IBS and Food Intolerances – Some Common Causes

I LOVE talking to people about their gut health problems, finding out how they came about & hopefully being able to help fix them. The best bit is that I learn so much from everyone I speak to. I learn what started their issues, what helps them most, what they can & can’t eat now, what else they do to support their health….everyone becomes a bit of an expert on their own gut & I love to find out as much as I can from each person. Some of my special interests are the development of IBS, food allergies & intolerances. While working in healthfood stores & pharmacies I would always ask ‘when did it start, what was happening around that time’ & often there are some pretty interesting lead ups that can turn a previously non-reactive person into someone who really has to watch what they eat. 

some eg’s:

Medications:

‘I went on a medication & now I react to X / Y/ Z’. When you throw a chemical into an ecosystem, there will be changes. That is what you do when introducing new medications, you make changes to your gut ecosystem, & that can change how your body works. Some of the most commonly used meds can really upset our guts – think ibuprofen, which people start feeding to their kids for all kinds of minor ailments FROM 3 months old! If overused (like for most kids), it actually has potential to create serious long term issues by letting stuff out through the gut lining (ibuprofen makes the gut leaky) into the bloodstream that should never get in there – think eczema, asthma, allergies, arthritis, hay fever, auto-immune problems, food intolerances…ibuprofen is not as harmless as we’re all lead to believe. And there are countless other ‘every day’ meds that disrupt the way your gut works too – antibiotics are obvious, but the list is long – & includes antidepressants, opioids & reflux medications (3 of Australia’s most commonly prescribed). 

Are you one of those people who pressures your Dr into a prescription every time you go in to their clinic? Drs often feel pressured / obligated to prescribe when they know it’s totally unnecessary / potentially going to make a situation worse! Don’t be that patient / parent (it’s often parents)! So many people start taking meds unnecessarily – either because they trusted the advice of their prescription-happy Dr…who was just matching a medicine to a symptom as per their training – or because they ‘demanded’ a medication to fix their symptom (which their Dr probably knew could be ‘cured’ with a few days rest, or some better lifestyle choices, but just couldn’t be bothered arguing about)! Meds have a place, definitely some are needed, they can be life-saving & I am grateful we have access to them. BUT, there are many, many cases where the best long term treatment plan involves diet & lifestyle changes, & maybe some nutritional / herbal supplements that are less likely to mess up the all important gut balance!

(HINT: Save pharmaceutical meds for when you are really ill, as a last resort. One drug so often leads to another, & remember – pharmaceutical companies (very sneakily) train & use Drs & pharmacy staff as their ‘sales reps’ to ensure company profits. Break the chemical meds cycle, get help from a naturopath or holistic GP so you aren’t ‘drug dependant’ or teaching your kids to be.

 

 

Dieting:

‘I was on X diet that meant I had to eat loads of eggs, now I’m intolerant to eggs!’ (HINT: don’t keep forcing a food down your throat when you are sick of it just because your diet book says ‘you need to eat X food for X meal’) When you are getting ‘sick’ of eating something, your body is sending you a fairly clear message to eat something different / avoid that food for a while! You may (literally) be getting sick from it! Listen to your body, or you may actually become sick! Keto dieters beware – if you’re over the cheese + almond meal ‘bread’, stop eating it (or it may become no longer an option for you!) If you just can’t stomach another day of green juice with kale & spinach, for goodness sake put the juicer away! 

Cutting Out Foods Without Addressing An Underlying Gut Issue:

‘Now I’m reacting to the foods I replaced my food intolerances with!” Cutting something out which seems to not work so well for you & then all of a sudden eating loads of another food to replace it can backfire. (Ie replace dairy with soy milk & you develop an soy intolerance – it happens).  This makes you realise the food wasn’t the issue, it was the compromised gut / immune system reacting inappropriately! If your gut is out of whack, ultra sensitive & reacting crazily to something other people tolerate ok, it can start reacting crazily to other foods too. (HINT: If you think you have a food intolerance, don’t just cut out the offending foods & carry on with life thinking everything is fine, take your reactive state as a clue that your gut-immune axis really needs some attention. Unless you do something to help fix  / change the gut environment & gut lining, you may just have to keep cutting foods out. If you are reacting to something all of a sudden, chances are, your gut just needs some love). Book in to see a naturopath or holistic / integrative GP who can help support the gut, calm the immune system, & order any relevant tests. 

Excess Alcohol:

‘I had a huge weekend & then after that I had intolerances / my old gut problems all came back’. Yup – it seems that you can inflict food intolerances upon yourself & bring back previously resolved gut issues if you destroy your gut  enough on a bender! (HINT: Alcohol in excess is bad news for your gut lining & your microbiome, keep it to a minimum, especially if you already have a sensitive tummy – one weekend of partying hard can really take the freedom & fun out of life when you can’t eat what you want & no longer feel like going out)! If you are reading this after a huge weekend – don’t despair, just make yourself a big pot of bone broth (or buy it concentrated), pick up some ‘gut repair’ type supplements from a naturopath / local health store or pharmacy, & eat really well (loads of prebiotic fibre & minimal sugar), at least until the next big weekend! 

Gastro Infections:

‘I got sick with a gastro bug & my gut has been different ever since’ I hear this a lot too, bad gastro infections are like a war in your guts, & even after your good bugs ‘win’ the aftermath can be devastating. (HINT: When you have a bout of gastro, invest in some after care / gut recovery products & eat really mindfully until you’re back on track again – don’t just jump straight back into normal eating, have a few days on soups / broths to ease your system back into the hard job of dealing with food 24-7. Get some recovery advice from a naturopath / healthfood store).  

Traveller’s Tummy:

‘I went overseas & got sick, I’ve never been the same in my gut since’. So so common – the food, the water, the climate, the broken routines & loss of sleep, the change in timezones, coming into contact with people & microbes from all over the planet within hours, airport & plane food….Travelling can take its toll on your gut-immune system! (HINT: When you travel, it’s great if you can pack a quality prebiotic supplement (shameless Blend11 plug), some shelf-stable probiotic support, a natural antimicrobial / anti-parasitic formula, & stick to filtered / safe water, be careful with ice / salads & wash your hands vigilantly. But – there are huge potential gut benefits of travel too, imagine the microbial diversity you’ll develop compared to non-travellers! Just take precautions & if you do end up going down with the dreaded traveller’s tummy, be sure to treat it with respect as you could end up with an unwanted ‘souvenir’ for life! If you are currently battling with symptoms, do get tested for parasitic infection that could still be present, & try Blend11 & PondWater together (we have had some amazing feedback on this combo for people with travel acquired ‘IBS’).

Read here: https://www.goodmix.com.au/good-poos-the-forgotten-travel-essential/

Extreme / Prolonged Stress:

‘I went through a really stressful period & since then have been reactive to X / Y / Z foods’. You went through an awful break-up & then had to break-up with some of your fave foods, double sob!!! No more wallowing in cheesecake to numb the pain (made a gluten free, dairy free, nut free, low FODMAP version??)

Stress can upset your tummy big time, it can even make it become leaky. So many people get nervous diarrhoea or become constipated when stressed & busy, or just start to eat poorly / not look after themselves in general – which creates tummy issues.  (HINT: when you know you have a stressful period coming up – ie exams / new job / moving house etc, ensure you’re getting plenty of prebiotic fibre daily to keep your good protective gut bugs winning, & make it easier to eat well by prioritising food prep / sourcing time, or paying to outsource that job until you’re able to take it over again. If stress hits you out of the blue, remind yourself that your gut is going to be your ally in getting through this rough patch, it will look after you if you pay attention & look after it)! Definitely worth making the effort to avoid trouble down the track. 

Athletes / Over-Training:

‘I overtrained for an event / went too hard in a comp & my gut hasn’t been the same since.’ Athletes can be the worst at self abuse! Sacrificing health by pushing past your limits to achieve goals = great short term plan for sporting success, not so great for long-term health & happiness! When you train hard, know that your gut requires TLC before, during & after to avoid damage that can sideline you for days / weeks / months / forever. (HINT: If you are serious about getting the most from your body for as long as you can & still have a life after sport, search for a coach who understands how nutrition, training & your gut all play together – many are pretty clueless. Better still, educate yourself – really learn how your body functions).

Helpful read: https://www.goodmix.com.au/gut-health-athletes/

Inherited:

‘I think I was born with a dodgy gut’ or ’My mum has always had problems, now my gut seems to be doing similar things’. Both are possible, & both totally make sense, because you probably have a similar gut microbial ecosystem to your mum. If you were born vaginally, you would have picked up mum’s microbiome on the way through the birth canal (also conveniently located next door to where poos & their resident microbes exit!) If your mum had gut issues due to a microbial imbalance, your gut may be kinda similar – it might cause you trouble literally from birth, or it might not cause you any major symptoms until later in life.

We can also pick up gut microbes from people we share living environments with, humans (& other animals) sharing spaces closely can ‘share’ microbes (choose your flatmates carefully)! (HINT: If you inherited a dodgy microbiome or feel like you’ve picked one up along the way somehow, don’t despair. Ask your mum / dad what works for them, try it yourself, & if there’s nothing that helps, find a replacement microbiome (yes, you can really do that – if your gut problems are severe enough, you should look into getting an FMT – fecal microbe transplant. Yes it is exactly what it sounds like, someone else’s poo, being ‘transplanted’ into your bowel! With the right preparation & after care, it can really help reset your microbiome. Use a specialist clinic, & make sure donors have been well screened (or you may go from the gut microbial frying pan into the fire, as there are still a lot of unknowns about what else can change when you change your gut microbes).

Helpful read: https://www.goodmix.com.au/new-medicine-literally-load-crap/ 

I would love to hear the story of how your gut issues started, please feel free to share in the comments!

Jeanie
jeanie@goodmix.com.au

New Year New You – What’s Your Excuse?

Most Common Excuses “I can’t get healthy because…”

You may have one or more of these, or even a different excuse holding you back from getting healthy. There will ALWAYS be obstacles blocking your efforts, & you can either let them get in your way & give up, or you can find ways around them to still win at getting healthy! Make 2019 the year you stop blaming ‘something else’ for why you aren’t looking after yourself properly. Everyone thinks up reasons / excuses why they haven’t been doing what they know they should’ve been!  

I can’t afford it. It’s so expensive to be healthy!

YES, it is. Nothing worthwhile is free. Good food costs money, good advice costs money, & yes you’ll have to invest some time & energy. BUT – you will increase your energy & productivity, your mood will be better, you’ll look better, say yes to more opportunities, need less sick days, people will respect you more….getting healthy is an investment & it will pay dividends every single day of your (longer & more comfortable) life!! Invest in your biggest asset – the body that carries you through this life! You only get one!! Being healthy will cost you, but it will cost you way less than being unhealthy in the long run!

Free ebook to help : 9 Ways to Eat Healthy on a Budget

I have injuries, so I can’t exercise.

Exercise the parts of your body that don’t hurt! If your back is sore, see a practitioner who can help with exercises that won’t hurt your back. This will help strengthen it so you can move more comfortably. You can always train some part of you, even if it’s only your hands, your feet or your butt cheeks!! Be gentle with yourself, but firm – an injury is not an excuse to just curl up & die. 

 

I have an illness so can’t get healthy even if I do try.

Sometimes it’s really hard, & you might need professional help. Invest in getting the help, & then start with one small habit you know you can implement by yourself (drink more water, or add in some herbal teas / a green smoothie each day, watch a funny movie, get some sunshine, do 5 mins meditation). One small step = a start. Remember – there are a lot of people who’ve been sicker than you & become healthy again, so it’s possible for you too. Your ultimate health potential may not be as high as it could be, but don’t underestimate the body’s self-healing drive.

I’ve tried so many different diets / plans but none of them really work, I give up now.

Hmm – there are many people who have been successful in turning their lives around too…maybe you are missing something? Plans are usually just a kickstart, & not everyone will get the same results. Ultimately it’s your everyday habits that determine your long term results. By all means use plans to help you along the way, but they will not do everything for you (& you can’t just throw in the towel & blame them when you don’t get the results you want!) Instead of giving up, try changing direction – get some advice on the best kickstart plan for you!

I don’t sleep well so have no energy to make any changes.

Sleeping well is a health necessity. But you can still make better choices whilst running on limited sleep (it’s harder, but it can be done).

  • Do some exercise even if you are tired (it will help your sleep in the long run).
  • Try to get morning sunshine
  • Get off the stimulants (yes, see if going without coffee helps you)
  • Start a nighttime yoga practice
  • Learn to meditate so you can do that in bed.
  • Meditation will help you feel rested & refreshed even with less sleep, & you may find yourself drifting off more.
  • Invest in a great mattress, pillows, make the temperature comfortable & block the light / noise out.
  • Remove all devices from the room, no screen time for at least 1/2 hr before bed.
  • Use some relaxing essential oils in a hot bath or rubbed into your skin.
  • Try changing the direction your bed faces.

There will be plenty of things you can do to support your sleep efforts.

I’m too busy looking after my baby / kids / ageing parents / partner & have no time or energy left for looking after me :(

You won’t be much good to anyone if you can’t carve out some time to look after you! You literally have to CARVE it out. Your baby / kids / parents / partner / need you to be nourished, energetic & calm. You need to have your own oxygen mask on your face before you can start looking after others! Modern day life is kinda like a plane crash – grab hold of your mask – take responsibility for looking after your own needs as a priority so you can be helpful to others around you. Caring for others needs to become your reason to look after yourself better, not an excuse to neglect your health!

My partner isn’t interested / is unsupportive when I try to get healthy so it gets too hard to stay on track. I just keep derailing.

Well if your partner is the total cause of your poor health, ditch your partner!! But not before you’ve been very honest with yourself (we tend to blame our partners for a lot of things that could actually be more to do with us). Is it really all your partner’s fault? Surely your partner wants you to look & feel your best – they might actually surprise you if you really communicate your needs. And if you can both be on the same page, supporting each other to get healthier it will be so much easier! If they really are resistant / won’t see where you’re coming from you may need to consider a break to get yourself on track.

If your partner is a smoker with no intention of quitting & you really want to, it will be really hard (but still possible, better with a break), if you want to cut down on sugar & your partner brings home Tim Tams every night & teases you it will also be hard but still possible – once again, take a break apart. You need to communicate your needs assertively (not aggressively) & if they really have zero interest in helping you with what you’re trying to achieve, you need to question if you’re a good team to keep doing life together.

My job / active social life means I’m always partying – eating junk, drinking, not sleeping.

Is your job worth sacrificing your health for? Are you maybe out-growing some of your friends? If you’re serious about getting your health on track this year, it may be worth re-evaluating a few things, like the people you spend most of your time with (surround yourself with people that you aspire to be like, because you will end up like the people you hang out with). 

My job is really sedentary so I can’t exercise enough.

Does your job take up 24 hrs 7 days per week? No – then that is not a valid excuse! Sorry :- /

My job is really physically taxing, & that is all I have the energy for.

I hear this from all the nurses / tradies / physical labourers – but just imagine how amazing a good stretch or a swim would feel for those tired, overworked legs & back at the end of a shift?!  If you have a job that keeps you active, great – but chances are you’ll be doing really repetitive stuff & your body will still be suffering because the ‘load’ is unbalanced – wearing you out in places whilst others remain unchallenged. Your energy may improve with some sort of exercise to help balance what you already do with work.

I’m just too lazy, I can’t be bothered putting in the effort to be healthy – I feel ok as I am & I am happy enough.

Well why did you even bother to read this?? If you are happy enough & don’t want to make any changes, don’t. Easy! But if there is a part of you that wonders what it would feel like to spring out of bed with energy each day & ditch the tracksuit pants & baggy tees for a bikini….then just try. Try changing one habit at a time. Get one change down pat, then move onto the next once you are confident you have it nailed. You may just surprise yourself – small steps are easy to take!

This year – try looking after your body as though it needs to last you a lifetime (hint – it does). Have this mentality clear in your head when you write a shopping list / are walking through the supermarket aisles, are deciding what meal to order / what food to put on your plate / tossing up wether to buy another pack of cigarettes / bottle of alcohol / soft drink / iced coffee. All the small decisions you make in a year add up the body you’re trapped in (or feeling great in) at the end of the year! All the times you were ‘too tired / too busy / not feeling it’ add up to the fact that your shorts no longer fit, or you’re puffing & red faced after a small flight of stairs. Stick a note or a picture somewhere you’ll see it daily to remind you to think like this every day! Value your health, if you’re still alive you’re luckier than many & you still have something to work with!

Make a list of the healthy habits you can start incorporating into your life from NOW! I’ve made a start with a habit suggestion below, even just adding this one habit in will literally change your life!

Check out how this amazing women went from overweight and unhappy to Bikini Model and stoked!

Habit Suggestion – Morning Movement!

Do some type of exercise first thing in the morning. Decide on something you can squeeze in, something you don’t hate (wether it’s 5 minutes dancing around in the kitchen with your toddler on your hip, as many chin ups as you can do in your doorway / garage, a burn around the block with your kid on a scooter, or a quick lounge-room yoga or pilates class from an app you’ve downloaded…just get into the habit of MOVING every morning, before you think about starting your day, to be healthy in today’s world, making time for movement is a MUST!!

If you make yourself tick that box before anything else for the day, you’ll succeed. It will be hard for 2 weeks if you’re not already in this habit, be prepared for some resistance! If you get through the first 2 weeks, you should be feeling so much better you’ll be motivated to keep the habit. If you start work really early & morning is just totally impractical for you, you’ll need to figure out another time of the day that will work, & commit to it. Ie – if there is a gym / sporting club you drive past on your way home each day – could be worth exploring. Or a friend’s place…or maybe adopt an energetic dog (they will demand an afternoon walk!) Can you cycle to work? Take the stairs a few times? Swim? Use a different train / bus stop that requires a brisk walk on your way home….if you are serious about feeling better you’ll find a way to make it happen!

You need to spend some time thinking of your own habits to start – what little steps can you realistically take this year to make it healthier than last ? Try listing 5 habits, but prioritise & just start with ONE, then once that one is in place, firmly in your life, try starting another. One good habit that you can stick to for months / years is more effective than a ‘total life overhaul’ that you give up on after 2 weeks!! Baby steps, small changes at a time, but just stick to them! One small victory will give you the confidence & self belief to attempt bigger goals later.

Happy New Habits!

Xx Jeanie

The Blend11 nutritional panel is incorrect! Yay!!

We have an exciting update from the CSIRO gut researchers! Our nutritional panel calculations for Blend11 are incorrectbut it’s in a good way!

WATCH THIS VIDEO !

The full nutritional analysis is not complete yet, but we do know that we had the sugar & fibre count completely wrong – sorry! Details are below:

WRONG

Sugar (grams per hundred) listed on current labels: 6.1g

Fibre (grams per hundred) listed on current labels: 15.75g

CORRECT 

Actual Sugar (grams per hundred) as verified by CSIRO analysis: 2.1g

Actual Fibre (grams per hundred) as verified by CSIRO analysis: 18.4g

More Blend11 FAQ’s

This means that for 6 years, we’ve been selling our product with a label stating 3x the sugar content it actually contains, & the fibre content is significantly higher than we’ve listed too! (Yes, we feel really, really clever).  

It was so long ago that Brad & I can’t remember who’s mistake it was (I say it was him, he says it was me), but either way…it was a pretty huge error & is great news for anyone needing to decrease sugar & carb intake, (that’s pretty much all of us), but especially diabetics, those battling with insulin resistance, abdominal fat, PCOS, & keto dieters.  

The news came in from CSIRO via email just hours after a big box of new Blend11 labels had arrived from the printers, wouldn’t you know it! So for now, all we can do is let everyone know that the current panel is inaccurate (in a good way), & we’ll be sending out some correction strips / replacement labels ASAP.  And – we can now eat 3x the amount we normally would, carb-guilt free!

Buy Blend11 NOW and take advantage of our limited offer of 15% off PLUS free shipping on any Blend11 400g, 800g & 1.3kg orders. Simply apply the coupon word at the checkout: label

Is Blend11 Keto Friendly?

The keto diet (high fat, moderate protein & very low carbs) was trendy for weightloss in natural health circles approx 20 yrs ago & it seems that everyone is trying keto again – this time in a big way due to quick & easy spread of info & recipes through social media etc, plus more scientific research into the benefits & safety. This is great from a weightloss & insulin sensitivity perspective (it can really help), & the perfect pendulum swing to combat the low fat damage done over the past few decades!

But, going keto is not for everyone, & can be a little worrying from a gut microbiome perspective if the dieter isn’t aware of some possible pitfalls. It can help starve out SIBO / decrease numbers of some of the nasty gut organisms, but with less types of plant food coming into the bowel, you’ll potentially be sacrificing some of your helpful bugs also. The concern is that when we tip the dietary balance too far towards fat & neglect to include plenty of fibre & resistant starch, the poor little gut bugs get so hungry that they’re forced to munch into the protective mucous lining of the gut. Not a good situation to bring on! (Hello leaky gut). One of the keys to ‘gut-healthy keto’ is getting plenty of fibre-rich plant food, supporting a diverse microbiome to keep the fermentation of fibre into short chain fatty acids happening & maintain the all important gut lining – not to mention the equally important regular bowel movements! Both constipation & loose stools can be an issue whilst adjusting to a fat-heavy keto diet, & many new-to-keto people will experience both if not mindful of their fibre intake. Overall though – you can really help support gut health with a careful keto period, because you’ll be cutting out sugar, refined carb & gluten-heavy foods (just watch over consumption of dairy as that can do bad things for many people’s gut)!

Gut-Friendly Keto breakfast ideas:

Pure N Free Natural unsweetened coconut yoghurt, activated Blend11 (goji berries picked out if you want to be super strict) with a sprinkle of cinnamon for extra flavour & blood sugar benefits. Click fo more on this Pre n Pro combo 

Activated Blend11 sprinkled over a plate of eggs, raw spinach, plus mushrooms & herbs sautéed in olive oil, coconut oil or butter. Asparagus sauteed in butter / oil, plus sea salt  & garlic also make a great keto friendly & prebiotic rich breakfast side too, esp this time of year with asparagus being cheap & plentiful!

Activated Blend11 plus Pure n Free unsweetened coconut yoghurt, a few frozen berries & a little water into a smoothie.  You can also try coffee instead of berries to flavour.

Testimonial:

This testimonial came in from my brother Andy in the USA, who’s been doing a great job spreading the seeds over there! Please keep letting all of your USA friends & family know that Blend11 can be purchased through amazon prime in the States. 

“The seeds have really helped changed my life Andrew. I found out I had diabetes last year and completely changed my diet and quit smoking. Started making healthy shakes with your seeds in them each morning along with keto diet and I lost 40 lbs and never been so happy or healthy in all my life. I will be a loyal customer just as long as you provide these great products. Expect my payment soon. Thank you so much for your kindness and courtesy. I really appreciate it.”

CLICK & READ HUNDREDS OF CUSTOMER REVIEWS

*LIMITED OFFER

Buy Blend11 now and apply coupon word at the checkout: label

You’ll get FREE SHIPPING on any Blend11 400g, 800g & 1.3kg orders , PLUS 15% OFF.  Help us clear out the old labels!!!

Blend11 – The FAQ’s

Here’s a list of the most frequently asked questions we get at markets about Blend11! Hopefully if you have a burning question, it’s covered – if not, feel free to send it in & I’ll do my best!

FAQ’S:

Q:What does Low FODMAP mean? And why should I should know or care?

A: Low FODMAP foods contain low levels of the rapidly fermentable carbohydrates known to trigger IBS symptoms. Researchers from the Monash University in Melbourne developed a diet keeping FODMAP’s low (The Low FODMAP Diet) that can really help people with IBS or other gut issues to better control their symptoms (& get back to living a normal life!) It is becoming recognised globally as one of the first ‘prescriptions’ to try for those with medically diagnosed IBS. It helps approx 75% of IBS people to gain control & lessen symptoms.  

The acronym stands for: 

F………Fermentable (broken down by your gut microbes)

O……..Oligosaccharides (fructans & galacto-oligosaccharides)

D……..Disaccharides (lactose)

M…….Monosaccharides (fructose – in excess of glucose)

A……..and

P……..Polyols (sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol & maltitol). 

The diet is NOT a diet that we should all start following, it’s really just people with IBS, SIBO, bloating, pain, bowel irregularity or IBD who should be aware of this – to help understand & get control of their symptoms. Low FODMAP eating is not intended as a long-term healthy diet (many really healthy foods are high in FODMAP’s). But it’s just handy to know what foods can make you feel a bit funny in the tummy if you eat too many. For me (no IBS), I notice apples (more than 1 a day) & other fruits can make me a bit uncomfortable…but small amounts are totally fine. By far the most common FODMAP reactions I hear about at markets are to onions & garlic, wheat & milk products. Legumes are right up there too. 

Q: What is a ‘best poo ever?’ 

A: No 4 on The Bristol Stool Chart! The ’smooth sausage’ – the holy grail of poos! We should all aim for mostly number 4’s (variation is normal & ok, but as long as you usually see number 4’s, you’re doing well!) PRINT OUT THE CHART FOR YOUR TOILET DOOR. Good gut = good poos. 

CLICK TO WATCH ACTIVATION

Q:Why do you have to soak Blend11? That’s annoying / time consuming / weird / I like it better crunchy…

A: When seeds absorb water they think ‘yay, it’s rained – now is our time to start growing!’ They are stimulated to release enzymes, which start to break down the stored nutrients (meant to nourish the seed & support growth before roots & leaves have developed. Enzymes are great for us, plus we can then get more nutritional benefits from the Blend. 

If you think about it, seeds are designed to pass through the digestive system of whatever animal eats them so that they can then start growing in a nice pile of manure once they come out the other end! They are designed to withstand digestion. When we pre-soak them, we ‘trick them’ into coming out of their dormant, protected state. Soaking / activating makes them much easier to digest, the protein content increases & the nutrients become more bioavailable. This process (soaking seeds / grains) is also being introduced in the farming industry to achieve better feed efficiencies etc for livestock, (there’s a lot of research & evidence behind it, not just some crazy market soggy-seed-sellers)! 

Q: How many days can you keep the wet mixture in the fridge? 

A: Soaked Blend11 is fine in a sealed container for up to 3 days in the fridge. This is something we’ll know more about once the CSIRO research has been completed (we’ll let you know how long is the optimal soak time). We have been recommending 3 days for the past 6 years with good results. 

Q: It looks like muesli, but is way more expensive??!!

A: The price question is always there when you have quality food, simply because we are now surrounded by so much poor quality food! We have become used to expecting cheap food products because food manufacturers develop products with emphasis on price point & not enough care factor about nutrition & health. In most cases, you get what you pay for! Most seed blend / muesli manufacturers will fill their packets up with the cheaper ingredients like sunflower seeds (just look at the first few listed ingredients to see what the main proportion of a product is). I could have made Blend11 much cheaper but I don’t like the fatty acid profile of sunflower seeds to be eating them every day (really high in omega 6 which we get plenty of).  I preferred to make the product much heavier in anti inflammatory omega 3’s, coconut & monounsaturated) as sunflower oil is used in so many processed foods etc – most people get too much. And everything in Blend11 is certified organic (except the almond flakes), so that obviously adds to cost (but also to benfits – gut microbes & human bodies both hate chemicals). 

Blend11 has some pretty awesome therapeutic actions, so our ingredients cannot be compromised (the effects may change, & we would have A LOT of cranky customers!). We’ve actually tried to make a cheaper formula, but it didn’t give the same results when we tested it on a few ‘regular’ customers! Plus we often get feedback from people trying another brand that it’s ‘just not the same!’ Second or third best poos –  if you’re lucky!

Q:Can I eat this if I have diverticulitis? 

A: Yes, but you always should soak the mix at least overnight & even smoothie it if you’re still worried. Most people over the age of 60 have some diverticular pockets, & many will never have any problems / acute attacks even though they continue to enjoy nuts & seeds. Many people with pockets are just fine with eating whole seeds, drs are starting to become aware of this (the gastroenterologist I do a bit of work with is on the same page). Listen to your body on this one though, most people are fine with soaked seeds, almost all will be fine with soaked & then blended. It would be highly unlikely to get any adverse effect from a smoothie with soaked seeds, this is exactly what people with a sluggish bowel & diverticular disease really need, to keep the good bugs well fed & the baddies away, keep the bowel moving easily with no pressure build up, as well as keeping the bowel lining healthy & nourished with loads of short chain fatty acids (amazing anti-inflammatory by-products of fibre fermentation). 

Q:This is really high in fat?? Surely it’s not healthy then, it’ll make me fat!!?? 

A: OMG, this question comes at me still, mostly from 55-75 yr old ladies who are often overweight due to insulin resistance brought on from a decades of low fat eating (with the compensatory carb overload!) 

Eating fat does not make us get fat. Fat makes us feel full, keeps us looking great, esp skin & hair, it supports fat burning ability, & will decrease hunger / cravings for sugars & carbs thus preventing insulin resistance, the main cause of obesity! Most people feel really good on a diet high in healthy fats, this blend contains a great balance of omega 3, 6 & 9, as well as monounsaturates & mct’s. Blend11 is almost 40% fat, compare the nutritional panel to other muesli type products (& look at the sugar & carbs line too!). The carb content is mostly fibre & the sugars are very low (& their absorption is also slowed by the fat fibre protein hit). 

Q:I can’t eat grains. Blend11 contains millet, buckwheat & amaranth! 

A: These grains are – gluten free, low reactive, high protein, soaked overnight to improve digestibility / decrease reactivity, & the millet & amaranth are cooked. Buckwheat is technically a seed, not a grain. Most people are totally fine with a little soaked buckwheat, & a few puffs of millet & amaranth (millet & amaranth are only 2.5% of the mix by weight, they just look like more as they’re full of air – so actually Blend11 has very minimal grain content).

Q:Fibre makes me fart. Do I really need more?

A: Your gut is like a fermentation tank. Farts mean there is a lot of fermentation happening. Fermentation is good! Our butthole is the release valve – like you’d want to loosely cover anything that you’re fermenting so it doesn’t explode! We would explode too if our butt couldn’t let gas build-up escape when it needs to! By-products of fibre fermentation (& fart production) are SCFA’s ’Short Chain Fatty Acids’. These act as anti-inflammatories & are extremely beneficial to the gut lining as well as the rest of the body. They actually pass through your bowel lining & into your bloodstream, so think about this – if your’e farting it means you’re fermenting. Surely a few extra farts is worth it to get your gut producing plenty of these amazing systemic anti-inflammatories! Any increase in fibre can temporarily make you a little more gassy, but it should settle right down as your microbes adjust. But yes, fibre does make you fart, & farting is a healthy thing!

Q:That bag is tiny, I’d be finished that in 2 days!

A: This is not a regular muesli. It’s used more like a ‘topper’. You only really need 50g daily (2 heaped tablespoons or 1/3 of a cup) to see the digestive benefits. Some people find that they only need to use it every second day or a few times a week, so the bags last much longer than you would expect. You mix it into something else, like fruit / yoghurt / smoothies / porridge / bircher etc. 

Q:Can my baby have this? 

A: If your baby is eating plenty of solids & there is no known reaction to any of the Blend11 ingredients, they can try it for sure. Always soaked, start with small quantities & observe response. 

Q:Can I have this during pregnancy? 

A: Yes!! Pregnancy is one of the most important times to focus on getting your gut microbes right because your baby will (all going to plan) get covered in them during the birth process!  A healthy gut microbiome passed on to bubs will mean less chance of eczema, allergies, hayfever, obesity, diabetes, anxiety & depression in later life. Feeding your good microbes with diverse fibre during pregnancy will help build your baby one of the foundations for a healthy start in life, a diverse microbiome. Added bonus is, pregnancy constipation / sluggishness is relieved! We get really great feedback from pregnant mums & a Blend11 smoothie is awesome as a ‘one handed’ quick & nutritious breakfast option while breastfeeding too!

Q:Why are there so many ‘gut health’ gurus, books & products now?

A: Because drs & scientists are finally taking notice of us crazy poo-obsessed naturopaths & began researching, only to find out (surprise surprise) that your gut health can heavily influence so many health issues! Of course every manufacturer is now using that knowledge to sell more gut friendly food & gut health supplements.  Research will continue to uncover more about our gut as technology improves & more funding is allocated. We only know the tip of the iceberg now, the next few years will be very interesting (& will see a flood of even more gut support products come on to the market). We’ve been talking about it & collecting feedback from you guys for 6 years now in markets, & the shift in general consumer awareness during that time has been massive. We used to get blank looks when saying ‘it’s good for your gut’. Now we get knowing nods from most people – but also some skepticism because ‘everything is good for your gut health these days.’ Guess you can’t win!

Q:Is this a probiotic food? I already take them after I have antibiotics. And I eat kimchi & kefir. 

A: No – it’s not a probiotic. It contains PREbiotic fibres to support your probiotic population. Prebiotics are things that support the growth & encourage good balance of gut bugs. Blend11 contains a very diverse range of ‘microbe accessible carbohydrates’ to ensure that gut microbial fermentation occurs along the entire length of the colon.  Gut microbial fermentation keeps your bowel lining healthy, helps decrease inflammation both in the bowel & also systemically throughout the entire body. 

Q. I don’t think I need this stuff, my gut is fine…I think…

Hmm – in this day & age, it’s unlikely that your gut is fine. Our gut microbial balance is not very healthy, for a few reasons…Crappy processed food choices, chemicals in our food & environment, high levels of stress & 3 generations of too many antibiotics & other chemical medications (whilst sometimes essential & life saving), are a big reason for that.  It can take months or even years for people to get their guts back on track after a course of antibiotics – some support with pre & probiotics / fermented foods is essential here, & eating plenty of diverse, fermentable fibres (like Blend11) can really help make sure you’re feeding the good guys so they can start to repopulate nicely. Even if you have no gut symptoms, a daily dose of diverse fibre can be a great preventative gut (& whole body) tonic.  

If you have a question that is not answered above, just shoot me an email or comment below.

Jeanie Xx
jeanie@goodmix.com.au

p.s. If you’re reading this there’s a good chance you’d like to try some Blend11, or are interested to find out more….so here’s a BONUS – try Blend11 (no shipping charge) by using this coupon at the checkout: tryme – limited number of coupons offered, so if it does not trigger free shipping then you’ll just need to get to one of our markets or stockist.

How to Choose Healthy ‘Packaged Foods

I just looked up the definition of food (weird – I know, who does that…But interesting as I discovered that a lot of what we actually buy, consume & refer to as food….doesn’t actually fit the definition).   

food:  “any nutritious substance that people or animals eat or drink or that plants absorb in order to maintain life and growth”.

…you need to take into account the definition of nutritious to see my point.

nutritious: “efficient as food; nourishing. Nourishing, good for one, full of nourishment, full of nutrients, nutritive, wholesome, healthy, health-giving, healthful, beneficial, sustaining, strengthening.”

So our supermarkets are FULL of ‘food’ that can’t actually be described as food!  Non-food items masquerading as food! Who do we sue for false advertising here?! The other day, I saw a packet of 2 minute noodles with a health star rating of 3.5! LOL – this system is hilarious – 2 minute noodles awarded the equivalent rating of 7/10 for healthiness!  Distressingly, this packet was in my pantry – bought home by one of my wayward teenagers. I reassured myself that things could be worse, at least it wasn’t hard drugs or a pregnancy test kit. But still – did he look at the health star rating to make his purchasing decision???

I hope no one reading this bases their food purchasing decisions on the health star system…I hope it just disappears soon actually, replaced by a rating system that takes into account more than food being ‘higher in positive nutrients and lower in risk nutrients’.  about-health-stars – some light reading to get to know the system, & then if you want a bit of a laugh, go around the supermarket & check out all the dodgy ‘food’ products with great star ratings!! I’m imagining a future where we all go shopping armed with a scanner gun that can detect chemical residues & measure levels of nutrients & additives to help us make decisions.  

I’m lucky enough to have spent years learning about the relationships between food, nutrition, health & disease – before I had children to feed. For me, sorting through all the non-food garbage whilst in a supermarket to find (actual) food is relatively simple. (Ok – not entirely true, supermarket shopping is NEVER simple when you’re feeding 4 children, 3 of them teens & all of them fussy in different ways – but…I’m very, very grateful that I’ve at least had some training in the area!) It must be a very difficult task to bring home enough (actual) food that will get eaten by the family with no training at all.

No wonder I get emails from people wondering ‘what is a healthy brand of X / Y or Z pre-packaged food? i.e. muesli, dairy free milk substitute, crackers, bread, sauces…I’ve actually considered setting up a ‘healthy shopper’ training service where you can order a helpful health-nut to come push your trolley & commentate while you do your supermarket shopping (1 month minimum course). Someone needs to teach modern humans how to ‘gather’ enough (actual) food to feed (& nourish) their families instead of just filling up a trolley with stuff that will make them all sick / fat / cranky / sad / unable to live their best life. That’s what happens in many cases..

Here’s how to find healthier packaged food options, in just 2 steps (no need to count stars).

The 2 Step Guide To Choosing Healthy Packaged Foods:

Look past the marketing & product descriptions (don’t even read them, don’t waste your time), ignore the fancy serving suggestions & the stars. When trying to choose healthy packaged food to feed the family, there are only 2 places on the label that are really useful:

Step 1:

Examine the nutritional panel (you only need the far right column, under the heading ‘per 100g’).   Look at the sugar percentage (the grams of sugar per 100g of product). If something is more than 10% sugar, don’t eat it too often / too much of it. For sugar, the lower the better – but do keep in mind that many nutritious & natural foods can be kinda high in sugar also (i.e. an apple, if it had a nutritional panel would read something like this: 0.5 g of protein, 0.2 g of fat, 20g of carbohydrates with 3.5 g of fibre and 14.5 g of sugars. In an apple, the natural sugars come packaged with fibre & polyphenol antioxidants to balance the effects. Not so in a bottle of apple juice, which has next to no nutrient value, minimal fibre & loads of sugar. Next look at the carbs percentage, particularly if the product is quite processed looking (i.e. breads, cereals, crackers  etc). Refined carbs get converted very quickly into sugars once you eat them (refined carbs ie white bread & pasta have very little fibre, fat or protein to slow the absorption rate) so keep carbs low in general & choose something with a higher percent of protein, good fats & fibre (whole foods). Good fats come from natural foods like nuts, seeds, olives, avocado, seafood & grass fed organic animal products. I try to avoid anything that just states ‘vegetable oil’ as an ingredient, also canola oil & factory farmed meat & dairy (go for grass fed & organically farmed / produced wherever you can – & choose quality over quantity in everything).

Step 2:

Look at the ingredients list. Ideally, this should just be a list of real food ingredients. No numbers, no weird scientific / chemical names, no fake colours, flavours, sweeteners, no MSG….just look for real food. If you read a food label & there are words you don’t understand, chances are your body won’t know what to do with them either!

Most processed food companies are finally starting to ‘clean up’ their labels & change recipes to follow the demand for healthier convenience foods, & there are some decent products coming onto the shelves, BUT there is still an abundance of crappy ‘non-food’ foods out there, hiding behind a few stars & just waiting to jump into your trolley!

Love to hear your tips for choosing healthy packaged foods too :)

Jeanie Xx
jeanie@goodmix.com.au

 

Overweight and Unhappy to Bikini Model and Stoked!

Earlier in the year, Brad & I had the pleasure of attending one of the Gold Coast ‘Miss Fit Bikini Model Extravaganza’ (MFBME) heats. I must say – I’m not normally a fan of the whole beauty pageant / bikini model scene (I just think fake boobs, orange tans, body oil & lame ‘I want to create world peace’ type statements) but this one is totally different in that the focus is on fitness & health, i.e. celebrating & showcasing how eating & moving well translates naturally into healthy & gorgeously fit bodies. Our pick of the bunch (it was really hard to pick) was Brook-Lin, because we were so amazed at her 35kg weightloss! Here’s the story – her journey from being overweight & unhappy & not taking good care of herself to a fit, healthy & happy, stunning bikini model, who treats her body like it’s the only one she’ll ever have! 

1.Do you know how you ended up overweight?

About 7 years ago I was going though a really rough patch, I lost the most important people in my life & it all went downhill from there with depression, anxiety & started to binge eat.

2.At what point did you realise you wanted to make a change?

A night 2 years ago was my major turning point in my life – I didn’t want to wake up another morning.  I was scrolling though Facebook & saw an 8 week challenge advertised. I messaged her at 11pm saying I would be at her 5am class in the morning. I wanted to hold myself accountable, I took cash & paid her upfront for a whole challenge. That’s where it all began.

3.Did you feel inspired by anyone in particular? Who has influenced & guided you along the way? Did you have to do a lot of research / educate yourself?

When I first started properly training 2 years ago I didn’t know or have anyone that influenced me. Not long into my weights training I decided to further my knowledge in the gym & studied to be a personal trainer. I am always learning & trying new things in the gym & it has been amazing seeing my clients feel amazing in their own skin too.

4.Do you have any new rules / ideals / standards / preferences for the food that you eat now?

I control my portion sizes, I fuel my body with healthy fresh food, I eat a balance of protein, carbs & fats. I always stay hydrated especially when training.

5.Do you just eat whatever sometimes too?

Of course – having a balance is very important to keep your mind and body happy.

6.What does a regular food / drink / supplement / workout day look like for you these days?

I eat 5 times a day 😊

Soon as I wake up I will have my PondWater greens with water.

I will either have eggs and spinach with my greens on top or oats for breakfast.

Snacks are either protein shake, rice cakes, goodMix Blend11 or dark chocolate.

Lunch can be Greek yogurt with protein, a chicken & veggie wrap. dinner can be gluten free pasta with veg chicken/turkey , stir fry, healthy pizza.

I train 6 days a week 6 weights & 1 cardio session (clubbersise).

3 lower body & 3 upper body.

7.What was it like in the past?

I used to either be at work or sleep, I used to binge eat, I would drink 2L of coke a day, Maccas was a regular thing or I wouldn’t eat at all.

8.For you – what feels more important, eating really well or moving & challenging that body…or are they equal?

Eating well is important for me physically but training helps challenge my body & mind, so to me both would be equal. 😊

9.The beauty pageant stuff – were you always a ‘girly girl’, or did you learn a few things from entering the competition?

I haven’t been much of a girly girl, but it was amazing to feel like a princess for a day & be able to show my girly side. I achieved things I didn’t think I ever would. I learnt how to pose , how to speak in front of a crowd & most of all feel completely accepted in my own skin.

10.Was it super competitive, or did the girls support each other?

It was beautiful – the girls, judges, the whole team were so supportive and lovely. I still keep in contact with a lot of them and love seeing them progress on their own journeys.

11.Who would you recommend enter the comp / what do the girls get out of it?

I would definitely recommend FBME, it’s a comp for all women who live healthy lives and it celebrates the fact that fit looks different on everyone. It’s a comp where you can feel beautiful in your own skin and express your personality. It also connects you with a team of like minded people that will help you & support you ❤️

12.You’ve obviously changed a lot physically – do you feel like you’ve changed mentally as well?

100% fitness & health changed my life!

I was depressed for so long and it feels amazing to finally be able to feel like myself, to finally be able to find this side of me that’s been trapped since I can remember.

12.5..and if so, what came first – the physical, or the mental – or did they both evolve together?

The mental side first, the physical took awhile, I wanted to be happy more then anything.

13.What would you like to say to anyone out there struggling with their weight & feeling trapped in a body that they don’t feel great about?

You are not alone, everyone is on their own journey. Sometimes to grow we need to push outside our comfort zones to make great things happen.

14.Can we see a before pic?

We’re not all cut out to be bikini models, but if it’s on your bucket list, this is the best comp to enter – get in touch HERE. I just wanted to share this story because I was really curious about the transformation – so inspiring! Brooke-Lin’s journey really illustrates…

a) the power of just making a start, following that survival / self preservation instinct that something has to change & acting.

b) sometimes you gotta commit / make it hard for yourself to back out or quit

c) adversity can be our friend / teacher & help us become stronger, grow as a person, end up where we need to be…if you experience a decent ‘low’ you can then really appreciate the highs in life.
d) the weird journeys we go on towards finding & living our passion & purpose – so great to be able to help empower others, from a place of experience & understanding.
e) the power of getting mind & body working together in sync, sometimes one has to ‘drag’ the other along until it catches up!
f) the importance of recognising self-destructive behaviour & having the guts to really change / reverse it
g) that someone can be outwardly really smily & happy but you just never know what’s going on inside, we’ve got to always be mindful of that.
h) nice to see a bikini comp that really values health / nutrition / training / nurturing the body rather than ‘just do whatever it takes to get skinny for the swimsuit’. Beautiful, hard-working, inspiring, healthy girls challenging themselves & supporting each other to get out of their comfort zones (& into tiny bikinis & heels in front of a crowd)! That’s some serious motivation when you feel like slacking off!!)
You can follow / get in contact with Brook-Lin here:
Need some motivation – Celebrate Women 

CSIRO Gut Health Research – Blend11

BLEND11 is undergoing scientific testing!

We have received so many great stories and such positive feedback from you, our customers highlighting the huge impact Blend11 has made to their gut health, we’ve decided to get scientists at CSIRO to do some research on the product.

The project commencing this month (October 2018) will use a model of the human digestive system to see how Blend11 is fermented by the human microbiome. The findings will be compared with a commonly consumed fibre rich product, psyllium husk.

As we continue to get customer feedback of enhanced gut health benefits when Blend11 has been soaked in water prior to consumption, the project will also study how the nutrients in Blend11 change when it is soaked for up to 3 days and what effect this has on nutrient levels and fermentation by human microbes. We will be looking to see whether Blend11 when soaked causes the microbes to produce more of the products (short chain fatty acids) that are linked with a healthier gut environment.

Previous studies suggest that soaking of seeds and grains could increase the bioavailability of some nutrients. This study will assess whether the levels of a range of nutrients change following soaking. For instance, by closely measuring Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols (FODMAP), we will be able to accurately guide our customers with sensitivity to FODMAPs as to how these levels may change with soaking. Some of the key seed phytochemicals (antioxidants) will also measured to see whether levels also change with soaking.    

To conduct this project, we were successful in obtaining a CSIRO Kick-Start grant that provides Australian start-ups and small to medium enterprises with funding support, and access to CSIRO’s research expertise and facilities.

CSIRO Kick-Start offers eligible businesses access to dollar-matched funding vouchers of between AUD$10,000-$50,000 and access to CSIRO expertise and facilities to undertake research into a new idea with commercial potential, develop a novel or improved product or process, or test a novel product or material developed by the business.

We look forward to sharing with you the outcomes of this study, expected to be completed early in 2019.

Anyone interested in specifics of the research project, or wanting to share their own story to add to the testimonial bank, please contact me directly:

e: jeanie@goodmix.com.au

Those interested in the latest general gut health research from CSIRO, grab a copy of their new book here: buy CSIRO book

Strawberries with Needles, or Chemicals?

Already Contaminated?

I don’t mean to kick a strawberry farmer when he’s down, but the needle scandal makes me wonder…what if all the chemicals used to grow Australian strawberries were as obvious as needles? Now is the time to eat strawberries – conventional or organic – so they don’t go to waste & the farmers can stay in business, but I just have to raise the point..most of our strawberries have always been contaminated…just in a less spiky-scary way.

There are loads of harmful things hidden in the food we eat. Aside from the current scandal, what about the things we can’t see, feel or taste?  At least you can tell if there’s a needle in something, not so easy to detect & avoid a chemical residue. I love strawberries, I buy organic when they are in season / I can afford them / I find a bargain, though sometimes I just buy the cheap, chemically grown variety & I don’t feel really great about eating them or feeding them to the kids. Not meaning to bag strawberries – I just want to raise a point now with all the needle noise, what about the chemicals that are already contaminating Aussie strawberries? How long will we just accept these for our kids? A quick rinse under the tap does not make a chemical-free berry! Strawberries are right at the top of the dirty dozen listproduce with the highest levels of chemical residue. They are difficult / expensive to grow organically, hence they will cost more when grown naturally / properly. Needles may turn out to be the least of our worries!

Mountains of Waste!

I think a lot of people who are used to cheap food become really desensitised to the wastage factor “who cares if the kids don’t eat the whole pile of mac & cheese we just served up for dinner, the packet only cost us $3.50 & all we had to do was shove it in the microwave with some water. If they won’t eat it, just scrape it into the bin & who cares”.

ARRGHHH!! Not enough care factor goes into food manufacturing, shopping, prepping…not enough money is invested in quality food & as a result food is just not valued the way it should be…& the kid’s growing bodies are also undervalued. If you put a lot of thought into feeding the family well, pay good money for quality fresh produce that’s been grown naturally, & spend time in the kitchen preparing it, you’re not gonna be happy to see it wasted & your kids won’t grow up thinking it’s ok to just chuck food out.  Our great-grandparents would roll in their graves if they knew how many kgs’s of strawberries were being dumped because some loony-tune has stuck needles into a few punnets & everyone is freaking out. Wasting them is craziness, everyone needs to just chill out & chop them up!

Most of the strawberries (& other fruit & veg) grown in Australia ARE contaminated, with chemical residues we can’t detect. This is a bigger issue than needles! Consumers are conditioned by supermarkets & food / agricultural giants to think that food should be dirt cheap & last for months / years on a shelf.

I’m all for saving money & finding a bargain, but I also appreciate (& will pay for) food that has been grown or made naturally, without the use of chemicals. I wish that was the case across the board, so I try to do my bit & support organic growers & smaller manufacturers whenever possible – that is the only way to get to a chemical-free future, if we support organic farmers & artisan food producers. If there were no $2 punnets of strawberries (or $3.50 mac & cheese packets), you’d just pay what it really should cost for them, the real cost of real food. Strawberries are a difficult & fragile thing to grow, chemicals are the cheapest & easiest way to increase yield / profit / decrease labour costs…but what is the cost to our health when we accept this type of food production? Organic & artisan produced food is more expensive, yes – but you’ve got to ask yourself…would you rather cheap, industrial, mass-produced, contaminated food to feed your family, or try to get the uncontaminated wherever you can, if at a higher price?

We all need to do our bit here – let’s get the strawberry farmers through this crisis (just buy them regardless), but let them know that in future, we’d prefer organically grown. 

Try this tasty Strawberry Smoothie recipe!

Regulation of Harmful and Addictive Substances (like Food and Beverages)

Should parents form a collaborative group with local drug manufacturers & dealers to educate teens about using drugs responsibly?

Should we work with drug manufacturers, encouraging them to reformulate, decreasing the potency & addiction potential of their offerings?

Should we introduce a labelling system that shows exactly what the contents of the snaplock bags are?

That’s the government approach to our current ‘lifestyle disease’ crisis (read: ‘crappy processed food’ crisis). With this approach to addictive drugs or food, we could probably save a few lives, but…I think we’ll still have some serious problems!

See below, my recent email / rant to health minister Greg Hunt & the reply from Senator Bridget McKenzie (For the record, I’ve never been an email ranter – this is a first). 

My email:

“Hi Greg – I have some questions for you. I hope you can help.

I’m a mother of teens, I run a health food business & I have years of experience working in both the health food industry & in pharmacy, helping Australians who are trying to lose weight, get healthy & battle chronic conditions caused largely by poor diet. I am really concerned about the health issues kids of today will begin to face as a result of what I can only describe as government negligence in the control of food & beverage availability throughout our country.   

Who regulates the availability of food & beverage products throughout Australian retail stores – is there even any regulation of what products are allowed onto supermarket shelves? Can I please have email / phone contact details & a description of their role within the preventative healthcare care / food regulation systems?

Why are food & beverage products with known addictive qualities that are now known causes of metabolic syndrome, diabetes & heart disease still available for purchase by minors & people incapable of making an ‘informed purchasing decision’?

I’m interested in the legalities – I can see from your bio online that you’re well acquainted with the Aussie legal system. I’m wondering, is this generation of children / teens going to be able to (rightly?) sue the government who has allowed this practice (harmful & addictive substances being made readily available to & marketed towards minors) to continue, for damages resulting from their diabetes, obesity & cardiovascular disease? These illnesses are now known to be caused largely by addiction to & overconsumption of these heavily sweetened products, which are addictive due to their high sugar content (& often also laced with other addictive substances like caffeine – things like energy drinks / ice coffee / cola drinks). Why today, in 2018 is a bottle of highly sweetened, nutritionally empty, caffeinated beverage still readily available for children & teens to purchase (in large quantities, daily – or even multiple times daily, if desired)? This is happening all over our disgustingly fat & sick country today. These products should not be treated any differently now to cigarettes & alcohol, given their known harmful health effects & addictive properties.

The sale of products of this nature should be regulated to protect young Australians (& take pressure off our healthcare system which is needlessly being drained, paying millions or even billions every year, caring for people with preventable, diet-induced illnesses).

I’d like to raise awareness & help the kids out there who are developing type 2 diabetes & cardiovascular disease as I write – the kids who will cost Australia billions over the next 40-60 years – because our government can not (?) / will not take the necessary action to protect them now.  This is particularly a problem among Australian indigenous communities. I feel that these kids should have every right to sue when they become chronically diseased…at what age can a child make ‘an informed choice’ about their health? At what age can a child walk into a supermarket or cafe & purchase a can or bottle of coke (or multiple bottles) every day?

Please let me know who would be best to contact in regards to this matter?

Thankyou.”

…ok so that was a bit of a rant, BUT…crappy products that nobody needs or benefits from (other than those making a big fat profit) are for sale on every corner making us big & fat. They are a MASSIVE contributing factor in the ‘lifestyle disease’ epidemic we face. It costs me money, it grosses me out, it makes me really sad & angry & yeah it puts me in the mood to have a bit of a rant!

So, I wrote that email, then forgot all about it until this lame-ass reply came through, which I feel compelled to share, because it is so lame.  Tell me what you think. Am I over-reacting? Or is this approach going to get us nowhere?

(Double click to read)

I was momentarily impressed as I opened the envelope, revealing the fancy letterhead, printed on thick, expensive paper, from someone with ‘Hon’ in front of her name. But I was completely unimpressed by the content. It basically tells me that nobody has the balls to take action where it’s badly needed.

My interpretation & commentary below

The government recognises the burden of disease associated with poor diet. (But seem totally happy to keep carrying it & paying for it with tax payers $)?

They appreciate my suggestion to impose limits on the availability of processed foods, however they prefer to educate, support & encourage Australians to adopt a healthy diet & lifestyle, not wanting to regulate what’s available for purchase in shops. (Parents, let’s fill the fridge with softdrink & lollies but read the kids a heap of health magazines & see what happens)…

They are committed to providing a safe food supply & ensuring consumers have access to sufficient information to make informed choices about food they purchase. (They also seem quite happy to place very unsafe food items in amongst that safe food supply, readily available for people incapable of making an informed choice about what they ingest & become addicted to).

FSANZ is the authority responsible for the ‘food standards code’ & determines the requirements for food sold in Australia & NZ. (FSANZ must have a very easy job, there really don’t seem to be many requirements when you spend an hour or so reading processed food ingredient labels in the supermarket)!

FSANZ requires labelling on energy drinks to communicate that the product contains caffeine, how much it has & that they are unsuitable for children, pregnant women & those sensitive to caffeine. (Ok so that makes the product ‘suitable’ for teenagers, men & the elderly who AREN’T sensitive to caffeine…there are not many of those, so how do these companies sell enough product to make them commercially viable? Hmm – maybe people aren’t reading / taking any notice of the labels? These products are actually only ‘suitable’ for people who want to waste money on addictions, get diabetes & die younger than they naturally should. Suggest a label change, though still doubt that people would read it). 

Food products are regularly checked for compliance. (Phew, lucky someone is working hard, keeping us all safe from our food. LOL).

Improving Aussie’s dietary patterns is a complex task, there are many contributing issues. We need a community-wide approach as well as individual behaviour change. (Yes, yes, yes & yes. But we also need to consider just removing some of the worst crap from our supermarket shelves)? Just start with regulating the supply of sugar-laden caffeinated beverages to kids / teens. They can at least choose their addictions when they are old enough to understand what addiction means).

The Government recognises that Australians are eating more processed foods, and they are doing a lot of things to help them get healthier. (They might be doing ‘a lot of things’….but are they neglecting to do the most effective things?)

Government is working with the food industry & public health groups, trying to promote healthier options & reducing saturated fat, added salt & added sugars. Some of their initiatives include:

‘The Health Star Rating’. Aimed at getting consumers to avoid foods high in salt, sugar & saturated fat, thus encouraging manufacturers to reformulate products, decreasing these ingredients in order to have a better rating. (The Health Star Rating is voluntary, so if your product is garbage, you can just ignore it. Plus – the system was developed in consultation with food industry & thus has little credibility. Do you really develop a regulating system in conjunction with the people you want to regulate?? This is pretty soft regulation. Give me an image of a depressed, morbidly obese person, covered in acne with an amputated leg slapped on the front of all soft drink cans & lolly packets any day, over a few stars on the front of ‘healthier-than-most’ cereal boxes. We need to be tougher on this, it’s got to be spelled out REALLY CLEARLY to the people who are still shoving this stuff into their shopping trolleys every week).

The Healthy Food Partnership’: a collaboration between the government, food industry & public health groups. Aimed at tackling obesity, encouraging healthy eating & empowering food manufacturers to make positive changes to their products. Everyone seems really committed to make this work. The aims are:

  • promote healthy eating, working towards improvement targets.
  • normalise healthy eating & encourage people to enjoy healthy foods.
  • make changes in education, food advertising, availability of foods through outlets & in food service, influence population behaviours…& ultimately rates of overweight & obesity.

(This is all well & good, but meanwhile – people are still dying & getting sick needlessly, & we’re all paying through the nose for their healthcare, & the expensive army of people out there getting paid to encourage, empower, influence & normalise. How about we just tell it exactly like it is ‘your kids will suffer from disease & die early because you keep buying X Y & Z for them to eat / drink each week, meaning the rest of Australia will be paying for your health care expenses)?

People are dying early – kids are not getting the chance to grow up healthy, 30% of them are on the road to obesity, diabetes, heart disease & early death before they even reach their teens. (No wonder so many are also depressed & anxious before they reach their 20’s). A major contributing issue is that the government allows food companies & retailers to fill our stores, trolleys & mouths with poor quality ‘food-like’ products that directly cause / contribute to the development of disease.  Millions (maybe billions) of tax dollars are spent on ads, promotion, education, liasing gently with food companies, caring for end stage diseases…we could save everyone a lot of time, money, hassle & resources (not to mention lives) if we just took a firmer approach & fixed the food standards to regulate some of these addictive & harmful substances that we clearly aren’t capable of consuming safely?

End of rant. Am I a health-nut psycho…or do I have a point here?

Leave me your thoughts in a comment below or send me an email…

Jeanie
jeanie@goodmix.com.au

Microbes – They’re Not All Friendly!

I often find myself bleating on about how wonderful microbes are – & that we should all embrace them & live in harmony with them, like one big happy family.

That’s mostly true, the vast majority of microbes that live on, inside & around us pose no major problem to us humans, & many are often super-helpful. But crikey – there are some seriously scary microbes out there too, here’s a reminder of just a few devastating human diseases caused by some of the nastiest microbes! I’ve just scoured through some statistics & medical history sites to find this info, the death numbers & years do vary a little from site to site, but as unbelievable as they sound – these should all be pretty close.

Worse than man flu?:

VIRUS: Spanish Flu – This flu is estimated to have killed approx 50 million people worldwide, from 1918-19. This massive outbreak occurred 100 short years ago & killed many, many healthy young adults (strangely, you were more likely to survive this one as a baby / child or elderly person – typically more vulnerable due to their underdeveloped or compromised immunity). The flu actually killed more of the American army in world war one than were killed in battle. The ‘Spanish flu’ was called that because during war time, news of the spread was suppressed by warring countries, but neutral Spain reported freely – creating an illusion that it was worst affected.  

Just imagine next years’ flu outbreak killing 50 million people! If it occurred in this day & age, a virus this virulent could potentially kill many millions more, because it would spread much faster & wider, given the ease & frequency of international travel. Our improved modern day communication, sanitation & medical care would mean that we’d have more chance of containing, treating & controlling it, though we’re nowhere near as good at controlling viruses as we are bacteria. This type of pandemic could absolutely happen again, all it takes is a viral mutation & a few travellers to get it going.   

Rats, fleas, microbes…disease:

BACTERIA: The Bubonic Plague Epidemic of the 14th century. Again – estimated to have killed approx 50 million people, which was at the time around 60% of Europe’s population! This was caused by a bacteria (Yersinia pestis) that was transmitted to humans by rat-flea bites. Starving fleas would jump onto humans when their rat hosts died from the disease. This microbe still infects people today, & infection is most prevalent in Africa. The disease thrives in warmer seasons (as fleas do), & during the pandemic, European winters slowed the spread considerably, until the next Spring / Summer outbreaks.

Big Pox:

VIRUS: Smallpox – The Variola virus is thought to have killed around 300 million people between 10,000 BC & 1979. It’s now been completely eradicated by mass vaccination since 1979 (the only human disease considered to be completely wiped out this way). Smallpox was a massive killer worldwide but proved particularly devastating to native aboriginal populations in countries like Australia & the USA. When Europeans first settled these areas, they brought the disease that they had some level of immunity to with them, the natives had no previous exposure & no immunity whatsoever. Up to 70% of the aboriginal population living in the Sydney area & beyond, are thought to have died from smallpox, not long after the arrival of English settlers. There is some controversy around how the illness started its spread among the Australian natives.

Born in the 80’s:

VIRUS: HIV/ AIDS – From 1981 to the present day, approx 40 million are estimated to have died, while over 35 million still live with the disease. Africa is thought to be where AIDS originated & is worst affected. The disease itself isn’t what kills people, it is the compromised immune system that results which allows other illnesses like TB & pneumonia to take hold & become lethal. Treatment of HIV with antiretroviral medications slows the progression of disease but there are some unpleasant side effects. Life expectancy of those living with HIV has risen dramatically with advances in treatment, though not all have access to this.

Get Your Vitamin A:

VIRUS: Measles – 700BC present day. According to the WHO, measles is thought to have killed upwards of 200 million in this time, it was actually still killing 100,000 people annually until 2016 (when fatalities dropped below this figure for the first time). It remains one of the biggest killers of young children worldwide, though rates of infection have dropped drastically since 1963 when a vaccine was introduced & mass vaccination campaigns were started. Before the vaccine, almost 100% of children would get measles before their 18th birthday, & parents would often choose to expose children when at an optimum age. Today, children most at risk of serious measles infection are those under 5yrs, who are malnourished & living in poverty. Vitamin A status is particularly important for children & timely supplementation can apparently decrease death rate by around 50%. The disease is very rare in Australia now, probably due to a combination of widespread vaccination & better nutrition, hygiene, general health, living conditions & overall immunity. Vaccine safety & efficacy is controversial in Australia (& in many other developed countries), where measles poses minimal threat.

TBContinued:

BACTERIA: – Mycobacterium tuberculosis is thought to have killed over 1 billion people in the past 200yrs. TB is the clear infectious disease ‘winner’ when it comes to total human deaths & survival into the modern age. Approx 25% of the current world population is infected, but not all will become ill – the bacterium can be latent, & mainly becomes ‘active TB’ in the immunocompromised (it kills many with HIV). TB thrives & spreads where people are living in poverty, with stress, poor sanitation, overcrowding, poor housing, lack of nutrition & other illnesses all contributing to vulnerability & spread. Indonesia, China, The Phillipines, Pakistan, Nigeria & South Africa are all hotspots. According to the WHO website, it still kills 4,500 people every day, & there are now multi-drug resistant strains emerging, meaning previous antibiotic treatments are becoming ineffective.

So…microbes – they ain’t all friendly! It’s amazing to think how powerful these teeny tiny creatures can be, & humbling to think that with all of our scientific advances & tech developments, a simple microbial life form still has the potential to wipe out a massive chunk of our human population (or maybe all of us) one day. We’ll always be vulnerable to these little guys that we share earth with, they never stop evolving & changing. Looming antibiotic resistance is a huge concern facing our medical system, with fears that we’ll end up almost ‘back where we started’ before their invention.  

Man vs microbe…

‘Powerful earth-cleansing microbes, proven to kill up to 99.5% of harmful human beings’…Could microbes one day act like our most popular kitchen & bathroom cleaners!!?? Scary thought, but totally possible….

Reading about these deadly microbes makes you wonder what our next major microbial challenge might be? Obviously there’s no point stressing out & losing sleep over it (that will just compromise your resistance), the best thing you can really do is look after your immune system & maintain your health to the highest level possible, so you are robust enough to have a fighting chance to fight whatever comes your way.  

Microbes (friendly & otherwise) constantly enter into our system via the mouth / digestive tract, some are injected directly into the bloodstream (by insects or animal bites) & some get in via the respiratory tract – so maintaining awareness of these ‘common entry portals’ is a great idea always, especially when travelling to higher risk areas. If ever you feel unwell or develop any symptoms of illness after a trip or spending time living / working in high risk areas, don’t hesitate to go for a full check up & be sure to let your practitioner know where you have been. This is especially true if you have a gut issue that first started not long after a trip away – many cases of so-called-IBS can be due to parasites picked up overseas or from drinking dodgy water (even from Australia). This blog has some travel tips for avoiding gut issues when on holidays: https://www.goodmix.com.au/good-poos-the-forgotten-travel-essential/

Private Health Cover & Natural Therapies – 2018 Update

You may have read this blog ‘Is Australia Moving in a Healthy Direction?’, that I wrote last year when natural therapies & private healthcare were making news in Australia, & seen some conversations & petitions on social media…but it’s all gone really quiet now. Ever wonder what happened?

Well, I’ve been wondering. Did the public put enough pressure on the government that they’ve realised their error?  I made a couple of calls this morning, & after a lengthy chat with some (very helpful) private health fund phone-answering-people, here’s an update of where it’s at:

The Australian government has indeed decided that from April 2019, our private health funds will no longer be able to offer both the government rebate for private health cover AND include the following therapies in our cover:

  1. Alexander technique
  2. Aromatherapy
  3. Bowen therapy
  4. Buteyko
  5. Feldenkrais
  6. Herbalism
  7. Homeopathy
  8. Iridology
  9. Kinesiology
  10. Naturopathy
  11. Pilates
  12. Reflexology
  13. Rolfing
  14. Shiatsu
  15. Tai chi
  16. Yoga

Feeling Ripped Off?

So that means we’ll keep paying the same amount for our ‘extras’ policies, but this list of therapies will no longer be covered / you can’t claim for these services anymore & will have to pay the full cost of each treatment.  Or – potentially, (depending on what the health funds decide to do), you can look for a fund that will still offer cover on these extras, but you’ll have to pay around 30% more for your policy (there will be no government rebate for these private health policies).  

Switch Time?

There will likely be some big changes & a lot of people switching health funds around this time, depending on what the individual funds choose to do in response to the government policy change.  Either way – it boils down to some really useful preventative therapies becoming more expensive to proactive health-conscious consumers, so that more $$ can be directed into the pharmaceutical industry & ‘end stage’ treatment of illnesses. Unfortunately, many of the most costly illnesses to our healthcare system (i.e. type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease) are also the most preventable, given early support from some therapies on the ‘no-longer-covered-list’ (i.e. if you consult with a naturopath semi-regularly throughout your 20’s / 30’s / 40’s (sometimes even just once would be enough), the chances of you ending up with diabetes & heart disease are SOOOO much lower, as they’ll help to direct & support you with healthy diet /  lifestyle choices, & supplements where appropriate to maximise your health & vitality, rather than just treat illnesses as they come up).

What Were They Thinking?

Let’s encourage Australians to take even less responsibility for their health! We’ll offer no financial support for those wanting to be proactive, we’ll just channel all the funds into treatment of end stages of illness – when health is severely compromised already…often by diseases that could easily have been prevented, given the knowledge & support. Sad face. Angry face. Eye-rolling face. Good thinking guys.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m very aware & grateful for the amazing access to affordable medical care that we enjoy here in Australia, I just believe we should also encourage the use of natural therapies as well.

Massage Less Accessible, Psychiatric Treatment More Accessible.

Stress-relieving, mental-health-promoting remedial massage will no longer be covered under your private health policy from April 2019, but – feel comforted that with other changes made to the system recently, it’ll be easier to get psychiatric treatment when you need it. So if you have private health cover & are forced to stop getting your ‘now-too-expensive’ regular massage next year (& require immediate psychiatric treatment as a result – I’m sure it happens lol), rest assured that you’ll be well covered :)

Love to hear your thoughts – will this change impact the way you manage your health? However you feel about it, it would be a great idea to book everyone in for a massage / treatment / consult & make the most of your wellbeing cover while it’s still valid!

Jeanie Xx
jeanie@goodmix.com.au

You’ve been diagnosed with IBS, what now?

A different kind of diagnosis:

First things first  – realise that IBS is not really a diagnosis in the true sense of the word “the art or act of identifying a disease from its signs and symptoms” (definition from Merriam Webster). It’s actually a ‘diagnosis of exclusion’, meaning you’re told you have ‘IBS’ when there’s nothing else making any sense from your case history, symptoms & all the testing you’ve had done. It’s not bowel cancer, not coeliac disease, not diverticulitis, not inflammatory bowel disease, not a food intolerance…hmmm – you must have ‘Irritable Bowel Syndrome ‘. I guess it’s much more comforting hearing that from your Dr / specialist than ‘we have no idea what is making you feel so unwell’ (which is also usually true).

“Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorder characterized by abdominal pain and altered bowel habits in the absence of a specific and unique organic pathology, although microscopic inflammation has been documented in some patients”.  (Medscape) Keywords here are ‘functional gastrointestinal disorder’ & ‘in the absence of a specific and unique organic pathology’.  This means that the gut is not functioning normally, but there appears to be nothing wrong with it…no disease process going on…nothing that shows up on the tests currently available anyway.

A new definition for functional gut disorders:

“Functional GI disorders are disorders of gut-brain interaction. It is a group of disorders classified by GI symptoms related to any combination of the following: motility disturbance, visceral hypersensitivity, altered mucosal and immune function, altered gut microbiota, and altered central nervous system processing” I’ll explain briefly what these all mean below:

  • motility disturbance = how the bowel contracts & causes movement of food & waste through the GIT isn’t normal.
  • visceral hypersensitivity = gut distension / pain / discomfort is felt more strongly & acutely.
  • altered mucosal & immune function = your gut immune axis is a bit wonky. Your gut lining & gut bugs that live there aren’t working together optimally.
  • altered gut microbiota = your gut microbial balance is out. The ‘ecosystem’ inside you has been disturbed or just isn’t harmonious.
  • altered central nervous system processing = your brain is processing signals from the gut differently to normal.

If you suspect you may have IBS but aren’t really one for going to the dr, one IBS ‘self-test’ you can do is: eat normal healthy food for a month & if you often suffer from bloating, pain, discomfort, irregular bowel motions…then there’s a good chance you have IBS! If your gut is doing really weird & annoying things (sometimes extremely painful & debilitating weird things that can be so intense you become anxious, depressed & even suicidal)…it’s highly likely you have IBS. 

EVEN THOUGH AN IBS DIAGNOSIS IS NOT REALLY A TRUE DIAGNOSIS – IT’S IMPORTANT. IF YOU’RE SUFFERING FROM GUT SYMPTOMS & THINK IT MAY BE IBS, GET YOURSELF CHECKED OUT BY A PRACTITIONER ASAP. IT IS REALLY IMPORTANT TO EXCLUDE SOME OTHER CONDITIONS THAT MAY HAVE SIMILAR SYMPTOMS, BUT MUCH MORE SEVERE CONSEQUENCES IF LEFT UNDIAGNOSED.

(Things like coeliac disease, food intolerances, inflammatory bowel disease, or even cancer can present with IBS-like symptoms). Get your badly-behaved gut checked!

IBS Sub-Types:

Realise that your IBS is not the same as the IBS your neighbour / friend / colleague / mum / aunty may be experiencing. Remember, just because your gut trouble has been given the same name as theirs, it doesn’t mean you have the same stuff happening or the same cause, or the same triggers.

There are many recognised IBS sub-types: these just narrow it down a little, but still don’t mean that treatment or triggers will be the same.

  1. IBS-C (constipation is the predominant symptom)
  2. IBS-D (diarrhoea predominant)
  3. IBS-M or A (mixed or alternating. This is the best of both worlds, with both diarrhoea & constipation experienced often).
  4. Post-Infectious IBS (usually begins after a bout of gastro, food poisoning or traveller’s diarrhoea, but not necessarily so soon after that you’ll connect the dots). This one is more of a cause than a sub-type, as post-infectious IBS can morph into any of the above types, though more commonly IBS-D or M.

…then, of course, there will be subtypes within the subtypes.  And you can switch from one sub-type to another, maybe CBD (confused bowel syndrome) could also be a sub-type? 

Warning Signs – Don’t Ignore These:

If you have tummy symptoms that you think may be IBS, but also experience any of the following – you need to get checked out ASAP!

  • Fever
  • Persistent ongoing diarrhoea
  • Unexplained or significant weight loss
  • Blood in stools or dark coloured / black looking stools
  • Iron deficiency anaemia
  • Nausea & / or vomiting
  • Abdominal pain that isn’t relieved completely by having a bowel motion
  • Initial onset of symptoms occurring after age 50

So – now that you have your ‘diagnosis’, (or whatever it is)…what to do?

In most cases, upon ‘diagnosis’ with IBS you will have been offered various medications – something to block you up when you have diarrhoea, laxatives to help you go when constipated, some type of fibre supplement, some probiotics & maybe some antispasmodics to help control bowel contractions / cramping.  

The Low FODMAP Diet:

If you’re lucky, your GP / gastroenterologist has referred you to a dietician, nutritionist or naturopath who can help you try & figure out food triggers using a Low FODMAP diet (which limits certain rapidly fermentable carbohydrates known to cause IBS symptoms). My advice would be to shove the medications to the back of the cupboard, to be used in times of great need, but try your hardest to understand & follow the Low FODMAP diet & get an understanding of how FODMAPs affect your gut. While it won’t help everybody, for many it can be an absolute game-changer. But don’t go it alone, get help – FODMAPs can be super-confusing with an already confusing gut! The diet, when used properly, can help up to 75% of people diagnosed with IBS to manage their symptoms & feel more in control very quickly, so this is the first step to take. At least give it a go to find out if it will be useful for you – one potentially great tool in your IBS management toolkit.  

Note – a Low FODMAP diet is not meant to be a long-term diet, nor is it recommended for those without IBS. It is a tool to manage gastrointestinal symptoms, & great for general gut awareness, but is not recommended as a healthy life-long diet choice as many very healthy (& prebiotic) foods are excluded.

Some More Natural Tools for IBS Management:

  • hypnotherapy (proven to be useful in IBS management), check out the Monash Uni research on this
  • meditation (proven to be effective for stress management, which is critical with IBS)
  • other forms of stress management. I cannot stress enough how strongly stress will impact your IBS. Stress can cause everything to grind to a halt – when you’re fighting or fleeing, you aren’t eating / digesting. It will interfere with the migrating motor complex & also stomach acid production (which can lead to constipation, SIBO & all round poor digestion). Do ‘whatever floats your boat’ & helps you sail through life more happily – make time for it! Exercise, funny movies, massage, yoga, deep breathing, art, music…find your pressure release valve & hit it really regularly)!
  • sleep, get enough. When we’re stressed out & not sleeping properly, our gut microbial balance changes (not in a good way), & that can make sleeping well even harder. It really is a cycle – bad gut, stress, worse gut, worse stress….until the nervous system & gut are completely dysfunctional.
  • herbal relief (slippery elm, turmeric, aloe vera, herbal antimicrobials, bitter liver herbs, pomegranate, ginger, peppermint, berberine & polyphenol-rich herbs…get professional guidance from a naturopath, functional GP or herbalist for best results. Many plant extracts have been proven to help with IBS, or have been used for hundreds or even thousands of years to support healthy digestion).
  • leave spaces between eating (give your migrating motor complex a chance to ‘clean up’)
  • probiotics & fermented foods  (these can be hit & miss, so it’s best to get help from a practitioner who knows their bifido from their bacillus!) Some supplemental strains may aggravate some IBS people, e.g. SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) people usually don’t tolerate the common & usually beneficial Lactobacillus strains well. In general, I think it’s best to try to get probiotics from foods, but sometimes capsules or powder are just more convenient.
  • prebiotics (get help again, taking prebiotics can significantly alter your gut microbial balance, so you need to work with someone who can choose what is most appropriate for your system. Once again – prebiotic foods are generally better than supplements as they contain more diverse types of fibre & because mother nature made them, not some factory).
  • exercise (moderation is key, being sedentary means poor gut function & microbial diversity, but overdoing exercise can hurt your gut).
  • intermittent fasting (this can help by giving the gut a longer rest period in between meals & also can cause changes to the gut microbial population).
  • fat / fibre / carbs / protein (experiment with what fuels your body best. Some feel better on a high-fat diet, some seem to function better with more carbs…see what works best for you). Fibre is crucial to good gut function as it provides food to support your beneficial gut bugs – just increase gradually to avoid gas & bloating
  • ACV / lemon water (many people swear by these, taken first thing in the morning to ‘wake up’ & prime the digestive system for action).
  • magnesium (helps many with IBS-C, plus it’s great for helping you relax if you’re deficient – which is extremely common. Constipated stress-heads LOVE magnesium).
  • charcoal (handy to carry capsules in your handbag to swallow if you’re prone to gas & bloating).
  • coffee (be careful with caffeine – it is a bowel stimulant. Everyone responds differently but just be aware of it. Some use it as a morning stimulant to help them ‘go’, others find it gives them the runs & need to avoid entirely).
  • carbonated beverages (will aggravate bloating, just be aware).
  • alcohol (some types may be ok in moderation but it depends – listen to your body).
  • self-massage (great to help unblock trapped gas pockets or help move things along, add some peppermint oil into a carrier oil or moisturiser).
  • get enough sleep (if you’re not sleeping well, your gut microbial balance won’t be optimal & neither will your ability to handle stress).
  • gluten & dairy (2 really common triggers – aside from FODMAP’s, although there is overlap, worth trialling a GF DF period of a few weeks-months to see how you feel).
  • sugar (makes you fat, moody, pimply, rots your teeth…& disrupts your gut microbial health. IBS is just one more great reason to minimise it).
  • avoid antibiotics where you can (wiping out your gut ecosystem & hoping something that functions well grows back is a huge gamble that quite often ends in a long-term gut issue). Sometimes antibiotics can be useful though, to ‘clean the slate’ so you can start from scratch again – eating well & making an effort to cultivate & nurture a better ecosystem.
  • medication review
  • other medications can list IBS-like symptoms as a ’side effect’ (ask your pharmacist for detailed digestive info on your drugs).
  • look into an FMT (faecal microbe transplant). Although not commonly recommended for IBS, definitely worth getting an expert opinion if nothing else is helping you. Be aware that there are potential risks involved, but also massive potential for making much needed gut microbial changes. This treatment would need to be supported with many of the above tips for best results (otherwise, you’ll likely end up back in the same place again after a while).

Some Kind of Normality!

New found control of IBS symptoms can help immensely with getting some normality back into life, as it’s not just your bowel motions that IBS affects. It’s your productivity, your employment options; your ability to travel, study, attend classes & events; your relationships, your social life, your sex-life, your parenting ability…your mental-emotional well-being. Everything. When your gut is unpredictable, you can’t say ‘yes’ to things you’d normally love to, for fear that you’ll end up: looking 5mths pregnant, suffering extreme pain, getting extremely embarrassed, being stuck in a hotel room, having to answer a million questions, feeling uncomfortable, or just plain starving.

People with normal healthy bowel function tend to take this kind of freedom for granted. If this is you – spare a thought for those whose gut literally dictates their life! 

If you have tried other methods that have been successful please email me, I’m still learning & the best teachers are people living the day-to-day IBS rollercoaster!

Jeanie xx
jeanie@goodmix.com.au

 

P.s. In this episode of Eat Play Poo – I talk to Marina Iacovou from the Monash University, and she gives some great insights to the future of IBS – it’s about an hour long be we had a great chat :-)