For me, chia was love at first taste. I’ll never forget the first time I saw chia in all of magic and wonder, being mixed in with delicious home made almond mylk and gradually and completely changing form. Considering I was studying to become a Holistic Nutritionist at the time and was completely enthralled with anything to do with food and digestion- this particular food rocked my world. I loved imagining this process happening in my body- soaking up all of the liquid and becoming a solid form to flow easily through my colon. Strange? I know, us nutritionists can be pretty strange. The best part of looking at food and nutrition like this- is that you are able to emotionally remove yourself from the foods and actually understand what it will do to your body and how your body will process it. Aka, the amount of time it will take for your body to process the food (i.e., transit time) and whether or not it is a food that your body will love and embrace (aka, is it real food?)
All strange things aside, chia is amazing. I don’t know anyone that isn’t a fan of chia pudding. Not only is it incredibly versatile, it’s so easy to make, it’s satiating, it’s yummy and it’s energising. What’s not to love?
To give a little background, Chia has quite a story behind it. Since it’s first use by Aztecs as early as 3500 B.C. chia has been used as raw material for medicines, nutritional compounds and used as a high-energy food on long trips. Because of it’s nutritional qualities and chemical structure, it has been used to mix with other foods, drunk as a beverage and ground into flour for storage and uses. Although chia has only begun it’s popular appearance in society over the past few years, it’s uses extend beyond 21st century nutrition. Aka, chia seeds reputation extends far beyond the Whole Foods shopping experience.
I love using chia in a variety of ways. I go through stages of starting every day with a bowl of chia pudding, I use it in my granola, smoothies, baking, raw desserts as well as a binder in a lot of baking and cooking. With clients, chia tends to be my go-to when it comes to recommendations on ways to improve digestion and help increase bowel movements and transit time. Not only is a wonderful source of plant-based fibre, it’s an amazing source of fat, protein and calcium, manganese, magnesium, potassium, b-vitamins and phosphorous.
CHIA & DIGESTION: A HAPPY RELATIONSHIP
When it comes to digestion, my favourite way to ease a tender tummy and bring things into balance after a long week or weekend of eating, drinking or just being out of balance- is to have my Cleansing & Adaptogenic Chia Tonic. This delicious blend of adaptogenic herbs, chia and nut/seed mylk is a really wonderful way to sooth the tummy, support digestion and energise you for the beginning of a new day of balance.
When it comes to nutrition and recipes- I always find it helpful to understand what the food is and what it does to your body. So, I’m going to do what a Holistic Nutritionist does best, and talk about bowel movements for a quick moment here. When it comes to digestion, the best way to know how things are going and whether or not you are in need of some support- is to pay some attention to what your bowel movements are like. Bowel movements are our bodies way of removing toxins and waste from our body; cleansing it, if you will.
When you think about your colon and how many bowel movements you have a day (or a week in some cases), you can begin to understand how your body is working and what you may or may not be carrying around with you. The average healthy transit time is anywhere from 12-24 hours, which speaks to the amount of time from when you consume a food to when it leaves your body. Your colon is s major space of assimilation and absorption (water and some nutrients). So, if waste remains in your bowel for longer than it should- chances are, it is absorbing toxins that are meant to be removed from your body. How great does it feel to start your day with a healthy bowel movement? In my opinion, pretty fantastic. No one wants to walk around and eat more food while carrying excess from yesterday’s happenings. It’s just not healthy and over-time, it weighs you down (excuse me for the Nutritionist pun).
It all starts in the gut: disease, imbalance, balance, and optimal health. The healthier and better functioning your digestion- the happier and more balanced you will be as an individual. Click To Tweet It’s important to pay attention to what’s going on so that you can live a more balanced life.
So, in short- healthy bowel movements are fundamental. A few key things to think about and pay attention to are:
How many times a day do you have a bowel movement?
What is the consistency of your bowel movement?
Do you have a bowel movement immediately upon rising or do you need to have a coffee/eat/caffeine first?
*Have you ever heard of the bristol stool chart? If you haven’t, I highly recommend taking a look at this chart and doing some of your own research into how your body is doing. The best way to empower yourself on health and nutrition is to pay attention to your own body and understand it’s own unique qualities. The ideal type that you are looking for when it comes to bowel movements is Type 4. This type indicates a smooth transit, no pain and passing it with ease.
So what are adaptogens?
Adaptogenic herbs are an amazing way to increase your body’s ability to resist the effects of long-term stress on your body. They are a wonderful way to support your body’s adrenals and adaptogenic organs, boost your immunity and help keep you in balance. When it comes to stress our bodies are well equipped to deal with and manage a LOT of stimulus and distraction. However, if your body/being continues to be compounded with stressors (disturbed/lack of sleep, chemicals/toxins/pesticides/alcohol, emotional stressors (fighting/conflict/pain/fear/anxiety), sugar, stimulants, lack of routine), over time it’s ability to manage with these influences becomes compromised.
This is where adaptogenic foods, herbs and therapies come into play. By paying more attention to your body’s messages, signs and signals you can become more aware of what your body needs and how you can support it.
Health Disclaimer: some adaptogenic herbs do have contraindications so if you have any imbalances of the thyroid or adrenals, double check before including herbs in your foods/drinks.
- 1 /2 tbsp chia seeds
- 1½ cups of homemade almond or hemp mylk
- ½ tbsp maca powder
- ½ tsp ashwaghanda powder
- 2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp moringa
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla powder
- optional: 1 tsp raw honey or maple syrup
- If you making your nut/seed mylk, make it ahead of time (head to my hemp mylk recipe here).
- Combine all of the ingredients into a 250mL mason jar and shake it up so that everything is properly mixed together (make sure the chia seeds are not sticking to the base of the jar).
- Place the jar, covered, in the fridge and let it sit for 30 mins+ (it will last in the fridge for up to 5 days if the nut mylk is fresh that day).
- Enjoy it as a morning drink.
- Tip: make 2,3 or 4x this recipe and have it sitting in the fridge ready for a morning cleansing tonic.
- Nutrition tip: supplement this cleansing tonic with a probiotic to help support your body's digestion and get things moving first thing in the morning before any coffee/food/caffeine.
*Looking for a yummy hemp mylk recipe, head to my recipe here.
That’s it folks! Simple and satisfying. Enjoy!