It is considered as a second brain of our organism. The bowel has its own nervous system, able to react to our emotional and behavioral changes. You know us. A reaction sometimes violent, another silent, which does not make it less dangerous. Nutritionist Mafalda Rodrigues de Almeida, starting from her personal history related to a gastrointestinal pathology, looks at our organ with the attention it deserves.
Mafalda translates in her latest book, "Equilíbrio" (Tea edition of the Five), some of the principles that take good care of our particular gut and our health in general. It is not just about eating in balance. It is also about taking care of the physical and emotional component. This is a conversation with the person responsible for the site Loveat.pt where it is spoken about food, seasonal, varied, with few animal sugars or fats.
However, it is not an extremist conversation. Mafalda does not bring us an infallible formula of life. It advises us to know each other, to bet on prevention and, thus, to avoid damages. With Mafalda we know "good" bacteria and also the bad ones of the tape. What are probiotics, of what we are talking about when we refer to the microbiome, a lesser known organ of our body, how an individual is identified Yang or Yin.
Mafalda has already published about superfoods. Is this book a natural consequence of previous ones?
It is not exactly a sequence, but I think I can fit it into the same approach theme. The book "Superfoods" analyzes a functional food to know how to take advantage of food in health matters. In this last book I try to go to the root of the problems, acting to prevent.
Mafalda focuses on this at the beginning of the book, opening this book with her personal story. Do you want to share it with us briefly?
Yes, this book follows a health problem, a disorder of the gastrointestinal tract. In the work I develop the path and work I have undertaken in order to alleviate the uneasiness caused by the disturbance. That is, in the absence of a positive response from conventional medicine, I discovered that I had to associate traditional medicine with Chinese medicine and other more alternative therapies. We have the triangle of well-being, seeking to balance the diet, exercise and rest. Now, before I made the change, my rest was greatly affected and upset everything else, including my energy and the food. In this book, the reader will find restrictions on milk and its derivatives, gluten and refined sugars. In my case I realized that I should try to avoid them.
That is, Mafalda from her life history invites the reader to find their answers, to understand why the imbalances?
Each person is indeed a case. When I refer, for example, disorders in the gut, possibly there are some foods that will be good in your case, but that harm me. People have to be aware of which foods are most beneficial to them.
In my book I do not speak of the exclusion of food from this or that food. For example, if we stop eating foods with gluten, one day, when we ingest them, the body will resent. I am talking about reducing it to the maximum.
We must make a diet that minimizes the need for diet and associates the way we eat to practice sports and rest
Is this interest in intestinal well-being growing in our society?
Yes, I notice that people started getting interested in the subject. Many books have been published in this area since two years ago, mainly written by doctors. The gap is in which they arouse our interest, but they do not tell us how, in practice, we must maintain the health of our gut. This book stems from the fact that I have this problem very closely, but also from wanting to tell readers that having a healthy bowel is not "a seven-headed bugger." If we feel bad or have a bloated belly when we eat certain foods, it means that something is wrong in our body. We are what we eat, there is no way around it.
As we read the introduction to his "Balance" we feel a certain weight of awareness. Leave us an alert. We live intoxicated. I would like you to comment.
Yes, people have an idea of detox as something associated with diets, and bind the term detoxify to juices or soups. What I try to explain is that we have to make a diet that minimizes the need for diet and associates the way we eat to practice sports and rest. Otherwise, the toxins will build up and over the years will have a harmful effect.
Okay, is not this a diet book, it's about a change of life?
It's about a change in the food paradigm, I try to show people that we do not have to keep dieting; but a diet like the one I advocate in my book, being easy to introduce some healthier recipes, avoiding certain practices. This without being extremists. Probably, if I change certain habits, I do not need to dieting or cause weight swings. I get more stable, have more energy and feel better.
Talk to us in the microbioma. An organ in itself extremely important in the matter that occupies its book "Equilíbrio". Because?
I often say that the microbiome is a family that lives inside us, are several species of living organisms that inhabit us and function as an organ, because without them we would not be able to survive, just as the skin is an organ by itself. The bacteria, fungi, viruses that live inside us have a protective effect and help us to digest and metabolize.
The microbioma is a family that lives within us, are several species of living organisms that inhabit us and function as an organ, because without them we could not survive, just as the skin is an organ by itself
In a way we fed this microbiome. And of course we have to treat him well. Right?
If we give you bad food you will not be healthy and you can not protect us or give us the nutrients we need. If we feed them well, they will be strong and secure and play their part. We also have to think that 70% of our immune system is concentrated in the intestine, and that it is through feeding that we get many harmful bacteria. If the microbiome is healthy, these bacteria are soon killed, if it is not healthy it can trigger a series of infections that originate in the intestine and can lead to inflammations, such as otitis or arthrosis, in other parts of the body.
It attaches particular importance to probiotic bacteria. Are they our best friends? Because?
We have to think that if we have a 'family' to live within us, we must provide a comfortable home. Probiotics can be attacked in several ways. We eat several times a day and with the food we can ingest many enemy bacteria from these, probiotic.
We have billions of bacteria to live in our gut that have to be regenerated. We lack fibers [prebióticos] to increase this family and allow it to subsist and we can consume fermented dairy or vegetable tofu it's the seitan. Who does not eat dairy products, can produce the fermented vegetables from water and salt and get a new probiotic colony. Is easy. The Portuguese eat few fermented foods, with the exception of pickles and yoghurt. The acidic taste is typical of these foods and we should try to include it in our food.
Sugar is a bad food, good instinct bacteria prefer more complex carbohydrates and fibers, such as those found in vegetables, fruits, legumes and seeds
Going back a little, certain pathologies are far from the gut, but in reality they result from functional problems of this?
Yes, imagine that we have chronic sinusitis, if we have a balanced diet that allows us to have a balanced intestinal bacterial flora, this sinusitis will be prevented, because we minimize the probability of inflammation. It may not seem to be on, but it is also what happens with cellulite and any kind of inflammation. The inflammations originate at the point of entry of inflammatory agents, our intestine, the digestive tract.
In this context what is considered then a bad food?
Sugar is a bad food, good instinct bacteria prefer carbohydrates and more complex fibers, such as those in vegetables, fruits, legumes and seeds. In the case of sugar, as it is rapidly absorbed is what the invading bacteria prefer, that is, it is a bad food because it allows the development of the invasive flora.
Then also the proteins of milk and gluten are inflammatory, may not be more per se, but attacking our intestinal bacterial flora and causing inflammation. Of course, there are more and less tolerant people. It may be an undetected case in the blood component, but an intestinal sensitivity that the person notices. For example, the individual drinks a glass of milk and gets very distended, or consumes mass and gets these symptoms or problems with the skin.
Right, but we are also here facing the possibility of more serious pathologies.
Yes, 90% of colon cancer is due to food, associated with the bacterial deficit. It is often a silent cancer because people have become accustomed to having a swollen belly and some mild pain that does not bind too much. We underestimate the malaise of the intestine and not of other parts of the body.
Mafalda associates all these issues of changing habits to other aspects, namely the seasonality of food, knowing how to plan purchases, etc. Can you explain us?
Yes, it is very important to know how to choose, if we have at home the ingredients that make us well, at first our food will be better, but with the day to day people are disorganized or tend to always buy the same things; the same yoghurt, the same fruit, the same meat, we must vary, and at least in the fresh, seasonality forces us to vary and to bring to our body some nutrients that may be missing. We should make a diet rich in fiber, but not excessive as this can lead to an overwork microbiota and the belly is distended and gives a feeling of discomfort.
We have long heard that our gut is like a second brain. By reading your book we realize that it is anyway. Want to go deeper?
It has its own nervous system, everything that is connected at the emotional, cerebral level of behavior, trigger reactions in the intestine that can be silent. A person who is afraid of loss is a person prone to constipation. A very fast, worried and anxious person has bowel problems. Of course the flora is influenced by everything, a baby born by caesarean section has less protective layer of the mother, a baby born from normal birth, is born with this protective layer of the mother, this is influenced from birth.
Mafalda, as we have seen, makes a strong connection between her practice and Chinese medicine. From what I understand, because it focuses not only on the physical but also on the moral, relational. Is it important when we treat these pathologies?
We live in a generation that is very stress, this is part of life. Who does not accuse stress seems to be dislocated from society. Sometimes we have little time to stop and think. Taking into account that the intestine suffers with emotional prolemas which, in turn, influences our whole body, we can have at the origin of the treatment a consultation of psychology, or alternative medicine. Alas, well-being is treated as a whole and not as a part.
If conventional medicine does not give me an answer about what disease I have through blood testing, then I will have to realize through other medicines how to achieve balance and minimize symptoms. This is how I discovered that Chinese medicine has this aspect. In the first sessions I was asked questions about my family relationships, friends, lifestyle, daily concerns, whether I cared about the reaction of others, whether they liked me or not.
Many people, when they think of dietary restrictions, think that they can not eat anything anymore because they are used to eating the same things and not realizing the alternatives.
Mafalda refers to people Yang and people Yin, what are?
Chinese medicine divides everything by energies. People Yanglike me, are more accelerated and active, with a tendency to `explode '. It is therefore necessary to look for quieter, less stimulating foods. For example, I had to virtually eliminate the intake of ginger and cinnamon because they are stimulants. A person who is more Yin, you need foods that stimulate the metabolism, such as ginger and cinnamon. We have to try to understand what kind of person we are and what foods allow us to better face the day and manage our stress.
As far as recipes go, when we leaf through your book, we find a lot of variety, diversity and even sweetness. Mafalda can vary a lot …
Many people, when they think of dietary restrictions, think that they can not eat anything anymore because they are used to eating the same things and not realizing the alternatives. When they understand that there is another world in the food, they open horizons and think I never bought this in life, but maybe I will start to acquire. And they seek, not just other foods, but other flavors. That makes all the difference. Changing habits is not easy.
Does Mafalda feel that she has been a promoter of this change?
Yes, I do a lot of this work in my consultations. When I started telling people that food should be 80% vegetable, they soon associated it with the vegetarian. Over time they realized that this is not so. The other 20% of food of animal origin, meat, fish, or eggs, have to be well managed. This allows us to make two feeds per day with food of animal origin, but then the rest of the day we should prefer the vegetable.
In other times, when a person was sick, he was strange when talking about food. Today, when this happens, out of fear, people change their lifestyle and notice that impact on children, parents and grandparents.