All posts by Kate Knowler

3 reasons why Veganuary maybe isn’t everything you’d hoped for

If you’ve been following a vegan diet for the past few weeks, but feel worse than ever, here are 3 common signs that Veganuary maybe isn’t working for you, and what you can do about it to feel a little better:

1. Feeling more bloated than usual

This is a common reaction to suddenly increasing the quantity of vegetables and legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas etc) in your diet. The fibre and carbohydrates in these foods feed the bacteria in your gut. Normally, this is just fine, but if you’ve got undergrowths of bacteria or overgrowths of pathogenic bacteria, or perhaps overgrowths of parasites (e.g. dysbiosis), or even the right types of bacteria but in the wrong part of your intestines (e.g. small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) then increasing their food source may increase their activity, resulting in bloating, gas, and discomfort.

So what can you do about it?

Well, you have two choices:

  • Reduce the number of high FODMAP foods in your diet to restrict the amount of food available to your gut bacteria microbiome. FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols. Gut bacteria degrade undigested carbohydrates to produce gases including hydrogen, methane and carbon dioxide. The higher the FODMAP level of a food, the more water is drawn into the gut to support fermentation (breaking down the food by bacteria). This is what produces the excess gas in your gut, and may be why you’re in so much discomfort.
    • Experiencing bloating from high FODMAP foods is not a food intolerance and may not show up in a food intolerance test as this is not you having a reaction, but your gut microbiome.
    • Please note that avoiding of high FODMAP foods isn’t a long term option, as there are more high FODMAP fruits/veggies than there are low FODMAP options, which means you will find yourself eating the same “safe” vegan options everyday… or find yourself eating high FODMAP options and suffering the consequences.
  • For long term benefits, identifying and addressing the reason why you are reacting to high FODMAP foods is essential. Stool testing for bacterial overgrowths/parasites/yeasts in the large intestine, and breath testing for bacterial overgrowths in the small intestine are both good places to start. Organic acid tests may also be useful for helping to identify imbalances in the body. Tests like these can be discussed during an appointment with myself at our London clinic –> Click here if you’re ready to book your appointment with me.

2. Feeling more tired than usual

OK, it’s Janaury. It’s dark, it’s cold, everyone seems to be catching viruses (even I had the flu this year!) and it’s almost “normal” to feel rundown.

But… what if you’re feeling more tired than usual?

Well, there’s a common reason for that:

Vegan foods contain little B12. Sure, some vegan foods (the processed ones) may be fortified with a few vitamins, including B12, but it may not be enough and the formulation of B12 in those products varies so you may find yourself needing to be a label reading expert just to know what you’re taking in.

Insufficient B12 in the diet can lead to B12 deficiency anaemia which has symptoms including fatigue, parasthesia (pins and needles in hands/feet), dyspnoea (breathlessness), dizziness or feeling faint, palpitations….

If you ticked more than one symptom in that list, here are your options:

  • Get your B12 levels checked and then take a daily B12 supplement. Your GP should be able to test your B12 for you, and all clients in our London clinic who have a suspected B12 deficiency will take home a letter referring them for routine blood testing, including B12, with their GP (if they haven’t already been tested).
    • If you’re getting your B12 tested, it’s probably worth getting iron, folate, and vitamin D done at the same time…
    • A normal B12 result in a blood test doesn’t necessarily mean optimal , so make sure you get the results interpreted by a registered nutritional therapist (such as myself!) before deciding to add in any supplements. I offer a telephone review of test results for just £40, which includes interpretation and explanation of the results and a 30 day plan regarding diet, lifestyle and supplements.
  • This is controversial, and will go against much of what Veganuary and veganism in general is about, but you may need to consider adding in some animal products, particularly if you’re really not keen on taking a tablet everyday while eating a vegan diet. Foods such as eggs, dairy, meat, or fish all contain B12 and eating them on a daily basis may support your body’s B12 levels.

3. Feeling generally sluggish with slow “congested” digestive system

There are lots of companies jumping on the Veganuary wagon this year, with vegan steak-bakes, vegan sausage rolls, fake-bacon and so on all widely available. But what are these foods really made of? If you read the labels, you’ll find that some are made of a mix of vegetables and legumes (I’m happy with these kinds!) while others are a blend of soya, pea protein, flavourings, texturisers, sugars and so on (these are the kinds I’m not so happy about!). Sure, the latter type of foods are vegan, and they provide a level of protein, but… the types of ingredients used may not be supportive of a healthy gut microbiome (bacteria levels).

What are your alternative options for protein?

  • Stick to moderate quantities of beans, lentils, and chickpeas. Opting for tinned versions requires less time in the kitchen soaking and boiling, and they may have lower FODMAP levels too.
  • Use nuts and seeds to add a level of texture to soups, salads, and other meals. These have great levels of protein too, and some of those healthy fats nutritional therapists are always banging on about.
  • Consider adding in a vegan protein powder, particularly if you’re following a low FODMAP diet or you’re just not keen on legumes, nuts, or seeds. Look for ones with pronounceable ingredients from reputable companies, such as Motion Nutrition (one of my favourites is their peanut butter protein shake).

If you’re not sure what you should be eating or would like some advice and support, you can call me on 07951 740423 or email me kate@allergytest-london.co.uk.

If you’re ready to book in and spend an hour with me in clinic looking at potential food intolerances, optimal diet, supplements and lifestyle, then you can click here to book your appointment now for just £100 as I am taking £15 off appointments booked and attended before the 3rd February 2020 .

Feeling bloated? Was it something you ate or drank?

If you’re prone to waking up bloated and uncomfortable the morning after the night before, especially at this time of year, then you’re not alone. The festive season is a time when many of us will indulge in rich foods, parties, alcohol, and or course a few mince pies along the way… If you’ve got a food intolerance, this may lead to bloating, discomfort, gas, cramps, diarrhoea, constipation, fatigue, headaches, and generally not feeling as festive or merry as you might like! Continue reading Feeling bloated? Was it something you ate or drank?

Can you get a better bit of butter?

I’m a big fan of butter. It’s delicious. In my opinion, a small amount* of butter for those who can tolerate it in their diet is far healthier than a pale, processed, tasteless margarine spread with a myriad of health claims. Real butter is made from milk but, as I recently discovered the hard way, not all butters are created equal. Continue reading Can you get a better bit of butter?

6 Nasty Cerebral Signs You Have a Food Intolerance (1)

6 Nasty Cerebral Signs You Have a Food Intolerance

Food intolerance is a lot more common than people think, and frequently leads to unpleasant symptoms that aren’t easily associated with what you’re eating. The most common signs you have a food intolerance occur in the digestive system, but there are several that can develop cerebrally.

For once, it really is all in your head… Continue reading 6 Nasty Cerebral Signs You Have a Food Intolerance

8 Ways Food Intolerance Can Easily Trigger Autoimmune Disease (2)

8 Ways Food Intolerance Can Easily Trigger Autoimmune Disease

Autoimmune diseases have been rapidly rising in recent years, with almost 100 recognised autoimmune diseases, as well as another 40 disease processes which have a component that is autoimmune related. Worse still, if you have one autoimmune disease you’re at higher risk of developing another.

From Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (a type of underactive thyroid disease) to coeliac disease, there are many autoimmune diseases that can be caused by many triggers. One such trigger may be food intolerance and poor gut health. Here are eight ways food intolerance may trigger autoimmune disease… Continue reading 8 Ways Food Intolerance Can Easily Trigger Autoimmune Disease

6 Signs Of Food Intolerance To Watch Out For (2)

6 Signs of Food Intolerance to Watch Out For

Food intolerance can cause a slew of unpleasant signs and symptoms. The most obvious ones occur in the digestive system. These are more easily identified (and more easily associated with the food you are eating) than some of the other signs, which at first blush don’t appear to be related to diet.

Although there are multiple causes for these digestive symptoms, if you have any of these regularly, or a combination of several, it’s worth checking to see if food intolerance is the cause… Continue reading 6 Signs of Food Intolerance to Watch Out For

The new years resolution to improve your fitness that you’re probably already doing!

OK, hands up… who ate one mince pie too many, or drank too much prosecco over Christmas? I know I did!

In past years the 1st January would have seen me resolving to lose those post-Christmas pounds and improve my fitness by getting back into some kind of exercise. This year though, I have far too any excuses… Continue reading The new years resolution to improve your fitness that you’re probably already doing!

How to go gluten-free without going broke!

I was working with a client recently, and her face dropped when her test results showed she would need to go gluten-free.

“But it’s so expensive to go gluten-free!” she cried.

And indeed, it can work out expensive.

Visit any supermarket and you’ll find a section dedicated to gluten-free breads, pastas, cereals, biscuits, and cakes. Take a look at their price tags and you’ll likely need to take a lie down to recover from shock! Gluten-free bread is rarely less than £2 for a tiny loaf of miniature slices, while a 500g bag of gluten-free pasta also hovers around the £2 mark, and it’s hard to know which brands will turn to mush when you cook them. And don’t get me started on the lack of nutrients in most gluten-free products… it seems to be a case of remove the gluten, and replace it with a bunch of sugar and/or incredibly refined carbohydrates, add a handful of weird chemicals for flavour and texture, then stick on a huge price tag.

But is it really necessary to buy all your products from the gluten-free section of the supermarket?

I don’t think it is, and here are four of my favourite inexpensive purchases for going gluten-free without going broke:

1. Courgettes. Not the coolest of veggies, but grab a julienne peeler or a spiralizer and you can make your own nutrient dense noodles that will soak up a good bolognese sauce and add flavour to your meal. You can also use those gadgets to make noodles out of butternut squash, carrots, and sweet potatoes.

2. Rice. For many people avoiding gluten, this is can be a staple go-to as it is naturally gluten-free and generally inexpensive. Some clients with a gluten intolerance will cross-react with rice, but if you’re ok with rice then always go for brown rice for extra nutrient density.

3. Lettuce. Again, not a particularly cool veggie, but makes a great alternative to bread or tortilla wraps. Stuff a large crisp lettuce leaf with whatever you fancy (burrito style) or layer with ham and roll together (like a savoury swiss-roll!)

4. Oats. Gluten free oats and gluten-free oat cakes are widely available, and make a great breakfast alternative to the high sugar gluten-free breakfast cereals and gluten-free biscuits found in the gluten-free section of the supermarket. Sadly, gluten-free oats are not suitable for all, so always check your test results before tucking in!

If you’re not sure whether you should be avoiding gluten, you can book an appointment with us to find out your food intolerances in just 60 minutes!

Kate