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Food Combining Diet

by Sue Kira, Naturopath & Nutritionist

Introduction

A quick lesson on digestion

The principles of food combining

Case study: Good food combinations relieve symptoms

 

Introduction

The concept of the food combining diet is that certain foods don’t digest well together.

Some people have what we might term a ‘cast iron stomach’ and seem to be able to digest anything and everything, but there are many more people that simply cannot do this or they suffer the consequences. For example, mixing the macronutrients of fats, proteins and carbs together can create a disastrous situation for some people.

If the food you eat is not digesting properly, not only can you get painful gas, heart burn, acid reflux and other stomach problems, but your body will also be deprived of the nutrients it needs.

 

A quick lesson on digestion

You put food or liquid into your mouth, chew it up, swallow it and then different processes in your body break these food particles down into a size that the body can absorb. Then anything that your body doesn’t use is excreted as waste.

Food can be broken down in different parts of your digestive system, including your mouth, stomach and the first and middle sections of your small intestine, called the duodenum and jejunum respectively. Furthermore, you have three kinds of digestion:

  • Mechanical (chewing and churning) digestion
  • Chemical (acids and enzymes) digestion
  • Bacteria (hopefully good ones) that break down food

Food combining takes into consideration the digestive areas of your body and the complexity of digestion for each type of food, to ensure it goes through your entire digestive system with ease.

There are three primary categories of food under the banner of macro-molecules which consist of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. (Incidentally micro-molecules include vitamins and minerals)

Proteins
Proteins such as meat, chicken and fish are acidic and begin their digestion chemically in your stomach, where acid (hydrochloric acid) and an enzyme (pepsin) do their job of breaking down proteins. Pepsin is a protease enzyme (protein digesting enzyme) that not only breaks down protein but also signals the release of hydrochloric acid. Hydrochloric acid as its name implies is an acid with a pH of around 3.5 For more information on pH you can read more about it at the Alkaline Diet.

Fats
Fats are the third group of macromolecules. With fats like oils and animal fats, digestion usually starts in the small intestine and is done with the aid of lipases (fat digesting enzymes) and bile acids (secreted from the gall bladder and liver). These enzymes and acids allow the fats to be properly broken down into individual fatty acids in the small intestine.

Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are divided into two categories: simple carbohydrates like sugar and fruit and the second group are the starches, like bread and sweet potato.

While carbs like fruits can pass through your digestive system quickly and easily, starches require three levels of digestive breakdown which is a much slower process.

The first stage occurs in your mouth with the action of chewing which stimulates the secretion of amylase in your mouth that mixes with the starch to break down the complex molecules into smaller ones, hence the importance of chewing your food well, especially if they are starchy foods. (Whew, that was a mouthful).

After the mouth, starch passes through the stomach to the small intestine where the pancreas secretes a pancreatic amylase (starch digesting enzyme) into the small intestine to further breakdown the starch into smaller molecules. The enzymes that break down starchy foods are alkaline, whereas proteins are broken down by acids in the stomach.

If you put an acid and an alkaline together they will neutralise each other and neither will digest efficiently. What happens next is fermentation, instead of digestion, which creates the gasses we call flatulence and bloating.

Ideally you want to separate foods that digest differently. Acids with acids and alkaline with alkaline (although there are some complexities involved).

 

The principles of food combining

Eat fruit on its own on an empty stomach
If you already have digestive upsets like bloating, gas or flatulence, it is best to avoid most fruits, as they are high in natural sugars, until your symptoms have settled and your gut has had time to heal. Otherwise you may encourage the growth of any candida yeasts, parasites, bacteria and fungi in your digestive system. Your health practitioner can explain how long this process may take, depending on your individual health situation.

However, there are exceptions where sour fruits like lemons and limes or unsweetened juices from cranberries, black currants and pomegranates, can combine well with proteins and low starch vegetables such as salads.

Low sugar fruits can combine well with fermented or sprouted ‘protein fats’. Protein fats are proteins and fats that are combined by nature in the form of nuts and seeds. Mylks, yoghurts and kefir can be made from sprouted or fermented seeds and nuts (including coconut) and mixed with the low sugar fruits.  For example, a blueberry coconut kefir smoothie.

The next group of low sugar fruits to enjoy after your digestive system feels better are the low sugar fruits such as grapefruit, kiwi fruit, pineapple, papaya, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries. Although pineapple and papaya seem to be quite sweet, they have a high enzyme to sugar ratio and digest quite well and can help to break down other residual food left in the stomach.

Having said that, if any of these fruits make you feel bloated or gassy, then leave them out of your diet for a longer time until you have checked with your practitioner to see if you have any dysbiosis (unfriendly bacteria imbalance).

Melon type fruits should be eaten totally alone and not even with other fruits due to their high sugar content, otherwise you risk an upset tummy.

What about vegetables that are fruits?
Generally, fruits should not be eaten with any other foods, apart from the exceptions mentioned above. But another exception are those vegetables that are, in truth, actually fruits.  Any vegetable that has a seed in it is, by definition, a fruit. Examples of these are tomatoes, squash, zucchini, eggplant, cucumber, bell peppers (capsicum) and okra.

It’s fine to eat ‘fruit-vegetables’ with other vegetables, starches and proteins as they don’t have the sugar content that most fruits have, so they are considered to be an acidic fruit-vegetable.

Eat animal proteins with non-starchy vegetables
When you eat proteins like meat, poultry, fish and eggs, your stomach creates a highly acidic environment to break down the protein, whereas starches like potatoes or rice, have to be broken down by an alkaline environment. Eating proteins and starches together will neutralize each other and inhibit digestion.

The poorly-digested food travels through the digestive tract, reaching the intestines, where it putrefies, ferments and causes your blood to become acidic, creating an environment for disease-causing bacteria, fungi and yeast and potentially disease.

To prevent this from happening, avoid combining meats with grains like rice or starchy vegetables, such as corn, potatoes and sweet potatoes in the same meal. Instead, have non-starchy vegetables with your protein for optimal digestion.

Non-starchy vegetables include: leafy greens, broccoli, sprouts, cabbage, asparagus, cauliflower, carrots, red radish, bok choy, celery, lettuce, green beans, garlic, beetroot/beets, fennel, onions, chives, turnips, yellow squash, zucchini, cucumbers and sea vegetables like kelp.

Non-starchy vegetables digest quite well in both an acid or an alkaline environment, so they combined well with anything: proteins, oils and animal fats, grains, starchy vegetables, lemons and limes, and soaked and sprouted nuts and seeds.

Examples of good recipes combining proteins and non-starchy vegetable dishes are: beef and stir fry vegetables, fish with salad (not chips), roasted chicken with leafy greens (not roasted potato, sweet potato or pumpkin), or chicken and vegetable soup made with non-starchy vegetables but no grains and legumes. Dressings of simple herbs and spices mixed with olive oil and/or lemon or lime juice work well together.

Combine grains, seeds and starchy vegetables with non-starchy vegetables
Seeds, grains and starchy vegetables all contain a level of starch. The idea is to combine the right amounts of starchy foods with non-starchy foods.

Generally speaking, grains, legumes, pulses and starchy vegetables contain the most starch and are hardest to digest; seeds have less starch and are easier to digest; while non-starchy vegetables contain very little starch and are the easiest to digest.

However, there are benefits to eating starchier foods, because they contain a particular type of fibrous starch, known as ‘resistant starch’ which feed our friendly bacteria. The friendly bacteria break down the resistant starch, which our bodies cannot do.

During the breakdown of resistant starches, friendly bacteria produce metabolic substances called butyrates, which have been shown to help prevent colon cancer. If our levels of friendly bacteria are low, starches then ferment in our bodies, which can lead to various health problems, including colon cancer.

Here’s a weird analogy. Think of our intestines as a steam train that’s fuelled by both wood (the starchy foods) and coal (the non-starchy foods). Too little fuel overall and the train is underpowered (low energy); too much fuel shoved in clogs up the furnace and the fire goes out. Then the train stops. The ratio (balance) of wood to coal must also be right to keep the train running smoothly and efficiently.

Likewise, your body slows down (fatigue) if it’s not fed sufficient fuel (nutrients); too much food (particularly starch) clogs your intestines, then your digestive system can’t cope and the good bacteria gets suffocated, resulting in fermentation, bloating and gas (aka excessive farting).

And if the ratio of starchy to non starchy foods is not right, further load is placed on our furnace (the digestive system) resulting in various health conditions, illness and disease.

We don’t want that, do we? So the idea is to combine a small quantity of starchy foods with non-starchy foods to provide the best balance for your digestive system.

Starchy Vegetables
Examples of starchy vegetables include butternut squash, pumpkin, sweet potato, corn, peas, water chestnuts and artichokes, which mix well with spinach, Bok Choy and other Asian greens.

Seeds
The best seeds that are the easiest to digest are amaranth, quinoa and buckwheat. They contain protein and starch, are rich in B vitamins and help to feed the beneficial bacteria in your digestive system.

Again, here we see how nature has put two substances together i.e. protein and starch (previously we looked at a protein and fat working together in nuts). But the amount of protein in seeds is considerably lower than the protein found in animal products and so these proteins can digest quite well in an alkaline environment.

Seeds are best combined with non-starchy vegetables, however because they have a low starch content, they can still be combined with starchy vegetables in moderation e.g. pumpkin stuffed with quinoa.

Grains, legumes and pulses
Grains such as wheat, rye and barley along with starchy legumes and pulses such as chickpeas and lentils are quite difficult to digest because of their high starch content and are not the best options for those with sensitive digestive systems, or if you suffer from bloating and wind.

If you do eat these grains, legumes or pulses, then it is best to combine them with non-starchy vegetables and not with protein foods such as meats. It’s also best to eat them after being well soaked, rinsed and sprouted (ideally) to be easier to digest.

Non-Starchy Vegetables
As the name suggest, these foods are low in starch. Examples of non-starchy vegetables are: asparagus, leafy greens, broccoli, celery, sprouts, cabbage, cucumbers, cauliflower, carrots, red radish, bok choy, lettuce, green beans, garlic, beetroot/beets, fennel, onions, chives, turnips, yellow squash, zucchini, and sea vegetables like kelp.

Fat and oil combinations
Organic, cold pressed unrefined and extra virgin oils, like olive or coconut oils, are great oils that combine well with all vegetables, grains and protein. But do avoid large amounts of fat with protein (like mayonnaise or aioli) because it slows digestion. Oil-free dressings work well, as does a small amount of oil, such as olive oil, mixed with lemon juice.

Protein fats occur where nature combines proteins and fats together (e.g. avocadoes, olives, seeds and nuts). Protein fats combine well with non-starchy vegetables and sour fruits like lemons, limes, fresh unsweetened pomegranates, or fresh/frozen unsweetened cranberries.

It’s best to soak nuts and seeds for easier digestion as nuts and seeds have a natural enzyme inhibitor coating to stop them from germinating, but this protection also inhibits our digestion. Soaking, sprouting or fermenting makes these foods more digestible and the nutrients more bio-available.

Fermented foods and drinks
Fermented foods and drinks like coconut kefir, coconut yoghurt, sauerkraut, fermented vegetables and fermented nuts and seeds (made into foods like cheeses and sour creams) are packed with vitamins, minerals and healthy micro-flora. They also feed friendly bacteria, help to heal the digestive system and leaky gut, and are easy to digest, which means that they combine well with any foods, even fruit.

The only times fermented foods are contra-indicated are if you have an allergy or intolerance to any of the foods they are made from or if you have a histamine intolerance or high histamine levels. High histamine is seen in conditions such as allergy reactions like hay-fever, asthma, sinus or rashes. Some people who suffer migraines may also have histamine intolerance (even without the presence of allergies). The way to find out is to get your histamine levels tested, or see if you react to any of the fermented foods or gut healing foods like bone broth, sauerkraut, jellies or yoghurts.

Reactions can be an intensification of any existing symptom, such as rashes or headaches, but in a nutshell, if you feel worse rather than better from eating fermented foods then you have an issue with histamine in food. This is usually temporary until your gut has healed by eating good food combinations (without fermented foods). Sometimes herbal antimicrobials are needed, and time. See your health practitioner for help.

Once symptoms abate, then very small amounts of fermented foods can be introduced, to gradually feed your good bacteria without causing distress e.g. just a few strands of sauerkraut, or just the juice from the jar of fermented vegetables, or a few sips of kefir, or a spoonful of dairy free yoghurt etc.

The main reason for the reactions is usually because there are too many of the wrong type of bacteria in the small intestine –  see the information about SIBO – small intestine bacterial overgrowth in the SIBO Diet article. The foods that normally feed the good bacteria also feed the bad bacteria, which creates havoc in the digestive system. Reactions to probiotic supplements occur for the same reason with SIBO. Talk to your health practitioner if you have concerns about this.

 

Case study: Good food combinations relieve symptoms

Not the real name*

Melissa* came to me suffering from all sorts of complaints including gas, bloating, constipation, headaches, menstrual pains and brain fog. Initially we checked to see if she had any parasites or SIBO and any imbalance in her good and bad bacteria.

We found a few things that were treated with the SIBO diet and a treatment plan which eradicated her bad bacteria and parasites, and we re-established good bacteria with probiotics into her digestive system. During the treatment, she felt much better and her symptoms almost vanished, but as soon as she reintroduced some of her ‘normal healthy foods’ into her diet, many of her symptoms returned.

Rather than just getting a list of foods Melissa ate, I asked her to compile a food and symptoms diary so I could get a better idea of what was going on. When I saw the diary, her issues became obvious.

Melissa was combining fruit with proteins and carbs by adding fruit (mango or grapes) to chicken or salmon salads. Sometimes she had fruit for dessert after a meal; other times she had rice with protein meals such as in curries and stir-fries.

Now while many people eat this way and don’t seem to have any issues, for Melissa this was disastrous and no doubt triggered her gut bacteria imbalance in the first place. The unhealthy gut also affected her hormones and the fermentation gave her the headaches and brain fog.

The first trial was to keep the same foods in her diet, but to eat those foods at separate times, according to the food combining principles. Within only three days (which would have been after the previous foods had cleared from her system) Melissa found that she had no symptoms at all. She could continue to eat all her favourite foods, provided they were in the right order and combinations.

No more food trials were needed…Melissa ‘nailed it’ first time, once she knew what to do.

 

 

SIBO Diet

Diet for SIBO (Phase 1 & Phase 2)
by Sue Kira, Naturopath & Nutritionist

 

Introduction to SIBO

  • It’s all about the type of bacteria in our small intestines
  • What causes SIBO?
  • Symptoms of SIBO

About the SIBO Diets

  • Weight loss and the SIBO diets

The SIBO – Phase 1 diet

  • The Phase 1 diet includes
  • Vegan and vegetarian options with the SIBO Phase 1 diet

The SIBO – Phase 2 diet

  • The Phase 2 diet includes
  • What’s next after phase 2?

Links to two SIBO Case Studies

 

Introduction to SIBO

The health of our gut is the foundation of the health of our entire body.

The gut is not just an organ that we push food in and waste come out the other end. In fact, our intestines have an amazing number of jobs to do. It certainly breaks down and digests our food so that we can get the nutrients needed to stay healthy “but wait there’s more”. Our intestines host innumerable amounts of bacteria both good and bad.

 

It’s all about the type of bacteria in our small intestines
Apparently, we have more bacterial DNA in our body than human DNA in our body. Most of these bacteria work in harmony with our cells. The cells and the bacteria work together symbiotically to create many necessary changes needed to run this machine of ours. There’s a type of ‘pay off’ system, whereby the bacteria, in the process of breaking down food (along with digestive enzymes etc) to get what they need to survive, give us what we need to survive and thrive. In other words, we look after each other.

We see this type of symbiotic relationship in the plant and animal kingdom when something is unwell or weak, and then another animal, plant or insect will kill and break it down so that the cycle continues with birth, death and recycling and feeding off each other. Now we really don’t want something in our body breaking us down, so it’s imperative that we maintain a healthy body.

Digestion starts when we chew food which then travels to the stomach. The chewing action stimulates the release of hydrochloric acid into the stomach which continues to break down the food.

After about three hours (depending on the type of food), the mixture passes into the small intestine which should be an alkaline environment that is aerobic (with oxygen). Then the mixture moves into the large intestine, an acidic anaerobic environment (without oxygen) where the bacteria is there to finish off and fully break down any scraps.

However, the acid in the stomach is supposed to be very acidic, and if too low, then it won’t break down the food enough before it is passed down to the small intestine where alkaline pancreatic acids are secreted.

And in reverse, should the bacteria in the large intestine (the acidic environment) get into the small intestine, they change the environment in the small intestine to one that is acidic and anaerobic. As a result, the large intestine bacteria kill off the friendly bacteria in the small intestine that need oxygen and an alkaline environment to thrive.

This environment makes the small intestine acidic and putrid with the right conditions for the acidic bacteria to grow and breed, hence Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO).

As the acidic large intestine bacteria erodes or chews down the microvilli of the small intestine, this really upsets the apple cart as then we can’t absorb our nutrients properly anymore. If you don’t get the nutrients that would normally be absorbed from normal healthy digestion then you are likely to be deficient in vitamins, minerals and amino acids needed to balance hormones, neurotransmitters, build muscles, repair tissues and cells and give you the energy you need.

In this environment, food rots rather than digest in our hot little bodies, giving off poisonous noxious smelling gasses (farts) such as methane and/or hydrogen causing bloating, wind, cramping, diarrhoea, burping, constipation and many more symptoms.

It is also thought that this gas can cause ‘leaky gut syndrome’, where the cell wall of the gut becomes permeable (leaky) which allows food particles into the blood stream instead of broken down nutrients and molecules. In turn, this creates an immune response because the immune system sees these particles as foreign, leading to food intolerance or even allergy if it continues. It is postulated in some cases to contribute to the creation of auto-immune diseases.

This is why a fully functioning digestive system is so important for us, where the payoff is the removal of waste without it rotting inside us and poisoning our body. The payoff for the bacteria is their survival.

 

What causes SIBO?
SIBO can be commonly triggered in different ways including the overconsumption of simple carbs and sugar, poor digestion from low stomach acid, candida overgrowth, an ileocecal valve problem, stress, underactive thyroid, the pill, antibiotic use and various other causes.

Foods containing fermentable fibre, starch, lactose and fructose can create and/or aggravate SIBO, so part of the solution is to avoid these fermentable foods and allow the intestines to repair before consuming them again.

Given the right conditions the gut is very capable of repairing itself, but usually additional support with herbal antimicrobials, antibiotics (or both) is needed to kill off some of the bad bacteria, fungi and parasites. Be sure to get advice from your health care provider. There are stool tests and breath tests readily available to determine the level of SIBO, how bad it is and the type (Hydrogen or Methane).

 

Symptoms of SIBO

  • Bloating
  • Cramping
  • Wind/flatulence or burping
  • Constipation &/or diarrhoea
  • Food sensitivities
  • Skin rashes and other skin conditions
  • Recurrent iron and/or B12 deficiency
  • Recurrent headaches
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • Inability to lose weight or maintain weight in some cases

About the SIBO Diets

Note 1: Before you commence this diet, see your medical or health care professional for qualified guidance. While on this diet, do not stop any medications or supplements previously prescribed unless advised otherwise by your medical or health care professional, who may even prescribe extra supplementation.

Note 2: During the early stages of your new diet, you may experience symptoms such as fatigue, headaches or body aches, which may occur because your body is detoxifying. However, if you are unsure about a symptom at any time, check immediately with your medical or health care professional.

The SIBO diet is in two parts, the first part (Phase 1) being rather strict and limiting in the foods allowed and it can be hard to stick to (some of my clients have said it is the hardest thing they have ever done but so worth it), depending on what you are used to eating. It is important to follow Phase 1 at least until your symptoms have settled or around six weeks. If you still have symptoms after 6 weeks you will need to speak with your practitioner about further testing.

Then under the guidance of your practitioner you may be able to go to Phase 2 foods which allow more flexibility, but be careful with sweeteners and feel when your body tells you that a food doesn’t suit you or causes bloating or any other symptoms.

After Phase 2, again for around six weeks, you can try adding some of your normal foods, but be vigilant of any returning symptoms. Be mindful of any constipation or diarrhoea, as both can re-ignite SIBO. You will also, under the care of your health provider, need some good strength multi-strain probiotics prescribed – and not just any old ones from the shops as many contain strains that may make matters worse for you. Commonly acidophilus types are not suitable at this stage.

If Phase 2 foods re-ignite the SIBO symptoms again, you can always go back to Phase 1 foods for a while. Usually this means that you need more anti-microbials, but if your body has become sensitive to antimicrobials or antibiotics, then the diet will play a big role in your recovery.

 

Weight loss and the SIBO diets
Some of my clients have lost a lot of weight, particularly with the Phase 1 SIBO diet. For some this is a blessing, but for the slimmer ones, not so welcome.

If the weight loss becomes a problem for you, include more fats and oils to help keep the calories up. Every gram of carbohydrate (vegies included) has 4 calories and every gram of fat has 9 calories, so you can see that fat is a much more calorie dense food. If you want to increase your calories, try eating coconut oil, or the skin and fat from organic roasted chicken, or by not straining the fat when making bone broths. Your weight will adjust as you bring in more foods in the Phase 2 SIBO diet and beyond.

 

The SIBO – Phase 1 diet

The Phase 1 diet includes an unlimited quantity (but don’t go overboard) of:

  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Eggs
  • Bone broth from beef or lamb bones
  • Chicken meat broth (no bones or cartilage)
  • Bok Choy
  • Carrots
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Olives (in olive oil or brine but not vinegar)
  • Capsicum/bell peppers
  • Radish
  • Rocket
  • Tomatoes
  • Sunflower sprouts
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Unlimited amounts of water, herbal teas or Rooibos tea in warm/hot water

Plus: only one of the following per meal if desired*

  • Fresh Beetroot/Beets, 2 slices (not in vinegar) can be shredded (cooked or raw)
  • Broccoli – ½ cup
  • Celery – 1 stick
  • Fennel bulb – ½ cup
  • Green beans – 10 beans
  • Peas – ¼ cup
  • Snow peas – 5 pods
  • Zucchini – ¾ cup
  • Pumpkin – ¼ cup
  • Almonds – 10
  • Macadamias – 20
  • Pumpkin seeds – 1Tbs
  • Sunflower seeds – 2Tbs
  • Pecans – 10
  • Hazelnuts – 10

You can also mix up things and have less of one item and add a portion of another e.g. 5 green beans plus 5 chopped almonds sprinkled on top of the other vegetables

* Two extras per meal for vegans (see also notes below)

Plus some:

  • Fats and oils: olive, coconut, grape seed oils; coconut cream – ¼ cup max per day
  • Salt and pepper; all fresh and dried herbs and spices – but not the blends as they often have additives – if additive free then that’s fine

 

Vegan and Vegetarian options with the SIBO Phase 1 Diet
If you are vegan or vegetarian it is certainly a lot harder to follow a SIBO diet because of the limited foods available. It is much more restrictive than the meat eater’s option and legumes and pulses are temporarily off the list which really restricts the food choices. But generally, vegans and vegetarians respond quicker to the diet and can often transit to the Phase 2 diet faster and then have more variety of foods to choose from.

Vegetarians have the option of using eggs as their main protein source along with the vegetables, nuts and seeds.

Vegans need to have plenty of the allowed vegetables and two lots from the Additional Foods section. For example, plenty of bok choy, carrots, kale, lettuce, olives, capsicum/bell peppers, radish, rocket, tomatoes, sunflower sprouts plus ½ cup fennel plus 10 macadamia nuts and 1 tablespoon of sunflower seeds.

Or as another example, bok choy, carrots, kale, lettuce, olives (in olive oil not vinegar), capsicum/bell peppers, radish, rocket, tomatoes, sunflower sprouts plus 5 macadamias, 1 tablespoon of sunflower seeds and 1 tablespoon of pumpkin seeds. You can mix and match to get your protein and variety.

If your symptoms don’t improve or get worse during the Phase 1 treatment, then you may have histamine sensitivity. Some bacteria actually secrete histamine, and if this is the case, then you will need to include a low histamine diet with the SIBO Phase 1 diet to reduce the inflammation that this extra histamine causes. Any added histamine from food can further drive inflammation and make it hard for your body to heal. Speak with your practitioner before changing or adding diets.

 

The SIBO – Phase 2 Diet

If your practitioner has advised you to go straight to the SIBO – Phase 2 Diet, it’s best to read all of the above information as much of it is not repeated in this Phase 2 section.

Phase 2 brings much more variety to your meals and is a welcome change from the Phase 1 diet.

If you have been on the SIBO – Phase 1 diet, then in Phase 2 you can slowly introduce more of the foods you love, but be aware that if any symptoms return, then go back to Phase 1 and after a couple of weeks, reconsider what foods you gradually reintroduce. Speak to your practitioner about any symptoms you are unsure of or if any new symptoms arise.

 

The Phase 2 diet includes
The foods in phase 2 are either the same as phase 1 but you can now have a greater quantity of them, or there may be new foods (and old favourites) that you may wish to introduce now.

An unlimited quantity (but don’t go overboard) of:

  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Eggs
  • Bone broth from beef or lamb bones
  • Chicken meat broth (no bones or cartilage)
  • Bok Choy
  • Carrots
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Olives (in olive oil or brine but not vinegar)
  • Capsicum/bell peppers
  • Radish
  • Rocket
  • Tomatoes
  • Sunflower sprouts
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Unlimited amounts of water, herbal teas or Rooibos tea in warm/hot water
  • Black coffee, black tea (limit the caffeine varieties)

Additional Foods: only one of the following per meal if desired
Note: just have one of these foods below per meal in addition to your core diet above. You will slowly be able to introduce more of these as you progress, provided you don’t have any recurring symptoms. Be guided by your health practitioner.

  • Fresh Beetroot/Beets, 2 slices (not in vinegar) can be shredded (cooked or raw)
  • Broccoli – ½ cup
  • Celery – 1 stick
  • Fennel bulb – ½ cup
  • Green beans – 10 beans
  • Peas – ¼ cup
  • Snow peas – 5 pods
  • Zucchini – 1 cup
  • Pumpkin – ½ cup
  • Almonds – 10
  • Macadamias – 20
  • Pumpkin seeds – 1Tbs
  • Sunflower seeds – 2Tbs
  • Pecans – 10
  • Hazelnuts – 10
  • Spring onion – one shoot
  • Parsnip – 1 small one
  • Asparagus – 3 spears
  • Brussels sprouts – ½ cup
  • Leek – ½
  • Spinach – 5 leaves/150g
  • Banana – ½
  • Berries (all varieties) – ½ cup
  • Citrus – 1 piece
  • Kiwifruit – 1 piece
  • Rockmelon, honeydew, paw paw, papaya, pineapple – ¼ cup
  • Passionfruit – 1 piece
  • Rhubarb – 1 stalk
  • Avocado – ¼
  • Cherries – 3
  • Grapes – 10
  • Lychee – 5
  • Pomegranate – ½ small or ¼ cup of seeds
  • White Rice: Basmati or Jasmine – ½ cup per serve
  • Organic Honey (clear)– no more than 2 tbsp per day (preferably none)
  • Unsweetened Almond Milk – 1cup
  • Hazelnuts – 20
  • Pecans – 40
  • Walnuts – 100g
  • Apple cider vinegar (only this type of vinegar) 1tsp per day
  • Sugarless Mayonnaise, Tabasco, Wasabi, Mustard (without garlic at this stage)

You can also mix up things and have less of one item and add a portion of another e.g. 5 grapes plus 20 pecans

Plus some:

  • Fats and oils: olive, coconut, grape seed, pumpkin seed, sesame oils; infused oils e.g. garlic, basil, chilli; coconut cream – ¼ cup max per day
  • Salt and pepper; all fresh and dried herbs and spices – but not the blends as they often have additives – if additive free then that’s fine

 

What’s next after Phase 2?
After you have completed three to six weeks on Phase 2 (the time will depend on symptoms – check with your practitioner), then you may slowly re-introduce some of your other favourite foods from the general Eating4Vitality recipes, preferably from the 2 or 3 heart section and keep your sugars and heavy starches (grains) low so that you don’t re-create the SIBO again.

Be ever watchful and observe what your body tells you if you eat something that creates symptoms. 

 

Case study: Symptoms settled after two weeks on SIBO diet
Name has been changed

Angelina* came to me suffering from terrible bloating after every meal she ate. She also had headaches nearly every second day, was constipated, uncomfortable in the belly and her sleep was affected by disturbing dreams and bouts of restless legs. She was tired most of the time and her hormones were playing up (irregular periods). She also carried about five extra kilos of weight that she couldn’t shift.

Angelina had been previously tested for parasites and all tests were clear. But she hadn’t been tested for small intestine bacterial overgrowth. I arranged the tests and it didn’t take long to discover that she was suffering from the effects of SIBO. She was also low in Iron, B12 and B6 and intolerant to most grains, dairy and cashews (her favourite food).

Her malnutrition was a result of the bad bacteria robbing her body of nutrients.

I advised her to go onto the SIBO Phase 1 diet for three weeks, along with SIBO specific herbs, and then come back. After only three days on the diet she had no symptoms (she emailed to let me know). The SIBO would have still been there, but it was great to know that with the food she was eating, she wasn’t feeding the bacteria and the food was no longer fermenting in her gut.

She wanted to go straight onto Phase 2 of the SIBO diet as she was a bit bored with the limited food choices, but I encouraged her to stay with Phase 1 for the three weeks. When she returned, she admitted that she did eat a few of the Phase 2 foods she had been missing and there were a couple of days that she felt bloated, so she backed off those foods and she was fine again.

The fact that she reacted showed us that she still had the bacterial overgrowth, otherwise she would have been fine with the added foods.

But it didn’t take too long (although Angelina was a bit impatient) until she could eat many of her favourite foods again. She omitted cashews, foods containing sugar, and decided not to eat grains or dairy products as she intuitively felt that these foods possibly triggered the SIBO in the first place.

 

Links to two SIBO Case Studies

Following are links to two SIBO Case Studies involving my clients:

A Vegan SIBO Diet Challenge

Symptoms settled after two weeks on SIBO diet

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alkaline Diet

Alkaline Diet
by Sue Kira, Naturopath & Nutritionist

Introduction to an Alkaline diet

  • Testing your pH

Acid forming habits and lifestyle factors

  • Acid forming foods and drinks

Guidelines to an Alkaline diet

  • Advantages of an Alkaline diet
  • Disadvantages of an Alkaline diet
  • Case study link

Best Alkaline foods and drinks

 

Introduction to an Alkaline Diet

It has been said many times that disease and health imbalances cannot take root in a body with a balanced pH. But what is pH? pH is short for the ‘potential of hydrogen’. In the case of our body’s pH, we are talking about how acidic or how alkaline our body fluids or cells/tissues are.

pH is measured on a scale from 0 to 14. The more acidic a solution is, the lower the number of pH, or closer to 0. The more alkaline, the higher the number is, the closer to 14. A pH of 7 is in the middle of the range and called neutral, but the optimal pH of most of our body should be around 7.4, which is slightly alkaline. Our body’s pH can vary in different areas, with the stomach being the most acidic at around pH3.5.

Human life requires a very tightly controlled pH level of the blood of about 7.35–7.45 and our body will do almost anything to stay at this level to maintain life. Our body knows it can rob calcium (an alkaline mineral) from other parts of our body such as our bones to keep the blood at a safe pH range.

An acidic diet causes the body to release calcium from our bones as needed, potentially triggering osteoporosis.

An alkaline diet is one that helps to balance the pH level of your body.

Over the years, since the agricultural revolution, our diets have changed to be more about grains and processed foods than the traditional diets of meats, nuts, seeds, vegetables and some fruits. With this change, we are now eating significantly less potassium and magnesium (alkaline minerals) along with consuming more sodium compared to diets of the past.

Normally, the kidneys maintain our mineral electrolyte levels. These are calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium. When we’re exposed to overly acidic substances, these electrolytes are used to combat acidity, but when these resources get low the body breaks down bone and other tissue to get what it needs to maintain homeostasis (balance). These days most diets are also low in antioxidants, fibre and essential vitamins as well as often being quite high in refined fats, simple sugars, sodium and chloride.

High degrees of acidity force our bodies to rob minerals from the bones, cells, organs and tissues, which causes gradual loss of organ functions, degenerates tissue and bone mass, and accelerates the aging process.

Testing your pH
Some people like to monitor the pH of their body by testing the pH of urine or saliva with tests strips you can buy from your local health food store or chemist. Choose one body fluid and be consistent, but whatever you chose to test, the ideal pH of urine or saliva is between 6.8 and 7.2 an hour before or two hours after a meal. If your number is lower than 6.8 (say 6.2), for every decimal point below the ideal you are effectively one hundred (100) times more acidic that you should be. If your number is greater than 7.2, you are either too alkaline or you may have recently consumed an alkalising mineral supplement or ‘green juice’ recently.

 

Acid forming habits and lifestyle factors:

  • Poor chewing and eating habits. Chewing releases digestive enzymes and digestive acids needed to break down food, otherwise our body must become more acidic to compensate and break down the food after the food has left the stomach. The upper digestive system needs to be acidic, but not the rest of the body.
  • Chronic stress is very acidic on the body, which is why some people get ulcerations.
  • Alcohol and drug use are acidic to the body
  • If you need antibiotics, use them but then have an alkalising diet and probiotics to replace and repair the damage done.
  • Declining nutrient levels in foods due to industrial farming
  • Low levels of fibre in the diet stagnates food waste departure and creates an acidic environment in the colon
  • Lack of exercise. Stagnation creates acidity and movement clears stagnation
  • Hormones from foods, health and beauty products, and plastics
  • Exposure to chemicals from household cleansers, and radiation from microwaves, computers and mobile cell phones
  • Over-exercise (lactic acid in muscles)
  • Pesticides, herbicides and any chemical on our food and in our body
  • Pollution is extremely acidic. If you find yourself exposed to pollution, then some green smoothies may help to rebalance your pH plus an alkaline diet.
  •  Shallow breathing. Breathing gives us oxygen which is alkalising to the body but if we shallow breathe then we have more carbon dioxide in our body which is acidic.

Acid forming foods and drinks:

  • Processed and refined foods are all acidic to the body. Processed foods contain lots of sodium chloride (table salt) which can constrict blood vessels and create acidity.
  • High caffeine intake from caffeinated drinks (coffee, tea, soft-drinks/sodas) or food. Any caffeine intake is acidic
  • Cold cuts and processed meats
  • Excess animal meats in the diet, especially if grain-fed. Eating too many animal sources of protein in general can contribute to acidity, not alkalinity. Beef, pork, chicken, cold cuts and shellfish can contribute to sulphuric acid build-up in the blood as amino acids are broken down. Try to obtain the best quality animal products you can (pasture raised, organic) and vary your intake of protein foods to best balance your pH level. Plant proteins are less acidic to the body.
  • Food colouring, preservatives and any additives are unnatural and acid forming in the body
  • Artificial sweeteners and sweeteners of any kind (except whole fruit) are acidic in the body
  • Processed packet breakfast cereals
  • Eggs, however small quantities of pasture raised organic eggs can be OK
  • However, if lentils are soaked, sprouted and not cooked they are less acidic
  • Pasta, rice, bread and packaged grain products
  • All grains, whole or not, create acidity in the body
  • Dairy products are acidic. Some research shows that populations which consume lots of dairy products have some of the highest rates of osteoporosis. That’s because dairy foods create acidity in the body. When any part of your body becomes too acidic, your body will steal calcium (a more alkaline substance) from the bones to try to balance out the pH level. The best way to prevent osteoporosis is to eat lots of alkaline green leafy veggies that also contain calcium in a more bio-available (absorbable) form.
  • Peanuts and walnuts are more acidic than other nuts. Almonds are the only alkalising nut if eaten in moderation and preferably soaked. Soaking removes the enzyme inhibitors which are intended to stop the nut from germinating too early. Enzyme inhibitors inhibit your digestive enzymes and make nuts difficult to digest unless they are first soaked, or roasted. Soaked almonds are healthier than oven roasted. You can re-dry soaked nuts in a dehydrator or very low oven to get the crunch back but they don’t last as long, so keep batches limited to last no more than a week. Or eat them soaked (and rinsed) and they taste like coconut flesh.

 

Guidelines to an Alkaline Diet

Whenever possible, try to buy organic foods. Even a food that is considered ‘acidic’ such as meat, is likely to be more alkaline when pasture fed and organic, rather than grain fed animals that are considered very acid forming when eaten.

Another reason for eating organic and spray free foods is that the soil used for growing food this way is more mineral dense which tends to be more alkalising in your body.

The types of soils for growing plants can significantly influence the vitamin and mineral content of our foods.

pH not only affects our body but also that of soil. For instance, the best overall availability of essential nutrients in plants is between a pH of 6 and 7. If soil pH is below 6 then there will be reduced calcium and magnesium available to the plant and hence to us. Soil above a pH of 7 may result in bio-chemically unavailable iron, manganese, copper and zinc. Soil that is well-rotated, organically sustained and exposed to wildlife or grazing animals tends to be the healthiest.

Advantages of an Alkaline Diet

Healthy bones and muscles
Most minerals (except sodium-salt) are alkalising and so your mineral intake via fruits and vegetables plays an important role in the development and maintenance of bone structures. Research shows that the more alkalizing fruits and vegetables you eat, the better protection you will have from decreased bone strength and muscle wasting as you age. Alkaline diets help to promote the production of growth hormones and also vitamin D absorption, which also helps to protect your bones.

Prevents magnesium deficiency
An alkaline diet has been shown to increase magnesium in the body, as you can only get magnesium in its natural state from vegetables. Magnesium is required for the function of hundreds of enzyme systems and bodily processes. Without adequate levels of magnesium, many experience heart complications, muscle pains, headaches, sleep troubles and anxiety. Magnesium is also used to activate vitamin D, which is important for overall immune and endocrine functioning.

Lowers inflammation and pain
Chronic acidosis has been found to contribute to chronic back pain, headaches, inflammation, joint pain, muscle spasms and menstrual symptoms. An alkaline diet can reduce pain and inflammation.

Healthy vascular system
Because an alkaline diet reduces inflammation and increases growth hormone production, this can also help protect against cardiovascular problems such as cholesterol, hypertension (high blood pressure) and stroke.

Healthy immune function
When cells lack enough alkaline minerals to clear waste or fully oxygenate the body, then the whole body suffers. Vitamin absorption is compromised by low minerals; consequently, toxins and pathogens accumulate which weakens the immune system and increases our risk of cancer. Being on the slightly alkaline side can help reduce inflammation and the risk for cancer. An alkaline diet has been shown to be more beneficial for some chemotherapeutic agents that require a higher pH to function appropriately.

Healthy weight
An alkaline diet is usually loaded with fibre to help satisfy hunger. Also, by avoiding many acid-forming foods, you reduce inflammation, which makes your body store fat. By reducing inflammation with an alkaline diet, you will most likely store less fat.

Disadvantages of an alkaline diet
Because an alkaline diet does not include grains, dairy, gluten, sugar or much in the way of meats, poultry or fish (small amounts are considered ok) then this does limit what you can eat.

But if you use the alkaline diet to help support any health conditions (along with your practitioner’s support) then you may find that the re-introduction of some of these foods in small amounts could be fine for you.

Case study link
Click to read the case study: Alkaline diet helps clear up Vaginitis and Cervicitis

 

Best alkaline foods and drinks

Fresh fruits and vegetables
Fresh fruit and vegetables promote alkalinity the most. Some of the top picks include mushrooms, citrus, dates, raisins, avocado, alfalfa, spinach, grapefruit, tomatoes, black radish, cucumber, kale, broccoli, oregano, garlic, ginger, green beans, endive, cabbage, celery, red beetroot (beets), watermelon, figs and ripe bananas.

Raw foods
Ideally try to consume a good portion of your produce raw as it has more enzymes and the vital nutrients won’t have been cooked out of them. Cooking foods depletes alkalizing nutrients. If you want to cook your produce, then lightly steaming or a light stir-fry are the best options. There are certain nutrients, such as the minerals, that can handle heat, so slow cooking of a hearty winter stew, soup or broth can still give you many alkalising minerals. Variety between raw and cooked is great.

Plant proteins
Plants are definitely more alkalising than animal proteins. Almonds are the most alkaline of the nuts, but other nuts and seeds that have been soaked and sprouted are still quite alkalising to the body. Navy beans, lima beans and most other beans are good choices, but need to be soaked overnight and rinsed before cooking.

Animal proteins
If you like to eat animal proteins but want to keep your body slightly alkaline, then it’s important to eat pasture raised or organic meats which are less acidic than their grain fed cousins. Eat small amounts as they are still somewhat acidic to your body, and are usually more expensive.

Alkaline water
Alkaline water usually has a pH of around 9 to 11. Distilled water is fine to drink, but check the pH. Water filtered with a reverse osmosis filter is slightly acidic, but is still a far better option than tap water or purified bottled water, which is often quite acidic. Adding lemon or lime juice to your water can boost its alkalinity. Ironically, lemons and limes are acidic, but they have an alkalising effect on your body.

Green drinks
Drinks made from blended green vegetables, alfalfa or Spirulina and chlorella algae, are all loaded with alkaline-forming properties and are rich in chlorophyll, which is highly alkalising for your body.

Chlorophyll’s chemical structure is so similar to our blood that I have recommended it many times for clients who need more iron but are vegetarian (iron is found rich in meats). Chlorophyll also contains good amounts of magnesium, a potent alkalising mineral needed for many functions in our body. Magnesium is one of the most deficient minerals in society.

Note: Cravings in a clean body are a sign from your body telling you what to eat to get specific nutrients. The words ‘clean body’ refers to one where no toxic and acidic foods have been consumed for at least three weeks. Before that time, the body may crave the very things it should not have, purely from withdrawing from that substance.

For example, when I gave up eating sugar and chocolate, my body craved it daily for about three days, but it was definitely not what my body truly needed, but was instead a chemical withdrawal, not much different to the withdrawal of any drug.

 

Anxiety and Depression link to Gut Inflammation

By Sue Kira naturopath/nutritionist

Many people suffer from the debilitating effects of anxiety and depression and studies have shown a link between these symptoms and inflammation in the gut and leaky gut.

Interestingly, the incidence of anxiety and depression is increasing, while the incidence of poor gut health also increases. A coincidence?

After consulting with more than 15,000 clients, I estimate that at least 85% of them (and that’s being conservative) had gut issues that adversely affected their health.

Why is poor gut health on the increase? Reasons include poor diet, denatured food, less time spent in the kitchen, fast food, the overuse of antibiotics…and more.

Other key factors are stress and elevated cortisol, low cortisol or cortisol resistance. Cortisol resistance is where the body doesn’t recognise or is resistant to the message from cortisol that there is a stress response in the body. Kind of like ‘the boy who cried wolf’ syndrome.

Cortisol is our body’s way to deal with stress and inflammation but if either are prolonged then we can create ‘resistance’ and therefore the cortisol no longer reduces inflammation even if cortisol levels are high. The result of this is a prolonged inflammatory state.

Inflammation signals the release of white blood cells called Monocytes into the blood, which turn on proinflammatory genes that lead to the release of inflammatory cytokines.

Once triggered, the inflammatory cytokines talk to the central nervous system, via the Vagus nerve, which connects the gut and the brain, activating microglia in the brain, releasing an enzyme called IDO (indoleamine 2, 3-dioxygenase) which stimulates production of biomolecules that can result in symptoms of anxiety, restlessness, agitation or even panic attacks.

We often relate the cause of anxiety and depression to a brain biochemistry fault, when the cause could indeed be coming from the gut being inflamed, leaky or dysbiotic (wrong balance of bacteria).

Consider this: if medication for anxiety or depression is working, then the cause may well be a brain biochemistry imbalance; but if medication is not working effectively, the cause could be related to gut issues. It’s worth checking.

There are many ways to check if you have gut inflammation. In clinic, I use Live Blood screening to view the red and white blood cells. I also use external tests, particularly the gut microbiome testing that looks at things like leaky gut, digestion markers, bacteria levels (good and bad), viruses, parasites and fungi like Candida species.

The right tests provide valuable information which may uncover underlying causes of anxiety, depression, restlessness and generally feeling out of sorts.

If you would like to book an in-clinic, skype or phone consultation which may help to unravel the root causes, please find the booking link on the Home Page or under the Clinic tab.

I look forward to meeting you to help you reclaim your vitality.
With love, Sue Kira N.D

Understanding Methylation

Introduction to understanding methylation

The process of methylation if working properly is what keeps us healthy. Without methylation we cannot survive and methylation defects are biochemically what contribute greatly to who we are, what we look like, how we act but is also central to our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.

Methylation regulates the switching on and off of our genes and silences viruses. When functioning optimally, methylation keep the less desirable genes switched off, such as those that cause birth defects, cancers and auto-immune disease for example, whilst allowing the switching on of genes that help our body systems run effectively. We call this gene expression.

We may go about our day to day lives never being aware of these processes and meanwhile this process is making, maintaining and repairing our DNA, which is our genetic coding. We can get an ‘epigenetic’ effect whereby how we chose to live our lives can have an effect on our gene expression and it is these events, stressors and loving care that help either support or hinder the natural process of building and repairing our body.

In this article I will be covering the following topics:

  • Introduction to methylation
  • What is methylation
  • Testing for methylation
  • Biochemistry of UNDERMETHYLATION
  • Biochemistry of OVERMETHYLATION
  • Things that can affect methylation
  • Methylation impairments
  • What is homocysteine?
  • Causes of Elevated Homocysteine
  • Risks Associated With Elevated Homocysteine Levels
  • What is the hereditary predisposition MTHFR?
  • Symptoms of MTHFR gene copying errors
  • Anemia, DNA, and Folate
  • Methylmalonic Acid (MMA)
  • Folates, folic acid and unmethylated folic acid (UMFA)
  • Dangers of UMFA
  • Supplementation to support under or overmethylation

What is methylation

Methylation begins with a what is termed a ‘methyl group’ which is basically a carbon and three hydrogen atoms joined together and this group is then transformed to another compound. So if we use a situation to compare it to it would be like at a work place where one person passes an envelope containing a group of objects to another person at work who then has the job of making those bits into another component that is then passed onto someone else to finish the job to have a completed job order.

There are certain points within the methylation cycle where each have a certain job to do for beginning, carrying out and finishing the job. In other words each part has its role and ‘job description’ to do to get the job done.

Our nerve functions is highly dependent on proper methylation as each nerve requires the proper nerve insulation just like the wires in our house or car otherwise it will be like exposed wires and this can lead to symptoms of physical, emotional or behavioural changes. Methylation switching on and off of genes also control the production and breakdown of neurotransmitters which are our chemical messengers in the brain and nervous system as well as in the gut and many other places of importance.

The nervous system communicates with immune cells, so a faulty methylation process can lead to immune imbalances, which can turn a simple cold or flu into pneumonia or and auto-immune disease. An efficient methylation system will create an efficient communication system to sound the alarm bells of immune invaders. Methylation also immobilise fats and cholesterol so they can be removed by the body without clogging up arteries and organs, so improving methylation cycles can help the body to naturally clear cholesterol and fats that would otherwise lead to heart attacks, high blood pressure, diabetes and fatty liver disease.

There are so many other things that methylation supports such as hormones, regulating oestrogen and testosterone as examples, but also thyroid hormones, adrenal hormones and the list goes on.

Methylation regulates histamine levels which is why someone who gets allergies we call an under-methylator, because the body is unable to break down the histamine. Histamine is hormone that is often over expressed in cases of allergies, eczema, asthma and even anaphylactic reactions.

To summarise, methylation is involved in many of our most vital bodily functions, by offering support and/or managing, such processes as:
1) Detoxification
2) Controlling inflammation
3) Maintaining DNA
4) Immune function
5) Energy production
6) Mood balancing

Some of the conditions linked to poor methylation include but not limited to; cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, neurological conditions, autistic spectrum disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, miscarriages, fertility, and problems in pregnancy, allergies, immune system, digestive problems, mood and psychiatric disorders as well as the aging process.

Tests for methylation (under and over)

Whole blood histamine (an important protein involved in many allergic reactions), Basophil count (a type of white blood cell), zinc and copper levels, homocysteine, and heavy metal and mineral balances.

The common biochemistry of UNDERMETHYLATION is:
1. High blood histamine
2. High basophil count
3. Low plasma zinc
4. Elevated serum copper
5. Low homocysteine
6. High heavy metals
7. Low levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine and norrpinephrine.

As proper methylation is a major factor in the production of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine in the body, undermethylation can lead to a depletion of these three essential neurotransmitters and can also result in some of the following characteristics – phobias, delusional behaviour, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), frequent headaches, denial of illness and non compliance, difficultly with transitions, seasonal allergies, high achiever, a strong will, highly motivated, addictive behaviour, calm demeanour with high inner tension, social isolation and sparse hair growth.

The common biochemistry of an OVERMETHYLATION is:
1. Low blood histamine
2. Low basophil count
3. Low plasma zinc
4. Elevated copper
5. Elevated levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine.

Overmethylation can cause some of the following characteristics – high anxiety/panic, poor achiever and low motivation, artistic/musical ability, low libido and overweight, easily frustrated, sleep disorder and paranoia, depression and self isolation, self mutilation and nervousness, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), food/chemical sensitivities, high pain threshold, past history of ADHD, hyperactive psychosis, grandiosity, nil family history, hirsutism and eczema/dry skin.

Things that can affect methylation

Lack of the necessary precursors such as:

  • methionine
  • choline
  • betaine
  • homocysteine

Lack of co-factors:

  • B12
  • Folate
  • Zinc
  • B2, B3 and B6

Enzyme polymorphisms (genes)

  • MTHFR
  • COMPT

Methylation impairments

Impairment of methylation reactions could result in a condition of high levels of homocysteine known as hyperhomocysteinemia which can also be a marker of low levels of B12 and folate.

What is homocysteine?

Homocysteine is a chemical in the blood that is produced when an amino acid called methionine is broken down in the body. We all have some homocysteine in our blood, but high homocysteine levels, also called hyperhomocysteinemia, may cause irritation of the blood vessels which can increase the risk for hardening of the arteries which could eventually result in a heart attack and/or stroke, and blood clots in the veins, referred to as venous thrombosis.

Causes of Elevated Homocysteine

  • Deficiency of folate or B6 and B12
  • Kidney disease
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Medications such as methotrexate
  • Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) genetic fault
  • Psoriasis
  • Systemic lupus erythematosis

Risks Associated With Elevated Homocysteine Levels

  • Coronary artery disease
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Peripheral arterial disease
  • Venous thrombosis
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Dementia
  • Neural tube defects in children

Let’s have a look at the main causes of elevated Homocysteine

If one of the causes of elevated homocysteine is MTHFR gene mutation, what does this mean?

What is the hereditary predisposition MTHFR?

Some people develop an elevated homocysteine level because of a genetic predisposition which then creates the methylation defect that affects the ability of the body to convert folate and thereby creating problems with regulating homocysteine levels in the body. We all have 2 MTHFR genes, one inherited from each parent for each of the two genes. Some people have a genetic mutation in one or both of their MTHFR genes. People with mutations in one MTHFR gene are called “heterozygous” for the MTHFR mutation, but if mutations are present in both genes, the person is said to be “homozygous” for the mutation.

The most common MTHFR mutation is called the MTHFR C677T mutation, or the “thermolabile” MTHFR mutation. Another common mutation is called MTHFR A1298C. To have any detrimental effect, mutations would usually be present in both copies of a person’s MTHFR genes. Even when 2 MTHFR mutations are present (eg, 2 C677T mutations, or one C677T mutation and one A1298C mutation), not all people will develop high homocysteine levels. Although these mutations do impair the regulation of homocysteine, adequate folate levels essentially “cancel out” this defect, especially if the folate is consumed from foods or the more active form of folate such as calcium folinate or better still is the 5MTHF.

Regardless of whether someone has an MTHFR mutation in both genes or not, the treatment for elevated homocysteine is the same—dietary intervention and supplementation with folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12. If supplementing, then the amount of each of these supplements should be adjusted on the basis of the degree of homocysteine elevation, not genetic status.

Symptoms of MTHFR gene copying errors

These can include fatigue, depression, cardiovascular disease, and other more vague complaints such as aches and pains and other symptoms.

A closer look into the world of B12 and folate:

There are two different co-enzyme forms of vitamin B12:

  1. Methylcobalamin
  • Used by the enzyme methionine synthase to turn homocysteine (HCY) into methionine (a methylation process).
  • Methionine is further converted to the important methyl donor, S-adenosylmethionine  also known as SAM or SAMe
  1. 5′-deoxyadenosylcobalamin
  • Used by the enzyme methylmalonyl-CoA mutase to convert methylmalonyl-CoA to succinyl-CoA.
  • Used by the enzyme leucine aminomutase to convert B-leucine into L-leucine and vice-versa.

Anemia and Folate

Traditionally, B12 deficiency, normally resulting from the poor ability to absorb B12, but also from poor methylation, was diagnosed by finding abnormally large red blood cells. This sort of anemia has two names:

  • Macrocytic anemia – when the average volume of the red blood cells, known as the Mean Corpuscular Volume (MCV), is larger than normal
  • Megaloblastic anemia – when abnormally large red blood cells are observed under a microscope

The vitamin folate (aka folic acid) affects the anemia symptoms of B12 deficiency. Folate is needed to turn uracil into thymidine, an essential building block of DNA. DNA is needed for new red blood cell production and division. B12 is involved in this process because in creating methylcobalamin (used in the HCY to methionine reaction), B12 produces a form of folate needed to make DNA. If there is no B12 available, this form of folate can become depleted. Lack of Anemia Does Not Mean B12 Status Is Healthy. Traditionally, the existence of macrocytic anemia was relied on to indicate a B12 deficiency. However, neurological disorders due to B12 deficiency commonly occur in the absence of a macrocytic anemia.

Methylmalonic Acid (MMA)

The second coenzyme form of B12, adenosylcobalamin, takes part in the conversion of methylmalonyl-CoA to succinyl-CoA. When B12 is not available, methylmalonyl-CoA levels increase. Methylmalonyl-CoA is then converted to methylmalonic acid (MMA) which then accumulates in the blood and urine. Since B12 is the only coenzyme required in this pathway, MMA levels are the best pathology test indicators of a B12 deficiency.

High MMA levels can also (but rarely) be caused by genetic defects, kidney failure, low blood volume, gut bacteria changes, pregnancy, and thyroid disease

Folic Acid

FOLATES, FOLIC ACID, AND UNMETHYLATED FOLIC ACID are the different forms of folate. Found in leafy green vegetables, natural folates are the group name for related members of this B-vitamin family. The synthetic form, folic acid (FA), is used in fortified foods and most dietary supplements.

  1. Folate. This form of the vitamin is found in our green vegetables. If you eat about 1.5 cups of cooked greens three or more times weekly you will obtain enough natural folate to overcome almost any genetic copying defect.  Folate is also found in meats, eggs and other foods, but not as much.  Some folate can also be made in the intestinal tract.
  1. Folic acid. This is a synthetic form of folic acid that is widely used in B vitamin supplements. This form is not converted as well to the active form of the vitamin in people with the copying weakness (MTHFR gene defects) and so creates point 5 below.

  This is a supplemental form of folate that is well utilised by most with the copying defect mentioned above.

  1. Folinic acid. This is a supplemental form of folate that is well utilised by most with the copying defect mentioned above.

  This is also a supplemental form of folate that is well-utilised by those with the copying defect.

  1. Methyl folate. This is also a supplemental form of folate that is well-utilised by those with the copying defect.
  1. Unmethylated or unmetaboilised folic acid (UMFA).

With increased consumption of folate fortified grains and the popularity of vitamin supplements, many people are getting too much synthetic folic acid. Unlike natural folate, synthetic folic acid is processed very slowly in the body even at the Australian Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) intake of 400 mcg per day (for adults), UMFA can be found in the blood stream for extended periods of time. UMFA should be monitored for anyone who takes vitamins and/or consumes products with fortified enriched grains and cereals. Monitoring is also strongly recommended for women who are pregnant or who are trying to become pregnant. It has been known to increase the feelings of ‘morning sickness’, so nutritional supplements with folic acid are not advisable with those who have the MTHFR gene defects and preferably should use the more active forms.

What is the danger of too much UMFA?

  • Depressed immune function
  • Enhanced development and progression of certain cancers
  • Anaemia, poor cognition, and impaired memory especially with low B12 status

When folate is properly processed it can support the body with:

  • Making red blood cells
  • Proper nerve function
  • Bone health
  • Healthy brain and memory
  • Proper immune system function
  • Cell production, especially in skin and the digestive tract
  • Prevention of neural-tube defects (cleft lip and palate, spina bifida) in a developing foetus
  • Preventing miscarriage

Supplementation to support under or over methylation

Undermethylation:

Those with undermethylation often respond well to methionine, SAMe, 5HTP, calcium, magnesium, omega-6 essential oils such as borage and evening primrose oil, B-6, inositol, and vitamins A, C, and E, plus zinc, TMG or DMG. They should avoid supplements containing folic acid, but can tolerate the more active forms where there is MTHFR defect, especially if Homozygous for the defect.

Overmethylation:

This condition is the biochemical opposite of undermethylation. Those with overmethylation usually respond well to folic acid, B-12 (active forms), niacinamide (B3), DMAE, choline, manganese, zinc, omega-3 essential oils (DHA and EPA) and vitamins C and E, but should avoid supplements of methionine, SAMe, inositol, TMG and DMG.

In conclusion we have seen how methylation supports the body to detoxify as well as adjusts and rebuilds components needed for all bodily processes so also helps to control inflammation, maintaining good DNA transcription, support our immune and cardiovascular systems and provide us with the energy needed for our daily tasks and importantly also gives us a healthy brain and mood.

Foods for pyrrole disorder

Best foods to eat or avoid with pyrrole disorder and foods rich in B6 and Zinc

I’m often asked, what are the best foods to eat if you have pyrrole disorder, what foods to avoid for supporting the body, and what foods are rich in b6 and zinc to help balance pyrrole naturally. Whilst for many the best way to treat pyrrole disorder is with the use of supplementation, there are many that find that they are just too reactive to these supplements, can’t find the right dose, or simply just can’t afford treatment on-going.

Please note that the following cannot replace a treatment program that needs high doses, but it can help those that have only low levels of pyrrole, or are managing their stress well and have addressed other health imbalances such as gut issues e.g. leaky gut. These suggestions are also good for little ones whose parents find it difficult to supplement in the usual way, but most importantly the following can be good adjunctive therapy for all with pyrrole disorder, hormonal imbalances, digestion problems, neurotransmitter imbalances e.g. mental health problems and general good health.

Foods and drinks to avoid:

Pyrrole disorder is a condition associated with the liver (see pyrrole disorder article) so therefore anything that can affect the liver has a potential to undermine the good efforts done elsewhere to support the liver and pyrrole disorder. More often than not people with pyrrole disorder find that they are having increasing sensitivity to these substances anyway so it makes good sense to avoid them wherever possible.

These are alcohol, caffeine in coffee, black tea, caffeinated drinks, colas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and caffeinated pre gym workout mixes. Any drug, medication or pain killer can put extra stress and workload on the liver, but having said that, if you are on prescription medication you can’t just stop these without the recommendation from your health care practitioner.

Some are worse than others, for example, codeine and paracetamol strongly affect the liver and can also rob the liver of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant amino acid that the liver uses to detoxify. So other options for pain relief can be the ibuprofen class of drugs or anti-inflammatory herbs, spices and oils (as prescribed by your health care provider).  Some of these will still affect the liver but not rob the body of as much glutathione.

The foods that seem to affect those with pyrrole are those that are more difficult to digest, or foods that you are intolerant or allergic to. Most common foods and food substances that are best avoided include foods containing gluten or dairy, foods that are heavily processed, or have artificial ingredients, food coloring and preservatives, nitrates from hams, bacons, smoked foods and small goods. The more natural and unprocessed a food is the better for the liver, pyrrole disorder and good health in general.

Then we can look at what foods are rich in the vital nutrients needed for pyrrole disorder. These being B6 and Zinc. Of course there are also other important nutrients such as magnesium, Vit e, selenium, boron etc, but we will focus on the main ones here today.

Foods rich in B6 and Zinc

B6 rich foods: (20mg per day is a good minimum)

Rice Bran – Rice bran contains the most vitamin B6 with 4.07mg per 100g serving and can make a nice breakfast cereal topped with one of the new blended coconut rice milks or almonds milks if no nut allergies.

Dried Herbs and Spices – Although dried herbs and spices are rarely used in large portions, adding in a few extra pinches to all your sauces, soups, and stews is a great way to get more vitamin B6 into your diet. Chilli powder contains the most vitamin B6 with 3.67mg of vitamin B6 per 100g. Paprika has 0.28mg per tablespoon, garlic powder 0.22 per tablespoon, dried tarragon, ground sage, dried spearmint, basil, chives, turmeric, bay leaves, rosemary, dill, onion powder, oregano, and marjoram (all around 0.1-0.2mg per tablespoon).

Pistachios – are a delicious snack and a great addition to salads. 100 grams of raw pistachios will provide 1.7mg of vitamin B6. Roasted pistachios will provide 1.27mg per 100 gram

Garlic provides a host of health benefits and is also a great source of vitamin B6. Raw garlic is a great base to salad dressings, and also makes a good condiment. 100 grams of raw garlic provides 1.235mg of vitamin B6, 0.04mg per clove or teaspoon.

Liver– is a vitamin rich food that is most commonly found in the form of pâtés and sausages. Most any kind of liver provides a lot of vitamin B6, but turkey liver provides the most with 1.04mg in a 100 gram serving, or 0.86mg in an average turkey liver. Beef liver provides 1.03mg of vitamin B6 per 100 gram serving. All organ meats are rich in B6.

Fish (Tuna, Salmon, and Cod) Fish is a heart healthy food and a good source of protein. Yellow-fin Tuna provides the most vitamin B6 with 1.04mg per 100g serving. Atlantic salmon provides 0.94mg per 100 gram serving, 1.45mg in half a fillet.

Sunflower and Sesame Seeds (e.g. as Tahini) Sunflower and Sesame seeds are great as an addition to salads, as well as a snack on their own. Sunflower seeds provide 0.81mg of vitamin B6 per 100 gram serving, or 1.1mg per cup. Whole roasted sesame seeds provide 0.8mg per 100 gram serving, 1.1mg per cup. Sesame butter, or tahini, will provide 0.15mg of vitamin B6 per 100 gram serving, 0.04mg.

Pork Tenderloin (Lean) Lean Pork Tenderloin, also a zinc rich food, provides the most vitamin B6 when cooked roasted. Pork tenderloin contains 0.74mg of vitamin B6 per 100 gram serving. Other grass fed meat is also rich in B6

Hazelnuts – Dry roasted hazelnuts provide 0.62mg of vitamin B6 per 100 gram serving.

Egg yolk – especially raw is a good source of B6 providing 0.05mg per egg

Zinc rich foods (15mg per day is a good minimum)

Seafood Zinc in 6 cooked Oysters 76.4mg Other Seafood High in Zinc – Crab and Lobster 2.5mg per 100g.

Beef and Lamb Zinc in 100g meat 5mg

Spinach – 0.8mg Zinc in 100g Cooked or Raw

Other Green Leafy Vegetables High in Zinc – Amaranth Leaves, Endive, Radiccio, Rocket 0.2per 100g

Pumpkin and Squash Seeds Zinc in 100g -10.3mg Other Seeds High in Zinc – Sunflower, Chia and Flaxseeds. Sesame seeds or tahini 7mg per 100g

Nuts – Cashews Zinc in 100g – 5g Other Nuts High in Zinc – Pine nuts , Pecans, Almonds, Walnut, Peanuts, and Hazelnuts av 1gm per 100g .

Pork & Chicken Zinc in 100g pork Steak 1.5mg. Chicken is also High in zincT 2mg per 100g

Beans – Mung Beans, Baked Beans, Adzuki, Chickpeas, and Kidney Beans. 0.5mg Zinc in 100g

Mushrooms Zinc Per 14g Mushroom 1mg

 

 

Common adjunctive testing to pyrrole

Common adjunctive testing done alongside pyroluria

Your health care provider may request other tests when pyrrole disorder has been picked up. These may include some or all of the following:

  1. Caeruloplasmin – copper binding capacity (blood)
  2. Copper (via serum, plasma, red cell or hair analysis)
  3. Zinc (via serum, plasma, red cell or hair analysis)
  4. Zinc to Copper ratio -ideal is 10:1 – (blood or hair)
  5. Vit D (blood)
  6. Histamine levels (blood)
  7. Homocysteine (blood)
  8. B12 and folate levels  (blood)
  9. MMA (Methyl Malonic acid – more accurate indication of B12 – blood)
  10. MTHFR gene SNP defects (blood or oral swab)
  11. Other genetic testing (oral swab)
  12. Neurotransmitter testing (urine)
  13. Amino Acid testing (urine or blood)
  14. Thyroid and other hormone testing such as adrenal

Understanding Caeruloplasmin, copper and zinc

Caeruloplasmin is a protein made by your liver and its role is to carry copper via your blood plasma around your body to the tissues that need it. As well as being a major copper-carrying protein, Caeruloplasmin is also essential in effective iron metabolism. A deficiency of Caeruloplasmin is known as Aceruloplasminemia, and this issue crops up quite a bit with copper toxicity-related conditions.

A deficiency of Caeruloplasmin is strongly associated with copper toxicity and if left free and unbound, copper becomes a powerful free radical, resulting in oxidative stress, cell and tissue destruction, neurological degeneration, and a list of health-related issues. Some of these issues include:

  • Pyrrole disorder
  • Oestrogen dominance
  • Schizophrenia
  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorder
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Migraines
  • Liver toxicity
  • Thyroid conditions
  • Chronic candidiasis
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Cancer
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Parkinson’s
  • OCD
  • ADD & ADHD
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

Perhaps one of the primary mechanisms through which copper toxicity can damage tissues is through oxidative stress and free radical formation. Free copper ions that are not bound to copper proteins such as Caeruloplasmin, are pro-oxidants, and are highly damaging.

While copper toxicity is a major cause for concern, it is something that can be effectively dealt with by powerful nutritional therapies and we need to also remember that Copper is a very important trace element that has many important roles in the body. These include:

  • Connective tissue formation
  • Nerve conduction
  • ATP synthesis
  • Iron metabolism
  • Brain health via neurotransmitter synthesis
  • Gene transcription
  • Synthesis of the antioxidant superoxide dismutase
  • Skin pigmentation
  • Nerve tissue: myelin sheath formation
  • Blood vessel formation

In a rare inherent disorder called Wilson disease, copper is not put into Caeruloplasmin and also keeps your liver from sending extra copper to be eliminated via your bowel movements so that copper then builds up in your liver until it overflows into the bloodstream which can then build up in your brain, corneas, kidneys, liver, bones, and small glands near the thyroid. If not treated, the liver and brain damage from copper poisoning can be fatal.

Whilst Wilson’s disease is a rare condition, there can be other situations where the copper is not fully bound to Caeruloplasmin and therefore toxically high levels of copper can be in the blood plasma with a concurrent copper deficiency at a cellular level. This can be balanced by addressing mineral and metal imbalances, adrenal fatigue, hormone imbalances and healing any gut issues.

Lower-than-normal Caeruloplasmin levels may indicate:

  • Wilson disease – excess storage of copper (genetic)
  • Menkes disease (kinky hair syndrome- genetic)
  • Overdose of Vitamin C
  • Copper deficiency at a cellular level, but may have high plasma levels (check the difference between plasma and hair results)
  • Aceruloplasminemia – lack of Caeruloplasmin

Greater-than-normal Caeruloplasmin levels may indicate or be noticed in:

  • copper toxicity with zinc deficiency, common with over methylation
  • pregnancy, oral contraceptive pill use and hormonal imbalances incl adrenal
  • lymphomas
  • acute and chronic inflammation such as Rheumatoid arthritis, Angina
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Schizophrenia & Obsessive-compulsive disorder

Disturbances of copper metabolism are very common, but a true copper deficiency is relatively uncommon, perhaps affecting 5-10% of the population, but could potentially become an issue with the over use of zinc supplementation when treating pyroluria. The treatment for high copper is both molybdenum and zinc. Caeruloplasmin levels a usually comparable to hair copper levels, but it is good to test both hair and blood to see the relationship to each other.

The roles of Zinc in the body

Zinc and copper are antagonists, meaning that increasing one can lower the other. While zinc toxicity is possible, far more common is zinc deficiency and copper toxicity. Zinc is an essential trace element that activates several hundred enzymatic reactions that are fundamental to a healthy life. Some of the activities that zinc are involved in are:

  • DNA & RNA synthesis
  • Gene expression
  • Nervous system function
  • Immune function & immune signalling such as cell apoptosis
  • Neuronal transmission
  • Brain function
  • Zinc possesses powerful anabolic activities in the cells
  • Formation of zinc proteins known as “zinc fingers”
  • Zinc is essential for blood clotting and platelet formation
  • Zinc is involved in Vitamin A synthesis
  • Folate is made available through zinc enzyme reactions
  • Along with copper, Zinc makes up the antioxidant enzyme system, ZnCu superoxide dismutase
  • Steroidal hormone synthesis
  • Growth & development of children
  • Testosterone and semen formation
  • The highest concentration of zinc is found in the male prostate gland

Some Causes of Copper Toxicity

  • Genetic Mutations that negatively alter copper-transport proteins such as Caeruloplasmin (CP gene). Genetic mutations that influence or cause the development of Huntington’s (HTT gene) and Wilson’s (ATP7B copper transport gene)
  • Environmental Copper Toxicity. Sources include: Copper pipes, dental fillings, copper-contaminated foods, contaminated municipal drinking water containing copper sulphate as an anti-fungal, copper IUD’s, copper fungicides, copper cookware and jewellery. (Note: copper pipes combined with water softening or heating will increase the leaching of copper and other toxic metals by making water acidic).
  • Nutrient Deficiencies: vegetarian and vegan diets (tend to be high in copper and low in zinc), zinc deficiency, pyrrole disorder
  • Increased Oxidative Stress: Deficiencies in the expression of cellular antioxidants such as metallothionein and glutathione, both of which bind to free copper ions

Nutritional Solutions for Copper Toxicity

High doses of any one nutrient, has the capability of altering other important nutrients in the body due to their relationship to each other. It is important to understand that if you have copper toxicity, taking too many copper antagonists can actually result in a copper deficiency. Therefore it is important to be consulting with an experienced practitioner to support you in choosing the right supplement regime and monitor your levels.

The following nutrients are primarily used to antagonize copper:

  • Zinc
  • Molybdenum
  • Manganese
  • Arachadonic acid (omega 6)
  • Sulfur (sulfur amino acid cysteine is essential for the formation of glutathione and metallothionein, both of which bind to free copper)
  • Vitamin B-6

The following nutrients have been shown to protect against copper-induced oxidative damage:

  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin C
  • Glutathione
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid
  • Beta Carotene
  • Polyphenols

In summary, copper toxicity is a major cause of concern, and is likely a key player in many of today’s major health imbalances and diseases. Zinc, copper and Caeruloplasmin screening tests are an inexpensive yet powerful way to monitor your levels, and from these, individualised nutritional therapies can be offered.

NutriPath Lab offer a ‘Pfeiffer Profile’ test code – 3415 which includes; Plasma Zinc, serum Copper, Caeruloplasmin, whole blood Histamine, Homocysteine, Vitamin D3, Zn:Cu ratio all for only $185.00 plus lab initiation fee of $20 if you have never used the lab before, plus the pathology blood collection fee which varies depending on the collection centre. For a kit to be organised for you, please contact the True Vitality clinic via the contact page and I can organise to send you the kit needed (plus any other kits)

Hair analysis of heavy metals, minerals and ratios (HMMT) can be done via hair kit which is available on the True Vitality Shop. You will need the pass-code ‘vitality’ to gain access. Please note that you are NOT able to purchase supplements until you have register as a client after a consultation, so please don’t use the code to buy products or your order will be blocked. Thank you.

More info to come on the other tests….

The many faces/causes of Anxiety

The Many Faces of Anxiety

by Sue Kira N.D, PTC, DRM, PGD. Clin Nutri.

Anxiety is a multidimensional problem that faces far too many people today, but what causes anxiety? Below is a brief summary of some of the possible biochemical causes and support. Stress, psychological and emotional causes are not addressed here but are extremely important factors that must never be overlooked.

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Nutritional deficiencies

Nutritional deficiencies such as B vitamins, magnesium, calcium, potassium and vitamin C deficiency can all contribute to or exacerbate anxiety symptoms. These deficiencies can be caused by low intake, poor absorption or metabolic disorders and/or stress so the body then requires higher amounts of these nutrients. It is best to not self prescribe otherwise other imbalances can be created. Specific ratios of vitamins and minerals are required for balanced mental, emotional and physical health and well-being. 

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Allergies and intolerances

There are many common food and substance allergies that influence anxiety, such as food colors, preservatives, gluten or dairy intolerance or allergies. Many people who have been tested for allergies can have intolerances that may have been missed which can aggravate symptoms of anxiety. Food sensitivities that are not allergies can also be a problem, such as being sensitive to sugar caffeine or salicylates for example. For more information on allergies and intolerances please visit this article 

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Hormone imbalances

Hormone imbalances, especially thyroid levels, can give rise to anxiety symptoms. If a person has an under or overactive thyroid, then anxiety can be one of the many symptoms. Testing for thyroid levels in Australia can leave out many subclinical cases that could otherwise be helped by natural hormone support. PMS can be accompanied by increased anxiety, so balancing hormones in general can be a helpful support.

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Blood sugar imbalances

If a person’s blood sugar is not stable, is too high or especially if too low, this will surface any underlying anxiety that may not be otherwise noted. Blood sugar levels are dependent on the types of foods eaten (especially protein and carbohydrates) or how well they are digested as well as proper probiotic (friendly gut bacteria) levels. Another factor is dependent on if the pancreas is functioning properly or not.

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Metabolic disorders

Metabolic disorders such as pyrrole (aka pyroluria) are known to lead to an imbalance in specific vitamins and minerals. One of the more common symptoms of pyroluria is anxiety. Pyrrole disorder can be easily tested with a specific urine test and treatment is with specific nutrients. For more information on pyrrole disorder please visit this pyrrole article

Or Pyrrole Australia Face Book page https://www.facebook.com/PyrroleAustralia

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Heavy metal toxicity

Toxicity from heavy metals/minerals can also create imbalances that exacerbate anxiety. Sometimes a basic imbalance in the ratios of non toxic minerals can aggravate symptoms. Testing is best done by hair analysis. Metal and Mineral testing is available via the True Vitality clinic.

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Amino acid imbalances

Amino acids are the building blocks or individual parts of proteins. These are the needed co-factors for the production of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, adrenaline (epinephrine) and nor-adrenaline (nor epinephrine). Amino acids and neurotransmitters can now be tested by urine to see if there are any crucial imbalances contributing to anxiety.

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Other factors

Other factors that could add to anxiety are: leaky gut syndrome, high copper levels, high histamine levels, other health problems/diseases, previous or current substance abuse leading to metabolic imbalances, reactions to medications, stress, caffeine, alcohol and much more.

For more articles on health and wellbeing please visit the articles page.

 

The above is a brief summary of conditions and imbalances that can add to anxiety. For more specific testing and assessments please visit your experienced local health care provider or Sue Kira at True Vitality. Appointments are available in clinic, via skype or phone sessions. For more information please email Sue via the contact page

 

Comments section below is for public viewing of your comments on the above article, so please don’t post questions or things you don’t wish to share. For more personal attention it is best to have a consultation to discuss your individual needs. Thank you, with love, Sue

Treating Insulin Resistance with food

Understanding Insulin Resistance and how to treat it with good food choices

Despite major changes in food production and technology, the eating habits of Western Society over the last few decades have resulted in record levels of chronic degenerative disease as well as a myriad of ‘minor disorders’ of digestive, respiratory and other systems.

Over 2000 years ago, Hippocrates advised his students to “let food be your medicine.” Every day experience tells us that our diet intimately affects our health and well being (remember the feeling of “I shouldn’t have eaten that!”)

Post war Western Society, indulged itself in an excess of refined carbohydrates and saturated fats, a trend that is now, even in orthodox medical circles, regarded as unhealthy.

The dietary advice of the last 20 years – initially from ‘alternative’ practitioners and later by mainstream medicos – has been to increase complex carbohydrates and fiber, and reduce fat and protein.  Current clinical experience, however, tells us this is still wrong.  The standard high complex carbohydrate, low fat, low protein diet has resulted in: raised serum insulin levels causing insulin resistance, reduction in basal metabolic rate, increased fat tissue growth and reduction in lean muscle mass, and accelerated biological ageing, common allergies to grains and dairy foods, immune system over activation and failure, and record amounts of heart disease, obesity and cancer.

The first point – insulin resistance

Insulin resistance is affecting the health of many people today.  The cell has only two ways to absorb the glucose it needs to make energy; insulin – mediated facilitated diffusion, and exercise – induced trans-membrane transport.  With the current trend towards an increasingly sedentary life style, insulin sensitivity becomes the controlling factor in cellular energy production.  If this is impaired, then every cell in the body is short of energy – and no matter what the cells function is, it needs energy to do it.

The obvious consequence of insulin resistance is fatigue, which I would have to say is the most common complaint I see in my clinic everyday.  But it goes a lot further than that; without cellular energy, muscle cells can’t contract or relax efficiently – this affects not only skeletal muscle, but also cardiac muscle, leading to cardiovascular disease; without cellular energy, endocrine cells can’t excrete hormones efficiently, resulting in hormonal imbalances; Immune cells don’t function properly resulting in infections, auto-immune diseases, cancer etc; bone cells cannot maintain bone density resulting in osteoporosis. Digestion is the most energy consuming function in the body – with insulin resistance, digestion is not effective.

So what causes insulin resistance?

Resistance to insulin can be caused by nutritional deficiencies like chromium, magnesium, selenium, taurine and/or essential fatty acids which can be assessed with Live Blood Screening, but is primarily a result of hyperinsulinaemia – which is too much insulin in the blood.

There are four main causes of hyperinsulinaemia?

1. lack of exercise, 2.stress, 3.toxin induced immune over activity and the 4.diet – wrong balance of carbohydrates to proteins and nutrient deficiencies.

The first two – exercise and stress require life style counseling and appropriate supportive supplementation and management.

With toxin-induced immune over activity – assessment of this would be done with consultation, Live Blood Screening and/or urine and saliva analysis, and correction requires integrated detoxification techniques utilizing detoxification diet, herbals and nutritionals to reduce the toxic burden on the body and cells.

Four key dietary programs may be involved in the reversal of insulin resistance:

1. The Insulin Zone System

2. The Ketogenic Fat Loss System

3. The A/B/O Blood Type Diet.

4. A fourth way which is even more profound but a total commitment to honesty with eating is vital, and that is to feel what foods best suit the body at any given time. This can only be done if first you have removed certain foods that inhibit you from truly feeling the right foods to eat. These foods are namely gluten, dairy and most starch foods, plus caffeine and alcohol as without removing these the body can be fooled by the interplay with foods and what they do to the body. More on this in another article.

The Insulin Zone System is an excellent program for educating anyone * towards the healthier eating patterns necessary to control blood glucose and insulin levels, thereby avoiding insulin resistance and the myriad of problems it brings.  Everyone will also benefit from the A/B/O diet.  You can use a combination of these two diets to get the best out of both.

Briefly the Zone Diet is about having 40 % of the diet ‘good’ carbohydrates, 30 % protein and 30 % ‘good’ fats.  The Insulin Zone System is great for everyone, * but especially those experiencing chronic tiredness, depression, poor circulation, hormonal imbalances including PMS, anxiety, hypertension, increased cholesterol, asthma and of course diabetes. * Obese people are unable to benefit from the Insulin Zone System because their body fat maintains circulating levels of fatty acids that perpetuate insulin resistance.

The adipose tissue must be reduced below critical percentages before the Insulin Zone System can take effect.  This loss of fat is achieved most effectively with the Ketogenic Fat Loss System.  Employing the A/B/O Blood Type Diet principles with the Ketogenic Fat Loss System will greatly improve results.

So how do you work out how much protein and carbs to eat to get a good ‘Insulin Zone’ balance?  The answer is in the palm of your hand.  The thickness and size of your palm is about the same volume as the amount of protein food that you need at each meal.  For snacks, use 1/3 of a palm of protein food.  Examples of protein may include – nuts, seeds, tofu, chicken, fish, eggs, lean beef/lamb, turkey etc.  For carbohydrates you can use the same method, except that you can have two palms of ‘good’ carbohydrate foods or one palm of ‘poor’ carbohydrates.

The ‘good’ carbs are all vegetables with the exclusion of the starchy veggies such as potato, sweet potato and corn have more nutrients and they won’t increase blood sugar/insulin levels as much as the ‘poor’ carbs such as bread, pastas, rice, potatoes, and sugar.

A more detailed listing of “good” and “poor’ carbohydrates as well as ‘good’ and ‘poor’ choices of fats and proteins are available from the clinic – Free with any session (please ask), as well as more information on the A/B/O Blood Type Diet, Ketogenic Fat Loss Diet and Detox Diet.

If you feel great and everything is in good working order and your diet works for you then stick with it.  These diets are choices available to assist people to make changes – remembering that no one diet suits all.

The A/B/O Blood Type Diet incorporates using ‘blood friendly’ foods specific to your blood type and avoiding those foods designated as having reactive ‘lectins’ – proteins that bind red blood cells – making them sticky often seen in Live Blood Screening. If you don’t know your blood type – this can be quickly determined with just a drop of blood from your finger in clinic.

Alcohol & Cigs- the Body's cry for stillness

Alcohol and cigarettes: the body’s cry for moments of stillness

When I am with clients who are suffering from fatigue, we discuss the things that may have been draining their energy.

Some share with me how they like to have a glass of wine or two at the end of each day to wind down. It can make the difference between them saying to their kids, “Ok it’s bath time darlings”, rather than angrily blurting out “get in the bath you little monsters or I’ll…!”

All they want is some peace and quiet at the end of the day. How often have we used a glass of wine, a cigarette or even a cup of tea or coffee to sit quietly and unwind? That moment when you have a sip of the drink, or drag on the cigarette and you are totally focused on the moment; think about it…the long drag in and then exhale with relief, or the sip, swallow and the ‘ahhhh’ as you breathe out with ‘relief’ and relaxation.

I realised that what people often miss when they give up these things is the time to simply relax and just ‘be’, because our bodies really crave moments of stillness.

I remembered how I did the same thing. These moments are our search for stillness, but the substances we choose to use actually take us away from true stillness. The caffeine in tea and coffee, the sugar in alcohol, and the nicotine in cigarettes, all make us racy, running faster inside than our natural rhythm.

At other times I would stop on my way home from work and just sit by the river to relax before going home to the family. It was a moment just for me; a moment of stillness to reflect and just ‘be’.

I chat with my clients about how easy it is to create moments of stillness that don’t have to be harmful to the body. By creating a space for ourselves of only a few minutes to sit, close our eyes, breathe very gently and feel our body, feet and eyes relaxing and our hands resting on our thighs, we can feel an absolute presence with ourselves. And then, by gently opening our eyes, we can hold that feeling of gentleness and presence and continue to be with ourselves.

When we share a few minutes of doing this together in the clinic, they are often amazed at how lovely they can feel in a very short time without substances, tapes or any cost and how they can do this at any time, even with their eyes open.

We may also discuss how being calm and present with children can bring them to gentleness and calmness. Some have noticed that when they are ‘actively present’ with their kids by maintaining eye contact and really connecting ‘with’ them, they are lovely and calm and less aggressive. They have also noticed that when they are stressed and cranky, the kids are harder to be with, which makes things worse for all.

If you would like to have this experience for yourself just ask when you come in for a consultation, and I will be very happy to share how easy this can be done.