My experience with the Fast Tract Diet for SIBO and IBS

I posted back in February about the Fast Tract diet for SIBO (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth). For those who aren’t familiar you can read up on the Fast Tract Diet here, you can also read my previous post here.

In summary The Fast Tract Diet helped me, but I needed to personalise it to my own needs; there were certain foods that just don’t agree with me and given that I have endometriosis I’m cautious with dairy – I only eat organic dairy and preferably made from goat’s or sheep’s milk, cheese is ok for me but yoghurt or milk isn’t.

The Fast Tract Diet

So I should share with you that I didn’t follow the diet extremely closely and didn’t add up the points manually, I just learnt the diet and scoring system then ate accordingly. I roughly eat anywhere between 30-40 fermentation points per day (my understanding is 25 fp points per day is recommended initally).

I think the Fast Tract Diet has worked well for me because I can eat many different high FODMAP foods including garlic and onion, which is why I wanted to give this approach a whirl as the low FODMAP diet wasn’t assisting me greatly. I think if you’ve tried a lot of different approaches for dealing with SIBO (such as low FODMAP) and aren’t getting anywhere, then perhaps The Fast Tract diet could be worthwhile trying.

I am feeling so much better since I’ve been on this diet, but it hasn’t just been the diet that’s helped, as I’ve also been taking prescribed nutrients and strains of probiotics and prebiotics (partially hydrolysed guar gum). I also meditate and practise yoga regularly as I believe the mind body connection is extremely important to healing.

For me personally I’ve spent a lot of time and effort trying different approaches to treat my health concerns and it can be isolating and confusing going it alone. I’ve learnt that long-term health issues such as SIBO and endometriosis warrant the ongoing support of a qualified health practitioner. I think if you’re completely confused about what to eat, see a nutritionist and let them take the complexity away so you can instead focus on healing and most importantly – enjoying life.

Health and healing,

Meredith x

 

 

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Yellow vegetable curry

I shared a picture of a yellow veggie curry in my slow cooker on Instagram and had some requests for the recipe so here it is. It’s on repeat in my house!

This curry is low FODMAP, endo-diet friendly and vegan. It’s not a complicated recipe and can definitely be tweaked, so feel free to use whatever veggies are in season or add some chickpeas if your gut can tolerate them.

Yellow veggie curry

Serves 4-6,

Requires a slow cooker, or a setting on your stove top that allows you to cook at a very low temperature.

You’ll need:

  • A 400g tin of coconut milk (without additives)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tsp ginger finely grated
  • 1 tbsp turmeric ground
  • 2 tsp cumin ground
  • 1 tsp cardamom ground
  • 1 cinnamon quill
  • 1/4 tsp chilli powder
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • A sprinkle of sea salt
  • 1 medium sweet potato chopped (or pumpkin)
  • 1 white potato chopped
  • 2 zucchini chopped
  • 1/4 cauliflower chopped into small florets (use broccoli for low FODMAP)
  • 150g of chopped mushrooms (use oyster mushrooms for low FODMAP)
  • A handful of fresh coriander leaves to serve
  • 1 lime to squeeze over when serving

If you’re not on a low FODMAP diet or don’t have IBS or SIBO, try adding some chopped onion and 1 minced garlic clove.

Method:

Take a slow cooker pan and add the coconut oil, heat it over the stove top on a medium heat, add the spices (including the fresh ginger) and when they are fragrant slowly add the vegetables and cook stirring for about 2 minutes. Next, add the coconut milk and heat through (but don’t let it boil).

Place the pan back into the slow cooker and cook on low for about 4 hours.

Yellow vegetable curry

I like to sprinkle hemp seeds, sunflower seeds and almond flakes on top when serving for added protein and healthy fats.

Serve with rice of your choice, I use jasmine but brown rice is best if you can tolerate it.

Meredith x

Spanish omelette with kale

I love a traditional Spanish omelette but I couldn’t help myself and decided I needed to pack some extra health benefits to the recipe.

I’ll often whip this up on a Sunday as an easy evening meal with a salad and will reserve leftover slices for lunches. Please note this recipe is low FODMAP as the garlic is just fried in oil and then discarded.

Kale gets a lot of attention for being a ‘superfood’ and yes it does have plenty of nutrients; being a cruciferous veg it has sulphur containing compounds called glucosinolates which are great for detoxification, it’s also high in iron, calcium, magnesium and folate amongst others. Kale isn’t the tastiest on its own though but when added to this creamy Spanish omelette it works a treat!

Spanish omelette with kale

Serves 4

You’ll need:

  • 1 tbsp grated parmesan cheese (optional and stick to organic if you can)
  • 1 white potato peeled and sliced thinly
  • 3 tbsp light olive oil, 2 for frying the potato and 1 for frying the omelette
  • 1 garlic clove (slightly squashed with a knife)
  • 1 large handful of shredded kale leaves
  • 6 free-range eggs whisked
  • salt and pepper to taste (approx 1/4 tsp each)

Method:

Turn the oven on high.

Over a medium heat on the stove top, place a large frying pan and heat the oil and garlic clove and lightly fry the potato slices on both sides until cooked. Add the kale and saute gently for around 30 seconds. Allow the potato and kale to cool slightly.

Whisk the eggs, salt and pepper then combine the potato and kale to the egg mixture (discard the garlic).

Add the remaining oil to a medium sized frying pan and place over a medium heat on the stove top. Add the egg mixture then turn the heat down low and cover the pan with a lid. Cook for around 3 minutes then transfer the frying pan to the hot oven for about 5 minutes or until cooked (check every couple of minutes).

Serve immediately and enjoy with a salad or warm veggies.

Health and healing,

Meredith x

 

What is the right diet for endometriosis?

I’ve tried many different diet approaches and I have found that when my gut is happy, so is my endo. Before I jump straight into what the diet for endo looks like, let’s understand a bit more about the disease and why diet is important:

 

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Endometriosis is an inflammatory condition and an estrogen dependent disease.

Estrogen is a hormone which plays an important role in the female reproductive cycle; it assists in the growth and thickening of the endometrial tissue, when fertilisation doesn’t take place progesterone (another hormone) and estrogen levels decline which causes menstruation. Estrogen can also be spelt oestrogen by the way (just to clear up any confusion!).

Estrogen is processed through the liver and excess estrogen is then excreted via the gastrointestinal system; therefore the liver and gut both to be functioning well to process and remove excess estrogen. Fat tissue can also contribute to estrogen production, therefore weight management may also be a consideration with endo and overall health.

Why is endometriosis an inflammatory condition? Endometriosis occurs when endometrial tissue grows in other places than the uterus. When menstruation occurs the lining (or layers of endometrial tissue) is shed and the tissue located outside the uterus also bleeds. The bleeding creates inflammation, scar tissue, cysts and adhesions. This can also result in organs being stuck together by the adhesions. Therefore a diet that is anti-inflammatory is an important component when managing endometriosis symptoms.

Taking this into consideration, what should the endo-diet look like? I’ve seen many different approaches through social media; some may say that being vegan is the answer to managing endo symptoms, others prefer paleo, or a low-carbohydrate diet (such as the keto-diet). Recently someone told me about ‘seed cycling’ which involves managing the menstrual cycle by consuming different seeds at different stages. There are so many opinions out there, it would be perfectly understandable if you’re feeling confused!

So what is the best approach? It actually depends on the individual, what works for one person may not work for another; for example, if other health issues are coinciding with endo, then the diet may need to be modified accordingly. There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to nutrition.

However, there are some guidelines (backed up by science) of what dietary approaches can be followed to help manage endo:

  • A diet high in fibre will help remove excess estrogen. A diet rich in plant based foods such as vegetables, fruit, wholegrains and legumes (except soy based foods). Cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli get a special mention for their detoxifying effect and their benefits on estrogen metabolism, turmeric also gets a special mention for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, so be sure to consume these regularly.
  • A diet low in xenoestrogens (xenoestrogens or phytoestrogens are chemicals that mimic estrogen in the body), such as soy based foods and certain seeds such as flax (or linseed).
  • Eat anti-inflammatory foods, this means avoiding sugar, processed food, fried food, gluten and animal products that are a product of factory farming. An anti-inflammatory diet is rich in vegetables, fruit, wholegrains, legumes, nuts, wild caught fish and healthy fats such as olive oil. Meat and poultry are okay as long as they are free from chemicals and not char-grilled, try cooking slowly instead. Eat red meat sparingly and always choose grass fed, as it’s suggested that grass fed meat offers the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids (which are anti-inflammatory).
  • Dairy may be ok, it depends on the individual. Stick to small amounts of organic, additive free goats or sheep’s yogurt, cheese or kefir as these are lower in lactose and casein which can cause inflammation. Kefir has shown to be beneficial for a range of therapeutic actions including improving gut health, blood sugar, cholesterol control and immune function.
  • Stick to oils with health benefits such as cold pressed olive oil as it is high in monounsaturated fatty acids and vitamin E, but don’t cook with extra virgin olive oil as it becomes unstable and loses its health benefits with heat. When cooking over high heat, use fats and oils with a high smoke point, for example ghee, avocado oil or extra light olive oil.
  • Avoid alcohol, limit coffee to 1 cup per day (or avoid it altogether) and drink about 2 litres of water throughout the day. Lemon in warm water is a great way to start your morning.

If you have other conditions co-existing with endo such as IBS or SIBO, a high fibre diet could make you feel terrible! In this instance wholegrains and legumes (the main sources of protein on a vegan diet) are often avoided and that’s when diet starts to become a bit more complex. Despite this, the guidelines can still be followed but you may need to tweak things and try a low FODMAP diet, a SIBO specific diet or the Fast Tract diet which all remove foods that can create symptoms such as bloating.

There is no quick fix to managing endo symptoms naturally, these guidelines are a long term strategy and should be incorporated into a lifestyle that also includes regular movement. It goes without saying if you’re following a healthy diet for endo, but still drinking bottles of wine on the weekend or devouring entire family size blocks of chocolate on a weekly basis, then you’re probably not going to see the full benefits.

What types of food work for you and what doesn’t? Drop me a note below!

Health and healing,

Meredith x

 

SIBO, FMT, Elemental Diet and more

It’s a new year and to be honest I’m feeling happy to put 2017 behind me, I was on a mission last year – I was determined to ‘fix myself’. I did everything I could to heal my body and gut, trying everything from FMT (fecal microbiota transplant) to the elemental diet.

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First up, I had all my amalgam fillings removed. I tested positive for mercury poisoning which has been linked to all kinds of nasty side-effects, including poor gut health.

I started taking prescriptive doses of vitamins to heal from pyrrole disorder and under-methylation.

I went through another round of treatment for SIBO including rifaximin and neomycin for methane and hydrogen SIBO and another round of herbal antimicrobials, where I took Bactrex along with Allicin and Thorne SF722 undecylenic acid, I’ve also been taking Motilpro for motility. Diet-wise I was following a SIBO specific diet.

I went through FMT (fecal microbiota transplant) to get a healthy person’s gut microbiome followed by a high fibre diet.

I did two weeks of the elemental diet (Physicians Elemental Diet formula) which didn’t help, in fact my results for SIBO came back worse than I’d ever seen.

I even went away to a health retreat where I detoxed from electronic devices, caffeine and ate low FODMAP organic food.

Well did it all work? Not quite. I recently had a stool sample tested and FMT did nothing for me and the elemental diet really didn’t offer any benefits, except I learnt that I have incredibly strong willpower not to eat for two weeks.

This is all incredibly frustrating, there have been times where I felt completely defeated. The thing I learnt from last year though, was that I was putting myself under too much pressure to get better. When I was away at the health retreat, majority of my symptoms disappeared, this is a huge lesson. I think the stress I was putting myself under, just desperate to get better, may actually be contributing to the condition. As a nutritionist to-be, I’m in my second year of university and am learning how much poor health can be linked to our ‘fight or flight’ response (our sympathetic nervous system) and our mental health.

So now I’m taking the pressure off and trying not to obsess about my health. It definitely seems to help, but despite this I know that I still have a healing journey ahead of me. The good news is my endometriosis hasn’t caused any trouble for a few years now, which I’m definitely happy about.

My next step is to try the Fast Tract diet approach. If anyone else has had success with it I’d love to know, drop me a note.

Yours in health,

Meredith x