My first introduction to what I now call ‘real’ nutrition was at a seminar after I graduated by Dr James L. Chestnut B.Ed., M.Sc., D.C., C.C.W.P. Both he and my step Mum, Helen (who is the most amazing cook and over the years has treated me to French classic cooking courses at Bertinet’s Kitchen- you have to go there it's awesome!) sparked my keen interest and enthusiasm for cooking from scratch and eating well.
There is so much information available to us online. I don't know about you but I've been overwhelmed at times by conflicting advice. A few years ago I read a book on the Acid Vs Alkaline diet, according to them I was eating all the wrong things, killing off all my good bacteria, plus I'd surely get pretty ill if I didn't change my ways immediately!! I decided I wasn't ready for this level of pureness and promised myself I would burn it. Fortunately someone ‘borrowed’ this book from clinic and I haven't seen it since!
I did decide however, that I could make slow, manageable healthy changes to my eating habits and each year I can definitely say that I'm a lot healthier than the one before. It’s possible to look fantastic and feel fit and strong if you have a good plan so I've ‘chunked-it-up’ this vital information. I have made it understandable and easy to implement.
As far as improving dietary habits are concerned, stages are the key. I use Chestnut’s approach, recommending that everyone add 3 things (filtered water, probiotics and omega 3 fish oil) to their diet before they remove anything.
Probiotics occur in fermented foods and drinks, raw yoghurts, sauerkraut and supplements. There are so many different varieties or species and ideally you want all of them. How do you tell which ones you have or need?! If you're interested in fine tuning your body you can enlist the help of someone who is specifically trained to test which specific bacteria (vitamins and minerals) you need to fully support your body (I have included some useful contacts whom I highly recommend speaking to at the end). If you're starting from scratch, buying a good quality probiotic capsule supplement will start you off well (and remember to take them everyday – note to self - they're no good sitting in the cupboard!!!).
10 Benefits of Probiotics
1. Weight loss and better looking skin
2. Reduced risk of disease
3. They manufacture vitamins including vitamin k and bs.
4. Help the integrity of the gut wall preventing unwanted substances 'leaking' into the body and provoking an immune response.
5. Help get rid of Helicobacter.pylori (one of the main reasons for gastric ulcers)
6. Nullify phytic acid
7. Act as our second brain through their affect on mood, food choices and even cravings!
8. Positive impact on IBS, constipation bloating and diarrhoea
9. Affect our mood, food choices and cravings
10. Affect our immune system, inflammatory and autoimmune conditions
How to replenish them.
Take a good quality probiotic supplement in the morning (or as recommended), I have been taking Solar and Udo's Choice. You can buy them from Natural Life here.
How to keep them alive
Avoid antibiotics where possible
Avoid taking painkillers, anti inflammatory and antacid medication.
Avoid the oral contraceptive pill
Cut down and cut out refined sugars and carbohydrates
Avoid wheat gluten
Avoid seed oils.
The benefits of restoring balance to our intestinal flora is positively endless. By balance I'm talking about good v’s bad. I advised one of my 85 year old clients to start taking them after he had had to take a course of antibiotics for a chest infection. After just one month he told me his digestion and overall well-feeling was so much better than before he'd caught the infection. It just goes to show it's never to late to start making a difference!
Shifting the balance doesn't just mean eating them, but making sure we don't kill them either.
An unbalanced gut flora is linked to numerous diseases including obesity, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, colorectal cancer and even Alzheimer's and depression.
Without specific testing you won't necessarily know whether you have a good balance, however it's pretty safe to say that if your health is suffering (be it aches and pains, mental health or digestive workings) it's not looking great!
When setting out to improve your health, it's crucial to remember that making a change in one area like taking probiotics, may alone not make you feel any different however you're another step closer to that goal of feeling and looking better. You may only really notice the significant shift in your health after a year or five like me when you look back in retrospect.
Are you already taking probiotics? What difference have you noticed? Please share your experience in the comments below.
If you're interested in getting tested for food intolerances etc I highly recommend Rosie Dowbekin A.S.K., T.A.S.K and Jane Collison.