HAPPY GUT Blog

Just in time for Valentine’s Day: Dark Chocolate Cherry Donuts

Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to show major love to someone special! Yet for many people, this day means plenty of sweets and decadent dishes that can sabotage your weight and your gut health.

Let’s try something different this year. These tasty, healthy donuts eliminate highly processed additives like soy, dairy, and white sugar. These ingredients (found in most chocolate treats) can trigger gut inflammation, stall weight loss, and weaken your immune system.

Ditch the packaged options. Instead, nourish your gut and overall health with this Happy Gut recipe.

While I’m providing these donuts for Valentine’s Day, they can become staples any time of the year. Just make extras, because these will go fast!

Dark Chocolate Cherry Donuts

WF  DF  GF  SF VG

Serves: 4

Ingredients

1-½ cup almond flour

¼ cup unsweetened almond milk

¼ cup raw cacao powder

¼ cup dried unsweetened cherries (free of preservatives)

2 tbs 100% Pascha dark chocolate chips

1 tbs coconut oil

1 egg

1 tbs pure vanilla extract

¼ cup grade A pure maple syrup

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp sea salt

Donut Pan

Step 1

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Step 2

In a medium-size bowl, mix together almond flour, cacao powder, baking soda, cherries and sea salt.

Step 3

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg with the remaining ingredients, except for the chocolate chips.

Step 4

Combine all ingredients, then add the chocolate chips.

Step 5

Grease donut pan with oil and pour batter to each mold.

Step 6

Bake for 7-10 minutes. Use a toothpick to determine if the donuts are finished baking. Allow to cool before removing from the pan.

 

Do you have your own favorite gut-healing dessert recipe? I’d love to hear how you satisfy your gut and your sweet tooth below or on my fan page.

What You Need To Know About Candida + How To Heal It

Candida or yeast overgrowth seems to be one of the most misunderstood gut issues. It comes on sneakily, sometimes after a course of antibiotics, but often as a result of an unregulated diet rich in sweets and refined carbs. Once it establishes residence in your gut, it seems like it will never leave. I have seen cases of yeast overgrowth or Candida last for years.

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably been dealing with a host of symptoms that you think are due to candida or yeast overgrowth. I mention yeast overgrowth, because not every yeast problem in the gut is due to Candida. It is common, but it is not the only yeast that can make your gut its unwelcome home. However, let’s use candida as the general example for how to deal with this issue.

Candida can present with various symptoms that are significant enough to impact your day-to-day life. Check out this list of Candida symptoms that may be putting you into a state of distress:1  

  • Painful Cracks at the corners of your mouth
  • White Patches on the Tongue
  • Vaginal Itching
  • Nail Fungus
  • Brain Fog
  • Sugar Cravings
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Bloating or Gas
  • Poor Immunity
  • Hormonal Imbalances
  • Urinary Tract Infections
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches
  • “Fibromyalgia”

Harmless strains of yeast can be found in the intestinal tract, mouth and vagina. When it comes to the gut microbiome, diversity is the key as well as relative abundance. You want your good bacteria to outnumber and overpower any yeast growing in your gut. Your probiotic helpers keep yeast in check. When yeast has gotten out of hand, it’s because you’ve lost your resident helpers that kept the status quo.

The Candida Albicans strain of yeast is a particularly fastidious one. It can invade the lamina propria–the space between the gut lining and the interior of the body. It can protect itself by forming a biofilm, a gelatinous protein matrix that is used to share nutrients in a community of microorganisms, but also serves to protect it from antimicrobials. When Candida gets out of hand, it can lead to yeast infections in parts of the gastrointestinal tract beyond where it is normally found (like in the esophagus and mouth), or even within the body when an individual’s immune surveillance system is compromised.

Candida is one possible cause of leaky gut. A leaky gut happens when the intestinal wall becomes more permeable. Imagine holes getting wider in a cheese cloth, thus allowing the passage of bigger molecules, including incompletely digested food proteins your body creates an immune reaction to and results in a food sensitivities.

In many cases, candida is not looked at as a major issue, because you continue to act and function in your daily life, albeit not at your optimal capacity. However, this overgrowth can significantly impact how you feel. You live in a fog, not even fully aware of the impact it is having on your life.

Candida is no joke! It will wear you down, as you follow one internet trail after another trying this supplement and that recommendation. What I have found in my practice is that people with candida don’t understand how long it really takes to heal the body of candida, so they tend to give up too early.

This is a marathon. Are you tired of having a foggy brain? Annoyed that red, itchy rash keeps coming back? Want to curb your uncontrollable sugar and carbohydrate cravings? Do you want to have a clear head again? Well, then, first of all, don’t give up, and secondly, read on… I can help you free yourself of these imbalances!

First, let’s take a look at what may be causing this overgrowth. Once we understand that, we can make lifestyle changes or intervene with other methods to heal your body of this fungal overgrowth.

What Causes Candida? Take a look at the contributing factors in the list below.2  

  • Prescription Drug Use– Prescription drugs can alter the balance of healthy microbes. Beneficial bacteria serve as a counterbalance, keeping harmful strains from growing. Medications, like birth control pills, antibiotics and corticosteroids alter the gut environment, contributing to microbial imbalances (like dysbiosis) or creating a favorable milieu for Candida to grow in. These can result in an overgrowth of candida.
  • Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD) – Studies show that individuals with Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis (IBD) have high colonization levels of candida. It may be that fungal overgrowth is at the root of these chronic, inflammatory diseases of the bowel.3  
  • Compromised Immune System– Individuals with a compromised immune system are at greater risk of fungal overgrowth.4
  • High Carbohydrate Diet– A diet high in refined carbohydrates will create a sugar-rich environment in the body that favors colonization with candida albicans.5 Candida will then alter your brain chemistry to want more sugar. For instance, you eat too much sugar, over time your develop candida overgrowth, then the candida makes you crave more sugar/refined carbs and you eat more of them! All forms of sugar (grains, processed snack foods and even high amounts of fruit) will act as fuel for the yeast and feed it. This creates a vicious cycle that allows Candida to thrive and overgrow!

Happy Gut Candida Diet Changes

Now that we understand what contributes to yeast overgrowth, I am going to give you the tools to heal candida and get rid of it for good!

Candida Diet– This is basically a very low sugar/ low refined starch diet. Better explained, this diet is free of processed sugar, low in natural sugars and overall carbohydrates (grains, starchy vegetables, legumes and fruit). Be sure to leave out any foods that contain yeast. This means reading labels closely! Often, gluten-free products and other “healthy” baked goods contain yeast. Beware that gluten-free packaged foods are often made out of refined gluten-free flours, which will also fuel yeast overgrowth. This also means eliminating alcohol, like wine and beer, for the time-being. Stick with grass fed, free-range, or wild-caught proteins, greens, low-starch vegetables, and healthy fats (like coconut oil, which has anti-yeast properties).

Happy Gut AlternativesEating a low sugar diet doesn’t have to mean your diet has just gone to hell. At first, it may feel like your options have been severely limited. However, there are so many delicious recipes, low in sugar and free of added ingredients to satiate you at every meal. Be sure to check out my Happy Gut recipes here. We even have tasty desserts if you want a healthy treat! But, not too much, especially when you’re in the first phase of the strict Candida Diet. Be sure to add plenty of non-starchy vegetables, protein and healthy fats to your meals. This will leave you feeling satisfied to reduce your cravings for carbs and sugar! And resist snacking between meals. Satiate your hunger with wholesome meals, and avoid the temptation of snacking that often leads you down the pat of refined carbs.

Quality CountsIt is also important to watch the quality of the food you eat. Many toxins, antibiotics and other processed ingredients sneak their way onto your dinner table, surreptitiously disrupting the delicate balance of your microbiome. For example, antibiotics are added to the water in feedlot chickens to keep them “healthy” and plump them up. Gross! Be sure to eliminate all Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) from your diet as well. Watch out for soy and corn, since most of it is genetically modified in the U.S. Look for organic, wild-caught and grass-fed protein options. In terms of fruit and vegetables, stick to organic or check out which ones to absolutely avoid buying non-organic with the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen List.

Additional Supplementation

When healing candida, you will want to consider a few other things. If you’ve had Candida for a while, it’s not going to heal alone without additional help. This includes proper supplementation, healing a leaky gut and even working with a functional medicine practitioner, because sometimes you may require more powerful antifungal prescriptions to defeat candida. If you’ve been fighting this fight on your own and not succeeding, it’s time to seek professional guidance.

Below are a few natural remedies for healing candida! These also support immunity, which is important when treating and preventing yeast overgrowth.2,6,7

Natural Remedies

  • Caprylic Acid: A fatty acid found in coconut that contains antifungal properties. It can be eaten in coconut oil, but also is found in many anti-candida supplements.
  • Pau D’Arco Tea: Contains antimicrobial properties to protect against bacteria, yeast and fungi.
  • Probiotics: Restore the gut microbiome with beneficial bacteria strains containing S. Boulardii, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Aim for a probiotic with at least 100 Billion CFU once or twice daily. If your symptoms are pretty strong, then you will likely need a stronger probiotic. I use a 225 Billion CFU probiotic nutraceutical with my patients in these cases. Saccharomyces boulardii is a special consideration, because it is a friendly yeast that helps restore normal gut permeability and prevents candida from binding to the gut lining.
  • Prebiotics: Probiotics help re-establish balance in the GI tract, but they at best only create a transient residence. In order to promote the growth of the good guys, you need prebiotics nutrients. A lot of these are found in the foods you eat, but they can also be taken as a supplement containing resistant starches, such as arabinogalactan, FOS (fructo-oligosaccharides), and inulin.
  • Oregano oil: One of my favorite plant-derived oils for combating yeast overgrowth. It can be ingested directly or taken in a capsule. The oil is very powerful, so normally only 2 – 3 drops per dose twice a day is all that’s needed.
  • Vitamin D: Keeps the immune system strong and reduces inflammation.
  • Omega-3’s: Help to reduce inflammation in the body.

Foods That Heal Candida

  • Cultured Drinks: The king of these is homemade kefir. You can make it with organic, grass fed cow’s milk, goat’s milk, or even coconut milk. The probiotic counts in this culture drink can number in the trillion CFU’s, so kefir packs a strong candida-defeating punch.
  • Fermented Veggies: The most well-known is sauerkraut, made from fermented cabbage, but you can pretty much ferment any vegetable. Be creative, and add flavors to your ferments, like turmeric, for an anti-inflammatory complement. Check out Kraut Source® for an easy fermentation kit.

There are many natural ways you can heal from candida to create a Happy Gut. Aside from this blog post, I’d love to help you get started on the road to recovery with my Quick Start to a Happy Gut. This is a complimentary guide to help you improve your overall gut health!

Citations:

1. Candidiasis. Candidiasis. Retrieved November 3, 2017, from https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/candidiasis  

2. Candidiasis. Candidiasis | University of Maryland Medical Center. Retrieved November 3, 2017, from http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/candidiasis

3. Kumamoto CA.Inflammation and gastrointestinal Candida colonization.Curr Opin Microbiol. 2011 Aug; 14(4): 386–391.

4. Whibley N,  Gaffen SL. Beyond Candida albicans: Mechanisms of immunity to non-albicans Candida species. Cytokine. 2015 Nov; 76(1): 42–52.

5. Santana IL, Gonçalves LM, Vasconcellos AAd, da Silva WJ, Cury JA, et al. (2013) Dietary Carbohydrates Modulate Candida albicans Biofilm Development on the Denture Surface. PLOS ONE 8(5): e64645.

6. Omura Y, O’Young B, Jones M, Pallos A, Duvvi H, Shimotsuura Y. Caprylic acid in the effective treatment of intractable medical problems of frequent urination, incontinence, chronic upper respiratory infection, root canalled tooth infection, ALS, etc., caused by asbestos & mixed infections of Candida albicans, Helicobacter pylori & cytomegalovirus with or without other microorganisms & mercury. Acupunct Electrother Res. 2011;36(1-2):19-64.

7. Pau D’ Arco. Retrieved November 3, 2017, from http://www.ucdenver.edu/academics/colleges/pharmacy/currentstudents/OnCampusPharmDStudents/ExperientialProgram/Documents/nutr_monographs/Monograph-pau_darco.pdf

Top 7 Happy Gut Tips for the Holidays

Staying on track and eating healthy during the holiday season can be challenging with all the temptations of food, sweets and alcohol. It can seem like everywhere you turn, you are being offered cookies, cake and candy. Holiday parties and socializing become stressful with the endless abundance of food and buffets. Or you may feel pressured by family members to eat a decadent homemade dish. Before you know it, you’ve gained weight, are dealing with indigestion and feeling fatigued from a sugar/refined carb overload and the lack of nutritious foods.

Holidays don’t have to mean stress, anxiety and indulgence. It’s important to recognize that the holidays are often the only time many families come together. During this time, take a moment and give thanks for what you have and reflect on this past year’s joys. There is so much more that encompasses the holiday season than just indulgent, fat-rich, savory and sugary foods. This is a time to reflect and express gratitude for what is good in your life. Keep this in mind when the bustle of the holidays overwhelms you.

And for those moments when temptation may get the best of you in the next few weeks, use these Happy Gut tips to feel good and stay healthy throughout the holiday season!

7 Happy Gut Holiday Tips

Stay Hydrated Make sure you drink plenty of water. When it gets cooler out, and the dry heat turns on, you may not realize how much fluid you’re losing to the environment when you breathe and talk. It’s easy to dehydrate, drinking coffee and forgetting to drink enough water. Often times, we even confuse hunger or fatigue for thirst, leading you to over-consume simple sugars and refined starches when simply hydrating would help your body feel balanced. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology released a study indicating that drinking water can help increase metabolic rate. This is good news for those of you looking to support your body’s metabolic needs and maintain a healthy weight.1 Not to mention, a warm cup of water with lemon is a great way to naturally stimulate the body’s detoxification and digestion processes.

Eliminate Added Sugars and Processed Ingredients It may seem like the apple pie or sugar cookies are calling your name, but once you have that first bite you won’t be able to resist. The best way to avoid them is to not have them. Resist the urge to indulge in these highly processed foods. Sugar is like cocaine to the brain. It stimulates the same brain regions as the drug. In addition, many desserts are filled with processed sugar and grains that can leave you feeling uncomfortable and bloated.

Instead, skip the sugar and processed foods. Opt for a healthy dessert. Be sure to check out my delicious cookies and  n’ice cream, among other upcoming holiday dessert recipes!

Stabilize Blood SugarNever go to a holiday party hungry. Prior to leaving for a big holiday meal, eat a snack with healthy fats and protein to ensure stable blood sugar levels.2 Showing up famished and “hangry” to a party will lead you to overeat, and you’re sure to not make the healthiest choices. When your blood sugar drops, you will crave refined starches (like bread, rice, and pasta) and sweets. Choose a low-carb snack like a hard-boiled egg with nut butter,  carrot sticks with hummus, or even a few avocado slices drizzled with Himalayan sea salt and olive oil, prior to heading out to the holiday party.

Stay Active Just because it’s the holidays, there is no reason to stop your daily exercise routine. Before you start the day, get out in nature for a brisk walk, do your favorite yoga routine or find the right exercise that works for you. Break a sweat! Better yet, after a holiday meal, take a 15 – 20 minute walk with the family to digest your holiday dinner.

“Mocktail, Please!”The other side of holiday indulgence involves imbibing, not just eating. Too much alcohol can equally wreak havoc on your health, just as the wrong food choices can. Instead, opt for soda water with bitters and mashed berries. Bitters help stimulate your digestive juices, so you can break down and absorb your food better. This drink is guilt free, low in sugar,  and promotes a healthy, happy gut. Even better, it looks like a fancy cocktail, but without the booze or hangover.

Support Digestion Before, During and After  Regardless of staying on track and doing your best during the holiday season, you may indulge in a few larger meals. In an attempt to not feel completely stuffed and uncomfortable, try a digestive enzyme. Take the enzyme 15 – 20 minutes prior to each large meal. A favorite product of mine is our Happy Gut Activate enzymes–a comprehensive digestive enzyme supplement.

Slow Down During your meal, practice mindfulness by being fully present. Enjoy the experience at the table, socialize, and eat slowly. Try resting your fork between bites and chewing thoroughly. Eating at a slower pace gives your stomach the time it needs to signal your brain that it is full. Try to stop when you are seventy-five percent full. This will decrease your chances of overeating.

After the meal, if you still feel like you may have overeaten, opt for a warm cup of ginger or peppermint tea to soothe your belly and decrease discomfort.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and find these tips helpful throughout the next few weeks!

For more help rebooting your gut health after the holidays, check out my 3-Day Gut Reboot Diet. It’s a quick way to reset your gut health when overindulgence has gotten the better of you.