Blend11 – The FAQ’s

Here’s a list of the most frequently asked questions we get at markets about Blend11! Hopefully if you have a burning question, it’s covered – if not, feel free to send it in & I’ll do my best!

FAQ’S:

Q:What does Low FODMAP mean? And why should I should know or care?

A: Low FODMAP foods contain low levels of the rapidly fermentable carbohydrates known to trigger IBS symptoms. Researchers from the Monash University in Melbourne developed a diet keeping FODMAP’s low (The Low FODMAP Diet) that can really help people with IBS or other gut issues to better control their symptoms (& get back to living a normal life!) It is becoming recognised globally as one of the first ‘prescriptions’ to try for those with medically diagnosed IBS. It helps approx 75% of IBS people to gain control & lessen symptoms.  

The acronym stands for: 

F………Fermentable (broken down by your gut microbes)

O……..Oligosaccharides (fructans & galacto-oligosaccharides)

D……..Disaccharides (lactose)

M…….Monosaccharides (fructose – in excess of glucose)

A……..and

P……..Polyols (sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol & maltitol). 

The diet is NOT a diet that we should all start following, it’s really just people with IBS, SIBO, bloating, pain, bowel irregularity or IBD who should be aware of this – to help understand & get control of their symptoms. Low FODMAP eating is not intended as a long-term healthy diet (many really healthy foods are high in FODMAP’s). But it’s just handy to know what foods can make you feel a bit funny in the tummy if you eat too many. For me (no IBS), I notice apples (more than 1 a day) & other fruits can make me a bit uncomfortable…but small amounts are totally fine. By far the most common FODMAP reactions I hear about at markets are to onions & garlic, wheat & milk products. Legumes are right up there too. 

Q: What is a ‘best poo ever?’ 

A: No 4 on The Bristol Stool Chart! The ’smooth sausage’ – the holy grail of poos! We should all aim for mostly number 4’s (variation is normal & ok, but as long as you usually see number 4’s, you’re doing well!) PRINT OUT THE CHART FOR YOUR TOILET DOOR. Good gut = good poos. 

CLICK TO WATCH ACTIVATION

Q:Why do you have to soak Blend11? That’s annoying / time consuming / weird / I like it better crunchy…

A: When seeds absorb water they think ‘yay, it’s rained – now is our time to start growing!’ They are stimulated to release enzymes, which start to break down the stored nutrients (meant to nourish the seed & support growth before roots & leaves have developed. Enzymes are great for us, plus we can then get more nutritional benefits from the Blend. 

If you think about it, seeds are designed to pass through the digestive system of whatever animal eats them so that they can then start growing in a nice pile of manure once they come out the other end! They are designed to withstand digestion. When we pre-soak them, we ‘trick them’ into coming out of their dormant, protected state. Soaking / activating makes them much easier to digest, the protein content increases & the nutrients become more bioavailable. This process (soaking seeds / grains) is also being introduced in the farming industry to achieve better feed efficiencies etc for livestock, (there’s a lot of research & evidence behind it, not just some crazy market soggy-seed-sellers)! 

Q: How many days can you keep the wet mixture in the fridge? 

A: Soaked Blend11 is fine in a sealed container for up to 3 days in the fridge. This is something we’ll know more about once the CSIRO research has been completed (we’ll let you know how long is the optimal soak time). We have been recommending 3 days for the past 6 years with good results. 

Q: It looks like muesli, but is way more expensive??!!

A: The price question is always there when you have quality food, simply because we are now surrounded by so much poor quality food! We have become used to expecting cheap food products because food manufacturers develop products with emphasis on price point & not enough care factor about nutrition & health. In most cases, you get what you pay for! Most seed blend / muesli manufacturers will fill their packets up with the cheaper ingredients like sunflower seeds (just look at the first few listed ingredients to see what the main proportion of a product is). I could have made Blend11 much cheaper but I don’t like the fatty acid profile of sunflower seeds to be eating them every day (really high in omega 6 which we get plenty of).  I preferred to make the product much heavier in anti inflammatory omega 3’s, coconut & monounsaturated) as sunflower oil is used in so many processed foods etc – most people get too much. And everything in Blend11 is certified organic (except the almond flakes), so that obviously adds to cost (but also to benfits – gut microbes & human bodies both hate chemicals). 

Blend11 has some pretty awesome therapeutic actions, so our ingredients cannot be compromised (the effects may change, & we would have A LOT of cranky customers!). We’ve actually tried to make a cheaper formula, but it didn’t give the same results when we tested it on a few ‘regular’ customers! Plus we often get feedback from people trying another brand that it’s ‘just not the same!’ Second or third best poos –  if you’re lucky!

Q:Can I eat this if I have diverticulitis? 

A: Yes, but you always should soak the mix at least overnight & even smoothie it if you’re still worried. Most people over the age of 60 have some diverticular pockets, & many will never have any problems / acute attacks even though they continue to enjoy nuts & seeds. Many people with pockets are just fine with eating whole seeds, drs are starting to become aware of this (the gastroenterologist I do a bit of work with is on the same page). Listen to your body on this one though, most people are fine with soaked seeds, almost all will be fine with soaked & then blended. It would be highly unlikely to get any adverse effect from a smoothie with soaked seeds, this is exactly what people with a sluggish bowel & diverticular disease really need, to keep the good bugs well fed & the baddies away, keep the bowel moving easily with no pressure build up, as well as keeping the bowel lining healthy & nourished with loads of short chain fatty acids (amazing anti-inflammatory by-products of fibre fermentation). 

Q:This is really high in fat?? Surely it’s not healthy then, it’ll make me fat!!?? 

A: OMG, this question comes at me still, mostly from 55-75 yr old ladies who are often overweight due to insulin resistance brought on from a decades of low fat eating (with the compensatory carb overload!) 

Eating fat does not make us get fat. Fat makes us feel full, keeps us looking great, esp skin & hair, it supports fat burning ability, & will decrease hunger / cravings for sugars & carbs thus preventing insulin resistance, the main cause of obesity! Most people feel really good on a diet high in healthy fats, this blend contains a great balance of omega 3, 6 & 9, as well as monounsaturates & mct’s. Blend11 is almost 40% fat, compare the nutritional panel to other muesli type products (& look at the sugar & carbs line too!). The carb content is mostly fibre & the sugars are very low (& their absorption is also slowed by the fat fibre protein hit). 

Q:I can’t eat grains. Blend11 contains millet, buckwheat & amaranth! 

A: These grains are – gluten free, low reactive, high protein, soaked overnight to improve digestibility / decrease reactivity, & the millet & amaranth are cooked. Buckwheat is technically a seed, not a grain. Most people are totally fine with a little soaked buckwheat, & a few puffs of millet & amaranth (millet & amaranth are only 2.5% of the mix by weight, they just look like more as they’re full of air – so actually Blend11 has very minimal grain content).

Q:Fibre makes me fart. Do I really need more?

A: Your gut is like a fermentation tank. Farts mean there is a lot of fermentation happening. Fermentation is good! Our butthole is the release valve – like you’d want to loosely cover anything that you’re fermenting so it doesn’t explode! We would explode too if our butt couldn’t let gas build-up escape when it needs to! By-products of fibre fermentation (& fart production) are SCFA’s ’Short Chain Fatty Acids’. These act as anti-inflammatories & are extremely beneficial to the gut lining as well as the rest of the body. They actually pass through your bowel lining & into your bloodstream, so think about this – if your’e farting it means you’re fermenting. Surely a few extra farts is worth it to get your gut producing plenty of these amazing systemic anti-inflammatories! Any increase in fibre can temporarily make you a little more gassy, but it should settle right down as your microbes adjust. But yes, fibre does make you fart, & farting is a healthy thing!

Q:That bag is tiny, I’d be finished that in 2 days!

A: This is not a regular muesli. It’s used more like a ‘topper’. You only really need 50g daily (2 heaped tablespoons or 1/3 of a cup) to see the digestive benefits. Some people find that they only need to use it every second day or a few times a week, so the bags last much longer than you would expect. You mix it into something else, like fruit / yoghurt / smoothies / porridge / bircher etc. 

Q:Can my baby have this? 

A: If your baby is eating plenty of solids & there is no known reaction to any of the Blend11 ingredients, they can try it for sure. Always soaked, start with small quantities & observe response. 

Q:Can I have this during pregnancy? 

A: Yes!! Pregnancy is one of the most important times to focus on getting your gut microbes right because your baby will (all going to plan) get covered in them during the birth process!  A healthy gut microbiome passed on to bubs will mean less chance of eczema, allergies, hayfever, obesity, diabetes, anxiety & depression in later life. Feeding your good microbes with diverse fibre during pregnancy will help build your baby one of the foundations for a healthy start in life, a diverse microbiome. Added bonus is, pregnancy constipation / sluggishness is relieved! We get really great feedback from pregnant mums & a Blend11 smoothie is awesome as a ‘one handed’ quick & nutritious breakfast option while breastfeeding too!

Q:Why are there so many ‘gut health’ gurus, books & products now?

A: Because drs & scientists are finally taking notice of us crazy poo-obsessed naturopaths & began researching, only to find out (surprise surprise) that your gut health can heavily influence so many health issues! Of course every manufacturer is now using that knowledge to sell more gut friendly food & gut health supplements.  Research will continue to uncover more about our gut as technology improves & more funding is allocated. We only know the tip of the iceberg now, the next few years will be very interesting (& will see a flood of even more gut support products come on to the market). We’ve been talking about it & collecting feedback from you guys for 6 years now in markets, & the shift in general consumer awareness during that time has been massive. We used to get blank looks when saying ‘it’s good for your gut’. Now we get knowing nods from most people – but also some skepticism because ‘everything is good for your gut health these days.’ Guess you can’t win!

Q:Is this a probiotic food? I already take them after I have antibiotics. And I eat kimchi & kefir. 

A: No – it’s not a probiotic. It contains PREbiotic fibres to support your probiotic population. Prebiotics are things that support the growth & encourage good balance of gut bugs. Blend11 contains a very diverse range of ‘microbe accessible carbohydrates’ to ensure that gut microbial fermentation occurs along the entire length of the colon.  Gut microbial fermentation keeps your bowel lining healthy, helps decrease inflammation both in the bowel & also systemically throughout the entire body. 

Q. I don’t think I need this stuff, my gut is fine…I think…

Hmm – in this day & age, it’s unlikely that your gut is fine. Our gut microbial balance is not very healthy, for a few reasons…Crappy processed food choices, chemicals in our food & environment, high levels of stress & 3 generations of too many antibiotics & other chemical medications (whilst sometimes essential & life saving), are a big reason for that.  It can take months or even years for people to get their guts back on track after a course of antibiotics – some support with pre & probiotics / fermented foods is essential here, & eating plenty of diverse, fermentable fibres (like Blend11) can really help make sure you’re feeding the good guys so they can start to repopulate nicely. Even if you have no gut symptoms, a daily dose of diverse fibre can be a great preventative gut (& whole body) tonic.  

If you have a question that is not answered above, just shoot me an email or comment below.

Jeanie Xx
jeanie@goodmix.com.au

p.s. If you’re reading this there’s a good chance you’d like to try some Blend11, or are interested to find out more….so here’s a BONUS – try Blend11 (no shipping charge) by using this coupon at the checkout: tryme – limited number of coupons offered, so if it does not trigger free shipping then you’ll just need to get to one of our markets or stockist.

You’ve been diagnosed with IBS, what now?

A different kind of diagnosis:

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

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

A new definition for functional gut disorders:

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

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

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

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

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

IBS Sub-Types:

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

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

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

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

Warning Signs – Don’t Ignore These:

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

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

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

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

The Low FODMAP Diet:

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

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

Some More Natural Tools for IBS Management:

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

Some Kind of Normality!

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

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

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

Jeanie xx
jeanie@goodmix.com.au

 

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

Hippocrates, Gut Health, the Microbiome & Medication

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Walking

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

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

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

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

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

Read more about medication & your microbiome here:

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

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

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

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

Read more here: 101101083144.htm  

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

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

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

Read more here: PMC4928680

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

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

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

Jeanie
jeanie@goodmix.com.au

The Microbiome & The Future of Food

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

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

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

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

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

The Future of Food…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

12. Asthma, eczema & allergies will become rare.

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

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

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

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

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

Building Poos – you Don’t Just do Them

Contrary to what we all say, you don’t just ‘do’ a poo. It’s a lot more involved. You actually have to build it, prepare it for shipping & then move it (well the moving kinda happens at the same time as the building & prepping for shipping…like a mobile building team). It’s just like building an impressive sculpture or artwork, while simultaneously shipping it to its destination (obviously Uranus).  

So…if you often find yourself struggling to ‘do’ a poo, you should think of it more like ‘something is going wrong with the building materials or the workers, or there’s an issue with the shipping’. Ask yourself the following Q’s: 

Building Materials for Building Poos:

Am I consuming enough fibre, with plenty of variety? If you’re slack in this department, pooing for you will be like trying to create a giant outdoor sculpture using a handful of play-doh & a team of 2 people – you’ll never succeed because you simply don’t have enough material to work with or enough workers. Good dietary poo-building materials include fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, & legumes. Unrefined plant food basically, & not just a small amount. To succeed in ‘poo production’ your diet needs to be mostly made up of unrefined plants (have a think about what your dinner plate looks like – chances are it needs more plants). Eating a large range of plant products is also crucial. More types of fibre = more types of gut bug (that’s a good thing, it means you’ll have a nice diverse team of workers with many skills!) Plant food provides food to support plenty of microbes (your team of builders) who will gobble it up, use it as an energy source to grow & carry out all their amazing helpful duties & reproduce (with a healthy poo as the byproduct). A poo is largely made up of these microbes (the accumulated bodies of exhausted / dead workers as well as loads of still-alive ones). There is also of course water, some left-over undigested plant matter & some bits n pieces of you from your gut lining & its secretions. Behold! A multi-media, living sculpture! You’ve just got to keep providing the inspiring building materials to keep your skilled workers happy & busy!

Workers Needed for Building Poos:

Do I have enough team members? Your gut-microbes are your poo-builders & sculptors (among other things, that’s just one of their more obvious roles). They like to keep busy, but they also appreciate a rest – so give them plenty of plant foods to eat but also provide some downtime (this will allow your gut to clean up after them as they build & sculpt & do their thing). Some people have a poo problem because there is a problem with the workers. Their population may have been wiped out by repeated bombing (with chemicals, medications, antibiotics etc), or there may be a skill shortage. If you’re missing important microbial strains you could be trying to build a house without a plumber or painter or electrician. You can still do it, but the building process won’t be so smooth & the end product will be imperfect. So, if your poos are imperfect / you feel like the building process isn’t going smoothly – get some new workers! Ask at your local health food store for a good multi-strain probiotic (you only want workers with good references)! And grab some kefir, kimchi, sauerkrout & yoghurt while you’re in there. 

Delivery Process: 

How are the roads? Think of your gut as the ‘road’ & your nervous system as the computer system controlling what goes where, at what speed & at what time. So the road needs to be kept in good condition, it needs constant maintenance & repair (which your workers will mostly do while they’re building, as long as you’re supplying the plant foods they need). The digestive ‘road’ has it’s own favourite building materials needed for big repairs as well.  Along with what the workers generate from the breakdown of fibre (short chain fatty acids), your gut also loves the amino acids glutamine, glycine & proline (make bone broth a regular addition to your diet if your gut-lining needs repair work). 

The control system:

Are you in charge? How’s the control tower – aka your nervous system? This also plays a huge role in determining how things move along. Too stressed & you can cause major blockages or even the opposite, uncontrollable flow of unfinished work (loose stool). Worse still is a constant alternation between the two! Sleep well, exercise well & have a plan to help you when stress creeps in, it will always be potentially there ready to get you, you just need to be prepared & have your coping mechanisms at the ready (& not just wine – I’m talking yoga, meditation, deep breathing, massage, getting out into nature, connecting with friends, having a good laugh…& maybe a wine every now & then – whatever floats your boat). These things help improve your gut function via activating the ‘rest & digest’ side of your nervous system (most of us spend far too much time in the ‘fight or flight’ response – no wonder digestive issues are so common)!

So…you don’t just ‘do’ a poo. It’s not that simple! You need to constantly supply the correct building materials, attract & keep enough good workers to build it & ensure you have a working delivery system to ensure it gets to its destination on time, every time. If you need some help with the materials try Blend11 or NeoBlend, & if you’d like some more workers to help out try Prescript Assist. PondWater can help with the road repairs & maintenance as well as provide some extra special building materials. 

If you need more support – request to join our gut health community Eat Play Poo or email me anytime. You too could become a great builder / sculptor!

Jeanie X
jeanie@goodmix.com.au 

My Poo Story / Join the ‘Poo Club’

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

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

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

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

 

JOIN THE PRIVATE GROUP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

 

JOIN THE GROUP & SHARE YOUR POO STORY

Jeanie Xx

Probiotics Make My IBS Feel WORSE, Not Better!

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

IBS…or SIBO?

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

Different Bugs = Different Gas = Different Symptoms.

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

So…what to do ?

Starve the critters out!

Remove The Bugs, Improve The Symptoms?

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

Will They Come Back Again?

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

What Could Cause SIBO In The First Place?

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

How Can I Get Rid of SIBO?

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

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

What Is The SIBO Diet & Treatment Like?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to try some ‘Prescript Assist’

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

Jeanie Xx
jeanie@goodmix.com.au

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Low / safe to combine at an approved qty:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jeanie Xx
jeanie@goodmix.com.au

What is a FODMAP?

Should I be avoiding FODMAP ’S too…?

Well first you need to know what they are, & what they can do – then ask yourself that. You may have had friends telling you they are feeling great on a ‘low FODMAP’ diet. Or you might have seen products springing up in supermarkets claiming to be ‘FODMAP friendly’. Do you need to know how many FODMAPS are in your lunch today? Or can you afford to remain ignorant on this one?

Answer this quiz below to see if you need to be worried about FODMAP ‘s…

Never Heard of Them…until now, is this just a new dietary trend?

A Monash university research team developed the low FODMAP diet in 1999. They have proven, through their research that limiting dietary FODMAPs is an effective treatment for many people with symptoms of IBS. The diet has been published in international medical journals and is now widely recommended as one of the most effective dietary therapies for IBS, go Australia!

What is a FODMAP?

The word ‘FODMAP’ stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. It’s basically just an acronym used to remind us of the complex names of a few ‘problem’ carbohydrates that just would not be practical to keep saying you are avoiding, or to write on menus. ‘Excuse me waiter, is this dish free from Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides & Polyols?’ FODMAP’s it is!

Why are FODMAP’s so troublesome?

FODMAP’s ‘suck’ fluid (via osmosis) into the small intestine & bowel. They are also easily fermented by our gut bugs – a byproduct of this process is gas. So all that fluid, plus the gas can = bloating & discomfort. It also influences the muscular contractions that keep things progressing through to the ‘finish line’ (hopefully the toilet). This muscular influence can go either way – faster or slower, resulting in diarrhoea or constipation. But…this only occurs seriously in those battling with IBS – in fact, these very symptoms are generally what people walk in to the Dr complaining of – to then be put into the ‘you have IBS’ box.

So how do I know if I could benefit from avoiding FODMAPs?

Start a food diary – ask your body! Simply write down everything you eat & drink (including supplements etc), the time you consume it, & then in a different column – record how your gut is feeling / any symptoms (also with times of day). A pattern should start to emerge, which might point to a few foods as the main culprits for you. You can then check if they are high in any types of FODMAP’s. Some people are super-reactive to some types, but fine with other FODMAPS. There are many resources which can help with this (I’ll give details below).

What foods are they in?

FODMAP
Click the image for a bigger and better viewing.

There are many food lists online, but if you seriously wish to trial the diet (& you should if suffering from any IBS-type gut issues), I’d advise getting the Monash University App (it is very informative & helpful when shopping / planning meals) & uses a traffic light system to really show how much of a certain food you should be able to have in one sitting. It isn’t free, but will be super valuable to anyone struggling to know what they can & can’t eat. Just head to the app store & get it on your phone – or print out a list from another reputable site & stick in on your fridge / pantry / kitchen bench. Remember to take it grocery shopping, or just keep a copy in the car / handbag.

Is the FODMAP diet a permanent thing? Or can you become FODMAP tolerant again?

The team from Monash Uni recommend the diet as a ‘way to find out which foods are setting you off’, so you can gain control over your IBS symptoms – it is a sort of elimination diet, not a lifelong list of things to avoid. Many people will tolerate some of these carbohydrate-types fine, & can reintroduce them once it’s been established that they do not cause any problems, but some foods may always cause issues for individuals, at least without some sort of intervention (i.e. manipulation of gut bacterial population, or other supplementation).

It’s not fair! Why do some people not need to worry at all?

FODMAPs will still pull fluid into a non-IBS-sufferer’s bowel, & will still be fermented by gut bacteria – but for some reason there are people who experience severe symptoms when this is happening…& people who don’t even notice! Why? Nobody seems to know for sure, but if you think about it – the main variables would be 1) the amount & types of bowel bacteria available to ferment the FODMAPs, & 2) the connection between the nervous system & the gut – controlling the muscular contractions etc. If you have loads of FODMAP fermenting-types of bacteria – you’ll get loads of fermentation happening & therefore loads of gas. If you have a nervous system-gut connection that is highly sensitive / reactive – it might be completely freaking out with all these backward & forward messages saying that there is gas / bloating etc happening, & will likely either go on strike or go into overdrive (constipation or diarrhoea)…maybe – there’s still a lot of research to be done here, but my bet is that working on the gut bacteria you have (i.e. stop feeding them so many FODMAPs for a while & starve them out / take herbals & specific pre / probiotics aimed at improving the microbial balance) & supporting your nervous system & brain (i.e. massage, yoga, exercise – whatever de-stresses you) will yield the best results.

TAKE THIS QUICK QUIZ TO SEE IF YOU SHOULD GIVE LOW FODMAP A GO:

(if you answer yes to 1 or more of these Q’s – you’re definitely a candidate!)

1. Do you often get bloated? But with no real foods / triggers / pattern you can put your finger on as the cause?
2. Do you avoid eating out / stick to ‘safe’ foods when you are out & about, for fear you’ll end up with diarrhoea?
3. Do you seem to feel worse when you try to ‘get healthy’ by eating more fruit & veg / high fibre foods?
4. Have you cut out gluten & dairy (& improved) but still aren’t 100%?

If you know anyone who’s been to the Dr & been diagnosed with IBS, but still hasn’t tried this diet – please share, they will thank you – it really helps a lot of IBS folks!

ps – to save you time looking it all up, Blend11 & PondWater are FODMAP friendly, NeoBlend & BallBags are generally not! (Though you may be fine with them depending which FODMAPS you can’t tolerate & which ones you’re ok with).

pps – for any vegans (or big plant eaters) looking to trial a low FODMAP diet – this eBook could be very useful :-)