Processed foods have become a quick and convenient option in our modern, busy lives. Processed foods are not just limited to junk food items, we can categorise anything that comes out of a packet as processed. While there are many packaged food items that are marketed as 'healthy' they may be full of artificial additives. Whilst not all food additives are harmful, there are some that may upset our natural gut bacteria which can lead to increased gut permeability and inflammatory gut issues.
It is important to note that the frequency and amount of additives consumed will have the biggest impact on our long term health and gut bacteria. Consuming small amount of additives on an infrequent basis is unlikely to lead to long term gut imbalance, unless allergies are present.
Food additives that may upset the gut:
Maltodextrin is a type of carbohydrate, known as a polysaccharide. Maltodextrin is a common additive used as a filler and thickener to ultimately increase the volume of processed food. We see Maltodextrin in a plethora of commercially prepared foods including packet mixes and powders, health supplements, beauty powders, breakfast cereals, yoghurts, powdered sugar free sweeteners and museli bars.
Maltodextrin has been shown to to potentially upset out gut microbiome as it suppresses the growth of beneficial bacteria within out gut. Research conducted at Lerner Research Institute in Ohio suggests that polysaccharides such as maltodextrin have been linked to bacteria-associated intestinal disorders.
Another study conducted at the Boston Mucosal Immunology and Biology Research Center reported that maltodextrin impairs cellular antibacterial responses and also suppresses intestinal antimicrobial defence mechanisms. These effects may be contributing factors in inflammatory bowel disease and gut disorders. Maltodextrin markedly enhanced LF82 specific biofilm formation and the formation of multiple other E. coli strains.
In conclusion Maltodextrin may lead to dysbiosis of gut microbes and contribute to gut related diseases.
Titanium Dioxide E171
Titanium dioxide is used as a food whitener in common processed foods and has been show to negatively interact with bacteria in the gut as it impairs the function of beneficial gut bacteria. Health researchers claim that exposure to these types of nanoparticles has been linked to the development of diseases such as dementia, auto-immune disease, autism, cancer metastasis, eczema and asthma.
One study found that titanium dioxide did not change the composition of gut microbiota, but instead altered bacteria activity and promoted growth in a form of an undesired biofilm. Biofilms are bacteria that stick together and have been reported in diseases such as colon and rectal cancer.
Thickeners and Emulsifiers
Carboxymethylcellulose E466 is commonly referred to as cellulose gum and is used as an emulsifier and thickening agent found in both foods and drinks such as cream cheese, cottage cheese, dressings, gelatinous foods and sauces.
Carboxymethylcellulose is thought to cause an immediate inflammatory gut response by influencing the gene expression of gut bacteria. The altered gene expression caused by Carboxymethylcellusose leads to the over production of flagellin, a protein that when increased can cause inflammation in the gut.
Polysorbate 80 emulsifies or stabilises food substances that would normally separate to give a creamy consistency. It is used in foods such as coconut milk, salad dressing, creams and sauces.
In a 2017 study, Polysorbate 80 was found to decrease beneficial bacteria in the gut. This is thought to be due to pathogenic gut bacteria feeding on polysorbate 80, increasing inflammation posing a risk of weight gain in both humans and rodents.
As well as being commonly found in foods Polysorbate 80 is also found in many skincare products. While the effect on the skin microbiota is unknown, it is hypothosised that it could feed pathogenic bacteria on the skin as it does in our gut, which could lead to a myriad of skin conditions.
Artificial sweeteners may decrease beneficial gut bacteria, which can cause a rise and imbalance of pathogenic bacteria which may lead to inflammation associated diseases and autoimmune conditions. According to scientists from universities in Israel and Singapore, there are six artificial sweeteners commonly used in processed foods which have been found to be toxic to our beneficial gut bacteria:
Acesulfame potassium-k E950
Selecting minimally processed foods and avoiding harmful additives where possible may be beneficial for those susceptible to inflammatory gut related disorders, inflammatory skin conditions and autoimmune disorders.
Vita-sol has been formulated without the use of any artificial additives, fillers, sweeteners or colours to ensure a clean and nutrient dense inner beauty wholefood powder that supports both your gut and your skin.
Are fermented foods causing you a histamine response?
Green tea, chai lattes, fermented foods and avocados may be superfoods for some but for others, they may be a biochemical nightmare. Debilitating symptoms such as headaches, skin disorders, aching joints and gastric stress can lead sufferers to try the latest healthy eating trends in the quest for the alleviation of symptoms.
If you have been going to town on fermented foods, bliss balls and berry smoothies thinking that these foods may help alleviate your symptoms you may be surprised to hear that for some they could actually be worsening symptoms.
Histamine and amine intolerance occurs due to an accumulation of histamine or an impaired capacity for the breakdown of histamine within the body.
Histamine is a chemical substance known as a biogenic amine which is produced by the body and some foods.
Histamine is involved in the immune system response, the digestive system, and the central nervous system. It can work as a neurotransmitter communicating important signals from the body to the brain. Histamine is also a component of stomach acid and helps break down food in the stomach.
When histamine is ingested from foods it can usually be detoxified by substances called amine oxidases, however, if a person has low amine oxidase activity they are at risk of histamine toxicity.
The main enzyme responsible for the breakdown of ingested histamine is called Diamine oxidase (DAO). DAO is found mainly in the kidneys, thymus, and the placenta in pregnant women (which is why allergies often improve during pregnancy). When DAO is functioning efficiently ingested histamine is broken down within the digestive tract and removed before it can enter the body. When histamine levels inside the body become excessive, DAO and another enzyme called histamine N-methyl transferase (HNMT) break down the excess. If DAO activity is impaired, histamine can accumulate to excess and may cause a number of adverse symptoms that mimic a hypersensitive or allergy type reaction. Histamine can build up due to the ingestion of histamine-rich food or by food, drink or medications that either release histamine or inhibit the DAO enzyme.
Decreased DAO enzyme production and high histamine tends to be more common in people with the following -
Gut disorders such as celiac disease, leaky gut syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, dysbiosis and SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth).
DAO activity can also be inhibited by certain medications.
Increased histamine may aggravate symptoms such as gastric stress, nausea, headaches, mood disorders, depression, sinus problems, skin rashes, eczema, rosacea, psoriasis, joint inflammation, breathing difficulties, rapid heartbeat, rashes, itching, burning eyes, and flushing of the skin. Usually, symptoms can be minimised by a low histamine diet or by taking antihistamines.
SAMe and methionine help to reduce histamine by methylating it. People with high histamine and vegetarians or vegans may not be getting sufficient methyl compounds in their diets and may need professional methionine or SAMe supplements. Nutrient deficiencies such as vitamin C, copper, B12, folate, B6, B2, B1, zinc and methionine and nutrient excesses such as histidine and too much protein can aggravate histamine intolerance.
It is extremely important to follow the advice of a professional healthcare practitioner prior to taking any supplementation. Some people can react adversely to certain supplements and professional guidance is imperative.
1. Keep a food diary and monitor symptoms. This will give you a good idea of which foods you are most sensitive to.
2. Avoid canned food, particularly fish and meats
3. Avoid precooked and pre-prepared ready meals, the older the food the more histamine it can produce.
4. Avoid fermented foods such as aged cheeses, cultured vegetables, alcohol, yeast products (yeast serves as a catalyst for histamine production)
5. Avoid food additives such as preservatives and azo dyes as these can mediate the release of histamine.
6. Where possible buy and eat fresh products.
Diamine Oxidase (DAO) blockers to reduce:
Chai Mate tea
Histamine liberators to reduce:
Citrus fruits – kiwi, lemon, lime, pineapple
Cocoa and chocolate
Beans and legumes
Food Additives – benzoate, sulphites, nitrites, glutamate, food dyes
Supplements and OTC meds that increase DAO levels include:
Supplements and meds that inhibit DAO:
Cimetidine – an antihistamine
Monitor your symptoms with the following:
Fresh milk and milk products
Coconut milk, rice milk
Ricotta, cream cheese, butter
Most cooking oils
Most non-citrus fruit (except pineapples, strawberries, bananas)
Herbal teas (except chai, green, matcha)
Low histamine and amine level foods:
Fresh meat (frozen is ok)
Chicken (providing it is freshly cooked)
Egg yolks (egg white – is a histamine liberator only when in its raw state)
Grains – some people that are sensitive to histamine may also find that they are sensitive to gluten.
Anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory foods to increase:
Decreases histamine – B infantis, B lognum and L plantarum
Increases histamine – L casei, L reuteri and L bulgaricus
Supplements and ingredients that stabilize mast cells and reduce inflammation:
Turmeric Curcumin (also decreases DAO)
Important: Always seek professional recommendation prior to taking any supplements or making any dietary changes
It is reported that those living in the blue zones live longer and have the lowest incidence of disease in the world. Studies believe that a common factor of people in these areas is diet, particularly a style of eating commonly referred to as the Mediterranean diet. The Mediterranean diet is high in plant based foods and healthy fats.
Eating a diet high in plant based foods rich in antioxidant compounds called Polyphenols may significantly contribute to our general health and longevity. Polyphenols are a type of phytochemical (plant chemical) that occurs naturally in plants. There are over 500 unique polyphenols.
Eating a diet high in all forms of polyphenols may be beneficial to our health in many ways. Nearly all fruits and vegetables contain polyphenols and choosing polyphenol rich foods may help protect our cells from disease and damage.
Possible benefits of a Polyphenol Rich diet include:
Reduced risk of inflammatory related disease such as heart disease, diabetes, some cancers and hormonal imbalance. Polyphenols may help to protect the cells in the body from free radical damage that occurs from a poor lifestyle, stress, medications and glycation.
Polyphenols may help with a healthy gut microbiome by promoting the growth of healthy gut flora. There is some evidence to show that a high polyphenol intake can positively modulate the intestinal microbiome enabling more of the eubiotic bacteria that produce short chain fatty acids (which are important in maintaining a healthy gut). Gut microbiota and dietary polyphenols have a symbiotic relationship: the microbiota enzymatically transforms polyphenols to improve bioavailability, while polyphenols modulate microbial composition by enhancing the growth of beneficial bacteria and inhibiting the growth of pathogens, thus exhibiting the prebiotic-like effect. In turn this may help with the health of the gut and may benefit those with gut related disorders and diseases.
Polyphenols may help to protect the cells from damage by helping to protect telomeres. Telomeres are the caps at the end of the chromosomes that protect the DNA. Telomeres are particularly susceptible to oxidation and so eating a diet rich in polyphenols may assist with slowing the rate of telomere degradation.
Polyphenols may benefit brain function, cardiovascular health and circulation by providing blood vessel support and lowered risk of oxidations of fats in the cellular membranes.
Polyphenols may boost insulin sensitivity, as well as slow down the rate the body digests and absorbs sugar.
Higher flavonoid intake may be associated with a lower BMI and waist circumference.
Polyphenols may impact genes and gene expression. A person's specific genes can also affect how their body responds to certain types of polyphenols.
Polyphenols may assist with healthy glowing skin. Particularly important for those wanting to delay the signs of premature aging, or those wanting to prevent pigmentation, acne, rosacea and inflammatory type skin conditions.
Plant-based foods such as vegetables and fruits tend to be high in polyphenols.
The number of polyphenols in a food can vary depending on where the food is grown, how it is farmed and transported and how it is cooked or prepared. High heat and prolonged cooking may damage or destroy the polyphenol content of food.
Some major sources of polyphenols include:
Tea including black tea, green and white tea
Red, blue and black fruits such as berries, red grapes and cherries
Apples, citrus fruits
Purple and red vegetables such as beetroot, eggplant
Wholegrains – oats, barley, rye
Soy, flaxseeds and legumes
Herbs such as rosemary, thyme, celery seeds, basil, marjoram and oregano
Nuts and seeds
Olives and extra virgin olive oil
Vita-sol Infinity powder
Eating a plant based diet high in fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds and full of fresh produce and minimally processed food is proving to be the healthiest way to eat. Of course a fabulous way to boost your polyphenol intake to maximise the health benefits is to ensure you take 2 teaspoons of Vita-sol Infinity powder every single day.
The Ketogenic Diet (keto diet for short) was first used as a diet to effectively manage epilepsy, and other medical conditions, it has now become a very trendy way to lose weight and its popularity continues to grow.
The Keto Diet involves intentionally putting your body into ketosis by drastically reducing carbohydrate intake whilst increasing fat intake. Ketosis is a metabolic state that occurs when the body does not have sufficient amounts of glucose to produce energy, and so instead, the body converts fats into ketone bodies (this is where the ‘fat burning’ comes in) that are used up as energy for major organs such as the brain, heart, liver and kidneys.
The ketogenic diet promotes a constant state of ketosis to use fat storage as energy, to achieve this it is recommended that you consumer only 20-50 grams of carbohydrates per day (for example 1 medium banana + 1 apple equates to approx. 50 grams of carbs), adequate amounts of protein and high amounts of fat (65-75% of total energy intake). Think of including foods such as salmon, tuna, barramundi, flaxseeds, tahini, walnuts, chai seeds, pine nuts, brazil nuts, avocado, plant and seed oils and eggs, and reducing foods such as processed cakes/biscuits/muffins/pastries, deep fried and take-away foods.
Some of the benefits of a Keto Diet that are related to a reduction in blood glucose levels include:
Increased insulin sensitivity
Reduced lipogenesis (fat production) as excess glucose from carbs is stored as fat
Beneficial to the small blood vessels of the eyes and kidneys as glucose damage these
Excess fructose (found mostly in fruits) can increase risk of developing a fatty liver
Many people react to carbohydrates such as fructose and lactose (dairy), so removing these may help reduce allergic/intolerant symptoms
However, despite these health benefits and weight loss success stories, the Keto Diet can also lead to numerous undesired side effects as glucose is the bodies preferred energy source and carbohydrates, including fibre, are important for maintaining regular bowel movements, reducing LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol and feeding our healthy gut bacteria. Additionally, you need to have an optimally functioning liver with excellent bile production in order to digest and absorb these large quantities of fats.
Therefore, without a healthy liver, sufficient bile production and consuming very low amounts of carbs and fibre, the Keto Diet may cause unwanted side effects such as:
The ‘keto flu’ – as your body adjusts from using carbohydrates as the main fuel to using fats and ketones as energy, you may experience a ‘keto flu’ which can cause symptoms such as headaches, weakness, nausea, low energy, reducing concentration and brain fog.
Acetone smelling breath – this is due to the ketone bodies
Hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) which can cause dizziness, sugar cravings and mood changes
Sleeping problems and fatigue
Digestive issues – due to not digesting the fats efficiently
Constipation – due to not having enough fibre
Diarrhoea – due to too much fat
Reduced muscle mass if not consuming adequate
May be too socially restrictive and isolating
May cause weight gain if not doing it correctly as fat is very energy dense
Too much saturated fat can cause an increase in cholesterol levels which increases cardiovascular disease risk
Can lead to nutrient deficiencies such as magnesium, potassium, vitamin C and folate
May throw off your pH balance by making your body more acidic
TIP: Vita-sol Purity Wholefood Powder will assist in the healthy production of bile.
While it may be tempting for a quick weight loss solution, any strict diet regimes should not be undertaken without the guidance of a medical practitioner.