What if Herbicide Residues Really Do Cause Cancer?

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The safety of herbicides is back in the spotlight after a US court decision required Monsanto, the global chemical giant and manufacturer of the most ubiquitous herbicide in the world, Round Up, to pay $289 million damages to a former school gardener in the US who is dying of cancer. 

In response to concerns raised by the US decision, Australia’s national regulator the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) was forced to release a statement confirming it had not changed its view that glyphosates, such as Round Up are safe if used according to label directions. 

Weed killers containing glyphosate are valued by farmers the world over for their ability to suppress weeds and maximize crop yields. They are also used to dry out or ‘desiccate’ grains like wheat prior to harvesting which allows crops to be harvested sooner but means higher levels of glyphosate remain in the harvested plant. The development of genetically modified (GM) crops work in synergy with herbicides as GM crops have a higher tolerance to herbicides which boosts yields as well as leaving higher residues in crops.  

What we certainly do know is that if glyphosates are not safe we have a big problem as they have permeated every level of our food chain to the extent that not only do most of the foods we eat contain traces of glyphosate but so does our drinking water. As animals are fed foods that contain glyphosate residues so too does their meat and milk. There are traces of glyphosate in breast milk and in infant formulas, glyphosate has even been shown to cross the placenta in utero. The official line is that certain concentrations of glyphosate are safe which is why the APVMA can contend that there is nothing to worry about however there are many who hold a differing view. One has only to read the studies cited on the Organic Consumers Association website to be alarmed. 

As so often happens in contentious areas of science or health, one has to make their own choices after considering opposing viewpoints. For me, I’d rather err on the side of caution with glyphosate which means eating organic foods and drinking filtered water wherever possible. There is some indication that fermented foods like kimchi have a bacteria that can help your body break down pesticides, another reason I regularly include fermented foods in my diet. 

Do You Need To Boost Your Magnesium Levels?

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Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body but also one of the most frequently encountered deficiencies in Australia. An Australian Bureau of Statistics 2015 report showed that up to 61% of men and 71% of women have inadequate levels. Muscular cramps, aches and pains and insomnia are just a few red flags for potential magnesium deficiency but as you’ll discover there are so many more areas of our wellbeing that magnesium supports.

 Depression

Studies have shown magnesium to be a rapidly effective intervention for depression, most likely because of its ability to regulate neuronal requirements of the brain. Given that anti-depressant drugs are not always effective and may come with unwanted side effects it’s worth a discussion with you GP.

 Thyroid

Magnesium is essential for thyroid hormone production and is an often-overlooked reason for thyroid dysfunction. Some studies have shown promising results for magnesium supplementation being able to normalize thyroid function.

 Heart Health

Magnesium in your body is always working synergistically with calcium to regulate body functions, nowhere more crucially than steadying your blood pressure and preventing hypertension.

 Healthy muscles

Magnesium helps your muscles contract as well as relax. Prolonged stress and tension can diminish your body’s levels of magnesium and one of the first signs of depletion is often muscular spasming and cramps. Given the central role of magnesium in optimal wellbeing its wise not to ignore these warning signs.

 PMS

If you struggle with PMS symptoms including premenstrual migraines, low mood, cramps and irritability you may need magnesium. In a randomized, controlled study, one in 3 women who took a magnesium supplement experienced relief from PMS. Another study which trialed vitamin B6 as well as magnesium supplementation showed improvement in menstrual migraines and PMS related anxiety.

 How to take magnesium.
Foods rich in magnesium include green leafy vegetables, nuts like almonds, cashews and pecans, grains including buckwheat and millet as well as sea vegetables kelp and dulse. However, to achieve a therapeutic dose from food alone is difficult especially as magnesium is depleted by stress, alcohol and refined sugar so a supplement is required.

 In my opinion, supplements are best taken in consultation with a trusted health professional such as a naturopath or wholistic GP who can consider the broader picture of your nutritional needs. One delightful thing you can try at home however is an Epsom salt bath which gives your body a healthy dose of magnesium and is a great way to set yourself up for a rejuvenating night’s sleep.

Is Inner Peace the New Success?

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No doubt there are times in life when we need grit and perseverance. Most achievements in life like building a career, running a business or just continuing to front up to the daily grind of work day after day require effort and determination. It’s not surprising we’re surrounded by messages telling us to not give in, to push through and stick it out. Our hero’s are generally those amongst us that have overcome adversity through sheer hard work and determination.

But what if, on a day-to-day level, all that striving leaves you feeling a bit strung out and exhausted. What if, in trying so hard to get ahead, you miss out on valuing let alone savouring the journey. What if you’ve spent your life climbing the ladder only to realise it was on the wrong wall?

An anti-dote to finding yourself strung out and stretched too thin is to regularly access states of deep rest and peace. Like a holiday for your mind and nervous system, inner peace nourishes feelings of contentment as well as mental and emotional clarity.

Cultivating feelings of peace starts with taking a little time out every day to find some mental and emotional space away from to-do lists and demands. It can be enough to spend time each day doing something fun and engaging that you love - gardening, singing, rollerblading - whatever lights you up! Combine this with simple relaxation and meditation practices that help you access deep states of quiet.

If you're feeling really stuck and you’re in need of a mindset reboot, a powerful tool to try is a gratitude diary. You simply spending time each day reflecting on and recording what you are grateful for. Can’t think of anything? Start with the things you're probably taking for granted i.e. the roof over your head and build from there.

Small Steps Become a Giant Leap

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I think it’s fair to say that most people have a rough idea of what they could do to feel better the hard part is actually taking the necessary steps required. For anyone not battling a serious illness but nevertheless suffering from symptoms of general malaise such as feeling tired, having aches and pains, skin blemishes, uncomfortable digestion, headaches, poor quality sleep, feeling irritable and so on, better health is only a series of small steps away. The three pillars of better wellbeing are:

1.     NOURISH

You heard it here first, better quality food creates better wellbeing! No seriously we all know that the more rubbish we eat: sugary snacks, fast food, alcohol, the more burden we place on our body’s organs of elimination. Clean up your diet and your body will love you back. The best part about upgrading the quality of your diet is that you get to eat amazingly well. Plus there has never been as many resources available like blogs, books and podcasts to inspire, inform and support you to eat better.

Tip to start small: rather than focus on what you’re not going to have start by putting more nourishing foods on your plate plus pick just one thing you’re going to give up or reduce i.e. have one coffee a day not two. 

 

2.     MOVE

Apparently, our bodies we’re not designed to be driven to work, sat in front of a computer all day, driven home again and sat in front of the TV all night – who knew!

Tip to start small: find something you enjoy doing and schedule it into your day so you move without having to think about it. The key is upgrading from your starting point whether that means taking the stairs not the lift or upgrading from one to three workouts a week

 

3.     REFRESH

Becoming mentally and emotionally decluttered is a pre-requisite of good wellbeing. What works for each person is different, so I suggest finding something which you love doing that absorbs your whole attention. When you find that sweet spot your worries and concerns will fade into the background at least for a while.

Tip to start small: revisit something that you used to love and start doing it again. Examples might include rock climbing, knitting, gardening, motorbike riding, martial arts, Yoga, sewing, painting, singing, playing an instrument or meditation.

 

THE MAGIC OF MOMENTUM

The best part is that you only need to elevate one aspect of your wellbeing, such as upgrading the quality of your movement and you’ll start to build momentum. As you start feeling better you will have the energy to expand your action into the other pillars of wellbeing like nutrition or mindset and little by little you’ll find yourself looking, feeling and living better.

Boost Your Immune System the Natural Way

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I’m sure you have all noticed that at this time of year everyone is talking about colds, flu's and getting sick. The common cold is the most prevalent viral infection in the world with over 200 variations of the virus. While getting sick very occasionally does give your immune system a good work out, it is best to have a strong immune system in order for your body to ward off viral and bacterial infections which should minimise the symptoms and duration of winter illnesses.  

Luckily for all of us nature has provided us with some amazing and effective herbs which assist in boosting our immune systems. These herbs are particularly useful at this time of year when people are generally more susceptible to those nasty colds and flus floating around.

So without further ado I would like to introduce you to a few of the many herbs that are available which assists us in strengthening our immune system. These herbs are the more common and most widely used:

Astragalus

Astragalus has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for thousands of years. This herb is used to protect and support the immune system, and has success in preventing colds and upper respiratory infections. It is also antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, and studies have shown that it has antiviral properties which is why it may prevent colds and viral infections. Research (particularly in the US) has shown that Astragalus has the ability to help people recover faster from illnesses and live longer.

Echinacea

Echinacea is indigenous to North America and as such the Native Americans used it extensively to treat colds, flu and other infections. Research shows that Echinacea may work as a natural antibiotic which can suppress virus activity and promote immune stimulating effects. Studies also report that while Echinacea does not cure disease, it does help the body resist and fight illness, reduce severity and duration of an illness and boosts the immune system. It is particularly useful in colds, respiratory conditions, bronchitis, and ear and throat infections.

Garlic

Garlic while pungent is a strong immune booster, and can be taken in supplement form for those sensitive to the strong taste and smell. Research has shown those who take a garlic supplement on a daily basis reduce one’s risk of contracting colds by 50%! At the first sign of a cold/flu taking garlic can also significantly reduce the severity and duration. However, like they say “Prevention is better than Cure” and for that garlic is the way to go.

Goldenseal

Goldenseal is an extremely popular herb and is known as an immune system enhancer and herbal antibiotic. Goldenseal also has anti-inflammatory and astringent properties and aids in soothing the mucous membrane of the ears, nose, throat and eyes. Taken at the first sign of colds or flus, Goldenseal can help to prevent further symptoms developing. Goldenseal is also said to assist in reducing fevers. This herb has many nutrients which is why it has such strong antibacterial and anti-infective properties – perfect for enhancing one’s immune system.

Shiitake Mushroom

Shiitake Mushrooms are indigenous to China and have been used for thousands of years both medicinally and for culinary purposes. It has been used as a symbol of longevity in Asia due to its health promoting properties. Shiitake Mushroom contains a compound called lentinan which enables our immune systems to fight diseases and infections more efficiently. It is believed that this amazing mushroom is more effective than prescription drugs and can help fight against a variety of conditions from common colds to more serious infections.

If you want to enhance your immune system this winter or more effectively fight off a current cold, consider incorporating these herbs into your life. These herbs are by no means the only herbs used for the immune system, but they are a start. Always remember to consult your healthcare professional should you have any queries.

Tea is a perfect way to take these herbs and is especially warming on these cold winter days. So here’s a toast to good health for all!

Relief from Anxiety

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Anxiety is a common problem and is increasing not only in Australia but worldwide. Anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia. On average, 1 in 4 people (1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men) will experience anxiety (ABS, 2008). In reality, the rate may be far more than 25% as some of us keep our troubles to ourselves and try to hide behind the happy mask.

But the good news is: You are not going crazy even if your brain is telling you otherwise! The sore throat may in fact not be cancer and your headache may not be a brain tumour even if your great Aunt died of it last year.

Are you feeling:

A range of physical sensations in your body? Muscle tension, headaches, fast heart rate, a racing mind, feeling breathless, sweating or trembling? Do you feel like running away from life??

OR

Catastrophic and negative thinking, wondering if your world is going to end?

OR

Emotional fear and dread about now and the future?

If this is you, the good news is, you are not alone and you can beat it, even if it feels like you can’t. Everything passes. The brain tumour you thought you had disappeared the next day after a good night’s sleep. The lump in your throat wasn’t cancer after all once the last assignment had been handed in or the final deadline had been met.

So how might we start to take control of our anxiety now that we have accepted that it exists? Accepting anxiety isn’t as easy as it sounds! We don’t like it, we don’t want it and we just want to be rid of it. But anxiety is stubborn, we need to have a plan to work with. Anxiety is cunning, it can sneak back into our lives when we are least expecting it. So, we need to be creative.

Firstly, get anxiety out of your head and put it on the table. The critical fearful voice has been bullying us for a very long time, it’s time to get to know it.

 

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Let me introduce you to Fergus, my very own handmade fearful friend. He is black and white because he only has black and white thinking. His head is going round in circles (literally). His eyes are almost popping out of his head, and his teeth are chattering. It may be hard to believe but I am very fond of Fergus actually. He has helped me out on a number of occasions! He has even befriended a couple of my clients at Live Well.

So what might anxiety look like for you? Try to draw it, or find a good approximate in a magazine. Although this might seem silly or childish, this is a successful technique for separating us from our problem, or “externalising the problem”. Now that it is outside of our head, we can get a different perspective on it, we have created a distance between ourselves and our anxiety. This is a wonderful start. I bet you didn’t think it could be this easy! Already we don’t have to feel so dominated or bullied by it, we can look at it differently.

Secondly, let’s try a simple breathing technique.

Put some nice relaxing music on, maybe light a candle, or use some aromatherapy with lavender or your favourite natural scent. It is sometimes easier to start your first breathing exercise lying down. If you need inspiration, look at the way babies breathe before the stress of modern day living gets to them! Their little tummies will gently rise and fall, they are the experts at relaxed natural breathing!

Now try slow and deep breathing using your abdominal muscles. I call it fat tummy breathing. We females seem to be always conscious of not having a fat gut, and get into a bad habit of actually holding it in and restricting natural breathing as a result! So suspend that negative self judgement in advance and practice the slow breathing that calms us down. It’s free, needs no wifi and is always effective!

Now, the third thing for this week is to start a gratitude diary. Seemingly Oprah Winfrey uses this tool! Dr. Robert A. Emmons and Dr. Michael E. McCullough are two psychologists who have done extensive research on gratitude. They proved in their study Counting Blessings Versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life , that after only10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude felt better about their lives and were more optimistic. As a bonus, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to the doctors than those who dwelt on irritating and aggravating experiences. This highlights the amazing benefits of keeping a gratitude diary which only requires a change of focus and does not require excessive use of daily time or financial outlay.

Even the prestigious universities in the US are embracing it, including Yale, Harvard, UC - Berkley and Columbia University. Here in Australia, the Resilience Project recognises the mental health benefits of gratitude in schools and in the corporate world. Everyone benefits, it’s a real win win game!

So here is a simple suggestion to get started. Dr Martin Seligman , the founder of positive psychology, proved with his colleagues that even a week of doing this improved our wellbeing (Seligman, 2005).

Just write down three things that went well for you each day and their causes. That’s it, what could be simpler?!

I remember asking a child many years ago what she was grateful for, and her answer is still with me. “I am grateful for my hands, because I can help people with them”. Children can be our best teachers.

What do we think is happening at a neurological/brain level?

These simple interventions starts to re-programme the brain, creating a new pathway of neurone firing, steering away from the well beaten track of negative and anxious thinking. These simple but profound 5 minute exercises can make a significant change in the neuronal pathways we use. Tune in next time for more anxiety beating ideas from Dr. Orla Teahan at Live Well.

 

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Dr Olra Teahan is an Integrative GP. She combines the best of conventional Western Medicine and evidence-based complementary medicine with the aim of utilising the most appropriate treatment to meet your individual health needs. She has a special interest in helping with mental health issues including anxiety and depression. 

Read more about Dr Orla Tehan

Make an appointment to see Dr Orla Tehan

 

References:

R. A Emmons & M. E. McCullough (2003) Counting Blessings Versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology Copyright 2003 by the American Psychological Association, Inc. 2003, Vol. 84, No. 2, 377–389, available at: http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/ pdfs/GratitudePDFs/6Emmons-BlessingsBurdens.pdf.

Seligman, M. E. P., Steen, T. A., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive psychology progress: Empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist, 60, 410-421 

Doulas- Providing Family Centred Support

Doula (pronounced 'doo-la') is a Greek word meaning 'woman servant or caregiver'. Through pregnancy, birth and postpartum, a doula provides emotional and physical support to women, partners and families. To be a doula is to 'mother the mother', supporting the family with education about the physiology of labour and comfort measures she may like to draw from, debriefing any previous births, providing tailored support and advice and helping them create a birth plan or preference list if they so desire. She will attend their birth from home to hospital- holding a calm, joyful and confident space while providing massage, heat packs, hip squeezes and uplifting words. She believes in the mother's ability to give birth in perfect time, in her perfect way and supports her to make conscious, informed decisions to ensure that she feels satisfied and empowered along the way.

Doulas are growing in popularity fast here in Australia, as a result of positive word of mouth referrals and the need for increased support. As our hospitals become more and more stretched for staff and resources, families are realizing what a wonderful asset a doula can be for their support team. Midwives and obstetricians take care of the clinical side of things, while a doula provides continuous support and reassurance. The way a woman is treated during her birth stays with her for the rest of her life. The proven benefits of having continuous support during birth from a person outside the mother's family or social circle is associated with reduced mortality rates, improved overall health of the mother and the baby, shorter labor time and a lower need for medical intervention or pain relief. In addition, a doula's support provides a solid foundation for their new lives going forward, improving the entire family's mental, emotional and physical health.

In addition to pregnancy and birth support, a doula may also offer in home postpartum support visits. During these visits she will check in on the mother's emotional and physical well being, offer feeding and settling advice if needed, debrief the birth with her, look after her baby or older children for her while she sleeps, showers, bathes or enjoy a home massage and perform light housework duties. If desired, a postpartum doula may also source ingredients and cook meals for the mother that are specifically designed to promote healing after birth and increase breast milk supply. This enables the mother to rest, sleep, feed and enjoy her baby. She may like to follow the principles of the '40 days of rest' observed by women in traditional cultures in order to recover well and replenish her energy after pregnancy and birth.

Here in Canberra you can learn more about us and find a student or graduate doula to support your family on the links below. We are a large, growing community offering a wide range of additional services and we wholeheartedly encourage you to connect with a few of us in order to find the perfect doula for you!

http://www.thebirthyurt.com/

https://www.bellabirth.org/birth-support-doulas.html

https://www.douladirectory.com.au/

 

 

Author- Kellie Hermes, Adorabirth

Learn more about Kellie's unique services here: http://kelliehermes.wixsite.com/adorabirth

Do you skip breakfast? Here's why you should reconsider...

Are you a Breakfast-skipper? You’re not the only one! Approximately 15% of Australians tend to skip breakfast on a regular basis. Did you know that people who regularly skip breakfast are 450% more likely to become obese than people who regularly eat breakfast! According  to research, not eating breakfast can lead to weight gain, high cholesterol and other health problems as if you skip breakfast you tend to eat more towards the end of the day.

Eating breakfast helps:

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  • reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes
  • reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease
  • proper blood sugar production and regulation
  •  help protect the heart, vital organs, digestive system, and brain from damage
  •  promote longevity 

Not all food is good for you. Eating fast food for breakfast was found to have similar health risks as not eating any breakfast at all.

Here are 6 reasons why you should eat HEALTHY breakfast:

1.Better blood sugar and energy balance:By the time breakfast rolls around, you’ll probably have gone 10 or more hours without food. Postpone eating until lunchtime, and you’re potentially looking at closer to 16 hours – so it’s no wonder you’ll feel prone to energy slumps. A breakfast containing whole grains and protein is ideal as it helps sustain steady blood glucose and energy levels.

2.Better appetite control and better body weight:One of the benefits of your blood sugar being more stable is that you’re less likely to get hungry later in the morning. This means you won’t be as tempted to reach for sugary, starchy or fatty snacks. This may sound odd, but eating breakfast may therefore actually help you avoid putting weight on. If you are looking to lose weight or maintain the trimmer figure you’ve already worked so hard for, eating breakfast can help there too!

3.A more nutritious diet:People who eat breakfast are more likely to get all their required nutrients and food groups every day. For example, it’s much easier to fit your recommended servings of dairy foods and fruit into your diet if you’re having cereal with milkfirst thing in the morning. Overall, the diets of people who eat breakfast tend to be lower in fat and higher in fibre, vitamins and minerals than the diets of people who skip breakfast.

4.A healthier future:Over the long term, routinely going without breakfast may increase your risk of developing chronic health problems, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease. If you are a smoker and you skip breakfast you further increase the tendency to develop diabetes.

5.Improved stress coping:We are more likely to skip breakfast when we’re feeling stressed, but going without breakfast may actually increase your stress responses and make you more emotionally volatile and prone to mood swings. On the other hand, people who eat breakfast every day are less likely to report feeling depressed or distressed, and tend to perceive themselves as having lower stress levels than those who don’t eat breakfast.

6.Better concentration:Research suggests that eating breakfast is associated with improved mental performance later in the morning. If you have kids, get them into good habits now, because it has been proven children who eat breakfast regularly have better school performance and learning skills than their non-breakfast eating friends.

When people say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, they are not joking. So get your brekky on and start the day with a nutritious healthy meal.

To get you started we have found some delicious recipes for you to try.

Quinoa Oat Porridge

  • 1/3 cup quinoa, soaked overnight in filtered water
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats, rinsed
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • pinch sea salt
  • pinch cinnamon
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Drain and rinse quinoa. Place in a pot with oats, add boiling water, salt and cinnamon. Bring to a boil lower heat, cover, crack lid a little so that oatmeal doesn’t boil over. Simmer for 25 minutes, stirring every 5 or 10 minutes.

Top with berries, warm almond milk and toasted seeds or nuts.

(from: http://www.coconutandquinoa.com/2010/01/11/quinoa-oat-porridge-and-warm-almond-milk-and-blueberries/)

Chia Porridge w/Seeds, Nuts & Berries

  • 3 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 cup organic almond milk
  • 2 tbsp dried unsulphured organic cranberries
  • 1/2-1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp all spice
  • 1/8 tsp cardamon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 drops liquid stevia
  • diced strawberries, raspberries & blueberries for toppings
  • raw almonds, cashews & sunflower seeds for toppings (preferably soaked over night)
  • fresh mint as garnish or topping

Method

Place almond milk in a bowl and sprinkle chia seeds in and stir immediately for a minute or so to avoid clumping.  Add cranberries & spices as you stir along with 3 drops of stevia and the vanilla.  Allow to stand for 30-40 mins to thicken, or covered in the fridge over night.  Add berries, nuts and seeds as you may and a sprig of mint.

 (from: http://www.alkalinesisters.com/seeds-nuts-berries-yummiest-chia-breakfast-porridge/3360)

Why Denial is a Heavy Load to Bear

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Everytime you deny something you subsequently store it in your body and your energy system.  Denial blocks your ability to potentially break those negative patterns in your life you wish would stop recurring.

(I was apprehensive when considering writing about the topic of denial and then realised I was succumbing to the very discomfort that is the point of today’s blog post! Ha!)

Firstly, let’s look at the definition of denial by the Merriam Webster dictionary. Why? Because it highlights the very reason why so many of us get uncomfortable just talking about denial. Nonetheless, getting raw and real with yourself is vital on so many levels.

“refusal to admit the truth or reality of something”

Both truth and reality can be hard pills to swallow. Can you remember a time when you were driven to see the truth for what it was? Perhaps it was a relationship that had run its course or an emotion such as anger or grief that you were doing your best to ignore. Or maybe you were denying a change that needed to happen such as taking control of your health. The biggest denial we often face is the reality that we were responsible and had a part to play in how something turned out. 

So how does denial create heaviness in your life and why do you need to pull your head out (of the sand!)?

Every time you deny a message from your body, an emotion or a knowing that comes from within your heart, you’re denying your own story. For example, denying that you’re actually quite angry about how someone treated you prevents you from holding your own healthy boundaries. We all look for validation and the best place to find it is within. Validate your experience with this person by acknowledging your feelings. Anger has a place in your life— it shows you that someone has crossed your boundaries. Society has fallen short with teaching us how to release anger in a healthy, non hurtful way.

If you’d like to explore a simple way to work through your emotions, check out my blog post Simplifying Emotions - The Dog In The Room.  Or pick up a copy of Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman.

In the example of anger not only do you weaken your boundaries in life, the force of anger gets stored in your energy system and into your body (remember, it’s all connected). There are a number of common areas to hold anger depending on the particular scenario and your own patterns of stress. You might clench your teeth in your sleep; an often subconscious physiological response to anger. Or anger might be pain between your shoulder blades; the rhomboid muscles lie in the back of the Heart Chakra where we feel past hurts . The rhomboids are also related to Liver Meridian energy that can store anger when blocked. If it’s not the rhomboids that the Liver meridian is communicating through, it can be headaches—ouch. It’s fascinating stuff! Your teeth and muscles can really suffer under the weight of denied anger, not to mention the costs of dental work and frequent body work!

I recently wrote about denial in my series Diary of a Flawed Healer over on my blog, Holistic By Nature. I was inspired to write about the inspiration I gain from working with clients week in, week out who face their truth and reality. I affectionately call being in denial The Ostrich and I share my experiences with imperfection, denial and overcoming adversity. If you’ve seen me at Live Well or worked with another kinesiologist, I’d love for you to read To Be Or Not To Be The Ostrich; The Great Denial and my Ode to You. Here’s an excerpt:

“I am in awe of your sage offerings. I am in awe of your willingness to go deep within yourself— even when it’s scary or unfamiliar. I am in awe of how you listen; how you feel. I am in great awe when we tackle a massive session together and I wonder if it was too much yet you return to peel away yet another layer. I am in awe when the pieces of the mind-body-spirit connection finally make sense and we both bathe in the gift of insight. There is no denial, simply acknowledgement and gratitude. Whether you’re in the depths of your exploration or in the light of your awareness; you are almighty.”

I also share a hot tip for help with moving through denial and you might be surprised as to what it is!

Once you’ve faced reality and opened yourself up to your truth, you might just find a lightness in your life and a huge weight off your shoulders (a primary area to hold denials). You might even find resolution within yourself and your relationships with the world around you. Who knows, you might even reach a greater level of potential and FREEDOM.

As always, with love and gratitude— you don’t have to do it alone, x Kate - Live Well’s Kinesiologist.

 

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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.
To find out more about Kinesiology.

To make an appointment with Kate.

Artificial Sweeteners: Healthy Or Not?

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The promise artificial sweeteners make is to give you the taste of sweetness without the calories. After all, it’s called ‘diet soda’ so it must be good if you’re watching your waistline or trying to loose a few kilos, right?

Historically, research on artificial or non-caloric sweeteners has proven controversial with studies throwing up conflicting results. What we do know is that whist consumption levels of non-caloric sweeteners have climbed steeply so too have obesity rates, with one in four children and two out of three adults in Australia now overweight or obese.

A new study, from the Medical College of Wisconsin and Marquette University based on a more detailed understanding of the metabolic affects of artificial sweeteners may help explain the problem. The researchers compared the results of feeding rats

diets high in glucose versus two common artificial sweeteners : aspartame or acesulfame potassium. It found that diets high in artificial sweeteners changed how the body processes fat and gets its energy and lead to negative changes in fat and energy metabolism.

It echoes the findings of an earlier study from George Washington University, which found that low calorie sweeteners increased fat-producing genes and glucose transport into cells of obese people who consumed them. The greater the dose, the greater the effect. In other words, artificial sweeteners were actually worsening the problems they were designed to solve leading to increased weight gain and increased susceptibility to Type 2 diabetes.

So what is healthier, sugar or artificial sweeteners? In moderate doses, our bodies seem much better adapted to handle natural sugars over artificial ones. Artificial sweeteners might trick our tastebuds and give us an emotional ‘sugar hit’ however they do appear to come with significant side effects and certainly offer zero nutritional benefits. We all need a little sweetness in our lives, just aim for sources of sweetness that are the least refined. As the saying goes choose something grown by a plant over something made in a plant.

 

Seed Cycling: Using the nourishment of seeds to help bring your hormones (and menstrual cycle) back into balance

Seed Cycling is a practice of eating a combination of specific seeds throughout the different phases of the menstrual cycle to promote hormonal harmony. The nutritional content of which, help support, regulate, and clear our hormones (specifically Oestrogen and Progesterone) throughout the cycle.

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If your cycle is out of rhythm and your hormones feel out of balance, introducing seed cycling is a way of providing your system with bi-phasic (covering both phase 1 and 2) menstrual cycle support, and is a beautiful way to help your hormones recalibrate.

If we think about it, seeds are in fact, nutrient-rich powerhouses, brimming with essential nutrients (containing all the stuff necessary for the growth of a plant). Why wouldn’t we want to take advantage of their nourishment?

An orchestra of hormones

The female endocrine system is orchestrated by an intricate composition of hormones (chemical messengers). When our hormones are in balance, this will translate to a regular, 28 day menstrual cycle that runs smoothly, with little disturbance. This would typically be characterised by an absence of (or very minimal) menstrual cycle symptoms.

Generally speaking, when oestrogen and progesterone (which act as key influencers in the menstrual cycle) are out of whack -for example, if we’re producing too little or too much of either, or having metabolic or clearance issues -our natural rhythms can go awry.  

With too little oestrogen, we may find the endometrial lining is too thin, and we can wind up not actually ovulating. On the other hand, when we have oestrogen in excess, we may be prone to erratic periods, mood disorders, and conditions such as Endometriosis and Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which are all too common.

 

Progesterone is an antagonist of oestrogen, so it keeps oestrogen in-check. It also acts as a building block for the synthesis of other hormones. A deficiency in progesterone (often due to excess oestrogen in the system!) can lead to late and irregular cycles, infertility, PMS (especially mood disturbances and sore breasts), low libido, and more.

Our endocrine system is highly sensitive. So our stress levels, quality of sleep, physical activity, blood glucose regulation, nutrition and nutrient deficiencies or excesses, levels of toxicity, and ability to detoxify -can have either a positive and stabilising influence on our hormonal health, or a disruptive one.

When our hormones are not in balance, we can experience an array of psychological, emotional and physical symptoms. PMS (premenstrual syndrome) is a common term used to label these changes, and can typically summarise anything from: fatigue, anxiety, decreased stress tolerance, low mood/depression, irritability, food cravings, digestive disturbances, an irregular cycle or amenorrhoea (absence of menstrual period), sore/lumpy breasts, feeling “emotional” or emotionally unstable, foggy thinking, food cravings, digestive disturbances, abdominal pain, back pain, migraines, and the list goes on…

Understanding the Menstrual Cycle

Our menstrual cycle is made up of two phases.

Phase 1 (the ‘follicular’ phase): spans from the time of your last period to ovulation (approx. the first 14 days or two weeks of the month), and is when oestrogen in the system is building up to encourage the uterine lining to plump up in preparation for possible implantation.

Phase 2 (the ‘luteal’ phase): is the time between ovulation and menstruation (days 15-28, or the second half of the month), when progesterone surges to increase libido around ovulation, maintain the uterine lining (endometrium), and ultimately, to support a developing embryo.

Here’s how Seed Cycling works…

The nutrients in the seed combinations encourage oestrogen production needed for the follicular phase; promote progesterone release in the luteal phase; and support healthy hormonal metabolism and detoxification from the system.

Do allow a good 3-4 cycles or months to begin seeing and feeling results. You may find it helpful to track your hormones by taking a daily note of your symptoms, along with their severity (rating them from 1-10, for example).

In a Nutshell…

All of these seeds share common properties. Perhaps most important, is their ability to help regulate our endocrine system. They are all also rich in essential fatty acids (EFAs), which are necessary for hormonal production and regulation, and have an anti-inflammatory influence in the body. They are a beautiful plant-source of protein, which is needed for hormonal synthesis, and also blood glucose regulation (blood glucose dysregulation is a feature of many hormonal, mood, and stress-related conditions). They are also a great source of soluble and insoluble fibre -which is important for gut health (also mood) and for the elimination of toxins and excess hormones, which can be a major driving factor in hormonal imbalances.

Linseeds + Pumpkin seeds are used to promote phase 1

 ·      Linseeds: contain high levels of essential fatty acids (EFAs), anti-oxidants (protective) and lignans -which are fibre-like compounds that act to moderate oestogen production, and prevent oestrogen excess.

Interestingly, linseeds can also exert a phyto-oestrogenic effect, which supports oestrogen levels in the system. This is a beautiful example of how balancing wholefoods really are.

 ·      Pumpkin seeds: are high in the mineral zinc, which amongst many other functions, promotes the release of progesterone. They also have phyto-oestrogenic properties + enzyme alpha-5 reductase, which helps to modulate androgen levels (good also inPCOS) + phytosterols.

Sunflower seeds + Sesame seeds are used to promote phase 2:

 ·      Sunflower seeds: provide the mineral selenium, which is a potent antioxidant that helps the liver in detoxification processes and protects reproductive tissues and cells. They also contain phytosterols + fibre, and promote progesterone.

 ·      Sesame seeds: are high in lignans + antioxidants + EFAs + phytosterols (which aid in managing cholesterol by reducing the body’s absorption of unhealthy fats, and are a good cardiovascular and brain nutrient) + nourishing minerals

Daily dosing of seeds:

·      During the Follicular phase (first day of bleed – ovulation): Take 1 tbs of freshly ground Linseeds + 1 tbs of freshly ground Pumpkin seeds, daily.

·      During the Luteal phase (day 15 - menses): Take 1 tbs of freshly ground Sesame seeds + 1 tbs of freshly ground Sunflower seeds, daily.

Why do I need grind the seeds fresh, daily?

The seeds need to be ground in order to ensure the bioavailablity (how readily absorbed and well-utilised) of their nutrients. Which is why having the seeds whole is not recommended therapeutically.

The nutritional content of these seeds (essential fatty acids, in particular) are vulnerable to being damaged (oxidised) when they are exposed to air, light or heat. This is why storing your seeds in airtight containers, away from light and heat (e.g. sun), and grinding them fresh each day is important.

It is also important for their digestion and absorption, to chew them well.

You can add the seeds to a daily smoothie, your breakfast bowl, coconut yoghurt (it’s good to avoid dairy where possible, in hormonal and inflammation-driven conditions)

Let the moon lead the way

The best way to begin seed cycling and find your way back to your natural rhythm, is to follow the 28 day lunar (moon) cycle. In this way, phase one is the time between the new moon and full moon; and phase two is from full moon to new moon.

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Shanna is a qualified Naturopath and EFT Practitioner, and member of the Australian Natural Therapists Association (ANTA). 

Shanna's interest in natural medicine came about through her own health challenges. She has a special interest in helping people with natural fertility, hormone balance, stress, anxiety, depression, fatigue and general wellbeing. 

Learn more about Shanna
Make an appointment to see Shanna

The Controversy of Homeopathy

Mired in controversy.

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Last year, homeopathy in Australia was dealt a blow when the NHMRC, Australia’s peak medical research body tabled a report that found there was insubstantial research evidence showing the clinical benefits of homeopathy.

Confession Time

Given this week is homeopathy awareness week, I thought it was as good a time as any to out myself as a fan of homeopathy, which I realise gives me all the social standing of a climate change denier.

I’m not a homeopath, I don’t claim to really understand how it works but I have experienced some remarkably good results with it in my own personal use of homeopathy. So either I am a) delusional and simply ascribing a benefit to something where a causal relationship does not exist, or b) there is something to it. Luckily I am not alone in my experience. Although marginalised in Australia, worldwide an estimated 200 million people use homeopathy on a regular basis.

What is Homeopathy Anyway?


There are two basic tenets of homeopathy both of which are somewhat counter-intuitive.

The first one is ‘like cures like’ which is the opposite of most traditional systems of medicine. In Western herbal medicine, for example, if you have an inflammatory condition like reflux or colitis you would reach for a soothing, slippery and sweet herb like marshmallow (the real thing, not the ones you toast on a camp fire!). This fits neatly with our idea of natural remedies working to bring about balance. We intuitively get the idea that to restore balance you would ideally follow an active busy day with a restful nights sleep, or offset hot spicy foods with a cooing drink.

The principle of ‘like cures like’ turns this notion on its head and proposes to give the body more of the same, in this case using a plant that is stimulating and irritating in order to trigger the body to re-balance itself. How curious!

The other core principle, which is even more challenging is the idea that the more you dilute a substance, the more potent it becomes. Most homeopathic remedies are in fact so dilute that there is none of the original substance remaining in the solution or pill that is prescribed. How could that possibly work?

Please Be A Sceptic

Sceptics by definition are inclined to question or doubt accepted opinions and have the confidence to make judgements based on their own lived experience. When it comes to homeopathy, most people I encounter who disparage homeopathy have never tried it and dismiss it based on their intellectual assumptions.

I challenge those sceptical about homeopathy to simply try a remedy like arnica the next time they whack themselves hard enough to expect a bruise. Rub some arnica cream on and see what happens. A double blind placebo controlled trial it is not, however if you, like me find the results interesting then perhaps you’ll also wonder if we really have all the answers. We’ve made so many wonderful advances in science and medicine but yet there is still so much more that we don’t understand.

Like to find out more about homeopathy? Check out: justonedropfilm.com

Experts Say: Forget Surgery, Try Yoga for Back Pain

When thirty-one of the world’s leading back pain experts are in agreement it’s worth taking note.

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That’s exactly what happened when leading researchers published a remarkable report in The Lancet stating that treatments doctors regularly prescribe for back pain such as addictive opioid medication and surgical intervention like spinal fusions don’t actually work. Through Medicare we spend around 4.8 billion in Australia on back pain treatments with little evidence of efficacy, yet the interventions that are shown to work like Yoga are not subsidised.

At a time when everybody is concerned about blow outs in medical budgets and advocating for the advancement of evidence based medicine, it’s astonishing a condition that effects so many people in Australia: one in two have experienced back pain in the last month, could be so poorly managed on such a large scale.

A world leading back pain expert from the University of Sydney, Professor Chris Maher sums it up nicely, "We waste billions. People are being treated with too much of the wrong stuff and missing out on the right stuff".

We can assume that all doctors want to help their patients but they are either badly informed or blindly believe in treatments despite the lack of clinical evidence to back that belief. There’s also the prospect of vested interest in the medical industry and amongst clinicians being at play according to lead author of the editorial and Monash University academic Professor Rachelle Buchbinder.

The good news: some of the least expensive treatments like exercise therapy and psychological counseling showed good results.

We know the risk factors for back pain include obesity, inactivity and a job that involves heavy lifting. What interesting is that disliking your job and depression also heighten your risk of back pain.

Whilst it’s fair to say that everybody’s experience of back pain is unique, the most effective strategies I have seen work are therapies that enable back pain sufferers to improve their mobility and posture. Ultimately getting moving in any way that brings you joy is a goal that supports wellbeing on every level.

 

Did You Know You’re Driving A Rolls Royce

Health is the one thing that really underpins the quality of our life. We can have everything else covered: great relationships, financial security, a place to live and food on the table but if your health comes unstuck there are no amount of creature comforts that can mitigate the suffering of chronic pain, depression or any other significant health crisis.  

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In light of that it’s surprising how often we pay little regard to our wellbeing. We often take better care of our motor vehicles by way of regular services than we do of our body and mind. When you think about it, when was the last time a warning light came up on your car’s dashboard and you just kept driving around for months before you called the mechanic? Probably never right. On the other hand, how may times have you ignored your body’s warning signs, otherwise called ‘symptoms’ such as headaches, constant tiredness, aches and pains, digestive discomfort, insomnia, skin breakouts and so on and just tried to put up with them.

What’s potentially even more problematic is when you can no longer put up with uncomfortable symptoms it’s tempting to mask the symptoms, for example taking pain killers for regular headaches. Whilst I’m not suggesting you should be stoically suffering or never seek pharmaceutical help, what I would ask you to consider is that taking a medication to mask a symptom is like cutting the wire to the warning light on your dashboard. You don’t have the symptom alerting you to the problem and that’s a relief, but neither has the underlying reason for the symptom been addressed. How comfortable would you be continuing to drive your car around knowing there was an unresolved issue that was probably getting worse?

A holistic approach to resolving symptoms is to find the cause of the symptom, which typically involves figuring out which body system needs support. Once you know what’s driving the symptom it’s often quite straightforward to restore the body system in question to balance.

So maybe it would help to think of your body as a Rolls Royce (or Maserati or whatever takes your fancy) and before you ignore that warning light on the dash for one more day, book yourself in for a service with a trusted health professional.

 

Are you tired but wired?

Can't switch off? Feeling on edge and irritable? Desperate for a really good night's sleep?

You really would like to wind down and relax but modern life has other plans for you. When the birds start chirping you desperately want to stay a little longer under the doona but that desire is squashed by the need to get to work or get the kids off to school.

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Once you are awake it's difficult to slow down. You are subject to an increasing onslaught of information and stimulation unlike anything humanity has previously known. One edition of the Sydney Morning Herald contains more information than someone in the 17th Century encountered in a whole lifetime. No wonder your mind is busy and can't switch off.

Its not surprising that so many clients we work with at Live Well are what I call 'wired but tired'. It's easy to become wired when your nervous system, which is responding to an avalanche of stimulation runs faster and faster just to keep up. 

As a consequence of being wired, it becomes progressively harder to switch off. Have you ever noticed how babies when they get overtired can’t settle and become increasingly distressed? As adults the same process is happening but we are better at pushing through the tiredness barrier and soldiering on. In other words you are good at 'switching on' and even when you do stop for a moment your nervous system stays on standby mode, ready to leap into action again at a moments notice. It’s not surprising all this go, go, go leaves you feeling deeply exhausted.

So how do we access the deep rest our bodies are craving? Try these tips:

  • One night a week, go electronics free: switch off the TV, turn off you mobile phone and hide the laptop. Better still turn off all devices at least 2 hours before sleep and give you body and mind a chance to unwind. 

  • Include a relaxation practice in your day, even a five minutes starts to re-train your nervous system to unwind.

  • Get out in nature or learn to meditate both are very healing and proven to reduce stress.

  • Let go of multi-tasking all day. Find space in each day where you can stick to one task. Your nervous system will thank you.

  • Remember to breathe. A few deep mindful breaths will quickly bring your mind and body into the moment and offer your nervous system a much needed pause.

  • Reach out and get support. Acupuncture is exceptionally good at helping rewire you body and mind to relearn how to access deep relaxation and restful sleep and Herbal Medicine can profoundly soothe an irritated and depleted nervous system. 

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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. 

When Traditional Wisdom is Lost in Translation

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What do the phrases “balance aggravated vata” and “tonify kidney essence” have in common? They both come from two of the most sophisticated and respected systems of medicine in the history of civilisation, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic medicine. They can also sound implausible or even amusing to an unfamiliar Western ear and for some people that’s enough reason to denounce them as “a dangerous mixture of "fiction and hope" as Dr Bastian Seidel, president of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners did last week.

A brouhaha has emerged as the Therapeutic Goods Administration is proposing some 1000 or so traditional medicine terms be included in a list of ‘permitted indications’, meaning they could be printed on the bottles of supplements that you or I might find at our local chemist, supermarket or health food store.

The principal concern seems to be that consumers may consider TGA endorsement as tantamount to a government stamp of approval, leading them to falsely assume they have been scientifically proven to be effective. Actually, what I find implausible is that someone would read the line ‘balance aggravated vata’ and assume the findings were the results of a double blind study.

To me what is unfortunate about the debate is that those who are ignorant of the subject matter generally conduct the public discourse. If you don’t understand what ‘balance aggravated vata’ means then denigrating the term based on your own unfamiliarity is bombastic laziness. To further criticise these traditional terms for not being based on logic or common sense is to further expose ones own ignorance.

If we accept and embrace the WHO position on traditional medicines, as Australia has, then we must acknowledge that these medicines have a role to play within modern medicinal frameworks. Ignorance and unfamiliarity is not enough reason to dismiss something as dangerous or misleading.

By the way, “balance aggravated vata” can be translated as “reduce an overactive sympathetic nervous system” or in layman’s terms, mitigate the effects of prolonged periods of stress. Helping people cope with the effects of prolonged stress is one area where traditional medicine actually does excel and it would be a shame if thousands of years of wisdom were discarded because something sounded a bit funny.


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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

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


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Shanna Choudhary is a qualified Naturopath and EFT Practitioner, and member of the Australian Natural Therapists Association (ANTA). 

Shanna provides holistic and individualised support to promote more vibrant health and ease of wellbeing; using Food as Medicine & Nutritional Therapy, Herbal Medicine, EFT meridian tapping, lifestyle practices and self-care techniques.

She works closely with her clients, applying a blend of evidence-based, scientific knowledge, with traditional wisdom, Eastern/Western & metaphysical philosophies and approaches; along with the underpinning principle of Holism (honouring the mind/body/spirit connection, and that we are the sum of all of our parts), to meet you where you are at, and provide an individualised treatment path, along with the education and tools to empower you in taking charge of your wellness, so you can get the most out of your health care.

Learn more about Shanna

Make an appointment to see Shanna

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