What is Gut Dysbiosis & Leaky Gut?

 

Have you heard the joke about the fight between the different parts of the body? One day they were arguing over whose role was the most important. The heart said it was the most important because it was beating to keep the body going. The head said it was the most important because it controlled everything. The kidneys claimed they were the most important because they filter and remove waste from the body. Each organ continued to argue about whose role was the most important in keeping the body thriving and well. When the gut claimed that it was the most important, all the other organs laughed and shut the poor gut down. However within a few days of the gut being shut down, all the other systems within the body agreed that it indeed was the most important after all, because they were all affected when the gut wasn’t working properly.This little story illustrates how the gut is often very much underrated.

Why is our gut so important?

Our gut, also known as the gastrointestinal tract, actually plays a HUGE role in your overall health and well-being.

The 3 primary functions of the gut are:-

  1. Digestion of foods and conversion into vitamins
  2. Absorption of nutrients
  3. Prevention of toxins and pathogens from entering the body

If you aren’t digesting your food properly, this can lead to many problems, such as; a compromised immune system, viral and bacterial infections, nutrient malabsorption, fatigue, other body organs can also be affected such as your nervous system and skin, and lastly it can lead to gut (intestinal) dysbiosis.

What exactly is gut dysbiosis?

Gut dysbiosis is a condition in which the bacteria in your gut are out of balance, and pathogenic (bad) bacteria begin to dominate the good (beneficial) bacteria, creating symptoms of digestive distress.

What Causes Gut Dysbiosis?

There are a number of factors that can disrupt the balance of gut bacteria in our gut and lead to overgrowth of the less desirable species. These include;

  • Antibiotics
  • Birth control pill
  • Diet, especially one that’s high in sugar and refined/ processed foods
  • Alcohol
  • Stress
  • Gastrointestinal infections (traveller’s diarrhoea, gastroenteritis, food poisoning etc)
  • Certain medications
  • C-Sections

Gut dysbiosis can lead to changes in the lining of the bowel that increases the permeability of the gut, resulting in leaky gut syndrome.

What is Leaky Gut Syndrome?

The lining of the intestines is a barrier that should only allow properly digested fats, proteins, and starches to pass through and enter the bloodstream. However, it’s when our bodies are bombarded with antibiotics, medications, bacterial toxins, or even the pesticides sprayed on our food, the intestinal lining gets damaged and loses its integrity. This is when the door is open to let in the bacteria, viruses, parasites and even undigested food molecules through the walls of our gut lining! This causes the immune system to be over stimulated, inflammatory substances are released which weakens the intestinal wall further. We refer to this loss of integrity as ‘leaky gut syndrome.’

If your gut lining is badly damaged, inflammatory substances will leak through your gut wall, wreaking havoc on your health and causing some of the following symptoms.

Symptoms of Leaky Gut Syndrome

  • Chronic joint and muscle pain
  • Brain fog, poor memory and concentration
  • Digestive issues; stomach pain, bloating, indigestion, diarrhoea, gas etc
  • Mood swings
  • Recurrent UTI’s and/ or thrush
  • Skin rashes
  • Anxiety
  • Poor libido
  • Fatigue

The agitated immune system can often become so unstable that it ends up attacking your own body, therefore producing autoimmune diseases.

Leaky gut syndrome is associated with the following conditions

  • Autoimmune Diseases
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Celiac disease
  • Asthma
  • Lupus
  • Skin problems; hives, eczema, acne and psoriasis
  • Arthritis
  • Intestinal infections
  • Pancreatic insufficiency
  • Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease
  • Food allergies and sensitivities
  • IBS and many more

So if you think you may be experiencing the symptoms of a leaky gut, it’s wise to address it promptly.

How to Soothe Your Gut & Eliminate Intestinal Distress

The first step is to identify and remove the source of the gut-lining irritation, rather than attempting to suppress it the irritation with drugs (the ‘Band-Aid’ approach). Start an elimination diet – remove common irritants such as; gluten, dairy, sugar, soy, chemical additives and preservatives found in food. Eliminating these common irritants may be able to provide surprisingly quick relief.

For more information and tips on how to soothe your gut please read the following blogs and watch the free ‘Beyond Good Nutrition’ 4 part gut health video series.

In the ‘Beyond Good Nutrition’ video series you will learn :-

  • how an in-balance in your gut can cause fatigue, digestive problems, lapse of memory and focus, and affect your mood.
  • the vital steps to balance your gut and regain your energy and resilience

Jordan Pie

Changing Habits Nutritionist

References

Jordan Pie

Jordan Pie

Practicing Nutritionist at Changing Habits

I am a qualified holistic Nutritionist and a certified Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) practitioner. No matter your chosen path or where you are in your own health journey, my heartfelt mission is to help as many people as possible to achieve and sustain vibrant health and wellness by inspiring you to get creative with real, whole, fresh foods and to see them in a brand new light! I’m an avid believer in the value of home cooking, utilising the healing power of foods, extremely passionate about gut health, eating intuitively and the importance of listening to your own body.

Jordan Pie

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What is Biofilm and How Can it Affect the Health of My Gut?

Biofilm is exactly what it sounds like – it’s basically a sticky film. I like to think of it as a bomb shelter for yeast, parasites and bacteria to hide under so they can survive even the strongest antibiotics and anti-fungals (natural or medications) that would potentially kill them off.

Biofilms begin with individual bacteria, and when conditions are favourable, they start forming communities by adhering to a surface. Watch this insight 2 minute video to understand how bacteria form a biofilm.

Where is biofilm found?

Some well-known examples of where biofilm can be found include; pond scum, kombucha SCOBYs, and dental plaque. Biofilm can also be found on slimy rocks, in bath tubs, soil, surgical instruments and the gut wall. Just like the mildew in your shower, biofilms grow. They form a stronger hold on their surface, making them more difficult to wipe out. This is an excellent characteristic for health-promoting biofilms, but it’s alarming when harmful microbes plant their flag in your body to start settling down because bacteria protected within a biofilm layer are 1000x more resistant to antibiotics.

Symptoms associated with unhealthy biofilm

  • Nutrient and mineral malabsorption
  • Antibiotic and anti-fungal resistant biofilms
  • Increased inflammation
  • Biofilm can foster toxins like heavy metals
  • Biofilm can protect certain micro-organisms from the immune system
  • Systemic candida overgrowth
  • Parasites
  • Heartburn or reflux
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia
  • IBS, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease
  • Bloating, gas, brain fog, arthritis, stomach cramps, acne, rashes etc.

All of these symptoms can then lead to chronic degenerative disease.

Some researchers believe that some persistent or recurring infections may result from stubborn biofilms in the body that evade immune defences and as a result can lead to more co-infections. Biofilms can also keep wounds from healing, bladder infections reoccurring, tooth decay, gum disease, sinusitis, ear infections and even Lyme disease to linger.

Are there any beneficial biofilms?

Yes, there are some biofilms that are also good for us. They line the digestive tract, especially the lower intestines, and the skin. Healthy biofilms contain many different species of bacteria working together to benefit humans. Many trillions of organisms protect us from pathogens and toxins, help boost our immune defences, help us elimate toxins on a regular basis, steer us away from obesity, and may even make us think and feel better. An imbalance of bacteria in the gut – particularly from antibiotic usage, stress, or lack of fibre in the diet leaves us susceptible to disease.

How do we deal with the BAD biofilms?

Breaking through unhealthy biofilm requires specific tools and taking specific substances to help breakdown this unhealthy biofilm. Here are some real, whole foods that can aid in disrupting bad biofilm.

  • Raw, organic apple cider vinegar (ACV) the acetic acid in apple cider vinegar has been shown to kill unwanted bacteria while also cutting through mature biofilms in chronic infections
  • Curcumin (a component in turmeric) is an effective anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral, as well as anti-parasitic spice. On top of the anti-pathogen benefits, curcumin has also been found effective at disrupting biofilm
  • Oregano contains a component calledcarvacrol’ which has been shown to inhibit antibiotic resistant bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi. Additionally, it has been shown that this powerful compound also inhibits the release of harmful toxins released by these pathogens, including biofilms
  • Xylitol – has been found to disrupt biofilms, however I recommend exercising some caution with Xylitol, read my blog ‘Xylitol – Is it Safe or Dangerous’
  • Garlic has also been found to disrupt biofilm growth
  • Homemade fermented foods; incorporate fermented foods as they can also help to break up the biofilms
  • Cinnamon oil is great for disrupting candida biofilms
  • Cranberry has a reputation for keeping bacteria from sticking to surfaces. The red pigments in cranberries have been shown to inhibit biofilm formation
  • Specific enzyme supplements. However, I recommend you speak with your chosen health care practitioner regarding these types of supplements and always seek advice for your individual needs.

If you interested in reading more information about Biofilm, I would recommend you read this blog ‘Biofilm Basics’ by Kultured Wellness, and the ‘Beyond Good Nutrition’ FREE 4 part gut health video series

Jordan Pie

Changing Habits Nutritionist

References

Jordan Pie

Jordan Pie

Practicing Nutritionist at Changing Habits

I am a qualified holistic Nutritionist and a certified Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) practitioner. No matter your chosen path or where you are in your own health journey, my heartfelt mission is to help as many people as possible to achieve and sustain vibrant health and wellness by inspiring you to get creative with real, whole, fresh foods and to see them in a brand new light! I’m an avid believer in the value of home cooking, utilising the healing power of foods, extremely passionate about gut health, eating intuitively and the importance of listening to your own body.

Jordan Pie

Latest posts by Jordan Pie (see all)

Why We All Need Vitamin C and How to Source it Naturally

 

Vitamin C is so important for our health and well-being, that it’s actually critical to supply your body with it on a daily basis. As humans, we lack the functional enzyme to complete the synthesis of Vitamin C itself, so it must be supplied from exogenous sources (food).

Vitamin C is an important antioxidant with many cellular functions, and below are just some examples of the critical roles it performs within our bodies. With many individuals reducing their natural sugar intake or people with food intolerance’s that might choose not to eat certain Vitamin C rich foods, it is important to remember the benefits of Vitamin C and ensure you are getting it an adequate amount from food.

Critical Roles of Vitamin C Within the Body
  1. Collagen formation

Adequate intakes of Vitamin C is crucial in producing the amino acids that make up collagen within your body. Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies; it is located in our muscles, bones, skin, blood vessels and digestive system. This is why Vitamin C deficiency plays a factor in spontaneous bone fractures, and why consuming it on a regular basis plays an important role in controlling osteoporosis. Therefore, to maintain healthy skin, bones and optimal digestion, consuming Vitamin C is critical. I also suggest to my clients to regularly consume broths and gelatin as part of their dietary regime for even better results.

  1. Support your immune system

During times of infection, Vitamin C levels decrease rapidly in your plasma and leukocytes. This vitamin plays a critical role in the cells that control your immune system, posing antimicrobial properties, assisting natural killer cell activities, lymphocyte proliferation, phagocytes and chemotaxis. Therefore a deficiency leads to a higher possibility of contracting pathogens which can result in illness.

  1. It may be an effective prevention and treatment for some cancers

Taking high doses of Vitamin C has been shown to be an effective treatment strategy for some cancers, when used alongside other treatment methods. Vitamin C has been shown to slow the growth and proliferation of cancer cells in prostate, pancreatic, liver and ovarian cancers. Consuming Vitamin C orally, is the most preferable way, however taking it intravenously may also be considered if one has cancer, as it bypasses the digestive tract allowing higher doses to be administered.

  1. Protects the brain in neurodegenerative disorders

Vitamin C has been shown to be a critical antioxidant for the central nervous system. There are high amounts of ascorbic acid found in the brain, as it is dependent on antioxidants to be protected from any abnormal conditions.

  1. Is essential in the recovery of your adrenal glands

When people are stressed, their immune system tends to be depleted which can result in people being more prone to having colds and flus. Your adrenal glands will require constant replenishment of Vitamin C in your plasma and leukocytes, because during times of stress, the Vitamin C levels within your body can rapidly decline.

In comparison to other organs, your adrenal glands are saturated in vitamin C, so it is important to maintain your Vitamin C levels.

Other benefits of Vitamin C include; lowering blood pressure, detoxifying your body from lead and other heavy metals, preventing Alzheimer’s and strokes.

Symptoms of Vitamin C Deficiency
  • Weakened immune system
  • Digestive issues
  • Autoimmune immune diseases
  • Joint pain and inflammation
  • Slow wound healing
  • Scaly, dry skin
  • Brittle hair
  • Easy bruising

For adults, the recommended daily intake is 45mg per day. This is of course a very general recommendation, so if you require extra support from Vitamin C, then I suggest you consume more to suit your individual needs. However, consuming too much Vitamin C will cause diarrhea, so stay in tune with your body and make any changes to your dose accordingly.

How to Source Vitamin C Naturally
  1. Dried Camu Camu* – roughly 20,000 mg per 100 gm
  2. Dried kakadu plum – roughly 4, 100mg per 100g
  3. Capsicum – 250mg per 100g
  4. Guava – roughly 230mg per 100g
  5. Oranges – roughly 50mg per 100g
  6. Strawberries – roughly 50mg per 100g
  7. Fermented fruits and vegetables – when you ferment foods that are rich in Vitamin C, the nutrient content will rise drastically. Therefore it is a fantastic idea to consider fermenting your own fruits and vegetables, or eating organic fermented foods from your local health food shop.

*Camu Camu, has a high concentration of Vitamin C (460 times more than an orange). Keep in mind that Vitamin C is heat sensitive, so ensure it is kept away from heat, to preserve it’s high levels.

Vitamin C Rich Recipes!

If you’re looking for some recipes so you can add more Vitamin C in your diet, these are some of our favourites:

Vitamin C Bliss Balls

Tropical Pineapple Nice-cream

Vitamin C Immune Boosting Gummies

Chocolate Coated Date and Coconut Energy Balls

What experiences have you had with Vitamin C? Do you struggle to get enough? How do you ensure you get it in your diet?

Sheridan Williamson

I am a qualified holistic Nutritionist and a certified Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) practitioner. I’ve been working with Cyndi since 2012 and consulting for Changing Habits since late 2014. I have an overwhelming passion to help, inspire, research and do everything possible to assist in providing a better life to those that need it, and particularly for those people that have been told there is nothing they can do about their debilitating symptoms. It is my honour to encourage individuals to believe that they can live their best life possible, and to continue creating the best version of themselves.

Years ago I was addicted to sugar, processed foods, was taking antihistamines like lollies and antibiotics were always a part of my life. I had ongoing gut pain, reoccurring sinus and chest infections, rashes, extreme fatigue, a foggy brain and the list continues. While suffering from these symptoms for almost all my life, not one person told me that there was something I could do to resolve them. After studying and doing my own extensive research, I became fanatical about nutrition and the power of food, and my health is the best it has ever been and will only continue to improve. I am constantly learning and relaying the latest research to my clients. I have a specific interest in gut health and its ability to impact our overall health, and it is with great pleasure that I assist you in becoming the best version of you with real, delicious and nourishing food, love and happiness.

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Have you watched Cyndi’s TEDx Talk – What’s With Wheat?

 

Sometimes when you chat to people about their health, they often say that they can’t change because of their genes replying ‘My Mum’s overweight, so that’s why I’m heavy too, it’s in my genes’ or ‘My dad had a heart attack at 45, so now I’m prone to heart disease too.’

Some people just accept their genetics as something that they can’t change, but what if you had the tools and knowledge to improve your own situation and reverse your ‘genetic lottery’. These were questions that Cyndi O’Meara, creator of the documentary ‘What’s With Wheat?’ asked.

Cyndi’s family is the largest haemophilic family in the world, originating in Iowa, USA. Her mother had six brothers and sisters who had the condition, while another sister was a carrier. Sadly, most of them died young, however it wasn’t the disease that killed them, instead it was the blood infusion they all received to treat the disease. This blood was infected with the HIV virus, which caused them to contract AIDS and eventually die.

As well as suffering from hemophilia, subsequent generations of Cyndi’s family also suffered from autoimmune diseases, cancer, hepatitis, brain hematoma, leukemia and diabetes. However haemophilia only started to appear in her family from the 1930s. This was a time when farmers started using chemicals to control pests, disease and weeds across the United States, including the corn fields of Iowa, where her family lived and worked. At that time large-scale spraying of chemicals like DDT and arsenic were common. These toxic substances have since been linked to a range of health conditions, including the possible mutation of the gene for haemophilia.

Cyndi discusses in her recent TEDx Wilmington talk, how she became passionate about understanding her family history, the connection between chemicals, food and the environment triggers that affect a person’s health. Through this study and research she discovered how people can improve their health by making dietary changes. She also discusses how ‘the story of wheat is the story of food’ and the devastating effect wheat is having on the world’s health.

You can watch the full video now – remember to ‘like it’ in You Tube to help spread the word so we reach more people!

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3 Common Dietary Supplements That Aren’t What You Think

 

Getting all the nutrients your body needs from food alone can be challenging, especially because the soils are becoming more and more depleted of nutrients and minerals. Not to mention nutrients can be difficult to absorb properly if you have gut dysbiosis, if you’re not digesting food optimally, if you have parasites, or if you’re struggling with a disease that increases your need for particular nutrients. Naturally, many turn to dietary supplements.

I’ve always been cautious of dietary supplements that aren’t from a food source and have been manufactured as a standalone vitamin or mineral. So I decided to compile this research on 3 common supplements that many of my clients ask me about. Stay tuned for Part 2 where I will discuss other common supplements.

First off, how are these supplements made? What’s really going on in those supplement bottles?

We don’t hear much discussion around synthetic supplements. Even as a nutritionist, I used to assume the nutrients in ‘high-end’ brands of supplements were extracted from a natural source. However, when I researched more, I realised that this wasn’t the case. There’s a big difference between nutrients from whole foods and the nutrient ingredients used in the vast majority of supplements. After all, supplements are a billion- dollar industry aimed at maximising profit.

These isolated supplements are never found in nature alone, they are always found in nature with other macro and micro nutrients. They can be found in organ meats, nuts, seeds, muscle meat and vegetables in varying amounts.  The body has millions of biochemical reactions happening every second of the day, thousands of nutrients are needed in order for these reactions to be successful. The wisdom and innate intelligence of the body knows how to do every single one of them.  The single most important thing for these biochemical reactions is the by-product of real foods which allows them all to operate optimally.  One nutrient all by itself does not cut it. However a single nutrient as a ‘supplement’ is given priority by a biochemist and that single nutrient becomes a best seller. You can read more about why supplements are not what you think they are here.

3 Common Dietary Supplements My Clients Ask Me About

1. Synthethic Vitamin C

Firstly, Vitamin C is never found in nature isolated as ascorbic acid. Laboratory made isolated ascorbic acid can never have the intelligence of nature based Vitamin C because foods are balanced with a number of other vitamins and  minerals.  A majority of Vitamin C supplements are ascorbic acid and ascorbate this is not actually Vitamin C, it represents the outer ring that serves as a shell for the entire Vitamin C complex. This complex includes rutin, bioflavonoids, factor K, factor J, factor P, tyrosinase and ascorbinogen. When you take synthetic ascorbic acid your body needs to gather all the other components within your cells to make it work. If they aren’t available the ascorbic acid is eliminated through the urine.

Foods are loaded with lots of nutrients but never in the large quantities we often see today in synthetic supplements. You’d be hard-pressed to find a food with 1,000 mg of ascorbic acid, let alone the 5,000 mg–10,000mg doses often sold at stores or from health care professionals. Lets consider some naturally rich Vitamin C foods as an alternative.

Naturally Rich Vitamin C Foods

There are many foods that are naturally rich in vitamin C, these include;

  • Kakadu plum
  • Camu camu berry
  • Rosehip
  • Acerola
  • Baobab
  • Guava
  • Blackcurrants
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Capsicum
  • Papaya
  • Acerola cherry
  • Citrus fruits

If you want to consume a non-chemical based, natural vitamin C for you and your family, then I would recommend you consume Camu Camu powder! It is one of the richest sources of nature-based vitamin C available and based on scientific research, it’s more powerful than isolated, synthetically made Vitamin C. Camu Camu contains approximately 460 times more Vitamin C than an orange, making it an incredible immune boosting, natural food supplement. It comes in a powder form, so it can easily be added to smoothies, slices, bliss balls and gummies.

2. Synthetic Calcium

Most of the calcium in supplements isn’t derived from natural sources it’s often Calcium Carbonate. This is the least absorbed form of calcium on the market. Your body literally can’t utilise the isolated calcium without certain co-factors being present. As a result, what isn’t absorbed often runs free in the blood system and is thought to contribute to calcified arteriosclerosis as well as lipping and spurring on bones which is why calcium supplements are shown to increase the risk of heart disease.

“Healthy bone formation also depends on vitamin D and vitamin K2, both of which regulate calcium metabolism. There are also other minerals besides calcium involved in supporting bone health, such as silica and magnesium. If you have adequate levels of these nutrients, and regularly perform weight-bearing exercise, there is no need for calcium supplementation, which will likely do more harm than good”. You can read more information about Calcium Supplements – why you should think twice  – by Chris Kresser

Naturally Rich Calcium Foods

Women over 50 are advised to get 1,200 mg of calcium a day and women under 50 are advised to get 1,000 mg a day. Men are advised to get 1,000 mg a day although men over 70 are supposed to get 1,200 mg. If you’re concerned about maintaining healthy bones, you can get adequate calcium intake from foods such as;

  • Dairy products
  • Sesame seeds
  • Nuts
  • Rhubarb
  • Amaranth
  • Figs
  • Beans and lentils
  • Sardines and salmon with the bones
  • Watercress
  • Bok choy
  • Chia seeds
  • Dairy kefir
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Bone broth

Although every mineral and vitamin could be considered a cofactor of calcium, the following are particularly important:

  • Magnesium works alongside calcium, and it’s needed for heart health and proper muscle function.. Magnesium rich foods include, cacao, spinach, nuts and seeds, artichokes, dates, salmon, avocado and figs. Epsom salt baths are also a great way to absorb magnesium into the body.
  • Vitamin D acts like a steroid hormone in the body and helps the body utilise calcium. I recommend my clients to get 15-20 minutes of sunshine every day, as this is the easiest way for you to naturally top up your Vitamin D stores within your body. You can also consume Vitamin D rich foods:- fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel, cod liver oil, egg yolk, beef liver and cheese. Mushrooms, when exposed to ultraviolet light have the capacity to produce Vitamin D too.
  • Vitamin K2 activates the protein osteocalcin found in bones, which allows the bones to “hold on” to calcium. It also protects the arteries from calcium deposits. Vitamin K2 rich foods include; egg yolk, grass-fed butter and ghee, liver and aged cheeses.

3. Fish Oil

Fish oils now have more additives and fillers than a ‘pre-made box of chocolates’. Some of them include; flavours, colours, artificial sweeteners, ultra-refining processes, glycerine, gelatin, man-made antioxidants, refined soybean oil, sorbitol, PCB’s and mercury. Even children’s fish oil supplements contain numerous flavours, colours, food acids, as well as ‘natural’ colours and flavours. Both natural and artificial flavours are made in chemical laboratories. These flavours can contain up to48 chemicals ingredients including solvents and diacetyl.

The Questions You Need To Ask When You Buy Fish Oil 

  • Is the species of fish farmed or wild caught?
  • What hemisphere and ocean did it come from?
  • What’s the extraction method and how is it processed?
  • Has the extraction oil been tested for heavy metals such as mercury, or PCB’s or oxidation – what were the results?
  • Are there any added ingredients not listed on the label?
  • Is the fish oil in a liquid oil or capsule?
  • What are the ingredients of the capsule?
  • Do they contain sodium lauryl sulphate and propylene glycol which have been known to cause kidney and liver damage?
  • How old is the fish oil?

It’s difficult to make an informed decision as not all of the gel capsules are made the same, and the full list of ingredients are not always disclosed on the packaging. Another concern with the fish oil industry is the waste of fish. Did you know that it takes approximately 5kg of fish to make 1kg of fish oil. Fish oil is expensive, so other oils are added to the fish oil, such as soy bean, to bring the price down. So if you choose to consume inexpensive fish oil capsules then you’re probably wasting your money and exposing your body to toxins that may be in the gel capsules or within the oil itself.

At this point you may be wondering what you can do about the contaminants and pollutants in the fish you consume. If you consume fresh herbs like coriander, thyme, basil and rosemary, as well as salad greens, kale, spinach, broccoli and/ or asparagus with your fish then the power of these foods will aid to draw out the toxins. Spirulina and chlorella are also fantastic to help pull out heavy metals from the body.

You can read more information about farmed fish, overcrowding, contaminants and what they’re fed in Cyndi’s blog called ‘Somethings Fishy’.

Fish Oil Alternatives

Cyndi often recommends the ‘Melrose’ brand of fish oil and I recommend a good quality cod liver oil. However if you’re vegan, vegetarian or even just concerned about the sustainability issues of the fish oil industry, Inca Inchi Oil is a great alternative. It’s a vegan, vegetarian, sustainable ethical plant based alternative to fish oil with the perfect balance of Omega 3-6-9. It can be added to smoothies, salads, pesto, mayonnaise, as well as used on the skin. You can read more about the benefits of Inca Inchi Oil here.

In summary

  1. All vitamins require other enzymes, co-factors, co-enzymes, minerals and other macro nutrients for your body to receive their full benefit
  2. Always read the ingredients list of supplements
  3. If you’re unsure, always ask questions, as supplement companies don’t have to disclose all the ingredients on the label
  4. Look for real foods rich in specific vitamins or minerals before choosing synthetic ones

Disclaimer– Just as medicine has its place in emergency health situations, so do synthetic vitamins and minerals so I am not totally against these products. What I am against is the indiscriminate use of medicines and synthetic supplements when food can often be a far cheaper and healthier option.

References

Jordan Pie

Jordan Pie

Practicing Nutritionist at Changing Habits

I am a qualified holistic Nutritionist and a certified Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) practitioner. No matter your chosen path or where you are in your own health journey, my heartfelt mission is to help as many people as possible to achieve and sustain vibrant health and wellness by inspiring you to get creative with real, whole, fresh foods and to see them in a brand new light! I’m an avid believer in the value of home cooking, utilising the healing power of foods, extremely passionate about gut health, eating intuitively and the importance of listening to your own body.

Jordan Pie

Latest posts by Jordan Pie (see all)

Why Nightshade Foods Can Be Problematic

 

Did you know that some nightshade foods may actually be causing inflammation in your body? This group of foods baffled me for a long time. How could something natural—like tomatoes or eggplants—that have been around for countless years and which people have not tampered with or changed in any way, be causing inflammation?

Nightshade foods are otherwise known as the Solanaceae family. This family of plants includes roughly 2,700 species, a small number of which are edible with the rest being highly poisonous. In fact, there is even a species known as the deadly nightshade, which, as it sounds, is fatal. Not everyone has an issue with nightshade foods, but some people may have an underlying problem with them and may need to eliminate a few of them or all types completely.

The most common nightshade foods include:

  • Tomatoes
  • White potatoes
  • Eggplants
  • Capsicums
  • Chillis/peppers (excluding black and white pepper)
  • Tobacco
  • Okra
  • Goji berries
  • Paprika
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Sorrel
  • Gooseberries
  • Ground cherries
  • Pepino melons

So why are they a problem?

Nightshade foods contain potent alkaloids which can be highly toxic in varying amounts. These alkaloids include solanine, capsaicin, tomatine, nicotine and tropane (not typically found in common nightshade vegetables, mostly just the family of plants). It is sometimes advised for people to avoid nightshade vegetables completely when experiencing liver problems, as they have been shown to be hepatotoxic (damaging or destructive to liver cells). It is also advisable to avoid them if you have an inflammatory condition which includes all autoimmune diseases, irritable bowel syndrome or other digestive distress.

Let’s use the potato as an example. Potatoes contain small amounts of glycoalkaloids, one being solanine, and when people and livestock are exposed to this alkaloid in high amounts it can be incredibly toxic. Potato leaves, stems and shoots are highly concentrated in toxic glycoalkaloids, and when the potato turns green through light exposure, the toxin level increases drastically and it should be avoided, or peeled, removing the green part. The glycoalkaloids are generally much higher in the peel than the flesh of the potato due to this process however, if you find you are sensitive to these toxins, it should be noted that the glycoalkaloids are still found in the flesh.

Symptoms that may be linked with nightshade sensitivity:

  • Inability to lose weight
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Headaches
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Skin problems
  • Foggy mind
  • Liver problems

People have very individual and varying sensitivities to nightshade foods. Whilst one person may react to tomato, another may be fine with tomato but react to eggplant. Therefore, if you are sensitive to these foods, it is wise to include nightshade elimination as part of your elimination protocol, either with your practitioner or via something like the Hunter Gatherer Elimination Protocol.

Common nightshade vegetables have been consumed for thousands of years, and therefore do not need to be avoided if you aren’t sensitive to them. Think of tomatoes in Italy, which are so widely consumed with no perceived side effects. The alkaloid types and levels vary in each plant, so find your tolerance level, though it is wise not to overindulge, ensuring that they are not the predominant source of vegetables in your diet. You may be able to have tomatoes a couple of times a week, though every day may become an issue for you. Some people believe that cooking the nightshade foods reduces their alkaloid content, though I am unable to find solid evidence of this so it cannot be guaranteed.

Have you had any experience with removing nightshades from your diet? Have you discovered a sensitivity?

Sheridan Austin

Changing Habits Nutritionist and GAPs Practitioner

Sheridan Williamson

I am a qualified holistic Nutritionist and a certified Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) practitioner. I’ve been working with Cyndi since 2012 and consulting for Changing Habits since late 2014. I have an overwhelming passion to help, inspire, research and do everything possible to assist in providing a better life to those that need it, and particularly for those people that have been told there is nothing they can do about their debilitating symptoms. It is my honour to encourage individuals to believe that they can live their best life possible, and to continue creating the best version of themselves.

Years ago I was addicted to sugar, processed foods, was taking antihistamines like lollies and antibiotics were always a part of my life. I had ongoing gut pain, reoccurring sinus and chest infections, rashes, extreme fatigue, a foggy brain and the list continues. While suffering from these symptoms for almost all my life, not one person told me that there was something I could do to resolve them. After studying and doing my own extensive research, I became fanatical about nutrition and the power of food, and my health is the best it has ever been and will only continue to improve. I am constantly learning and relaying the latest research to my clients. I have a specific interest in gut health and its ability to impact our overall health, and it is with great pleasure that I assist you in becoming the best version of you with real, delicious and nourishing food, love and happiness.

Latest posts by Sheridan Williamson (see all)

Top 10 Natural Food Sources of Calcium

Did you know that calcium is one of the most abundant minerals in the body? It supplies the strength to our teeth and bones as well as playing a crucial role in the function of our nervous system, heart, muscles, hormone secretion, blood clotting and enzyme function. Taking calcium supplements has become quite widely accepted in our culture where osteoporosis has become prevalent, especially in older women. There is very little doubt that calcium plays many key roles in our body, but a lot of the latest research clarifies that calcium alone is not the answer.

Where Can I Get Calcium From?

If you’re concerned about maintaining healthy bones, it’s always better to get calcium from real food sources rather than from supplements because in general, when you take calcium supplements, you will be taking one mineral in isolation. However, In nature, nutrients do not come in isolated packages. Calcium works best when it’s combined with other nutrients that work in synergy to build and maintain strong bones. Healthy bone formation doesn’t solely depend on calcium, it also depends on Vitamin D and Vitamin K2, both of which help to regulate calcium metabolism. You can read more about this, and why I don’t recommend taking calcium supplements here and read Calcium Supplements – why you should think twice  – by Chris Kresser

What’s The Best Way To Add More Calcium To My Diet?

Choosing foods naturally rich in calcium can be easy when all you have to do is make a few minor dietary adjustments or additions. Here is a list of naturally calcium rich foods that you can begin to incorporate more of into your diet if you would like to boost your calcium intake.

Sprouts

Sprouts are nutritional powerhouses as they are packed full of a range of Vitamins including zinc, molybdenum, calcium, iron, magnesium, Vitamins A, D, C, K and B-complex. Sprouts are also rich in a number of amino acids, which can help to increase bone strength and density so they can be quite beneficial in preventing bone fractures, tooth decay, inflammation and are also beneficial for those with osteoporosis.

Broccoli

Broccoli is a fantastic food for building strong muscles and bones as well as preventing injury or future osteoporosis. Broccoli probably isn’t the first food you think of when you’re searching for calcium rich foods, however 1 cup of broccoli has about 74mg.

Blackstrap Molasses

Surprisingly blackstrap molasses is one of the richest sources of iron and is a great option for those who are on a plant based diet. Blackstrap molasses is also rich in B Vitamins and magnesium. Both of these minerals help to prevent stress and anxiety. Blackstrap molasses also improves bone health as it contains a high source of calcium.

Vitamin K2 Rich Foods

This vitamin is essential for our heart health as a deficiency can lead to deposition of calcium in the arteries and increase inflammation within the body. Vitamin K2 also activates proteins that work to mineralise bones. The richest food sources of Vitamin K2 includes; organ meats, grass-fed butter and ghee, organic cream, animal fats, quality egg yolks and fermented foods.

Bone Broth

Broth is a wonderful source of easily digestible bio-available nutrients. Broth also enhances the absorption of nutrients from other foods. Homemade bone broth may help reduce joint pain and inflammation, promote strong bones, boosting hair and nail growth. While bone broth isn’t necessarily rich in calcium, it plays an important role in healthy bone formation because of its abundant collagen. Collagen fibrils provide the latticework for mineral deposition and are the keys to building strong and flexible bones. If you would like to learn more about how you can utilise bone broth in your diet read this blog.

Dark Leafy Green Vegetables

Cooked dark leafy green vegetables such as spinach, collard greens, turnip greens and kale contain anywhere from 140mg to 350mg per cup of calcium. They also contain a number of other beneficial health properties such as; antioxidants, fibre, vitamins and minerals. If you make no other changes to your diet, you will see positive results just from adding a few extra servings of green leafy vegetables each day.

Other Calcium Rich Foods;

  • Fish with bones such as 140g of sardines = 540mg calcium
  • Sesame seeds
  • Nuts
  • Rhubarb contains roughly 44mg per stalk
  • Amaranth
  • Figs contains roughly 15mg per fig
  • Beans and lentils
  • Watercress contains roughly 30mg in 25g
  • Bok choy roughly 105mg per 100g
  • Chia seeds; a serving of Chia seeds has 18% of the recommended daily intake of calcium. Gram for gram Chia seeds contain more calcium compared to dairy products.
  • Kelp contains roughly 136mg of calcium per cup
  • Oysters and other seafood

Is There Anything That Can Reduce Calcium Absorption?

Some of the main things that can prevent calcium absorption include; stress, very high caffeine consumption, alcohol, smoking, drugs, certain medications and low levels of physical activity. The health of your gut lining and how well you absorb nutrients from your food will also have an impact on your calcium absorbtion.

Phytic acids can bind to calcium and prevent its absorption, they can be found in foods like grains, legumes, nuts and seeds as well as some vegetables. This is one reason we recommend soaking and activating nuts, seeds, preparing legumes properly and cooking certain vegetables to remove more of the phytates. This allows  more calcium to be absorbed into the body.  


Summary

  • Consuming isolated calcium without its surrounding cofactors (ie; magnesium, Vitamin D, Vitamin K2) is ineffective and possibly dangerous
  • There are many nutritious and dairy-free foods that are naturally rich in calcium that can be incorporated into your diet with ease

Jordan Pie

Changing Habits Nutritionist

 

References

Jordan Pie

Jordan Pie

Practicing Nutritionist at Changing Habits

I am a qualified holistic Nutritionist and a certified Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) practitioner. No matter your chosen path or where you are in your own health journey, my heartfelt mission is to help as many people as possible to achieve and sustain vibrant health and wellness by inspiring you to get creative with real, whole, fresh foods and to see them in a brand new light! I’m an avid believer in the value of home cooking, utilising the healing power of foods, extremely passionate about gut health, eating intuitively and the importance of listening to your own body.

Jordan Pie

Latest posts by Jordan Pie (see all)

Road Trippin’ Good Granola Bars – by Me & My Travel Bugs

For those adventurous souls planning a road trip over the holidays, Bella from Me & My Travel Bugs shares her favourite travel-friendly granola bar recipe. Preparing your own snacks goes a long way to helping you stay healthy on the road, and is one of Bella’s top tips for better travels:

Make your own snacks – with most snack foods in the supermarket limited to overpriced packaged foods loaded with sneaky not-so-good-for-you ingredients, baking up a storm before you leave can be better for both your health and wallet. Recipes like these Granola Bars (below) are a great place to start.

Eat lots of healthy fats and protein to stay satiated when snacking – carbohydrates are a great short-term energy boost but they don’t last long before we start to get hungry again. Protein and healthy fats from oils, nuts and seeds on the other hand help us regulate our hormones and blood sugar levels better so we stay satiated for longer. Granola bars are a brilliant way to load up on protein and healthy fats.

Don’t forget about main meals – while it can be tempting to embrace the convenience of snacks on a road trip, don’t forget about the importance of your three main meals for getting lots of protein, healthy fats and carbohydrate from fruit, vegetables, grains and legumes. Save the snacks for when you find yourself in the middle of nowhere and in need of a pick-me-up.

Stay hydrated – did you know that thirst can feel a lot like hunger? If you don’t drink enough water on a sunny summer road trip, you might find your snack pile dwindling faster than expected.

Relax – stress is no good for our digestion or health so make sure you take some time to relax, enjoy the escape and let the idea of food perfection go. All you can do is make the best choices in whatever situation you find yourself – you’re on holiday after all!

Wishing you all happy, healthy travels this Christmas!

Granola Bars

Makes 12

Ingredients

Method

  1. Line a 28cm x 18cm baking pan with baking paper.
  2. Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor and blitz to combine.
  3. Press the mixture into the lined baking pan evenly.
  4. Place it in the fridge or freezer to set.
  5. When it’s ready, slice into 12 rectangle bars, wrap in a little greaseproof paper and enjoy.

Bella Lindemann

Me & My Travel Bugs

Bella Lindemann

I am a Certified Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner who specialises in working with women suffering from chronic digestive conditions. And as an avid traveller who caught both the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ kind of travel bug, I’m also passionate about helping others stay healthy while they travel. So, after visiting more than 40 countries, my husband and I launched ‘the world’s healthiest travel blog’ last year to educate and inspire healthy, safe and sustainable travel in every corner of the globe.

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Our Nutritionist Jordan’s Favourite Recipes for Christmas Day

 

If you’re hosting Christmas this year and are determined to stick with your healthy eating habits, don’t worry – we have you covered! I have compiled a few of my favourite recipes to give you some inspiration on what you could serve for dinner, dessert, snacks and drinks on Christmas day. These recipes will help keep you motivated to stay on track and not be tempted with foods that you know will not leave you feeling your best. I have also included dairy, wheat, gluten, grain, egg, nut and soy free options, which should make catering to everyone’s varying dietary requirements a breeze. To ease the pressure further on the big day, why not ask everyone to bring a plate? That way you get to enjoy more time with family and friends instead of being tied to the kitchen all day.

Christmas Menu Ideas

Antipasto Platter

A colourful antipasto platter of a delicious variety of foods is a guaranteed party pleaser. You can choose no-cook ingredients (or make a few dips the day before), and it’s ridiculously quick and easy to pull together once you have everything ready. For a winning platter, include a variety of flavours, textures, and colours. Try a combination of some of the following recipes and ingredients and have fun playing around with making it look beautiful. I recommend using fresh herbs such as thyme or rosemary sprigs, lemon or lime wedges, whole chillis or lavender sprigs to use as decoration.

Mains

If you’re after something light and fresh, why not create a beautiful seafood platter full of fresh oysters, prawns, calamari, octopus, fish and/or crab? Garnish it with fresh herbs, lemon or lime wedges and dipping sauces like homemade aioli. Or get your BBQ ready and cook a traditional roasted chicken or turkey (you’ll love this recipe – Turmeric & BBQ Spiced Chicken). Or opt for a delicious and mouth-watering slow cooked lamb shoulder.

Salads & Sides

Salads are a great accompaniment to any main meal (as well as being very nutritious on their own). These are some of my favourite recipes and they pair really well with the main dishes above.

Drinks

There are many nutritious, refreshing non-alcoholic drinks that are perfect to serve on Christmas Day. Try this gorgeously refreshing probiotic rich Coconut Water Kefir. Water Kefir is a great replacement for store-bought soft drink because kefir creates naturally occurring carbonation. You can get creative and add in chopped fruit, mint leaves or even a dash of vodka, rum or gin for a healthier alcoholic option. For something a little different you could try this Pumpkin Spice Smoothie or our Watermelon & Mint Slushy  for a delicious refreshing drink. Or, keep it simple and add soda water, lemon, lime, ice, sliced cucumber and fresh mint leaves to a pitcher and allow everyone to help themselves!

 

Sweet Platter

You can’t have Christmas without a little sweet treat, right? Here are just a few ideas to get you started on your dessert platter – see the recipe section on our website for many more.

Or keep it simple and create our Chocolate Almond Fruit Cake or Sticky Date Pudding and serve with homemade custard and/or ice-cream.

So there you have it… a few simple, yet healthy and nourishing recipe suggestions to keep you feeling fabulous over Christmas. We hope you enjoy!

Merry Christmas and Happy Changing Habits!

By Jordan Pie

Changing Habits Nutritionist

Jordan Pie

Jordan Pie

Practicing Nutritionist at Changing Habits

I am a qualified holistic Nutritionist and a certified Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) practitioner. No matter your chosen path or where you are in your own health journey, my heartfelt mission is to help as many people as possible to achieve and sustain vibrant health and wellness by inspiring you to get creative with real, whole, fresh foods and to see them in a brand new light! I’m an avid believer in the value of home cooking, utilising the healing power of foods, extremely passionate about gut health, eating intuitively and the importance of listening to your own body.

Jordan Pie

Latest posts by Jordan Pie (see all)

6 Tips for Avoiding Sugar at Christmas 

 

I understand… it’s tempting. Tempting to reach for the desserts that everyone has made for Christmas dinner, or that box of chocolates that have been gifted to you by a loved one. But, do you really want to go through the festive season feeling sluggish, tired, irritable, moody or even sick?

Christmas is a time when we want to be feeling confident, vibrant, energetic and happy. We often put in the hard work to look and feel our best leading up to Christmas, and then undo all our work in the festive season.

By the time January rolls around, I find consultations with clients sky-rocket. While it is great that people are re-inspired to create change, imagine finishing the festive season feeling just as fabulous as when you started!

Instead of saying, “I will implement some good habits after the festive season”, why not start some simple changes now, to prepare yourself for what’s ahead – or at least continue the basic good habits you’ve created? Real food habits do not need to be difficult, overwhelming or leave you feeling deprived. You can reduce or eliminate sugar now and maintain those habits during the festive season.

Healthier alternatives to sugar

Sugar has been shown to be more addictive than cocaine, so the addiction is real and is a serious problem for many people. If you’re making or eating a dessert, use natural sweeteners like honey, rapadura sugar, maple syrup, dates or other fruits. As well as satisfying your sweet tooth, they contain the nutrients required to nourish your body. However, remember that sugar addictions can also start with natural sweeteners so be careful here. Try to limit natural sweets to just a couple of times a week – it is something to aim for, but may take time depending on where you are in your journey.

Be aware too, that sugar can be found in the most unexpected products – here is a blog that explains the different kinds of sugars and where they might be hiding.

Here are some tips to help you enjoy a sugar-free festive season:

  1. Avoid soft drinks and sweetened alcoholic drinks

Espresso Martinis may be wildly popular at the moment, but they can contain around 30g of sugar per serve, which is a whopping 6 teaspoons of sugar. One can of Coca-Cola contains 8 teaspoons of sugar and this is similar with most other soft drinks. These sugars are in the form of refined, white sugar, high fructose corn syrup or pure glucose. They are extremely damaging to your liver, gut, mood, hormones, energy, skin and much, much more.

Choose sparkling water, lime and your chosen spirit, or ask for no added sweetener or sugar in your cocktail. Most cocktails are made with sugar syrup, which can easily be omitted.

  1. Be strong when you are offered something sugar-laden

Kindly and politely say, “Thank you, but I’m okay with what I have”. Continue to stay strong – each social occasion is a good lesson for the next one, and soon you will be full of confidence and go home feeling great, always. You never know, you may even inspire the people around you by setting an example.

  1. Keep up your nutrient intake

Nutrient deficiencies can lead to sugar cravings, as particular nutrients are required to regulate your blood sugar levels efficiently. If your blood sugar levels are irregular or you’re stressed, you may find yourself craving carbohydrates. Nutrients to consider are chromium, magnesium and zinc. These all play a critical part in regulating your blood sugar levels, so consume foods rich in these nutrients like organic eggs for chromium and chicken liver pate or liquid zinc for zinc. Take Epsom salt baths to help boost your magnesium levels. I also suggest continuing to consume sufficient amounts of proteins and fats with your meals to stabilise your blood sugar levels and provide you with satiety.

When the amounts of essential nutrients fall, you can quickly feel hungry, tired, irritable and moody, and start craving sugar and carbohydrates to pick you up. If I’m going to an event where I know real food won’t be available, I have a meal right before I go to avoid temptation and ensure I’m feeling my best.

  1. Have sugar free or wholefood treats available in your fridge or freezer – always!

I cannot stress how important this tip is. If you are worried about what food will be on offer at a social event, take your own treats. It is also important to stock up on these healthier treats even when you aren’t going anywhere! Have something ready to eat for when you get a hankering for sugar and you don’t want to make something. You will have no excuses to reach for the unhealthy snacks, plus, you will never be deprived! Myself and Jordan Pie have recently released our Sugarless Sweets eBook that has over 30 sweet recipes which are completely free of any forms of sugar – but taste sensational! It may give you some inspiration for Christmas treats for you and your family, so you can keep feeling fabulous.

  1. Opt for savoury foods or fruits

If there are no healthy sweet treats available, then reach for the savoury options or fruits instead and avoid the sweets completely. You could try pesto, guacamole, olives, veggie sticks, seed crackers, protein, salad, vegetables and fruits.

  1. Don’t start the addiction cycle – once you do, you (usually) can’t stop

Avoid sugar to eliminate vicious craving cycles. As sugar is more addictive than cocaine, once you are in this craving cycle it can be really hard to get out of it. I have been there myself. Follow the above guidelines to stay sugar-free.

There are some great recipes for healthier versions of sweet treats to have at home or to take to events. Try these:

How do you think you will do in the festive season? What experiences in the past have you had? Do you think you will follow through with some good habits?

Sheridan Austin

Nutritionist and Gut and Psychology Syndrome Practitioner

Sheridan Williamson

I am a qualified holistic Nutritionist and a certified Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) practitioner. I’ve been working with Cyndi since 2012 and consulting for Changing Habits since late 2014. I have an overwhelming passion to help, inspire, research and do everything possible to assist in providing a better life to those that need it, and particularly for those people that have been told there is nothing they can do about their debilitating symptoms. It is my honour to encourage individuals to believe that they can live their best life possible, and to continue creating the best version of themselves.

Years ago I was addicted to sugar, processed foods, was taking antihistamines like lollies and antibiotics were always a part of my life. I had ongoing gut pain, reoccurring sinus and chest infections, rashes, extreme fatigue, a foggy brain and the list continues. While suffering from these symptoms for almost all my life, not one person told me that there was something I could do to resolve them. After studying and doing my own extensive research, I became fanatical about nutrition and the power of food, and my health is the best it has ever been and will only continue to improve. I am constantly learning and relaying the latest research to my clients. I have a specific interest in gut health and its ability to impact our overall health, and it is with great pleasure that I assist you in becoming the best version of you with real, delicious and nourishing food, love and happiness.

Latest posts by Sheridan Williamson (see all)