Should you take a probiotic alongside a low FODMAP diet?

This question comes up in my clinics all the time and I thought I'd share my thoughts on this here...It is not yet known whether it is better to take a probiotic alongside a low FODMAP diet or not. In 2016, Staudacher and colleagues published a randomised controlled trial looking at the effects on IBS symptom improvement and faecal bacteria with a low FODMAP diet and probiotics (VSL#3) versus a low FODMAP diet alone. IBS symptoms improved to the same extent in both groups, suggesting that VSL#3 did not add any further benefit. However, VSL#3 in combination with low a FODMAP prevented the decline in the numbers of bifidobacteria (beneficial bacteria) that is usually seen in those following a low FODMAP diet. We do not yet know whether the beneficial bacteria comes back with the reintroduction of high FODMAP foods at the later stages of the diet or whether this can only be achieved by adding in a probiotic...

 


Widen your focus

With the first days of summer, for some, comes the dread of having to strip off the layers and have their body visible to the world.. so many of us suffer with negative body image or even body image dysmorphia..

We all have the tendency to focus on the things that make us feel shame, or the things that make us feel the most vulnerable. I hear similar sentiments echoed by my clients when they speak to me about having negative body image, or experiencing distress in relation to specific parts of their bodies.. They often describe this sense that they should be doing more/ not feeling stuck in the spot they're in. And they literally stop being able to move beyond whatever they’ve hyper-focused on.This perverse focus on their ‘faults’ disables them from being able to immerse in the things that are truly important.

I help them learn to focus on a broader picture and explore the futility of trying to ‘catch and hold’ happiness by trying to change their physical body. It’s freeing to get rid of this.


Let’s talk about caffeine (& enjoy our morning coffee)

Caffeine is often unfairly criticised by some, but this is not justified when the evidence from research studies on moderate intakes is considered.In fact, moderate caffeine intake has been associated* with a reduced risk of heart disease in adults. Caffeine also has desirable short-term effects, such as improved alertness, concentration, and reduced perception of fatigue and pain.

Safe upper levels for caffeine consumption for healthy adults (report by EFSA**) have been defined as no more than 200mg as a single dose, and no more than 400mg as a daily dose.

Caffeine content of common drinks (per serving):

  •  espresso: 140mg
  •  filter coffee: 90mg
  •  black tea (teabag): 50mg
  •  decaff coffee: 15mg

Based on the above, up to 8 cups of tea or 2 cups of espresso, can be safely consumed as part of a balanced diet. However, what caffeine should not be used for, is to compensate for inadequate food intake or lack or sleep. Although it may feel like it's helping short-term, it may mess up your hunger signals, make you feel anxious and further disrupt your sleep..

*association studies do not suggest cause & effect, but merely a link, therefore, evidence from these studies need to be taken with a pinch of salt.

**(EFSA) European Food Safety Authority


Is exercise always good for you?

Excessive exercise can have significant negative effects on your body, i.e. worsen inflammatory state if you have PCOS or even lead to irregular periods and fertility issues.. It’s important to recognise if you have crossed over the line into an unhealthy pursuit of compulsive exercise, which could also be a sign of an underlying problem, such as body image dysmorphia, an eating disorder or dysfunctional regulation of emotional states.

Some warning signs that your relationship with exercise may be ‘unhealthy’:

  • You decline engaging in social activities in order to exercise
  • You feel restless/ irritable if you take a day off or try to cut down your exercise
  • You increase the amount of your exercise if you think that you are ‘too much’
  • You continue to work out even when you are sick…

What is YOUR relationship with exercise?


Happy Easter

Easter means different things to people and to me it’s about celebrating spring, new life and and embracing family traditions, which revolve around painting eggs, baking cinnamon buns and spending half of the day eating Easter lunch... The egg is a symbol of fertility and of renewed life that goes back to the ancient Egyptians and Persians. It’s thought that they are the ones who started the custom of colouring and gifting eggs during their spring festival... I’ve gone off on a tangent here a little talking things not really diet related...

To get back on track, I will share a ‘fun fact’ on male fertility. Male sperm contains lots of antioxidants, including vitamins E & C, carnitine, carotenoids, zinc, selenium and folate. They protect semen from the damage of reactive oxygen damage, which could otherwise cause fertility issues by damaging sperm and changing the sperm DNA. Dietary intake of antioxidants (both from food and supplements) has been shown to be strongly associated with semen quality (aka fertilisation potential). On the contrary, alcohol and smoking (even being exposed to cigarette smoke) have negative effects on fertilisation potential because these tend to reduce sperm count and slow down its speed... Bottom line is, when it comes to fertility, diet and lifestyle choices matter! Happy Easter everyone!