The Gut-Brain Connection: Exploring the Impact of Gut Health on ADHD Symptoms

ADHD and gut bacteria

ADHD symptoms include inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Research points to a potential link between gut health and ADHD symptoms. The gut and the microbiome plays a much wider role in our health than was previously understood. We now know a lot more about how imbalances in the gut may contribute to ADHD-like behaviors.

The gut contains a complex ecosystem of microorganisms known as the gut microbiome. Studies have confirmed that there is a constant, two-way conversation between the gut and the central nervous system. This is called the gut-brain axis.

ADHD Symptoms

  1. Inattention:
    • Difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities
    • Easily distracted by extraneous stimuli
    • Forgetfulness in daily activities, such as forgetting to complete chores or tasks
    • Difficulty organizing tasks and activities
    • Avoidance or reluctance to engage in tasks requiring sustained mental effort
    • Frequently losing items necessary for tasks or activities (e.g., school supplies, keys)
  2. Hyperactivity:
    • Excessive fidgeting or restlessness, such as tapping hands or feet
    • Inability to remain seated when expected to do so, especially in situations where it is inappropriate (e.g., classroom, meetings)
    • Difficulty engaging in leisure activities quietly
    • Talking excessively or impulsively, often interrupting others
  3. Impulsivity:
    • Acting without consideration of potential consequences
    • Difficulty waiting for one’s turn in conversations or activities
    • Impulsive decision-making, leading to risky behaviors
    • Interrupting or intruding on others’ conversations or activities

It’s important to note that not all individuals with ADHD exhibit all symptoms, and the severity of symptoms can vary widely among individuals.

Children with ADHD and gut microbiome diversity

Research suggests that changes in the gut microbiome may influence brain function and behaviour. Several studies have reported differences in the gut microbiome of individuals with ADHD. A study published in Pediatrics found that children with ADHD had lower levels of beneficial bacteria such as Bifidobacterium and higher levels of potentially harmful bacteria such as Clostridia. Animal studies have demonstrated that changing the gut microbiome using probiotics or antibiotics changes behaviour and cognitive function.

Another study found that Children with ADHD had a larger presence of a gut microbe candida albicans. This is commonly called thrush/yeast infection. And further lab tests confirmed the association between the microbe and the risk of a leaky gut.

ADHD and Neurotransmitters

One possible mechanism underlying the gut-brain connection in ADHD involves neurotransmitter regulation. The gut various neurotransmitters, including feel good chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). These play crucial roles in mood regulation and cognitive function. Dysregulation of these neurotransmitter systems has been implicated in the pathophysiology of ADHD. For example, dopamine, often referred to as the “reward neurotransmitter,” is involved in attention, motivation, and impulse control. Infection or other changes in the gut bacteria can lower the bodies ability to create and use these neurotransmitters.

I work with people with severe gut issues who report symptoms resembling those of ADHD. This is because chronic gastro issues can cause inflammation. This can impact our neurotransmitters and affect mood, concentration and focus. Evidence backs this up. A study published in Frontiers in Psychiatry, found a higher level of ADHD-like symptoms in children with IBS.

Conclusion

Research is ongoing. Lack of bacteria diversity and imbalance has been found to increase the risk of Alzheimers and Parkinsons. But there is no evidence to suggest a direct cause between ADHD and gut bacteria. What we do know is that there is a complex interplay between the gut and the brain. That this connection means that gut bacteria, probiotics and antibiotics can impact ADHD symptoms. We improving your gut bacteria balance impacts ADHD symptoms.

References:

  1. Cickovski T, Mathee K, Aguirre G, Tatke G, Hermida A, Narasimhan G, Stollstorff M. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and the gut microbiome: An ecological perspective. PLoS One. 2023 Aug 18;18(8):e0273890. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0273890. PMID: 37594987; PMCID: PMC10437823.
  2. Checa-Ros A, Jeréz-Calero A, Molina-Carballo A, Campoy C, Muñoz-Hoyos A. Current Evidence on the Role of the Gut Microbiome in ADHD Pathophysiology and Therapeutic Implications. Nutrients. 2021 Jan 16;13(1):249. doi: 10.3390/nu13010249. PMID: 33467150; PMCID: PMC7830868.
  3. Pediatrics. 2019 Aug;144(2):e20190151.
  4. Frontiers in Psychiatry. 2019 Jan 17;9:715.

When to test: A guide for those with unresolved gut issues

Gut issues can cause bloating, gas, burping, and limited diets, impacting not only food enjoyment but also social life, family life, work life, dating life, body confidence, and energy. If you have experienced gut issues that have not resolved even after trying the basics that are usually recommended before testing, you are in the right place.

Testing is often used when there is something acute, such as after food poisoning or brand new symptoms that suddenly appear and are severe. It can also be used if symptoms will not resolve despite changes in diet, such as low FODMAP diets, Mediterranean diets, elimination diets, or removing food sensitivities.

If you have tried adding fibre to your diet and it hasn’t helped or has made things worse, testing may be necessary. You may have also tried implementing slow eating, mindful eating, and chewing, but it has not made a significant difference. Reducing stress, improving breathing, and sleep can also be helpful in reducing symptoms, particularly in IBS.

In this blog post, we will discuss gut health testing and when it may be necessary, appropriate tests to use based on your symptoms, and what to expect from gut health testing. We will also discuss ways to move forward with testing and what to do after the test results come back.

While gut health testing can tell you what’s wrong, it’s also important to resolve the issue to return to normal. I work to find the root cause of health issues through health history, symptoms, and testing. Then, I translate that information into everyday actions that align with your lifestyle, food preferences, and supplementation needs to support your path to feeling good inside and out.

When it comes to bacteria, there are the good, the bad, and the misplaced.

Good bacteria help us break down food and maintain healthy digestion, but we can lose them due to factors like stress, antibiotics, and medication. This can lead to a deficiency of essential bacteria like lactobacillus and bifido bacteria, which play a crucial role in nutrient absorption, waste elimination, and easy digestion.

Bad bacteria, on the other hand, cause infections like diarrhoea, constipation, abdominal pain, gastritis, stomach bugs, food poisoning, and other acute illnesses. Misplaced bacteria refer to small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), which is the presence of excessive bacteria in the small intestine, often causing symptoms similar to IBS.

SIBO

SIBO is estimated to affect up to 80% of people with IBS, but it is a treatable condition that can improve quickly. The common causes of SIBO include poor motility, constipation, food allergies and intolerances, low stomach acid and digestive enzymes, and the long-term use of medications like oral contraceptives, Nexium, Rennies, Gaviscon, and other acid-reducing drugs.

Stress and infections can also contribute to SIBO. The symptoms of SIBO include diarrhea, constipation, bloating, brain fog, fatigue, anxiety, skin rashes, intestinal pain, right-sided pain, pain under the ribs, mid-back pain, shoulder pain, and tight muscles around the jaw. These symptoms are due to the constant signal to the brain that the gut is under attack, leading to a fight-or-flight response, fatigue, anxiety, and muscle tension.

If you suspect that you have SIBO, testing may be necessary. The most common SIBO test is the breath test, which measures the levels of hydrogen and methane in the intestines.

The symptoms of SIBO include diarrhoea, constipation, bloating, brain fog, fatigue, anxiety, skin rashes, intestinal pain, right-sided pain, pain under the ribs, mid-back pain, shoulder pain, and tight muscles around the jaw. These symptoms are due to the constant signal to the brain that the gut is under attack, leading to a fight-or-flight response, fatigue, anxiety, and muscle tension.

The most common type of SIBO is hydrogen-based and presents with symptoms such as bloating, distension, and diarrhea or mixed constipation and diarrhea. A breath test is used to diagnose SIBO, which measures the reaction to hydrogen and methane in the breath after consuming a lactulose or glucose formula. Treatment options for SIBO include antibiotics, diet modifications, and supplements such as herbs. However, the real problem with SIBO is that it can come back if the underlying cause is not resolved.

Microbiome (Stool) Testing

Stool testing can look at bacteria, candida (yeast/thrush), parasites and other microbes. It can also look for issues like malabsorption, immunity, inflammation and gut lining health.

Maldigestion occurs when there is a lack of digestive enzymes to break down food properly. This can lead to issues such as too much fat in the stool or difficulty breaking down proteins. It could also result from a lack of probiotics or low stomach acid.

Another important factor that stool tests evaluate is inflammation markers. The presence of inflammation in the gut can be an indicator of various immune-associated diseases, such as diverticulitis, Crohn’s, or coeliac disease.

Dysbiosis, or an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the gut, is also examined in stool tests. This can include the presence of candida, thrush, methane, or SIBO. The test can also evaluate metabolic imbalances, such as the body’s ability to create vitamin D, butyrate, and short-chain fatty acids.

Lastly, stool tests examine the presence of infection, including parasites and worms, protozoa, and bacteria e.g. blastocysts and campylobacter. These harmful substances can steal your energy and vitamins and make you feel tired.

Stool tests also evaluate how healthy your gut is compared to others who have taken the test. The test can examine cholesterol, triglycerides, digestive enzymes, inflammation markers, and healthy bacteria. It is essential to maintain the balance of healthy bacteria in the gut, as the loss of healthy bacteria can lead to a range of health issues.

If you suspect an imbalance in your gut, a stool test is a useful tool to evaluate your gut health. Stool tests can identify the presence of harmful substances such as harmful bacteria, inflammation, dysbiosis, and infections, among others. This information can be used to create a plan to restore your gut health, including adjustments to your diet, probiotics, or medical treatment, if necessary.

How to get started

I offer various services related to testing and consultation for digestive health issues. To find out more about testing options and what’s write for you, book a discovery call or watch the free gut health testing webinar.

5 actions you can take to improve your digestion (before testing).

Gut health issues can significantly impact your life, but with the right actions and help, you can manage them. If you’re experiencing gut health issues, consider consulting with a functional medicine practitioner or nutritionist to help you identify the root cause of your gut issues and develop a personalised treatment plan.

As a functional medicine-trained naturopathic nutritionist and coach, I first look to the root cause of health issues through health history, and symptoms before looking at testing. The next step is translating this information into everyday actions that align with your lifestyle, food preferences, and adding supports such as approriate herbs or supplements to get you back on track and feeling good inside and out.

Here are five actions you can take to manage your gut health issues:

  1. Implement Slow Eating: Slow eating can significantly help reduce gut issues. Eating slowly helps you chew your food properly, which in turn improves digestion. It also gives your body time to signal that it is full, reducing overeating and preventing bloating.
  2. Reduce Stress: Stress is a common cause of gut health issues. It can lead to altered motility and increased inflammation, resulting in gut issues. You can manage stress by practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, or Tai Chi.
  3. Improve Breathing: Diaphragmatic breathing helps reduce stress and improves digestion. It involves taking slow, deep breaths, filling your lungs entirely and breathing out slowly through your mouth. Practicing diaphragmatic breathing for a few minutes each day can significantly improve gut health.
  4. Get Enough Sleep: Getting adequate sleep is crucial for gut health. Poor sleep can lead to increased stress, inflammation, and altered hormone levels, all of which can cause gut issues. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night to support your gut health.
  5. Try a Low-FODMAP Diet: A low FODMAP diet is a temporary diet that can help identify food triggers that cause gut issues. It involves eliminating high FODMAP foods for a period and gradually reintroducing them to identify trigger foods.

Gut isses can be debilitating and impact various aspects of our life. If you still experience gut issues, testing may be necessary. For more information on when and how to test your gut for SIBO and other issues watch the gut health testing webinar.

7 Ways To Improve Your Sleep

When it comes to our health, sleep is just as important as nutrition and exercise for physical and mental well being.

The average adult requires 7-9 hours sleep each night. Of course there are a small minority of people who need just 6 hours and those who need 10 hours of sleep. However, research shows that getting 6 hours of sleep or less per night has a negative impact on our health long term.

Getting a good night sleep isn’t just important for our energy levels. Being sleep deprived – or carrying a sleep debt as it is sometimes called – impacts our immune health, our hormone balance, our brain health and our heart health.

A large scale study published in 2011 found that people who don’t sleep enough are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease—regardless of age, weight, smoking and exercise habits. Those with sleep apnea, insomnia and shift workers were found to be most at risk.

The Stages of Sleep

Each night, our body moves through 4 stages of sleep. The first is our brief awake stage before we fall asleep. This should last around 10-15 minutes. If this stage is shorter than this you may be over tired and going to sleep too late.

The next phase of sleep is light sleep, which is the largest sleep stage, we go in and out of light sleep through out the night.

We then go into deep sleep which should last 20-40 minutes. If you do not get enough deep sleep you will wake feeling tired.

Deep sleep focuses on your body, it is the most rejuvenating and restorative sleep stage. It helps muscle, tissue and cell growth and repair. It lowers blood pressure and helps reduce your heart disease risk.

Deep sleep is also the stage where your brain flushes out waste, creates memories and stores information.

The final stage is REM sleep, this stage is associated with dreaming, memory consolidation, learning, and problem solving.

In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), the sleep wake cycle is associated with different functions of the body. If for example you wake at 2am each morning, the TCM clock would indicate an issue with detoxing and liver function.

Here are my 7 Tips For Better Sleep:

1. A Good Night Of Sleep Starts Each Morning

Your morning routine really does set you up for a good night of sleep. Getting outside in the morning, preferably as soon as we wake for at least 10 – 15 minutes can help set our biological clock. Going outside begins the process of building your sleep hormones like melatonin. his may be a little later in winter months when it doesn’t get bright until 9am.

Having a good quality breakfast also allows you to balance your blood sugars and avoid a sleep disturbing sugar rush later in the day. While stretching exercising and rehydrating our bodies also helps to promote good sleep quality.

2. Eat Well To Sleep Well

Research shows that consuming foods high in melatonin can improve sleep and reset your circadian rhythm. These foods include pineapple, sour cherries and sour cherry juice, oats and walnuts.

But it’s not just melatonin, tryptophan, an essential amino acid, also helps to reduce anxiety and improve sleep.Tryptophan rich foods include turkey, rye bread, bananas, pumpkin seeds, potatoes and chickpeas.

Magnesium rich foods and potassium rich foods have also been found to improve sleep. While eating a snack consisting of protein and complex carbohydrates e.g almonds and a banana can help deep sleep.

3. Avoid Sugary Snacks Before Bed

Sugars from alcohol, simple carbs like white bread, sweets, chocolate and processed foods including crisps and salted snacks can cause inflammation and spike blood sugar. This can have a stimulating effect on our body which makes it difficult to fall asleep.

After a sugar high, comes a sugar low and the associated sugar crash during the night can wake you up during the night – depriving you of your deep sleep.

Alcohol is also dehydrating and can cause you to wake during the night with an urge to pee, it can also keep you in the light sleep phase throughout the night causing you to wake up feeling more tired than when you went to bed.

4. Manage Your Stress

If you find you are unable to get to sleep due to stress build up during the day or because your days are so busy you find yourself problem solving or list making then this tip is for you. You need to postpone your worry! I have a handout specifically for this, let me know if you would like a copy.

Gratitude journaling rather than list building has also been found to be a great way of destressing before bed.

5. Avoid Stimulating Your Brain

This includes reducing your caffeine intake during the day from foods and beverages including coffee, tea and cocoa. As caffeine takes up to 12 hours to leave your body, it is best to stop consuming it at lunchtime to enable you to get a good night’s sleep.

Some people find it more difficult to break down caffeine and may need to stop drinking caffeinated drinks as early as 11am.

Caffeine isn’t the only stimulant that can keep you awake. Phones, computers, reading from back-lit devices, self help books, emotive movies and TV shows, or working late into the night stimulates your brain making it difficult to fall asleep. Exercising too close to bedtime can also disturb your sleep.

6. Create A Wind Down Routine

Begin your wind down routine 1-2 hours before you want to be asleep e.g. if you want to be asleep by 11pm start your wind down routine around 9.30pm. Starting your wind down routine at the same time every night can train your brain to fall asleep regardless of what is going on during the day.

Sleep routines can include:

  • Using essential oils like lavender, ylang ylang, bergamot, sage or vanilla
  • Making sure your room is the right temperature. A slightly cool room is best.
  • Wearing loose fitting clothing for comfort and to avoid being to warm or cold
  • Reading a (physical) book or journaling
  • Having a warm bath can make you feel sleepy
  • Drinking a sleep promoting tea such as magnolia bark, lemongrass, lemon balm or valerian root
  • Practicing deep breathing can help to relieve tension and improve sleep quality
  • Mouth taping is a great way to improve sleep if you snore, sleep with your mouth open or have nasal congestion or sinus issues.
https://youtube.com/watch?v=_t8ELYDW0ts%3Ffeature%3Doembed%26enablejsapi%3D1

7. Explore Complementary Therapies

Complementary and alternative therapies (CAM) including meditation, acupuncture, reflexology, reiki, IET, EFT, massage, herbal medicine and homeopathy can improve your sleep quality and reduce stress and anxiety. Research has shown that CAM therapies as well as nutrition and lifestyle change can improve insomnia and other sleep disorders.

If you are struggling with sleep issues and would like a copy of my sleep routine guide or feel you would benefit from one to one support, get in touch.

Postbiotics – What are they and how do they work?

You’ve heard of antibiotics, probiotics and even prebiotics but what are Postbiotics?

Postbiotics are substances produced by the breakdown of probiotics and prebiotics in the gut. These include amino acids, vitamin A, vitamin K.

Postbiotics can have a variety of effects on the body, depending on the specific type of postbiotic and the context in which it is produced and consumed.

Some postbiotics, such as short-chain fatty acids (like butyrate / butyric acid), can be used as an energy source by the body.

Others, such as enzymes and bacteriocins, can have antimicrobial effects and help to protect against the growth of harmful bacteria. Postbiotics are found fermented foods like kimchi, kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut, miso and in live yogurt and soft cheeses.

Postbiotics may also interact with the immune system and have anti-inflammatory effects.

Some research suggests that postbiotics may be able to influence the composition and function of the gut microbiome, which is the community of microorganisms that lives in the gut.

In Europe and the UK the use of the word probiotic/prebiotic/postbiotic is not legally allowed so the umbrella term is biotic.

This can lead to confusion over what does what so here’s a brief overview:

  • Probiotics are the healthy, or “friendly,” bacteria that live inside your gut and support your health by converting fiebr into compounds that have benefits for your health.
  • Prebiotics are a group of foods/nutrients, mainly fibre, that feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut.
  • Postbiotics are the bioactive compounds the probiotic bacteria produce when they consume prebiotics (fibre).

Postbiotic supplements are not as widely available yet because they’re relatively new as compared with prebiotics and probiotics. Butyrate / Butyric Acid is one that is widely available.

Butyric Acid

Butyric acid has a number of potential health benefits, including acting as a source of energy for cells lining the colon and having anti-inflammatory effects. Some research has suggested that butyric acid may be helpful in the management of inflammatory bowel disease and may have a role in reducing the risk of colon cancer. It is often used to decrease brain fog and improve concentration. Some studies have shown that butyrate can lower cholesterol and blood pressure

Postbiotics and skin health

There is some evidence that postbiotics may have potential benefits for skin health. For example, some research has suggested that postbiotics may have anti-inflammatory effects that could be helpful in the management of certain skin conditions, such as acne and dermatitis.

Other potential benefits of postbiotics

Postbiotics have been associated with several other emerging health benefits, but more research is needed to determine the extent of these effects:

  • May help with allergies. A study in 34 adults with atopic dermatitis (eczema) found that supplementing with a postbiotic for 8–12 weeks significantly reduced the severity of the condition. In comparison, the placebo group saw no improvements.
  • May aid weight loss. A few studies suggest that postbiotics like short-chain fatty acids may aid weight loss by suppressing hunger signals.
  • May help lower the risk of heart disease. In animal studies, butyrate seems to help lower blood pressure and suppress genes that play a role in cholesterol production.
  • May help manage blood sugar levels. Studies suggest butyrate may help manage blood sugar levels
  • May be better tolerated than probiotics. When you consume probiotics, you increase the number of beneficial bacteria in your body. However, some people may not tolerate probiotics well, so postbiotics may be a more suitable alternative.

Are postbiotics suitable for everyone?

In general, postbiotics are considered safe and well-tolerated in healthy people. However, if you are sensitive to histamine or have MCAS or have gut issues, fermented foods, biotics and supplements should not be taken without consulting a healthcare practitioner.

These groups tend to have weaker or compromised immune systems and may therefore be at an increased risk of an adverse reaction

  • people who have recently had surgery
  • people who have structural heart disorders
  • people with digestive tract disorders
  • pregnant people (as well as avoiding unpasteurised cheeses and fermented products)
  • children (unless under the supervision of a professional)

Postbiotics summary

In general, postbiotics are safe and well-tolerated. However, due to potential health concerns, certain groups of people may want to avoid increasing their production of postbiotics. Butyric Acid / Butyrate is the most widely available postbiotic supplement and has been found to have benefit beyond digestion. Always consult a practitioner before increasing probiotic foods or supplementing.

Reference: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35454664/

New Year, New You? Avoid the pitfalls of diet culture and make healthy sustainable changes.

We’ve barely put down our knife and fork on Christmas day before an add or post is telling us we need to lose weight. The Daily Mail increase their bikini clad celebrity posts by 5000% (that’s what it feels like) and we are told it’s time to start working on our beach bodies.

What they don’t tell you is that your body will naturally correct itself, so any weight gain over Christmas week is temporary and you don’t need to do the restrictive diets, fasting or punishing exercise regimes.

It’s completely normal to want to make healthy changes in the new year, but it’s important to be mindful of how you approach these changes.

What is diet culture?

Diet culture is a set of beliefs and behaviours that often promotes weight loss as a means of improving health, attractiveness, and self-worth. It can be harmful because it can lead to unhealthy habits, such as obsessively tracking food intake and overexercising, and can also contribute to negative body image and disordered eating.

How can we make healthy, sustainable changes in 2023?

  1. Focus on self-care rather than weight loss: Instead of trying to lose weight, try to focus on taking care of yourself and your body. This might include eating nourishing foods, getting enough sleep, and exercising in a way that feels good to you.
  2. Avoid restrictive or extreme diets: Diets that require you to eliminate entire food groups or that promise quick weight loss are often not sustainable or healthy. Instead, try to make small, sustainable changes to your eating habits that you can maintain long-term.
  3. Don’t compare yourself to others: It’s easy to get caught up in comparison, especially during the new year when there may be a lot of talk about resolutions and goals. Remember that everyone’s bodies are different and that there is no “one size fits all” approach to health and wellness.
  4. Avoid using language that promotes a narrow definition of beauty: Instead of using words like “good” or “bad” to describe foods, try to focus on how foods make you feel.
  5. Find activities that bring you joy and are not centred around weight loss: Focus on hobbies and activities that bring you joy, rather than those that are solely focused on losing weight.
  6. Seek support: If you’re struggling with diet culture or negative body image, consider seeking support from a therapist or counsellor.


Remember that health and wellness are about so much more than just your weight. It’s important to prioritise self-care and take care of your physical and mental well-being in a way that feels good to you.

Three simple gut-friendly recipes to try between Christmas and New Year – Twixmas recipes

In between Christmas and New Years there is a no-mans land often referred to as Twixmas. Twixmas is known for leftovers, chocolate, not really knowing what day/time it is, and generally feeling tired and bloated.

So if you’ have grown tired of the leftovers, want to get your gut back on track but with minimal effort these recipes are perfect. They are quick and easy to make but contain lots of protein, fibre, flavour and veg to get your stomach back on track.

Spicy Black Bean Soup

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • optional toppings: diced avocado, diced tomato, chopped cilantro, shredded cheese

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic and cook until the onion is translucent. Add the cumin, chili powder, paprika, and oregano and cook for another minute. Add the black beans, vegetable broth, water, and salsa to the saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20-25 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with optional toppings.

Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Bowl

  • Quinoa, cooked according to package instructions
  • 1 small sweet potato, diced
  • 1 small courgette diced
  • 1 small bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon mixed herbs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • optional toppings: feta cheese, chopped parsley, diced avocado

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, toss the sweet potato, courgette, bell pepper, and onion with the olive oil, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Spread the vegetables evenly on the prepared baking sheet. Roast for 25-30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Serve the roasted vegetables over the cooked quinoa with optional toppings.

Grilled Salmon Salad

  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cupped handfuls of mixed greens
  • 5 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cucumber, diced
  • 2 bell peppers diced
  • 25-30g crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons vinaigrette dressing

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Brush the mixture over the salmon fillet. Grill the salmon for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until it is cooked to your desired level of doneness. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix together the mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, and feta cheese. Toss with the vinaigrette dressing. Divide the salad among four plates and top with the grilled salmon.

Swap the salmon for crispy tofu or tempeh for a vegan alternative.

Top 7 Tips For A Gut Healthy Christmas & New Year

Here are my top tips for maintaining gut health during the holiday season:

  1. Stay hydrated: It’s important to drink plenty of water, especially if you’re consuming alcohol or eating salty or sugary foods.
  2. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables: These foods provide fibre and nutrients that support gut health (and reduce bloating). Try to include a variety of colours in your meals to ensure you’re getting a wide range of nutrients.
  3. Limit your intake of processed foods: These types of foods can be hard on the digestive system and may lead to discomfort. If you over do it (i.e. your stomach isn’t happy), then reach for fennel, clove or ginger tea or make your own using dried spices.
  4. Practice stress management: Stress can have a negative impact on gut health. Try to find ways to relax and manage stress during the holiday season, such as by taking deep breaths, meditating, or exercising.
  5. Get enough sleep: Adequate sleep is important for overall health, including gut health. Take the opportunity to get back into a good rhythm and aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
  6. Consider taking a probiotic: Probiotics are live microorganisms that may help support gut health by restoring the balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut. You can find probiotics in supplements or fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut.
  7. Eat slowly and mindfully: Take the time to savor your food and chew it well. This can help improve digestion and reduce the risk of indigestion.

For more details on these tips and for gut healthy recipes download the free gut health Christmas Guide.

Everything you need to know about SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth)

What is SIBO?

SIBO, or Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, is a condition in which there is an excessive number of bacteria in the small intestine. The small intestine is normally inhabited by a small number of bacteria, but in people with SIBO, the bacteria population is much larger and may be made up of different types of bacteria than are normally present in the small intestine.

The small intestine is a part of the digestive system that is responsible for absorbing nutrients from the food we eat. Normally, the small intestine contains a small number of bacteria, but in people with SIBO, the number of bacteria is significantly higher than normal. This excess bacteria can lead to a variety of symptoms, including abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, and malnutrition.

How common is SIBO?

Studies have suggested that SIBO may be more common in certain groups of people, such as those with certain medical conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and coeliac disease, and those who have undergone certain medical procedures, such as abdominal surgery.

One study conducted in 2016 estimated that the prevalence of SIBO in people with IBS was approximately 41%., while other studies estimate that this could be up to 80%. It is a important to test for SIBO and bacteria overgrowth before taking any anti-microbial herbs or antibiotics as they can kill off good bacteria that break down foods and can worsen symptoms in those who do not have SIBO or bacteria overgrowth.

What are the common causes of SIBO?

SIBO is often caused by problems with the muscles in the wall of the small intestine, which can prevent the normal movement of food through the digestive system. This can cause food to remain in the small intestine for longer than normal, providing an opportunity for bacteria to grow and multiply. Other factors that may contribute to the development of SIBO include certain medical conditions, such as diabetes and celiac disease, and the use of certain medications, such as antibiotics and proton pump inhibitors.

How is SIBO diagnosed?

It is often diagnosed through a breath test that measures the levels of certain gases produced by bacteria in the intestine.

How can I get relieve from SIBO symptoms

Treatment for SIBO typically involves the use of antibiotics or herbs (or both)to reduce the number of bacteria in the small intestine. In some cases, dietary changes, such as following a low-fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols (FODMAP) diet or Bi-phasic diet, may also be recommended to help alleviate symptoms.

What is Intestinal Methane Overgrowth and is it different to SIBO?

Intestinal methane overgrowth, on the other hand, refers to an excess of methane-producing bacteria in the intestine. Methane is a gas that is produced by certain types of bacteria as they break down food in the digestive system.

While both SIBO and intestinal methane overgrowth can cause similar symptoms, they are caused by different types of bacteria and can be diagnosed and treated differently. SIBO is typically diagnosed using a hydrogen breath test, in which the patient consumes a sugar solution and then exhales into a device that measures the amount of hydrogen in their breath. High levels of hydrogen in the breath may indicate the presence of excess bacteria in the small intestine. Intestinal methane overgrowth, on the other hand, is typically diagnosed using a breath test that measures the amount of methane in the breath. Treatment for both conditions may involve the use of antibiotics, as well as dietary changes.

Why bloating is stealing your energy and confidence – and what to do about it

Over the last 3 years I’ve seen so many busy, frustrated people suffering with ongoing  bloating and other digestion problems. 

They have tried everything to beat the bloat. They’ve been to see doctors, tried the low FODMAP or other recommended diet plans, taken the supplements, tried the apps and still experience bloating. 

Their friends, family (Mum) and loved ones have supported them, made helpful and not so helpful suggestions and still nothing has changed.

 It breaks my heart to hear how exhausted they are by constant research and how much their confidence has been knocked by persistent bloating – pregnant belly, hard belly, sore, gassy belly, bloating. 

 The belly bloat causes anxiety, can ruin special occasions like a wedding, birthday or holiday. It hurts their relationship with food and makes them detached or disappointed in themselves and their body. 

 In their first appointment they share things like:

  • I’m struggling with bloating and pain and nothing you try seems to work
  • I feel self conscious about my bloated belly – I look 3 months pregnant
  • I feel anxious about what my stomach will do, I dread holidays or spontaneous plans.
  • I have a second wardrobe for when my bloating is really bad
  • I just don’t feel sexy or attractive right now, my libido is gone
  • I don’t feel comfortable staying overnight at my partners house, they think I’m not really into them
  • I’m worried about going to restaurants or friends’ houses. What if I bloat and have to go home or getting really bad gas.
  • If I wear a nice dress for an event I end up really bloated and have to change
  • My stomach bloats regardless of what or how little eat
  • My stomach feels heavy and sore and I don’t even feel like leaving the house
  • Everything I eat gives me gas and bloating

 Can you relate?

 All these things make you think one thing: what am I doing wrong? If I’m not getting better, I must be doing it wrong, I’m just a mess. Why can’t I get it right and just be normal. There are bigger problems in the world, maybe I should just suck it up and pretend I’m ok.

 I have to say at first I was a bit taken aback by this, I didn’t realise how much you were punishing yourself and feeling like you were responsible for your symptoms. 

You have the right to feel good in your body

You have the right to take your bloating seriously and reclaim your energy, concentration and self confidence. To feel like you can enjoy food and eat anywhere (without checking the menu first). 

Close your eyes and imagine walking into work or an event with no bloating, feeling confident, energised and joyful.  

  • To not live with the background stress of wondering how your stomach will react. 
  • To go through everyday free from brain fog and being able to really focus. 
  • To have amazing energy levels
  • To feel calm and relaxed on holidays and not have to bring an armful of tablets
  • To walk into the gym and know that your exercise efforts show
  • To feel good in your body 

It is possible and you fully deserve to feel that way. 

Where is your energy going?

When you experience bloating your digestive system sends messages to your brain saying I don’t feel good, something is wrong. This causes your brain to go into hyperalert, looking for danger. But, there is no bear, nothing physically causing you to be dangerous. 

You become tired but wired. Unable to fully relax you are using more energy and end up tired all day but unable to sleep at night time. You might also wake during the night or find that no matter how much sleep you get, you don’t feel restored. 

Shoulder, back and neck pain is common too. As your body is on high alert, it is constantly keeping those muscles switched on. Ready to fight or flee at any moment. You may have tired eyes from searching for danger unknown to yourself and you don’t digest as well (it’s not a priority when you are being chased by a bear), leading to more bloating. 

You may find yourself addicted to looking at your phone. A lovely light up box full of danger possibilities that your brain can use as evidence of a threat.

All of this leads to mood changes – feeling irritable from tiredness and being on alert, feeling anxious because of an unknown threat, feeling like you can’t focus because your brain is looking for danger. 

How to get rid of bloating fast

There are many different reasons for bloating, from hormonal balance to food sensitivities, IBS, bacteria overgrowth, stress, eating fibre and getting to the root cause of the bloating is the fastest way to banish bloating and feel good. 

There are some tried and tested ways to reduce bloating that can help anyone experience issues these include:

  • Breath work – abdominal breathing to relax muscles and send more blood flow
  • Eating small, nutrient dense meals that are easy to breakdown e.g. soups, stews
  • Fennel Tea before meals to reduce gas
  • Avoiding processed carbohydrates, processed sugars, carbonated drinks and high fat foods

 These will help you to reduce bloating but to truly banish bloating for good finding the root cause of your bloating will give you the freedom, confidence and energy you deserve. 

Not sure where to start?

If you know you want to understand what is causing your bloating and how to beat it once and for all  but don’t know where to start then my  free webinar How to banish bloating and regain your energy and confidence  is for you!

Running on Friday, 11th November at 1pm, I’ll take you through the steps to reasons for your bloating, the steps to banish it for good and what tools you need.

You’ll walk away with the information you need to feel good in your body.

Join Us