Nutrients to Combat Anxiety

When it comes to anxiety, nutrition can make a huge difference to your resilience and wellbeing. That means your diet, along with carefully chosen and professionally prescribed supplements, are key tools for reducing the symptoms and the effects of anxiety in your body and mind. Below is a summary of what your brain and nervous system are craving when you are experiencing symptoms of anxiety.

Magnesium

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Supports:

  • Mood, wellbeing & relaxation of the nervous system.
  • Also needed for activation of B vitamins & vit D + decreases lactate in system

Found in:

Dark, leafy greens; whole grains e.g. brown rice, quinoa, oats; nuts & seeds e.g. almonds, cashews, sesame; eggs; legumes e.g. beans, lentils; avocados; bananas; brewer's yeast.

B vitamins

Support:

  • Nervous system health & function + necessary for brain chemistry production.
  • Many anxiety symptoms are associated with vitamin B & Magnesium deficiency .
  • Deficiency in B & Magnesium also increases lactate in blood;
  • Note: B vitamins + Magnesium both feed the & relax the nervous system

Found in:

Dark, leafy greens; whole grains –brown rice, quinoa, oats; nuts & seeds; legumes e.g.  beans, lentils.

Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs)

Support:

  • Healthy nervous system function (protects & nourishes).
  • Necessary for nervous system transmission (communication between nerves/brain)
  • + Healthy mental/psychological function including mood (EFA therapy is highly beneficial in treatment of anxiety & depression) 

Found in:

Avocado; cold-pressed oils (especially olive and sunflower); oily fish (salmon, sardines, trout and mackerel); nuts and seeds.

Adequate protein

Supports:

  • Rule of thumb: 1g protein per 1kg of body weight, per day
  • Protein provides us with amino acids (building blocks) that are the precursors (needed substances) to produce the brain chemistry we need

Found in:

Lean meat, fish, eggs (try to get organic & free-range where possible); legumes e.g. beans, chickpeas, lentils; nuts & seeds…

Try to have protein as a part of every meal/snack, and you will notice a difference! J

Complex Carbohydrates

Support:

  • Smooth, sustained energy release; Balance blood glucose; High in essential nutrients & fibre.

Found in:

Whole grains e.g. brown rice, quinoa, oats; dark, leafy greens e.g. silverbeat, kale, bok choi, lettuce; sprouts; vegetables (root vegies like Pumpkin, carrots, turnips, Swede, sweet potato are esp. grounding in anxiety!); Sprouts (nutrient powerhouses! Loaded with essential nutrients e.g.  vits, mins, phyto(plant)chemicals, anti-oxidants..)

REMEMBER, OUR BRAIN & NERVOUS SYSTEM ARE LIKE PONDS WE NEED TO KEEP TOPPED UP

The Benefits of Eating Olives

Olives have long been held in high esteem, apparently Moses exempted from military service the men responsible for cultivating olive trees and it was a dove bearing an olive branch that signaled the end of the great flood in the biblical story of Noah’s Ark.

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 Prized for their fruit and oil, olives have been extensively cultivated throughout the Mediterranean and other hot dry climates in which the olive tree is particularly suited. Olives also have longevity on their side with a single tree often living for hundreds of years.

Fruit

Olives are the fruit of the Olea Europaea tree. Green olives are picked before they are ripe, whereas black olives are picked later in the season at peak ripeness. If you’ve ever tasted a raw olive you’ll know they taste very different (peppery and bitter) before they are salted, pickled or soaked in brine, which mellows the flavour considerably. They are high in anti-oxidants (always a good thing) and healthy fats like oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid linked to reduced blood pressure and cardiovascular disease risk. Olives also contain omega-3-rich alpha-linolenic acid.

Oil

The whole olive is pressed to extract the oil from the fruit. As with the fruit, the oil is similarly blessed with good fats and antioxidants. Like wine, varieties and growing conditions and processing methods will all affect the quality and taste of the oil produced. Only oil that is free of flavour defects and has lower levels of oleic acid (less than 0.8%) can be labelled as “extra virgin” and is considered the superior tasting and most valuable.

Leaves

The leaves of the olive tree are highly astringent and are prised in herbal medicine as a immune boosting tonic. The leaves have remarkable properties as an antiviral, antibiotic, antifungal and antiparasitic.

Flowers

The use of the flowers as an essence was popularised by Dr Edward Bach. The essence is used to treat mental and physical exhaustion after a period of sustained exertion. The person needing olive essence will feel like every day is a struggle and life has become a chore. Like the olive branch in the story of Noah’s Ark, olive flower essence can restore hope after an arduous and difficult period in your life.

Olives are proof that quite often, foods that are delicious are also good for us.

Love Is All You Need

Do you recall going a little bit crazy when you have fallen in love… such as obsessively checking for a new text or email every five seconds? Apparently the phrase madly in love is quite apt as the brain chemistry of ‘being in love’ temporarily mimics the brain chemistry similar to that of mental illness.

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Falling in love unleashes a potent cocktail of high adrenalin levels (flight or fight hormone) as well as surges of phenethylamine (the body's natural amphetamine), dopamine (which triggers the brain's reward and pleasure centers), and oxytocin (the love, trust, cuddling hormone). It’s no wonder we find love such an intoxicating and thrilling ride!

What is more reassuring is that if your new romance survives the first flush of craziness to become an enduring loving relationship then instead of being a health liability – love becomes a health boon.

Research is now proving what we already knew intuitively: loving relationships are linked to many positive health outcomes. Clinically some of the health findings include:

  • Lower stress levels, one study showed couples who were separated physically, had higher cortisol levels (long term stress hormones) and worse sleep than when they were together.

  • Apart from giving you a warm and fuzzy feeling, loving relationships are associated with lower blood pressure and lower rates of heart disease

  • Longer life expectancy – a loving relationship adds an average of five years to your life

  • Lower rates of chronic diseases such as diabetes and Alzheimer’s

So this Valentines Day you now know to be even more appreciative of your loving relationships as they may well be the secret to a long and healthy life. However if you are going out on a hot date with a new love interest…beware the onset of feeling a little ‘love sick’.

Plugging the Gaps: Healing a leaky gut

Last week we explored what leaky gut is, the symptoms it causes and how it’s diagnosed. The good news is that naturopathic approaches for treating leaky gut are very safe and effective.

In part two of this article I’m going to share some of the naturopathic treatment approaches that I use to heal the permeability of the gut lining, switch off the inflammatory response of the immune system and restore your digestive system’s ability to absorb nutrients from food.

A positive test, what next?

HERBS AND SUPPLEMENTS

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Glutamine – One of my favourite and most prescribed supplements for leaky gut, glutamine is an amino acid involved in rebuilding and repairing damage to the mucosal lining. It also provides protection from further damage, modulates immune function and decreases inflammation

Zinc – Maintains intestinal wall integrity, supports immune function and protects the mucosal lining

Probiotics – Support and restore a healthy microbiota. Having a healthy amount of good bacteria will massively contribute to a robust immune system and decrease inflammation. There are particular strains of bacteria that I will use in the treatment of leaky gut so it is important to seek advice on the right probiotic supplement for you.

Boswellia – Boswellia is one of my favourite herbs when treating leaky gut because it is great at reducing systemic inflammation. I have found that glutamine and boswellia work synergistically and both support the healing and sealing process

Turmeric – The anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric are well known, but it can also tighten the spaces in the bowel lining reducing that permeability.

IDEAL FOOD CHOICES FOR LEAKY GUT

Bone broth – provides important amino acids and minerals that can help heal leaky gut and improve mineral deficiencies. Digesting broths and soups is easy on the body and doesn’t take much effort to breakdown

Fermented foods – coconut kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut or kimchi. These fermented foods contain beneficial bacteria that will provide protection against invading pathogens

Steamed vegetables – non-starchy vegetables that are cooked or steamed are easy to digest and nutrient-rich

Healthy fats – consuming healthy fats in moderation like egg yolks, salmon, avocados and coconut oil are easy on the gut and promote healing

Fruit – Consuming 1-2 servings of fruit in its whole state daily provides an excellent source of fibre, which helps to feed the good bacteria in the gut. Steer clear of fruit juices, they have very little fibre and a high amount of sugar

Aloe Vera juice – Aloe vera is anti-inflammatory and can help heal the digestive system. It’s a great addition to green smoothies too

Gluten-free grains – these can help alleviate digestive strain, especially for those that are gluten intolerant: Quinoa, millet, buckwheat, brown rice and amaranth

Putting it all together.

Every case of leaky gut is different. One of the things I love about my work as a naturopath is being able to tailor a treatment protocol to your individual needs to maximise healing and a speedy return to radiant wellbeing.

If you suspect leaky gut might be an issues for you come in and see me and we’ll do some testing and get your digestion and your wellbeing back on track.

CARLA WILTSHIRE

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Carla's interest in natural health began at a young age, sourcing remedies from the backyard and kitchen where possible. After living in China and Papua New Guinea, where she got to experience alternative health practices, Carla’s interest in natural medicine developed into a passion.

Carla’s main areas of interest include digestive disorders, immune dysfunction, and female health issues. Her aim is to educate her clients so they can take pro-active steps to take control of their health.

Book an appointment with Carla now

 

LEAKY GUT: Is Your Digestion Making You Sick?

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In my role as a naturopath at Live Well, one of the conditions I get asked about a lot is leaky gut. With more awareness about the massive impact of gut health on our wellbeing lots of my clients seek support to maximise the health of their digestive system.

What is leaky gut?

Leaky gut occurs when the lining of your digestive tract is damaged causing the gap junctions in your digestive tract to become porous. The increased permeability of the gut lining allows particles like food molecules, toxins and bacteria to pass into your bloodstream causing a myriad of health issues.

In a healthy body, our intestinal lining provides a barrier to keep harmful substances away from the bloodstream, but when that barrier is compromised our immune system detects these invaders and goes into attack mode. The result of this attack causes inflammation, which puts a lot of stress on the body. The longer the digestive lining is permeable and allows invaders to leech into the bloodstream the greater the damage caused by the inflammation.

The build up of stress and accumulation of toxins causes the liver to work over time to keep up with filtering these substances out of the body. More often than not the toxic load is too great and it builds up faster than it is eliminated. As a result, symptoms continue to worsen.

Can you test for leaky gut?

Thankfully if leaky gut is suspected there is a simple and reliable test, called the Lactulose/Mannitol Test that we can do to determine whether or not you have leaky gut. The test involves drinking two substances (lactulose and mannitol) and assessing their concentration in the urine. Lactulose is made up of large particles that are difficult to be absorbed through healthy intestinal lining, so high concentrations of lactulose in the urine indicates that the digestive lining is too permeable. Mannitol, on the other hand, is made up of smaller particles that should be well absorbed, however if the mannitol concentration is too low that can be indicative of absorption issues

Signs of leaky gut

Do any of these symptoms sound familiar?

  • Food intolerances and allergies – this can be a sign that the body is developing antibodies to fight off certain foods
  • Irritable bowel syndrome – caused by the inflammation and damage of the digestive lining
  • Fatigue, brain fog – this occurs as a result of toxic overload
  • Eczema, dermatitis, rashes – as the skin is an organ of elimination, the body may try to release the toxins through the skin if the other pathways of elimination are congested
  • Poor nutrient absorption – caused by impaired breakdown of food and absorption of essential vitamins and minerals

 

Next week: Part Two
How to heal a leaky Gut

 

CARLA WILTSHIRE

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Carla's interest in natural health began at a young age, sourcing remedies from the backyard and kitchen where possible. After living in China and Papua New Guinea, where she got to experience alternative health practices, Carla’s interest in natural medicine developed into a passion.

Carla’s main areas of interest include digestive disorders, immune dysfunction, and female health issues. Her aim is to educate her clients so they can take pro-active steps to take control of their health.

Book an appointment with Carla now

 

What is Worth Suffering For?

So 2018 is already whirring into gear. It’s likely you’re back at work, with your holidays already a distant memory. Before the magic dust of inspiration that comes with each New Year slips through your fingers it worth taking a moment to consider how you want to invest your time and energy in 2018. When you do come up with some goals its important you check that you are prepared to suffer to reach them, if not you may as well not bother. Let me explain.

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Like a lot of people over Christmas I read a really interesting book called “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*@K” by Mark Manson. One juicy piece of wisdom he articulates beautifully is that all choices we make in life lead to a mixture of happiness and suffering. For example you might decide you want to loose weight but the path to loosing weight involves the suffering and pain of getting up early to train, not eating ice cream, wrestling with your willpower when your motivation wanes and some days just feeling terrible about yourself. The point is that whatever path you choose you need to be willing to accept and even embrace the pain that is inherent in that path. Otherwise, when you come up against the inevitable suffering or pain associated with your decision to, in this example, loose weight you’ll stop taking action and won’t reach your goal.

If you think about it, anything worth doing has a mixture of suffering and joy:

Having kids involves sleepless nights, lots of worrying, complete life disruption vs the boundless love, laughter, sense of meaning that kids bring.

Finishing a uni degree involves exams, HECS debt, loads of stress vs better career prospects, life long friendships, sense of satisfaction.

Learning to play a musical instrument involves frustration; being initially hopeless at it, hours of your life you’ll never get back vs the blissful joy of making music.

So when you contemplate what you want to do differently this year make sure you reconcile yourself with the both the downside of the suffering you are signing up for as well as the upside of what you are planning to achieve. If you mentally get that balance right first, your expectations of the journey will align much better with the actual lived events. Then it’s much more likely that when you go through the moments of suffering you will be prepared for them and wont throw in the towel.  


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Wes Smith is Live Well's Director and has 20 years experience as a practitioner and wellness educator. He has a special interest in working with chronic immune issues, stressanxiety and depression
Wes is passionate about inspiring and educating people to create and sustain their vitality and wellbeing so they can live life to the full.
Wes also enjoys teaching meditation and is the creator of meditatewithwes.com an online resource for learning how to meditate. es has a B.App.Sc.(Acup), Diploma of Herbal Medicine, a Yoga Teaching Diploma and is an APHRA registered acupuncturist. 

Learn more about acupunctureherbal medicine and meditation.

Learn more about Wes
Make an appointment with Wes

Why We’re Going Crazy for Kombucha

Is it just me, or are you also suddenly seeing kombucha everywhere? Kombucha, for the uninitiated, is a fermented tea drink first documented in 3rd Century China. Named the ‘tea of immortality’ kombucha’s popularity spread through the Far East and into Russia.

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As regular Live Well Blog readers already know, fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi and especially kombucha are ‘so hot right now’. It’s mainly thanks to the plethora of research evidence showing the link between healthy gut flora (or microbiome) and our wellbeing and the role fermented foods play in supporting healthy digestion.

Riding high on the wave of fermented food popularity, kombucha is now entrenched in the mainstream. Consequently, kombucha has morphed from something your fisherman’s pants and bead wearing hippy friends were brewing in their kitchens to a something your local supermarket is probably now stocking. Not bad for something described as tasting like ‘rancid pineapple juice’. Nowadays, that description is probably a bit unfair. Just as the craft beer movement has exploded the beer drinking options available, so too the new wave of kombucha creators, like Canberra’s very own Booyah Kombucha have perfected the art of combining fermedted goodness with foodie friendly flavours. Orange and ginger or melon and lemon grass kombucha anyone?

3 beneifts of drinking kombucha

Digest: Kombucha contains probiotics, enzymes and beneficial acids to support healthy digestion

Detox: kombucha is high in Glucaric acid, which is beneficial to the liver and aids it’s natural detoxification.

Boost: kombucha is naturally high in antioxidants, helping boost immune function.  

Key Kombucha Lingo

SCOBY or Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast is the what is added to tea and sugar to catalyse the fermentation process if you're making it at home.

Booch: what the cool kids are calling it.

Precautions:

Pregnant and nursing moms and anyone with a medical condition should check with a doctor or trusted health professional before consuming.

Tips to Unwind and Recharge These Holidays

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Whether you’re heading to the coast, having a ‘staycation’ in Canberra or travelling to be with family over the Christmas holidays, apply these tips to make sure your body and mind get the most benefit from your break. These suggestions are especially important if you’re someone who is busy all the time and, when you do stop for a break, you find it hard to unwind.

Unplug

Give yourself a break from the world of screens. Working, for most people, requires staring at a screen for most of the day. If, on top of that, you like to unwind by watching TV, gaming or being on your phone/tablet/laptop then you’re long overdue for a digital detox. Dust off the board games and the jigsaw puzzles, get out the craft gear and the paint brushes, read some (real) books or tackle some cryptic crosswords. Whatever you choose, your nervous system will thank you.

Monotask

Are you always juggling about a million priorities? It’s time to master the art of monotasking and kick your multitasking habits to the kerb. Even if you’ve got a tribe of kids and you’re unruly in-laws are coming to stay, you can still find a part of each day where you allow yourself the luxury of being able to focus on just one task at a time. When you give your mind just one thing to do, a kind of magical meditative stillness is unleashed and your whole body and mind can surrender into being in the moment. 

Nature

It’s as easy as opening your front door and walking through! Get yourself outside and into nature these holidays in any way shape or form that takes your fancy. Have a picnic in the park, potter in the garden or head off for a night or two camping. Time in nature elevates your mood and is one of the most healing treats for an exhausted nervous system. If you’ve got the energy you can combine nature and exercise and accrue extra bonus points viabushwalks, mountain biking or kayaking. However, if it takes all your strength just to drag yourself out of the house, treat yourself to a snooze under a shady tree in the back yard instead.

Holiday Living

When you get back from your break make an effort to continue to integrate your favourite holiday habits into your regular routine. It takes practice but you can learn how to keep your relaxation tank topped up in order to build resilience and bolster your wellbeing throughout the year.


Wes Smith is Live Well's Director and has 20 years experience as a practitioner and wellness educator. He has a special interest in working with chronic immune issues, stressanxiety and depression
Wes is passionate about inspiring and educating people to create and sustain their vitality and wellbeing so they can live life to the full.
Wes also enjoys teaching meditation and is the creator of meditatewithwes.com an online resource for learning how to meditate. es has a B.App.Sc.(Acup), Diploma of Herbal Medicine, a Yoga Teaching Diploma and is an APHRA registered acupuncturist. 

Learn more about acupunctureherbal medicine and meditation.

Learn more about Wes
Make an appointment with Wes

Are You Getting the Massage?

End of Year Essentials

With the end of 2017 now in sight are you racing to the finish or limping across the line? At busy and stressful times like the end of the year can be for many, it’s important to remind yourself that self care is an essential requirement, not an indulgence.

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Ease the squeeze

Typically, the busier we are the more likely it is that self-care gets squeezed out of the schedule when actually the opposite is what’s called for. The more stressed you are the more it feels like you can’t make time for your gym class, morning meditation or cup of tea on the balcony, the more tenacious you need to be about protecting your ‘me time’.

There’s a saying about meditation, which applies to any kind of self care, that for most people 20 minutes a day is a good time to aim for, except of course if your are really busy and pressed for time, in which case you need to do 30 minutes twice a day!

Lock it in

When I’m working with a client at Live Well who is particularly affected by stress, we will always explore how they can tweak their lifestyle to better support the treatment goals. Left to their own devices, when push comes to shove I know my really stressed clients will probably forget about self-care. So one trick I find works well is to make sure whatever we settle on as a self care task is not some vague idea but is something that gets booked and scheduled.

For example, it could be a series of pampering and deeply relaxing massages, if you’ve booked the appointments or even better pre-paid there’s no way you’re going to miss them. The same goes for a term of Yoga classes or even a weekend away at the coast. Book it, pay a deposit and you’re much less likely to not turn up.

Guilt free zone

When we look ahead to 2018 one wellness trend I’d like to see emerge is the reclaiming of self-care as a conscious and healthy choice. It is the ‘first put your own oxygen mask on’ of the wellness world as the better your look after yourself the better you’re able to support and look after those around you.

Nervous System Overload?

Nervous System Overload?

By far the most common thing we see and treat at Live Well is what I would describe as different presentations of nervous system overload. What’s interesting is that an overwhelmed and burnt out nervous system can present in many different ways. Here are just some of the most common:

Insomnia

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The quality of your sleep is a reliable gauge of your nervous system’s wellbeing. Both cause and effect of nervous system overload, insomnia is a clear indication that your body and mind are unable to switch from action mode into rest and recharge.

Anxiety

Clammy hands, knots in your stomach, palpitations, a rising sense of panic or dread are just a few of the manifestations of anxiety but what drives all these symptoms is an inability to regulate levels of nervous system excitement. When you suffer with anxiety, your nervous system is very adept at moving into high levels of alertness and engagement but unable to de-escalate and drop back down to neutral. Like a car engine constantly revving, your mind and nervous system are stuck in overdrive.

Digestive Problems

According to Chinese Medicine, we don’t just digest what we put in our mouths we also digest experiences, thoughts and emotions. What that means is that prolonged stress will often first show up as digestive problems like reflux, bloating and pain.

Exhaustion

Whether you’re always feeling tired or suffering from even more debilitating chronic fatigue syndrome, exhaustion is a clear sign that your body is unable to access deep states of rest. It might be stating the obvious but the best cure for exhaustion is rest. However when your nervous system has become addicted to high states of activity and is no longer able to wind down you just can’t drop into the deep restorative rest you need.

Autoimmune

Prolonged states of nervous system overload will, in some people, eventually wear down the resilience of the immune system and lead to autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, thyroid disease, alopecia.

What can you do?

If you recognise yourself in any of these patterns, the good news is that holistic approaches to treat nervous system overload like acupuncture, herbal medicine, nutritional therapy, kinesiology, craniosacral therapy, meditation and bodywork are all very effective.

 

 

 

Science Says: Eat Your Greens

We know we should be eating our greens, and as an avid wellness column reader, you no doubt already have a diet rich in green goodness. What you may not know is that, according to new research eating your greens has been shown to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke by up to 40%.

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This latest advice is courtesy of the researchers at Edith Cowan University, School of Medical Health and Science who studied the diets of more than 1000 West Austrian Women. The researchers focused on the women’s dietary intake of nitrate from vegetables.

Putting the Breaks on Blood Pressure

The researchers observed a fascinating process that is occurring inside our mouths. The bacteria that are present in our mouths break down the nitrates in the foods we eat and transform them into a compound called nitrite as well as other bi-products which are essential to regulating our blood pressure reducing the risk of heart attacks and stroke.

Where are nitrates found?

Nitrates are an essential nutrient for all plant growth but they are found in particularly high concentrates in leafy green vegetables like spinach, lettuce, and kale as well as prominently in radishes, beetroot and celery.

Does that mean Bacon is Healthy?

I know what you’re thinking, bacon is cured using sodium nitrate so it must be amazing for cardiovascular health right? Not according to most health experts who explain that the nitrates in bacon are not converted in the same favourable way your body converts vegetable nitrates. Nevertheless, bacon lovers, don’t despair: there is some spirited debate about the pros and cons of bacon consumption, a topic we may revisit.

How much do you need?

To satisfy your body’s needs for nitrates, the recommended intake is about a cup of raw veges a day. Which means that if you have a generous portion of salad every day then you’re giving your cardiovascular system a fighting chance of many more years of faithful service.

The Strength to Overcome Pain

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The Strength to Overcome Pain

In my role as an acupuncturist I see a lot of people who are suffering from one kind of pain or another whether it be back or neck pain, joint pain or headaches. Fortunately, just about everyone leaves feeling much better as one of the things acupuncture does well is release areas of chronic tension, reduce inflammation and help the nervous system rebalance.

So You’re Pain Free, What Next?

Once people are feeling consistently pain free I try to ensure that they take up some form of supervised strength training whether it be working with a Pilates instructor, an exercise physiologist or a switched on personal trainer. That’s because, in my experience, the vast majority of ongoing pain is caused by postural weakness. The best way to retrain your body and resolve postural weakness is by working with an expert. Changing your posture can be a long term project as the way we sit, stand and move feels ‘normal’ to us but usually we’ve picked up some bad habits along the way that are causing less than optimal movement patterns.

The Office Slump

Take for example the classic posture of a sedentary office worker: shoulders slumped, chin jutting forward, abdominal muscles switched off and lower back slouching. Whilst this ‘path of least resistance’ posture may feel comfortable and easy to sustain, it causes big problems. Sitting like this for many hours a day causes crucial postural muscles to switch off and become chronically weak whilst leaving the work of holding your body upright to a few habitually overworked and consequently tense muscles. To make matters worse, it’s impossible to breathe properly in a slouched posture, which compounds the tension build up, depresses your mood and flattens your energy levels.

Banish the Niggles

Sustaining better posture requires both mobilising areas that are tight and restoring strength to areas that are weak. The good news is every incremental improvement in posture results in less chronic tension in the body. We’re not aiming for perfection here, just to be free from aches and pains and have freedom and ease of movement.

A Note on Standing Desks
Changing positions throughout the day is an improvement on sitting still however most people’s standing posture is just as problematic as their seated posture. So the need to work on your posture still applies. 

Breathe easy to beat anxiety

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We know that one in seven Australians have a diagnosed anxiety disorder, which means that even if you don’t suffer anxiety yourself, it’s likely you know someone that does. This week I had the pleasure of talking with Canberra physiotherapist Tess Graham who’s just published Relief from Anxiety and Panica new book about overcoming anxiety by changing the way you breathe.

Graham’s interest in breathing was sparked when two of her three children began suffering from chronic asthma. Whilst exploring ways to help her children that didn’t rely solely on medication, she discovered research which showed that if you can restore breathing to a physiologically normal level, you can resolve asthma symptoms. Fascinatingly, there are also lessons here for anxiety sufferers.

Tess explains, “asthmatics, like people with anxiety, characteristically over-breathe – that is all the time, but worse at the beginning of an ‘attack’. For an asthmatic, the over-breathing irritates the airways causing dehydration, inflammation and the narrowing of airways which causes wheezing and difficulty breathing. For those with anxiety, over-breathing revs up your nervous system and creates imbalance in blood chemistry, which causes blood vessels to narrow and interferes with the release of oxygen to your tissues, particularly to the heart and brain. The result can be dizziness, feeling spaced out, breathlessness, heart palpitations, tingling, nausea and feeling terrified.”

Rather than trying to employ a new breathing technique when you’re in the midst of a panic attack or anxiety episode, Graham’s advice is to learn how to adjust your everyday breathing to a softer and slower breath. In the book, she teaches the benefits of ‘nine habits of healthy breathing’ – a simple, step-by-step approach that is backed by research. “We breathe around 16,000 times while we are awake, so that is 16,000 opportunities to practise breathing a little better each day,” she explains.

The wisdom of this approach is that it changes your physiology in favourable ways. For example, it can lower your heart rate, improve oxygenation and modify an overly active sympathetic nervous system. The end result is being able to access greater feelings of calm, stabilising your nervous system at a very deep level and banishing episodes of anxiety.

* Relief from Anxiety and Panic, $29.99, from breatheability.com


Wes Smith is Live Well's Director and has 20 years experience as a practitioner and wellness educator. He has a special interest in working with chronic immune issues, stressanxiety and depression

Wes is passionate about inspiring and educating people to create and sustain their vitality and wellbeing so they can live life to the full.

Wes also enjoys teaching meditation and is the creator of meditatewithwes.com an online resource for learning how to meditate. es has a B.App.Sc.(Acup), Diploma of Herbal Medicine, a Yoga Teaching Diploma and is an APHRA registered acupuncturist. Learn more about acupunctureherbal medicine and meditation.

Learn more about Wes

Make an appointment to see Wes.

How to take charge of your life

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There comes many a time when you stop, look around and ask— “how did I get here?” Don’t get me wrong; it’s not all bad. Many a time I have woken and marveled in my surroundings or delighted in what I was grateful to be doing that day. However, sometimes the question sounds more like “I’m tired of doing this every day” or “why does this keep on happening to me?” If this sounds familiar or if you’re keen to take charge of your life then read on!

Firstly, the primary question you need to ask yourself is WHO is steering the ship? Sounds odd, eh? Aren’t we all simply making decisions that direct our life towards how we want to be living? Well, it depends on how you look at WHERE your decisions and direction are coming from. The glorious moment of truth will come when you wake-up to your subconscious or automatic pilot behaviours such as your attitudes and actions, and question their validity. The bottom line is— if you don’t open your eyes and choose to see yourself in the clear light of day by questioning WHY you make such decisions or have such thoughts, you’ll never really get to that place you’re deeply wanting to be. And let me tell you, each time you challenge a pattern in your life that no longer serves you, you’re literally STEPPING DIRECTLY INTO YOUR BEST SELF.

So, what do I mean by automatic pilot?

As you move through life, you develop: your particular way of doing things, your thinking processes and your responses to the ride that is life. Essentially, these become your PATTERNS. You repeat these patterns for so long they soon become automatic; no longer needing conscious thought. From a neurological perspective, you have wired your brain to a particular way of living.

What if I told you that many of these patterns are not your own or nor are they right for you? That these patterns are one of the very reasons you’re frustrated or caught in loops of repeated negative thoughts or circumstances? 

Patterns are often learnt throughout childhood from your family and/or immediate community. Children can be like sponges, observing and soaking up their surroundings ever learning how to achieve the family’s/community’s way of life. Some children learn to question the ways of the family early on but many don’t until later in life and for some— much, much later. Other patterns come from a maladaptation whereby at one stage you learnt to respond in a particular way to deal with a situation. The problem is, you continue to repeat the behaviour even when the circumstances are over. The pattern no longer serves you yet you continue to act it out without thinking; automatically.

What automatic pilot looks like

For example, there may have been a time in your life when you were highly stressed or in an unsafe place and feeling anxious. Your adrenals, central nervous system and mind become switched on (in response to stress). You remove yourself from this situation yet down the track you still find yourself highly stressed or anxious, yet no longer in danger. You begin to see yourself as an ‘anxious person’ or someone who is “just stressed a lot”.

Whether it’s an old pattern or a maladaptation, patterns are often ‘uncomfortably comfortable’ as they’re rooted in familiarity or as a connection or membership to your family.

Patterns can be so old that you identify with them, labelling yourself with comments such as: “Oh, that’s just me”, “I’m always like that” or “I just do things that way”. Family, friends or colleagues can further enclose you in this box by reinforcing the message with their own throw-away comments like “that’s such a you thing to do?”

Lack of questioning or reflection leaves you open to believing false truths about yourself. This in turn leaves you living a life that doesn’t feel right, doesn’t fit or isn’t fulfilling.

Wake-up to yourself!

Open your eyes and wake up! Are you being steered by subconscious patterns or an automatic pilot state of mind? Get to know how you do things and where your belief systems come from. Ask yourself “Do I resonate with this?”

Next, make a CHOICE and use your dynamic WILLPOWER. YOU can decide how you respond to something. YOU can decide how to think about something. YOU can decide how others make you feel. So check-in with your patterns and see if one is at play trying to steer the ship in the wrong direction. Recognising a pattern is powerful in it’s own right. Doing something to change it is the final nail in the coffin for clearing a pattern and becoming CONSCIOUS. When you combine conscious choice with willpower there really is no stopping you. As you repeat these new choices based on your own wisdom, you’re rewiring your brain and energy system to more authentic patterns.

Lastly, and this is a cracker— always check that your choice is coming from the heart (or instincts, gut feeling, spirit; it’s all the same). That way, you’re living YOUR LIFE, fully awake. 

Synchronism at its very best

Of course, in bountiful synchronism, at the time of writing this article I faced one of my old patterns. I woke in the morning to find a situation wasn’t going the way I was expecting it would. Everything was going so well then BAM! It all changed. I felt kicked in the guts. In a zombie-like fashion I turned to comfort myself in food, devouring what was left of any treat in the house. I hadn’t done this in a long time and I was semi-conscious of what I was doing. But I chose to wallow. So I wallowed; dripping in honey toast and chocolate. Then I chose to stop kicking myself in the guts (emotionally, mentally and physically) and awoke to three options: I could either A) keep being dramatic and wallow, B) do something about it or, C) let it go. If you’re wondering, I chose B. Not only did it feel better, the effects lasted longer than the few moments of indulgence! I’m now backing my decision with some tasty willpower and once again I feel in charge. I’m consciously steering the ship. What about you, where are you headed and who’s steering?

 

 

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Kate's passion is to educate and empower each client to understand their mind, body, and Spirit and how these aspects are all connected. Her integrative approach to health and healing is to explore and treat the whole person. Kate is the creator of Holistic by Nature and is also on the expert panel of I Quit Sugar.

Learn more about Kate

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Help with Hay Fever

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With "the fluff" otherwise known as the prolific flowers of the Populous alba tree flying though Canberra’s air, students minds might turn to university exams and hay fever sufferers minds turn to sneezing, watering eyes and fatigue.
 

Why Do You Get Hay Fever?

If your hay fever is seasonal, then it is caused by your immune systems over-enthusiastic response to what are normally benign substances like pollens, grasses and flowers. In spring, prolific quantities of these minute particles float though the air and into the delicate mucous membranes of your sinuses where they meet the defenses of your immune system.
One of the basic defenses of your immune system is to flush out offending substances with tears and mucous, the bigger the immune reaction, the more copious the streaming eyes and mucous discharge.

Why Doesn’t Everyone React The Same Way?

If you don’t get hay fever then it just means your immune system is not over-reacting to environmental triggers…lucky you!

How Do You Switch Off The Hayfever Response?

Many people choose to mask the symptoms of hay fever with drugs which work by suppressing the immune systems response, drying up secretions and masking pain signals.

However, for a more holistic solution that doesn’t just mask the symptoms you need to do two simple things:

De-stress

Stress is the difference between your immune system reacting calmly or over-reacting to triggers in the environment. Hay fever is usually a good indicator that your stress levels are too high and need some attention.

Try leaving work on-time, go to a regular Yoga or gym class, learn to meditate or take up a hobby. If you know your stress levels are really high then seek professional support.

Detox

The other area of your body calling out for support when you have hay fever is your liver. Hay fever essentially alerts you that your liver is over-burdened.

Simple ways to support your liver include to cutting out alcohol and processed foods. Try eating a more whole food based diet including lots of veges, whole grains and legumes and reduce meat and dairy.

If you address hay fever in a holistic way, the chances are you’ll beat the symptoms and feel more energized, sleep better and enjoy life more.

Who Wins The Fat War: Butter or Margarine?

Every now and then a new research paper comes along and exposes the fault lines between conventional and holistic thinking on what is good for you.

A couple of weeks ago, the American Heart Association (AHA) released a report titled “Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Disease” which championed the view that saturated fats like butter and coconut oil were, in fact, bad for you. The card carrying members of the Dieticians Association of Australia reading this news over their morning bowl of oat bran and skim milk didn’t bat an eyelid but the paleo loving hipsters however, were spitting out their bullet proof coffees in disgust.

So who’s side are you on?

It comes down to whether you spread margarine or butter on your toast. Margarine, for me, always conjures up images of 1980’s Peter Russell-Clarke and his parody of a bionic cow, imploring us to eat the real thing.

You might imagine that as we get a better understanding of the importance of replacing processed foods with whole foods that margarine would be tossed on the scrap heap of failed food fads. Not so, as any trip to the supermarket will attest. Manufacturers of processed foods are massive corporations who will naturally protect their commercial interests and there are many who pointedly suggest the AHA is beholden to the “big food” lobbyists.

Each side of the debate accuses the other of cherry picking the data to suit their own arguments so if you’re hoping for a consensus you could be waiting a long time.

For me, I would rather consume quality unprocessed fats, including saturated fats like butter and coconut oil as part of a nutrient rich diet rather than think I can eat refined fats like margarine with impunity. I’m also a sucker for the flavour of butter so my tastebuds probably have more sway that I’d like to admit.

Concerns about saturated fat are founded on the belief the prevailing belief that they are a key contributor to high cholesterol and heart disease, however there is a counter argument that diets high in sugar and refined foods are to blame. Whatever you choose to believe, keep an eye on your cholesterol and if you have any concerns see a healthcare professional of your choice.

Wes Smith is Live Well's Director and has 20 years experience as a practitioner and wellness educator. He has a special interest in working with chronic immune issues, stressanxiety and depression

Wes is passionate about inspiring and educating people to create and sustain their vitality and wellbeing so they can live life to the full.

Wes also enjoys teaching meditation and is the creator of meditatewithwes.com an online resource for learning how to meditate. es has a B.App.Sc.(Acup), Diploma of Herbal Medicine, a Yoga Teaching Diploma and is an APHRA registered acupuncturist. Learn more about acupunctureherbal medicine and meditation.

Learn more about Wes

Make an appointment to see Wes.

Sleeping Patterns for Babies

My four month old won't sleep through the night. Should I introduce solids?

Introducing solids will not consolidate infant sleep patterns and should not be introduced until around six months of age1,2. Night time feeding is necessary to refill the infant’s small stomach, but also to drain the mother’s breasts of milk and ensure adequate milk supply3. Infant sleep patterns are ever changing and extremely variable from one baby to the next2,3. New mothers can expect their baby to awaken and require feeding throughout the night for up to one year3. Identifiable sleep patterns do not begin to develop clearly until five to six months, at which time parents may begin to notice longer duration nocturnal sleeps2. However, most infants do not begin sleeping for prolonged periods until around 7 months or older, and even then, night-time sleep patterns have not been found to follow a normal curve until at least 10 months, which demonstrates the unpredictable nature of sleep patterns in young infants2.

The majority of mothers introduce solids for reasons they incorrectly perceive as infant readiness4. It is extremely common for mothers to prematurely introduce solids because they believe their baby is hungry or wants something other than milk; the baby may show interest in food that the mother is eating, or the mother may believe that her baby will sleep longer if fed solids4-6. None of these signs indicate readiness for solid introduction4-6. Look instead for good head and neck control and the ability to sit upright unsupported, grasp food and bring it to their mouth6. Infants who are ready to start solids will no longer exhibit the extrusion reflex; if your baby’s tongue immediately pushes food out of their mouth, this is a sign that they are not yet able to safely swallow solids4-6. External factors have also been found to influence the early introduction of solids, where mothers receive pressure from others or gain the misconception that early introduction will reduce the risk of food rejection and allergies4.

Exclusive breastfeeding up to six months of age has a positive impact on cognitive development and lowers the risk of chronic illness1,3,6. In contrast, early introduction of solids significantly increases the risk of gastrointestinal and respiratory conditions, middle ear infections and allergies5,6. Early initiation of solid feeding interferes with the infant’s self-controlled hunger mechanism and inhibits breastfeeding, increasing the likelihood of early breastfeeding cessation6. Parental control of infant energy intake is associated with increased weight gain and obesity risk6.

Current Australian guidelines advise exclusive breastfeeding until around six months of age, when solid foods should be introduced alongside continued breastfeeding1,3,5. At six months of age, infant stores of specific nutrients such as iron and zinc become depleted and breastmilk can no longer satisfy appetite or nutritional needs6. Infant feeding behaviour transitions from sucking to chewing with the loss of the tongue-thrust reflex and maturation of the digestive tract enables starch digestion6. Sleep pattern consolidation does not begin to occur until five to six months of age and babies should not be expected to sleep through the night for the first 12 months of life2,3.

  1. Mindell JA, Leichman ES, Composto J, Lee C, Bhullar B, Walters BM. Development of infant and toddler sleep patterns: real-world data from mobile application. J Sleep Res [internet]. 2016 Oct [cited 2017 Mar 23];25(5):508-16. Available from: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jsr.12414/full
  2. Brown A, Rowan H. Maternal and infant factors associated with reasons for introducing solid foods. Mat Child Nutr [internet]. 2016 Jul [cited 2017 Mar 23];12(3):500-15. Available from: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/mcn.12166/full
  3. The Department of Health. DH Website [internet]. Canberra: DH, 2017 [cited 2017 Mar 22]. Available from: http://www.health.gov.au
  4. Scott JA, Binns CW, Graham KI, Oddy WH. Predictors of the early introduction of solid foods in infants: results of a cohort study. BMC Pediatr [internet]. 2009 Sep 22 [cited 2017 Mar 23];9(1):60-8. Available from: http://bmcpediatr.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2431-9-60
  5. Kronborg H, Foverskov E, Vaeth M. Predictors for early introduction of solid food among Danish mothers and infants: an observational study. BMC Pediatr [internet]. 2014 Oct 1 [cited 2017 Mar 23];14(1):243-52. Available from: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2431/14/243
  6. National Health and Medical Research Council. Infant feeding guidelines: information for health workers [internet]. Canberra: NHMRC; 2013 [cited 2017 Mar 23]. Available from: https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/file/publications/170131_n56_infant_feeding_guidelines.pdf

Killer Cramps

Help For Painful Periods

With up to 90% of women experiencing pain or discomfort with their period it was pleasing to see the results of a study that showed acupuncture’s ability to relieve unwanted menstrual symptoms.

In the study lead by University of Western Sydney researcher Dr Mike Armour, 74 women were given 3 months of acupuncture treatment, which included nutrition and lifestyle advice. The idea was to replicate the type of holistic and individualised approach that you would expect if you visited your local acupuncturist.

The good news was the women experienced significantly less pain during the treatment phase and most importantly that the beneficial effects lasted for up to 12 months. In addition to pain relief they also experienced improvement in other common PMS symptoms including breast tenderness, emotional changes, bloating and headaches.

How does it work?

Well according to the researchers acupuncture was thought to affect a number of mechanism in the body including the release of natural opiates, a reduction in inflammation, an altering of uterine blood flow and positive changes in prostaglandin levels. The end result meant 50% or more reduction in pain for most of the participants. Whilst this Australian study was small, its findings were consistent with a much larger German trial of 649 women (Witt et all, 2008).

Armour had his wife’s experience from which to draw inspiration. She had previously suffered from painful periods and with advice from their GP she tried going on the pill and using painkillers. Unfortunately nothing they tried worked, so they sought out the help of an acupuncturist. His wife’s eventual success with acupuncture lead him to study acupuncture himself and to ultimately want to share the benefits he had seen in his own practice with others. Armour’s message to women who are suffering with painful periods is simply this: you don’t just have to put up with it. Great advice.  

Wes Smith is Live Well's Director and has 20 years experience as a practitioner and wellness educator. He has a special interest in working with chronic immune issues, stressanxiety and depression

Wes is passionate about inspiring and educating people to create and sustain their vitality and wellbeing so they can live life to the full.

Wes also enjoys teaching meditation and is the creator of meditatewithwes.com an online resource for learning how to meditate. es has a B.App.Sc.(Acup), Diploma of Herbal Medicine, a Yoga Teaching Diploma and is an APHRA registered acupuncturist. Learn more about acupunctureherbal medicine and meditation.

Learn more about Wes

Make an appointment to see Wes.

Breast Milk...How Much is Enough?

I don't seem to produce enough milk. Should I supplement breastfeeding with formula?

Perceived insufficient milk supply is a frequently experienced problem for breastfeeding women and is one of the most common reasons reported for complete cessation or decreased exclusivity of breastfeeding1-4. It is characterised by a mother’s belief that she is not producing enough breastmilk to meet the needs of her infant2. Reasons that women assume there are problems with their milk supply range from their baby appearing unsettled and crying, or demanding more frequent feeding, to reduced breast size and firmness5. None of these factors give a clear indication of inadequate milk production, and are more likely to signal that the baby is uncomfortable or in an accelerated growth phase, while changes in breast fullness are associated with healthy milk production3,5. Sufficient milk production is more accurately determined by observing that the baby breastfeeds well and often, wets at least five nappies and passes a minimum of three soft stools per day1,3,5. A well-fed baby should be gaining weight and appear alert and happy at times throughout the day1,3,5.

Breastmilk supply fluctuates with variations in infant feeding patterns and demand1,2. When a baby consumes more milk from the breast, more breastmilk will be made1. Mothers who feel they are not producing adequate volumes of milk are encouraged to try breastfeeding their baby more often and ensure frequent skin-to-skin contact1. It may take a week or more of increased feeding to notice a subsequent increase in milk supply1. Supplementing breastfeeding with formula satiates the baby’s hunger and therefore reduces the volume of breastmilk which will be consumed, negatively impacting milk supply6. If breastmilk supply is truly insufficient, the method of supplement delivery is an important consideration. Where breastmilk is supplemented using bottle feeding, it is important to be aware that artificial teats require less involved suckling mechanics, which may result in nipple confusion and breast refusal7. Artificial teats should be avoided where possible, instead opt for lactation aids, which keep the baby in contact with the breast and simulate natural feeding mechanics2,7.

Current Australian guidelines recommend infants be breastfed exclusively to six months of age when solid foods can be introduced alongside continued breastfeeding to 12 months of age and beyond1,8. Breastmilk is superior to formula as it is nutritionally complete and highly bioavailable, and contains hormones and immunological agents to aid healthy development and immunity1,8. Breastmilk is cheap, convenient, fresh and safe1. Evidence shows that breastfed babies are less at risk of suffering digestive, respiratory and ear infections, type 1 diabetes and leaukaemia8. Women who breastfeed recover more quickly from childbirth and are less at risk of suffering maternal depression, or breast and ovarian cancers in the future8. Mothers who are concerned about their milk supply are encouraged to seek expert advice and support by contacting their doctor or postnatal support network, or utilising online resources, such as the Australian Breastfeeding Association1.

  1. Australian Breastfeeding Association. ABA Website [internet]. South Melbourne: ABA, [date unknown] [cited 2017 Mar 22]. Available from: https://www.breastfeeding.asn.au
  2. Gatti L. Maternal perceptions of insufficient milk supply in breastfeeding. J Nurs Scholarsh [internet]. 2008 Sep [cited 2017 Mar 22];40(4):355-63. Available from: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1547-5069.2008.00234.x/
  3. Whitten D. A precious opportunity: supporting women with concerns about their breastmilk supply. Aus J Herb Med [internet]. 2013 [cited 2017 Mar 22];25(3):112-26. Available from: http://search.informit.com.au/documentSummary;dn=605350526251277;res=IELHEA
  4. Noonan M. Breastfeeding: is my baby getting enough milk? Brit J Midwif [internet]. 2011 Feb [cited 2017 Mar 22];19(2):82-9. Available from: http://www.magonlinelibrary.com/doi/abs/10.12968/bjom.2011.19.2.82
  5. Amir LH. Breastfeeding: managing ‘supply’ difficulties. Aus Fam Physic [internet]. 2006 Sep [cited 2017 Mar 22];35(9):686-9. Available from: arrow.latrobe.edu.au:8080/vital/access/manager/Repository/latrobe:16809
  6. Kent JC, Gardner H, Geddes DT. Breastmilk production in the first 4 weeks after birth of term infants. Nutr [internet]. 2016 Nov 25 [cited 2017 Mar 22];8(12):756-62. Available from: http://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/8/12/756
  7. Moral A, Bolibar I, Seguranyes G, Ustrell JM, Sebastia G, Martinez-Barba C, Rios J. Mechanics of sucking: comparison between bottle feeding and breastfeeding. BMC Pediatr [internet]. 2010 Feb 11 [cited 2017 Mar 22];10(6):6-14. Available from: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2431/10/6
  8. The Department of Health. DH Website [internet]. Canberra: DH, 2017 [cited 2017 Mar 22]. Available from: http://www.health.gov.au

Should Sushi Be Avoided During Pregnancy?

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It is highly advisable to avoid consumption of sushi during pregnancy. During pregnancy, women produce increased levels of progesterone which lowers cell mediated immune function1,2. Reduced immunity increases the risk of infection by foodborne pathogens, which may have dire consequences for the mother and foetus, increasing the risk of birth defects, miscarriage, premature labour and stillbirth1. Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella are the most important food borne pathogenic bacteria to be aware of during pregnancy1,3. Foods at higher risk of contamination by these pathogens include: raw and cold cooked meats, such as chicken and beef; pre-prepared salad vegetables; raw and cold cooked seafood, such as oysters, prawns and fish; soft cheeses, such as camembert and feta; and raw egg and raw egg products, such as mayonnaise4. All ingredients which are commonly found in sushi.

Sushi is considered a potentially hazardous food5-7, as it contains highly perishable ingredients and undergoes significant manual handling during preparation5, increasing the risk of pathogenic bacterial growth. As a potentially hazardous food, businesses are required to maintain the temperature of sushi at or below 5˚C during transport, storage and display, in accordance with Standard 3.2.2 of the Food Standards Code5,6. The temperature range between 5˚C to 60˚C is referred to as the temperature danger zone for food4,8. Within this range, bacteria which causes food poisoning can multiply to unsafe levels, increasing the likelihood illness4,8. However, many businesses report that refrigeration compromises the quality and taste of the product, causing the sushi to dry out, become crunchy and lose flavour5. For this reason, businesses are able to adopt the “4 hour/2 hour rule” as an alternative compliance method under Clause 25 of Standard 3.2.25,6. This allows sushi products to be displayed outside of a temperature controlled environment for up to 4 hours. If displayed for less than 2 hours, the product may be returned to refrigeration; if displayed for between 2 and 4 hours, the product must be consumed immediately; beyond 4 hours on display, the product must be disposed of5-7. The NSW Food Authority conducted a study to assess the growth patterns of bacteria found in sushi products stored in unrefrigerated display cabinets and concluded that sushi must not be displayed at temperatures above 25°C, due to the dangerous growth of pathogenic bacteria beyond this temperature6.

Growth of food borne pathogens may also be promoted by the pH of sushi and its individual ingredients5-7,9. Sushi ingredients, such as rice, seafood and meat, are considered high-risk foods for pathogenic bacteria due to their neutral pH and high moisture, starch and/or protein content9. Adequate acidification of sushi rice through the addition of vinegar, to a pH less than or equal to 4.6, inhibits bacterial growth within the rice, but does not significantly reduce the pH, and subsequent bacterial growth, of other ingredients5.

An additional consideration with fish based sushi products is the risk of mercury exposure. Mercury may affect healthy development of the fetal nervous system4,9. Some seafood commonly used in sushi preparations, such as sea bass, tuna, mackerel, marlin and swordfish, are known to contain high levels of mercury9. Pregnant women are advised to consume no more than one serve of these fish per fortnight, with no other fish consumed during that time9.

Current Australian guidelines recommend pregnant women do not eat store bought sushi4,10. Homemade sushi is safe to consume if prepared with fresh ingredients in a clean environment, but must not contain raw meat or seafood, and must be consumed immediately10.

  1. Smith JL. Foodborne infections during pregnancy. J Food Prot [internet]. 1999 Jul [cited 2017 Mar 20];62(7):818-29. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10419281?dopt=Abstract

  2. NSW Food Authority. Listeria and pregnancy: the foods you should avoid and why [internet]. NSW: NSW Food Authority; 2014 Jan [cited 2017 Mar 20]. Available from: http://www.foodauthority.nsw.gov.au/_Documents/foodsafetyandyou/listeria_and_pregnancy.pdf

  3. Tam C, Erebara A, Einarson A. Food-borne illnesses during pregnancy: prevention and treatment. Can Fam Phys [internet]. 2010 April [cited 2017 Mar 21];56(4):341-3. Available from: http://www.cfp.ca/content/56/4/341.full#ref-1

  4. Food Standards Australia New Zealand. FSANZ Website [internet]. Barton: FSANZ; 2015 [cited 2017 Mar 21]. Available from: http://www.foodstandards.gov.au

  5. NSW Food Authority. Report on food handling practices and microbiological quality of sushi in Australia [internet]. NSW: NSW Food Authority; 2008 Jul [cited 2017 Mar 21]. Available from: http://www.foodauthority.nsw.gov.au/_Documents/scienceandtechnical/report_quality_sushi_australia.pdf

  6. NSW Food Authority. Food safety guidelines for the preparation and display of sushi [internet]. NSW: NSW Food Authority; 2007 Jun [cited 2017 Mar 21]. Available from: http://www.foodauthority.nsw.gov.au/_Documents/retail/sushi_preperation_display_guidelines.pdf7w

  7. Food Standards Australia New Zealand. A guide to the food safety standards [internet]. 3rd edn. Barton: FSANZ; 2016 Nov [cited 2017 Mar 21]. Available from: https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/publications/Documents/Safe%20Food%20Australia/Appendix%204%20-%20Foods%20requiring%20special%20care.pdf

  8. Food Safety Information Council. FSIC Website [internet]. Kingston: FSIC; [date unknown] [cited 2017 Mar 21]. Available from: http://foodsafety.asn.au/

  9. Australian Institute of Food Safety. AIFS Website [internet]. Brisbane: AIFS; [date unknown] [cited 2017 Mar 21]. Available from: https://www.foodsafety.com.au/

  10. NSW Food Authority. NSW Food Authority Website [internet]. NSW: NSW Food Authority; 2015 Dec [cited 2017 Mar 21]. Available from: http://www.foodauthority.nsw.gov.au