Category Archives: gut health

3 Simple Steps to Spring Clean your Gut

3 Simple Steps to Spring Clean your Gut

At this time of year, many of us clear out the clutter and give our homes a spring clean. Spring is also the ideal time to nourish your body by spring cleaning from the inside too. Read on for 3 Simple Steps to Spring Clean your Gut.

1. Cleaning juices and smoothies

Including cleansing smoothies and juices for breakfast for just one week will help give your gut a break, and is a great way to kick start healthy habits for spring.

Eating raw vegetables can give an extra health boost because no vitamins are lost in cooking. It’s also a great way of including ingredients that aid digestion. The best vegetables to include are carrots, beetroot, spinach and cucumber, while fruits with the highest ‘detox’ potential include apricots, melon, red grapes, blueberries and kiwi.

Try adding fresh mint leaves to combat cramps, aloe vera to reduce inflammation, ginger to stimulate digestive juices, a teaspoon of glutamine to support the lining of your gut, or fennel seeds to combat gas and bloating. A teaspoon of spirulina or supergreens powder will pack in additional nutrients.

The following recipe, from Natasha Corrett’s Honestly Healthy Cleanse, is a perfect example of a smoothie that aids digestion while feeling rich and indulgent.

Cacao, cinnamon, pear and fennel smoothie

  • 170g pear, cored
  • 50g fennel
  • 1 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 240ml almond or rice milk
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Simply blend until smooth, and enjoy.

2. Give your Gut a Break

Removing common gut irritants can help to combat troublesome digestive symptoms, whether you suffer with IBS or simply have a sluggish gut that needs some extra care. Try removing these three common offenders – sugar, alcohol and wheat – for a week.

Sugar feeds harmful bacteria in the gut which can then lead to discomfort and bloating. Try going sugar-free for a week, remembering that sugar is not only present in sweets and chocolate but also in breakfast cereals, energy drinks and many low-fat foods. To satisfy a sweet tooth, snack on fruit such as apples and plums, which will provide plenty of gut-cleansing soluble fibre.

Avoiding alcohol will also help to support your gut, because alcohol is an intestinal irritant. It also depletes your body of zinc which is essential for a healthy gut lining. Instead, be sure to drink plenty of water which will help to support a sluggish bowel.

Wheat and gluten can also cause problems for those with sensitive guts. Those who suffer with IBS are more likely to have nonceliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), meaning that gluten-containing foods trigger symptoms such as cramps and bloating (1). Try gluten-free oats, brown rice, quinoa and millet instead, to stabilise your blood sugar levels and give your gut a welcome break.

3. Cleansing herbs

Gas, bloating and discomfort can sometimes indicate an overgrowth of bad bacteria in the gut. This is especially true if your diet has been high in sugar and low in prebiotic plant foods. A herbal cleanse designed to banish pathogenic yeast and bacteria can help to restore a healthy balance.

Herbal teas are an easy way to enhance a digestive cleanse. The best choices are fennel, chamomile, peppermint and nettle. Try to drink a cup between every meal.

Some herbals in supplement form are proven to be helpful in eradicating pathogenic bacteria fungi and parasites. One well-studied herb is berberine which is often used to address gut overgrowths (2,3). Grapefruit seed extract has similar properties (4). Herbals supplements such as this can be a valuable part of a ‘spring clean’ for anyone who needs to redress a healthy gut balance.

References
1. Eswaran et al (2013) What Role Does Wheat Play in the Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome? Gastroenterol Hepatol 9(2): 85–91.
2. Lezak M. H(2000) Herbal antimicrobials for intestinal infections. ANSR – Appl Nutr Sci Rep:Advanced Nutrition Publ, 1-6.
3. Patil T et al (2015) Antimicrobial Profile of Antidiabetic Drug: Berberine International Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemical Research 7(1); 45-50
4. Ganzera M et al.(2006) Development and Validation of an HPLC/UV/MS Method for Simultaneous Determination of 18 Preservatives in Grapefruit Seed Extract J. Agric. Food Chem. 54, 3768-3772

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Digestive Health

Digestive Health – Beat the Bloat

Beat the bloat – Taking care of your digestive health

Indigestion covers a variety of symptoms from cramping in the stomach, to heartburn, bloating, wind, belching, and even pain in the bowel. It is usually a sign that the digestive system is having difficulty coping with breaking down food, and this is frequently due to a lack of stomach acid and digestive enzymes in the small intestine. The problem can be made worse if you eat too quickly and don’t chew food thoroughly. Overeating, drinking to excess, eating poor food combinations, or eating when stressed all exacerbate indigestion. Our digestive processes are only fully functional when our nervous system is relaxed, so when we are stressed enzyme activity decreases significantly, which can lead to various symptoms including bloating.

What are digestive enzymes and how can they help?

Digestive enzymes act like scissors to break down food (fats, proteins, carbohydrates, starches, milk, sugars) into their basic building blocks so that they can be absorbed into the bloodstream and transported throughout the body and cells. Undigested food can putrefy in the intestines, feeding undesirable micro-organisms which produce gas, bloating and toxins detrimental to the body. When undigested food particles are absorbed into the blood stream, the immune system produces antibodies to attack them along with secondary effects like inflammation, pains, migraines, rashes, asthma, behavioural changes and other symptoms of food intolerance/allergies. Diets lacking in raw foods and heavily processed/packaged foods devoid of essential enzymes often lead to symptoms of indigestion, bloating, acid reflux, IBS, fatigue and candida. By supplementing with digestive enzymes you support the digestive system by breaking down food into its basic building blocks for proper assimilation.

What are microbiotics and how can they help?

Microbiotics are the “good” or “friendly” bacteria that are normal inhabitants of the intestinal tract. Although the word bacteria is usually associated with germs and illness, friendly bacteria help the body to function, maintain health and fight infection. “Bad” or “pathogenic” bacteria on the other hand can cause intestinal microflora imbalances and lead to symptoms such as bloating, intestinal infections, yeast imbalance, constipation, diarrhoea and flatulence. Research is establishing the importance of supplementing with microbiotics. They not only help to balance out the gut bacteria, but they help to support the immune function of the gut, produce antioxidants, aid nutrition through the enhanced breakdown and absorption of vitamins, minerals and amino acids and they synthesize B vitamins, which are necessary for a healthy nervous system.

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Healthy Gut, Healthy You

Gut Health: The key to all round good health?

Healthy Gut, Healthy You

Just as the gut is the centre of our bodies, we’re also starting to think that it might be at the centre of our health too. The gut is far from being just an organ that simply digests food and excretes the waste. It also produces more than 20 kinds of hormones, contains more than a thousand species of bacteria and is controlled by its own nervous system that is almost as complex as the brain’s. An unhealthy gut can contribute to a wide range of diseases including: obesity, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, hormonal imbalances, chronic fatigue, autism, depression, as well as joint and heart problems.

Good Digestion for Good Health

Ensuring good digestion is vital. Good chewing prepares the food, mixing it with enzymes that help to break it down. In the stomach, stomach acid and pepsin released from the liver thoroughly work on the food, simplifying the proteins with great efficiency. Many people experience problems with stomach acid ‘reflux’ where it is pushed up into the food pipe or throat, causing burning and an unpleasant taste. This can be helped by some natural herbs to calm the stomach down and help it heal any damage. Slippery elm, marshmallow, aloe vera and licorice are all especially important.

Once food passes through the stomach it enters the small intestine, where additional enzymes break down food groups into the simplest molecules to make them both absorbable and usable by the body. If this does not happen very well – perhaps it is a rushed meal, lack of preparation or the concentration of acids/enzymes are compromised by age or medication (possibly the overuse of Omeprazole and other Proton Pump Inhibitors), then larger particles of food are propelled through the system to cause mischief. They may be fermented by bacteria in the gut causing wind and/or they may get through the gut wall’s strategic defences. The body’s protective immune system (mostly seated in the gut) may even decide that they look similar to a potential enemy and attack them, causing inflammation. To help the body digest difficult proteins like gluten and other foods, it may be useful to take supplementary digestive enzymes. Gluten digesting enzymes may be particularly useful as well as certain beneficial or probiotic bacteria.

Bacteria in the Gut: Our little friends

Our friendly bacteria have been living with us all of our lives, resident in our gut like billions of bacterial pets. The beneficial ones play a very important role in maintaining health. They help to keep the immune system on a low-level alert and therefore support its function. In some studies, when babies do not develop this layer of good bacteria properly, they are more likely to develop an allergy or have an immune system that doesn’t work efficiently. The best and safest way to support beneficial bacteria is to take a high-strength daily probiotic with carefully selected and well-researched bacterial strains. If the balance of bacteria is disrupted, then certain plant oils can help to speed up the recovery. Garlic is king here, and is nature’s best natural antibiotic, but also consider using clove oil, cinnamon and oregano oil for a multi-pronged approach on a short-term basis.

While it is true to say that gut problems are on the increase, and that sub-optimal gut function seems to be having wide ranging effects on health beyond the digestive system, we can also do a great deal to help ourselves. Take good care of your gut, and you will reap the health benefits for years to come.

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Festive Digestive: Eat, drink and be merry this festive season

Did you spend last Christmas with a queasy, acid, bloated and uncomfortable stomach?

The combination of family events, rich foods, alcohol and late nights can be stressful and normal stomach enzyme secretion can be impaired by the influence of stress hormones. Avoid the misery of acid indigestion by taking a high potency Digestive Aid with a powerful combination of enzymes to aid digestion. Certain enzymes aid in the breakdown of fats, proteins and carbohydrates ensuring your digestion is at peak performance, working hard when you are playing hard.

Help restore your gut balance of good bacteria. Probiotic formulas add a combination of good bacteria to aid digestion and boost immunity. Perfect to aid recovery from the festive season’s culinary excesses.

Provided you have enough of the health-promoting bacteria, they act as your first line of defence against unfriendly bacteria and other disease-producing microbes including viruses and fungi. The good bacteria make some vitamins and digest fibre, allowing you to derive more nutrients from otherwise indigestible food, and also help promote a healthy digestive environment.

Keep your New Year’s Resolution this year with a few helpful tips from Viridian Nutrition:

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Higher levels of vitamin B5 can help support energy levels
  • Don’t think of yourself, think about your poor old dog! A stroll with the dog for half an hour can make a big difference after a few weeks to both your physical and emotional fitness and will cheer the dog up too. Wrap up warm and enjoy the simple and loving company of your furry friend. If you don’t have a dog, offer to walk a neighbour’s.
  • Big meat eater? Try one day a week without meat and see how your energy levels and digestion improve.
  • Veggie or vegan? Top up with B12. Vitamin B12 can contribute to a reduction in tiredness and fatigue and also supports immune function.
  • Feeling under-the-weather? Choose a multivitamin & mineral like High Five Multivitamin and Mineral Formula from Viridian Nutrition. The higher levels of vitamin B5 can help support energy levels, normal mental performance and boost overall vitality.

Emotional Health

  • Help others. There is no better pick-you-up than helping others. Volunteer, be a good listener or write letters to friends to bring them cheer.
  • It can be hard to keep your spirits up in the dark winter months, try some extra vitamin D. Vitamin D has been the subject of a wealth of research studies and has been shown to contribute to the normal function of the immune system as well as essential in the health of bones, muscles and teeth. Sometimes called the Sunshine Vitamin, we often miss it most in the winter months.
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