Bloated? Eczema? Gassy? It's probably something you ate....

I have always been a pretty healthy eater.  But for much of my life, I have had two issues plaguing my self esteem.  My skin was one.  I always broke out more than the average person, but a couple of years ago it got REALLY bad.  I became super self conscious and did not want to have any pictures taken. Being from a Taiwanese family also didn't help because my mother pointed it out constantly!   The other is the fact that normally, I would finish each day feeling bloated and GIGANTIC.  If I let my belly relax, I literally looked like I was 5 months pregnant, and that really did not do a lot for my self image.  I would just think that this was normal, and eventually I became accustomed to feeling this way.  Stretchy pants were my best friend.

It wasn’t until I went to nutrition school, that I learned about food allergies and more importantly for me,  food sensitivities.   Allergies can cause pretty severe reactions, which I never had, but food sensitivities could cause bloating, gas, acne, brain fog, weight gain and a host of other symptoms.  I had a LOT of these problems.    Lightbulb! Bing!  My “healthy” diet wasn’t really healthy anymore... at least for me.  I began playing around with different foods, taking them out of my diet and checking to see how I felt, and finally, I found out which ones didn’t work for me.  Since I've made a big switch in my diet, I know which foods make me bloat and my skin has cleared up tremendously.  Last time I went home, a family friend (Taiwanese of course)  couldn't stop raving about how my skin looked.  Taiwanese are quick to point out the good and the bad. :)

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

What is a Food Allergy?

An allergy triggers the immune system. The immune system reacts to a foreign substance, or allergen (for our purposes something edible).   The body will create antibodies against this allergen and can cause inflammation and tissue damage, especially if chronically exposed.

Immediate allergic reactions are acute and can include symptoms such as hives, rashes, itching, trouble breathing, and unconsciousness.  These are the type of allergies that cause people to carry around epi-pens.  In general, however, this only affects 7.5% of children and only 1-2% of adults.

What is a Food Sensitivity?

Delayed reactions are much harder to detect because they can take several hours or up to 72 hours after to manifest.  They are often called “hidden” food allergies or also sensitivities.  Delayed reactions are much more common and affect about 25% of the population.  Those with intolerances are unable to either completely digest a food or unable to handle the chemical structure of a food.  One of the most well known intolerances is lactose intolerance where a person is missing the enzyme “lactase” and therefore cannot digest the lactose in dairy products. Delayed reactions are much more insidious, because people often do not connect their symptoms (such as eczema, brain fog, ear infections, joint pain, or fatigue) to something they ate.  Uncomfortable problems can persist for long periods of time.

Some delayed reactions or intolerances can be resolved over time by abstaining from the food, and then it allowing back into the diet only occasionally.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Explosion of Allergies

Chances are if you know any children, you know that there is an explosion in the amount of food sensitivities and allergies in children today.   I’ve worked in education for the last 10 years and I have seen it.  What has happened in the last decades that has changed so drastically?  Well, let’s take a look.

 Likely culprits:

1)  Adulteration of the food supply:  antibiotics, artificial flavors and colors.  Some people are extremely sensitive to these additives, but it is also an issue to think about how all these chemicals interact with each other and over time.

2)  GMO’s:  Genetically Modified Foods.  To be clear, we are talking about when scientists go into the DNA of a plant and add usually a different organism’s DNA into its genetic code.  The most common GMO foods are conventional corn, alfalfa, soy, canola oil, rice, tomatoes, potatoes, milk (rBGH), and cotton. There has been little research done on the safety of GMO’s and many articles have been published possibly linking the two.

3)  Increased environmental pollutants:  More pollutants mean more stress on the body, and the body can only take so much.

4)  Leaky Gut:  Leaky gut is when the membrane of your gut lining is compromised, and larger food molecules pass through into your bloodstream.  Your body recognizes these molecules as foreign, and starts to create antibodies to these foods.

 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Have Symptoms?  What can you do?

Not sure if you have any symptoms?  Here are some common ones that could be from food sensitivities.

* bloating              * joint pain                                * excess weight

* gas                     * fatigue                                   * chronic ear infections

* acne                   * diarrhea                                 * depression

* eczema               * asthma                                  * chronic sinus infections

* brain fog             * Irritable Bowel Syndrome        * headaches

If you have some of these symptoms, it would be worth your while to try and take out some suspected culprits for a couple of weeks, and then add them back in one at a time, waiting 3 days between each one.   This is commonly called an elimination diet, which I often work on with my clients, and if you are experiencing a lot of symptoms, then it would be a good idea to find a health care practitioner that can support you through it.

Not sure what to take out?  Here is a list of commonly allergenic food and foods least likely to cause problems.

Most Allergenic Foods

Least Allergenic Foods

·    Wheat

·    Nuts (peanuts, tree nuts)

·    Eggs

·    Sugar

·    Dairy (Casein)

·    Soy

·    Corn

·    Citrus

·    Yeast

·    Shellfish

·        Lamb

·        Fish (cod, haddock, mackerel, and trout)

·        Artichokes

·        Beets and beet greens

·        Carrots

·        Celery

·        Fennel

·        Green Beans

·        Onions

·        Parsnips

·        Peaches

·        Pears

·        Rutabagas

Pulse Testing

Developed by Dr. Andrew Coca, pulse testing is a helpful tool in narrowing down your sensitivities.  Here are the steps:

1)  Sit quietly for 5 minutes

2)  Measure your resting pulse for one minute by counting the number of beats for 60 seconds.  Record.

3)  Ingest the suspected food.

4)  Measure immediately for 1 minutes, record results.

5)  Measure again at 10 minutes and at 30 minutes.  Record.

6)  If there is a significant increase or decrease (by 10 beats or more per minute), this indicates a likely sensitivity.

 

Good luck in finding out how to eat better and learning to avoid foods that are problematic!  Happy Nourishing :) 

 

References:

Bauman, E, and Jodi Friedlander NC. (2011) Foundations of Nutrition.  Bauman College.

Knoff, Laura J. (2010)  The Whole-Food Guide to Overcoming Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Oakland.  New Harbinger Publications, Inc.

 O’Brien, Robyn.  (2009) The Unhealthy Truth.  New York.  Random House.

http://recipes.howstuffworks.com/5-common-genetically-modified-foods10.htm

 

*LEGAL DISCLAIMER - This website (including any/all site pages, blog posts, blog comments, forum, etc.) is not intended to replace the services of a physician, nor does it constitute a doctor-patient relationship. Information is provided for informational  purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating a medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have an urgent medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider. Any application of the recommendations in this website is at the reader's discretion. Tammy Chang and The Nourished Belly are not liable for any direct or indirect claim, loss or damage resulting from use of this website and/or any web site(s) linked to/from it. Readers should consult their own physicians concerning the recommendations in this website.

 

 

BMs.....Are You Normal????

Second post in the Digestive Series, and what better way to follow up chewing, then starting at the other end!  Yes, this isn’t the most popular subject to bring up at the dinner table, but your bowel movements are extremely important.  They are a great way to check if your digestive system is running smoothly.

 What is Normal?

 How often should you be going?  So, the definition of constipation is when you are going less than 3 times a week, but in holistic health circles this is definitely too little.  Ideally, you should be going at least once a day, if not more.  Ideal transit time (from one end to the other) is anywhere from 12-24 hours.

 There are a couple of things that happen when stool sits around too long in your colon.  One of the major functions of the colon is to reabsorb water and salts back into the body.  The longer it sits around in your colon, the more water is reabsorbed and the harder and more difficult to pass the stool will become.  Our stool is also waste material, and full of toxins that our bodies are trying to eliminate.  The longer the stool hangs out, the more likelihood our bodies will reabsorb some of the toxins we are trying to eliminate.

 Our bodies can pass up to 1 quart worth of waste into our colons each day.  That is a tremendous amount of waste!  Imagine all of that building up over the span of a few days, which might be considered “normal.”  The more we let build up, the more pressure we experience in our colon.  This intraluminal pressure, if it happens frequently, can lead to not so fun conditions of the colon including diverticulitis (small pockets that form in the large intestine that can trap wastes and become infected) and hemorrhoids.

 On the flip side, you don’t want your transit time to be too short and be more on the watery side. either.  This could mean that you aren’t absorbing your nutrients, although if it’s just short term, then your body could be trying to get rid of a pathogen.  Let your body do its work.

 What Should Your Stool Look Like?

 It might be somewhat unpleasant to look at what you have just done, but get used to it!  It’s important!

 One thing you should look for is undigested food.  This could be a sign that you aren’t chewing enough or a sign of malabsorption.

 Bristol Stool Chart.  This is a handy dandy chart to check the shape of your stool.  The ideal number to be at is a 3 or 4, more like a 4, and it should be easy to go.

 bristol stool chart

 Not Normal?  Here are some tips!

 

  • Eat your fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.  This is where the fiber talk comes in.  Fiber provides bulk to our stools, and makes them easier to pass.  It will also grab onto extra cholesterol and escort it out of the body.

  • Drink plenty of liquids.  Filtered water and herbal teas is what I’m talking about here.  One of my teachers would always say, “fiber without water equals bricks.”  Enough said.

  • Try a little Magnesium.  If you are constipated, taking a little magnesium before bed will not only help you sleep, but could help regulate your bowel movements.  One of the reasons that prunes are so helpful in this department is their high level of fiber and magnesium.  (Magnesium supplement forms that end in -ate are the best forms to take...citrate, malate, glycinate, etc...  Almonds, dark leafy greens, whole grains and nuts are good food sources.)

  • Move Your Body.  Regular exercise is not only helpful for lifting mood, regulating our immune system, and detoxification, but also for regulating our bowel movements.  You don’t need to run a marathon each day, a daily 20 minute walk, or a yoga class will suffice!

  • Try some cholagogues.  Chola-what?  Cholagogues are herbs that stimulate the release of bile, which can help stimulate our bowels to get moving.  Dandelion Root, Rosemary, Sage, and Hops are among these herbs.  (Not recommended for those with liver infections or gallstones)

  • Don’t Hold It!  We can desensitize our bowels if we don’t answer the call to nature.  Make sure that when you feel the urge.....go.

If you aren’t quite normal, think about some of these suggestions.  Keep in mind, however, that other things can contribute to abnormal events....such as medications and digestive disorders.  If you consider yourself healthy, and aren’t experiencing other major discomforts, then some of the suggestions above just might work in getting everything running smooth again.  Happy Nourishing!

 

 

*LEGAL DISCLAIMER - This website (including any/all site pages, blog posts, blog comments, forum, etc.) is not intended to replace the services of a physician, nor does it constitute a doctor-patient relationship. Information is provided for informational  purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating a medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have an urgent medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider. Any application of the recommendations in this website is at the reader's discretion. Tammy Chang and The Nourished Belly are not liable for any direct or indirect claim, loss or damage resulting from use of this website and/or any web site(s) linked to/from it. Readers should consult their own physicians concerning the recommendations in this website.

 

Digestive Series: Chewing. Yes, it's Really That Important!

It’s official! The name of my holistic health and nutrition coaching practice is officially called “The Nourished Belly!” I wanted to find a name that described how I felt about food, and nourish is a word that should describe everything that we do, for ourselves and for others. The word “belly” is important because when our stomachs are happy, our entire well-being is at its pinnacle. When it isn’t, well, this is when we start to encourage and set the stage for disease. “The Nourished Belly,” thus describes the path I follow to find my own optimal health and how I encourage my clients to find theirs. So, to usher in this new name, I wanted to write a series of blog posts dedicated to nourishing your belly. The first of which, and one of the most basic things you can do to dramatically improve your digestion, is to CHEW YOUR FOOD.

Yup. It’s that simple. Many of us are accustomed to eating, and eating on the run. We often eat in front of the TV, or while reading a book, or in our cars!  According to dosomething.org, 20% of all American meals are eaten in our cars.  Yikes!  All of these habits put eating on the bottom of the list of priorities, when it really should be with the top.  Plus, it makes the nutrients from the foods less absorbable and harder on our digestive system.

Why Should We Chew?

1) It signals to our bodies to be ready for digestion. There are two modes that our bodies run in, the sympathetic and parasympathetic. Most people refer to the sympathetic mode as the fight or flight mode, so our bodies are preparing to run from that tiger.  Thus, every non-essential function is switched off. Including our digestion. When you are on the go go go, this is the state in which your body functions. I experience this most clearly if I exercise too soon after eating. I can literally tell that the food is just sitting in my stomach, and it doesn’t feel good.

When we chew, we are signaling the body that we are in a relaxed state, and therefore our digestion will switch on. We are activating our parasympathetic mode. Turning off the TV and closing that book will also help prepare your body. Eating is not a time you should be multi-tasking!

2) Digestion begins in the mouth. We have enzymes that begin to work on carbohydrates, and to a small degree, fats, in our saliva. Chewing is designed to not only break food down into digestible pieces, but to also thoroughly mix our food with the saliva in our mouths. When we don’t chew, we miss an important step.

3) Not Chewing Can Lead to:

Overworking of the Pancreas: Our pancreas picks up the slack to release whatever enzymes are still needed to break down fats and carbohydrates. Interestingly, it is often referred to as the “mother," because who picks up the slack for you? Your mother! So true.

When you are young, your pancreas might be able to keep up, but over time, the function will decrease. Plus, your pancreas has so many other jobs, not only releasing digestive enzymes, but is also a key player in blood sugar regulation and a producer of many hormones. We want it in tip-top shape!

Food Allergies and Inflammation: Not chewing enough can lead to larger food molecules being absorbed through the intestinal wall. (and also could aid in the development of a syndrome called leaky gut.) Our bodies will perceive these molecules as foreign, and create antibodies against them. This is how food allergies can develop leading to inflammation and possibly other complications.

I’ve tried to chew my food the recommended 25 - 30 times, which is much harder than it sounds, especially if you are used to eating fast, like me. But we can start at a much easier place. Here are some tips:

  • Set the stage for eating: Clear your table, turn off all distractions, and prepare your food on a beautiful plate.
  • Once you start eating, taste your food! Focus on what your food tastes like, and make sure there are no chunks before you swallow.
  • Take a deep breath when you are finished. Take a moment, savor the fact that you just took some time out of your day to nourish yourself.

Next time you eat, think about it how important chewing is for you, and just take a couple more minutes with your meal. One of my favorite sayings from Traditional Chinese Medicine is that “the stomach has no teeth.” Happy Nourishing!

Resources:

N.D.,  Your Digestive System and How it Works.  http://www2.niddk.nih.gov/.  Retrieved from http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/yrdd/