Tag Archives: digestive health

How Your Nose Can Be A Window Into Your Digestive Health

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had acne.

Many people experience this in their teens, but the unfortunate few will continue to experience this problem into their adult lives.

I am one of the unfortunate few.

I was confused too. Yes, I was a chubby child and weight can contribute, but I spent a good few years of my adult life at a relatively healthy weight range. The acne persisted!

I was always aware that my nose was constantly inflamed, always red and sometimes blistered with acne. Some days I would wake up and my face hurt so badly I could barely move it.

And when I went to the source of authority, the doctor, they just blamed a genetic predisposition to excess sebum production (sebum is a natural oil that the body makes and excretes through the skin). I left with a sense of ‘there’s nothing you can do’ about the whole thing.

Still, that never really clicked with me. Something intuitive inside me had related diet to nose redness and acne. I noticed that when I drank alcohol I would experience severe flare ups in a few days, and I’d wake up from a hangover with skin that was far more oily than usual. If I went and binged on sugar or bought fast food, I’d experience the same thing. There was something going on. I knew that, but I couldn’t put the pieces together until much later.

So what does a red nose mean?

Primarily, it signals inflammation in the digestive tract and problems in the immune system. When the immune system completely fails, you get autoimmune diseases like lupus (often diagnosed by a rouge butterfly rash on the bridge of the nose and a bright red nose). Alcoholics who drink far too much end up with bright red noses, signalling liver failure. A red nose can also be a risk factor for heart disease.

What people don’t realise is that all of these issues are linked and they originate in the gut. Your skin is an incredibly complex organ which wants you to understand that there’s a problem. Signs like redness or acne indicate an internal problem, requiring an internal solution.

Please, if you take nothing else away from this article, believe that your skin issues can be reduced significantly by tackling your digestive issues.

I want to show you how my own nose has improved after about a month of eating less inflammatory foods, intermittent fasting, drinking kefir and making sure to hydrate regularly.

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[ABOVE] One month ago, eating a standard diet with lots of preservatives and carbs, as well as milk products. Notice the typical blotchy effect on the nose, which has begun to spread further out across the bridge of the nose. 

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[ABOVE] A photo from today, following a much cleaner diet with wholefoods, no dairy, kefir and lots of water. Notice, the nose is no longer blotchy, there is a smoother appearance and less red/ purple discolouration. 

As you can see, we have definite improvement! I don’t recommend massive changes, but small incremental ones which can impact overall health. I make sure to test these things on myself before recommending them, because I want to make sure that the facts are really verifiable. The diet industry is full of misinformation.

You will, of course, experience some setbacks. Your body will occasionally react to something and you may see a flare up, but if the bottom image is your general state, give or take a few flare ups here and there, you’re moving towards better digestive health.

And though this is a blog for sharing information about better health, it is also a place to share my own progress on this journey. I was so hopeless and depressed when I began. I couldn’t see a way back. I thought my life was going to be a slow and steady decline in health, filled with more and more miserable doctor’s appointments. I couldn’t carry on like that, so I am really proud of myself for taking a step in the right direction. Reading, researching and sharing with my subscribers keeps me on the right track and hopefully helps you figure out your way too. That’s really all I can hope for. Let’s keep going together!

I hope you’re all staying well during this time and feeding yourself good, nutritional foods that support your overall health.

Have you experienced any similar skin improvements when changing your diet? Post your before and after pictures below, I’d love to see them!

Please like, comment and subscribe to Heathen.life for more health and well-being information and keep yourself on the road to recovery!

 

Three Common Ideas In Keto, Paleo and Vegan Diets That Actually Promote Total Health

If you’re anything like me, you’re constantly searching for the latest information and breakthroughs in the world of health. You’re searching because you’ve been affected by any number of setbacks which you’ve pinned down to your diet. You’re an intelligent person. You know that research can put you ahead of the curve and pull you out of your own physical and mental obstacles. 

Diet is a key pillar of overall health, along with the other basics, so you know it’s important to nail right? But it’s stressful! We are constantly bombarded by information, most of it bad, some of it ineffective, if not harmful, and yet fewer golden nuggets, truth bombs which work every time. 

Now, I won’t claim to have all the golden pieces. But, I can tell you that I’ve sifted a lot of dietary information. The perks of being something of a hypochondriac will drive you to rinse the medical literature for answers. I’m not proud of that weakness, but it’s something that improves every day my health does. 

Nevertheless, after sifting through that information and the prevailing popular diets of our era, there do appear to be some rules which apply across these very different approaches that could be the key to better health REGARDLESS of how you want to approach it. With that in mind, let’s quickly blast through a few notable connections that you can remember when you’re choosing foods at home. 

1. No Artificial Products/ Focus On Wholefoods: 

It’s quite clear that serious paleo, keto and vegan dieters all share a profound aversion for artificial products. When I say artificial, we’re talking anything which has a list bigger than ONE food item, or, consists of less than FIVE items, all of which you can reasonably understand the origins of. For example, all whole foods are just one item in their ingredient list. Items which might have more than one ingredient, but could still be very healthy are things like organic breads and maybe even some cheeses which are combined with dried fruits etc. If you don’t understand the ingredient as a wholefood in itself, DON’T buy it. Generally, the more complex the list, the less healthful the product! 

2. Focus On Organic Produce: 

Again, all three of these diets ask you to look at what organic produce you can buy. Organic foods tend to have less hormones, antibiotic, pesticides and genetic modification than their commercial counterparts. These added poisons can be hard to remove and can hurt the healing process. 

3. Focus On Healthy Fats:

Keto and Paleo encourage fatty cuts of meat so that your body can absorb the healthy omega 3 and 6 unsaturated fats. Vegan diets focus on a lot of coconut oil, avocado and olive, as well as a push towards naturally fatty products like avocados. These healthy fats really contribute to healing the gut lining by providing the body with the building blocks it needs to heal. Remember, a huge portion of the body is made from fat, the brain is almost entirely fat! 

That’s three connections across these prevailing big boys of the dieting world. If you are finding it tough to follow any one diet, avoiding multi ingredient foods, trying to eat more organic produce and getting more of your nourishment from saturated fats may help your digestion improve without the need for strict adherence to any one of the three.

The whole point of this blog is about demystifying the dieting world for my subscribers. I love to find patterns and trends which can act as hacks for better health! 

Let’s see what we can find!

J

 

 

Caffeine Is Not The Enemy

Caffeine has long been implicated in anxiety and depression disorders, as well as a range of physical ailments like IBS, stomach irritation and even conditions of the bladder and pelvis, like interstitial cystitis and chronic pelvic pain, affecting both men and women.

And it’s true that caffeine does appear to exacerbate irritation in already compromised bodies where inflammation is already surfacing.

This is purely anecdotal information by the way, but I do feel that my own experience is really important in shedding light on this issue, so I’m going to give you my view. Please, take it with a pinch of salt and if you need to do your own independent research, I absolutely welcome an independent mind.

For years, I tried to quit coffee. I was addicted. I just loved the taste, and it was one of the only things that could give me a lick of focus, just a little respite from the constant brain fog that affected me daily. I thought that if I could just get rid of this addiction, I could focus again, but I was looking in the wrong place. The single biggest change for me in my health and cognition was reducing sugar and ELIMINATING dairy.

I was suffering with chronic pelvic pain, which I thought was being caused by the irritative effects of caffeine, as so many medical advisory articles suggest. I had developed this pain after a recurrent uti, which is uncommon in men, but nevertheless affected my quality of life significantly. I found myself embarrassed by the number of trips to the toilet I had to take in the office and concerned that it might be brought up by management. I didn’t really want to discuss something like that, which as some of you who suffer with bladder discomfort will know, often seems too private to discuss with colleagues or bosses.

Men, this is especially important for you, as nearly all of us will experience this at some point in our lives, often caused by prostate inflammation or acute bacterial infection. Prostatitis, as it is named, is uncomfortable, and reduces quality of life in people who experience chronic versions that persist for months and even years.

The prostate is close to the intestine, and the lymphatic systems form the bridge between the large intestine and both the prostate and bladder. This is really important when you see your bladder and prostate health within the context of your digestive health. Organs that lie adjacent to the intestine are inevitably affected by the poor health of the gut and can contribute to these painful bladder issues. If you suffer with this kind of chronic inflammation men and women, you must look to your digestion to fix the problem. I really cannot stress that enough. Clean up your diet and things will improve in nearly every other system of the body.

Fast forward to today, after making a huge effort towards better gut health, my bladder problems are almost non-existent. Just by introducing goat kefir every day, a prebiotic/ probiotic supplement, lower overall sugar intake and elimination of all milk products, many of my health problems have improved significantly.

I still drink coffee mind you.

I drink it black.

My bladder and digestive health has never been better.

I have to be honest and say what I see. Caffeine is not the monster for me, though many medical establishments would say it is. It’s those other insidious substances which have really wrecked my health.

So, from my perspective, you don’t have to give up coffee to improve your intestinal health and subsequently, your overall health. You really need to focus on eliminating your food sensitivities. Often dairy is a massive problem. Processed sugar is terrible for your digestion. Additives can really cause harm (no more diet coke please!). Clean up these areas and you’re going to become healthier, happier and more productive, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up coffee!

A bit of good news for everyone I’m hoping.

Enjoy your beans people!

J

Fermentation – An easy way to store veg and promote gut health.

It has been my pleasure in recent weeks to soak up the art of fermentation.

This involves something close to pickling a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, but not quite.

Lacto-fermentation does not involve added sugar, so many products are more savoury once they ferment. Nevertheless, the range of foods that you can use in fermentation are staggering, each blend unique. The process is quick and simple, yielding probiotic pickles that help support your gut biome.

I had dabbled in this for a while, reading about it online and researching recipes for a range of fermented foods like Kefir, Kimchi and Saurkraut, but I took a dive and bought The Noma Guide To Fermentation on Amazon, plunging into it’s passionate and informative manual of frothy foods and drinks.

This is a wondrous book which provides all the central theory on fermenting your own foods, and the best bit, the lack of prescription. Noma advises us to play around with fermentation, finding blends of fruits, vegetables and spices which create exceptional flavours and unique taste bud experiences.

The key is salt.

Salting your foods in a correct ratio, somewhere at about 2% of the biomass of fruit and veg, will yield a fermented product in 3-5 days.

You can also try adding spices and herbs to these ferments to bring flavours together.

Kimchi blends cabbage, chilli, garlic and ginger with salt, creating a delicious gut friendly addition. I did in fact have some of this today with my lunch. It makes a delicious accompaniment to an omelette or scrambled eggs, as well as with a sandwich, maybe even as an addition to your healthy salad.

Fermented fruits and vegetables, touting all of the above qualities of ease, health and flavour are also among some of the most versatile foods in the world. What savoury dish does not benefit from the tart fizz of fermented foods? I challenge you to come up with one! You can add fermented foods to almost any dish to enhance flavour. The juices can help to build up a stock or gravy, can be poured over a prepared meal for some added zing, and can even added to deserts to make them pop! Fermented fruits and veggies are literally oozing complexity and utility from simplicity.

Aside from Kimchi, I plan to use my monstrously fertile rhubarb plants (seriously, these ancient garden stalks are like a hydra, they cannot be killed and grow back stronger when you cut them down) for a lacto-fermented rhubarb recipe which I found here. What I love about this is the blend of fragrant cardamom and fiery ginger with a seriously unique use for a tart vegetable (yes, rhubarb is a vegetable! hard to believe, I know). Some of the most fascinating ferments involve salted fruits and veggies which you might normally find in sweet dishes. One of Noma’s most famous ferments involves the gooseberry, a sour green hairy grape that pairs beautifully with fermentation. Sour fruits and vegetables shine in this process. The natural sourness of these fruits and vegetables can create beautifully tart surprises.

To boot, fermented fruits and vegetables can last months in the fridge. They don’t really go off, if prepared correctly, but be warned, the taste can become pretty intense the longer you leave them! Nevertheless, if everything else I’ve said on the subject hasn’t swayed you, what will you do with all your greens and colourful fruits come winter (the gardeners among you especially will want to make the most of your painstakingly raised produce)? At the end of the summer season, when you harvest your garden’s bounty, what better way to pay homage to your labour, than to preserve and pickle your hard work, letting it give back to you all through the winter!

Fermentation provides a literally endless supply of opportunities for us humans. It allows us to venture into a weakly explored territory of new flavours and culinary experiences (arguably something our ancestors understood well, but largely forgotten in a modern setting). It can add something special to almost any meal you make. Every blend produces a new and exciting flavour combination, influenced by the type of bacteria growing on the fruits and vegetables you use (all the more reason to grow your own!). It naturally aids our digestive tracts, which are constantly bombarded by unnatural chemical soups and processed junk. And finally, it lasts, giving you the benefit of your hard work all through the winter!

What more could you possibly want? It’s a no brainer to get into fermentation!

Keep well and enjoy learning, and if you liked this article, please share it with a friend or loved one who can benefit!

J