Have you been guilty of buying a jar of tahini with all good intentions of using it for hummus, only to put it in the fridge long enough for it to go rancid then, after the appropriate amount of time, throw it out?
Our nut and seed butters are so good for a variety of different reasons, yet they don’t tend to get a lot of airtime when it comes to nutrient-dense foods. Given that the nuts and seeds have been ground up, they are more digestible which is great if your digestion is not as strong as it could be. (Are you guilty of not properly chewing the nuts you eat? Many clients report they can see bits of the nuts they eat in their bowel movements.)
When you can digest and absorb all the goodness in nuts, they are a great source of some of your macronutrients (protein and good fatty acids) but can also pack a punch when it comes to your micronutrients as well.
Another great benefit of tahini is that it has a good component of fibre which helps to keep your microflora happy. There has been some promising research recently looking into the cardiovascular protective benefit of sesame seeds in regards to reducing overall blood pressure.
So, don’t discard that fresh jar of tahini just yet! To help you make good use of it and gain all the excellent benefits, here’s a simple dressing you can make using that pot full of goodness.
1/2 cup tahini
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons tamari (or soy sauce)
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ginger, minced
Simply blend all the ingredients together. If a thinner consistency is desired, add additional water to suit the dish.
This dressing can be used in many ways and would go well on a quinoa salad-based dish.
Is it time to change your habits and get the best from the foods you eat? Phil has two excellent events starting this week!
4-week RESET Program – starts 8 January: Start the new year on the right health path for you. RESET will help get you to the level of health you desire, in a supportive and structured way, under the guidance of a qualified and experienced professional. Included in the program are consultation with Phil, VLA testing and follow up, meal & recipe plan support, daily accountability, yoga classes and more. Book now to join RESET.
Getting Unrefined – Workshop 8 January: Discover how to return to wholefood-based eating and give your body the essential building blocks for optimal functioning. Experience greater energy, clearer skin and happy digestive system. Book your place at Getting Unrefined workshop.
Issues with fertility and conception are increasing in Australia, as are the number of couples utilising IVF and assisted fertility treatments. Sadly, IVF isn’t always successful because it isn’t just fertilisation and implantation that are the issue. For many couples, the quality of the sperm and ovum isn’t always optimal and issues with blood supply and nutrient delivery to the growing foetus may be impaired. This could help to clarify why some women experience unexplained recurrent miscarriage.
Nutrition is often the missing link
Nutrigenomics profiling can help couples identify potential issues and provide powerful, individualised nutritional support to improve their chances of having a healthy pregnancy, birth and, most importantly, a healthy baby at the end.
What does the test cover?
It is recommended that individuals complete a full genomic profile that includes the following:
Nutrigenomics (individual nutrient requirements e.g. Vitamin D, B12, etc.)
Methylation (e.g. MTHFR) and liver detoxification
Hormones and fertility.
It’s not just all about MTHFR
The MTHFR (the gene that provides instructions for making the methyl enzyme) genetic variant has received a lot of attention and exposure in the last few years. The reality is it’s only one gene (yes, an important one) in a pathway involving many genes. For example, we find that many women require more choline to support their methylation pathway (and hence fertility and conception) yet this important nutrient is rarely considered.
DNA testing is just one small part of the picture
Nutrigenomics (or DNA) testing is important, however it is essential to consider these results alongside any pathology testing, presenting symptoms and your full case history.
A recent trip to see some family opened my mind to something I hadn’t thought about in this way before.
I was staying with a close family member which allowed us time for conversations that wouldn’t normally happen when there are many other people around. This family member and I got talking about how she has several friends that she has been close to for over 50 years. This information washed over me at the time but, later, my mind got to thinking about its significance.
Community and a sense of connection to the people around us play a major role in how well we age, both mentally and physically. One thing many people report on their deathbed is they wish they had made more time for the important people in their lives.
What does it take to maintain a friendship that last over five decades?
Frequency: At some point, usually the beginning, there is typically a time when you will be around each other consistently. This will commonly be school, university or in a workplace setting. This sets the foundation for the future.
Shared interests: Having something you can both look forward to doing together will help you maintain a connection. This could be a love of reading or gardening, or maybe something a little more adrenaline pumping. Either way, having something you can share helps to hold things together.
Similar destination: If you are headed for different ‘stations’ in life then you will likely drift apart. If one of you is focused on adventure and travel while the other is all about settling down and having loads of kids, the challenge to stay together will be harder. In the same way that if you are a non-drinker/smoker, you will most likely associate less in social settings. In these situations, we don’t often think, Gee, this person is someone I can see in my life.
So, what are the types of things you might like to cultivate when it comes to the people you are sharing time with?
Transparency: When life struggles happen—and they will—is there an openness and willingness to share? It is not always done with the hope of having an answer provided but rather to hear someone else’s perspective. When we are struggling, we tend to isolate ourselves, thinking we must be strong and figure things out on our own. This is more so with men than women. However, being open allows us to view our situation differently.
Making a priority of each other: We are in a world that demands our attention so much. Are we able to disconnect and focus on other people for a period to reconnect with what is important? Your life won’t be measured by the number of social media stories you had but rather the number of real conversations.
Someone who will encourage your vision of a bigger, brighter future: A friend won’t let you settle for something. They will stretch and challenge you in ways you may not always like but it will be with the intention of building a better you. When you have people in your life that demand the best from you, you will automatically have more richness in your life.
Traditionally athletes have valued carbohydrates as the most efficient fuel source, with many partaking in ‘carb loading’ prior to race day in order to optimise performance and endurance. Although it is true that our body prioritises glucose if it is available, the body has a very clever way of producing energy that can sustain physical performance in the face of a glucose shortage. This is known as fat adaptation and can be achieved by eating a diet lower in carbohydrates and higher in good fats which in turn allows the body to efficiently burn fat as a fuel source.
A potential issue with a high carbohydrate intake long term is an associated increased risk of insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease, conditions we normally associate with the overweight and sedentary. This disorder can even occur in athletes training 20+ hours per week and is referred to as the ‘athlete’s paradox’. ‘Carbohydrate intolerance describes the decreased ability to process carbohydrates effectively. Insulin resistance is, in essence, carbohydrate intolerance due to the decreased responsiveness to insulin in the peripheral tissues which leads to de novo lipogenesis (fat synthesis by the liver) and consequent increased risk of several chronic diseases.’
‘Sufficient restriction of dietary carbohydrates puts the body into a state of nutritional ketosis in which energy metabolism is diverted to utilizing fatty acids directly for creating ATP or ‘ketones’ (e.g. beta-hydroxybutyrate). Over a period of time, the body adapts to efficiently using ketones as a predominant fuel source both peripherally and within the central nervous system in a state known as keto-adaptation. For example, the brain can derive roughly two thirds of its energy from ketones.’ (Metagenics, 2015; Volek, J.)
In the past we have relied on glucose replacement during training to avoid ‘hitting the wall’. However, recent science has associated fat-adapted training with improved athletic performance. One of the many benefits of having a reduced amount of carbohydrate in your diet is the improved ability to burn fats as fuel, meaning you are more metabolically flexible.
Mike Morton, Master Sergeant, US Army Special Operations Command, American 24-hr Distance Running Record (172 miles): ‘I switched to a low-carbohydrate/high-fat lifestyle in 2012 and was able to win back to back 100-mile races one week apart including setting a course record. The diet has transformed my health and performance.’ The level of carbohydrate required varies per individual depending on metabolic health and training goals. If you would like to know more about fat-adapted training and if it is suitable for you, make an appointment to discuss your needs.
We all have minor imbalances with our health from time to time which we will seek help with. For most of us, our health is largely pretty good but could your health be great?
Once we reach a level of health where we experience an absence of symptoms, we feel as though we are doing well. But, when it comes to energy levels, restorative sleep or wanting to get the best out of your exercise, just an extra 5 to 10 per cent could make a difference to your day-to-day life.
Doing the small, seemingly insignificant, things daily will compound over time and make a massive difference in our overall health. For example, parking a little further away from work and walking that extra bit might not feel as though it would make much difference now. However, it could mean that, 30 years down the track, you are able to move quickly to get out of the way of a fast-moving bicycle because you maintained your muscle mass.
We’ve all seen people in their sixties and seventies who have vast differences in what they can perform daily. There are some who are competing in a sport well into their seventies while there are others who are no longer able to enjoy things in life (like chasing the grandkids around!) like they did when they were in their fifties. The difference is actually found much earlier in life when it comes to the food and lifestyle choices we make when we are younger.
Our health in the later decades of our life is built on the foundation of what we do when we are in our twenties and thirties. The challenging part is we don’t see thebenefits of the choices we make in these younger age brackets until much later in life.
Healthcare costs in the ageing population is one of the obscured factors which will come to the forefront more as the baby boomers move into the older age brackets. This represents an area many of us haven’t considered and which will be an additional cost that will need to be covered.
Being a wellness client is understanding that our health will become a priority at some stage in our life and this helps drive your daily decisions to effect a positive change now. More than likely, these are small changes which, compounded over time, will allow you to bridge the gap from an illness pathway to an optimal health pathway.
Prolonging the time that you can be a contributing individual to society is a great asset as, not only will you feel better, you’ll get to enjoy the benefits of better health in your younger years as well.
The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago; the next best time is today.
FODMAP is an acronym for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. These are a group of short-chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols (polyols) found in grains, vegetables, legumes, milk, fruit and sweetened products.
These carbohydrates resist digestion, inhibiting their breakdown into smaller compounds, causing them to be poorly absorbed within the small intestine. Due to the poor absorption of these carbohydrates, they pass into the colon where they undergo fermentation by bacteria – acting as a beneficial prebiotic. But, in some individuals, this fermentation process, alongside the tendency of these carbohydrates to draw water into the colon, may result in a number of gastrointestinal symptoms. These symptoms include:
Altered bowel movements (diarrhoea or constipation)
These undesirablesymptoms experienced from the consumption of high FODMAP foods is heightened by individuals with underlying gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or an imbalance of bacteria within the gut.
Eliminating foods high in these carbohydrates is known as phase one of a low–FODMAP diet. By removing the consumption of these foods, the fermentation and increased water drawn into the colon from the presence of these carbohydrates is significantly decreased, as are the associated symptoms.
Many patients are misled into thinking that eliminating these foods from their diet is an appropriate long-term solution to their gastrointestinal issues as they experience a reduction in their symptoms. However, elimination is only phase one of the four phases of a low-FODMAP diet and adherence to the following phases is essential for long-term health outcomes. High-FODMAP foods make up a substantial proportion of a normal healthy diet and therefore should not be eliminated from the diet for a period of time greater than six weeks.
The subsequent phases of a low-FODMAP diet include the reintroduction phase, the trial-diet phase and the maintenance phase. Consulting with your naturopath throughout the process of a low FODMAP diet is fundamental to ensuring this diet is correctly implemented with minimal adverse effects and positive long-term health outcomes.
Furthermore, following a low-FODMAP diet may assist in the symptomatic relief of gastrointestinal symptoms but does not address the underlying cause of gastrointestinal issues.
Why FODMAPs do not address the issue
If a patient has been suffering from small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) associated symptoms, it is likely they have tried a low-FODMAP diet and noticed significant improvements in their symptoms. This is because diets low in FODMAPs do decrease IBS symptoms. However, they don’t address the cause, which is ultimately SIBO. A low-FODMAP (or low-carbohydrate) diet will keep symptoms under control because it decreases the availability of the sugars in FODMAP foods in the gut, which are poorly absorbed in SIBO patients due to inflammation of the small intestine. These sugars act as a food source for bacteria overgrown in SIBO. When these bacteria don’t have food to eat, they aren’t able to metabolise that food and produce gas. This gas is what causes the common symptoms of SIBO—bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea (in the case of hydrogen gas), and constipation (in the case of methane gas). For further information on SIBO and the symptoms associated with this condition, check out our SIBO blog post here.
Starving the bacteria over the short term may decrease symptoms but it does not eradicate the bacteria, it just leads to the bacteria lying dormant until food becomes available again. Furthermore, FODMAPs are actually fermentable carbohydrates that help feed the beneficial bacteria in the large intestine which is vital to our health. This is why long-term FODMAP restriction is not desirable. Rather, it is important to address the underlying bacterial overgrowth. Studies that examine the effects of FODMAP restriction show exactly what we imagine would happen when restricting these beneficial substrates. The overall amount of good probiotic bacteria (i.e. lactobacillus and bifidobacterium) in the large intestine is decreased. Moreover, long-term FODMAP diets are extremely restrictive. This can lead to feelings of stress and isolation which is also not healthy. A low-FODMAP diet has its place as part of reducing symptoms in SIBO patients, however it should never be long term.
Ultimately, it is not necessary to fully remove all FODMAP foods. We don’t want to try solving one problem, only to end up creating another. In saying that, foods which cause symptoms in a patient should be removed. These foods can be detected using a food diary. After successful treatment of the underlying drivers of SIBO, a patient may be able to tolerate and reintroduce FODMAP foods which previously caused a reaction in them, or at least add these foods in small doses, although there may be some foods they are never able to tolerate again.
Why FODMAP foods are essential to a healthy diet
High-FODMAP foods are high in fibre and are highly fermentable. Removing these foods from your diet completely means you’re also depriving yourself of the benefits these foods provide to the health of your gut and your overall health. Diets high in fibre and highly fermentable carbohydrates are positively associated with:
Healthy and regular bowel movements
Altering the pH level of the bowel and, in turn, inhibiting the growth of pathogenic bacteria and promoting growth of beneficial bacteria
Decreased risk of colorectal cancer
Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and a number of contributing factors
Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes
Prevention of weight gain and promotion of weight maintenance
Satiation and satiety
Improved gut barrier function and growth of colonic cells
Enhanced mineral absorption
Improved immune function
Reduced inflammation and symptoms associated with inflammatory bowel disease.
With a better understanding of the beneficial roles these carbohydrates play in our health, it is easy to see why removing high FODMAP foods long term is not recommended.
Did you know Karly is writing a book on SIBO?
In collaboration with Melbourne-based naturopath, Alon Blumgart, Karly is writing an ebook on the subject of SIBO and which is designed specifically for use by practitioners. Both Karly and Alon are incredibly passionate about the condition and researching the best clinical treatments available for SIBO patients.
To book an appointment with our naturopath, Karly, click here.
Gastroenteritis, also called ‘gastro’, is a common illness that can cause vomiting and diarrhoea. Many types of gastro can be easily spread and therefore the most important things to do first is stay at home and message your loved ones advising your house is in lock down to help reduce the risk of it spreading.
What can you do when you get gastroenteritis?
One of the most important things is to keep hydrated. When you have gastro, you will most likely vomit numerous times. My first tip is to always sip on water straight after vomiting. Once the vomiting has stopped, you can then start drinking larger amounts of water as your stomach will be more likely to handle it.
You might be used to grabbing Gatorade or Powerade when you have gastro but I have a better option for you. You see, you do need to replace the electrolytes that you have lost however you don’t want to be drinking lots of sugar, colours and preservatives that could irritate your stomach more. Here is a great recipe for an alternative drink to use while you’re recovering.
1/2 sliced lemon/lime
1/2 sliced orange
4 sliced strawberries
1 litre water
1 tsp sea salt
2 tsp coconut sugar or honey
Often people will continue to experience stomach pains and nausea after the vomiting and diarrhoea have ceased, causing them to not feel hungry. A good option to help reduce nausea and stomach pain is to sip on some cups of ginger or chamomile tea.
Food for gastro?
It is also very important to introduce some food as soon as you can handle it. For a faster recovery, eating food that contains a combination of carbohydrates, fibre, good fats and protein is important. Here are some examples:
wholegrain bread with avocado
brown rice crackers with avocado
boiled brown rice
steamed fish or chicken
mashed potato, sweet potato or pumpkin.
Nutrient in the spotlight
There is increasing evidence that our gastrointestinal microbiome is a major regulator of the immune system, not only in the gut but also in other organs. The non-pathogenic yeast Saccharomyces boulardii (SB) has been prescribed in the past 30 years for prophylaxis and treatment of diarrhoea diseases caused by bacteria. SB is a probiotic that is backed by a pretty impressive amount of evidence when it comes to helping with gastroenteritis and diarrhoea. Below are some studies which have looked at SB and diarrhoea.
A meta-analysis based on 5 RCTs (619 participants) indicated that SB significantly reduces the duration of acute childhood diarrhoea and the risk of prolonged diarrhoea compared with control [Szajewska et al. 2007]. A meta-analysis of seven RCTs (944 participants) showed a reduction in the duration of acute childhood diarrhoea by approximately one day in those treated with SB compared with placebo [Szajewska and Skorka, 2009]. These studies indicate that SB may be an effective adjunct therapy in managing acute gastroenteritis in children.
**Seek a naturopath for a practitioner only supplement and guidance on correct dosage and time frames. You can book an appointment with me here!
Allow yourself the time to rest and recover. Make sure you take enough time off work/school/commitments to ensure that you’re not rushing back and pushing yourself too early.
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