Revitalise Your Gallbladder

Revitalise Your Gallbladder

Embrace Bitter Foods for a Healthier Gallbladder

Today we are delving into the fascinating world of bitter foods and how they can help cleanse and support your gallbladder’s health. As a naturopathic practitioner, I’ve seen time and time again how bitter foods can make a positive impact on our overall wellbeing, particularly in the realm of digestion and hormonal health.

The Bitter Foods and the Gallbladder

The gallbladder plays an essential role in the digestive process, storing bile produced by the liver and releasing it into the small intestine to break down fats. Bitter foods, such as leafy greens, dandelion root, and artichokes, have been shown to promote the production of bile, which in turn supports the overall function of the gallbladder.

Including bitter foods in your diet can help prevent gallstone formation and improve the flow of bile. By stimulating the release of bile, bitter foods can help flush out excess cholesterol and other waste products that contribute to gallstone formation. For a more indepth look into the role of bitter herbs on our health check out by blog post on Bitter Food, Sweeter Life.

wound healing phases

Benefits of a Gallbladder and Liver Cleanse

Let’s go through some of the benefits we can expect from doing a gallbladder and liver cleanse.

Improved digestion

A cleanse can help eliminate toxins and improve bile flow, resulting in better digestion and nutrient absorption.

Reducing Inflammation

By detoxifying the liver and gallbladder, a cleanse can help reduce inflammation throughout the body, potentially easing symptoms of various inflammatory conditions.

Enhanced energy levels

Removing toxins from the liver and gallbladder can help improve overall energy levels and vitality.

Weight management

A cleanse may aid in weight loss by promoting a healthier metabolism and improving digestion.

Hormonal balance

A healthy liver and gallbladder are essential for proper hormone production and balance, which can lead to improved mood and overall well-being.

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omega-3 for wound healing

Herbal Medicine for Optimal Gallbladder Health

In addition to these dietary measures to support the gallbladder, herbal medicines can play an important role in practice. Let’s run through a few of the herbal medicine I commonly use in clinic to support the gallbladder.

Bitter Herbs

Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum) – Milk thistle is a well-known liver tonic that also supports the gallbladder by promoting bile production and flow. Its active ingredient, silymarin, has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can protect the liver and gallbladder from damage.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) – Dandelion root is another bitter herb that helps stimulate bile production and aids in detoxification. It supports both the liver and gallbladder, making it a valuable addition to any gallbladder cleanse.

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) – Turmeric, a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant herb, contains curcumin, which can help reduce inflammation in the gallbladder and promote bile flow.

Peppermint (Mentha piperita) – Peppermint is known for its ability to relax the smooth muscles of the gallbladder, which can help prevent or reduce the severity of gallstone attacks. It also aids in digestion by stimulating bile production.

Artichoke (Cynara scolymus) – Artichoke is a natural source of cynarin, which helps increase bile production and flow. It can aid in breaking down fats and support overall liver and gallbladder function.

Boldo (Peumus boldus) – Boldo is a South American herb traditionally used to stimulate bile production and secretion, ease gallbladder discomfort, and improve digestion.

Before embarking on a gallbladder cleanse, it’s essential to be aware of potential risks and complications, particularly if you have existing gallstones. Gallstones can range in size from small particles to large stones, and attempting a cleanse without proper medical guidance may result in complications.

When gallstones are present, a gallbladder cleanse could cause the stones to move, potentially leading to blockages in the bile ducts. Blocked bile ducts can cause severe pain, inflammation, and infection, requiring immediate medical attention. In some cases, emergency surgery may be necessary to remove the gallstones or even the entire gallbladder.

Certain herbs or supplements used in a gallbladder cleanse may interact with medications or cause adverse reactions in individuals with specific health conditions. It is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional, such as a naturopath or medical doctor, before starting any cleanse or herbal regimen to ensure it is safe and suitable for your individual health needs.

Personalised Meal Plans for your Gallbladder Cleanse

To support your journey towards a healthier gallbladder and liver, we offer personalised meal plans tailored to your individual needs. Whether you are looking for a plant-based cleanse or prefer to include animal-based products, our clinic provides customised meal plans to help you achieve optimal gallbladder health.

Our meal plans not only incorporate the powerful benefits of bitter foods but also provide guidance on other essential nutrients and lifestyle choices to enhance your cleanse. By following a personalised meal plan, you can experience the benefits of a gallbladder and liver cleanse while still enjoying delicious and satisfying meals.

Are you ready to take the first step towards improved gallbladder and liver health? Contact our clinic today to discuss our meal plan options for both a plant-based and a non-plant-based gallbladder cleanse. Let’s work together to create a personalized cleanse that not only supports your gallbladder and liver but also aligns with your dietary preferences and lifestyle.

Vitamin C deficiency causing scurvy

Menopause Makeover – 8 week program

Check out my blog post on Healthy recipes to support you in menopause.

If you’d like more information on how I can support you during menopause, I’d love to work with you.

Contact me

Bitter Food, Sweeter Life

Bitter Food, Sweeter Life

In today’s world of sweet, sour, savory, and salty flavours, the bitter taste is rarely seen on the plate in western cultures. However, recent discoveries suggest that incorporating bitter foods and herbs into our diet can significantly improve hormonal health and digestion, which would be very helpful during menopause. In this blog, we’ll explore the importance of bitter foods, their impact on our health, and how to incorporate them into our daily lives.

The Bitter Truth

Understanding the role of Bitter Taste Receptors traditionally, it was believed that bitters stimulated digestion by interacting with receptors on the tongue, which then sent signals to the brain and digestive organs. Recent research has identified around 30 bitter taste receptors (TAS2Rs) and has also discovered that these receptors are not restricted to the mouth but are also present in the gastrointestinal tract. This new understanding of bitter receptors changes our perception of how bitter herbs work and suggests that tasting them is not essential for their digestive benefits.

wound healing phases

Bitter Benefits

Understanding the role of Bitter Taste Receptors traditionally, it was believed that bitters stimulated digestion by interacting with receptors on the tongue, which then sent signals to the brain and digestive organs. Recent research has identified around 30 bitter taste receptors (TAS2Rs) and has also discovered that these receptors are not restricted to the mouth but are also present in the gastrointestinal tract. This new understanding of bitter receptors changes our perception of how bitter herbs work and suggests that tasting them is not essential for their digestive benefits.

Protein for wound healing
omega-3 for wound healing

Bitter Greens

The addition of leafy bitterness to your diet by simply adding bitter leaves and vegetables into your meals can improve digestion and hormonal health. Examples of bitter leaves include dandelion greens, arugula or rocket, endive, and radicchio. Try adding these greens to your salads, sautéing them with garlic and olive oil, or blending them into a green smoothie.

Bitter Herbs

Incorporating bitter herbs into your daily routine can be as simple as enjoying a cup of digestive herbal tea. These teas often feature a blend of bitter herbs that work synergistically to improve digestion and overall health. Here are some popular herbal blends and formulas that you can try to experience the benefits of bitter herbs:

Traditional Digestive Tea Blend

Gentian root, Wormwood, Fennel seeds, Peppermint leaves, Chamomile flowers

This classic blend combines the digestive benefits of bitter herbs like gentian and wormwood with the soothing and calming properties of fennel, peppermint, and chamomile. The result is a tea that not only enhances digestion but also relaxes the gastrointestinal tract, reducing discomfort and bloating.

Scandinavian Bitter Tea Blend

Dandelion root, Burdock root, Licorice root, Calendula flowers, Orange peel

This Scandinavian-inspired blend offers a milder bitter taste with the addition of licorice root and orange peel. Dandelion and burdock roots provide gentle bitter properties, while calendula flowers offer anti-inflammatory benefits to help soothe the digestive system.

Liver Support Tea Blend

Milk thistle seeds, Artichoke leaves, Boldo leaves, Ginger root, Lemon balm

This liver-supportive blend features artichoke leaves and boldo leaves, both of which have bitter compounds that stimulate bile production and aid in detoxification. Milk thistle seeds provide further liver support, while ginger and lemon balm add flavor and digestive benefits to the mix.

Ayurvedic Digestive Tea Blend

Cumin seeds, Coriander seeds, Fennel seeds, Cardamom pods, Ginger root

Inspired by the ancient Indian system of Ayurveda, this warming blend incorporates aromatic spices with gentle bitter and digestive properties. Cumin, coriander, and fennel seeds all support digestion, while cardamom and ginger add a spicy kick and additional digestive benefits.

Bitter Greens Tea Blend

Nettle leaves, Dandelion leaves, Raspberry leaves, Peppermint leaves, Lemon verbena

For a green tea experience that provides a range of beneficial bitter compounds, try this blend of nettle, dandelion, and raspberry leaves. Peppermint and lemon verbena add a refreshing touch to this nourishing and healthful tea.

Remember to consult with a healthcare professional or a naturopath before incorporating any new herbs into your routine, especially if you have any pre-existing medical conditions or are taking medications. Enjoying a cup of bitter herbal tea daily can be a great way to include these powerful herbs in your diet and support hormonal health and digestion during menopause or perimenopause.

 Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has a long history of using bitter herbs and herbal formulas to support digestion and overall health. These formulas are often composed of various herbs that work together to address a wide range of digestive issues. Here are some popular TCM herbal formulas that incorporate bitter herbs for digestive support:

Bao He Wan

  • Hawthorn fruit (Shan Zha)
  • Massa fermentata (Shen Qu)
  • Radish seed (Lai Fu Zi)
  • Tangerine peel (Chen Pi)
  • Forsythia fruit (Lian Qiao)
  • Pinellia rhizome (Ban Xia)
  • Poria (Fu Ling)

Bao He Wan is a classic TCM formula for indigestion, bloating, and acid reflux. This formula combines bitter herbs like hawthorn fruit and forsythia fruit with other herbs known to support digestion and reduce excess stomach acid.

Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang

  • Codonopsis root (Dang Shen)
  • Atractylodes rhizome (Bai Zhu)
  • Poria (Fu Ling)
  • Licorice root (Gan Cao)
  • Tangerine peel (Chen Pi)
  • Pinellia rhizome (Ban Xia)
  • Aucklandia root (Mu Xiang)
  • Amomum fruit (Sha Ren)

Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang is a modified version of the classic Liu Jun Zi Tang formula, with the addition of bitter herbs aucklandia root and amomum fruit. This formula is used to treat poor appetite, bloating, and diarrhea caused by weak digestive function and is particularly suitable for those with a weak spleen and stomach in TCM terms.

Huang Lian Shang Qing Wan 

  • Coptis rhizome (Huang Lian)
  • Scutellaria root (Huang Qin)
  • Forsythia fruit (Lian Qiao)
  • Gardenia fruit (Zhi Zi)
  • Mint (Bo He)
  • Licorice root (Gan Cao)

Huang Lian Shang Qing Wan is a powerful formula that contains several bitter herbs like coptis rhizome, scutellaria root, and forsythia fruit. This formula is used to clear heat and dampness in TCM terms, which can manifest as digestive issues, such as acid reflux, gastritis, or ulcers.

Remember to consult with a TCM practitioner, healthcare professional, or a naturopath before incorporating any new herbs or herbal formulas into your routine, especially if you have any pre-existing medical conditions or are taking medications. Including TCM herbal formulas in your daily routine can provide an additional layer of support for hormonal health and digestion during menopause.

Bitter Recipe Inspiration

Embrace bitter flavours in Your kitchen, including bitter foods into your diet can be as simple as adding a handful of bitter greens to your salad or experimenting with bitter herbs in your cooking. Here are some recipe ideas to get you started.

Dandelion green salad with goat cheese, walnuts, and a lemon vinaigrette

Bitter green smoothie with kale, arugula, cucumber, and green apple

Roasted radicchio and endive with balsamic glaze

Wormwood tea or gentian-infused digestive cocktail

Arugula and Fennel Salad

Combine fresh arugula, thinly sliced fennel, and toasted walnuts with a simple lemon vinaigrette for a refreshing and bitter green salad.

Sautéed Dandelion Greens

Sauté dandelion greens with garlic and olive oil, then finish with a splash of lemon juice or vinegar for a nutritious and bitter side dish.

Bitter Melon Stir-Fry

Stir-fry thinly sliced bitter melon with your choice of protein, vegetables, and a savory sauce for a flavourful and healthy meal.

Radicchio and Pear Salad

Toss chopped radicchio with sliced pears, goat cheese, and toasted pecans, then dress with a balsamic vinaigrette for a delicious, bitter salad.

Endive and Smoked Salmon canape

Fill Belgian endive leaves with smoked salmon, cream cheese, and capers for a tasty and elegant appetizer featuring a hint of bitterness.

Broccoli Rabe with Chili and Garlic

Sauté broccoli rabe with garlic, red chili flakes, and olive oil for a spicy, bitter, and delicious side dish.

Bitter Greens Soup

Prepare a nourishing soup with a mix of bitter greens, such as kale, collard greens, and mustard greens, along with onions, garlic, and vegetable broth.

Grilled Chicory with Balsamic Glaze

Grill halved chicory heads and drizzle with a balsamic glaze for a deliciously bitter and slightly sweet side dish.

Bitter Chocolate Smoothie

Blend raw cacao powder, banana, almond milk, and a touch of honey for a bitter chocolate smoothie packed with antioxidants and nutrients.

Artichoke and Spinach Dip

Combine steamed artichoke hearts, spinach, cream cheese, and Parmesan cheese for a delicious and creamy dip featuring the bitter taste of artichokes.

 

Experiment with these recipe ideas to include more bitter foods in your diet and enjoy the potential health benefits they provide. Don’t be afraid to get creative and incorporate bitter ingredients into your favourite dishes! For more recipe ideas and cooking classes which always include some bitter foods, check out The Cooking Naturopath for some inspiration.

To further enhance your menopausal journey, consider joining our Menopause Makeover program, a holistic approach to managing menopause symptoms that includes personalised guidance, support, and additional resources tailored to your needs.

Together, we can help you transition through menopause with greater ease and confidence. Contact us today to get started on your health and vital life.

Vitamin C deficiency causing scurvy

Menopause Makeover – 8 week program

Check out my blog post on Healthy recipes to support you in menopause.

If you’d like more information on how I can support you during menopause, I’d love to work with you.

Contact me

5 Top Food Tips for Menopause

5 Top Food Tips for Menopause

As women reach the menopausal stage, hormonal changes can lead to a wide array of symptoms, including hot flushes, mood swings, and sleep disturbances. Making dietary adjustments can significantly impact hormonal health and alleviate these symptoms. In this blog, we’ll explore five foods that can improve hormonal health during menopause – legumes, flaxseed, soy, and the importance of consuming less caffeine and alcohol.

Legumes: A Hormone Balancing Powerhouse

Legumes, such as lentils, chickpeas, and beans, are packed with essential nutrients, including protein, fibre, vitamins, and minerals. They are a great source of phytoestrogens, plant-based compounds that mimic estrogen in the body, which can help balance hormonal levels during menopause. Additionally, their high fibre content can aid in maintaining a healthy weight and stabilizing blood sugar levels, reducing the risk of insulin resistance.

To include legumes in your diet, try adding them to salads, soups, stews, or as a side dish. You can also experiment with different types of legumes to keep your meals interesting and flavourful.

wound healing phases

Flaxseed: A Nutrient-Rich Seed for Menopause

Flaxseeds are small but mighty when it comes to hormonal health. They are rich in lignans, a type of phytoestrogen that can help balance estrogen levels in the body. Flaxseeds are also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce inflammation and support overall hormonal health.

You can easily add flaxseeds into your diet by adding them ground to smoothies, yoghurt, oatmeal, or baked goods. Ensure to use ground flaxseed rather than whole, as it is easier for your body to absorb the nutrients.

Protein for wound healing
omega-3 for wound healing

Soy – A Menopause Friendly Food

Soy is a well-known source of isoflavones, another type of phytoestrogen that can help alleviate menopausal symptoms. Soy-based foods, such as tofu, tempeh, edamame, and soy milk, can provide relief from hot flushes and support hormonal health.

To include soy in your diet, try adding tofu to stir-fries, salads, or sandwiches. You can also enjoy edamame as a snack or use soy milk in smoothies and recipes as a dairy alternative.

Caffeine Reduction – Minimising Menopause Woes

While coffee and caffeinated beverages may provide a much-needed energy boost, they can also exacerbate menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and sleep disturbances. Reducing your caffeine intake can help balance your hormones and ease menopause-related discomfort.

To cut back on caffeine, consider swapping your regular coffee for decaffeinated coffee or herbal teas, such as chamomile or peppermint, which can promote relaxation and sleep.

Alcohol Moderation – A Key to Hormonal Harmony

Alcohol can have a negative impact on hormonal health during menopause, as it may worsen symptoms like hot flushes and mood swings. It’s essential to moderate your alcohol intake to maintain balanced hormone levels and overall wellbeing.

To reduce alcohol consumption, try opting for non-alcoholic beverages, such as sparkling water with a splash of fruit juice, herbal teas, or mocktails made with fresh fruit and herbs. If you choose to consume alcohol, do so in moderation and opt for low-alcohol options like spritzers or light beers.

Improving your hormonal health during menopause doesn’t have to be complicated. By incorporating nutrient-dense foods like legumes, flaxseed, and soy, and reducing caffeine and alcohol intake, you can create a balanced and supportive diet for this stage.

To further enhance your menopausal journey, consider joining our Menopause Makeover program, a holistic approach to managing menopause symptoms that includes personalised guidance, support, and additional resources tailored to your needs.

Together, we can help you transition through menopause with greater ease and confidence. Contact us today to get started on your Menopause Makeover journey and embrace a healthier, happier future.

Vitamin C deficiency causing scurvy

Menopause Makeover – 8 week program

Check out my blog post on Healthy recipes to support you in menopause.

If you’d like more information on how I can support you during menopause, I’d love to work with you.

Contact me

Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous Vegetables – bioactive superfoods

I’ve just had a question about cruciferous vegetables on a previous post, so thought I’d write a quick blog to highlight this group of vegetables and the powerful effect they have as bioactive foods in our bodies. I do recall a recurring horror experience with cruciferous vegetables as a child. But back then most Australian home cooks were boiling their vegetables within a second of their lives, depleting them of their delicious spicy flavour and crunchy texture, but that was how it was done then. So now we know how delicious this group of vegetables can be if we prepare them in ways that don’t destroy their delicate taste and texture. Let’s explore this group of vegetables which I now love. In fact, I’ve just enjoyed a snack of red cabbage and broccoli sprout sauerkraut, the fermentation process produces probiotic microorganism which help maintain and restore the gut microbiome, more on this in another blog.

Vitamin C deficiency causing scurvy

Cruciferous or Brassica vegetables come from the Cruciferae or alternately, Brassicaceae family. This family includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, rutabaga, turnips, Bok choy, and Chinese cabbage.  Other edible cruciferous vegetables include radish, horseradish, watercress, and wasabi.  

Why are Cruciferous vegetable so good for us

The reason mums all over the work want their kids to eat these vegetables is because they are so good for us. They provide a rich source of sulphur containing compounds called glucosinolates (β-thioglucoside N-hydroxysulfates) which give us the slightly pungent aroma and spicy or peppery taste. These glucosinolates and the metabolites they break down into are the reason we want to eat them for their health benefits. We now have a large body of evidence supporting the health promoting and disease preventative effects of these glucosinolates with Indole-3-Carbinol and Isothiocyanates leading the pack.

Cruciferous vegetables are important sources of vitamins and minerals, fibre and various phytochemicals including the glucosinolates. (see table) There is some evidence showing cruciferous vegetable intake has a preventative effect in cardiovascular disease, reducing obesity, normalising blood lipids and in the prevention of vascular complications in diabetes. Yet the real super food status comes from the effect of cruciferous vegetables as a cancer preventative food. In animal studies the bioactive indoles and isothiocyanates have been found to help protect cells from DNA damage, whilst helping to inactivate carcinogens. They also have antiviral, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects as well as inducing cell death or apoptosis (which is a good thing), and they inhibit blood vessel formation and tumour cell migration which are both needed for tumours to spread or metastasize away from the initial site of cancer. The cancers found to be influenced by these compounds in cruciferous vegetables include prostate, colorectal, lung, cervix and breast cancer and most specifically hormone dependent cancers.

wound healing phases

Cruciferous vegetables also play an important role in managing the hormonal fluctuations during perimenopause and menopause. Our bodies breakdown or metabolize estrogen into various metabolites. Some of these estrogen metabolites are good for us, but others are bad causing inflammation, epigenetic changes to our DNA and proliferative effects which alter cells and contribute to the undesirable symptoms of menopause. This is where cruciferous vegetables comes in, as the Indole-3-carbinol (13C) a metabolite of cruciferous vegetables regulates estrogen metabolism to increase the good estrogens whilst reducing the bad ones.

Getting back to the little girl faced with three piles of uneaten and unappetising cruciferous veggies. Please don’t over cook these vegetables, you will ruin the taste and reduce the super bioactive nutrients they offer, and you will scar your child’s appreciation of this fine and delicious vegetable.

I’ll include some tasty and easy recipes for you to experiment with, until then make sure there are some cruciferous vegetables on your plate and remember in order to get them on your plate you need to buy them at the market. 

wound healing phases

Cooking Cruciferous Vegetables – less is more

As a general rule cruciferous vegetables taste better and retain more bioactive compounds if you keep the cooking time to a minimum, with a view exceptions such as cabbage rolls which need to be well cooked. They are also the perfect vegetable for fermentation for saurkraut and kim Chi. This amplifies their super food status to next level. I’ll do a post on fermentation so check it out. 

Nutty Broccoli

Ingredients

Broccoli – cut into florettes

Hazelnut oil – 20 mls

Almonds (lightly roasted) – cut into slithers

White wine vinegar or White Balsamic vinegar – 20 mls

Season with black pepper and salt to taste.

Method

You can either lightly steam the broccoli or blanche in boiling water for a couple of minutes. I prefer the blanching method as it’s quick and easy. 

Combine the hazelnut oil and vinegar in a jar and shake to combine, its good to add the pepper to this to boos the flavour of the dressing. 

Drain the broccoli and add to a serving bowl with the dressing, toss to dress the florettes. Sprinke with roasted almonds and season with sea salt flakes. 

This dish is delicious hot or cold, so make extra for snacks the next day. 

 

Protein for wound healing
omega-3 for wound healing

Croatian Red Cabbage Salad

This recipe was given to me by Mrs Krznaric a lovely Croatan woman I know who always has this dish on the Christmas table by popular demand. It is simple, but truly delicious with the piquancy of the pumpkin oil and red wine vinegar dressing.

Ingredients

Red cabbage shredded finely

Sea salt

Pumpkin oil or Olive oil (1-2 Tbs)

Red wine vinegar 2 Tbs (adjust to taste)

Cracked black pepper

Parsley to garnish or a sprinkle of dill seeds which marry perfectly with cabbage.

Salt with cabbage with 1 Tbs of sea salt, and allow to drain in a colander for a couple of hours.

Once the cabbage has wilted and drained well, dress with the pumpkin seed oil and red wine vinegar and freshly cracked black pepper and toss well to ensure well combined.

This dish improves the next day, and even the day after so make extra for snacks in the coming days. Thanks Mrs Krznaric for the inspiration.