomiting and diarrhoea

Similarly, when we stress our gut by:

  • putting the wrong foods in
  • contract a parasite
  • drink alcohol
  • take excesses of medications
  • cause alterations to our protective healthy gut bacteria

Our gut signals these stress messages to the brain and it responds by sending unpleasant chemical reactions around the body, often resulting in:

  • anxiety, depression, irritability
  • aches and pains
  • sleeplessness
  • hormonal alterations
  • blood sugar dysregulations such as hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) and hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar)
  • and more.

To protect ourselves from these resulting complications, we require a diet high in:

  • prebiotic fibres
  • balanced protein and low GI carbohydrates
  • minimal saturated fats
  • generous amounts of essential fatty acids (healthy fats)
  • minimising alcoholic beverages and non-prescription medications

These will all greatly reduce gut-brain axis complications from impacting on our quality of life, leaving us to live a healthy happy life!

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