Veganuary – the nutrition tips you need to avoid bloating & fatigue

Veganuary – the nutrition tips you need to avoid bloating & fatigue

January 2019 is set to be the most popular Veganuary yet, with over 14,000 people pledging to stick to a vegan diet and lifestyle for the next month.

Whatever your reasons are for cutting out meat, fish, dairy, eggs, honey, and all other animal derived products, the sudden swap to a vegan diet can have a significant impact on your body, especially if you’re used to eating animal produce every day.  Digestion and energy levels are frequently affected: let’s explore why…

Digestion: a sudden increase in fibre and indigestible starch from vegan staples like pulses, beans, nuts and seeds can cause bloating and wind.  Our gut bacteria are influenced by what we eat, and it can take time for them to adapt to a different way of eating.  They thrive on fibre, fermenting it in our gut, which is why one of the side effects of a vegan diet can be uncomfortable wind and bloating!Lady's hands on her tummy, digestion

Bowel movements may also change: some people experience constipation whilst others find stools become loose and more frequent.  Again, this is down to the change in fibre intake.

  • If you’re suffering with wind and bloating try using a plant-based digestive enzyme formula to support the breakdown of tough plant fibres and starches.  Look for one containing alpha-galactosidase, an enzyme proven to reduce gas and bloating.

  • Soaking pulses before cooking and using fermented soya products like miso and tempeh can aid digestion.

  • Sprouting beans in a seed sprouter can make them easier to digest.

  • Soak nuts overnight then allow to dry before eating; this can aid digestability.

  • Be mindful of your fluid intake, especially if constipated.  Fibre soaks up fluid in the gut, so remember to drink more water throughout the day, and opt for hydrating foods like soups and stews that combine fibre-rich beans and pulses with fluids.

Energy levels: switching from being carnivore to vegan means your body has to adapt to different nutrient sources.  This can affect energy levels, particularly if you’re a pre-menopausal woman with regular periods as you are now reliant on plant-based or non-haem iron sources.

The main nutrients to consider are;

Iron: non-haem iron absorption is helped along by vitamin C so aim to combine these nutrients where possible:

Table of iron foods and vitamin C foods

Zinc: red meat, poultry, and seafood are packed with easily absorbed zinc, so your body has to adapt to deriving it from plant foods on a vegan diet.  Nuts and seeds – especially pumpkin seeds – are good sources, but they also contain phytic acid which can impair zinc absorption.  Soaking the nuts and seeds before eating helps to breakdown phytic acid and improve zinc bioavailability.

Vitamin B12: plant forms of B12 are not readily used by us humans.  You may have enough B12 stores in your system to manage Veganuary, but if veganism is a long-term plan, consider using a B12 supplement or B-Complex containing B12.

Protein: protein is present in varying amounts in foods, which is where the term protein quality comes from.  Eggs are an example of high quality or perfect protein as they contain the right ratio of amino acids (the building blocks of protein) to match our human needs.  On a vegan diet it is important to combine different protein sources at each meal so that over the course of the day you get all the amino acids you need.

Vegan protein sources include:

 – Nuts (whole or as nut butters)

 – Seeds

 – Pseudo-grains like quinoa and amaranth

 – Legumes and pulses

Omega-3 fats: the omega-3 oils found in oily fish are DHA (docosahexanoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid).  We can use these straight away with no need for conversion: they help regulate inflammation and support heart health and mental wellbeing.

Plant foods contain ALA (alpha linolenic acid) which is the ‘parent’ of DHA and EPA.  It goes through several conversion pathways in the body to become EPA and DHA and we lose some of it along the way.  Because of these conversion losses, it’s important for vegans to include ALA sources everyday.

The richest concentrated source of ALA is flaxseed oil; this can be drizzled over cooked vegetables, salads, granola, coconut or soya yoghurt, included in smoothies – the ideas are endless!  I know a lady who adds it to her gravy!  It can be added to hot foods but don’t cook with it as high temperatures affect the oil structure.

Other sources of ALA include walnuts, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin seed oil, hemp oil, and chia seeds.

Plant-based diets can be as varied and nutritious as meaty-fishy ones, but they do require thoughtful planning, especially at the outset.  Browse these recipe blogs for meal inspiration and remember to join the Facebook group and follow me on Twitter where I share a #MeatfreeMonday recipe each week.

Minimalist Baker

Pickles & Honey

Happy Healthy Life

 

Eat A Rainbow – #1 Small Step

Eat A Rainbow – #1 Small Step

Eat a Rainbow

Ever wondered why doctors and nutrition-people (like me!) keep talking about how important it is to ‘eat a rainbow’?  (A phrase which is dangerously close to the slogan for Skittles – ‘taste a rainbow’- which will have quite the opposite effect on your health!).

It’s because brightly coloured fruits and vegetables contain an array of natural compounds with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that are all bound up with what colour they are.

Food choicesSo for example, orange and yellow veggies like peppers, carrots, and butternut squash are rich in beta-carotene, an immune-bosting antioxidant compound that’s a member of the carotenoid family, whilst dark bluberries and red grapes contain cyanidin – another protective antioxidant compound.

Including at least 1 food from each colour group everyday means you will be nourishing yourself with a vast range of naturally powerful ingredients, giving your body the support it needs to cope with modern life!

Pick any one of these top 10 practical tips to start increasing the colour, variety and nutrient load of your diet;

  1. Green powders are helpful if you struggle to get enough greens into your day: mix spirulina, chlorella, barley grass or wheatgrass powder into pesto to boost the antioxidant and protein levels.

  2. To support blood sugar stability and reduce reliance on refined carbohydrates, swap to higher protein alternatives. Mung bean pasta, lentil pasta, quinoa, or wild rice are good alternatives.

  3. If you’re dealing with intestinal yeast overgrowth (and this is best confirmed with a stool test rather than trying to guess), think foods before supplements: natural anti-microbials such as garlic, ginger, oregano and marjoram can be added easily to salads, soups, casseroles – even herbal infusions.

  4. The anti-inflammatory actions of turmeric and cinnamon are well documented; these spices blend well with warmed almond milk to make a simple chai-style beverage.

  5. Seaweed flakes can be sprinkled into salads, soups or casseroles, and Nori sheets make a good alternative to wheat wraps, instantly increasing the iodine, zinc and magnesium content of your meal – perfect for thyroid support.

  6. Mixing a tablespoon of olive oil into 25g of butter creates a spreadable butter rich in oleic acid – with none of the negative effects associated with margarine or poorly processed vegetable oils.

  7. Encourage children to explore different coloured vegetables by using a picture colour chart and negotiating which coloured veggies to try next.

  8. Nourish your friendly gut bacteria with pre- and probiotic food. Add a tablespoon of sauerkraut to grilled salmon and roasted vegetables; use unfiltered apple cider vinegar in salad dressings with lemon juice and fresh herbs; or mix kefir into a morning smoothie.

  9. Green vegetables can be problematic for many people, especially supertasters. A basic smoothie made from baby spinach, banana and almond milk is a gentle option to begin with, and is packed with folate, vitamin K, vitamin C, and the antioxidant compound lutein.  If you’re managing IBS, add fennel or caraway seeds when steaming brassica greens as this helps to soften the taste and aid digestion, reducing bloating and wind.

  10. To eat different foods you have to buy different foods. A vegetable or fruit box delivery scheme is a hassle-free way to have new ingredients delivered direct to your door. Many schemes offer inspiring recipe ideas too.

Remember, the idea behind #1 Small Step is to encourage steady change and growth whilst side-stepping overwhelm.  So pick 1 new idea to try, and build up those changes gradually!

If you’ve enjoyed this post you might also like;

#1 Small Step – Plan Your Way to Nutrition Success

#1 Small Step – How You Can & Why It’s Good To Eat Mindfully

#1 Small Step – 7 Energy Boosting Breakfasts

What Small Step can you take today?

Tweet me at @nutritioninyork or drop me a line via sallyduffin@nutritioninyork.co.uk

A shorter version of this post was originally produced for Nutrition I-Mag (July/August 2017 edition) downloadable HERE

How To Eat Mindfully – #1 Small Step

BlogHead_Mindful Eating

What do indigestion, bloating, excess wind, heartburn, and weight gain all have in common?

They can all be caused by not chewing food properly!

It’s a simple thing to do, but chewing so often gets neglected in favour of eating quickly due to short lunch breaks, or multitasking with food and a laptop.

Retraining yourself to chew food thoroughly is a vital first step to digestive wellbeing and healthy weight balance. 

Let’s look at why…

 

  • The action of chewing tells your brain to send messages to your stomach alerting it to the fact that food is on its way. These nerve signals tell the stomach to start producing the gastric juices that break food down.

  • Chewing mixes food with saliva and salivary amylase, an important digestive enzyme that begins the breakdown of carbohydrates. This is why food taste sweeter the longer you chew it: amylase is busy breaking down carbohydrates into simpler sugars.

  • Your stomach does not have teeth! If food isn’t chewed in your mouth, it won’t get broken down properly anywhere else.  So, you can be eating the perfect diet and still be nutrient deficient, simply because your body can’t access the vitamins and minerals bound up in the food.

  • Chewing properly means you eat slower. Remember at school there was always one child who took ages to eat dinner?  That was me!  Sitting there chewing away whilst my friends were itching to get outside and play!  But eating slowly is no bad thing.  It allows you to tune into satiety signals, and realise exactly when you have eaten enough rather than ploughing on and finishing your plateful regardless of how you feel or how big the portions were.

Taking the time to chew food is part of the overall practice of eating mindfully. By eating in a calm relaxed manner, savouring each mouthful, you begin to appreciate each food and flavour and receive those all-important hunger and satiety signals.

Food choices

Try these 5 basic steps to eating mindfully;

  1. As you sit down to eat, take 5 slow deep breaths. This relaxes your nervous system, preparing you to ‘rest and digest’ (parasympathetic dominance), rather than trying to eat whilst in the stressed out ‘fight or flight’ response (sympathetic dominance).  When stressed, the body down regulates digestive functions producing less stomach acid and digestive enzymes – pretty much guaranteeing that you’ll end up with indigestion and bloating!

  2. Chew. Exactly how many times you chew each mouthful will depend on what you’re eating: yoghurt needs less chewing than steak for example.  And yes, you do need to chew yoghurt and other soft foods like smoothies and mashed potato – otherwise, how will your stomach know that it’s on its way?  If it helps, put your knife and fork down whilst you chew, and don’t prepare the next mouthful until you’ve swallowed what you’re chewing.

  3. Savour the flavours. Really appreciate how each food tastes and feels in your mouth.

  4. Once you’ve finished eating, sit still for 3-5mins to allow food to pass comfortably down to your stomach.

  5. Wait for at least 10mins before deciding whether you want dessert or not. It takes roughly 15-20mins from the start of eating for your brain to register the actions of satiety hormones like leptin.  These hormones work in a complex way, registering how stretched your stomach is, and how much fat you have stored in your body overall.  They tell your brain when you are full, but if this message is ignored you eventually become resistant to their signals.

Eating mindfully does involve changing habits, and this can take time.  It’s not always easy to do, especially if you’re juggling your own meal with feeding a couple of cranky toddlers!  It really is worth persisting though, as no amount of supplements or nutrition guidelines can replace the benefits of good chewing.

If you’d like the benefits of mindfulness to spread beyond the kitchen table, and support other areas of your life, say hello to Joanne Bull at CalmWorks.  Joe offers a Mindfulness_sniprange of mindfulness training options designed to build your inner calm and resilience to ongoing stress.

 

You may also enjoy;

   #1 Small Step – 7 Energy Boosting Breakfasts

   #1 Small Step – Plan Your Way to Nutrition Success

Need nutritional support for dealing with ongoing stress?  See HERE for options of how we can work together.

 

 

 

 

Expert Help for Irritable Bowel Syndrome!

Are you looking for natural solutions for your IBS symptoms?

Fed up of pain, bloating, fatigue and upset bowel movements interfering with your life?

Help is at hand! 

Join us on Tuesday 17th June for an evening of helpful practical information on natural solutions for IBS. 

I’ll be there talking about how foods and nutrients can support your bowels and give you smooth, comfortable digestion, and I’m joined by…

  • Tiziana Bertinotti from York Traditional Acupuncture who will be sharing her wealth of knowledge and skills about how acupuncture provides fantastic relief for IBS sufferers

  • Jo Morrell, a registered nurse, Hypnotherapist and EFT practitioner who will be sharing fantastic techniques for managing stress and anxiety and relieving IBS symptoms

The event is taking place at Millers Yard, Gillygate, York – to book your place see our Eventbrite page.  There will be light refreshments and plenty of time to ask questions and find out what you really need to know about managing IBS.  We look forward to seeing you there!

If you have any questions about the event or about how natural solutions can help with IBS call me on 07910 705272 or email me at sallyduffin@nutritioninyork.co.uk

Irritable Bowel Syndrome – What Can You Do?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is the umbrella term used to describe a collection of symptoms including pain, bloating, excess wind and altered bowel habits; constipation, diarrhoea, sudden urgency to pass stools and incomplete bowel movements. 

However, problems with bowel function impact upon your entire system and other symptoms linked with IBS include headaches, fatigue, low mood, stress and anxiety.  Stress and anxiety can be causing IBS and / or be brought on by it.

So what can you do to relieve these symptoms?

Firstly, remember that your digestive system works like a factory production line.  If one part of it goes wrong, it will throw the rest of the line out of sync!  For instance, if you are eating hurriedly and not chewing properly then foods will have a hard time being broken down in your stomach and intestines and end up feeding the unfriendly bacteria in your gut that love to produce gas.

Stomach acid and digestive enzymes are crucial for breaking food down and dealing with harmful bugs that can be found in foods.  Do you find yourself regularly reaching for the Rennies?  If you take time to relax and eat steadily rather than grabbing food on the go, your stomach has time to produce the right amount of stomach acid which won’t then reflux and cause heartburn.

Friendly gut bacteria really are the rulers of your digestion and another term for IBS is ‘gut dysbiosis’ or imbalanced gut bacteria.  With over 400 different microbial species living in your gut you are in fact made up of more bacterial cells than human cells!  And these tiny organisms need to be kept in balance in order for your to enjoy smooth, comfortable, pain free digestion.

What about FODMAPs?

FODMAPs stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides And Polyols, all of which are types of sugars easily fermented by certain bacteria in the small intestine.  A condition called SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth) can be worsened by eating a lot of high FODMAP foods because the bacteria feast on the sugars, producing excess gas and a variety of unpleasent symptoms.

Identifying SIBO is not easy; one method is to take a breath test that tracks levels of methane produced by the bacteria after consumptoms of high FODMAP foods.

Managing SIBO is similar to managing IBS: remove problematic foods, replace with suitable alternatives, and rebalance the bacteria.  Natural antibacterial agents that reduce numbers of ‘unfriendly’ bacteria may also be needed, such as oregano, garlic or citricidal.

Alongside the bacteria, certain nutrients support your digestive processes and combining herbs and nutrients with food and lifestyle changes gives you a powerful set of techniques with which to manage your IBS symptoms.

  • Magnesium; this mineral is used by the muscles in your intestines to squeeze rhythmically and move food along.  Constipation can be caused by a lack of magnesium and chronic stress depletes levels too.

  • Vitamin A to support the health of the membranes lining your digestive tract

  • Chromium; this plays a vital role in balancing blood sugar levels.  Fluctuating blood sugars can trigger IBS symptoms.

  • B-vitamins; vital for your nervous system and managing stress and anxiety.

  • Omega-3 oils; for reducing any inflammation present in your digestive tract.

A nutritional therapy plan looks at the foods providing these nutrients whilst reducing anything that’s hard to digest.  This may mean avoiding wheat, dairy, gluten, high FODMAP foods or caffeine to name but a few – however the idea is to focus on the huge range of foods you can eat!  Foods you can enjoy eating and which make you feel well again!

Start your journey back to vitality & wellbeing – for a no-obligation 15min telephone chat about your digestive health and how nutritional therapy may be of benefit email me today at sallyduffin@nutritioninyork.co.uk