CSIRO Gut Health Research – Blend11

BLEND11 is undergoing scientific testing!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

e: jeanie@goodmix.com.au

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

You’ve been diagnosed with IBS, what now?

A different kind of diagnosis:

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

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

A new definition for functional gut disorders:

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

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

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

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

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

IBS Sub-Types:

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

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

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

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

Warning Signs – Don’t Ignore These:

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

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

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

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

The Low FODMAP Diet:

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

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

Some More Natural Tools for IBS Management:

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

Some Kind of Normality!

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

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

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

Jeanie xx
jeanie@goodmix.com.au

 

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

Hippocrates, Gut Health, the Microbiome & Medication

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Walking

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

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

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

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

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

Read more about medication & your microbiome here:

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

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

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

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

Read more here: 101101083144.htm  

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

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

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

Read more here: PMC4928680

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

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

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

Jeanie
jeanie@goodmix.com.au

The Microbiome & The Future of Food

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

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

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

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

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

The Future of Food…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

12. Asthma, eczema & allergies will become rare.

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

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

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

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

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

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

FAT KIDS – Why so Many and How we Can Help

*Fat kids = kids who have an amount of body fat that’s above the healthy level, meaning there is something metabolically happening inside them which will predispose them to a long list of health conditions if they stay fat.

They might be super-cute, lovely, happy & seemingly healthy kids, & their parents may seem to be doing everything right – but the bottom line is that they’re overweight & they’re unwell (or will be).  We need to do something about it – overweight kids grow into overweight adults (& they don’t get much choice in the matter if they’re well on the way before their teen years). It’s gotta start with mum & dad…trouble is, we’re a few generations into this epidemic now, & kids learn their eating & lifestyle habits from mum & dad – who are often overweight due to these themselves.  So…I’m just exploring a few of the reasons I believe we’re all getting so fat, & offering some tips to help the kids who are looking like joining the early obesity crowd!

I’m totally guilty of many of the parenting ‘fails’ I’m going to mention here, this isn’t meant to be blaming or judgemental. The point is just to highlight where we’ve been collectively ‘messing up’ & what we can all start doing right now, to help save our kids from a lifelong struggle with obesity & all the health consequences that go along with it.  

What’s Happened In The Last 30 Years?

When I was in school (1986-1997), there were only ever 1 or 2 fat kids in the classes. In any classroom of say 25 kids, you’d see maybe 1 or 2 kids that were carrying an unhealthy amount of excess fat. It was relatively uncommon. Anyone my age or older will back me up on that. Fatness in kids was rare, you’d see it much more in older people.

Today if you visit an Aussie school & go for a wander through the classrooms, you’ll notice there are a LOT more fat kids, 25% of them or more are overweight. That means at least 1 in every 4 of our school kids are:

  • at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes (many are well on their way). It’s no longer called ‘adult onset diabetes’ as so many young people are being diagnosed.
  • more likely to die early from cardiovascular disease (Australia’s biggest killer).
  • more likely to be suffering from anxiety & depression (that will worsen as they get older)
  • more likely to develop asthma, certain skin issues, arthritis, gout, liver & gallbladder disease & some cancers.
  • physically unable to participate in activities they’d love to try.
  • going to struggle with a tendency towards obesity for their entire life (overweight kids generally turn into overweight adults).
  • more likely to have menstrual problems, & trouble having children themselves

…& the list goes on, & the scary thing is that many of these health issues used to be ‘adults only’. It’s not fair, the kids didn’t choose this path, they’ve just found themselves stuck on it. How? Why? A few factors in combination I think…

Screens, devices & games became the dominant leisure activity:

From as young as 18mths (sometimes even younger) you see kids being introduced to ‘screentime’ on an iPad or similar device. It used to be just the TV you had to limit as a parent, but now there are highly addictive ‘portable TVS’ that kids are taking with them on outings because it ‘keeps them happy’ so parents can have lunch / do their work / talk to their friend / have a meeting / go to the hairdresser / shop in peace. Whoa – what are we training our bubs to do here?? To seek happiness, entertainment, & companionship in front of a screen? And teaching them nothing else that we would otherwise be using these opportunities & outings to teach.

Some argue that devices are great to alleviate / eliminate boredom – maybe, under certain circumstances, every now & then…but remember that boredom is actually a really valuable feeling for our kids to experience, they should feel it often. It is the absolute mother of creativity in children, the ‘blank canvas’ that gives rise to new ideas. Give a few children NOTHING to do, & they’ll soon make-up something crazily creative & fun. We don’t want to deprive our young kids of this type of experience & limit chances to develop their creative skills. 

Kids who grow up in front of screens from a young age often seem completely lost without one when they get older. They can’t communicate as effectively, they have fewer face-to-face social skills & they can’t easily entertain themselves like kids who’ve grown up practicing these skills every day instead of just pushing buttons. Ok – the button pushers may end up better prepared for some of the tech jobs in future, but really – what kind of an excuse is that?! It’s the one I hear from parents who like to eat their lunch in peace!

So screen time is not something you wanna encourage / allow in really young kids for ‘non-obesity-related reasons’ – but also think about this. When do you ever see a young child sit still naturally for more than 5 minutes at a time, unless they’re feeling unwell? Maybe some will play quietly when doing things like Lego/ blocks/cars/drawing (do kids still do those things?) But they’re not spending large chunks of their time completely motionless as they will in front of a device. And they’re not so addicted to their real-life block-building that they’ll chuck a wobbly when asked to come outside / have dinner / leave it for a bit to talk to Nanna. Try taking a favourite iPad game away from an engrossed kid – it’s scary to watch the level of addiction that such young people are developing. 

What to do: 

If your kids are still babies, don’t introduce them to device-land, hold off for as long as possible!! As tempting as it may be to just give in for your own sanity, keep your little ones away from iPads / smartphones as long as you can, at least in your home. Don’t worry, they’ll soon catch up & become tech-savvy once they get their hands on them later in life! It’s like junk food & sugar – you’re never going to be able to protect your kids from the crappy addictive food surrounding them forever, but you’ll make your life sooo much harder by introducing this stuff early. Who wants to eat broccoli when they’ve tasted cupcakes??  Who wants to play with wooden blocks when they’ve had a go at Minecraft? Supply the lego / blocks, don’t supply the devices. Because…who wants to deal with addiction & behaviour problems in 7-year-olds? Allowing little kids to stay glued motionless to a screen for hours on end getting a constant stream of addictive dopamine hits is detrimental to their development & to their health, & constantly using a device to ‘babysit’ for you is borderline child abuse. They’ll turn into the teenagers who rarely leave their rooms cos they’re too busy gaming. (Parents of those teens argue that their teenagers are safest locked up in a room gaming, better there than on the streets…& they kind of have a point…but really, it’s still about making life easier for mum & dad & it’s not supporting the kid’s development).

People say about kids & gaming ‘moderation is fine’. The problem is that addictive things are very hard to consume in moderation :( 

If your kids are already fat & addicted to games (or even if they’re not overweight), you can strike a deal with them – they can play their beloved games only on days when they’ve burnt some energy in the morning. The best time to get fat kids exercising is first thing in the morning. They won’t feel like it at first (they’re insulin resistant so not much energy can get into their cells to burn), but early morning is your best fat-burning opportunity, before food. Make it a fun outing – skate park, scooter or bike ride, group fitness class, beach walk / swim / surf / kayak / dog park, swimming pool, bushwalk, yoga together, dance in the kitchen, ball games…whatever suits the kid, just do something with them to get their muscles working (that will burn any stored energy leftover from the night & mean that when it’s all gone, they’ll have to switch to fat for fuel). They’ll feel more energetic & the more you can develop & strengthen their muscles, the better their metabolism will work. Start this ideally before they’re teenagers as it can be really hard to get teens out of bed early (or get them to do anything with you)!

Early Food – Pre-conception, Pregnancy.

One of the biggest factors in the ‘childhood obesity epidemic’ is what our kids are eating early in life – even what mum is eating during pregnancy (& before) can shape her child’s metabolism & be the starting point of a lifelong battle with obesity & disease.

If you are into eating poorly – fine, you’re an adult woman & not really interested in looking after your body, that’s your choice, not a problem. Just don’t get pregnant!! That’s unfair, mean (& really quite dumb too)!

     No 1 – your child starts life with a huge health disadvantage that is your fault for not taking the responsibility of growing a new human being inside you seriously.

    No 2 – you’ll often have a much harder time with that baby / child, dealing with preventable illness & behavioural issues as they grow.

    No 3 – the rest of the population has to put up with their behaviour & pay for the health issues that you’ve created through negligence.

Come on mums! I sometimes think that growing a child should require a license (or at least a compulsory course on health & nutrition first). It shouldn’t have to, but the ‘food’ companies that are feeding us such crap everywhere don’t make it easy for mums to stay on track through a time when nutrition is so crucial (& cravings can be so strong!) 

What To Do:

Eat the best quality fresh, natural wholefood you can during pregnancy & breastfeeding, avoid the crap & know that you are literally providing the building blocks for your child’s early development. It will pay off later, plus it won’t do you any harm either! And if you don’t know the difference between good food & crap, you owe it to yourself & your unborn child to do some research / get help to understand it. And dads – you’re not off the hook, you need to eat properly & cut the crap to support your partner too, the responsibility is huge, so you can at least help out with moral support & not bringing home any tempting junk! If anyone out there is still silly enough to be smoking cigarettes (that’s mum or dad) during the pregnancy period – know that you’ll have increased your kids’ chances of becoming diabetic & obese (before it’s even been born) because you didn’t have the sense / self-discipline / care-factor to quit.

Double Income Family = Double The Kid’s Kgs?

There’s definitely some truth here – there’s a correlation between the rise of childhood obesity & women working more hours outside the home. I’ve been a stay at home mum, a part-time worker / mum & a full-time working mum & I know, with both parents working long hours all week, it leaves very little time or energy to put into shopping properly, food planning & preparation.  You just do what is quick & easy.

Families with 2 full-time working parents are much more likely to grab a quick takeaway or eat out than eat a healthy home-cooked meal together. This means their kids will be consuming a lot more trans fats, sugar, refined carbohydrates & less fresh vegetables at many of their evening meals. Older kids are also more likely to munch out on junk food after school with no parents home, & less likely to be participating in after-school sports (no taxi service!)

The ‘rush-rush’ nature of our lifestyle now means that kids may also have a higher level of baseline stress (as their busy parents will), & higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol have been found in overweight kids. Stressed out parents & kids eat more carb-rich ‘comfort’ foods & will also get less sleep (making them more insulin resistant & likely to store belly fat).

What To Do:

Value the role of parenting as much (or more) than what you do for a career. You are raising new humans, this is a big thing, absolutely worthy of sacrificing some income & your own career progression for a while. Just be prepared for the unimpressed ‘oh’ you’ll get from ’super-mums’ when you explain that you’re a stay at home parent by choice. I applaud full-time parents, those who make the decision to spend the time bringing up their own kids rather than paying someone else to do it. If you can’t see a way to work less – you need to plan better so exhaustion & lack of time doesn’t mean the kids eat KFC or beans on toast. Get quality food delivered (there are loads of companies offering these services now), make breakfasts super-nutritious (our website has loads of easy ideas), make the after school feed count (i.e. veggies, protein, good fats – have something pre-made i.e. leftover dinner or ingredients for a quick platter/ smoothie / bowl), use a slow-cooker so dinner is ready when everyone gets home exhausted, save leftovers in the freezer for crazy evenings…& just don’t make fast food an option, kids will always demand it if they know you’re likely to cave…if you need a takeaway at least make it closer to real food, like a Thai or Indian dish with loads of veggies, or choose food from a quality restaurant. Don’t teach your kids that drive-thru food 3 nights a week (or even 1 night a week) is normal / ok. It might be normal now, but normal doesn’t necessarily mean ok (look at the size of ‘normal’ kids & their ‘normal’ parents these days!)

Stress Factor:

Stress can start as young as the first year of life, when many bubs are placed in a daycare situation, away from their home & family for long hours each workday. An early return to work after childbirth doesn’t make much sense when you think about how nature has designed the baby-raising process to work. No matter what your opinion on women at work & stay at home dads, it’s pretty clear that the original design was for mums to be the primary carers early on, at least until 2 years of age (in countries where there is no pressure to wean early, babies normally still breastfeed until at least 2, giving them a great start nutritionally as far as gut health & immunity are concerned, as well as the stress-relieving aspects for both mum & bub). Many studies have shown that breastfeeding is protective not only against many childhood infections but also against obesity & metabolic syndrome.

What To Do: 

Might be worth staying home that little bit longer…it’s only a few years out of a lifetime. So worth it to pour your energy into building that strong emotional & nutritional foundation early on for your child. Remember home is only a low-stress environment if you’re a low stress kinda parent, you may have some work to do on yourself if that’s not the case! We don’t want to start daycare too early & train bubs to eat pre-packaged, processed ‘lunchbox food’ as a toddler, it’s bad enough that these are everywhere at school. And formula feeding should happen out of necessity when breastfeeding is impossible, not just for convenience / getting back to work quicker. Sorry again, getting our kids back to healthy = getting back to nature, & that means the first few years hanging mostly with mum. Mum will absolutely need a ‘village’ to support her through this time, so seek out fellow villagers. People who have similar values & similar aged kids to take turns with childcare, plus grandparents / aunties / uncles / neighbours etc.

Antibiotic Overprescription: 

Following on from the breastfeeding / daycare discussion – let’s look at antibiotic overuse (the 3 are all tightly connected & relevant to obesity). Australian kids get more unnecessary antibiotics than most in the world (second only to Italy apparently) – we’re chronic overprescribers! A big cause is pressure placed on Drs from parents needing to get back to work ASAP. Kids attending daycare from an early age are prescribed more courses of antibiotics each year than their stay-at-home friends (stressful environment, lack of regular breastmilk & the immune-challenging germ-fest maybe). These antibiotics can alter the child’s gut microbiome for 2 yrs or more. Antibiotic prescription in kids may have decreased over the past few years, due to increased awareness of the issues they can cause, & concerns about the looming antibiotic resistance crisis, but most kids in daycare (& many at home) will still be getting more than 1 course every 2 yrs, enough to potentially leave them with gut microbial & metabolic changes that predispose them to diabetes & obesity later in life. Livestock are given antibiotics to help them get heavier quicker, & it works the same with kids.

What To Do: 

Minimise infection risks in that crucial first few years by keeping them away from daycare environments while their gut-immune system is developing! Don’t rely on antibiotics as your cure-all for childhood infections, they’ll wreck your kid’s gut-immune function & they’ll be much more likely to get the next bug going around, etc etc. Educate yourself – see a naturopath or functional / integrative GP, read books about keeping kids healthy in the first place so that their immune system can deal with infections. A lot of this comes down to a good diet, exercise, sunshine, stress reduction & patience – just allowing time to rest, nurture & get back to health after an illness. If you’re dealing with a fat kid who’s been raised on antibiotics already, you’ll almost certainly need to do some pretty intensive gut work to decrease their candida overgrowth (candida – a yeast – tends to take over the gut when you kill the bacteria they compete with). People with a candida overgrowth will crave sugar like a demon (it’s actually the candida that makes you crave it – so you need to rebalance that gut so your good gut bugs crowd out the candida). Get help from a naturopath with this.

Lunch-box Treats:

Pre-packaged ‘lunchbox foods’ are a pet hate of mine, I wish we could just get rid of that whole aisle in the supermarket so kids would stop asking the parents who do make an effort for ‘normal food like everyone else gets in their lunchbox’! (By normal food they mean Nutella on white bread & chips). Fresh fruit & veg / leftover dinners can hardly compete with the brightly coloured & conveniently packaged processed, sugary, salty, artificial yumminess that is marketed to our poor addicted & obese kids.

What To Do:

Keep little kids at home eating healthy fresh ‘adult food’ as long as practical, this is the time you need to spend training their taste buds. Also, take them shopping regularly with you from a young age (without the iPad lol) & explain that some food companies only really care about making lots of money & that they don’t care if their products are making people sick. They trick us into buying their crappy ‘food’ by making it look & taste really good, but we need to be smarter than them or we will get really sick & fat, see – like that person (point out a really atrocious trolley full of processed crap with a morbidly obese person pushing it, should not be too hard to find in the average supermarket)!  Most of your shopping should be fresh fruit & veg, great to grow some yourself – esp snow peas, beans, cherry tomatoes, berries etc.  So exciting to watch them grow & great for little hands. Train your kids to eat good food & keep the treats away until you’ve got a healthy palette established. They need to know that their food choices can create their bodies, their energy & their feelings, & that their ‘bad bugs’ ask for the bad foods.

Sweet Drinks:

These are one of the biggest obesity contributors I feel. People don’t think of them as ‘food’ (calories) because they are liquids & so easy to consume alongside a meal. But they can turn a good meal into a nutritional nightmare. And they replace good calories with totally empty ones, zero nutrition & plenty of sweet poison. IF YOU DO ONE THING ONLY TO DECREASE YOUR CHILD’S CHANCES OF BECOMING AN OBESE OR DIABETIC ADULT, STOP THE SOFT DRINK.

What To Do:

Water water water. Fresh juices with veggies in them are fine, but better still smoothies, not juices so the fibre is still there. No bottled juices, no sweetened milk, no soft drink. Just flat out none when they’re really little – they don’t need it, you’ll just train their body to crave these & create a world of unhappiness for both of you. If you say no every time, they stop asking eventually (or they don’t start until much later). Tell Nannas not to give them crap early, plenty of time for that later when it’s literally everywhere, then you’ll probably need to create some ‘occaisions’ where you’ll say yes so they don’t develop a total complex. You need to loosen the rules as they get older & start to figure out they’ve been deprived of some of the ‘yummiest’ treats in the world all their young life! Soft drinks / juices should never have a permanent place on the shopping list / in the fridge / at the table – they are for parties & special occasions etc. Don’t have them at home just staring at everyone asking to be consumed, that’s how addictions start – with a few repeated doses. At parties & restaurants, you can ask for a mix of half lemonade & half sparkling mineral water / soda water (that way everyone is happy but you’ve halved the sugar intake). You can offer sparkling water with fresh lemon or lime at home in place of other ‘fizz’.

Cereal:

Another huge contributor to the childhood obesity epidemic. ‘But we only buy the healthy cereals’ I hear you say.  LOL!! You are deluding yourself if you think there are any healthy cereals. The ‘healthy cereals’ found on supermarket shelves, while lower in artificials & sugar than the ‘cereals-nobody-should-ever-buy-eat-or feed-to-their-kids’, are literally just processed lumps of carbs designed to be bathed in a soup of milk & usually topped with something else that’s also sweet. A massive insulin spike to start the day, a bowl full of nutritionally-lacking carbs with very little fat fibre & protein will mean a quick energy hit, then a dive that will mean they’ll crave something sweet again soon after breakfast.

What To Do:

Focus on including plenty of fat, fibre & protein for breakfast, so the kid’s blood glucose stays more level throughout the day, don’t keep smashing their straining pancreas with carbs.  Things like full-fat yoghurt, coconut yoghurt, natural protein powder etc can be added to porridge or smoothies, also use nuts & seeds, or try eggs, beans / lentils, check out our recipe page for yummy & fun breakfast ideas that contain loads of fat, fibre & protein nutrition. Even good quality sourdough wholegrain toast / or gluten-free if required, piled high with nourishing things like avocado, hummus, pesto, nut butter, sprouts, etc etc etc are a million miles ahead of a bowl of cereal for our poor little fat kids. A keto style approach may be worth looking into, also intermittent fasting (but get a professional to help you with these).

Poor Sleep:

Being so constantly connected to their devices & as a result of our too-busy, stressful lifestyles, our kids aren’t getting the sleep they need to maintain healthy metabolisms – especially our teens. Cortisol = hormonal metabolism wrecker, & poor sleep leads to higher cortisol. Studies on sleep-deprived people show that sleep is absolutely crucial to keeping us out of the diabetic / insulin resistant / metabolic syndrome state. Throw into the mix that many teens like to be out & about late at night socialising on weekends, possibly drinking a lot of caffeinated beverages, experimenting with drugs & alcohol…or maybe they’re really sporty & are up early for training every morning before school…either way, it’s highly likely there’s not enough sleep happening.

What To Do:

Set some rules around devices, it’s actually best that you pay for the phone & the data bill so that you have good reasons to be in control of its use, i.e. agree on a time before bed where there is no more device use (at least 1/2 an hr before bed). Devices shouldn’t be plugged in to charge overnight in bedrooms, make a designated spot for everyone to charge their phone at night (parents need to make rules for themselves here too to set a good example)! High adrenaline games are a no-no before bed too, no TV’s or gaming consoles in rooms either, or firm agreements around their use. If teens are anxious / stressed out – think about magnesium baths or supplementation (magnesium is a massively common deficiency & is also crucial for healthy blood sugar metabolism). Consider magnesium especially if your teen is heavily into sports also. There are herbs that can help with sleep & anxiety as well- passionflower is a fave of mine (ask in your local health store). Massage is super-beneficial for teens too, & can help lower cortisol levels & improve sleep, even just a foot rub or shoulder massage before bed.

I’ve tried everything! 

Don’t feel like it’s entirely your fault – as parents, we can only do the best we can with the information we have at the time. You get new info, you change tactics. Just don’t ignore new info when you have access to it, & keep looking for it.  The childhood obesity battle we can fight to a certain extent ourselves as parents, but it’s also got to be fought on a group level with the big food companies (who are massively to blame for this epidemic). We’re surrounded by ‘easy but not best’ options that they produce (to meet our demand, we have to take that responsibility) with regards to our diet & healthcare. These guys are pretty formidable adversaries for anyone to take on – but we can at least all give them less of our dollars each week!

If you’re a fat kid or you were & have now become a fat adult – don’t lose heart (or lose it at your parents), it’s obviously not just parents that are the issue, this is an epidemic with multiple causes. There’s so much new research & knowledge out there that can help you get your metabolism back to healthy (in case you feel like you’ve exhausted all your options). A lot of it now is pointing back to rehabilitating the damaged gut ecosystem. You can change your cravings, your metabolism, your mental / emotional state just by changing your gut bugs. And as always – we have to get back to nature, we’re so far removed from the way humans should be living & raising their kids, & not just with food.

Let me know if a specific ‘fatloss for kids’ e-book would be useful (I’ll write one), & I’m also interested in your own discoveries along the parenting/weight loss journey. Make a comment below or send me an email anytime.

Jeanie
jeanie@goodmix.com.au

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

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