Welcome to Ask Emma!
We are very lucky to have leading Aussie naturopath and nutritionist, Emma Sutherland here on the blog today, answering your questions!
1. SANDRA asks….. I would be interested to know what advice you would give for my friend’s son who is 11 and has suffered from chronic constipation all his life. He is a lovely, bright active boy but his mood changes when his constipation is at it’s worse and he can become very aggressive and violent. They have been to specialists and done a few alternative medicine treatments but I don’t think they’ve been given much information other than reactive ways to help him void. What are some ways that they can promote healing for his overdistended bowel?
I would bet my life on this poor little boy having gut dysbiosis. This means the balance between the good and bad bacteria in his digestive system is out. Gut dysbiosis has been linked to antibiotic use, poor maternal gut health during pregnancy, lack of breastfeeding, C-sections, a lack of fibre, as well as processed foods. In fact, the research is really starting to emerge on how profoundly gut dysbiosis impacts overall health.
It’s no wonder he gets aggressive when he is constipated – the enteric nervous system lines the digestive system and is negatively affected by gut dysbiosis! Levels of serotonin can drop and cause mood swings. I would suggest probiotic therapy, lots of fibre in the form of resistant starch as well as bone broth to help reduce inflammation on the gut lining. The fact is, unless you treat the gut dysbiosis, the constipation will probably never completely go away.
2. DIMITRA asks……..I would like to know what I can do to alleviate my PMS symptoms, in particular headaches.
The relative drop of estrogen compared to progesterone that occurs just before your period can cause hormonal headaches and migraines. Actually, most PMT symptoms can be linked back to a hormone imbalance. To help ease the acute headache, load up on magnesium and rescue remedy. To help prevent them, reduce the amount of inflammatory foods in your daily diet – this includes sugar, caffeine, alcohol and gluten. The herb Vitex agnus castus is incredibly effective at supporting progesterone levels and balancing estrogen so take it daily for 2 months to see the best results. I have had so many clients say their PMT is so much better on this amazing herb!
3. LEA asks ………I would love some advice on everyday eating without a gallbladder please! My Gallbladder was removed when I was 16 yrs. old in 1989, and I don’t seem to have a straight answer on what foods I should avoid to help with digestion and bloating.
First of all let’s look at some biology – your gallbladder concentrates bile, which has two major functions. It emulsifies fats in the first part of the small intestine. It also alkalizes the highly acidic contents of the stomach as they are released into the small intestine. Without a gall bladder, you don’t produce concentrated forms of bile so these two functions can get compromised hence the bloating! I would make sure you take a teaspoon of organic apple cider vinegar in a touch of water just before you eat to help your body break down your food. And then take half a teaspoon of bicarb in a little water 30 minutes after your main meal. This will help to alkalise the small intestine. If the small intestine becomes too acidic, pathogenic bacteria will flourish, causing pain and trapped wind. From a food perspective always avoid fried foods, transfats and cream.
4. TASH asks ……… My 6 year old girl is a bit on the heavy side (size 12/14), I do all I can to control what she eats. Plus she does gymnastic twice a week for one hour each day. We eat a healthy and sugar free diet (95% of the time), for sometime now I have been thinking that she might have a food intolerance, could this be a contributor? What can I do?
I actually had a 7 year old boy see me in clinic yesterday for the same reason and I have ordered a food intolerance test for him! Yes it definitely sounds like your daughter could be intolerant to certain foods. When this happens, the immune system produces antibodies and a cascade of inflammation occurs. When we become inflamed our body holds on to fluid and weight in a survival response to try and dilute the inflammation. If she has a hard, distended tummy by the end of the day, sniffs often or has loads of earwax, then you can be pretty sure she has a food intolerance. See a naturopath and make sure you have the proper test done – finger prick for IgG antibodies to around 96 different foods.
5. MEL asks……. My daughter has what appears to be allergies, sneezing running and stuffy nose etc but has tested negative in allergy tests both blood and scratch test hasn’t responded to nasonex and has some relief from clarentyne.
This again sounds like a classic case of food intolerances. I see so many children in clinic who have done the rounds of doctors and tests but are still unwell. Food intolerances are very different to food allergies. Food allergies are immediate, fast, result in IgE antibodies and you know when they happen! Food intolerances are slower to happen. You can eat a certain food and be ok, eat it again and still be ok, then the next time you eat it your immune system responds and forms IgG antibodies. Bam, then you are primed against that food! Each time you eat it after that, your gut gets inflamed and your immune system goes crazy. Make sure you get a proper food intolerance test done – I use a lab called Nutripath based in Melbourne.
6. I have IBS and have been on a Low FODMAP diet for 12 months now. It’s great when I’m on the diet but would really like to transition back to normal eating again eventually. Was wondering if there was anything I could do to restore my gut health, or if this was at all possible. Really hoping I don’t have to remain on this diet forever.
Wow congratulations on your progress so far! I am hoping you have worked out what group of FODMAPs you react to the most. The groups are:
Fructose – mainly fruits, honey
Fructans – grains such as wheat, rye, barley, cashews, pistachios some fruits, & vegetables such as garlic, onions
Galactans – legumes, soy
Lactose – all dairy
Polyols – sweeteners such as sorbitol, vegetables such as mushrooms and fruit such as apricots.
I find with most clients that once they have done a good gut repair program, they can tolerant most FODMAPs better. There tends to be one group that will always be problematic and that is usually fructans. It can look like gluten intolerance but often it is fructans intolerance. For improving gut health, first look at healing the gut lining with the amino acid glutamine, zinc and the anti inflammatory herb turmeric. Probiotic and prebiotic therapy is also needed so top up on both of those as well. Stress will always negatively impact gut health so implementing lifestyle factors to reduce stress is essential.
Emma Sutherland is a successful mum, author, naturopath and TV presenter and her mission in life is to inspire women to get their mojo back.
Her first book “50 Foods That Will Change Your Life” is co written with leading home economist Michelle Thrift and is the ultimate guide to healthy eating for women.
She was the expert nutritionist on the popular TV show “Eat Yourself Sexy” on Lifestyle You. Inspiring and uplifting, Eat Yourself Sexy encourages women to take control of their lives and get back on the road to loving themselves.
Emma’s baby daughter, Sophia was born in November 2011 and has been the delight of her life since. Along with Sophia’s arrival, Emma picked up an addiction to every Superfood she can get her hands on! Motherhood has been the most amazing feat she has accomplished and it has only reaffirmed her desire to work more strongly with mums-to-be, mums and their bubbas. In fact, Sophia has inspired Emma’s second book “Sophia Eats – a Parents Guide to Toddler Health and Wellbeing”.
Emma is a fully qualified Naturopath, having completed four years of training in Herbal Medicine, Nutrition and Homoeopathy as well as a Bachelor of Health Science. She has years of experience in treating women and children throughout the preconception to post natal period. She has completed post graduate training in women’s health and is a certified Infant Sleep Consultant. Emma is a registered Naturopath with membership to the Australian Traditional Medicine Society.