There may be something lurking within the gut, when and where it is least expected.
We’re probably already in tune with keeping the large intestine healthy, balanced and well-populated with good bacteria (got probiotics?).
But, what about the health of the small intestine that is located before it in the digestive tract?
The truth is, this is where the serious business of nutrient absorption happens before the waste products are sent through to the large intestine or bowel to be expelled.
As you can imagine, there’s quite a slippery slope that ensues when the flora in this critical stretch of digestive highway goes out of balance.
At its most basic level, SIBO or Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth is when bacteria or other microorganisms, good or bad, grow out of control in the small intestine – an area that would normally have a low bacterial count, as compared to the large intestine.
Microorganisms setting up shop in this area (colonisation) end up damaging the cells lining the small intestine. This is otherwise known as leaky gut or an increase in intestinal permeability.
This, in turn, impairs the digestive process and overall absorption of nutrients which can exacerbate nutritional deficiencies, allow toxins, infections and undigested protein molecules to enter the bloodstream that then cause widespread inflammation, food sensitivities, autoimmune disorders, and other immune reactions.
As mentioned, one of the biggest concerns with SIBO is that you’re not absorbing essential nutrients, like protein, carbohydrates and fats properly. This can cause deficiencies of iron, vitamin B12, calcium, and the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.
According to experts, the causes are not clearly defined but contributing factors to being diagnosed with SIBO can include:
Coeliac disease is also associated with an increased risk for developing SIBO, and can be of a particular concern, as it disturbs gut motility leading to poor functioning of the small intestine.
Another common condition associated with SIBO is Irritable Bowel Syndrome. As a matter fact, studies have found that SIBO occurs simultaneously in more than half of all cases of IBS. It has even been reported that successful elimination of bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine resolves symptoms of IBS too.
The use of certain medications, including immunosuppressant medications, and proton pump inhibitors (acid reflux medications) as well as heavy metal toxicity, low stomach acid, inflammatory diets, and yep, you guessed it, stress are all thought to be contributors as well.
It is typically diagnosed using a breath test in which the patient drinks a lactulose sugar-containing drink and exhaled gases are measured.
If there are too many bacteria, excess gases (hydrogen, methane or both) will be produced. It should be noted that the reliability of this test is considered less than ideal, but is the only test available at the moment. You can find out more information about the SIBO breath test HERE.
Most nutritionists advise to adhere strictly to the “SIBO diet” for at least 4 weeks – which may include any (or all) of the following protocols:
To learn more about the options for treating SIBO, contact Nutritionist Kate for a free 15 minute fatigue breakthrough call.
World Journal of Gastroenterology: “Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth Syndrome”
World Journal of Gastroenterology: “Irritable Bowel Syndrome and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth: meaningful association or unnecessary hype?”
Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology: “Gastrointestinal motility disturbances in celiac disease”
* no onions, leeks or garlic
2lbs beef marrow bones, thawed, grass-fed preferably
3 large carrots, unpeeled
1/2 medium celery root (not stalks)
Combination of fresh “antibacterial” herbs: few sprigs of each – rosemary, oregano & thyme
2 bay leaves
1Tbs apple cider vinegar, unpasteurized
¼ – ½ tsp himalayan pink salt
Water to desired dilution
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.
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).
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.
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.
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
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.
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 chronic fatigue 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.
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. Get vitamin D to boost you immune system from 20 minutes bare skin exposure on face and arms everyday. Vitamin D-rich foods include eggs and mushrooms.
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.
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.
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.
½ cup honey
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp freshly grated ginger root
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.
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?
There are certain foods that irritate the gut or can cause those loosened junctions to get even looser.
Some of these include:
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.
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.
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.
All of these are great healthy habits to get into, gut problems or not.
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.
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
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.
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:
Also the FODMAP diet can help with IBS.
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 is a 7 to 10 day treatment that is often effective for:
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).
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.
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in your neck that releases hormones. Thyroid hormones help your body regulate a few things – not a big deal – just the metabolism of ALL cells. And this is critical for having the energy to live your life.
(Yes, your thyroid IS a big deal!)
Furthermore it’s estimated that at least 3.7% of UK adults have an underactive thyroid.
When you don’t have enough thyroid hormone, you have what’s called hypothyroidism. This can result in the slowing down of your metabolism and chronic fatigue. Some of the other symptoms can include weight gain, forgetfulness, dry hair and skin, constipation and feeling cold.
You can get a diagnosis of underactive thyroid from a blood test from your health professional.
There are many reasons why your thyroid may become underactive. The most common is autoimmunity, where the immune cells attack other cells in the body. In this case, the cells of the thyroid gland.
It can also be the result of low levels of iodine, which is an essential mineral.
Below I explain about nutrients for underactive thyroid.
Enough iodine from food – you will find iodine naturally in fish and seafood. Other foods that contain iodine are navy beans, potatoes, and eggs. Sometimes levels of natural iodine depend on the amount of iodine in the soil. Also you will find that iodine is also added (i.e., fortified) to some foods.
Enough selenium from food – selenium is another essential mineral to support the thyroid. Selenium-rich foods include Brazil nuts, mushrooms, meat, and fish.
Enough protein – One of the common symptoms of thyroid issues is fatigue. If this is the case, one thing you can eat more of is protein. Protein keeps you feeling full for longer and has plenty of B vitamins to support your adrenals and energy production.
Gluten-free – Try going gluten-free. There is evidence of a link between underactive thyroid and gluten sensitivity. There may be a “cross-reactivity” where the immune cells that are sensitised to gluten can attack the thyroid cells by mistake. This is essentially how autoimmunity works and can affect more than just your thyroid. Also you could request to get tested for coeliac disease if you are experiencing thyroid issues.
Lifestyle upgrade – additionally tiredness and fatigue are very common when it comes to thyroid issues. In this case, it’s important to get enough quality sleep and reduce stress.
If you have concerns about your thyroid, then ask to be tested. That along with asking for testing for coeliac disease can help to confirm your best plan to move forward in good health.
Foods to support your thyroid include iodine- and selenium-containing foods and gluten-free foods. Don’t forget to eat enough protein to help boost your metabolism.
If you want to supplement with iodine, you should work with a qualified health professional.
Also regular exercise, quality sleep, and stress-reduction are all part of the holistic approach to supporting your thyroid.
Do you or someone you know have concerns about your thyroid? What diet and lifestyle factors have you got the most benefit from? Let me know by commenting below.
Finally for more information on using nutrition to support your thyroid, contact Kate for a free 15 minute phone consultation.
With the stressful pace of modern living in the West, the adrenal glands can struggle to keep up! Your adrenal glands secrete adrenaline and other stress hormones to help you to cope with stress. When you are feeling exhausted, your adrenals give you the energy to keep going!
With constant stress, your adrenals are continuously being stimulated until they crash. This is when you can experience adrenal fatigue.
People with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME) often have adrenal fatigue leaving them bed bound.
So how can you use nutrition for supporting the adrenal glands?
Which diet is better for CFS recovery? Is a vegetarian or stone-age diet better when recovering from CFS? There are so many diets out there, how do you know which one is right for you?
Everybody is unique and no one diet fits all. Some people have food intolerances or allergies to certain foods.
When I was recovering from my CFS, I was eating meats such as lamb, pork and also fish such as rainbow trout or seabass 2-3x per week. I was also eating carbs such as gluten-free bread, wild rice, gluten-free pasta and dried apricots. I ate plenty of broccoli, peas and carrots. So I was on a moderate protein, moderate carbohydrate, low refined sugar diet.
When I visited a Nutritionist, she detected that I had intolerances to beef, sugar, yeast and cow’s milk. So being an all-or-nothing kind of person, I immediately cut out these foods. Within a few weeks I felt a lot better. After 5 months of following her nutrition and supplement plan I had my energy back. Basically she put me on an anti-candida diet as my body was overrun with Candida and my immune system was weak.
A stone-age diet is high in meat and animal protein, low in carbohydrates and high in fat. Dr Myhill recommends a stone-age/paleo diet for people with CFS, as meat is rich in amino acids and protein which boost the immune system and heal tissue damage in the body. People with blood type O do better on a stone-age diet as they have high levels of stomach acid and can easily digest meat.
A vegetarian diet done correctly is full of vegetables, lentils, legumes and beans and is rich in nutrients and anti-oxidants. People with blood type A do better on a vegetarian diet, possibly with some fish. For people who have low stomach acid and find meat difficult to digest, or those on PPIs such as omeprazole or lansoprazole which block stomach acid production, may do better on a vegetarian diet. Also meat can be constipating so eliminating meat eases constipation and improves your detoxification abilities.
So which diet is better for CFS recovery? Personally I would recommend a low sugar, anti-candida diet for healing CFS. Avoiding refined sugar, sugary fruits like bananas, grapes and dried fruits, also avoiding yeast found in bread, mushrooms, fermented foods, cheese, peanuts and cashew nuts.
Also you need to avoid your food intolerances which deplete your body’s energy. The most common food intolerances are to gluten (found in wheat, rye, barley and rolled oats) and cow’s milk.
You need to eat plenty of protein when recovering from CFS to boost your immune system and to heal tissue damage. So a Stone-age diet is very beneficial. If you are vegetarian and can’t face eating meat, I would recommend a high protein vegetarian diet eating plenty of beans, chickpeas, lentils, non-GMO tofu and eggs.
If you don’t eat oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines or herring regularly, which I didn’t when recovering from my CFS, you need to take an omega 3 supplement e.g. a fish oil or a vegan algal omega 3 supplement. I took igennus Vegepa supplement.
For more information on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), contact Kate and book a free 15 minute fatigue breakthrough call.
Protein is not just for great skin, hair, and nails; it’s critical for health. Without it, you wouldn’t be able to repair damage, digest food, fight infections, build muscle and bone, create hormones, and even think and have good moods. Higher protein diets can help fight high blood pressure, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Not to mention protein’s great benefits for metabolism boosting, satiety (feeling full after a meal), and weight management.
Protein is important, and this is a given.
There are a few factors to consider when calculating how much protein we need. I go through those calculations with you. Then I list the amount of protein in some common foods.
There isn’t a real rule that applies equally to everyone. There are a few factors to consider when figuring out how much protein you need.
Start with the minimum recommendation of 0.8 g/kg (0.36 g/lb) per day.
So, for a 68 kg (150 lb) healthy non-athlete adult, this is about 55 g protein/day.
Mind you, this is a minimum to prevent protein deficiency. It’s not optimal for good repair, digestion, immune function, muscle/bone building, hormones, thinking and great moods. It’s not enough for athletes, the elderly, or those recovering from an injury, or an illness such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, either. If you fall into one of these camps, you may need to increase the minimum protein intake. Aim closer to 1.3 g/kg (0.6 g/lb) per day.
Athletes need more protein for their energy and muscle mass. Seniors need more to help ward off muscle and bone loss that’s common in old age. And injured people need more for recovery and healing.
As with fat and carbohydrates, eating too much protein can cause weight gain. Extra protein can be converted into sugar or fat in the body. The interesting thing about protein is that it isn’t as easily or quickly converted as carbohydrates or fat; this is because of its “thermic effect.” The thermic effect is the amount of energy required to digest, absorb, transport and store a nutrient. To digest protein, your body needs to spend energy (i.e., burn calories). More calories than when metabolising fats or carbohydrates.
If you’re concerned that high protein intake harms healthy kidneys, don’t be. If your kidneys are healthy, they are more than capable of filtering out excess amino acids from the blood. The problem only occurs in people who already have kidney issues.
FUN FACT: Plant proteins are especially safe for kidney health.
Protein is an essential nutrient we should all get enough of. How much protein do I need? “Enough” is about 0.8 – 1.3 g/kg (0.36 – 0.6 g/lb) per day. If you’re a healthy non-athlete adult, you can aim for the lower level. If you’re an athlete, senior, or injured person, aim for the higher level.
Too much protein can cause weight gain, so it’s best to have just enough.
I’d love to know: Are you one of those people who needs more protein? Leave a comment and let me know.
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic
1/4 tsp sea salt
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp paprika
Preheat oven to 450°F. Place a layer of parchment paper on a baking dish.
Place the chicken breasts in the prepared dish. Brush on both sides with olive oil.
In a small bowl, mix spices until combined. Sprinkle the spice mixture evenly over the chicken on both sides.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through to at least 165°F at the thickest part.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: Serve with lots of veggies.
For more information about protein or if you are interested in purchasing my high protein vegetarian or non-vegetarian meal plan, contact Kate on 07562868342 or send a message in the contact form below! I would love to hear from you.