5 easy remedies for digestion problems

After two years of being more mindful about our eating habits and food and health in general, we’ve developed couple tips and tricks that helps us stay free from digestive problems. Even though we’re not on keto at the moment we try to keep up with some rules that make our life a little bit more healthy.

I also noticed many people around me complaining about their digestive problems, stomach pains etc. So I thought I would share with you couple small but very powerful tips that can really help if you deal with digestive issues on a daily basis. And believe me they really work if you commit to make them regularly.

Also there’s couple people around me who already tried some of this tips and can confirm that they worked and helped them with their uncomfortable issues, that sometimes can be really bothering and often can ruin your day.

But lets start from the beginning.

How do I find if I have digestive problems?

If you notice any of this symptoms it means that there’s something not quite right with your digestion and you should start looking for solutions.

  • belching
  • reflux (reflux is a symptom of a deficiency of hydrochloric acid)
  • flatulence
  • gas
  • intestinal overflow
  • unpleasant taste in the throat
  • upper abdominal discomfort
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • tightness in the abdomen
  • general pain and discomfort in your stomach and intestines.

As I said many times, we got so used to this symptoms, they became so common, that most of us doesn’t even recognize them as something wrong. If these happens to you often you should definitely keep reading.

Lots of these symptoms are due to low level of gastric acid in your stomach. Stomach acid creates an environment where digestion begins. In the stomach, thanks to the gastric acid, proteins are broken down and in this form they go to the duodenum. When there are too few gastric enzymes, including stomach acid, the whole proteins (undigested) go to further processing. Then if you digest badly, undigested proteins sit in you and rot, undigested carbs ferment, your stomach swells, eventually the toxins begin to leach into your blood.

What are the consequences of lacking stomach acid?

  • proteins (meat, fish, dairy products, nuts, legumes) will not be digested and absorbed, which increases the risk of related diseases, e.g. osteoporosis, degenerative conditions.
  • immune system begins to treat poorly digested proteins as an enemy and begins to fight “with itself” and produces inflammation that locates in various places and can cause, for example, allergies, asthma, skin problems, and thyroid diseases,
  • malnutrition – limiting the absorption of nutrients from food – so even if you eat lots of healthy stuff if it cannot be digested properly your body won’t be able to absorb all the vitamins and microelements you provide with food,
  • when this situation becomes chronic, and if you add to this prolonged stress, medications (especially antibiotics), constipation – bacteria and toxins can break the gut barrier and flow into the bloodstream. It’s called leaky gut syndrome and can cause “small” discomfort in our body (bloating, cramps, fatigue, food allergies and sensitivities, gas, and headaches) or more serious issues (autoimmune conditions, depression and other mood disorders, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and multiple sclerosis),
  • our blood sugar levels are rising,
  • it can cause skin problems: eczema, psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, vitiligo,
  • fermentation and rotting of improperly digested food that creates bacteria, yeast and parasites growing in the gut.

How do I know if I have not enough gastric acid?

Bicarbonate of soda test.

Baking soda is alkaline, and your stomach is acidic. If the gastric acid level is high enough in contact with soda, it should cause a reaction that will result in the appearance of carbon dioxide. So – a powerful burp! But if you don’t have the right amount of stomach acid, the reaction will be very late or not at all.


How to make soda test?


Make sure you do the test on an empty stomach and you ate your last meal yesterday at 6 p.m. at the latest. That’s a requirement!
Then drink 3/4 cup of water with a level teaspoon of baking soda. I have to warn you it’s not going to be tasty.
Burp times:

  • burp while drinking the potion, it’s acidosis. Low probability, but of course it does happens,
  • burp up to 40 seconds after drinking: acidity (the closer to 40 seconds, the smaller),
  • burp within 40 – 90 seconds, it means that your stomach is acidic,
  • burp from 90 to 3 minutes, then weak (the closer to 3 minutes, the worse),
  • and you don’t burp after more than 180 seconds or not at all, which also happens, means it’s not good.

I made this test before my keto diet and my result wasn’t the best (weak burp around 2 minutes after drinking soda). And now I regret that I didn’t do it again after couple months of keto. But I’m sure that the result would be much better.

OK, so you’ve noticed these uncomfortable symptoms I listed above, and you’ve made a test that came out as bad as mine. What to do next? There’s lots of thing you can do starting from changing your diet removing highly processed foods, gluten, sugar and/or dairy (depending which one creates the problem) and replace them with lots of fermented foods like: kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, pickles. But that’s usually a big change and huge step for most of people. I guess not everyone is ready for that. If you’re that kind of person, maybe small steps, small changes are better for you. So if you suspect that you have an issue with not enough gastric acid and other digestive difficulties, there are very simple, easy and cheap remedies.

As a disclaimer I have to notice that any of these are medical advice. All of these advises are coming from my nutritionist or from our personal experience. If you have any health issues please first advise your GP.

5 simple, easy and cheap remedies

for digestion problems

Apple cider vinegar.

You might feel it’s disgusting, but if you overcome the first couple times you drink it, later on it will be much easier. At the beginning I also thought it’s disgusting, but after couple days I got used to the taste. And couple of people I know that tried it also confirmed that it makes a huge difference and they feel relief. Always use raw unfiltered (also “with mother”) apple cider vinegar, you can also make your own using apples, water and sugar (there’s plenty of information online how to make it). To prepare apple cider vinegar drink you’ll need apple cider vinegar and lukewarm water. Simply add 1-2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar to a glass and fill with water up to about 2/3. Drink about 15 minutes before meal. As with most natural remedies, to work it needs to be done regularly. But if you try to include it into your daily routine it will become obvious and you won’t forget about it. Definitely worth trying. But if you absolutely cannot stand the taste of apple cider vinegar, at least try water with lots of lemon juice.

Linseeds.

Linseed or flaxseed as they say in US is a great remedy for constipation and for general digestive health. Main causes of constipation is lack of fiber in your diet. Fibre is not digestible but it increases the size of your stools and makes them softer. Larger, softer stools help keep you regular, as they move more quickly through your bowels and are easier to pass. Insoluble fiber bulks up your stool and acts like a brush, sweeping through your bowels to get everything out and keep things moving. The soluble variety absorbs water and forms a gel-like substance. This helps your stool pass smoothly through your bowels and improves its form and consistency. Linseed contains plenty of soluble fiber and when comes in contact with water becomes gel-like paste that has a defecating effect, which makes it move faster through your intestines. This defecation process is what makes consuming linseed so different from any other kind of laxative. I know it doesn’t sound attractive but really works. I have a cup of linseeds every morning after my first coffee (morning without coffee is wasted), but you could have a cup in the evening. It’s also quite filling because of the fiber content, keeps you full for a while. You can mix couple teaspoons (like 2-3) of linseeds in boiling water and leave for the night then drink it, or rather eat it. But I prefer much more tasty option. Simply I grind linseeds using my old good coffee grinder. I mix 3 heaped teaspoons of linseed and 1 teaspoon of raw cacao powder with boiling water and leave it for about 10-15 minutes. Then I add a splash of almond milk and drink it. Tastes great and it has less gel-like consistency that’s difficult to swallow. I can guarantee that your visits in the bathroom becomes less stressful 🙂

Exercise.

Imagine your organs if you’re are sitting on the sofa or in front of the computer for most of the day – squeezed together without movement for hours. Believe it or not, but little bit of exercise every day can bring you some relief with your digestive issues. I felt much better (in every way) when I exercised in the morning. It’s past tense on purpose – I had a quite good morning routine before covid, then lockdown came and since then it’s really difficult for me to come back to morning exercise. But studies show that regular exercises can improve circulation in all areas of the body, including the digestive tract, physical activity improves gastrointestinal symptoms in patients with irritable bowel syndrome, also constipation could be prevented with exercise, as being too sedentary can slow down digestion. Exercise although the simplest and the cheapest way to improve your digestion, is also the most demanding. At least for me. But definitely helps your body and mind in every way.

No drinking during meals.

As simple as it can be. Just skip a drink while you’re having your meal. It’s connected with the first point I mentioned – gastric acid. When you drink during meal gastric acid and digestive enzymes becomes diluted, which may result in slower digestion and retention of food in the stomach. The best is not to drink anything during the meal and have a glass of water or tea after 30 minutes when you finish your meal. Especially herbal teas are great for digestion, you can even make a with spices like: oregano, thyme or fennel. Which leads me to the fifth and last one remedy.

Use lots of spices.

I noticed that lots of people tends to use pre-made cooking sauces, stocks and dressings, instead of making there own full of flavour of freshly added spices. Even dried ones. Spices are everything! They not only boost the flavours of the food, but also (or mostly) have digestive properties. Sage, thyme, oregano, marjoram, rosemary, pepper, turmeric, ginger. All of them helps to stimulate digestion, regulates fermentation processes in bowels, helps to digest fats that our meals contains. They have bactericidal, cleansing and circulation-stimulating properties. They help especially with heavy meals full of fats that are more difficult to digest. Using lots of spices makes this process easier and less burdensome for the body. You can also use spices in a for of a tea or cold drink. My partner’s recent favourite drink mixture is camomile, fresh ginger, turmeric, mint and lemon boiled for about 5 minutes. He drinks it cold through out the day instead of water. He says it cleans his body, gives him energy and helps to digest.

All of these together will work like a charm for your digestive system. I highly encourage you to try at least one of them. Would be happy to hear how they helped you, just share you experience in the comment section.

Source of knowledge:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4519257/

https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/hydrochloric_acid#section=Top

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3946491/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6790068/

https://drbeckyfitness.com/exercises-to-help-digestion/

farming with passion – how you can benefit from supporting the local farmers (interview)

Ever since we started travelling around Scotland, I was very curious to see how people live in tiny villages or on farms in the middle of nowhere. How is it when your life is far removed from the hustle and bustle of the city, from work 9 to 5, with a completely different rhythm. The rhythm of nature. I also regret that I delayed my decision so long to stop buying vegetables and fruits in the supermarket and start buying local organic vegetables. But better late than never. Of course, in the off-season, in the winter I am a bit forced to buy vegetables in a supermarket, but I am very happy that I have the opportunity to buy fresh, local products from farmers who work with passion and commitment to provide the best quality and most nutritious fruit and vegetables. This is how I found Berwick Wood Produce farm – I was looking for a local vegetable supplier for whom growing vegetables is not only a way to earn money. Mhairi and her family have a woodland farm near Hatton of Fintray in Scotland. And I was looking for words to introduce them, but I think Mhairi on their Instagram page @berwickwoodproduce did it the best:

I’m Mhairi and I am incredibly lucky to manage my family woodland farm near Hatton of Fintray. I do this with the help of my husband Aus and our quickly growing up offspring (when they are around). We have spent the last few years learning about small scale regenerative farming and how to make a living from local food. We are passionate about sustainability: ecologically, socially and economically. We want farms to be able to farm in ways that increase biodiversity and leave nutrients in the soil for the next generations. We believe local communities have the right to access good food and that skills in food production need not to be lost. Farmers should make a fair wage for their work and do so by selling locally. As I am a “veg snob” having lived nearly exclusively off my own veg for the last 10 years I started with a no till market garden which sells veg boxes, to food hubs and to small independent shops and cafes.With our wood being thinned we will be able to introduce livestock ready to add more regeneration to this land.

@berwickwoodproduce
(all photos are from Mhairi’s Instagram page)

To satisfy my curiosity a bit, and I hope yours as well, I asked Mhairi a few questions about what the running of the farm looks like, what her day looks like, and how organic vegetables from sustainable crops differ from those, we usually buy in the supermarket.

I hope this will encourage you to delve into this topic and look for a similar farm in your area. It would be great if we could support local farmers who love nature, while at the same time making our life and health better with nutritious and fresh vegetables and fruits.

So grab yourself a cup of tea and enjoy reading.

Hello Mhairi, could you tell me how your farming adventure started? Did you grow up on a farm?

I grew up in with small scale farming. My grandfather had a croft on the West coast of Scotland that looked onto Ben Nevis. He had a herd of Highland cows that can be seen in movies such as “The Highlander”, “Braveheart” and “Rob Roy”. My dad was an agricultural economist and later took over the croft from his dad. Though I always loved being on the land in 1998 I decided to come to Aberdeen and become an occupational therapist. I worked for both the NHS and in schools until a series of bone tumours meant I needed to stop working. To help out my family financially I started growing food again and reignited my love for working the land. Working outside and eating better food really helped my physical recovery and when the opportunity to grow on a larger scale arose I knew that is what I wanted to do.


Has farming been viewed as more of a business for you, or a lifestyle choice? Some combination of both?

Though I do need to make a livelihood, for me farming is very much a lifestyle. I am passionate about looking after the land for future generations and for wildlife. I wish to provide fresh nutritious food to my local community and to contribute to a better food system in this country.


What was the most challenging at the beginning? And what’s the most challenging right now?

The biggest challenges have been to get the infrastructure on the farm. The land was originally part of a large estate, then broken down into a smaller parcel of land which was planted into a woodland in 1990. It had no buildings, water, fencing, power or vehicular access so we had to start with all that while trying to get growing. It was also hard to find markets for the veg that we grew as most people and cafes/restaurants could not initially see the value of our veg over wholesale or supermarket. As more people tried local veg or have become interested in where their food comes from the demand for our produce is increasing and the challenge now is to grow enough to meet the best supply and demand. This means
that we are always trying to collect as much data about best varieties, dates for planting / harvesting and yields while keeping all the planting etc.. going.

What crops do you grow?

This year on the farm we are growing 45 different types of vegetables, 15 different types of herbs and hope to get a small crop from our apples trees and fruit bushes (they have only been in a few years). We also look after the woodland and this year we will thin out some of the sitka spruce and plant some willow, alder and hazel trees to increase diversity and make sure the trees left can grow better.

Which part of farming is the most satisfying for you?

There are lots of parts of the farm that I find satisfying but mostly I love to see the ecosystems on the farm. I love to see all the wildlife that is there from the toads and dragonflies on the pond to the buzzards and heron that fly over our heads. This week I have been watching the worms heat up, the beetles mate and the ladybirds on the young trees.

Could you describe how your typical day look like in a growing season?

In the growing season my typical day begins about 5am or at first light as the days get shorter. I start by watering the polytunnels and checking the market garden plot. It is then usually either a harvesting day or a planting/ seeding day. On a harvesting day we have a list of what is to be harvested and it is all done as early as possible as that is when the leaves
are most turgid and tasty. On seeding/planting days each bed that is to be planted is weeded and raked. Either plants that have already been sown into trays are then transplanted into the ground or seeds are sown directly into the ground using our push along seeder. Once the seeds/plants are in the ground they sometimes need protection such as fleeces or nets. We also spend time cleaning and organising tools and keeping records up to date. I try to finish work by 6pm though often have paperwork to do after my tea. I also try to find time everyday just to observe the environment both from an enjoyment point of view and also to take note of my surroundings.

So your day is full of different jobs that need to be done, do you have your favourite farm task?

I have 3 favourite tasks on the farm. Firstly I love planning the year ahead especially new things we might want to try to plant, creating new micro environments or learning new ways of doing things. Secondly I love my quiet time in the propagation area seeding trays of veg and finally I love harvesting (and eating!!) a really successful crop.

I guess farming is not only enjoyable and satisfying work, but you also need to deal with many factors that are beyond your control: weeds, insects, diseases, weather devastating to the crop you have cared for months. How do you deal with fail? What helps you to keep going even though sometimes it might look like everything is against you?

Fingers crossed we have never had a complete crop fail. Our most basic philosophy is good soil and strong plants do well. If a veg does not do as well as we hoped to take notes and see what we can change.
Sometimes a different way of planting, timings, variety can make a difference but occasionally we might decide not to do that type of veg anymore. Equally we take notes of what goes well.
Weeds can get me down sometimes but our no dig beds have helped to minimise them. Weeds are really helpful indicators of your soil so can be really useful for letting you know what is going on. To prevent disease we try to keep our soils well looked after and plants strong. As of yet we have not had any diseases. Pests are always seen as a challenge but recently I have changed the way I view “pests”. I am spending a lot of time learning about the lifecycles of these “pest” and viewing them more as food for the other things which are part of our farm ecosystem. Creating a balance of “pests” and “predators” leads to a much healthier system. We choose not to use any chemicals on our plants even ones that organic farms can use as we hope that this will give the best chance for our ecosystem to balance. On the whole this has worked though slugs and flea beetles can at times be an issue!! When things go wrong I find it best to let myself feel a bit sad then pick myself up, learn what you can and focus on the things that are going right.

From your perspective, what people should be aware of when they shop for vegetables?

When people are shopping for veg they should always be aware of what is in season. Using glass or tunnels it is possible to extend seasons slightly or grow things under cover that you could not grow outdoors but veg or fruit that is been grown out of season is always less tasty and nutritious. Different veg also has different shelf life time. Leaves need to be picked and cooled quickly and kept in the fridge where as onions, potatoes, swedes or other root crops can last longer just kept somewhere dry or darker. For this reason you are more likely to get a good swede in a supermarket then good kale or spinach. Veg that is a bit past its best can still be used in soups, stews or fermented or pickled rather then wasted.

What are the differences between vegetables from supermarket and the one grown on your farm? Many people thinks that veg is a veg and the only difference is that the one from supermarket are nicely washed and packed in foil, which for many people is much more convenient.

There are two main differences between our veg and that bought in a supermarket. The first is providence. With our veg you can know exactly where it came from right back to the seed, how it was grown and when it was harvested. Secondly there is growing practices. We spend a lot of time learning about the best ways to grow our veg, the most suitable varieties and how to create the right soils to optimise nutrition. A lot of supermarket veg is grown for high yield, speed and prices which means that growing best practices can not be observed.

And they are often sprayed with pesticides, and travel thousands of miles before they get to the shop. While you can buy fresh, healthy local vegetables, that may be a bit dirty from the soil, but so much healthier and nutritious. What can consumers do to support small farms more actively?

There are a lot of things that consumers can do which are free if price is an issue for them. They can share social media posts of small producers, they can support campaigns to keep food standard high or they can start to cook more seasonally. If they can buy more locally they can write reviews to promote small producers products that they have enjoyed. They can try occasionally buying from farmers markets or food hubs rather then from the supermarkets. They can engage with their small producers. Usually small producers are passionate about what they do and are happy to talk about what they do. Hopefully as restrictions ease farms will also be able to have open days again.

If you had one piece of advice for someone who would like to become a farmer, what would it be?

My one piece of advice for someone who would like to start a farm is to decide what farm you want to start. If you want to start a agri-ecological farm then join one of the small association which promote these such as The land workers alliance, the organic growers alliance, the nature friendly farming association or community supported agricultural. These associations all have mentorships, placements, peer to peer learning and loads of support and information for those interested in farming for a better planet/ food system.

Thank you Mhairi that you found some time to answer my questions. Even though season of harvesting and delivering veggies didn’t started yet, it doesn’t mean that there’s nothing to do on the farm. That’s another thing that need to be mention – farmers work hard all year round 🙂

I hope you enjoyed reading this post and maybe it encouraged you to make some changes to your diet this Spring. Rather than buying fruit and vegetables at a supermarket, make a research to find a local farmer who grows delicious, healthy and organic vegetables. So you will be able to cook healthy and nutritious meals for yourself and your family.
In the meantime, you can take a look at a few recipes I made using vegetables from Berwick Wood Produce.

10 eating habits to improve your health (even if you don’t want to be on any diet)

There’s hundreds of diets in this world. You don’t believe that? Have a look at Wikipedia list of diet. “Not all diets are considered healthy. Some people follow unhealthy diets through habit, rather than through a conscious choice to eat unhealthily” – good point Wikipedia! Some diets are obviously unhealthy, and you don’t need to be a doctor to know that: “junk food diet” or “Western diet”, aren’t the best choices in therms of eating habits.

Being on a diet become very popular and in some environments is trendy, which I believe is not the best idea. Nevertheless , not everyone needs to be on a certain diet and not everyone wants to be on a diet (I was that person), and no one should feel bad because of that. No one should feel bad because people around him are on some kind of diet, and he is not. Changing of eating habits should be a concious decision, backed up with knowledge drawn from various sources. If you start being on a certain diet just because everyone else are, you might not only harm your body but also your mind. But as I said, not everyone want to restrict themselves to certain eating rules, and that’s fine. No one wants to be restricted and feel forced to anything. Including me.

But if you’d like to try to make a small changes to your eating habits and see if they’ll make you feel better, I have 10 eating habits for you. If you have digestive problems like bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, or you constantly tired, you have cravings, you joints are stiff and painful, take a look at this list. Even if you implement one habit, it might help you a lot. You don’t need to reorganize your whole world, try to adapt one small habit you think would help you the most. Some of them might seem to be more complicated at the beginning, but I can assure you that you’ll quite easily get used to them. Especially if you start feeling better. But don’t force yourself, remember it needs to be your concious decision. Make your research, read some more informations, listen to other people who’s also implement these habits in their lives. An try yourself.

The lack of scientific evidence is not proof that something is not happening, and the other way – if there is a scientific evidence that something works, it doesn’t mean that it will work for everybody.
Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

10 eating habits to improve your health

(even if you don’t want to be on any diet)

1. Drink apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is produced by fermenting apples, its main active substance is acetic acid, but also lactic acid, citric acid, enzymes, amino acids, vitamins and minerals, and bacteria friendly to our digestive system. Good quality apple cider vinegar is cloudy (unfiltered), unpasteurized and has a dark orange colour (sediment at the bottom of the bottle it’s called “the mother”).

Vinegar has a long history of use as a disinfectant and natural food preservative. According to a study conducted at the University of North Carolina, School of Medicine, Department of Hospital Epidemiology in the US, vinegar has a strong antimicrobial effect and can kill certain strains of bacteria.

The best health benefits of apple cider vinegar have been found in patients with type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is characterized by elevated blood glucose levels, both due to insulin resistance and the inability to produce insulin. However, elevated blood sugar levels can also be a problem for people who do not have diabetes … high blood sugar is believed to be the main cause of ageing of the body and the cause of various chronic diseases. Therefore, it is extremely important to maintain the proper level of sugar in blood. In particular, it improves insulin sensitivity during a meal with a high carbohydrate content of 19-34%, and thus significantly lowers blood glucose and insulin levels, as well as lowers blood sugar by 34% after consuming 50 g of white bread. In addition, taking 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar at bedtime may reduce your fasting blood sugar by 4%. As a consequence, it is beneficial for blood sugar levels, it does not spike after meals and build up in the form of adipose tissue. If you are currently taking medications to lower blood sugar levels, consult your doctor before introducing apple cider vinegar to your diet.
Drinking apple cider vinegar helps with digestion as it produces more gastric juices, but if you start to experience diarrhoea, reduce your dose or stop drinking it for a few days.

Typical doses are 1-2 teaspoons (5-10 ml) to 1-2 tablespoons (15-30 ml) per day. Always drink diluted vinegar (maximum 2 tablespoons for about 200 ml of water). Have a drink before meals (especially high-protein) or twice a day (e.g. morning and evening). If you’ve never tried drinking apple cider vinegar start with 1 teaspoon, and see how you feel. Slowly increase the amount of vinegar up to 2 tablespoons. You’ll see significant difference if you tend to feel heavy after meals, especially if you eat a lot of meat, and your stomach is not producing enough stomach acid. Which leads me to the second one.

2. Don’t drink while you eat

There’s many theories about you should drink while eating a meal or not. What I’ve noticed from my own experience, that drinking a glass of tea, juice, coffee or large amounts of water during my meal or just after, makes me feel heavy, bloated and uncomfortable. So if you drink a lot (also fizzy drinks) with a meal and it makes you feel worse, you have abdominal pain and bloating, try not to drink anything while you eat and just after. Although if you feel like you need to drink something, have a couple sips of water. Always observe your body and decide, if it’s a habit or your body really needs water.

3. Say no to highly processed food

Humans has been processing food for centuries: cutting, cooking, baking, drying, chopping. Food processing that we can carry out at home are natural processes. E.g. pickling, pasteurization, drying, salting, smoking etc.
Highly processed food is one that we are not able to “produce” at home, special conditions, machines and substances are needed for this. Such industrial processes are: mechanical separation, spray drying, sterilization, freeze drying, vacuum packing, food treatment, radiation, infrared treatment. Food is not only subjected to unnatural processes, but also various types of food additives are used, which are not a natural food ingredient but are added to obtain specific effects. Food additives are defined differently in different countries. For example, in the European Union, a food additive is “a substance that is not normally eaten but is intentionally added to food for technological reasons“, while in the United States food additives are “substances whose intended use causes, or can reasonably be expected to will make it directly or indirectly an ingredient of food or otherwise affect the properties of food “(Wikipedia). Such substances include: flavouring compositions, dyes, emulsifiers, thickeners, raising agents and other substances that are intended to thicken the product, also preservatives, antioxidants and stabilizers, compounds that are to extend the life of products. These compounds have different origins, sometimes they are made from natural products, and sometimes synthetic. Importantly, they never occur naturally.
There are many misconceptions and contradictions when it comes to explaining which food additives and in what amounts are harmful to human health. It is generally accepted that everything that is in the product you buy in the store is not harmful and does not pose any threat to your life. Logically looking – why would they inform about the fact that what is added to food is not necessarily healthy?

Let’s look at these facts: boric acid was widely used as a food preservative from the 1870s to the 1920s, but was banned after World War I due to its toxicity, as demonstrated in animal and human studies. During World War II, the urgent need for cheap, available food preservatives led to it being used again (!), but it was finally banned in the 1950s. In 1938 US government decided that no carcinogenic substances should be used in food production, however, after the banning of cyclamates in the United States and Britain in 1969, saccharin, the only remaining legal artificial sweetener at the time, was found to cause cancer in rats. But they have found in 2000, that saccharin is carcinogenic in rats due only to their unique urine chemistry. (Wikipedia) So how can we be sure that if something will be fine for rats, will be also fine for humans? Especially in long term?

Do you know, that there’s over 300 different food additives? Which one you should avoid the most?

  • Sodium nitrites – check all the deli meat products, and meat products in general – I can guarantee that 99% of them will have sodium nitrite. Have you noticed that homemade deli meat never have such a pink glowing colour, like the one from the shop? It’s mostly because the additives. Naturally prepared deli meat always gets this greyish colour after cooking. But we got so used to what we see in the shop, we start thinking that there’s something wrong with the meat that we cook at home, because it’s not as pink and doesn’t have as strong flavour as the one from the shop. When sodium nitrite is heated at high temperatures or combined with stomach acid, starts producing nitrosamines. They are linked to an increased risk of pancreatic and colorectal cancer.
  • Sulfites – are a preservative many people are sensitive to (especially people with asthma). Their use on fresh fruits and vegetables is banned in the United States, but sulfites are present in other foods (also avoid sulfur dioxide, potassium bisulfite, sodium bisulfite or sodium sulfite)
  • Trans fats – it’s cheap, they do not go rancid, they can be repeatedly heated and cooled without any harm, and the products prepared with their use are durable and have a long shelf life. There is only one but – this type of fat is really very harmful to health. If you eat a lot of them, and for longer periods you can get diabetes, heart disease, hardening of blood vessels and inflammation. It also reduces your body’s ability to lose weight. Most trans fats are found in all confectionery, cakes, potato fries and fast food.
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG) – this substance enhance flavour and texture in processed foods (especially Asian foods are known from using MSG generously). People sensitive to MSG can experience nausea, breathing problems and other reactions. You can read about it also in this post.
  • E102, E110 (also known as FD&C yellow no. 5 and no. 6) – these artificial coloring agents can cause severe allergic reactions in those with asthma. Some research also suggests a link with hyperactivity in children, but this has not been proven. What’s interesting E110 is not only used in food but also in production of condoms, cosmetics, and drugs (Wikipiedia). Products containing E102 commonly include processed commercial foods that have an artificial yellow or green colour, or that consumers expect to be brown or creamy looking (!). It has been frequently used in the bright yellow colouring of imitation lemon filling in baked goods. E102 is widely use in cosmetic industry, household cleaning products, paper plates, pet foods, crayons, inks for writing instruments, stamp dyes, face paints, envelope glues, and deodorants (Wikipedia). Considering that, how much of E102 a human can absorb not only in food and medications, but also through skin contact?

Now if you eat a lot of processed foods, go to the kitchen and have a look on the labels, how many of these substances you find in your food?

4. Eat when you’re hungry

Depending on the opinion of the dietitian, we are told to eat 5 times a day, or 3 times a day. We are told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, that the first meal should be eaten before 9am and the last one no later than 6pm, and so on. All the experts has their own opinions you should be listening to. Such a single pattern that could be applied to every person could make sense only if everyone functioned in exactly the same way. Meanwhile, each of us functions completely different. We have different sleeping patterns (for example, if someone works in shifts), our work is different in terms of time and effort, we have different eating habits and we live in various climate. It is impossible for one scheme to fit all.
For some people, eating 5 meals a day is almost impossible. Depending of how your diet is – more carbohydrate based, or fat based (or both), if you work from home, and you sit most of the time, or you do physical work and need a lot of energy.

What if you would become your own expert? Isn’t you the one who knows your body the best? What if you’re absolutely not hungry in the morning, and you need to force yourself to eat something, when your body’s metabolism didn’t wake up yet?

So if you feel like you have to force yourself to eat 5 times a day, or to have a giant breakfast before 9am, consider thinking through your own body needs and prepare your own schedule that’s the best for you and your lifestyle. Become your own expert. And this leads me to a next one…

5. Observe and be mindful

to become your own expert start observing how you feel, after eating certain foods, also observe your hunger.

Ask yourself if:

  • your body is hungry for food?
  • or maybe you’re dehydrated?
  • or (if you eat a lot of sweets) your mind craves sugar?
  • or maybe you’re just bored?

We tend to be so unaware of our own body, that even if we’re on certain diet we do not recognise what it’s trying to tell us. We often mindlessly subordinate to the rules of chosen diet, without listening to how our body responds. As I have been writing here, before keto diet I didn’t stop and think how eating certain food makes me feel. Why the hell I feel so sleepy after dinner? Why I feel like I would explode after this delicious lentil soup? Why my stomach is heavy and painful after x or y? I’ve never thought about that. I thought it’s normal. If you feel bad after eating certain foods it is not normal. The food you eat should be nutritious for your body, make you feel energised and full of live.

6. Use a lot of herbs & spices

Even if you’re not a masterchef, and your cooking skills leave something to be desired, spices can take your kitchen to the next level. Not only that, spices have healing properties, they support your health, facilitate metabolism and even destroy microbes that are hostile to your body. 2017 research showed that essential oils and extracts of some spices contain active compounds like piperine, eugenol, cinnamaldehyde, linalool, thymoquinones, curcumin, allicin. These compounds acts like natural preventive components of several diseases and represent as antioxidants in body cells.

According to this research which spices has the most healing properties?

  • Black Cumin Seeds (Nigella sativa) – helps to treat common cold, infections of the trachea, bron-chitis, urinary tract, and reproductive system. Some skin dis-orders such as warts and hair losses. Egyptians used it to treat stomachaches, inflammations, intestinal worms, and migraines. Modern researches showed that black cumin seeds are potentially antioxidant, hepatoprotec-tive, anticancer, antidiabetic, antimicrobial, antiparasitic, analgesic, antiulcer and antihistaminic.
  • Turmeric (Curcuma longa) – widely use in India. Leaves are used to add flavors to medicinal drinks, decoctions, and as flavouring wrappers in the preparation of traditional sweets. Aparft for its internal healing properties, turmeric can be used on the skin as a natural anti-septic. It can be applied topically for the treatment of acne,wounds, boils, bruises, blisters, ulcers, eczema, insect bites,and skin diseases like herpes. Researches showed that curcumin (active compound of turmeric) is highly anti-inflammatory, works against a number of pathogenic bacteria (for example Helicobacter pylori).
  • Garlic (Allium sativum L) – has antifungal and antiparasitic properties, it’s also anticancer and antioxidant abilities, can control cholesterol and blood pressure and prevent gastritis. It’s a natural antibiotic.
  • Ginger (Zingiber officinale) – it comes from the same family as turmeric. Its antimicrobial, for example fights Candida albicans and Helicobacter pylori which is the main reason for peptic ulcer, dyspepsia, and gastric/stomach cancer.
  • Star Anise (Illicium verum) – has carminative, antifungal, antibacterial, analgesic, sedative, anticarcinogenic,and antioxidant properties. Seed from the star anise floret is known to contain about 55%fatty oils along with oleic acid, linoleic acid, myristic acid, andstearic acid.
  • Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans) – good for head-aches, bad breath, and fever. Also extracts of nutmeg seed showed antibacterial activity against gram-positive bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus.
  • Black Pepper (Piper nigrum) – it has antiseptic properties, and its potential for antibacterial and antifungal activity has been tested in laboratories by a number of researchers. Piperine extracts from black pep-per showed maximum antibacterial activity against multidrugresistant gram-positive bacteria.
  • Cloves (Syzigium aromaticum) – it’s known to control nausea,vomiting, cough, diarrhea, dyspepsia, flatulence, stomach dis-tension, and gastrointestinal spasm. It is recognized to possessanticarcinogenic, antioxidant, and antiparasitic properties. Active compound in cloves is eugenol, that has antibacterial and antifungal activity.
  • Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum,C cassia,C zeylanicum,C loureirii) – antimicrobial, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, blood purifying and blood thinningproperties, and it is also used in reducing blood sugar levels andcholesterols. However, excess consumption of cinnamon can be toxic to bodyorgans.

Also there’s plenty of culinary herbs that has healing properties (contains polyphenols) and helps our body to digest the food.

  • Coriander (Coriandrum sativum L.) – control of swellings, diarrhoea, mouth ulcers, anaemia, menstrual disorders, small pox, eye care, conjunctivitis, skin disorders. Traditional Chinese Medicine the leaves were used to stimulate the appetite, promote digestion and to strengthen the spleen and stomach. The seeds were similarly used to soothe the stomach, relieve nausea, for intestinal cramping and constipation.
  • Dill (Anethum graveolens L.) – used for digestion problems including loss of appetite, intestinal gas (flatulence), liver problems, and gallbladder complaints. It is also used for urinary tract disorders including kidney disease and painful or difficult urination. Other uses for dill include treatment of fever and colds, cough, bronchitis, hemorrhoids, infections, spasms, nerve pain, genital ulcers, menstrual cramps, and sleep disorders.
  • Oregano (Wild Majoram) (Origanum vulgare L.) – Oregano is used for respiratory tract disorders such as coughs, asthma, croup, and bronchitis. It is also used for gastrointestinal (GI) disorders such as heartburn and bloating. Other uses include treating menstrual cramps, rheumatoid arthritis, urinary tract disorders including urinary tract infections (UTIs), headaches, and heart conditions.
  • Parsley (Petroselinum crispum (P. Mill.)) – vitamin C, vitamin A, Vitamin K, some folate (a B vitamin), and iron. It’s high in antioxidants which can reduce free radical damage and oxidative stress markers. If you’re feeling bloated, parsley’s anti-inflammatory properties can be helpful.
  • Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.) – n terms of vitamins, fresh rosemary contains vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and other B vitamins such as folate and thiamin. Also improves digestion, rosemary in a tea is great to treat an upset stomach or nausea.
  • Sage (Salvia officinalis L.) – increase memory recall and retention, normalise cholesterol levels, treat symptoms of menopause, and improve blood sugar, anti-inflammatory properties as well as plenty of antioxidants.
  • Thyme (Thymus vulgaris L.) – considered as medicinal plant due to their pharmacological and biological properties. Its properties are due to its main components, thymol and carvacrol. Fresh Thyme has the highest level of antioxidants among all herbs. Fresh Thyme contains Calcium, Potassium, Sodium, Iron, Phosphorus, vitamin A, B, K and vitamin C. Extracts from Thyme have been used in traditional medicine for the treatment of several respiratory diseases like asthma and bronchitis and for the treatment of other pathologies thanks to several properties such as antiseptic, antispasmodic, antimicrobial, antifungal, antioxidative and antiviral.

7. Reduce sugar

It won’t be a great discovery if I say that sugar is harmful. Sugar addiction is compared to drug addiction.

People who eat large amounts of sweets very often struggle with gastrointestinal fungal infections. It is associated with the overgrowth of the yeast from the Candida albicans family. Probably few people are aware that they are present in the body of every human being from birth. When the immune system is functioning properly, fungi do not multiply, so they are not dangerous – normal bacterial flora keeps them in check. The situation changes radically when we disrupt this balance. Taking various types of medications, such as antibiotics, also causes disturbances in our digestive system, making the body extremely susceptible to the development of yeast. The second factor is eating large amounts of simple sugars that Candida is fed. Long term exposure of the body to yeast and fungus overgrowth causes chronic inflammation and, consequently, many dangerous diseases.


If you eat a lot of sweets and notice any of these symptoms, it is very likely that your body has been attacked by Candida:

  • diarrhoea
  • constipation
  • yeast infections of the genitals (especially in women)
  • feeling of constant fatigue
  • stiff neck
  • migraines
  • ear, throat and nose problems
  • white raid on the tongue
  • metallic taste and bad breath
  • bloating and gas
  • craving for sweets, pasta and bread combined with irritability, drowsiness, decreased concentration, fatigue and mood changes.

How to get rid of yeast overgrowth?

Traditional medicine, of course, will propose a set of drugs that give you a somewhat miserable feeling that you only need to swallow the pill and your problems will disappear. But the best, most effective and at the same time the cheapest, although not the easiest way, is to change your diet.

How can you prevent yeast infections of the digestive system? Avoid:

  • sugars and products containing it (chocolate, candies, jam, fruit juices), as simple sugars are an ideal breeding ground for yeast and fungi
  • wheat flour products: white bread, pancakes, dumplings, cakes
  • blue cheeses and fruit containing a lot of sugar (oranges, bananas, plums, dried fruit)

It is also important to drink a about of 2 litres of water each day, to help remove toxins from the body that are produced by fungi.

You can make a simple home test, to check the presence of active Candida in the body.

In the evening, put ½ glass of water next to your bed. Immediately after waking up, spit out quickly what you have in our mouth into the glass – do not collect saliva, but only spit out what you have in your mouth. Let the glass rest for 15 minutes. After this time, gently twist the contents of the glass. If the saliva rises on the surface of the water, it’s all fine. But if the water has become cloudy and the saliva has fallen to the bottom, you are most probably dealing with Candida imbalance in our body.


Make a test and stop eating sugar (it means sweets, bakery, flour products, pasta, rice) for a month and see how your body will response.

8. Use a bone broth as a base for your soups

Every two weeks I make beef bones broth that I get from the butcher. I simmer bones in a giant pot for 24 hours, with two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (the acid helps to etch the bone marrow). Than I make a few portions of broth, freeze it, and use it for soups. Longer you cook the bones, you’ll get more powerful broth (you can simmer it up to 36 hours). This broth warms the spleen and gives you plenty of nutrients and natural collagen. Such a soup is a mineral bomb. A glass of collagen every day will improve the quality of every part of your body. It seals the intestines, which is the basis for the treatment of autoimmune or cancerous diseases. It warms up the spleen, which begins the entire energy flow in our body. It adds energy, strength and will also make sure that you do not freeze in winter like most of the population. As bone broth simmers, collagen from the animal parts leaches into the broth and absorbs easily to help restore cartilage. One of the most valuable components of bone broth stock is gelatin. Gelatin acts like a soft cushion between bones that helps them “glide” without friction. Studies show that gelatin is beneficial for restoring strength of the gut lining and fighting food sensitivities (such as to wheat or dairy). It also helps with the growth of probiotics (good bacteria) in the gut and supports healthy inflammation levels in the digestive tract. Collagen also maintains healthy skin.

So instead of using stock cubes, pods or granules as a base of your soups, which apart from artificial flavour doesn’t have much to give, start making your own soup base. Check your local butcher, usually you won’t need to pay anything or a small amount of money for a giant bone. You’ll get couple litres of broth you can use as a base for the soup, half and half with water (broth is usually quite strong and thick, depending of the part of the bone you use to make it).

9. Eat fermented foods

One of the biggest benefits of fermented foods comes from probiotics. The digestive tract is teeming with some 100 trillion bacteria and other microorganisms, says Dr. David S. Ludwig, a professor of nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Changes to the population of gut microbes may create an imbalance between beneficial and harmful gut bacteria, leading to many health problems. When the digestive tract has an unhealthy mix of organisms, it can actually lead to a weakening of the walls of the intestines, which start to leak their contents into the bloodstream — a condition referred to, not surprisingly, as leaky gut syndrome. Chronic exposure to these substances leaking out from the intestines has been linked to a host of health problems, ranging from asthma and eczema to schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease, according to Dr. Ludwig.

With fermented foods you can not only prevent from getting autoimmune diseases, but also built your immunity to different bacteria and viruses. Have a look at this post where I’m writing about Dr. Jean Bousquet Professor of Pulmonary Medicine at the University of Montpellier in France was looking for association between consumption of fermented vegetables and COVID-19 mortality at a country level in Europe. Also check this recipe for homemade sauerkraut juice and couple informations about its healing properties.

10. Give yourself a fast day

Long time ago people did not have continuous access to food, so fasting was a natural state for the body. In the modern world, when we have continuous and unlimited access to food, it happens that we spend most of our day eating. In such a situation, our body is forced to constantly digest the food we eat and it is not possible to “focus” on regeneration. All energy is used for digestion – if you provide your body with processed food, difficult to digest and stuffed with chemicals and toxins, the body accumulates them, without having enough time or energy to get rid of them.
Even though there’s been already researches about benefits coming from intentional fasting, there’s still a lot of disinformation and controversy around this subject and doctors who advocates to natural medicine, fasting and other alternative to modern medicine widely used and recognized as effective.

There are different types of fasting:

  • eating window (intermittent fasting) – for 6-8 hours a day you eat meals, the rest of the time you fast, giving your body time to digest and regenerate,
  • one-day fasting – e.g. once a week,
  • multi-day fasts – from 48 to several dozen hours.

Benefits of intermittent fasting:

  • increases insulin sensitivity, which is crucial for health, because insulin resistance, i.e. poor cell sensitivity to insulin, contributes to the development of many chronic diseases,
  • normalizes the level of ghrelin, also known as the “hunger hormone”, thus reducing the feeling of hunger,
  • improves blood sugar management,
  • increases the production of human growth hormone,
  • inhibits inflammation and reduces oxidative damage,
  • supports autophagy and mitophagy – natural cleansing processes necessary for optimal cell renewal and function,
  • accelerates fat burning, improves metabolic efficiency and body composition, including by significantly reducing visceral fat and body weight in obese people,
  • prevents the development of type 2 diabetes and slows down its progression,
  • improves the functioning of the immune system,
  • reduces the risk of heart disease,
  • reduces the risk of cancer,
  • regenerates the pancreas and improves its function,
  • protects against neurological diseases such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease through the production of ketone bodies,
  • eliminates carbohydrate hunger.

I highly recommend Dr. Berg’s publications on his YouTube channel – the source of vast knowledge presented in an accessible and understandable way. Not only about intermittent fasting, but also plenty health problems, with holistic point of view.

I hope you’ve managed to read up to the end, and somehow you find it useful. I would be very happy if any of these tips and habits would help you to feel better in your body. If you have other habits that are helpful for you, please write them in the comment section below.

Source of knowledge:

https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/30/11/2814.full

https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/27/1/281.long

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7796781/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10656352/

ttps://health.clevelandclinic.org/5-food-additives-you-should-avoid

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/316571266_Pharmaceutical_Perspectives_of_Spices_and_Condiments_as_Alternative_Antimicrobial_Remedy

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4227268/

https://irenamacri.com/7-herbs-spices-powerful-health-benefits/

https://www.indigo-herbs.co.uk/natural-health-guide/benefits/coriander

https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-644/oregano

https://draxe.com/nutrition/gelatin/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/fermented-foods-can-add-depth-to-your-diet

https://www.mercola.com/

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.4161/auto.6.6.12376?needAccess=true&

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fonc.2016.00242/full

https://www.nia.nih.gov/news/research-intermittent-fasting-shows-health-benefits

quick and easy prawns and courgette skillet #ketofriendly

That’s 100% keto approved easy meal, that you can prepare in less than 30 minutes. It’s great for these days, when you don’t have time, or just don’t feel the vibe to spend time in the kitchen.

prawn and courgette skillet

 

It’s good to use variety of herbs when you cook your meals, especially the one with slightly bitter character like thyme, basil, oregano etc. All these herbs that have essential oil are good for digestion, that’s why be generous when adding them while cooking. Our grandmas knew how important herbs are, and they had a knowledge where to find them and how to prepare them to help in different health issues. To be honest I don’t know anyone who would have this kind of knowledge and go to the forest or meadow to pick up herbs. Fortunately we have books and internet that can help us to find this knowledge and use it. You can also find some treasures in your spice cupboard.

For example you can make thyme tea, and drink it to boost digestion – personally I love the taste. It also helps when you feel sore throat (even better if you mix it with sage). Oregano tea is also very tasty. I remember jar of oregano that was given to me by my work colleague. That was oregano grown in his garden, he dried not only oregano leaves but also flowers – that was the most delicious oregano I’ve ever eat (and drink).

Furthermore oregano oil is widely used as antiseptic, antibacterial and antioxidant purpose. Researches showed that oregano has 42 times more antioxidants than apples, 12 times more than oranges and 4 time more antioxidants than blueberries. Thanks that it can help to fight Alzheimer and other neurodegenerative diseases.

Isn’t it awesome? Oregano. For free (almost). You can grow it in your garden or windowsill.

Sorry, I slightly departure from the main subject, but I got excited about oregano.

So going back to our prawn and courgette skillet, do not be afraid to add a lot of herbs 🙂 And enjoy!

prawn and courgette

quick and easy prawns and courgette skillet

INGREDIENTS

  • 180 g cooked and peeled king prawns (I used frozen ones)
  • 2-3 courgettes (depending of size)
  • 1 brown onion
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil or clarified butter
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp coarse pepper
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • natural rock salt to taste
  • chili flakes

DIRECTIONS

I will be honest. I always forget to take stuff out from the freezer. But that’s what you should do first – defrost the prawns. But as usual, I forgot this time as well, so I always put them on a clear frying pan and defrost them fast on a small heat. Then I drain the excess liquid, and then put them back on the skillet adding coconut oil or clarified butter.

While prawns are on there way, chop onion, courgette in half slices and bell pepper in strips. You can roughly chop the garlic or use garlic grinder. First put onions on the skillet and fry them for 2-3 minutes with prawns. Then add garlic, bell pepper and courgette. Sprinkle everything with some natural salt and add remaining herbs.

Fry on a fairly high heat, so veggies will be soft, but not soggy and mushy. After few minutes on the skillet, they should be done but, like spaghetti – al dente.

And that’s done, your meal is ready. Check only if it needs some more salt or maybe some more basil. If you’re a fan of chili flakes sprinkle it all over and stir for extra 2 minutes.

Enjoy!

keto prawn and courgette