Smorgasbord Health – IBS Part Three – Identifying Trigger Foods


This is the process that I used successfully for myself originally 20 years ago and also with my clients since then.. It may seem a real pain to keep a food diary and to pay so much attention to what you are eating, but it will pay off when you have either reduced your IBS symptoms or discovered the cause of the disease.

Intermittent Fasting.

In the last couple of years there has been a lot of press about Intermittent Fasting. The theory behind the concept is that by restricting your eating to within certain time periods that it gives your body a chance to process your food efficiently and also to rest the major organs active in the digestive system.

There are a couple of choices. You can have two days a week where you only have 500 calories during the day with fluids and then you eat normally for five days (by normally I do mean a balanced diet). Or you can do what I do and that is eating within an 8 hour window every day.

I have lost weight, regained my appetite, and I have lost my sugar cravings. This of course does not mean you have a free licence to eat anything you like.. But you can still have a pizza or a night out once or twice a week provided the rest of the time you are eating with Cook From Scratch firmly in place.

As to IBS symptoms.. After a year I can now have the occasional home baked or fresh made bread from the in house bakery in the store once or twice a week. I enjoy a glass of wine or gin and tonic at the weekend and I can enjoy most things as long as it is not a regular feature.

Stress

As I pointed out in the other posts on IBS, stress has been recognised as a contributory factor in the condition.  When you are keeping your food diary it is important to also make a note of out of the ordinary events or activities that resulted in an increase in symptoms.

Programme to identify your food triggers that result in IBS symptoms.

WEEK ONE – The aim is to reduce inflammation and cramps and increase intestinal flora.

Grains are all out for the first week. You will be getting sufficient carbohydrates from vegetables and fruit. You will start to re-introduce from week two, one grain at a time.

Dairy is out for the first week – you will introduce butter week two, milk week three and cheese week four. Calcium will come from vegetables, canned fish etc. If you can abide the taste of organic soymilk then fine but make sure no added sugar!  If you have symptoms after using a dairy alternative stop taking.

No alcohol for six weeks or any other processed packets, cans or bottles of sauces of any kind including mayonnaise.

One coffee per day in the morning but note any intestinal symptoms 30 – 60 minutes after eating. The oil content in caffeinated coffee can cause diarrhoea so try decaffeinated. Tea – black without milk – Green tea – very good and peppermint tea – great for spasms and cramps.

FOOD YOU CAN EAT WEEK ONE.

Vegetables – for first week or two avoid cabbage or cauliflower as nutritious but can increase wind. At least five a day of spinach, broccoli, watercress, Rucula lettuce, courgettes, leeks, onions, (every day) mushrooms (shitake are excellent) garlic (fresh if possible) carrots, parsnips, swede, potatoes, butternut squash (carbohydrates), tomatoes, (see how you feel the next day as pips in tomatoes can cause a problem if you suffer from diverticulitis), red peppers, peeled cucumber, half an avocado per day. Flavour with a little olive oil and herbs or spices. Balsamic vinegar with some olive oil and herbs makes a good salad dressing.

Fruit –At least two per day – bananas (helps both diarrhoea and constipation) oranges, lemons, apples, pears, grapes, berries of all kinds, plums, melon. Avoid dried fruit in week one.

Meat and poultry – any unprocessed Lamb, pork, chicken, turkey, beef, and duck. Eggs any way you wish. If you are not using milk you can still make scrambled egg and omelettes by whisking the whites first. Use the microwave or a pan with a little olive oil.

Fish – at least three times a week. –Salmon fresh and canned (mash the soft bones in for added calcium) tuna, sardines, halibut and any other fish. Give shelled fish such as prawns, crab and lobster a miss for week one and two and then introduce one a week.

Oils – Standard Olive oil or sunflower for all cooking and extra virgin olive oil for dressings – mix with herbs and spices like garlic to drizzle over jacket potatoes and salad. Do not fry with olive oil alone, add some sunflower oil and do not burn.

Examples of meals.

Breakfast. Water on rising or juice of a lemon in hot water – leave at least 30 minutes before eating if you can.

Spanish omelette with two eggs, chopped potatoes, tomatoes and onion (chop the night before and keep in fridge)

Fruit salad with fresh pressed juice on top.

Poached egg on spinach with half an avocado.

Lunchtime

Homemade vegetable soup – no stock but you can add seasoning and salt. For example butternut squash and carrot – if you can find a fresh made soup without sugar and preservatives then go for it.

Large salad with egg, avocado tinned salmon or sardines with chopped potato and balsamic dressing.

Jacket potato with drizzle of olive oil and a tin of tuna or salmon.

Dinner

Meat, fish or chicken all fresh – green vegetables – carrots and potatoes – use olive oil and herbs and spices over the vegetables.

Snacks between meals.

Fruit, nuts and seeds.

If at the end of week one you are still experiencing severe symptoms drop the fruit and repeat week one.

WEEK TWO – ALL OF THE ABOVE PLUS

You can introduce oats every other day – porridge with a banana and a small cup of whole milk. You can also put a dash of milk in your tea and coffee. No more than 250ml per day. If you symptoms worsen drop the milk and stay with the oats.

WEEK THREE – ALL OF THE ABOVE PLUS

You can introduce corn and brown rice – corn tortillas and substitute every other meal with two tablespoons of brown rice.

You can also start to use some butter to drizzle over vegetables etc.

WEEK FOUR – ALL OF THE ABOVE PLUS.

Cabbage, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower (check for increase in symptoms). Also a couple of ounces of cheese every other day.

You can introduce rye – Ryvita will add some variety to snacks and lunches.

WEEK FIVE – ALL OF THE ABOVE PLUS

You can introduce wheat again – try reduced sugar Irish soda bread – one slice per day. It is at this point that you want to pay particular attention to your symptoms over 48 hours. If you notice an increase you are probably gluten intolerant which means that certainly for the conceivable future you need to only eat gluten free products. Gluten is not just in bread of course, it is in many processed foods and meats such as sausages and in sauces.

You can have good quality yoghurt every other day. Note any increase in symptoms.

WEEK SIX – ALL OF THE ABOVE PLUS

You can introduce whole grain pasta – make simple sauces from scratch like tomato and basil etc.

You can have a glass of red wine three days apart – watch for increase in symptoms.

By now you should be very aware of how your body and more importantly your intestines are reacting to the food you are eating. This is not a weight loss exercise although those who are overweight will lose some but those who have been starving themselves out of desperation will put it on.

As I mentioned earlier – you can extend each phase to two weeks. The key is to make sure that you keep an accurate record of both food intake and symptoms.

SUPPLEMENTS.

There is a huge debate as to the effectiveness of supplements. You should be now getting most of which you need to obtain the necessary nutrients but there are a few that I find very useful in speeding up the process.

Peppermint capsules Peppermint tea is great an hour after you have eaten, but I find that two peppermint capsules after breakfast help with cramps and digestion in general. However, in some people peppermint can cause symptoms so note any of these. Also be careful of over the counter IBS medication as they nearly all have peppermint.

Acidophilus capsules at least 3billion active cultures. This helps give your intestinal bacteria a kick start. They are quite expensive and good quality is vital. Take as directed but I have found that 2 per day to start with, after breakfast and dinner are helpful. You can drop this to one a day after a period of time. (see Part Two that tells you which foods are high in natural probiotics)

Aloe Vera gel this is highly nutritious and provided you begin slowly you may find it will help with symptoms, reduce the cramping and give you a boost. I start with a teaspoon a day before breakfast and graduate up to a dessert spoon twice a day over a two week period. After that you can increase to the recommended dosage on the product. I take through the winter months as I find it a great help when I am not getting any sunshine. You should be able to find a local agent but most have online shops who supply Forever Living which is about the best quality.

Multi-vitamin supplement-If you are suffering from a basic nutritional deficiency then do go to one of the larger health food chains and ask their advice regarding the best multi-vitamin that they have. You want one that is yeast and sugar free and liquid might be best to get you started rather than demand your overworked intestines try to process anything else. The liquid will also be absorbed faster and easier.  As I get older and particularly through the winter months I find that taking a B-complex supplement helps me.

So those are the basics.

Six to twelve weeks to perhaps discover the one or two foods that might be the cause of all your misery. A time to rest your digestive system and encourage your healthy bacteria in your gut and also stimulate the natural muscular activity to restart.

I hope that you will find that this is not a starvation programme but one that you can enjoy, experiment with and learn how what you eat does impact your health.

Having improved your symptoms – you may well have to make minor adjustments going forward – it might be gluten free – sugar reduced – dairy alternatives – but all are worth the price if you are free of symptoms and stress. If there are foods that will always cause you a problem you will find that there are many that will not. A small sacrifice to have the freedom from the symptoms of IBS.

On that note, as you begin to feel better and have the urge to exercise, find something that enables you to relax and be calm – leave the marathon running and the extreme sports for a while!

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to comment here or contact me privately through my About Me on the blog.

Here are Part One and Part Two of the series.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/04/28/smorgasbord-health-irritable-bowel-syndrome-stop-and-rewind/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/04/29/smorgasbord-health-irritable-bowel-syndrome-part-two-strategies/

Blood Pressure – Part Two – Nitrate and Potassium foods in your diet.


fruit and veg banner

As we get older we tend to start taking foods out of our diet rather than adding them in.  Food is not just to satisfy our hunger pangs or our cravings. The right foods containing the correct balance of healthy nutrients that have nourished them in their growth cycle are absolutely essential to maintain our own health. The miles of blood vessels in our body need to be maintained, kept flexible and capable of pumping blood to major organs 24 hours a day for our lifespan.. you have to meet your body half way on this and provide it with what it needs to do the job right!

In the last post we have looked at losing weight, reducing salt and exercise to help maintain a healthy BP and today I look at some foods that can also, eaten in moderation, help maintain that balance. They belong primarily to two groups – nitrate rich and those containing potassium.

Nitrate rich foods

Plants absorb naturally occurring nitrate in soil through their roots and it is essential to their healthy growth and development. However it has to go through some chemical adaptation to enable the plant to use efficiently and it goes through various stages to end up as amino acids and chlorophyll. We as humans can reuse those amino acids in the plants that we eat and therefore obtain these second hand benefits ourselves. There are other chemical and bacterial processes that are in play but fundamentally the end result is an easy and efficient way for us to obtain a critically important component in our essential nutrient bundle.

Nitrates are called vasodilators which mean that they dilate or widen the blood vessels in the body. This allows for a healthy blood flow which in turn provides oxygen rich blood to the heart muscle. It is effective for both arteries and veins and regulates blood flow to the heart reducing the work load on the muscle. You will find that many prescribed medications for conditions such as Angina are nitrate based.

This is why as we get into middle age it is so important to include a high quantity of high quality, raw and low processed vegetables and fruit in our diet. Five portions are simply not enough and is the minimum. Ideally I suggest that you have at least Six portions of vegetables a day and Two of fruit.

There are many nitrate vegetables and fruits in the fresh produce aisle in the supermarket or in our own gardens but these are the ones that I include in my diet regularly.

beetroot

Beetroot – 250ml daily contains 0.2g of dietary nitrate and in studies has been shown to result in an average ten point decrease in blood pressure levels. Beetroot juice is not for the faint hearted, I don’t find the taste too bad but please do not be alarmed by the side effects. You will find that after about 24 hours you will pee and poo pink – and sometimes red!

I make a smoothie with beetroot, celery and banana two or three times a week.. Takes a little getting used to but certainly a nitrate and potassium punch. One 8oz serving is enough but you need to make on the day rather than store as the banana turns it a rather disgusting colour after an hour or so. You can add any of the following to either a savoury smoothie or a slightly sweeter one..

I find beetroot more palatable than eating the alternative of two bowls of dark green lettuce a day to obtain the same amount of dietary nitrate however if you include some of these nitrate rich foods regularly the accumulative effect will contribute to a healthier BP.

I eat an onion a day (cooked and consume the odd breath mint) and also garlic regularly and find that the combined effect is beneficial. Here are others to include:- Broccoli, cabbage and kale, celery, rocket lettuce, string beans, pumpkins, avocados, bananas, strawberries, tomatoes and grapes.

Potassium rich foods.

bananas

Bananas – I would have great fun with my clients, and after all a good laugh is better than most medicines, when they would pronounce that they did not eat bananas because they were fattening! In my heyday I could demolish a tub of Haagen Daz Ice cream at 2000 calories and not blink and having seen my client’s food diaries they had similar tastes so making a banana the bad guy is hilarious.

For me the banana is one of nature’s gifts in a small but delicious package. Already wrapped it is easy to take with you anywhere, and comes from a family with 300 varieties and is the fourth most important staple food due to its high nutritional content. It can be eaten at any age and easily digested and has protein, B vitamins and the banana contains potassium.

I covered the need for sodium in our diet when writing about salt, but we also need potassium because it reacts with sodium and chloride to maintain a perfect environment in and around each of our cells. It is the main Cation (positively charged electrolyte) and it allows the transmission of nerve impulses and helps maintain the correct fluid balance in the body as well as helping regulate the levels of acidity and alkalinity in the body. Potassium is required for carbohydrate and protein metabolism, is connected to normal heart rhythms and without the correct balance of sodium and potassium our muscles would not work correctly and this includes our heart muscle.

With elevated blood pressure or when diets contain too much salt, potassium rich foods such as bananas help counteract the affect by dilating the blood vessels, enhancing the excretion of water and excess sodium from the body and suppressing the hormones that cause elevations in BP. You will also see from the section on nitrates that the banana also contains these too.

The banana itself has some great health benefits and appears to improve stress levels, heartburn, ulcers, PMS and at around 150 calories for a large banana is a great snack. You will find more information in the Food Pharmacy.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2014/05/20/food-pharmacy-the-banana-from-hangovers-to-warts-and-all-a-neatly-wrapped-remedy-on-the-go/

Other potassium rich foods to include in your diet on a regular basis are potatoes, green vegetables of all kinds especially spinach. Also mushrooms, tomatoes, oranges, prunes, apricots, fish such as halibut and tuna – yogurts etc.

Do not overcook your green vegetables and steaming retains most of the nutrients or eat raw and add to smoothies.. If you do cook in a pot blanch for under five minutes and freeze and then reheat for a few minutes in the microwave.. This way the greens stay a lovely colour and also do not lose their nutrients such as their nitrate component into the water that just gets thrown away. You can keep the water to add to homemade chicken stock for a rich gravy so that you waste nothing.

As well as fresh fruit and vegetables there is another key element of our diets that can help to maintain the health of our blood vessels and also the blood flow. That is wholegrains.

wholegrains

Once we are past the growing phase of our bodies (upward not outward!) we do not need as many carbohydrates but we need enough to offer us the correct fuel mix for our activity levels. There is a great deal of press about giving them up to lose weight, or impress our gut bacteria etc…etc.

However in my opinion this is a dangerous strategy as our bodies require the elements from the right carbohydrates to provide essential vitamins and minerals and to give us the energy to get through each day.

Fibre is a component that removes waste from the body which includes toxins. It also is a little like a vacuum cleaner in as much as it removes unwanted clumps of debris that are collecting in various places in the body.. This allows for smooth passage of fluids such as blood increasing blood flow.

Here is an article in the Daily Telegraph yesterday on one of my favourite carbohydrates that I include every other day, Oats. Also a link to a cholesterol article on carbohydrates and their importance in maintaining a health cholesterol and BP balance.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/11325968/Porridge-could-be-key-to-a-long-and-healthy-life-says-Harvard-University.html

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/02/03/the-cholesterol-myth-carbohydrates-not-all-are-demons/

Here is the first part of the Blood Pressure posts.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/02/11/blood-pressure-hidden-salt-in-your-diet/

Please ask any questions that you would like clarified.. If you do so in the comments then that might help others. If you would like to ask me something regarding nutrition privately then email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com

Photographs – Pinterest

 

 

 

 

The Cholesterol Myth – Carbohydrates – Not all are demons….


So far I hope that I have established that cholesterol is important for many areas of our health and that it is the LDL (low density lipoprotein) with its smaller particles, particularly when those particles are oxidized, that causes plaque build-up in the arteries.

This oxidation occurs when we have a diet high in white fat and white carbohydrates, sugar and indulge in activities such as smoking. Since the white fat diet is the most popular today – flavoured latte’s with muffins – cookies, high sugar white cereals, etc etc, the LDL levels of a great many people is going to cause health problems eventually.

wholegrains

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are a component of food that supplies us with energy in the form of calories to the body. Along with proteins and fats they provide the human body with the main elements required to be healthy. Carbohydrates are made up of sugars (simple carbohydrates), starches (complex carbohydrates) and fibre. If you take the fibre out of the formula through over processing you are just left with the sugars.. These are intense and result in blood glucose fluctuations. You may have experienced this for yourself after a heavy lunch with lots of white rice followed by a rich and sugary dessert. You become light headed and feel faint requiring a top up around 4pm in the afternoon!

To lower cholesterol levels naturally you need to eat carbohydrates that have retained the fibre element as this helps absorb some of the sugars and prevent blood glucose fluctuations.

Carbohydrates are not the demons that some would make out. They have essential elements that are required to make the perfect fuel mix for our bodies.

However,our requirement for carbohydrates will change as we get older. When we are children and young adults our growing bodies require a supercharged fuel – carbohydrates are also needed in higher concentration during periods of high activity as you get older but should be allied to that particular period of exercise. When men and women pass through the mid-life change the requirement certainly drops but levels again depend on how active your life style is.

If someone is a total couch potato drifting from bed to table, table to car, car to desk, desk to car, car to sofa – then putting a high octane fuel into the body will simply be converted to fat. However, stopping all carbohydrates is wrong – there are certain nutrients and fibre within wholegrain carbohydrates that the body needs so that the chemical balance is maintained. Here is the link to Food Pharmacy – Brown Rice and this will show you what is actually removed from the grain.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2014/05/28/food-pharmacy-brown-rice-packed-with-nutrients-and-fibre-and-helps-rid-your-body-of-toxins/

As far as LDL cholesterol is concerned there is some evidence that a lower carbohydrate intake can decrease the numbers.  I think that this is likely to be because of the reduction of sugars when the carbohydrates usually consumed are white without the fibre and B-vitamins element. However, a certain amount of wholegrain carbohydrate with the fibre attached should still be eaten in certain quantities.

Going back to the last post on the liver – the organ that is vital in converting the carbohydrates into energy – keeping the liver healthy is extremely important and if it is working efficiently your carbohydrate uptake can be less but still effective.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/29/the-cholesterol-myth-ldl-vs-hdl-and-your-best-friend-your-liver/

I am afraid I do not class white carbohydrates as a food group – they are sugars pure and simple and most have little or no nutritional value. By the time the wholegrain has been stripped of its fibre, vitamin B and other nutrients to suit today’s palate you have nothing but white stodge on a plate. There are exceptions – those of an Italian origin have been eating white pasta made with a specific flour for generations but it is offset too by their love of olive oil, lots of tomatoes, onions and garlic etc which is actual the predominant part of their diet not the pasta.

It is important that the grain carbohydrates should be wholegrain – rice, wheat and oats. However, wheat is one of the newer grains and does not suit everybody’s digestion –

Gluten.

Gluten is a protein present in grains such as wheat, barley and rye and it can be very difficult for some people to digest. Celiac disease is an inherited autoimmune disease that can ultimately badly damage the intestines. Having one parent or close relative with celiac disease your chances of being affected are around 1 in 25. An interesting study in China where the grain of choice is rice, has noted an increase in celiac disease and also the less severe gluten intolerance. There is some evidence to suggest that as more people adopt a western diet with industrially produced bread products they are developing this rarely reported reaction.

If you are reading this and you are an adult, have eaten wheat products all your life, have never suffered from prolonged bloating, stomach upsets and fatigue, then the chances are that you are not sensitive to gluten. If on the other hand you are suffering from these symptoms look at your food for the last few weeks and circle all items that contain wheat, especially industrially  processed.

I am personally better with home-made bread made from good quality organic flour than I am with commercial sliced bread of any kind which tends to have many more additives.

Back to carbohydrates.

Whatever age you are, if you are very active you can eat a diet of wholegrain carbohydrates, lean protein and healthy fats and plenty of vegetables with some fruit to obtain the nutrition needed for optimal fuel.

Breakfast – Porridge oats (buy guaranteed gluten free – they may be contaminated if milled in the same place as wheat) – or homemade muesli with nuts, seeds and a small amount of fruits – go easy on the dried fruit as it has higher concentration of sugars.

Oats contain soluble fibre and this works on your cholesterol in a couple of ways – If both your HDL and LDL are on the high side – the fibre will reduce the total absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream but it will also reduce the LDL cholesterol which is what you should be aiming for.   You need about 10 grams of soluble fibre a day and by having a bowl of porridge (6grams) and a banana (4 grams) you will have started the day well.

If you enjoy a cooked breakfast then one slice of wholegrain toast with a scrape of butter and a poached egg and perhaps a tomato…

potatoes

Lunch – I medium potato with lots of green vegetables and some carrots or perhaps two tablespoons of brown rice with lean protein is all that is needed. If you enjoy pasta than buy a high quality italian variety or better still wholegrain.  Limit yourself to around 75gm and eat with lots of tomato sauce and onions. Avoid pies and other pastries unless you have made yourself with wholegrain flour and real butter (not margerine).

Supper -A bowl of homemade vegetable soup. A large salad with roast chicken. Salmon and green vegetables.  If you are going to be enjoying a night on the sofa and television the carbohydrate is not going anywhere except your waistline.

If you are working out three times a week then add another spoonful of wholegrain rice to your dinner the night before – eat a banana before your workout.

Other carbohydrates

nuts and seeds

Other foods to include with your carbohydrates are nuts and seeds – walnuts are great, beans, but only a handful, certain fruits such as apples (contain pectin which helps keep your bile ducts healthy) and prunes, and my favourite, banana, again not huge amounts but the fibre from all of these will not only help keep the LDL numbers in balance but also keep the bowels working and healthy.

Next time the greatest myth about cholesterol… that all fats are bad for you..

Here is part one and two in the cholesterol series.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/27/the-cholesterol-myth-part-one-why-your-body-needs-cholesterol/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/29/the-cholesterol-myth-ldl-vs-hdl-and-your-best-friend-your-liver/

©sallygeorginacronin Just Food for Health 2008