5 Easy Ways To Get More Good Bugs Into & Onto Your Body!

1. Stop killing them all the time!

We are constantly showering / washing all our external microbes off & using all kinds of microbe-killers & things that mess with our internal & external ecosystems. Antibacterial hand wash, antibiotics, mouthwash, deodorant, facial cleansers, shampoo, feminine hygiene products, make-up etc – all great & useful products (I’m not saying never shower or use deodorant) but we need to be aware that these things can seriously mess with our natural microbes. Use ‘hygiene’ products minimally – not just out of habit (think of being ‘clean’ as being covered in a healthy microbial population more so than being completely sanitised). You are much less likely to get an infection when you have loads of harmless microbes all over you to protect you from baddies (a stripped, clean slate will just give any baddies that come along free reign to multiply). Opt for gentle, chemical free, plant-based alternatives to harsh chemical products that claim to destroy 99.5% of bacteria for a certain period (many toothpastes, deodorants & hand washes claim such things).

2. Expose yourself, inside & outside the house.

Open the windows every day, let the air into your home, or better still – get out into nature! Get dirty, sandy, muddy, salty, leafy, furry – get some new natural bugs into your ecosystem. Nature is full of great microbes that we’ve evolved with, we know how to handle them & they can help us in many cases. Google ‘hookworm & coeliac disease’ – trials are showing very positive results – everyone wants to keep their parasites as they feel healthier & any accidental gluten ingestion is less problematic. Also read about peanut allergy & probiotics, an area of study promising to help kids who live in fear of accidentally coming into contact with nuts. Probiotics & hay fever, fermented foods & anxiety…even babies growing up with pets (or grubby older siblings) are healthier than those raised in more ‘clean’ homes. The key is that when you have a baby, you want something that carries dirt & microbes into your house daily to keep your bubs immune system occupied. Put down the sanitiser, let the dog in, & kick the toddlers off the i-pad to go & play mud-pies!!)

3. Eat them. Organic fruit & veggies fresh from garden to mouth = more ‘buggy’ (in a good way)!

These will deliver not just better nutrition & less toxicity, but also a heap of healthy microbes as a bonus…not so when you’re eating produce grown with artificial fertilisers & sprayed with chemicals, then transported & left sitting in cold storage (sometimes for months) before it gets to your plate. If you’ve never been a green thumb, try growing just a tiny garden with salad greens & herbs – even start with a pot / planter box. If you just don’t wanna grow anything yourself, get to your local farmer’s markets or organic produce store regularly.

4. The big guns. Regularly consume foods that contain live bacteria.

Quality yoghurts, aged cheeses, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha,…this stuff is alive with bugs that produce amazing & helpful substances for our gut & body, while helping us to breakdown the things that they’re fermenting (so we can digest more easily & extract more nutrition). If you’re sensitive to fermented foods / probiotics then start very slowly, you may notice some ‘turbulence’ (sometimes an increase in gas) when you introduce more of these into your system, like when you suddenly increase fibre.

5. Change the environment = change the bacterial balance.

You can very quickly alter your gut bacterial population by changing what you eat each day. We know that many helpful gut bugs thrive on fibre – veggies, fruit, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole ancient grains…these all provide fodder for your good guys. Feed the goodies & they’ll begin to multiply & crowd out the baddies. Your baddies (the gut bugs that make you less healthy in general) love to eat sugars & refined carbohydrates – that’s one reason you may crave these foods – the more of these carb-munchers you have, the more sugar you’ll want. It’s your gut bugs demanding a regular intake of what they need to survive. Making initial changes to your diet can be really hard, but once you’re well into the change it will feel hard to go back – your gut bugs want you to keep feeding them their favourites. Your dominant belly bugs are a product of what you’ve been consistently eating, so if you’re a sugar feind, they’ll strongly resist a change to a high veggie / low sugar diet, but in the end (once you’ve balanced them out) they will actually help you stay healthy).

Love to get your feedback in the comments below – how hard has it been for you to change your gut bacterial balance, & what helped most?

Jeanie x

Gut Health for Athletes

We know our diet impacts our body composition & our energy levels.

It’s well recognised that athletes do better when they eat better. We all do – any human being that has to ‘do stuff’ feels & functions better when they’re well fed & digesting optimally – athletes just do more demanding ‘stuff’ with their bodies, so you notice any lack of energy or drop in performance much more easily! Especially with elite athletes in the public eye, though those guys will normally have some sort of nutrition expert to help them with their diet.

So – food definitely influences your performance from a nutrition perspective (i.e, supporting muscle recovery with regular / enough good quality protein, getting all the vitamins, minerals & trace elements you need to make your cells & systems work optimally etc), but what you eat will also dramatically influence your gut…

What about my gut?  Who cares?

I don’t use my gut to run / swim / play rugby / lift weights / cycle / climb / hit a ball…what’s the big deal, I’ll just keep taking my pre-workout powder for energy & protein powder for my muscles (gut, phhht – stupid gut-obsessed naturopaths!!).

It can be hard work getting athletes to prioritise their gut!!!…unless they know the following:

 

You Are Not What You EAT…You Are What You ABSORB!

Your gut is directly responsible for the nutrients you absorb from your food. You can be eating the best diet in the world, full of vitamins, minerals, protein, good fats, antioxidant etc, but if your gut is not in great shape, absorption of those nutrients may not be happening optimally – you may as well be dining on Maccas! (Well not really – but you’ll be wasting money & time on quality food prep if it’s not getting digested fully & ending up in your cells)!

Optimal absorption of nutrients happens when you have plenty of good microbes (in the right balance) in your gut to help with the breakdown of food that you’re eating. Your gut is not just an empty hollow tube – it should be like an ‘internal ecosystem’ – bustling with activity & life, in a dynamic state of balance, like a rainforest or even an internal composting system.

The problem is, most people have more of a desert (or a garden full of nasty weeds) than a rainforest these days, because:

  1. The helpful bacteria we need are getting wiped out every single time we take a course of antibiotics (this has been happening for generations now). One of the big reasons that kids today seem much less ‘robust’ & more reactive / intolerant to foods than their grandparents is that their guts are ‘broken’ from the start, as the microbial population passed down from mum was substandard to begin with! They cannot digest properly, their immune system won’t work properly (your gut health pretty much IS your immune system).
  2. We tend to eat waaay too much refined carbohydrate based food (sugar in all its disguises & refined grain products) which feed the ‘baddies’ & cause them to multiply too quickly, crowding out the ‘goodies’. This is one huge reason that we get ‘diet-related’ diseases like diabetes & obesity & many of the inflammatory illnesses (anything ending in ‘itis’) – it’s not only the effect the sugars have on our blood glucose, but the fact that they dramatically influence our gut balance & create a massive amount of systemic inflammation. I speak to people every week about gut health, weight loss & disease – it’s so common for people to improve their gut & lose kilo’s of ‘inflammatory’ weight they’d been carrying, & all of a sudden fix a ‘chronic inflammatory illness’ they were not expecting to ever recover from.
  3. Our food & our environment are full of chemicals – i.e. preservatives, sweeteners, flavours, additives – these are unnatural & have no place in a natural ecosystem like your gut – but they’re getting in there & messing with things if your diet isn’t clean. Then think of all the chemicals used in the soil for growing our food, the chemicals in everyday medications (even things like the pill that many women don’t even think twice about swallowing can impact your gut bugs significantly) & the chemicals in our personal care products (toothpaste, soaps, sunscreens, deodorants, make-up, hair products…it can all end up inside your body, your skin is absorbent – & those teeny tiny creatures are sensitive & easily disrupted).

So…just be mindful that you are a walking natural ecosystem. When your internal ecosystem is in balance, you’re gonna feel so much more energetic, & also much better mentally (athletes know that victory often happens first in the mind!)

On The Way Through:

When nutritious, non-inflammatory foods are travelling through your digestive system (your balanced rainforest ecosystem) they need to go ‘not too fast, not too slow’ – so that you have plenty of time to break everything down properly & for the nutrients to get from your gut into your bloodstream, that way you’ll really be ‘getting the most out of your food’. Too much fibre means things will move through you too quickly & you don’t get time to absorb some of the nutrients. Too little fibre & you’re going to have ‘excess baggage’ sitting around in your bowel, festering (& not fermenting properly as there’s not enough food for your good microbes). A slow-moving colon will also be releasing a steady stream of toxins into your bloodstream that can cause all kinds of trouble & make you feel literally ‘like shit’. Ever had anyone tell you ‘You look like shit!?’ People use these sayings all the time, & I wonder – did they originate when someone noticed that people tend to look & feel terrible when they’re constipated?

Getting your protein, carbs & fat is crucial – but so is optimising your fibre intake (if you want your gut to actually absorb all the goodness you’re pouring down there!) Your gut bugs actually make some amazing substances out of the fibre that we humans cannot digest (look up short chain fatty acids, they are our own anti-inflammatories & a great byproduct of fibre fermentation). Your gut bugs even manufacture some vitamins – including some B vitamins that are crucial for energy production.

Your Gut = Your Immune System.

Most of your body’s defence system resides in your gut. That’s right – you’ll get sicker more often (& stay sick longer) when your gut is out of whack, & when you take care of your gut you should notice a huge improvement in your immune system. We need our immune system to be ready, waiting to react immediately to anything that threatens us – but we don’t want it to become ‘trigger-happy’ & start reacting & attacking things inappropriately (that’s what can happen with things like asthma, eczema, hayfever, & all the autoimmune illnesses). And guess what – all the aforementioned illnesses can be improved / eliminated by balancing the gut. It’s all about your gut bugs & your gut lining. You wanna look after both – they look after you! They are your best buddies when travelling for competitions, as a strong gut ecosystem with a healthy gut lining is much more difficult for unfamiliar ‘bad bugs’ to infiltrate & take hold.

As an athlete, your gut-immune system relationship needs extra special care & attention.

Athletes have different gut microbial populations to the more sedentary general public (in a good way). An athlete’s gut bugs are more diverse than couch potatoes (more like rainforests), but extreme or endurance exercise (as in competitions & long or intense training sessions) can really hurt your gut – & it literally does hurt. Many athletes (esp endurance athletes) suffer from abdominal discomfort, nausea, cramping & diarrhoea during hard training or events. This happens because blood flow is directed away from the gut to the places that need it more (like your heart, lungs, muscles & skin), & the gut lining actually can become inflamed, damaged & ‘leaky’ during these times, allowing stuff into your bloodstream that’s not supposed to get in (which can cause systemic inflammation, not good). When you’re inflamed / injured, as an athlete you just wanna get back into training ASAP, so you might be tempted to take some nurofen for an injury – don’t! NSAID’s  will damage your gut lining further, they’ll make it even leakier – allowing more inflammatory substances into your bloodstream (nice way to ensure nurofen sales stay strong I guess)!!

The ‘Gut-Muscle Axis’.

Yes – apparently there is such a thing! You’ve probably heard all about the ‘gut-brain’ axis, the ‘gut-skin’ axis & the gut immune connection – but, I have a feeling we’re going to hear a whole lot more about the ‘gut-muscle axis’ in the near future. Your gut influences your metabolism, the energy that you can extract from your food & your body composition (more muscles or more fat). 2 people can eat the exact same meal, yet their blood glucose response & the total calories they extract from that meal can be very different, depending on what is going on in their gut. That explains those skinny bitches who can eat anything!! and for the guys trying to get huge eating loads of calories – maybe you need to focus on your gut! And it’s not just your gut that influences your metabolism, your exercise patterns actually influence your gut microbes too – it can be a bit of a cycle (sedentary lifestyle cultivates couch potato gut bugs, leads to insulin resistance & accumulation of fat, leads to less inclination to exercise etc etc). This area of research is still quite young, but it will be huge. Imagine the magic bullet probiotic-based weightloss pills that are currently under development!!

Gut tips for athletes:

  • Work out what fibrous foods work best for your gut, i.e. Low FODMAP, gluten free etc).
  • Modify your intake of fibre to suit your body around competitions. Some avoid eating too much fibre the day of competition & 1-2 days leading up to the event (but make sure to get plenty during the normal days. This will be different for everyone, find your best strategy.
  • Figure out your food sensitivities (e.g., dairy, gluten – these are the big 2 culprits, & I recommend that everyone who’s unsure tries a GF & DF period to see how they respond).
  • Avoid sugar alcohols (sweeteners found in sugar-free drinks / gels / energy products – names like sorbitol, mannitol & xylitol). These are known to mess with your gut bugs & can cause diarrhoea, cramps, bloating etc.
  • Avoid NSAIDs / nurofen / any Ibuprofen products as these make your gut leaky.
  • A Low FODMAP diet is generally well tolerated if you suffer from IBS, try going Low FODMAP during training & if it feels good for you, in the lead up to an event.
  • Drink plenty! Dehydration = bad news for your gut (& the rest of you!)
  • Be mindful of your gut-immune system connection & your gut lining – especially look after it before / during / after long or intense training sessions & competitions.

If you have any questions or experiences you’d like to share please post a comment below or send me an email anytime – I reply to every email :-)

Jeanie
jeanie@goodmix.com.au 

Get Up & Go Breakfast Ideas!

What’s for breakfast? Make it yummy, make it healthy & make it the night before (more time for morning exercise = start the day amazingly)! Get up early, move your body, & then feed it well. Trust me – you’ll feel a million bucks if you can make this a habit!  Post Australia Day = no more partying or holiday laziness, it’s time to get into some healthy routines for an awesome 2018!

Get organised!

Avoid the crazy morning rush (& excuses for not exercising & eating well) with pre-made, portable breakfast jars. You can make a few on a Sunday night & then – no breakfast prep Mon Tues or Wed, yay! Leaves plenty of time for your morning exercise (this is not an excuse to sleep in)!  Plan a morning walk / run / surf / gym or yoga session or whatever you enjoy & then help make it happen by prepping breakfast for the household the night before, getting an early night & setting that alarm to make some ‘movement time’!

Goodness in a Jar!

An activated Blend11 parfait is so filling you won’t be reaching for that muffin / bar / snack mid-morning. These breakfast jars are full of enzymes, good fats, plant protein, diverse fibre & all the other good bits like polyphenols, phytosterols, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals & trace elements. The gut health benefits of having a regular diverse fibre intake can be incredible – just read some of these Facebook reviews

Eat Later?

These are perfect if you have to get up really early for work, or if you’re trying the ‘intermittent fasting’ thing (where you break the nightly fast a little later in the day to give your gut & metabolism a longer rest from constant eating). You can use any recycled jar & just keep them in the fridge, ready to grab quickly & throw into an esky / cold bag as you head out the door.

Fresh market fruit combos to try with your Blend11:

Peach & mango – team with natural unsweetened coconut yoghurt (or use half vanilla & half greek dairy yoghurt if the kids are really picky / still addicted to sugar / don’t like coconut). Just mix the yoghurts without them seeing you, & they’ll never know you’ve just halved their morning sugar intake!
Passionfruit & banana (again, awesome with natural unsweetened coconut or greek yoghurt). Mix your passionfruit & banana together so the banana doesn’t go brown.
Berries, fresh or frozen: strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, mulberries – all yum, esp with Pure n Free chocolate coconut yoghurt! (Amazing breakfast + dessert overlap)! Also delish with unsweetened yoghurt.
Red plum, cherry & red grape (again – amazing with choc coconut yoghurt!)
Apple or pear with cinnamon (awesome with a dollop of coconut or greek yoghurt).

**If your gut is a bit funny with any of the above fruits, it might be the FODMAP’s they contain. FODMAP’s are pesky carbohydrates that can turn a normal flat comfortable tummy into a bloated painful spasmodic irregular wreck in minutes – in quite a lot of IBS people! Good to know your fruity FODMAP’s if you suffer from IBS – for a small fee you can download the Monash University App from the app store, there is a fruit list in there (as well as all the other foods too)!  Blend11 is low FODMAP – just needs the right ingredients to go with it if you’re sensitive.

If you have some combos to share I’d love to feature them (recipes need to use goodMix products to get published in the recipe section ;-)
jeanie@goodmix.com.au

How Many Poos Should I Be Doing Each Day?

So we at goodMix are all for talking crap – it’s what we do best! And some of our customers have great questions that warrant a public answer (you know – the question that everyone is wondering about but is too scared to actually askthe question that everyone is wondering about but is too scared to actually ask). Here’s my best answer (sorry my answers always seem to be long) to one of these poo FAQ’s, received again via email this week!

Q: “I’m in good health, just wondering how many poos should I be doing in a day?”

A: Depends on lots of factors – including…

How many times you’ve eaten that day (or more relevantly the previous day or 3, as it takes a while for food to get all the way from entry to exit).

i.e. if you’ve been bedridden with the flu & not really eating for days, you may easily go a week with no poo action whilst recovering. Same situation when fasting. This is totally normal as your digestive system will slow almost to a standstill, & take a while to get back to normal once you’re eating regularly again.

Volume & quality of food you ate, & how much fibre that food contained.

A person eating KFC & Macca’s burgers 3x daily washed down with energy drinks will be unlikely to produce any healthy poos, as there’s nothing much in these ‘foods’ to support your gut bugs, whereas a person consuming a variety of fresh, natural, whole plant foods that agree with them will have sufficient fibre intake to support a thriving & diverse ecosystem of gut microbes who literally help your gut to produce good healthy poos. A huge percentage of your poo is actually gut bugs (yup, it’s alive – a bit freaky when you think about it!!) The rest is mostly made up of fibre & water. Fibre & fluid provide the building blocks of healthy poos, & your gut bugs are like the builders (sorry any builders reading for the comparison). Anyway – when things are ‘not happening’, it can be due to not enough or poor quality building materials coming in, or maybe there is a problem with the builders (they’ve been wiped out with a bout of gastro or a course of antibiotics, there may be a party going on in there with too many of the wrong bugs hindering the building process, or the building site (your gut) needs some maintenance to make it all work properly again.

Past health history, especially related to your brain & nervous system, hormones, gut, liver, previous medications esp antibiotics.

Everything in your body is connected, & just as your gut health influences other body systems, your other body systems influence the workings of your gut. Ie – if you’ve had a brain or spinal injury (or an illness that has affected the nerve supply to your bowel), it’s expected that nothing will work as it should – regular poo production & movement may need a lot of assistance. Even if you’re just feeling stressed out, your nervous system spends too much time in ‘fight or flight’ mode instead of in ‘rest & digest’ mode – so you will have sub-optimal digestion & subsequent poo production as all of your energy has been diverted away from your digestive system. Your hormones can also affect your gut function & your poos – ladies know this, many experience constipation a day or 2 before periods & then the floodgates open with the flow, & so many 50 plus ladies have told me that ‘everything changed’ when they became menopausal. Your liver & gallbladder function can directly influence your bowel function as well, as bile secreted by the liver is a natural laxative (we secrete more bile when we eat, especially when we eat fatty foods). Sometimes people can experience constipation whilst eating a low fat diet, & strict low fat diets can actually be a cause of gallstones forming (not enough bile movement).

How much water you’ve been drinking / the fluid content of your foods.

We need to be hydrated for digestion to work, & everything comes to a bit of a grinding halt when we don’t drink enough. Drinking too much fluid with meals is not a good idea though, try to drink most of your fluids in between your food ideally.

If you’ve been very sedentary or very active.

When we move, it stimulates our digestive system to move too (our body knows that when we’re active, we’re using up our food energy, so it hurries everything along & makes room for more incoming nourishment). When we’re sedentary, everything (including digestive processes & our metabolism) slows right down.

What medication you’ve used lately / chemicals in your food & environment.

Some medications cause digestive symptoms directly, & some cause them indirectly. If you are at all concerned, ask your Dr or pharmacist if it’s possible that your meds may be making you constipated, giving you diarrhoea or making you feel bloated / uncomfortable. And try to eat organically as much as possible, your gut bugs tend not to like chemicals (they may be tested safe for humans but their impact on our gut bugs hasn’t been taken into account). As a general rule, more chemicals going in to your tummy = less good gut bugs = less good poos.

Stress levels.

You’ll notice a big difference in how many poos you do daily / weekly when stressed vs relaxed, but it can go either way or even alternate. People who normally go regularly & without drama can suddenly become uncomfortably constipated or ‘get the runs’ when highly stressed. Most people with IBS know only too well that when they’re stressed out, their gut symptoms are always much worse. Keep calm & poo well (that could be a fridge magnet).

Being Away From Home.

There is nothing quite like the comfort of your own home loo. People who are forced to use work bathrooms / public bathrooms etc, or cannot go easily on the job throughout the day are at high risk for developing poo problems. It can even start as young as pre-school. I often speak to mums who’s little kids decide ‘I only do poos at home, not at kindy’. Arrgh!! This is something you need to sort out quickly, as it can rapidly escalate into a situation where the child becomes badly backed up, & pooing hurts – so they hold it in cos it hurts, & so on. I have heard from one market mum that this happened in her kindy aged child, to the point where she needed to be hospitalised with a ‘mass the size of a coconut’ blocking things up & she was ‘vomiting faeces’. Yup, true story. Poor little thing went through such an ordeal (narrowly avoided surgery) but now poos happily ever after with a little help from her Blend11. Kids (& adults) need to get comfortable pooing away from home – women especially have issues on holidays (take your Blend11 with you every trip, many now do) & don’t be shy, if ya gotta go – GO!

Your Constitution & Baseline Metabolism.

How your metabolism processes things – some people are just ‘fast’ & some ‘slow’ at digesting / metabolising & pushing everything through their system. It may be a case of ‘always have been always will be’ some people seem to be born fast or slow – this can just be your constitutional tendency, but it can also be related to thyroid function (an underactive thyroid will make you slower, overactive will make you move things faster – neither is good, you wanna be somewhere in the middle ‘just right’). Check thyroid if you’re a too fast or too slow type for no obvious reason.

So…let’s just say you’re spending plenty of time at home, you’re not overly stressed, you don’t take meds, you’re eating plenty of fibre, you exercise, you’re thyroid is sweet & you’re well hydrated. How many poos should you be producing daily?  

I speak to a lot of people about their poos each week & this is my conclusion (just my opinion – not saying it’s correct, just my thoughts based on what I’ve learned & heard so far).

There are variations of what can be considered ‘healthy’ & normal with regards to ‘poos per day’, just as there are with many other bodily functions. How fast should my hair or nails grow? How fast should my heart beat? How many hours should I sleep each night? We’re all a bit different, & there are many healthy people, who don’t all work in exactly the same way. I think there is a ‘spectrum’ of healthy.

But in general – a relatively healthy human with a plant-rich diet that works well for them & an optimally functioning gut should be producing & eliminating between 1 & 3 well formed, easy to pass stools daily (with some days that aren’t normal due to changes in routine / food / illness / stress etc). I know many of you reading this are thinking ‘I would kill for daily, regular, well-formed easy to pass poos!! Those who already have them, you should feel truly blessed, I actually think you are in the minority these days! I chat to Blend11 addicts who used to only ‘go’ every 2 weeks & are now going twice daily (rejoice) or those who were bloated, in pain & very irregular with loose stools that now feel much more comfortable & at ease. To go from unpredictable to regular can literally be life-changing!

You don’t have to be perfect every day / every week, but in general – 1 to 3 daily would seem normal & healthy to me, & no stress if you miss the occasional day due to circumstances / stress – just don’t make it a habit. The main indicators for healthy toilet habits are – does your tummy feel comfortable or do you often feel discomfort / pain? Do you need to strain or is going to the loo painful or very urgent / too fast? These are more important to me than ‘the numbers’. Quality over quantity. Some people brag about how many poos they do daily, but remember you can go overboard too – if everything is being pushed through your digestive system too quickly, that leaves less time for absorption of valuable nutrients along the way. Too many poos (esp if they are on the loose side) can indicate food intolerances as well. You want the transit time to be not too fast, not too slow, & poos to be not too hard or too soft. Goldilocks poos!

In general – to speed & soften things up, use more fibre, water & exercise – to slow things down & firm them up, remove possible irritants (gluten, dairy, alcohol, FODMAP’s, caffeine etc), use some gentle fibre (low FODMAP ideally) & be calm / take time to relax. And in both circumstances – get a check up if concerned! Work your way backwards from ‘the best poos ever’ & you’ll find a happy & healthy gut – one of the foundations for overall  good health – if your poos aren’t good, neither will your insides be!

Love to hear some more numbers! What’s your average daily range? Do you feel awesome but fall outside what is considered normal / healthy? What changes have you made to your poo frequency & how? What is it that completely throws things out for you? Write a comment below or send me an email :-)

Jeanie
jeanie@goodmix.com.au 

 

 

Seven of the Worst Things You Can Do For Your Gut Health!

Let’s face it – we’ve seriously messed our collective gut health up over the last 50 years – excessive use of antibiotics & other medications, chemicals in our food, overconsumption of refined & junky ‘food’, lack of exposure to environmental microbes, high stress levels, huge rates of caesarean births & not enough breastfeeding…no wonder we’re all such a mess!! So whilst the damage is already done, there are a few things we can do to avoid making things worse – & maybe even improve the situation!

If you’re trying to get your dysfunctional & unhappy gut back to some kind of balance – here are 5 things NOT to do (& what to do instead).

Eat Lots Of Sugar & Pseudo Sugar:

Consume lollies, desserts, soft drinks, juices & sweet treats regularly. These are the favourite foods of some of the ‘baddies’ that live in our guts. These microbes love sugars & need them to survive. When you eat too much, they grow like crazy & actually compete with & kill off our helpful microbes that keep us feeling happy & healthy. They also communicate with our brain & demand that we seek out more of this type of food (they need it to survive remember) – one reason why sugar cravings can be so darn hard to ignore!! And – just a heads up, you can’t replace sugar with artificial sweeteners & expect to have a happy tummy (or lose any weight), these are some of the worst things you can put in your gut, responsible for loads of digestive discomfort, bloating & gas. They’re also mega addictive & will still screw with your blood sugar & make you fat – there’s no place for them in a healthy diet, sorry all you Pepsi Max & Diet Coke addicts!

The fix

The good news is that you can take back some control once you’re aware what’s going on. You’ll need mental strength & determination to give up your sweets cold turkey, but it is the best way I believe, as it takes the least time to really feel free (amazing feeling, so worth it). At the same time, make an effort to increase your fibre (get it from veggies, legumes if tolerated, brown rice etc – not so much fruit while you’re quitting as these are still quite sugary, just use lower sugar fruits like blueberries & raspberries). You can reintroduce small quantities of fruits & even quality dark chocolate (low sugar) once you’ve got things under control & are more aware of how sugars effect your gut, your mood & your cravings. Avoid all sweeteners, refined, natural & artificial – you’re retraining your tastebuds, your gut & your blood sugar metabolism. Make sure you include loads of healthy fats & regular protein as these will help you feel full & satisfied (you’ll still be craving sugar, expect it to be really tough – but fat, fibre & protein are your friends)! PondWater (or any quality product with a good dose of aloe vera) can be a useful helper here to improve your insulin sensitivity & also to help soothe & nourish your inflamed gut. Google ‘aloe vera / diabetes’ & you’ll find some pretty awesome results from aloe given to folks with varying degrees of insulin resistance.

Be A Carbaholic Gluten Glutton:

Eat lots of bread, pasta, cakes, cereals, pastries, crumbed foods etc. These types of carbs are really just sugar arranged differently (they feed your bad bugs & get converted into blood glucose extremely quickly in your system, so will contribute to insulin resistance & abdominal fat storage, your sweet cravings & your gut symptoms). Also – these foods all contain gluten if made from wheat, rye or barley – & gluten is one of the most problematic foods for our gut-lining (we have tiny holes that let nutrients into our bloodstream from our gut, but when we eat gluten constantly it makes these holes bigger (leaky gut) so they start to let all kinds of bigger bits into our bloodstream, things that aren’t supposed to end up in there & these can cause our immune system to become excessively reactive. You may not think gluten effects you – but if you suffer from any of the following & would prefer not to – it’s definitely worth looking into: bloating, fluid retention, abdominal pain, reflux, nausea, diarrhoea, constipation, weight gain / loss, fatigue, anaemia, rashes, joint pain, brain fog, anxiety, depression, behavioural disturbances, headaches, autoimmune problems…you can even have coeliac disease & be completely asymptomatic as well – I believe it should be something everyone is routinely checked for.

The fix

Just try 6 weeks with no gluten in your diet. You will generally lose a few kgs of fat & fluid as a bonus, & you’ll also be forced to find healthier (less refined carb) solutions to meals & snacks. Ie instead of a sandwich or wrap for lunch you’ll  just have the salad & protein (meat / fish / legumes / nuts / seeds). Instead of cereal for breakfast (who still eats that stuff anyway) you can use a nutritious soaked seed blend with yoghurt (Blend11 or NeoBlend are good options – sorry, shameless plug), or have a smoothie with plenty of good fats, protein & fibre (throw some seed blend in there). DO NOT just go looking for gluten free versions of your bread, pasta, cakes, cereal, pastries & crumbed foods – many of these can be very unhealthy – full of additives & even higher in refined carbs than their gluten containing versions! Ask advice for some good replacements in your local healthfood store (there are some great gluten free products & then there are some really, really ordinary ones)! I speak to sooo many people each week who just feel better when they avoid gluten, you never know if you’re one of them unless you give it a good trial. I used to think the whole gluten intolerance thing was a load of crap too, but it’s not.

Be A Stress Head:

Surround yourself with mess & chaos, take on more than you can handle, say yes to everything, overthink, take on responsibility for other people’s issues, worry about everything, drink copious amounts of coffee to cope with your workload, sleep minimally & never take a break…if this describes you & you’re not feeling 100% right in the guts THAT IS ONLY STAGE ONE, YOU’RE HEADED FOR MUCH WORSE!  If you’re constantly stressed, your digestion won’t happen properly, & your gut will give you trouble – which will contribute to your anxiety & stress levels, it’s a vicious cycle that will lead you to an eventual train wreck!

The fix

If you’re not coping, SEEK HELP. Change things. You have choices, you can always change your circumstances, your mindset & your actions. When we’re stressed out, our digestive system shuts down (it’s not ideal to be eating or defecating during fight or flight moments, so our hormones divert circulation & energy away from the gut & towards muscles used to fight or flee).Counselling, meditation, yoga, massage, exercise, talking things through with friends (or even strangers), scheduling regular short ’me time’ & longer periods off, away from the things that are constantly causing you mental angst – wether those things are your job, your kids, your partner, your relatives, your home environment. Do the things that you enjoy & that take your focus away from your stressed-out headspace. For some people that may be a sport, it could be art, gardening, walking in nature, playing or listening to music, whatever floats your boat (sailing is also a good one). You can eat all the quinoa & kale you like but if you’re a mess upstairs, you’ll be a mess downstairs too.

Keep Milking It:

Eat cereal & milk for breakfast, cheese & crackers for morning tea, creamy pasta for lunch, a yoghurt smoothie for afternoon tea & ice-cream after your dinner. Helloo – dairy overload!  Calves need cows milk to survive & thrive, we actually don’t (despite what the dairy industry tells us, sorry dairy farmers). Not everyone feels crappy eating dairy – but A LOT of people do, it is one of the most common gut disruptors (right up there with gluten & sugar – these are the first 3 to quit / minimise if your gut is out of whack). Some people find they’re ok with some dairy products but not with others – i.e. A2 dairy can be less reactive, as can goats or sheeps milk products, & yoghurt & butter are generally better tolerated than milk, cheese & ice-cream. Cheeses can also vary a lot, depending on the casein content, the production method & the microbes they contain.  

The fix

If you never have, try avoiding all dairy products for a minimum of 3 weeks & see if you notice an improvement in your gut symptoms. This is an especially good idea if you have previously suffered from eczema or asthma or have them running in your family, also hayfever, recurring ear infections, sinus problems & excessive mucous production can be a giveaway. There are so many great dairy free options readily available these days – coconut yoghurt, all kinds of nut milks, spreads, cheeses & ice-creams. Just remember you can overdo these & I would avoid the soy options (soy is another of our top gut enemies!). Also be aware of quality – many dairy replacement products will contain a whole list of crap that you don’t wanna ingest either – look for simple & natural ingredient labels & observe how you feel when you eat them, just because they are dairy free does not mean they’ll be good for you. If you’ve never tried it, & your gut is giving you grief – do the dairy free experiment. You may notice nothing much, or it could be life-changing. If you are reacting, you may be able to reintroduce some types of dairy or use it minimally after some gut rehabilitation – but you may feel so much better you just prefer to go without.

Be A Party Animal:

Drink several beers each evening & then several more on the weekends! They don’t call it a ‘beer gut’ for nothing – think about it.  Even keen beer drinkers will admit to it making them feel bloated & uncomfortable, but – like any pleasurable addiction – the discomfort has to get pretty severe before it becomes worth avoiding the source of pleasure. And it’s not just beer – any excessive amount of alcohol will damage your gut, I’ve actually spoken to quite a few people over the years who’ve developed a food intolerance right after a ‘huge weekend’ (likely cause: microbial devastation & gut barrier damage leading to leaky gut & consequent immune hyper-reactivity). And whilst you’re invincible when you’re young, trust me – there are many people in their 30’s, 40’s & 50’s suffering with some of the worst gut conditions who would love to be able to press rewind & take better care of themselves / drink less in their younger party years.

The fix

Sorry to be boring, but moderation / minimisation is the go here. Some current research says that we can probably enjoy a daily small glass of quality red wine (emphasise glass, not bottle) & we’ll not be damaging our gut (there’s actually some polyphenol benefits for our microbes). And you might be less stressed too. If your gut already says no to alcohol, keep avoiding it, & don’t start drinking red wine now just for the polyphenols. If you do drink, keep it minimal to maintain a happy gut. If you accidentally slip up – take some probiotics, turmeric, aloe vera, slippery elm powder, stay off the gluten / dairy / sugar etc & be sure to catch up on any missed sleep. Teach yourself other ways to destress, socialise & have fun – don’t revolve your weekly fun times around alcohol.

Just Keep On Shovelling It In:

Eat really early, eat realy late, eat large meals, eat snacks in between meals, eat desserts, have a midnight snack, drink more ‘food’ in liquid form…just keep pouring food down your throat constantly. OK so here’s a big clue – the word ‘breakfast’. We are supposed to have a fasting period, then we break that with some food the next day (the idea is to give your gut a good rest & some time to recuperate from the days work, clean up any mess & be ready to start all over agin the next day). Consider that we used to go to sleep at dark or soon after & rise at dawn or soon after…that should leave a pretty good time for sleeping & no food (24hr fast food joints & service stations were not an option). Many people just get up early for work everyday, eat food without exercising first & then continue eating at short intervals throughout the day, until their late night sweet treat with a cuppa at 9 or 10pm. If you’re waking at 5 & eating breakfast, then going to bed at 10pm after eating something late – that leaves approx 9hrs downtime for your gut. Many experts are now saying that we do much better with a longer fasting period (13-16hrs), & less continual grazing for good gut health.

The fix

Many find their gut (& the rest of their body) feels much happier when they adopt an ‘intermittent fasting’ approach – you can still eat plenty, you just have a smaller window of the day when you eat, & a longer fasting period to allow your gut & liver to really have a proper rest. This can also be a great approach if you need to lose weight or improve your insulin sensitivity. Try it by eating your dinner a bit earlier (& no snacks afterwards – unsweetened herbal tea ok), then getting up in the morning (& doing some exercise ideally), waiting until you’re actually really hungry until you first eat – i.e. try dinner at 6.30pm, then don’t eat until after 9am the next day, or even see if you feel fine until a bit later. This will be easier if you are having plenty of good fats, fibre & protein & keeping your sugars to an absolute minimum (sugar makes you feel hungry all the time).

Take Antibiotics Every Time You Get Sick:

Go to your Dr demanding antibiotics at the first sign of every rash, sore throat, cough or sniffle, so the family won’t need to take too long off work / school / daycare recovering. Believe it or not, this still happens all too often in Australia – GPs feel pressured / trapped into prescribing antibiotics when they won’t be necessary or even beneficial. Uneducated patients still request them frequently (worried parents are often guilty here) & they don’t realise that opting for a course of antibiotics will actually make them or their child MUCH more likely to catch the next infection going around – their immune system will be severely compromised as well as their gut health. There are many adults who’s gut health is still recovering from the antibiotics of their youth. Australian kids are prescribed more antibiotics than most of the world: Parents be warned!

The fix

Focus on prevention & you should very rarely need antibiotics (there are some exceptions to this rule, but this is true for most of us in reasonable health).The best course of action for most childhood (& adulthood) infections is to support the patient (at home, for as long as necessary) while it runs its course, whilst being in regular contact with your health professional whenever concerned. Just make sure your health professional is not a trigger-happy antibiotic prescriber (thankfully these are becoming less common now)!

So…I’m sure we’re all guilty of at least one of these gut sins – I totally am. There are definitely a few more things I haven’t listed too (like not eating enough fibre of course, but I kinda mention that a lot normally!). I’d love to hear what you find is your worst gut enemy too!?

Jeanie

jeanie@goodmix.com.au

My Poo Story / Join the ‘Poo Club’

Yep – it’s a private Facebook group for poo enthusiasts! This is the place where you can ask anything (yup, anything), share your own bad poo stories / good poo tips, gut health resources & experiences, & just feel free to chat about stuff that…nobody ever really feels comfortable chatting about in the outside world! No faeca-phobes allowed, this is a gut health zone & you can’t effectively cover gut health without a heap of poo talk!!

So don’t be shy – jump in & invite your friends. With this group, we’d love to be able to connect with:

  • anybody currently suffering from gut problems & looking for help
  • anybody who’s previously had gut problems but managed to fix them
  • anybody keen to learn more about gut health in general
  • anybody who’s good at / qualified in helping people with gut problems

So when you join, take some time to share your gut / poo story so that everyone has an idea of where you’re coming from & why you’re ‘in’!

 

JOIN THE PRIVATE GROUP

Here’s my poo story to get things moving (pun intended).

Looking back, my own poo problems as a kid were the catalyst for starting a career in the natural health field, so I guess I am now very thankful for them! I grew up on a cattle & sheep farm, in outback Qld. My mum was the best mum in the world in most ways, but an ex-nurse, & a bit of a worry-wort (bad combo)! Growing up on a farm was a great thing for my gut / immune system – I had lots of exposure to microbes from all the animals, dirt, manure etc that I was exposed to constantly from a young age. But mum coming from a nursing background (having seen lots of very, very sick children) was perhaps not such a great thing! Especially since at the time (the 80’s) there was no holding back on the prescription of antibiotics – they were given out like lollies. I was always getting coughs & colds (like many kids), & I cannot count the courses of antibiotics I would have been given to ‘treat’ them (a cough could easily lead to pneumonia & death remember!). I recall one time for a particularly nasty & long-lasting cough I took 7 courses of back-to-back antibiotics!!! No wonder that by the time I was 11, & went away to boarding school – my immune system was shot to pieces & there was some serious gut trouble brewing.

Leaving home at 11 was in hindsight a fairly stressful event (although I was totally keen & ready to go, there was a lot of change as I went from being home-schooled to fitting into a schedule with bells for everything, new people everywhere & completely different food that was only available at certain times). I lived in a dorm with around 40 other girls (only a few of us were still in primary school, the rest were older). It was nerve-wracking going to the bathroom for number 2’s as you were almost never alone, & at that age sharing my poo-stink & noises with everyone else was not something I was comfortable with! So – not knowing any better or thinking anything of it, I began to hold off until ‘the coast was clear’. Not a good idea, especially given the state of my already antibiotic-ravaged bowel! I would avoid the disgusting boarding school food & was living on sugary cereal or toast for breakfast, then sandwiches, cream buns or cake were morning tea, followed by a stack of 4-6 slices of white bread at lunch…with more cake / buns / sandwiches for afternoon tea, then depending what was on offer for dinner I’d eat it, or again have more bread & dessert to fill me up until homework break time where we had flavoured milk or juice, plus cream biscuits!  Looking back, knowing what I do now – I don’t actually know how we all survived on that kind of diet!! Plus the extra junk food we’d buy from the tuck shop when we had money, & the weekend excursions to Sizzler / Pizza Hut / McDonalds!

It was sometime in that first year away that I started to notice weird things happening with my bladder (don’t worry I’ll get to the bowel bit).  I would get the urge to pee really often & really urgently, & would have to run from class – then there would be hardly any pee (?) & I’d have to keep going to the loo all day like this. I can’t remember too many details, but in the end I was taken to see a paediatrician who found (by ultrasound or x-ray) that my bowel was at 3x it’s normal holding capacity & that the ‘poo build-up’ was causing constant pressure on my bladder!

I was given a heap of foul things to swallow – paraffin oil I think, & laxatives…& told not to avoid the urge to go anymore (no dietary advice other than to eat more fruit). I think after that I was more conscious of my bowel activity, but I can’t really remember much happening after that. I was not very healthy during the following years though – I had frequent bouts of vaginal thrush, very painful periods, skin issues & I missed a lot of school with colds that would turn into bronchitis, I had glandular fever for a whole term, gallstones & the surgery to remove them….my mum eventually took me to see a naturopath who asked what seemed like a million irrelevant questions about everything, & recognised immediately that my gut still needed a lot of rehabilitation. What she said made so much sense, & I had confidence that she knew more about what was going on inside my body than any of the Drs I’d seen. We walked out of the pharmacy I knew so well, this time with shopping bags full of really weird (& expensive) things that I was to start taking, along with a heap of dietary changes.

I remember taking cascara capsules (stimulating herbal laxatives), hydrated bentonite (detoxing clay liquid), psyllium husk (bulking fibre laxative), Pau D’arco bark (anti fungal herb tea – that was the worst), probiotics, liquid liver herbs, omegas & a heap of other really gross stuff. By this time I was 16 & luckily had switched to living with family friends off the school campus, so I had the ability to choose more healthy foods & take my pile of supplements regularly! This family were awesome, arranging their shopping & cooking to accomodate the ‘weird’ diet I had to switch to. I remember I had to have tuna & lots of salad on yeast free wrap bread for lunches (hard to find at the time) & dinners had to have heaps of veggies & rarely red meat. I had to report back to the naturopath on my bowel movements, energy, mood & what I was eating at each visit. She helped me so much – I can’t remember her name, but she was great.

I felt much better & became fascinated in this strange type of ‘medicine’, & so convinced that the world needed more people sharing this system – that at the end of year 12 I enrolled to study naturopathy. I continued to work on my own health as I studied. I remember the first time I got my usual ‘terrible’ cough / bronchitis that would normally have attracted a course (or 3) of antibiotics, & I stayed away from the Dr.  I was quite nervous (so was mum on the other end of the phone) but I just used fresh garlic, zinc, vit C & echinacea…& I survived, feeling so empowered afterwards!


I’m now 37 & – touch wood – haven’t looked back, or needed to take antibiotics since my teenage years (over 20 yrs). My gut seems to be in the best shape it’s ever been in, but I don’t take that for granted.  I know how easy it is for things to get ‘out of whack’ & I support it every day with my food, supplement, & lifestyle choices, knowing how important my gut health is to my general wellbeing. I’m also very grateful for my experience & learning as it’s allowed me to educate & keep my own kids healthy without the need for pharmaceuticals – I really feel for parents who are trying to raise healthy kids naturally without the training / help I’ve had. As a parent you have to ‘do the best you can with the info that you have’ (like my poor mum was doing)! In this internet age, it’s just so much easier to find health info & to share it –  let’s make the most of it, to help ourselves & others!

Anyway – that was my personal poo story – I hope you learned something from it, or at least can take heart that a terribly unhealthy gut can become healthy again! Please share your own poo stories as you join the page – even if you are in a terrible state & have no idea what’s happening – between all of us, we might just be able to help you get to the bottom of it (pun intended) ; )

 

JOIN THE GROUP & SHARE YOUR POO STORY

Jeanie Xx

Probiotics Make My IBS Feel WORSE, Not Better!

If you have been battling with IBS, you may have tried pre & probiotics unsuccessfully – for some they can really help a lot, but for many they just seem to aggravate the situation. A lot of people with IBS-D (more diarrhoea) find that they get worse bloating, discomfort & loose motions when they take pre & probiotics & eat fermented foods like yoghurt & sauerkrout etc. People with IBS-C (more constipation) may feel even more bloated, blocked & uncomfortable. But why…?

IBS…or SIBO?

IBS sufferers will often test positive for ‘SIBO’ (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), which is where you have plenty of ‘good’ bacteria – but for some reason they are hanging out in the wrong place. We want these microbial helpers to prolifically populate the large intestine, but not the small. When you have SIBO, your misplaced gut bugs break down & ferment the carbohydrates that you’ve eaten in your small intestine instead of the large. This causes excess gas production, as well as the resulting gut disturbances (bloating, discomfort, diarrhoea, constipation, irregularity).  It can also cause leaky gut & all the problems that occur when you get things leaking through the damaged gut-lining into your bloodstream (ie allergies / intolerances & autoimmune problems to name a few). Depending on the balance of microbes you have populating your small intestine – you’ll have different gases produced, & you may have more constipation or more diarrhoea.

Different Bugs = Different Gas = Different Symptoms.

This is where it gets really interesting. Bacteria produce hydrogen gas when they ferment carbohydrates. Hydrogen gas is enough to make you feel bloated & give you diarrhoea, but then there are other microbes called ‘archaea’ which feed on the hydrogen produced by the bacterial carb-fermentation. The archaea produce another gas from this process – methane. Having high methane levels in your gut is associated with constipation. So if you have lots of the bacteria in your small intestine (but not the archaea), you’ll likely have bloating / gas / diarrhoea predominant IBS. If you also have the archaea, you’re more likely to be constipated. Remember also that the gut symptoms are only the tip of the iceberg – SIBO sufferers may also have immune system problems, mental / emotional disturbances, poor energy, joint inflammation, skin trouble – your gut can impact every single body system & when it is not balanced, everything else will struggle too.

So…what to do ?

Starve the critters out!

Remove The Bugs, Improve The Symptoms?

The bugs (both bacteria & archaea) depend upon you supplying the easily fermented carbs to survive in the small intestine. If their food supply dries up, they’ll gradually die off / migrate back to the bowel. So many people have great success eliminating their IBS symptoms by starving the SIBO organisms out, & there are some who have success using antibiotics too (these will apparently kill the bacteria, but not the archaea).

Will They Come Back Again?

IBS symptoms are not fun, but neither is permanent dietary restriction! You can definitely improve your symptoms by starving out the bugs, but as soon as you reintroduce their favourite carbohydrate food sources back into your diet, they’ll be back with a vengeance – won’t they? Normally, yes. But if you can figure out & understand ‘why did I end up with too many bacteria in my small intestine in the first place?’,  you’ll have a good chance of keeping things from getting that bad again. When you eat, don’t just consider the nutrition you’re feeding yourself, also consider the gut microbial impact – you need to eat in a way that helps support a balanced ecosystem. And this can vary a lot from person to person!

What Could Cause SIBO In The First Place?

  1. Low stomach acid – this makes the small intestinal environment more welcoming to the bacteria
  2. Stress – your gut bugs are linked to your brain & emotions, in a 2 way communication. Stress can also effect stomach acid production & intestinal movement.
  3. Impaired Intestinal Motility – the gut movements don’t ‘flow’ as they should due to nerve / muscular problems or medication, illness, being sedentary for long periods.
  4. Gastro infections – acute damage to your gut lining & resulting disturbances in your microbial populations can start overgrowths.
  5. Dietary choices – excess refined carbohydrates, sugars, alcohol, & other gut irritating foods i.e. gluten.
  6. Antibiotics & other medications i.e. acid blockers – changing the gut environment & creating imbalance.
  7. Excess pre & probiotics / probiotic rich food & drink – you can sometimes have too much of a good thing. If the small intestinal environment is out of whack to begin with, the influx of bugs & their fave foods can make things much worse. Your tummy will let you know if these caps / foods / drinks don’t agree!

How Can I Get Rid of SIBO?

If you suspect that your gut symptoms may be caused by SIBO, you should get tested. Ask your health professional for a ‘SIBO breath test’ to determine wether you have high levels of hydrogen & / or methane on your breath (sounds gross, but the gasses produced in your gut actually end up in your blood stream & you excrete them via your lungs (& of course out the other end when you fart!) Anyway – first step is to get the test to see if you have high levels of hydrogen & / or methane.

**Get breath-tested by a professional – & if you test positive for SIBO, it is best to work under the guidance of somebody experienced with a SIBO-suitable diet & treatment protocol**

What Is The SIBO Diet & Treatment Like?

You may find following a SIBO friendly diet is all you need to heal your small intestinal lining & reduce the overpopulation of bugs. Or you may need some extra assistance with antimicrobial herbs or even an antibiotic. Symptom relief can happen very quickly but long-term normalisation of the gut will take much longer, this is not a magic bullet!

There are a few diets (& many variations & combinations of them) that can be used for SIBO treatment, The Low FODMAP diet, the GAPS diet, the SCD diet & the Cedars Sinai Diet are all worth exploring – but to get good results with these, please seek the guidance of a professional! You may end up disappointed & rule them out as ‘useless’ just because you aren’t experienced enough to get the best out of them.

If you & your health professional aren’t getting the results you’d like with your gut symptoms, look into the possibility of SIBO, especially if you’re one of those people who can’t tolerate probiotics.

*There are some different types of probiotic that seem to be better tolerated / beneficial for SIBO. While many of the typical formulas tend to aggravate – here are a couple that should be ok for most.

Saccharomyces boulardii – this organism is available from many brands. Just ask in the healthfood store / chemist for an ‘SB probiotic’. It is a yeast which can help crowd out the baddies, & it is also really great to use with antibiotics as a preventative for the all-too-common post AB candida overgrowth.

‘Prescript Assist’ – this is a shelf-stable, broad spectrum (29 strains), soil-based-organism probiotic formula that many with SIBO report having success with.  We’ve added it to our website for purchase as it’s hard to find in stores & I get so many people asking for a good probiotic! We’ve read a lot of positive reviews & even done a few internal trials here ourselves, it seems to be a winner!

Click here to try some ‘Prescript Assist’

If you have any specific questions on Probiotics, just send me an email and I’ll try and help further.

Jeanie Xx
jeanie@goodmix.com.au

Low FODMAP diet – Why you may want to give it a try.

The Low FODMAP Diet doesn’t sound quite as cool as ‘going raw vegan’ or ‘being Paleo’…it’s kinda clunky sounding & hard to remember, let alone explain to people what it’s all about when they ask you! But – it’s worth a look if you’ve never investigated, it may just be the easiest way to take back control over your badly-behaved bowels! Understanding FODMAP’s is a great tool to have in your gut-health belt. Find more on what is a Low FODMAP Diet here. 

The diet is based on keeping levels of potentially irritating / gut reaction-causing carbohydrates to a safe minimum, so that IBS symptoms are reliably kept at bay by food choices, over a short period of time (2-6 weeks on the diet to lessen the symptoms & try to figure out what effects you most).

The Monash University FODMAP team has studied many many foods, their carbohydrate breakdown & their gut effects to find the levels that will generally ‘set sensitive people off’ & levels that are generally well tolerated. When I say ‘generally’ I mean that for MOST IBS patients (around 3/4 of them) the diet helps to control symptoms (sometimes working as quickly as 1-3 days), & also to uncover their ‘worst’ foods, giving a feeling of being back in control. They then know which foods are likely to set them off & which foods they can eat with confidence.

Blend11 has recently been tested & certified by the Monash University Low FODMAP Certification Program to be ‘Low in FODMAP’s’ at the recommended 50g serving size. That goes some way to explaining why it helps so many with their IBS symptoms, & provides another safe option for many – but if you are wanting to follow the Low FODMAP diet strictly to see if it works for you, there are a couple of things to keep in mind when eating Blend11:

  1. make sure that you stick to the 50g serving size
  2. make sure that you’re not adding large amounts of high FODMAP foods to it

The Monash app (download it from the app store) will give you all the FODMAP info on foods like fruit & yoghurt that people typically eat with their Blend11 – you may find it useful to check levels in what you are combining – if you aren’t quite getting the ‘best poos ever’ from just including Blend11 in your diet! Sometimes it can be that you’ll just need to decrease your serving size of one type of fruit at breakfast to keep your tummy flat & comfortable throughout the day, or replace one type of fruit with another.

As an example, here are just a few good things to put with your Blend11 that are ‘low’ – good to know if you’re struggling with gut issues.  Even if you don’t have ‘IBS’ or any serious gut issue, you may be able to see patterns like ‘when I eat too many apples I feel bloated’ or ‘I can have rockmelon but not watermelon’  etc.

Low / safe to combine at an approved qty:

  • Milks / yoghurts etc: almond milk, lactose free dairy yoghurt or coconut yoghurt (just check for high FODMAP additives i.e. sweetener / flavours / fruits / inulin).

Low FODMAP Fruit – should be ok at approved qty’s:

  • kiwifruit
  • pineapple
  • blueberries
  • bananas  
  • grapes
  • rockmelon
  • honeydew melon
  • mandarins
  • oranges
  • passionfruit
  • paw paw
  • raspberries
  • strawberries

High FODMAP Fruits – watch these for possible reactions / IBS aggrevations:

  • mango
  • apple
  • apricot
  • figs
  • dates
  • currants
  • peaches
  • pears
  • nectarines
  • cherries
  • plums

This is only a very short list of highs & lows as an example! I would highly recommend that you go to the app store & get the Monash app if you’re wanting more options – & if you’re going to try the diet properly, make sure you work in with a diet professional.

FODMAP info in this blog post has been sourced directly from the Monash University Low FODMAP Diet (TM) App. 

Love to hear about your experience following a low FODMAP diet too.

Jeanie Xx
jeanie@goodmix.com.au

Good Poo’s – The Forgotten Travel Essential!

There is nothing worse than feeling wrong in the tummy when you’re away from home. Especially when you are on a long-awaited holiday!  You’ve paid for travel, accommodation, done all the packing (including the right amount of undies) and spent time organising to be away from work. When you’ve finally reached your ‘chillax’ destination – you are uncomfortably constipated, have to keep running to the loo – or just feel ‘blergh’ in the belly. Bad poos are not fun, wherever you are!!

Some countries are renowned for their potentially horrendous gut impact (think Bali, Delhi & Bombay Belly, Montezuma’s Revenge, Mummy’s Tummy etc).  

Some estimates say you have a 30-50% chance of experiencing diarrhoea during a 2 week stay in some of the high risk countries – yikes! This can be from ‘food poisoning’ where you’ve eaten something that has become contaminated by pathogenic bacteria due to poor storage, preparation, hygiene etc. It may just be that your gut & immune system are reacting to all the new microbes that you’re suddenly in contact with, being so far away from your home & its nice familiar microbes! You should expect some degree of tummy rumbling / a cramp or a loose stool here & there when you travel  – even if you have a very tough tummy, different food, water  & environments can just take a little adjusting to.

Severe diarrhoea can seriously wreck a holiday – & in some cases leave you with a lasting, unwanted souvenir of your travels! I’ve spoken to many people over the years who’s gut health has never returned to normal after a bad case of traveller’s diarrhoea – so don’t treat it lightly if you do get a bad bout! Be prepared (prevention is best) for diarrhoea with the recommended ‘travel-tummy tips’ below when you’re next headed into a danger zone!

But what about the other end of the bad-poo spectrum?

Constipation is an extremely common holiday-hampering complaint (especially for women) – goodMix as a business actually owes a lot of its success to this phenomenon! We’ve saved many a constipated miserable tourist! They’ve seen the ‘Best Poos Ever’ flag at a beachside market & come to investigate – often dragged along by a friend or family member saying ‘look ……, this is what you need!’ They then feel so good that they continue to order online! Yay for holiday constipation – it literally pays our bills!

So the constipation part is relatively easy to treat / prevent – just travel with your Blend11 if you know you’re prone to blocking up! Many people now swear by it (as in ‘I won’t leave home without it’) & it also saves money on eating out! Travel constipation solved ?

But what about diarrhoea? Picking up a parasite? Uncomfortable gas, bloating…or just being unsettled in the belly due to all the strangeness & changes in environment & routine?

Here’s some ‘tummy travel tips’ to ensure you continue to have the best poos ever-ywhere! 

Prevention:

  • At home, don’t be shy when it comes to new food. If you are always eating / trying new things at home – your gut will be much more flexible & ‘up for a challenge’ when you travel than if you just stick to the same old foods all the time.
  • Cultivate your ‘gut garden’ daily – have plenty of fermented foods & drinks to add bugs into the system, & fertilise your microbial soil daily with diverse ‘microbe accessible’ carbohydrates (different types of fibre from loads of different sources).
  • Know your ‘norms’ – i.e. have a rough idea of how much fibre you normally eat, how much meat / dairy / fruit / legumes etc & then if you do have trouble when away, you have a ‘safe zone’ to try & get back to. i.e. – if you travel to Hawaii & start living on the amazing in season tropical fruit, don’t be surprised if you end up with loose stools or a bout of candida. Or if your fave overseas dish has very few veggies & lots of meat, you could get a bit sluggish /  constipated.
  • Try to ‘go’ properly before you leave home (much more likely you’ll go in your own home than in a bus / train / plane / crowded public loo). You don’t want to start off on the wrong foot – one missed motion can be the start of constipation holiday-hell!

What to take if headed into a diarrhoea danger zone:Water filter / purification device. Never take chances on water, it can carry some of the worst pathogens. Use a quality water filter bottle, or buy safe / sealed bottled water.  

  • Carry a small bottle of hand sanitiser, so you can use it anywhere if running water & soap are not available.
  • Heat stable, multi strain probiotics are essential, i.e. ‘Prescript Assist’ & also products with ‘SB’ / saccharomyces boulardi. 
  • Colloidal silver, 100-200mL bottle. Can be great to settle tummy upsets – it has antiviral, antibacterial, anti-fungal & anti-inflammatory actions. Also comes in handy for skin infections. Use when you suspect you’re battling something – alternate with a probiotic pill (doses taken 3 hrs apart).
  • Antimicrobial / anti-parasitic herbal pills (ask for a good strong formula in your local healthfood store). Take if you suspect you have a stowaway or have eaten / drunk something potentially dodgy. (alternate with probiotics, 3 hrs between doses). It can be used with the colloidal silver. You can even take these as a precaution when travelling in high risk areas. 
  • Pondwater or another good quality green powder – ensure that wherever you go, you can easily get enough gut-loving greens every day, & to help you take in some nutrients in case you can’t eat solids for a few days. The aloe vera in PondWater can help with gut soothing / healing & also immunity.
  • Blend11, to keep you regular, & to keep your good microbes well nourished & reproducing. Lots of good bugs = not much room for the baddies! Plus, you’ll save on eating out.

If you do get sick with diarrhoea:

  • Hydration & electrolytes are vital, head to the local pharmacy / ask a local for what you need.
  • Easy to digest foods – i.e clear soups / broths.
  • Probiotics – take a capsule 3 times daily. Carry these in your handbag everywhere & take a few anytime you think you may have eaten / drunk something wrong.
  • Antimicrobials / colloidal silver (take 3 hrs apart). 
  • Activated charcoal – great to help absorb whatever toxic substances you have in your tummy.

If you know you’re prone to travel constipation:

  • One of the biggest causes of travel constipation is ignoring the urge to go – until it’s more ‘convenient’.  One missed motion means the moisture gets absorbed, & you’ll have a compacted, hard, dry stool that requires straining & is potentially quite painful to expel. Remember this when you get the urge, instead of just ignoring it until you’re near a ‘nicer’ or more private toilet! When ya gotta go, you really should go – as soon as you can!
  • Book accomodation with easy access to a private toilet, & make a point of using it! If this isn’t possible, locate the best public loo you can. With a hectic / exciting holiday schedule, you may also just ‘forget to go’ if you don’t get the urge or are too busy at the time – keep track with a mark on your water bottle or in a travel journal – so you know how you’re going compared to normal.
  • Schedule in some daily exercise, morning is best. Explore your area on foot / pushbike, or do some swimming if it’s too hot – just find some way to get moving that suits you in your new environment.  
  • Get up & move as much as possible during long flights / drives etc, sitting for extended periods is bad news for your gut.
  • Bring a few gentle constipation ‘helpers’ with you – i.e. some liver herbs, some magnesium, some Blend11 and probiotics. Pack whatever you find helps keep you moving regularly.
  • Take a water bottle wherever you go & drink plenty.
  • Always choose meals with plenty of fruit, veggies & legumes (first ensure / get advice that the place uses clean water for washing, good hygiene practices etc or a salad bowl could have you stuck to the toilet bowl).
  • Breathe deep & stay calm, being too uptight will prevent your bowels from opening!

So be ready and enjoy your travel  – here’s to The BEST POOS EVER-ywhere!

Going travelling soon? I’d be happy to sort you out with some goodMix travel companions in exchange for an awesome pic with them in a well-known / exotic location. Shoot me an email & let me know when and where you’re going!

Jeanie Xx
jeanie@goodmix.com.au 

Dad Gut: Save Him With These Tips!

If your dad or partner is proud of his ever-expanding ’beer belly’ AKA ‘Dad Gut’, your job (as someone who loves him & can see the expansion happening) is to save him from the underlying insulin resistance & inflammation that is causing it! Getting him to use the Blend11 & PondWater daily are a great start, but here are a few more tips to help him along!  

  1. Increase his fibre in general – keep the gut humming along nicely to improve detoxification, maximise production of gut-healing, anti-inflammatory SCFA’s by the gut microbes & also keep him feeling full.
  2. Make sure his daily protein intake is adequate for his workload & muscle mass (ask a personal trainer to help with this). Too little protein will mean his lean muscle tissue is constantly getting broken down (not good) & too much will just end up being converted to fat (also not good).  
  3. Decrease carbs & sugar (minimise  breads, pasta, rice, cakes, biscuits, chips, pastries, softdrinks, juices, sweetened tea / coffee, & even excess fruit). Really important / potentially life-saving if dad is growing an impressive belly. If it’s not in the trolley, it won’t get into the house, if it’s not in the house, it won’t get into his belly (as often!)
  4. Good fats. Oily fish, avocado, nuts & seeds, olive oil, coconut…fats will keep him satisfied & feeling full, and some can help decrease inflammation in the body. You may also see improvements in his skin, joints & mood when you focus on fat.
  5. Decrease alcohol intake (they don’t call it a beer gut for nothing!) The best options as far as ‘dad-guts’ go, if he likes a drink sometimes are spirits (in moderation) on the rocks or mixed into a sparkling mineral water, or a small glass of wine (that’s glass, not bottle).
  6. Exercise is MANdatory! He needs to focus on building more muscle (lifting weights or doing some type of resistance training), plus  some cardio / endurance work as well, i.e. walking first thing in the morning & / or after dinner.  With the weight training, get advice from an experienced personal trainer, who knows how to work with older guys to avoid the possibility of injury & maximise results safely. The more muscle mass he can build, the more he can relax with his diet as the muscles will keep his metabolism cranking / burning efficiently through what he eats. Better all-over strength & mobility will also decrease his risk of back / neck / knee injuries / shoulder pain etc – all really annoying & common dad issues. 
  7. Don’t sit for too long – dad MUST get up & take breaks to move every half hr or so if his work is sedentary. Man was NOT designed to sit all day! Incorporate a quick lunchbreak walk or mini workout, embrace any stairs, hills or heavy things to  lift as part of the working day. Nobody needs a gym or any fancy equipment to work their muscles, just use body weight & the things around you..
  8. Try intermittent fasting. Eating breakfast later suits many men, or some prefer skipping lunch or dinner. This works well for men who are not burning a lot of calories throughout their day, but active blokes may struggle. Experiment & do what works best, but the goal is to try & give your gut a decent break somewhere from food constantly coming in!
  9. Avoid naughty nightime or late afternoon snacks (carbs / sugars etc late in the day aren’t good unless dad is also very active in this period). It’s a metabolic disaster to come home from work at 5pm, sit on the couch & devour a packet of chips & a few beers, then eat a carb-heavy dinner late & go straight to bed – unfortunately quite a common dad thing to do :(
  10. Eat dinner earlier. This gives you a longer period of fasting between meals, which is good for improving insulin sensitivity.
  11. Be very careful with desserts & sweet treats – only eat these just before or just after doing some serious exercise! And replace indulgences with more nutritious versions. Ie unsweetened yoghurt & berries instead of icecream, a protein ball instead of a few choccy biscuits…there are so many better alternatives that can still satisfy your need for a treat!
  12. Include nuts & seeds, green tea, cinnamon, turmeric, aloe vera, fenugreek, oily fish & vinegar in the diet (these foods can all help improve your ability to handle sugars & many are also great gut support & anti-inflammatories). Stock up & get  ideas on how to use these from the staff in your local healthfood store.
  13. Include probiotic-rich foods in your diet daily, & / or use a quality multi-strain supplement. Good gut health = smaller dad gut!
  14. Ensure dad is  getting plenty of magnesium – really important for insulin sensitivity & an extremely common nutrient deficiency. Try a regular magnesium spray or a soak, esp good if his ‘dad-back’ is sore or the poor old ‘dad-muscles’ are overworked, or – heaven forbid – he is suffering from the man-flu.

Let me know if you’ve tried anything of these or have something thats worked well for you. Just make a comment below or send me an email.

Jeanie Xx
jeanie@goodmix.com.au

An A-Z List of Common Foods & Their Gut Effects

Here’s a short list (just one for each letter) to give you an idea of how everyday foods can impact your gut (& therefore your general health).

Apple Cider Vinegar:

– fermented apple juice, contains probiotics & acts as a digestive tonic. Many with heartburn / reflux find it useful taken before meals (avoid if you have oesophageal ulceration or damage).

Banana:

– green bananas / banana flour are high in resistant starch (a type of prebiotic) which feeds your gut bugs. Ripe & green bananas may cause different reactions in IBS people (ripe = high FODMAPs, greener = lower).

Coffee:

– gastric stimulant, prebiotic polyphenols, appetite suppressant, sympathetic nervous system stimulant. Many use coffee as a laxative, others can’t drink it as it gives them the runs (stimulates the bowel). Many use it as an appetite suppressant. Use in moderation, some seem better off without, some seem better on it.

Dark chocolate / cacao:

– prebiotic, supports good bacteria. Get raw & the lowest sugar available.

Eggs:

– awesome nutritionally but high potential for allergy, don’t go overboard when your gut is out of whack.

Fruit:

– high natural sugar (feeds candida, watch FODMAPS as they can trigger bloating & IBS symptoms).

Grapes:

– sulphite preservative is generally used which can aggrevate IBS symptoms / cause other issues in sensitive people ie asthma, allergies, skin rashes – go organic. 

Herbs & spices:

– many are digestive tonics (chamomile, peppermint, fennel, turmeric, ginger, pepper, cinnamon).

Incaberries:

– less sugar & double the fibre of many more popular dried fruits. Ok not really common, but you try to think of gut influencing foods starting with I. (Other than ice-cream – which by the way is pretty much a gut nightmare).

Juice:

– concentrated sugar (in fruit juice) not recommended, though lower sugar organic vegetable juices can be great when detoxing or when you need nutrients but also a rest for your gut (ie illness).

Kale:

– great source of sulfoquinovose (SQ) to support your good gut bacteria. Also spinach & many other green leafies.

Leeks:

– rich source of prebiotic fibre.

Melons:

– best eaten alone as they digest very quickly. Many with IBS don’t tolerate.  

Nuts:

– small serves daily are awesome (studies show that nuts added to the Mediterranean diet make it even healthier).

Organic food:

– pesticides & chemicals can wreak havoc with your gut bugs, even if they don’t seem to impact you.  Eat organic as much as you can.

Pasta:

– cooked & then cooled makes pasta a source of resistant starch (obviously avoid if sensitive to gluten).

Quinoa:

– saponins in quinoa can make some sensitive people feel sick (& even vomit in severe cases), rinsing well will decrease levels, but some will just need to avoid.

Rice:

– cooked & then cooled (then cooked again if you like – ie fried rice) is the way to make your rice less ‘fattening’. You will turn a lot of the carbohydrates into resistant starch, which means you can’t digest them (so they don’t end up as blood glucose or turned into fat), & they go to the bowel to support your gut microbes. Yay!!

Sauerkraut:

– fermented cabbage, full of probiotics & a good natural digestive tonic (recommended to help with GERD / reflux, constipation & IBS / IBD).

Tea:

– high in healthy polyphenols, but can inhibit absorption of some minerals ie iron if you drink with meals. Good for you, but better away from meals.

Umeboshi ‘plum’ or Japanese pickled apricots:

– proven to improve stomach function & decrease GERD symptoms in some people. An old Japanese gut remedy, though apparently originated in China.  

Vegetable oil:

– avoid foods that list ‘vegetable oil’ as an ingredient. You can almost guarantee it’s a cheap & nasty one – like canola or palm oil. Especially avoid ‘hydrogenated vegetable oil. These are gut enemies!

Water:

– essential for healthy digestion. Too little will leave you constipated. Use a filter (the chemicals added to town supply aren’t good for your gut bugs).

Xylitol:

– a sweetener derived from Birch tree bark or corn (most common), often used in chewing gum & dental products. Good to help prevent tooth decay, but bad for our gut bugs (& still a sweetener, so not good for blood sugar metabolism / insulin resistance).

Yoghurt:

– quality yoghurt contains lactobacillus probiotics (look for brands that list them & give a number), or for highest levels make it yourself at home & add extra probiotics, & leave to ferment a little longer than normal.

Zaatar:

– a herb / spice / seed mix of  Middle Eastern or Lebanese origin. A nutritious way to add flavour to savoury food.


Shoot me an email if you’d like to know how a particular food (not listed above) might be effecting your gut.

Jeanie Xx

jeanie@goodmix.com.au 

Repair Mode – What To Do When Your Tummy Needs Some TLC

What should you eat when recovering from a gastro bug? Just eaten something you don’t tolerate & know you’ll pay for it? Or after a course of antibiotics? When you’ve just had a flare up from your IBD or IBS symptoms? What to avoid (& what is safest) when your gut is just feeling sensitive? When you know you’ve really abused your system or pushed it to the limit (i.e. a big weekend eating junk / drinking alcohol or overtraining / competing in a very challenging sporting event). What to do if you are just reacting badly to everything all of a sudden? Here are some tips to keep in mind…

Give it a BREAK!

In many of these instances, it can really help to just give your gut a good break! We all know how much better our brains function after a day / weekend off – & how revitalised we feel after a holiday or a sleep. Your gut also really benefits from some ‘down-time’ –  research into periodical fasting & its impact on the gut microbiome shows that it can help balance things out by giving your gut a few less hours on ‘digestion duty’ each day. Try just listening to your body (not your sweet-tooth, ignore that bit – it’ll soon shut up), & eat when you actually do feel hungry – I mean proper hungry. Not just because it’s breakfast time / dinner time / morning tea time / you’re at a cafe meeting a friend…get back in touch with your body’s actual signal to refuel. We modern humans have really lost that, food is just so cheap, so easy & so readily available. Many people find that intermittent fasting (IF) can help improve their gut symptoms – & there’s absolutely no harm in trying. Look into ‘The 5:2 Diet’ or ‘The Warrior Diet’ – lots of positive gut feedback using these methods.

Be Picky

When things are feeling delicate, steer away from the common gut triggers & irritants. This would include sugar, gluten, too much ‘cold’ raw food, too much meat, foods high in FODMAPS if sensitive (carbs that ferment rapidly in your colon & can cause distension, gas, pain & disturbances in bowel function), & anything you know that you react to (i.e. gluten, soy, nuts, casein etc). You need to eat minimally & reach for a balance of low-reactive foods (soups & broths are perfect, & cold pressed veggie juices – just sip small amounts at a time, & choose veggies you know you can tolerate).  Add in some soothing, healing herbal & nutritive helpers, like the following…

Soothing Help For Your Troubled Gut!

Herbal Demulcents: Plants with this property act like a healing, soothing ‘wound dressing’ to assist with gut-mending.

Aloe vera, calendula, marshmallow, slippery elm, comfrey & licorice are great. Look for gut healing supplements which contain these ingredients, or test them one by one to see what helps you most.

Natural Antiinflammatories: To calm & settle the reactivity, & get some stability back.

Fish oil (high dose to start, if you really need the therapeutic anti-inflammatory effects take 10-12mg daily), flaxseed / chia, krill oil, algal DHA / EPA, turmeric, ginger, aloe vera, plus diverse prebiotic fibre to support your own production of anti-inflammatory SCFA’s.

Antispasmodics & ‘gas-helpers’:

Peppermint oil, ginger & activated charcoal can provide relief from gas, pain, distension & bloating.   

Nutritives: Useful for when you are ‘depleted’ & need to repair / rebuild the gut lining.

L-Glutamine, Zinc, Vitamin A & D (cod liver oil has both of these in a natural form), bone broth, mucopolysaccharides (oysters, shellfish, aloe vera, slippery elm, okra), & don’t forget fibre to feed your gut bugs (they will help heal the damaged gut lining but if they are starving- they can actually start to eat into it!)  Ask in your local health store or pharmacy for a ‘gut repair’ type formula, grab some gut-friendly fibre & probiotics too.

Nervous system support: These can be great for the gut & nervous system if you are a bit ‘highly strung’ or are going through a stressful period!

Kava, L-Glutamine, chamomile tea, liquorice tea, green tea, massage, exercise, lavender oil, belly breathing,  meditation, yoga…stress is the worst thing for your gut – & it’s not so much what is happening in your world, but your responses & reactions to what is happening. You can make changes there.

 

Love to know how you go with these or have your own remedy to share. Just leave a reply below :-)

Jeanie Xx