Tag Archives: digestion

A Natural Approach to Heartburn

As a nutritional therapist I have recently noticed a growing number of new clients taking a particular type of heartburn medication called ‘proton pump inhibitors’ or PPIs. In my experience, PPIs are a concern because they can sometimes do more harm than good.

PPIs, such as omeprazole and lansoprazole, work by suppressing the formation of stomach acid. Contrary to popular belief, heartburn is rarely caused by excess stomach acid and we need stomach acid. It is required for the proper digestion of proteins and carbohydrates, for absorption of nutrients and for protection against harmful bacteria. Without stomach acid, our digestion and immune system is compromised. For this reason PPI use has been linked with deficiencies of nutrients such as B12 and magnesium. as well as increased risk of bone fracture and bacterial overgrowth in the digestive system (1-4).

So what really cases heartburn? Most often, the problem is caused by a problem with the Lower Esphageal Sphincter (LES) – a valve between the stomach and oesophagus which prevents stomach acid from escaping upwards. Even if our levels of stomach acid are low, we can experience heartburn if this valve is not functioning as it should. The proper functioning of this valve can be affected as we age. It can also be affected by the types of foods we eat, and our eating patterns and behaviours.

A Natural Approach to Heartburn

Those experiencing heartburn can benefit by addressing their diet. Including protein with each meal is helpful, because protein encourages the LES to close properly. On the other hand, fat has the opposite effect, and so fatty foods and meals are best avoided. Fizzy drinks, alcohol, chocolate and smoking also ‘loosen’ the LES, and so are best avoided.

Other foods can irritate the lining of the oesophagus, especially when acid reflux has already made this tissue sensitive. These foods include orange juice, tomatoes and spicy foods. Until heartburn is resolved, it can be helpful to avoid these particular foods.

Helpful foods include sources of soothing pectin such as almonds, apples, apricots plums, carrots and strawberries. A teaspoon of Manuka honey, taken twenty minutes before a meal, may also help to reduce symptoms by coating the oesophageal lining.

Simple lifestyle changes can also be beneficial. Wearing loose-fitting clothing, eating slowly and chewing thoroughly are all helpful measures. Eating small meals and remaining upright for at least three hours after eating can also eliminate symptoms of heartburn.

Slippery Elm may help coat and protect the digestive tract.

Nutritional supplements are often used in heartburn in order to protect and repair the delicate tissue of the digestive tract and to combat bacterial overgrowth. Supplements which coat and protect the digestive tract are known as ‘demulcent’ nutrients, and these include slippery elm, marshmallow root. Herbal preparations such as this have been found to improve symptoms of heartburn (5). In clinic I have also had success using deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) supplements as a powder or chewable tablet before meals. DGL seems to support the mucosal barrier, promoting healing of inflamed tissues. Glutamine, an amino acid used as fuel for the cells lining the digestive tract (6), may be also beneficial. Finally, a probiotic preparation can provide useful support, especially for those taking PPIs. Treatment with probiotics is believed to help the small bowel problems such as inflammation and bacterial overgrowth seen in those taking PPIs (7).

For those looking for a more natural approach, one of my favourite formulations is Patrick Holford Digest Pro, which provides glutamine, digestive enzymes and probiotics. Biocare’s Slippery Elm Intensive is another promising formulation combining marshmallow, DGL and slippery elm alongside other nutrients designed to support the health of the digestive tract. Alongside the right dietary and lifestyle choices, supportive supplements such as these may represent a sensible approach to addressing heartburn for those wishing to avoid long-term PPI use.

References

1. Jameson RL et al (2013) Proton Pump Inhibitor and Histamine 2 Receptor Antagonist Use and Vitamin B12 Deficiency. JAMA 310(22):2435-2442

2. MHRA (2012) Proton Pump Inhibitors in Long-Term Use: Reports of Hypomagnesia. Drug Safety Update 5:9. http://www.mhra.gov.uk/Safetyinformation/DrugSafetyUpdate/CON149774

3. Yu EW et al (2011) Proton Pump Inhibitors and Risk of Fractures: A Meta-Analysis of 11 International Studies. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.amjmed.2011.01.007

4. Lombardo L et al (2009) Increased Incidence of Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth During Proton Pump Inhibitor Therapy. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cgh.2009.12.022

5. Melzer J, Rosch W, Reichling J, et al. Meta-analysis: phytotherapy of functional dyspepsia with the herbal drug preparation STW 5 (Iberogast). Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2004;20:1279-87.

6. Reeds PJ, Burrin DG. Glutamine and the bowel. J Nutr 2001;131:2505S-8S.

7. Wallace JL et al (2011) Proton Pump Inhibitors Exacerbate NSAID-Induced Small Intestinal Injury by Inducing Dysbiosis. Gastroenterology. July 2011.

Share

Top 5 Benefits of Aloe Vera

Boasting immune boosting, anti-microbial and wound-healing properties, the therapeutic uses of aloe vera are surprisingly diverse. Here are my top 5 uses for this versatile supplement.

1. Digestive Support
Aloe vera is often used by those with digestive complaints. Conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease and ulcerative colitis are marked by long-lasting inflammation within the digestive tract. The natural anti-inflammatory properties of aloe vera have led to a number of studies investigating the possible benefit of this plant for these conditions.

A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of aloe vera in patients with mild to moderate ulcerative colitis demonstrated improved symptoms in patients taking aloe vera compared to those in the placebo group (1). Similar benefits have been reported in patients suffering with ulcerative colitis (2).

2. Immune Support

Aloe vera contains a special type of sugar molecule called acemannan which boosts the activity of macrophages. Macrophages (from the Greek, meaning ‘big eaters’) are white blood cells which function to destroy or ‘eat up’ pathogens. Alongside this action, acemannan also enhances T-cell function and interferon production. This type of immune enhancement is evident in studies which show that consumption of aloe vera gel is effective in combating candida infection (3).

3. Detoxification

The detoxifying effect of aloe vera has been scientifically verified by lab tests of urinary indican levels. Indicans are molecules found in the urine, and they can be used to measure bacterial activity in the small and large intestine. Raised levels of indicans suggest compromised digestive health, including problems such as protein malabsorption and bacterial overgrowth (4). Aloe vera has been found to reduce urinary indican levels after just one week. This suggests that aloe consumption can improve protein digestion and absorption, or improve bacterial balance in the bowel.

Aloe-Vera-Gel
Aloe Vera Gel applied to the skin can help with 1st or 2nd degree burns

4. Skin Benefits
Applied topically, aloe vera can be used to help heal damaged skin. A recent meta-analysis, which examined studies involving a total of 371 patients, concluded that aloe vera may be considered effective in treating first and second degree burns. In fact the studies showed that topical application of aloe vera reduced healing time by an average of 9 days (5). It is thought that naturally occurring substances in aloe help cells to regenerate, speeding up healing.

Aloe is especially useful in the summer months owing to its cooling and soothing properties. A common ingredient in aftersun lotions, aloe vera is believed to act as a natural anti-inflammatory agent. Research is conflicting, although a recent randomised, double-blind trial found aloe vera to be more effective than hydrocortisone cream in reducing sunburn symptoms 48 hours after application (6).

5. Diabetes and blood sugar regulation

There have been several studies investigating the efficacy of aloe vera in the treatment of type 1 and type 2 diabetes. One of the first studies involved a group of 3,000 diabetic patients who supplemented their existing treatments with a natural remedy containing aloe gel and psyllium seed husks. In 94% of these patients, fasting blood glucose levels fell to normal levels within two months (7).

In diabetic models, consumption of aloe vera has been found not only to reduce fasting blood sugar levels, but also to reduce levels of liver enzymes (a sign of liver damage), and cholesterol (8). Aloe’s high fibre content, glycoproteins and antioxidant benefits are believed to help the body to regulate blood sugar more effectively.

A further controlled study of 72 diabetic patients supports these benefits, showing that 2 tbsp daily of aloe vera resulted in a significant reduction in blood sugar levels over a period of 42 days (9).

Aloe appears to have a huge number of nutritional benefits and healing properties, making it a versatile nutritional supplement.

References

  1.  Langmead L et al (2004) Anti-inflammatory effects of aloe vera gel in human colorectal mucosa in vitro. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 19:521–527
  2. Langmead L et al (2004) Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of oral aloe vera gel for active ulcerative colitis. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 19:739–747.
  1. Jackson JA et al (2000) Urine Indican as an Indicator of Disease. Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine Vol. 15, No. 1
  2. Sun-A Im et al (2010) In vivo evident of the immunomodulatory activity of orally administered aloe vera gel. Arch Pharm Res Vol 333:3, pp. 451-456
  3. Maenthaisong R et al (2007) The efficacy of Aloe vera used for burn wound healing: A systematic review. Burns. 33:713–18
  4. Reuter J et al (2008) Investigation of the anti-inflammatory potential of Aloe vera gel (97.5%) in the ultraviolet erythema test. Skin Pharmacology and Physiology 21(2):106-110]
  5. Agarwal 0P (1985) Prevention of Atheromatous Heart Disease. Angiology. 36: 485-92.
  6. Okyar A et al (2001) Effect of Aloe vera leaves on blood glucose level in type I and type II diabetic rat models. Phytother Res.15(2):157-61.
  7. Bunyapraphatsara N (1996) Antidiabetic activity of aloe vera L. juice 11. Clinical trial in diabetes mellitus patients in combination with glibenclamide. Phytomedicine. 3:245-248
Share

Probiotics – What are they and do you need them?

Probiotics, or ‘friendly bacteria’, are live microorganisms, which when consumed in adequate amounts, are thought to confer health benefits on the human body. Taking a daily probiotic supplement could not only help with your digestion, but could also spark off other feel-good factors, such as good skin health, immunity and wellbeing.

Digestion
Probiotics are key to the digestive system. They help the body to produce digestive enzymes (such as lactase) which breakdown certain food substances (in this case, lactose, found in dairy products.) This is why topping up your levels of probiotics on a daily basis can help with food intolerances.

Probiotics support the digestive system, and various research has shown that these microorganisms can help to encourage bowel regularity, and discourage digestive disorders or conditions such as diarrhoea (1,2), bloating (3) , or constipation(4,5).

High Quality Probiotic
A High Quality Probiotic such as OptiBac For Daily Wellbeing EXTRA Strength can help line the gut wall with good bacteria to fend off pathogens.

Immunity
Probiotics are thought to support the immune system thanks to the ‘barrier effect’. A high quality probiotic is tested for its ability to bind to cells on the gut wall lining. When you supplement with plenty of probiotics they begin to coat your gut wall, taking up space on this lining. This means that when pathogens (harmful microorganisms) enter the body, they reach the gut and have fewer points on the gut wall upon which they can adhere. It’s effectively a competition for space, between the good guys and the bad! The more good guys (probiotics) you have lining your gut wall, the fewer bad guys (pathogens) you should have in turn. This is known as the barrier effect; taking a daily probiotic can support this process.

Probiotics also improve the absorption of vitamins and minerals into the bloodstream. After all there’s no use taking lots of vitamins if your body is not absorbing them. This improved vitamin uptake provides essential support for the immune system, and what’s more, means that a probiotic nicely complements any other daily supplements you may take.

Skin health
Probiotics are also thought to help support healthy skin, as often acne or spots are caused by bad bacteria, or toxins in the body. Supporting your gut with friendly bacteria means that the body will digest foods more efficiently (producing fewer toxins in the first place) and what’s more, probiotics help to displace toxins or bad bacteria in the gut (through various mechanisms, including the barrier effect mentioned above.) Probiotics have even been shown to help with atopic allergies such as eczema (6). Supporting your gut health from the inside should hopefully see you benefiting on the outside too.

Frequency of Use
Some specific probiotics can be effectively taken as a ‘one-off’ treatment, for example Saccharomyces boulardii to support gut health in those suffering from diarrhoea. However if you’re taking probiotics for general support to your digestion, immunity, energy & skin, best to take them every day for at least a few months; giving your gut time to top up its friendly bacteria levels. Many people safely and happily take probiotics on an ongoing basis for years.

 

References:

1. McFarland, L.V. & Bernasconi, P. (1993) Saccharomyces boulardii: A Review of an Innovative Biotherapeutic Agent. Microbial Ecology in Health and Disease; Vol. 6 pp. 157-171.
2. Hochter, W. et al (1990) Saccharomyces boulardii in acute adult diarrhea. Efficacy and tolerance of treatment. Munchener Medizinische Wochenschrift; Vol. 132 (12) pp. 188-192
3. Paineau, D. (2007) Regular consumption of short-chain fructo-oligosachharides improves digestive comfort with minor functional bowel disorders. Br. J. Nutr. Aug 13:1-8 [Epub ahead of print]
4. Matsumoto, M. et al. (2001) Effect of Yoghurt with Bifidobacterium lactis Bb-12® in Improving Fecal Microflora and Defecation of Healthy Volunteers. Journal of Intestinal Microbiology; 14(2): pp. 97-102
5. Pitkala, K.H et al. (2007) Fermented cereal with specific bifidobacteria normalizes bowel movements in elderly nursing home residents. A randomized, controlled trial. Journal of Nutritional Health and Aging; 11(4): pp.305-311.
6. Isolauri, E., et al., Probiotics in the management of atopic eczema. Clin Exp Allergy, 2000. 30(11): p. 1604-10.

Share

Vitamin B12 – the modern day deficiency

Simon Cowell, Katy Perry and Madonna all apparently have injections of B12, the nutrient which helps keep the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy and helps make DNA, the genetic material in all cells. Vitamin B12 also helps prevent a type of anaemia called megaloblastic anaemia that makes people tired and weak.

The total amount of vitamin B12 stored in body is about 5mg in adults with around 50 per cent of this being stored in the liver – for several years if needed.

This sounds positive – and it’s fair to say that nutritional deficiency of this vitamin should be rare. But as approximately 0.5 per cent of this is lost per day by secretions into the gut, and not all these secretions are reabsorbed, deficiency is becoming more predominant than ever.

How fast B12 levels change in the body depends on the balance between how much is obtained from the diet and the amount lost.

However the vitamin is very poorly absorbed and the rate of absorption is decreasing rapidly as our modern Western diet moves from one of fresh meats and seasonal vegetables to more processed foods, resulting in our digestive efficiency reducing.

BetterYou B12 Boost Spray
BetterYou B12 Boost Spray is an excellent supplement that increases absorption rates through the lining of the mouth

A healthy digestive system will absorb only one per cent of the B12 from our diet. However our ability to produce the acids necessary for absorption is reducing dramatically and deficiency is now being reported more and more, even amongst the most seemingly healthy. Worryingly deficiency in infants appears to be becoming even more prevalent than amongst adults.

The result is that more and more of us now require B12 supplementation.

The tissue lining of the mouth offers a strong alternative for effective absorption of our nutrients. Vitamin sprays like the BetterYou B12 Boost supplement spray is a good option.

Research carried out by Cardiff University investigating sublingual vitamin absorption found that nutrients are absorbed faster through the sub-lingual membrane – below the tongue and soft palate, and the buccal membrane – the inner lip and cheek area, than any other tissue area, other than the lungs.

Absorption rates were found to vary depending upon the type of the nutrient. B12 offers potentially better absorption rates than other nutrients, as this vitamin is water soluble, entering the membrane tissue more readily.

Written by BetterYou

Share

IBS Awareness

April is IBS Awareness Month. This calendar event is aimed at heightening awareness of the causes and symptoms of IBS, and the treatment options available. It also encourages sufferers to talk about their condition and take positive steps to manage their symptoms.

Painful tummy
IBS can cause symptoms such as gas, bloating, constipation and / or diarrhoea

The exact cause is unknown, but attacks can be triggered by stress and dietary factors. Typical symptoms of IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome include abdominal pain, a sense of urgency (having to rush to the toilet), bloating and gas, and diarrhoea or constipation.

Might you have IBS?

Learn your ABC for IBS! The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) advises that anyone experiencing the following symptoms for 6 months or longer should be assessed for IBS:

  • Abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Bloating
  • Change in bowel habit

Common myths and misconceptions

There are many misconceptions about IBS, perhaps because many people find IBS difficult or embarrassing to talk about. A clear understanding of IBS can help sufferers to manage the condition more effectively.

1. MYTH: IBS is “all in the head”

FACT: For many years, doctors believed IBS was a psychological condition, only existing in the patient’s head. This misconception is damaging for patients who require practical help to manage IBS. Fortunately physicians now have a better understanding of the condition and can offer practical approaches to relieve symptoms.

2. MYTH: IBS is not a serious condition

FACT: IBS is not life-threatening, and it is not an inflammatory disease like Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis. However, IBS can significantly impact a person’s quality of life and ability to function on a day-to-day basis. These are serious concerns and should be treated as such by your GP.

3. MYTH: IBS is related to lactose intolerance

FACT: IBS and lactose intolerance are not linked, although their symptoms are very similar. Some people suffer with both IBS and lactose intolerance. If your symptoms are relieved by cutting out lactose, or by taking lactase supplements, then it is possible you have lactose intolerance rather than IBS.

4. MYTH: Increasing your fibre intake will help IBS

FACT: Although fibre is an important part of a healthy diet, certain types of fibre can actually trigger IBS symptoms. In IBS, the rough edges of insoluble fibre can irritate the digestive tract, causing abdominal pain and cramps. Swapping foods high in insoluble fibre, such as bran flakes, for foods high in soothing soluble fibre, such as oats, can help to manage painful symptoms.

5. MYTH: IBS cannot be diagnosed

FACT: There is an established protocol that GPs can use to diagnose IBS. By assessing symptoms and ruling out other digestive disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease and celiac disease, your doctor can accurately diagnose IBS.

6. MYTH: There are no good treatment options for IBS

FACT: There are several prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications and nutritional supplements that can relieve symptoms for sufferers. Different approaches can work for different people, and it is sometimes necessary to experiment to find what works best for you. Some over the counter medications can actually make symptoms worse if they are used excessively. Dietary and lifestyle changes can make a world of difference. For example, the FODMAP diet has proved helpful to many. Probiotics (especially strains such as Bifidobacterium Infantis), peppermint oil, and soluble fibre supplements such as psyllium husk all represent effective natural approaches to troublesome symptoms.

If you have been diagnosed with IBS then a nutritional therapist can advise you on dietary management and helpful supplements. If you suspect you may have IBS then you should initially speak to your GP. After all, one of the most important messages of IBS Awareness Month is that nobody should have to suffer in silence.

Written by Nadia Mason, BSc MBANT NTCC CNHC

References

National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) Irritable Bowel Syndrome in Adults: Diagnosis and Management of Irritable Bowel Syndrome in Primary Care. Feb 2008.

Share

Probiotics to support regular bowels

Thanks to much focus on probiotics over recent years you may be familiar with the concept that having a good balance of friendly bacteria in your gut is related to healthy digestion. One of these factors is of course bowel regularity. Constipation (bowel movements that are infrequent or hard to pass) can indeed be caused by a lack of good bacteria in the intestines, meaning that your body does not have the suitable means to efficiently break down and digest foods.

The Secret is in the Strain

So what sort of probiotic can you take to help maintain more regular bowel movements? Rather than worrying too much about the form or strength of a probiotic, the secret is actually in the ‘strain’. A probiotic ‘strain’ refers to the exact classification of a micro-organism and it tells you where the probiotic comes from, where it will work in the body, and most importantly, which clinical trials and tests have been carried out on that probiotic.

B. lactis BB-12®

Bifidobacterium lactis BB-12® is probably the most researched strain of the ‘lactis’ species; and has been especially tested in individuals looking to maintain bowel regularity. A number of reliable double blind, placebo-controlled studies (1, 2, 3) have shown this precise probiotic strain to help individuals maintain regular bowel movements.

OptiBac Probiotics - For Maintaining Regularity
OptiBac Probiotics - For Maintaining Regularity contains the probiotic strain Bifidobacterium lactis BB-12

For maintaining regularity Probiotic & Prebiotic

The B. lactis BB-12® strain can be found in OptiBac Probiotics For maintaining regularity which can be taken on a daily basis as a maintenance or alternatively as and when required. For maintaining regularity also contains prebiotic fibres for a longer lasting effect. Prebiotics are a food source for your body’s probiotics and these natural fibres are found in foods such as onions, garlic and leeks.

For maintaining regularity is a natural & gentle supplement, and unlike some medicines, will not cause dependency or a lazy gut. It is also suitable for pregnant women, infants from 1 year+ and provides a perfect gentle formula for the elderly.

If you’re looking to maintain your bowel regularity, trying a supplement containing B. lactis BB-12® whilst combining it with some positive health habits could be a good place to start. Ensure you eat plenty of fresh fruit & vegetables, beans and pulses, drink lots of water and take regular exercise – which all encourage more regular bowel movements.

Written by Lou Bowler, BSc (Naturopath)

References

(1.) Matsumoto, M. et al (2001) Effect of Yoghurt with Bifidobacterium lactis BB-12 in improving fecal microflora and defecation of healthy volunteers. Journal of Intestinal Microbiology; 12(2): pp-97-102

(2.) Pitala, K.J et al (2007) Fermented cereal with specific Bifidobacteria normalises bowel movements in elderly nursing home residents. A randomised, controlled trial. Journal of Nutritional Health and Aging; 11(4): pp. 305 – 311.

(3.) Nishida, S. et al. (2004) Effect of yoghurt containing Bifidobacterium lactis BB-12 on improvement of defecation and fecal microflora of healthy female adults.

Share

An introduction to Coeliac Disease

Coeliac disease (CD) is a common autoimmune disorder where the body attacks itself.  It occurs as a consequence of gluten intolerance and affects approximately 1% of the population. Gluten is found in all food and non-food products that are made from wheat, barley and rye. Oats contain some lower levels of gluten but the levels are not always problematic for Coeliac sufferers, however as oats are often processed in the same factories as wheat, barley and rye they should be eaten with caution.

When these products are consumed, the disease activates chronic small intestine inflammation and erosion of the intestinal villi which can lead to nutrient malabsorption and potentially deficiencies, with iron and folic acid deficiency being the more common deficiencies. Although it is usually thought to be solely a gastrointestinal disorder, many will be surprised to know it is in fact a systemic disorder affecting the whole body. Gluten ingestion can trigger inflammation in several other areas of the body, manifesting itself in many ways and consequently it can be extremely distressing for the individual, severely affecting quality of life. For example it can cause skin disorders such as psoriasis and eczema, fatigue, and also more serious conditions such as type I diabetes, heart and/or liver disease, anaemia, epilepsy, osteoporosis amongst others. Sufferers may feel like their symptoms are unrelated to those typically associated with an intolerance such as abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhoea etc which means that Coeliac disease often goes undiagnosed for years. It is however becoming more widely recognised and acknowledged by the Medical Profession and diagnosis is improving.

Bread and Wheat are foods that Coeliac Disease sufferers should avoid
Bread and Wheat are some foods that Coeliac Disease sufferers should avoid due to their gluten content (3.)

A gluten free diet is currently the only method of treatment as there is no approved medication, however gluten is extremely difficult to avoid completely as cereal use in food products is widespread and it is often hidden in many products unexpectedly e.g. in cosmetics. It is now possible to get gluten free oats along with better and more tasty gluten free breads and other grains, so CD sufferers should look out for these options.

Prolonged exposure to gluten in Coeliac sufferers can result in mortality, therefore in addition to attempting to remove gluten, other therapeutic methods should be considered. It has been acknowledged that the gut balance (microbiota) is vital for keeping a healthy state and reductions in beneficial bacteria can cause imbalances and potentially contribute to diseases such as Coeliac disease. One study published in 2010 by Journal of Leukocyte Biology investigated the effects of the probiotic Bifidobacteria on the immune triggers of Coeliac disease. They found that the inclusion of this beneficial probiotic improved the gut state, immune reaction and disease outcome for those with CD. In addition to probiotics and a gluten free diet, anti-inflammatory nutrients such as fatty acids will also help to reduce the inflammation across the body. Taking supplements such as glutamine and arginine can help to repair the intestinal damage to allow the villi in the small intestine to grow back and begin to absorb the nutrients again (2).

These nutrients are not only beneficial for those suffering with Coeliac disease and can benefit everyone, as they allow the body to be in a balanced state and reduce inflammation which can also be a cause of many conditions including IBS. If you think you may have Coeliac Disease or would like to be tested for it, you should contact your Health Practitioner or a local BANT or Nutrition Society registered Nutritionist.

Written by Lauren Foster

(1) G. De Palma,* J. Cinova,† R. Stepankova,† L. Tuckova,† and Y. Sanz Pivotal Advance: Bifidobacteria and Gram-negative bacteria differentially influence immune responses in the proinflammatory milieu of celiac disease. Journal of Leukocyte Biology, vol. 87 no. 5 765-778.

(2) Sukhotnik, I., Slijper, N., Pollak, Y., Chemodanov, E., Shaoul, R., Coran, A.G., Mogilner, J.G. (2011) Parenteral omega-3 fatty acids (Omegaven) modulate intestinal recovery after intestinal ischemia-reperfusion in a rat model. Journal of Pediatric Surgery, Vol. 46, Issue 7, Pg. 1353-1360.

(3.) Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane

Share

A new way to manage Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?

A new way to manage Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is quickly gaining support amongst the medical community, and many IBS sufferers are seeing positive results.

Dr Susan Shepherd, an Australian dietician and researcher, led a presentation on the low-FODMAPs diet last month at the American College of Gastroenterology conference in Washington.

A low FODMAPs diet has been shown to help those with IBS
A low FODMAPs diet has been shown to help those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

The theory is that people with IBS have difficulty digesting certain types of carbohydrate, leading to symptoms such as gas, bloating, abdominal pain, constipation or diarrhoea.

Small studies in the UK and Australia have shown that the diet reduced symptoms in around 75% of IBS sufferers, which makes it a more successful approach than many other dietary or medical interventions. In a controlled study published some weeks ago in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, the low-FODMAP diet improved IBS symptoms in more than 80% of the adults tested (1).

FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligo-, Di- and Mono-saccharides and Polyols. These are a group of short-chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols present in food. They comprise fructose, lactose, fructans, galactans and polyols.

Certain foods are particularly high in FODMAPs. These include milk and unripened cheeses, which are rich sources of lactose, and wheat and rye which are high in fructans. Sources of galactans and polyols include legumes, some fruits, and sweeteners such as sorbitol and xylitol.

FODMAPS have a number of characteristics which can make them troublesome for those with IBS and other digestive problems.

  • They are poorly absorbed in the small intestine.
  • They tend to draw liquid into the gut, affecting movement in the gut.
  • They are quickly fermented by bacteria in the gut, producing gas and bloating.

The low-FODMAPs diet recommends eliminating all suspect foods for 6-8 weeks, and then gradually reintroducing these foods in order to identify which ones are causing digestive problems.

As the low-FODMAPs diet is rather restrictive, it is advised that those with IBS should only follow the diet under the guidance of a qualified health practitioner.

There are some potential drawbacks to the low-FODMAPs diet, which can be overcome with a little careful planning. For example, those restricting FODMAP foods should be sure to include other sources of fibre in their diet. Fibre is an important nutrient for bowel health, and this can be provided by grains such as quinoa and rice, as well as well-tolerated fruits and vegetables.

The FODMAP diet also excludes many ‘prebiotic’ foods, which help to feed good bacteria in the gut. Good bacteria help to produce vitamins, support the immune system and prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. It may therefore be helpful to include probiotic supplements or probiotic foods in order to help boost levels of good bacteria in the gut.

Written by Nadia Mason, BSc MBANT NTCC CNHC

References

1. Staudacher HM et al. Comparison of symptom response following advice for a diet low in fermentable carbohydrates (FODMAPs) versus standard dietary advice in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics. October 2011. 24(5):487-495

2. Image courtesy of Ambro

Share

The Sun Chlorella guide to a healthy gut – Part 1

Todays blog is provided by the experts at premium supplement brand Sun Chlorella.  In parts 1 and 2, their expert nutritionist discusses the fact and fiction surrounding the topic of gut health.

‘Beat the bloat’  How healthy is your gut?  Fact & Fiction

Many aspirations to get more energised and active in the summer months are often thwarted by the common issue of bloated bellies.  To help our collective tummies beat the bloat, nutritionist Nadia Brydon from premium supplement brand Sun Chlorella, is on hand to separate the fact from the fiction when it comes to keeping your guts healthy.

“The most important thing when managing your digestion is to identify the causes and stop the patterns that lead to pain and discomfort.  Once you know how healthy your gut is you’ll be able to prevent any bloating.” says Nadia.

NADIA BRYDON’S GUT HEALTH FACT & FICTIONS

Sun Chlorella A1
Breathing and exercise are particularly important to help the digestion process and ‘burn’ off the food we eat.

Exercising when bloated will aggravate the condition – FICTION!

Breathing and exercise are particularly important as the gut needs air to help the digestion process and ‘burn’ off the food we eat.  Try to take exercise in the open air for half an hour each day.  If you’re bloated, a gentle walk will give you energy and the movement will facilitate your digestion.  Exercise that focuses on the abdominal muscles or uses controlled breathing is excellent as it strengthens the muscles in this area.

Don’t drink alcohol – FICTION!

If you are heading out for a few drinks just make sure you go prepared. Take Sun Chlorella® ‘A’ to help balance the pH in the gut before you head out, drink plenty of water throughout the night, and try to keep food simple and light.  Keep peppermints and chamomile teabags in your bag to have after your meal.

Eight hours sleep a night will help your tummy – FACT!

Sleep is a must and a good eight hours a night will give optimum benefit. It has been found that those sleeping less than this develop an increased desire for sugary type foods – due to lack of energy – which can ferment in the digestive tract and cause bloating.

Keep hydrated – FACT!

Always remember to drink lots of water throughout the day and try to drink before or after a meal rather than during.  Drinking up to eight glasses of water a day is the best ‘laxative’ nature can provide!

Visit the loo regularly – FACT!

Irregular bowel movements can cause bloating and it is important to empty the bowels on a daily basis.  For each main meal taken in, there should be a bowel movement to make space for the next meal.  Otherwise foods ‘back up’ and ferment leaving the gut feeling full and bloated.  To help keep the bowels regular, eat fibre-rich fresh fruit, vegetables and seeds such as flaxseeds, hemp seeds, sunflower and pumpkin seeds.

Don’t miss the second part of Sun Chlorella guide to a healthy gut in the next bodykind blog on Thursday 4th August 2011.

Written by Nadia Brydon

Share