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What Causes IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)

what-causes-ibs-the-allergy-co-ottawa

Have been diagnosed with Irritable Bowel, or IBS? Or maybe you suspect that you have IBS? Are you seeking answers to the question “What causes IBS?”

You are experiencing one or more symptoms of constipation / diarrhoea / bloating / gas and / or cramping. Your doctor has maybe prescribed some meds to control the symptoms but otherwise been of little help?

The medical profession is beginning to understand more of what causes IBS, such as SIBO (Small intestine bacterial overgrowth), infection, inflammation and abnormalities in the nerves in your digestive tract. However, you may be better to talk to your Functional Medicine Practitioner or Naturopathic Doctor about causes and solutions.

How I First Learned That Food Allergies Cause IBS; My Story

I was 33yrs old when IBS hit me… Up until then I had not had any digestive issues other than cramps if I drank glasses of milk, and suddenly I was in the washroom multiple times, usually at short notice and experiencing terrible diarrhoea, cramps and gas. Everywhere I went the first thing I did was find out where the closest washroom was located.. sound familiar?

When my doctor diagnosed IBS, I asked “So, what causes IBS?”

He said vaguely, “Oh, could be anything..” When I asked about allergies, he stated categorically that there was no possible link between allergies and IBS, and prescribed meds to control the cramping and diarrhoea.

On the suggestion of a friend, I had an Allergy test. It came up positive for yeast, cow’s milk products including cheese (I was a BIG cheese fan) and wheat. I immediately cut these foods out of my diet and within 48hrs felt almost completely normal. What a relief!

My doctor was very skeptical. However, I knew that just a few mouthfuls of bread or one glass of wine, which contains a lot of yeast, and I would be in the washroom for most of the next morning.

Top Food Allergens for IBS

The top food allergens I have found for IBS include wheat, corn, soy, yeast, milk and eggs. However, we are all unique individuals, there is no one size fits all and you can be reacting to any of the foods you are ingesting.

A true allergy causes an immune response and will trigger an almost immediate reaction. Once that food has been eliminated from your system you will likely feel much better.

If you have intolerance to a food the reaction will be slower. There is no immediate immune response, it is more an issues with digesting, breaking down and absorbing the food. The reaction can actually take several days to reach a peak. This makes it quite difficult to work out what is triggering your reactions as it may be nothing you ate today, or even yesterday.

Identifying Food Allergies That Cause IBS

There are a number of ways to test.

Elimination Diet

You can try an elimination diet, removing suspected foods and monitoring the result. After a trial period without the foods you reintroduce them one at a time. It can be difficult to obtain definite answers, especially where you are reacting to several foods – eliminating one brings little relief as you are still reacting to others.

Blood Testing

Your family doctor or a naturopathic doctor can requisition a blood test which looks for antibodies to certain foods. You have to be eating the allergens in your every day diet in order to be tested. This means that if you have removed, say, wheat, and then want to find out if you are Celiac the doctor will ask that eat it for several weeks or even months prior to testing.

I have found blood testing to be reasonably accurate for allergies, but that it can provide false negatives for intolerances and emotional reactions to foods where there is no immune response.

Skin Prick Testing

Skin testing can also provide answers. Your family doctor will need to refer you to a medical allergist to have this done. In my practice I have found this method great for identifying bigger allergies, but have also seen cases where the skin showed no reaction even though there is a strong reaction when eating that food.

Muscle Response Testing, Autonomic Response Testing, Applied Kinesiology

All names for the same thing.. As a Natural Allergist I prefer to use this method. It utilizes the body’s response to potential allergens and can assess allergies, intolerances and emotional reactions to foods. It is an effective way of asking the body to tell us what it likes and does not like. It has the added benefit that you do not have to be eating the allergens in order to be tested and results are immediately available.

Whichever method you choose having an allergy test can provide much needed answers and, as in my case, bring enormous relief from your IBS symptoms.

If you want to find out more about the triggers for IBS come for a complementary discovery session with me or one of my colleagues at Ottawa Holistic Wellness.

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Gluten and Dairy Free Recipes For the Holidays

Looking for gluten and dairy free recipes for the holidays?

It seems that many of our friends and family are now choosing to be gluten and / or dairy free. 

This can be tricky during the holidays so I have put together some alternative ingredients and some gluten and dairy free recipes. Most of these are Paleo, so actually grain, dairy, bean and sugar free (and still Delicious!)

Of course, should you wish to cheat with the gluten it is possible to take specific enzymes, available from most health food stores, to reduce the reactions you may have.

Gluten and Dairy Alternatives

There are now many alternatives for the standard ingredients used in recipes. It is often possible to simply switch them over. It is good to try different products to work out what you like.

Many of these products are available in grocery stores such as Loblaws and Independent where they may be found in the natural / organic section, and in health food stores.

Alternative Milk Products:

Soy is now considered by many to not be a great food – it contains phyto-estrogen which has been linked to various health concerns including adversely affecting your thyroid.

An article on Web MD

An article by Dr Axe

So what do you choose instead?

Milk: a wide variety of cartons – coconut, almond, hemp, rice, pea etc. 

Butter and oil: coconut (great for frying and baking), olive, avocado, flax, hemp, sesame etc

Cheese: Deiya cheese is tapioca based, cashew or rice based cheeses

Cream in cooking: Coconut milk or cream (organic tins are best), or cauliflower puree

Yoghurt: coconut yoghurt

Ice cream: coconut and rice ice cream

Wheat, gluten and corn

Many gluten free options contain corn instead. Most corn is now GMO, in addition to which many of us do not digest corn well. You may feel better using other alternatives.

Flours: Oat, buckwheat, arrowroot, sorghum, potato, arrowroot, rice, coconut, almond etc

Gluten and Dairy Free Recipes For The Holidays

I hope you enjoy the following recipe ideas. There is a link to the original source for each one. The linked websites do provide many equally delicious recipes!

Stuffing – Savoury sage and sweet apple

Cornbread (grain free) for the stuffing

Turkey gravy

Easy gravy

Christmas Pudding – Raw quick

Christmas Pudding – Steamed

Pumpkin Pie – a nice option for Boxing Day or New year!

SAVOURY SAGE & SWEET APPLE Stuffing

3 ½ cups onion, diced

2 ½ cups celery, diced

1 cup apple, cored and diced

1/4 cup dates, chopped into small pieces (raisins or dried cranberries would also be good)

2 cups almond flour

2 teaspoons sage

2 teaspoons thyme

1/4 teaspoon marjoram

1/4 teaspoon rosemary

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons butter, ghee or coconut oil

3 eggs, whisked

Preheat oven to 350F

Grease a medium-sized baking dish (If you’re using a cast iron skillet or pan that can go from stovetop to oven, skip this step

Add 2 tablespoons butter/ghee/coconut oil to a saucepan and warm over low/med heat.

Add onion, celery, apple and herbs and sauté over medium heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, add almond flour and dates and mix. (Note: If you have a cast iron or pan that can go from stovetop to oven, you can just mix everything in the pan.)

Add the lightly beaten eggs to the bowl and mix well.

Add mixture to baking dish if using, or simply place the pan in the oven. Bake at 350F for 45 minutes for 1 hour

 

CORNBREAD – grain free

2 cups almond flour

3 tablespoons coconut flour

3 teaspoons baking powder or baking soda (make sure it’s grain-free )

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 teaspoons coconut sugar (or 1 teaspoon honey)

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, ghee or coconut oil melted and cooled slightly

1 cup plain, whole coconut yogurt

2 medium jalapeños, minced (optional)

Shredded cheese (optional), Deiya cheese will work

1/2 yellow onion, minced

Preheat oven to 425°F and adjust rack to middle position of oven. Butter an 8 x 8-inch baking dish.

Whisk almond flour, coconut flour, baking powder, sea salt, baking soda and coconut sugar together in a large mixing bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, butter or coconut oil, and coconut yoghurt. Pour this mixture, jalapeños if using and onions into flour mixture and gently fold all ingredients together. Pour half of the cornbread batter into the baking dish and spread out evenly.

Sprinkle the shredded cheese on top if using, and then pour the remaining batter on top. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

 

TURKEY GRAVY

1 set of turkey parts (neck, heart, liver, giblets)

1 tbsp butter or coconut oil (for browning)

1/2 onion, chopped

1 bay leaf

2-5 cups chicken or turkey broth – allow about 1/2 cup per person

turkey pan drippings and trimmings from carving

1/2 cup whole cream or coconut cream

salt and pepper to taste

3 tbsp potato or arrowroot starch

Melt the butter / coconut oil in a pot on medium heat.

Add the turkey parts and brown them for a few minutes. Next, add the chopped onion and simmer until the onions soften, about five more minutes. Add the broth and bay leaf, and bring it to a gentle boil; reduce the heat to low and let it simmer while the turkey cooks (at least two hours).

Once turkey is cooked and resting add any pan drippings to the broth. Use a fat separater to remove as much fat as possible. Return the broth to the pot, add chopped up turkey parts (optional). Bring the broth back to a gentle simmer as you carve the turkey.

Carve the turkey, chop up any leftover turkey trimmings and add to the broth, as well as the cream. Allow it to simmer for about five minutes, stirring often. Add salt and pepper to taste.

To thicken, mix the potato / arrowroot starch with a little water, and stir about half of it into the gravy.  Simmer stirring continuously for a few minutes. If it isn’t thick enough, add more of the starch and let it simmer again.

When done – serve immediately.

 

EASY GRAVY

2 tablespoons turkey fat from pan drippings, ghee or coconut oil

1/2 cup chopped onions

2 cups chopped cauliflower

pan drippings

1-2 cups chicken or turkey stock

several sprigs fresh thyme or other herbs

sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Heat fat over medium heat in sauce pan. Add onions and cook until onions start to brown. Stir in cauliflower and thyme sprigs.

Measure pan drippings and add enough stock to equal 2 cups of liquid. Add pan drippings/stock mixture to pan with vegetables. Simmer until cauliflower is fork tender, about 10 minutes. Remove herb stems.

Place in a blender on high until smooth and creamy.

Return gravy to pan to reheat. Add more stock to thin to desired consistency, if needed.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve and enjoy

 

RAW QUICK CHRISTMAS PUDDING

These are made into individual puddings. Ideal for family times. This recipe makes 8.

60g dried figs

2 tbsp orange zest

50g flaxseed meal

2 tbsp dried sour cherries

1 tsp fresh ginger, grated

100g dried apricots

250g fresh dates, pitted

170ml almond meal / flour

1 tsp vanilla extract

¼ tsp allspice

1 tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp ground nutmeg

¼ tsp ground ginger

¼ cup orange juice

1 tbsp coconut oil

FROSTING

100g raw organic cacao butter, chopped (available from health food stores)

100ml coconut cream

40g maple syrup, good quality

1. Line 8 x 5cm (2-inch) diameter moulds, 50ml capacity small cups or any other oven proof suitable containers with plastic wrap.

2. Combine all the ingredients, except for the orange juice and the coconut oil, in a food processor and blend until the mixture forms into a crumb-like consistency. Transfer to a large mixing bowl, add the orange juice and coconut oil. Knead the mixture until it comes together into a large ball.

3. Divide the pudding mix into 8 portions and pack into the moulds firmly. Refrigerate for 15 minutes to firm. Remove from the moulds, peel off the plastic wrap and place on a tray.

4. Make frosting – melt the cacao butter in a bowl over a saucepan of boiling water. Remove from the heat, thoroughly mix in the coconut cream and maple syrup. Cool at room temperature to thicken the frosting, stirring occasionally.

5. Spoon the frosting over the puddings and refrigerate for 10 to 15 minutes or until the frosting is firm.

6. Decorate the puddings with some fresh raspberries and serve.

 

STEAMED CHRISTMAS PUDDING

150g sultanas

80g dried sour cherries or dried unsweetened cranberries, plus extra for garnish

100g currants

30g raw almonds, roughly chopped

200g kombucha or freshly squeezed orange juice

zest of 1 orange

40g almond meal / flour

20g coconut flour

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp mixed spice

1/4 tsp cinnamon

55g coconut oil

40g apple, peeled & cored

2 eggs

1/4 tsp fine salt

1/4 tsp bicarb soda

Simmer dried fruit and almonds with kombucha or orange juice for 6 mins and set aside to cool.

Place orange zest, almond meal, coconut flour, spices, salt, soda, apple, eggs and coconut oil into a blender and mix. Scrape down sides of bowl.

Add soaked fruit and nuts into bowl and mix.

Scoop mixture into cupcake cups or small ramekins and place into a steamer, with lid on. Cups / ramekins should be about 3/4 full.

Steam for 25 mins.

Allow puddings to cool, covered, and store in fridge until needed.

Drizzle with Coconut Vanilla Custard, with a dried cranberry or sour cherry on top for decoration.

 

PUMPKIN PIE

Paleo pie crust:

1 cup blanched almond flour

2 Tbsp coconut flour sifted

2/3 cup tapioca flour

1/2 cup palm oil shortening cold, or grassfed butter, or a combination of both

1 Tbsp Maple Sugar or coconut sugar*

1/2 tsp fine grain sea salt

1 egg

Filling:

15 oz can pumpkin puree

2/3 cup full fat coconut milk blended

6 Tbsp pure maple syrup or more if you’d like it sweeter

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp cinnamon

Pinch salt

2 large eggs room temp

1 egg yolk room temp

(pumpkin pie spice: 1/4 cup ground cinnamon 4 teaspoons ground nutmeg 4 teaspoons ground ginger 1 tablespoon ground allspice)

Make the Crust:

Preheat oven to 375F. 

In a food processor pulse all crust ingredients EXCEPT egg to create thick crumbs, then pulse/process in the egg until a dough forms.

Gather the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic, chill in the refrigerator at least 20 minutes prior use.

To get your dough into a 9in pie dish:

Either roll out dough into a circle between two sheets of parchment. Place pie dish upside-down over the dough, then using the bottom parchment paper, flip the dough into the dish. Press into the bottom and sides of the pie dish to fit. The dough will break easily, however it also repairs incredibly easily, just patch and pres into place as needed.

Or simply press evenly into pie dish using your hands.  Be patient and refrigerate dough as needed to make it easier to work with**

Once in the pie dish, gently pierce the dough with a fork all over so it doesn’t puff up while baking.

Bake pie crust at 375F for 12-15 mins until bottom is set, remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.

Make the Filling:

Whisk all ingredients together except eggs, then whisk in eggs and egg yolk 1 at a time, don’t over mix.

Pour filling into the baked crust, spreading it all around to seal edges. Cover top with aluminum foil and bake at 375F for 40-45 minutes or until centre is nearly set (still a bit jiggly) and crust is deep golden brown.

Allow to cool completely at room temperature to avoid excessive cracking of the filling.

Serve, or cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. 

Serve topped with whipped coconut cream if desired. 

Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

*Coconut sugar will cause the crust to darken more than maple sugar

**Unlike a traditional gluten-containing crust, you can’t “overwork” the dough, so take your time as needed pressing it into the pie dish.

 

Happy Holidays!

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Cure Sore Muscles with Nutrition

Have you ever considered that one of the simplest ways to cure sore muscles can be with diet and nutrition?

There are many reasons for sore muscles, however, when considering body aches and pains, including sore muscles and joints, this can be the first, and best, place to start. It is so often the root of the problem and so easy to fix!

There are many so called “cures” out there that simply deal with the symptoms without getting to the root of the issue.. Of course if you have a hard workout it is normal to be a little stiff and sore afterwards, however, this should pass quickly and not be an everyday, chronic problem.

Relating sore muscles to nutrition

I am an avid learner, and was delighted to come across the International College of Applied Kinesiology many years ago.

Applied Kinesiology (AK), as taught by ICAK, relates the neuromuscular function to the structural, chemical and neurological regulatory mechanisms. Which, simply put, relates the function of your muscles to structural balance (the physical functioning of your body, the skeletal and muscular systems), chemical balance (allergies, toxins, nutrition) and the mental / emotional.

Using this wonderful tool it is possible to determine the reason why a particular muscle is not able to function to its best.

So, how to cure sore muscles..

Working out, along with specific exercises will, of course, strengthen muscles, and stretching help you to remain supple. But are your muscles functioning at their best?

AK looks at the possible reasons that muscles are working at a sub-optimal level. It considers 3 main aspects: there needs to correct alignment of your musculoskeletal system, their needs to be no toxins or allergies that effectively ‘poison’ your muscles, and their needs to be enough fuel, i.e nutrition.

Each muscles is considered to need specific nutrition. Not enough of that nutrient and the muscle just cannot work as well as it could. In this case working out can actually make you less strong and potentially cause injury.

Here are a few of the bigger muscle groups and the nutrients they require.

Psoas

The big core muscle that connects the lower (lumbar) back to the thigh bone (femur), or the tenderloin in a  beef cow. It supports the low back.

Nutrition: water, Vit E, Vit A

 

Gluteals

You butt muscles. Connecting the pelvis to the thigh bone (femur) and the IT band they have a huge role to play supporting us and for standing, walking, running, jumping etc.

Nutrition: Vit E, Niacinamide (Vit B3)

 

Quadratus Lumborum

This is one of your main low back muscles, attaching the bottom rib, your lumbar (low back) vertebrae, and your pelvis.

Nutrition: Vit A, Vit C, Vit E

 

Hamstrings

These are the big group of muscles down the back of your thigh. They connect the ischial tuberosity (your sitting bone) to the fibula and tibia (the 2 bones in your lower leg). They flex (bend) your knee, and extend (straighten) your hip, and are essential for supporting your low back, hip, and knee.

Nutrition: Vit E, calcium

 

Quadriceps

The big muscles down the front of your thigh connecting the pelvis to the tibia (the main bone in your lower leg). This large group of muscles supports you hips, and particularly the knee.

Nutrition: Vit D, Vit B complex

 

Tensor fascia latae

Joining the iliac crest (the top part of your pelvis at the waist) to the greater trochanter (the bone you can feel on the outside of your hip) and also the IT band which runs down from there to your knee. Supporting the back, hip and knee.

Nutrition: Vit D, iron. In particular, a deficiency of iron causing this muscle to lack function, is one of the main reasons for back pain in pregnant women.

 

Cure sore muscles with nutrition

When you consider how these big, supporting muscles rely on specific nutrition it makes sense to consider this as one possible cause for your sore muscles.

A simple blood test from your Family doctor or Naturopathic Doctor can assess your levels of many nutrients. It is also possible to test for these and more using AK. My basic Allergy Test will assess these along with allergies, intolerances, emotional issues, structural imbalance and any infection / parasite.

Once a deficiency is identified dietary changes or nutritional supplements can be used to address the issue. I have had many clients who have experienced great relief from back, hip and knee pain, and from general achy, sore muscles once they start on a suitable program to address their deficiencies.

Vit A, Vit B, Vit C, Vit D, Vit E, calcium, iron and water mentioned above are just a start. There are other nutrients which have equal importance to other major muscles in your body.

Conclusion

If you are experiencing chronic pain or soreness, struggling to recover from an injury or just have tired muscles, assessing nutritional levels may be a simple way to cure sore muscles.

Book a free discovery session with me to find out more.