Category Archive Blog

What to Eat if You Get Constipated

Constipation is the opposite of diarrhoea – it’s when your stool tends to stick around longer than necessary. Often it’s drier, lumpier, and harder than normal, and may be difficult to pass.

Constipation often comes along with abdominal pain and bloating. And can be common in people with certain gut issues, like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It’s also very common in people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS/ME).

About 14-24% of adults experience constipation. Constipation becomes chronic when it happens at least three times per week for three months.

If you have chronic constipation it can cause fatigue and inflammation in the body as toxins recirculate.

Constipation can be caused by diet or stress, and even changes to our daily routine. Sometimes the culprit is a medical condition or medications. And sometimes there can be a structural problem with the gut. Many times the cause is unknown.

Whether you know why or not, there are some things you can do if you get constipated.

So what to eat if you get constipated?

1 – Eat more fibre

You’ve probably heard to eat more prunes (and figs and dates) if you get constipated.

Why is that?

It comes down to fibre.

Dietary fibre is a type of plant-based carbohydrate that we can’t digest and absorb. Unlike cows, humans don’t have the digestive enzymes to break it down. And that’s a good thing!

Even though we can’t digest it ourselves, fibre is very important for our gut health for two reasons.

First, fibre helps to push things through our system (and out the other end).

Second, fibre is an important food for feeding the friendly microbes in our gut.

There are two kinds of fibre: soluble and insoluble

Soluble fibre dissolves in water to make a gel-like consistency. It can soften and bulk up the stool; this is the kind of fibre that you want to focus on for helping with constipation. Soluble fibre is found in legumes (beans, peas, lentils), fruit (apples, bananas, berries, citrus, pears, etc.), vegetables (broccoli, carrots, spinach, etc.), and grains like oats.

Psyllium is a soluble non-fermenting fibre from corn husks. It’s been shown to help soften stools and produce a laxative effect.

Insoluble fibre, on the other hand, holds onto water and can help to push things through the gut and get things moving. It’s the kind found in the skins and seeds of fruits and vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, celery, zucchini, as well as the skins of apples, pears, and potatoes.

It’s recommended that adults consume between 20-35 grams of fibre per day.

If you are going to increase your fibre intake, make sure to do it gradually. Radically changing your diet can make things worse!

And, it’s also very important to combine increased fibre intake with my next point to drink more fluids.

NOTE: There is conflicting evidence on how fibre affects constipation. In some cases, less insoluble fibre may be better, especially if you have certain digestive issues. So, make sure you’re monitoring how your diet affects your gut health and act accordingly. And don’t be afraid to see your healthcare provider when necessary.

2 – Drink more fluids

Since your stools are hard and dry when you’re constipated, drinking more fluids can help keep everything hydrated and moist. This is especially true when trying to maintain a healthy gut every day, rather than when trying to deal with the problem of constipation after it has started.

And it doesn’t only have to be water – watery foods like soups, and some fruits and vegetables can also contribute to your fluid intake.

Always ensure you’re well hydrated, and drinking according to thirst; this is recommended for gut health as well as overall health.

3 – Probiotics

Probiotics are beneficial microbes that come in fermented foods and supplements. They have a number of effects on gut health and constipation. They affect gut transit time (how fast food goes through us), increase the number of bowel movements per week, and help to soften stools to make them easier to pass.

Probiotic foods (and drinks) include fermented vegetables (like sauerkraut and kimchi), miso, kefir, and kombucha.

More research is needed when it comes to recommending a specific probiotic supplement or strain. If you’re going to take supplements, make sure to read the label to ensure that it’s safe for you. And take it as directed.

If you would like to learn more about how to improve your bowel movements and general digestive health, contact Kate on 07562 868342 for a free 15 minute discovery call.

4 – Lifestyle

Some studies show that the gut benefits from regular exercise.

Ideally, aim to exercise for at least 30 minutes most days.

In terms of stress, when we’re stressed, it often affects our digestive system. The connection between our gut and our brain is so strong, researchers have coined the term “gut-brain axis.”

By better managing stress, we can help to reduce emotional and physical issues (like gut issues) that may result from stress. Try things like meditation, deep breathing, and exercise.

And last but not least – make sure to go when you need to go! Don’t hold it in because that can make things worse.

Conclusion

Optimal digestion is so important for overall health. Constipation is a common problem.

Increasing our fibre and water intake and boosting our friendly gut microbes are key things we can do to help things move along.

And don’t forget how lifestyle habits can affect our physical health! Exercise, stress management, and going to the bathroom regularly can also help us maintain great gut health.

Have you found that fibre, water, or probiotics affect your gut health? What about exercise, stress, and regular bathroom trips? I’d love to know in the comments below!

Recipe (high soluble fibre): Toasted Oats with Pears

Serves 4

Ingredients

150g oats, gluten-free

Pinch sea salt

300ml water

300ml almond milk, unsweetened

2 medium pears, sliced

4 tsp maple syrup

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Instructions

Toast oats by placing them in a large saucepan over medium-high heat for 2-4 minutes. Make sure to stir them frequently to prevent burning. Add salt, water, and almond milk to the saucepan of toasted oats. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20-30 minutes, or until desired tenderness is reached. Divide into four bowls and top with pears, walnuts, maple syrup, and cinnamon.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: If you want to roast your pears first, place them in a baking dish at 200C for about 10 minutes while you’re cooking the oats.

References:

https://www.dietvsdisease.org/best-laxatives-constipation/

https://www.dietvsdisease.org/chronic-constipation-remedies-for-relief/

https://www.precisionnutrition.com/research-constipation-fiber

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002136.htm

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/probiotics-may-ease-constipation-201408217377

https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/6-ways-to-enjoy-fiber-in-your-diet

Dairy Intolerance (Lactose, Casein and Whey)

Having a food intolerance is not fun. It can cause abdominal pain, discomfort, and nausea. It also causes embarrassing symptoms like flatulence and diarrhoea. Other symptoms linked to food intolerances include muscle or joint pain, headaches, chronic fatigue, and even skin symptoms like rashes and eczema.

Dairy intolerance (lactose, casein and whey) is common and many people a reacting to it without being aware. Let’s talk about the main components of milk that people react to: lactose, casein, and whey.

Milk sugar (lactose) intolerance

It’s estimated that up to 75% of adults are lactose intolerant. Lactose is the carbohydrate “milk sugar” naturally found in most dairy products. Lactose intolerance is so common you can buy lactose-free milk in your local supermarket. Lactose-free products are treated with the enzyme “lactase” that breaks the lactose down before you ingest it. It’s this lactase enzyme that is lacking in most people who are lactose intolerant.

The lactase enzyme is naturally released from your intestine as one of your digestive enzymes. It breaks down the lactose sugar in the gut. When someone doesn’t have enough lactase, the lactose doesn’t get broken down the way it should. Undigested lactose ends up being food for the resident gut microbes. As they ferment the lactose, they create gases that cause bloating, flatulence, pain, and diarrhoea.

Lactose is in dairy but is in lower amounts in fermented dairy (e.g. cheese & yoghurt) and butter. Steering clear of lactose isn’t that easy as it is added to other foods like baked goods, soups, and sauces. And if you’re taking any medications or supplements, check to see if it’s in there too, as lactose is a common ingredient in them.

If you have symptoms of lactose intolerance, keep an eye on food, medication, and supplement labels.

If you suspect you have a dairy intolerance (lactose, casein and whey) and would like to know more, or if you want to look into food intolerance testing to confirm your suspicions, contact me for a free 15 minute discovery call.

Milk protein (casein & whey) allergy

Milk is a known, and common, food allergen and must be declared on food labels.

So, what are the allergens in milk? You’ve heard of “curds and whey?” Well, these are the two main proteins in milk. The solid bits are the curds (made of casein), and the liquid is the dissolved whey.

Unlike lactose intolerance, casein and whey can cause an actual immune response. It’s an allergy. And this immune response can cause inflammation. In fact, we don’t know how many people have these milk allergies, but most estimates put it far below that of lactose intolerance.

Like lactose, these allergenic milk proteins can be found in other products too. They’re not just in dairy but are often in protein powders as well (Have you heard of “whey” protein powders?).

Some of the symptoms of milk protein allergy differ from that of lactose intolerance; things like nasal congestion and mucus (phlegm) are more common here. And casein seems to be linked with belly fat.

Interestingly, people who have gluten intolerance are often allergic to milk proteins like whey and casein as well. These can go hand-in-hand.

Like lactose intolerance, if you’re allergic to casein and whey keep an eye on labels so you can avoid these.

Conclusion

If you get gassy, bloated, or diarrhoea after eating dairy, you may have a lactose intolerance. If you often get a stuffy nose and mucus, then you may be allergic to casein and/or whey.

While dairy may be an entire food group, it is not an essential nutrient. All the nutrients in dairy are available in other foods. Bioavailable calcium is found in leafy green vegetables, nuts and seeds. If you experience these symptoms, you can try removing dairy from your diet. You may find improved digestion and fewer gut issues. Or you may find improved nasal congestion, or even less belly fat.

If you decide to (or have already) removed dairy from your diet, let me know your experience in the comments below.

Recipe (Dairy-free): Chocolate Ice “Cream”

Serves 2

Ingredients

3 bananas, sliced and frozen
2 tsp cacao powder, unsweetened
1 tbsp almond butter

Instructions

Place frozen bananas in food processor and blend until smooth (a few minutes). You may have to stop a few times to scrape the sides.

Add cacao powder and almond butter and blend until mixed well.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: You can make this in advance and freeze in an airtight container.

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/11-proven-ways-to-reduce-bloating/

https://www.dietvsdisease.org/how-to-get-rid-of-bloating/

hhttps://www.dietvsdisease.org/11-warning-signs-you-have-a-food-intolerance/

https://authoritynutrition.com/dairy-foods-low-in-lactose/

https://authoritynutrition.com/lactose-intolerance-101/

hhttp://www.precisionnutrition.com/whey-protein-allergies-intolerances-bloating

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-food-sensitivities

https://www.thepaleomom.com/the-great-dairy-debate/

hhttps://nutritionfacts.org/video/is-milk-and-mucus-a-myth/

https://nutritionfacts.org/video/milk-protein-vs-soy-protein/

https://examine.com/supplements/casein-protein/

hhttps://examine.com/supplements/whey-protein/

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blood-pressure/milk-protein-may-lower-blood-pressure

5 Natural Tips to Beat Bloating

Do you ever feel a bit “overextended” in the belly after a meal? Perhaps “gassy?” Have you ever carried a “food baby?”

Well, bloating is common. Up to 25-30% of people experience it regularly. It happens when you have trouble digesting. The symptoms come from excess gas, reactions to foods, or food not moving through you as well as it could.

There are many reasons you might experience these symptoms. Maybe because of a serious condition (disease), or a food allergy or intolerance (what you eat). It can also result from how you eat.

If you have a serious digestive issue like IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), then make sure you eat accordingly. Same goes if you know certain foods give you gas. Simply avoid them.

If you’re already doing those things, and still experience bloating, here are 5 natural tips to beat bloating.

1 – Don’t overeat

If you overeat at a meal, then you’ll feel bigger around the mid-section. You’ll feel more pressure in your abdomen. Plus, you’re giving your digestive system a hard time. Consider that your stomach is really only the size of your fist. Compare that with how much you put on your plate. It’s better to eat until you feel almost full and not overindulge. Grab an extra snack or small meal throughout the day if you have to. Just don’t over-stuff yourself in one sitting.

The order in which your foods are eaten can also affect your digestion. Place foods with the highest protein content (animal products) at the beginning of the meal as they require the most stomach acid compared to starches and other foods.

2 – Avoid sugar alcohols

Sugar alcohols are low-calorie sweeteners made from sugars. In an ingredients list, they end in “-ol,” and include things like sorbitol, xylitol, and erythritol. They’re found in some chewing gums and sugar-free foods. Some people experience bloating after eating foods with these. So, try avoiding them and see if that helps you.

3 – Avoid swallowing air

Sometimes the gas that causes pressure in your digestive system is from swallowing air. Things like carbonated drinks are the biggest culprit here. You can also swallow air when you chew gum or drink through a straw, so try ditching these.

You can also swallow air when eating too quickly or while talking. Which leads me to…

4 – Eat slower, more mindfully, and less stressed

Eating too fast isn’t doing your digestive system any favours. You can help the food move along by chewing it thoroughly and slowing down your eating habits. Be mindful and enjoy the time you are spending eating your meals. Savour them.

The feeling of stress can also cause increased bloating. Stress-reducing techniques can help improve your digestion. Try meditating or deep breathing (but not while you’re eating). 🙂

5 – Try peppermint

Peppermint oil has been shown to improve bloating. It’s thought to increase transit time by relaxing the stomach muscles and increasing the flow of bile. Try steeping fresh peppermint leaves, or a peppermint tea bag, and drinking it slowly. See if that helps reduce your symptoms.

Ginger works much like peppermint, it stimulates the production of stomach acid and bile and helps to reduce gas and nausea. Try it in tea form or simply steep sliced fresh ginger.

Conclusion

There are a bunch of natural ways to deal with bloating.

First, avoid it by not eating things that give you gas or aggravate a digestive issue. Try not to overeat, consume sugar alcohols, or swallow air. Also, eating more mindfully and reducing stress can help too. Finally, if you are experiencing bloating, enjoy a cup of peppermint tea.

If you do all of these, and still experience bloating, then you may have a food intolerance; this could be from an allergy or intolerance. If you have a major concern, then please see your doctor. Your doctor can help to rule out a serious and/or chronic condition.

If you suffer with bloating and want to learn more than my 5 natural tips to beat bloating, contact me for a free 15 minute discovery call.

Recipe: Peppermint Mocha Creamer

Ingredients

1 can coconut milk
½ cup almond milk, unsweetened
2 tbsp cacao powder, unsweetened
½ tsp peppermint extract or essential oil (food-grade and safe for internal use)
3 tbsp honey or maple syrup (optional)

Instructions

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until well combined.

Store in a sealed container in your fridge.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: While the non-peppermint ingredients in this creamer may or may not be “de-bloating” for you, try these ideas too:

  • Grow peppermint yourself;
  • Chew on the fresh leaves; and/or
  • Steep them for tea.

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/11-proven-ways-to-reduce-bloating/

https://www.dietvsdisease.org/how-to-get-rid-of-bloating/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/fix-gut-fix-health

What to do About Leaky Gut

Leaky gut is also known as increased intestinal permeability. It’s when the cells lining our intestines (gut) separate a bit from each other. They’re supposed to be nice and tightly joined to the cell beside it; this is to allow certain things into our bodies (like nutrients), and keep other things out.

When the tight junctions between intestinal cells weaken it can cause the gut to be more permeable – leakier – than normal. When this happens, it allows things into our bodies that should not get in; things like large pieces of protein, toxins, or even bacteria and waste.

When substances that shouldn’t be there get into our bloodstream through the “leaks” in our gut, our immune system kicks in. These leaked bits mimic a food allergy, and our body reacts accordingly. It mounts a response to try to attack the invaders, and this causes inflammation.

Leaky gut is associated with a number of issues including food allergies, Coeliac disease, autoimmune diseases (e.g., Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Hashimoto’s, asthma, type 1 diabetes, acne, eczema), joint pain, and neurological problems (e.g., multiple sclerosis). Some research shows that leaky gut might contribute to or worsen these conditions.

Also leaky gut is common in chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). It can be caused by the roots of a Candida overgrowth piercing holes in the gut lining. In addition it can be caused be deficiencies of nutrients such as omega 3, zinc and glutamine.

While some of our gut permeability may have a genetic factor, there are lifestyle habits that contribute as well. Too much sugar or alcohol, and not enough fibre can make things worse. Even certain compounds in foods (e.g., gluten, lectins, casein, fructose) and food additives (e.g., MSG) can weaken tight junctions.

So, what should we eat, and ditch, for optimal gut health?

Avoid or reduce these

There are certain foods that irritate the gut or can cause those loosened junctions to get even looser.

Some of these include:

  • Foods that you’re allergic to
  • Foods with added sugar
  • Foods containing MSG
  • Foods with sugar alcohols (e.g., sorbitol)
  • Gluten-containing grains (e.g., wheat, rye, barley)
  • High-lectin foods (e.g., grains, legumes)
  • Nightshades (e.g., eggplant, peppers, tomato)
  • Dairy (which contains casein & lactose)
  • Excessive alcohol

It’s a good idea to reduce these foods and if leaky gut is a confirmed issue for you, avoid them until the leaky gut has been addressed.

If you’re ready to learn what to do about leaky gut, contact Kate for a free 15 minute discovery call.

Eat more of these

There are also a bunch of foods that support gut health, including the intestinal cells themselves, as well as our friendly gut microbes. Many of these also reduce inflammation.

Things like:

  • Probiotic-rich fermented foods (e.g., sauerkraut, kimchi)
  • Prebiotic fibre-rich foods which help our gut microbes produce butyrate (e.g., leafy greens, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds)
  • Glutamine-rich foods (e.g., bone broth, meat)
  • Quercetin-rich foods (e.g., citrus, apples, onions)
  • Curcumin-rich turmeric
  • Indole-rich foods (e.g., broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, mustard greens)

These are all nutritious foods that can help with gut health and overall health.

It’s not just what you eat that can affect your gut. Other lifestyle habits can help too.

Try:

  • Eating slower and chewing better to help break down food better
  • Eating when hungry, and stopping when satisfied
  • Going to the bathroom when you need to (don’t hold it for longer than necessary)
  • Getting more high-quality sleep
  • Better stress management

All of these are great healthy habits to get into, gut problems or not.

Conclusion

To help keep our guts (and our bodies) in optimal condition, there are a lot of foods we should eat (and lots we should reduce).

Sticking with nutrient-dense unprocessed foods is always a good plan, whether you have gut issues, other concerns, or feel completely healthy.

And, don’t forget the importance of a healthy lifestyle like good eating habits, sleep, and stress management.

Which of these foods have you added or reduced? Let me know in the comments below.

Recipe (Gut supporting): Braised Greens with Turmeric

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 bunches leafy greens (kale, chard, collards), washed and chopped

2 tbsp olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

½ tsp turmeric

2 dashes salt and pepper

Instructions

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

Add the greens and a splash of water.

Sauté until the greens start to wilt.

Remove from heat and sprinkle with lemon juice, turmeric, salt and pepper.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: Serve this as a side dish (hot or cold), or add to soup.

For more information about what to do about leaky gut, contact Kate for a free 15 minute discovery call.

Antioxidant Foods to Reduce Fatigue

Antioxidants are just that: they fight (anti) oxidation.

The chemical process of oxidation is like rusting metal. A molecule loses electrons and creates the infamous free radicals.  Oxidation is also the reason why apples, bananas, and avocados go brown when the skin is broken, and they’re exposed to air – they’re getting oxidised.

Free radicals in the body cause inflammation and can contribute to diseases like cancers, diabetes, and heart disease (to name a few). So, the antidote to oxidation is the antioxidant. Vitamins like vitamins A, C, and E are examples of antioxidants. So are other compounds in foods like carotenoids and phenols. These compounds sacrifice their electrons to stop the oxidation process; this why squirting some lemon juice on your sliced apples, bananas and avocados slows down the browning process.

But don’t think that all oxidation in the body is bad. It’s not. Your body naturally oxidizes compounds all the time when it’s doing healthy things like metabolizing nutrients or exercising.

As with many things in life and health, the key is maintaining a good balance. In this case, as the balance between oxidation and antioxidation.

We can throw off that balance with exposure to too much alcohol, smoking, or environmental pollutants. Even over-exercising or too much sun exposure can create too much oxidation.

The best sources of antioxidants to combat this effect are nutritious whole foods, like colourful fresh produce, e.g., blueberries, purple cabbage, etc. In fact, the more colourful and darker the plant is, the higher levels of antioxidants it usually has.  Chemicals that give the plants their deep colours are often the antioxidants themselves.

Antioxidant Foods to Reduce Fatigue

Let me list out a bunch of antioxidants and the foods they’re found in:

  • Vitamin A – Found in liver, dark leafy greens (e.g., kale), orange fruits and veggies (e.g., mangoes, carrots & squashes)
  • Vitamin C – Rich in bell peppers, citrus, berries, and leafy greens
  • Also vitamin E – Found in leafy greens, nuts (e.g., walnuts), and seeds (e.g., sunflowers)
  • Carotenoids (e.g., beta-carotene, lycopene, etc.) – Found in tomatoes, carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, and salmon
  • Phenols – Found in green tea, black tea, coffee, cocoa, red wine, and berries

Blueberries are probably one of the most studied antioxidant foods. They contain a range of phytochemical (i.e., plant chemical) compounds and are very high in anthocyanins (the blue-coloured compound).

Furthermore the antioxidant capacity can be measured in a laboratory; this is called the “oxygen radical absorption capacity,” or “ORAC.” And blueberries have one of the highest ORAC levels.

If you’re ready to learn more about how antioxidants can reduce your symptoms of fatigue, contact Kate for a free 15 minute call.

Antioxidant Foods vs. Supplements

While antioxidant supplements have been tested, their results haven’t been as good as many hoped. Compared with eating a nutrient-dense antioxidant-rich colourful array of plants, antioxidants supplements have fallen short.

Many studies of antioxidant supplements haven’t shown any benefit against heart disease, cancer, or other diseases. And these are diseases that are known to be reduced in people who eat a lot of foods that are naturally full of antioxidants.

In fact, too much of any individual antioxidant, like when overdoing supplements, can be harmful. Too much vitamin A is linked to increased risk of hip fractures and prostate cancer. Too much beta-carotene increases the risk of lung cancer in smokers. In addition, too much vitamin E increases the risk of prostate cancer, lung infections, heart failure, and even death.

One of the reasons why we think that antioxidant foods work oh-so-much better than antioxidant supplements is because of synergy.  The concept of synergy means that by taking one component out of healthful food (i.e., the antioxidant), it loses the effect it has when combined with all the other healthy components it came with from nature. This is the difference between eating a whole orange and taking a vitamin C supplement. The orange is going to have more than just vitamin C, and many of those compounds will work together for overall health better than just isolating one and having higher-than-normal doses of it.

Conclusion

Overall there are antioxidant vitamins (A, C & E) and other antioxidants like carotenoids and polyphenols. They’re highest in colourful fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some meats, tea, coffee, and cocoa.

Also you can’t replace a diet full of nutrient-dense antioxidant-rich whole foods with supplements. So stick with the foods.

Which antioxidant-rich foods and drinks are your favourites? Let me know in the comments below.

Recipe (Antioxidant-rich): Blueberry Smoothie

Serves 2

Ingredients

1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

1 banana

A pinch of cinnamon

Handful baby spinach leaves

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

Directions

Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: Use any greens you have on hand in place of the spinach, if you wish.

If you would like more information on how antioxidants can reduce your symptoms of fatigue, contact Kate for a free 15 minute call.

References:

https://www.precisionnutrition.com/encyclopedia/food/antioxidants

https://www.precisionnutrition.com/soreness-and-blueberries

https://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-coffee

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/supplements-a-scorecard

https://examine.com/nutrition/4-science-based-superfoods-you-should-be-eating/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/family-health-guide/swan-song-for-antioxidant-supplements-the

How to Read Nutrition Facts Tables

The Nutrition Facts table is on the side of most packaged foods. It’s often found close to the ingredient listing.

The purpose of it is to help consumers make better nutrition decisions. When people can see the number of calories, carbs, sodium, etc. in food, they should be able to eat better, right?

Whether you like the Nutrition Facts table or not, let’s make sure you get the most out of it, since it’s here to stay!

Here’s my four-step crash course on how to read the Nutrition Facts table.

Step 1: Serving Size

 The absolute most important part of the Nutrition Facts table is to note the serving size. Manufacturers often strategically choose the serving size to make the rest of the table look good. Small serving = small calories/fat/carbs. So, it’s tricky.

All the information in the table rests on the amount chosen as the serving size. And, since every manufacturer chooses their own, it’s often difficult to compare two products.

In Canada, in the next few years (between 2017-2022), serving sizes will be more consistent between similar foods. This will make it easier to compare foods. The new labels will also have more realistic serving sizes to reflect the amount that people eat in one sitting, and not be artificially small.

Let’s use an example – plain, unsalted walnuts.

As you can see, right under the Nutrition Facts header is the serving size. That is a ¼ cup or 28 g. This means that all the numbers underneath it are based on this amount.

FUN EXPERIMENT: Try using a measuring cup to see exactly how much of a certain food equals one serving. You may be surprised at how small it is (imagine a ¼ cup of walnuts).

Step 2: % Daily Value

The % Daily Value (%DV) is based on the recommended daily amount of each nutrient the average adult needs. Ideally, you will get 100% DV for each nutrient every day. This is added up based on all of the foods and drinks you have throughout the day.

NOTE: Since children are smaller and have different nutritional needs if a type of food is intended solely for children under the age of 4, then those foods use a child’s average nutrition needs for the %DV.

The %DV is a guideline, not a rigid rule.

You don’t need to add all of your %DV up for everything you eat all day. Instead, think of anything 5% or less to be a little; and, anything 15% or more to be a lot.

NOTE: Not every nutrient has a %DV. You can see it’s missing for things like cholesterol, sugar, and protein. This is because there isn’t an agreed “official” %DV for that nutrient. The good news is that the new Nutrition Facts tables will include a %DV for sugar. Keep your eyes out for that.

Step 3: Middle of the table (e.g. Calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium, potassium, carbohydrates, and protein)

Calories are pretty straight forward. Here, a ¼ cup (28 g) of walnuts has 190 calories.

Fat is in bold for a reason. That 1 g of fat (29% DV) is total fat. That includes the non-bold items underneath it. Here, 19 g of total fat includes 1.5 g saturated fat, (19 g – 1.5 g = 17.5 g) unsaturated fat, and 0 g trans fat. (Yes, unsaturated fats including mono- and poly-unsaturated are not on the label, so you need to do a quick subtraction).

Cholesterol, sodium, and potassium are all measured in mg. Ideally, aim for around 100% of potassium and sodium each day. It’s easy to overdo sodium, especially if you grab pre-made, restaurant foods, or snacks. Keep an eye on this number if sodium can be a problem for you (e.g. if your doctor mentioned it, if you have high blood pressure or kidney problems, etc.).

Carbohydrate, like fat, is in bold because it is total carbohydrates. It includes the non-bold items underneath it like fibre, sugar, and starch (not shown). Here, 30 g of walnuts contain 4 g of carbohydrates; that 2 g are all fibre. There is no sugar or starch. And as you can see, 2 g of giber is 8% of your daily value for fibre.

Proteins, like calories, are pretty straight forward as well. Here, a ¼ cup (28 g) of walnuts contains 4 g of protein.

Step 4: Bottom of the table (e.g. vitamins & minerals)

The vitamins and minerals listed at the bottom of the table are also straightforward. The new labels will list potassium, calcium, and iron. Yes, potassium will drop from the middle of the table to the bottom, and both vitamins A & C will become optional.

Manufacturers can add other vitamins and minerals to the bottom of their Nutrition Facts table (this is optional). And you’ll notice that some foods contain a lot more vitamins and minerals than others do.

Conclusion

I hope this crash course in the Nutrition Facts table was helpful. While you can take it or leave it when it comes to making food decisions, it’s here to stay. And it will change slightly over the next few years.

Recipe: Delicious and Super-Easy Walnut Snack

Serves 1

Ingredients

8 walnut halves

4 dates, pitted

Instructions

Make a “date sandwich” by squeezing each date between two walnut halves.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: Try with pecans instead.

 

References:

http://www.healthycanadians.gc.ca/eating-nutrition/label-etiquetage/changes-modifications-eng.php

https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/understanding-food-labels/percent-daily-value.html

http://www.healthycanadians.gc.ca/eating-nutrition/label-etiquetage/regulatory-guidance-directives-reglementaires/daily-values-valeurs-quotidiennes/guide-eng.php#p1

 

Effects of Drinking Coffee

Many people who have CFS or adrenal fatigue crave coffee. This could be because you are struggling to have enough energy to keep going every day and get everything done.

Coffee is one of those things – you either love it or hate it. You know if you like the taste or not (or if it’s just a reason to drink sugar and cream). You know how it makes you feel (i.e. your gut, your mind, etc.).

Not to mention the crazy headlines that say coffee is great, and the next day you should avoid it!

There is actual science behind why different people react differently to it. It’s a matter of your genetics and how much coffee you’re used to drinking.

NOTE: Coffee does not equal caffeine. Coffee contains between 50-400 mg of caffeine/cup, averaging around 100 mg/cup. Drinking coffee is one of the most popular ways to consume this stimulant. But a cup of coffee contains a lot of things over and above the caffeine. Not just water, but antioxidants such as polyphenols, and hundreds of other compounds. These are the reasons drinking a cup of coffee is not the same as taking a caffeine pill. And decaffeinated coffee has a lot less caffeine; but, it still contains some.

Let’s look at caffeine metabolism, its effects on the mind and body, and whether coffee drinkers have higher or lower risks of disease. Then I’ll give you some things to consider when deciding if coffee is for you or not.

Caffeine metabolism

Not all people metabolise caffeine at the same speed. How fast you metabolise caffeine will impact how you’re affected by the caffeine. In fact, caffeine metabolism can be up to 40x faster in some people than others.

About half of us are “slow” metabolisers of caffeine. We can get jitters, heart palpitations, and feel “wired” for up to 9 hours after having a coffee. The other half is “fast” metabolisers of caffeine. They get energy and increased alertness and are back to normal a few hours later.

This is part of the reason those headlines contradict each other so much – because we’re all different!

The effects of drinking coffee (and caffeine) on the mind and body

NOTE: Most studies look at caffeinated coffee, not decaf.

The effects of drinking coffee (and caffeine) on the mind and body also differ between people; this is partly from the metabolism I mentioned. But it also has to do with your body’s amazing ability to adapt (read: become more tolerant) to long-term caffeine use. Many people who start drinking coffee feel the effects a lot more than people who have coffee every day.

Here’s a list of the effects of drinking coffee (that usually decrease with long-term use):

  • Stimulates the brain

  • Boosts metabolism

  • Boosts energy and exercise performance

  • Increases your stress hormone cortisol

  • Dehydrates

So, while some of these effects are good and some aren’t, you need to see how they affect you and decide if it’s worth it or not.

Coffee and the health risks

There are a ton of studies on the health effects of drinking coffee, and whether coffee drinkers are more or less likely to get certain conditions.

Here’s a quick summary of what coffee can lead to:

  • Caffeine addiction and withdrawal symptoms (e.g. a headache, fatigue, irritability)

  • Increased sleep disruption

  • Lower risk of Alzheimer‘s and Parkinson’s

  • Lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes

  • A lower risk of certain liver diseases

  • Lower risk of death (all cause mortality”)

  • Mixed reviews on whether it lowers risks of cancer and heart disease

Many of the health benefits exist even for decaf coffee (except the caffeine addiction and sleep issues).

NOTE: What’s super-important to note here is that coffee intake is just one of many, many factors that can affect your risks for these diseases. Please never think regular coffee intake is the one thing that can help you overcome these risks. You are health-conscious and know that eating a nutrient-rich whole foods diet, reducing stress, and getting enough sleep and exercise are all critical things to consider for your disease risk. It’s not just about the coffee.

Should you drink coffee or not?

There are a few things to consider when deciding whether you should drink coffee. No one food or drink will make or break your long-term health.

Caffeinated coffee is not recommended for:

  • People with arrhythmias (e.g. irregular heartbeat)

  • Those who often feel anxious

  • People who have trouble sleeping

  • Women who are pregnant

  • Children and

  • teens.

If none of these apply, then monitor how your body reacts when you have coffee. Does it:

  • Give you the jitters?

  • Increase anxious feelings?

  • Affect your sleep?

  • Give you heart palpitations?

  • Affect your digestion (e.g. heartburn, etc.)?

  • Give you a reason to drink a lot of sugar and cream?

In conclusion, depending on how your body reacts, decide whether these reactions are worth it to you. If you’re not sure, I recommend eliminating it for a while and see the difference.

Recipe (Latte): Pumpkin Spice Latte

Serves 1

Ingredients

3 tbsp coconut milk
1 ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon)
¼ tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp pumpkin puree

½ tsp maple syrup (optional)
1 cup coffee (decaf if preferred)

Instructions

Add all ingredients to blender and blend until creamy.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: You can use tea instead of milk if you prefer.

Finally for more information of the health effects of drinking coffee and how addiction may be driving your adrenal fatigue, contact Kate to book an appointment today.

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/coffee-good-or-bad/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-coffee

http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/a-wake-up-call-on-coffee

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/can-your-coffee-habit-help-you-live-longer-201601068938

http://suppversity.blogspot.ca/2014/05/caffeine-resistance-genetic.html

https://authoritynutrition.com/how-much-coffee-should-you-drink/

5 Tips for Better Sleep

Have you said “bye bye” to sleeping through the night?

Are you feeling exhausted or “running on stress hormones” all day?

Do not fear, I have some great tips (and an amazing recipe) for you!

The science of sleep is fascinating, complicated and growing

Sleep is this daily thing that we all do and yet we’re just beginning to understand all of the ways it helps us and all of the factors that can affect it.

Lack of sleep affects just about everything in your body and mind. People who get less sleep tend to be at higher risk for so many health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer; not to mention effects like slower metabolism, weight gain, hormone imbalance, and inflammation. And don’t forget the impact lack of sleep can have on moods, memory and decision-making skills.

Do you know that lack of sleep may even negate the health benefits of your exercise program? (Gasp!)

OMG – What aspect of health does sleep not affect???

Knowing this it’s easy to see the three main purposes of sleep:

  • To restore our body and mind. Our bodies repair, grow and even “detoxify” our brains while we sleep.
  • To improve our brain’s ability to learn and remember things, technically known as “synaptic plasticity”.
  • To conserve some energy so we’re not just actively “out and about” 24-hours a day, every day.

Do you know how much sleep adults need? It’s less than your growing kids need but you may be surprised that it’s recommended that all adults get 7 – 9 hours a night. For real!

Try not to skimp!

(Don’t worry, I have you covered with 5 tips for better sleep below.)

5 Tips for Better Sleep

  • The biggest tip is definitely to try to get yourself into a consistent sleep schedule. Make it a priority and you’re more likely to achieve it. This means turning off your lights 8 hours before your alarm goes off. Seven. Days. A. Week. I know weekends can easily throw this off but by making sleep a priority for a few weeks your body and mind will adjust and thank you for it.
  • Balance your blood sugar throughout the day. You know, eat less refined and processed foods and more whole foods (full of blood-sugar-balancing fibre). Choose the whole orange instead of the juice (or orange-flavoured snack). Make sure you’re getting some protein every time you eat.
  • During the day get some sunshine and exercise. These things tell your body it’s daytime; time for being productive, active and alert. By doing this during the day it will help you wind down more easily in the evening.
  • Cut off your caffeine and added sugar intake after 12pm. Whole foods like fruits and veggies are fine, it’s the “added” sugar we’re minimizing. Yes, this includes your beloved chai latte. Both caffeine and added sugar can keep your mind a bit more active than you want it to be come evening. (HINT: I have a great caffeine-free chai latte recipe for you below!). And if you really want to get real, cut the added sugar all together!
  • Have a relaxing bedtime routine that starts 1 hour before your “lights out” time (that is 8 – 10 hours before your alarm is set to go off). This would include dimming your artificial lights, nixing screen time and perhaps reading an (actual, not “e”) book or having a bath.

So how many of these tips can you start implementing today?

Try the caffeine-free chai latte for your afternoon “coffee break” below:

Caffeine-Free Chai Latte Recipe

Serves 1-2

Ingredients

  • 1 bag of rooibos chai tea (rooibos is naturally caffeine-free)
  • 2 cups of boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter (creamy is preferred; no added sugar or oils)
  • 2 dates (optional)

Instructions

Cover the teabag and dates (if using) with 2 cups of boiling water and steep for a few minutes.

Discard the tea bag & place tea, soaked dates, tahini & almond butter into a blender.

Blend until creamy.

Serve and Enjoy!

Tip: You can try this with other nut or seed butters to see which flavour combination you like the best. Cashew butter anyone?

References:

http://www.thepaleomom.com/gotobed/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/hacking-sleep

Diet for IBS

If you are suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you may be thinking “what can I eat for IBS?”Below I describe the best diet for IBS.

IBS is an umbrella term used to describe a set of symptoms. There are 2 types of IBS:

  • Spastic colon-type IBS – where gripping pain is common and alternating constipation and diarrhoea.
  • Painless diarrhoea-type IBS – there is urgent diarrhoea usually upon rising and often after a meal.

Common Symptoms

  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhoea
  • Bloating
  • Flatulence
  • Headaches
  • Cramps
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

Causes

  • Food intolerances – most commonly to wheat, dairy, coffee, tea and citrus fruits. Although an intolerance can be present to any unsuspecting food.
  • Stress – your digestion shuts down during periods of stress leading to a lack of digestive enzymes and stomach acid. This can lead to incompletely digested food irritating the gut.
  • Parasites – 49% of people with IBS are known to have the parasite Blastocystis hominis. And 20% of people with IBS have the parasite Dientamoeba fragilis.
  • Gut dysbiosis – an imbalance of the good and bad bacteria present in your gut and/or overgrowth of Candida.. This can be triggered by a poor diet that has insufficient fibre, and is high in alcohol, fatty fats and sugar. Also taking antibiotics will upset this balance.
  • Other diseases – occasionally the symptoms of IBS can be mistaken for a more serious underlying condition such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis or diverticulitis. So it is very important to go and see your doctor.

Diet for IBS

Foods to Avoid for IBS

  • Refined wheat – is high in gluten, which can be irritating to the gut and is usually the biggest factor in IBS.
  • Cow’s milk – comes next.
  • Flour – from any sources gunks up the bowel in sensitive individuals.
  • Eggs,
  • Citrus fruits – especially oranges
  • High tyramine foods – such as cheese, port, red wine, sherry, beef, liver, herring, sauerkraut and yeast extracts.
  • Melted cheese – is very hard for the body to digest. Avoid at all costs.
  • Refined foods – such as white rice, pasta, cakes, pastries, alcohol, fried fodds, high-sugar foods and those foods high in saturated animal fat found in meat and dairy all deplete good bacteria in the gut and help feed the bad guys.

Foods to Eat for IBS

  • There are plenty of alternatives to wheat e.g. wheat-free bread, amaranth, spelt, millet, buckwheat, quinoa, oat and rye crisp breads, and rice and corn cakes, which are delicious.
  • You can now buy lentil-, corn-, rice- and potato-based pastas.
  • Try organic rice,almond or oat milk , or try goat’s or sheep’s milk instead of cow’s milk.
  • Eat more brown rice which is cleansing and healing to the digestive tract. As well as potatoes, fish, lean poultry, fruits and vegetables.
  • Peppermint, fennel, chamomile and rosemary teas can enhance digestion and ease discomfort.
  • Instead of orange juice, try low-sugar diluted apple, pear or pineapple juice.

Also the FODMAP diet can help with IBS.

References:

  • Courteney, H. (2008). 500 of the Most Important Health Tips You’ll Ever Need. 3rd edn. London: CICO Books. pp. 212-214

 

For more information on diet for IBS, contact Kate to book a consultation today.

The Low FODMAP Diet

The low FODMAP diet is a 7 to 10 day treatment that is often effective for:

  • IBS
  • SIBO
  • Certain auto-immune conditions/diseases like (potentially) rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis or eczema
  • Fibromyalgia or other health issues that are triggered by certain foods
  • Frequent migraines that appear to be triggered after certain meals

The low-FODMAP diet is thought to work by reducing fermentation in the gut. Fermentation happens when naturally-occurring gut bacteria break down certain foods, and produce gases such as carbon dioxide, hydrogen and methane as by-products. In people who are susceptible, this fermentation process can trigger uncomfortable gut symptoms such as bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhoea and constipation.

It is less restrictive than the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD).

FODMAP is an acronym for:

  • Fermentable – fermentable foods (e.g., prebiotics)
  • Oligosaccharides – Beans and various vegetables.
  • Disaccharides – e.g., sucrose, lactose, etc.
  • Monosaccharides – primarily fructose
  • And
  • Polyols – these are sugar alcohols often used as sweeteners. Some examples are xylitol, maltitol, and erythritol

 

Foods to Eat on The Low FODMAP Diet

  • Meats, Poultry, Eggs, Fish: Chicken, fish, eggs, pork, shellfish, turkey, beef, lamb, all other meats
  • Vegetables: Cucumbers, carrots, celery, eggplant, lettuce, leafy greens, pumpkin, potatoes, squash, yams, tomatoes, zucchini, bamboo shoots, bell peppers, bok choy, bean sprouts, collards, spaghetti squash, olives, green beans, rutabaga, spinach, ginger root, radish, turnips, corn, mushrooms
  • Fruit (limit to one serving daily): Bananas, berries, cantaloupe, grapes, honeydew, grapefruit, kiwi, lemon, lime, orange, pineapple, rhubarb, passion fruit, kiwifruit, dragon fruit, papaya
  • Dairy products (low lactose): Lactose free dairy, half and half, lactose free cream cheese, lactose free cottage, cheddar, parmesan, fermented yoghurt, dark chocolate
  • Non-dairy alternatives: Almond milk, rice milk, nuts, nut butters, seeds, hemp milk
  • Grains (wheat free): Wheat free grains and flours without a ton of fibre: breads, noodles, pasta, waffles, tortillas, pancakes, quinoa, rice, cream of rice, oats, sourdough bread, soba noodles
  • Beverages: Coffee, tea, gin, vodka, wine, whiskey
  • Seasonings/Condiments: Basil, cilantro, coriander, lemongrass, parsley, mint, sage, thyme, homemade bone broth, chives, flaxseed, margarine, mayonnaise, olive oil, pepper, salt, sugar, mustard, vinegar, balsamic vinegar, pure maple syrup, vanilla

The Low FODMAP Diet Excludes the following foods:

  • Vegetables: Artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, beetroot, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, garlic, fennel, leaks, mushrooms, okra, onions, peas, shallots.
  • Fruit: Apples, applesauce, apricots, blackberries, boysenberries, cherries, canned fruit, dates, dried fruits, figs, guava, mango, nectarines, pears, peaches, plums, prunes, watermelon.
  • Dairy products: Milk (from cows, goats and sheep), ice cream, most yogurts, sour cream, whipped cream, custard, soft and fresh cheeses (cottage, ricotta, etc).
  • Non-dairy alternatives: Coconut cream, beans, hummus, pistachios, soy products, coconut milk, black eyed peas, fava beans, kidney beans
  • Legumes: Beans, chickpeas, lentils, red kidney beans, baked beans, soybeans.
  • Grains: wheat, barley, rye, bread, pasta, most breakfast cereals, tortillas, waffles, pancakes, crackers, biscuits.
  • Beverages: Beer, rum, fortified wines, soft drinks with high fructose corn syrup, milk, soy milk, fruit juices.
  • Sweeteners: Fructose, honey, high fructose corn syrup, xylitol, mannitol, maltitol, sorbitol.

Following the low FODMAP diet is a short-term treatment to reduce symptoms of IBS and SIBO. A lot of the excluded foods are very beneficial for feeding the good bacteria in your gut such as the vegetables, fruits and legumes. Also dairy products can boost levels of the good bacteria lactobacillus in the gut. Therefore I would not recommend continuing the diet in the long-term.

 

 

For more information on the low FODMAP diet, contact Kate for a free 15 minute discovery call.

 

References: 

https://www.ihcanconferences.co.uk/digestive-enzymes-clinical-considerations-in-ibs-sibo-dysbiosis-and-the-leaky-gu

https://www.bupa.co.uk/newsroom/ourviews/fodmap-diet-for-ibs

https://sibosurvivor.com/sibo-die