Winter Slaw

I was searching through my cookbooks looking for a salad or vegetable to go with the slow cooked pork bossum for lunch on Sunday, I found this delicious Winter Slaw in River Cottage Gluten Free by Naomi Devlin, I made a couple of changes including the dressing, and the salad was delicious.

Ingredients

1 x small red cabbage finely sliced
1 x red onion finely sliced
2 x carrots very finely sliced, I used a carrot peeler to slice
1 x pomegranate – seeds only
handful of flat leaf parsley
50 grams of currants
Pukara Estate red wine liquer vinegar to taste
Extra virgin olive oil to taste

Combine all ingredients and dress with red wine vinegar ad extra virgin olive oil to taste

IBS – a diagnosis of exclusion, and what to do about it.

Did you know that a diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) can only be made after a colonoscopy and endoscopy has been performed, and no abnormalities have been found, there are even subsets of IBS, IBS – C which is constipation dominate IBS, and IBS – D which is diarrhoea dominant IBS.

I call bullshit on IBS, and this is why; if your finger, for instance, is not working very well, or functioning at its best, and the doctor or specialist cannot find the cause they don’t just say, oh, you have irritable finger syndrome do they, no, they investigate further until they find the cause. The same can be said for any body part, I just used your finger as an analogy.

In my experience, and opinion, there is always a cause for IBS, and to be honest I really prefer not to even use the term IBS. Your gastrointestinal symptoms are being caused by something and it can take some good naturopathic detective work and functional testing to understand and treat the causes.

Your digestive distress may be caused by a food intolerance, short intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), fructose malabsorption, parasites, candida or yeast infection, stress, lack of digestive enzymes, motility problems, histamine or salicylate issues, or an overgrowth of bad bacteria in your bowel.

The key with understanding and treating your digestive problems lies in obtaining a correct diagnosis, this will usually require testing, although sometimes patients do present with very clear signs and symptoms of one particular gut disorder, when this happens we implement dietary strategies that are specific to that particular gut disorder.

Once we establish the cause of the digestive distress either via testing or via dietary changes we can then treat the problem. With gut problems a multifactorial approach is essential, foods will need to be removed, herbs and supplements will need to be taken to get rid of bacterial overgrowths, or excess hydrogen or methane in the small intestine, to reduce stress, and to build up gut immunity.

Again, it does depend on what is going on in that gut of yours, but be assured a diagnosis of IBS and your specialists or doctors “you will just have to live with it response,” is just bullshit. Remember IBS is a diagnosis of exclusion, they tell you that have IBS when they have excluded everything else, and you are just left there, in some cases, crying, because you know darn well there is something wrong and that there must be answers somewhere, and yes there are answers, in most cases in your naturopaths clinic.

Should I be taking a probiotic, a simple guide to help you decide.

It seems that every person I come across takes a prebiotic or a probiotic. Whether they need them or not! Now, don’t get me wrong – prebiotics and or probiotics can help a lot, but they are not always necessary, neither are they always useful.

Prebiotics can be beneficial as they can selectively stimulate the growth and or activity of one or a limited number of bacteria in the colon, therefore – improve your health. Prebiotics are available as a supplement, though foods such as onions, garlic, bananas, artichokes, and apple skins all contain good levels of prebiotics, for me this is a preferential source of prebiotics; foods.

Prebiotics are non digestable fibres, so your body uses them to make good bacteria. However, if you have a fructose malabsorption issue you will not do very well on prebiotics from a supplement or food source as most of them are high fructose.

Probiotics are live microorganisms – that when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host. Most people think that probiotics help to build up your good gut bacteria, they actually don’t.

When you take a probiotic, it travels through your intestine, the same way as food does – your body can feel better as the levels of good bacteria are there as you have ingested them but they do not stay there, you poo them out! They are transient, as food is.

One of the reasons some people may feel better when they take probiotics is because they are deficient in certain good bacteria’s that are contained in the probiotic they are taking. If this is the case then, yay! Stay on the probiotic as it is doing some good, but work on your gut health at the same time so that your gut can start to produce its own good bacteria, that is much more beneficial for you.

If you start to take a probiotic and it makes no difference to your digestive health, then stop taking it. Because, you either have enough of the good bacteria already, or the probiotic is the wrong one for you. This in itself is a whole other issue, I prefer to run a stool analysis for patients to get a good understanding of actually how much good bacteria they have or have not – before I supplement. This is not always going to happen, but it is the gold standard when it comes to probiotics.

Other things I keep in mind when prescribing probiotics, is research. Does the probiotic show good results for that particular health problem? I carry many probiotics here at The Good Gut Girl, and I use each particular probiotic for a reason.

An analogy I like to use is this; if you wanted to get a rescue animal (which is a lovely thing to do if you are able to) and you lived in a one bedroom unit, for example. Then you went along to the pound and asked them for an animal. They said “OK here is a dog that really needs a new home”, the dog that they bring out is a great Dane, Hmmmm, that is not going to work well! A great Dane in a one bedroom unit?

Your gut is the same if you go to a health food store and buy a probiotic, is it the right one for you? Is it compatible with your life?

Muffins

Having a food intolerance just means you need to replace certain ingredient with other ingredients, its not that hard. These muffins are a great example, in another life I used to own a cafe, the first thing we did every morning was put a batch of muffins in the oven, we used whatever fruits and nuts or flavourings we had in the pantry. I have replaced a few of the ingredients to make them wheat free and a1 dairy free.

1 7/8 cups of wholemeal spelt flour
3 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 cup sugar

1 or 2 eggs
1 cup a2 milk
1/4 cup of melted nuttelex

1 x banana cut up finely
1/4 cup sunflower kernels

Put the oven on 230 degrees, mix the dry ingredients together, add in the fruit and nuts, mix the wet ingredients together, add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, the mixture needs to remain lumpy, so don’t stir too much, put spoonfuls into muffin trays, turn the oven down to 200 degreess, put the muffins in and cook for 20 minutes.

Why water is essential for your digestive system

We all hear about the importance of water intake, and most of us carry around a water bottle, but how many of us actually drink the water from that bottle, or enough water in general. Water is essential to our digestive system and a lack of it really impairs digestion.

The amount of water that our bodies need is also controversial, and too much water can also be detrimental. Two litres, is the figure that is often quoted, but there are also calculations around that are based on your weight etc. Most of us do notice when we do drink enough water that our energy levels do actually increase, being well hydrated is important for skin health as well. Some people do not drink enough water as they find that they are always on the toilet doing a wee, your bladder will adjust and stretch once it gets used to the increase in water intake, so stick with it.

Ensuring that you are well hydrated also makes you less inclined to make poor food choices, as often people actually eat when they are actually really only thirsty, yes this often happens, people mistake the thirst signal for hunger and eat instead of drinking water.

As far as your digestion goes, water is really an essential part of keeping it in great shape. Your saliva glands can secrete up to 1.5 litres of fluid a day, saliva contains enzymes that start the digestive process in your mouth, it also contains electrolytes that are important for alkalizing the contents of your gut when it gets to the small intestine. The pancreas is another digestive organ that secretes a lot of fluids, up to 1 litre of fluid that contains enzymes, into the small intestine per day, this is extremely important for the digestion of your food and alkalisation of the contents of the small intestine.

Water, it’s important for many body functions, especially your digestive system, so please ensure that you are drinking enough.

Fructose Malabsorption – the what, how, and why.

Fructose malabsorption is possibly one of the more common gut problems that I see in clinic, and in our online programs. Fructose malabsorption occurs when your gut lining is in poor shape, and the fructose molecules cannot absorb through the gut lining – as they are rather large molecules. What then happens, is that the fructose stays in your gut and ferments. Then it expands, creating gas, bloating, pain as well as some or all of these other poor gut health symptoms; depression, anxiety, fatigue, tiredness, arthritis, itchy ears, constant runny nose, post nasal drip, smelly stools, smelly flatulence, constipation, diarrhoea, headaches, migraines, insomnia, itchy skin, hives, sleep disturbances, fluid retention and weight control.

That’s a pretty big list isn’t it. You may have only a few of these signs and symptoms or you may have most of them.

You may be wondering how does fructose malabsorption develop?

Allow me to explain. Fructose malabsorption develops because your gut lining is in poor shape. The gut lining may be in poor shape due to you having food intolerances that are undiagnosed, and you have continued to eat those foods unknowingly or knowingly plus ignored the symptoms.

Fructose malabsorption may occur due to you eating too many high fructose foods, and consuming high fructose drinks such as fruit juices and soft drinks. Stress can also play a large role in the development of poor gut health, but it is not the only contributor.

Fructose malabsorption can develop due to poor food choices, pharmaceutical medications, too much alcohol and caffeine, and gut infections such as gastroenteritis that often occur after a bout of food poisoning. Sadly, I often see fructose malabsorption often occurring due to eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia. Sometimes a fructose malabsorption problem does not become apparent until you have decided that you are going to become healthier and start to juice lots of fruits.

You may have had a fructose malabsorption gut problem for many years and have just put up with the symptoms, not realising that your symptoms are from fructose, or you have known but have been unsure how to address the problem.

Poor gut health is commonly called leaky gut syndrome, but with a fructose malabsorption problem it is not so much the leakiness of the gut that is problematic, it is the damaged villi that cause most of the problems. What happens is – that the food that you eat that contains high amounts of fructose or fructans cannot pass through the villi, as it is too much for the villi to process and the molecules that need to pass through are too big. Fructose is absorbed through the gut lining passively, and when it cannot pass through it stays in the gut and ferments and creates large amounts of gas which then cause pain, bloating and other health symptoms that I have previously described.

The key with addressing fructose malabsorption is to drastically reduce fructose or fructan containing foods from the diet. Note: it is impossible to remove all fructose from the diet, but it is possible to reduce it enough for your symptoms to clear.

Your gut is then slowly able to repair as the problematic foods have been removed, your gut does also need additional help with healing and there are specific gut healing powders and herbs that will help to speed up the process. I always recommend this as a low fructose diet is not ideal for long term gut health, as many fructose foods contain inulin and other fibres that are important for your microbiome. The fibres in fructose foods, especially garlic, onions, bananas, lentils and artichokes actually provide your microbiome with the bacteria to grow your own good bacteria. This keeps your immune system in great shape, your gut healthy, and contributes to good mental health.

If you think it is possible that you have a fructose malabsorption problem you can buy our online gut healing program here, or you can make a time for a naturopathic consultation here so we can organise testing, confirmation and proceed with individualised treatment.

Ginger tea – a great way to help your digestion

Do you feel sluggish and bloated after meals?

Do you feel as if your food is just sitting in your gut?

Are you struggling with reflux?

Have you already been diagnosed with SIBO?

My suggestion is to try some ginger tea, it is a cheap and easy solution that can help.

Ginger tea is perfect for your migrating motor complex (MMC) which is what drives your small intestine to push the food through to the large intestine.

In many people with poor gut health the MMC does not work very well, what then happens is that bacteria builds up in the small intestine causing problems such as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth or SIBO for short. If the bacteria stays in the small intestine, it can then start to ferment causing gassiness, bloating, and pain, which can then lead to constipation and or diarrhoea.

There are a couple of things that can help the MMC to work better, ginger tea after meals is one excellent way to get the MMC working, all you need to do is slice up a couple of slices of fresh ginger, put them into a cup, pour boiling water on to the ginger, wait for a few minutes and drink it, after each meal, including breakfast.

thai green curry chicken

serves 2

ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons of green curry paste – Mai Ploy is a good brand

4 chicken thigh fillets

½ bunch coriander chopped

2 teaspoons chopped lemon grass

200ml coconut milk or cream

preparation

Mix paste, ¾ of the coriander, lemon grass and chicken together, heat oil in pan, cook on both sides until brown and add coconut milk or cream, simmer until cooked.

Serve on a bed of basmati rice and garnish with remaining coriander.

The Good Gut Girl Christmas e-CookBook

Having a restricted diet does not mean you need to eat boring food this festive season. It just means making a few small changes to what you would normally have.

I have put together some recipes for you to make life a little easier and your free copy of The Good Gut Girl Christmas e-Cookbook for 2018 is here, ready for download now.

All the recipes in The Good Gut Girl Christmas e-Cookbook are wheat-free and A1 dairy-free, and most are free from eggs and yeast as well. The recipes can be further adapted to suit your individual requirements if necessary.

Some of the recipes originally came from cooks such as Donna Hay, Jamie Oliver and Pete Evans, so you can be assured they are delicious.

For Christmas brunch, consider the delicious creamy bircher muesli – trust me, this is not a boring bircher muesli – Christmas breakfast tarts, chia seed pudding, breakfast fritters, or even oat and banana pancakes.

There are also ideas for cheese and crackers, and a pâté recipe.

For lunch or dinner, you might want to add some delicious macadamia maple ham to the menu, or Iranian roast beef, salmon ceviche, egg and beetroot salad, crunchy rice salad, or roasted pumpkin salad.

For dessert, you could have pears with coconut custard, lemon and lime cheesecake, Grand Marnier almond crepes or eggnog panna cotta.

These are just a few of the delicious recipes in the e-Cookbook, which you can download here.

I would also like to wish you and your loved ones a safe and happy festive season, however you choose to spend it. And let us hope 2019 is a good one for us all.

Egg and Beetroot Salad

serves 2

ingredients

1/3 cup raisins
1 cup cold earl grey tea
2 carrots grated
1 large beetroot peeled and grated
1/3 cup roasted almonds roughly chopped
¼ cup flat leaf parsley roughly chopped
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ tablespoons of red wine vinegar
sea salt and cracked black pepper for seasoning
6 soft boiled eggs peeled

preparation

Soak raisins in tea for twenty minutes, boil water for eggs when water is boiling add in room temperature eggs and cook for six minutes, when six minutes is up then put under cool water immediately to cool them, peel them and put to one side. Combine raisins, carrot, beetroot, almonds, and parsley together in a bowl, season with salt and pepper, add in red wine vinegar and olive oil and toss, serve on salad leaves if desired, slice eggs in half and place on salad. This is a Neil Perry recipe.