I want more chocolate.. now!

Overdone the chocolate consumption this Easter and now you can’t stop the sugar cravings?

choc campus connect

We all crave chocolate from time to time, some more than others. As women, our menstrual cycle does have a lot to answer for! 🙂

Here are 10 reasons why we crave chocolate and carbs/ sugar:

  1. Hormone fluctuations /menstruation
    Would you just do anything to have some chocolate in the lead up to your period!? This is due to hormone fluctuations:

    • Mainly, low magnesium (hence why we crave chocolate)
      • Cocoa beans are very rich in magnesium, hence our craving for chocolate!
      • Avoid processed milk chocolate, containing mostly sugar and fat and eat 80% cacao dark chocolate from a health shop.
      • However, green leafy vegetables are healthier sources of magnesium!
      • Magnesium is required for energy production and release of stored energy and is used up to help reduce PMS symptoms in women, i.e. cramping, constipation, insomnia, headaches, water retention, anxiety and swollen breasts
      • Increased cortisol and reduced serotonin and its precursor tryptophan
        • leads to irritation, low mood, exhaustion and anger and thus we reach for certain foods to make us feel better.
        • Carbs help release insulin to get tryptophan into the brain [1]
    • Low progesterone
      • Leads to mood swings, depression and feeling down, thus increasing a need for comfort food, often involving sugar and fat, to again boost serotonin
    • Increased energy needs as the body is detoxing during your period
      • Avoid sugar and eat complete whole grains and good sources of protein to increase energy and reduce our cravings. [1]
  1. Depression or feeling low
    • When we’re feeling low we are often deficient in certain feel good hormones.
    • Foods with lots of sugar and fat boost levels of serotonin and beta endorphins. They also combat cortisol production, making us feel happier and more relaxed and give us a natural high. It has also been known to increase self esteem and reduce anxiety. [2a]
    • We therefore crave sugary, high carb foods at this time, as our brains “reward” us by releasing serotonin and beta-endorphins when we eat sugar or other refined carbohydrates that are easily converted to glucose (the simplest sugar). [1]
    • However, this is short lived, leading to an addiction
  1. Addiction
    • Once we start eating more sugar, we can’t stop as it is addictive as alcohol [4,6]
    • After indulging at Easter our bodies are just crying out for more since the brain has become used to frequent beta endorphin bursts. Withdrawal can include headaches, shakiness, nausea, fatigue. [1, 2, 2a]fit femme tublr choc cravings
  1. Stress and anxiety
    • When stressed, our adrenals burn out and we have fluctuating blood sugar levels as the body isn’t producing glucose as efficiently from carbohydrates and fats as usual. Thus we crave more sugar and highly palatable foods for fuel and energy. [3, 3a]
    • Chronic stress and low cortisol also causes irritability and exhaustion before meals and other common hypoglycaemic symptoms.[4]
    • We crave quick energy boosting foods like caffeine, chocolate and sugar, however, this just leads to further cravings and addictions and actually depletes the adrenals more in the long term.
    • I know for me as soon as I feel a little anxious or stressed I will reach for a piece of dark chocolate. I am currently moving and Sea salt dark chocolate (as we also crave salt when adrenals are pushed) has definitely been consumed a little more!
    • We crave chocolate as the magnesium is energy producing and chocolate also contains copper
      • Copper is also essential for energy production and to reduce excessive glucocorticoid activity.
      • People in burnout usually suffer from an inability to properly mobilize copper. Although copper is present, it is bio unavailable, largely due to an adrenal insufficiency problem.
      • Copper supplementation can therefore be useful.[6]
        stressed
  1. Emotional associations
    • Pleasure Reward
      • We often associate sweet foods with love and acceptance, and scientists have looked at our brain chemistry to understand how food can directly affect our “feel-good” neurotransmitters like serotonin and gets feeling of pleasure and reward. [5]
    • Memories/ food association
      • The smell of homemade cookies or a cake fresh out of the oven reminds us of our childhoods, evoking fond memories of past holidays, birthdays, or special occasions.
      • Others remember being rewarded with candy or other sugary delights when they did something “good.”
      • Environmental cues can really stimulate food cravings. [6]
      • Memories and habits are also a big reason we eat or crave certain foods i.e. popcorn at the movies, hotdog at the footy. [5]banana bread
    • Boredom also makes us want to eat more
      • When boredom, procrastination and frustration set in, feed your need for energy release rather than your emotions. Go for a power walk or find something else to distract yourself of the strong need for chocolate.
      • The more we can break this habit the less we will crave bad foods when bored in the future. [1]
  1. Food sensitivities
    • Food sensitivities are often the result of a situation known as “leaky gut,” where partially digested food particles can make their way into the bloodstream through a damaged, inflamed mucosal lining in the digestive tract.
    • The body regards these food particles as foreign antigens and mounts an immune response by sending antibodies. These combined antibodies and antigens in your bloodstream, known as immune complexes, can lead to intense cravings.[1]
  2. Excess acid-forming foods
    • Foods like red meat can also cause sugar cravings as it is high in arachidonic acid (AA), a pro-inflammatory omega fatty acid, thus eating a lot can upregulate the oxidative–inflammatory cascade in our bodies.
    • It is also a contracting food, and therefore in excess can cause craving for expansive sweets to “open you up” and help you relax.[7]
    • If long term, it can cause abnormal glucose metabolism, and, ultimately, insulin resistance.
    • Choosing anti-inflammatory foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, as well as those that are alkalizing and antioxidant-rich, such as fruits and vegetables, can help balance out the acidity. [1]
  3. Insulin resistance
    • Insulin resistance often occurs as a result of a long-term diet high in refined carbohydrates.
    • Glucose is not signalled by insulin release to be taken into the cells and instead builds up in the blood, starving your cells of glucose.
    • The body thus signals to the brain to secrete more insulin, as the cells aren’t accessing the glucose. This result in sugar cravings, and ultimately, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.[1]
  4. Intestinal yeast
    • Yeast feeds on sugar, so if we have some gut dysbiosis, intestinal yeast overgrowth or candida or parasites in our system, this will lead to uncontrollable sugar cravings as the yeast looks for sugary, high carb food to feed on [1]
    • A probiotic is great to keep the bacteria balanced as it contains a competitive yeast and pau d’arco, wormwood, oregano, horopito, and avoid grains, fruits. [1]
  5. Ayurvedic perspective
    vata pitta kapha

    • We all, universally, feel a shift in energy around 3pm and we all crave the sweet taste, some more than others. That 3.30itis as it has been named!
    • The Ayurvedic doshas – Vata, Pitta and Kapha – predominate at different times of life, seasons but also different times of the day.[8]
    • Vata is king from 2am-6am and also 2pm-6pm and thus causes sweet cravings.
    • At 2pm in the afternoon, the atmosphere tends to shift down a gear, moving from the Pitta Fire, heat of the day, intense, achievement-oriented time to a slightly cooler, clearer, lighter, more ethereal, spacey, sensitive Vata time
      • If we’ve had a chilled-out day this shift will feel like a quiet settling.
      • If we’ve pushed ourselves (and our nervous systems) we will feel more like a ‘hitting-the-wall’ kind of crash, especially if Vata dominant.
    • We have trouble concentrating, feel restless, bored or easily distracted or play aimlessly on Facebook…. or we may just get sleepy if our adrenal tank is empty.
    • We find ourselves desperately seeking the sweet taste made up of earth and water, a great antidote to aggravated Vata
      • What we’re really craving at this Vata time of the day is comfort, grounding and steadiness. This is what the sweet taste provides. So don’t have aversion towards the craving.
      • Just choose wisely… refined sugar, although very sweet, actually aggravates Vata (as well as Pitta and Kapha) and causes increased restlessness and agitation (Rajas) in the mind.
      • Unrefined sugars like honey, rapadura, jaggery and maple syrup are a better choice because they pacify Vata and are considered Sattvic, having a peace-promoting effect on the mind.
      • Avoid coffee as it is overly stimulating and tends to aggravate Vata and promote Rajas. Black tea is more gentle, especially if you add a sprinkle of ground cardamom [8]

When you have cravings, be kind. Our sugar cravings and bingeing is often absolutely not a reflection of our willpower or our individual strength. It most likely has physical roots, and those roots can be restored to set the foundation for a healthy, lifelong relationship with sugar!

Look out for my next article on tips to overcome these cravings.

Chrissie 🙂

Chrissie-Alexander image

Bibliography:

1a Insulin Resistance: Our love affair with sugar. Women to Women

1b Wurtman JJ, ‘Carbohydrate craving, mood changes, and obesity’ J Clin Psychiatry. 1988 Aug;49 Suppl:37-9.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3045110
Shabbir F1Patel AMattison CBose SKrishnamohan RSweeney ESandhu SNel WRais ASandhu RNgu NSharma S., Effect of diet on serotonergic neurotransmission in depression.  Neurochem Int. 2013 Feb;62(3):324-9. doi: 10.1016/j.neuint.2012.12.014. Epub 2013 Jan 7.

2a Dr Judith Wurtman, author of The Serotonin Power Diet

3 http://www.arltma.com/Articles/BurnoutDoc.htm

3a Sinha R & Jastreboff AM, ‘Stress as a common risk factor for obesity and addiction’ Biol Psychiatry. 2013 May Epub 2013 Mar 26.

4 Theresea Vernon

5 Kathleen Zelman WedMD Food Cravings

6a MK Stojek, S Fischer & J MacKillop ‘Stress, cues, and eating behavior. Using drug addiction paradigms to understand motivation for food’ in Appetite. 2015 Sep 1;92:252-60. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2015.05.027. Epub 2015 May 27

6b http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25064302

7 Body Ecology ’10 secrets for ending sugar cravings’

8 Mudita Institute Ayurveda ‘Happy Belly’

References:

Amanda Bontempo, Dietician NY

Better Health Channel, chocolate http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Chocolate

Hale Central, The Best Benefits of Dark Chocolate,http://halecentral.com/the-best-benefits-of-dark-chocolate/

Claudette Wadsworth

Are you ok!?

Mental health issues are on the rise and many of us suffer from it from time to time, whether it’s just mild anxiety, or full blown depression or bipolar. Suicide is also becoming seriously common as you can read here.

Today is the 3rd birthday of the One Wave surfing/mental health community, which the amazing Grant Trebilico started, helping to get rid of the taboo around mental health issues and empower people to speak up if they are not feeling ok and seek counselling.

2016 3rd onewave birthdayhappy birthday onewave

CAUSES

Everyone is different so there is no one solution. There are many debated reasons for mental health including:

  • Inflammation from chronic infections, bad diet and toxins in our environment
  • Chemical, hormonal or neuronal imbalances
  • Past childhood trauma
  • Stress and gut issues
  • Genetics; Environment
  • Disease; Motivational state

I have suffered from depression in the past, and again more recently, and I find it is definitely worse when I am unbalanced, stressed, too busy and therefore eating badly and not connected to my body but in my head.

As a fairly new Naturopath, I am no expert and there are times when antidepressant medication is required or you will need to see a specialist.

However, during my experiences and studies, here are some tips (including a list of natural herbs and supplements at the end) that helped me when I was feeling down or anxious and stabilised my mental health illness before it got worse.

TIPS

  • Yoga and meditation and pranayama (breathing techniques)
    • Yoga has definitely helped me to manage my moods, calm the mind in anxiety and depression and to release any tension building up in the body and mind
    • Having a yoga studio as a second home to go to brings connection, purpose and community into your life and reduces loneliness, anxiety and depressionmeditation
    • Improve diet
      • Diet is very important as a poor diet can lead to a lack of essential nutrients key to good mental health
      • Poor diet choices lead to inflammation, poor immunity, hormonal imbalances that can all lead to mental health disorders
        • Reduce inflammatory sugar, gluten, preservatives, excess dairy, artificial sweeteners, excess meat and caffeine, alcohol, smoking.
        • Increase
          • Vitamin B rich green leafy veg, legumes, brewers yeast, nuts, seeds, good fat avocado and eggs, fermented foods, sprouted grains
          • Omega 3 rich fish and chia seeds, comforting root vegetables, soups, bone broths for essential minerals and vitamins
          • Potassium rich bananas, oranges and potatoes but supplementation might be required if depressed, however it is wise to chat to a doctor or naturopath as this can interact with medications
            leafy greens 2
  • Volunteering
    • A great way to meet new people and feel great as you are making a difference by helping others
  • Social interaction is key
    • Harder than it sounds I know… often I knew getting to the beach with the OneWave beautiful community will make me feel amazing.. but often curling up in bed is all I could manage with low self esteem, confidence and energyget up and go dog
  • Just getting out with family might help and see close friends if a large group is too much and HUGS!
    hugs
  • Surfing is great as OneWave have shown, whereby Grant manages his depression and his ‘funks’ by getting out for that ‘one wave’ that makes his day a whole lot better
    • Studies show how being in salt water can actually increase your serotonin levels within 30 seconds
      grant getting that one wave
  • Exercise
    • Vital to increase a feeling of well-being, gets you outside in nature and releases feel-good endorphins
    • Start slow as it is often hard to get motivated when feeling down
    • Start with some brisk walking in nature or by the healing ocean
  • Reach out for help
    • See a doctor for a referral/Medicare mental health plan to a counsellor, psychotherapist or psychiatrist to talk through past traumas and hurts.
    • Black dog institute also offers some great advice
    • Naturopaths can help to manage any symptoms naturally without side effects of medication
  • Read inspirational books to increase positivity and hope i.e. Brene Brown, Ekhart Tolle, Abraham Hicks.
  • Write a journal to help to process unconscious thoughts and let them come up so not suppressed.
  • Dance to Music
    • Dance to uplifting music in the living room to bring a smile to your face or heart and up the endorphins 🙂
      bridget jones singing dancing
  • Animals are also amazing and bring so much unconditional love. There is research that proves that having a pet can really help reduce the incidence of depression. I saw a flat with pet bunnies.. sold! 🙂
  • Nature is also key. Seeing trees, the ocean, mountains, rivers and lakes all help to make us feel more connected and like we belong and can reduce anxiety and stress.
  • Be kind!
    • There can be some really tough times and when these happen, be kind. If you just want to lie in bed, do so, watch a funny movie and just let the feelings come up and feel them and be ok with them.. have a cry, but try to not judge yourself for feeling this way
    • And, most importantly, it’s ok not to be ok and ask for help. 🙂
  • Healing herbs and supplements (suggestions only to reduce symptoms of mental health issues; consult a naturopath or doctor prior to taking):
  • Alpha lipoic acid (ALA)
    • is neuroprotective and great for depression/neurological disorders
  • Zinc
    • is essential for the nervous system and in low GABA and excess dopamine and adrenaline or serotonin, reducing anxiety, aggression (1)
  • Fish oils
    • full of omega 3s, critical for proper functioning of neurotransmitters
  • CoQ10
    • is a great antioxidant which is great for reducing heavy metal toxicity that can leak to the brain causing fogginess, depression and anxiety
  • Glutamine
    • Is a precursor for GABA helping calmness and relaxation in anxiety (1)
  • SAMe (S-Adenosylmethionine)
    • Increases glutathione, a potent antioxidant reducing free radicals and toxins and serotonin both helping our mental health
    • N.B. Not to be taken with antidepressant medications and you should consult a doctor before taking (2)
  • Tyrosine
    • Is a precursor for dopamine, great in depression to improve mood, mental exhaustion and addictive tendencies (1)
  • Tryptophan
    • Increases B vitamins and serotonin for improved mood; and melatonin to help insomnia, migraines, chronic pain, hypertension and anxiety (1)
    • 5 HTP is a supplement derivative form of tryptophan and great to increase serotonin and thus enhance mood
  • DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone)
    • a hormone that depletes over 35 and enhances mood and well being as is the building block for oestrogen and testosterone.
    • N.B. Consult a doctor or naturopath as it is contraindicated in some circumstances, especially in some hormonal cancers etc.
  • B vitamins
    • Are great for stress, low mood, anxiety, depression; help in low acetycholine and GABA to help relax nervous system and for insomnia (1)
    • B6 increases serotonin and is low in alcohol users and women on the pill (2)
    • B12 is essential as effects the myelin sheath of the brain, helping in mood disorders, and B8 is also great for brain function and depression
  • Vitamin C and calcium
    • Affect neurotransmitters and nerve endings thus helping in mood disorders
  • Magnesium
    • Is great for anxiety, calming mind and body
  • Vitamin D
    • For immunity, neural cells, seasonal depression (SAD)(3)
  • Adrenal herbal support to counter effects of excess cortisol
    • Licorice, Rhodiola, Rehmannia, Withania and Panax and Siberian ginseng are all beautiful herbs for adrenal fatigue
  • Potassium
    • Low when stressed causing neurotransmitter balance and depression (2)

References:

  1. Bio Concepts
  2. Gary Null ‘A Natural Approach to Overcoming Depression
  3. Hechtman L, ‘Clinical Approach to Nutrition’
  4. Yoganonymous

A New Year Reset!

Happy New Year!

I hope you have a great 2016 and have set some big New Year’s intentions!

2016 going to be fearless soul busting etc

New Years are always good times to look back on the year prior and start afresh with things that weren’t working.

I was practising the other morning, and I had a clear message it was time for a RESET of my stories, my words, my thoughts and my actions. It’s time to do things differently!

Then I came across a Mystic Mamma’s article about January being all about RESET (link below). Wow! It really resonated with me so I had to share my thoughts with you. I feel it’s been hard times emotionally for a few people so I hope my sharing also resonates with you.

We all have a story and past hurts and baggage we are taking into our lives and relationships. It’s normal but in order to let go of some of our past fears, whether they are of rejection, abandonment, getting close, being alone…it’s necessary to look into the root of these fears, hurts, pain and to acknowledge them for a complete RESET.

This isn’t easy! It’s been a bit of tough year emotionally for me, feeling over sensitive, down at times, anxious and a little lonely. It was annoying as so many things were amazing in my life so at times I felt really ungrateful.

The hard times were intense, but mostly just coming in waves and then I was fine again. I knew deep down that it was all going to be ok and old stuff was just coming up to be processed. However, it was hard to not go back into the old story, but stay alert and just allow the layers of the onion to be peeled and feel into the emotions and let the tears flow and feel the loneliness, emptiness and darkness when they came. Ouch!

The inner work I am doing is necessary to realise what is blocking me to finding love and connection with my tribe and why I have been feeling so lonely. And it’s ok to get down at times and cry and be emotional and vulnerable and acknowledge past hurts and fears of abandonment and rejection from childhood (which I am not always good at!)

As Baron Baptiste says,

baron baptiste yoga til blue in face

So, are you ready to reset your patterns and take some action?

reflection of a choice

For example, I am really ready for a beautiful, conscious relationship but as Rumi said we need to look inside first and reset our patterns:

rumi seek love barriers

You can read the whole Mystic Mamma article here but parts that really resonated were that RESETS are necessary but not easy, so don’t feel alone when things get hard! We are in such a big time of transformation but we need to go through the dark to get to the light…

“Larger scale inner RESETS are often accompanied by intense experiences of some kind that threaten the ego and false personality and may even cause one to feel like you are going a little crazy or completely falling apart.

“Since completing a RESET requires a letting go as completely as possible of a container, pattern or attachment, it can be uncomfortable and can also bring up quite a bit of instinctive fear.

Phew… so I am not going completely mad! 🙂

The article also talks about finding your tribe and no longer having to feel alone with the focus this year more on community, Yah!

You will feel the pull towards being with members of your ‘tribe’ and ones with a similar philosophy and perception of life.

“This year’s influences are teaching us that we can no longer go about life insulated, isolated and alone. We are being magnetized towards right community and shown the power of co-creating our dreams when egos are set aside.

When I returned from the UK having seen my gorgeous family and friends and spent some time in Italy and Spain I felt so filled up and alive! As soon as I returned to Sydney I felt very lost, disconnected and homesick!

I seriously considered moving home as I felt so empty here. I had an energy balance and my healer told me that sometimes she feels people need to move away from their family and support network to overcome past hurts and feelings of abandonment.

Wow! This started to make sense and I realised my emotions and anxiety of getting close to people but then feeling isolated and alone were all part of the reset and the letting go. It’s no easy journey this becoming more conscious! More than a few times the saying ‘Ignorance is bliss’ would pop up into my head but I knew it was worth it!

As the mystic mamma article states:

“The days of being unconscious with your thoughts, feelings and behaviors are over. It is time to focus on eliminating destructive patterns that will stand in the way of your spiritual evolution and to allow what is down the road to unfold in your life without needing to control or second-guess every step.”

I have been feeling a bit out of sorts in the last months, as again, I took on too much, not able to say no, and not standing to the boundaries I started to get better at creating. Having to move house again also destabilised me and by the holidays I was exhausted, emotional, anxious, snappy and soooo in need of a rest!

I was having panic attacks at being around big crowds and people I didn’t know very well as felt like I didn’t fit in or I wasn’t cool enough or loud enough… and making mountains out of mole hills at the thought of going to things alone when my close friends weren’t able to come with me.

I knew it was because I had pushed my adrenals again so I was feeling more emotional and sensitive than usual, but I also knew on a deeper level that I needed to reset some of these patterns and the only way was confronting them face on… and I did it! Woo!

“A RESET from the inside stems from a conscious decision to change something that is no longer a viable expression in your life. A RESET from the inside is an intention to get back into balance what feels out of balance.

I hear you! I have also been upset with myself that I haven’t had time to learn to play the guitar that I had intended this year or danced which is sooo necessary for my soul as I come alive when I dance…

“To express and give support to the RESET in this area it is important to do something new, try something new, dance, move your body, change your wardrobe, take up a new sport, change your hair, lose some weight or gain some weight, join a gym, or change your diet.

I have also had gut issues a lot and I know it’s all to do with my overactive mind and my anxiety that I hold in my gut… a recent relationship actually triggered so many of my old fears that I got gastro that night and something told me that it wasn’t food poisoning.. and then I read this today..

The challenges this month will be around teeth, bones, lungs and digestion. Remember that you cannot digest what is not yours.

“Tell the truth to yourself about what you have been carrying in your ‘gut’ that does not belong to you. RESET that pattern.”

So yes, this article SPOKE to me!!

And I hope it speaks to you!

Be kind when things get tough.. big things are happening, people are waking up and becoming more conscious, loving and compassionate. However, to reset, we need to process old hurts and let go of attachments! It ain’t easy.. but I keep telling myself it’ll be worth it!

If you resonate with having had a tough year emotionally and are also sensitive, this article ‘Are you an empath or just highly sensitive’ here actually made me feel a whole lot better!

empath-or-highly-sensitive1

I realised that perhaps all these sensitive, intense feelings were all part of my journey as I was becoming more conscious and aware. And they were also normal. So even in the dark times I could see the light.. even if oh so dimly at times! (Thanks friends for being there.. I really appreciate you and you know who you are!)

Wow, that was more of a share than I expected… bit scared to press publish.. but here goes! 🙂

Big hugs and love..Happy New Year!

Chrissie x

Yummy healthy but nice Christmas recipes

Christmas treats don’t all have to be about lots of refined sugar, gluten and dairy making you feel bloated and full and giving you a bad tummy.
Here are some yummy recipes of some of the treats I made over the Xmas period…
Raw Chocolate Almond Cake
This was perfect for Christmas Day! Looks very special yet not too unhealthy and full of chocolate and nutty goodness!
Raw-salted-caramel-almond-cake-whole-200x200
Ingredients (adapted from Health Emporium’s recipes)
Base Layer
  • 1 cup almonds, raw preferably activated
  • 1/2 cup walnuts for creaminess
  • 1/3 cup raw cacao powder
  • 6 dates Soft, fresh & pitted (if using dried soak for a few hours and add a little coconut oil)
  • 1 tbsp orange zest, finely Grated
  • 1 tsp vanilla powder or extract
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt, unrefined
Middle Layer
  • 2 cups cashews raw, soaked in filtered water for 6-8 hours, drained & rinsed
  • 1/4 cup coconut syrup or rice syrup or maple syrup (I used less than most recipes so you may want more)
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk OR almond milk (unsweetened)
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup cacao powder, raw
  • 2 tbsp orange zest, finely grated
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt, unrefined
Chocolate Topping
  • 1/4 cup cacao powder, raw
  • 1/6 cup coconut syrup or maple syrup or rice syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil melted
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla powder or extract
  • 1 pinch sea salt, unrefined
  • Chopped or blended almonds for decoration
  • I added some cherries on the top too as it’s Christmas!

Instructions:

  • Place all of the base ingredients into a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles wet sand. Press the base firmly and evenly into the cake tin and place in the freezer.
  • Next make the middle layer by blending the cashews, coconut syrup and coconut milk until smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides of the food processor occasionally. 
  • Add the remaining middle layer ingredients and blend until thoroughly incorporated. Pour this mixture on top of the base and return the pan to the freezer.
  • To make the chocolate glaze for topping the cake, place all of the chocolate topping ingredients (except for the extra almonds and cherries and orange zest used for decoration) into a small bowl and stir for a couple of minutes until very smooth. Pour over the cake and return to the freezer to set for 4 hours, or even overnight.
  • Take the cake out of the freezer for about 15 minutes to soften slightly before slicing. Decorate with chopped almonds and cherries or thin strips of orange zest. It keeps in the freezer beautifully for up to 3 weeks.
    Notes: You can use hazelnuts, pecans and walnuts in place of almonds and hazelnut, macadamia or cashew butter in place of almond butter.
    I have used avocados as well as or in place of cashews for the middle layer too which is a little creamier and softer and good for nut allergies.
Healthy Chocolate fudge
fudge
Ingredients
  • 1 cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 2 cups raw cacao powder
  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 2 pinches unrefined sea salt
Instructions:
  • Heat the coconut oil and blend all ingredients together.
  • Pour into a tin and place into the freezer.
  • You can slice them once you take them out of the freezer for ten minutes.
  • Store it in the freezer.
You can also pour them into silicone ice cube trays to make little heart shaped chocolates. Enjoy!
Pumpkin brownies
grain-free-pumpkin-brownies2
Ingredients
  • 3 eggs, large
  • ½ cup coconut syrup (you can also use maple syrup)
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (I cooked mine but you can get tinned)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ cup dark chocolate chips
Instructions
  • First, preheat oven to 170C and oil an 8×8″ tin with coconut oil.
  • Next, place wet ingredients in a large bowl and mix together until smooth. Then, add dry ingredients to the same bowl and mix until combined.
  • Pour into tin and spread out evenly.
  • Bake at 170ºC for 40-45 minutes.

Banana bread
banana bread
Ingredients
Makes 1 loaf (serves 12)

  • 4 large smashed ripe bananas
  • 4 free range organic eggs
  • 1.5 tblsp raw honey or organic maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 60g (1/4 cup) macadamia or cold pressed olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda (bicarb soda) + 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 200g (2 cups) almond meal (can replace 1/2 cup coconut flour but it’s denser)
  • 25g (1/4 cup) ground flaxseed or chia seed

Instructions:

  • Preheat your oven to 160 C.
  • Combine smashed banana, honey, oil, cinnamon, vanilla, eggs, bicarb and lemon (lemon activates the bicarb) in a large bowl or with a good blender
  • Add the almond meal and flaxseed and mix well.
  • Lightly oil one loaf tin and then coat liberally with extra almond meal or desiccated coconut to prevent the cake from sticking.
  • Spoon batter into the tin and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour ( a skewer inserted into the centre should come out dry).
  • Cover the top with foil if over-browning. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before turning out the loaf.
  • Keeps in the fridge covered for up to 1 week.

Notes: You can decorate the top before baking with sliced banana or a handful of chopped walnuts and a lightly sprinkle of cinnamon.

Christmas Spice Bliss Balls
brandyballsLG
Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups almonds
  • 1 cup sultanas
  • 1 cup dried apple slices
  • Zest 1 lemon
  • Zest 1 orange
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 tsp mixed spice (or coriander, nutmeg, cloves, star anise)
  • 1 tbsp brandy (optional)

Instructions:

  • Simply pop all the above ingredients into a food processor and blend for five minutes until the mixture has combined and holds together.
  • Remove the mixture from the food processor and roll into small balls.
  • Line a storage container with baking paper, pop all the balls inside and store in the fridge for up to two months. The longer you leave them, the yummier they will taste!

 

 

Christmas fun without the tum :)

Merry Christmas!
xmas pudding
Christmas is a great time, if we’re one of the lucky ones, to be with loved ones, friends/ family and eat, laugh and be merry!

However, it’s also a time when we can overindulge, feeling bloated, overweight with a stomach ache! 😦

Here’s a few tips to have a good time and be merry, without overdoing it.

Apple cider vinegar
Taking apple cider vinegar first thing in the morning with some lemon and warm water is a great kickstart to the digestive system as it gets the enzymes working so they can digest that big lunch that is coming its way.

It’s also great for the morning after as it’s really alkalising for the body.

Add some apple cider vinegar to your salads as this acts as a great digestive enzyme helping your stomach acids to kick in to help to break down and absorb the nutrients from food.

Line the stomach
If you are planning to drink a bit on Christmas Day and Boxing Day and well, let’s be honest, over the whole silly season…, take some Slippery Elm powder (1tsp in water) beforehand. It’s great to line and protect the stomach from all that acidic, gut-irritating alcohol and sugary foods and helps prevent heartburn or gut issues into the new year.

Drink hot water or herbal tea throughout the day
herbal teas

Hot water and herbal teas like chamomile and fennel are great to help to digest all that seafood or turkey and mince pies you are planning to indulge in.

Hot water is really cleansing and herbals teas helps to release toxins and aid digestion and also help to keep you hydrated if you’re also consuming wine, whiskey or mulled wine or that lovely sparkling you’ve been saving for a special occasion.

Spice it up
cropped-img_13141.jpg
Add warming spices like coriander, ginger, cinnamon to your roast potatoes or salads to aid digestion as they help to ignite the fire in your gut helping you to process all that yummy food more easily

Don’t overeat!
dog overeating
I know easier said than done, however, try to slow down your eating by chewing your food a lot, and putting your fork or spoon down between mouthfuls and taking a rest. By taking your time, your brain also has more time to communicate with the gut and tell you that you are full instead of shovelling the food down before you know you’ve overdone it.

Take a break between courses and allow the food to digest before eating the next course too. Your gut will definitely thank you for it as the body copes better with just a few types of food at a time. For example, the French had it right by eating fruit first as this is digested more quickly, so when eaten after a big meal, it can get stuck in the intestines fermenting, causing bloating and gas.

Eat big at lunch
Try to eat the biggest meal in the middle of the day when your digestive fire (agni) is at its highest. Try to avoid snacking too late into the night as then the body doesn’t get a good healing sleep as all the energy goes to digesting those hard-to-resist midnight snacks and not on healing the body.

Don’t overdo it!
rundown
Ensure you are hydrated before you go to a party so you’re not downing vodkas because you’re thirsty. And sip water between alcoholic drinks to stay hydrated and full so you will have less cravings for salt and sugar and minimise the hangover.

If you’re going to a party and know there’s going to be a lot of fattening, sugary foods, try to have a bone broth or protein salad or substantial smoothie to ensure you get some nutrients first and hopefully dampen your hunger so you don’t pick on less healthy snacks at the party.

If you do really overdo, try to do a liquid fast the next day of juices, broths and smoothies to give the liver time to recover. 🙂

Exercise
wylies chrissie 2
Go for a walk after your big Christmas lunch to aid digestion and get some oxygen to the cells so you don’t feel so heavy and groggy. Exercise also boosts the immunity, helps digestion and reduces stress.

Virasana pose in Yoga is also great for digestion. Sitting on your knees with buttocks on the heels when you feel uncomfortably full can help get the digestive juices flowing. A few gentle stretches a few hours before or after eating can be good to stimulate the metabolism so you more easily break down food over the holidays.

Yoga stretching is also a great stress reliever in the build up to Christmas, which will help your digestion immensely.

Gluten free
I know it’s Christmas, but where possible, try to find gluten free alternatives as they are less irritating and heavy on the gut, especially when you’re probably already overdoing the eating and drinking and putting strain on the liver and digestion.

Quinoa, buckwheat are all nice grains that you can use instead of wheat. I also use coconut and almond flours in my baking too that are yummy.

I want Chocolate!
choc campus connect

It’s Christmas and don’t we all love chocolate. Try to eat small amounts of dark chocolate in place of the heavily processed, sugary, milky Cadburys. Dark chocolate is full of nutrients and richer so you’re more likely to eat less.

Reduce sugar
Sugar can be really addictive and lead to headaches and reduce immunity and gut integrity. Where possible, reduce added sugar in drinks and desserts and try to reduce the amount used in recipes and instead sweeten recipes with cinnamon, vanilla and fruit.

Probiotic goodness
sauerkraut
I find drinking a little kefir/ kombucha and adding sauerkraut at most meals really helps to digest big meals as they act like a digestive enzyme and increase the good bacteria in the gut that helps us to digest food and absorb nutrients.

Try having a sparkling water with rosewater, strawberries, mint and a bit of kefir… yum!! It’s fizzy so feels like you’re drinking champagne. Even if just substitute the odd glass of champagne with this, your head and gut will be grateful in the morning!

But mostly, have an amazing time, try not to stress as this can play havoc on the gut no matter what you’re putting into your mouth and is a huge cause of candida regardless of your diet!!

Take time out even for 5 minutes for a stretch or meditation! It’s a full moon so emotions can be high so be kind, breathe and spread the love! 🙂

Enjoy, Happy Christmas!!!!
xmas fruit santa

 

 

 

Use the Pain

I have been feeling a little emotional of late and my body has also been really sore, so I can really resonate with feeling pain at the moment, emotionally and physically!

I know my body gets sore if I push myself too hard or I am not very kind to myself. It’s my body signalling to me to slow down.

More on body and emotional connection in a blog coming soon…

But this quote therefore really resonated with  me..

“There’s going to be pain along the way and the pain is such a great way of knowing that you are simply letting go of the limitations, this is what pain tells you and shows you.” Ghazaleh

It’s important however not to get lost in the pain of your journey. It’s simply a gauge that you are moving beyond your limitations and of course this is going to hurt the ego! But this pain is not Suffering.

Suffering is when you have given your attention to the thoughts in your mind and you have fallen victim to these thoughts, all of which is so unnecessary. Take the time to practice bringing your attention into the here and now and you’ll realise that the suffering is optional.

use the pain

Beat the Winter blues as the temperature drops….

Having just got back from Europe with it’s amazing weather, I for one am struggling to adjust to the cold temperatures together with the rain! 😦

winter cosy

However, don’t feel sad or get the blues…

Winter can make us feel more sluggish, lethargic and even feel a little flat. This can make us crave high carb foods for comfort. However, in the long term these comfort foods can actually make us feel more sluggish, lethargic and down when we start to put weight on! [1]

Food is powerful at influencing our mood. It affects the body’s metabolism, hormones and neurotransmitters and these in turn influence our emotions, concentration and energy. [1a]

Proteins, carbohydrates and vitamins in foods work to keep our metabolism, hormones and neurotransmitters in check, which also balances our moods. By contrast, consuming too much sugar, alcohol and caffeine can cause low moods by bringing on an inflammatory response in the nervous system. [1a]

“Food is a powerful tool that’s often overlooked in its effect on mental health.” [2]

So, here are some mood enhancing foods to fight the darker days…

Swiss chard
swiss chard

The colour itself is enough to brighten a rainy day but swiss chard is also full of magnesium, which is essential for the biochemical reactions in the brain that boost your energy levels. It’s also a calming mineral that gets depleted when we’re stressed. [1]

Leafy greens, like spinach are also high in vitamin B6 essential for a good mood and reduces stress by affecting the adrenal glands and other B vitamins helping increase serotonin. [1a] [2] Also potassium, calcium helping our sleep cycles, tired muscles and stress hormones all critical to a good mood. Iron also helps energy levels. [2]

Mushrooms, oats and avocados are also high in B vitamins.

Almonds and pumpkin seeds
almonds
Nuts and seeds are high in magnesium, essential for mood and they also contain sleep-enhancing gamma aminobutryic acid and tryptophan helping our mood. For people experiencing more than average stress, a study in Medical Hypotheses suggests supplementing with 150 milligrams of magnesium a day to elevate moods. [1]

Magnesium deficiency can cause chronic fatigue, increased muscle tension, an irregular heartbeat, insomnia, and restless leg syndrome, which can all result in feelings of anxiety or depression. [2]

Seeds, beans and nuts are also high in zinc, which helps to turn omega-3 fats found in fish and seed oils into prostaglandins, which are vital for concentration.

A 2009 study in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that zinc helps improve treatment outcomes in patients who are resistant to antidepressants.[2]

Mussels
Mussels are loaded with some very high naturally occurring levels of brain-protecting vitamin B12, making mussels a very important food source, considering that a significant portion of the population is B12 deficient.

B12 helps to preserve the myelin sheath that insulates your brain cells, helping your brain stay sharp as you grow older.

B vitamins are essential to keep homocysteine low, which is an amino acid produced by the body, and high levels can be a predictor of depression, especially in women, according to a study published in Archives of General Psychiatry.[2]

Blue potatoes
blue potatoes
Blue potatoes are high in anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants that provide neuro-protective benefits such as bolstering short-term memory and reducing mood-killing inflammation. If you eat the skin you also get a great source of iodine, which is a master mood enhancer.

Grass fed lamb
Full of healthy fats including conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), this is a great meal to enhance any winter blues mood.

It’s also high in the amino acid tyrosine (as are eggs), which increases levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine—your “get-up-and-go” brain chemicals. [2a]

Dark chocolate
Healthy but nice...
This yummy substance, which I might be slightly overeating at the moment! :), provides an instant boost in concentration and mood and even improves blood flow to the brain, helping you feel more vibrant and energised. Go for the darkest organic (highest percentage of cacao) chocolate you can as it contains more antioxidants and magnesium. It also makes you feel full longer as it doesn’t have any butter fat like milk chocolate, that goes through the gut much more quickly making you want more.

A recent study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found that just a few ounces of dark chocolate a day results in better mood. [4]

I love the Pana chocolate. Phenylethylamine, a compound in dark chocolate, releases the same feel-good endorphins triggered by sex! (Just be sure to choose organic to avoid exposure to harmful pesticide residues.) You can buy this at the lovely Health Emporium! 🙂

pana chocolate
However, caution eating too much at night, as if you’re like me, you’ll be running up and down the soft sand of Bondi beach instead of sleeping as it can be stimulating for many! 🙂

Greek yogurt
Proper calcium levels help you to have a little more get up and go as they alert your body to release feel-good neurotransmitters. Disturbances in calcium levels can produce anxiety, depression, irritability, impaired memory, and slow thinking.

The probiotics in Greek yogurt also help aid in digestion and can even ward off colds.

If you find yourself nervous or agitated for an unexplained reason, try reaching for an organic Greek yogurt from cows raised on grass pastures. Pastured dairy is higher in healthy fats, and, like grass-fed lamb, often contain higher levels of CLA, the healthy fat that reduces the effects of stress on the brain.

Greek yogurt is also high in vitamin D, which is a great happy hormone. 🙂 [6]

Asparagus
asparagus
This vegetable is one of the top plant-based sources of tryptophan, which serves as a precursor in the production of serotonin, one of the brain’s primary mood-regulating neurotransmitters. High levels of folate also add to asparagus’s happiness promoting profile according to research showing that up to 50 percent of people with depression suffer from low folate levels.

Folinic acid plays a role in the production of brain chemicals in adults and Dr. Moyad links folate depletion with depression. In severe cases he recommends supplementing (500 micrograms [mcg] of folic acid or more) to reduce depression. [5][6]

Like tryptophan, it’s a necessary factor for creating neurotransmitters. It’s also good to add to the menu if you plan on drinking. The enzymes in asparagus are highly effective in breaking down alcohol in your system, preventing a hangover—and that can make anyone happy.:)

Honey
honey
Packed with beneficial compounds such as quercetin and kaempferol that actually help clean up free radicals and reduce inflammation, honey is very important to maintaining a healthy brain.

Cherry tomatoes
cherry tomatoes
All tomatoes are a great source of lycopene, a fat-soluble phytonutrient that helps protect vital brain fat and actually stops the build-up of pro-inflammatory compounds linked to depression. Because lycopene lives in tomato skins, the best way to get it is through cherry tomatoes, whose smaller surface area means you’ll eat more skin than if you eat a full-size tomato, according to Dr. Ramsey. [5]

To maximize the amount of lycopene your body absorbs, drizzle some olive oil over the tomatoes, and enjoy! I have certainly had my fair share of lycopene in Spain and Italy! Loved the Mediterranean diet!

The Mediterranean diet actually scored higher on markers of mental health than their counterparts who ate a more Western diet due to high quantity of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, fish and a moderate amount of alcohol and high omega-3 fats (found in oily fish), B vitamins and folate contributed.[6a]

Tomatoes are also high in chromium, which helps to control blood sugar levels and essential for insulin production thus helping to maintain a stable mood. Chromium also increases serotonin. According to a 2003 study in Biological Psychiatry, if you’re often tired and prone to mood dips (also known as atypical depression), but are not chronically depressed, chromium deficiency might be a factor. The study found that 70 percent of people with atypical depression showed improvement after taking chromium supplements for eight weeks.[2]

Eggs
eggs
Eggs are loaded with mood-promoting omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, B vitamins, and iodide, and they’ll keep you full and energized. The yolk is also high in vitamin D, known to improve mood.[2]

Ensure you pick eggs from hens raised on pasture, where they can exercise and eat a diet of grass and bugs, supplemented with organic grains. It’s ideal to buy from local farmers you trust. Don’t trust eggs advertised as “omega-3 enriched” or “free-range,” as these claims aren’t always true.

Wild salmon
Wild-Alaskan-Salmon source summertomato
Another food rich in omega 3 fatty acids, helping in mood and depression according to The Lancet. Dr. Moyad suggests that taking 1,000 to 2,000 milligrams (mg) a day to help with depression.[6]

If you want to boost your omega-3s naturally, Moyad recommends a diet rich in fish. Wild (not farmed) salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and trout are all excellent sources.[6]

Wild salmon baked is also a great natural source of vitamin D (farmed salmon less so) as are tuna, trout, mushrooms and egg yolks and greek yogurt.

Many are deficient due to being slightly overweight as well as not getting enough sunlight. If you lose just 5 percent or more of your body weight, your vitamin D blood levels will shoot up.[6]

Vegetarian or vegan?

Chia seeds, flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, canola oil, and walnuts are all rich in omega-3 rich alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). [7]
chia seeds
The Harvard Nurses’ Health Study of almost 77,000 women after 18 years of follow-up found a reduced risk of depression in those with moderate intakes of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids.[6]

Coconuts
coconut water
I love the brain-healthy coconut. Its full of healthy medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) that fuel better moods, giving you an immediate energy boost without fear of sugar crash. Its electrolytes helps us to stay alert and focused and hydrated.

Turmeric
cropped-img_13141.jpg
Turmeric contains a polyphenol called curcumin that has been linked to a better mood and even compared to antidepressants, according to a 2012 review article in Nutritional Neuroscience.

I love mixing turmeric, cinnamon and ginger with chai spices and coconut milk for a warming glow milk on a cold rainy day.

Green tea
herbal teas
Green tea also contains a similar polyphenol, EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate)—that may alleviate stress and depression. People who drank 4 or more cups of green tea daily, in an American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study, were 44 percent less likely to have depressive symptoms than those who drank just 1 cup a day (2 to 3 cups was also beneficial).

Other Winter tips

Bone broths, soups, lentils and rice are all other comfort, yummy nutritious foods to consume during these colder days.

Light therapy and exercise can also help. Get outside into natural light, walk in nature, get the endorphins flowing and the lungs going to help dispel that lethargic, flat feeling.[8]

I am going to get my natural light now while it’s not raining to help my hypothalamus readjust to the Australian timezone and reduce my jetlag and lethargy!

Stay happy and warm and dry! 🙂

laughter ape cropped

Sources:

1 Dr Malone ‘Tips to beat the winter blues’
1a Dr. Nishi Dhawan, who is co-founder (along with Dr. Bal Pawa) of the Westcoast Women’s Clinic in Vancouver.
2 Patrick Holford ‘The Feel Good Factor: 10 Proven Ways to Boost Your Mood and Motivate Yourself
2a Bryce Wylde, Wylde About Health
3 Maria Rodale ‘5 Surprising Winter Health Tips’
4 Journal of Psychopharmacology ‘Cocoa polyphenols enhance positive mood states but not cognitive performance: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial’
5 Dr. Ramsey in The Happiness Diet
6 Mark A Moyad ‘Raise Your Vitamin D Without Pills’, Rodale
6a European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 66, 360-368 (March 2012) ‘Adherence to the Mediterranean diet and quality of life in the SUN Project’
7 Emily Main ‘Six Ways to Beat the Most Depressing Days of the Year’, Rodale
8 Brierley Wright ‘Eat to Beat the Winter Blues’

 

 

 

 

 

Gut health..

It feels like everybody is talking about gut health today, but not surprisingly given how integral our gut health is to the rest of our body and overall health!

A lot of people today have gut issues whether it’s an overgrowth of bacteria, parasites, fungus or yeast. Leaky gut is also very common now, where the gut lining is compromised or damaged from bad diets, medications and processed foods. This leads to undigested food, toxins and yeasts, causing inflammation, sensitivities or allergies to foods and even chronic disease. IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) is also increasingly common and often due to stress.

Many of us are therefore trying various diets from sugar free, grain free, legume free, nut free to help to reduce these complaints. No doubt you may be on one of these diets, have been in the past or are thinking about starting one…

So I wanted to just clarify a few points I have learnt on the way as a Naturopath and also as a patient suffering over the years with my sensitive little gut.

The role of bacteria

Firstly, we all have bacteria in our guts, trillions in fact, so bacteria in the large intestine is a good thing. And this is essential since:

  • we need them for digestion
  • they digest any dead material or debris to supply good bacteria

Causes of overgrowth
However, with our lifestyles today, often too much stress, poor diet, chronic infections, overuse of antibiotics and use of the pill can cause an imbalance in or overgrowth of bacteria in the gut, that starts to become a systemic inflammation throughout the body.

Other causes include:

  • Gut infections that can change our gut bacteria
  • Over eating, especially simple carbohydrates, such as cereals, toast, sandwiches, muesli bars, biscuits, cakes, pasta and other simple processed foods.
  • Medications like anti-inflammatory drugs or other drugs that actually are supposed to lower stomach acid in heartburn can cause gut issues. They can irritate the gut lining and change the flora of the gut, and affect bowel health as well as bowel motility, causing constipation as well as stomach ulcers.
  • Stress is huge!
    stressed

When we are constantly stressed, the body goes into flight or fight mode and therefore all the energy goes into producing enough adrenaline and energy to the limbs and eyes to run away from a perceived threat, and thus the digestion and parasympathetic nervous system switches off, causing a whole host of gut issues.

This is fine short term, but, often in our high powered jobs and busy lives, this stress becomes chronic and thus our digestion suffers long term.

This can affect stomach acid and motility and thus we have difficulty digesting food and we poorly absorb nutrients allowing fermentation to occur. Signals to the brain via the vagus nerve are also compromised so we no longer know when we are full and thus we overeat.
Xmas treats
When any bacteria is imbalanced or in excess, it can move from the large intestine to the small intestine as well as other parts of the body and cause havoc.

Symptoms of bacterial overgrowth/poor digestion include:

  • Bloating, heart burn, diarrhoea or constipation, burping, gas, cramping pains
  • Joint pain, skin conditions, rashes, eczema, food sensitivities, asthma and nutrient deficiencies are also symptoms that you may not necessarily link to gut health.
  • Chronic illness such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue and obesity can also develop.

How to heal your gut and prevent these symptoms?
I have found the following to really help with my gut issues:

Cut out or seriously limit sugar
Sugar feeds on yeast and bacteria and thus any imbalance or overgrowth will just thrive if you eat too much sugar, causing fermentation, bloating and addiction.

Try firstly cutting out refined sugars, including tinned and packaged foods where hidden sugars are abundant.  As your palate changes, you may be able to start to cut out sugary fruits, syrups and refined grains as well to improve your gut.

I found the best grains were quinoa, amaranth, millet and buckwheat. They are more seed-like and less acidic and have less impact on our blood sugars and insulin.

Non-starchy vegetables are the lowest in sugar and best for the gut. You can cook in coconut oil or olive oil and add avocado to make them even more yummy. I have to admit however to having the odd bit of pumpkin especially as we come into Winter, but it’s having that awareness and cutting back where necessary.leafy greens 2
We do need to listen to our bodies as being a true Vata myself in Ayurvedic talk, I do need comforting, warming foods too to generate the fire in my gut for optimal digestion. It’s getting that balance.

A great way to help control those sugar cravings is to eat protein first thing and with every meal. If you start with a sugary meal, you will crave sugar all day and your blood sugars will be less stable.

Avoid gluten
For most people with a compromised gut, gluten can potentially add to your symptoms and cause bloating and undigested food to remain in your bowel resulting in fermentation and thus inflammation, toxins and brain fog, bloating and other symptoms. Gluten can irritate the gut lining and cause leaky gut which leads to systemic inflammation and thus constipation or diarrhoea.

gluten
Even if you are more mindful and just cut down, you should notice a difference. If you do need a treat or are out for dinner, eat good quality sourdough bread that is yeast free and free of any preservatives and additives.

Take a probiotic
Probiotics have become increasingly popular for good reason. Our guts are less able to maintain a good balance of flora without them due to our stressful busy lives, medications, environmental toxins as well as potentially more exposure to parasites with overseas travel. Our gut flora changes within hours of arriving at a foreign country and is exposed to different toxins, microbes etc. Thus our guts can become more susceptible to other bacteria if it’s not well populated with a range of good bacterial strains.

Probiotics help to rebalance our gut flora if we have been sick, on antibiotics, the pill, or stressed! That includes most of us then! They also help our immunity and reduce any bloating and sensitivities to foods.

Reduce dairy
Even if we’re not completely lactose intolerant, dairy can cause gut issues. It causes excess mucous production and is hard to digest, so can cause a sluggish bowel, bloating and gas. If our digestion is compromised it can also cause acne and eczema as the body finds another elimination route via the skin, to remove the toxins and digest the lactose.

Yogurt is better than milk and buffalo, goats and sleeps yogurt seem easier on the gut. Also go for full fat as this contains less fillers and lactose. Raw dairy is also tolerated by many as it still contains its natural enzymes as it hasn’t been heat treated. However, this is to be consumed at your own risk as raw can contain bacteria and thus certainly not suitable for children.

Lemon juice
Hot lemon in the morning is great and so simple and really helps to get the digestion fired up and increase the production of digestive enzyme first thing in the morning, ready to help digest breakfast.

hot lemon

Apple cider vinegar

apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is also great for digestion and increases enzymes. I literally can feel the warmth in my belly and the gurgling after taking a sip in the morning.

You can also mix with olive oil for a yummy salad dressing.

Good fats & protein 

eggs-spinach-avocado2

It might feel that you are cutting out all the yummy foods, but the good news is you are allowed lots of yummy fats, such as avocado, olive oil and coconut oil.

A good source of protein is also great, such as organic, cage free eggs; sustainable low mercury fish like mackerel or sardines, both great sources of omega 3 fats. Organic, hormone-free chicken is also great with lots of leafy green vegetables.

A small amount of nuts is also a great source of fat and protein, however if you have potential yeast overgrowth, try not to overeat! I know, easier said than done!  I realised nuts were my comfort food and in my attempt to cut back on sugar, – I cut out all fruit, grains and sugar replacements! – I started to eat more nuts.almonds
These can be very hard to digest with their high fat content and they contain phytates that bind nutrients inhibiting absorption of iron, zinc and others. The skin on almonds can also be irritating to the gut lining causing inflammation and thus bloating. Therefore, if possible, eat a handful only and activate by soaking in water with apple cider vinegar and salt to make them more digestible. Almonds are also the least acidic of most nuts.

Eat fermented foods, prebiotic, probiotic beverages
I find fermented foods really helped me, but start with caution as it’s not for everyone.

You need to start very slowly and some people may not tolerate at all if there is a slight yeast overgrowth. Some find it can cause more bloating but this often can imply it’s doing some good by replacing the bad bacteria. It is live and can alter the gut flora so it is important to flush out any die off to reduce detox symptoms.

Kefir especially really helped me with sugar cravings and I found they subsided if I drank some kefir or added sauerkraut to my salad or steamed greens. It is also great to sip on if you didn’t quite manage to control the sugar cravings as it will feed on the sugar of that chocolate truffle that jumped into your mouth! Yum! 🙂

Sauerkraut is also full of yummy probiotic goodness. sauerkraut
I found the following helped to flush the system of bad bacteria and toxins and to reduce the symptoms:

  • an enema or colonic can help to flush the old dead bacteria out
  • drinking lots of filtered water and herbal teas
  • saunas are another great way to sweat out toxins
  • bentonite clay in water followed by slippery elm can also help to really flush out any bad stuff from the body

Jerusalem artichokes, chicory and dandelion are also high in inulin which a great prebiotic to provide a fertile environment for probiotics and good bacteria to flourish.

Inulin, an insoluble fiber, travels to the colon and ferments into healthy microflora. Other good sources of inulin include asparagus, leeks, onions, and bananas. Again, like fermented foods, it is good to ease into eating Jerusalem artichokes, as they may cause distress to people with sensitive digestive tracts.

Warm foods
I often worry that I have parasites or candida as I get bloated and full easily.

However, over the years I am realising that is also about my body type. Having studied a little Ayurveda, I love incorporating the body types when treating my clients.

I am very Vata in many ways and thus I need warming meals and herbs to help me digest. I therefore help my gut issues by cooking foods using yummy warming digestive herbs such as cumin, coriander, turmeric, ginger and cinnamon. I have lots of herbal teas using similar herbs and spices including licorice which is also great for digestion and stress management and adrenals.
warming foods
Ginger is very warming and great for circulation including circulation to the gut, thus drinking this as a tea before or after meals really helps my gut fire to help digest the food so I get the most nutrients out of my food. You might find this also helps for you, if you are also cold and dry like Vata.

If you are more Pitta and more prone to heartburn, then you may do better with less spicy food and more cooling herbs like gentian and peppermint teas to digest.

Kapha, on the other hand, can be more sluggish with often too much mucus, so less sugar, fats and dairy works best for them, with more spicy herbs to help with metabolism and thus digestion. Raw foods are also better for Pitta and kapha.

You can find out more about the doshas in my Ayurvedic Yoga workshops I run.

Herbal help
If you are really suffering there are some beautiful herbs to help.

Chromium, Gymnema and Cinnamon are great herbs if you really need some support with those cravings.
cinnamon
Gentian, fennel, licorice, Dandelion are examples of other herbs that can help digestion before or after meals and there are many beautiful calming, stress relieving herbs that can have an amazing impact on the gut. When contracted and stressed, our guts struggle to digest optimally.

Lifestyle changes
This is the most important! We can cut out all the usual offenders, but if we are still stressed and running around, burning the candle at both ends..(yes, I am the ultimate offender), then your gut will not improve.

I used to get quite upset that my gut was always so sensitive and I had to constantly watch what I ate when I was eating a clean diet, no refined sugars, gluten, dairy. I wasn’t on the pill or barely taking antibiotics, yet I was still struggling with gut issues.

I realised it was mostly down to stress for me. And it’s not just physical stress, or work stress, but it’s also the stress we put on ourselves mentally.

Emotional impact
I am talking about that inner mean girl who makes us feel guilty if we dare to have a tiny piece of dairy-free, gluten-free, refined sugar-free chocolate! Or a yummy Orchard Street Swami Soup nut milk – ok, so I do admit to having a bit of an addiction to these!

We have to be careful not to be too hard ourselves as this can cause more stress on the gut then allowing yourself the odd treat. I sometimes stop and give myself a little talking to before I grab for a piece of dark chocolate and if I either don’t have it or I allow myself to have it and enjoy every last piece of it! At times a little compromise and letting go of control of our strict regimes can actually be more successful.

However, if your bingeing is getting out of control and you can’t stop yourself, it’s often no longer physiological but emotional.

massage
I used to crave chocolate when I was tired or felt like a bit of pampering /mothering or a big hug. Even though it wasn’t unhealthy chocolate, I saw the pattern and started to try and find ways to be softer and kinder to myself and replace the chocolate with other comforting things like a massage, bath, yin yoga or watching a movie with friends.

However, if you are like me, and realise a lot of your gut issues stem from stress and poor strung out adrenals, I can empathise! You might need to do some work on restoring your adrenal glands so they can effectively impact on digestion.

Watch this space for an article coming soon on adrenal fatigue, which is becoming more and more common. Often simply being softer, slower and kinder on ourselves can have a massive effect on your gut.

N.B. these are some things that worked for me and some of my naturopathic clients, however we are all different. I am here to help if anyone wants to know more or do ask for help by other practitioners if you can’t get any improvement in your gut.

It might be necessary to run some tests or to put you on an elimination diet or a diet low in sugar or FODMAPS, for example. You’re not alone! Good luck!

Sources:

  • Planet Naturopath
  • The Whole Daily
  • The Body Ecology Diet
  • Physician’s Committee

Scorpio Full Moon…allowing in the NEW

Feeling a little out of sorts and off balance. The Full Moon tomorrow is going to be a big one.. and it’s always pretty deep and dark when it’s in Scorpio.

full moon

But there are ways to make it easier and Mystic Mamma have some greats tips this month.

Change is on the way. It’s key to embrace the new and let go of the old ways of doing things. Forgiveness of the past is key!

“Don’t wait for things to ‘get back to normal’ because you may be waiting a long time.”

Try not to get caught up in negativity, regret, blame, Martyrdom, judgement, disappointment, or any attachment to past issues. Try a new way of dealing with things and think inspiration, priorities, and optimism.

Some great Mystic Mamma tips include:

– Be around beauty and nature as much as you can

bogmalo

– Laugh as much as possible

laughter ape cropped

– Be grateful every day helping you to stay present and positive

– Eliminate negative people and environments.

– Clean, clear and throw away whatever feels ‘old’.

– Choose a practice you can do every day that will keep your focus on the NEW

– Allow new and wonderful things into your life

– Watch for synchronicity and pay attention to what shows up

– Clean up your diet and eliminate bad habits

leafy greens 2

Full article is here:

http://www.mysticmamma.com/the-theme-for-may-2015-is-a-new-alignment/

Happy Full Scorpio Moon!

Year of the Wood Sheep… balance, families, nature, nurture..

The New moon and start of a new Chinese Year is occurring over the next few days. After the year of the horse galloping ahead and testing us in our individual soul searching, we can now slow down and enjoy the more yin feminine energy with the Year of the wood sheep/goat as it’s also known. Phew!

The slower moving and deliberate Sheep is a community minded animal and has more of a group consciousness focused on serving the greater good. [1] Yah!

wooden sheep

We are in an extraordinary time of transition in human consciousness shifting to higher group awareness and seeing as a whole rather than separate and alone.

It’s all about community, the environment, learning to open our hearts more to love.. I don’t about you but I have been craving more community and love and hugs!

It’s about finding more balance and time for meditation, yoga and nature and creativity. And less time on our phones and computers.

It’s a good time for spending time with friends and family and reconciliation. Yah! enjoy!!

However be kind during the transition as the shift and adjusting can stir up some major confusing and chaotic energies out in the world as well as our inner lives.

Use meditation and yoga and other practices to stay strong in your centre, solid in our purpose and platform. I know I certainly have felt a little all over the place over the last week.

Old patterns have been resurfacing to almost make us reflect on what we don’t want to take with us into the future, of letting go of patterns and relationships that are no longer our deepest desires, to help us to be more open on our path to manifesting what we want. Enjoy the ride! 🙂

1 Elephant Journal

2 Mystic Mamma
http://www.mysticmamma.com/2015-year-of-the-wood-sheep-meaning-and-significance/