Gut Health for Athletes: Fuel the Machine for Peak Performance

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

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

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

What about my gut health?  Who cares?

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

On The Way Through:

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

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

Your Gut = Your Immune System.

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

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

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

The ‘Gut-Muscle Axis’.

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

Gut tips for athletes:

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

 

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

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

Jeanie
jeanie@goodmix.com.au 

Get Up & Go Breakfast Ideas!

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

Get organised!

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

Goodness in a Jar!

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

Eat Later?

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

Fresh market fruit combos to try with your Blend11:

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

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

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

How Many Poos Should I Be Doing Each Day?

image of toilet | how many poos a day is normal | goodMix Superfoods

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

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

A: Depends on lots of factors – including…

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

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

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

A person eating KFC & Macca’s burgers 3x daily washed down with energy drinks will be unlikely to produce any healthy poos, as there’s nothing much in these ‘foods’ to support your gut bugs, whereas a person consuming a variety of fresh, natural, whole plant foods that agree with them will have sufficient fibre intake to support a thriving & diverse ecosystem of gut microbes who literally help your gut to produce good healthy poos. A huge percentage of your poo is actually gut bugs (yup, it’s alive – a bit freaky when you think about it!!) The rest is mostly made up of fibre & water.

Fibre & fluid provide the building blocks of healthy poos, & your gut bugs are like the builders (sorry any builders reading for the comparison). Anyway – when things are ‘not happening’, it can be due to not enough or poor quality building materials coming in, or maybe there is a problem with the builders (they’ve been wiped out with a bout of gastro or a course of antibiotics), there may be a party going on in there with too many of the wrong bugs hindering the building process, or the building site (your gut) needs some maintenance to make it all work properly again.

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

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

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

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

If you’ve been very sedentary or very active.

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

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

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

Stress levels can impact how many poos a day is normal

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

Being Away From Home.

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

Your Constitution & Baseline Metabolism.

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

So…let just says you’re spending plenty of time at home, you’re not overly stressed, you don’t take meds, you’re eating plenty of fibre, you exercise, you’re thyroid is sweet & you’re well-hydrated:

How many poos a day is normal?  

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

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

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

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

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

Blend11, our low-FODMAP, breakfast booster (although it can be eaten any time of day!) has developed a great reputation for helping people wanting to support healthy, comfortable digestion & metabolism. It’s gluten-free, vegan-friendly, keto-friendly, diabetic-friendly, IBS-friendly … basically it can be enjoyed by most people!

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

 

Bristol Stool Chart
Best Poos Ever

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

 

Jeanie
jeanie@goodmix.com.au 

 

 

Seven things to avoid for good gut health

7 things to avoid for good gut health | goodMix Superfoods

Let’s face it – we’ve seriously messed our collective gut health up over the last 50 years – excessive use of antibiotics & other medications, chemicals in our food, overconsumption of refined & junky ‘food’, lack of exposure to environmental microbes, high stress levels, huge rates of caesarean births and not enough breastfeeding…no wonder we’re all such a mess!! So whilst the damage is already done, there are a few things we can do to avoid making things worse – & maybe even improve the situation! If you’re trying to get your dysfunctional & unhappy gut back to some kind of balance – here are 7 things NOT to do (& what to do instead) for good gut health.

Eat Lots Of Sugar & Pseudo Sugar:

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

The fix

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

Be A Carbaholic Gluten Glutton:

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

The fix

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

Be A Stress Head:

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

The fix

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

Keep Milking It:

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

The fix

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

Be A Party Animal:

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

The fix

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

Just Keep On Shovelling It In:

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

The fix

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

Take Antibiotics Every Time You Get Sick:

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

The fix

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

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

Jeanie

jeanie@goodmix.com.au

5 Health Tips From a Naturopath

green fern branch | naturopathy tips for health and wellbeing | goodMix

As a naturopath (in a former life!) I was often asked what advice I would offer to help my clients to improve health and wellbeing. Sometimes we need to look ‘outside the box’ – here are 5 naturopathy tips that can help you get healthier…

1. Listen To Your Body – Don’t Ignore it:

Some people get themselves into really big trouble because they ignore their body when it’s gently whispering that something is wrong. Ie – that itchy rash that you slathered with cortisone cream isn’t necessarily ‘better’ or ‘fixed’ just because it’s gone away now. The conditions in your body that created / gave rise to that rash are very likely still present, & you’ve made no attempt to change what you’re doing – just whacked some cream on to ‘make the noise go away’. That usually won’t be the last of it – often that rash will reappear somewhere else, worse than before – or you’ll get some other symptom (which may seem completely unrelated) popping up.

One of our top naturopathy tips is never to ignore your symptoms! Symptoms are best treated as signals to pay greater attention to your health & make a change, not as annoyances to just remove ASAP. You can even use ongoing mild symptoms as a gauge to monitor where you’re at, & to help judge if a change you’ve made has been a good one for you. Respect your body’s attempts to communicate with you – if you ignore the whispers, you’ll have to deal with some shouting later on!

2. Diagnosis & Treatment – Shop Around, Get a Few Opinions:

Another of our top naturopathy tips is to always get a 2nd (even a 3rd, 4th & 5th) opinion when a Doctor recommends medication or surgery, or any invasive treatment that comes with its own set of risks &/or side effects. I speak to sooo many people who’re medicated unnecessarily, who’ve undergone surgery when other options would have been better. These are not decisions to take lightly, this is your body & you have the right to question your practitioner & get another opinion or 3 if you feel even slightly uneasy about the recommendations being given. I’m not suggesting that you ignore the diagnosis & recommendations of your practitioner, just putting it out there that different practitioners will have different approaches, different training, different experience & different tools to work with your issues. And no Dr has all the answers. You don’t have to go with the first piece of advice you’re given.  

3. Diet – Be Open to Change, Be Flexible:

Nobody really knows what diet is the best one for you – despite what they might say! But if you’re not feeling 100% on your current diet, it makes sense to try something different.  There are a lot of people who feel great on a vegan diet, a lot who feel better on a paleo diet, some just need to steer clear of dairy or gluten…some seem to thrive on the blood type diet…& then those who felt great for a while on some diet or other then slipped for no apparent reason.  

We really only know the tip of the iceberg about how our gut works, the way we digest & assimilate nutrients & the interactions between the gut microbiome & our brain & immune system. My personal feeling is that we need to remain open & flexible to try different approaches when we’re ‘out of whack’. You can find negatives in almost every single food if you look (even many vegetables), so don’t freak out when you read / hear something negative about one of your faves that you thought was healthy – maybe it does have some unhealthy bits, but often the overall effect is a good one when you take into account all the good bits!

This is how many people have come across Blend11, our breakfast booster that has developed such a huge fan base! Word of mouth and people trialling it have found it to be so healthful and life-changing! So trying new foods and diet options are definitely amongst our top naturopathy tips!

4. Look After Your Emotions – They’re Much More Powerful Than You Think:

It doesn’t matter how healthy & balanced your diet is, or how active you are if you’re feeling unbalanced emotionally. Negative feelings can absolutely cause you to become unwell, especially anything that goes on for too long without you recognising it, addressing it & working through it. Things like strong sadness, grief, loneliness, anger, work or relationship stress.  We all have our challenges & stresses, we wouldn’t appreciate the ups if there were no downs – but, if there’s something in your life that is a constant niggle or a big loud disturbance to your mental-emotional wellbeing, it needs to be dealt with as a priority! Don’t set the expectation that you should be a completely zen monk-like human being, but if you’re placing all the focus on diet & exercise, & wondering why you’re not seeing results – look into the mental-emotional side of things. So one of the best naturopathy tips I can give you is if you’re not laughing, playing, connecting, learning, challenging yourself, relaxing…doing whatever it is that feels most nourishing to your soul – do something about that today!! And if there’s an obvious stressor that is affecting you strongly, do something about that today too. Sometimes you just need to change the way you’re thinking about it, sometimes you need to make big scary changes.

5. Nature – Get Amongst It! You Were Designed To!:

view of a bay from a window | naturopathy tips #5 | goodMix

So easy in this crazy concrete day & age to go for days / weeks without spending time immersed in (or even in contact with) nature. If you live & work in an apartment in the middle of a giant city, & have little downtime – it can be especially hard. A few naturopathy tips to help you ‘stay connected’:

  • Open your windows (unless your area is quite polluted, let the sunshine & outside air into your home – it will bring in loads of natural & healthy microbes & prevent your indoor environment from stagnating & growing toxic mould). This might not be appropriate in springtime if you’re suffering a hayfever flare, but for everyone else – open up!
  • Plant indoor plants (they can help filter & oxygenate your inside air, they attract healthy microbes & they brighten up your space). Ask at your local nursery for plants that are happy inside in pots, it doesn’t suit them all!
  • Start a veggie garden – even if it’s only a few herbs in pots on the balcony! Gardening is a proven antidepressant, it can be quite meditative & very satisfying – plus you get all those lovely dirt microbes when you work on it & when you incorporate your uber-fresh produce into a meal.
  • Head to the beach, lake, park, forest, farm etc in your downtime. Breathe deeply, hug trees, play in the mud, pat the animals, roll in the leaves / sand, swim & don’t rinse too quickly…get covered in microbes from healthy natural ecosystems! You’ll give your immune system something to do, & introduce some ‘old friends’ (microbes we evolved with) into your personal microbiome.
  • Get a pet. Yes, they drop hair all over the place & walk dirt from outside into your home, & lick the kid’s faces – but that actually makes your space healthier! Get over the grubbiness & embrace your messy pet. They make you healthier in many other ways too (studies actually show that pet owners are happier & healthier). Remember that as you’re sweeping hair & picking up poo :)
  • Buy farm fresh organic fruit & veg (shop at the markets), or grow some of your own. Plants taken fresh from a healthy organic soil ecosystem have a completely different microbiome than those grown on a chemical soaked conventional farm in chemically fertilised soil. Chemicals kill things / interrupt ecosystems. Even if the produce looks & tastes the same, you’re not getting the same good bugs with it. And bugs can have a huge impact on your health. It’s a good thing when you see a slug on the lettuce you’ve just bought…it means the food you’re eating supports life & that a living creature has chosen to eat it / make it’s home there…it’s much more scary if you never find creatures in your food!

…it’s not ALL about diet, exercise & supplements…these have their place, but they aren’t the only things to consider! Tell me what you’ve found to be the biggest health challenge, or the most unexpected healing tool you’ve figured out? Leave a comment below or send me an email.

Jeanie Xx
jeanie@goodmix.com.au

Hiding Veggies! Handy Tips for Fussy Eaters

With so many cheap processed foods trying to sabotage our shopping trolleys, the constant role of us parents is to find new ways to sneak healthy foods (particularly veggies) into our family’s food! Some kids are super-fussy, & it seems all they want to eat is sausages, chips & crackers! I don’t advise you to ‘just let them grow out of it’, as in my experience – kids who are allowed to get away with eating just sausages & chips as kids often continue to do so, & they don’t get used to the tastes & textures of vegetables & salads the way kids who are brought up on them daily do. You either do the introductory work when your kids are young, or they will pay the price for it later with ongoing fussiness, nutrient deficiencies & the health issues that arise from them. Getting veggies in can be hard work at times, but it will pay off – & there are many ways to sneak things in / introduce gradually so it’s not too scary!

It’s not only the kids who experience trouble with eating their veggies, I actually speak to quite a few adults who are definitely old enough to realise that they should be eating more veggies, but still really struggle with textures / tastes & do not eat very many at all! Because they find it so difficult to eat veggies themselves – they’re unable to enforce good vegetable-eating habits in the kids, so the issue gets passed down & compounded!

Here’s a few easy & inexpensive dishes, perfect for getting more veggies into the ‘average Aussie family’ diet. You’ll notice most of these dinners use mince as a base – reason is it’s inexpensive & kids are generally pretty good with it, plus it’s an easy texture that allows you to hide a lot of veg in it. You can experiment with beef, chicken, lamb, kangaroo or pork. Make it free range & grass fed wherever you possibly can (ask your butcher or farmer at the markets!) I ethically agree with & have experimented myself with both a vegetarian & vegan diet in the past, but I do feel that for rapidly growing kids, some animal protein & fats are important & very useful nutritionally. Just look for & support the producers who operate on a small scale & treat their animals with more care, & incorporate loads of veggies & plant foods in so that meat isn’t playing the starring dietary role, but is there in smaller quantities to supply the nutritional bits that plants don’t cover.

Meatballs / Patties

Better option for BBQ’s than the kid-favourite sausages, as you can pack them full of veggies! The secret is to chop everything really finely, or use a processor / blender. Into your mince you can add add onion, garlic, fresh herbs (i.e. basil, oregano, chives, rosemary, mint, curry plant), carrot, celery, mushroom, capsicum, zucchini. Just watch the water content with the wetter veggies (you may need to squeeze the water out of grated zucchini  for example). I generally add in something absorbent like chia meal or chia flour (ask in your health store) to help bind the patties & soak up any excess moisture from the tonne of veggies. You can also add in some seaweed flakes (i.e. dulse or kelp) to sneakily boost nutrition, salt & pepper & some dried herbs & spices like cumin, thyme or sage.

Bolognaise

A quick & easy option for most families – yet there is a big nutritional difference between the average ‘pasta-meat-sauce’ spaghetti bol & a veggie packed healthy version! To maximise your veg intake, start with onion, garlic & mushroom (all finely chopped). Fry these & then add finely chopped celery, carrot, capsicum, zucchini, & even beetroot. Add in some leafy greens, seaweed flakes, herbs (basil, oregano, rosemary all work well), & then mix all of this into your cooked mince, along with some plain chopped tomatoes or tomato sauce (I use molasses as a mineral-rich sweetener / flavour booster & salt & pepper). I’ll often just eat this without the pasta, but the kids miss it! You can use GF pasta or even some ‘courgette’ / spiralled zucchini noodles. Serve with some simple raw greens or a salad, & some grated cheese to top if desired.

Lasagne

Same veggies as the bolognaise. Chopped finely – this is just the bolognaise brew arranged with layers of sauce / cheese / pasta! You can use GF sheets or finely sliced pumpkin as the ‘pasta’ layers too.

Shepherd’s Pie

All of the same bolognaise veggies will work here too, & you can incorporate some sneaky tinned asparagus into the sauce (blend it in), & throw in some frozen peas. I often use a mix of cauliflower or sweet potato in with the mashed potato topping, & you can throw some green / brown lentils into the mince part – or even use these instead of the meat. You can use things like salt & pepper, tomato paste, mustard, molasses & herbs / spices / natural sauces to make it flavoursome.

Mexican

Great crowd-pleaser to introduce some legumes! Soak some black beans overnight, then rinse & drain them before boiling until soft. Or you can use canned if you’re not good at planning! I use a combo of whole beans & some of the canned refried beans. These can be added in after you’ve cooked up the rest of the mix, which can be your meat (if using, you can easily make a great vego mexican brew with just the beans & veg) plus finely chopped onion, garlic, celery, carrot, broccoli / cauliflower, zucchini…whatever. You can use molasses as a sweetener, plus salt, pepper, cumin, turmeric (not too much or it gets bitter) & coriander to make it taste ‘Mexican’! Serve with guacamole (mashed avo with lemon / lime juice, salt, pepper & garlic) & fresh coriander / shallots on top.

Rice Paper Wraps

Onion & garlic, add in some ginger for the Asian flavour, or whatever Asian style paste / herbs you like – i.e. coriander, basil, mint, lime juice, tamari…just fry the mince with the garlic / ginger / spices / paste, add finely chopped veggies / herbs, & have some others raw & grated on the table when you serve up. You can have several bowls for different people to choose their own additions, & some dipping sauce. Or instead of Asian style, try a rosemary & garlic lamb mince with yoghurt, mint & cucumber dressing. You can find the wraps in the asian section of the supermarket, & you just need to dip them into hot water to make them soft enough to wrap (requires a little practice, small children will need help making theirs).

Wedges

A great winter hot veggie snack. Sweet potato & potato, homemade & oven baked. You can coat in some tapioca starch & spices to get them really crispy / crunchy. Cook in macadamia or coconut oil, & serve with yummy dips (see below!)

Dips

You can hide a lot of veggies (& probiotic yoghurt / healthy olive oil) in dips. Cooked sweet potato & pumpkin, cucumber, herbs, avocado, semi dried tomato, beetroot, olives etc – & we think of dips as party or snack food, so tend not to be on the lookout for veggies! Google veggie dips or any of the above-mentioned veggies with dip & you’ll find recipes. Also – they are nice & smooth, & generally there are crackers to be had with them – so veggie dips can be a winner for veggie-shy people! 

Wraps

You can find some half-decent GF wraps in the supermarkets now. Bundle up a heap of healthy fillings with some kind of yummy dressing. Meat / cheese – whatever other fillings you / the kids like, to go with the veggies. Think avocado, hommous etc. 

Omelettes

Mushroom, tomato, onion, herbs like rosemary, parsley & thyme, baby spinach & shredded kale…just start of with a few teeny tiny bits & you can increase as they get used to the ‘bits’.

Quiches

Same as omelettes – start with a few bits & increase as they get used to the new tastes / textures.

Pies

You can add some veggies chunk style, & some hidden, finely blended into the pie ‘sauce’. Top pies with mashed & seasoned veggies.

Coleslaw

This can be a good one as most veggie-fussy types like mayonnaise / creamy dressings. You can make a basic coleslaw with just shredded cabbage & carrot, or add in shallots / raw onion, celery, kale, capsicum, grated beetroot, parsley etc. Kids usually like a little grated cheese in there too.

Beetroot Salad

Use the fine holes on your grater, to grate a large raw beetroot with 2 medium carrots. ‘Dress’ with some fresh grated / juiced pineapple & / or orange, & add in some desiccated coconut & currants if desired. Amazing sweet & juicy side salad that many kids & adults like, & a great way to introduce raw beetroot to those who’ve never tried it.

Potato Salad

I like to add boiled eggs into potato salad to balance the carbs with some protein / fats. You can add finely chopped shallots / chives, raw onion, parsley, celery, frozen peas….potato salad is great for resistant starch (the carbs turn into this when cooked & cooled down). Resistant starch is good food for your gut bacteria.

Fried Rice

You can use quinoa too (or a mixture) & use leftover meats or veggies in here. I use shredded fried eggs, free range nitrate free bacon, or chicken leftovers, onion, garlic, ginger, turmeric, shallots, carrot, corn, frozen peas, capsicum, broccoli, cauliflower (chopped up into tiny bits). 

Mash

You can sneak cauliflower into your mashed potato, use lots of butter & salt & pepper to flavour, & garlic, chives or parsley are also yum in mash. You can add cooked broccoli & carrots into sweet potato / pumpkin mash…mash makes textures less of an issue so you may have luck with some different veggies incorporated in this way.

Pesto

Herbs are super-nutritious like veggies (often even more so) but can be expensive. It’s great to grow a few in the garden / pots. You can make amazing fresh pesto using basil & baby spinach, parmesan, olive oil, salt & pepper, lemon juice & garlic. This pesto can also be used to flavour other veggies. It goes great with roasted sweet potato chunks, or in a salad.

Spinach & Feta Pies

Kids love greens hidden in cheese! Most people love mini spinach & feta pies. Use a cupcake / muffin tray to bake a heap of these – great way to get some greens & protein in if dairy is well tolerated. Basil is awesome in these.

Platters / Finger Food

Olives, carrot, celery, capsicum, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, snow peas, sugar snaps, beans….you can make great healthy platters using veggies. Just combine with things you already like i.e. cheeses, nuts, crackers, dips etc. Finger food / platters are very kid-friendly & they’ll be able to experiment carefully with a little encouragement.

Green Smoothies

Pineapple / banana / papaw / mango / kiwi / apple / pear etc can be the ‘sweetness’ to make a glass full of raw green veggies yummier! Celery tops, cucumber, baby spinach, kale etc can all be blended up into drinks – many people find drinking their veggies is actually easier than eating them!

Red Smoothies

You can make an amazing, vibrant red smoothie using raspberries, watermelon, dragon fruit & beetroot. This is just cool for kids because it is SOO bright red. Pink grapefruit & ginger are nice flavours in this too.

Juices

Some people can’t handle the thick, fibrous texture of smoothies with veggies in them. Juice can be a great way to get used to the different veggie tastes, without having to deal with the textures at the same time! Try small amounts of spinach, kale, cucumber, carrot, beetroot, ginger, turmeric etc – using familiar things like apple, mandarin, pineapple & orange to sweeten / mask.

Cakes

You can make quite a few cool cakes with veggies win them. The obvious one is carrot cake, but google chocolate beetroot or zucchini cake, black bean brownies…you can actually sneak veggies into cakes & sweet treats!

Raw Carrot Cake
Bristol Stool Chart
Best Poos Ever

Place this handy chart up on your toilet door and teach everyone who sits on your loo about a healthy gut / poo and may even show the direct effect of eating more veggies: Bristol Stool Chart – free download

I hope you find some of these tips useful, & I’d love to know your thoughts, struggles or even your own tips! Just leave a comment below or send me an email !

Jeanie Xx
jeanie@goodmix.com.au

My Poo Story / Join the ‘Poo Club’

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

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

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

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

 

JOIN THE PRIVATE GROUP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

 

JOIN THE GROUP & SHARE YOUR POO STORY

Jeanie Xx

Will Probiotics Help IBS Or Make It Worse?

view of the digestive system | the effects of probiotics for IBS | goodMix Superfoods

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

IBS…or SIBO?

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

Different Bugs = Different Gas = Different Symptoms.

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

So…what to do ?

Starve the critters out!

Remove The Bugs, Improve The Symptoms?

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

Will They Come Back Again?

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

What Could Cause SIBO In The First Place?

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

How Can I Get Rid of SIBO?

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

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

What Is The SIBO Diet & Treatment Like?

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

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

From the feedback we get, Blend11 seems to be very SIBO-friendly being very low in carbs / sugars & Low FODMAP. Specially formulated for anyone wishing to support healthy, comfortable digestion & metabolism, & for those following the ‘Low FODMAP Diet’ as part of their IBS management plan, Blend11 may very well help ease your symptoms.

We also hear great things about the effects of Pondwater. PondWater is an organic Supergreens + Aloe Vera powder supplement, which acts as a ‘selective prebiotic’ but also has anti-microbial properties & is very soothing for an inflamed / damaged gut lining.

If you & your health professional aren’t getting the results you’d like with your gut symptoms, look into the possibility of SIBO, especially if you’re one of those people who want to know if probiotics will really help IBS symptoms. 

If you have any specific questions on probiotics or the effects of probiotics for IBS or SIBO, just send me an email and I’ll try and help further.

Jeanie Xx
jeanie@goodmix.com.au

Dad Gut: Save Him With These Tips!

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

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

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

Jeanie Xx
jeanie@goodmix.com.au

Changed My Life – FOREVER

So I sat down this afternoon thinking ok – I need to write a newsletter in the next 30mins, before the kids are finished school ? this might be a quick & mediocre one!!

But then (Thankyou Thankyou!!) I opened my inbox, & behold!! Something infinitely better than anything I could write (even if I had been ahead of schedule)! This customer is an inspiration to everyone – with or without gut issues, & has even shared some awesome tips for the gut-conscious travellers & sports people.

Sometimes it takes trial & error to figure out exactly what works for you, but the effort pays off big-time when you do figure it out ?


the email…

We arrived back home in Australia after five wonderful weeks holidaying around Europe. WOW it was amazing.

Every night for 35 days I would make up a small batch of Blend 11 for the next morning, which I would have with or without yogurt, because I could not read the French or Italian labelled yoghurts as most would have a lot of sugar in them and maybe I would add some fruit as an extra, if I had remembered to buy it. I forgot to take it for just 1 day and I knew about it the next.  

Let me explain, I have had Crohn’s disease for 35 years, 3 surgeries later and 1.5metres less of small intestine. I constantly have to deal with diarrhoea and the urgency to go no matter where you are, even on a European holiday.

Just four years ago on the 29th of July my intestine perforated, and this event changed my life forever. I had taken for 15 years autoimmune suppressant medication and my body was a mess, it just wasn’t healing as fast as the Doctors would have liked. After 10 long days in hospital and a stoma bag attached, I went home almost 10 kilos lighter and also my muscles had wasted because I just wasn’t able to move out of bed for 7 days.

That was hard, I have a selfie to remind me what I don’t want in my life anymore.

After 18 months of being extremely cautious due to major surgery and following medical advice to a T, I still had mild diarrhoea. Bugger. I start exercising at the local gym lifting light weights and absolutely hated it, but I knew I had to do things differently this time as my next hospital visit in the long term future possibly meant a lifelong stoma bag attached. That was ok as Blake Beckford became my online mentor, note photo insert below. If Blake could turn his life around and become the first male model in the UK with a stoma bag, I could do it? Check blakes website out and read his story.

Photo credit: http://www.blakebeckford.co.uk

My Personal Trainer was fantastic and listened to me, he suggested that I start running. Just 10 weeks before the Bridge to Brisbane and a team of 10 gym members I did it. As I ran I still suffered mild diarrhoea but I loved the freedom of running, it was refreshing, exhausting  and energising all in one.  Over the course of 4 months I met a friend that recommended Blend 11 for constipation, I think he had never heard of Crohn’s Disease.  Another friend introduced me to some material on the Low Carb High Fat Diet, and another to Intermittent Dieting. I tried it all and everything worked, yep even the Blend11. I tested over 3 months cracking the combination of what would work and what would not.  All variations had some benefits, but ultimately together Blend11, running, LCHF Diet and Intermittent Dieting I had found after 35 years something that has changed my life. FOREVER.

I’ve run 10k maybe 100 times now even 21.1k around 10 times now.  I’m currently training for my first Marathon and I have my goal set on a 100k in the Blue Mountains in 2018. During my holidays, I discovered a town called Chamonix in France, it is famous for Mt Blanc some 4810 metres above sea level, yes snow on top. But the town is in a valley and absolutely filled with golden rays of warmth. But why I mention this is they hold every year many different trail running distance events on one of the most beautiful mountains on earth. I plan to run it over the next couple of years with a solid training plan and of course I will take my Blend11 the day before.

To the team at Goodmix and their Blend11 thank you, I couldn’t live without it now.

Dino B

..end email


I just loved hearing this! If you have a story to share – please do (especially on Wednesday afternoons)!

Jeanie Xx

jeanie@goodmix.com.au

Constipation in Babies & Toddlers – 8 natural tips!

tips for tackling baby and toddler constipation, text written over baby's face | goodMix Superfoods

Is your baby or toddler suffering from constipation? Here are 8 great, natural and easy to follow tips to help prevent or manage baby and toddler constipation.

Bbaby-21167_1280reast feeding

Helps to form the healthy internal ecosystem your child needs for good digestion, & immunity. Do it if you can, & you will have WAY less issues with constipation than what is likely with formula fed bubs. It’s an investment that will pay off down the track – if you can’t breastfeed, look for the formulas with prebiotics.

 

Break the antibiotic cycle.

This is a huge issue when it comes to baby and toddler constipation. So many babies & toddlers are spending most of their time in daycare centres filled with other small people with developing immune systems, poor personal hygiene & hands & mouths all over everyone…so the amount of colds & flus, gastro bugs, infections of all kinds can be just overwhelming. In many cases parents need to work, & daycare is seemingly the only option. Sicknesses are perceived to be handled quickest using antibiotics so everyone can get back into care / work / school with minimal time off – but this is generally untrue for childhood headache-1540220_640infections, as the vast majority are viral – not bacterial. When we give a child a course of antibiotics, we are actually wiping out much of their natural defence & compromising their immune system greatly – so next bug that’s going around (i.e. Monday morning back at daycare), will be much more likely to cause them problems.  It is a vicious cycle, & daycare centres & antibiotics should be avoided wherever possible by those wanting to look after their children’s gut health (& therefore general health). Obviously go by your health professional’s recommendations & don’t ignore infections – BUT, please – if your Dr still prescribes antibiotics readily for childhood infections, you need to find a new doctor!! Damaged gut bacterial populations are a big cause of baby and toddler constipation, diarrhea, bloating, & IBS in both kids & adults…not to mention more cold & flu’s.

 

Fluid intake

young boy taking drink from water bottle to avoid constipationThis is often a tricky one with little ones! Use a special cup (you may want to invest in a new one every few months if that makes a difference to the fussy drinker, or have a rotation system  – either way, give them their own special bottle, cup or straw that they love to drink from – it can really help you to monitor fluid intake as well as encourage busy kids to drink on the go! In warmer months use smoothies, fresh juices (with veggies, not just fruits), coconut water, icy fruit slushies, frozen smoothie ice-blocks etc to help prevent baby and toddler constipation. In winter use soups, hot drinks like lemon & honey tea or yummy herbal teas like liquorice, hibiscus, rosehip, healthy hot chocolate or carob drinks (carob has no caffeine so ideal for younger kids, but is nice & sweet).

Good Gut Bacteria Food.

A toddler who lives on white bread, rice crackers, ham, cheese & sausages (unfortunately all too common today), will not be getting the fibre required to nourish their good bowel bacteria, & will have all kinds of trouble as a result.  The bacteria that live in your bowel are very influential in stool consistency, transit time, & general digestive ability (not to mention behaviour, immunity, nutrition & growth). We need to ensure a constant supply of ‘good bacteria food’ – i.e. fresh fruit & veggies (esp leafy greens), n8362669328_531042f827_nuts, seeds, legumes, & some whole grains if tolerated well to help avoid baby and toddler constipation. (Blend11 or NeoBlend are easy & go well into yoghurt & smoothies to increase the diversity of daily prebiotic fibre. Make sure each meal or snack has ‘something for the bugs’ as well as for the kid! For the extreme fussy eater, try chopped fruit in jelly cups (as a first step), hiding blended veggies in things like bolognaise sauce etc, ‘ice-cream’ made from frozen fruits etc, small amounts of dried fruits – dates & apricots are great to make bliss balls etc. For the kids used to a more natural diet, they can eat pretty much anything adults are eating – smooth pasty baby food is a big mistake to rely on, as kids will not get used to the different textures of fibrous foods – they really need to be eating some of what mum & dad are eating (mum & dad obviously need to eat well as an example – get over your own fussiness!).

Supplementation to tackle baby and toddler constipation

For babies & toddlers up until around 2.5 years of age, bifidobacteria is the dominant & most important strain of good gut bacteria – these guys are vital to ‘set the stage’ for a healthy gut microbiome all through life. Babies born via caesarian & those who’ve been predominantly formula fed will have much lower levels of these good bugs than those born vaginally & breastfed. A good baby / toddler specific probiotic with bifidobacteria can really help to correct the balance & prevent baby and toddler constipation!

The Fear Factor In Baby and Toddler Constipation

Just one episode of painful constipation can make toddlers scared to poo next time around & thus start to ’hold it in’, which makes the stool become harder (more moisture is reabsorbed by the body the longer the stool is ‘waiting’ to come out, so it will become less moist & therefore more painful to release). One hard poo can quickly become a bigger issue with fear of passing motions due to pain really complicating a physical problem with a mental aspect as well! Do not take constipation in little ones lightly – jump on it at the first sign to avoid escalation!

Exercise / Movement.baby-84626_640

The TV & the i-Pad may be great free babysitters – BUT – it is completely unnatural for a toddler to stay motionless for the long periods of time they do whilst watching TV / playing games. You will just about NEVER see an awake, healthy toddler sit still for 2 hrs at a stretch, but put them in front of a device / TV & they become instantly immobilised! Very tempting for parents to have a break, but also I believe a big potential contributor to digestive problems – exercise / movement is essential for healthy appetite & digestive function (& for good health in general!). Keep screen time to an absolute minimum, kids need to move & learn to use their bodies & brains – not be sitting in front of screens motionless & un-creative.

Fats. 

Good fats are awesome kid foods – they provide loads of calories to satisfy the constant hunger that fast growth can bring. Nuts, seeds, coconut, grass fed meats, oily fish, pastured eggs, organic full fat dairy – all of these provide loads of nutrition for growing bodies, & the fats help stimulate the liver (bile secreted when we consume fats acts as a natural bowel stimulant, & fats & oils provide important lubrication to the stool to ease it’s passage). Do not be scared of fats – our population has gotten sicker & fatter since the ‘low-fat’ approach to diet became popular / recommended. LOW FAT IS DEFINITELY OUT, the research that led to its introduction was wrong. Google Mary Enig – fat guru, ‘Big Fat Lies’ (book that explains it well), ‘The Cholesterol Myth’…there is heaps of info out there.  Blend11 & NeoBlend  are chock full of the healthy fats we need.

 

GO-TO GUT FOOD & DRINK  LIST AIMED AT FUSSY TODDLERS:

Breast milk –  keep your supply ‘there for when you need it’ as long as practically possible. If you have the ability to breastfeed easily, DO IT, & keep it up as long as you can as your milk is the absolute best gut tonic for your child – it’s full of good bacteria, as well as the prebiotics (food for the good bacteria) to help establish a healthy internal ecosystem for life. Even after weaning onto solids, it can be great to keep expressing once daily just to keep an ‘emergency supply’ in the freezer for use in case of sickness or antibiotic use – or just as a general tonic added into their solids even if you no longer wish to be ‘breastfeeding’.

Green smoothies – hide kale & spinach using things like pineapple, banana & berries. You may be surprised how well kids take to a small (not overwhelming) serve of ‘hulk juice’ or ‘frog juice’ (or whatever you think will appeal). Great to use peer pressure when introducing things like this – invite some more ‘experimental’ / less fussy kids around & just make one for yourself, offer all the kids a shot glass or similar – then increase from there. Start yummy, increase veggies gradually. Straws can really help too.

Coconut oil based raw treats – I’ve been told by many that eating coconut oil helps with regularity in older folks (some swear by it) – the same just may be true for kids & it’s so easy to incorporate into healthy, yummy raw desserts etc. See our recipes for some ideas to get you started.

For constipation prone kids try dried figs, dates, prunes, apricots, pears (or bliss balls made using dried fruits as the binder / sweetness). Kids tend to love these ‘sugar bombs’, so don’t go overboard!

Canned peaches, pears, pear juice, prune juice…fresh is best but go with where the child is ‘at’ to get out of trouble. Pear in particular is high in a natural laxative, once again – don’t go overboard or you’ll end up with a sweet tooth!

 

Bristol Stool Chart to help avoid toddler constipation
Best Poos Ever

Place this handy chart up on the toilet door and teach them about good gut health early: Bristol Stool Chart – free download

 

LOVE to hear what has worked well for you guys – please share any useful tips with other mums & dads that have helped prevent baby and toddler constipation for you!

 

Fibre, The Gut & Modern Disease

fruit-1133753_960_720

The old approach of using a single source fibre supplement (i.e. bran, psyllium) is no longer recommended / considered optimal to improve gut health.

The reason is that – we (in our large intestine) carry many different types / strains of fibre-loving bacteria, & they all have different food preferences. Relying heavily on one type of fibre will encourage an imbalanced population as you overfeed one / some types of microbes, but neglect the rest – so you end up with proliferation of the ‘few’ who love & thrive on all-bran, or psyllium, or inulin, & these crowd out / take over leaving little room for the rest.

It is now believed that diversity of gut bugs plays a key role in preventing diabetes, obesity, & many of the common health issues of today – & that the best way to regain diversity of bowel organisms is to eat a really diverse range of fruit & vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, & 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).

Sadly, the average westerner eats a lot of refined carbs, a lot of sugars & fats, & very little fermentable fibre, with only a few different types of unrefined plants (a token apple or lettuce & tomato on their 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 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). 

1

When you think about inflammation as the cause / key contributor to 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…

The less processed the 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 foods that become food for our 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 I believe the modern diet is waayy too far towards the ‘easy to digest’ processed end of the spectrum.

If your gut is not super-sensitive / out of whack, do an experiment on yourself by increasing your intake of unprocessed plant foods (making sure to focus on diversity), & see what happens. Go slowly to transition comfortably – increase your intake gradually over time rather than all at once, or you may become bloated, gassy, uncomfortable & possibly constipated as your unprepared 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, mood, brain function, skin, immunity, aches & pains…it’s such an easy experiment with massive potential gains! If there is no way you can tolerate fibrous foods due to severe gut symptoms – look into the SCD (specific carbohydrate diet), as it helps many to get back to a state of gut health where fibre becomes more tolerable.

Where do goodMix products fit in here? 

12705672_954665004602041_4415308818380507873_nBlend11 / NeoBlend- diverse, complex, largely unprocessed & mostly organic plant fibre (in a super-easy, palatable delivery to ensure frequent / daily consumption). Seed microbes (we know less about the microbes carried by seeds / plants than we do about our own gut bugs – but there is a definite possibility that there’s another benefit here – interesting research is happening around seed microbes).

PondWater – more polysaccharides & other goodies found in the grass, algae & aloe vera. Once again easy to use in a green smoothie or just with fresh juices / water / lemon water – no excuses for not getting your daily dose of greens!

BallBags – humans will always want & seek out sweet treats, these balls allow a treat but are full of goodness, providing plenty of good bacteria fodder & a slow release of natural sugars into the blood stream, rather than the typical sugar hit from refined type sweet treats. A great transition for those wishing to cut down on sugar addiction comfortably with minimal stress, & for those who wish to replace a daily vice with a healthier alternative. 

*people following a FODMAP diet may need to exercise a little caution (consume in moderation) with the BallBags & NeoBlend, as the dried fruit can cause issues for some with bloating etc. Blend11 & PondWater should be fine.