What better way to celebrate Sunday morning in style than with my delicious gluten free pancakes. They are light and fluffy and if you omit the yoghurt they are also suitable for anyone who has a sensitivity to lactose. Last weeks blog looked at the gut and how avoiding foods that you know cause problems for you, can take some of the stress off your gut. Bloating, pain, lethargy following a meal are all an indication that perhaps that food is not ideal for your body ... I have said a few times that for me as I entered my peri-menopause I noticed that avoiding gluten had such a positive effect on me from my mood, to my energy levels and of course my digestion. Developing food sensitivities at a time of excessive stress or hormonal changes is not uncommon - so listen to what your body is telling you, it quite honestly changed my life when I took most of the gluten out of my diet. Are there things I miss - YES of course - does not having them make me sad ... NO definitely not!!
1 1/2 cup gluten free flour (available at Healthy U)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
1 cup almond milk
2 tbsp plain yoghurt (if you are not lactose intolerant)
1 tbsp olive oil
Honey to taste (1 tbsp)
1 tsp vanilla paste
I am sure you have all felt the familiar feelings of butterflies in your tummy, whether it’s the terror before an up-coming exam or the excitement of a second date, or had that “gut” wrenching ache when you receive bad news or followed your “gut” instinct knowing with certainty what direction you need to take for the next chapter in your life.
Have you ever wondered why it is that you experience these deep emotions deep within your gut?
The answer lies in exciting research showing that the brain and the gut are unequivocally connected – infact the gut has been called the second brain. The gut is lined with millions of neurons which allow the gut to communicate with the brain via the Vagal Nerve helping to regulate everything from appetite to immune function to emotional wellbeing.
Wondering how this works? Well this is where the gut microbiome comes in – your gut is home to literally trillions of microbes – most of which are beneficial bacteria called PROBIOTICS. These good bacteria work tirelessly to support nearly every aspect of your health.
The gut microbiome stands as your first line of defence, imagine those armies of good bacteria all armed and ready to fight and slay any bad bacteria that enter our system via the mouth. 80 percent of our immune system resides in the gut, protecting us from disease and illness.
The gut microbiome is also responsible for regulating and producing several mood-enhancing chemicals that help the gut communicate with the brain. Over 90% of your body’s serotonin “the happy hormone”, is produced in the gut influencing your mood, your body’s stress response, sleep regulation, and even your response to pain.
Remarkably the composition of the gut microbiome may even affect your weight status – research has shown that the gut microbiome of an obese individual is markedly different from that of a lean individual.
In essence the health and well-being of your gut microbiome helps to support a positive mood, sharp cognition and a balanced emotional state – all of which contribute to your glorious “gut” instincts!! A trustworthy gut – one whose instincts you can count on to nurture and advise you, needs to be healthy. The gut microbiome needs 85% of its bacteria community to be good bacteria in order to be able to do its job properly, and in this day and age that’s not always an easy balance to maintain. So many things can deplete your populations of probiotics:
How can you nourish your gut bacteria so that they can continue to nourish you?
Eating a diet rich in probiotic foods helps to optimise and support the beneficial bacteria.
Yoghurt, Kefir, Sauerkraut, Miso, Kombucha and other cultured fermented foods. These foods help to boost the microbiome by increasing the number of bacteria in the gut. The gut is colonised by over 400 different species of bacteria and eating a variety of different cultured foods help to increase and diversify the number of bacterial strains in the gut.
PREBIOTICS AND FIBER
One of the best and easiest ways to increase the health of the gut microbiome is through the ingestion of fibre. Fibre is a type of carbohydrate that the body cannot digest because we do not have the enzymes to break it down. However, our gut bacteria do have the necessary enzymes and can break down fibre for their own energy and health.
Prebiotics are a specialised plant fibre that beneficially nourished the good bacteria already in the bowel or colon, acting as a fertiliser they help the good bacteria grow, improving the ration of good:bad bacteria. Prebiotics can help increase the absorption of calcium and magnesium, both mineral essential for heathy bones. Foods rich in natural prebiotics are: onions, garlic, legumes, oatmeal, bananas, apples, berries, leeks, leafy greens and whole wheat grains.
Consider combining cultured fermented foods with foods rich in prebiotics for a synergistic effect.
Antibiotics are life-saving and definitely have a time and a place in our health. However, antibiotics can be over prescribed – often for viruses, on which they have no impact anyway! A course of antibiotics will not only kill the bad bacteria causing the infection, but it will also wipe out your good bacteria that are so beneficial to your health. This throws out the delicate balance of the gut microbiome – and it can take months for it to rebound and rebuild.
If you do have to take antibiotics think about replenishing your good gut bacteria with a supplement. Look for a supplement which is refrigerated and contains at least 30 different strains and 50 billion live cultures.
Bone broth has been used and prescribed for centuries in all traditional cultures to help heal you from the inside out. By slowly simmering the bones for long periods, you transfer the nourishing benefits into a digestible liquid which contains gelatin, essential amino acids and minerals elevating it to the list of “superfoods”. By sealing and healing the gut, it creates the perfect environment for the gut microbiome to work, boosting the immune system.
Focusing on maintaining a healthy gut and listening to and trusting your “gut” instincts can help you dial into your innermost thoughts and feelings, so you can live your healthiest days with purpose and joy!!
Pilates is a safe, low impact exercise that is suitable for every age and fitness level. It can be used to rehabilitate injury, tone and strengthen muscles and improve flexibility, balance and body awareness. Pilates is built upon 7 core principles that create the foundation of the Pilates discipline. The goal is to unify mind, body and spirit by integrating these principles into your Pilates workout.
The number 1 Pilates principle is concentration. A Pilates workout involves complete concentration on what our bodies are doing and how they are moving including correct posture and body position, movement patterns, muscle activation and breathing. Training the brain and the body to function with optimal efficiency.
Every Pilates exercise focuses on the activation of the core, providing a stable base for the rest of the body to work from to produce movement and strength.
Each Pilates exercise has a specific breathing pattern which improves the effectiveness of the exercise. Importantly the activation of the core is driven by the breath, but breathing deeply also nourishes the body supplying the muscles and brain with oxygen and focusing the mind. Concentrating on the breath helps to prevent breath holding which can cause increases intra-abdominal pressure which can put pressure on the pelvic floor.
Being in control of every movement is very important, this helps to strengthen muscles and movement patterns and reduce injury. Complete control requires the deep activation of the core first, layering on the control of the global muscle system with the brain.
Hand in hand with control goes precision, each movement needs to be precise, carried out with purpose and direction. For each exercise we will describe a precise body posture, position, muscle activation and movement that is vital to achieving the goals of that particular exercise for eg if an exercise requires you to lift your leg into the air, it is completely different to ask someone to lift their leg into the air with no direction, than it is to set the body into a specific position, cue the core and the breathe, instructing the person to take the leg into a precise position and move it in a precise manner.
Movements need to be continuously flowing with no stopping throughout the exercise and no distinct start and finish between each repetition, this helps to facilitate more eccentric work (lengthening) which helps control the movement in all directions, which is highly functional.
Regular practice is essential to ensure the brain and muscles don’t forget optimal movement patterns and that gains in strength and flexibility are progressed.
So how can you incorporate these principles into your everyday practice?
From the moment you walk into the room, I want you to be aware of your body in space, that wonderful lengthening (axial elongation) from the crown of the head to the floor. The position of your head, neck and shoulders with each movement, whether standing or lying. The articulation of your spinal vertebra as you move, noticing the movement of each vertebrae as you flex, extend and rotate, the separation and the stacking. The alignment and weight in your feet, whether you are lying or standing, from right to left/front to back. Finally the integration of the breathe, the core and mindful movement to really achieve the amazing benefits that Pilates has to offer.
Fit-Sana has a matwork Pilates class every Tuesday and Thursday at 08.55, if you have never done Pilates before I would highly recommend a few private sessions to begin with. Contact me for more information.
Out of all fruit and veg, berries have attracted the most scientific research. They are a rich source of vitamins, mineral and fibre, and their complex phytonutrient make up (in particular the ones that give them their characteristic red and purple colours - anthocyanin )is associated with a whole host of health benefits. James Wong in his fabulous book "How to Eat Better" sums up some of the latest research:
A variety of different studies have shown that blue berries can help to reduce blood pressure, they have properties which can help to reduce the statistical risk of cardiac arrest by as much as 34%. Liberal berry consumption has been associated with a reduction in harmful LDL cholesterol, raising healthy HDL cholesterol and reducing chronic inflammation. The good news is - that it can do it pretty quickly, some studies showed results within 4 weeks.
A diet rich in berries in the elderly has been reported to help slow down the rate of mental decline. There is even a very small trial by the USDA Human Nutrition Centre which showed that adding 11/2 glasses of blueberry juice to the diets of elderly people with cognitive decline actually improved their results in tests for memory and learning, as well as decreasing symptoms of depression after just 3 months.
There is also some evidence that the synergy and interaction of of all of the nutrients and other bioactive comments in nuts and berries can have a beneficial effect on the brain and cognition.
Modern lifestyles often lead to excessive, sustained inflammation due to increased stress, inadequate physical activity and unhealthy food choices. This kind of stress is thought to be responsible for some forms of cancer. As with many other types of fruit and veg there are test tube studies which have shown that berries can help fight the oxidative stress and chronic inflammation thought to be responsible for some forms of cancer.
DIABETES AND WEIGHT MANAGEMENT
There is a growing collection of studies from around the world that suggest that berry intake can have a beneficial effect on diabetes and weight management, including increasing insulin sensitivity, reducing blood sugar levels and calming inflammation.
Berries are a good source of fibre, including soluble fiber, and studies have shown that consuming soluble fiber slows down the movement of food through your digestive tract, leading to reduced hunger and increased feelings of fullness. This can help with managing calorie intake.
A HEALTHY BRIGHT COMPLEXION
In addition to their many other health benefits, berries may help reduce skin wrinkling. This makes sense, given that the antioxidants in berries, especially the ellagic acid, help control free radicals, one of the leading causes of skin damage that contributes to aging. Test-tube and animal studies suggest that this antioxidant may help protect skin by blocking the production of enzymes that break down collagen in sun-damaged skin. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body and one of its major functions is to give skin its structure, it allows skin to stretch and remain firm. When collagen is damaged, the skin is prone to sag and develop wrinkles.
The best news - berries can be enjoyed on all types of different diets ... The only people who really need to avoid berries are those who require a low-fiber diet for certain digestive disorders, or individuals who are allergic to berries. Allergic reactions to strawberries are the most common.
Berries make a wonderful snack or dessert, whether you use one type of berry or a mixture of two or more. They can pep up a salad, or bring your roast to life. They are versatile, healthy and undeniably delicious!!
This is the nutritional content for one cup (144g) of Blackberries:
Sat on a bike all day, although pedalling (incessantly), your gait doesn’t really change. If you want to increase speed then you you pedal harder or faster. There’s never a lengthening of stride or shortening of step, as is the case with running.
If you are a regular to my classes I am sure you will have heard me say, a number of times that I am not a big fan of diets, certainly not very restrictive diets, however I do try to avoid gluten and have done for quite a few years now. It began when I joined Savanna (my daughter) on an anti-inflammatory diet to help her through a difficult time. This involved cutting out gluten, sugar (which I do not eat allot of anyway), dairy and red meat. I kid you not within a few days of starting this diet I felt like a changed person, like a huge cloud had lifted from over my head. Needless to say we found sticking to such a strict diet hard and slowly we re-introduced foods. Over a period of experimentation, I determined that for me - foods with gluten almost instantly caused the symptoms of fatigue and irritability to return.
I am not fanatical and eating the odd desert with some gluten seems to be fine, but I know that I have eaten more gluten recently than I have in a while, and almost instantly I feel ridiculously tired and lethargic and I know without question that the feeling of brain fog, lethargy and tiredness (and the odd moody moment) that I feel after eating gluten is not in my head!!
There are certain foods that are very inflammatory (sugar, dairy, gluten) - and as we get older the wear and tear on our bodies takes its toll and our ability to metabolise these foods decreases, and we start to demonstrate symptoms of food sensitivity. If you feel like you maybe suffering from gluten sensitivity or an intolerance to dairy try removing the foods that cause you to feel uncomfortable or out of sorts and see if it makes a difference. You may find, like I did, that this is life changing for you!
Below is one of my most favourite dairy free/gluten free recipes from Deliciously Ella, its a winner every time!!
FOR THE BASE:
- 1 and a 1/2 cups of almonds
- 2 and a 1/2 cups of medjool dates
FOR THE MIDDLE:
- 2 cups of soaked cashew nuts
- 2 frozen over-ripe bananas
- 1/3 – 1/2 of a cup of maple syrup depending on how sweet you like it
- 1/3 of a cup of freshly juiced apple juice
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
FOR THE TOP:
- 1 cup of freshly frozen blueberries (packaged frozen berries have too higher water content and make the mix too runny so freeze your own for a couple of hours before making this)
- 1 cup of strawberries
- 1 frozen banana
- 4 medjool dates
- 1 tablespoon of maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
Before making this you need to slice the three bananas and freeze them for at least three hours along with the blueberries. You also need to soak the cashew nuts for at least four hours.
Start by making the base. Put the almonds into a food processor and blend for a minute or so until the nuts are nicely crushed. Once this has happened add the pitted medjool dates and blend again until a sticky mix forms. Press this into the base of a cake tin and place in the freezer.
Then make the middle layer by simply putting all the ingredients into the food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. Take the base layer out of the freezer and pour three quarters of this mix over it before putting the cake back into the freezer – keep the final quarter of the mix in the processor as it’s needed for the top layer.
Wait about twenty minutes for the middle layer to set in the freezer before making the third layer. To make this simply add the remaining ingredients to the blender combined with the mix from the middle, blend until smooth and then pour over the middle layer.
Place the cake back into the freezer to set for two hours before serving. You’ll need to remove the cake from the freezer and allow it to warm up for a few minutes before you serve it. Then enjoy!