Travelling with a weak gut?

It can be quite tricky travelling when you have a range of food intolerances but even more so when you have a weak gut that is quite reactive. I have put a few tips together for supporting your gut whilst travelling however I would always recommend that you get it in the best shape possible before you go as the ideal way to prepare.

First up how do you just prepare for an extended trip? Make sure you are taking a good quality probiotic for up to two months before you travel to seed your gut with a good range of protective bacteria for your journey and then travel with a heat stable probiotic. If you have quite a few food intolerances ideally do a bit of a heal and seal protocol before travelling which should include high doses of glutamine. Better still a full detox would get your whole system working as well as possible to protect you on the journey.

What are some things you can do to acclimatise your gut when you get to your destination? On an extended journey start consuming the local fermented food – it could be kim chi, sauerkraut or yoghurt but it will help innoculate your bowel with the protective species of your local environment.

Feed the good gut bacteria a range of fruit and vegetables, just remember to stick to cooked or peeled as much as possible as salads which are washed in local water can be very problematic in some regions. Ideally aim for at least six serves of vegetables a day which will optimise your nutrition as well as keeping gut bacteria happy.

For gut protection and repair you can’t go past traditionally made bone broths or stocks. Whether its a miso soup in Japan or just a hearty home made soup, bone broth is a great source of nutrients as well as providing healing ingredients for the gut, such as gelatine. On the off chance that you do pick up a tummy bug the tips in my Stomach aches and pains blog for suitable homeopathic medicines would be helpful reading.

Christine Pope is a nutritionist and homeopath based at Elemental Health at St Ives. Appointments can be made on 8084 0081.

Gluten Free Made Easy

 There are a lot of people who need to change their diet and go gluten free. Whilst approximately 1% of the population need to go gluten free as a consequence of coeliac disease another 6-8% of the population suffer from non-coeliac gluten sensitivity. Many people who suffer from other auto-immune conditions also find that removing gluten from the diet assists in managing their condition.

You realise that you need to make this change but you don’t really know where to start? This blog will help you get started with those changes. Lots of recipe ideas are contained in my page Gluten and Dairy Free Dinners and the recent blog Seven gluten and dairy free breakfasts.

The best way to start a gluten free diet is to do it after restocking your pantry and freezer. Look at what you usually eat and then prepare a shopping list to enable you to stock up on alternatives.

Ideal suggestions could include the following;

  • Replace bread and crackers with suitable gluten free alternatives. Suitable alternatives for bread could include gluten free bread from Country Life, Dovedale, Healthybake, Schars or gluten free bakeries. Choices Bakery at Turramurra has a wide range and Deeks Bakery in Canberra provides online ordering across Australia. Gluten free bread is best served toasted and should be stored in the freezer so you can use it as needed.
  • There is already a good range of gluten free crackers including rice crackers and corn cakes available in most supermarkets. Just read labels to make sure that there are no  other ingredients that are problematic particularly if you have multiple food intolerances.
  • Breakfast cereals often include gluten so its important to ensure that you have a suitable alternative. Commercial rice bubbles and cornflakes for example can contain gluten so its best to find alternatives such as puffed rice. Making your own muesli is an easy and cost effective option using a range of gluten free puffs and flakes as well as dried fruit, nuts and seeds.
  •  The porridge below is from Brookvale farms and is served with stewed plums and coconut yoghurt. Its tasty and only takes a few minutes to prepare.
  • Pasta might be a good option for quick meals and there are several gluten free pastas to choose from including Orgran who have an excellent lasagne as well as San Remo. Ideally when cooking gluten free pasta keep stirring it whilst cooking to stop it sticking together. Also make sure that you rinse it well before serving.
  • Baking is easier with gluten free options at hand such as gluten free plain and self raising flour plus gluten free cornflour. These can often be substituted in baking however generally if you don’t have gluten free flour you are better off using a mix of different gluten free flours to really improve results.
  • Stock up on a range of rice including basmati and risotto rice so that you have a few different alternatives for meals.
  • Check the Celiac organisation website for lists of foods which may have some gluten. Often it can be surprising with things such as soy sauce and BBQ sauce containing gluten which doesn’t seem quite unnecessary.

Do you have any other tips for going gluten free easily? Please post them in the comments section below.

Need help deciding if you need to change your diet? Christine Pope is practicing at Elemental Health St Ives and can be contacted for appointments on 8084 0081.

 

 

 

Gluten free Canterbury NZ

Seafood Platter with Gluten Free Bread, The Trading Room, Akaroa

A trip to the South Island of NZ is a great short holiday but what impressed me on this trip was how well food intolerances were managed. It’s obviously easier with a common language to discuss menus but consistently I saw staff who were across the issues and could advise on alternatives.

One of the good things around the Canterbury region of NZ was that menu’s were often marked gluten free (or dairy free or vegetarian). Even in fairly small towns with two or three cafes there was often at least one cafe with allergens marked.

The first night we landed in Christchurch around 11pm so we were happy to eat breakfast in the hotel  restaurant and I was thrilled to see a gluten free vegetarian slice on the menu. I ordered it with a side of bacon and it was very tasty. They also had a water urn with fresh citrus which was such a good idea when you are dehydrated after a flight.

We stayed at the Commodore Hotel near the airport and I can highly recommend this option for travellers. From the shuttle driver who picked us up late at night with a string of helpful instructions to the staff on the front desk who basically insisted on driving us to the car rental the next day and the restaurant staff who went out of their way to organise tea for me at midnight. It was a well run hotel with a great team!

 

The Donut, Springfield

The next day we travelled via a little town called Springfield to Arthur’s Pass where we had booked in at a wilderness lodge for New Year. Trip Advisor had flagged a gluten free cafe there but it had shut for the holidays which was disappointing. The Yello Shack cafe, which sat next to Springfield’s major attraction (a big donut) did offer a range of gluten free treats, including a gluten free caramel slice that was almost as good as my brother’s.

 The lodge at Arthur’s Pass was a bit of a treat for our anniversary and provided all our meals for a few days. They catered well to allergens for entree’s and mains but were not quite as comprehensive on desserts. They also had a nice gluten free sourdough the first night with olive oil which I really appreciated. The packed lunch with sandwhiches made with a seeded Vogel loaf were also excellent.

My favourite entree was a Salmon and Potato Fish Cakes which was made with mashed potato and was fresh and flavourful. We also enjoyed fresh venison and other local specialities. Must remember to send them some gluten free muesli slice , quinoa choc chip cookie recipes and a few dessert options to round out their offerings.

 

Salmon and Potato Fishcakes, Arthur’s Pass Wilderness Lodge

From Arthur’s Pass Wilderness Lodge which had included guided walks we repaired to Hanmer Springs to soak our tired limbs. On the drive we stopped at the Red Post Cafe in Culverden which had a sign up inviting you to ask about their gluten free options. We both enjoyed a Smoked Chicken salad with a cranberry style dressing, sweet but tasty.

Hanmer Springs is a popular tourist spot with lots of dining options including our hotel which had quite a formal restaurant. The Braemar Lodge was a recommendation from my youngest sister from her last trip to NZ and its a luxurious spot if you want to indulge. They have very large rooms, spas on the balcony’s and their own Beauty Spa, which was largely priced better than the one at Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools. The only downside is its about 3km of dirt road to get there and it really isn’t easy walking distance to the Springs.

The standout meal for us whilst we were there was at Malabar, which is advertised as Asian Fusion. The menu was clearly marked with gluten and dairy free options and when queried staff could easily explain when a dish wasn’t marked gluten free. We started with onion and spinach bhaji which was in a chickpea batter and followed it with caramelised pork belly (gluten containing ingredient was soy sauce) and wok fried fish with some poppadoms. It was all delicious and we would happily have eaten there again.

There were a lot of other options for gluten free dining in Hanmer Springs with options such as salads, nachos and the option of gluten free bread for sandwhiches and our hotel also provided gluten free cookies and gluten free bread at meals which were really appreciated. The major surprise for me was that when I walked into the cafe at the thermal springs they had quite a range of gluten and dairy free items, including a delicious ginger slice which went very well with my cup of green tea.

 

Fresh caught fish

 

A day trip to Akaroa, which is a lovely little French town about 100km’s from Christchurch brought us to the Trading Room restaurant with a very reasonably priced seafood platter served with gluten free bread and salad. It included generous quantities of prawns, calamari, two types of fish and the local specialty Green Lipped mussels.

We did a little bit of shopping for picnics and generally found the best gluten free options in the New World Supermarkets. We did try Pak n Save once but never again!!

My advice to people travelling in this region is to do a little bit of research on gluten free options online before you travel however Trip Advisor turned out to be the most useful app giving reviews for local restaurants and I was glad that I taken up Vodafone on their $5 a day NZ plan to access my usual data as Trip Advisor and Google Maps really made the trip a lot easier.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12 Changes for better health

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Its the time of year when gyms get very busy as people try to live up to their New Year’s resolutions. Instead of being active for a couple of weeks and forgetting it until next year I have developed a list of 12 changes so that at the end of the year you have made significant improvements in your health. Usually maintaining change requires at least a month so try to really adopt this change for at least a month until it becomes part of the routine.

First up see how many you are doing and then figure out how much you have left and then project out the number of months it will take you. Post that commitment on your facebook page or somewhere will you will be reminded regularly.

  1. Drink enough water – writing this today its 38C and hydration just seems the most important thing to focus on. How much is enough water? Well it depends on your size and activity levels but generally 1.5 to 2 litres a day plus 1 litre for every hour of exercise. So for a small woman it may be more like 1.5 litres plus whatever you need for the exercise you are doing.
  2. Find an activity you enjoy and commit time to it 4-5 times a week. It could be walking the dog, cycling, yoga classes, tennis or spin or a combination of all of the above. Block it out in your diary. Just remember if you are starting an activity start at a beginners level and build up slowly. 
  3. Add one cup of leafy green vegetables to your diet daily. It could be spinach with your poached eggs or a salad instead of a sandwhich at lunch or add chopped kale to a curry at dinner. Greens are a great source of essential minerals that many people lack. If you struggle with the taste try looking at the website Simple Green Smoothies for some great recipes.
  4. Declutter – spend a week focussing on each major room and start with three boxes. One box is for garbage, one for recycling and one for stuff which lives somewhere else. Its critical to ensure you fill the third box before putting things back where they belong or you get distracted. Spend 1-2 hours a week on each room and then at the end of the month notice how different it is to be in a clear and productive space. Decluttering can really reduce stress levels.
  5. Manage your stress – By this stage if you are hydrated, exercising regularly and improving your diet you may already have noticed that your stress levels are better. If not its probably time to start identifying what causes stress and whether it is still serving you. It could be a job you no longer enjoy, an employee who is driving you nuts or a friendship which leaves you feeling exhausted. Time for some change. Figure out where the issue is and make a plan to deal with it. If its really overwhelming find someone to talk to – a coach or a counsellor could really help you break those stressful patterns.
  6. Get rid of your allergens – environmental ones may be challenging. If you suffer from reflux, bloating and flatulence, constipation or diarrhoea, chances are something in your diet needs to be removed for a while. The most common suspects are wheat and dairy with up to 70% of adults unable to tolerate lactose (milk sugar) as they age.
  7. Laugh – go to the park and watch how children are constantly chuckling or giggling. When was the last time you enjoyed a good belly laugh? A few years ago I did a laughter yoga class and we laughed for 22 straight minutes – you feel amazing afterwards except the aching stomach muscles.
  8. Health Checks – see your GP for those tests, get your teeth checked and get your moles mapped. Spend a month making sure you are dealing with problems before they become serious. gf products
  9. Swap your snacks for healthier choices. Switch the milk chocolate to good quality dark chocolate, replace the potato chips with activated nuts, the coffee for a herbal tea and the soda for a vegetable juice (perfect for an afternoon boost too).
  10. Train your brain – read a different book every week or try crosswords or sudoku as a way to improve your brain’s health and stay mentally healthy.
  11. Catch up with friends – having a social support network can make all the difference to our health. If you find it difficult to catch up for a meal just try scheduling in a coffee on a weekly basis or a play date with your children. 
  12. Time out – plan and take at least two weeks vacation doing something you enjoy. It could be 2 weeks by the beach or 2 weeks hiking in the mountains. It doesn’t have to be expensive and is you can travel out of peak season there are often some great deals available. Most importantly try and disconnect from your work as much as possible to really maximize your down time.

Keep me posted on how you go and let me know what makes a difference for you.

If you are interested in looking at your health holistically I have a range of tools in my clinic which can assess nutrient levels, such as minerals, as well as looking at body parameters such as fat mass, muscle mass and energy quality. I am in practice at St Ives and appointments can be made on 02 8084 0081.

Seven gluten free and dairy free breakfasts

Seven gluten free and dairy free breakfasts

Many of us stick to the same boring breakfast every day however when you suddenly find out that you can’t have wheat anymore the usual toast or cereal just doesn’t cut it any longer. So what do you do?

Here is a range of suggestions that I find work well in practice. I have included recipes or links to the recipes. Its easy to substitute particularly with gluten free grains or different types of milk (coconut, almond, rice or soy).

  1. Easy peach crumble (or pear or berry or apple or any combinations you like).
  2. Banana and choc chip muffins
  3. Roast vegetable hash
  4. Mango chia pudding
  5. Gluten free muesli with fruit puree
  6. Buckwheat pancakes (Orgran packet mix has all the instructions) but works well with bacon and maple syrup or grilled banana or fruit.
  7. BLAT on gluten free bread.

The recipes for most of these options are listed below but two recipes have links. One is  for the easy mango pudding recipe from the Healthy Chef which only has four ingredients but really comes down to fruit, chia seeds, water and coconut milk plus the other link is to my gluten free muesli recipe which really can be tailored to personal preference. An even easier version can be buying a gluten free muesli and adding a few of your favourite ingredients, such as nuts and seeds or LSA mix.

shutterstock_93158164Easy peach crumble

4-6 peaches sliced

1/2 cup almond meal

1/2 cup quinoa flakes

50 g melted butter

1 tablespoon brown sugar (coconut sugar, maple syrup work well too)

Place sliced fruit in a casserole dish. Combine melted butter with almond meal, quinoa flakes and sugar . It will be a little lumpy. Sprinkle over sliced fruit and cook at 180c for 20-25 minutes until topping is crispy and golden. Serve with coconut yoghurt for a little extra protein but its delicious by itself and the quinoa and almond provide good protein and fats.

Banana and choc chip muffins

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla essence (add to sugar)

50 g butter

3 mashed bananas

1 1/2 cups gluten free self raising flour or 1 cup gluten free self raising flour plus 1/2 cup of almond meal or coconut flour (coconut gives it a nice moisture)

1 egg

1/4 cup choc chips preferably dairy free

Melt butter, mix in sugar and then egg. Add in alternately flour and bananas and stir well. Then add in the choc chips. Spoon mixture into 12 muffin cases or greased muffin tray. Cook 15-20 minutes at 180 Celsius. Muffins should be lightly browned when cooked.

Roast Vegetable Hash

This is really just a good way to use up leftover roast vegetables and many combinations work well.

Ideally you need half a cup of roast vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, parsnip, carrots, etc) per serve

2 slices of bacon per person

1/2 small brown onion

1/2 cup greens either bok choy, wombok or cabbage work well

Saute bacon and onions for 2-3 minutes until lightly cooked. Add greens and roasted vegetables and stir for 3-5 minutes until warmed through. Salt lightly and serve.

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BLAT (Bacon lettuce avocado and tomato)

Saute two to three slices of bacon and serve on a gluten free bread roll toasted with mashed avocado and sliced tomatoes.

Christine Pope is an experienced natural medicine practitioner who also teaches and until recently was Head of Nutrition at Nature Care College. Food is one of her favourite topics!

Would love feedback on the recipes or any other easy breakfast suggestions which are gluten and dairy free!

Why I feed my dog a natural food diet

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In 2008 I was on the Organising Committee for a Homeopathic conference which was held in Sydney. One of our most popular speakers was a Vet who also used homoeopathics called Clare Middle and what really stuck in my head was her attitude towards diet. She said 70% of skin problems in animals were solved purely by feeding the pet a natural food diet. To me that showed how helpful a natural food diet could be in maintaining your pet’s health.

So what does our dog eat? Well most nights its a couple of chicken wings plus a bone of some type as well as leftover fruit and vegetables. We keep a tub in the fridge in which we put organic vegetable peelings, outside lettuce leaves and the woody bits of the broccoli and cauliflower as well as the tops and tail of carrots plus leftovers from our table like salad or risotto. Generally we avoid anything with a lot of garlic or onion which are quite toxic for dogs. Anything that is looking a little too soft from the fruit bowl also goes in the dog bowl.
Dog bowl

Feeding the dog this way is actually very cost effective – most of the vegetables would have been thrown away and the 2kg of chicken wings a week is only about $8. The vet Claire Middle also recommends a weekly meal of oily fish, we find a can of sardines work well and are usually quite cheap. She also has a little book available through her website which explains exactly what you need to feed your pet. Click here for details.

Our dog Buffy is now 7 years old and is a really healthy animal. She doesn’t seem to suffer from dog breath and has a really healthy coat. The picture above is one my son took when we were away and checking on the dog (it was taken on his sister’s bed)!

So what’s wrong with commercial dog food? Depends on what it is really, but as the Vet explained it seems that they often have a very high carbohydrate content and that’s different to what dogs would eat in the wild. Dogs were really scavengers and would eat small animals and whatever was dropped on the ground or easily accessed. Basically dogs are used to having bones in their diet and in the wild you will see animals eating the droppings of carnivores to access the calcium from the bones they consumed. There would be some carbohydrate in their diet from vegetables and fruit however not really from grains which is what many commercial dog foods may use.

We did try to convert our cat to a natural food diet with a little less success – she will eat raw minced meats like chicken and lamb but cannot figure out what to do with chicken necks, which is what was recommended for cats. She also gets a bit sniffy about fish, not really keen on canned fish but loves a bit of our leftover tuna or salmon.

How do you feed your pets? Have you tried a natural food diet with them and been successful?

Christine Pope is a nutritionist and homeopath based in Sydney at St Ives and practices at her clinic, Elemental Health. She feeds her family a largely whole food diet and her pets as well.

Detoxing – is it for me?

Detoxing – is it for me?

What’s the first thing you think about with detox? Not drinking? Stopping coffee? Mostly you think about the things you will miss for a little while.

Very rarely do you think about the benefits of detoxing and how great you will feel during and after the detox. I am constantly surprised in clinic by the significant improvements people get in their health from detoxing. Often there is little left to deal with after the detox as “surprisingly” when you nourish your body with healthy food and support elimination with the right combination of herbs and nutrients most people find a lot of health problems resolve. I have seen significant improvements with skin complaints, hormonal imbalances and a whole range of gut issues as a result of following a detox for four to six weeks.

The first time I did a detox I had recently gone off gluten so being wheat and dairy free wasn’t really that big a challenge by that point. The first few days I was a little tired and sluggish and I did get a fairly massive headache after doing a full on 90 minute Yoga class (probably because I hadn’t done any Yoga and then jumped straight in!) However for probably 2 years after that I noticed my hay fever was minimal and that my energy levels were a lot better. So this September approximately 3 years later I am repeating the detox. Yes I am following my own advice on two levels. One by putting it in writing I am more likely to commit to it and secondly doing the detox I will be interested to see how my general health will improve.

So why do we need to detox? Well frankly if you live in a major capital city you are constantly exposed to toxins whether its from petrol fumes, personal care products, your own hormones, highly processed diet or sterile office environments. Other areas that can expose you to toxins can be both legal and “party” drugs as well as repeated infections.  Your liver is working hard to eliminate these toxins but if it can’t deal with them it puts them into fat cells and puts more fat around them to try and protect us. This is why eliminating toxins can help with weight loss as well as improving your overall health.

Tasty Summer Fruits On A Wooden TableThe detox diet is anti-inflammatory and most people can maintain a modified form post detox to continue to maintain good health. Generally the focus is on good quality lean protein, lots of vegetables, a reasonable three serves of fruit a day plus at least a handful of nuts (assuming you are not allergic). Gluten free grains such as rice or quinoa can also be included and fermented foods in the form of good quality organic yoghurt. Plus at least two litres a day of water and green or herbal teas to help flush out toxins.

Some people may find the dietary changes sufficient however usually its more effective (ie quicker) to support the process. The first stage in my program uses a low allergenic Rice Protein which has liver support in the form of Silymarin (Milk Thistle) plus digestive enzymes and a detoxifying green powder. The second stage is individual with several options based on what presenting symptoms dominate – gut symptoms usually require more of an anti-parasitic protocol to remove bad bacteria whereas hormonal symptoms usually benefit from more liver support. There is no one size fits all in detox and its preferable to do a program which is tailored to your needs.

So what do you think? Are you ready to make some changes to enjoy better health?

Christine Pope was previously a Head of Nutrition at Nature Care College, speaks for ATMS and practices at Elemental Health at St Ives. Appointments can be made on 8084 0081.