BLOG & RECIPES
1. Mindful Eating
Avoid eating when standing, or when doing work / on the phone or computer. This means you’re eating in your fight or flight mode, which takes the blood flow away from the digestive tract, causing malabsorption of foods, and bloating.
Please try to sit down for every meal, and actually think about what is on your plate, and how it is going to benefit your health; rather than simply thinking about food to fill the hunger in your belly.
This includes CHEWING YOUR FOOD.
Try and chew 20 times with each mouthful before swallowing.
This will enhance food breakdown, increase the absorption of nutrients, and reduce bloating.
When you're eating on the run / in the fight or flight phase, your production of digestive enzymes reduces, and you're less inclined to breakdown your food; meaning it will go undigested to the large intestine, where bad bacteria eat at it; they produce gas = you get bloated and experience discomfort!
What a simple strategy EVERYONE can implement.
Heightened stress (or simply being too busy) can severely impact gut health; and this is something people often ignore.
The body cannot tell the difference between being stressed or in danger, and simply just being too busy. Your body still needs to secrete your stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline) to make you productive, and make use of your time. This is something many people do not recognize as stress.
Stress takes the blood flow away from the digestive tract, alters stool and food transit time (ie: constipation or urgency and diarrhoea); and it also inhibits vagus nerve stimulation.
The Vagus Nerve is one of the Cranial Nerves. It's the Gut-Brain Axis.
Basically, it's like a little chemical messenger highway that links the gut and the brain together.
The Vagus nerve helps control peristalsis (the movement of food from one end to the other), it tells the body to release digestive and pancreatic enzymes to start breaking down your food, and it also helps active the "Rest and Digest" phase of the nervous system; which is the opposite of the fight or flight mode.
3. It's not "You Are What You Eat", but, "You Are What You Absorb".
Digestion begins in your mouth.
No, scrap that!
Digestion begins in your mind and eyes!
Mentioned above, Mindful Eating is severely important.
Looking at your food, observing what is in it, and allowing those signals to be sent to the brain to release saliva in the mouth, is where your digestion starts.
Saliva contains enzymes such as Amylase, which actually helps break down carbohydrates!
If you're not effectively stimulating the Vagus Nerve (aka. Gut Brain Axis / signalling highway), then you will not be producing adequate amounts of digestive or pancreatic enzymes, and therefore won't be breaking down, and absorbing your food.
My simple tips to increase digestive enzyme secretion (and stimulate the vagus nerve) are:
This helps calm the nervous system, stimulate the Vagus Nerve, and switch to rest and digest mode (aka. enhancing food absorption).
4. Test Don't Guess
Think you might have a bacterial overgrowth/imbalance, SIBO, food sensitivity or a parasite?
Then please TEST for it.
Far too many people self prescribe harsh antibacterials and anti-parasitics without actually looking at what's going on with the state of someones gut.
Or more-often, will remove a food thinking they're intolerant to it, without looking at the state of their gut first.
LEAKY GUT - is when the lining of your small intestine is impaired. Think of it as little holes in a cellular barrier. This will impair nutrient absorption, inflammation, and cause food intolerances, because several different food particles, toxins, bacteria, you name it, will be getting through your gut lining, and into your blood stream - and the immune system attacks it, naturally
I like to do comprehensive microbiome testing with the majority of my clients, because it gives us a fantastic view of exactly what's going on internally.
It will test: parasites, bacteria, the ratios between different classes of bacteria that can make you gain weight, crave sugar and slow your metabolism, bacteria associated with auto-immune disease, gluten sensitivity, liver and gallbladder function, inflammation, LEAKY GUT, digestive enzymes; and it will even look at the amount of a particular enzyme that has the ability to re-circulate toxins and Oestrogen in the body...(Hello to all my acne, endo and hormonal imbalance sufferers!).
5. LOOK AT YOUR POO
Gross, I know.
But looking at our stools, really does give us a good indication of what may be going on in our gut.
Let me introduce you to an old friend of mine....the Bristol Stool Chart.
Have a look at the chart, save it if you must.
See which number on the chart you are.
A healthy stool should be around type 3, or even type 4.
Easy to pass, the occasional crack on the surface, sinks to the bottom, no food, no blood, and no mucous.
It should be a nice mid brown, not black or have black spots, and not a clay colour.
For MANY people, this is not the case.
If you're concerned about the quality of your stool, I urge you to do some stool testing with a reputable practitioner.
6. Variety is KEY
Long term gut health comes from variety in your diet.
Every single plant product we eat, had lots of different phytochemicals and constituents that actually allow our microbiome to flourish!
If we ate the same thing, day in, day out (which WAY too many people do!), then our bacteria will be continuously exposed to the SAME phytochemicals and constituents.
Think your your microbiome as a lush, diverse forest.
If you only ate the same 5-10 foods every week, then it's more likely that you will have the same 5 species of trees inhabiting the area. Whereas if you changed what you ate with the seasons, and had a diverse range of fibre rich, colourful plant products, then you will a diverse array of bacterial species.
I say to many of my clients, try and shop at a farmers market, where you can get fresh ingredients that has not been GENETICALLY MODIFIED to be available all year round.
Next time you go into a supermarket, take a look at the fresh produce; have you ever noticed that the same fruits and veggies are available all year round?
That is NOT the way mother nature intended it to be.
7. Avoid Excess Saturated Fats
Saturated fats from animal products and oils such as coconut oil, palm oil, canola oil, sunflower oil,and butter, are high in saturated fats.
Sure, we need a small amount of these, but studies have shown high amounts of Saturated fats in the diet, has been linked to an increased release of something called lipopolysaccharides (LPS).
LPS are the dead debris of gram negative bacterial cell walls, and they are not good news.
They produce masses of amounts of toxins into the human body, and severely increase inflammatory cytokine release (inflammatory chemicals in the body). These LPS produced int he gut and their associated toxins have been shown to be major predisposing factors for inflammation associated diseases such as atherosclerosis, sepsis, obesity, type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer's.
Studies have even showed Coconut oil (which is high in saturated fat) to increase LPS release, and associated toxins.
Now with everyone being on a crazy coconut oil obsessed rage, this is a concern for me as a practitioner, and someone who focuses heavily on gut health and long term health.
I always tell my clients, that fat is ESSENTIAL, and a low-fat diet is no longer considered healthy.
HOWEVER, you need to be sure which fats are good, and which are bad.
I prefer my clients to prioritize their essential fatty acids, primarily their Omega 3's.
These oils have been shown to reduce LPS and toxin release, protect the cells from damage, and reduce inflammation in the body.
8. Avoid pharmaceutical medication if you can...incl. the Pill, Nexium and NSAIDs
Now, this is not necessarily anything new, but more-so here to show you some of the side effects pharmaceutical medication have have.
NEXIUM AND OTHER ANT-ACIDS:
9. Eat Organic
A lot of our food is now genetically modified to be available all year round, and genetically modified to survive pesticides and chemicals sprayed on them to kill bugs and weeds.
These are all extremely harsh chemicals, the majority of which are known carcinogens.
Why on earth would you eat that?!
Eating organic not only supports farmers, but also supports you, and your gut health.
Avoiding toxin exposure from a diet (or lifestyle) will reduce the toxic burden on your gut, and your body all over.
Toxins will increase intestinal permeability (leaky gut), and are a lot for your body (and liver) to process.
Pesticides are associated with an increased risk of chronic diseases such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, birth defects, reproductive disorders, cancers, diabetes and auto-immune disease.
Try and east seasonally, and buy organic wherever possible.
I like to try and follow the below:
DIRTY DOZEN (please buy these organic)
CLEAN FIFTEEN (ok to not get organic if it's not available or accessible - but please WASH AND SOAK these in Lemon or Eucalyptus essential oil):
10. PROTECT YOURSELF
On far too many stool tests, I always see bacterial overgrowth's and parasites.
Many strains such as Streptococcus, Staph, Bacillus, Pseudomonoas, Morganella etc, come from contaminated food, via faecal oral transmission.
Now if that doesn't gross you out, I don't know what will.
Obviously we have little to no control over handling or hygiene practices on other people's behalves, but we CAN help ourselves.
Here are some simple tips to prevent bacterial overgrowths:
I hope you have found this helpful!
Pre-biotic and resistant starch foods, help feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut
Long term gut health comes from a good quality, organic, plant rich diet, with variety.
I always tell my clients, you can take as many supplements as you want, but ultimately your aim should be to be able to get your nutrients for good gut health, from your diet.
My favourite way to do this, is adding in resistant starch's.
Resistant starch's are exactly what they sound like; they are 'Resistant to digestion'.
That means instead of us breaking down a lot of the fibrous matter, we actually leave it up to our microbiome (aka beneficial bacteria) to break it out.
Pre-biotics and resistant starch's are their food.
This is why I do not like long-term FODMAP diets, as a lot of FODMAP foods, are indeed pre-biotics.
Imagine trying to run a car without petrol, or starving yourself of your own food.
Well that's exactly what a low FODMAP diet is doing to your microbiome; it's starving it of it's fuel source!
If you're experiencing a lot of reactions to foods, I would suggest seeking out a practitioner that will do some comprehensive stool testing; as more often than not, it's the state of your gut (and/or stress) that is effecting your symptoms; not the food.
For example, if you so happened to have a bad bacterial overgrowth (which MANY people do!), then these bugs will be eating the FODMAPs, pre-biotics and resistant starch's; releasing a lot of gasses, pro-inflammatory chemicals, and causing you a lot of digestive discomfort.
You can see right there that it's not necessarily the foods fault, but in fact, the bad bugs!
If this sounds all too familiar, then please get in contact with me!!
No-one needs to live a life depriving themselves of delicious (and very healthy food) such as garlic's and onions!
Some of my favourite resistant starch’s and prebiotic rich foods to help feed healthy bacteria include:
Please note: when adding in pre-biotic foods and resistant starch’s you may experience some bloating as gas (especially if you have been avoiding these foods). Try having ½ cup of any of the above foods, wait 3 days, and if no discomfort arises you may continue to eat it.
Now a delicious (and functional) recipe for you to try!
Pre-heat fan forced oven to 170 degrees.
Place green banana flour, eggs, vanilla essence, baking powder, cacao powder, amond milk and coconut sugar in a food processor and mix until combined.
Melt coconut oil in the microwave or on the stove, then mash in 1 x ripe banana; add this to the food processor.
Place contents of food processor in a large mixing bowl, and mix through chocolate chips until combined.
Add the mixture to a lined baking tray (roughly 20 cm x 10 cm tin), and top with coconut flakes.
Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean.
Slice into 4cm x 4cm slices, and store in an air tight container.