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).

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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 :)

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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!

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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

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

The Blend11 nutritional panel is incorrect! Yay!!

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

WATCH THIS VIDEO !

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

WRONG

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

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

CORRECT 

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

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

More Blend11 FAQ’s

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

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

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

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

Is Blend11 Keto Friendly?

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

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

Gut-Friendly Keto breakfast ideas:

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

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

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

Testimonial:

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

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

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Blend11 – The FAQ’s

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

FAQ’S:

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

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

The acronym stands for: 

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

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

D……..Disaccharides (lactose)

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

A……..and

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

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

Q: What is a ‘best poo ever?’ 

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

CLICK TO WATCH ACTIVATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q:Can I eat this if I have diverticulitis? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q:Can my baby have this? 

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

Q:Can I have this during pregnancy? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jeanie Xx
jeanie@goodmix.com.au

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

CSIRO Gut Health Research – Blend11

BLEND11 is undergoing scientific testing!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

e: jeanie@goodmix.com.au

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

Microbes – They’re Not All Friendly!

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

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

Worse than man flu?:

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

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

Rats, fleas, microbes…disease:

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

Big Pox:

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

Born in the 80’s:

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

Get Your Vitamin A:

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

TBContinued:

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

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

Man vs microbe…

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

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

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

You’ve been diagnosed with IBS, what now?

A different kind of diagnosis:

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

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

A new definition for functional gut disorders:

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

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

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

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

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

IBS Sub-Types:

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

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

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

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

Warning Signs – Don’t Ignore These:

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

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

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

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

The Low FODMAP Diet:

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

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

Some More Natural Tools for IBS Management:

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

Some Kind of Normality!

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

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

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

Jeanie xx
jeanie@goodmix.com.au

 

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

Hippocrates, Gut Health, the Microbiome & Medication

Gut health is all of a sudden becoming front & centre in mainstream western medicine, as it rightly should be. Us naturopaths have been preaching it forever (we took a couple of things Hippocrates said pretty seriously – believing medicine should ‘do no harm’ & that ‘all disease begins in the gut.)’ Smart bloke old Hippocrates – no wonder he’s considered ‘the father of modern medicine’.  Here are some of my other favourite Hippocrates quotes (& how they can connect to the current microbiome / gut health picture). 

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”– the easiest way to alter the microbiome is by changing the diet. Changing a dysfunctional microbiome can restore health in many cases. 

“Walking is man’s best medicine. ” – exercise is crucial to maintain a healthy microbiome.

“It is far more important to know what person the disease has than what disease the person has.” – our individual gut microbial makeup can determine how we respond to many foods, medicines, health challenges & triggers. 

“A wise man should consider that health is the greatest of human blessings, and learn how by his own thought to derive benefit from his illnesses.” – never take good health for granted, always listen to your gut if it’s feeling out of whack & fix it ASAP! Recognise symptoms as signs that something has to change, find out what your illness can teach you.

“Extreme remedies are very appropriate for extreme diseases.”– strong pharmaceutical medications can be life-saving / necessary / powerful / awesome, but let’s save them for the ‘extreme’ cases & endeavour to fix the rest using food, lifestyle & gentler approaches. 

“If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health.” – totally! Our guts (and our economy) would be a whole lot healthier too. It shoud be a requirement (like paying tax) to nourish ourselves properly & exercise regularly. Then – there’s very little need for medical treatment – with it’s side effects & expense :) 

Walking

Since Hippocrates’ time (460-375 BC) ‘modern medicine’ has veered (just a teensy bit) off-track unfortunately, propelled by profit-hungry pharmaceutical giants into a system that completely overlooks or even disregards many of these fundamental healing principles taught by it’s medical ‘dad’ & mother nature. I have a feeling that the father of modern medicine would not be too happy with his wayward offspring right now. 

But there’s a turning point ahead for medicine – there has to be. It simply cannot continue on the same trajectory, given recent scientific ‘discoveries’ on how important our gut ecology is to our overall health (naturopaths & integrative practitioners everywhere are rolling their eyes & saying ‘well, duh’).  

Many widely used & trusted medications will no longer be considered ‘free from harmful side effects’ as we take into account their (often very significant) impact on our gut microbiome & gut lining. The relative risks of home first-aid kit staples like Panadol, Nurofen, Aspirin, (& many other meds handed out like lollies to young & old for decades by well-meaning GP’s & pharmacies) will be reconsidered. Antibiotics, ant-acids, anti-depressants, anti-inflammatories, antihistamines, contraceptive pills…they’re not just fixing our symptoms & passing through our guts unnoticed by our gut bugs. And when you mess with your gut ecosystem, there’s always a knock-on effect, even if it takes years to become apparent. 

Do a little research & you’ll see that the way we’re using medicine is about to really start changing. Big pharma won’t be missing out though – they’re not stupid. As I write, there are many millions of dollars being poured into the research & development of new products & technologies made suddenly relevant by gut microbiome discoveries. This is truly game-changing. It means that whatever we introduce into our bodies has to be beneficial or at least compatible with our gut ecology, in order to be considered free from harmful side effects – not the case for most medicines & even for many of our chemical-laden & highly processed modern foods.

So…next time you’re prescribed a medication you feel may be unnecessary, ask the pharmacist or GP “What is the likely impact of this medication on my gut microbiome?” Unless you have a really ‘onto it’ practitioner, you probably won’t get much of an answer (in most cases it will be unknown anyway). But – at least make it clear that you’re aware there’s an impact, that you’re conscious of looking after your gut balance…& that his ‘dad’ would be concerned too. 

Read more about medication & your microbiome here:

surprising-number-of-common-medications-impact-the-gut-microbiome

Here are a few gut-wrecking / impacting meds that I would be finding alternatives for if you’re trying to get your gut / yourself truly well:

Antibiotics: only resort to these in really serious circumstances, when your body doesn’t seem capable of fighting the infection itself. Be guided by a Dr / practitioner who understands the gut & it’s crucial role in wellbeing as well as the very real risks that infection can pose – it’s never worth risking your life or serious side-effects of an infection striving to keep your gut microbial balance healthy. If you have to take them, there are probably times that you will – take them as directed, but also get advice & invest in some gut rehabilitation to minimise long-term damage & maximise your chances of a full recovery.

Alternative: Keep your immune system strong – it is meant to be your infection-defender! Prioritise sleep, stay well-hydrated, exercise regularly with moderate intensity, figure out how to deal with stress & do it, eat the rainbow, focus your diet on gut-loving pre & probiotic foods, minimise chemical toxicity in your life, get a good dose of sunshine regularly, minimise sugar & processed foods, eat natural, organically grown food as much as you can.   

Read more here: 101101083144.htm  

Ant-acids: Think about it. If you’re getting acid reflux, something is ‘up’ with your digestion, & you need to address that as a priority – your body is literally screaming at you to change something. Don’t just cover the symptom with a medication that blocks your ability to digest proteins & disrupts your digestive process further!! I can almost guarantee you’ll end up with worse issues than the reflux as a result. Your body relies on stomach acid to help start the break down of protein you eat. If you’re taking acid blockers or antacids continually, you’re not going to break down & absorb protein properly & you also risk developing many other nutritional deficiencies, as well as bone fractures, gastro infections, & IBS-type symptoms.

Alternative: If you suffer from reflux, GERD etc – don’t just opt for the band-aid medication solution. My advice would be to see a naturopath or functional GP who specialises in gut health (they will normally list this as a specialty). They may order some tests, prescribe a change in diet & include things like apple cider vinegar or digestive bitters before meals. Read more here: skip-the-antacid

The Contraceptive Pill: You may not realise that your hormones & gut bugs are very connected. There are many different ‘pills’ in use today, with different hormonal effects, just be aware that some have been linked to increased risk of active inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s) & that they do cause alterations in your gut (& vaginal) microbiome, which can lead to changes in bowel habits as well. 

Read more here: PMC4928680

To find a more extensive list of meds you may want to research, this is a great article:

the-effects-of-non-antibiotic-drugs-on-the-microbiome

If you have a story to share about medication & your gut – I’d really love to hear it. I’m not anti-medication, just believe that we should save them to use as a last resort – cos they can often upset our all-important gut microbial balance.

Jeanie
jeanie@goodmix.com.au

The Microbiome & The Future of Food

Over the past 5 years, gut health & the human microbiome have exploded from obscurity into popular mainstream topics, with new books, podcasts, gurus, websites, blogs, food & beverage products appearing weekly now. Gut health is finally & deservedly front & centre in Australia, with so many suffering from debilitating ’functional gut disorders’ (gut symptoms with nothing detectably wrong with the digestive tract). These functional gut issues, & many, many other health problems almost certainly have gut microbial disturbances at their centre. 

‘IBS’ (irritable bowel syndrome) is the second most common reason for Australians to miss work, only after colds & the flu (which, when you consider that our immune system is largely governed by the health of our gut…could mean that our newfound interest in gut health makes the Aussie sick day strictly for hangovers?!)

Choosing to eat gluten free (for non-coeliacs & even for those with no strong symptoms of intolerance) has been a growing dietary trend / necessity (depending on who you talk to) for years now, with 40% of us Aussies regularly purchasing gluten free products & 10-15% consistently eating ‘gluten free’. At the recent Brisbane gluten free expo, we even saw gluten free beer & pies, Aussie coeliac blokes rejoice!! 

Whilst those with coeliac disease have no option but to strictly avoid gluten to stay well, there’s a lot of controversy re the more casual ‘gluten avoiders’. Some GF people (esp those with diagnosed IBS) have experimented with or changed to a Low FODMAP diet to find relief, & many do – 3/4 of IBS sufferers find it helpful in managing their symptoms. There is a crossover here, as many gluten containing foods are also high FODMAP (ie wheat products). 

The prediction is that like gluten awareness, (& all things relevant to gut health), FODMAP awareness will grow massively over the next few yrs, as gut-conscious people begin to realise they can make themselves feel more comfortable just by understanding their FODMAP reactivity & modifying intake when needed. More info on FODMAPS here at the Monash University Low FODMAP website. 

The Future of Food…

There are so many changes affecting the food industry right now, microbiome research is just one driver – but it’s definitely changing the way we eat & shop. Imagine – just fast-forward 10 yrs to 2028…when we’ve uncovered more of the gut iceberg!

This is what I’m Imagining…(some of this is already happening)!

1. We will all have a gut microbial analysis done anytime we’re unwell, babies will all have their stool bacteria analysed not long after birth & then at intervals as they grow, to see how their gut flora is developing & what foods will be best to support optimal health, growth & the development of a diverse & robust gut ecosystem. There will be easy steps to take to improve the gut-immune outcomes for babies who are born via C-section &/or are unable to breastfeed.

2. Antibiotics & other medications will not be prescribed routinely & never without a ‘gut-rehabilitation’ program or procedure to follow / accompany them. Probiotics in some way may become the new antibiotics…& FMT’s (focal microbe transplants) will be commonly used to treat all kinds of disease.

3. We’ll all be choosing food based on how it affects our individual gut bugs (we will all know our microbial profile & have a personalised diet template based on that), & we’ll know the optimal timing for us to eat & drink as well, & whether certain supplements will benefit us or not.

4. Food manufacturers will be researching & making food & drink that can act as ‘gut microbial medicines’ (food giants are already starting to decrease sugar, crappy fats & artificials & adding in beneficial things like good fats, probiotics, prebiotic fibre, collagen & protein wherever they can). The big companies who have been pumping out gut-destroying processed junk food are (finally & rapidly) losing customers & profit as awareness grows & trust shrinks…change is coming, about bloody time! (Too bad we had to hit rock-bottom with our health first!)

5. The development of new foods & medicines will require ‘microbiome testing’ – i.e. how does that substance affect our microbial ecosystem when ingested?

6. Food farmers will use microbes instead of chemicals to control pests & keep soil healthy.

7. Your health professional will need to know your gut microbial profile before prescribing anything (whether it be drug, diet or lifestyle change).

8. Mental health issues will be much easier to diagnose, treat / control.

9. Chemicals for use in cleaning / agriculture / personal care products / household products will be examined for their microbial impact.

10. We will all use probiotic hand sanitisers, nasal sprays, bench wipes, moisturisers, hand creams, feminine hygiene products, deodorants, toothpastes…friendly microbes will be considered friends.

11. Rates of autism, ADHD & extreme childhood behavioural issues will start to decline.

12. Asthma, eczema & allergies will become rare.

13. Suicide, drug use & crime rates will drop.

14. The majority of our food will be organic, with minimal artificial additives as we know how sensitive our guts are to chemicals.

15. We’ll have a much better understanding of how our food impacts our mood, our health, our appearance…& we’ll eat accordingly. Teenagers will start eating veggies & fermented foods…& shun McDonalds, lollies & Coke, because it’s no longer just mum & dad hassling them –  science actually proves that eating gut-supporting foods & avoiding nasties will make them happier, less pimply, pudgy / gangly / awkward.

16. Someone will develop a gluten free, low FODMAP bread that tastes great untoasted, as a sandwich & has no crappy ingredients (hopefully goodMix, next project?!)  But will our guts all be so robust & healthy by then that sales will be poor?

This is mostly imaginary (but definitely possible) stuff…mobile phones & Facetime were imaginary not so long ago too. We’ve only just started to seriously look into our guts & listen to them…just imagine what the next decade or 2 will bring!!!

Fighting Depression & Anxiety With Food – Eat Yourself Happy!

Food For Thought…

’We are what we eat & absorb’.

Our physical body & our mental-emotional state is a reflection of what’s going on with the ecosystem inside our gut – food has a huge impact on this as it travels through our core. The gut is our main point of contact with the outside world. Obviously, there are many things influencing our health & our mental / emotional state, but food & the way it affects our gut is massive, so don’t underestimate the impact of what you put in your mouth each day!  Your food & the state of your gut are major determinants of how happy, energetic, focused, calm & ‘well’ you feel. Aim for the blissful state of ‘gut homeostasis’ to feel great mentally each day! If you’re moody, depressed & / or anxious, but don’t want to head down the pharmaceutical route, try making the following dietary changes ASAP. I speak to so many people who’ve seen great results for themselves, friends or family fighting depression or anxiety with food & some simple lifestyle adjustments. 

Even kids with autism & ADHD can benefit hugely from nutritional & gut health support. Check out this interview with autism expert Rhonda Muller (ASD Healthy Life) who’s made this her life’s work after being forced to find answers to help her son.  

1.Get Off The Blood Sugar Rollercoaster:

Poor blood sugar control can aggravate anxiety & depression. Just ask the mum of any 3 year old after a birthday party! Sugar rush = manic behaviour & then the nasty ‘come-down’ & even an afternoon or next day ‘hangover’. We do it to ourselves as adults all the time, it’s just less extreme…& we’re so used to it we think it’s normal to feel that way!

A diet to minimise ‘sugar swings’ that destabilise you mentally should be focused on good fats, protein & fibre & be low in refined carbs & sugar.

Ask your Dr for a HbA1C blood test to see how you’re tracking – this test gives a picture of what’s been happening with your glucose control over the past few months. High blood sugar fuels inflammatory processes in our body, & depression & anxiety issues will be worse when your body is inflamed. Blood sugar spikes trigger insulin release (quickly gets the sugar into your cells), which leaves you with low blood sugar (triggers cortisol release – the fight or flight stress hormone that wrecks your metabolism & makes you more stressed, anxious, unable to sleep, insulin resistant, & fatter)! 

2.Master Your Microbes:

You aren’t the only one who craves sugar & carbs – you also have hungry, demanding gut microbes communicating with your brain, asking for the food they love & need to survive (SUGAR).

Your microbiome influences your moods (many studies around this) & certain probiotics have been directly linked to improvements in depression & anxiety. One ‘mouse-drowning’ study revealed that mice fed ‘lactobacillus rhamnosis JB1’ kept swimming for longer before giving up & had less stress hormones in their bloodstream than others. In another study, teens eating fermented foods suffered less from social anxiety (10 points for getting teenagers to eat kimchi!). It’s undeniable now that our gut microbes affect our mood, it’s just refining which ones help us to feel calm / stable / happy etc, which ones make us feel worse, then figuring out what they like to eat & what else encourages or discourages their continued residence & reproduction in our guts. So far we know that plant-based fibre is great for the ‘good guys’ & sugar & refined carbs will keep your ‘bad guys’ on top. Exercise is also essential for maintaining a health & happiness-inducing gut microbiome.

3.Nurture Your Brain With Neurotransmitter Nutrients:

The main ‘brain essentials’ are protein, good fats & sleep (ok sleep is not a nutrient, but it’s super-important & can definitely be supported with diet)! These 3 WERE considered the main brain requirements, but now we need to add fibre to that list, because of the way it supports our healthy gut microbes & the brain-nurturing substances that they make when breaking it down.

Protein:

Protein is a requirement for maintaining healthy muscles, skin, hair & nails (you’ll feel happier when you’re looking good & getting fewer infections!) as well as for neurotransmitter production. Make sure you get enough from your diet to support your needs.

Fat:

Many experts now recommend fat makes up a large part of your diet if you struggle with mental challenges. Omega-3 fats from oily fish & algae are known to be brain superfoods, & avocados, nuts & seeds are a great source of healthy fat (as well as fibre & polyphenols for your gut bugs & tryptophan to help boost your dopamine). MCT ’s from coconut oil help us burn fats more efficiently whilst following a ketogenic diet (supposedly great for boosting brain function).

Fibre:

Gut microbes feast on fibre, & when well-fed help to keep our immune system & our gut-lining working well – they actually manufacture anti-inflammatory substances that work throughout our bodies – including our brain. Recent research reveals that mental health issues like autism, depression & anxiety may be triggered or at least aggravated by inflammation that begins in the gut. Fibre is therefore becoming recognised as an important nutrient to support brain function, mood stability & good behaviour.

4.Remove The Nasties:

Drugs & alcohol mess with moods, obvious ones to cut out if you’re suffering mentally. But seemingly harmless foods can also mess you up, you just may not know it!  Many people are unaware that their morning cereal could set them up for a day of fatigue & depression, or that their lunch is responsible for their afternoon energy slump. Foods can make your gut & blood brain barriers leakier (increasing systemic inflammation) or may contain chemicals that affect your brain, or feed nasty gut bugs who contribute to leaky gut, inflammation & release toxic substances that end up in your bloodstream & brain.

Try removing the foods below from your diet for at least 2 months if you suffer from depression, anxiety, fatigue or brain fog, or if you’re trying to help a young child with behavioural issues. Reintroduce one group at a time to see what you notice:

Gluten, dairy, refined carbohydrate products, sugar & sweeteners. Many people who think they don’t react will be very surprised!  There are other food groups with ‘brain reactivity’ potential, but these are the most common. See below for some great foods to add to the shopping list to keep you smiling!

Happy Foods Shopping List:

  • vegetables (choose variety – leafy greens are awesome)
  • fruit (especially high polyphenol varieties – berries, dark grapes & pomegranate)
  • leeks, onions, garlic, asparagus, jerusalem artichokes (prebiotic fibres)
  • potato (eat cooked & then cooled to make resistant starch) can be reheated
  • rice (eat it cooked & then cooled to make resistant starch) can be reheated
  • fermented foods (kimchi, sauerkraut, coconut yoghurt or dairy if tolerated, kefir)
  • salmon (omega 3, protein)
  • sardines (omega 3, protein, minerals)
  • oysters, mussels (mucopolysaccharides to nourish & heal the gut lining)
  • oats (mucopolysaccharides, fibre, B vitamins for nervous system health & stable energy)
  • legumes (fibre, protein, polyphenols)
  • avocado (fat & fibre)
  • coconut (fibre & good fats)
  • nuts & seeds (tryptophan, plant protein, good fats, fibre, polyphenols)
  • turkey (tryptophan)free range, grass fed meats with bones (protein, fats, collagen, gelatin)
  • eggs (protein, fats)
  • coffee (polyphenols) be aware of caffeine, choose a natural decaf if you’re sensitive. For some people coffee is definitely not great for their mental health & best avoided, for others it may be fine…listen to your body on this one!
  • tea – white, green, black, peppermint, chamomile, elderberry (theanine, polyphenols, digestive support)
  • cacao powder or dark chocolate – get low sugar, find a quality dark variety, or even better make your own raw cacao treats with BallBags (polyphenols, resistant starch, fibre, protein). Be aware that some may be sensitive to cacao / chocolate. 
  • herbs & spices including cloves, turmeric, paprika, cinnamon, star anise, oregano, rosemary. (these contain plant chemicals that can help your gut & / or brain, blood sugar, hormones – a great way to make flavoursome dishes without relying on commercial sweeteners etc).
  • molasses (minerals, a nutrient dense sweetener)
  • gluten, dairy & sugar free alternatives (choose all natural, minimally refined….these can be hard to find!)

Love to hear your thoughts & tips on this topic so please leave a comment below or send me an email.

Jeanie Xx
jeanie@goodmix.com.au

Building Poos – you Don’t Just do Them

Contrary to what we all say, you don’t just ‘do’ a poo. It’s a lot more involved. You actually have to build it, prepare it for shipping & then move it (well the moving kinda happens at the same time as the building & prepping for shipping…like a mobile building team). It’s just like building an impressive sculpture or artwork, while simultaneously shipping it to its destination (obviously Uranus).  

So…if you often find yourself struggling to ‘do’ a poo, you should think of it more like ‘something is going wrong with the building materials or the workers, or there’s an issue with the shipping’. Ask yourself the following Q’s: 

Building Materials for Building Poos:

Am I consuming enough fibre, with plenty of variety? If you’re slack in this department, pooing for you will be like trying to create a giant outdoor sculpture using a handful of play-doh & a team of 2 people – you’ll never succeed because you simply don’t have enough material to work with or enough workers. Good dietary poo-building materials include fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, & legumes. Unrefined plant food basically, & not just a small amount. To succeed in ‘poo production’ your diet needs to be mostly made up of unrefined plants (have a think about what your dinner plate looks like – chances are it needs more plants). Eating a large range of plant products is also crucial. More types of fibre = more types of gut bug (that’s a good thing, it means you’ll have a nice diverse team of workers with many skills!) Plant food provides food to support plenty of microbes (your team of builders) who will gobble it up, use it as an energy source to grow & carry out all their amazing helpful duties & reproduce (with a healthy poo as the byproduct). A poo is largely made up of these microbes (the accumulated bodies of exhausted / dead workers as well as loads of still-alive ones). There is also of course water, some left-over undigested plant matter & some bits n pieces of you from your gut lining & its secretions. Behold! A multi-media, living sculpture! You’ve just got to keep providing the inspiring building materials to keep your skilled workers happy & busy!

Workers Needed for Building Poos:

Do I have enough team members? Your gut-microbes are your poo-builders & sculptors (among other things, that’s just one of their more obvious roles). They like to keep busy, but they also appreciate a rest – so give them plenty of plant foods to eat but also provide some downtime (this will allow your gut to clean up after them as they build & sculpt & do their thing). Some people have a poo problem because there is a problem with the workers. Their population may have been wiped out by repeated bombing (with chemicals, medications, antibiotics etc), or there may be a skill shortage. If you’re missing important microbial strains you could be trying to build a house without a plumber or painter or electrician. You can still do it, but the building process won’t be so smooth & the end product will be imperfect. So, if your poos are imperfect / you feel like the building process isn’t going smoothly – get some new workers! Ask at your local health food store for a good multi-strain probiotic (you only want workers with good references)! And grab some kefir, kimchi, sauerkrout & yoghurt while you’re in there. 

Delivery Process: 

How are the roads? Think of your gut as the ‘road’ & your nervous system as the computer system controlling what goes where, at what speed & at what time. So the road needs to be kept in good condition, it needs constant maintenance & repair (which your workers will mostly do while they’re building, as long as you’re supplying the plant foods they need). The digestive ‘road’ has it’s own favourite building materials needed for big repairs as well.  Along with what the workers generate from the breakdown of fibre (short chain fatty acids), your gut also loves the amino acids glutamine, glycine & proline (make bone broth a regular addition to your diet if your gut-lining needs repair work). 

The control system:

Are you in charge? How’s the control tower – aka your nervous system? This also plays a huge role in determining how things move along. Too stressed & you can cause major blockages or even the opposite, uncontrollable flow of unfinished work (loose stool). Worse still is a constant alternation between the two! Sleep well, exercise well & have a plan to help you when stress creeps in, it will always be potentially there ready to get you, you just need to be prepared & have your coping mechanisms at the ready (& not just wine – I’m talking yoga, meditation, deep breathing, massage, getting out into nature, connecting with friends, having a good laugh…& maybe a wine every now & then – whatever floats your boat). These things help improve your gut function via activating the ‘rest & digest’ side of your nervous system (most of us spend far too much time in the ‘fight or flight’ response – no wonder digestive issues are so common)!

So…you don’t just ‘do’ a poo. It’s not that simple! You need to constantly supply the correct building materials, attract & keep enough good workers to build it & ensure you have a working delivery system to ensure it gets to its destination on time, every time. If you need some help with the materials try Blend11 or NeoBlend, & if you’d like some more workers to help out try a probiotic. PondWater can help with the road repairs & maintenance as well as provide some extra special building materials. 

If you need more support – request to join our gut health community Eat Play Poo or email me anytime. You too could become a great builder / sculptor!

Jeanie X
jeanie@goodmix.com.au