Natural Tips To Help You Quit or Cut Down on Alcohol

woman placing her hand over a glass | how to stop drinking naturally | goodMix

At this time of year, I know a lot of people are keen to drink less, have a break from alcohol or just stop drinking altogether. It can be a difficult habit to break, even for those who are just ‘social drinkers’ (some people are extremely social)…so here’s some great tools, supplements and tips on how to stop drinking naturally if that’s a goal for the new year! Share with mates wanting to kick the habit too.

Be Aware of Your Triggers: 

If you’re looking at how to stop drinking naturally, avoid stress (in all its forms). People reach for alcohol to change their state (stress is uncomfortable, alcohol makes it less so…but only temporarily!)

HALT (hungry, angry, lonely or tired) – just a few types of stress to be aware of, common triggers.

Negative emotions (grief, anger, sadness, loneliness, guilt). 

Social Isolation (finding yourself with no one to socialise with after quitting). 

Mental Illness

Physical Illness

Pain – esp chronic pain

Relationship break-ups (if you are serious about quitting an addiction, it’s actually recommended to avoid new romantic relationships until you are really confident you’re strong enough to not relapse in the event of a breakup / relationship stress). 

Complacency / over confidence (ie you think ‘I’ve quit so easily I can just do it again anytime so a few drinks won’t hurt this weekend’). So easy to just slide back into your old patterns from there, common mistake.

Celebrations – ie achievements, graduations, weddings, new jobs (especially if a pay rise makes it easier to afford more partying!)

Reunions with ‘partners in crime’ – when you catch up with people who you used to party with, make sure you set strong intentions & make everyone aware well before the catch up. You may have to just pass for a while if that’s easier. 

Giving up on quitting after a slip up. Everyone has a slip up from time to time – just learn from it & move on, don’t beat yourself up & give in. It happened, move on, get back on the wagon. 

Supplements Useful For Quitting Alcohol: 

If you’re exploring how to stop drinking naturally, it’s worth exploring whether these supplements could help:

Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) 

GABA is a ‘chill out’ neurotransmitter (brain chemical) that is associated with relaxation & sleepiness. Alcohol binds to GABA receptors in the brain & mimics these effects. So – with long term alcohol use, your brain won’t respond as well to natural GABA, as the receptors become desensitised. If you’re using alcohol all the time to chill out / unwind / self medicate a level of anxiety – taking GABA (or other things that work on this same pathway) can be really useful to lessen the anxiety that can come when quitting drinking. 

Anxioloytic Herbs 

These are herbs that help calm us down. Kava, Withania, Passionflower & Oats are a few popular ones, readily available from healthfood stores. Get a naturopath or herbalist to make you a custom brew, or you can find some nice combination formulas in stores. Great to take the edge off without the side effects of using alcohol to do so (alcohol side effects include decreased ability to think clearly & make good decisions, leading to increased anxiety)!  Switch to these herbs if you tend to use alcohol to slow down, chill out, calm down. Much better long term results!

Adaptogen herbs 

Adaptogens are herbs that support our ability to cope with stress (that’s all of us in this modern age!) Withania, Ginsengs, Liquorice etc can be great (once again, best to get a tailored mix). Adaptogens are great for when you are having to cope with more than you feel you can, wether that’s physical stress (athletes) or emotional / work / relationships etc. Use these herbs if you need support to keep going strong, keep your energy up (in a sustainable way). 

L-glutamine 

This is a common deficiency in booze-lovers & is a useful supplement if you’ve been overdoing it, especially if your gut / inflammation / immune symptoms are playing up (you’ll have given yourself a leakier gut, & L-glutamine is great to help repair that). L-glutamine can also help to decrease cravings (for sugar, carbs & alcohol) by providing a glucose source for the brain (without raising blood sugars). Alcohol cravings & sugar / carb cravings can be intertwined (alcohol is a highly refined sugar that gives your brain an addictive sugar hit, similar to other refined sugars). Glutamine is also a mood booster, & can help with depression, anxiety & insomnia. Take 1 teaspoon of the powder 3-4 times a day on an empty stomach. 

Minimise Sugar

We can’t look at how to stop drinking naturally and not discuss sugar! Quit the sweet soft drink / juice mixers. I see so many people combining 3 addictions into one extremely powerful cocktail – ie consuming a beverage that contains loads of sugar, plus caffeine & alcohol – the triple whammy! A first step in this instance would be to replace the caffeinated mixers with something less addictive (ie switch coke to ginger beer or lemonade). Then remove or cut back on the sugar (use sparkling mineral water to dilute soft drink, then completely remove the sweet soft drink). You might find the alcohol addiction is only one part of a triple addiction.  

Magnesium

Magnesium is an extremely common deficiency, & if you tend to overdo alcohol you’ll almost certainly benefit from a period supplementing (especially if you are also stressed out, tend to be tight / tense, get cramps & easily fatigued muscles). Ask in your local health store or pharmacy for a quality brand (there are many forms of magnesium, you’ll need one that is well absorbed not just one that goes straight through – though these can be great for constipation). If you stressed out & are trying to quit, I would take the maximum recommended dose, 2x daily for a couple of weeks then cut back once you feel less anxious. 

Zinc

Zinc is such a common deficiency (& like magnesium & many other minerals & trace elements, is depleted by drinking) so definitely get your zinc levels checked – really important if you also have leaky gut. If your protein intake is low, it’s likely your zinc is too. One of the main enzymes required to break down alcohol (Alcohol dehydrogenase or ADH) requires zinc. If you can’t handle alcohol like you used to, it can be a red flag for zinc deficiency (also other things). Always take zinc with food, it can make many people feel nauseous if taken on an empty stomach. 

B Vitamins

If you’re looking at how to stop drinking naturally, you may need to look at your B vitamins. B vitamins will need topping up if you’ve been partying too long & hard – esp B1, folate & B12 (go for a quality B complex).  B’s are crucial for energy, nerves, memory & brain function, coping with stress, skin hair nails & many other functions. There’s some wisdom in the old ‘Berocca hangover cure’ – though you can find much better quality supps (ask in your local). B vitamins are normally best taken in the mornings (they can give you an energy boost). 

L-Theanine

L-theanine is found in Green Tea (& in concentrated amounts in green tea tablets). It has been shown to support liver health & to improve detoxification of alcohol, plus good to help with sleep / anxiety.  Useful to know, swap the wine for a green tea – or make up a big batch of iced tea. For stronger effects, get the tablets / capsules. 

NAC

N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is an amino acid derived antioxidant (available in tablet form) that can lessen the toxic effects of alcohol & its by products, as well as decrease the desire to drink & help to normalise the addicted brain.  When alcohol is consumed, it’s broken down into acetaldehyde (much more toxic than alcohol). We use glutathione (an antioxidant we make) to detoxify acetaldehyde, & NAC is used to make glutathione. Drinking alcohol causes the stores of glutathione in the liver to quickly get depleted, so if you do plan to drink – NAC taken 1 hour or so beforehand may mean you do less damage & feel better the next day (don’t take it the day after as it can apparently work differently & make things worse)!  Work with a professional if you want to look at how to stop drinking naturally and use NAC to assist addiction, & obviously the best hangover prevention is to just drink less!

Nux Vomica

Nux Vomica is a homeopathic remedy, so to ensure it’ll be useful for you get advice from someone who knows their way round prescribing these remedies. Also check out Arsenicum, China, Nat Mur, & Sulphur. These remedies are all commonly used to assist with alcohol overuse, but a remedy must be a good match with your constitution / personality type & symptom picture to get good results. Nux Vomica is a fairly safe bet if your liver is a bit overwhelmed, you tend to be cranky / irritable & are prone to both overworking & overindulging.  Ask in your local healthfood store, try taking a dose of 30c once or twice daily for a week or so (stop taking if you notice changes).  Can also be used before bed to help decrease hangovers, but ideally use it to decrease desire to drink. 

Flower Essences

Flower essences are great to help with emotional issues, which often trigger substance overuse. You can experiment yourself, or get advice from a practitioner if you know that alcohol is just masking something you’d like to deal with on a deeper level.  

Rescue Remedy

Rescue remedy is so well-loved it is readily available in just about every chemist, health store (& often supermarkets). This is just a great combination of flower essences to address acute stress, anxiety, panic, insomnia etc. Use when anxious if that’s a trigger for you. 

Sleep

Sleep deprivation can be a big contributing factor to stress / anxiety / not coping / feeling the need to use alcohol for energy & fun / being able to socialise. If you’re looking at how to stop drinking naturally, make sure you’re addressing lack of sleep when trying to kick the habit. Sleep quality should vastly improve without alcohol, as booze interferes with normal sleep (even though it’s often what people use to ‘knock themselves out’ at night, you’ll get less deep sleep). 

Mindfulness, Meditation, Deep Breathing

Deep breathing & meditation instead of beers or wine to wind down of an evening. Try a yoga class or meditation sessions, even phone apps. Replace unhealthy habits with a really healthy one that will have many positive side effects. The more mindful you become, the less you will want to drink. 

CBD Oil

CBD (a non-psychoactive compound extracted from marijuana that can help with seizures, anxiety, insomnia, pain & many other things) is worth looking into. Whilst not readily available legally in Australia, it is being used by many who know of it – there’s a thriving black market. There is preliminary evidence that it can help to curb addiction, so consider – especially if chronic pain is a trigger for you. To get this in Aus you have to ‘know somebody who knows somebody’ – take a trip to Nimbin / northern NSW – you can’t buy it legally in stores yet, though in other countries it is truly booming. Dosage can vary depending on strength of the product from about 10 drops to 30 drops, ask the supplier for guidelines specific to their product.  

Treat All Levels

With any health issue, the naturopathic approach requires that you address not only the physical but also the mental, emotional & spiritual aspects of your being.  When we look at how to stop drinking naturally, working on all of these simultaneously is the best way to help with any level of addiction too. This could mean a basic programme of starting to exercise daily, sleep more & eat better, using supplements where required, & booking in to see a holistic counsellor / practitioner specialising in mental-emotional healing. A couple of phone calls to book appointments is the first step!

Change Your Routine & Remove Triggers

Restructure your daily  / weekly routine so that alcohol is no longer a feature. If you normally crave a drink on a Friday night, book a regular yoga / gym / art class for that time, or make that movie night, or massage night or whatever, just to help disrupt that usual ‘trigger’ in your routine. If you need a wine to help wind down from a stress-filled day looking after babies / small children – try a pram walk or just sit in a lavender bath (with the kids) for 30mins-1hr.  If it’s ‘the boys’ or ‘the girls’ that derail your attempts – let them all know that you’re ‘having a break’ for a period, some may want to join you (don’t say you’re never drinking & socialising with them again, just say it’s a break & come up with other cool outings & things to do together). Then the break can be as long as you like. 

Create Obstacles – Make it Harder To Drink 

If you normally buy cases of wine / get automatic deliveries  / habitually buy a carton of beer each week, then you’ll always be within a few footsteps of alcohol – not ideal for someone looking to cut down! Cancel or pause the delivery. Drive past the bottle shop on a friday. Don’t keep any alcohol in the house – if you decide you do really want to have a drink for an occasion, it will require effort, money & time to get booze. This will help your efforts to avoid it. if you normally drink too much wine – just make a rule to only buy the tiny bottles (1 at a time). Only buy a six pack for special occaisions if you normally would buy a carton & just drink the rest later. It’s the same with sugary foods – if they are in the house you’ll eat more of them. If you only buy for immediate consumption, you’ll do better at avoiding them. 

Get Support 

If you need support but feel AA meetings would be overkill, The ‘One Year No Beer’ Community (OYNB) provides an awesome motivational / how-to / practical resource / support network that you can join online. Check it out if you know you’ll need help staying on track. https://www.facebook.com/Oneyearnobeer/

Have heard great reviews & people often end up alcohol free for much longer / for life!

Start, Commit, Invest

So if you’re serious at looking at how to stop drinking naturally, decide on your start date, & tell everyone what you’re doing – ask them to help you stay on track & keep you accountable. Better yet, find a buddy who’s also keen to quit booze for a while (ideally your partner – will make life easier). Treat yourself to something healthy that you know you’ll be able to afford with all the savings on alcohol (book a class, a monthly massage, some new workout gear, a health retreat, or some of the supplements above to help you kickstart the journey!

Constipation – Natural Tips to Get Regular (Aside from Blend11!)

For any health practitioner, constipation is one of the most common complaints. Here are some tried & tested natural tips for when you are feeling blocked up, if increasing fibre doesn’t seem to be helping & you don’t want to rely on laxatives.

Diet:

Work with a dietitian, nutritionist or naturopath trained in the Low FODMAP diet, sometimes FODMAPs are the culprit in constipation (though they are more frequently associated with bloating, discomfort & diarrhoea). FODMAP’s can however provide fermentable fibre to promote microbial hydrogen production & then the consequent rise in constipating methane, produced by the methane-producing hydrogen-consuming gut bugs. So a low FODMAP fibre source can be really helpful here (ie Blend11).

Try removing gluten & dairy for a few weeks, see if there’s any improvement (have spoken to many people over the years who are constipated when eating one or both of these, & can almost instantly improve when they’re removed). It can also be other food sensitivities but gluten & dairy are the most common.

Meat can really slow things up for a lot of folks, try substituting lentils, beans & chickpeas, or just dilute meat using these mixed through (if legumes are tolerated). Also ancient grains like quinoa, millet, amaranth, etc.

Veggies almost always need to be increased. Very few people actually get the amount of veg they need daily, despite them telling you they eat salad every day.

A daily green smoothie helps many with constipation (great way to help with the above too!)

Introduce fermented foods like sauerkraut & kimchee, just a teaspoon or 2 on the side of your plate is easy to get used to, then you can increase from there.

Intermittent fasting / 5 hours between eating. Helps many with IBS / SIBO. Gives the digestive system the essential ‘space’ needed to ‘clean up’ after digesting.

Probiotic foods, capsules or powders: 

If you’re trying a probiotic for constipation, my suggestion is normally to take a capsule 2 or 3 x daily (you can go over the dose recommended on the bottle, that’s totally fine). Here’s one I like, that should be well tolerated by most: TERRA Flora PROBIOTIC (great customer & practitioner reviews).

Digestive bitters / liver herbs:

Things like gentian, swedish bitters, butternut, andrographis, St Mary’s Thistle – all the bitter liver herbs can really help get things moving & many also have antimicrobial effects (there are many causes of constipation & microbial imbalance is often involved – microbial fermentation creates gases that can actually alter the way your bowels move – your gut bugs controlling their environment)!  Not recommended for long term use, but great as a liver & bowel kickstart. Gentler digestive herbs for everyday use could be green tea, chamomile, peppermint or liquorice teas (all great for gut & liver support). Get advice from your pharmacist regarding interactions with any medications you may be taking prior to using concentrated herbal supplements. 

Poo Position:

The ’Squatty Potty’ or similar home made device (ie a couple of bricks, pile of books, DIY wooden step) – anything to get you squatting. The terrible poo position encouraged by the western loo can be an aggravator for many with constipation. Squatting with the knees above the hip level is the way to open up the bowels properly. If you’ve never watched their now famous ad, you should – great marketing for a tricky product, they’ve nailed it!

Hydration: 

Seems obvious, but pays to mention as it’s often forgotten. Take a water bottle with you everywhere, & fill it often. 

Exercise: 

If you are not moving, neither is your digestive system! Adequate movement / exercise is one of THE most important factors in maintaining healthy digestive function. Even gut microbes change for the better with increased activity – sedentary people have unhealthy gut bugs….& are often chronically constipated. There is no getting around it – find something active you don’t hate & do it regularly. Even if you hate all kinds of exercise – choose what you hate the least, make yourself do it until you hate it less (it will happen). And so will good poos. And life just gets better from there. Just do it, & just poo it. Sorry. 

Stress management:

If you’re a stress-head, you’ll not be spending much time in your parasympathetic (rest & digest) mode because your sympathetic nervous system will always be switched on (fight or flight). You generally won’t feel like a poo when you’re in a stressful situation. But remember – a stressful situation is something that can vary greatly, depending on your attitude, interpretation & response to what is happening. Something that can completely destabilise one person, can have little to no impact on the next person. So – if you are a stressy type, you will need to find stress management techniques in order to get your digestion happening. Massage, yoga, meditation, exercise, catching up with mates, laughing more (funny shows / movies etc), making time to do what you love….stress needs to be addressed at the same time as gut for optimal results. 

Magnesium: 

Many with chronic constipation (esp the stress head types) can find relief through magnesium supplementation, & often a quick laxative effect using a magnesium oxide powder (ie Colon Cleanse). Or try Magnesium Citrate or Sulphate (epsom salts). Magnesium is such a common deficiency, so definitely worth a try – it can really help to loosen things up, with added bonus chill out & sleep better effects, plus often more energy / better muscle recovery. 

Structural Help:

Some swear by an appointment with a chiropractor or an osteopath when severely constipated. Definitely recommend this for kids / babies & adults – especially if there are also structural issues ie back problems, nerve injury etc. Even some core-twisting yoga poses can be very helpful for some.

Massage: 

Start on the right hand side & work your way up & around & down (google images colon should show you but all be guided by touch & feel as we don’t all have a colon that looks like the one on google)! Better still, book in with a professional to do the first one & teach you. Post massage do a few jumps / hijack the kids trampoline or go for a brisk walk / jog / do some twisty core yoga poses. 

Stomach acid: 

Apple cider vinegar, digestive bitters or betaine HCL before meals can help improve digestion. Not suitable for those with stomach ulceration or damage to their oesophagus, but many with either constipation, SIBO, diarrhoea, IBS, bloating etc – can be helped by addressing the stomach acid (most commonly it’s not acidic enough, yet so many people are put on PPI medications or antacids, which are known to cause IBS / SIBO as a ‘side effect’). They may help initially with the GERD symptoms, but they are guaranteed to throw everything out of whack further down the GIT & create more digestive problems in the long term. Last resort & only meant for short term use. 

Colonics:

I’m in 2 minds about colonics, my ‘gut feel’ is don’t go there unless your gut is really in a bad way, but definitely worth exploring as an option for those with a history of chronic constipation who’ve tried everything else! Some people swear by it & the procedure has apparently improved a lot since the days when you would read scary / negative reviews about it. 

Enemas:

For some people, it helps to just loosen things up at the exit point, to open the doors to freedom for the rest of the bowel. Get a professional to do it first, then the DIY kits can be used in emergencies at home. 

FMT (Fecal Microbe Transplant): 

If you’ve tried EVERYTHING & are at your wits end, definitely consider discussing an FMT (faecal microbe transplant) with a professional & experienced team (the Sydney Centre for Digestive Disease are pioneers of this treatment in Australia). They apparently have achieved excellent results using this method with chronically constipated patients (as well as many other gut problems). It makes perfect sense, as it’s like literally ‘wiping the microbial slate clean’ & starting again – replacing a dysfunctional microbial ecosystem with a functional one. Ensure good diet is adhered to following this procedure, plenty of diverse prebiotic fibre to keep the new microbial guests well-fed & happy – or the old nasties will just grow back.

Gentler Laxatives: 

Castor Oil – mild stimulant, not for long term use. Can make a pack for external use (apply heat or massage) or take internally with care (get professional advice). 

PHGG – type of fibre (partially hydrogenated guar gum) that increases bifido & lactobacillus & SCFA’s, usually well tolerated by those with IBS C & D, helpful with bloating etc, safe long term. Found in many gut / fibre / prebiotic formulas. 

Inulin – prebiotic fibre, highly fermentable & often poorly tolerated by those with IBS (FODMAP), found in many formulas or as a powder. 

Lactulose – osmotic (pulls fluid into bowel & help soften) Can use to get going then decrease dose as bowel improves (also increases lactobacilli & acts as stool softener). 

Motion Potion – a great gentle herb & fibre blend to help become / stay regular. 

*If you are already kinda addicted to laxatives, relying on them to go each day, never try to just stop cold turkey. Much more likely to have success if you wean yourself off them more gradually. Ie try 2 days on, 1 day off, then every 2nd day, then as needed (whilst supporting digestive health  / bowel function in every other way at the same time). 

Super – Pooper Shopping List: 

  • pear / pear juice
  • apple
  • kiwi fruit
  • prunes / prune juice
  • figs
  • linseed / linseed meal
  • chia
  • nuts & seeds
  • coconut / coconut oil
  • oats
  • legumes
  • brown rice
  • barley
  • green leafy veg
  • green smoothies
  • molasses
  • beetroot
  • ginger
  • beet greens
  • bitter salad greens
  • licorice tea
  • dandelion & chicory root coffee
  • regular coffee

Still not pooing & tried it all? Send me an email and I’ll see if there’s something or someone I can refer you to!

Jeanie
jeanie@goodmix.com.au

 

What Is Maca Powder? Ancient Peruvian Food Medicine!

spoon with pile of maca powder | what is maca powder? | goodMix Superfoods

What Is Maca Powder?

Maca – aka ‘Peruvian ginseng’ or Lepidium meyenni – what is it and who should try it?

I love food that ‘does stuff’. Functional food / superfood / food as medicine – whatever you want to call it, food that can make a noticeable change when you eat it is cool. 

I especially love it when there is a ‘historical uses’ & a ‘scientific studies’ reason to give it a try, as there definitely is with maca powder.

It has been used for at least 2000 years as a fertility / libido / energy tonic in Peru where it is grown on the foothills of the Andes. The Aztecs would apparently use it to promote energy, strength & stamina for going into battle, but then consumption was prohibited after the conquering of a village – to save the women from its libido-enhancing effects! 

I became interested in Maca after working in health food stores & repeatedly hearing positive feedback on it. I always ask customers what they use things for & if they notice much difference etc (nosey naturopath, yep but that’s how you learn). 

Maca powder is something that many women swear by for helping them through their menopausal years (stress, energy, libido) & men love it for boosting strength, libido & athletic performance. This mostly comes down to adrenal support – super important to support adrenals (ie don’t be living on caffeine & not enough sleep if approaching menopause or wanting to stay strong & virile for the long haul!) 

So for boosting general vitality I’ve always kept maca in the pantry & I use it sometimes in smoothies, or just mixed in with yoghurt whenever I feel like an added boost (you know, on days when I have a lot of conquering or ravaging to do). And of course it’s in the ‘BallBags’ protein ball mix.

The flavour by itself can take some getting used to – it’s not unpleasant, just different – ‘earthy’.  It has a sweet almost biscuity or butterscotch-like taste that works well with cinnamon, yoghurt, protein balls, smoothies, some healthy baking etc. It is just made from a dried, powdered root vegetable – so it’s kinda starchy in texture. 

Maca is considered an ‘adaptogen’ (like the ginsengs & many other ‘energy’ boosting herbs). Adaptogens support our adrenals & help us to handle stress better (whether it be mental or physical). Most people will notice more energy when using adaptogen herbs & often libido improvements as well, because when your general energy is higher, you will have more left over for lovin!  Most of us don’t really feel like getting it on when stressed, it’s about survival – your body knows that making babies is a bad idea when you feel like you’re barely surviving! 

Who should use maca and who should avoid maca? From my experience & research, some people do really really well on maca & then it’s just not right for others. Definitely worth a try if you’re suffering from poor energy, chronic fatigue, depression, low libido, are menopausal, feeling depleted, adrenally exhausted, having trouble conceiving, not ovulating regularly etc – but if you’re all good hormonally or know that you have excess oestrogen or an outta control libido then I don’t advise using it regularly at high doses (or just bear in mind that it may have an effect so be observant)!

How To Use Maca Powder

What dosage should I try?

Start small – 1 teaspoon organic maca powder daily, but then if all feels good, you can increase – dose can range quite a bit, apparently effective from 1.5 teaspoons up to a tablespoon or 2 daily at the higher end (that’s a very ‘earthy’ smoothie, & will be way too much for many!)  

If you have thyroid issues – be aware that maca does contain goitrogens (just like many foods including kale, broccoli, brussel sprouts etc – it is part of the same family). So don’t be going overboard on kale-loaded green smoothies with added maca if your thyroid is a problem area. Also probably not advisable with hormone sensitive cancers. 

Muscle building smoothie using Maca Powder: 

This is a post-workout smoothie for those wanting to build muscle (that’s most of us because muscle will burn fat for you, even when you’re asleep)! This recipe serves 3-4 (or maybe 2 huge footy players) so make it for the family or pour into jars for a couple of days – or you can easily do the maths for 1 serve! 

Muscle Building Smoothie

Links to some research on Maca:

Post menopausal women, sexual dysfunction, depression / anxiety.

Male endurance / athletic performance & sexual desire. 

SSRI induced sexual dysfunction

Whats your favourite superfood ingredient?
Love to hear it what it is…
Jeanie Xx
jeanie@goodmix.com.au

The Best Natural Hangover Tips

Team goodMix had a great time at the Good Food & Wine Show In Brisbane last weekend (probably not as good as the rest of the crowd, but it was fun to get amongst the party vibe!) If you’re looking at how to treat a hangover naturally now you’ve enjoyed all that wine – read on! We thought these hangover tips might come in handy – especially now that the Spring / Summer party season is coming up & everyone is stocked up on wine post event!

We have 7 things to help you prevent OR recover from a hangover naturally, plus 13 supplements to see you through the party season!

Obviously, from a naturopathic perspective – avoiding excessive alcohol is optimal. There is some evidence that small amounts of alcohol are ok / can be beneficial (the picks are red wine, white wine, & even whiskey), but going overboard will do damage. This is what it typically feels like – & some reasons why:

Hangover Symptoms: 

  • Headache (blood vessel dilation, toxicity & dehydration…possibly also sleeping a bit twisted on the floor / couch / garden / driveway).
  • Nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, decreased appetite, cravings for greasy foods (gastric irritation & excess secretion of stomach acid)
  • Weakness, lethargy, lack of co-ordination, trembling (drastically depleted blood sugar as alcohol makes you pee out all your glycogen stores. Your energy tank =  totally drained to empty).
  • Depression / anxiety / moodiness / inability to think & focus properly / poor memory (extreme blood sugar lows, lack of quality REM sleep, liver toxicity, remembering dumb stuff you said / did).

What Is A Hangover?

When alcohol gets to your liver, an enzyme (alcohol dehydrogenase) breaks it down into acetaldehyde, which is loads more toxic to your body than alcohol (like 20 to 30 times more toxic). Then it has to break that down with another enzyme & glutathione (awesome antioxidant we produce ourselves from amino acids – protein is critical for effective liver detox). That is why we feel so crappy after the alcohol – it’s the toxic metabolites that really poison us, more so than the alcohol itself (which also does some damage on it’s way through). 

Too much alcohol means your glutathione levels get used up, so the acetaldehyde (toxic metabolite of alcohol breakdown) builds up in your system, creating that ‘poisoned’ feeling. Women cop it worse, as we produce less of the enzyme that breaks down the acetaldehyde – so our glutathione is super important to top up during party season.  The best way to reduce your hangover’s effects is to decrease the amount of toxic acetaldehyde floating around in your system. 

Then there’s the effects of the alcohol itself – it blocks our antidiuretic hormone, so we just pee out all the water that we’d normally reabsorb back into our blood stream when it passes through the kidneys (along with some vital electrolytes like sodium, potassium, magnesium, & glucose). Might not sound like a big drama – but if you unbalance electrolytes & deprive them of glucose – every single cell in your body will have severely compromised function. Meaning you as a human will be highly dysfunctional as a result. Sick day totally warranted. So let’s look at how to treat a hangover naturally…

How To Treat A Hangover Naturally

These tips are just from a friend who is a naturopath & also likes the odd night out (not me, I am the perfect health freak & would never consider drinking anything except a green tea, herbal tonic or smoothie). Well ok, some might be things I swear by…remember I attended naturopath college from age 18-22 when I was a bit of a party girl!…I learnt a few things about detoxing during the week, which I put into practice on weekends!

  1. Hydration = critical. BEFORE you fall asleep after a big night, ensure you have at least 2-3 good sized glasses of water. If you forget before bed, it’s gotta be priority upon waking (drink slowly in the morning). You can use plain water, water with bubbles, fresh juices…THE ABSOLUTE BEST THING TO DO, PREVENTION-WISE, IS DRINK A GLASS OF WATER FOR EVERY ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE YOU DRINK, topping up & flushing out as you go. 
  2. Eat something substantial ie a meal with fat fibre & protein (remember, protein = essential for liver detox) before you start partying & also just prior to bed. Keep your digestive system moving, keep your gut & liver busy & the alcohol well diluted with other things.
  3. Sleep. Plan to get some extra both before & after to compensate for the inevitable party losses.
  4. Don’t use sugary or caffeinated mixers – these greatly contribute to the dehydration & stress on your body. Use sparkling mineral water, fresh juices Etc…steer well clear of the rum & coke & Vodka Red Bulls! Combat dehydration with electrolyte solution (or coconut water slushies with fresh fruit) in the morning – or better still, before you go to bed.
  5. Exercise in the morning (?? for real??) If you can possibly manage some movement, it will get your digestive system, lymphatic system & circulation, cranking – which means faster removal of all the toxic by-products of your night. Good idea also to prepare for a night out with a workout (nothing too challenging, just to ensure everything is flowing nicely before the toxicity hits.
  6. What to eat in the morning?….Fat of course! Grease is the traditional cure / craving for seedy folks, so I recommend go with your cravings here (within reason). Always, always opt for quality grease – ie free range, nitrate free / organic bacon, eggs, organic butter & mushrooms…maybe some bone broth…salt is fine (you’ll have peed out heaps) & always ensure that you have some fibre & greens too to assist with detox & getting your digestive system back to normal. A fresh icy juice or smoothie with fruit & veg is also awesome (I would include celery & grapefruit & definitley a greens powder).
  7. Poo. You have to get that shit out of your system, literally! Do whatever you need to make it happen ASAP after a big night out, you’ll feel so much better from that moment onwards. Tip – make sure you’re eating your Blend11 often & you should have no issues here! If you have some fluid, eat some breakfast, & do a little exercise – even just a walk or some gentle yoga / stretches, this should help immensely. Can also try a magnesium powder if that works well for you.

How To Treat A Hangover Naturally: 13 Supplements for people who love to party!

A basic hangover first aid kit should include: 

  1. Nux Vomica (classic homeopathic hangover / liver / overindulgence remedy). Perfect for those who suffer with nausea & headache.  Get a 30c potency from the health store or local homeopath, take 1 dose before bed & one first thing in the morning, then another later if required. (Don’t take more once improvement is noticed unless you start to fade again).
  2. NAC / glutathione (to break down the toxic by-products, ask in your local health store)
  3. Glutamine, aloe vera, slippery elm (your gut-lining will need these to repair)
  4. Zinc (always take with food or it can make you feel nauseous, not what you need)!
  5. Selenium (co-factor needed for glutathione antioxidant)
  6. B vitamins (energy pick up, do use a better quality supplement than berocca though!)
  7. Vitamin C (helps with detox & healing)
  8. Magnesium bath soak / spray (replace lost mg, you’re probably deficient anyway – most of us are)
  9. Electrolytes (you can get the ice blocks from the chemist, or coconut water)
  10. Probiotics – especially SB yeast (you’ll have killed off a heap of your ‘good guys’ & made way for your candida to flourish with no doubt too much sugar). Alcohol = really common cause / contributing factor to gut dysbiosis, thrush, candida overgrowth.
  11. Fibre (soaks up all the crap & gets it moving swiftly towards the exit, provides food to nourish the surviving good bacteria & get them back to a decent population. They also produce short-chain-fatty acids from the fibre breakdown, which are very healing substances for the bowel lining & act as anti-inflammatories throughout your entire body). Blend11 = great here.
  12. Greens (liver & gut love is much needed, greens are great for both). Greens Plus Aloe is perfect, esp with the Aloe vera for healing & soothing your gut, & for blood sugar regulation.
  13. Liver herbs (St Mary’s / Milk Thistle = best liver loving antioxidant. Helps prevent glutathione depletion in your liver. Turmeric is also excellent. If you like to party, invest in a quality liver supplement with both of these, & take it daily throughout the season). Cumin (the spice) is also apparently great for improving your glutathione levels, & whey protein, asparagus & barley grass would be great dietary inclusions too.

So there are our top tips for how to treat a hangover naturally!

***IF YOU SUFFER FROM GUT ISSUES (REMEMBER PRETTY MUCH ALL HEALTH ISSUES HAVE A STRONG GUT COMPONENT), & YOU ARE SERIOUS ABOUT GETTING YOUR  HEALTH BACK ON TRACK – DON’T EVEN GO THERE WITH EXCESS ALCOHOL. 

Even a single episode of heavy drinking can cause the lining of your stomach to become inflamed and bleed. Your gut flora & mucous membranes will be severely messed with, it will increase leaky gut severity…just not worth it.  I have actually heard from several people over the years about the sudden & mysterious onset of food allergies following a big weekend. Stick to nutritious mocktails made with kombucha / fresh fruit / ice / coconut yoghurt etc, & just laugh at the antics of your friends / family. And then laugh at them some more when you’re up & at ‘em enjoying life the next day & they are comatose & coping with their hangovers!!

Love to hear about your remedies for how to treat a hangover naturally too!

Jeanie
jeanie@goodmix.com.au

Natural Ways to Help Teens With Anxiety

Anxious teens will often ‘self-medicate’ with pharmaceuticals, illegal drugs, alcohol, comfort food or engage in other forms of escapism to help them deal with the complex emotions they have going on inside. 

To prevent this, there are loads of easy ways we can support their mental health during a time when their bodies are demanding so much physically & life can be tricky emotionally.

1. Protein:

Helps keep blood sugar & energy levels stable (blood sugar fluctuations can aggravate / cause moodiness – know anyone who gets ‘hangry’ when they have to wait too long for food?). Amino acids from protein also supply the building blocks our body needs to make many of our neurotransmitters, ie serotonin, dopamine, GABA. These chemicals strongly influence moods. Lack of protein will definitely contribute to anxiety, so make sure this box is ticked for healthy growth, strong immunity & stable moods in your teen.

2. Good fats:

Typical teens tend to consume a LOT of nasty inflammatory fats (fried foods, fast foods, crisps, pastries, bakery foods etc), so we really need to ensure there’s plenty of good fats coming in to compensate. Every cell membrane in our bodies requires fat as a major component. If your cell walls are made mostly from ‘cheeseburger & fries fats’, their function will be sub-optimal. Cell membranes let things in & out of our cells, so good fats are essential for the most basic foundations of how our body works. Brains are especially fat hungry, they are actually made up of approx 60% fat. Oily fish, olive oil, avocado, nuts & seeds (especially chia & flax), grass fed animal fats, coconut….include these often in your teens diet.  Add extra good fats to salads, smoothies, desserts, dips…everything. Good fat won’t make them get fat, it’s excess refined carbs / lollies / soft drinks / sugars & inflammatory foods that are the real culprits.

3. Fibre:

Teens tend to reach for the ‘white’ foods for a quick energy boost & minimal chewing (refined carbs with all the fibre removed – ie white bread, white sugar, pasta, cakes, pastries, buns etc). This leaves the good ‘fibre-eating’ gut bugs starving & supports an over abundance of the nasty ones (who just demand more sugar & carbs, keeping that blood sugar roller coaster going with all the mental highs & lows that come along with it!) When we add more fibre into an excessively ‘white’ diet, it helps decrease the rate that sugars are absorbed & it also helps ensure our gut microbial balance stays somewhat intact. Get fibre into teens wherever possible

4. Magnesium:

Such a common deficiency, & teens need lots of it, especially if they are very active / sporty or stressed with a heavy study workload. You can supplement with a powder or pilll, or have them add to bath / spray & rub directly onto skin. Especially great for teens with cramps or tight muscles. Sometimes tension headaches can be relieved by magnesium supplementation, & often constipation. 

5. Amino acids:

Found in protein, but also available in supplement form. Specific amino acids can be used in supplement form to support specific brain chemicals (work with a naturopath on this). Your teen may not need a prescribed pharmaceutical medication, it’s often possible to de-stress them using high dose specific nutrients instead. 

6. Sleep:

Between devices / social media / gaming & partying (hopefully some study as well) many teens are chronically sleep deprived. Sleep is when our brains ‘reset & reorganise’ themselves. Brains trying to function on little sleep will produce unstable moods & if poor sleep is ongoing, often chronic anxiety. Some great help here can be – hot bath or shower before bed, read a book until sleepy, no devices for the 1 hour prior to sleep, get to bed at the same time each night & wake at the same time, exercise every day – first thing in the morning, essential oils like lavender rubbed into temples or on pillow at sleep time, take passionflower (herbal tincture) 20 drops at bedtime, magnesium with dinner. Obviously no caffeine / minimise – esp after midday. 

7. Exercise:

Crucial for everyone wanting to take care of their mental state, it just has to be added into a teens schedule regularly. Find something they are interested in or at least don’t hate – & make it non-negotiable. In this sedentary world, exercise MUST be a part of life somehow, our bodies are just not designed to be as motionless as we are today! Especially when we are young. 

8. Massage:

Treat them to a professional massage once in a while, or as often as you can afford it. Even if you can massage ok yourself – do swaps, feet / shoulders / back / head…nothing better than a massage when you’re feeling stressed or exhausted. Teens may really crave physical touch,  they often miss out. 

9. Laughter:

Funny movies, fun games, inviting fun-loving family / friends around…laughing is such a great (& free) antidote to anxiety. 

10. Downtime:

Some teens have schedules so full that anxiety would be a logical side effect!! Although it’s great to ‘keep them busy / out of trouble’, they do need some downtime just like adults. Even if you thrive in a fast-paced environment, that doesn’t mean that your kids necessarily do. Their natural requirement for chill time may be more than yours. 

11. Herbs:

So many great herbs to help with anxiety. Ask a naturopath or herbalist, but look into withania, the ginsengs, rhodiola, passionflower, valerian etc. Also CBD oil (the non-psychoactive component of marijuana – this is not readily available in Aus yet, but should be soon).

12. Organising / prioritising weekly tasks:

Sometimes a lack of planning & a habit of procrastinating can lead to ‘overwhelm anxiety’ when it all just seems too much to deal with! Help your teen stay ‘on top’ of their essential tasks by sharing tips on prioritising, to do lists, time management & organisation apps…& allocating some time to check in regularly & help them organise their schedule.

13. Yoga & Meditation:

There are some great classes / retreats that teens can attend, or there are apps / you tubers to follow along with. So helpful. Even just showing them how deep breathing can help in stressful situations. 

15. Caffeine:

Many many teens are consuming huge amounts of caffeine daily without realising what it does to them (can cause insomnia, heighten anxiety, cause jitters, palpitations  etc). Energy drinks, cola beverages, iced coffee drinks, regular coffee & tea, chocolate, cold & flu medications – everyone has a different level of tolerance to caffeine, so just because it may have little impact on you, don’t assume this is also the case with your teen. 

16. Your own stress levels:

When you are stressed, that impacts your kids. If you are under too much pressure, not coping well, suffering from anxiety yourself, you absolutely need to sort yourself out as this will be impacting your kids for sure. All of the tips in this article can be applied to adults as well! Especially the last one – below. 

17. The Gut-brain connection:

IBS often first develops during the teenage years, & its onset can frequently be traced back to a highly stressful or anxious period. More & more evidence is being uncovered about how our emotions are impacted by what’s happening in our gut & vice versa. The gut & the brain function as a team, they are very connected! Anything we can do to support & nurture the gut will help support & stabilise the brain. Teens dealing with IBS absolutely need help with the mental / emotional side of things – I’m a firm believer in treating the gut & the brain simultaneously for best results in both areas.

18. See a professional:

Sometimes all the tips in the world are just not enough, you need real help. You may need to book in & see a professional to unravel the root cause/s (always best to go straight to the cause if possible!). A few visits to a skilled counsellor during the younger years could save a lifetime of anxiety / deeper mental health issues down the track! Find a professional who specialises in teens or comes with great reviews (ask the school counsellor /  other parents / look in online support groups). And work with a gut health specialist as well if there are gut symptoms intertwined with the anxiety (there almost always will be)! 

I’d love to hear about your teenager’s anxiety. Maybe something not listed here has helped?

Jeanie
jeanie@goodmix.com.au

Blend11 CSIRO Research Findings

What Did We Find Out? 

A lot of you have been asking at the markets, so here are the results!

Blend11 was readily fermentable by bowel microbes during the ‘in vitro fermentation trial’ & subsequently raised production of the beneficial short chain fatty acid ‘butyrate’. Levels rose very quickly, significantly & stayed high for a much longer period than with both of the control fibres (psyllium & cellulose – see graph below). This is very exciting news, especially as research into butyrate continues to reveal more benefits!

What Is Butyrate?:

Butyrate is a well researched short chain fatty acid (SCFA). It is a by-product of fibre fermentation by certain gut microbes, and is the reason for all the buzz around ‘resistant starch’ (eating more resistant starch leads to an increase in gut microbial butyrate production).

Butyrate benefits:

  • it is the preferred fuel source for the cells lining the colon
  • it helps to nourish cells & support repair of damage to the bowel wall
  • it helps maintain gut barrier integrity & thus regulate gut immunity & inflammation
  • it helps to ‘switch off’ abnormally proliferating cells in the bowel ie polyps / precancerous lesions
  • it lowers the pH of the colon (makes it more acidic), which helps stop pathogens (bad bugs) taking hold & also helps with mineral absorption into the bloodstream.
  • it helps us feel full & satisfied & stabilise blood sugar / improve insulin sensitivity (particularly important for diabetics, those battling with insulin resistance or abdominal fat).
  • it helps normalise muscular contractions & movement of the bowel (relevant to those with IBS, constipation, diarrhoea or irregular movements).

Buy Blend11 Here >>

What Conditions Is Microbial Butyrate Production Important For?

From what we know about butyrate so far, it’s important to have high levels to help with:

  • constipation / irregular movements
  • IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)
  • IBD (inflammatory bowel disease)
  • leaky gut
  • autoimmune issues
  • any condition where gut integrity is compromised
  • bowel cancer prevention diet / polyps
  • prevention of travel bugs / overgrowth of gut pathogens
  • diabetes
  • insulin resistance
  • abdominal fat
  • PCOS
  • osteoporosis prevention
  • bone & teeth strength
  • general health (through better mineral absorption)

…there are many other butyrate benefits & uses – this list is just the tip of the iceberg! But we know it’s a good thing for our gut microbes to be continually producing for us, & we now know that Blend11 is useful to help support that process :)

Buy Blend11 Here >>

Soaking / Activating: Do I Really Have to Soak it?

Common question, one we really hoped to find the answer to!

Interestingly – soaking overnight had minimal impact on fermentation & microbial butyrate production! Dry mix was found to create a similar increase in butyrate production, nutrient levels weren’t impacted & FODMAP’s were decreased only by a little.

So it seems that from a fermentation perspective, soaking may not be important / useful! It does however, help with gut issues (anecdotally). We speak to customers every week (for the past 6.5 years) who find Blend11 useful to help manage their gut symptoms, & there is definitely a difference (almost always better results when used soaked vs dry). There is other research suggesting that consumption of pre-soaked seeds helps with absorption of micronutrients (even though similar levels may be present in dry vs soaked seed, absorption is what counts). Also – the enzyme activity in soaked seeds may provide further nutritional / digestive benefits.

To Soak or Not to Soak?

In the absence of any firm data…we encourage you to experiment on yourself! See if you notice any difference when eating Blend11 soaked vs dry:

  • digestive comfort (how does your tummy feel throughout the day when you eat soaked vs dry Blend11)?
  • best poos ever effect (does it create the same results for you soaked vs dry – is there a difference in your bowel function?)
  • energy levels (any changes?)
  • mood
  • general wellness
  • performance
  • immunity
  • inflammation / swellings / aches & pains
  • weight
  • specific illnesses

Please let us know what your findings are!

Buy Blend11 Here >>

Next Stage:

We are now looking to move into the next phase of testing (a clinical trial with IBS patients). This will cost A LOT (for a small business – usually it’s only pharmaceutical companies who can afford these!) We’re eligible to use some government grants, but nowhere near enough to cover the entire project. So now we’re looking for help raising funds / an investor. With results from a trial of this nature, we’ll have scientific evidence that this food can act medicinally!

Your testimonials have played a huge role in getting the initial research done, we are now asking for anyone willing to come forward with their story, who would be happy to share it with the CSIRO gut research team, possibly even in a television interview (your face / name can remain anonymous, just an interview to tell your story. Any test results you may have will help, or if you have a health professional / Dr who can confirm results.

This is important for us to progress – so please, shoot me a reply with your contact details & a brief rundown of your story if you are keen to help out / think your story would be of interest! Even if you aren’t keen to get deeply involved, but you have a story or quick comment we can add to the collection, that would be very much appreciated too!

Jeanie Xx
jeanie@goodmix.com.au

Natural Support for Endometriosis

What is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis or ‘Endo’ (as it’s affectionately known), is a nightmare that affects more than 10% of Aussie females (& even the occasional male) at some painful point, usually starting in teenage years with progressively more uncomfortable menstrual pain & other pain associated with hormonal fluctuations.

It involves tissue like the uterine lining (endometrial) tissue growing outside of the uterus (ie the abdominal cavity, bowel, bladder, ovaries etc). This tissue responds to hormonal fluctuations throughout the month, building up & shedding like regular endometrial tissue, causing pain from recurrent irritation, inflammation & scarring.

What Are The Symptoms of Endometriosis?

  • Extreme period pain (and often pain at other times, can be daily)
  • Very heavy periods
  • Spotting before periods
  • Painful intercourse
  • Pain with bowel movements or urination
  • Bloating, abdominal discomfort
  • Lower back pain
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Migraines
  • Fatigue
  • Depression

What is Endometriosis Pain Like?

Endo pain can range from ‘please excuse Jenny from swimming today as she has period pain’  to ‘take me to the hospital I need a general anaesthetic’ or ‘just kill me now’ kinda pain’.

It can be extremely frustrating, excruciating, crippling, totally life-interrupting & can hinder education, career, relationships, fertility & sanity. Pain is normally (but not exclusively) in the pelvic region, & may mean intercourse, work, school, socialising and exercising are off the menu a lot of the time. Endo pain has been described by some mothers as worse than the pain of childbirth, so nothing to be sneezed at.

How Is Endometriosis Diagnosed?

Despite the severity of symptoms, for most young women it goes undiagnosed for many years (often 10 or more), which allows the situation to worsen. Because of under-diagnosis, the actual percentage of females suffering with endo may be much higher than the currently recognised 10-ish percent. To get a definitive diagnosis involves laparoscopic surgery under general anaesthetic – not simple. Most try to get by with anti-inflammatory meds, increasing until they just won’t cut it anymore, then maybe something stronger & / or the Oral Contraceptive Pill.  These are the normal treatment approaches until surgery is required to remove tissue – which can provide huge relief (until it grows back).

Severely Painful Periods Are Not Normal. They Are a Sign That Your Body Needs Help!

Please – if there are any teen girls in your life suffering with painful periods, urge them / their parents to get it looked into properly ASAP. Very painful periods are not normal, and early diagnosis and smart treatment can make a massive difference for endo progression, if that is found to be the cause.

Many a suffering teen girl will think ‘I must be just a sook’ and try to push through the monthly pain and ‘handle it’ thinking that they’re weak because everyone else seems to cope ok with their periods. This is compounded when well-meaning friends and family tell them to ’toughen up’ / get on with life. These girls can end up depressed and anxious, fearful to embrace opportunities they know pain will interfere with, and simply dreading ‘that time of the month’.  

Heart-breaking for young souls to live with such severe, recurring pain and feel like they are somehow inferior for not coping with what they assume is the norm.

The Endometriosis Gut Connection

Is endometriosis really connected to your gut health? Yep – surprise surprise, like so many other ’diseases’, endometriosis symptoms are strongly impacted by what is happening in your gut.

IBS pain and cramping can be very similar to endometriosis pain and cramping – the two are often confused, or can be found together. Around 16% of all teens are thought to experience IBS (most are female). Both endo and IBS can cause severe abdominal pain, uncomfortable bloating and painful or difficult bowel movements. Many women have both IBS and endo (jackpot!!) If your IBS gets a lot worse during your periods, you should look into endometriosis as a possible cause or contributing factor.

In one recent study, the Low FODMAP diet (known to help in most IBS cases) was found to significantly improve endometriosis symptoms, so if you do have both endo & IBS (or suspect you may), Low FODMAP is definitely worth a trial – do it seriously with help from an experienced nutritionist / naturopath to help you navigate through and find your triggers .

Often a person will have some low level of ‘dis-ease’ happening in their gut, which may not be that noticeable (gut seems to function normally / no problems), but which may form the foundation for another set of symptoms they have going on – like endo.  Endo is one of those chronic conditions you can ‘attack’ from the gut, because it’s an inflammatory disease, with immune dysfunction and hormonal sensitivity. Changing the gut environment can effectively decrease inflammation and help normalise immune function and hormonal balance.

When we have a harmonious gut microbiome we’re more likely to have an immune system that ‘knows when it’s needed’ and when to just chill. This is because – if your gut barrier is functioning nicely (supported by a healthy gut microbiome), it will only allow certain things out of the gut and into the bloodstream where the immune system is on high alert. Conversely, when the gut barrier is compromised (often due to / aggravated by microbial issues), a heavier load of inflammatory substances will end up in your bloodstream,  your immune system goes into ‘freak-out’ mode, becoming trigger-happy and reacting to all kinds of things that shouldn’t bother it. This makes any inflammatory-immune issues you may have flare up, whether it’s eczema, psoriasis, asthma, arthritis, hayfever…or endo.

Calm the gut  = calm the immune system = decrease the inflammation = decrease the pain.  Focus on your gut, don’t just reach for the painkillers – you’ll get way better results in the long term. And to help calm the gut, mental / emotional support is paramount too. 

Why Painkillers Can Make Endometriosis Pain Worse

Using NSAID’s (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like nurofen, aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen etc) for endometriosis will reduce inflammation & pain in the short term but with continued use they will INCREASE inflammation by damaging the all-important gut lining. Inflammation leads to pain, leads to pain relief meds, leads to leaky gut, leads to more inflammation, more pain…and so on…not a cycle with a happy ending (except if you’re selling the pills)! Anti-Inflammatory drugs are not an effective solution to a chronic inflammatory disease. Great to use for one off / occasional acute painful inflammations, but not for long term stuff if there’s another approach available (and there is a naturopathic approach for endo)!

Codeine type painkillers pose a real risk of addiction, often not communicated when first prescribed – especially important for young teens who may be struggling with depression. They also cause constipation / bowel dysfunction & as a result can increase oestrogen load.  Gut microbes are heavily involved in oestrogen metabolism and excretion, and when the bowel is sluggish and lacking in microbial diversity, more oestrogen is reabsorbed back into circulation rather than being excreted. These oestrogen-influencing gut microbes are known as the ‘oestrobolome’.   Good to know that if we modify gut microbes and gut function, we can modify blood oestrogen levels – which can obviously have a huge impact on endometriosis flares, as it is an oestrogen-fuelled condition.

The Pill For Endometriosis

The OCP may slow / stop the disease from worsening, by blocking the monthly oestrogen-induced flares, but once ladies decide they do want to be fertile, & go off the pill – their reproductive communication system has some serious catching up to do!

During teenage years, the menstrual cycle is getting established – this requires communication between the brain & ovaries. Taking the pill stops this communication, stops the cycle from developing, so instead of a natural rhythm forming, you just get a fake period with no ovulation. No natural cycles happening, interrupted reproductive development. The pill hormones are not identical to the ones we make naturally, there is a list of benefits we miss out on, & a list of side effects that can come with taking the pill:

Common Side Effects of The Pill

  • nausea
  • spotting
  • bloating
  • fluid retention
  • weight gain
  • headaches
  • tender breasts
  • mood swings
  • depression
  • impaired bone density
  • decreased libido

Heavy / irregular periods are common and to be expected in teen girls, it’s part of their reproductive development that should be allowed to happen naturally. Obviously if there’s danger of pregnancy – contraception is vital, but otherwise I would run a mile from the pill, definitely give preference to non-hormonal contraceptives.  Endo progression will likely be slower with the right OCP, but there are much better ways to address it (without the list of side effects)! Other drugs (Lupron and Synarel) are commonly used to suppress oestrogen and decrease growth of stray endometrial tissue, these can absolutely help sufferers, but also have a long list of side-effects and do not allow a natural female cycle to occur. They are mostly used post surgery to slow down the regrowth of tissue.

Natural Endometriosis Support

Best to get help from a professional (ie a naturopath or integrative GP specialising in women’s health), but here are a few things to look into:

  • awareness that painful periods need attention (not just drugs to mask the pain!)
  • optimise oestrogen metabolism (support bowel and liver with regular diverse fibre, probiotics, herbs to ensure regular bowel movements)
  • trial a Low FODMAP diet (can help identify triggers and influence gut function)
  • anti-inflammatory diet (more detail below)
  • get off gluten, dairy, sugar & alcohol for a min of 8 weeks – see how your symptoms go.
  • bone broth (organic bones)
  • test for and remove any other possible food intolerances
  • decrease saturated fats & red meat, decrease animal protein (more plant based diet)
  • find a gut-repair type product (look for l-glutamine, zinc, aloe vera, slippery elm etc, or ask a naturopath)
  • decrease / eliminate poor quality ‘junk food’ with its inflammatory fats, sugars, refined carbs.
  • eat / juice use loads of turmeric, though a high strength capsule will be best for quick pain relief
  • eat / juice / use loads of ginger
  • fermented foods – sauerkraut, beet kvass, kimchi, kefir, kombucha.
  • proper regular exercise (when not in pain, make the most of it and be active)
  • get plenty of sunshine (vit D)
  • magnesium (can be rubbed into skin, bathe in mag salts or take as a supplement)
  • oily fish eaten often, or cod liver oil supplement
  • flaxseed (whole soaked seed, or ground seed – not just the oil)
  • fibre support for the gut – crucial to move bowels regularly
  • liver herbs (naturopath / herbalist can help)
  • veggie juices
  • treat complications / secondary stuff ie check iron & B12 (often low due to heavy bleeding)
  • mental emotional support (stress management, meditation training, deep breathing, counselling, massage, relationship support, reconnection with good friends, joining support groups, etc).

Being gluten free, Low FODMAP and supportive to gut integrity and microbial production of anti-inflammatory short-chain fatty acids, both Blend11 & PondWater fit nicely into an endometriosis support diet. We have received great feedback from several women using these with the IBS-Endo double!

Let me know if you have found your endo responsive to anything not mentioned above!

jeanie@goodmix.com.au

Healthy Chocolate & Easter Recipes

If you know me, you know that I LOVE anything chocolatey (except white chocolate because that somehow misses the point)!  Cacao lovers need the rich, dark, quality brown stuff to really hit the spot! And guess what – there are loads of cacao health benefits (SEE HERE) to justify the inclusion of this decadent superfood in your diet. You’ve just gotta watch the added sugars, crappy fats & other weird stuff that food manufacturers like to add into it – pay attention to quality & quantity with chocolate to ensure you don’t go off the rails with it! It can totally be part of a healthy diet.

Funny story

My first attempt at making ‘healthy chocolate’ was during first year at naturopathy college (1998). We (my student flatmates & I) were all under 20, totally into partying & always broke – somehow surviving on a weekly shop that included porridge oats & the fruit & veg we got through our weekend market gig (I’m a market girl from way back)!

So in class, we learnt that you can slow / inhibit the absorption of sugars using fibre, yay! And we had also learned about psyllium husk as a fibre supplement. So – we logically (?) decided, let’s make ‘healthy chocolate’ using psyllium & melted chocolate! (Remember, this was before Instagram & Google were a thing). We were so proud, it was awesome (well edible), & it stretched our chocolate budget nicely! Except we used the cheapest, crappiest ‘homebrand’ cooking chocolate (we’d obviously not yet learned about the importance of quality fatty acids yet), oh well. So anyway – that was my first attempt to make ‘healthy chocolate’. Luckily – things evolved!

BallBags!

BallBags were born shortly after Blend11, ticking way more nutritional boxes than the psyllium combo!!

  • organic raw cacao polyphenol antioxidant goodness
  • plant protein
  • good fats
  • high fibre
  • resistant starch
  • loads of vitamins & minerals
  • zero refined sugars
  • gluten-free
  • grain free
  • vegan-friendly
  • paleo friendly
  • versatile & easy to make endless healthy treats with!
  • no food processor required, just add water or coconut oil & shape!

Click the images below and then press enter – for some Easter recipes you can make at home!

Because it’s getting cooler & it’s almost Easter time, here are some of my fave healthy chocolate recipes made using the BallBags – this is the perfect time to get into the kitchen with the kids & create some delicious ‘hand made with love’ treats for family & friends! You can obviously use any of the egg recipes or adapt the other recipes to suit Easter!

CLICK TO GET SOME BALLBAGS 

Jeanie Xx

Australian Cereal Brands – Nutritional Comparison Graphs

graphs of australian cereal brands nutritional value vs Blend11 | goodMix Superfoods

We’re often asked: is cereal unhealthy? What’s the nutritional comparison of Australian cereal brands in comparison to our very own Blend11? Read on for all the answers!

Nutritional Comparison Graphs – Popular Australian Cereal Brands Vs Blend11

Here’s a nice visual nutritional comparison of some of Australia’s favourite cereal brands, often consumed by kids & even some adults who haven’t grown out of the cereal habit!

Vs more premium brands

 

Vs Australian cereal commercial brands

These graphs pretty much speak for themselves, you can see the massive differences in protein, carbohydrates, sugar, fats & fibre – even though the total energy (kilojoules or calories) may be similar to Blend11. 

Do High-Calorie Foods Make You Fat?

I roll my eyes (internally) when overweight ladies (yes, it’s usually ladies in their late 50’s & into their 70’s) quickly look at the Blend11 calories & tell me ‘oh this has way too many calories for me’). It STILL happens. 

For the 2000th time ladies – eating fat is not what makes you become fat!  It will just mean that what you are eating has a lot of energy & a high-calorie count (fat has more calories per gram than carbs & protein). Obesity / weight loss is never as simple as ‘calories in & calories out’. The type of calories are super important as the way your body deals with them is very different!

Fat Protein Carbs – Calories per Gram

  • Fat = 9 calories per gram
  • Protein = 4 calories per gram
  • Carbohydrates = 4 calories per gram

So if you eat the same number of kJ’s / calories worth of rice (mostly carbs, minimal fat) or nuts (loads of fat, minimal carbs), the metabolic result will be completely different, even though calories eaten will be the same. It’s the same when you compare the body’s reaction to a serve of cereal vs Blend11 for breakfast. 

Cereal = you’ll feel satisfied initially because the bowl is quite big, but the carbs will very quickly be converted into blood sugar, which will trigger an insulin spike & then a drop not too long afterwards, making you hungry again. You’ll go looking for that morning tea muffin or perhaps a second cup of coffee for the day. 

Blend11 = you might look at the relatively small pile of seeds thinking ‘I’ll need more than this to feel full’, but as you eat you’ll quickly realise a small amount goes a long way & is very satiating. Your body will be busy breaking down all the fat, fibre & protein for much longer & at a much more steady rate, meaning there is no blood sugar spike, & no insulin dump & consequent blood sugar dip. So you probably won’t be reaching for that second coffee or craving that muffin or sandwich at morning tea.  

When people tell me that Blend11 is too expensive, I will often concede that ‘yes, per kg Blend11 costs way more than the cereals they currently buy. But this is one situation where you literally do get what you pay for. 

Box of cereal = low cost to purchase, minimal benefit from eating it. 

Blend11 = high cost to purchase, huge benefit from eating it. 

* Taken from product websites or a leading supermarket website. (Prices will vary depending on source and bag size)

Summary

It comes down to what you value more – long term health or short term wealth! Ask any wealthy person with a ‘lifestyle’ disease’ & they’ll soon tell you what’s more important! And a poor single parent with healthy kids is much happier than a wealthy parent with sick kids. You just have to prioritise where your $$ go. It’s a good idea to put food at the front of the line, especially if you are feeding kids. 

Here are a few tips to help you EAT HEALTHY ON A BUDGET and also – remember that every food purchase you make, your intentions follow the dollars to help create the world you want. Our purchasing decisions literally have the power to change the world – just look at the growth of organics & health food in general over the past 10 years. We have directed the money flowing through us to support more ethical & sustainable food manufacturing YOUR FOOD DOLLARS  are making an impact, slowly but surely. The cereal aisle is shrinking, while the health food & organic sections are growing, yay! We’ve hit rock bottom & are waking up – the food future is bright :) 

As always love to answer any questions!

Jeanie Xx
jeanie@goodmix.com.au

**All data presented here has been taken from a leading supermarket website or taken from product websites / packs. The research has been put together by a marketing student intern for no fee.

Is Cereal Unhealthy For Kids?

bowl of cornflakes | is cereal unhealthy for kids? | goodMix Superfoods

Is Cereal Unhealthy? Wondering why your cereal-eating kids are always hungry? Here’s Why!

What’s missing from cereal? Fat, fibre and protein are needed for a meal to create ’satiety’ (feeling full & satisfied) and most cereals are deficient in all! Granted, they’re designed to be consumed with milk, but just adding milk to a pile of empty carbs doesn’t fix it. Milk is actually quite high in carbs too – lactose (milk sugar) adds to the hit, with just a little protein and fat to take the edge off.  So is cereal unhealthy?

Cereal Is A Great Cheap ‘Filler’ For Growing Kids That Eat All The Time…Isn’t It??

Yes, they may be cheap ‘fillers’ but what are you achieving by ‘filling’ growing kids with such nutritional emptiness? 

Saving $$ building a new house from cheap building materials is not recommended if you want a house that lasts a lifetime. The same advice applies when ‘building’ a human body. Our body is the house we live in throughout life, you can help your kids build a decent one by supplying quality materials!

If breakfast is just cereal, you are wasting an opportunity to help nourish and strengthen a growing body with vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, good fats. Each small wasted opportunity adds up over time to create a nutrient-deficient body…a dysfunctional ‘house’ that will keep breaking & require constant repair throughout life. The classic ‘overfed, undernourished’ sick western kids we see everywhere today. 

What Happens When Kids Eat Cereal?

A refined carb and sugar-rich breakfast mean a quick blood sugar spike, followed by a surge of insulin and then a drop….which will be followed by another sugar craving. That’s how we load kids onto the blood sugar rollercoaster at the start of each day! 

When our stomach is empty and blood sugar drops, ‘grehlin’ the hunger hormone is released, setting off the ‘I’m hungry again’ response. When breakfast contains more protein, fat and fibre and less refined carbs and sugars, the rise in blood sugar is not so fast and high and the drop is less sudden & happens much later on. Energy is much more stable and longer-lasting. 

So is cereal unhealthy? You bet! For kids, boarding the cereal-induced roller coaster each day can mean poor attention and lack of focus at school, poor behaviour, hyperactivity, feeling tired and grumpy, feeling hungry soon after eating, a dip in immunity, choosing sweeter foods at every opportunity. Chronically – they’ll end up with frequent colds, flus, infections, more chance of developing chronic gut-immune issues like eczema, hay fever and allergies, exacerbated acne and moodiness during teenage years…not to mention missing out on all the nutrients that are supplied by real food whilst over-eating empty calories & becoming overweight or obese by getting addicted to refined carbs.

My kids are already addicted to unhealthy cereal! What can I do??

You can either tell the kids “there’s been an explosion in the cereal factory so they can’t make it anymore, and we have to eat ‘X’ instead”, or try the following tips:

  1. Start by adding some healthy extras into the beloved cereal bowls. You want protein, fat and fibre. BLEND11 works perfectly here, or any other nuts & seeds your kids don’t hate too much. Don’t expect this to go smoothly, but it’s “cereal with added nutrients, or we just don’t buy cereal at all kids” (that’s the eventual goal anyway, they’ll get used to real food with perseverance…& maybe threats & / or bribery). 
  2. Try making the ‘milk’ healthier. You can add HEMPSEED or a little PROTEIN POWDER into the blender with most milks and make little change to the taste & texture. ALMOND MEAL or soaked CHIA SEEDS can also be quite a subtle addition. This is a baby step, but any step is good. Your ‘milk’ could be made from a healthy smoothie.
  3. Make smoothie bowls! Just run out of cereal completely one day and say ‘oh no’ we’ll have to make something, let’s make those cool Açai bowls you see in the cafes (they always have some sort of fruit & nuts, nut butter, seeds, buckwheat, granola on top. You can use any smoothie as a base and get the kids to decorate their own, choosing from an array of fat, fibre and protein-rich natural toppings. Beware the sugary smoothie trap, make sure you are using lower sugar fruits like berries and always add things like nuts and seeds for fat, fibre and protein.
  4. Break the cereal habit with other favourites your kids are used to. Try eggs (done any way your kids like them) or healthy pancakes, leftover dinners, porridge, toast piled high with healthy toppings, smoothies, Bircher mueslis, quality granola with seeds & yoghurt…there are loads of options if you think outside the (cereal) box….anything but cereal, it’s a nutritionally tragic way to start the day and unfortunately still so common in Australia! Just chat to the kids & together figure out something that will better support them to build a healthy ‘forever home’. Give them choices and use variety to cover more nutritional bases, but make all the choices better than their current norm!
  5. Think seriously about how to bring the explosion story to life.

If you’re wondering if cereal is unhealthy you might want to have a look at our blog on Australian cereal brands nutritional comparisons.

Have a question or need some help? Email me at jeanie@goodmix.com.au

Jeanie

Related posts:

https://www.goodmix.com.au/fat-kids-why-so-many-and-how-we-can-help/

https://www.goodmix.com.au/8-reasons-your-kids-are-hungry-easy-ways-to-fill-them-up/

What Does a Naturopath Eat?

What I eat on a typical day,, when I’m at the markets on weekends & now (when I’m detoxing)!

I think because I studied as a naturopath, people ask me what kind of diet I follow – am I vegan, vego, paleo, keto, sugar free, gluten free etc…there are loads of ‘diets’ that a naturopath may recommend depending on the circumstances, but most of us are pretty normal but with a few ‘rules’ we try & stick to, different for all of us depending on our own values, health situation, living situation & of course what is trending in healthy circles!

So here’s a typical ‘day on a plate’ – I don’t follow any diet, just try to minimise my intake of gluten, refined carbs & sugars, processed food & artificials. I try to make sure a high percentage of what I’m eating is organic & get as much as I can locally through markets instead of supermarkets. I grow a few things in the backyard. I focus on loads of veggies & plant foods though I do eat animal products too (I’ve had a go at being vego & vegan a long time ago – not to say I wouldn’t go there again if it felt right, but for now it doesn’t).  I eat loads of fat, fibre & adequate protein, & treat carbs & sugar with respect as I know how addictive they can be (been there). I used to be a lot more concerned with ‘what is the perfect diet for all humans’ but now I think it can vary so much, from person to person & life stage / circumstances / climate / lifestyle – now I tend to just listen to my body, & tweak food accordingly.

***Today is not a typical day – I’m detoxing a bit after many holiday indulgences (I generally do it once or twice every year, new year is perfect for me). So no dinner last night, just a PondWater & this morning some chinese herbal liver / gut detox pills, some magnesium oxide powder to keep the bowels flowing, a small but hardcore green smoothie (celery, cucumber, lime, mint, turmeric, ginger & water) & a can of coconut water for ‘lunch’ at work. Afternoon will include a drink with psyllium & some pea protein, blended with coconut water & ice…& then later for ‘dinner’ another veggie smoothie  with PondWater. At the moment it’s not about deliciousness, just about resetting / functioning on minimal input & being disciplined / giving the digestive system a break for a few days & realising you really can survive fine without all the stuff you normally eat, much of time out of habit not need. If you are interested – here’s the link to the plan I use with a shopping list – you’ll feel a million bucks when you come out the other side! (a bit ordinary during is normal!)

GET THE DETOX PLAN / SHOPPING LIST & 25 FOODS TO HELP YOU DETOX ON A DAILY BASIS

Normal days:

6.30-7am:

I eat not first thing, but after a morning dog walk (& / or a surf if I’m lucky)! Gotta move before food.

Leftover market tasters don’t get wasted! Soaked Blend11 / NeoBlend & coconut yoghurt (of assorted types) will go into the blender with frozen berries, & whatever else – maybe cacao powder / vanilla essence / greek yoghurt / a banana / maca powder / cinnamon / protein powder etc. I just make a big batch of whatever combo works out yummy enough that the kids will down one too without complaining (ok sometimes when I don’t nail it there is  complaining & maybe a lunchtime smoothie for me)! We might do a smoothie bowl topped with a little crunchy granola / Blend11, or some Bircher muesli…& an omelette / egg breakfast if there’s time! Sometimes I might just have some buckwheat toast with avo / hommous / nut butter / butter on my way out the door, & I love porridge (with extra toppings) in winter. I’m totally a breakfast person, very rarely do I not want to eat in the morning, only if I’m unwell….but I definitely feel like I need to exercise before eating, even just a short walk is so much better than zero. No morning exercise = I feel a bit ‘meh’ physically & mentally…gotta do it. Lucky I’m an early riser & the dogs are too!

11am -12pm:

Packed lunch of salmon / chicken / tuna / turkey / avocado / legumes / olives with salad or just some leftovers from a dinner. Or if I’ve not been organised enough to pack something good it’ll be a few rice crackers with avo or tuna or more leftover seeds & coconut yoghurt…or I’ll graze on ‘BallBags’ tasters from the freezer – there are more days than I’d like to admit where these are my staple at work! (I get in trouble for eating the profits).

3-4pm:

Home to meet the kids (usually) for an after-school / pre-sports-substantial-snack.. Maybe avocado,, hommous or nut butter on GF toast / tamari with greens & shredded fried eggs / leftover dinner / olives & cheese with veggies & dips platter…a smoothie if that wasn’t breakfast already.  Though being teenagers, it’s pretty common they’ll walk in with some handful of garbage just to bug me!

5.30-6pm:

I often eat bits &  pieces of whatever I’m making for dinner, tasting as I go / just because it’s there & I like food…some nights I might have a wine or 2.

7-7.30pm:

Some sort of meat & / or legumes with a tonne of veggies, usually a twist on Aussie kid faves like spaghetti bolognaise or some kind of ‘Mexican’ (I can chuck all kinds of things in there, including seaweed, beans / lentils, herbs, turmeric, molasses but still make it yummy)!  We may do a BBQ, homemade pizza & greens or have a chicken curry teamed with rice / lentils / quinoa, or a fried rice to use up leftovers (& increase our resistant starch intake)!, Sometimes a slow cooked lamb or beef hotpot in winter, or shanks…there’s almost always a salad on the side,, especially when my garden is cranking. Sometimes we sign up to the meal-in-a-box deliveries for a while (I like that it forces us to try new recipes / ideas that are quick & easy to prep with no time wasted on shopping & decision-making, sometimes it’s just a matter of figuring out which kid is cooking tonight, (we try to get them all cooking, once a fortnight each when we’re on top of it)! I’ll often add extra veggies to these / & try to un-select all the bread & pasta dishes.

8.30pm:

If I’m feeling like just a ‘little something sweet’ at night it’ll be some of the Pure n Free chocolate mousse / vanilla coconut yoghurt with berries, or the caramel one with banana & cinnamon…or the ever present BallBags taster cubes! Sometimes plain dark chocolate, or just a piece of fruit. In winter I’ll often have a licorice tea.

This is a typical day at home during the week – when at markets on the weekend it’s completely different!

Market days:

6-7am: 

(after driving & setting up the stall, & usually being up from 3 or 4 am) I’ll treat myself to a hot breakfast! Usually some sort of egg based breakfast with plenty of veg. Faves are the buckwheat wraps from PBC / Brisbane city / Bundall markets & the potato cake thingies with egg / avo from Powerhouse, or an omelette at Northey St. I may have a black coffee a little later if I’m not feeling energetic enough to power through the day, though I’m trying to get out of that habit as coffee dumps me quite hard in the afternoons, & I don’t want to become too addicted / reliant on it…plus my sleeping can be a bit messed up with the early starts. I just graze on market tasters throughout the day, ie PondWater in lemon water, BixMix crackers, Blend11 with coconut yoghurt…I’m lucky there’s no need to go elsewhere for food, though I do pick up most of our weekly shop at markets & might eat some fruit too.  

2-3pm:

After markets it’s home again for a snack – usually some leftover dinner, or some delicious stuffed olives (I love the chilli or lemon, or garlic…any of the cheeses) fresh bread / toast & butter (ususally GF, though sometimes I cave if the sourdough is smelling too good) with nut butter or loads of avo…

6-8pm:

Dinner we might hang out with the neighbours & do a shared dinner or just fall into bed early ready for another early start…then Sunday nights are like our Friday so we might do something social if there’s anything on close by, can involve a few drinks which at the moment are a (slightly naturopathic) version of mojito’s using ginger kombucha, sparkling mineral water, fresh limes, ginger & mint (& a splash of bacardi or vodka). Or if the night is going to be a long one it has to be espresso martinis (made with choc coconut yoghurt of course – you gotta try it!)

So that’s me…that’s what I eat right now…Pretty much everything, not a strict food-nazi naturopath but I do have some standards!

Jeanie Xx
jeanie@goodmix.com.au

IBS and Food Intolerances – Some Common Causes

foods that are common causes of IBS and food intolerance | goodMix Superfoods

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. So what are some of the common causes of IBS and food intolerance?

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 and can be one of the most common causes of IBS. 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 microbiota 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).

I’ve covered some of the more common causes of IBS and food intolerance in this post. You might also find this a 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