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

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

1. Stop killing them all the time!

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

2. Expose yourself, inside & outside the house.

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

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

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

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

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

5. Change the environment = change the bacterial balance.

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

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

Jeanie x

Gut Health for Athletes: Fuel the Machine for Peak Performance

We know our diet impacts our body composition & our energy levels. It’s also crucial to maintain Gut Health. 

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

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

What about my gut health?  Who cares?

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

On The Way Through:

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

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

Your Gut = Your Immune System.

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

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

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

The ‘Gut-Muscle Axis’.

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

Gut tips for athletes:

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

 

Eating for performance doesn’t have to be expensive – many athletes aren’t earning enough to support their bodies nutritional needs. Check out this free e-book with tips on eating healthy on a budget.

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

Jeanie
jeanie@goodmix.com.au 

Get Up & Go Breakfast Ideas!

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

Get organised!

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

Goodness in a Jar!

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

Eat Later?

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

Fresh market fruit combos to try with your Blend11:

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

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

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

How Many Poos Should I Be Doing Each Day?

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

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

A: Depends on lots of factors – including…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you’ve been very sedentary or very active.

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

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

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

Stress levels.

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

Being Away From Home.

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

Your Constitution & Baseline Metabolism.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Bristol Stool Chart
Best Poos Ever

Place this handy chart up on your toilet door and teach everyone who sits on your loo about a healthy gut / poo: Bristol Stool Chart – free download

 

Jeanie
jeanie@goodmix.com.au 

 

 

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

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

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

Eat Lots Of Sugar & Pseudo Sugar:

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

The fix

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

Be A Carbaholic Gluten Glutton:

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

The fix

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

Be A Stress Head:

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

The fix

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

Keep Milking It:

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

The fix

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

Be A Party Animal:

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

The fix

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

Just Keep On Shovelling It In:

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

The fix

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

Take Antibiotics Every Time You Get Sick:

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

The fix

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

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

Jeanie

jeanie@goodmix.com.au

My Poo Story / Join the ‘Poo Club’

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

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

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

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

 

JOIN THE PRIVATE GROUP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

 

JOIN THE GROUP & SHARE YOUR POO STORY

Jeanie Xx

Probiotics Make My IBS Feel WORSE, Not Better!

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

IBS…or SIBO?

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

Different Bugs = Different Gas = Different Symptoms.

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

So…what to do ?

Starve the critters out!

Remove The Bugs, Improve The Symptoms?

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

Will They Come Back Again?

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

What Could Cause SIBO In The First Place?

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

How Can I Get Rid of SIBO?

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

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

What Is The SIBO Diet & Treatment Like?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to try some ‘Prescript Assist’

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

Jeanie Xx
jeanie@goodmix.com.au