Category Archive Diet

Healthy Fats and Dangerous Fats

All fat is NOT created equal! There are healthy fats and dangerous fats.

Health-building fats support your brain, hormones, immune system, heart health, and moods. Health-busting fats pretty much bust all of these (brain, hormones, immune system, heart health, and moods). So, this is why the information I’m sharing today is so important.

Fat is one of the three critical macronutrients; along with protein and carbohydrates. Some fats are super-health-boosting; and, others are super-health-busting.

Also you need healthy fats to absorb fat soluble vitamins including vitamins A, D, E and K.

As a general rule, the fats from whole foods that are the least processed will be the healthiest for you. But, you already knew that, right?

So let me give you a definitive list of the fats to use, and the fats to ditch.

Health-boosting fats

Health-boosting fats are found in:

  • Nuts and seeds (hemp, flaxs, and chia)
  • Oily fish e.g. salmon, sardines and mackerel
  • Pasture-raised/grass-fed animals
  • Eggs
  • Olives
  • Avocados
  • Coconuts.

I love “virgin” oils, and here’s why. Getting the oil out of a whole food involves some processing. Sometimes it’s by squeezing, or heating. Other times it’s by using chemical solvents. The word “virgin” is used to show minimal processing (and no solvents!).

According to the World Health Organisation’s Codex Alimentarius:

Virgin fats and oils are edible vegetable fats, and oils obtained, without altering the nature of the oil, by mechanical procedures, e.g., expelling or pressing, and the application of heat only. They may be purified by washing with water, settling, filtering and centrifuging only.”

For example, Extra virgin olive oil must:

  • Be cold pressed
  • Not contain any refined olive oil
  • Possess superior quality based on chemical composition and sensory characteristics.

Don’t you think these standards ensure higher quality? I sure do!

Plus, the minimal processing helps to maintain some of the quality of delicate fat molecules, as well as their antioxidants. Win-win!

Health-busting fats

Health-busting fats are found in:

  • Seed and vegetable oils like sunflower, safflower, soybean and corn oils
  • Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils
  • Margarine.

Hydrogenated oils are particularly bad; this is because they contain small amounts of “trans” fats. Studies show that trans fats lead to insulin resistance, inflammation and belly fat. They also drastically raise the risk of heart disease. Lose-lose!

Finally don’t forget, we’re not just talking about buying bottles of these fats for home cooking. We’re also looking at the processed foods that contain them.

How to get more health-building fats

Firstly, you have my permission to ditch any foods in your cupboards that contain sunflower oil, safflower oil, soybean oil, corn oil, or any hydrogenated oil.

Secondly, try substituting one of the health-building oils whenever you have a recipe that calls for the other stuff. Try flaxseed oil or extra virgin olive oil in your salad dressing, coconut oil in your cooking, and rapeseed oil in your baking.

Finally, make healthier versions of your go-to processed foods. I’ll help you out now with my super-simple mayonnaise recipe below. It’s way better for you than the unrefrigerated stuff you find at your grocery store.

Recipe (healthy fat): Mayonnaise

Makes about 1 ½ cups

Ingredients

1 large or extra large egg

2 tsp lemon juice

½ tsp salt

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 clove garlic

1 cup olive or avocado oil

Instructions

Add all ingredients except oil to your food processor. Process until creamy (about 10 seconds).

With the food processor running, add a few drops of oil into the egg mixture. Every few seconds add a few more drops. Continue until the mixture starts to thicken.

Now you can do a slow drizzle. Stop pouring, every once in a while checking that the oil gets fully incorporated.

Store leftovers in a covered container in the fridge for up to 1-2 weeks.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: Use this in place of mayonnaise for egg, salmon, chicken salads, etc.

References:

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-healthy-fats

https://authoritynutrition.com/extra-virgin-olive-oil/

https://authoritynutrition.com/saturated-fat-good-or-bad/

http://www.inspection.gc.ca/food/labelling/food-labelling-for-industry/fats-and-oils/eng/1392751693435/1392751782638?chap=5

https://eatingrules.com/cooking-oil-comparison-chart/

3 Must Eat Breakfast Foods

Do you love your breakfast? Do you have a short list of “go-to” recipes? Would you like a bit of inspiration to start eating breakfast again? Check out my 3 must eat breakfast foods.

Getting some protein at each meal can help with blood sugar management, sustaining energy levels through the day and weight loss. This is because protein helps you feel fuller longer and releases energy slowly through the day. So I’m going to show you how to get the protein, as well as some veggies and healthy fats that will be your soon-to-be favourite new “go-to” breakfast foods.

Breakfast Food #1: Eggs

Yes, eggs are the “quintessential” breakfast food. And for good reason!

No, I’m not talking about processed egg whites in a carton. I mean actual whole “eggs”.

Egg whites are mostly protein while the yolks are the real nutritional powerhouses. Those yolks contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and healthy fats.

Eggs have been shown to help you feel full, keep you feeling fuller longer, and help to stabilise blood sugar and insulin.

Not to mention how easy it is to boil a bunch of eggs and keep them in the fridge for a “grab and go” breakfast when you’re running short on time.

And…nope the cholesterol in eggs is not associated with an increased risk of arterial or heart diseases.

One thing to consider is to try to prevent cooking the yolks at too high of a temperature because that can cause some of the cholesterol to become oxidised. It’s the oxidised cholesterol that’s unhealthy for the heart.

The healthiest way to cook eggs is to poach them in boiling water for 5 minutes so the egg yolk is still runny. Frying, scrambling and boiling are also ok too.

Breakfast Food #2: Nuts and/or Seeds

Nuts and seeds contain protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and fibre. Nuts and/or seeds would make a great contribution to breakfast.

You won’t be fooled by “sugared” nuts, sweetened nut/seed butters, or chia “cereals” with added sugars – you know I’m talking about the real, whole, unsweetened food here.

Nuts and seeds are also the ultimate fast food if you’re running late in the mornings. Grab a small handful of almonds, walnuts, or pumpkin seeds as you’re running out the door; you can nosh on them while you’re commuting.

Not to mention how easy it is to add a spoonful of nut/seed butter into your morning breakfast smoothie.

They’re also great in granola or muesli, or chopped up on your porridge.

Hint: If you like a creamy latte in the mornings try making one with nut or seed butter. Just add your regular hot tea and a tablespoon or two of a creamy nut or seed butter into your blender & blend until frothy.

Breakfast Food #3: Veggies

Yes, you already know you really should get protein at every meal including breakfast; but this also applies to veggies. You know I would be remiss to not recommend veggies at every meal, right?

Veggies are powerhouses of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, fibre, and water. You can’t go wrong adding them into every single meal of the day so if you don’t already you should definitely try them for breakfast!

And no, you don’t need to have a salad or roasted veggies for breakfast if you don’t want to but you totally can! You wouldn’t be breaking any “official” breakfast rules or anything like that.

Adding some protein to leftover veggies is a great combination for any meal. Including breakfast.

If you like me to look over your diet and give you more healthy breakfast ideas, book an appointment on the contact page here.

I’ve included a delicious recipe below for you to try (and customise) for your next breakfast.

Recipe: Veggie Omelette

Serves 1

1 teaspoon coconut oil

2-3 eggs

¼ cup veggies (grated zucchini and/or sliced mushrooms and/or diced peppers)

Pinch salt, pepper and/or turmeric

Add coconut oil to a frying pan and melt on low-medium heat (cast-iron pans are preferred).

In the meantime grab a bowl and beat the egg(s) with your vegetables of choice and the spices.

Tilt pan to ensure the bottom is covered with the melted oil. Pour egg mixture into pan and lightly fry the eggs without stirring.

When the bottom is lightly done flip over in one side and cook until white is no longer runny.

Serve & Enjoy!

Tip: Substitute grated, sliced, or diced portion of your favourite vegetable. Try grated carrots, chopped broccoli or diced tomato.

References:

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/eggs-worse-than-fast-food

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/encyclopedia/food/eggs/

https://authoritynutrition.com/eating-healthy-eggs/

https://authoritynutrition.com/12-best-foods-to-eat-in-morning/

Pros and Cons of Elimination Diets

Our digestive system is a huge portal into our bodies. Lots of things can get in there that aren’t always good for us. And because the system is so complex (knowing which tiny molecules to absorb, and which keep out), lots can go wrong. And that’s one reason why 70% of our immune system lives in and around our digestive system.

This makes food allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances a huge contribution to an array of symptoms all over our bodies. Things like autoimmune issues, inflammation, and even our moods can be affected by what we eat. If you have digestive issues, chronic fatigue (ME/CFS) or any other unexplained symptoms, you may consider trying an elimination diet.

An elimination diet is one where you strategically eliminate certain foods to see if you react to them. It can help immensely when trying to figure out if a particular food is causing symptoms because you’re sensitive to it.

You generally start out by eliminating the most common food allergens for a few weeks. Then you slowly add them back one at a time and note any symptoms (better or worse).

Let’s go over the pros and cons of this diet.

Pros of elimination diets

The main benefit is that, by tuning into your body’s reactions to certain foods, you can pinpoint sensitivities and intolerances that you may not otherwise know of. Experiencing results first-hand can be very motivating when it comes to sticking to eliminating a certain food.

Elimination diets can be less expensive, and in some cases more reliable, than standard food intolerance testing.

It can also be very empowering to be in control of what you eat, learn about food and the compounds they contain, and try new recipes that exclude eliminated foods. Having a good plan makes things much easier (even exciting). If you love grocery shopping, cooking from scratch, and trying new recipes, you’re going to draw on all these skills.

These diets can be customisable, which is a great pro (see first con below).

Cons of elimination diets

You may not figure out everything you’re sensitive to. That’s why testing for food intolerances can be a good idea. Your plan should be strategically created to ensure that the most common food allergens are eliminated. This will give you the highest likelihood of success. It can become complicated if you let it.

It’s a commitment for around 4-6 weeks, if not longer (which can be difficult for some people).

If you’re not used to tracking all foods and all symptoms every day, you’re going to have to start doing it.

You may find that you’re intolerant to one of your favourite foods, or even an entire group of your favourite foods.

When you’re eliminating certain foods (or parts of foods, like gluten), it can be HARD! You almost need to prepare all of your foods, snacks and drinks yourself from scratch. If you don’t take full control like this, it can be so easy to accidentally ingest something that you’re cutting out. And at that point, you might need to start all over again.

Conclusion

Elimination diets can be a very useful tool to identify food sensitivities. They can be empowering and customised.

However, they can be difficult to adhere to and, sadly, you may find out that you’re sensitive to your favourite foods.

Have you done an elimination diet? What was your experience? Let me know in the comments below.

Recipe (Elimination diet friendly): Steamed Salmon & Vegetables

Serves 2

Ingredients

2 medium courgettes, sliced thinly

½ pint mushrooms, sliced

2 tsp olive oil

4 tsp water
2 boneless, skinless salmon fillets, no more than 1 ¼ “ thick

½ clove garlic, diced

2 dashes salt & pepper

Instructions

Preheat oven to 200C (450F).

Toss vegetables with olive oil. Tear two sheets of parchment paper and fold in half. Open the sheets and place half of the vegetables onto each sheet on one side of the fold.

Add 2 teaspoons of water and place a fillet on top. Top with garlic, salt, and pepper.

Fold the other half of each sheet over the fish, and tightly crimp the edges.

Put packets flat on a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes.

Remove from oven and check to ensure fish flakes easily with a fork (be careful the steam is hot).

Open each pack and place onto plates.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: You can mix up the vegetables or herbs, following your elimination diet protocol.

References:

https://www.precisionnutrition.com/elimination-diet

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

Foods and Lifestyle Tips for Heartburn

Many people with ME/CFS experience digestive issues including heartburn. Around half of North American adults experience it at least once per month. Somewhere between 10-20% have it at least once per week!

Heartburn, also known as acid reflux, occurs when the strong acid in your stomach creeps up into your oesophagus.

It can feel like a burning sensation; hence the name “heartburn.” Other common symptoms include bloating, burping, difficulty swallowing, or a sore throat. Often there is a bitter or sour taste as well.

Don’t get me wrong, stomach acid is good! Stomach acid is essential for good health and optimal digestion. We need the acid in our stomach to protect us against harmful microbes (i.e. bacteria) that lurk in our food and drinks. Stomach acid also helps us break down our food, and digest nutrients. But we need that acid to stay in the stomach, and not get up to our oesophagus!

Stomach acid doesn’t usually burn the stomach itself; this is because the stomach is protected by a layer of mucus.

But your oesophagus doesn’t have that same protection. It has a valve that is supposed to prevent things from going the wrong way (i.e. keep food, drink, and acid down; not allow it back up). And when your oesophagus is exposed to stomach acid too often, it can cause the infamous burning, inflammation, and other potential issues.

I’m going to share a bunch of tips that may help you overcome your heartburn symptoms naturally.Of course, if symptoms last for a long time, or get worse, it’s probably a good idea to see your doctor.

Tip #1 – Foods to eat (and avoid)

You may notice that when you eat or drink certain things, you get heartburn soon afterwards. These triggers may be different for everyone; but often include onions, garlic, chocolate, citrus fruits, tomato, mint, spicy foods, greasy foods, coffee, carbonated drinks, or alcohol. If any of these affect you, reduce them or even try cutting them out to see if it makes a difference.

Heartburn might also result from a sneaky food intolerance. Try eliminating grains, dairy, and processed foods for a few weeks and see if that helps.

Now, you may be wondering: “If I eliminate these foods/drinks, then what can I put in their place?”

Try increasing fibre intake. Yes, this means more whole, unprocessed foods, especially veggies! In fact, potatoes may be a great addition to meals if you suffer from heartburn. Try getting at least five servings of veggies every day.

If you want to learn more about nutrition and supplements to stop heartburn, contact Kate for a free 15 minute chat. Click HERE for contact details.

Tip #2 – How and when to eat

Eat slowly. Use meal times to release stress. Chew your food very well. Don’t eat meals that are too big.

And don’t eat too close to bedtime. You want to avoid lying down with a full stomach. We’re talking finishing eating 2-3 hours before lying down, so schedule your dinner or snack with this in mind.

Tip #3 – Lifestyle techniques

Sometimes strenuous exercise can make heartburn symptoms worse. If this happens to you, then focus on low-intensity exercises like walking and cycling.

If symptoms come on as you’re lying down to sleep, try adding a pillow or two so your head is a bit higher than your stomach.

Another interesting tip is to try sleeping on your left side. Lying on your left side works because the valve that prevents the acid from “leaking” into your oesophagus is located on the right side of the stomach. So, when you’re lying on your left, the acid is away from that valve.

Conclusion

Heartburn is a very common condition where stomach acid creeps up into the oesophagus (where it’s not supposed to be).

If you suffer from symptoms of heartburn, there are many things you can do. There are foods and drinks to avoid and veggies to increase. You can eat slower, chew more thoroughly, and don’t lie down within 2-3 hours of eating. Also, try low-intensity exercise and sleeping on your left side.

Try these simple, natural strategies. They can help prevent or relieve heartburn symptoms for you.

Recipe (Not Too Greasy or Spicy): Baked Potatoes

Serves 4

1 small bag of mini potatoes
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper

Instructions

Scrub potatoes and boil them until they’re soft. How long will depend on their size, so check them by feeling how easily they’re penetrated with a fork or knife.

Drain the water and toss the potatoes with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt & pepper.

Place in a roasting dish at 425F for about 15 minutes.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: Don’t have mini potatoes? Use large potatoes or sweet potatoes and chop them to the size of mini potatoes.

References:

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/heartburn-reflux-gerd

https://authoritynutrition.com/heartburn-acid-reflux-remedies/

3 Ways to Avoid Overeating at Christmas

Sometimes those Christmas feasts are just amazing.

And it’s not just the abundance of delicious food but also the people, the decorations, and the ambiance.

It is way too easy (and common) to indulge on those days.

But it doesn’t always stop there.

Sometimes we overeat on regular days. Or at regular meals. Or All. The. Time.

Here are 3 ways to avoid overeating at Christmas.

(Psst, turn these into habits and ditch the willpower!)

Tip #1: Start with some water

When your stomach is growling and you smell amazingly delicious food it’s too easy to fill a plate (or grab some samples with your bare hands) and dive into the food.

But did you know that it’s possible to sometimes confuse the feeling of thirst with that of hunger? Your stomach may actually be craving a big glass of water rather than a feast.

Some studies have shown that drinking a glass or two of water before a meal can help reduce the amount of food eaten. And this super-simple tip may even help with weight loss (…just sayin’).

Not only will the water start to fill up your stomach before you get to the buffet, leaving less room for the feast but drinking enough water has been shown to slightly increase your metabolism.

Win-win!

For more advice on how to avoid overindulging at Christmas and for weight loss, contact Nutritionist Kate.

Tip #2: Try eating “mindfully”

You’ve heard of mindfulness but have you applied that to your eating habits?

This can totally help you avoid overeating as well as having the added bonus of helping your digestion.

Just as being mindful when you meditate helps to focus your attention on your breathing and the present moment being mindful when you eat helps to focus your attention on your meal.

Do this by taking smaller bites, eating more slowly, chewing more thoroughly, and savouring every mouthful. Notice and appreciate the smell, taste and texture. Breathe.

This can help prevent overeating because eating slower often means eating less.

When you eat quickly you can easily overeat because it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to know that your stomach is full.

So take your time, pay attention to your food and enjoy every bite.

Bonus points: Eat at a table (not in front of the screen), off of a small plate, and put your fork down between bites.

Tip #3: Start with the salad

You may be yearning for that rich, creamy main dish.

But don’t start there.

(Don’t worry, you can have some…just after you’ve eaten your salad).

Veggies are a great way to start any meal because they’re full of not only vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and health-promoting phytochemicals but they also have some secret satiety weapons: fibre and water.

Fibre and water are known to help fill you up and make you feel fuller. They’re “satiating”.

And these secret weapons are great to have on your side when you’re about to indulge in a large meal.

Summary:

Have your glass of water, eat mindfully, and start with your salad to help avoid overeating at meals.

Recipe (Water): Tasty (and beautiful) Pre-Meal Water Ideas

If you’re not much of a plain water drinker or need your water to be more appealing to your senses here are five delicious (and beautiful looking) fruit combos to add to your large glass of water:

  • Slices of lemon & ginger

  • Slices of strawberries & orange

  • Slices of apple & a cinnamon stick

  • Chopped pineapple & mango

  • Blueberries & raspberries

Tip: You can buy a bag (or several bags) of frozen chopped fruit and throw those into your cup, thermos, or uber-cool mason jar in the morning. They’re already washed and cut and will help keep your water colder longer.

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/7-health-benefits-of-water/

http://summertomato.com/the-science-behind-mindful-eating-what-happens-to-your-body-during-a-mindful-meal

Natural Tips to Recover from Cold and Flu

Getting a common cold doesn’t have to be so… common. There are things you can do naturally to make getting ill less likely.

But, if you do happen to get ill, there are things you can also do to help support your body to fight it off.

Good hand hygiene and overall healthy habits can reduce your risk of getting ill in the first place. And good nutrition can help your immune system fight off a cold more quickly. Imagine your germ-fighting immune cells all hungry and tired, versus them being nourished and full of energy.

And that’s what this post is all about.

Many people with ME/CFS have underlying viruses such as Epsteinn Barr virus and cytomegalovirus. So the tips below can help you to boost your immune system.

First I’ll give you some tips to reduce your risk of getting ill in the first place. Then, I’ll let you in on some of my strategies to recover from that cold you may still get from time to time.

Natural tips to reduce your risk of getting a cold

Here are some great ideas to incorporate into your daily life to reduce your risk of getting a cold.

1 – Wash your hands. A lot. Your hands can trap and transport all kinds of microbes that cause illness. And I’m not just talking about colds here, but lots of different germs.

NOTE: Antibacterial soap is not recommended! Not only is it no more effective than regular soap and water, but it can contribute to antibiotic resistance.

2 – Get enough nutrients. I know this is way oversimplified, but I would be remiss to exclude it. Every cell in your body, including your immune cells, need enough of all the essential nutrients. The more nutrition you have, the better and stronger you will be, especially with vitamins A, C, and E. Vitamin A-rich foods include carrots, sweet potato, and organ meats. Vitamin C-rich foods include bell peppers, broccoli and citrus fruits. Vitamin E-rich foods include nuts, seeds, and leafy greens.

3 – Probiotic foods. Helping our health-promoting gut microbes with more of their probiotic friends is in order here to help keep the immune system strong. Try 1-2 servings/day of fermented foods and drinks like sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, kefir, or kombucha.

4 – Prebiotic foods. Feeding those friendly gut microbes their favourite foods can help them to grow and flourish. They love fibrous foods like onions, asparagus, berries, bananas, sweet potatoes, whole grains, and seeds. Aim for 2-3 servings/day.

5 – Get enough sleep. Did you know that our immune system cycles with our circadian system? When we sleep our immune cells produce antibodies to fight infections. Try to get at least 7 hours every single night, even when you’re feeling great.

Natural Tips to Recover from Cold and Flu

When you do get an infection, not only do you need more nutrients to fight it off, but your body also has a harder time absorbing and using the nutrients you take in. Sometimes this is because of reduced hunger, sometimes due to gastrointestinal reasons. Either way, nourishing your body is even more important. When you do get ill, make sure you are implementing tips 1-5 plus the tips below that are crucial for getting over a common cold.

6 – Drink lots of fluids. Being ill can be dehydrating. Fluids like water, chicken soup, and green tea are warm, hydrating comfort drinks. Chicken soup is a source of electrolytes, especially if homemade from a real chicken with lots of vegetables. Green tea has been shown to boost some of our immune cells, and this can help to better fight off the invading germ.

7 – Rest and recover. When your body is fighting an infection, it’s busy working hard for your health. Give it a break and relax while you’re feeling under the weather.

Conclusion

There are lots of things we can do to stay healthy and reduce infections naturally. Washing your hands is a proven way to reduce your risk. And staying healthy in all other ways helps a lot. Getting enough nutrition, eating probiotic and prebiotic foods, and getting enough sleep are key year round.

If you do get ill, keep up all of your good habits above, and make sure to add some warm, healthy fluids, and extra rest.

What do you do when you get a cold? Leave a comment below to let me know.

Recipe (Throat soothing): Honey Lemon Ginger Cough Drops

Ingredients

½ cup honey
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp freshly grated ginger root

Instructions

Put ingredients into a small saucepan.

Stir frequently until it becomes foamy. Be careful because the honey can burn easily.

Remove from heat and continue to stir until the foam reduces.

Put the saucepan back on the heat.

Repeat this until a candy thermometer reads 300F.

Drop a bit into a glass of ice water. If the mixture forms a hard, crunchy ball, it’s ready! If not, keep stirring and heating for another minute or two and try with the ice water again.

Once a hard ball forms from a drop into the ice water, let the saucepan cool until the foam has reduced.

Drizzle the candy into a candy mold or onto oiled parchment paper.

Let cool at room temperature until the cough drops are hard.

Pop out of the mold or break into pieces, and store in an airtight container.

Tip: You can sprinkle them with vitamin C powder to keep them from sticking together.

References:

https://www.precisionnutrition.com/what-to-eat-when-sick

https://www.thepaleomom.com/natural-approaches-to-cold-flu-season/

http://nutritionfacts.org/video/preventing-the-common-cold-with-probiotics/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dExiRwh-DQ

http://www.who.int/gpsc/clean_hands_protection/en/

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

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/

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.