Nutrition for IBS, Reflux and Bloated Stomach Relief

Test for Candida

May 20th, 2014 by

In the past month, a number of patients with suspected Candida overgrowth have come into the clinic. Bloating and abdominal pain, fatigue after eating, diarrhoea or constipation, burping after meals, sweet cravings, lethargy and reflux were among the list of symptoms that they highlighted as symptoms that they wanted to get rid of.

All these patients were also thin, pale and run down. They had been ill for some time and having researched their symptoms on the Internet. They self diagnosed with Candida overgrowth and had started an Anti-Candida diet of no sugar and very little carbs. In each case it was over a year that they had been following a strict diet and felt no better. I mention this for two reasons:

1. The Importance of Running A Test for Candida

Many of the symptoms mentioned, such as bloating, abdominal pain, alternative diarrhoea and constipation, fatigue and reflux are also associated with a number of other possible causes, as discussed on my website. For this reason and considering the patients had been on the extreme diets for over a year and not seen any improvement, I suggested running a Comprehensive Stool test and saliva test for Candida. The results were varied but only one patient had confirmed yeast overgrowth and in this case the yeast found was not Candida. The other two patients were identified to have both an imbalance of beneficial to pathogenic bacteria and also overgrowth of parasites. Aside from identifying the cause of these digestive problems, the other benefit of the tests is the Sensitivity test. This test is performed when either yeast or pathogenic bacteria or parasites are found. It tests the efficacy of various prescribed and herbal antibiotics or anti-fungal agents. This ensures that your Anti-Candida Plan includes the most effective medications and herbs to help eradicate the unwanted bacteria, yeast or parasite.

2. The Importance of Choosing The Right Anti-Candida Plan

Fungi need to have a source of carbohydrates to live on. Their first choice is carbohydrates in the form of simple sugars, like table sugars or fruit sugar (fructose). The more sugars they have available, the better they thrive. For this reason it is advisable to avoid simple sugars found in products like sweets, chocolate, cakes, biscuits, ice-cream, fruit yoghurts, cordials, fizzy drinks and fruit juices.

Be warned though, extreme diets; which reduce not only the simple sugars but also the complex carbohydrates (wholegrain bread, brown rice, starchy vegetables etc) for weeks or even months, may lead to malnutrition. Fungi can adapt to use proteins as a food source so it is very hard to simply starve the fungi and tackle it through diet alone.

It is more effective to promote full body health rather than fighting symptoms using diet and tested anti-fungal agents. 
A healthy intestinal immune system is the best tool you have to fight against fungal overgrowth (for example candida).
 So a good anti-candida plan should strengthen your gut immunity and general health in order to combat fungal overgrowth and the associated GI (gastro intestinal) problems and other symptoms such as anxiety, poor concentration, fatigue and cravings.

New Tests For Coeliac Disease or Gluten Intolerance

November 22nd, 2013 by
Jess Keane (BSc. Biochem Post Grad Dip. Nutrition) discusses new tests called Gluten Associated Peptides. These tests are tests for people with coeliac disease or gluten tolerance (gluten sensitivity . It will help them understand why they may still be reacting to foods, even though they are on a gluten-free diet. 

Ireland is thought to have one of the highest incidences of coeliac disease in the world and many experts believe that many more cases of coeliac disease, and even more of gluten intolerance or gluten sensitivity, remained undiagnosed. It is therefore exciting news that innovative diagnostic tests are now available to health professionals in Ireland. These tests will help GPs and consultants to more accurately diagnose coeliac disease or gluten intolerance, and other autoimmune conditions. The test that I am most excited about looks at immune reactions to foods. This is not a standard food intolerance test. It specializes in what is termed ‘Gluten-associated Peptides”. I will do my best to explain simply what this means in the following two paragraphs.

Gluten refers to a family of proteins found in wheat, rye and barley. Gliadin is the one most well known and it is found in wheat. Anyone following a gluten-free diet will know to avoid these foods and any products containing them. However, some people will notice that they fail to thrive on this diet and they still experience reactions to foods.

The term “Gluten-associated Peptides” refers to small fragments of gluten found in other foods; foods that you would not necessarily expect, such as sesame, hemp, yeast, coffee, chocolate, egg, potato, dairy and even soy, millet, quinoa, corn, amaranth and rice. Yes, I know the last few foods on the list are the grains that do not contain gluten and are the ingredients most used in gluten-free products. They do not contain the gluten protein but instead small fragments of broken down gluten – “gluten-associated peptides”. It is to these small peptides that you could be reacting.

I am a lecturer in nutrition and would like to share the story of one of my students. She had been diagnosed with latent coeliac disease five years previously. She had been following a gluten-free diet and was doing well; her energy levels were up, she had put on weight, had colour in her cheeks and her memory and focus had greatly improved. Her diet was based on meat, fish, vegetables and fruit. No grains at all. During her first year at college she had learnt about the importance of a balanced diet, so had started to eat rice-based cereal every morning. Over the course of a year she gradually lost weight and became very tired again. She decided to go back to her grain-free breakfast of fruit or eggs, spinach and tomatoes. Once again her energy levels started to improve. If this test had been available, it may have saved this lady numerous days of feeling under the weather and helped her identify which grains and other gluten-associated foods she could eat.

The Gluten Summit was on last week and, as the 29 speakers made clear, a number of health conditions are associated with gluten sensitivity. These include autism, multiple sclerosis, ADD, ADHD, allergies, osteoporosis, irritable bowel syndrome, colitis and other digestive system disorders.  So if you suffer from any of these conditions, have tried a gluten-free diet and still struggle to thrive, consider this test.

Click to find out more about tests for Coeliac Disease or Gluten Intolerance or Gluten Sensitivity.

Constipation, anxiety and restless sleep

November 7th, 2013 by
Jess Keane (BSc. Biochem Post Grad Dip. Nutrition), Nutritionist in Cork and Co Waterford, discusses how poor quality sleep, low mood, anxiety and constipation could be linked to low magnesium levels. 

Earlier this year a study suggested that less than six hours of sleep a night over a week has significant negative effects the immune system and consequently is linked to health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity and poor mental health, such as low mood and poor concentration. More recently, a research team at the Surrey Sleep Research Centre discovered that getting just one extra hour’s sleep a night (switching from six-and-a-half hours to seven-and-a-half hours) reduces this effect.

As a nutritionist, I look at diet and nutrient status. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Caffeine intake
  • Drinking alcohol late at night reduces your REM (deep, reparative) sleep
  • Constipation, low mood and poor quality sleep may be linked to low serotonin levels. Serotonin levels may be assessed through a blood test or a more functional method may be to monitor the urinary levels of 5-hydroxyindolic acetic acid (a derivative of serotonin) using the Organic Acids Test. 
  • Difficulty going to sleep, restless sleep, racing thoughts or unexplained anxiety may be linked to low levels of magnesium. Also, if you get cramps regularly, find that fluids pass through you easily, have cold hands and feet, experience tightness in the neck and shoulders or notice twitches in small muscles (the eyelid, for example), you may have low magnesium levels. Magnesium-rich foods include dark leafy vegetables like watercress, kale, broccoli, spinach, brown rice, mackerel, beans and lentils, sunflower seeds, dried figs and dark chocolate. If your diet does not include these foods on a daily basis, consider a blood test to assess your magnesium levels. 

Be aware that people with digestive issues, such as low stomach acid production or coeliac disease as less likely to efficiently absorb minerals, such as magnesium, and may benefit from magnesium body spray or improving their digestive health.

Mercy Hospital’s Gastroenterology Services Get Expanded

October 11th, 2013 by

Anyone suffering from bloating, reflux, alternating diarrhoea and constipation, stomach pain or cramps may ask themselves “Where do I go to get gastroenterology services in Cork?” Well, one of the answers to that question is Mercy Hospital. The good news is that the Mercy Hospital’s Gastroenterology Services are being expanded to cope with demand. The quicker you are diagnosed and find out what is causing your digestive discomfort the quicker you can do something about it, find the right foods or nutrition plan to suit you and socialise without a worry. Here’s to lots more happy and healthy guts!



What Causes my Bloated Stomach?

September 30th, 2013 by
Jess Keane (BSc. Biochem Post Grad Dip. Nutrition) Nutritionist Cork and Waterford

Here we look at common causes of bloated stomach. To understand and identify the cause of your bloated tummy requires some investigation. Here are some common causes of bloating :

  1. If the bloating gets worse during the course of the day and is relieved after a bowel movement, constipation may be the cause of the abdominal bloating and pain. The trick is to slowly increase the right type of fibre. Introducing the wrong type of fibre too quickly can actually make bloating worse.
  2. Hormonal fluctuations during the female monthly cycle are common triggers for bloating. Increased progesterone levels cause abdominal muscles to relax which causes a woman to look bloated. The muscles in the bowel also relax, meaning the bowel becomes sluggish. This also can cause constipation, triggering further bloating. Fluid retention, causing bloating, is one of the signs of an underactive thyroid gland.
  3. If you experience bloating in the upper stomach acid, particularly after eating, feel really full after a normal-sized meal, burp lots within an hour of eating or get heartburn or indigestion,  low stomach acid production may be the cause of your bloated stomach.
  4. FODMAPS – these are various types of carbohydrates found in certain fruits and vegetables, dairy, beans, grains, cereals, naturals sweeteners, such as honey, and sugar-free chewing gum. Poorly digested FODMAPS may trigger bloating, stomach cramps and diarrhoea. Talk to a well-trained nutritionist or dietician about the FODMAP food plan.

If your symptoms are severe, sudden-onset, especially if they are accompanied by blood in your stool, vomiting or painful stomach cramps, see you doctor to rule out a medical condition.

Does Bread Make You Bloated?

August 29th, 2013 by

‘Bread makes me very bloated – is that normal?’ As a nutritionist, this is possibly the most common question that I am asked. The answer is that there are many causes of bloating, cramps, flatulence (wind, farting, gas) or burping, and not all bloating is caused by food.

If you experience bloating only after eating bread, then it may be that you are reacting to some of the ingredients used in modern day processing of bread. The list is long and includes oxidant chemicals such as azodicarbonamide to bleach the flour and strengthen the gluten, fractionated fats/emulsifiers (mono- and di-glycerides), preservatives such as calcium propionate, and enzymes derived from fungus. It is not a legal requirement to list all of these ingredients on the labels, so it is hard to always know what is in some shop-bought bread.

Go to a local baker (I’m afraid this doesn’t include the supermarket bakery) and ask for breads made using traditional methods, such as sourdough bread. The dough must be fermented in yeast over a 24 hour period.

If bread, pasta, couscous, baked goods and beer cause severe bloating which often takes a number of days to deflate and may be accompanied by foul-smelling wind and diarrhoea, it is advisable to discuss diagnostic testing for coeliac disease or gluten intolerance with a healthcare professional.

If your symptoms are severe, sudden-onset, especially if they are accompanied by blood in your stool, vomiting or painful stomach cramps, see your doctor to rule out a medical condition.

How to Get Rid Of …

August 8th, 2013 by

Jess Keane Nutrition can provide you with advice on how to get rid of the following:

Jess Keane Nutrition Website gets Upgraded!

August 8th, 2013 by

We are delighted to announce that we have partnered with DarockMedia (based in Dungarvan, Waterford) to mobile optimise our websign design so no matter what device you are using, you will now be able to access our content easily and without zooming in to read it!

In addition to this, DarockMedia have also optimised our pages & content for search engines so we can be found more easily by those who are looking for our advice.

Finally, they have setup this Blog so we can share relevant news, tips, research and information on Nutrition.