Chia Pudding 3 Ways

Gluten Free.  Dairy Free. Quick and easy!

Chia pudding is the ultimate healthy breakfast option for busy people. They can be quickly thrown together before bed (with minimal mess), left to set overnight and topped with extras in the morning for crunch and flavour. Having the same thing for breakfast each day can get a bit boring, plus variety is better for your gut! So to keep breakfast exciting, mix it up between these 3 different chia puddings or let them inspire you to create your own flavour combination! 

 

STEP 1: Create the base (the night before)

  1. In a small and shallow glass jar or container, combine 2 tbsp of chia seeds (white or black, whole or ground) with approximately 200mL (1/3 cup) liquid of choice.

  2. Stir to ensure all the seeds are coated with liquid, put on the lid and place in the fridge to set overnight.

  3. Tip: the pudding base will store in the fridge for up to 3 days, so you can make a few puddings bases in advance.

 

STEP 2: Choose or create your flavour

In the morning, give the chia pudding a stir before adding your toppings. See below for ideas!


CHOCOLATE, RASPBERRY & WALNUT

Use coconut milk from a carton or can as the liquid base.

Stir into the pudding (night before) 1 heaped tsp of cacao powder.

To top:

  • 1 Tbsp chopped walnuts

  • 1 Tbsp shredded or flaked coconut

  • 1-2 Tbsp raspberries – fresh or defrosted from frozen

Tip: if you plan on using frozen raspberries, you can add them to your pudding the night before and by morning they will be defrosted and ready to eat.  


COCONUT, MANGO & PASSIONFRUIT

Use coconut milk from a carton or can as the liquid base.

Using a stick blender, puree half a fresh mango or a handful of defrosted mango pieces if using frozen (in the morning). Stir mango puree into the pudding.  

To top:

  • 1 Tbsp shredded or flaked coconut

  • Pulp from 1 fresh passion fruit

  • 1 tsp hemp seeds


APPLE, ALMOND & SPICE

Use almond milk as the liquid base.

Stir into the pudding (night before) 1 tsp of cinnamon, a sprinkle of nutmeg and (if you like) 1 tsp of honey.

To top:

  • 1 Tbsp chopped almonds

  • ½ grated apple and/or ½ a sliced banana


Nutritional information:

Low carbohydrate diets have become increasingly popular in recent years for weight loss, improvement in metabolic disease (such as diabetes and PCOS) and optimal brain function. However, one problem with low carbohydrate diets is the potential lack of soluble fibres, which can adversely affect the ecosystem in the gut if followed medium to long term. For the same reason, low carbohydrate diets can also lead to constipation!

With the right combination of ingredients, chia puddings are lower in carbohydrates than other typical breakfast foods and rich in soluble fibre for your gut bugs. Chia itself is high in soluble fibre and low in absorbable carbohydrate. The addition of nuts, seeds and low-sugar fruits also boosts up the fibre content.

By Lucy Mason, Naturopath

The Ins and Outs of Low Carbohydrate Eating

Low carbohydrate diets have increased in popularity in recent years with the promise of fast weight loss and increased mental stamina. While there is evidence to support these claims, a restrictive diet can be problematic if done incorrectly. If you are interested in trying a low carbohydrate diet but are unsure if it’s right for you, read below for further information.

 

What is a low carbohydrate diet?

There are three main diets that are considered low carbohydrate - the paleo diet, the ketogenic diet and the Atkins diet. Each has slightly different dietary restrictions, guidelines and purpose.

The ketogenic diet

The main goal is to switch from using glucose (carbohydrate) as a primary fuel source in the body to ketones, a by product of fatty acid (fat) metabolism. The diet emphasis a high intake of healthy fats, restricts dietary protein to 20-25% of total calorie intake and complex carbohydrates (i.e. leafy greens, berries, citrus and legumes) to less than 10% of total calorie intake.

 

The paleo diet

A way of eating that attempts to copy what our Paleolithic (hunter gatherer) ancestors would have eaten. The diet restricts food categories instead of specific macronutrients… no calorie counting in this diet! Foods not allowed on the paleo diet include all grains, dairy, refined sugars, legumes, potatoes and corn. These restrictions result in a naturally low carbohydrate and high protein intake.

 

The Atkins diet

Introduced in the 70s, the Atkins diet has largely been marketed for weight loss. It closely resembles the ketogenic diet in terms of total carbohydrate restriction and differs in that it does not place any restrictions on total protein intake. The diet is typically done in phases, the first being the most restrictive (20-25g of net carbohydrate per day). Carbohydrates are gradually added back in throughout the phases to determine the threshold at which weight loss plateaus.

What’s the appeal of low carbohydrate eating?

There a number of reasons people may choose to follow a low carbohydrate diet, the predominant reason being the desire to loose weight. Numerous studies and a plethora of online anecdotal evidence maintain that these diets are successful for weight loss in most individuals. The biggest question we now face is if these diets are sustainable long term for the maintenance of healthy weight.

The use of ketones as the brain’s primary fuel appeals to many for it’s purported benefits on cognition – improved concentration, clarity and memory. Athletes may also follow these diets to achieve their ideal body composition and to improve physical performance, although the evidence in this area is conflicting.

These diets inherently restrict inflammatory foods such as sugar, alcohol and refined carbohydrates. Reducing diet driven inflammation in the body can reverse disorders such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Reducing systemic inflammation can also benefit the body’s ability to function optimally and prevent future disease in healthy individuals.

Where things can go wrong

Trying to self-guide a new way of eating can be tricky to adjust to and result in giving up and feeling disappointed. For some, a low carbohydrate diet is easy to follow, but if done improperly, results in inadequate intake of nutrients. These diets can even be dangerous in some people e.g. diabetics who are dependent on insulin. 

Difficulty adjusting

During the switch to a new way of eating getting stuck for ideas on what to eat is common, especially if all your previously staple foods are now removed or restricted. A naturopath or nutritionist familiar with low carbohydrate diets can brainstorm ideas with you that are tailored to your budget, preferences and time available.

 

Difficulty adjusting can also refer to the physiological process of switching to a new way of metabolising macronutrients i.e. the ratio of fats, carbohydrates and proteins. The ‘keto flu’ is a well know phenomenon that occurs in the first few days of the ketogenic diet. It mimics symptoms of a hangover (tired, headachy, sore, nauseas or constipated) and can last for days in some people.

A few tricks to avoid or reduce these side effects includes drinking more water, having more sea or pink salt (for trace minerals), eating more vegetables, taking apple cider vinegar and eating more healthy fats such as fish, olives, avocado or coconut products.  

Inadequate micronutrient intake

You’ll likely feel excited when you find something that you love to eat and it satisfies all the rules of the diet! So you’ll start to eat this food everyday and it will become a ‘core’ part of your eating habits. But one of the most important rules with any diet is to have variety in the foods you eat so you are sure to get a wide array of vitamins and minerals.

 

To avoid the risk of malnourishment, familiarise yourself with all the allowable foods of the diet and set yourself a goal to include as many of them as possible. This process sure can take some time, so be prepared to make extra time in your day for researching recipes, cooking and experimenting with new ingredients.

 

Inadequate fibre intake

With a restriction in carbohydrates also often comes a restriction in soluble and insoluble fibres. These are the nutrients that are needed to feed the ecosystem of your gut! If you restrict fibre, your beneficial bugs are not getting fed, which can result in changes to your digestive function (e.g. constipation, nausea and abdominal pain) as well as negatively impact your overall health in the long term. Opinions on the appropriateness of low carbohydrate diets long term are conflicting based on current limited knowledge of how these diets affect the microbiome in the long term.

To ensure you are supporting your gut’s ecosystem during a low carbohydrate diet, eat a wide variety of vegetables within the parameters of the carbohydrate restriction and consider supplementing with fibrous powders and foods such as LSA mix, psyllium husk, guar gum, slippery elm and konjac noodles.

 

The take home message

Low carbohydrate diets do offer benefit, however they are not suitable for everyone and do pose some long-term risks. If you are unsure if a low carbohydrate diet is right for you, get in contact with a health practitioner trained in nutrition and gut health to ensure you do it right!

By Lucy Mason, Naturopath

Fish patties with yoghurt and fresh herbs

Gluten free. Omega-3 rich.

Fish is easily digested and is packed full of healthy fats and protein. Regular consumption (2-3 times per week) can help support a healthy mood by providing amino acids (proteins) that are the building blocks of neurotransmitters, the compounds responsible for transferring messages in the brain and lifting the mood.

 

Fish is also the primary dietary source of omega-3, a fat that has a potent anti-inflammatory action in the brain and other organs. Your body can not make omega-3, so it’s important you get enough through your diet.

 

Inflammation in the brain, termed ‘neuroinflammation’, is a common contributing factor in mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. In some circumstances, your practitioner may recommend a fish oil supplement to supply a therapeutic dose of omega-3, which is hard to achieve through diet alone. Getting into the habit of regular fish consumption is still a good idea even if you are taking a supplement, to ensure you continue to meet your nutritional needs after you have stopped supplementing.

Not all fish contains the same level of omega-3 per serve. Those higher in this healthy fat include salmon, trout, mackerel and sardines. A fresh, high quality fish that’s been cooked at low heat will prevent damage to the omega-3 within.

The smaller sea fish such as sardines and mackerel also contain lower quantities of mercury, a compound that is toxic to the brain. I often recommend sardines to patients, but many are unsure how to incorporate this little fish into their diet. This simple recipe can be made for lunch or dinner and disguises the fish within. It’s perfect for kids and fussy eaters!

Ingredients

2 tins of whole sardines, in olive oil or freshwater, drained

4 small potatoes, peeled and diced

3 eggs

Up to 1 cup of gluten free breadcrumbs

3 tsp smoked paprika

1-2 tsp salt, to taste

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

4 spring onions, chopped

½ bunch coriander, chopped, stems and leaves

Corn kernels from 1 fresh corn

Olive oil for cooking

Natural or greek pot set yoghurt for serving

Salad for serving

 

Method

1.     Boil the potatoes until soft.

2.     Drain and mash the potatoes, leaving them slightly chunky.

3.     Drain excess liquid off the sardines and using a fork, mash the sardines in their tin. Add mashed sardines to the potatoes.

Note: Don’t worry about mashing the bones up in these little fish - they are soft enough to eat.

4.     Add salt, paprika, lemon zest, lemon juice, fresh corn, coriander, spring onion and eggs to the potato mixture. Stir it all together with a large spoon.

5.     Finally add the breadcrumbs, bit by bit until the potato mixture is dry enough to handle.

6.     Heat 2-3 Tbsp of olive oil in a pan on medium heat.

7.     With your hands form balls using 1 heaped dessertspoon of the mixture. Place the ball in the hot oil and press down to form a patty.

8.     Cook the patties on each side for 3-5 minutes, until golden.

9.     Serve with salad and a dollop of yoghurt with your favourite fresh herbs mixed through.

 

These patties can be stored in the fridge for a couple of days or frozen and reheated at low-medium heat.

By Naturopath Lucy Mason.

Why stress may be the biggest barrier to healing your gut

Stress management is a phrase I’m sure you have all heard before but may not have realised its significance to your health. When approaching health holistically, managing stress is vital in the proper treatment and management of your digestive health concerns.

To help further the work you are doing to help your digestion and honour the investment you have made in testing and treatments, I want to share with you the importance of bettering your mental and emotional well being.

What is stress?

Stress is anything that is a threat to staying in balance (homeostasis). A threat can be real (i.e. physical stress including temperature change, trauma from a car accident or breaking a bone) or perceived (i.e. psychological stress such as relationship issues, running late and feeling busy). Stress causes our body to carry out a response that helps with adaptation and survival. However frequent, chronic or excessive stress may lead to disease (1, 2).

Your nervous system

The autonomic nervous system (ANS) is part of your nervous system that controls muscles of internal organs (such as the heart) and glands on an automatic level (that is, we don’t have to tell them to work). Two significant parts of this system include:

  1. Sympathetic nervous system, which prepares your body for physical and mental activity. It makes your heart beat faster and stronger, opens your airways so you can breathe more easily, and inhibits digestion. This is also the nervous system we fall into when we are in a state of stress, anxiety, fear or overwhelm.

  2. Parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for bodily functions when we are at rest (sleep, meditation etc.) It stimulates digestion, increases digestive juices, relaxes muscles in the gastrointestinal tract, activates various metabolic processes and helps us to relax (3).  

Mind-Gut connection

Your enteric nervous system (the nervous system in your gut) is also part of the ANS and is connected to the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) by the sympathetic and the parasympathetic pathways, forming the brain–gut axis (1, 4).

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How stress may be impacting your gut health

Feeling of stress, anxiety, overwhelm and worry mean that our bodies’ are working in a sympathetic state (fight and flight) rather parasympathetic state (rest and digest). When these feelings are in excess it may not just be your mind that suffers, but also your gut.

1. Dysbiosis (imbalance of bacteria)

There are several ways by which stress can alter your bacteria, including changes in gut cell function, mucus secretion and changes to digestive muscle contractions. Noradrenaline, a neurotransmitter secreted in stress, has been shown to stimulate the growth of pathogenic ‘bad’ and non-pathogenic ‘good’ Escherichia coli and influences their adherence to the gut wall (5).

2. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD)

It is not completely understood, but a change breathing (which occurs when we are stressed) may contribute to GORD by altering the valve between the stomach and the oesophagus, increasing oesophageal sensitivity, and slow stomach emptying (1).

3. Dyspepsia (Indigestion)

People with indigestion experience a poor stomach response to meals (due to lack of enzymes and secretions), post-meal discomfort, prolonged feeling of fullness and an increase in intestinal muscle contractions. These unideal digestive changes have been linked to signals received from the sympathetic nervous system (1).

4. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Imbalance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic has been reported in patients with IBD. For example, depression has been connected with Crohn's Disease and stress in Ulcerative Colitis. Animal studies show that stress exacerbates colitis and that depression increases susceptibility to inflammatory triggers (1, 5).

5. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Stress is factor known to predispose individuals to IBS and is also known to alter the bacterial composition. Patients with IBS have an increased response to stress, and stress is also a predictor of IBS as well as a determinant of symptom severity (5).

6. Intestinal permeability ‘Leaky gut’

Psychological stressor increases small intestinal permeability. Hormones secreted in a state of stress influence different receptors and immune responses and can cause changes to the gut barrier and function(6).

 

There are endless ways you can start to manage stress, anxiety and overwhelm in your life. These include breathing exercises, music, meditation and exercise - countless phone apps can support these practices. Explore, find what works for you and make a regular practice of it.

 

Here’s to a happy mind and a happy gut!

 

By Rachel Larsson, Naturopath

Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS)

Experiencing ongoing, debilitating fatigue and the normal treatments don’t help? Mould illness could be responsible.

Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS) is the debilitating condition that flies under the radar in Australian health care. The appropriate testing to diagnose CIRS is currently limited in Australia, however an increasing amount of help is available through specialist practitioners working in the field of mould illness.

Recent parliamentary lobbying from CIRS affected MP, Lucy Wicks, offers hope that the condition may be more broadly recognised and treated amongst mainstream medical practices in Australia in the future.

If you suspect you could be affected by mould, or perhaps the cause of your symptoms has been left undiagnosed, read on to learn about CIRS and how you can claim your health back if mould is affecting you.

 

THE SYMPTOMS OF CIRS

Many internal systems are out of whack in people with CIRS, including immunity, cognition, hormones and digestion. As a practitioner or patient, it’s easy to get pulled down a rabbit hole in pursuit of an answer for each complaint, explaining why CIRS is often missed. In the search for answers in CIRS patients, it is important to take a step back and look at all the body systems collectively. If you have tried many treatments and nothing has worked for your symptoms, it is a good idea to consider CIRS.

The symptoms of CIRS can be very bizarre, and commonly include:

  • Chronic fatigue and weakness
  • Feeling much worse after exercise (post-exertion malaise)
  • Headache
  • Vertigo
  • Difficulty thinking clearly (confusion or disorientation)
  • Muscle and joint pain or cramping
  • Hypersensitive eyes
  • Cough
  • Recurrent sinus congestion
  • Shortness of breath, even at rest
  • Digestive issues
  • Propensity to static shocks

 

HOW DID I GET CIRS?

There are two things that must occur for you to develop CIRS. First, you must be genetically susceptible. You can find this out by working with a practitioner familiar with the testing options in Australia. Second, you must have had environmental exposure to mould toxins at some point in your life. Think back to the time when you felt like your health started going down hill. What environment were you living in at the time? Have you ever lived or worked in a mouldy building? Perhaps a place you once exercised or socialised is the source. It could have been a place you rarely visited.

Once you have inhaled or ingested the mould toxin and it’s in your system, your immune system is unable to bind it up and remove it from your body (thanks to your genes). So it just goes on circulating around your body causing all kinds of trouble.

The inability to bind mould toxins explains why many individuals who have CIRS experience symptoms long after mould exposure. That said, the symptoms of CIRS are generally exacerbated by repeated exposure to mould, so you may find that your symptoms have come and gone over the years as your exposure to mould has fluctuated.

Requirement of a genetic susceptibility to mould illness illustrates why multiple people can live in a mouldy house together, however only one person gets the prolonged illness after exposure. Without the mould susceptible genes, the immune system is able to recognise mould toxins and get rid of them.

 

WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT

If you meet the above criteria for CIRS, there are a few things you can do right now to set you on the right track.

1. Assess your current situation

First things first, you need to assess if your current environment could be making you feel worse. Start with the places you spend most of you time - your home and work environment. Does it smell musty? Can you see patches of dark mould on the ceiling (a leaking roof perhaps)? Or patches on the floor (dampness rising from below)? Is the wall or ceiling paint bubbling in places?

Your senses alone may not be enough to determine if mould toxins are present.

Leaking water pipes in the walls can create a mouldy environment invisible to the eye. Mould toxins can also persist in dust, well after the original source has dried up. Some people are so sensitive, that only the smallest amount need be inhaled to have a negative effect.

There are companies within Australia that thoroughly assess your environment for mould, so you can be sure of the mould status in your current environment. If mould toxins are present, changing your living situation may be necessary. Remediation of the environment through renovation and air filtration is another potential option.

2. Support gentle detoxification

Some patients find that supporting gentle detoxification in the body can make them feel better while they clean up their environment. It is important to take this very slowly, as too much at once can make CIRS patients feel worse. Some detoxification methods that may offer benefit include:

  • Regular infrared sauna sessions
  • Regular foot baths with Epsom (magnesium sulphate) salts
  • Consumption of fresh juice that contains chlorophyll and nutrient rich leafy plants (if food sensitivity is not an issue)
  • Herbal or nutritional supplementation to support the liver, kidneys and overall digestion
  • Coffee enemas (an unconventional practice that some report benefit from, if used appropriately).

3. Seek help

The diagnosis and treatment of CIRS is often complex and requires guidance from a CIRS trained practitioner. Natural or synthetic binders (substances that attach to mould toxins for removal from the body) are generally needed to make a full recovery, however many steps precede the use of binders in order for mould toxin removal to be done safely and without adverse effects.

As well as supporting recovery, a practitioner can provide additional resources and education so that you can go through life preventing CIRS reoccurrence. You can find a list of CIRS trained practitioners in Australia at the Toxic Mould Support Australia website: http://www.toxicmould.org/health-professionals/

 

By Lucy Mason, BHSc Naturopathy

FOOD INTOLERANCE: Why you might not be stuck with it for life!

FOOD INTOLERANCE: Why you might not be stuck with it for life!

For some people, foods considered ‘healthy’ can trigger an adverse response in the body. A reaction to wholesome foods such as fruits and vegetables should ring alarm bells – it’s your body’s way of communicating to you that something isn’t right inside. Food intolerances are typically treatable if the cause is identified. But first, let’s take a look at the difference between food allergy and intolerance, and become familiar with the symptoms of each.

Defining food allergy

Food allergy occurs when a susceptible individual has an immune reaction to a food, causing the release of immunoglobulins (antibodies) and other chemicals into the bloodstream. These immune chemicals can cause the lips, mouth and tongue to swell, an itchy rash (hives) to develop, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal cramping and respiratory difficulties. Generally only a small amount of the food is needed to cause an immune response, and in severe cases, the food only needs to be touched or particles inhaled for a reaction to occur.

Common food allergens include peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, egg, wheat, soy, milk, mustard and sesame. Allergies are usually identified in childhood, however they can develop at any age. Many childhood allergies are outgrown as the immune system develops. Some allergies, such as shellfish and peanut, typically persist into adulthood.  

Food allergy vs. food intolerance

A food allergy can lead to life-threatening anaphylaxis and strict avoidance of the allergen follows diagnosis. Food intolerance is not life threatening and diagnosis or management may involve a food challenge i.e. bringing the food back into the diet. Due to these differences, the distinction between allergy and intolerance is important in individuals who suspect their symptoms (or their child’s symptoms) relate to food.

How to spot food intolerance

Many people live with the symptoms of food intolerance without realising that food is the culprit, as reactions can vary greatly in type and severity between individuals, so it is not easily recognisable. Some people experience food intolerance predominantly as digestive symptoms such as bloating, nausea or diarrhoea, while others may feel lethargic, get headaches, acne or skin rash.

For some, symptoms come on quite quickly after eating, making the troublesome food easier to spot. However for many others, the symptoms can be delayed or inconsistent from day to day. Intolerances are usually dose dependent, which means the more you eat of the offending food (or food group), the worse the reaction.

The bottom line – identifying food intolerance can be complicated. Some diagnostic testing is available through a practitioner, though it is costly and limited. Keeping a food diary that clearly documents foods eaten and the timing of symptoms can help uncover which foods make you unwell.  A health practitioner who is familiar with food intolerance can help step you through an elimination and challenge diet, to better determine problematic foods and your threshold for reactions to that food.

The Common Culprits

As a naturopath, I’ve seen some wacky reactions to unexpected foods in clinic, however there are particular foods that are commonly problematic:

·      Gluten – an umbrella term for the proteins found in wheat, rye barley and oats. The symptoms of gluten intolerance (also referred to as non- coeliac gluten sensitivity) typically appear hours or the day following gluten consumption. Headache, fatigue, brain fog and achiness are among the most common symptoms.

·      Lactose – the sugar found in dairy products. Foods particularly high lactose includes milk, cream, soft cheeses, commercial yoghurts and ice cream. The intolerance is usually caused by lack of the digestive enzyme lactase, leading to symptoms of abdominal cramping, bloating and diarrhoea, which appear quite quickly after eating lactose.

·      Histamine – an amine that occurs naturally in many aged and processed foods including wine, cheese, pate, meat broth and fish. The common symptoms of food histamine intolerance include flushed, itchy skin, nasal irritation, nausea, reflux, headache and irritability.  

·      Salicylates – found naturally in colourful fruits and vegetables, salicylate intolerance is often one that is overlooked. In children, salicylate intolerance often appears as a red rash around the mouth and behavioral issues. In adults symptoms can range greatly, from digestive discomfort to mood issues.

·      Fructose – the sugar found naturally occurring in fruits, as well as a common sugar additive. Fructose malabsorption is a genetically inherited inability to absorb fructose. Free fructose in the intestine causes water to flood into the space, leading to diarrhoea. Fermentation of the sugar by bacteria and yeasts can also lead to gas and bloating.

·      FODMAPS – a group of carbohydrate fibres found in many fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes and nuts. The symptoms of FODMAP intolerance resemble those of irritable bowel syndrome e.g. bloating, burping, cramping, diarrhoea and/or constipation. A common underlying cause for FODMAP intolerance is small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).

·      Food additives such as flavours, colours or preservatives can affect mood, digestion, respiration and the skin. Some examples include MSG, sulphites, nitrates, benzoates and the artificial sweetener aspartame.

What all food intolerances have in common

All food intolerances have their origin in the gut, whether it is in the small intestines, liver or colon. Some common reasons why intolerances develop include:

·      Lack of liver or intestinal enzymes to break down the particular food, which can be due to a range of nutritional and genetic factors.

·      An imbalance of bacteria in the gut (termed dysbiosis) or bacteria overgrowing in the small intestine (SIBO), causing the improper processing of foods (typically sugars and carbohydrates such as fructose, lactose and other FODMAPs)

·      Having a leaky gut, which exposes food particles to the immune system which otherwise would not make contact.

Given there is generally an underlying reason why intolerance has developed, it stands to reason that if the causal gut issue is corrected, the intolerance will resolve. My experience as a health practitioner has seen many patients’ reintroduce problematic foods after years of restrictive diets. Healing the gut completely by identifying unique issues to the individual is the key to successfully reversing food intolerance. It is often a tricky and involved process, which requires patience and perseverance. With the right attitude and right practitioner guiding you, you don’t have to be stuck with food intolerance for life.

Lucy

BHSc (Naturopathy) with Distinction

THE GUT THYROID CONNECTION

What does the gut have to do with thyroid function? We see many patients with low thyroid function and autoimmune thyroid conditions. As a gut-health specialist clinic we will of course ask about your gut – but particularly so when we hear anything related to the thyroid or thyroid-associated symptoms. Why?

The gut and the thyroid are intimately linked and influence each other in many ways. Essentially – poor gut health suppresses thyroid function and low thyroid function causes inflammation and may contribute to leaky gut.

There is a myriad of contributing factors to gut-thyroid imbalances, such as stress and cortisol release which increase intestinal inflammation and permeability; and sluggish digestion and constipation, gallbladder issues and low stomach acid which can be caused by low thyroid function. However today I will go into a bit of detail about the two important mechanisms that link the thyroid and the gut: GALT and the MICROBIOME.

*Note: the subject is huge one and this blog is by no means an exhaustive explanation of all links.

GALT Tissue

Ever hear the statistic that 70-80% of the immune system, or rather immune tissue lies in the gut?1 It’s true. I’ll explain…

Apart from digestion – the most important function of the gut is to protect us from the unwanted microorganisms that we ingest when we eat, drink and breathe. The digestive tract runs from mouth to anus and if you think about it, this tract is essentially a hollow tube that is open to the outside world. This means we need a strong barrier and good soldiers to protect our bodies from the barrage of potential invaders every time we eat, drink, breath, kiss – you get the picture.

The body has an ingenious method of protection- its all about the GALT…GALT stands for Gut Associated Lymphoid Tissue2. The digestive tract is lined with vast amounts of this GALT – immune tissue and is comprised of immune cells such as B and T lymphocytes – the soldiers of the immune system. Due to the large amounts of GALT in the gut – any issues in the gut will have a profound effect on the body’s immune system as a whole.

Problems in the immune system occur when this barrier containing immune cells becomes damaged due to various causes such as stress, environmental toxins, low thyroid function and diet – this is called Leaky Gut or Intestinal Permeability.

When the gut lining is damaged it becomes inflamed and as a result larger particles from our food are able to pass through the inflamed gut tissue into our blood stream. This is not normal and the soldiers in our immune system get confused and mount an attack/response in order to protect us. A case of mistaken identity. This causes a massive amount of systemic inflammation and tissue destruction. This ‘hyped up’ immune system plays a key role in the development of autoimmune disorders such as Hashimoto’s - see more info about how to treat leaky gut HERE

The Microbiome

A little known fact is that good bacteria in your gut help to convert inactive thyroid hormone (T4) to the active from (T3) – by producing the enzyme intestinal sulfatase.  This enzyme is necessary for this conversion to take place. Some studies suggest about 20% of thyroid hormone is converted in the digestive tract this way. That’s huge!

This illustrates how important it is to have healthy populations of good gut flora in order to support your thyroid, and is commonly why people with compromised gut function also have thyroid symptoms. Additionally diverse populations of gut flora are essential for good gut-barrier function and healthy GALT tissue, and protect against leaky gut and pathogenic microorganisms.

Naturopathically, we say that everything in the body is linked and we like to look at the whole picture. When treating conditions such as Hashimotos we will always look at diet, environment, emotions, stress, sleep and any other factors that may be compromising your thyroid health – and of course address any underlying gut issues. 

Karen

BHSc (Naturopathy)

 

Veggie broth your thyroid will love

This recipe is a simple and effective way to get in some of the key thyroid minerals into your diet. In particular this broth is full of iodine and selenium, which can be found in kombu, an iodine rich seaweed vegetable(1), and shiitake mushrooms, a great source of selenium(2). As modern day Australian soils tend to lack in these minerals, it's important to looking further abroad and incorporate some 'exotic' foods into your diet to keep these minerals in check(3).*

This mineral rich veggie broth is perfect for the cooler months and can be enjoyed by itself or as a wholesome base to any soup or risotto.

* If you aren’t sure what state of health your thyroid is in, or if you are already supplementing to support your thyroid, check with your practitioner before trying this recipe.

 Image courtesy of Pommes Pommes

Image courtesy of Pommes Pommes

Makes about 4 cups

Ingredients

  • 5 cups water
  • 2 (2-inch width) pieces kombu
  • 1/2 cup dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 carrots, , sliced
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 2 stick celery, diced
  • 3cm knob ginger, sliced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 3cm knob of turmeric, sliced
  • 1 whole brown onion, sliced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 Method

  1. Combine the water and kombu in a larger saucepan and soak the kombu for at least 8 hours or overnight.
  2. Add in the vegetables, turmeric, ginger and garlic and place the saucepan over low heat and bring to a simmer. Continue to simmer and then remove the kombu from the water just before it comes to a full boil.
  3. Add the shiitake mushrooms, and continue simmering for about 10 minutes.
  4. Remove the saucepan from heat and let the shiitake mushrooms steep in the broth for 5 minutes more.
  5. Remove the shiitake mushrooms and vegetables from the broth and pour the broth through a fine-mesh strainer set over a large bowl.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste

Created by Naturopath Rachel Larsson

CASE STUDY: HEALTHY DIET, ANGRY GUT

Meet Jen

When twenty-six year old Jen first visited Narayani Wellness Medical 8 months ago she felt constantly fatigued and unwell. Most mornings she would rise feeling like she hadn’t slept a wink, despite sleeping a solid 7-8 hours each night. She would wake with what she described as “brain fog” - a mild headache alongside difficulty concentrating, finding words and performing basic mental tasks. Jen likened many of her symptoms to a hang over, recalling a gradual worsening since high school.

Tiny, itchy, fluid-filled blisters had begun to appear on her hands and the skin on her face was flushed and dry. She has always had sensitive skin, though these skin issues only arose in the last few years. She also complained of terrible hay fever in spring and autumn, which she experienced every year for as long as she could remember.

Jen couldn’t understand why she got these debilitating symptoms despite her healthy diet and adequate sleep. She had been to see a couple of GPs who ran some tests, all of which came back normal (besides a mild deficiency in iron). Jen was given a script for an iron supplement, anti-histamines for the hay fever and a steroid cream for the blisters on her hands. Despite these interventions, Jen’s symptoms did not improve.

By this stage, Jen had begun feeling very despondent about her health, questioning whether she would be able to finish her university course and start full time work feeling this way. After reading a blog on gut health that was sent to her by a friend, Jen came to the clinic to learn how her symptoms might relate to her gut i.e. her small and large intestine.

 

What could be affecting Jen?

After some thorough questioning, we suspected that Jen’s issues related to non-coeliac gluten sensitivity. We performed an intestinal permeability test on Jen – a urine test that uses two sugars, lactulose and mannitol, to determine if the gut is “leaky”. Her result was positive, indicating that her gut lining was allowing trigger compounds (e.g. food proteins and toxins from bacteria) to slip through into her bloodstream. Resultantly, her immune system was hyperactive, accounting for her inflammatory skin issues and lack of mental clarity.

We also screened her for intestinal parasites, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and low stomach acid, some of the most common contributing factors to leaky gut. Her nutritional status was assessed, finding that in addition to iron, she was also low in zinc, vitamin D and omega-3.

We spoke to Jen about her relationship with stress, discovering that she had perfectionist tendencies. She often put a lot of pressure on herself to have all the answers, blaming herself for her poor health. She also liked to perform to a high standard, making even small tasks stressful. Jen didn’t recognise that her day-to-day stressors were affecting her; yet it was having a direct effect on intestinal permeability via her enteric nervous system (the part of the nervous system that intertwines the intestines).

 

What was suggested to Jen?

We suggested Jen completely remove gluten from her diet for a period of time and recommended some supplements to heal her gut lining – zinc, glutamine, probiotics, prebiotics and good fats. We worked with Jen to reduce her stress levels by combining psychological interventions, breathing techniques, meditation, exercise and all-round better self-care.

We explained that you aren’t necessarily what you eat, but what you absorb. Our goal was to improve her intestinal function first by addressing the underlying issues (in her case; gluten, stress and zinc deficiency) and then to ensure her nutritional status was optimised and maintained with supplementation and diet.

 

Jen’s progress

Jen’s mental clarity and energy levels had improved so much within 1 month of removing gluten that she decided to continue eating this way indefinitely. After 2 months of treatments her skin started to settle, and after 6 months her skin was better than it had ever been. The next spring she didn’t need to use anti-histamines at all. Jen is now much better at recognising when she is stressed, so she can manage it before it interferes with her health.

 

With a few simple changes in Jen’s day-to-day diet and lifestyle, she has seen massive improvements to her health. Jen’s story is a fairly common one, however treatment for leaky gut is not one-size fits all. Each case requires tailored treatments that address the underlying factors unique to the individual.

 

By Lucy Mason, Naturopath

The top 5 questions I get asked about gluten

Due to the abundance of information available and our habit of asking Dr Google for answers, there is a lot of confusion around gluten and if it is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for you. I’d like to give you some evidence-based information that may help you decide the role of gluten in your diet by answering five of the most frequently asked questions I receive. 

1. What is gluten and where is it found?

Gluten is a structure that is made up of hundreds of proteins, notably gliadin and glutenin, and is found in grains like barley, durum, semolina, wheat, farina, kamut, rye and spelt grains(1). Many of these grains are used to make breads, pasta, cakes, pastries, and biscuits to give them their fluffy or stretchy texture. Gluten is used as an additive in processed foods to improve texture, flavour and moisture retention. Some foods where gluten may be hiding include vegetarian meat substitutes, confectionary, ice -cream, butter, seasonings, sauces, marinades and dressings(2). All in all, gluten plays a large role in the standard Australia diet and is delicious!

2.What’s the difference between Coeliac Disease and Non-Coeliac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS)?

Coeliac disease (CD) is an autoimmune disease in genetically susceptible individuals that is caused by eating gluten(3). Classic symptoms include diarrhoea and failure to thrive within the first couple of years of life. You may experience other symptoms or no symptoms at all and can still have CD. CD is diagnosed through a biopsy of the small intestine but may be detected in blood tests that look for specific immune markers(4).

Non-coeliac Gluten sensitivity (NCGS) occurs in people who are not affected by CD or a wheat allergy. The biggest difference between NCGS and CD is that there is a different immune response to gluten and there isn't the complete destruction of your gut villi (finger like projections important for nutrient absorption)(5,6). NCGS symptoms occur hours to days after eating gluten and can disappear when gluten is removed. Classic symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating, bowel habit abnormalities, foggy head, headache, fatigue, joint and muscle pain, dermatitis, depression and anaemia(7). Clinically we see increased intestinal permeability aka ‘leaky gut’ confirmed on blood or urine testing underlying NCGS.

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3.Does gluten cause leaky gut?

In short, yes.

In susceptible individuals, when you eat gluten, the tight junctions (gate-like structures in your gut wall) are told to open-up as a result of an increased release of zonulin. Zonulin acts as a signal that says ‘open up please!’ to your gut wall. When gluten is removed from the diet, zonulin levels decrease which causes the immune system to calm down and healing to begin. It’s very important when healing leaky gut to follow a strict gluten-free diet, as the smallest amount of gluten will trigger a zonulin release(8).

4. What are some gluten-free alternatives?

There are many grains that are gluten-free including amaranth, buckwheat, corn, millet, quinoa, rice, sesame, sorghum and teff. Products like arrowroot, lentils, rice and tapioca can produce gluten-free flour and thus to some extent replace wheat flour(1). Luckily in 2018 there is much more awareness around the need, desire or demand for gluten-free products so there are many delicious alternatives available. It is worth noting that there is great variation the quality of the gluten-free alternatives in regards to nutrient, protein and fat content and glycaemic index (how much they impact your blood sugar levels)(9). My advice is to go wholegrain where you can or at the very least, have them with nutrient dense, protein and fat rich toppings, fillings or sauces.

5.What about oats are they gluten free and can I have them?

Gluten is a complex mixture of hundreds of proteins (called prolamins), notably gliadin and glutenin. Similar prolamins exist as secalin in rye, hordein in barley, and avenins in oats and are collectively referred to as “gluten”(10).

Avenin in oats contain a smaller amount of an amino acid called proline, which is higher in some of the other proteins mentioned in wheat, barly and rye. Lower proline content may be why oats are less immune reactive compared to wheat, but may still be a problem in large quantities. Oats may still activate specific immune cells in 10% of CD patients so it may be wise to avoid oats as part of your gluten free diet (11).

Furthermore, it is common for oats to be farmed and milled with wheat and are therefore contaminated with gluten. It is possible that pure, uncontaminated oats, can be made into products that contain less than 20mg of gluten per kg, making it potentially safe in a gluten free diet (12).  One commonly recommended brans of gluten-free oats is Bob’s Red Mill.

Final thoughts

There is so much more to be said about gluten and how it may affect your health, so if you still feel unsure about gluten in your diet, please reach out to us at Narayani Wellness to receive some personalised guidance. Our support can help a potentially confusing path be more simple and accurate for you!

By Rachel Larsson, Naturopath

Gut Loving Banana Bread

Gluten free. Dairy free.

After more than four years of experimenting with a gluten free diet, and three years of adhering to it strictly, I am so excited to be sharing with you one of my favourite gluten free go-to recipes. No gluten means it is kind on your intestinal lining, which can become “leaky” with exposure to gluten (see our other blogs for more info). This bread is moist, it’s filling and it’s packed full of goodness. The almond and linseeds offer a great source prebiotic fibres to keep our gut bugs happy, as well as being rich in minerals and healthy oils (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, especially omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9).

If you’re going gluten free there a few staple flours you will need to have in your pantry for baking. Almond meal, tapioca flour and brown rice flour are all great to have on hand, which can be bought by weight from whole-food stores such as The Source or packaged from health food stores, or the health section of the supermarket. Be sure to keep your almond and linseeds stored in a cool place during the summer, to avoid oxidation and spoilage of the healthy oils within. Note that some of the healthy oils within nuts and seeds are lost in the baking process, but cooking will not cause them to go rancid and spoil in the way that improper storage can.

I hope you enjoy this bread as much as I do!

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Ingredients:

  • 2 large banana (ripe or overripe)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 2 Tbsp honey (optional)
  • 1 cup nut milk
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
  • 2 tsp gluten free baking powder
  • ½ cup almond meal
  • ½ cup ground linseeds/flaxseeds
  • ½ cup rice flour (brown or white)
  • ½ cup tapioca flour

Method:

  1. Mash the bananas in a large bowl
  2. With a fork whisk in the eggs, coconut oil, honey and nut milk
  3. Stir in the remaining dry ingredients
  4. Pour into a lined rectangular bread/cake tin
  5. Bake in the oven (175 degrees C) for approx 50 minutes, or until cooked through.

By Lucy Mason, Naturopath

Luxurious Skin & Beauty VIP Event!

Do you ever look in the mirror and feel that your skin doesn't reflect who you really are?

Instead of feeling confident, healthy and vibrant you feel self-conscious and embarrassed.

You've tried it all, diets, supplements, medications without results, or worse your skin reacts and looks worse!

We understand how frustrating it is to experience signs of premature aging, painful acne, pigmentation, redness and dryness.

We've had many clients feel hopeless and believe their dull, blemished, red and itchy skin was their destiny... until they tried dermaviduals. In addition to the right care working on the inside-out, dermaviduals gives your skin holistic support to start the healing from the outside.

We love working with dermaviduals and the amazing results our patients achieve. Whether it be acne troubles, or inflamed dry red skin, dermaviduals can provide relief and completely revitalise your skin.

It's time to give yourself the skin you deserve

Tuesday 6th March for ONE DAY ONLY dermaviduals skin specialist, Beth will join us in holding a Narayani Wellness Holistic Skin Health VIP event.

Narayani Wellness is dedicated to supporting you achieve the luminous, healthy skin you deserve, and what better way to help you than you arrange FREE skin analysis and dermaviduals™ prescription formulation with dermaviduals™ skin care guru, Beth.

For this special event, we have also organised a Observ Skin Diagnostic Device to analyse your skin to provide your with the perfect prescription. 

This event has limited spots available so get in quick or you will miss out. You are welcome to invite your nearest and dearest as we know how much your loved ones mean to you. 

ONE DAY ONLY SPECIALS

 Purchase 3 or more dermaviduals™ products and receive 20% off. 
Purchase 5 dermaviduals™ products and receive 20% off plus a complimentary enzyme mask facial (valued at $90)

You also go into the draw to win a dermaviduals™ hamper valued at $500.

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For bookings, we require a $20 deposit that is redeemable on product purchases on the day of the event. Cancellation within 48 hours would forfeit this deposit. 

RSVP: Friday 2nd March

Contact details: 03 9036 3318 or hello@narayaniwellness.com.au

Breakfast Hacks – Your keys to creating a balanced breakfast in 5 minutes

This month we are talking about how to create a healthy habit that has longevity. Therefore this month’s recipe is not so much a recipe but more of a breakfast ‘hack’…

How many of us run out the house in the morning without having a proper meal? Or perhaps we’re just not feeling hungry, in a rush and instead have a coffee and reach for something sugary by mid-morning? Starting up your day with a good breakfast habit is one of the fundamental ways to optimising your health, and will set you up for the day – balancing blood sugar (avoiding fatigue slumps, sugar cravings and brain fog), and also provides us with the energy and nutrients to make the most out of your day.

The key is to a balanced breakfast is including all the macronutrients – protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates; plus micronutrients in the form of phytochemicals vitamins and minerals found in fresh food.

Here’s how to get it done in 5 minutes per day*

*…Ok, ok caveat here – It takes 20 minutes of prep a week to achieve a 5 minute daily assemble – but totally worth it!

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STEP 1
PREP your meals. Essentially this means pre-cooking the necessities:
Allocate 20 minutes a week to cook up your greens/proteins and grains; then every morning all you need is 5 minutes to assemble – and voila! If you are not hungry take to work in a Tupperware and instead have the juice of half a lemon in 1 cup warm water – this will get those digestive juices flowing!

STEP 2
Assemble: Choose one or more from each food category:

1. CHOOSE YOUR PROTEIN:

  • Once a week, boil or scramble 5 eggs, or
  • Whole smoked trout (about $12) and slide the fatty fish flesh off the bone, or
  • (V) Make your own baked beans – cannellini beans cooked in tomato sauce

Place in a container in the fridge.

2. CHOOSE YOUR GRAIN (We recommend gluten-free such as):

  • Cook up a pot of quinoa or
  • Rice or
  • Gluten free bread

Place in a container in the fridge.

3. DON’T FORGET THE GREENS

One a week cook up a couple of bunches of your favourite greens – like rainbow chard, silverbeet, broccoli, brussel sprouts, spinach (try to use organic greens as they are heavily sprayed with pesticides).

  • Cut them up, add to a large pan with a 1/4 cup water (By adding just enough water so they don’t burn water the greens kindof steam/fry, locking in nutrients).
  • Add garlic, onion, lemon juice, salt and pepper if desired.
  • Cook until soft.
  • Add 1 tsp. grass fed butter (add after you have taken off the heat)

4. DRIZZLE ON THOSE GOOD FATS

Slather on your favourite healthy fat:

  • Avocado oil
  • Cashew cheese
  • Hemp oil
  • Grass-fed butter
  • Chia oil

Every morning – assemble some of the above before you run out the door and pat yourself on the back for being organised as you enjoy a hearty breakfast in 5 minutes. Research says is takes 21 days to cement a new habit – go on try it! Your body and your microbiome will love you for it.

By Karen Saunders

Tips for Creating a Healthy Habit

What’s that one thing you’re doing (or not doing) that keeps sabotaging your health goals? For me, it’s not switching off screens early enough in the evening. Regardless of knowing how good it would be for me to make the change, knowledge alone is not enough to alter a behaviour. Making or breaking a habit takes hard work and dedication. Depending who you ask, it can take anywhere between 28 and 200 days of persevering with a behaviour before it becomes automatic. From talking to my clients and my own personal experience, here are my top tips to set you up for success.

Know your evil

Understanding WHY you fail to habitually do something is key to creating change.

Is it an issue of motivation? You may benefit from an accountability structure or a reward system to keep you on track. Is your goal unrealistic? Maybe your goal needs some refinement. Start with a smaller change and once you have that down pat, build on your goal. Are you impatient for results and quitting too soon? Change takes time. Acknowledge that it may take several attempts. Are you just forgetful? Set up a reminder.

These are just a few common examples of a ‘block’ to success. If you have a goal in mind, think about the possible problems you might encounter once you get started and have a plan to tackle them. If you have been trying for months to action your plan without success, spend some time reflecting on the reason for failure. When attempting something new, a troubleshoot plan that accounts for all possible issues that may arise will greatly improve the outcome.

Set a reminder

If your goal is something simple but a nuisance to remember, visual or auditory cues to remind yourself can be useful. This method works well for habits such as taking your supplements at the right time, drinking more water or doing a couple of minutes of mindful breathing throughout the day.

Use that smart phone you carry with you everywhere! Set a daily timed reminder for a time you know you will be undistracted. The feedback I have received from my clients - don’t schedule your reminder for a time you might be busy or you will switch it off and forget all about it!

If auditory prompts won’t work for you, the good old message on your mirror method works almost as well. Or a sticky note on the fridge, toilet door, steering wheel etc. Wherever you know you’ll look is where you leave your message. If you find yourself ignoring your message despite hearing/seeing it, forgetfulness is not the issue at play.

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Adopt an accountability buddy

Having someone on your side who will give you a boost on low days can go a long way. Pick someone who can relate to your circumstance or is supportive of your cause. Someone who you interact with regularly is ideal. Ask this person to do the activity with you, or at a minimum, remind you of your goal. Report your progress to one another.

Depending on your goal, there may also be organised groups out there to help you along. Say your goal is to exercise twice per week - joining a sporting team where teammates rely on your presence is a good example of how you can use accountability as a motivator.

Don’t give up after one attempt

You’ll have days where you fall off the wagon. That is OK. The research suggests that missing one day here and there will not undo the days/weeks prior where you have achieved your daily goal. Even if you fail day 1, remember that most habits take a minimum of 28 days to form. So keep at it.

So what are your health goals for the new year? We’d love to hear about them here at Narayani Wellness.

By Naturopath, Lucy Mason

Finding balance this Christmas

The magical month of December is here once again. I love the festive season. The days are filled with sunshine, social events and delicious food. But December isn’t here without its difficulties. The array of indulgent treats that cannot be avoided present a problem for many of my clients. So I’ve put together my thoughts on how to find balance this Christmas.

Be prepared

Say you have a specific health issue that you are trying to treat with dietary changes, such as leaky gut (no gluten) or candida overgrowth (low/no sugar). The key to getting through the Christmas season is planning ahead. Initiate an honest conversation with dinner hosts/restaurants about your dietary needs in advance or explain that you will be bringing something for yourself. 

Give yourself permission

While we must honour and nurture our physical bodies, we must also nourish our emotional self. Sharing a meal or a drink with friends and family brings joy into our lives. If you have been working on improving your diet, a day of indulging will not undo all that hard work. On these days, you can counter the negative effects of more sugar, fat and alcohol by adding in some additional digestive and liver support.  Letting go of the strict standards we put on ourselves is part of self-love and in itself can be immensely healing.

Support your digestion

Here are my top tips for optimising your body’s processing of dietary “bad guys”:

  • Drink fresh lemon/apple cider vinegar in warm water each morning to give your digestion a boost. It stimulates the vagus nerve, which is largely responsible for digestive secretions. If your tummy struggles with indigestion and reflux at the best of times, you may benefit from taking betaine hydrochloride and digestive enzymes to get you through.
  • Add in a liver support supplement over the Christmas period. St Mary’s Thistle, Globe Artichoke and Turmeric are among my favourite herbs to support bile acid production (breaks down fat), support detoxification and protect the liver against damage.
  • Take a daily probiotic such as Saccharomyces boulardii to help control gut bugs that are prone to growing out of control when we eat and dink more sugar.
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Support your mind

Stress levels can go up this time of year with more work pressures, increased busyness on the road/at the shops and less free time – which is exactly why we all need to prioritise finding time to calm the mind. Checking in with the breath each hour or a 15 minute morning meditation is enough to switch on your parasympathetic nervous system, the part of your nervous system which is responsible for “rest and digest” activities, such as producing stomach acid.

Don’t let guilt ruin Christmas

Perhaps the appeal of the Christmas spread was a little too good and you ate too much, leaving you feeling unwell and disappointed in yourself. What a perfect opportunity to turn that guilt into something positive and practice self-forgiveness. Holding onto negative feelings toward the self only exacerbates health issues. So let those feelings go and replace them with something positive, such as looking forward to the goals you’re going to kick in 2018!

Extra Resources

Looking for recipes that take into consideration your dietary needs? At Narayani Wellness we love online resources by Teressa Cutter “The Healthy Chef”, Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar and Deliciously Ella, Jamie Oliver and Lola Berry also offer some great ideas in their cookbooks.

By Lucy Mason, Naturopath

Choc Mint Cheesecake Swirl

Created by Rachel Larsson

Have you ever found that when you have decided you are ‘going to get healthy’ or you are determined to ‘feel better’, an all-or-nothing approach to food can sometimes make the process a whole lot harder?

Food has many roles and meanings; it’s nourishing, fuel for your body, a way to socialise and a source of enjoyment.

Food shouldn’t be a source of anxiety, guilt or fear.

Whatever diet you choose to follow that best supports you in your ability to thrive, I hope there is room for delicious treats to enjoy in moderation (there certainly is in mine)! 

I wanted to share with you a recipe that is delicious and you can enjoy without guilt, remorse or regret. It is perfect for Christmas (or any occasion for that matter) and you’ll have your family & friends begging for more.

The best part is - it is gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, vegan/vegetarian friendly and refined-sugar free, but tastes just like a rich, classic cheesecake.

You’re welcome guys!

Ingredients

Base

  • 2/3 cup medjool dates
  • 1 cup raw hazelnuts ground
  • 1/2 cup linseed/flaxseed meal
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup cacao nibs

Filling

  • 600ml full-fat coconut cream
  • 3/4 cup cashew butter*
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted + additional 1/4 cup
  • 1/4 cup rice malt or maple syrup 
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup raw cacao powder
  • 4-8 drops of peppermint extract/essence (more or less depending on personal preference)
  • 12-20 baby spinach leaves or 2-3 drops of green food dye (depending on how green you want the mixture).

Decoration

  • Dark chocolate, melted
  • 1-2 tablespoons cacao nibs (optional)
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Method

1. Line a cake tin with baking paper

Making the Base

2. In a food processor add ground hazelnuts, linseed/flaxseed meal, dates, coconut oil and salt to a food processor and blend until crumbly in texture. Add in cacao nibs and blend until they are mixed in.

3. Evenly press mixture into the cake tin, and place tin in freezer for 10 minutes

Making the Filling

4. In a blender/nutribullet add coconut cream, cashew butter, 1/3 cup coconut oil, maple/rice malt syrup and salt. Blend until combined.

5. Split the filling into two even quantities.

6. To one half of the mixture add cacao powder and blend until smooth.

7. Pour this cacao filling into the base and set in the fridge for 10 minutes (until slightly firm).

8. Whilst the chocolate filling is starting to firm, make the mint filling.

9. Add to remaining half of the mixture baby spinach leaves or green food dye, remaining coconut oil and peppermint extract/essence and blend until smooth.

10. Carefully pour the mint filling onto the chocolate mixture gentle swirling with the handle end of a spoon, to create a swirled chocolate and mint design.

11. Place in fridge overnight

Decoration

12. Take the dessert out and drizzle over your melted dark chocolate to create a decorative pattern. Whilst the chocolate is still wet, sprinkle over some cacao nibs for an extra crunch.

13. Serve, sit back and wait for the smiles

Notes

*I made my own cashew butter using soaked 1 ½ cups of cashews, soaked in water for 24 hours. I then drained these and blend in a Nutribullet (or something similar) until smooth – adding some water one tablespoon at a time to help.

Storage. This dessert will last 3-4 days in the fridge, a few months in freezer.

Coconut and Buckwheat Toasted Muesli

Gluten free. Oat free. High protein. High healthy fats.

Your body will love you for starting your day with this well balanced breakfast. Many typical breakfasts are high in carbohydrate and sugar - a nightmare for your pancreas and adrenals. Nuts, buckwheat and coconut form the core of this recipe, providing the right macronutrients (protein and healthy fat) that prevent your blood sugar levels from spiking, keeping your hormones (insulin and cortisol) happy. It is my go to on the days where I don’t feel like eggs and avocado or I need a breakfast with minimal preparation - it’s quick, filling and tasty.  

Shop bought muesli is often loaded up with oats (not so great for those of us avoiding gluten) and can contain high amounts of sugar. It only takes 30 minutes to put together a homemade toasted muesli that lasts a couple of weeks, and you can personalise it to your taste and needs!

I love to serve it with fresh berries and a blob of natural pot set yoghurt or a drizzle of almond milk. It’s also great to nibble on by itself as a snack throughout the day.

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole buckwheat kernels/groats
  • 2 cups roughly chopped nuts and seeds of your choice
  • (I like almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, pepitas and sunflower seeds)
  • 1.5 cups coconut flakes
  • 1.5 cups puffed millet (I have also used puffed rice or amaranth in the past with success)
  • 3 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3-4 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsp rice malt syrup

  Method

  1. Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Melt the coconut oil in a small pan and add rice malt syrup. Stir until combined then remove from the heat.
  3. Mix the oil mixture through the dry mixture until everything is coated.
  4. Spread the mixture out on lined baking trays, so that it is no thicker than 1cm.
  5. Bake in the oven on 120 degrees C for 20 minutes, turning once, or until the mixture is lightly golden in colour.
  6. Wait until the mixture is completely cool before packing it away for storage in the pantry.

Created by Lucy Mason, Naturopath

When to get help and when to do it alone.

We live in a wonderful time when we can access any information we want with just one easy click of the button.  For example, when I typed ‘gut health’ into Google I got a massive 133 MILLION hits! There is so much benefit to having access to this information, as you can get inspired, cultivate hope and discover some tools to help manage your health. However, having this much information has its down sides and can leave you feeling confused, overwhelmed or can even be dangerous.

In clinic I frequently hear my patients start a sentence with ‘I was reading about…’ or ‘I was Googling the other day and…’ Whilst I love hearing that they are taking an interest in their health, unfortunately the sentence usually ends with ‘now I’m confused’ or ‘I don’t know what to do’.

So, how do you know when you are out of your depth in addressing your health alone and when you need some professional help? To help you decide when you need to close the laptop and pick up the phone, ask yourself these five questions.

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1. Does your diet or supplement provide you with an immediate improvement and/or if you were to stop your treatment, would this effect be long-term?

If not, you have probably been providing yourself with Band-Aid support and not addressing the underlying issue. A great example I see a lot in clinic is constipation. Before coming to see me many patients have developed a dependency on strong coffee, laxatives or supplements to ensure a daily bowel motion. It needs to be understood that constipation is symptom of something else going on(1) and can be tricky to treat. There are many causes of constipation including an imbalance of your gut flora, SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth)(2) or nervous system issues, such as a side effect from a medication or low intestinal serotonin levels. Did you know 95% of the serotonin in our body is found in our gastrointestinal tract? Having enough serotonin is important because it signals the muscles along our digestive tract to contract and relax. This is called motility and it is necessary for regular bowel movements(3).

 

2. Do you feel overwhelmed, stressed or anxious when thinking about your health?

If so, these emotions may be making your symptoms worse(4).  When your body experiences these emotions, it enters a state of fight or flight which causes our nervous system to tip into sympathetic nervous system dominance(5). Our sympathetic nervous system is necessary for our survival, as we use it when we need to escape danger or act quickly. However, this part of the nervous system inhibits our ability to rest and digest properly(6)(because who cares about digesting when you are running away danger). Experiencing daily stress, anxiety and overwhelm regarding your health may only be making you health worse. How ironic! A proven example of this relationship is stress and its ability to worsen or flare symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome(7). 

 

3. You have a sense that there is something else underlying the issue and are finding it difficult to get the big picture?

The perfect example of this is acne and congested skin. I meet many people that have ‘tried everything’; they have invested a lot of time and money into topical treatments, medications and diets without any improvement. Potentially this is because they are only treating one part of the problem.
Acne and skin congestion is considered a complex multi-system disease, rather a skin condition. Our skin is a huge organ and the health of it is a result of your diet, nutritional status, gut health and gut bugs, nervous system, hormones and immune system (8). So whilst the oral contraceptive pill or antibiotics may help manage your skin (9,10) if you stop these, your skin may go back to where it started. To make an effective long-lasting change in your skin, you need a holistic inside-out and outside-in approach.

 

4. Are you following advice that is supposed to help you and yet you feel worse?

You’ve starting eating healthier and have invested in cupboard full of supplements, yet you feel worse than ever with less energy, stomach pains, poor sleep and your mood has taken a turn. What could be going? It’s no surprise that we are all different - what works for someone may not work for you. A great example of this is if you have an underlying histamine issue. Histamine is a naturally occurring substance that we create in our body and is present in many foods. It is especially high in aged foods including bone broths, fermented foods, kombucha and kefir (11) and in some probiotics, which are readily promoted for gut healing (12). If you have tried any of these and feel worse, histamine sensitivity may be your issue. Perhaps you need the guidance from someone who acknowledges or understands the issue of histamine to help guide you back to health.

 

5. Is integrative medicine a better fit?

That is, are you required to take medications or are you under the care of practitioner who has limited understanding, interest or awareness of the role diet and gut healing plays in our wellbeing? If you answered ‘yes’ and you are trying to make supplement and dietary changes alone, you may be putting yourself in danger. Thyroxine (thyroid medication) is a great example of something that needs to be monitored closely. A change in supplements, medications and diet may alter the dosage needed to keep your thyroid in balance. If these interactions aren’t understood and accounted for, you may start to experience symptoms of thyroid imbalance (fatigue, shakiness, anxiety, gut issues)(13, 14). A practitioner that will consider these interactions is important in ensuring you a safe road to good health.

 

Closing Thoughts

Before you have lost all hope and motivation, spent years of your time and a mountain of money, reach out and get some professional support.  We love that you have taken the initiative in trying to help yourself and we want to be there for you to reach your health goals in a safe and effective way.   

By Rachel Larsson

BHSc (Naturopathy), BPH (Nutrition)            

Probiotics. Are they all the same?

We all know that probiotics are great for digestive health, but how do you know which one your gut needs? The bottle lists the various species of bacteria (or yeasts) contained within and offers a vague description of what they do, which really doesn’t give away a lot unless you know what to look for! This article is all about what to look for in a probiotic and in addition, I will dispel some common myths about how they work.

Let’s start basic. What is a probiotic?

The World Health Organisation officially defines a probiotic as “live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host” (1). Probiotics can be bacteria, such as the commonly seen Bifidobacterium or Lactobacillus species, or yeasts such as Saccharomyces boulardii. You will find probiotics in health food stores, chemists and health clinics, sold as capsules or powders, either alive or freeze dried (alive, but sleeping). Proper storage of probiotics is essential in ensuring they are still alive and healthy by the time they reach your gut, so always follow the storage instructions on the bottle and be mindful when transporting your probiotics.

How do probiotics work?

Myth number 1 – probiotics permanently make our gut their new home. It is a common misconception that we take probiotics to replace healthy bacteria that have been lost, for example, following antibiotic treatment or during times of stress. Probiotics work their magic while they are in transit through our gut and are eventually flushed with the stool (2). They may stay in there a bit longer than our food, but it isn’t forever.

Myth number 2 – all types of probiotics fight off bad bugs. Many (not all) probiotics do have the ability to compete with bad bugs and stop them from taking over, however the beneficial action of probiotics goes far beyond (3). Additional examples of how they work includes:

  • Reducing inflammation in the gut
  • Speeding up or slowing down the time it takes for food to travel along the digestive tract
  • Reducing how sensitive our gut is to internal gas
  • Repair and strengthen the gut lining
  • Interacting with immune cells (think allergies as well as infections)
  • Influence intestinal secretions
 Naturopath in Melbourne

Why are probiotics named the way they are?

As probiotics are living organisms, they are given latin names just like all plants and animals. In order to differentiate probiotics, you need to understand the terminology around their naming. I will use an example of the probiotic bacteria Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG.

  • The first word is the genus – Lactobacillus
  • The second word is the species – rhamnosus
  • At the end of the latin name is the strain – GG

The strain may be a combination of letters, numbers or both.

How important is the strain?

The strain is very important when it comes to treating a particular complaint or condition. You could compare strains of probiotic to breeds of dog – all dogs are the same species, but they come in a range of shapes, colours and designs. Likewise in probiotic species, different strains can have a different effect in our guts (1). For example, some strains of Escherichia coli cause intestinal or urinary tract infections, whereas the strain Escherichia coli Nissle 1917 is protective against infections (4).

The strain is commonly omitted from probiotic labels and left out of the discussion when talking probiotics. A good quality probiotic will always include the strain, just like a good clinical trial (a human study) will always state which strain has been tested. Unfortunately, many strains that have been studied are not yet available in Australia.

Which probiotic should I take?

If you wish to treat a specific health condition with probiotics, it is best to do your research and find some positive human studies, then use the same strain. It may be more expensive, but at least you can be sure your money is going into something that will work. There are many articles out there on probiotics, particularly in treating digestive, skin and immune issues such as IBS, traveller’s diarrhoea, inflammatory bowel conditions, asthma and eczema(5).

To give you a few examples, Lactobacillus plantarum CJLP133 can reduce the severity of eczema (6). Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG and Bifidobacterium breve Bb99 can increase the eradication rate of Helicobacter pylori, an infection that causes stomach ulcers (7). At Narayani Wellness, we use Bifidobacteria lactis HN019 to treat SIBO, just one of the probiotics that we keep in our supplement toolbox.

If you are healthy and just looking for a probiotic to support general health, my recommendation is to get stuck into some fermented foods, such as yoghurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir or kombucha. Strictly speaking, fermented foods are not considered a probiotic as the exact microorganisms are typically not known, nor can they be measured. However fermented foods that have been stored correctly are considered safe and beneficial to consume as they increase overall diversity in the gut when consumed regularly, which has been linked to a lower incidence of disease (5). Fermented foods also contain compounds that help to break down your food and keep your digestion working optimally.

If you are still unsure, take the hard work out of your shopping and make an appointment with us today to help find the right probiotic for you.

By Lucy Mason, Naturopath

Fermented Curried Cauliflower

Who would have thought food and drinks affected by bacteria and yeasts would be so sought after? Yes, we are talking about fermented products. No doubt you have heard about them on social media, at your local health food store, or from a health conscious friend.

Did you know, fermentation is traditionally a food preservation technique that has been traced back thousands of years. Fermentation has also helped us create new foods such as turning milk, wheat and grapes into delicious cheese, bread and wine(1). Yum!

It was only in early 20th century that scientific researchers proposed that fermented products might have health benefits (2). Fast-forward to today and we have stacks of science supporting the presence of good bacteria in these foods and how they can provide us with wonderful health benefits (1).

One of our favourite ways to reap the health benefits of fermentation is through eating fermented veggies. You may be familiar with fermented cabbage in the form of sauerkraut or kimchi, but did you know you can ferment a tonne of other vegetables including cucumber, carrot, beetroot and broccoli? Given that cauliflower is in season I thought this would be the perfect time to create a fermented cauliflower recipe.

 Curried Cauliflower recipie

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp coriander ground coriander
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 head (600-700g) cauliflower
  • 2 grated medium sized carrots, grated
  • 1 spring onion, finely sliced
  • 1 -1 ½ tsp fine Himalayan or Celtic sea salt
  • Glass jar

Method

1. Rinse the cauliflower in cold water and cut into florets and slice as thinly as you can. Place in a bowl along with carrot, spring onion, spices and salt and mix with your hands. Ensure everything is well mixed and then let this rest for 30 mins.

2. Get your hands dirty again and massage the mixture again for a few minutes.

3. Press the mixture tightly into the jar, adding bit by bit, pressing down to realise the veggie juice (brine) as you go. Don’t worry if the mixture feels dry, as fermentation continues the vegetables will continue weeping.

4. After the mixture is in the jar, make sure it is pressed down and the brine is covering the cauliflower mixture.

5. After 8 hours, open the jar and give the mixture one more press down, to ensure the brine covers the vegetables.

6. Rest the jar on a plate (in case the brine seeps out) and place it in a warm place, such as above the fridge, and cover it with a tea towel. Depending on time of year you can start to taste the ferment from day 4 or day 7. When it’s ready you will be able to sense a pleasant sour and pickled taste.

7. Give the mixture another press to submerge in brine, screw on the lid and store in the fridge.

8. You will have this delicious ferment if kept refrigerated for 9-10 months. 

Things to look out for when fermenting

  • Brine. Always have your veggies covered, if your veggies are above the liquid push them back under. If you realise this later in the fermentation process, remove the veggies that have been on top of the brine level as they are no good. 
  • Note: if you are new to eating fermented foods, start consuming small amounts and increase gradually. Also if you have an issue with histamines, fermented foods may not be a great choice.

Created by Rachel Larsson