Category Archives: Tips & Advice

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 .

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?

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

 

8 Symptoms You Should Never Ignore

All nutritional therapists are obliged to refer a client to their GP to investigate further, if any “red flags” are mentioned during a clinic appointment. This blog covers 8 of those “red flag” symptoms.

In clinic, we often see clients with symptoms from this list, who don’t want to waste their GPs time or worry that their GP won’t take them seriously. We’ve all heard that GPs are busy people, working long hours and seeing lots of patients everyday and the last thing anyone wants to do is to waste their time, talking about their health concerns. But if you have a symptom in this list, or any other symptom that has come on suddenly or is causing you concern, then you must make that appointment.

1. Pain
Any pain which is persistent and/or severe, that occurs anywhere in the body, should never be ignored. The most concerning pains are those in the head (including eyes and temples), abdomen, and central chest. Your GP will be able to refer you to the appropriate specialist to explore the underlying cause of your pain.

2. Blood
Whether it’s red, brown or black, thick, thin or lumpy, just a few spots or several cupfuls, any and all unexpected blood loss needs to be checked out as soon as possible.
There may be red blood in your vomit, urine or bowel movements, or you might have seen brown or black “coffee grounds” in your vomit (a sign of coagulated blood). And if your bowel movements have become black and tarry (and you’re definitely not taking an iron supplement), then you should see your GP straightaway.

3. Sudden Changes in bowel habit
A sudden change in bowel habit, whether it be the frequency, type, colour etc. should be reported to your GP. They may request a sample to send away for analysis or to check for parasitic infection.

4. Change in a skin lesion
A change in size, shape, colour, itching, bleeding or pain in a skin lesion such as a mole should always be shown to your GP, who will refer you to a dermatologist (skin specialist) if necessary.

5. Unexplained Weight Loss
We’d all like to lose weight easily, without even trying, but if you’re losing more than 1lb (0.5kg) per week without any major dietary changes, then your GP needs to know. Routine blood tests will be used initially to rule out issues such as overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) and further investigations will take place if these initial tests are negative.

6. Recurring Cystitis
Women are much more likely to get cystitis than men, because their urethra is shorter, making it easier for bacteria to enter the bladder. More than half of all women will experience cystitis at least once in their lifetime, but women who experience cystitis that recurs more than 3 times need to have their case examined thoroughly by a urologist (urinary tract specialist) to see if there is an underlying kidney or bladder issue.

7. Non-menstrual vaginal bleeding
Whether you’re between periods, postmenopausal, pregnant, or using hormonal contraception, any vaginal bleeding not associated with menstruation should be reported to your GP, who may then consider ultrasound scans and blood tests for the underlying cause.

8. Breathlessness
We all get breathless from time to time, but if you’re finding walking up a short flight of stairs has you gasping for air, or you struggle to catch your breath on a short walk down the road, then you should ask your GP for some routine blood tests to rule out anaemia (serum ferritin, serum B12 and serum folate should all be checked). If those come back negative, your GP will need to explore other causes for the breathlessness.

Health and happiness to you all!

Kate x

5 Things That Could Be Causing Your Food Intolerances

Many of us experience food intolerances (non-allergic food hypersensitivity) that result in difficulty digesting a particular type of food. This isn’t the same as an allergy, which triggers the immune system and can have serious consequences. Food intolerances aren’t usually as severe, however they can cause some extremely unpleasant symptoms, such as migraines and headaches, irritable bowel, bloating, stomach ache, hives, and coughs, runny noses and a general feeling of being ‘under the weather’.

While food allergies can be triggered by even a tiny amount of food and have immediate and obvious consequences, intolerances usually take longer to manifest. Symptoms are often dismissed as being everyday irritants, or assumed to be caused by something else. If you have an intolerance, identify it, and put a stop to it, you will experience a greater feeling of overall wellness and feel so much more comfortable!

We can help you with identifying your food intolerances, but what we’re really passionate about is working out what is causing your food intolerances!

Unlike allergies, which are caused by the body’s immune system reacting to a particular substance as if it were harmful, intolerances can be caused by several different things. Getting to the bottom of what’s causing your intolerance is as important as identifying the type of food you’re struggling with.

Here are five things that may be causing your food intolerances:

#1 – Low or Absent Digestive Enzymes

In order to fully digest our food our bodies require certain digestive enzymes. When we are missing these digestive enzymes, or have an insufficient amount in our digestive system, our bodies struggle to digest our food properly.

For example, lactose intolerance is cause by too little lactase, which is the digestive enzyme our bodies use to break milk sugar (lactose) down into small molecules our bodies are able to further breakdown and absorb once they reach the intestines. If this doesn’t happen, problems arise once digestion reaches the gut, as lactose cannot be absorbed into the bloodstream without first being broken down in this manner. Instead, the lactose remains in the gut and causes stomach ache, bloating, diarrhoea, wind, and spasms.

The body requires one of several specific digestive enzymes in order to digest most foods. An absence or deficiency in any of these vital digestive enzymes causes a reaction similar to that found in lactose intolerant individuals, so much so that the British Allergy Foundation identifies enzyme deficiencies as a common cause of food intolerances.

#2 – Liver Disease

Studies have shown that individuals with liver disease are four to six times more likely to develop an intolerance to gluten, and Celiac disease (the autoimmune reaction to dietary gluten). On the flipside, individuals with Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity are two to six times more likely to develop liver disease.

This clearly links an intolerance to gluten with the development of liver disease, and vice versa. If you have gluten sensitivity (or full blown Celiac disease) it’s well worth getting your liver function checked to ensure your intolerance isn’t being caused by your liver.

#3 – Naturally Occurring Histamine

Sensitivity to histamine is quite common. Allergy medication contains antihistamines that work to combat histamines when they enter your system, preventing the reaction in the immune system that causes symptoms of an allergic reaction. But histamine is also found in the gut, where it regulates physiological function and acts as a neurotransmitter. Some foods contain histamine naturally (such as fish, which can accumulate histamine if it hasn’t been properly stored), causing something similar to an allergic reaction when that food is consumed. Anyone with a sensitivity to histamine could present symptoms ranging from abdominal cramps and sinus issues, to nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and (in extreme cases) anaphylaxis.

#4 – Leaky Gut

Leaky gut (intestinal permeability) is a common cause of food intolerances. When the lining of our digestive tracts becomes porous and inflamed, undigested foods, yeast, bacteria, and other toxins are able to get through the gut wall and into our bloodstream, which should be sterile. In response to this, our immune systems attack the toxins, causing inflammation throughout the body. Leaky gut is extremely common and causes heartburn, wind, bloating, pain, constipation, and diarrhoea. Due to the damage in the gut and the passage of undigested food into the blood stream, the body starts to react to the presence of particular foods – in particular gluten.

#5 – Parasites

Your food intolerances could also be caused by parasites infecting your intestines. Parasitic infection causes inflammation which increases the permeability of your small intestines, leading to the same problems that come with Leaky Gut (see above).

You can book an appointment with us today or call Kate on 07951 740423 to discuss your symptoms and find out how we can help you.

 

As featured on Huffington Post: Are You Tired of Being Tired?

When was the last time you felt full of energy? Perhaps not the kind of energy that children seem to have from dawn to dusk, but the kind that sees you through the day without needing to press the snooze button on your alarm clock in the morning, or the kind that stops that feeling you need to take a little nap after lunch. Continue reading As featured on Huffington Post: Are You Tired of Being Tired?

As featured on Yahoo Style!

Everyone knows that a night out on an empty stomach usually equals a one-way ticket to vomit town. There are the standard tricks to help ease a hangover: glass of milk before drinking alcohol, don’t follow wine with beer, toast and two pints of water before bed, blah blah blah.

There’s only one way to guarantee no hangover, and that’s not drinking alcohol at all… but what are the best foods to stave off your hangover if you do drink?

Read my thoughts from a nutrition perspective here on Yahoo Style.

Kate x