Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Leaky Gut and the Paleo Diet

“All Disease Begins in the Gut” ~ Hippocrates, Father of Medicine

Hippocrates said it more than 2000 years ago, but we are finally realising that this is most definitely the case!

The intestinal lining is the first line of defence for our immune systems. The outer layers of the intestinal cells are connected by structures called tight junctions. At the tip of these are microvilli which are very important for absorption of nutrients and transporting them into the bloodstream.

During normal digestion, the tight junctions stay closed, meaning everything “screened” and can only pass into the bloodstream through mucosa cells.

Sometimes these tight junctions can become permeable due to stress, processed diet, antibiotic treatments, imbalanced gut flora and NSAIDS which means foreign bodies such as undigested proteins can enter the bloodstream. This is known as leaky gut or increased intestinal permeability. This causes our immune system to react to fight these perceived “invaders” causing a heighted immune response and inflammation to occur in the body. 

Symptoms of Leaky Gut
·         Stomach complaints
·         Diarrhoea or constipation
·         Brain fog
·         Learning disabilities
·         Irritability/Hostility
·         Allergies    
·         Food Intolerances 

The Role of the Paleo Diet in Leaky Gut
The Paleo diet can be a great way to help to repair this delicate intestinal membrane and improve our health over all. 
Removes all common allergenic foods such as gluten and dairy. Gluten is known to increase intestinal permeability so removing it is obviously a good thing! 
Encourages the use of bone broths which is very important for healing and sealing these tight junctions making the intestinal wall less permeable.
Encourages the use of fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kimichi which play an important role in gut bacterial balance and therefore intestinal wall health. 
Reduces inflammation which helps offset the increased inflammation created as a result of leaky gut. 
Lifestyle promotes movement outside hence increasing Vitamin D levels. 

If you have any of the symptoms above it is so important that you sort out your gut. If our gut is permeable, it leads to increased immune reactions which in turn may lead to the body attacking itself: autoimmune disorders. Leaky gut has been linked to many chronic diseases and in particular autoimmune disorders such as MS, Diabetes, Lupus, Thyroid issues and Rheumatoid Arthritis. The body literally attacks its own body systems. Not something we want to happen! 

Friday, 18 July 2014

Balancing Your Blood Sugars Through Diet

      Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms?
      Fatigue, energy dips in the afternoon, imbalanced sex hormones, sugar cravings, difficulty shifting weight? 
      Chances are you have imbalanced blood sugar levels. 

      Balancing our blood sugar levels is an important factor in weight loss, hormone balancing and energy levels. While fasting is very popular in Paleo circles, I don't believe it is for everyone. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, I would consider trying to balance your blood sugar levels to see if your symptoms improve. 

      Our hormones are all highly dependent on one another. Insulin is one of the major hormones in the endocrine system. It is released in response to increases in blood sugar levels

      When we eat any food, it is converted into glucose for transportation into the cells as energy. Insulin is released from the pancreas and plays a role in acting as a "key" to allow glucose to enter these cells.

      When we eat a diet rich in refined foods (such as bread, pasta, scones etc, even healthy wholegrain versions) or drink a stimulant like coffee on its own,  it causes a swift increase in blood sugar levels. Insulin must be released by the pancreas to effectively "mop up" this excess glucose from floating around your bloodstream and either allow it to enter cells as energy or convert it to adipose tissue or fat. This sudden peak in blood glucose is therefore followed by a swift DROP in blood glucose later on when insulin has effectively done too good of a job sequestering the blood glucose, leading to hypoglycaemia and corresponding dips in energy. 

      What effects can imbalanced blood sugar levels have on the body? 

Insulin & Stress
Insulin is linked to all hormones, most notably cortisol which is our stress hormone. When our blood sugars spike or dip throughout the day it causes our bodies to release cortisol. Therefore elevated blood sugar/insulin levels can contribute to stress levels.

Insulin & Sex Hormones
High Insulin levels have a role to play in reducing Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG), a transporter of sex hormones in the blood. If SHBG is reduced, the bioavailability of these sex hormones (important for fertility) is reduced. Hence by balancing blood sugars and insulin levels, we also balance sex hormones.

Insulin & Thyroid
Increased levels of insulin in blood can be linked to decreased thyroid function.
It is all linked!

How do we balance blood sugars through diet?

Protein, protein, protein!
·         Protein with every single meal and snack! 
      Eats nuts/seed with fruit, do not eat fruit on its own.
      Ensure good quality meat, fish or hemp protein in every meal or snack. Protein slows down the uptake of glucose into the cells and keeps blood sugar levels more stable - It also keeps us fuller longer
·          Remove sugars of all kinds including honey, sugar, maple syrup and artificial sweeteners. 
·         Eat regular meals – three main meals and two snacks per day. 
     Do not skip meals.
·        Avoid refined carbohydrates – Choose a Paleo Diet rich in vegetable sources of carbohydrates instead. These have less of an effect on glucose levels as they contain fibre to slow down absorption of glucose into the bloodstream. 

Thursday, 17 July 2014

My Third Year Paleoversary!

Today is my THIRD Paleo Anniversary!! I started my journey on 17th July 2011 and started a blog to keep myself on track as there was an apparent lack of Irish based information at the time. I never could have imagined that it would grow so much and that now, 3 years on that Paleo would have grown so much in Ireland. When I first started talking about Paleo people thought I was mad! Now more and more people are trying it and more and more studies come to light on the benefits of Paleo on health. Looks like it wasn't a fad after all! 

So much has changed for me in this time, and changing my diet and finding Paleo has been a catalyst for much of this. In this time I , returned to college to study nutritional therapy and now I am about to embark on a new career doing something I love to do.  

Without all of your support I could never have done this. The facebook page continues to grow with 10,500 likes and the blog now reaches over 80,000 views per month. It might not be big to some, but to me it is amazing, so thank you all so much!! I always said that if only one person was out there reading my posts I would be happy and the level of support on here never ceases to amaze me.

As a special thank you, I have teamed up with the wonderful Michelle of Cavegirl Cuisine to offer a great prize to 2 lucky winners.

Both books are full to the brim with wonderful delicious Paleo meals, with paleo versions of all your favourites from Chocolate Waffles to Lamb Kebabs and everything in between. There is a reason her facebook page is so popular - her recipes are amazing!

To be in with a chance of winning one of two books, simply like this photo!

Cavegirl Cuisine
Everything Weeknight Paleo Cookbook 

Keep it Paleo!
Denise x

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

What Is Nutritional Therapy?

I often get asked "What Exactly Is Nutritional Therapy"? I figured I would do a blog post just to clarify what exactly we do, and to explain how we differ from other nutrition based practitioners. 

Nutritional Therapy involves the use of nutritional science to achieve optimum health, full potential and disease prevention. It understands that the food we eat can either be the greatest poison or the greatest medicine the body can consume and that nutrition can allow the body to heal if given the opportunity. 

How do Nutritional Therapists differ from Dietitians? 

While many of our principles are common - we both work towards addressing nutritional deficiencies as well as providing the client with practical ways to adopt condition specific nutritional protocols, there are important differences.
As nutritional therapists, our role is to identify and rectify the root of the problem and in doing so develop strategies to help the body to heal itself through nutrition. 

Ours is an holistic approach based on Functional Medicine in which we consider the whole body in our development of a plan. We recognise that optimum nutritional intake is key to good health and that good nutrition is of benefit in most health issues. 

Who Can Nutritional Therapy Help?

Nutritional therapy is useful for both children and adults and has been shown to be useful in the following conditions:

  • Digestive complaints such as IBS, constipation, diarrhoea, bloating, excessive flatulence, reflux. 
  • Hormonal complaints such as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, Infertility, Premenstrual Syndrome, 
  • Skin Complaints such as Psoriasis, Eczema, Acne.
  • Metabolic Syndrome (Diabetes, Weight Gain/Obesity, High Cholesterol, High Blood Pressure) 
  • Food Allergies/Intolerances
  • Depression/Mood Disorders, Stress
  • ADHD, Autism, Dyslexia
  • Respiratory disorders such as asthma, sinusitis, persistent runny nose. 
I am a fully qualified and insured Nutritional Therapist. 

I am now taking appointments in the following locations for a full nutritional consultation based on functional medicine approaches.

Dublin Holistic Centre, South William St, Dublin
Studio 3, Monread Business Park, Naas, Co. Kildare 
Energise Therapy Ashford, Co. Wicklow
Keane's Pharmacy Austin Friar St,, Mullingar


Initial 2 hour Consultation including a comprehensive investigation of each of the body systems (Digestive, Nervous, Endocrine etc), Physical Examination (nail, tongue, zinc test), full science based explanation of findings, individual nutritional protocol and supplement regime.       €90 

Follow-Up Consultation (1 hour) including full review of initial symptoms as well as analysis of what improved and/or worsened, full revision of protocol where necessary as well as help with areas of particular challenge. €55

Online Based Skype Consultation Providing the exact same service as the initial consultation above, but based online via Skype €75

Food Intolerance Testing:  Now registered and trained as Lorisian Food Intolerance practitioner.
This test is a simple prick test which can be carried out either in my clinic or at home by yourself prior to your consultation. It is relatively pain-less, does not require blood to be drawn and is very safe and easy to use.

Food intolerance are very common, with approximately 45% of the population having food intolerances which can present themselves in many ways such as headaches, gut issues, skin problems and difficulty gaining or losing weight. While elimination diets can be helpful, they can only identify certain foods and it can take a long time to find the one we are actually intolerant too.

Food intolerance tests allow us to identify what food we are reacting to so we can eliminate the culprit immediately, with a greater chance of feeling better quickly.

Prices start at €149 for the Lorisian 50 test (which tests for 50 foods including gluten, cows milk and wheat.

For more details on the full range of foods tested for visit the official Lorisian website on

Now taking bookings for One-To-One Consultations in the above locations. Please email for full details.