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

 

Wake Up Water! Inspiring ideas to help you drink more water everyday – #1 Small Step

Wake Up Water!

It’s so easy to get to the end of the day and realise you haven’t drunk enough water.  Low energy, headaches, muscle aches and cramps – these are all telling signs that your body needs a drink (of water!).

The debate continues about whether tap, filtered, or mineral is best for our health, and there are pros and cons on both sides.

Unless you’re lucky enough to live near a natural spring, good quality mineral water usually comes in plastic bottles which are an environmental nightmare, far outweighing the beneficial mineral content of the drink.

Filtered water has lower levels of chemical residues, but again, filter jugs are mostly plastic so your water bathes in hormone-disrupting chemicals.

There’s no easy solution and I don’t have clear answers!  But, I do know we all need to hydrate regularly over the day, especially when managing low energy or digestive problems like constipation.

Aim to sip regularly rather than gulping down a large glass in one go, and limit drinks at mealtimes to avoid diluting your digestive juices.

It’s a simple and easy first step to take on the road to wellbeing: see if you can increase your water intake and cut down on caffeinated and sugary/sweetened drinks.

If you find plain water a bit dull try these natural alternatives to wake it up!

Use a large glass Mason jar, or glass bottle and leave to infuse for 3-4 hours or overnight for full flavour.  Pop them in the fridge, or if like me you don’t like cold water, leave the bottle at room temperature, out of direct sunlight.

  • Fresh lemon & lemon balm zingy and calming at the same time. Lemon balm is traditionally used to soothe nerves and calm anxiety.

  • Fresh lemon and mint perfect pick-me-up for when you’re tired and flagging, or as an after dinner digestive aid.

  • Fresh squeezed pomegranate juice and mint squeeze the fruit and scoop out the seeds to add to a salad. Mix the juice with water and mint leaves.  Pomegranate is packed with antioxidants to help us process toxins.

  • Cucumber, mint, and lime another cooling, uplifting drink.

  • Raspberries and strawberries chop larger fruits in half, add to water and mix vigorously for a naturally sweet, antioxidant-rich drink.

  • Pineapple & orange sweet and tropical! Even in cloudy Yorkshire!

*Download the Wake Up Water! pdf here – 1SmallStep_WakeUpWater*

Keep taking those #1 Small Steps and you’ll get to where you want to be!

You might also enjoy;

Does Food Affect Your Mood? Find out with this FREE Food, Mood and Movement Tracker #1SmallStep

Get Organised with this FREE 7-Day Meal Planner! #1SmallStep

7 Energy Boosting Breakfasts – #1SmallStep

If you’d like to know more about how nutritional therapy may be able to support you drop me a line at sallyduffin@nutritioninyork.co.uk

You can also join in the conversations in the Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/nutritioninyork/

 

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

Soothing Linseed Tea

Linseeds (or flaxseeds) are rich in mucilage that coats, soothes and hydrates your digestive tract which in turn, supports the hydration of your entire body.  Drinking 2-3 mugs of linseed tea per day inbetween meals can be very helpful for digestive problems, stiff achey joints or as part of a gentle detox plan…

In a pan, add 2 tablespoons of golden linseeds to 1.5 litres of water and bring to the boil.  Switch off the heat and leave the mixture to stand for 12 hours or overnight.

Reheat and simmer for an hour with the lid on the pan.

Strain the seeds off and keep the remaining thick liquid in the fridge.

To make a tea with it, dilute a 50/50 mixture of linseed tea and fresh hot water.

This recipe is from ‘Cellular Awakening’ by Barbara Wren, Hay House 2009.