Do you have the guts to be healthy

Anatomy of the digestive system
The digestive system is essentially a hollow tube beginning in the mouth and extending to the anus. 

Your stomach is responsible for the chemical digestion of your food and the intestines take care of nutrient absorption and manufacture of some vitamins such as Vitamin K and B12.  The lining of the intestine is made up of cells just one cell thick.  These cells but up tightly together forming tight cell junctions.  It’s through these tight cell junctions that nutrient absorption takes place.
Stress, toxins, antibiotics, poor diet and other medications all cause damage to the lining and put gaps in the tight cell junctions.  This enables the contents of the intestines to leak out into circulation and is called intestinal permeability.
This intestinal permeability results in inflammation not only in the digestive system but systemically throughout the body and can often be the cause of headaches, mood swings, disturbed sleep, food cravings, brain fog, fatigue, weight gain, skin conditions, sinus, allergies, food intolerances, hormonal symptoms, muscular pain and much more

Why is gut health important?
  • 80% of the immune system sits around the digestive system.Poor digestion directly relates to reduced immune function.
  • 90% of serotonin (our feel good happy hormone) is produced in our digestive system.Without a proper functioning digestive system, we can’t produce enough serotonin and this leads to depression and low mood.
  • We swallow mouthfuls of bacteria, toxins and viruses every day.A healthy functioning gut prevents infections, food poisoning and parasite infections.
  • Absorption and creation and of vitamins and minerals
  • Clearance of wastes, toxins and hormones.When these aren’t being eliminated properly by the digestive system, other organs of elimination take over – such as the skin which can result in rashes, eczema and dermatitis.
What damages the gut?
  • Stress
  • Antiiotics
  • Chlorine
  • Poor Diet
  • Pesticides and toxins in our food
  • Poor diet
  • Medications
Key nutrients for optimal gut health
  • Fibre both soluble and insoluble
  • Zinc
  • Vitamin A
  • Selenium
  • Vitamin E
  • Protein
Foods to support digestion in the stomach
  • Ginger
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Fire Tonic
  • Kombucha
  • Lemon
  • Bitter tasting foods such as rocket, endive and other bitter lettuces
TIP – avoid drinking with meals, liquid dilutes stomach acid.
Foods for intestinal health
Fibre is found in plant foods and consists of complex carbohydrates that cannot be fully broken down by the body.  There are two types – soluble and insoluble. 
Insoluble acts like an intestinal broom, passing straight through, adding bulk to the stool to help rid the body of waste products.
Sources of insoluble fibre include:
  • Buckwheat – contains rutin a potent anti-inflammatory
  • Chia seeds – when soaked in milk or water act as an intestinal broom.If you’re prone to constipation don’t use them dry always soak first and add to smoothies or eat as a pudding
  • Ground flaxseed – contains lignans which improve clearance of estrogens and therefore improve hormone systems.
Soluble fibre can be dissolved in water and forms a gel inside your intestines, softening your stools and slowing down digestion.  Soluble fibre
  • Helps regulate appetite by keeping you fuller for longer
  • Stabilising blood sugars – reducing sugar cravings
  • Reduces cholesterol levels
  • Supports growth of beneficial gut bacteria
Sources of soluble fibre include:
  • Citrus fruits – oranges, limes, grapefruit, lemon
  • Passionfruit
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Strawberries
  • Carrot, pumpkin, parsnips, beetroot
  • Linseeds – when soaked in water form a gel.Can be used as an egg replacer in vegetarian/vegan recipes.
What about gluten?
Gluten, the protein found in wheat, rye, barley, oats and spelt can cause bloating, constipation, eczema and behavioural issues.  Gluten causes inflammation and increases permeability in the gut even in people who aren’t coeliac.
Gluten free alternatives
  • Millet
  • Besan – made from ground chickpeas
  • Buckwheat Flour
  • Quinoa Flour
These gluten free alternatives are low GI and richer in both fibre and healthy gut nutrients such as zinc, magnesium, manganese, protein than their gluten containing alternatives.
Digestive Enzymes
Digestive enzymes break down the large food particles into smaller molecules which are then absorbed into the blood stream.  When enzyme production is low you can’t break your food down properly which causes digestive distress that you might experience as gas, bloating, cramping and constipation.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Pineapple
  • Paw Paw
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Dried figs – the seeds in the figs rip the parasites bodies apart.
  • Fenugreek – antispasmodic.Great for colic, bloating, cramping
  • Turmeric – potent anti-inflammatory, liver protective, anti-cancer, anti-aging
  • Ginger – increases digestive enzymes, anti-nausea, anti-inflammatory
  • Garlic – anti microbial, supports immune system, lowers cholesterol
Vitamin A
Fat soluble vitamin.  Roast vegetables in oil to increase absorption.
  • Ghee
  • Egg yolk
  • Organ meats and pate
  • Orange vegetables – pumpkin, sweet potato, carrots
Vitamin E
  • Nuts – almonds, cashews, hazelnuts
  • Oils – olive, macadamia, walnut, avocado
  • Seeds – pepitas, sunflower, sesame, poppy
  • Avocado
  • Seeds – especially pepitas and sunflower seeds
  • Nuts – walnuts and almonds
  • Dahl
  • Seafood – especially fish, oysters and mussels
  • Chicken, turkey (the dark meat on the thighs)

Need more help?
In clinic testing and support can help you get to the root cause of conditions associated with abnormal gut function.
Abdominal pain Fatigue
Bad breath Food allergy and sensitivities
Bloating Brain fog
Headaches Inflammatory bowel disease
Chemical sensitives IBS
Coeliac disease Maldigestion
Skin conditions – acne, eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis Auto immune conditions – hashimotos, graves, rheumatoid arthritis
Constipation Depression, anxiety and other mood disorders
Diarrhea Ulcers
Weight loss Weight gain
Comprehensive stool analysis (CDSA)
A non-invasive diagnostic tool for assessing gastrointestinal function. CDSA is used to evaluation the function of the gastrointestinal tract and gives a comprehensive picture of a patients gut health.  Digestion, metabolism, absorption, metabolic markers, pancreatic function, the balance of beneficial and the presence of pathological bacteria, yeasts and parasites can be obtained.
Food Sensitivity Testing (500 foods)
Using a small amount of hair, the test uses electronic equipment to measure your bodies compatibility against a list of 500 common local foods and household products including all food groups, and bathroom, laundry and kitchen products.
A personalised treatment protocol is then devised to eliminate incompatible foods, remove inflammation and restore proper gut function.
Recipes for a Health Gut
Life Changing Loaf (recipe by My New Roots)
Makes 1 loaf
1 cup (135 grams) sunflower seed kernels (not in the shell)
1/2 cup (90 grams) flax seeds
1/2 cup (65 grams) hazelnuts (you don’t need to chop them
1 1/2 cups (145 grams) quinoa flakes
2 tablespoons chia seeds
4 tablespoons psyllium seed husks (3 tablespoons if using psyllium husk powder)
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt (add 1/2 teaspoon if using coarse salt)
1 tablespoon maple syrup (for sugar-free diets, use a pinch of stevia)
3 tablespoons melted coconut oil or ghee
1 1/2 cups (350 milliliters) water
  1. In a flexible, silicon loaf pan or a standard loaf pan lined with parchment, combine all dry ingredients, stirring well. Whisk maple syrup, oil, and water together in a measuring cup. Add this to the dry ingredients and mix very well until everything is completely soaked and dough becomes very thick (if the dough is too thick to stir, add one or two teaspoons of water until the dough is manageable). Smooth out the top with the back of a spoon. Let sit out on the counter for at least 2 hours, or all day or overnight. To ensure the dough is ready, it should retain its shape even when you pull the sides of the loaf pan away from it or lift the parchment.
  2. Preheat oven to 350° F / 175° C.
  3. Place loaf pan in the oven on the middle rack, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove bread from loaf pan, place it upside down directly on the rack and bake for another 30 to 40 minutes. Bread is done when it sounds hollow when tapped. Let cool completely before slicing.
  4. Store bread in a tightly sealed container for up to five days. Freezes well too – slice before freezing for quick and easy toast!

Author: Kerryn Odell

Kerryn Odell is a well-known Nutritionist who is passionate about helping clients who are experiencing digestive issues, hormone problems, poor sleep, anxiety, skin issues and auto-immune problems. Kerryn works with people of all ages and especially enjoys working with families. Kerryn loves being part of the Health Space team in Mona Vale, and looks forward to meeting the community and helping reach their health goals.

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