Are you living with an Irritable Bowel?

Have you been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome or IBS? Have you been told you have to live with your symptoms? IBS is what is called a diagnosis of exclusion.  This means that people are given this diagnosis when other reasons for their symptoms can’t be found. There are no tests specifically for IBS. They are basically saying ‘we don’t know why your digestion is so bad, so we’ll call it IBS’. 

Common symptoms are constipation or diarrhoea, urgency to have a bowel movement, a small volume of stool or pain in the abdomen all while appearing otherwise healthy.  

Once you have been given this diagnosis, problems such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, parasitic, fungal and viral infections or cancer should have been ruled out. At this point you may have been told that you just need to live with your symptoms, which can be disheartening.

But poor digestion is not something that you should live with. If you are not digesting your food properly, you are not getting the nutrients you need. The toxins that your body is trying to expel are sitting there for longer than they should.  This can lead to any number of problems including cancer, arthritis, fatigue, migraines, and depression.  Many symptoms will get better by improving your digestion, so it is very important to make sure that your gut is working properly. 

There are in fact many causes of IBS.  There can be a hormonal connection, a lack or imbalance of bacteria in the gut or overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine called SIBO.  IBS can also be caused by a high stress lifestyle, a generally poor diet, or a sedentary lifestyle. The most common reason I find is an imbalance of bacteria going along with food intolerances.

In addition to the IBS symptoms, food intolerances can also present themselves as headaches, fatigue, depression, arthritis, chronic respiratory problems, weight problems, anxiety, insomnia, and migraines. 

Food intolerances develop when there is inflammation in the lining of the gut allowing small particles of food to cross where they are not meant to.  The body does not like them there, and so reacts to them.  Reactions can be delayed and can last for days to weeks, so they are difficult to diagnose.  The best way to diagnose and treat food intolerances is to do an elimination diet.  This usually gives a very clear picture of what foods an individual is intolerant to and which ones they can eat.  Common foods are wheat, dairy, soy, tomatoes, bananas, and sugar, but everyone is different and so the foods will be different for everyone.

There are several supplements that can help with IBS depending on a person’s specific symptoms, but a probiotic is almost always recommended.  Talk to your naturopath to make sure you get a good quality one as some of the ones in the stores do not have a very high bacteria count and so are a waste of money.

If you think you might have IBS, talk to your doctor to rule out any other nastier problems.  If you know you have IBS, all is not lost.  There are several treatments options to try. No one should live with poor digestion.

Protein Porridge/Oatmeal

There is nothing better than hot oatmeal on a cool morning. Honestly, I eat it all year round no matter the temperature. It is delicious and filling and a great way to get protein in the morning.  Mix up the recipe with different fruits and nuts.  Apples and berries are great additions to this recipes.  You can swap the walnuts for pecans which offer a sweeter taste.  Or add in some pumpkin or sunflower seeds.  Although banana and apple will usually make this dish sweet enough, you can add some honey or maple syrup to make it a bit more indulgent.  Enjoy!

Serves: 1 
Prep: 5 mins 
Cook: 5 mins

What You Need:

1/3 cup rolled oats
2/3 cups almond, pea or dairy milk
1/2 banana sliced
3 Tbsp walnuts (or other nuts and seeds to taste)

Options:
1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder (optional)
1/3 cup berries
1/2 apple cut into small pieces
1 tsp cinnamon

What You Need To Do:

In a small pot add in the milk, oats and nut and seeds. Cook over low heat for 5-7 minutes, stirring constantly to avoid sticking. Take the pot off the heat and stir in the protein powder until well combined.

Top with the sliced banana or berries. Add any desired sweetener. Serve immediately.

Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux Disease

GERD, GORD, reflux, regurgitation, or heartburn.  It doesn’t matter what you call it, if you suffer from it, you know how painful it can be.  Some people can get reflux due to a hiatal hernia or from high stomach acid (hydrochloric acid or HCL), but I find the most common reason to be from low stomach acid.  At the top of the stomach is a sphincter, the lower oesophageal sphincter (LES), which closes in reaction to stomach acid.  When there isn’t enough acid, this sphincter doesn’t receive the signal to close resulting in what acid there is, leaking up the oesophagus.  This can result in painful reflux most often at night, but also after eating certain foods.

HCL is needed to digest protein, so a common feeling of low HCL is feeling like your food is just sitting there after you eat. HCL helps to kill pathogens, inhibit overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine, encourage the flow of bile and pancreatic enzymes and facilitate the absorption of several vitamins and minerals including folate, B12, vitamin C, iron, calcium, magnesium, and zinc.  Low HCL can result in many problems down the road if left untreated. Stomach acid can decrease with age and with several medications.

An easy test for low stomach acid (and the beginning of treatment) is to take a supplement that contains hydrochloric acid.  If you take one capsule and feel nothing, you are likely deficient.  Treatment consists of an increasing number of capsules until your body learns to create HCL on its own again.

For reflux that is caused by high stomach acid, there are many options as well.  Melatonin has been found to be a very effective treatment for reflux and can help you sleep better at the same time.  Studies find that if you take it for 8 weeks you can achieve remission of symptoms. Food intolerances can cause reflux also, so doing an elimination diet or a food intolerance test is usually warranted. 

If you think you might have a hiatal hernia, this technique may help – drink a large glass of water upon rising in the morning. While standing, rise up on your toes and drop back onto your heels – the weight of the water may help to replace the herniated organ. 

For natural symptom relief, you can try liquorice (the real stuff, not just candy), slippery elm powder or baking soda in a bit of water.  If you have high blood pressure, use DGL (deglycyrrhizinated liquorice) instead.

Other triggers for reflux include caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods, cigarette smoking and stress. Reducing these can help with symptoms as well.

With prolonged reflux, damage can be done to the oesophagus which can eventually result in cancerous cells forming there.  Some treatments to reduce this risk are folic acid, mushrooms, zinc and probiotics.  Fish oils and turmeric are also useful for decreasing pain and inflammation.

Medications can decrease HCL, but these come with side effects such as decreasing the absorption of the vitamins and minerals mentioned above and reducing the breakdown of protein.

These are just some of the options for treating reflux. Contact a naturopath before starting on any supplements for reflux to make sure they are right for you and that you have the correct dose and timing.

Cinnamon Granola Recipe

Granola is a super delicious breakfast option and great to have with yogurt and berries or even just on its own as a snack.  This is a very simple recipe, but you can certainly mix it up with some seeds such as pumpkin, chia or sunflower.  And more nut options include pecans, almonds and hazelnuts.  Experiment and find out what mix you prefer. Once you find your perfect recipe, make a really big batch and store it in glass jars in the pantry so that you have it ready for a quick breakfast in the morning.

You can add this granola to the strawberry smoothie bowl recipe.


Serves: 16 
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 30 mins

What you Need:

•2 cups (160g) rolled oats

•1 cup (115g) walnuts, chopped

•1 tbsp. cinnamon

•4 tbsp. almond butter

•½ cup maple syrup


*salt


What you Need to Do:

Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C) and line a baking tray with baking paper. 

Mix the oats, walnuts and cinnamon in a large bowl, adding a pinch of salt. 

Next, add the almond butter and maple syrup, mix until well combined and sticky.

Spread the mixture evenly over the baking tray and bake for 15 minutes on the middle shelf in the oven. Remove the tray, stir the mixture to break it up a little and place back in the oven to cook for a further 10-12 minutes until golden brown.

Remove the tray from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Once cooled down store in an airtight container for up to one week.

Chickpea Bruschetta Recipe

I have to admit I do love a good chickpea recipe.  Chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) are delicious and also contain protein, fibre, folate, manganese, and even some iron, phosphorus and copper.  If you love chickpeas, then this is a great recipe and a delicious and easy alternative to hummus.

Serves 2
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 0 mins

What You Need:

•2 slices bread, toasted

•1 cup (165g) chickpeas, drained

•1 tbsp. tahini

•½ cup (75g) cherry tomatoes, quartered

•1 tbsp. parsley, chopped 

*1 tbsp. olive oil

*1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

*salt and pepper 

What You Need to Do:

Toast the bread on both sides.

Place the chickpeas in a small bowl with the vinegar and tahini. Mash with a fork and, season with salt and pepper.

Combine the tomatoes, parsley and olive oil in a small bowl. Spread the chickpea mixture over the toasted bread. Top with the tomatoes and serve immediately.

Optional: Squeeze a lemon wedge over to taste

Quinoa, Beef and Zucchini Burgers (Bun Optional😁)

With the start of Spring in Australia people also start to look for more summer foods such as burgers! This is a great recipe to give you some veggies with your burgers in case they get missed as a side dish😳.  I know it happens.  So hide some veggies in there where no one can see them and know your family is having a complete meal all in one.  Add some seasoning of your choice to mix it up!

Makes 8

Prep: 25 mins

Cook: 10 mins

What you need:

•1 zucchini, grated

•14 oz. (400g) lean, ground beef

•1 cup (185g) quinoa, cooked

•2 cloves garlic, minced

•1 egg, beaten

*1 tsp. salt and pepper

*2 tbsp. olive oil

What you need to do:

Grate the zucchini and squeeze out any excess moisture using some clean kitchen towel. 

Transfer the zucchini into a bowl. Add the beef, quinoa, garlic, egg, 1 teaspoon of salt, and ¼ teaspoon of pepper. Combine all the ingredients together using clean hands. 

Form the mixture into 8 patties. Heat a part of the oil in a grill pan over medium-high heat, and cook the burgers 5-6 minutes each side. They can also be cooked on the BBQ.

The burgers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

Strawberry Protein Smoothie Bowl

Turn your smoothie into a bowl with this easy smoothie bowl recipe.  Here is a recipe for a simple smoothie, but you can make yours with any ingredients and make it as simple or complex as you have time for. Use high protein cottage cheese to ensure a solid amount to protein in your breakfast. Protein for breakfast can help to reduce sugar cravings and keep you feeling full longer.

I’ve got a granola recipe coming up too that you can make as part of this bowl😁

Serves: 4

Prep: 15 mins

Cook: 0 mins

What you Need:

•4 cups (600g) cottage cheese

•1 ½ cup (225g) frozen strawberries, thawed

•4 tbsp. maple syrup

•½ cup granola

•1 cup (150g) mixed berries 

What you Need to Do:

Place the cottage cheese, strawberries and maple syrup in a food processor or high-speed blender and blitz until smooth and creamy.

Divide between 4 serving bowls, top with granola and fresh berries, to serve.

Pesto Pasta Salad

My family loves a good pesto pasta salad as a side to any main meal.  If you have ever been to my house for dinner, or I’ve brought food to yours, then you have probably had a pesto pasta salad.  Its easy to make and super delicious.  Experiment with what you add.  Other options include chopped tomatoes, broccoli, peas or a colour mix of peppers to add lots of colour.  Veggies can be cooked or raw for a different taste and texture. Add some chicken to make it a meal.  So many options, but always so delicious! 

Serves 4

Prep: 10 mins

Cook: 20 mins

What you need:

•11 oz. (320g) whole wheat pasta

•13 oz. (360g) roasted peppers, drained, sliced

•6 tbsp. basil pesto

•1 mozzarella ball, chopped (125g)

•4 oz. (120g) rocket

*salt and pepper to taste

What you need to do:

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packaging. Once cooked, drain and rinse under cold running water until cooled.

In a large bowl, toss the pasta and the remaining ingredients together until combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately. Alternatively, place in a sealed container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Cajun Salmon with Corn Salsa Recipe

Salmon is definitely a super food full of good fats and protein! Try this recipe that gives it a bit of a kick.  Feel free to substitute the coriander for parsley or spinach if coriander isn’t your thing. Try to get wild caught salmon wherever possible.

Try this organic cajun spice mix from Gourmet Organic.