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Gut Health

The link between Hydration & Weight Loss

By | Client Results, Digestion, Gut Health, Health, Nutritional

 

I bet you didn’t know this!

Water, it’s the elixir of life right?

But why do so many of us struggle to drink the amount we know we should?

What if I told you that hydration is an essential element to healthy weight loss and maintenance?

I’ve got your attention now! But first let me explain something.

When I start working with a client they undergo a huge transformation very rapidly and release excess weight quite quickly. I’ve had a few conversations with clients that go something like this:

Client: ’10kg in 12 weeks that won’t be possible for me!’
Me: ‘Try keep an open mind, give or take this is usually the results I witness when a client commits to themselves & their plan.’
Client: ‘No, it will take me closer to a year to shift that kind of weight!’
Me: ‘Ok, we’ll see how you go.’
(12 weeks later) Client: ‘I cannot believe it, you were right!’

This is a quote from an interview I did with one of my clients Rachael last year:

It’s been the best thing that I have ever done. I can’t believe in 12 weeks, you told me what would happen, and then it actually happened! It surprised me! I didn’t believe you!

I’ll get to the point…

When you are transforming your health and releasing weight those stored lipid cells in your body have been home to a number of different hormonal metabolites and other toxins. They will vary depending on what you have been exposed to over the time that weight has been stored on your body. It’s another way your body protects you, by storing toxins away in lipid cells where they can’t harm you. When you regulate your blood sugar and lower inflammation with nutrient rich whole foods your body starts to use up that stored energy. Guess what happens to those toxins? They get released back into circulation and your liver has to deal with them again.
Here’s the important bit, if you aren’t helping your liver out by remaining super hydrated it won’t be able to flush out a lot of those toxins through your kidneys. And even worse, dehydration will lead to constipation so they won’t be getting out of your system via a nice, healthy bowel motion daily either.
Here’s the kicker, when your body is dealing with a lot of toxins not only can you feel awful (headaches, join pain, pimples, low mood etc) but the stress can cause your body to go into survival mode. When your body is in survival mode it wants to hold on to those energy stores on the body which will make your healthy weight maintenance goal much more difficult to meet.

But dehydration has other draw backs too:

  • It causes the liver to release glucose into the blood stream, thereby increasing insulin your weight storage hormone.
  • It will make your lymphatic system sluggish, another toxin draining pathway.
  • It can cause you to overeat due to mixed thirst/hunger signals.
  • It causes low energy & poor cognition which impairs your ability to make healthy choices that will support your health goals.
  • I’ve already mentioned this but it’s so important, dehydration causes constipation which will leave you sluggish, inflamed and make weight loss much more difficult.

Have I convinced you yet?

You are probably asking yourself how much you should be drinking? Calculate your optimal daily intake by multiplying your weight in kg X 35ml of water. For example 80kg x 35ml = 2800ml or 2.8litres. More than you expected?

The good news is that herbal tea counts, the bad news is that alcohol consumption increases your need.

One of the easiest ways of tracking whether you are hydrated is simply to look at the colour of your urine, it should be quite clear with only a hint of yellow. So if your urine is yellow (unless you’ve taken a B vitamin) keep drinking until it’s closer to clear.

I’ve also attached a handy guide if you know you need to work on this aspect of your health. It’s also a colouring in sheet because who doesn’t love a colouring in (so satisfying!). Calculate your water and divide it by 8, I recommend tracking your water intake for a few days once a month until you know you’ve nailed this healthy habit.

Tessa

Six Days of Digestion is here!

By | Digestion, Gut Health

Six Days of Digestion is here!

It’s here!

My 6 Days of Digestion eCourse is now online and ready for you to start getting back to basics with your gut health, improve digestion and start eating consciously! Read all about it here.

This eCourse is full of tips to stoke your digestive fire, and today I am giving you another one – why the timing of your meals is super important.

Snacking all day is actually terrible for your gut health. It is a quick path towards bloating, constipation and sluggish digestion. Ideally we want to focus on three main meals a day with some long breaks in between. This is optimum as it increases stomach acid and enzyme activity to really prep your belly for efficiency.

I also want to introduce you to the Migrating Motor Complex – a fancy term for the muscles in the GIT lining that helps to move the food along your digestive tract so it can be processed and eliminated. Here’s the catch – it only works efficiently when your stomach is empty and you are in a fasted state (3+ hours between ingesting food). Which means that snacking prevents food from being digested, absorbed and eliminated as fast as it should be!

But won’t I get hungry? I hear you ask… Yes, a little! But the key is carefully constructing your meals – as I teach in my eCourse. The benefits far outweigh a few hunger pangs before your next meal.

So next time you reach for a snack at the first tiny sign of hunger, remember to practice flexing your Migrating Motor Complex muscles and take a pause before your next main meal. You can thank me later for improved digestion and a more healthy weight!

As always, if you know someone else who also needs to hear this, please share it along!

Healthy Meal Formula Part 2

By | Digestion, Gut Health, Nutritional

Assembling a Healthy Meal: herbs, condiments & additions

I have had so many responses from my last vlog on how to assemble a healthy meal that I needed to do a follow on!

So let’s unpack the herbs and garnishes component of your well-put-together meal. Grab a pen and paper and read on…


Herbs are little boosts of nutrition that also enhance the gut healing power of meals (and bonus that they make it taste even better!). They also pack a punch when it comes to antioxidant activity, as they are rich in polyphenols which are super important for gut health. Cloves, in particular, contain the highest antioxidant activity as per the ORAC score (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity).
Do you have a herb garden at home? It is one of the best feelings to collect some fresh herbs from the garden whilst you are cooking and it also enhances your connection to your food as well. Use herbs to garnish everything! Yes – even coriander!
Hint: you can make any meal have a more Mediterranean feel by roasting a tray of veggies in the oven that are sprinkled with herbs like oregano.

Nuts and seeds are also often forgotten. Toast them up for added texture and crunch to your meals and snacks.
Need ideas? What about toasted pistachios or hazelnuts on desserts, slithers of almonds on fish or chicken or crushed peanuts in curries. You can also toast them with some olive oil and spices like turmeric for an added nutritional boost. And don’t forget about hemp seeds which can be added to pretty much anything – sweet or savoury!

Seaweed is another nutrient booster that people don’t often think about. Sprinkle it on savoury dishes and your good gut microbes will love you! Keep some dulse, nori or wakame on hand in your kitchen.

Good quality salt (like celtic sea salt) – all you need is a pinch to really bring out the flavour in your meal.

Bone broth is another addition that boosts gut health and can be added to so many things – marinades, salad dressings, soups, stews, you can even use it as part of chicken schnitzel seasoning!

Fermented foods for a probiotic boost – if you can tolerate histamines. All you need is between a teaspoon to a tablespoon of kimchi or sauerkraut added to your meal.

Using greek yoghurt as a sauce is another option for a probiotic boost – add a squeeze of lemon and some salt and pepper and some herbs – it is delicious!

If you don’t mind the cost, superfood powders pack another powerhouse punch. Think camu camu, acai, kakadu plum, spirulina – there are so many options!

Even though they can often be classed as unhealthy, certain condiments can be added to really enhance your food flavour and texture. My favourite…pesto! There is also guacamole, tahini, mustard, hommus, nut butters.

And lastly, don’t forget some basics like lemon, lime and orange zest, vinegars, avocado oil, olive oil,  high-quality grass-fed butter and ghee.


Wow, what a list! Remember, our aim is to ingest around 40 different plant foods per week and the good news is most of the above contribute to this! So just by adding different condiments, herbs and nutrient additions to each meal you are easily boosting the variety of plant foods in your diet which makes your gut very very happy.

I love receiving feedback and seeing what you are adding to your meals so please tag me on social media or leave a comment below.

My Simple Healthy Meal Formula Part 1

By | Digestion, Gut Health, Health, Nutritional

My formula for assembling a healthy meal

Today I’m talking about how we can really have an bio-individualistic approach to your diet, which takes into account your genes, your personal response to certain foods, your ethics and your values. I often like to ask my clients what their ancestors ate, or what their great-grandmother would consume.

Question: does your ancestral diet match the cultural diet that you have now?

Now there isn’t one perfect diet for everyone, even though there are some great diet protocols out there. Instead of placing you in a diet box or labelling how you eat, I have developed a process to transition you away from SAD (Standard Australian/American Diet), to a more balanced way of eating.

Actually, my two main rules when it comes to diet are Balance, and JERF (Just Eat Real Food). But I found that people really needed some guidelines that also were doable, flexible for those with food sensitivities, suited to different nationalities and values, and most importantly, it needed to be delicious, filling and make you feel amazing.

I call it The Ideal Plate. It’ll be covered in depth in my Six Days of Digestion mini ecourse, but let’s touch on the main principles today.

  • Half of your plate needs to contain green (or mostly green), non-starchy vegetables
  • A quarter of your plate contains the colourful and starchy vegetables, or plant-based foods such as legumes
  • The final quarter is divided into protein sources such as meat, poultry, fish, tempeh, etc, which ideally needs to be around the size of your palm, and fats such as olive oil, avocado, ghee, butter, and the like
  • Meal optimisation through herbs, spices, nuts, seeds and condiments to really boost flavour and nutrition.

Sounds simple, right? It is. Simple but highly effective, and exactly what goes in those ratios can be tailored to you as an individual.

Know someone who needs this? Please forward on this blog and help them to discover these guidelines that could make all the difference for them.

One simple step to better digestion

By | Digestion, Gut Health

One thing you can do today to make your digestive system happy

Want to know one of the simplest things you can do for your digestive system, right now?

It is actually something you’re already doing multiple times a day, but often can be done a lot better! Plus your stomach, gut, nutrient levels and inflammation will all thank you if you cultivate more awareness around this action….I’m talking about mastication!

Or put more simply, chewing your food properly.

As Australians, and most westerners in general, we have really become out of touch with the whole experience of eating. What to eat, when to eat, how to eat – it feels like a lost art! Instead we eat with constant distractions (in front of the TV, whilst using our smart phones) and we pretty much swallow without chewing – then realise why our digestion is not happy.

Did you know that the digestion process actually starts before you put that first forkful inside your mouth?!

The anticipation, smell and sensory input actually kickstarts the eating experience and actually revs up your digestive juices. So when we are being those multi-tasking superhumans, our bodies haven’t been able to start this important pre-work of upregulating saliva enzymes, stomach acid and bile production – which all help us to breakdown our food, absorb nutrients and really make our digestive process more efficient with less bloating and better poos.

Action step: focus on your food, slow down and chew really well – think of it as making a smoothie out of your mouthful before swallowing.

If you know someone else who needs to slowwww down and really give the act of eating the respect it deserves, please share this video with them! And if you want more conscious eating tips, stay tuned for my 6 Days of Digestion course coming soon.

My Simple Wrap Recipe

By | Digestion, Gut Health

My Simple Wrap Recipe

Today I’m filming from my kitchen to give you a how-to video of how I make my wraps. These will be a part of the wholefoods recipe book I am releasing as part of the launch of my 6 Days of Digestion mini eCourse in early December. The recipe book is full of meals that are easy on the digestive system.

When it comes to food choices I think there are three ways that those suffering with IBS can get themselves into strife.

  • Frankenfoods! Processed and lab made to look and taste like food, but they’re really just imitations. Processed foods like two minute noodles, many cereals and processed grains, vegetable oils and confectionary are so foreign to the human body that it has a lot of trouble digesting it and assimilating any nutrients. Aim for the 80/20 guide, whereby you consume whole foods 80% of the time.
  • Unbalanced meals. Eating foods rich in particular macro nutrients can cause a lot of trouble. The best example that comes to mind are pastries & deep fried food. Meat pies for example are very high in fat & carbohydrates and contain little fibre to help the body with digestion.
  • Food intolerances. Continuing to consume foods that are causing inflammation will keep you stuck on the merry ground of digestive misery.

All three of these mistakes can be contributing to IBS symptoms.

These wraps are an alternative to the packaged and processed ones, higher in protein, tastier (I think!) that treat your body a little better! Download the full recipe here. Fill them full of leftovers for lunches, use in Mexican dishes such as enchiladas (they also make good tortillas), savoury crepes or change it up with some vanilla paste to make a healthier sweet treat crepe dish.

If you give these a go make sure to tag me so I can see you enjoy these too!
And as always, please share this content with someone in your life who could also benefit from some super simple and easy food ideas! And please keep an eye out for my new eCourse.

Why I am not a fan of smoothies

By | Digestion, Gut Health
Why I am not a fan of smoothies

I break ranks with the rest of the nutrition world on this one. Smoothies are the darling of social media and wellness advocates everywhere (in fact we’ve all seen them on our feeds ad nauseam) but I will only recommend them in certain circumstances.

Smoothies are a popular breakfast choice for many people, but they may not be the best option during winter and particularly not for anyone with impaired digestion like those with Hashimoto’s disease and hypothyroidism.

There are thyroid hormone receptors in the gut so when you aren’t getting enough of those hormones gut function can slow and decline. Thyroid antibodies can also bind to hydrochloric acid producing cells of the stomach lining decreasing stomach acid production.

The stomach environment is meant to be super acidic with a pH of 1-2.

You need plenty of digestive fire (acidity & lots of it) to properly break down food. If that isn’t the case then you can wind up with uncomfortable digestive symptoms like burping & bloating as food sits too long high up in the GI tract for too long. What do you think happens when you suddenly poor a tall glass of icy cold, wet liquid into a stomach with low acid?

Hisssss… (that’s the sound of you digestive fire being put out).

Pepsin, the fancy name for the enzyme that helps you absorb protein, needs a pH environment of under 3. Eeeeek! What’s happening to your fancy collagen protein powder now?!

In order to extract and absorb nutrients from the food we eat we need that digestive fire to take the first step and break our food down into a sludgy substance called chyme. If it can’t do that we are at risk of nutrient deficiencies. And guess what?! Stomach acid production relies on sufficient levels of several nutrients. Yep, it’s a nasty cycle.

My other bugbear with smoothies is their temperature. Hypothyroidism lowers the metabolic rate making you (literally) colder. This can make winter a pretty miserable time for those with slow thyroid function. Being cold all the time can make you grumpy & uncomfortable so why not give yourself a lovely hot & easy to digest breakfast that warms you up. Ancient medicinal practices like Ayurvedic Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine promote the consumption of hot foods in winter with avoidance of cold drinks and it really makes sense doesn’t it?

Try these winter breakfast options:

  • An omelette with sautéed vegetables and goats cheese.
  • Porridge (if tolerated) with stewed apple, cinnamon and natural yoghurt.
  • Loaded toast is a favourite of mine, smashed avo, topped with pan fried chicken, sprinkled with cracked pepper, chilli and salt flakes if you like some kick with a side of sautéed spinach & mushrooms.

If you are still going to have smoothies, why not try warming them up and sipping on them slowly? I hear a warm banana smoothie bowl with cinnamon is sensational.

What’s your favourite winter breakfast?

 

Why you should get microbiome testing

By | Gut Health

Why you should get microbiome testing

(And make it part of your family health plan)

Have gut issues? Or maybe you just really want to optimise your health? Microbiome testing is something I do with pretty much all of my clients as the results are both actionable and measurable (and don’t worry, it’s also non-invasive and can be easily done at home!).

A microbiome test might be relevant if you:

  • Have chronic constipation or diarrhoea. Some bacteria cause a lot of Methane gas production which can slow down your digestion and cause wind, discomfort and constipation. Whereas other bacterial overgrowths produce a gas called hydrogen sulphide which is associated with diarrhoea, sulphur smelling wind and abdominal pain and inflammation.We need to know your bacteria profile so we can work with adapting your body to suppress or balance the gas-causers and then populate the ones who will give you long-term benefit and relief.
  • Experience pain in your abdomen. Always feeling sore or tender in the belly? We need to check if you have certain highly-inflammatory bacteria which is producing hydrogen sulphide gases, causing visceral hypersensitivity. And if so, we identify, action and eradicate!
  • Suffer from brain fog and fatigue. This is closely linked to dysbiosis and so by rebalancing the gut we can clear the fog and drive up energy.
  • Have depression or anxiety. The bacterial phylum that’s responsible for the production of neurotransmitters – like calming GABA – can be detected by a microbiome test, so by knowing what these levels are we’re able to work with the body to produce more neurotransmitters naturally.
  • Have troubled hormones. Heard of the estrogen-gut axis? If that’s out of whack then high-estrogen conditions such as PCOS, endometriosis or uncomfortable menstrual cycle symptoms could point to elevated beta-glucuronidase – which, you guessed it, is associated with certain bacterial overgrowths and can be detected via microbiome testing.
  • Experience chronic thrush or UTI’s. Get tested – it’s often caused by elevated E. coli levels and once we know what we’re working with, it can make a huge difference to your symptoms.

Want to get your own roadmap to your inner health? Let’s chat so we can explore your insides.

Tessa

 

7 things that are killing off your good gut bugs

By | Gut Health

7 things that are killing off your good gut bugs

(Some of them might surprise you!)

Today I’m talking about seven things that can kill off your good gut bacteria. Some may be obvious, and some may be things you have never even thought of!

  • Antibiotics. Whilst they’ve saved so many lives, they are also designed to kill all bacteria – the good guys included. Now, studies show that it takes about two years to recover from one round of antibiotics. And for those who have several round of antibiotics in a year? It can permanently alter your microbiome, with the good guys unable to return to previous population numbers or loss of important species altogether.
  • Preservatives. We know that preservatives are used in food to lengthen shelf life, right? They do this by killing off all the bacteria inside the packaged food, so what do you think happens when we also ingest those preservatives? They kill our bacteria too. This poses a problem if we are having processed and packaged foods daily.
  • Starvation…of your microbiome. These poor guys need to eat too! And their food source of choice is fibre. Sadly our SAD diet (Standard Australian/American Diet) often leaves our good gut bugs starving as it’s low in fibre and antioxidants (especially polyphenols).
  • Alcohol. High consumption of alcohol = low bacterial diversity, and we need diversity for our microbiome to thrive. It only takes 2-3 standard drinks per day for it to negatively affect our gut bacteria.
  • Too much exercise. Now movement is obviously very important for our wellbeing but interestingly, active people have less bacteria diversity than more sedentary people.
  • Sleep. Not getting enough sleep can not only impact your circadian rhythm and hormone production, but also reduce our good gut bugs too.
  • Stress. This one is super important as it has a cascade effect across your whole digestive system, but it really impacts our bacteria. Lessen your stress to give your bacteria a fighting chance.

So there you have it, you now know the top seven killers of your good gut army. Which ones do you need to focus on to help your microbiome flourish? If you need a little guidance, book your free 15 minute health discussion with me here.

Tessa

Understanding what reflux really is

By | Digestion, Gut Health, Health

It is common to experience reflux from time to time if we overeat or indulge in rich foods but it is not normal. If our digestion is running smoothly and we practice clean eating then it shouldn’t happen at all.

  • If you get reflux more than twice per week you might have gastroesophageal reflux disease also known as GORD
  • Reflux occurs when the contents of our stomach flows upwards into the oesophagus and in some cases even spilling up into our throat and mouth
  • Unlike our stomach which has a special lining that protects it from the highly acidic environment that stomach acid provides, our oesophagus is NOT designed to come into contact with acid. Acid burns the mucosa and if you have ever experienced severe reflux you won’t forget the burning in your throat & chest in a hurry
  • The lower oesophageal sphincter contracts to let food into the stomach but not out, when this sphincter isn’t working properly it can allow back flow up into the oesophagus.
  • Physical abdominal pressure affects lower oesophageal sphincter function. This can be caused by:
    – Obesity
    – Bad posture when eating
    – Overeating
    – Eating too fast
    – Consuming trigger foods like high refined carbohydrate or fatty meals, alcohol, spicy
    food, soft drink, tomato rich foods, garlic & onion.

So why would your lower oesophageal sphincter malfunction?

Low stomach acid is disastrous for good digestion. It creates a more alkaline environment where bacteria can thrive in the small intestine and impairs the release of enzymes that help us break down carbohydrates. Carbohydrate malabsorption and bacterial overgrowths in the small intestine both cause the production of large quantities of gas. This also creates physical abdominal pressure from beneath the stomach that affects the lower oesophageal sphincter’s ability to remain contracted and keep stomach contents where it belongs. 


Join me next week as I discuss Nexium, is it actually making you worse?

Tessa

Book a free 15 minute health discussion with me here

P.S. If you think this information may benefit someone you care about, please share it with them below