FMT for SIBO and gut health

I recently completed FMT (fecal microbiota transplant) after treatment for SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth).

FMT is not a treatment usually considered for SIBO, essentially SIBO is a problem where bacteria is overgrown in a place where is shouldn’t be (the small intestine), FMT is used to colonise and balance the gut with healthy gut flora using a healthy person’s faeces (yep their poo!), it sounds bizarre and disgusting but FMT is proving to be an effective treatment for a range of gut issues.

Following many rounds of SIBO treatment, restrictive low FODMAP diets and taking strong antibiotics after surgery for endometriosis, my gut flora had taken a beating, so I decided to give FMT a try.

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I met with a gastroenterologist who prescribed me antibiotics and anti-fungal medication, following which I had my first FMT treatment which involved a gastroscopy and a colonoscopy (including taking biopsies), he then completed the FMT into the small intestine and the large intestine (injecting twice as much into the large intestine). For four days following, each day I had to administer the FMT via an enema; this process is not for the faint hearted 🙂

So, how did I feel after the process? I felt amazing up until day 4, then I crashed and felt exhausted which took a couple of days to recover from. Unfortunately my gastrointestinal symptoms returned about a week later, but not to the same extent and it’s important to note that I’m consuming a high fibre diet to feed my new microbiome (as instructed by my doctor), which is a diet I’ve not consumed for years due to SIBO. A week and a half later I generally feel quite well other than some bloating after meals.

My follow up appointment with the doctor takes place 4 weeks after treatment, so I’m trying to keep an open mind about the effectiveness of the treatment until this time, as the new bacteria will need time to make a difference.

FMT has been shown as effective in helping people with specific gut conditions such as clostridium difficile and inflammatory bowel disease, but with regards to SIBO, my view is to only consider this treatment once you’re SIBO free. FMT can benefit some people a lot, whereas with others it doesn’t make a huge impact, so if you’re considering it, discuss with your health professional to see if it’s the right approach to take for you.

Yours in health,

Meredith

Spiced warm smoothie

Well hi! It’s been a while between posts as I’ve been focused on my studies, now it’s semester break I’m hoping to share a few recipes I’ve been enjoying.

This is such a warming, comforting and filling drink for cooler days, I love it in the morning when you don’t feel like solid food but need something in your belly.

WarmSpicedSmoothieTheHealingYogi.JPGFeel free to adapt the recipe by using different types of milk, I’m sharing what I’ve been using. Be cautious when buying nut or coconut milk from the store, they can have additives that aren’t great if you have health problems, for example guar gum or sugar, home made is always best but if you don’t have it then check the label.

You’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup cooked (still warm) butternut pumpkin (I usually bake mine)
  • 1 tbsp macadamia butter (find at your health food store or just soak 10 macadamias for 30 minutes before using)
  • 1 and a quarter cups of warm almond / coconut milk blend
  • 2 tbsp inca inchi protein powder (I like this type of protein powder for its nutty taste and it’s easy to digest)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla powder
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 drop of pure stevia extract

Method:

Place ingredients in a blender or vitamix and blend until smooth and all ingredients are well combined.

Enjoy,

Meredith x

Blueberry pikelets

These are perfect if you’re feeling like a sweet treat. I like to use blueberries that are frozen, they just seem to work better in this recipe. Try to buy organic as berries tend to be heavily sprayed with pesticides, if you’re suffering from health issues your body will benefit from removing any excess toxins.

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Serves 1

You’ll need:

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil, plus 1 tsp extra
  • 1/3 cup of blueberries
  • 1 free range egg whisked
  • 1/2 ripe banana mashed
  • 1 tbsp coconut flour

Method:

Combine banana, egg and flour until smooth, add a few blueberries in and stir through. Add 1 tbsp of coconut oil to a large frypan and heat to med-high, once hot, dollop 6 portions of the mixture into the frypan. Heat another small frypan or saucepan to low, add the remaining coconut oil and add the remaining blueberries, allow them to soften and mix through the coconut oil. Meanwhile, when the pikelets look ready to turn, gently flip them over to finish cooking. Serve covered with warm blueberries.

Enjoy!

Meredith x

 

Green vegetable & chicken stir-fry with fragrant herbs

This is one of my favourite meals; it’s easy, gut and endo diet friendly and has fragrant South East Asian flavours that I love.

Most SE Asian dishes contain onion, garlic and soy but you can still enjoy this type of cuisine while on a SIBO or low FODMAP diet. I swap soy sauce with coconut aminos, they are delicious! I just add some sea salt to give the saltiness soy sauce provides. Instead of onion I add lots of spring onions, also known as green onions or scallions, they are low FODMAP so shouldn’t cause bloating. You can find coconut aminos at most health food shops.

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I have used kelp noodles in this recipe but you could always omit these if you’re wary of seaweed, it can cause symptoms in some people. If you can tolerate rice that would be a perfect accompaniment. You can find kelp noodles at your local health food store.

You’ll need:

  • 500g free range (preferably organic) chicken mince
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp ginger grated
  • 1 tsp turmeric grated (or dried powder)
  • 4 tbsp of coconut aminos
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1/2 cup of bamboo shoots (or water chestnuts)
  • 20 green beans chopped into bite size pieces
  • 3 pak choy roughly chopped (at the grocer they usually come in bundles of 3)
  • 150g kelp noodles, washed and chopped in half
  • 4 spring onions chopped
  • A large handful of coriander leaves, washed
  • 1/4 cup of vietnamese mint leaves, washed
  • 1 lime

Method:

Add the coconut oil to a wok and heat to high. Once hot, add the chicken mince, break up the mince and brown it all over. Add the ginger and turmeric, coat the mince and stir-fry for about 1 minute. Add the coconut aminos, salt, sesame oil, pepper and chilli flakes, coat the mince in these ingredients, stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the green beans, stir-fry for about 30 seconds, add the kelp noodles and stir-fry for about 1 minute to allow the noodles to soften. Add the bamboo shoots, then the pak choy, stir-fry for about 30 seconds until it softens. Turn the heat off and add the spring onions, upon serving garnish with coriander, vietnamese mint and a wedge of lime which can be squeezed over just before eating.

Yours in health,

Meredith x

Slow Cooked Beef Cheeks

This is one of my go-to recipes that’s great for the restricted phase of the SIBO diet. To make this dish I recommend using a slow cooker, you’ll need to make the bone broth first as it’s used in the beef cheeks recipe.
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SLOW COOKED BEEF CHEEKS – serves 4
• 600g beef cheeks
• 2 tbsp tomato paste
• 3 cups of beef bone broth (see recipe)
• 5 carrots chopped
• 1 stick of celery sliced
• 1 bay leaf
• 1 tsp thyme leaves
• 1/3 cup of flat leaf parsley chopped (to garnish upon serving)
• 1 ½ tsp sea salt
• ½ tsp pepper
• 1 tbsp coconut oil (for searing the beef cheeks)

Method:
If you have a removable slow cooker pan that can go on the stovetop or oven, remove it from the slow cooker add the coconut oil and place it on a med-high heat on the stove top (if you don’t have this type of slow cooker pan then use a large saucepan with a lid). Place the beef cheeks in the pan and the tomato paste, try and coat them in the tomato paste and sear them until lightly brown (it should only take a few minutes).

Then add the remaining ingredients (except the parsley) and cover with a lid, once the liquid starts to bubble, place it in the slow cooker and turn on low (if you’re using a saucepan instead of a slow cooker leave on the stovetop and turn the heat to as low as possible, it should cook very gently) leave for 8-12 hours. Once it’s ready pull the beef cheeks apart with a fork. Serve sprinkled with chopped parsley and with some green beans sautéed in ghee or with some roast veggies.

BROTH – yields approximately 2 litres

• 1.4kg beef bones cut into pieces (just ask your butcher to do this for you)
• 2 tbsp tomato paste
• 20 peppercorns
• 3 star anise
• 1 tsp sea salt
• 1 bay leaf
• 6 carrots roughly chopped
• 1 celery stick roughly chopped
• 6 sprigs of thyme
• 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
• 1 tbsp coconut oil for frying
• Filtered water to cover the ingredients (approx. 2 ¼ litres)

Method:
If you have a removable slow cooker pan that can go on the stovetop or oven, remove it from the slow cooker add the coconut oil and place it on a med-high heat on the stove top (if you don’t have this type of slow cooker pan then use a large saucepan or stockpot with a lid). Place the bones in the pan and the tomato paste, try and coat them in the tomato paste and sear them until lightly brown (it should only take a few minutes).

Add the other ingredients and cover with filtered water, cover with a lid, bring to the boil then place in the slow cooker on low for 12 hours (you can use the stove top for slow cooking but ensure the heat is as low as possible).

After a few hours skim any scum sitting on top of the liquid.

Once the broth is finished, remove the bones and pour through a sieve so you’re left with the broth only. It can be kept in the fridge for a couple of days but otherwise store it in the freezer. When you remove it from the fridge there may be a layer of fat on top, just remove this before using.

Yours in health,

Meredith x

Banana turmeric passion pops

A delicious sweet treat, perfect for the summer months. Simple to make and so good for you.

Living in Queensland Australia, I’m blessed to have easy access to passionfruit, it’s such a delicious tropical fruit.

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You’ll need:

  • 1.5 bananas cut into chunks (or 2 small bananas)
  • 1 cup of coconut milk
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp pure vanilla powder
  • 2 passionfruit cut in half
  • 3 drops of stevia

Method:

Place all ingredients in a blender except for the passionfruit and combine until smooth.

Scoop out the passionfruit pulp and place it into 6 icy pole moulds. Then pour the remaining banana mixture from your blender on top of the passionfruit, into the moulds. Don’t over fill the moulds as liquid expands when it freezes!

Freeze for at least 2.5 hours then enjoy.

Yours in health,

Meredith x

 

Rich tomato sauce

I have found it very difficult to find tomato sauce or relish off the supermarket shelf that’s sugar free, even if it doesn’t have cane sugar it will contain fructose or another version of sugar. We all know how bad for you excessive sugar can be, particularly if you’re already struggling with health issues such as endometriosis, SIBO or autoimmune disorders.

So here is an easy and delicious version of tomato sauce that could also be called a relish as it’s a bit chunky.

This recipe is gluten free, sugar free, low FODMAP and SIBO diet friendly.

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You’ll need:

  • 8 ripe roma tomatoes halved
  • 2 red capsicum deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 1 carrot diced
  • 4 spring onions finely sliced
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp of tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp garlic infused extra virgin olive oil (I use Cobram Estate which is found in supermarkets and online)

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees (fan-forced). Placed the tomatoes, carrot and capsicum in an oven tray and coat in olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast uncovered for 20 minutes, add the spring onions and roast for a further 10 minutes. Then cover with foil and roast for a further 40 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly then remove as many tomato and capsium skins as possible by picking them off with your fingers.

Then place all ingredients into a food processor including the garlic infused oil and the tomato paste. Combine in the food processor until you reach your desired consistency, taste and add more salt if needed.

Keep it stored in an airtight container in the fridge, it should last for one week.

Yours in health,

Meredith x

 

5 tips for managing endometriosis

I was diagnosed with stage 4 endometriosis in January 2014, at that time and for many years prior I was extremely unwell and could barely function.

Endometriosis is a multi-faceted disease so it needs to be considered from all angles. It doesn’t just include monthly pain – the pain for me was daily, but there was also extreme fatigue, depression, gut problems including bloating, constipation, bowel pain and malabsorption of nutrients.

These days I am feeling much better and rarely experience the symptoms mentioned above. There are many factors that have contributed to my improved health and I want to share with you some of my learnings. Firstly, let’s understand a bit more about the disease:

Endometriosis occurs when the tissue that lines the uterus grows outside this area and creates inflammation, scar tissue, adhesions, pain and sometimes infertility. It is unknown what causes endometriosis but there are a few factors that may contribute to the disease:

Estrogen dominance is one factor that may contribute to endometriosis. If this hormone is not being expelled appropriately from the body it can worsen the disease and create other symptoms associated with estrogen dominance. There are two key components to maintaining optimal hormone levels; the liver which removes excess toxins, including excess hormones such as estrogen (and xenoestrogens) and the gastrointestinal system which is essential for absorbing nutrients and expelling waste.

Here are 5 tips for managing endometriosis:

  • Find your health care A-team; for example, I have the support of a general practitioner, a gynaecologist (who specialises in endometriosis), a naturopath, a gastroenterologist and an acupuncturist. Make sure the people you do see really understand the disease and are up to date with the latest research. Good health care will make a difference. Take responsibility for your own health though, do your research and ask questions; if you’re not comfortable with what your practitioner is proposing, seek a second opinion, it’s your body and you know it better than anyone. Excision surgery done correctly by an endo specialist is widely regarded as the best way to improve symptoms and quality of life.
  • Establish your support network. Having a chronic illness can be very isolating and can lead to depression. Creating my Instagram account healingyogi and this blog, was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made; the support from other endo sufferers (along with the support from my husband) was incredible. In addition to social media, you can find support networks through friends, family, local support groups and through a psychologist.
  • Consider your diet. As mentioned earlier, if your body is not absorbing the appropriate nutrients and expelling waste/toxins as it needs to, it’s only going to make you feel worse. There isn’t one diet for endometriosis, but there are a few guidelines that can help:
    • Eat a high fibre diet.
    • Buy food as close to its natural state and prepare your own meals as often as possible – eat lots of veggies!
    • Buy organic where possible and reduce the amount of toxins you consume.
    • Eat plenty of healthy fats found in olive oil and wild salmon as they are anti-inflammatory.
    • Avoid soy products such as tofu as they contain isoflavones which are similar to estrogen and therefore can have similar effects on the body.
    • Reduce your sugar intake (including alcohol). Processed sugary foods and drinks can cause inflammation and will only make you feel worse.
    • Drink plenty of water.

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  • Reduce your stress levels. By allowing your body to rest appropriately it will switch on your parasympathetic nervous system and allow your body to do things such as; conserve energy, digest food and reproduce. Find your happy place! Whether it’s playing sport, painting or going for a walk in nature – just do something that gives you time to nourish your body and mind. Not surprisingly, I recommend yoga and meditation as it provides benefits for both body and mind and can help manage pain. Restorative yoga is brilliant for when you are unwell and not up to doing exercise.

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  • Address your digestive problems. If you’re tackling endometriosis it’s important to have your gut absorbing the appropriate nutrients. After many years of gut problems, last year I was finally diagnosed with SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) which meant I was malabsorbing nutrients along with some other unpleasant symptoms. At the time I had blood tests completed and was low in iron and vitamin B12; I suffered from extreme fatigue and brain fog as a result. Research your symptoms and talk to a naturopath / gastroenterologist. Find out what’s going on and take steps to address the problem so it doesn’t create additional health complications going forward.

There is so much more I could write about with regards to managing endo, but these are the 5 points that come first to mind. What are your tips for managing endo? I would love to know your thoughts.

Yours in health,

Meredith

Zucchini fritters

I need to eat more meat than I would like on the SIBO diet because of the carb restrictions, so it’s my mission to find as many vegetarian options as I can. Here is an easy vegetarian option – zucchini fritters with lemon mayo.

You don’t need to have them with mayonnaise but I like having the extra fat because of the lack of carbohydrates to keep me feeling satiated, but they are also delicious with tomato relish.

For the mayonnaise I sometimes make my own, but I also keep some store bought mayo without sugar or any other ingredients that are not suited to the SIBO diet (I use Roza’s which can be found in specialty grocers and delicatessens).

zucchini-fritters

You’ll need:

Fritters

  • 1 zucchini grated
  • 1 spring onion chopped (green part only)
  • 2 tbsp coconut flour
  • 2 eggs gently whisked
  • sea salt and pepper
  • 3 tbsp of coconut oil

Lemon mayonnaise:

  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1/2 lemon, rind finely grated
  • 1/4 tsp lemon juice
  • A little sea salt to taste

Or, another option is to mix through a teaspoon of chopped dill fronds, this creates a lovely flavour as well.

Method:

Place the zucchini in a sieve and sprinkle some salt through, leave for about 15 to 30 minutes and then squeeze out the excess moisture with your hands. Mix well with the remaining fritter ingredients.

To make the mayo just combine the ingredients in a small bowl.

Add the coconut oil to a large frying pan and heat to medium-high, the oil should be very hot when you put the fritters in – don’t overcrowd the pan, do it in batches if you have to. Cook for 3 minutes on each side or until golden. Place the cooked fritters on kitchen paper so the excess oil is removed.

Serve with a big salad and enjoy.

Serves 2.

Meredith x

 

 

 

Melbourne healthy eats

It’s been a while between blog posts but I’m happy to be back. I just completed my first semester studying nutrition, it’s been full on, but I’m loving learning about how food can help us to heal our body.

Recently I took a trip to Melbourne to visit friends and family. I lived in Melbourne, Australia for my entire life up until a year ago so I have a strong connection to the city. Melbourne is blessed with a diverse culture and as a result it has a unique and inspiring food scene, which includes healthy eateries. During my visit I was so inspired by the food being served I thought it was worth sharing. If you happen to find yourself in this beautiful place anytime soon and are in need of a healthy and delicious feed, give one of these eateries a go:

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  • Coin Laundry Cafe – located in the charming inner city suburb of Armadale, it is a cute corner cafe and a local favourite, it has a friendly vibe and serves up delicious food including excellent gluten free bread (yes, gluten free bread that actually tastes great).
  • Transformer – posh sister of veggie bar in Fitzroy, this restaurant serves up inspiring vegetarian food in a sophisticated atmosphere.
  • Walk Don’t Run – another cute cafe in Armadale serving up organic, locally sourced produce with a menu that allows it’s healthy and tasty ingredients to shine through. 
  • Serotonin Dealer – located in Richmond, this cafe is all about boosting your happiness via your tummy, which makes a lot of sense really when you consider that most of your serotonin (a neurotransmitter responsible for mood balance) is produced in your gut.
  • Heal Thy Self Co this was my regular when I lived in Melbourne. The delicious seasonal menu is built on bio-availability, eastern medicine and high performance psychology.
  • Tahina – Simple, healthy Israeli street food in Northcote. Try the green shakshuka!
  • MOM cafeif you have gut issues, this is your place. The menu was built by nutritionists, doctors, naturopaths and chefs and it caters for pretty much every dietary requirement you can think of.

If you visit any of these places or can recommend any other healthy cafes then drop me a note below!

Yours in health,

Meredith x