Category Archive Digestion

Could My Symptoms Be a Food Intolerance?

Food intolerances or “sensitivities” can affect you in so many ways.

And they’re a lot more common than most people think. People which chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) can often have leaky gut and food intolerances to foods they eat regularly which are contributing to their long-term fatigue.

I’m not talking about anaphylaxis or immediate allergic reactions that involve an immune response. Those can be serious and life-threatening. If you have any allergies, you need to steer clear of any traces of foods you are allergic to, and speak with your doctor or pharmacist about emergency medication, if necessary.

What I’m talking about, is an intolerance, meaning you do not tolerate a specific food very well and it causes immediate or chronic symptoms anywhere in the body. Symptoms can take hours or even days to show themselves. And symptoms can be located just about anywhere in the body.

This is what makes them so tricky to identify.

Could my my symptoms be a food intolerance?

Symptoms of food intolerances

There are some common food intolerances that have immediate and terribly painful gastrointestinal symptoms, such as lactose intolerance or coeliac disease. These can cause stomach pain, gas, bloating, and/or diarrhoea; symptoms can start immediately after eating lactose or gluten.

On the other hand, other more insidious symptoms may not be linked to foods in an obvious way.

Symptoms like:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Chronic muscle or joint pain

  • Sweating, or increased heart rate or blood pressure

  • Headaches or migraines

  • Exhaustion after a good night’s sleep

  • Autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto’s or rheumatoid arthritis

  • Rashes or eczema

  • Inability to concentrate or feeling like your brain is “foggy”

  • Shortness of breath

If your body has trouble digesting specific foods, it can affect your hormones, metabolism, or even cause inflammation and result in any of the symptoms listed above. And these can affect any (or all) parts of the body, not just your gastrointestinal system.

If you suspect you have a food intolerance and are interested in further testing and specialist help, contact Kate to book an appointment.

How to prevent these intolerances

The main thing you can do is to figure out which foods or drinks you may be reacting to and stop ingesting them.

I know, I know…this sounds so simple, and yet it can be SO HARD.

The best way to identify your food/drink triggers is to eliminate them.

Yup, get rid of those offending foods/drinks. All traces of them, for three full weeks and monitor your symptoms.

If things get better, then you need to decide whether it’s worth it to stop ingesting them, or if you want to slowly introduce them back one at a time while still looking out to see if/when symptoms return.

Start Here: Two common food intolerances

Here are two of the most common triggers of food intolerances:

  • Lactose (in dairy – eliminate altogether, or look for a “lactose-free” label – try nut or coconut milk instead).

  • Gluten (in wheat, rye, and other common grains – look for a “gluten-free” label – try gluten-free grains like rice, quinoa & gluten-free oats).

This is by no means a complete list, but it’s a good place to start because lactose intolerance is thought to affect up to 75% of people, while “non-coeliac gluten sensitivity” can affect up to 13% of people.

So, if you can eliminate all traces of lactose and gluten for three weeks, it can confirm whether either or both of these, are a source of your symptoms.

Yes, dairy and grains are a part of many government-recommended food guidelines, but you absolutely can get all of the nutrients you need if you focus on replacing them with nutrient-dense foods.

A reliable way to monitor how you feel after eating certain foods is to track it. After every meal or snack, write down the foods you ate, and any symptoms so you can more easily spot trends.

And, as mentioned earlier, symptoms may not start immediately following a meal. You may find, for example, that you wake up with a headache the morning after eating bananas.

You might be surprised what links you can find if you track your food and symptoms well!

IMPORTANT NOTE: When you eliminate something, you need to make sure it’s not hiding in other foods, or the whole point of eliminating it for a few weeks is lost. Restaurant food, packaged foods, and sauces or dressings are notorious for adding ingredients that you’d never think are there. You know that sugar hides in almost everything, but did you also know that wheat is often added to processed meats and soy sauce, and lactose can even be found in some medications or supplements?

When in doubt you HAVE to ask the server in a restaurant about hidden ingredients, read labels, and consider cooking from scratch.

What if it doesn’t work?

If eliminating these two common food intolerances doesn’t work, then you can go one step further to eliminate all dairy (even lactose-free) and all grains (even gluten-free) for three weeks.

Furthermore you may need to see a qualified Nutritional Therapist for help, and that’s OK. I don’t want you to continue suffering if you don’t need to! You can contact me for further help!

Recipe (dairy-free milk): Homemade Nut/Seed Milk

Makes 3 cups

Ingredients

½ cup raw nuts/seeds (almonds, walnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds, or sesame seeds)

2 cups water

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

Instructions

  1. Soak nuts/seeds for about 8 hours (optional, but recommended).

  2. Dump soaking water & rinse nuts/seeds.

  3. Add soaked nuts/seeds and 2 cups water to a high-speed blender and blend on high for about one minute until very smooth.

  4. Strain through a small mesh sieve with 2 layers of cheesecloth. Squeeze if necessary.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: You can double the recipe and store the milk in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 7 days.

References:

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

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

https://authoritynutrition.com/signs-you-are-gluten-intolerant/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/food-sensitivities-health-infographic

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

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.

What is Leaky Gut?

“Leaky gut” is a popular topic in the health and wellness spheres these days. It’s been blamed for many symptoms and conditions that seem to be all-too-common. Allergies, intolerances, joint pain, even autoimmune diseases can all be linked back to leaky gut. But what is leaky gut? What causes it? What kinds of issues are related to it? And most of all, what can you eat for leaky gut?

What is leaky gut?

Simply put, your “gut” (a.k.a. “intestinal tract”) is a tube that makes up part of your digestive system. It’s not as simple as a hose or pipe; it’s an amazing tube made of live cells tightly bound together. Your gut helps your body absorb fluids and nutrients, digests your food, and houses billions of friendly gut microbes.

It’s also selective to what it allows past its barrier. Your intestinal tract purposefully keeps some things from being absorbed, so they pass right on through to the other end to be eliminated as waste. You don’t want to absorb many harmful microbes or toxins into your body, right?

FUN FACT: About 70-80% of our immune system is housed around our gut, so it’s ready for foreign invaders.

Absorption of fluids and nutrients happens when they’re allowed through this cellular tube into the circulation. And this is great! As long as what’s being absorbed are fluids and nutrients. The blood and lymph then carry the nutrients to your liver, and then around to the rest of your body; this is so that all your cells, all the way to your toenails, get the nutrition they need to be healthy and grow.

How does a gut become “leaky?”

Your gut can become leaky if the cells get damaged, or if the bonds that hold the cells together get damaged. Leaky gut can be caused or worsened by a number of diet and lifestyle factors. Dietary factors like too much sugar or alcohol or even eating things that you’re intolerant to can all contribute to leaky gut.

Lifestyle factors like stress, lack of sleep, infections, and some medications can also be culprits in this area. Sometimes, if the balance of gut microbes inside the gut is thrown off, this can also contribute to a leaky gut.

Any contributing factors that alter the balance in your gut may cause our gut to become “permeable” or leak. At this point incompletely digested nutrients, microbes (infectious or friendly), toxins, or waste products can more easily get into our bodies.

Scientifically speaking, a “leaky gut” is known as “intestinal permeability.” This means that our intestines are permeable and allow things through that they normally would keep out. They “leak.”

As you can imagine, this is not a good thing.

How do I know if I have leaky gut?

What are the symptoms of a leaky gut?

Because so much of your immune system is around your gut, the immune cells quickly recognize a “foreign invader” and start their response. This is normal and good if the gut is working properly and not allowing too many things to “leak” in.

But when that happens too much, and the immune system starts responding, the notorious inflammation starts. Once the immune system starts responding it can look like allergies, food intolerances, and even autoimmune diseases.

Because the first place affected is the gut, there are a number of symptoms right there. Things such as:

  • abdominal pain,
  • bloating,
  • gas,
  • nausea,
  • vomiting,
  • heartburn,
  • constipation
  • or diarrhoea.

Not to mention that if foods, even healthy foods, aren’t properly digested, their nutrients aren’t properly absorbed. Poor absorption can lead to lack of essential vitamins and minerals for the optimal health of every cell in your body.

Some of the symptoms can also occur on the skin:

  • Acne,
  • dry skin,
  • itchiness,
  • rashes,
  • eczema,
  • and hives

Even rosacea and psoriasis can be linked here due to their autoimmune component.

It’s possible that even some neurological symptoms are linked with leaky gut. For example:

  • brain fog,
  • fatigue,
  • headaches,
  • inability to sleep,
  • and general moodiness.

Finally, a number of chronic inflammatory diseases are thought to be linked with a leaky gut. Things like Crohn’s, colitis, Coeliac disease, IBS, and MS. Even things like heart disease and stroke are possibilities.

What to eat for leaky gut

The general recommendation is to stop eating inflammatory foods and eat more gut-soothing foods.

Incorporating a gut-soothing diet means cutting out grains, legumes, and dairy. Add to that list, food additives, alcohol, and refined sugars.

  • In their place, add in more green leafy and cruciferous veggies. These are full of nutrients and contain fibre to help feed your friendly gut microbes.
  • You also want to add more sources of vitamin D which can come from fish and egg yolks, and also from the sun.
  • Eat more probiotic foods like sauerkraut, dairy-free yoghurt, and kombucha (fermented tea).
  • You need to make sure you’re getting enough essential omega-3 fats found in oily fish such as salmon and mackerel.
  • Finally, make sure you’re getting some coconut oil and bone broth. Coconut oil has special fats called MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides), and bone broth has essential amino acids.

Conclusion

Leaky gut, or “intestinal permeability” can happen when your gut gets damaged due to too much sugar and alcohol, or eating foods you’re intolerant to. It can also be from stress, lack of sleep, or imbalance in your friendly gut microbes. The symptoms of leaky gut are vast – spanning from digestive woes to skin conditions, even to autoimmune conditions.

It’s important to cut out problem foods and drinks and add in more gut-soothing things like green leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, and probiotic foods. It’s also important to ensure you’re getting enough omega-3 fats, vitamin D, and amino acids.

If you need help tailoring a diet, feel free to respond to this email and I can get you on your way.

Recipe (gut soothing): Slow-Cooked Chicken Bone Broth

Serves 6-8

Instructions

1 whole chicken, cooked, bones with or without meat
3 carrots, chopped
2 celery, chopped
4 bay leaves
4 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Herbs and spices as desired (salt, pepper, paprika, parsley)
2 handfuls spinach

Instructions

1 – Place chicken bones, and meat if using, into a slow cooker.
2 – Add chopped vegetables, vinegar, and herbs/spices.
3 – Cover with hot water (about 2 litres/8 cups).
4 – Cook for 8 hours on medium or overnight on low.
5 – Add spinach 30 minutes before serving.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: You can strain it before serving, or serve it with the cooked vegetables as soup.

References:

https://www.thepaleomom.com/what-is-leaky-gut-and-how-can-it-cause/

https://www.thepaleomom.com/what-should-you-eat-to-heal-leaky-gut/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-nutrition-gut-health

http://www.healthline.com/nutrition/is-leaky-gut-real#section3

https://www.dietvsdisease.org/leaky-gut-syndrome/

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/837168

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/531603

Foods to Prevent Constipation

Many people with chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) have constipation.

You may have constipation if you have an easy bowel movement less often than once per day. If you have chronic constipation it can cause fatigue and inflammation in the body as toxins recirculate. Below I have listed foods to prevent constipation and lifestyle tips that you can do to make you more regular.

 

Causes of Constipation

  • Diet high in refined foods and low in fibre
  • Over-eating
  • Low water intake
  • Lack of exercise
  • Underactive thyroid
  • Poor liver function
  • Lack of magnesium in the diet

Foods to Avoid

  • Avoid all animal products especially red meats which have a long transit time through the bowel. Only eat these foods in moderation.
  • Cut back on dairy foods which are mucus forming and add to the plaque in the intestines. Instead have organic rice, almond, oat or goat’s milk.
  • Also cut down on full fat cheeses and don’t eat melted cheese over food as it sets like plastic in the bowel.
  • Avoid refined sugars found in cakes, biscuits, desserts and highly processed foods which ferment in the gut causing gas and bloating as healthy bacteria are destroyed. If these healthy bacteria are missing, your digestion and elimination are impaired.
  • When you mix flour and water it makes a gooey paste, it does the same in the bowel, therefore cut down on pastries and flour-based foods.
  • Also avoid foods which you have an intolerance to, for example cow’s milk. Many people do not have the enzyme needed to break down lactose, the sugar found in milk. This can lead to putrefaction in the bowel.

Foods to Eat

  • Flaxseeds (linseeds) are a blend of insoluble and soluble fibres which bulk up the stool encouraging it to move gently through the bowel. Ground flaxseed and use 1 tablespoon on your porridge or in a fruit smoothie every day. Store it in a glass jar in the fridge.
  • Other high fibre foods are fresh and dried figs, blackcurrants, apricots, prunes, almonds, fresh coconut and all mixed nuts. Try eating 8 prunes per day with breakfast for an easier bowel movement.
  • Eat more lightly cooked or raw vegetables and salads to add more fibre to your diet.
  • Drink at least 2 litres of water daily.
  • Replace one meal a day with a fruit smoothie whilst eliminating all flour from any source for at least 2 days. Blend 1 banana, 1 organic apple, 30g blueberries, 1 teaspoon of green powder, 1 tablespoon almond butter, 1 tablespoon of flaxseeds (linseeds) with 500ml almond milk. It’s delicious and packed with fibre.
  • Additionally eat more magnesium rich foods including green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds and dark chocolate, which relax the colon muscles and encourage a bowel movement.

Why does constipation cause fatigue?

  • If you have constipation, you have toxins recirculating in your system. This can lead to inflammation and fatigue.
  • Also being constipated can put a strain on your liver to constantly try to process and detox the recirculating toxins, leading to chronic fatigue.
  • It can cause bloating and tummy pain leading to discomfort and disturbed sleep, which can lead to fatigue.

 

Furthermore if you would like to find out more about foods to prevent constipation, contact Kate on 07562 868342 for a free 15 minute consultation!

Copyright: tashka2000 / 123RF Stock Photo

Water Kefir Recipe

You can make this water kefir recipe at home. If you are intolerant to lactose in dairy, this water kefir recipe is a good option to get your daily dose of probiotics. It will save you money buying probiotic supplements or kefir yoghurts as you can make it yourself. This water kefir recipe is simple to make but requires you to strain it every 2-3 days.

Benefits of Probiotics

  • Improve your digestion
  • Prevent overgrowth of bad bacteria in your gut e.g. Candida
  • Boost your mood

Ingredients

2tbsp Kefir grains

500ml Filtered water

2tbsp Brown sugar

Instructions

Firstly in a large 1 litre glass jar, dissolve the sugar in 100ml hot water. When the sugar is dissolved add the remaining cold water. make sure the water is room temperature.

Now add the kefir water grains into the jar and cover the top of the jar with a muslin cloth. The kefir grains are living organisms and feed on the sugar to ferment it.

Leave the jar in a warm, dark place such as an airing cupboard for 2-3 days. Do not leave it for too long or it can starve the grains if there is no sugar left. The longer you leave it, the more acidic the taste is.

After 2-3 days strain the mixture through a small sieve into another glass jar. You can now drink the kefir liquid and store it in the fridge. Try a small glass to see if you like it and if it agrees with you. Keep the kefir grains to reuse.

Wash the fermenting jar and repeat the process again.

If you are going away you can freeze the kefir grains and defrost them to start the process again on your return.