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Happy Gut, Happy Training

Happy Fitness Friday Friends!

I thought I would keep trekkin along on the gut topic as more recently gut health has really been getting some hot attention. It would have been nice if the importance of gut health and taking proper care of your flora and and such was noticed earlier but that’s science and they are only really starting to crack the surface on this whole intricate system (which did you know actually has something very similar to an entire CNS for itself??!).

happy-tummy-2

So why am I talking about this for Fitness Friday you ask?

Well, as you’re probably aware, your gut is important for a number of things. Some of those things are extremely vital to your training…

~Digestion and absorption of the nutrients you get from your food

~Making short chain fatty acids that can also be used as a form of fuel

In taking a deeper look at the first one, obviously an efficient and EFFECTIVE digestion system not only helps you get the nutrients you need but that ultimately affects your mood to train and how intense you think you can go, your energy levels, your strength levels, recovery ability and overall just makes you feel good enough to have a beneficial and enjoyable lift. After all, who enjoys anything when their stomach is is just not right?

So with keeping this post low key and not too wordy, I thought I would share some tips for optimizing your digestive health and also some things that can help when your stomach decides to attack you.

These are going to be coming from my experiences and my coaches suggestions mostly. Some other things I may include are those that I have heard about but may not have much experience with SO they may or may not be effective. I still want to share them, however, because gut health and what makes people feel their best is so variable that some random things may work for some readers.  

So lets start with somethings that help optimize gut health and prevent issues.

Probiotics

Adding healthy, live cultures to your gut is a good thing. Many things inner environment today kill our flora. With less bacteria, you have less lil guys to break down your food and can cause poor digestion. Invite some new people into your lil biome to help yourself out. Ensure they are refrigerated! Ones on the shelf are no good. 

Glutamine.

I talked about this one in a previous post, so check it out here. I also talked about making your own gelatin gummies there too which are loads with glutamine naturally and are very cheap to make.

Bone Broth.

Going along with glutamine and probiotics, making your own broth is great for your gut and very satisfying during the winter months here in the great white north. Ensure to use free range and organic chicken or beef with the bones to get the live bacteria and the most omegas and glutamine.

Apple Cider Vinegar.

Another thing I already talked about here, but I will say that this is helpful for adding more acid to the gut to help with breakdown. It is especially helpful for those who have low stomach acid and often complain of indigestion. Lemon juice also has similar effects.

Fermented Food.

Kombucha, Sauerkraut, raw yogurts with the active cultures, etc are all great sources of probiotics and thus have the same benefits as taking a supplement, just in a much smaller amount. Take caution though, these may be a problem for some. For example, I love love love kombucha, but the carbonation that naturally occurs with the fermentation doesn’t go over well with my tummy unfortunately. Trial and error with these guys friends.

Watch your water consumption with meals.

Sounds weird, but makes sense when you put it all together. If you drink water during a meal, the liquid will dilute you enzymes and simply slow digestion. Consider holding off on the drinks until a lil bit after you have digested a bit. Some say 30 minutes, but I always say to go with your gut…I’m so punny…

Avoid gum or things that add excess gas in the stomach.

Gum. Beer. Carbonated drinks. Straws. ETC. All of these are going to put lots of gas and excess air into the gut and if you’re very sensitive, well you’re gunna get an upset tummy plus bloating. Also, chew slowly and don’t gulp in tons of air.

Say no to artificial sweeteners.

These tend to be HUGE gut irritants. Whether they give you diarrhea if consumed in large amounts or just straight up gas and distention, they do not make for a happy gut.

Sleep!

Sleep is super important for many things, but one clear cut trigger for my stomach is go hay-wire is if I don’t sleep enough. Poor sleeping, whether it’s chronic or even just a couple days, can really cause your digestion to slow right down and cause you discomfort so make sure you are getting your beauty rest.

…and a last and seemingly obvious one…

Avoid things that your tummy doesn’t agree with.

As mentioned, this seems obvious. If you get an upset stomach after eating something, don’t eat it. Surprisingly, I have heard of so many cases where people say they choose to suffer the consequences and just eat it. To each their own I guess but if you have a serious sensitivity like celiac, where further consumption continues to damage your intestinal track, you need to give you head a smack and just quit cold turkey.

What about when your tummy gets mad…

Low FODMAPs.

I would have said BRAT diet foods BUT I’m much more confident in this approach for a few reasons. One, apple sauce is out for me because I have experienced issues with apples, which are high FODMAP. Also, the bread is another issue. What if your issue is wheat? Overall, yes the FODMAP diet is more restricted but most often chronic digestive issues are from sensitivities that you are going to have to figure out and those often require elimination and then trial and error. By going full low FODMAP you are giving your system a break from all inflammatory and problematic foods and then can re-try them when it’s a bit happier.

Slippery Elm.

I personally have taken this, but not sure whether it made a difference at the time because I was trying so many things at that point, but I have heard good things from others about this one. You can get it in a supplement form, but they also have it as a tea.

Digestive Enzymes.

If you know you have issues with digestion OR for those who are thinking about starting a bulk, digestive enzymes can help support the breakdown of your food simply by adding more enzymes to the playing field. You can chose ones that contain one or more types of enzymes depending on your needs. Have an issue with dairy? Try lactase. Don’t know what your issue is? Try a multi-enzyme.

Pineapple.

Speaking of enzymes, pineapple actually naturally contains an enzyme of it’s own, Bromelain, which can also help digestion. Plus pineapple is awesome. Just be careful not to over do it or you will find yourself peeling the top layer of your mouth off…

Mint Tea.

I always do well with peppermint. Whether you have nausea or you need something warm and comforting when your stomach is being annoying, mint (specifically peppermint…yes there is a difference!) is always my go-to.

Take it easy on harder to digest foods.

Red meats, fats, raw vegetables, high fiber foods, etc are all much more difficult for your system to take care of. When it’s already upset, go for things that are absorbed more quickly and easily. Think low fiber carbohydrates (cream of rice, oats sit well for some, pumpkin, squash, white rice and potatoes), some fruits like bananas, lean meats and fish and easier digesting fats (but still keep these a bit lower) like coconut oil, which bypasses the liver and goes right into use as energy.

And finally be patient. When your stomach is upset, the best you can do is be nice to it and let it settle. Try not to stress about it and let it run its course. Ensure that if it’s a new problem that you take a look at your recent eats and activities and try to figure out the trigger so you can try to avoid it in the future. If it is due to chronic illness, I can relate and I’m sorry you have to put up with that crap but I can only hope that these can serve as a means of coping with it when it looses its mind.

Hope your tummy’s are happy tonight and enjoy the rest of your Friday friends!

-Chelsea

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Time To Think Rationally…Currently

Happy start of August my friends!

Hope all that had the day off on Monday enjoyed their long weekend!

So I just wanted to drop a line very briefly as we move into the next month on some of my gut stuff. The reason why I thought to do this was because I actually conquered a fear yesterday morning all in the name of gut happiness..

Is-white-rice-bad-for-cholesterol

Yes my friends. White rice.

Sounds silly to be afraid of white rice, but you see, I have been afraid of white rice for years now and can say that I haven’t touched the stuff since I was like 10.

Why? It’s pretty natural, so why be afraid?

~Processed

~Nutrient Void

~Simple carbs…ZOMG SUGAR!

~No Fiber

These are some of the many thoughts that I have believed for years all thanks to the media. So with that, I refused to eat it. Brown rice only!

To be honest, I don’t enjoy rice really (boring…) so that is also a reason why I don’t tend to eat it (I love my rice cakes though!) but with all of my gut struggles, it was time to really key in on some of my diet staples and some associations started to be formed.

My two hardest meals, where I now take those new digestive-aid pills (I talked about them here) is after my pre-workout and my dinner. Those are the meals that my stomach is often ready to put up a fuss that then lasts onwards either into the next morning, or throughout much of the morning and afternoon.

You know what is constant in both of those meals?

My bae (what do you think of this word? I actually kinda loathe it…)..

sweet-potato-nutritional-fact-versus-regular-potato

Sweet taters. My beloved orange (or white or purple!) gems.

I have tried to be naive about it for so long because I just cannot fathom eating less of them then I do but I looked it up and they happen to be a somewhat high FODMAP food and are only supposed to be eaten in small doses.

Whats the tummy friendly amount for most?

1/2 a cup (or around 100g)

How much do I consume in one day normally…

ummm…maybe 300g…ooops. Well this is awkward.

Epic fail on my part. But it’s one of my main carbohydrate sources and since my carbs are high, well so is the amount of those. Seeing that, it would be no surprise to me if they are NOT helping with my tummy struggles.

So for the next week, I will be doing a white rice trial for all of my pre-workout meals to see how my tummy feels. Yesterday (1st day) it felt a bit crampy at first, probably because it wasn’t used to it, but then it was all good and actually I noticed less bloat so I hope that is what continues.

I will keep you updated.

….

So on this topic and going back to my ‘thoughts’ on white rice, I wanted to take this moment to address why those thoughts are irrational from both a gut health AND overall health perspective.

For gut purposes.

What foods do you eat when you’re sick? Rice. Plain. White. Rice. Yes, so it should be of no surprise that this should be easy on the tummy. White rice is a simple carbohydrate that doesn’t take the body much effort to digest and with that, less discomfort is often the result. So, as an alternative GF carbohydrate source that I need to digest quickly and not sit angrily in my stomach during my workout, this seems like a great choice…

…on paper that is…

Yes, on paper I can see that it’s a great option for me, especially during this time when apparently my stomach hates everything, but I also then have to battle the anxiety that has been created from those society driven beliefs that have kept me from this grain for so long.

So with that, here’s why eating white rice is NOT bad for you.

White rice and the body.

Th first thing that often comes to people’s mind is:

OMG simple carbohydrate, that means a sugar spike and insulin levels going crazy. Insulin means fat gain so therefore, no rice for you.

Plus, hello, it’s so high in carbs…

While white rice is a simple carbohydrate, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t or can’t eat it. Furthermore, it doesn’t mean that if you eat it you will get fat. There is a time and place for foods like this… I believe.

Explain…?

Okay, so it is true that white rice has been stripped of most of its nutrient properties during the processing procedure, which leaves it mostly being a source of starch and not much else. This loss of fibre is also what contributes to how quickly the body is able to digest it because fibre is ultimately one component that slows the breakdown and absorption of the carbohydrates. This then does have an effect on your blood sugar and therefore insulin levels as well.

sugar spike

That being said, who generally eats a bowl of white rice alone?

Often you are eating it with a protein source and quite possibly some vegetables, both of which slow digestion of the entire meal. So just because the rice no longer has the fibre in it, that doesn’t mean that it’s a blood sugar spiker in the context of a whole meal.

Make sense?

This is one of the various reasons why the glycemic index is flawed and shouldn’t really be considered when looking at the ‘health’ of a food item. The original study that looked into it had fasted subjects eat JUST those single food items, so yes, in those cases, things like white bread, white rice and potatoes would definitely have a larger effect on blood sugar than something richer in fibre, protein and fat.

Context people, context.

High-GI-vs-Low-GI-examples

So, will white rice make you fat? No. One, because no single food makes you instantly fat. Two, you eat it with other things which will have an effect on how the body handles it.

Check out this review for some info!

 “Thus while it is clear that combining foods does influence GI and that the addition of protein and fat to a carbohydrate containing meal can appreciably reduce the glycemic response (Venn & Green, 2007).”

It has been known for some time that insulin response cannot be predicted based solely on the glycemic response to a food (Venn & Green, 2007).”

So does that mean I can have white, processed stuff all the time?

Well I’m gunna say no on this point. While I’m arguing that white rice is not bad for you, it doesn’t have the nutrients that other grains and starch sources do. So looking at prioritizing nutrients here, for pre-workout or post workout when you are looking for something fast digesting and a good carbohydrate source, white rice is great. Elsewhere in the day, I would suggest using carbohydrates with a lil more staying power.

~Oatmeal

~Brown Rice

~Sweet potatoes

~Etc Etc

These have more fibre which will keep you satiated longer and therefore delay your next meal. One big reason why people may gain weight eating more processed foods is simply because they are hungry too quickly and end up OVER EATING and thus going over their daily calories.

Fibre. Protein. Fats. Water dense.

foods-full-longer-rev

These guys keep you full!

Furthermore, you have to have variety in your diet to get all of your required micronutrients (i.e. minerals and vitamins). Having white rice before my workout doesn’t change the fact that I still hit a high amount of fibre and get all my micros in a given day.

So with that I will wrap it up here. To conclude I will say that I’m happy to take this leap of faith and go against what society tells me about eating white rice. I will test and see how it works as a fuel for my workouts compared to the sweet potato and also how my stomach deals with the change.

Have a great week friends! 

-Chelsea


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What I Would Eat If I Was Low FODMAP

Hey friends!

So talking to Ellie over email after my last post, she had mentioned that she really enjoyed the What I Would Eat If posts when I highlighted a certain type of diet + gave you examples of what types of meals you could make with the included foods soooo I decided to bring those back. As I want to abide to the rules of Jen’s WIAW, I will keep these separate as of now.

This post will highlight a diet that most foodie blogs have touched on or experimented with themselves and that is the…

Low FODMAP diet.

Normally something that people turn to when they are having digestive issues (IBS related), this diet is one that avoids foods that include FODMAPs or fermentable oligo-di-mono-saccharides and polyols. Speaking very generally these are specific types of short chain carbohydrates that have been found to irritate the digestive track due to poor absorption in the small intestine which leads to your gut bacteria fermenting them instead. This then leads to unpleasant symptoms of bloating, gas, abdominal pain and constipation/diarrhea.

Before I move forward, lets break those carbohydrates down real quick.

Monosaccharides:

These are your simple sugars that make up long chains of carbohydrates or saccharides molecules. They include glucose, galactose and fructose. In this diet, the one that is of concern is fructose (commonly understood as fruit sugar), especially when a food contains a higher ratio of fructose then glucose.

Disaccharides:

Chains of 2 monosaccharides. For example, milk sugar, or lactose, is made up of the monosaccharides galactose and glucose. Other common ones include maltose (malt sugar) and sucrose (table sugar). Lactose is the main culprit here.

Oligosaccharides:

Chain of saccharides or mono-saccharides (simple sugars) that are said to be hard to digest. The ones that are highlighted in this diet are fructans, which are chains of fructose, and galacto-olgiosaccharides, which are chains of galactose molecules, as both are poorly digested and absorbed in the small intestine.

Polyols:

These guys are famous sugar alcohols that are used so that foods can advertise “low carb” and “sugar free” on their foods as a major selling strategy. The reason for this is because these are not well broken down by the body, so they don’t end up contributing many calories due to only being partially absorbed. They are generally less sweet then something like real sugar and are often in combination with other sweeteners in foods. Some commonly seen ones include maltitol, xylitol, sorbitol, etc.

I will also mention that some of these are naturally found in some stone fruits such as peaches and plums and vegetables like cauliflower and mushrooms.

What is the diet?

As I already mentioned, this diet is often one that is commenced by individuals who are suffering from IBS or other related digestive issues (Crohns and other inflammatory bowel disorders, IBD)  as a method of alleviating some of their symptoms. It is very useful in pinpointing specific trigger foods that may cause individuals issues.

Generally when you first start, there is a huge list of off-limit foods and then slowly over the course of diet, you gradually start re-introducing foods into your diet to see how they make you feel. If they create symptoms, then you know that your body doesn’t digest them well and they may be something to consider removing from your diet all together.

Now, from the terminology I listed above, it may seem as though there aren’t that many foods that would be considered off limits or high FODMAPs. They are all carbohydrate based right? So yea, just another low carbohydrate diet, yada yada…

Think again.

This is not directed at loosing weight. This is also not meant to be a low carbohydrate diet. In fact, it states that if you remove something from your diet, you should find a nutritious alternative to avoid dietary losses.

Also, this is not a permanent diet. Of course, if you find that everything on this list upsets your stomach, well then maybe it is, but for most people, it will only cause the loss of a few foods if they wish to avoid their symptoms from returning.

So overall, this is meant to help you learn about what foods makes you feel your best.

So now that I have cleared that bit up, lets look at those high FODMAP foods that are to be strictly avoided vs. those friendly foods.

A more detailed list can be found here. This also lists the quantities of allowable foods if they have a limit. 

Overwhelmed?

Yeah, the ‘to be avoided’ list seems a bit extensive BUT REMEMBER that this is not permanent (unless you have issues with them). You will slowly re-introduce them back into your diet to gradually to see how you respond to them.

So to conclude the informative portion of this post, lets make a summary.

  1. This is not a permanent diet for most. Instead, this is a way to pinpoint the triggers of your symptoms and simply remove those foods from your diet. This resource said it best -> the intent is to lower the FODMAP load at each meal to help manage symptoms.
  2. This works best if a food log is kept (to monitor what food are introduced + feelings after consuming them a few times) AND is under doctor supervision.
  3. This is not meant to be a means for weight loss. Ensure you are getting sufficient calories from those accepted foods.

For more information, check out these great sites!

Canadian Digestive Health Foundation

IBS Diets FODMAP Dieting Guide.

So now onto the goodies.

If you were to start this diet, what the heck would you eat?

Let me help ya out with some blog love eh?

Oh and I will attempt to show you more creative recipes rather then just keeping it simple because that’s more fun.

 Breakfast

For the sake of keeping things different and original, I will loose my beloved oats even though they are allowed for low FODMAP. Instead, something I have seen that looks quite interesting is this..

plantain socca

This is a super simple recipe (only 3 ingredients!) by Purely Twins that is quick to make and can have humpteen different uses. You could use it as bread (maybe think of adding some savory herbs in blend…no garlic though as that’s something to avoid. :-() or you can make it like this..

Later on, topped with almond butter and chocolate chips preworkout.

Avocado Athlete

Which would be how my breakfast would be (replace the chocolate chips, you could use unsweetened carob if you wanted to, with nanner) because when it comes to breakfast, there always has to be a sweet or desserty like thing and there also must be a vessel for nut butter because breakfast without nut butter…

I have no words. It’s just not right.

IMG_4693

Or you could do coconut butter + cacao nibs and a homemade chocolate sauce a la Powercakes if coconut is your thang.

Confession. I hate the taste of coconut. I tried to like it, I really did, but I cannot.

Other cool ideas to try:

Low FODMAP Banana Oatcakes

No Oat Oatmeal

Scrambled Egg Stuffed Baked Potatoes. Limit or omit cheese and leave onion out.

Lunch.

How about some pizza?

No wheat? No problem, thank the sweet tater.

And Sweet Chili Mango.

https://i0.wp.com/chocolatechillimango.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/sweet-potato-pizza-base_3803_wm.jpg

The sweet potato acts a the main constituent of the pizza ‘dough’ with amaranth and quinoa flours, psyllium husk and egg whites holding it together.

Sweet potato is a moderate FODMAP food so perhaps do half sweet potato and half squash.

Go crazy with the veggie and protein toppings but watch which cheese you choose and don’t over-do it. Goat and sheep cheeses and aged varieties in general are often safe in limited quantities as they have lower lactose. I still don’t advocate the use of ‘fake cheese’ like Daiya and other vegan cheeses because 1. they are filled with chemicals, fillers and weird binders that are bad for you and 2. those ingredients probably contribute to your symptoms.

Other Cool Ideas:

Sweet Potato Spring Rolls. I would add a protein to these like shrimp

Warm Salmon Salad with a Lemon, Ginger and Soy Sauce Dressing.

Ginger-Curry Chicken Lettuce Wraps. Omit the scallions (no onions sorry) and make your own ginger sauce, unless you can purchase one without anything you can’t eat.

Dinner.

This caught my eye

Warm Seared Scallops over Zucchini Noodles - Eat Spin Run Repeat

Warm Seared Scallops Over Zucchini Noodles. Eat, Spin, Run, Repeat

I mean it’s my loves…Scallops. I also really love the idea of zucchini noodles because they just seem fun and I’m all about a plate of veggies.

One problem for me though…

I need more carbohydrates. Enter again the sweet potato.

pho (6 of 6)

Mmmm Pho. This site also gave some interesting information regarding bone broth and gut health. If beef is too hard to digest, or if you are removing beef in the beginning to give your system a digestion break, use shrimp or another form of seafood as they are easier to digest. Also sad fact, you cannot have the mushrooms. Sigh.

Other Cool Ideas.

Stacked Polenta with Bolognese Sauce. It’s like lil mini lasagnas without the noodles and the cheese. Add some veggies to the layers and you can add a small amount of goat or sheep cheese, just ensure you are under the maximum quantities described in the charts.

Winter Vegetable Ragout. Omit garlic.

Fresh Summer Vegetable Cod Pockets. Follow her substitutions.

Snackage.

Sometimes better digestion comes with less frequent meals throughout the day, which is something I have found for myself, but some still need something in between so here are some options for ya!

Sweet….

Low-FODMAP Chocolate Swirl Banana Bread #FODMAP

Nanner Bread from FODMAP Fun

….and savory

lemony kale hummus blog.katescarlata.com

Lemony-Kale Hummus from Well Balanced.

Well there ya go guys. I hope that was an interesting read for you and can be helpful to anyone with problematic tummies like myself.

I will say that a few things I would have a really hard time giving up for that lil while would be:

  • Garlic and Onions. Flavour base for errryyythang
  • Avocado. Because..fatty goodness.
  • Mushrooms. Tears my heart.

What would you be most sad about removing from your diet temporarily?

Anyone follow the low FODMAP diet already? Tried it?

What’s another diet you are interested in hearing about?

-Chelsea