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Get to the root of bloating and gut problems

Your inside/outside barrier

Your gut mucosal lining is the barrier between your inside and the outside world, pivotal in nutrient absorption, as well as host to immune system and detoxification enzymes. In other words, your gut lining is a big deal! Many people are now familiar with terms such as ‘leaky gut’ and how we need to ‘heal the gut’, and this is what those terms refer to.

The epithelial cells that line the gut, are actually some of the fastest cells to renew in our body. So why are we told that healing the gut takes a long time? It has less to do with the healing and more to do with the correction of imbalances and perpetuating metabolic cycles, that are underlying the problem in the first place. The healing itself - well the body can take care of that, given the right circumstances. A very comforting thought indeed.

Why the bloat?

For many, bloating after meals has to do with bacteria that has translocated upwards in the gastrointestinal tract where it doesn’t belong (SIBO). The causes are many, a perpetual slow transit or low levels or hydrochloric acid (often due to stress) are common. The bacteria attacks carbohydrates (FODMAPs diet principle) food before being digested, causing a bacterial fermentation, much in the way of other fermented foods we’re familiar with such as alcohol. When this happens, there can be severe bloating, wind and exacerbated diarrhoea or constipation.

What went wrong anyway?

At some point in the earlier decades we started changing the way we ate. In response to the low fat high sugar hysteria and the inevitable loss of blood sugar control that ensued, we were firmly told to keep grazing, as a measure to address the symptom of poor glucose control (note – this deals with the symptoms but does not address the cause, in fact it makes it worse).  We took this fantastic new message to ‘eat all the time’ onboard wholeheartedly, and snacking was truly born!

What to do about it?

So this is where I tell you that good bit - the, what do I do about it?

1. First and foremost, with SIBO or in fact often in IBS in general, you need to really keep on top of elimination, making sure that ‘output meets the input’ every day.  This always needs to be addressed first. 

2. Secondly, we need to give our hard-working gut a break.

So the gut, much like humans, animals and organisms, needs an on and off switch. As an example, we could not maintain non-stop energy without sufficient rest and repair. 

Metabolising and digesting is a wearing exercise, and we need time for essential repair and maintenance. 

The big break = the big clean up

So this is the amazing bit. Our gut actually carries out a total clean-up and repair operation every time we stop eating for long enough. Isn’t that amazing? The migrating motor complex as its termed, is a cleansing wave that moves matter, including bacteria, from the small intestine and into the colon where it belongs. This occurs every three to five hours whilst ‘fasting’, however, the process is immediately interrupted by food entering the stomach in anticipation of an incoming meal. Interestingly enough, this peristaltic action sweeps the lumen (the space inside the intestine) clean as it advances. It happens even when we’re asleep.

The protocol – how do we do this?

Leaving a minimum of three to five hours between meals will really help, however what I strongly advocate is night time effortless fasting. What this means is, eating your last meal (anything other than water) five hours before going to bed. If you're looking to lose a bit of weight and reduce sugar cravings, throw in an extended fast in the morning too, making the total break 13-15 hours (you may have to go slow if you have poor glucose control), which will magically improve your insulin sensitivity, reduce weight and save you the pain of fasting days. Pretty effortless!

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Are food intolerances real? Should you do an intolerance test?

Are food intolerances real? Should you do an intolerance test?

The answer to this question isn't always that straight forward. The most important point to remember is that food intolerances tend to be a digestion problem - not a food problem.

Often, reactions are symptoms due to an inability to digest compounds found in the food, and the compounds involved can be numerous: fibre and fodmaps, fructose, oxalates, salicylates, lectins, or aggravation of gut inflammation. Or, the food in question may be causing a toxin load which you're having trouble excreting, which then instead causes skin eruptions or breakouts.

There are numerous reasons why you might have adverse effects to a type of food, which is why there is rarely much value in intolerance tests in my view, as these look only at one arm of the immune system. This doesn't tell us a huge amount about why a problem is occurring, and I usually therefore favour using client's resources on functional gut tests which goes straight to the root of any gut problem.

If you have intestinal permeability or 'leaky gut', you may have immune responses to a whole bunch of foods, but it’s not the fault of the food, it’s the fault of the gut lining. Saying that, effects can be powerful, and include significant joint inflammation and swelling, mouth ulcers, skin rash flairs, acne or bumps under skin, headaches, sinus problems, and even ear problems. Problems with the gut are even implicated in stubborn weight gain, depression, and female conditions such as PCOS or urinary infections.

How does one get intestinal permeability? Simply, the standard British diet which generally lacks fibre and/or is excessive in fat, can cause it. Obesity, alcohol, and stress are other factors - and how many people aren't experiencing stress and struggle with excessive weight in the UK

So how do you deal with it if you suspect you're 'reacting' to some foods?

A properly structured food elimination programme is the only properly effective way to establish food intolerances. However, I do have a cheat to this if food restrictions aren’t your thing. If you suspect a food causes you symptoms, have a three-day binge of that food (at your own risk) whilst diarising symptoms. The benefits are that you’ll have no trouble giving up any symptom-aggravating food after the trial if it has made you feel terrible, but the downsides are that you may, of course, feel truly awful if indeed a food doesn't create reactions.

To go back to my initial point that food intolerances are digestion problems and not food problems, it's important to focus on improving gut health. The aim is that you should be able to reintroduce problem foods in due course after you have done the relevant gut work. You will likely need to add in probiotics, prebiotics, fermented foods, and of course significantly improve your diet. A herbal antimicrobial course is often incredibly helpful also, but please consult a practitioner for more information on this, and never take antimicrobials for longer than a month or two as this depletes your gut flora.

You may initially not be able to tolerate fibre well, but this should never be excluded for any length of time as, again, your gut flora desperately needs fibre which it uses as fuel.



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Do you gain weight easily or are you always trying to lose weight?

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Do you gain weight easily or are you always trying to lose weight?

GAIN WEIGHT EASILY?  ALWAYS TRYING TO LOSE WEIGHT?

Do you keep gaining weight regardless of your efforts?  Or does it take you an ironman/woman effort to lose a few pounds, but one piece of chocolate to immediately gain it all back again? I agree that it can be extremely frustrating, but there might just be something you can do to fix it.    

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IS TOO MUCH FRUIT GIVING YOU IBS & WEIGHT GAIN?

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IS TOO MUCH FRUIT GIVING YOU IBS & WEIGHT GAIN?

IS TOO MUCH FRUIT GIVING YOU IBS & WEIGHT GAIN?

Whenever I write about this subject I brace myself for the inevitable hate mail. But hear me out, have a look at the list below - Does any of the below ring true with you? I’d love to hear your comments below. 

We LOVE fruit, and it’s an ‘allowed’ food right? And super-good for us? It sure is - there's no argument there. HOWEVER, as with everything, you can have too much of a good thing. Too much fruit could be causing you the following:

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grain-free, sugar-free, dairy-free & sweetener-free Hemsley & Hemsley banana bread

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grain-free, sugar-free, dairy-free & sweetener-free Hemsley & Hemsley banana bread

grain-free, sugar-free, dairy-free & sweetener-free (but not taste-free!!) banana bread

It's super-easy and quick to make - just chuck the bananas in a blender or food processor, add all the dry ingredients then blend until mixed well. Add any additional ingredients, add the eggs + melted coconut oil and blend gently until mixed. Then pour into greased bread tin and chuck in the oven at around 170degrees C for around 40 minutes.  Test with a knife edge that it's ready. Eat with some sliced banana, drizzle of maple syrup or fresh berries. Or great for children's lunchbox.

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Macca + Hazelnut coffee

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Macca + Hazelnut coffee

Creamy Macca + Hazelnut Coffee

Creamy sweet coffee made from hazelnut milk, a pinch of real vanilla and generous teaspoon of hormone-balancing Macca.

Drink every day for hormonal or pre-menopausal symptoms.  Not much of a sacrifice i'd say!!!

 

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Why Should Anyone Eat Spring Greens?

You may have a hunch when you have a good chomp into the leaves of a Spring Green, that there's got to be something special about this vegetable.  Very fibrous, a bitter taste and, just so..green! You just know instinctively that this has got to be a very healthy vegetable indeed. In fact, I would go even further and call this a real Superfood.  A cheap, locally grown and easily available Superfood - what are we waiting for, fill your basket!

Spring Greens are actually rather similar genetically to curly Kale. If you are brave enough, and indeed it appears I am, have a go at replacing Spring Greens instead of Kale in your green smoothie. Just don't have it everyday - as it may compete with Iodine uptake, needed to make the hormone Thyroxine. 

The family of vegetables in which Spring Greens belong (cruciferous), really is a cornerstone in Nutritional Medicine.  It has been shown to be very supportive in the Liver detoxification process, and is also a very powerful anti-oxidant.  So this is a true Detox and Anti Aging Vegetable.  It's also unusually rich in Vitamin C, A Bioflavanoids, Folic Acid (for your pregnant-to-be ladies out there) as well as Manganese, but you may not have known that Spring Greens actually contain a surprising amount of protein!

But make sure you eat it fresh.  You will note that left in the fridge for too long, the leaves will begin to loose it's fantastic green blood building chlorophyll rich green colour, and it will start to taste rather bitter.

 

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