IBS Awareness

by James Durham – Nutritionist – Life Rituals Oakham. james@liferituals.co.uk
Let’s look at what can go wrong in our gut that leads to IBS. IBS is a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning that when conditions such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis), gastritis, and colon cancer have been ruled out, a doctor will often diagnose IBS. The symptoms can be wide-ranging, from bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and reflux to more systemic symptoms like joint pain, skin issues, brain fog and fatigue.

There are four broad areas of the gut where things can go wrong, and we’ll look at each in turn.

Digestion and Absorption
When we think of the gut’s function, digestion and absorption are generally the first things that come to mind.

It doesn’t matter how good our diet is if we’re not properly digesting and absorbing our food. Problems with this issue often comes down to our digestive system not producing sufficient enzymes to break down the food we eat properly. This could be due to a lack of nutrients, but we may not be preparing our body to eat if we eat on the go in a stressed environment. Cooking meals from scratch – whilst not always possible – prepares us for digestion by stimulating the release of digestive enzymes.

Signs your digestion and absorption could be compromised include:

  • Indigestion and/or nausea after eating, pale stools that float, and Diarrhea > So, what can you do to support digestion and absorption?
  • Reduce stress and don’t eat in a stressed state; be mindful of meal quantity and
    timing – not too close to bedtime.
  • Consider eating more soluble fibre.
  • Moderate fat intake – healthy fats from avocado, extra virgin olive oil, fish in moderation
  • Consume foods that increase bile, such as eggs, soya, liver, scallops, tuna, turkey, chicken, seeds, salmon, and seaweed.
  • Reduce fluid intake right before and during meals; this can dilute stomach acid.
  • Integrity and ImmunityHere, I’m referring to the integrity of the gut lining, a vital interface between the external environment—in this case, the food we eat—and our internal environment. The intestinal lining must be permeable enough to allow digested particles into the bloodstream but not so permeable that bacteria and undigested particles can slip through.

    Your gut integrity may be compromised if you:
  • React to some food with a rash, headache, diarrhoea, palpitations
  • Feel discomfort when eating certain foods – cereals, gluten, dairy
  • Have difficulty maintaining weight
  • Have a history of recurrent NSAID use (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories), e.g. ibuprofen or naproxen.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>All these symptoms can be signs the gut lining is compromised. To support and help repair the lining, we can:
  • Reduce aggravating foods – consider an elimination diet, e.g. Paleo, low FODMAP
  • Stress reduction and sleep routine
  • Consider meal quantity and timing
  • Focus on real foods, vegetables, and fruit. Reduce processed foods, sugar, artificial sweeteners, alcohol, and caffeine (sorry!).
  • Supplement with L-glutamine, vitamins A, C, and E, zinc, and probiotics.
  • Imbalanced gut bacteria
    The balance of the bacterial community in our gut has wide-ranging effects throughout the body, from helping digestion and immunity to influencing mood and cognition. However, this community is delicate and can be knocked out of balance by a range of things, including:
  • Antibiotics
  • Chronic stress
  • Highly processed diet / low fibre diet
  • Food poisoning
  • PPIs / Low stomach acid
    Your gut bacterial community may be imbalanced or ‘dysbiotic’ if you suffer with the
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loose stools/diarrhoea

We take these steps to support and rebalance the microbiome

  • Follow an elimination diet for 4-6 weeks. This could be a Paleo diet, a low FODMAP diet, or a Mediterranean diet—anything that moves you away from a standard, overly processed diet. Removing foods that commonly cause reactivity reduces the fuel for inflammatory bacteria.
  • Reintroduce foods one at a time and see what you react to
  • Once your improvements plateau, you can introduce a clinical-grade probiotic for 2-3 months and continue to broaden your diet as your symptoms allow.
  • If you still have issues at this stage, use herbal antimicrobials to target stubborn, problematic bacteria.

We Also Help Motility

  • Reduce snacking; allow at least 3-4 hours between meals.
  • Routine is key and meal timing
  • Stress reduction
  • Hydration and increasing soluble fibre like oats, apples, rice, and quinoa.
  • Pre-biotic supplements, which will contain inulin, FOS and/or GOS
  • Herbal teas with digestion-supporting properties like ginger, peppermint, fennel and
  • Probiotics (live bacteria)/Prokinetic supplement
    IBS is an umbrella term that covers various symptoms. Fortunately, there are several tools we can use to positively impact outcomes, from diet and stress reduction techniques to supplements and awareness of meal timing. Where to start will depend on the root cause of your symptoms. If you’d like to help dig down and uncover the unique reason for your gut distress, feel free to book a discovery call with me, James Dunham, a qualified nutritionist. Life Rituals Oakham 01572 868579 james@liferituals.co.uk.

Announcing Life Rituals Talks @Fika Oakham

Life Rituals is an impressive team of healthcare professionals offering a broad range of therapies and expertise,  providing integrative healthcare for all the family under one roof.  Here, personalised healthcare plans tackle the root cause of ill health instead of the ‘sticking plaster’, or symptoms-based, approach. The practice is led by Jo George, and this Spring she is launching a number of healthcare talks, to be held at Fika in Oakham. The talks, which Jo plans to be the start of a regular series, will be a fabulous way to find out more about Life Rituals, the holistic treatments on offer there and the practitioners in the team. Up first, in April, is a session on the Menopause (also covering peri-menopause and post-menopause)followed in May by a talk on Gut Health and Digestive Disorders. More details about each of these below. 

Kerry – Acupuncturist
Ginny – Medical Herbalist
James – Nutritionist
Aelish – Acupuncturist
Jane – Reflexologist

The Talks


Wednesday 17 April 7 – 9 pm

Join Life Rituals for an educational, empowering evening of science-based discussion on navigating the journey through menopause. This in-person event at Fika on Mill Street will be led by Acupuncturists Kerry Byrne and  Aelish Anderson, Nutritionist James Dunham, Medical Herbalist Ginny Kemp and Reflexologist Jane Knight. Each practitioner will share valuable insights into their approach to the peri-menopause, menopause and post-menopause and will dive into topics including managing symptoms, self-care practices and embracing this new phase of life. The knowledgeable team will cover ways of staying healthy after the menopause, from bone health to digestion – the latter changes as we age, meaning that it is helpful to adjust how we see food and assimilate it. Nutritionist James will look at the importance of putting a good gut-health programme into place.

Jo explains: ‘This talk will be a fabulous opportunity for those attending to hear more about the practices we offer at the clinic. There has been a lot of coverage around the peri-menopause and menopause in recent times, typically with treatment focusing on HRT. There is a tendency to overmedicalise what is a very natural phase in a woman’s life and it’s not the only option out there. It’s important to stress that we are open to all options, and not against HRT. This talk will consider physical symptoms as well as mental and psychological ones, and it’ll also take into account relationships and the shift in a woman’s role at this time of life. We hope  that those attending will gain valuable insights and take something away  to help them during this transformative time.’ 

Book your ticket to this April talk today


Wednesday 15 May  7-9 pm

Join Medical Herbalist Ginny Kemp, Nutritionist James Dunham and  Acupuncturists Kerry Byrne and Aelish Anderson for an evening of insightful discussions and practical tips on how to improve your gut health. Learn the secrets to a healthier gut and discover how an unhealthy one can negatively impact your overall well-being.

Life Rituals’ expert speakers will be discussing IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), SIBO (small intestinal bacteria overgrowth), silent reflux and food intolerances. Jo told me: ‘It is really important for hormonal balance and, in turn, mental health,  to have a healthy gut. There are ways in which the digestive system can be handled and it’s generally more complex than just taking a probiotic.  Come along to the talk to find out why, see what you can do to can improve your own gut health and discover how our therapies can help.’

Book your ticket for our May talk today

FIND OUT MORE & BOOK: Both talks will be at Fika, 10d Mill Street, Oakham LE15 6EA and will run from 7–9 pm. Tickets are £10 per person for each talk, bookable via the links above on Eventbrite. All the practitioners talking will be offering the £10 ticket price off an individual consultation with themselves within a month of either talk.

Nutrition for Busy Parents

With the summer holidays well and truly underway, this time of year can bring a change in routine for many families. Whilst kids generally love the holidays, 6-weeks of entertaining, planning, and prepping breakfast, lunch, and dinners can seem like a burden for parents. So, it’s understandable that routines get knocked out of whack, but with challenges come opportunities.

With potentially more stressors and demands on parents’ time, ensuring you’re eating the best foods could mean the difference between a fun-packed day and an afternoon crash that ends in frayed tempers. Read further for some key tips to get optimum Nutrition as Busy Parents.

Nutrient Density for Busy Parents

Regardless of your health goals: fat loss, improved energy, less brain fog, more muscle, focusing on nutrient-dense foods is a great place to start. What is nutrient density? It’s a way of eating that focuses on consuming foods with the most nutrients per serving.

In our modern food environment, we can’t necessarily rely on our hunger and cravings to guide us towards foods containing nutrients that we might be lacking. For example, potassium and magnesium are two of the most common nutrients people are deficient in. However, foods high in these include spinach, chard, courgette, pumpkin seeds, kale, broccoli, sprouts, and chicken breast. It’s not often we ‘crave’ these foods.

The idea of nutrient density prioritises foods containing essential nutrients. The good news is that eating with nutrient density in mind often means eating less energy (i.e., calories). This is because we’re focussing on natural, whole foods, which generally have a higher satiety value than ultra-processed foods and aren’t laden with added sugar and fats to make them more palatable.

Foods to Consider – Nutrition for Busy Parents

I’ve mentioned a few already, but below is a list of some of the most nutrient-dense foods (per serving):


  • pork chops
  • steak
  • liver
  • chicken breast
  • ground beef
  • eggs


  • salmon
  • mackerel
  • mussels
  • tuna
  • prawns


  • spinach
  • brussels sprouts
  • chard
  • broccoli
  • sweet potato
  • potato
  • kale
  • avocado

If you can include some of these foods into your meals each day, you’ll be well on your way to improving your micronutrient intake and providing your body with the fuel it needs to operate at its best.

But perhaps the best part? As these foods – particularly animal and seafood – are high in protein and relatively low in energy density (calories), if these foods make up the majority of your diet, for most people, fat loss, improved focus and energy are likely to come along for the ride. Win-win. Of course, this is easier said than done, so start slowly and think of ways to incorporate these foods into your existing go-to meals rather than creating brand-new meals the kids might be suspicious of. Can you stir some spinach into a spag bol or cottage pie, add some broccoli onto the Friday night pizza, combine some avo and prawns in your lunchtime salad, throw some kale in your smoothie…

Apart from my tips for Nutrition for Busy Parents. If you are experiencing any problems with your energy, blood sugar levels, or gut health (food intolerances, IBS, reflux, constipation, diarrhoea, flatulence), don’t hesitate to get in touch with James Dunham who is available for face-to-face Nutritional Assessments at Life Rituals every Tuesday afternoon/evenings.

You can book a free 15-minute no-obligation discovery call by emailing James at james@liferituals.co.uk or by leaving a message on 01572 868579.

About Life Rituals

Our team of healthcare professionals provide personalised healthcare plans based on the root causes of ill health instead of the ‘sticking plaster’ or symptoms-based approach. We offer a broad range of therapies and expertise to provide integrative healthcare for all the family under one roof.

Therapies we offer – Acupuncture, Medical Herbal Medicine, Nutritional Therapy,

Counselling, Reflexology, Indian Head Massage, Reiki, Myofascial Cupping,

Zone Face Lift and Holistic Facials.

We know a combination of approaches can sometimes achieve the best results for the patient to help speed up recovery or be more supportive in long-term complex and chronic health conditions. Our practitioners can guide you.

Prevention for the Common Cold

Prevention is always better than cure. These simple steps will help prevent the common cold and help keep you well over the winter months.

Include plenty of fermented foods

Include plenty of fermented foods and drink in your daily diet – the best quality is your own homemade kind – easy to make Fermented food and Kephir making kits will get you started. These help to keep your gut in good health and prevent chronic immune dysfunction. Research shows probiotics help boost the immune system and preventing cold and flu. Probiotic foods include fermented vegetables, kefir yoghurt, and kombucha tea.

Take Multivitamins

Taking Multivitamins has many health benefits. In the short term, they can increase energy, reduce stress, help fight infections. Long term they can benefit our immunity and health. Winter is the most vital time for multivitamins. We recommend Biocare Methyl Multi-Nutrient.

Get plenty of sleep

Getting plenty of sleep is important to avoid your body getting ill in winter. During sleep, our immune system regenerates and repairs the body. Natural hormones such as melatonin is released at night and help to encourage sleep and support immunity. Those that sleep less than 7 hours a night are 3 times more likely to get sick and catch a cold than those who slept more than 8 hours. Aim to be in bed and asleep by 10 pm at the latest. Don’t let yourself get run down. If you find it hard to sleep or have chronic insomnia get some acupuncture treatment and try bedtime ritual tea to help you sleep naturally.

Eat warm cooked foods

Eat warm cooked foods, avoid raw cold foods like Salads. Warming foods help warm the body, expel cold and increase circulation. Eat more winter vegetables and soups such as carrots, parsnips, pumpkin, and turnips. Use cooking methods such as roasting, mash or soups for a comforting winter meal. Have more ginseng, ginger, cinnamon and gou qi berries.

Increase Vitamin C

Increasing Vitamin C is great to help prevent colds and flu and increase our immune system. It reduces acidity in the body and is an anti-bacterial. Make sure you get enough vitamin C in your diet, you can do this with food and drink – try Life Rituals Organic Tea Blends such as Protection Ritual; Cleanse and Detox Ritual; or Unwind and Uplift Ritual Teas which are all packed full of high content organic Vit C ingredients. We also recommend taking a Vit C supplement.

If you are suffering from a cold or flu this winter or have extremely cold hands and feet, acupuncture and Chinese medicine are great to treat your winter cold. To find out more contact us for information.

Winter’s coming… So let’s get smarter about vitamin D

Winters’ coming… So let’s get smarter about vitamin D – before more and more people suffer unnecessarily.

Here are 4 steps to help you optimise your vitamin D levels in the winter:

1. Get your blood levels tested

Get your blood levels tested at least twice a year, using an accredited lab. End of summer or winter (yes, now!) are good times to run tests to see where you might be, at your highest or lowest levels. Whichever country you live in, put “vitamin D blood test” into your search engine and you’ll find an increasing array of services that measure your blood levels based on a blood spot that you produce yourself with a pinprick. Everything you need is supplied to your home and you’ll get your results a few days after you’ve sent your bloodspot to the lab by post. Blood testing is essential, however, also remember our body requires enough Magnesium (Mg). Without enough Magnesium your body (in the liver) will be challenged at utilising this life-enhancing pro-hormone. Ideally, get a test that does both, Jo George at Life Rituals can arrange this if you struggle to find the right one.

2. Take high dose vitamin D3 supplements

If your blood levels of 25(OH)D are below 100 nmol/L (40 ng/ml), take high dose vitamin D3 supplements (4000 IU [100 mcg] or more daily) to bring yourself back into range. Ideally, test again 3 months after starting supplementation. The rate at which you optimise will vary greatly in different people. If in doubt, seek the support of a suitably qualified and experienced practitioner like Jo at Life Rituals. You may need to increase your intake (via food or supplements) of additional nutrients and/or enzymes to enhance absorption. If you struggle to optimise your vitamin D levels, you may wish to have a genetic test to check for vitamin D polymorphisms.

3. Be less fearful of the sun

Let’s be less fearful of the sun and skin cancer risk – let’s simply avoid getting burned. Don’t slap that sunscreen on the kids before they’ve had a chance to be in the sun – but also don’t let them get burned. We need to get sun smart again – it’s what we’ve done for millennia. Remember that UVB strikes our skin and with the help of cholesterol is eventually absorbed (can take ca 48hrs) and processed in our liver. Showering it all off will not help it absorbed, so wash essential bodily parts but don’t use organic soap or gel and wash it all off your skin, simply rinse in cold water.

4. Oily fish and fortified foods can help – but not enough to remedy a severe deficiency

If you can consume oily fish, fish liver oil and fortified foods, these can help boost your levels, but typically, the levels are not high enough to remedy a severe deficiency. These fortified foods (e.g. dairy, wheat) may also contribute to other health problems.

If your immune system is constantly low then seek Jo’s professional advice and rebalance with nutrition, acupuncture, and herbs. Call the clinic 01572 868579 or email info@liferituals.co.uk for a consultation for an individualised health plan.

Saturday Tea Tasting; Bespoke Christmas Tea Sets & Unique Gifts – Throughout November & December

There are few finer ways to toast the season than with a cup of our popular teas. Start sipping your way to a Merry Christmas here. We’re delighted to share our tea obsession in a series of Tea Tastings on Saturdays throughout November & December in our Oakham shop. No booking necessary, just a healthy curiosity!

Join us between 10am -3pm us for a complimentary exploration of our caffeinated and non caffeinated teas with a health purpose. Enjoy and drink our teas for digestion, sleep, energy and cold protection. Organic, Additive & Naturally gluten-free, our wellness tea collection support health and well-being, inside and out.

Dates: Saturday 9th November / Saturday 23rd November / Saturday 30th November / Saturday 7th December / Saturday 14th December / Saturday 21st December
Time: 10am – 3pm
Location: Life Rituals, 24 Mill Street, Oakham, LE15 6EA

You can also make your own bespoke gift tea set tailored to the person’s tastes and health needs, which is wonderfully, thoughtful gift at Christmas, but also on any occasion. Very popular!

tea tasting event in rutland

Be prepared for delicious tastings served by our in-house tearistas – Helen and Liz and since no tea is an island, you’ll also discover a perfect homemade biscuit pairing served alongside. We also won’t be afraid to answer those necessary, hard-hitting questions like: how do you dunk a biscuit properly?!

You will take away with you a new wealth of tea knowledge, some brewing tips to complete your now-full suite of tea skills, and some gorgeous tea gift sets for friends and family. You will also have the chance to shop for unusual gifts at Life Rituals which encompasses an Acupuncture & Herb Clinic and Life Rituals Organic Teas together with an apothecary of tea accessories from Broste Copenhagen, unique botanical fragrances, books and original art.

So if you’re thirsty for some knowledge, and appreciate finding unusual beautiful gifts – or perhaps simply an expertly made cup of tea – we’d love to see you and share a moment out with you.

Drop-in anytime between 10am – 3pm 🙂

For more information please call 01572 868579 or email info@liferituals.co.uk