Prebiotic vs probiotic ?

shutterstock_583825927You are taking a probiotic and you think you understand what that does. Now people are talking about prebiotics and you’re not sure whether you should be taking that as well ?

A prebiotic is a food that feeds the  gut bacteria whereas a probiotic is a  combination of strains of various gut bacteria. Different types of prebiotics can feed different strains of bacteria so the prebiotic can be used therapeutically to promote beneficial strains at the expense of more problematic strains.

Lots of different foods are prebiotics as well as various supplements. For an appropriate  list  of foods look at my most recent blog Feed your Good Gut Bacteria . In terms of prebiotic supplements there are a number of interesting options to consider.

  1. Hydrolysed Guar Gum is a partially broken down soluble fiber which is extracted from the Indian Cluster bean.
  2. Galacto-oligodisaccharidases (GOS) are made from either a milk product source or from chicory roots.  It is helpful if someone is also constipated and may increase bifidobacteria as well.
  3. Larch is the bark of a tree. It supports the production of a key fuel to support the integrity of the gut lining known as butyrate. It also has been shown to support the growth of good gut bacteria such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus which reducing the growth of E Coli and Clostridia. It is thought that the larch stimulates the immune system and therefore keeps opportunistic bugs in check.
  4. Lactulose is made of up of two sugars galactose and fructose and is used to treat constipation. It is not digested like other sugars and therefore when it moves through to the colon the bacteria can feed on it and it draws water into the stool making it easier to pass.

Once you know the composition of your gut flora you can really assist in building better diversity by supporting the growth of beneficial strains or by crowding out problem bacteria. Ideally using testing such as a Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis or directly through a group like Ubiome you can improve your knowledge of your gut bacteria.

If you need assistance with gut health please make an appointment with Christine Pope on 8084 0081.

Terry Wahl’s diet for Multiple Sclerosis

shutterstock_227550832At the Bioceuticals Symposium in Melbourne recently I was fortunate to hear from keynote speaker, Dr Terry Wahl’s on the program which put her Multiple Sclerosis into remission. One of the refreshing things about this presentation was the strong focus on diet first, then exercise second and then supplements. The benefit of this approach is that it isn’t just suitable for MS but also anyone suffering from an autoimmune disease and current indications are that this could be in excess of 20% of the population.

Dr Wahl’s was diagnosed with MS in 2000 and used conventional therapies to manage the symptoms. She deteriorated to the extent that she was in a tilt wheelchair and needing to resign from her position at the hospital. Motivated by the downward spiral and with a background in clinical research she started looking for options in the medical literature and looked more broadly at other degenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s and Huntingdon’s disease. The drug therapies being tested were decades away so her research then led her to vitamins and supplements. What she found was a number of nutrients that slowed the pace of her MS but did not resolve the underlying condition. After discovering Functional Medicine in 2007 she decided to redesign her diet to try and incorporate those nutrients from food. This had such a significant impact that she went from a wheelchair to walking in one year.

The basis of her program is significant dietary change, basically flooding the body with nutrients. This is done by removing gluten, dairy and sugar and replacing it with a lot of nutrient dense vegetables and phytochemical rich fruit as well as small amounts of good quality protein and fats. The program encourages the use of butter which has been demonised for so long although ideally only the butter of grass fed cows so its rich in nutrients. It also includes small amount of organ meats, ideally organic, for their nutrient density. So pate is back on the menu but you can’t eat it with bread!

Key components of the diet are as follows;

  1. Up to 9 cups a day of vegetables and fruit of which ideally 3 cups are green leafy vegetables and 3 cups are sulphur containing vegetables and the remaining are brightly coloured vegetables and fruit.
  2. Small quantities of good quality protein ideally grass fed or organic.
  3. Fermented foods in small quantities initially to assist in feeding beneficial gut bacteria.
  4. Seaweed to provide adequate amounts of the essential mineral iodine
  5. Organ meats such as liver or heart once or twice a week, these should ideally be organic but particularly important to have organic liver as many toxins can be stored in the liver.
  6. Good quality fats such as olive oil and  grass fed butter.

For more information on the specifics of this diet her book is invaluable and she also has many resources on her website including meal plans.

In addition to the dietary changes, adequate sun exposure for Vitamin D as well as regular exercise are critical. Typically exercise is often difficult for MS patients however she recommends working with a suitably qualified exercise therapist to ensure that activity is appropriate and builds up gradually. The advantage is that regular exercise increases the number of mitochondria which assist in building energy, so this is helpful with the fatigue associated with MS and other auto-immune conditions.

Christine Pope is a Naturopath based at Elemental Health at St Ives and can be contacted for appointments on 8084 0081. Christine works with clients to optimise the diet and support them with supplements and herbal medicine.

Four amazing benefits of chocolate

shutterstock_383928862Chocolate in its raw state is an amazing mix of nutrients , both minerals and plant compounds such as polyphenols. Come Easter time is it possible to enjoy a little dark chocolate and support your health as well ?

1. Nutritional Content 100mg of good quality dark chocolate has 230mg of magnesium, which is 58% of the recommended daily intake (RDI) . It also has 12mg of iron (67%) 1.8mg of copper , 722mg of Potassium and 3.3 mg of zinc. That’s a nutrient dense package however it will account for 30% of your daily kilojoules intake as well.

2. Fibre content is actually reasonable as like many plants there is a good amount of fibre , around 8g in a 100g block. Usually 25-40g in a day is considered a good quantity of fibre so dark chocolate can contribute to that intake. Fibre is essential for the effective functioning of the bowel and it also provides a food source for beneficial gut bacteria.

3. Caffeine – well at around 80mg per block it’s equal to one cup of coffee so it’s good for an energy burst for at least an hour afterwards. Possibly best to avoid later in the evening if you have trouble sleeping.

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4. Theobromine – one of the valuable anti-oxidants in chocolate is theobromine. It is a vasodilator which helps move improve blood flow to the brain and increase oxygen. Its the mental boost without having to suffer the effects of excessive amounts of caffeine.

Better energy and a nice shot of your daily minerals! Just keep intake moderate and enjoy a small amount daily!

Christine Pope is a naturopath and nutritionist based at Elemental Health St Ives. You can make appointments on 8084 0081 or online at www.elementalhealth.net.au .

Is Fasting for me ?

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Fasting is a time honoured Naturopathic tradition although its not really taught as part of main stream courses anymore. It is still a really useful protocol for some people. There are now a wide range of options with fasting,  Juice Fasting, Five Two, Elemental Fasting, Six One and Intermittent Fasting, just to name a few . So what are the current options?

  1. Juice Fasting – this is usually a shorter fast such as a weekend or a few days and limits your intake to mainly vegetable juices, with a small amount of fruit. It floods your body with nutrition and hydration but can sometimes provoke extreme hunger on day 2. This is often used as a cleanse or weight loss starter and the usual feedback is about half the weight lost is water you do become more concious of what you eat after a juice fast.
  2. Five Two – a popular adaptation this allows you to eat on an unrestricted based 5 days a week whilst restricting calories to 25% of your normal intake on two of those days. This diet was popularised by Micheal Mosley a few years ago. Ideally to really minimise side effects and benefit from this approach you need to eat nutrient dense foods the other days and ensure that you are getting enough protein and micro-nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals on your non fasting days. Proponents of this approach suggest starting with a 12 hour fast overnight for a few weeks to make it easier.
  3. Elemental Fasting – this is used therapeutically for a digestive reset for those with serious infections such as parasites or severe SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). This fast needs to be run under supervision and comprises shakes which contain adequate amounts of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. The approach is to starve out the problematic bugs.
  4. Six One – A slight variation to the Five Two it involves completely fasting on one day a week whilst eating normally on the other days.
  5. Intermittent Fasting – Routinely fasting for twelve hours overnight – basically eating dinner by 7.30 and then breakfasting at 7.30 – can be an effective way to improve your response to glucose and insulin. As part of the Bredesen protocol I studied in 2016 it is recommended as part of a strategy to improve blood sugar as well as specific sensitising nutrients if levels are elevated. In addition its recommended that people with the specific gene for Alzheimer’s known as APO4E fast for up to 16 hours a day. For more information on this protocol see my blog Delaying Alzheimer’s 

shutterstock_513957496So what are the benefits reported from fasting ? Micheal Mosley in his 5:2 diet cites three major areas which include weight loss, improved metabolic markers and reduced inflammatory markers such as C Reactive Protein. Research published recently on pubmed is also showing that intermittent fasting or time restricted feeding is proving beneficial for weight loss and metabolic health. (1)

Intermittent Fasting can be a good way to stabilise blood sugars at the early stages of insulin resistance. The 5:2 protocol can be helpful for people who want to lose weight but have trouble sticking to a restrictive diet. Ideally your fast days are separated and you include a small amount of protein in the meals to help stabilise blood sugar.

Christine Pope is an experienced Naturopath and Nutritionist based at Elemental Health, St Ives. You can make an appointment on 8084 0081 or book online at the website .

Bio-compatibility Hair Testing – What’s Right for your Body?

allergen photoItchy skin, rashes, unhappy stomachs, headache, insomnia, fatigue.

Any of these sound familiar?

These symptoms can be really frustrating and options are often limited to managing symptoms, but they all have one thing in common.

They can all be caused by food intolerance/sensitivity!

So how can you get to the core of the problem and get REAL RESULTS?

Even if you have a healthy, balanced diet this doesn’t mean you will be symptom free as it may not necessarily be the right diet for you! That is why food compatibility testing can help you get results as it can help to explicitly identify what does and doesn’t work for you.

shutterstock_5227150661.jpgOver my 12 years in practice I have tried a number of approaches based on my training and subsequent study. Initially I would try and find the perfect homeopathic remedy which really didn’t work as much as I would have liked. Then I tried the Naturopathic detox approach – identify and remove allergens and then heal and seal the gut. Lots of products and a reasonable success rate but quite expensive from the point of view of the testing and the supplements.

It is also important to remember that particularly with skin cases it can often be external factors as much as the diet that can be triggers. Sometimes you need to be a bit of a detective and this test can really help. I always remember seeing a client who had puffy eyes for 10 days where nothing was helping. On questioning her the new curtains in her room from China had gone up 2 weeks earlier. Knowing that these materials are often packed with chemicals I simply got her to remove them for a few days and it cleared the problem.

In previous blogs I have covered the options available for different forms of testing however currently I am recommending the Bio-compatibility Hair Test for 500 foods and household chemicals for six main reasons;

  1. Its SIMPLE AND EASY – It only requires a hair sample!
  2. It is the MOST COMPREHENSIVE test available – The test covers 500 household foods and household chemicals. Including all food groups, bathroom, laundry and kitchen products and even local brands found in supermarkets and health food stores!
  3. It is the BEST VALUE – $259 for 500 foods vs the same or higher cost for only 40-90 foods
  4. It’s NOT INVASIVE – No blood sacrifices required! (Trying to get a blood test from a toddler is not fun!)
  5. It is EASILY UNDERSTANDABLE – The test results come like a shopping list so its easy for you to see what works and what doesn’t for your body.
  6. FREE INITIAL CONSULT – I am currently offering a free 15 minute consult to see if Bio compatability hair testing is right for you!

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In the past skin cases were one of my groan cases – I knew it was a long process and most people want quick results and they often didn’t see them fast enough. Sometimes these cases even get worse before they get better. This test has really helped achieve some great results for clients where they have tried other options, particularly with eczema cases but also with some more complicated auto-immune conditions. In most cases clients who are compliant would see some reasonable progress in 4-6 weeks and sometimes earlier.

If you are interested in using this test I do offer a FREE 15 minute consultation to see if it is suitable for you. This is not a quick fix but rather a focused process with some dietary changes required based on your individual results. You can call my clinic reception on 8084 0081 to set up a time or email me at christine@elementalhealth.net.au for more information.

If you are not based in or around St Ives then please email me at Christine@elementalhealth.net.au and I will find a local practitioner for you.

6 Tips for feeding your gut bacteria right!

Research shows that on average probiotics last 13 to 17 days in the gastrointestinal tract which means that, whilst it is a good strategy in the short term to crowd out problematic bacteria, the reality is that diet is the best way to improve your gut flora.

So what do you need to do to feed your gut bacteria right?

  1. At least 6 serves of veggies and 2-3 pieces of fruit daily! Why? The resistant starch as well as pectins found in these foods provides a good source of food for gut bacteria so you need to make sure that your diet includes sufficient to feed them well.shutterstock_553662235
  2. Take probioitic strains that you may be low in – many people use a Comprehensive Digestive Stool analysis (CDSA) to see if they are low in specific strains.
  3. Know your yoghurts – Whilst most claim that they contain beneficial strains only Vaalia and Activa have been tested and have verifiable claims. Vaalia yoghurt contains three beneficial strains which seems to generate good results at approximately half a cup a day. Most people who are lactose intolerant can cope with approximately half a cup.shutterstock_348174332
  4. Spirulina, green tea and almonds have been shown to increase the levels of Lactobacilli – green tea also may increase fat burning and almonds are a good source of essential fatty acids.
  5. Bifidobacteria can be assisted by eating raw carrots and brown rice – which also provide a source of good fibre for the gut.
  6. Fermented Foods like sauerkraut, kim-chi and cabbage are another proven method to improve gut health and flora as well as added benefits such as – reducing pesticide residue, helping metabolise hormones and reducing anti-nutrients while increasing the concentration of key nutrients such as niacin by up to 175%!

If you have any other questions about feeding your gut bacteria right or requests for other blog topics please comment below!

Christine Pope is a nutritionist and homeopath based at Elemental Health at St Ives. Her focus in clinical practice is on improving gut health as it is critical to improving overall wellbeing.

5 Tips for good gluten free menu’s

Breakfast at The Conservation Hut

 Australia Day we added a couple of days leave creating a long weekend and headed up to the Blue Mountains. Being strictly gluten free I did some research before I left and came up with an impressive list of options. Unfortunately the definition of gluten free varied widely. So here are some tips for aspiring cafes and restaurants.
1. Having gluten free bread available is nice but it doesn’t make for gluten free options . We particularly enjoyed the gluten free high tea at the Hydro Majestic because we got to enjoy lots of delicious options which were all gluten free. They even toasted the bread which is essential when you are dealing with gluten free bread. A particular highlight was a raspberry macaroon served with fresh raspberries. Just wish they could sort out the gluten free scones – there are some great options around and they are an essential part of a high tea. Also just remember if you do provide gluten free bread then be careful about cross contamination with food handling.

2. Provide real gluten free options. At Anonymous Cafe at Blackheath the gluten free breakfast options included gluten free toast, spiced pumpkin loaf and a gluten free muesli. The spiced pumpkin loaf was served with marscopone and jam and was a delicious option.

Gluten free at the Hydro Majestic

3. Remember people who are gluten free often have multiple intolerances including dairy and egg so ideally include options which don’t double down on the intolerances. Great breakfast options could include adding a vegetable hash with optional inclusions such as salmon, egg or bacon. The Conservation Hut at Wentworth Falls offered a smoked trout hash with a poached egg and was happy to leave it off when requested.

4. Educate your staff about your menu’s. At one restaurant which will not be named I was asked by one waitress whether potatoes were gluten free? She then advised that only two of the main courses were options but subsequently a different staff member then told me that everything could be made gluten free. This was a bit misleading as it turned out they removed the portion of the meal that required gluten. For dessert it was actually the crumble part of the peach and apple crumble and it would have been nice to know that half the dessert would not be included. Its so easy to make gluten free crumble mix – any mix of almond meal, brown sugar, quinoa or rice flakes would work well.

By contrast we also enjoyed dinner at Vesta‘s in Blackhealth where the waitress not only could tell you what was possible in terms of gluten free but provided options such as flaxseed crisp to enjoy with the pate on the charcuterie board. The small board made a good sized entree between two people and included a pate and a terrine as well as some meats and excellent pickled vegetables.

5. Mark the menu with the gluten free and other options, such as vegetarian. This means when you search menu’s its easy to see if there are real gluten free options and quickly identify what they are. The Ori Cafe at Springwood and Papadino’s at Katoomba both have well marked menu’s with a good range of options. The night we ate at Papadino’s the specials board even included a gluten free gnocchi. It was served with a Napolitana sauce which was quite garlicky but also delicious.

Christine Pope is a Nutritionist and Homeopath who practices at Elemental Health at St Ives. If you need help managing food intolerances or just some good restaurant recommendations you can make an appointment on 8084 0081 or book online .