chocolate chia mousse

Having gut issues does not mean that you need to miss out, it means you need to think outside of the box a little, look around for some recipes, they are there, this is a recipe I have adapted from Donna Hay. Its simple and absolutely delicious, if you are into chocolate, and lets be honest, most of us are, you will love this one.

You will need;

400mL coconut milk – you could use almond, a2, soy, macadamia etc

1 teaspoon of cocoa powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 fresh dates pitted – (stones removed)

2 tablespoons of maple syrup

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/3 cup chia seeds

berries and coconut yoghurt to serve

You need to;

Place everything except chia seeds into a blender and blend until smooth, mix with the chia seeds and refrigerate until firm, layer it with coconut yoghurt and berries and serve, you could also add nuts and seeds to serve, its enough for around four servings.

How I keep my immune system in great shape.

Just because I am a naturopath, does not mean I have the perfect diet, or the perfect level of stress, or a proper daily meditation and yoga regime. I get as close as I can and this is how I do it; the big thing for me is what I put in my mouth, as long as my diet is wheat free, a1 dairy free, rice, corn, cashew, brazil and almond free 90 percent of the time, everything works out perfectly. You may be wondering what this has to do with my immunity, read on and all will be revealed.

 

As a child I had terrible tonsillitis, two, three maybe even four times a year, back then (circa 1970) my mother would take me to the doctor and beg for him to take out my tonsils, he refused every single time, instead giving me antibiotics. I suffered with tonsillitis for many many years, as I grew older I still got tonsillitis a lot, but colds and flus became my weak point, if I was going to get sick it would be a cold or flu. I would get three to four a year, once I became a naturopath in my mid thirties, I learned how to manage my colds and flus with herbs such as Echinacea, which is one of my favourite herbs, but if I stopped taking the Echinacea they would come back.

 

Then ten years ago, I was super stressed, and came down with terrible fatigue, I had some tests run, iron and B12 were fine and there seemed no reason for the fatigue. I took it upon myself to test for food intolerances, even though I  had no digestive symptoms at all, and wow what a shock, I had intolerances to wheat, a1 dairy, rice, corn, cashew, almonds and brazil nuts, mmmm O.K well let’s see what happens if I remove the foods, I was still not convinced as I had no digestive symptoms, but the fatigue was debilitating.

 

I removed the foods, for the first four days I felt like crap, but on day five I felt amazing, but I had removed a significant amount of foods from my diet, when you remove wheat and dairy, most foods are then heavily reliant on rice, corn and almond, and I could not have those either. I used to cook for a living, so I just got creative in the kitchen, sure it meant I had to cook most of my meals, but I cook a lot anyway, it just meant I had to use different ingredients, and to be honest, the extra effort was worth it. I felt great, energised, no more colds and flus, no more tonsillitis, I was so happy.

 

Fast forward ten years, I can now eat most foods, can go out and eat whatever I like and feel fine. I still avoid those foods if I am cooking at home, which is really easy, it’s become a way of life for me. I can still pop down to our local Italian restaurant on a Friday night for pasta or pizza, and feel fine. As long as I stick to a good diet when I cook at home, I can eat whatever I like when I am out and be fine.

 

This is what fixed my immune system problems, addressing my gut health, it is now rare for me to come down with a cold or flu, in fact, I cannot recall the last time I had one.

 

Good gut health equals good immunity, it also means no tummy troubles, no digestive distress, and great energy. The key is; you need to find the cause, you need to test, you then need to action the results, its so worth it.

 

Spiced pork belly

I have adapted this recipe from a Donna Hay recipe, I’ve never been able to make a decent pork belly, but this one has changed my pork belly game.

You will need;

5 cloves

2 star anise

1 cinnamon stick broken into pieces

2 teaspoons black peppercorns

1 whole dried chilli

1 teaspoon sea salt flakes

1 teaspoon five spice powder

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1.5 kg boneless pork belly with skin on

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons sea salt flakes extra

Black vinegar caramel;

1 cup palm sugar grated

1/2 cup shoaxing vinegar (contains wheat) or dry sherry

2 tablespoons lime juice

Place the cloves, star anise, cinnamon, chilli, and salt in a pan over medium heat, cook for a few minutes. Transfer to a small blender, add five spice powder and ginger then mix until coarsely ground. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the mixture. Preheat oven to 160 degrees, rub the pork belly with oil and rub the extra sea salt flakes into the skin. Place the pork skin side down on a baking tray, rub the underside with the spice mix. Roast for 1 hour, increase the heat to 180 degrees, turn pork and roast for another hour until the skin is crispy, if it’s not just pop under the grill for a few minutes. Cool for ten minutes and slice as desired. While the pork belly is roasting, make the black vinegar caramel; place palm sugar and shaoxing wine in a saucepan, bring to the boil and cook for five minutes or until syrupy, add the lime juice. To serve, place pork on plate sprinkle with a little of the reserved spice and some sauce, you can serve with some coleslaw or salad.

Meat Loaf

I know that meat loaf does not exactly sound like the most delicious dinner, but this one is actually quite tasty. I have adapted it from a Donna Hay recipe. It is wheat free, dairy free and egg free.

Serves 6.

You will need;

1  tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

1  small bunch of oregano – pull the leaves off

1  onion, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic sliced

1/2 cup uncooked quinoa

1/2 cup water

500g beef mince

500g lamb mince

1 teaspoon sea salt flakes

cracked black pepper

1/2 chilli chopped

1 cup flat leaf parsley chopped

1/2 cup chopped pistachios

1/2 cup pine nuts

1/3 cup currants

2 tablespoons caramelised balsamic vinegar

Cook the quinoa until done, drain & put aside. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Heat the oil in a pan and add the oregano leaves and cook until crisp, add the garlic, onion and chilli to the pan and cook until onion is soft. Combine all of the ingredients except the caramelised balsamic vinegar and mix up thoroughly with your hands. Put it into a lightly oiled 1.5 litre saucepan, or any type of container that can go in the oven. Cook for 30 minutes, remove from oven and drizzle the caramelised balsamic vinegar and extra olive oil over the top, and serve with either mash and veg, salad, or have on some wheat free bread as a sandwich.

Supplements – where are you buying yours from?

Are you buying supplements from overseas, do you know what’s in them?

Sure, the label may say that it contains xy and z as you have ordered, but how do you really know what is in them if they have not been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

The TGA is responsible for ensuring goods available for supply in Australia are safe and fit for their intended purpose. The TGA in Australia regulates many goods that Australians rely on daily including complementary medicines; vitamins, herbal and traditional medicines.

If you are sourcing your supplements from overseas they are not subjected to regulation by the TGA. Every now and again you see a sportsperson in trouble for having blood levels of something illegal in their system. I could never understand this, until I was having a conversation with a colleague of mine who has competed at an Olympic level. It appears that it is likely that these illegal substances can come from supplements imported from overseas, aha moment.

I know it is tempting to go for the cheaper option, but the reality is, you do get what you pay for. Australian manufacturers adhere to the regulations and supply a quality product, so whether you buy your supplements from your local health food store, or your naturopath you can feel safe taking them.

I have seen the hoops that are jumped through by the manufacturers that I purchase my supplements off, and the companies often have two arms of supply, a retail line and a practitioner line. You also need to be careful buying supplements from the health food store and chemist, as many will contain ingredients that may affect other medicines that you are taking. The product that you pick may not be the best one for your particular circumstances either. Your practitioner is the best person to buy supplements from as they have access to top of the line product and have the knowledge to prescribe for you as an individual.

Some of the supplements I stock are also available in a health food store/chemist, the reality is that I am only going to recommend a product if I know it will work, and have looked at the research. If my patients find it convenient to buy at the chemist or health food store, then that’s fine with me. As the sales rep for a particular company said to me; it’s so good to see a practitioner that cares more about their patients health than their bottom line, no I’m not going to tell you the brand. This is also because I rely on a certain amount of income from supplements to stay in business.

Most health practitioners do, and that’s O.K. This is the reason that I will always buy tick and flea treatments and other medicines for my dog from my vet, because I know that they rely on a certain amount of money from these types of products to survive in business. When its 10pm and my dog is in need of emergency vet care, I know who I can count on, and that’s why I support them, even though I know I can buy the exact same product cheaper on the internet. It’s about supporting the small businesses that you trust with your health and your pets health, so that they can survive and be profitable, and be there for you.

So, before you place that next overseas herb/ supplement or vitamin order, is there a local practitioner that you have already seen, and has helped you regain your health that you could and should be supporting?

Are you looking to improve your immunity?

It’s thought that over 70% of our immune system is located in our gut, so it makes sense that if improved immunity is what you are looking for – then you need to get and keep your gut in great shape. Having good gut health will help to keep your immune system healthy, but it does not happen on its own, you need to put in a little effort, just like keeping your teeth healthy means you need to regularly clean your teeth, floss and have check-ups at the dentist.

The immune system and its relationship with our gut can be very complex. Following are a couple of examples of how the immune system and gut work and function to keep your immunity in great shape;

Your gut lining is a barrier that helps to keep bacteria and viruses at bay, the gut lining is made up of many different cells and immune complexes, keeping this healthy and functioning well will ensure that your immune system can stay healthy and do its job. When your gut lining is compromised it is sometimes known as leaky gut syndrome, bacteria, viruses, food proteins, yeasts and toxins leak through the compromised barrier, causing many gut problems, this also affects your immune system. Your stomach secretes acids; these acids are capable of killing bacteria and viruses if the acid levels are good. Often when we take medicines to reduce acid, the acid levels are not good enough to do this. So, you can see how the immune system is an important link between our gut and its influence with health and disease.

Gut health affects our immunity, our mental health and our physical health. In fact, having good gut health will really improve your life on so many levels, but what can you do if your gut is not healthy?

If you want to get your gut in better shape, I would suggest that you really need to look at what you are putting in your mouth.

Follow these simple guidelines as a start.

Limit foods such as wheat and dairy to one to two serves per week, as they can be inflammatory for your gut.

Reduce your alcohol intake to one to two units per week as alcohol does contribute to poor gut health.

Reduce your sugar intake as too much sugar will impair your immunity.

Review with your doctor the need for acid-reducing medications; a gut health naturopath will be well placed to help you discover the cause of the reflux.

Only take antibiotics when you have a bacterial infection, not a virus, your doctor will be able to help you assess this.

The optimal amount of foods for good gut health is forty different foods per week; this may be difficult to manage in the beginning, but it is a worthy goal to work towards. Start by eating as many different coloured foods as you can, widening your diet, trying new foods and recipes, try a new food a week. Strategies such as buying tri-coloured quinoa instead of white quinoa are great as that is classed as three different foods, rather than one. Add fresh herbs and spices to your foods such as ginger, garlic, thyme or any type of herb that can be grown in your garden.

Learn how to cook, if you know what you are putting in your mouth because you have made it yourself, your gut will love you for it.

If your gut health is not good, seek the help of a professional to get a better understanding of exactly what is going on, so you can take steps to improve your gut health and immunity.

There are also many vitamins and minerals that can help support your immune system, including zinc, Vitamins A, D and C.

Zinc is a mineral that is very important for gut and immune health; even a mild deficiency can result in an impaired immune response. Foods that are high in zinc include; meats, fish and poultry.

Vitamin D is also thought to play a role in maintaining the immune system. Fatty fish such as salmon, herring and mackerel are sources of Vitamin D as are eggs; it is difficult though to get adequate Vitamin D from foods. Ensuring that you spend some time in the sun away from the hottest part of the day is an excellent way to help with your D levels, however in most cases if your D is low supplementation is required.

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps to maintain immune function, and prevent infectious disease, especially in children. Most orange and yellow fruits and vegetables contain Vitamin A.

Vitamin C can help improve the function of the immune system and strengthen resistance to infection. Strawberries, citrus fruits and capsicums contain Vitamin C.

Your body is smart; it’s important to give it the respect it needs, ensure that you eat food that will keep your gut healthy, so you can absorb the vitamins and minerals from the foods you eat.

There are lots of ways a well-nourished body and healthy gut can promote your immunity.

Mistake # 4/5 – the 5 biggest mistakes people make with their gut health

Not keeping the problematic foods out of their diet properly.

 

Let me explain;

 

If you have a food intolerance, and a1 dairy is one of the foods that has been tested as being  problematic. It is essential that you remove every last skerrick of dairy from your diet, unless it specifically says it is a2. Most people understand that means no normal milk, cream, cheese or yogurt. It also means no chocolate (dairy milk chocolate) or dairy based (whey) protein powders. There can be lots of foods that you think are safe such as chips and rice crackers, but not all, balsamic flavoured rice crackers indicate on the label it contains dairy,  as a flavouring agent.

 

You will find many foods will contain dairy as a flavouring agent, once you are aware of this, you will start to read labels properly so you do not get caught out. Care needs to be taken with pasta sauces, salad dressings, and even wine. Some winemakers finish off their wines with either dairy, egg or fish products, and these will affect you if you have an intolerance to any of the them, a good way to get around this is to purchase vegan wine.

 

If the label says it contains dairy, milk powder, skim milk powder, casein, or whey, then it needs to be avoided, even a teaspoon of milk in your tea will be problematic. This is because a food intolerance or sensitivity is driven by your immune system, it is the IgG mediated part of your immune system, IgE is when you have a food allergy. Because it is mediated by your immune system, even minute amounts, such as wine fined with dairy, will cause an unwanted and uncomfortable reaction.

 

It sounds a bit daunting, but honestly, once you do your first shopping trip, you will know exactly what to buy and what not to buy. It all really depends on which foods are problematic, there are rules and guidelines for food intolerances, SIBO, fructose malabsorption and candida. Once you know which foods need to be removed, and see how easy it really is to remove the foods, you will love how you are feeling and will be easy to keep the foods out for your treatment time. If you are interested in finding out what is going on in your gut, make a time today for an appointment by clicking here.

 

 

mistake # 3/5 – the 5 biggest mistakes people make with their gut health

Implementing a FODMAP Diet

 

FODMAP diets are way too restrictive and do not remove the foods that are truly problematic. Many years ago I saw the creator of the diet speak at a conference and was a bit underwhelmed with the stats that were spoken about. Up to sixty percent of people that implement this diet will see a reasonable response.

Not sure about you but if I was going to implement such intense dietary restrictions I would be wanting better results than this. It is too generic and too hard in my opinion and what often happens if you go to a medical doctor is that they will suggest that you try a low FODMAP diet due to the lack of knowledge that they may have around nutrition.

It is a much better idea to run some tests to get to the bottom of what is going on with your gut health. You may then need to take out only a few foods to improve your gut health – not a whole lot. There are options available to you that can establish the cause of your gut symptoms, minimising the need to remove foods unnecessarily.

 

These include:

Food Intolerance test – this is a blood test that can accurately assess if you have a sensitivity or intolerance to a particular food via the IgG immune pathway

SIBO Test – a breath test to establish if you have small intestinal bacterial overgrowth

Fructose Malabsorption Test – a breath test to assess if your symptoms are being caused by fructose in your diet

Complete Microbiome Mapping – a stool test that tells us the level of good and bad bacteria, the amount and type of parasites, worms, level of inflammation, pancreatic function, zonulin levels, plus many other informative gut microbiome markers

It’s not necessary to have all of the tests run at the one time. It just depends upon your symptoms. This is discussed during your consultation.

mistake # 2/5 the 5 biggest mistakes people make with their gut health

Mistake # 2

Removing gluten.

Most people that have gut issues mistakenly believe that gluten is the key to their gut problems, so they remove it, and in the process usually just buy gluten free foods which are full of rice, corn and other fillers that are not very nutritious, and they get a bit of an improvement but not much.

When someone has a gut problem it is rarely gluten on its own, unless you are a coeliac, to be honest it is rarely gluten, if it is a food intolerance it may be gluten or wheat, plus a few other foods as well. If your gut problems are related to fructose malabsorption then the removal of gluten will help somewhat as wheat contains fructans which are problematic with fructose malabsorption, but plenty of other foods contain fructans as well that also need to be removed.

Removing gluten alone is a mistake that many people make when trying to address their gut problems, as it is rarely just gluten that is affecting you, don’t make that same mistake, book in here and find out what is really going on in your gut.

Lamb shoulder with barley

This recipe is an absolute favourite in our house, if you have fresh tomatoes, use those instead of tinned ones, I could only get passata so used that instead this time, it still tasted fine,

Serves 2

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1kg lamb shoulder with the bone in

sea salt and cracked black pepper for seasoning

1 onion finely chopped

3 garlic cloves chopped

1 tablespoon of chopped rosemary

1 tablespoon of chopped fresh thyme

1 tablespoon of chopped fresh sage

1 and a 1/2 cups of dry sherry

1 x 400gram tin whole peeled chopped tomatoes

500mL or 2 cups of water

1 cup of pearl barley

Preheat oven to 150 degrees, heat oil in a baking dish on the stovetop, season lamb with salt and pepper, brown lamb on both sides, when done remove from pan. Add onion, garlic and herbs to the pan and stir until softened, add sherry and cook for a few minutes, add tomatoes and water and add lamb back into pan and cover. Cook for two hours in the oven, add pearl barley and cook for a further hour. the pearl barley swells up all of the liquid and turns it almost into a risotto.

I often will serve this with some salad greens and baked potato.