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A to Z of what's hot/trending in health

Avacado oil: this wonderful tasting oil is a very worthy rival to olive oil. Some say it is even better for you. It is rich in oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that is good for your skin. There are claims it may be good for your heart and circulation. Make sure you get the best, which is extra virgin oil.

Butyrate: this is a short chain fatty acid produced by good bacteria in your gut. It has an anti inflammatory effect in the gut, and is generally recognized to be a marker for good gut health in stool testing. Eating plenty of prebiotic fibre may help produce more of this valuable nutrient.

Cashew milk: almond and soy milk have a new rival! It is a creamy and healthy alternative rich in vitamin E, and other vital nutrients. Still slow to take off in NZ, but watch out for more interest in this milk in 2018.

D vitamin: true to say this has been trending for several years, but the message is slow to get through. I like clients to get this tested as so many New Zealanders are low in this nutrient. If you have auto immune disease or regular problems with your immunity this vitamin (actually more of a hormone) is worth considering.

Essene bread: probably true to say this trended several thousand years ago, but there is now renewed interest. This sprouted grain bread is a very healthy alternative to normal bread and some consider it really tasty. However, if you are gluten sensitive it is not recommended.

Fermented foods: widely discussed in 2017, and ready for greater usage this year. There is more and more evidence that fermented foods are good for the gut and may be more effective in improving bacterial diversity than probiotic supplements. Try buying or making your own.

Glutathione: your body’s major cellular antioxidant and essential nutrient for liver detoxification. In fact it is just a combination of three amino acids, and can be obtained through eating foods high in these amino acids especially broccoli and other sulphur rich vegetables. Supplements such as N-acetyl cysteine are also becoming popular to boost levels.

HIIT: ‘high intensity interval training’ is proving to be the best exercise process to lose weight, gain fitness, and improve your health. Although this has been practiced for a number of years, expect to hear more of it in the coming months.

Inflammation: nothing new here, except a recognition that inflammation is behind almost all chronic disease, and most inflammation begins in the gut. What is trending now is a recognition of the term, and the need to reduce inflammation if we want to improve our health.

Jackfruit: this tropical Asian fruit is high in protein and has been successfully used as a tasty meat substitute. It has a firm texture and a slightly sweet taste. I have noticed a greater use in NZ in the last year or two at a time when more people are looking for meat substitutes.

Kefir: many people have tried kefir yoghurt from the supermarket, but who has tried making their own? Kefir is another great ferment, and those who have experienced it will often report better gut health, although it is not a universal cure.

Leaky gut: there has been much research into this topic going back thirty years or more, but only recently has the effect of leaky gut on systemic health become so well understood. Luckily, we now know what to look out for and how to manage it in most cases.

Microbiome: the gut microbiome is talked about continuously in online health seminars, and many doctors in the States and Canada are fully aware of how it affects our health and how to best manage it. Dr Bernard Jensen taught about the gut and its connections to health last century, and we appreciate the work he did in pointing us in the right direction.

Non-Celiac gluten sensitivity: yes, it is officially recognized and is not just in our imagination! Fact is that many of us are affected and for most people cutting back on gluten-based foods does seem to help in their health. Evidence is there that gluten does affect the gut wall.

Organic acids testing: this a test for 74 metabolites in the urine. These acids are naturally occurring, and imbalances in them are great for indicating general metabolic body imbalances. Currently my favourite test, as it gives so much information that is not easily attained in other ways.

Prebiotics: food for the good bacteria in your colon is provided for by fibre in various foods, predominantly fruits and vegetables. Many vegetables, in particular, are known for the prebiotics that they provide and their subsequent health benefits. More useful than probiotics? In the long term I would say yes!

Quinolinic acid: this is an acid measured through organic acid testing that may be present to excess in the urine when there is brain inflammation. It is produced by brain macrophages and microglia. Very useful marker for brain issues of one type or another.

REM sleep: all sleep is necessary, but REM sleep has great restorative ability for the body and mind and should occupy a significant proportion of overall sleep. If you sleep poorly you may not be getting enough. Many ways to help with this from diet to lifestyle to supplements, such as ‘Sleep Drops’.

SIBO: small intestinal bacterial overgrowth is very common today and contributes to many health conditions. In the US it is widely recognized and is commonly used in medical terminology. Expect the same here in 2018.

Turmeric: a favourite that is likely to remain popular for the foreseeable future. This is a great food for reducing inflammation and a wonderful antioxidant…but remember fresh is best!

Urinalysis: simple urinalysis tests for ten metabolites and is very good as a general health indicator…...very easy in clinic or at home test. Organic acids urine testing costs a little, yet gives 74 metabolites, and tells us so much about what is going on inside us.

Vagus nerve: cranial nerve ten may be at the route of several gut complaints when it is under functioning. SIBO is influenced by poor motility in the small intestine, and this is influenced by vagus stimulation (or lack). In the US ‘prokinetic’ drugs are usually used, but there are other more natural ways.

Watermelon: very good source of nutrients such as citrulline, potassium, and a range of vitamins. Thought to be good for the circulation, but certainly the high-water content helps with dehydration, which is so common today. Especially good in the heat of summer.

Xenoestrogens: Industrial compounds such as pthalates, PCBs, and BPA contain these compounds which can be endocrine disruptors that may be damaging to our reproductive health. Watch out for your environment!

Yams: yams are complex carbohydrates that contain dietary fibre, which allows for slow digestion and absorption. At a time when grains are receiving a bad press expect the use of tasty yams to increase. Perhaps 2018 will look more favorably on some carbohydrates?

Zonulin: OK, still not a word that is familiar to most, but the relatively recent discovery of this protein in the body has helped to confirm the existence of leaky gut. Its presence in the bloodstream gives rise to antibodies that can be tested to indicate a leaky gut. Check out the fascinating research of Alessio Fasano (gastroenterologist and researcher)!

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