That Gut Feeling

“All disease begins in the GUT” - Hippocrates

This was said over 2500 years ago by the Ancient Greek Physician Hippocrates who is widely noted as the father of medicine.  Whilst he didn’t have the data we have now to back this up, even back in BC it was understood that the GUT had a primary role in illness and disease. The science and data we now absolutely confirms this with 90% of our digestive tract lying in the GUT, 80% of your immune system and 90% of your serotonin- our happy hormone- produced there. There is absolutely no way that your GUT is isolated from what is happening with your wellbeing. The reason GUT health is such a hot topic of discussion is simply because people are becoming more aware and therefore actually paying attention to their GUT and the symptoms it’s screaming at them. There’s been such a huge shift to feeling your best that people are actually tuning in and taking action against feeling bloated 6 out of 7 days a week.

Just because you’re eating all the spinach in the world doesn’t mean you’re absorbing all the magnesium, iron and B vitamins from it

So the idea that the GUT is central to wellbeing isn’t new, with continued research into this theory we can conclusively state that your GUT impacts your mood, energy, skin and your ability to gain or loose weight by controlling what macro and micronutrients your body is actually absorbing in accordance with your microbiome. Some links are still being researched and are relatively new, like your GUT’s impact on your brain. What we know so far is that your GUT and brain communicate to one another through what is referred to as the microbiota-gut-brain axis in a bi-directional way that involves the Enteric Nervous System. This means that things like stress can impact the gut by releasing stress hormones or sympathetic neurotransmitters that alter GUT microbial composition and can cause things like ‘stress belly’. Increased stress hormones and uncontrolled inflammatory responses are evident in patients with depression and anxiety which has been shown to play a role in the pathogeneses of these conditions. At the moment, research is being conducted on how GUT health can impact conditions like ADHD – so stay tuned!

1 in 5 women report IBS symptomology

50% of Australians report digestive complaints annually

65-75% of the world’s population has some degree of lactose intolerance

Common symptoms that are a sign your GUT might need some TLC are pretty obvious. First would be inconsistent/altered bowel motions. Maybe you frequently have diarrhoea, or one day you do and for the next three you’re blocked up. Bloating, cramping, overtly gassy – any common IBS symptoms. Other signs can be more vague – not being happy with your skin regardless of how much money you spend on skin products. Constant fatigue, moodiness and also an inability to shift weight can all be linked to GUT health.

So what is your GUT? There’s a common conception that your GUT is you stomach but it actually encompasses a lot more. Our GUT is made up of our oesophagus, then the stomach, small and large intestine as well as being accompanied by the liver. Another big miss conception is about where these organs sit within our body – especially the stomach. Your stomach actually starts just below your left nipple and ends at the bottom of your right ribcage, a lot higher then people assume. Our digestion process starts as soon as you start chewing food which begins the breakdown of food by your teeth and also salivary enzymes, you swallow your food which travels through your oesophagus into you stomach where some gastric juices keep breaking things down further and then into the small intestine where the breakdown continues with eventual absorption into your bloodstream to your liver which helps sort the energy you’ve gotten from the food to where it needs to go, with some passing through to your large intestine. So that’s the step by step process how how our food moves through our GUT. Sounds pretty straight forward but where we run into problems is when our digestion is impaired – wether that be from a deficiency in certain nutrients, bacteria and enzymes or due to inflammation caused by intolerance.

One of the most common intolerances seen in today’s age is lactose intolerance. It’s estimated that 65-75% of the world’s population has some form of intolerance. And this intolerance can present itself differently person to person as it’s actually more of a deficiency than an intolerance. It’s caused by a deficiency in the enzyme that breaks lactose down. You might have enough of the enzyme to break down some cheese and crackers, but not enough to breakdown a cold rock ice cream. The majority of the population are born with enough of this enzyme to breakdown their mother’s breast milk – a pivotal component for survival as a baby, but also in building up a strong microbiome. Only a very small percentage of babies are born without the enzyme. As we age we naturally start to lose the quantity of this enzyme because as mammals, which is what humans are, we don’t need our mother’s milk anymore. So it’s a very natural evolutionary process to become lactose intolerant later in life. So what about calcium for strong health bones?

You reach your peak bone density mass by the age of 25 

This again helps to back up why we loose the enzyme as we get older. Once you hit 25 calcium is still important but that’s to ensure you maintain peak bone density. You won’t actually increase it. And you can get calcium from SO many other sources that aren’t dairy – these things include seafood, leafy green vegetables and legumes. If you can digest dairy without any digestive or skin complaints then absolutely go for it, it’s just not your only option where calcium is concerned. Fructose malabsorption, potentially one that not everyone will have heard of. Fructose malabsorption is a congenital inability to metabolize fruit sugar, and just like lactose intolerance is quantity dependent - but unfortunately a lot harder to manage. And that’s because fructose is in a lot of things in different quantities. For example, avocado but also onion. Onto gluten intolerance and coeliac disease.  Now there is a BIG difference between the two.

Gluten intolerance is difficulty digesting wheat and grain products

Coeliac’s disease is a complete inability to digest wheat and grain products

Gluten intolerance is difficulty digesting wheat and grain products – similar to a lactose intolerance it means you have a not ideal digestive experience after consuming these products – some cramping and altered bowel motions are most common. Coeliac’s disease is a complete inability to digest wheat and grain products. The inability to digest these products results in undigested particles entering other areas of the body which causes a negative immune response. The symptoms for Coeliac’s can include the cramping and altered bowel motions but also some much more severe ones – fatigue, memory loss, complete lack of energy. If you are a Coeliac you cannot eat these products – if you do you are risking some nasty side effects in how you feel but you can also cause irreversible damage to your gut as it can lead to leaky gut disease due to those indigestible particles breaking their way through your GUT into your body. Leaky gut means that when you eat – whether it’s gluten or not, parts of your food end up outside of your GUT in other areas of the body causing a huge amount of inflammation.

IBS isn’t an intolerance, syndrome or disease – it’s a symptom

Notice IBS isn’t on the screen – that’s because IBS isn’t an intolerance, syndrome or disease – it’s a symptom. Of course you will have an irritable bowel if you eat dairy 5 x a day and are lactose intolerant! So the next time a doctor tells you - ‘you just have IBS’ politely say ‘why’ and get them to investigate more and find to the cause. Or if you feel like you might have one of these intolerances but aren’t sure – it’s something I can definitely help you with in clinic. Onto our microbiome – what an absolutely fascinating part of the human body.  

Our microbiome on its own can weigh up to 2kg and contain over 100 trillion bacteria cell. Your GUT microbiome contains more than 1000 difference species of bacteria

To put that into perspective, 1gram of faces (poo) contains more bacteria than you do human cells. We aren’t just born with this immense system; we have to build it. And it takes about 3 years to do so which is why babies ideally love chugging down on breast milk because you’re actually passing on some of your own micriobiome bacteria to bub. So the healthier mum is, the healthier your baby is. Now not everyone can breastfeed and that’s fine, there are a lot of other ways to help bub build a healthy micriobiome and if that’s an area relevant to you we can definitely have a chat about that too. Our complex huge system of bacteria controls how we digest food – it helps process indigestible food products, generates energy for the GUT, produces vitamins and breaks down toxins – which can include medicines, trans fats and synthetic products.

Each individual has their own micriobome make up – it’s like a fingerprint

Scientists are routinely finding more and more different types and links between the percentage of some of these strands and certain illnesses such as ADHD. So which ones are good and bad. There is no conclusive answer to that – when our GUT health is impaired its because we have an imbalance in the bacteria. Each one has specific roles to play in the GUT, if we’ve got more of one and not enough of another then our GUT is out of balance and therefore so is its ability to function optimally. For example the bacteria Bacteriodetes breaks down carbohydrates by extracting all the energy it can from the food source, normally it does this to manufacture enzymes (B7, Vitamin H). If you don’t have enough this results in feeling lethargic, decreases immunity and increases cholesterol as these vitamins it normally produces are needed for energy production and the management of cholesterol levels. But, too much of this bacteria and it produces fatty acids out of carbohydrates to feed its want to create B7 and Vitamin H.

These different balances in bacteria is how two people can eat the exact same amount, type and brand of chocolate and absorb a completely different amount of energy – or calories from it

This is how our GUT heath can impact our weight. If you have tried absolutely everything – food and lifestyle wise – and are struggling to shift excess weight, there is a good chance it’s time to turn to the GUT. As discussed above, an imbalance in bacteria can cause your body to absorb max calories. An imbalance can also cause inflammation which replicates infection in the body. It can impair thyroid function which results in slowing down your metabolism. It can also affect your appetite through the Gut Brain Axis – the bacteria in abundance will crave certain foods – like carbohydrates and will then reward you for eating it and giving it what it wants – it might shoot you a nice dose of that feel good serotonin – 90% of which is  made in the gut, which in turn encourages you to eat more of it.

The only bad bacteria is the one that makes you sick – so salmonella and parasites. Salmonellea needs at least 10 000 to 1 million bacteria cells to cause a negative affect but that’s only 1/5 grain of salt so not much at all. The best way to avoid it is to practice good food hygiene. Parasites need medical attention so going to a comprehensive GP that will do a stool analysis to identify the strand and treat accordingly which can sometimes be in the form of a pretty aggressive treatment plan. If that happens definitely see a Nutritionist or a Naturopath post treatment because parasites and unfortunately the medical treatment for them can cause some damage to the GUT that will need healing with the support of nutritional supplementation or herbal medicine.

So practicing food hygiene is a great step to supporting our GUT. Some other ways include the below - these are going to support digestion and GUT health but also just general overall wellbeing. When our digestive process is working optimally it makes a huge difference to other areas because literally your entire body needs your GUT to absorb and produce the things it needs to function.

·      Eat balanced food in appropriate portions

·      Eat good bacteria!
Prebiotics: leeks, asparagus, artichokes, onion and garlic
Probiotics: soy sauce, kombucha, miso, kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt

·      CHEW your food - it makes it easier to be broken down as it continues through your GUT

·      Remove intolerances – yes cheese is nice but having stomach cramps and running to the bathroom isn’t so just stop doing it

·      Constipated? Increase your fiber intake by consuming wholegrains alongside increasing your water intake to help push food through your digestive system

·      To kick start digestion in the morning, consume lemon and/or apple cider vinegar in warm water before breakfast – this helps to regulate the pH levels of your GUT as well as sending a little wake up signal to your bacteria to get ready for breakfast to come along soon

·      Manage stress - I say manage because it’s not possible to eliminate all stress. So get into the practice of doing some deep breathing, meditation, journaling, floating – whatever you need to take a breath and slow down those stress responses

Detoxification: The INSides

Two weeks ago FHW ran a detoxification seminar alongside Madilyn Wolens, The Functional Nurse at the wonderful City Cave Ipswich. During the seminar we covered detoxification, how your body does it, when and why (internal and external liver loaders), as well as how you can support your body’s natural detoxification pathways with the food you eat and the topical products you use. The evening was a huge success and Maddy and I loved having the opportunity to share our passion for holistic health and wellness with those in attendance.

To continue spreading the message, below is a summary of the main points from the evening for those that weren’t able to get tickets to the sold out event. Be sure to keep an eye on the FHW and City Cave Ipswich social media pages for more events in the future! If you have a topic you would like to hear more about it, let us know by sending FHW an email.

What
Detoxification is your body’s method of removing toxins from your body, which if allowed to build up would start causing a negative effect on your body (think fatigue and decreased immunity). Your body does this with the help of our powerhouse liver which transforms toxic substances into less harmful toxins to be excreted by your body. To transform toxic substance A into less toxic substance B to be excreted, your body moves through two detoxification pathways. Phase I involves oxidation, reduction and hydrolysis to start changing the structure of the toxin. Then Phase II, where the substance goes through conjugation, sulfation and methylation – once Phase II is complete, the substance is ready to be removed from your body. Your body excretes the (slightly less toxic) toxin through bowel motions (poop), urine and/or sweat.

 When
EVERY. SINGLE. DAY – not just after a boozy night out on the town. The reason your body has to move through the above detoxification pathways on a daily basis is because most people expose themselves to toxins on a daily basis. If you expose your body to a large amount of toxins on a daily basis, your body has to work harder to get rid of them. This can cause an imbalance in the Phase’s above and/or an overload of toxins trying to enter the liver (there’s only 1 road into the liver) resulting in your body’s ability to perform detoxification reducing. When our detoxification pathways aren’t working efficiently, or have to much work to do, symptoms such as fatigue, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases can present.

Why
Some of the toxins (liver loaders) that your body is exposed to on a daily basis include:

 •       Alcohol

•       Caffeine

•       Trans Fats

•       Refined/Processed Sugar

•       Intolerances/Allergies

•       Synthetic products

            Medications

            Topical products

•     Stress

The above list is not comprehensive but it’s the most common things that everyday people in constant exposure to, can cause to too much traffic onto the highway into our liver. Balance and moderation are key.

If there are more than three things from the list above that you know you expose yourself to everyday, start considering how you can make some swaps to healthier alternatives. If you’re stuck for ways you can replace your daily coffee and croissant, ask!

Alcohol: Your liver can only metabolize 1 standard drink per hour (100mL white wine = 1 standard drink. 1 can of 5% beer = 1.5 standard drinks.). If you are drinking more alcohol than your liver can metabolize, your body will circulate the alcohol through your bloodstream until it can enter your liver for detoxification. Any other toxins you consume at this time can’t reach the liver and are therefore put into storage.

Stress: When we are stressed, our body releases our acute stress hormone adrenalin – fight or flight. Adrenalin causes your body to promote the use of slow burning glucose as a quick fuel source to get you out of the physical danger your body perceives you of being in. Your body can’t distinguish between the stress of a wild lion trying to eat you and the stress of a work deadline. If you don’t use the slow burning glucose to leg it away from a stray lion, then your body has to either excrete it or store it. If you have a bunch of other toxins in your body, like caffeine to help you meet that work dead line and a fast food lunch because you didn’t have time to make something at home with the kids running around, then into storage it goes.

Support
The first step to supporting your body’s detoxification pathways is by reducing your exposure to the liver loaders listed above.

The next is to ensure you’re eating a diet rich in the vitamins and minerals your body needs to perform the process of detoxification.

Where possible, try to choose organic options as they won’t have the same exposure to pesticides (which your body will recognise as a toxin).

Phase I

•       B Vitamins – folate                Wholegrains

•       Glutathione                           Eggs, Onion, Garlic, Brassica

•       Vitamin C                               Broccoli, Leafy Greens, Tomatoes

•       Vitamin E                                Nuts, Seeds, Leafy Greens

•       Carotenoids                          Kale/Leafy Greens, Carrots,

•       Antioxidants                          Blueberries, Goji Berries, Kale, Dark Chocolate

Phase II

•       Sulphur                                   Eggs, Onion, Garlic, Brassica

•       Selenium                                Brazil Nuts, Mushrooms, Seafood, Beans

•       Taurine                                    Meat, Eggs, Seafood, , Soybeans,

•       Glycine                                    Nuts/Seeds, Gelatin, Collagen

•       Cysteine                                 Sunflower Seeds,

•       Glutamine                              Legumes 

Another big one – water! Water is absolutely essential to detoxification, it helps dilute toxins and push them through the pathways as well as ensuring your digestive system is functioning optimally to then excrete the toxins.

When our detoxification pathways are working to their optimal ability, it makes a huge difference to other areas including our digestion, metabolism and skin.

 If you feel like you want some further support with detoxification, or just general health and wellbeing, get in touch.

Reverse Dieting

In a follow up to last week’s Downfalls of Dieting blog post, we wanted to provide you with the information to help you come out of a diet or challenge.

As explained last week, if you have been eating at a continued energy deficient your body has been trying to reduce your energy output through adaptive thermogenesis. This has now placed your body in the perfect position to put weight back on when you change the energy balance.

To make sure this doesn’t happen, we recommend that you give reverse dieting a try- a controlled, gradual increase of your total daily energy (calorie) intake. By gradually increasing your energy intake, and doing so with healthy foods, you will start reversing the adaptive thermogenesis process’ to bring your metabolic rate back up.

It is recommended that you do this as a week to week increase. Around 150 calories every 7 days. So if your calories are currently at 1500 per day, next week you would be 1650 per day. If maintenance is your goal, keep increasing at this slow rate until you reach your Total Daily Energy Expenditure.

If you are hitting the gym this is also the perfect time to start lifting heavier and frequently- at least 3 resistance sessions a week. This is going to promote muscle gain in an environment that your body is going to be really receptive to due to the simultaneous increase in your calorie intake.

Whilst your diet or challenge may now be over, it is still really important that you are aware of what you are putting on your plate and make a conscious effort to continue to eat lean proteins, low GI carbohydrates and healthy fats.  

Portion wise as a general rule, half of your plate should be leafy greens/vegetables, ¼ low GI carbs and the other ¼ your lean protein. You also need to ensure that you have the vitamins and minerals you need to aid in muscle repair, bone strength as well as acting as anti inflammatory and antioxidants to stop you getting run down and decreasing your immunity. Especially important as we enter the cooler months. How do you get these vitamins and minerals? By eating copious amounts of vegetables and two pieces of fruit per day. And don’t forget to make sure you’re staying hydrated, at least 1 – 2L per day. Make sure that your meals are at regular intervals to ensure you have stable blood sugar levels which is going to prevent massive peaks in energy and then equally massive drops back down.

Following this will help ensure that you don't pile your weight loss back on and that you can maintain a more consistent healthy diet, one that is less diet and more just part of a healthy lifestyle. 

Downfalls of Dieting

Dieting has long held a negative connotation the world over and yet, we continue to do it. We yo-yo and start the cycle of on-off dieting every time a celebrity graces the pages of a glossy mag to show off their (often) extreme weight loss thanks to new diet. Or you sign up for 8 week challenge after 8 week challenge at your local gym, all with the good intention of losing some extra kilos.

Whilst not all diets or challenges are bad, it is so important that they have a basis of education behind them. Explanations for why you are eating what you’re eating, and what is happening to your body when you do it. Diet’s should always be tailor made to your goals – goals that are specific, measurable and realistic.

They also have to be suitable to your real life circumstances so you can carry on the changes you have made in the long run - your diet or 8 week challenge becomes the building blocks for a life style change.

If you are keen to sign up to a new diet or challenge, it’s important to understand the changes that will happen to your body so you can make an educated decision before diving in. The majority of diets see people decreasing their energy input, creating an energy deficit when compared to energy output. When energy out is more then energy in, it results in a negative balance which for most people will cause weight loss. For others it’s a bit more complex which is when hormones and thyroid measures can be taken to uncover any underlying barriers.

Whilst your body is in an energy deficit it goes through multiple processes that are referred to as adaptive thermogenesis to try and reverse the deficit.

One of the first things your body will do when you start dieting is reduce your basal metabolic rate through hormonal adaptation. Your basal metabolic rate is a measurement of the energy your body needs at rest to performing basic life sustaining functions like breathing and thinking – that all takes up energy. During this stage you may feel sluggish, fatigued, unable to concentrate - all a result of your basal metabolic rate reducing.

Your body also reduces the thermic effect of food which is the amount of energy your body uses to eat and digest food. Whilst it’s not common to feel physical effects of this, you possibly may feel some bloating or poor/changed digestion.

The energy you expend through accidental exercise also reduces. So the energy your body normally uses to walk up the hill to work reduces, so once you get to the top you may be out of breath with legs feeling a little heavier than normal. This is all your body trying to reduce your energy output because you are consuming less energy (food).

The longer your dieting goes on, the more use your body gets to living in an energy deficit which means that all of the adaptive thermogenesis processes above put your body in the perfect position to put weight back as soon as you change the energy balance.

This is why the large majority of nutritionist and dieticians won’t recommend diets. Instead we recommend small changes to your every day, bit by bit accompanied by the introduction of macro and nutrient balanced meals. We won’t throw you current routine on it’s head and have you starving, and we also won’t take away your weekly red wine and cheese night because we know that will just make you want it more and it you’ll end up binging.

Want realistic, achievable and maintainable results? Get in touch via our CONTACT page – we’ve got your back when it comes to reaching your goals whether they be weight or muscle loss/gain/maintenance with the education to support it.

It's all about the label

Labels

One of the most valuable tools you can arm yourself with when hitting the grocery shops, is the knowledge on how to decipher labels. Being able to read labels gives you back the power to make informed choices about what you put in your body.

Yes your yogurt may have a huge label screaming LOW FAT but how much fat is considered low fat? And low fat in comparison to what? And how come it still taste so good? Is it because there’s triple the amount of sugar in it? Answer: yes. What’s better, low fat and high sugar or full fat with little sugar? Maybe the yogurt with the wholesome looking farm on it would be better for me, and then I’ll be supporting local farmers….even though I live in Australia’s most urban city and there are no local farmers? Hmm nar I’ll just play it safe and get the one that that skinny, shinny haired Instagram model eats every day for breakfast because she is GOALS!

Unfortunately the above inner dialogue will be a familiar scenario for a lot of readers, whether it be about yogurt or another packaged product on the shelves of your local grocery store. In Australia there are little regulations on the marketing of food products. In the majority of cases it is up to the manufactures and their very sneaky marketing teams to decide what to slap on the packaging. And in a large number of cases (not all, the entire food industry isn’t evil) they do so based on what they know will sell. Low fat, no added sugar, organic – these are all titles plastered on products, to fit in with the current lifestyle and diet trends of the time. These labels are usually in big, bright banners that are impossible to ignore to ensure they make their way into your shopping baskets and through the checkout.

So how do you make sense of all the labels without spending 20 minutes analysing every single item on your weekly grocery list? You turn straight to the back of the package to the ingredients list. Despite limited regulations in Australia, there is one that they all have to stick to – ALL ingredients in the product must be listed, and they must be listed in descending order. So the first ingredient on the list is the ingredient that is present in the highest quantity.

Take for example the below images, they are both very similarly marketed packaged soups .  As we can see in the first image, the first ingredient is water – this is because you fill the cup up three quarters of the way to make the soup. But after that it is all pretty straight forward, a total of 14 ingredients.

IMG_8858.jpg

The second image, now that’s a different story with other 30 ingredients! And a lot of these ingredients are numbers – enhanced flavouring and preservatives - definitely not natural products.

**Please note that the brand name only has been blacked out**

**Please note that the brand name only has been blacked out**

I know which option I would be going for - it would be the one that doesn’t take me 20minutes to get through the ingredients list, or have me reaching for Google to find out what hydrolysed groundnut protein is.

Wondering what the numbers mean? In a lot of cases what it boils down to when the compound is broken down by your body is extra sugar. In an age that is obsessed with cutting sugar out of their lives, manufactures have had to get sneaky about hiding the abundance of sugar that is in their products. Manufactures aren’t secretly conspiring against you to get you fat like Cady does to Regina in Mean Girls. They use sugar (in part) to help preserve packaged foods (and make them taste sweeter to increase your craving for them). Without these sugars and additives products would have a MUCH short shelf life and it would be harder for manufactures to make bulk coin if they were constantly throwing away spoilt food.

Sugars are also used as a cheap form of filler to get you more bang for your buck – instead of spending more on quality ingredients to give you a more nutrient dense product, they shove in some cheap fillers. The prime example of this is white bread. Bread is made from grain kernels which are naturally a golden-brown colour. The kernel consists of three parts, the first is the bran which is fibre dense, then the germ which is the nutrient dense component and then the endoplasm which is starchy. White bread is made only from the endoplasm which means that other ingredients are added to plump it up including high fructose corn syrup (sugar). This adds more bulk to the bread and, alongside bleaching agents, turns it into the crisp white colour primary school lunch boxes are often overflowing with. In comparison, wholemeal breads are made using the whole kernel, this keeps the colour closer to its natural state (the brown colour kids tend to turn their nose up at) and maintains the nutrient dense components that provide fibre, pivotal to ensure those bowels are in fine form.

HOT TIP: Numbers = additives and all of the following names = sugar
Brown sugar, Cane juice, Corn syrup, Dextran, Dextrin, Dextrose, Diatase, Fruit juice concentrate, Fructose, Glucose, Galactose, High fructose corn syrup, Maltose, Maltodextrin, Turbinado

As a general rule, here at FHW we stick to products that are as natural as possible because they will generally have next to none of the above hidden ingredients in them. This means sticking to the perimeter of the grocery store – meat, dairy, fruit and veg - and only ducking into the middle aisle to get things like brown rice, oats, tea and of course who good forgoes a good old block of 70% dark chocolate. 

Hopefully this will make your next trip to the grocery story a little less time consuming! If you have any questions you can email us via the CONTACT page. 

 

Carbohydrates

Give me all the carbs!

In our third and final instalment on macronutrients we are covering Carbohydrates, the food we all love to hate. Just like our other macronutrients, carbohydrates contain carbon + hydrogen + oxygen. The arrangement of these atoms is how we get simple and complex carbohydrates, which are often referred to as high GI or low GI carbs.

Simple carbohydrates include those that are made up of one or two units of sugar – one unit sugar carbohydrates are called monosaccharide (glucose, fructose and galactose). These can combine to form two unit sugars, disaccharides (lactose, sucrose, maltose). Complex carbohydrates are more than two unit sugars (starch, glycogen and cellulose).

On digestion all carbohydrates are broken down into their simplest form, so even our complex carbohydrates get broken down back into monosaccharides- one sugar units. The length of this breakdown process is how carbohydrates are classified on the glycaemic index.  Low GI carbohydrates (brown rice, sweet potato) are slower to break down and therefore release the simple one unit sugars back into the bloodstream at a slower, more gradual rate. This contributes to the feeling of fullness and the maintenance of stable blood sugar levels and is consequently why low GI carbs are the recommended source for a healthy diet.

The role carbohydrates play in the body is quiet significant just like all the other macronutrients. Carbohydrates are all broken down into single unit sugars, one of them being glucose which is the body’s main source of energy. This source of energy is used to fuel your brain as well as life sustaining processes such as breathing and transporting blood throughout your body. When you consume carbohydrates your body will first use the energy they provide to fuel these basic life sustaining functions + any extra it needs to get you through that run or Pilates session. Any excess will then be stored by the body. So yes carbohydrates can make you put on weight but only when you are eating them in abundance – just like EVERY other food.

We hope this first few blogs have been a good introduction into the macronutrients and helped shape a more holistic understanding of why they are all important to your wellbeing. From here on in, we are going to get a bit more nitty gritty and explore some of the information mentioned in these posts more comprehensively.

If there are any topics you would like to know more about send us an email via the CONTACT US page.

Fat

FAT DOES NOT MAKE YOU FAT

In our second instalment on macronutrients we tackle the truth behind fat.

Just like our proteins in the blog post prior to this one, fats contain carbon + hydrogen + oxygen. They differ however in the quantity of carbons present in their composition, where they far out way their other components. Another point of difference is their degree of unsaturation and the location of double bonds. Which will mean very little to you unless your have had the painstaking pleasure of studying biochemistry.

For those that have managed to bypass biochemistry, first off congrats. Second off all, that means fat has a higher calorie count due to the increase number of carbons present. This is often why fats get a bad name straight away, because they contain more calories then their protein and carbohydrate counterparts. What’s important to note however is that fat provides the body with 60% of it’s energy when at rest, so it’s actually a good thing they are packing some extra calories. The degree of saturation is also what determines if the fat is a solid (saturated) or liquid (unsaturated) and the consequent role it plays in your body.

If that all sounds a bit much, you would be right. Because that is just scratching the surface of the chemistry behind fats.  What is the most important thing to understand is that all this chemistry impacts on the different types of fats and how they are used by your body which is where the terms ‘good’ and ‘bad’ fats come from. The bad fats listed below are named so due to the increase risk associated with their consumption and the development of heart disease and obesity. Please note, there are only two types of fats listed, there are plenty others you can and should be eating.  

Good Fats: Monounsaturated (Olive Oil, Avocado), Polyunsaturated (Flax seeds, Nuts), Omega 3’s (Salmon, Eggs)

Bad Fats: Saturated (Processed Meats) and Trans fats (Cakes)

The roles good fats play in the body include transporting vitamins, blood clotting, wound healing and reducing inflammation. Fat also makes up your sex hormones, adrenal hormones, bile acids, 60% of your brain (!) and cholesterol. We’ll tackle cholesterol in another blog because they deserve their own myth busting post.

As long as you’re eating the right source of fats in the right amount, fat will not make you fat. It’s just as essential as every other nutrient, so stop the hate guys!

Protein

Continuing on from our last blog post, today we are taking you through a more in depth look at one of the macronutrients – Protein.

Chemically protein contains carbon + hydrogen + oxygen + nitrogen which combine into amino acids linked in chains. There are 20 + proteins, all of which have the same basic structure but are distinguished by their unique side chain which influences their structure and therefore effect.

Amino acids make up the literal build blocks of your body forming your muscles, blood, skin, teeth and eyes.  Amino acids also facilitate thousands of chemical reactions in your body through their role as enzymes, joining two separate substances together to create another. And lets not stop there! Proteins also make up some of your hormones and defend against disease through their role as antibodies which are your bodies little army busy day and night protecting you from illness.

Sources of protein include meat (chicken, steak, seafood), eggs, soy, chickpeas, quinoa, nuts, chia seeds, lentils, cottage cheese, beans, legumes, broccoli, spinach, asparagus, almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, peanut butter.

What is important to note is that amino acids (protein) are broken up into two groups, non-essential and essential amino acids. Non-essential amino acids mean that your body can make them on its own if you aren’t eating them. Essential amino acids, of which there are nine, cannot be made by the body in the quantity needed to perform their necessary functions. This means that if you are not eating foods that contain these nine essential amino acids regularly, you become deficient. This consequently impacts on the processes they play a pivotal role in the body, and is why it’s important to ensure you’re eating a wide variety of foods from the list above.

Ideally each meal you eat throughout the day will contain protein to stabilise your blood sugar levels, in turn reducing any cravings for sugar and fat as well as keeping you fuller for longer. This is the reason that we strongly recommend all our clients consume a protein rich breakfast to start their day as well as including protein in snacks. Great protein rich snacks include boiled eggs, mixed nuts, tuna or a protein shake.

One of, if not the most common excuse people (in particular women) have for not wanting to eat too much protein is that they don’t want to get ‘too muscly’. This is an age old myth that is perpetuated by large scale supplement companies using big beefy men to advertise their protein supplements. Real talk, drinking a protein shake will not cause muscles to spontaneously appear on your body, much to the dismay of body builders worldwide. Body builders, bikini, figure competitors and the like have to work extremely hard in the gym and eat an incredibly precise diet to get them into competition shape. They don’t just add a protein shake and some chicken breasts in to their everyday and then travel the world winning first at the Arnold Classics.

Protein is not to be shied away from. It is a pivotal component of your body, literally it’s your body’s building blocks! Focus on consuming the foods listed above as part of your everyday intake and ensure you start the day off right with a protein rich breakfast to make sure you’re fuelled for the day ahead.

If you have any questions, would like more information on protein shakes, or if you are interested in building muscle mass let us know and we’ll dedicate another blog post to these topics.

What more support? Email us info@fortitudehealthandwellness.com.au for a list of the nutritional services we offer. 

x

The Basics

“With Access to better information, people invariably make better choices for their health”
– David Wolfe

The above quote form American activist David Wolfe perfectly sums up the main reason this business has been started. Yes, there is an abundance of information out there on the internet but how is a reader meant to know one, if it’s factual or two, if it applies to them and their situation?

The aim for these blogs is to take the abundance of information available on the internet and combine it with the knowledge gained from our studies and experience, and deliver to you the facts (with no hidden agendas) in an easy to read fashion. FHW’s goal is to empower YOU to make your own decisions on health and wellness by providing the education and support you need to do so.

So let’s get started with the basics, the macronutrients.

Macronutrients: energy yielding nutrients required in large amounts daily to be broken down to yield energy to the body. Carbohydrates, lipids (fats) and protein.

These three energy yielding nutrients are vital to the body to function optimally with each macronutrient playing important roles in various process’ and systems.

Carbohydrates comprise of both simple (sugars) and complex (starches and fibre) carbohydrates. Wether starchy or sweet, carbohydrates are broken down into glucose.  This results in carbohydrates acting as almost an exclusive fuel source to the brain and nervous system and the preferred source of energy for a large number of physiological functions and organs that include the brain and kidneys, as well as the production/health of our red blood cells. Carbohydrates therefore provide about half of the body’s energy. Sources of carbohydrates include bread, cereals, pasta, rice, potatoes and starchy vegetables such as pumpkin and sweet potato, beans, chickpeas, lentils, fruit, honey, cakes, biscuits and dairy products.

Lipids (fats) include saturated fatty acids and unsaturated fatty acids. This distinction is a result of the degree of unsaturation within the chemical structure of the lipid effecting its stability and firmness (solid vs liquid). For those that aren’t chemistry geeks, I’ll explain it in plain English so we can all move on with our night.  Your body needs fats, they are just as important as every other nutrient and play roles in chemical messaging, the protection of our organs and cholesterol which, breaking news your body needs! However, there are multiple different types of fats due to this degree of unsaturation. Our good fats are our monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and essential fatty acids (Omega 3’s and 6’s). Sources include avocado, salmon, nuts and seeds, olive oil, peanut butter and dairy products. Our bad fats are saturated and trans fats which you will find in fast/fried foods and processed junk food.

Protein is broken down by the body into amino acids which are literally the building blocks of your body. Forming your muscles, blood, skin even your teeth and eyes, amino acids also facilitate thousands of chemical reactions in your body in addition to defending against illness and disease. Sources of protein include meat, eggs, quinoa, nuts, chia seeds, lentils, dairy products, beans and legumes.

Now you might be thinking, wow macronutirents sound really important. All of them. I should eat all three. Correct, you should, well done.

The other thing you might be thinking is, how come dairy is a carbohydrate, a fat and a protein? Well that’s because the majority of foods will contain all three macronutrients, like dairy products. The generalised categorisation of foods into macronutrients is a determinant of the nutrient they contain in the highest quantity in regards to energy yield. When broken down 1 gram of carbohydrates contains 4 calories, protein the same with 4 calories and fats 9 calories. This energy yield is what people use to count their calorie intake.

Now that you know a little nugget of truth, that ALL macronutrients are important I hope you reconsider the exclusion of any of these nutrients from your diet. Looking at you no carb or fat dieters. Your body needs carbohydrates, fats and proteins to function optimally, simple as that. If you’re happy for your body to not function optimally, then fine keep starving your brain of carbohydrates, you do you.

If not, stay tuned as we delve and expand on these macronutrients in the coming weeks. We will be covering in more detail about the good and the bad sources, the whys as well as the hows. So before you go factoring a cake a day into your diet because it’s been listed as a source of carbohydrates, hang ten and keep an eye out for our next blog post. 

x.

Back to the Beginning

Once upon a time there lived a young, slightly (read: massively) insecure teenage girl desperately wanting to lose some weight in order to look like a Victoria's Secret model, or at least Serena Van der Woodsen. 

So she did what any naive young girl would do - she joined a gym where she ran and ran for hours a day in between the time consuming task of counting calories. And when I say counting calories I mean the type of counting calories that makes you think if you skip lunch you can eat a chocolate bar instead. And sure she lost 1 or 2 kilos but she also could barely keep her eyes open (no matter how much sleep she got), blackheads galore had taken up camp on her face and wow oh wow was she moody. 

Plot twist, the naive young girl was me. Your shook I know. 

But I also feel like that naive young girl has been a lot of us. Desperate to achieve an image that we have seen portrayed on our tv's, or most likely on instagram in today's world, but not necessarily knowing how to do it or even if we should do it. 

Not once did I stop to consider what was right for me - what was healthy for my body and the lifestyle I wanted to lead - I just knew I wanted to look like once of those dream girls and have a dream life (insert the add on extras of amazing style and fabulous boyfriend that naturally comes with).

And whilst I ran endless kms for that image and counted every calorie that entered my mouth I also found myself even more obsessed with how I looked. No matter how many kilos I lost, it was never enough. Add that negative self talk to the lack of energy and mood swings and so NOT goals. 

Elizabeth Gilbert famously wrote, "I've never seen any life transformation that didn't begin with the person in question finally getting tired of their own bulls**t ". And that's what I did - I got sick of being unhappy with how I looked, how I was treating myself and how bloody tired I was ALL the time. So I did some research and uncovered an abundance of information on what I should be eating, when I should be eating it, how I should be eating and then like 12 more articles that said the opposite to that first one. This nutrition stuff was confusing. 

And so I decided that the best course of action to help make sense of it all was to get some more HECs debt happening, completing an Advanced Diploma and Bachelor in Nutrition. After 4 years of study I got real nutrition woke. 

 And let me tell you, new young girl would have some firm words to say to the old her for treating her body so poorly for all those years.

Hot Tip: you should NOT skip lunch so you can eat a chocolate bar instead (insert face palm emoji)

I also decided that running was actually the worst and gave it up for something I actually enjoyed - insert pilates and say hello to some core strength, toned limbs and a perkier butt. 

By learning throughout my studies about the nitty gritty of the human body - the digestive system, the nervous system, all the hormones and crazy amazing awesome reactions that happen ever second of every day - it gave me a new found appreciation for my body and the nutrients I was putting into it. It also gave me a new found desire to help others navigate there way through trying to make the best choices for themselves and their families when it came to food. And so here I am, educated and passionate ready to help you, for you.  

x.