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 Prescript Assist. 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 

Leaky Gut – What is it & How Do You Fix It?

What is leaky gut? (AKA ‘Intestinal hyperpermeability’)

We all have 2 obvious holes in our digestive system, one at the top end (mouth) & one at the bottom end (anus). But along the way there are actually a lot more little openings, in our small intestine. These ‘tight junctions’ are teeny-tiny regulated openings designed to allow useful things from our food out of the intestines & into our bloodstream (i.e. nutrients, vitamins, minerals etc) & keep harmful things out (chemicals, microbes, & other unwanted particles like larger proteins). Leaky gut happens when your tight junctions are not working as they should, get ‘a bit too loose’ / don’t function properly, or when there’s some damage to the cells lining the gut. Damage can occur when the bad guys vs the good guys battle is favouring the baddies, also things like excess alcohol, medications (especially NSAID’S like ibuprofen), parasites, gastro bugs, stress, extremely strenuous exercise & poor sleep can cause / contribute to a leaking gut.

What happens when you have leaky gut?

With all these things leaking out into your bloodstream that aren’t supposed to be getting in there, your immune system activates, as its job is to protect the body from dangerous invaders. It sees all these random things leaking out from the gut into the bloodstream as intruders & potentially dangerous, so it goes into overdrive, sometimes a bit ‘trigger happy’ & may become overwhelmed. When your immune system is freaking out, it releases inflammatory chemicals & you may notice things like food intolerances / sensitivities, hayfever, asthma, arthritis, eczema & other skin issues (like acne, rosacea, psoriasis) getting worse. Brain fog, sleep disturbances, fatigue, aches & pains, depression, weight gain, hormonal imbalances & even autoimmune diseases will be triggered or feel much worse when your gut lining isn’t working as it should.  You may also notice more direct gut problems like bloating, gas, ’IBS’ type symptoms (constipation / diarrhoea / abdominal pain & discomfort). Long term, there are links between chronic leaky gut & insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome & the development of diabetes & cardiovascular disease (chronic inflammation caused by ‘endotoxins’ leaking from the gut into the blood stream). 

What causes / contributes to leaky gut? (That we know of so far).

We all have a degree of normal & healthy ‘gut-leakiness’. Our gut lining is supposed to allow certain things out, things that the immune system will see as normal & not react to. It’s when damage occurs to the gut lining or our tight junctions aren’t as tight as they need to be – that’s when trouble starts. Below is a list of potential triggers & things that can cause / aggravate a leaky gut.

  • alcohol (small doses can be ok in healthy people, bigger doses = gut trouble, & if your gut is already damaged you’ll feel much better if you abstain completely).
  • NSAID’s (Ibuprofen might save you from pain in the short term, but can create a heap more in the long term!) It is not designed for & is not ‘gut-safe’ to use long term. Avoid it wherever possible.
  • antibiotic use (killing your gut bugs every time you get sick = gut-immune devastation). The more often you use antibiotics, the more you’ll be open to the next infection going around. Take great care to rehabilitate your gut if you do need to take a course of antibiotics.
  • other medications. Ant-acids & stomach acid blockers are the biggest culprits for leaky gut, as these can lead to big changes in your gut microbial balance further down the GIT. There are numerous other pills that can also wreak digestive havoc, so ask your pharmacist which of your meds can cause gut side-effects.
  • a bout of gastroenteritis (a severe infection can be very damaging to your gut lining & often leave your gut bugs seriously out of whack – think post-infectious IBS, extremely common).
  • overgrowth of certain gut microbial populations or an ‘out of balance’ gut microbiome (caused by food, stress, medications etc), too many bacteria in the wrong area (i.e. SIBO / small intestinal bacterial overgrowth or SIFO / small intestinal fungal overgrowth).
  • gluten in food (gluten impacts the tight junctions in sensitive people, it makes them leakier). Anyone with suspected leaky gut or the conditions commonly associated with it should experiment with a gluten-free diet for at least 6 weeks, preferably longer to observe their reaction). Our breads & pastas are not the same as they once were due to agricultural developments & food processing changes, & our guts can’t cope as well as they once could (they’re in pretty poor shape now).
  • excess sugar & refined carbohydrates (processed food) causing poor gut microbial population. Minimise these as much as you can in your diet! For your gut as well as your blood sugar, your weight, your heart health, mental health etc etc etc – just don’t have them in the house, you know you’ll eat them if they’re there!
  • chemicals in our foods (non-organic foods esp those grown using the weed killer glyphosate aka ‘Round-up’). These chemicals can interfere with your gut bacterial activity, even if they are supposedly safe for humans, they have not been tested safe for our gut bugs (as important as any organ of our body).
  • artificial sweeteners (these can cause imbalances to your gut ecosystem, & they still lead to obesity – don’t eat / drink them).
  • extremely intense or prolonged exercise. If you are a serious athlete, you need to be aware that this will put you at risk for developing leaky gut (even if it’s just post competition / hard training). L-glutamine is a great supplement to support athletes with gut issues.

How Do I Test For Leaky Gut?

Your doctor, specialist or naturopath should be able to organise some tests to see if your body is showing signs of gut leakage.

  • urine test. This is the easiest & most common way to test – you’ll be given something sugary to drink & they’ll check if large sugar molecules are leaking through the gut lining later on (your pee will provide the answers).
  • SIBO breath test (not strictly a test for leaky gut, but chances are very high that your gut is leaking if you have SIBO – small intestinal overgrowth).
  • LPS & actomyosin antibodies tests (blood testing to see what level of immune reactivity is going on to ‘lipopolysaccharide’ – something found in higher levels in the blood when gut bacteria are leaking out in the bloodstream, & actomyosin – exposed to the blood & immune system when the tight junctions get leaky).

How Do I Fix Leaky Gut?

If you think you may have leaky gut, you should get everything looked into & be tested to exclude other causes (like Coeliac disease for example). An integrative GP or naturopath who specialises in gut health will be the best person to book an appointment with, they can recommend what needs to be checked & also arrange some ‘leak detection’ testing if leaky gut seems likely.  

  • avoid the main triggers / aggravators mentioned above
  • make sure your upper GIT function is good as this is crucial for the function & microbial balance further down. You may benefit from apple cider vinegar, digestive enzymes, chewing your food more, taking a bitter liver-stimulating herbal formula.
  • exercise is essential for a healthy digestive system. If you’re an athlete or go to extremes – be aware this can compromise your gut lining as blood flow is directed away from the digestive system in favour of your muscles, causing damage to the cells lining the gut. If you’re sedentary, you need to start moving to fix your gut as a stagnating gut will breed lots of nasty bugs, that will stay lurking long enough to damage your gut lining. If you are not currently exercising due to pain / injury – you need to start moving the non-painful parts at least, this will help.
  • sleep. If sleep is a problem for you, it will be messing with your gut (it may also be caused by your gut microbes). Eating more fibre & less sugar = great for the gut, & can also help with sleep too.
  • stress management (regular massage, holidays, time off, counselling, meditation, laughing lots, spending time with people who relax you – not the stress heads…make time to do the things that you love). Do not underestimate the ability of stress to make you sick, or the ability to manage your stress better to get you well again.
  • sunshine (vitamin D is very important for your immune system & also your gut lining). Get yours tested.
  • eat lots of polyphenols & practice some intermittent fasting (increase your population of the ‘akkermansia’ gut bugs, these gut guys help maintain & strengthen your gut lining).
  • pre & probiotics (try eating a fibre rich diet that also includes fermented foods, or use a probiotic supplement regularly). Get guidance with these if you think you may have SIBO, often found with leaky gut). We find this probiotic to be well tolerated by those with leaky gut / SIBO.  PRESCRIPT ASSIST PROBIOTIC
  • kill off your gut bug nasties (decrease sugar & carb consumption, eat your prebiotic fibre, use antimicrobial herbs & probiotics when you know you’ve overindulged & have overfed your bad guys – seek help with this to get started).
  • L-glutamine, zinc, N-acetyl glucosamine are nutrients that you’ll find in most ‘gut repair’ type products in the health food store & are very useful in healing the gut lining.
  • licorice (the plant, not the lollies – you can try liquorice tea or a herbal tincture / capsules)
  • greens – your gut bugs LOVE their greens, even if you don’t! If you hate eating greens, drink them in a green smoothie instead. They can be sooo yummy this way! PondWater – our supergreens powder is a ‘2-in-1’ gut tonic (organic grass & algae plus a good therapeutic dose of aloe vera inner leaf gel, perfect for adding into green smoothies).
  • collagen is great to help heal leaky gut. It is found in meat, skin, gristle & cooked bones. Sip on bone broth, chicken soup, or add collagen powder to a smoothie regularly.
  • aloe vera, slippery elm, okra, oats, oysters = rich in mucopolysaccharides (good gut-healing foods)….some great vegan bone broth alternatives (except the oysters obviously!)
  • resistant starch. This is easily found in cooked & cooled rice & potatoes, potato starch & green banana flour (& in smaller doses in many other foods).
  • calm the immune system response. Eat oily fish, turmeric, ginger, flaxseed – include lots of the natural anti-inflammatories in your diet (or take these in supplement form).

Love to hear from anyone who’s suffered from leaky gut & managed to ‘plug the leaks’ using any of these strategies (or maybe something else). Comment below or send me an email direct :)

Jeanie
jeanie@goodmix.com.au 

 

The Pre & Pro (biotic) Breakfast Combo!

Q: What am I? I’m breakfast…with benefits!

Hint: I’m quick, easy, super-nutritious & freakin delicious.  I’m portable. I’m vegan-friendly. I’m gluten free / dairy free / refined sugar-free & low FODMAP. I’m high in good fats, plant protein & diverse fibre. I’m gonna give you a ‘good gut feeling’ all day long.

A: I’m the ultimate gut-healthy breakkie combo!

Blend11 teamed with Pure n Free Coconut Yoghurt!

Quick, Easy, Nutritious & Delicious:

We’re all time-poor (& maybe a teeny bit lazy) & we don’t have the time or inclination to research what’s good for us & what’s not (that’s our job). Nobody has time to run around shopping for top-quality individual ingredients (our job as well) & there’s definitely no time in the morning to design complex nutritional breakfast masterpieces that tick all of the right boxes.                                                      

 

Good news = we did it already!! Well we did the hard bits, you can just do the fun bits like adding some fruit!

Gluten Free : Dairy Free : Refined Sugar Free : Low FODMAP:

Starting your day with a Pre & Pro Combo means no nasty gut aggravators for breakfast =  bye-bye to annoying bloating, poo problems, brain fog, cravings & energy slumps! Hello to feeling comfortable, alert & relaxed throughout the day with a happy & functional gut.

Fasting Friendly:

The Pre & Pro combo is perfect for anyone who feels & functions better eating breakfast a little later in the day. Breakfast jars can be made in advance & stored in the fridge ready to ‘grab & go’ on the way out the door. Just store in an insulated lunch box or wrap a stubbie cooler around the jar to keep it nice & cool until hunger hits. Ideal to give our overworked guts some good long sleep-ins, & train the body to burn up any leftover energy stores (fat)!

Pre & Pro Biotic Hit:

The first thing to hit your belly every morning should be some gut-love! Prebiotic fibre plus probiotic yoghurt = yummy for the tummy. “Get in my belly, & let the pre & pro party begin!” Diverse prebiotic fibre that is also Low FODMAP means plenty of good tucker for the good tummy bugs to munch on, so they can get a head start on the bad guys for the day, plus a heap of probiotic reinforcements to support your own army! This kind of breakfast is setting the stage for ‘a good gut feeling’ throughout the day!

Vegan Friendly:

No animals involved = happy days for everyone. The more easy, yummy & nutritious vegan options we all have in our fridges / pantries the better. Even if you’re not vegan all the time, you can easily eat vegan at breakfast time. 

Fat Fibre & Protein:

So many of the easy breakfast options are waaay too carb & sugar heavy. Add more fat, fibre & protein & energy levels will be much more stable, cravings will decrease, moods will be better (that’s just short term). In the long term we can see better gut function, better metabolism & body composition, better skin, better immunity, better brain function, decreased systemic inflammation…high-fat fibre & protein to start the day beats a bowl full of carbs hands down.

All Natural:

Too many numbers in your day = your days are numbered. Food with numbers & weird scientific names & added this that & the other is best avoided at any time of the day, but especially breakfast time (at least get the first meal right!) Go for unrefined, real food that will ‘go off’. Anything with an unnaturally long shelf life will shorten yours.  Look for food that’s alive, & close to how nature made it. Activated enzyme-rich organic seeds plus organic natural coconut yoghurt with living probiotics = winning combo. Top it off with some delicious fruit & you have a bowl full of vitality to start the day.

Versatile:

Not in the mood to chew? No clean bowls in the house? Smoothie it! So many possibilities – berry, banana, cacao, acai, green, coffee, vanilla….so many flavour options, & coconut yoghurt with activated seeds are equally at home in a glass or a bowl.

Do The Experiment!

Ditch your normal breakfast for a month & see how your gut feels, starting the day with all the things it needs & without all the nasties. Forget the Special K breakfast challenge, this is the pre & pro ‘special poo challenge’ ;-)

FIND A STOCKIST NEAR YOU   & REMBER TO ACTIVATE (SOAK YOUR SEEDS IN WATER)

Why You Need to Focus on Fibre: The Forgotten Nutrient

Protein, carbohydrates & fats have received plenty of attention in the health & medical industries over the past 20 years, with Drs & diet gurus telling us to ‘eat less fat’, ‘increase complex carbs’, ‘increase protein’ & then ‘eat more fat’ ‘decrease carbs’ & ‘eat less animal protein’….it’s confusing & exhausting just trying to keep up with research & changing opinions! Many of us health-conscious people now have a substantial collection of conflicting dietary advice books, largely focussed on fat, carbs & protein….but fibre has been quietly sitting in the corner waiting its turn – left out of the equation & only seen as important for constipated folks.

It makes sense – we humans can’t actually digest fibre. It’s obviously not that important to our health if we can’t break it down into anything usable, right?…it’s just good to keep everything moving through the bowel, right?

WRONG! It seems as though fibre will finally start getting the massive attention it deserves, now we’re discovering all the links between our gut microbes & health. Did you know that your fibre intake can influence everything in the list below? And this is just a very basic short list, there are many, many more.  

  • weight loss & body composition
  • cholesterol problems & cardiovascular disease
  • diabetes & metabolic syndrome
  • inflammation in the gut & throughout the body
  • allergies, eczema, asthma & hay fever
  • skin issues
  • mood disorders & mental health
  • energy levels
  • hormone balance
  • Immunity
  • digestion & absorption of nutrients

How Does Fibre Effect Your Gut Health?

The reasons it can help with the above list are complex – but basically, fibre helps to improve your ‘internal ecosystem’ (specifically your gut microbial diversity & abundance). Our gut bugs eat whatever makes it through into the large intestine intact (i.e. fibre), & when they are well fed every day – they do all kinds of great things for us. Our gut is like an internal compost heap, & the rest of our body the garden. When our gut is working well it can generate a lot of goodness to nourish & heal our body, & when it is not working properly – the entire system will struggle. The research on this topic is fascinating, & will completely change the way we look at food, medicine & health over the coming years.

Quick! Get Me Some Fibre, Any Fibre Will Do!!

Not so fast. Before you reach for the ‘All-Bran’, you need to know that DIVERSITY is really important with your fibre intake. 

The old approach of using a single source fibre supplement (i.e. bran, psyllium, inulin etc) may help you to become more regular, but is not optimal to support overall good gut health & microbial balance (which is a foundation of good overall health). You can’t just ‘fix’ a low fibre diet with a few tablespoons of some supplement! It’s like relying on just one type of vegetable for your vitamins & minerals, instead of eating a variety – you’ll miss out on so many nutrients & end up really unbalanced.  

We carry (in our large intestine) many different types / strains of fibre-loving microbes, & they all have different food preferences. Relying heavily on one type of fibre will create an unbalanced population as you overfeed some of these critters, but neglect to feed the rest – so you end up with an overproliferation of the ‘few’ who love & thrive on all-bran, or psyllium, or inulin, or prunes, or whatever – & these guys can take over / over-crowd the gut ecosystem leaving little room for the rest.

The key is to eat plenty of fibre daily, & ensure that you are getting it from loads of different kinds of plants – ie a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, seaweed, herbs & other plant fibre sources with diverse polysaccharides (parts of the plant that we cannot digest in the upper GI tract, but that will become food for our microbes in the bowel). Hint – these are not found in the refined foods that we’ve become accustomed to over the past 50 years!

Refined sugars & starches tip the balance in the wrong way – they support the growth of the bad guys. Not to mention the gut bacterial impact of things like preservatives, artificial sweeteners, emulsifiers etc…these additives may have been ‘tested safe for human consumption’ but unless we know how they are impacting our gut ecosystem – how can we really know their long-term effects? The indirect health impact (through our gut bugs) may in fact be quite significant. The point is – we need to keep our diet as natural as possible, & include a good variety of nutritious plants to keep our gut bugs well fed, & balanced, thus maintaining a thriving internal ecosystem.

Unfortunately, the opposite is generally true. The average westerner eats too many refined carbs, a lot of sugar & poor quality fats, plenty of artificials with very limited fermentable fibre – sourced from only a few different types of unrefined plants (a token daily apple or lettuce & tomato on their lunchtime burger).

This means we are providing copious amounts of simple carbs / sugars to feed the ‘bad guys’, & very little roughage for the good guys in the bowel. As a result, there is precious little fermentation happening in the large intestine, which is one of the absolutely vital keys to good health – fibre is the fermentation material needed by our bowel bugs – they convert complex carbs (from fibrous foods) into SCFA’s (short chain fatty acids), which are potent anti-inflammatory substances & key nutrients for maintaining the health & integrity of the gut lining – among many other things (worth reading up on).

My Own Internal Anti-inflammatory Factory??

Gut bugs + diverse fibre = home-made anti-inflammatories = better health & happiness = yay! When you think about inflammation as a cause / key contributor in almost all modern disease states – it makes really good sense to be feeding our own ‘anti-inflammatory generators’ with diverse fibre, every day, as a priority.

It has even been questioned whether just adding a heap of plant fibre to a junk food diet can somewhat mitigate the damage / inflammation caused by the junk in this way…questioned, but not proven.

When Food Shopping, Think About This…

The less processed our food is, the more likely that it will make it through our stomach & small intestine undigested, which may sound like a bad thing… BUT, it is these undigested fibrous foods that become food for our friendly helper-bugs! I.e. raw veg are better for the bugs than cooked, whole grains better than refined flour… we seem to do best on a combination of really unrefined foods & some more refined / easier to digest stuff, but experts believe the modern diet is much too far towards the ‘easy to digest’ processed end of the spectrum.

Do The Experiment! 

If your gut is not super-sensitive / already out of whack, do an experiment on yourself by increasing your intake of unprocessed plant foods (making sure to focus on diversity), & just see what happens. Go slowly to transition comfortably – increase your intake gradually over time rather than all at once, or you may initially become bloated, gassy, uncomfortable & possibly constipated as your unprepared, unpopulated gut struggles to deal with the sudden influx of fibre. Over a few days / weeks though, your population of bacterial fibre-munchers should increase hugely & become much more healthy & diverse. Take note of how this effects you – look for changes in regularity / gut symptoms, body composition / weight-loss, mood, brain function, skin, immunity, aches & pains…it’s such an easy experiment with massive potential gains! If you feel that there’s no way you can tolerate fibrous foods due to severe gut symptoms – look into the low FODMAP diet. This can help many with IBS / gut issues to uncover the foods that are setting off their pain / bloating / gut symptoms.

Everyone is Different:

Remember that every gut is different, & the high fibre diet that works well for your neighbour might make you feel awful. This can be because you & your neighbour both have different digestive systems & gut bacterial populations. You may have lots of bean-loving bugs, but your neighbour may have very few, so she may feel uncomfortable after a big bowl of high-fibre hommus & celery sticks whereas you can thrive on it. Maybe apricots are ok for your neighbour but give you diarrhoea. Different fibre will have varying effects on different people, & sometimes it’s all in the dose. If you’re not used to a particular food, or way of eating – make changes gradually to ensure a smooth transition, or get some help from a professional to start with. 

So introduce slowly, find out what works for you, & enjoy the whole-body benefits of eating more fibre!

Print out this Bristol Stool Chart and laminate for the toilet door, & leave it there until your kids know exactly what they should be doing (or pooing) each day, & the many reasons they might go off track. You could save them from a heap of pain, stress & money later on in life by teaching them the importance of gut health.

Your visitors will get a good laugh (& possibly an education) too :-)

Click the image to get the free chart.

Bristol Stool Chart
Best Poos Ever

Our Gut = Our Soil

I stumbled upon this article last week & it made me think about the similarities between our gut & our soil – both so critical to support life & both sadly devastated by some of our modern ‘developments’ (things like agricultural chemicals, medications & highly processed foods).

 

Guts & Soil = Both Teeming With Life:

Just as your gut should be teeming with a diverse array of microbes, so should the soil surrounding a plant’s root system. You can think of plant roots & their surrounding microbial ecosystems kinda like ‘inside-out’ human guts.

 

 

Balanced soil = Healthy Plants, Balanced Guts = Healthy Humans:

Humans grow & thrive & experience disease / deficiencies depending on (among other things) what is going on in their gut, & plants grow & thrive (or not) depending (among other things) upon what is going on with their soil. Soil balance = critical to plant health, gut balance = critical to human health.

 

Little Helpers Doing Big Jobs:

Think of the similarities between our intestines with their huge surface area created by the villi & the microvilli (tiny projections that massively increase the surface area of our small intestines) & the branching root system of a plant with its fine root hairs. Both systems are a complex interface between the organism & it’s surrounding environment, & both function with close interaction & support from an amazing microbial ecosystem. Just as our gut microbes are vital for our immune function, chemical messaging around the body & the absorption of many nutrients, the microbes surrounding the roots of plants also play major roles in the function of the roots & how they support the plant. Two mind-blowing natural systems – we’re both extracting nutrition & communicating with what surrounds us, with the help of other tiny creatures that we cannot even see! Did you know that roots actually secrete their own prebiotics!? ’Root exudates’ provide a food source & attract beneficial microbes to live & feed around the plants root system, which in turn does great things for the plant nutritionally! The plant knows it needs microbes – so it provides them with a food source, just like the mucous layer in our gut – which can also feed some of our gut bugs.

 

 

Maybe You Need a Transplant?

We have to actively seek out & make an effort to ingest our required nutrition, whereas the plant just grows roots to absorb what it needs from its surroundings – which is the better design? Well a plant cannot just ‘up & leave’ if the soil environment is not supporting it adequately…but we humans can easily ‘transplant’ ourselves when we’re not thriving – i.e. we can totally change our ‘soil’ & its microbial support system just by changing what is flowing through our gut each day. Our food (& anything else that ends up in our gut) creates the ‘soil’ that supports us. If you have ever observed the change in a plant when you’ve transplanted it from an old pot that it had outgrown, into a freshly composted veggie garden full of nutrients & microbes…you’ll appreciate the difference that a change of soil can make. It’s much the same with humans that are not thriving on their current diet – you have to make some changes to their soil (the food & nutrients flowing through them) & try to get a thriving gut microbial ecosystem happening to help with the absorption of vital nutrients, as well as facilitating clear communication between the external environment & the immune system. The ‘ultimate’ in repotting / soil refreshing for an unhealthy human gut is an FMT (faecal microbe transplant), where they basically empty out all of your crappy dysfunctional ‘soil’, & replace it with some fresh ‘soil’ (someone else’s poo, squirted straight into your bowel, along with all the friendly & balanced microbes). Sounds pretty gross, but the results can be incredible (with a caution that we can also create new problems that we’re not even fully aware of yet). When you consider all the functions of our gut microbiome – the potential for this type of ‘transplant’ therapy to both help cure & cause health issues is huge. Understandably, researchers are proceeding with caution.

 

Gut & Garden Rehabilitation:

When rehabilitating your garden or your gut, you may need to do the following:

  • remove any nasty weeds that have taken over, being mindful that some seeds will always remain & maintenance will be required to prevent them from growing back to dominate the area. (Think about a detrimental overgrowth of parasites, fungi, nasty bacteria etc in our guts – we may need to ‘weed’ the gut garden with some anti-microbial / anti-fungal / anti-parasitic herbs & supplements & a restrictive diet as part of the gut rehab process).
  • bring in some healthy new soil ingredients! In humans we need to change what is being swallowed daily, this is one of the major contributors to achieving soil (gut) health. Think mainly about food, but also about medications, environmental chemicals, supplements, hydration…even hormones & emotions…everything that ‘flows through you’ contributes to (or takes away from) your soil health. Really important to stop feeding those nasty microbes what they love (usually sugars & refined starches for the baddies). Feed the goodies so they populate quickly & crowd out the baddies, just like we can plant & nurture a lovely ground cover to stop unwanted weeds from growing back. Our good bugs love fibre & resistant starch, feed them plenty so they’ll grow & take up all the space & resources, leaving none for the baddies / gut weeds!
  • reinoculate & support with some microbial reinforcements. In a garden you can add some microbe-rich compost & manure. You can add mulch to stabilise moisture & temperature / slow down the growth of unwanted weeds / create a safe haven for beneficial creatures that are part of the soil ecosystem. Mulch will also eventually act as a food source that can be broken down & converted by creatures into more organic matter for the soil & it’s microbes. Adding compost & mulch to a garden is just like a human adding plenty of organic, fibrous plant foods & some fermented foods into their diet. What a difference it can make, getting that internal soil to start ‘teeming’ with microbes again, like an internal compost system that keeps cranking out awesome ‘compost’ (or healthy poos).
  • daily intake of diverse fibre = a continuous stream of food to support a wide range of good gut bugs. Without adequate fibre, some of our gut bugs actually start eating away at our protective mucous lining to survive, not a nice thought!
  • water that garden: Your internal soil will dry up & your gut bugs will shrivel if you’re not well hydrated – just like a plant cannot survive & thrive without the moisture required to help it absorb nutrients from the soil & keep it’s microbial helpers comfortable.
  • keep the chemicals out. Chemicals flowing through your gut will mess with the ‘soil’ ecology, just as chemicals sprayed continually into a forest can seriously damage the ecosystem. Eat as much as you can organic, & avoid unnecessary medications / ask your Dr what you can eliminate (or find a functional / integrative GP / naturopath to work with you to minimise your intake of pharmaceuticals).

…& remember it’s not only the vitamins & minerals etc that plants contain – it’s also their hormones & chemical messengers that can actually interact with our systems too. Interesting read…

Love to read your comments that you can add below or send me any email anytime.

Jeanie Xx
jeanie@goodmix.com.au