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:



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.


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.


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.


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%.


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


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

breathing 1.jpg

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

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 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

steering boat.jpg

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?




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


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:


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.


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 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:
  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:
  3. The Department of Health. DH Website [internet]. Canberra: DH, 2017 [cited 2017 Mar 22]. Available from:
  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:
  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:
  6. National Health and Medical Research Council. Infant feeding guidelines: information for health workers [internet]. Canberra: NHMRC; 2013 [cited 2017 Mar 23]. Available from:

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 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:
  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:
  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:;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:
  5. Amir LH. Breastfeeding: managing ‘supply’ difficulties. Aus Fam Physic [internet]. 2006 Sep [cited 2017 Mar 22];35(9):686-9. Available from:
  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:
  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:
  8. The Department of Health. DH Website [internet]. Canberra: DH, 2017 [cited 2017 Mar 22]. Available from:

Should Sushi Be Avoided During Pregnancy?


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:

  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:

  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:

  4. Food Standards Australia New Zealand. FSANZ Website [internet]. Barton: FSANZ; 2015 [cited 2017 Mar 21]. Available from:

  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:

  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:

  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:

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

  9. Australian Institute of Food Safety. AIFS Website [internet]. Brisbane: AIFS; [date unknown] [cited 2017 Mar 21]. Available from:

  10. NSW Food Authority. NSW Food Authority Website [internet]. NSW: NSW Food Authority; 2015 Dec [cited 2017 Mar 21]. Available from:

Acupuncture Beats Morning Sickness

The condition of ‘morning sickness’ is a misnomer. It can in fact strike at any time, day or night, sometimes constantly. It is often described as a terrible hangover that never relents, car sickness or food poisoning that doesn’t get better. It is experienced mostly in the early stages of pregnancy between six and sixteen weeks, although for some unfortunate women it can be a constant until they reach full term. It is thought that this often-debilitating condition is caused by the huge surge of circulating hormones. Stress and fatigue are also thought to be contributing factors. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting and retching; Morning sickness often interferes with productivity and can result in time off work needed or extra childcare if there are other young children to look after. Acupuncture can support you through this time.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the natural flow of Qi (or energy) can be disrupted in early pregnancy as the body deals with the myriad of adjustments required to sustain a pregnancy. The objective of acupuncture is to establish the correct flow of Qi. This will diminish, and often completely resolve the symptoms of morning sickness. This restoration of balance will also boost energy levels and lower stress.

The effectiveness of acupuncture to treat morning sickness has been recognised in the Western medical arena. With clinical research finding acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment for morning sickness (Smith & Crowther Complementary Therapies in Medicine; 10(4):210-6. 2002).

For women suffering from morning sickness, Acupuncture provides a safe, effective solution that can improve the experience of early pregnancy. Acupuncture is recognised by most private health funds.

Sally nourse.png

Sally Nourse has been practising Acupuncture for a decade. Her experience as a practitioner and her caring, unassuming nature ensures you will have a positive experience of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Sally has a special interest in working with couples to overcome fertility challenges as well as continuing to support women throughout pregnancy and beyond.  Sally has a Bachelor of Health Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine (Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine) from the University of Technology Sydney and a Diploma of Health Science in Eastern Massage therapy (Shiatsu and Tuina) from the Canberra Institute of Technology.

Learn more about Sally

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Is Going Gluten Free a Good Idea?

There are some sceptics that consider gluten free diets a trendy and self-indulgent fad. However, despite the immense challenge of going gluten free, it seems like more and more people are willing to try life without gluten because they feel better for it.

What is gluten anyway?

Gluten is the protein in (wheat, barley and rye) flour that creates elasticity and gives bread its wonderful texture. The lack of elasticity in gluten free grains is why gluten free breads are a poor imitation of the real thing! Medically speaking, an allergy to gluten is known as coeliac disease a condition whereby gluten triggers an immune reaction that damages the lining of the small intestine and typically causes bloating, wind, fatigue, diarrhoea as well as inhibiting your body’s ability to absorb nutrients.  A diagnosis of coeliac disease requires a small intestine biopsy. In some people’s minds, if you’re not coeliac then it’s all in your head. However, we now know there certainly are non-coeliacs who don’t tolerate gluten.

So you feel better not eating gluten?

If you have some symptoms which overlap with coeliac disease such as bloating, wind, pain and fatigue then you may have gluten sensitivity. What’s interesting is that symptoms of gluten sensitivity can be very broad, you could experience just one symptom like anxiety or you could also suffer from depression, brain fog, low immunity, unexplained weight loss or weight gain, migraines, joint and muscle aches and exhaustion. The good news is, if you suspect you are sensitive to gluten, you can make dietary changes that vastly improve your wellbeing.

Gluten and Autoimmune Disease

Whilst further weight of evidence will be required before it becomes standard medical practice to prescribe a gluten-free diet for all autoimmune disease, that time is surely approaching. When reading the latest research it’s hard not to be persuaded that gluten is one of the primary drivers of inflammation in the body. Why not simply remove a dietary trigger of inflammation to help manage your symptoms?

What to do next?

If you suspect you have sensitivity to gluten it is worth exploring the options with a trusted health professional. A holistic GP or a naturopath would be my first two choices.

You might be tempted to go it alone and start trialling a gluten free diet. If your symptoms lessen, it is a good reason to suspect you have a gluten sensitivity however it would be wise to seek advice on how to avoid gluten whilst maintaining a nutrient-rich diet and restoring optimal gut health to generate ongoing wellbeing.

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 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.

Regulating the Menstrual Cycle with Acupuncture

Acupuncture can be used to regulate the menstrual cycle, either to restore a regular period in women who have irregular periods (metrorrhagia or oligomenorrhoea) or when the period is absent (amenorrhea). Regulating the menstrual cycle is also of benefit to women who suffer from PCOS (polycyclic ovarian syndrome) who are trying to conceive and may have irregular ovulation and irregular cycles as a result.

Optimal results will be achieved with weekly acupuncture treatments, for a period of three to six months. Weekly acupuncture treatments are directed at correcting any underlying energetic imbalances in the body, as well as coinciding with the specific physiological changes of each phase of the cycle. The menstrual cycle is divided into four distinct phases; the menstrual, follicular, ovulation and luteal phases.

Phase 1: Menstruation (Day 1-5) 

Day one of the cycle is marked by the full flow of menstrual blood (not spotting). The pituitary gland signals for the production of the hormones FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) and LH (Lutenising Hormone) to stimulate the growth of follicles. Acupuncture treatment during this phase is directed at moving blood to ensure the endometrial lining built up over the previous month is fully shed and to reduce the pain from cramping as well as treating any other symptoms that coincide with the period.

Phase 2: Follicular phase (Day 6 - pre-ovulation) 

During this stage of the cycle, oestrogen builds. This increase in oestrogen thickens the living of the uterus and increases cervical fluid. Acupuncture during this phase is aimed at improving the uterine and ovarian blood flow to aid follicular development, increasing the lining of the endometrium and increasing cervical fluid.

Phase 3: Ovulation  

The release of an ovum (egg) from the dominant follicle is triggered by a surge in the hormone LH. The cervix is open and fertile cervical mucous increases just before ovulation occurs.  Acupuncture treatment during this phase is focused on assisting the release of the ovum.

Phase 4: Luteal phase (post-ovulation) 

During this phase, progesterone is increasing. Progesterone is secreted by the corpus luteum (what is left of the follicle after the release of the ovum) and helps to thicken the endometrium for implantation and is necessary to sustain a healthy pregnancy. The ovum travels down the Fallopian tube into the uterus after ovulation. If fertilisation has occurred the embryo will hopefully implant in the uterus. Acupuncture treatment during this phase depends on whether or not pregnancy is trying to be achieved. If a woman is trying to conceive then treatment is focused on assisting implantation and securing the embryo to prevent miscarriage. If not trying to conceive, treatment is focused on regulating qi flow to prepare for the next cycle.

Sally has a special interest in working with couples to overcome fertility challenges as well as continuing to support women throughout pregnancy and beyond. 

Sally has a Bachelor of Health Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine (Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine) from the University of Technology Sydney and a Diploma of Health Science in Eastern Massage therapy (Shiatsu and Tuina) from the Canberra Institute of Technology.

Learn more about Sally

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Simplifying Emotions - the Dog in the Room

More often than not, emotions (aka ‘feelings’) can seem complicated; uncomfortable, even painful. Many of us avoid emotions like a burnt espresso. Not only can emotions appear uncomfortable, they require their own language. Depending on how you were raised, the people you’ve spent time with and what you’ve been exposed to, you may not have had much experience with the language of emotions. “How do I even talk about how I feel?”

Within relationships, be it intimate or social, we find varying degrees of emotional discussion. Have you ever found yourself in the presence of someone who expresses their feelings and emotional experiences? Do you wish you had your own emotional voice or do you find it confronting and want to run in the opposite direction? Well known author and research professor Brenē Brown writes about standing at the shores of our emotional ‘swamp’:

‘What I’m proposing is that we learn how to wade through it. We need to see that standing on the shore and catastrophizing about what could happen if we talked honestly about our fears is actually more painful than grabbing the hand of a trusted companion and crossing the swamp’ (Brown, Brenē (2010) The Gifts of Imperfection, USA, Hazelden Publishing pg 36).

Perhaps after many chats with yourself listing the various reasons as to why it’s best not to ‘do emotions’ (aka ‘feel’), and boy the story can become quite elaborate, you’ve chosen to just ‘get on with it’, and to ‘keep going’. It’s more comfortable and less challenging, right? Wrong.

Your internal network

Your feelings are an integral part of your experiences in daily life. In fact, emotions have been found to be intricately connected to your brain through your Limbic System (your brain’s emotional centre), your hormones that create change physically, emotionally and mentally, and your gut - bringing more meaning than ever to the phrase ‘gut instinct’.

If you find yourself erring on the side of caution when it comes to tapping into your feelings, know that you’re not alone. Apart from feeling uncomfortable or out of your depths, one of the main reasons people deny their emotions is because they don’t know what to do with them. Your mind can start to over-complicate the process as a way of protecting you or as a coping mechanism for avoidance… keep busy, talk about surface issues, walk away…

Let me simplify emotions for you, and in one simple process change how you experience life and how much you get out of it. Remember, emotions don’t just include anger, resentment, shame or sadness - they also include joy, passion, wonder and peace.

Emotions are just like dogs

The best analogy to describe emotions and how to release them with ease are dogs! If you’ve ever owned a dog, you’ll know exactly what I’m about to describe. When you come home and walk through the door with armfuls of groceries, and before you have a chance to put them down your dog jumps up, running around your feet eagerly barking “look at me, pay attention to me, play with me, pat me, pat me, pat me!” It’s relentless. The fact that your arms are full is irrelevant. However, once you finally turn to your dog and give them a pat or cuddle, only then do they relax. Your dog has been seen, validated. Emotions are just like dogs - jumping around in the body calling out to be noticed. Once you ACKNOWLEDGE an EMOTION, it relaxes and begins to RELEASE. Emotions just want to be seen, be validated.

Validating emotions is validating YOU

When you deny your feelings, you deny your experiences and others may do the same. How many times have you felt that others have not valued something you’ve been through? If you shrug off an unpleasant or even hurtful experience as being ‘OK’ then it’s easy to see that people around you will think you’re OK too. When in fact sadness is weighing heavily in your heart. This heaviness will be carried until you acknowledge its presence, just like the dog. We all look for validation and the most important source is YOURSELF.

Steps for releasing emotions

Let’s discard any ideas of over-thinking and over-complicating emotions. This technique is so simple, you’ll wonder why you’ve never tried in the first place.

Step one: Find a quiet space, close your eyes and simply sit with your emotions. Allow yourself to look within and see if you can feel, hear or see an emotion. There is no need to go into the story of the emotion. Simply sit with the feeling.

Step two: Sense where the emotion is sitting within your body, for example: is it in your heart space, your tummy or your head?

Step three: If the emotion has an intensity about it, breathe into this area of your body. With each exhalation, release the feeling (this may include associated memories, visions, sounds, touches, smells and tastes) through your breath.

As you find an emotion, acknowledge it: “Hello sadness”. Sadness will feel validated and within this most simple and profound step, the emotion will begin to release. You’ll feel the intensity step down a notch. The emotion may even release entirely in one sitting. From here, it’s much easier to learn to then express how we feel to others.

For those who would like to venture further, once you’ve found an emotion ask yourself what’s underneath it. Often there’ll be another layer of emotion. For example, underneath feelings such as anger is often hurt, sadness or embarrassment.

Tonight as you lie in bed before you fall asleep, look within. You might find this whole ‘feelings’ thing ain’t so hard.

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.

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What is the thyroid gland, and why is it so important to us??

The thyroid gland, which sits in the front of your neck, is an endocrine gland, which means it produces hormones. It is with these vital hormones that the thyroid gland has effects all over the body. The thyroid gland regulates our metabolism (how we make and process energy from our food).

What are the common thyroid problems??

The most common issues are the overproduction of thyroid hormones (hyperthyroidism), or the underproduction (hypothyroidism).

  • Are you feeling revved up, hot, sweaty, anxious, or irritable??
  • Are you having difficulty sleeping (insomnia)?
  • Are you feeling like your heart is racing (tachycardia)?? 
  • Has your appetite changed?
  • Have you lost weight??
  • Do you have weak muscles??
  • Have you felt your body is trembling or shaking??

Above are some of the common symptoms of an overactive thyroid.

  • Are you feeling tired, more sensitive to the cold??
  • Have you developed constipation?
  • Is your skin dry, and is your face puffy or swollen??
  • Have you put on weight??
  • Have you sore or weak muscles??
  • Are you feeling very sluggish, is your memory not as good as it used to be?
  • Have you considered you could be depressed??

Above are the common symptoms of an under-active thyroid.

The good news is that the diagnosis of thyroid problems is usually straightforward once the possibility of the diagnosis has been raised.

Thyroid stimulating hormone can be measured (TSH). This hormone is produced by the pituitary gland, which is constantly monitoring how much thyroxine the thyroid gland is producing. If there is too much thyroxine being produced, TSH will usually decrease. If not enough thyroxine is being produced, TSH will usually increase. Our bodies are trying to keep the hormone levels in equilibrium, but sometimes, the body fails.

TSH is nearly always decreased in hyperthyroidism.

TSH is nearly always increased in hypothyroidism.

This is the basic thyroid test that is rebatable under Medicare.

A further blood test can be done and the thyroid hormones can be measured (T4 and T3 and occasionally reverse T3). These tests are only Medicare rebatable if the TSH reading is outside the normal range. There is some controversy regarding the ‘normal levels’ of TSH in the medical field.

However, the full thyroid test can always be done privately, regardless of these Medicare guidelines.

Dr Orla Teahan M.B. B.Ch. B.A.O. FRACGP qualified from Trinity College, Dublin in 1990.
In 1991 she moved to Australia with her Australian husband and son. After some travelling adventures and two more children she settled in Sydney where she completed her fellowship in General Practice and subsequently ran her own private practice in Newport for close to twenty years. Orla is particularly passionate about women’s health and improving mental health in families. Recently Orla moved to Canberra with her family and has had an enriching experience working in Aboriginal Health with a focus on mental health and trauma.

Learn more about Orla

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Winter Wellness Tips

Winter has only just started but the number of people already struck down by colds and cases of flu this year is remarkable. If you’d like to maximise your chances of staying healthy this winter then follow these tips to keep your immune system buoyant.


Winter in nature is a time of rest and inactivity. The days are short and the nights are long, which is a clue to get to bed earlier than normal and get more sleep. If you suffer from insomnia then now is a good time to address it!


Don’t take the hibernation theme too literally! It’s still important to get your body moving to boost circulation, move joints, stretch muscles and to clear the mind. Your body doesn’t like being sedentary, so if your job involves you sitting for long periods of the day make extra sure you get moving. Try going for a walk/jog/bike ride at lunchtime and you will also get a vitamin D immune boost from the benign winter sun.


Now is a great time to support your wellbeing with good nutrition. Winter is the perfect time for slow cooked stews and soups. For inspiration, visit your farmers' markets for some locally grown produce including in season truffles! If you’re feeling tired or run down, go easy on the alcohol and the coffee as you’re just adding to your body’s toxic load and adrenal exhaustion.


Prolonged stress smashes your immune system. If you’re the one that catches every bug that’s going around, it's likely that your stress levels are too high.

De-stressing means finding ways to switch off your mind from its habitual worries. Creative pursuits are a great way to absorb your mind in the moment and are a good fit for winter. Knit yourself a scarf, bust out the mindfulness colouring book you stashed in the cupboard or pick up a musical instrument.


Already run down and exhausted? Why not be proactive and get some help? Seek out a trusted health professional and book yourself in for a tune up.

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 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.

Is There Such a Thing As Healthy Sugar?

In simpler times you had a choice between white sugar and raw sugar and if you used raw sugar you felt fairly virtuous.

Now we have a multitude of options from agave to stevia. So if you want a little sweetness in your life but are also keen to nourish your well-being then have a look at my modern day sugar ‘cheat sheet’.

Keep in mind, even the healthiest and least refined sugars still come with a caveat. The recommended adult dose of sugar is only 25 grammes a day and yet on average, we consume around six times that amount.


The sweet nectar from a cactus native to Mexico sounds pretty natural. However extracting a honey like liquid from a spiky desert plant requires a lot of processing. The end product has exceptionally high levels of fructose – higher even than high fructose corn syrup. Diets high in fructose have been linked to high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease.  

Health rating ★★

Jaggery/Panela/Rapadura Sugar

The pure unrefined juice of the sugar cane plant dried and sieved into a grainy powder is known by different names depending on the country of origin: jaggery in India, rapadura in Brazil, panela in Colombia. Because of the lack of processing, these sugars retain some essential minerals including: iron, potassium, calcium and phosphorus as well as vitamins A, B1, B2, B6 and niacin. A better choice, if used in moderation.

Health rating ★★★★


Stevia is a South American herb that found traditional use as a contraceptive. It is also exceptionally sweet, around 200 times sweeter than sugar and has no calories. If low calorie is important to you it’s a slightly better option than using artificial sweeteners however if you have issues with hormone balance or fertility it’s probably best avoided or at least used with caution.

Health rating ★★

Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners such as saccharin, aspartame, and sucralose are best avoided at all costs in my opinion. Most commonly found in ‘diet’ soft drinks, the appeal is the zero calorie count, however we’d need a whole issue of the Canberra Weekly to list the known side effects of aspartame alone.

Health rating: zero stars

Brown Sugar, Muscavado, Turbinado, Demarara and Raw Sugar

All highly refined and processed sugars, even though raw sugar sounds so wholesome! All these sugars are very highly manufactured, typically requiring multiple chemical processes to separate the molasses form the sugar and then depending on the colour desired further processing to add some molasses back in.

Health rating ★

White sugar/Corn Syrup/Maltodextrin

The most refined and adulterated sugars.

Health rating: half a star

What is MICBT and How Can It Help Me?

There is a growing number of therapy approaches that incorporate mindfulness training. Mindfulness-Integrated Cognitive Behaviour Therapy or MiCBT  is one of these approaches. It offers a practical set of evidence-based techniques derived from mindfulness training together with principles of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) to address a broad range of life stresses. Below is a brief overview of the foundations of MICBT as well as the core mechanisms and basic practice components of this valuable therapeutic approach. MICBT combines theancient Eastern spiritual practice of mindfullness meditation along with the essence of the modernWestern CBT psychological and evidence based therapy. MICBT is a powerful combination of eastern and western traditions,   taught in a welcomingsmall group setting.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness involves paying attention to each event experienced in the present moment within our body and mind, with a non-judgmental, non-reactive and accepting attitude. In learning to be mindful, we can begin to counter many of our everyday sufferings such as stress, anxiety and depression because we are learning to experience events in a more impersonal and detached way. Mindfulness used in MICBT has its roots in Vipassana meditation which was taught in India 2500 years ago and spread across all of Asia. Vipassana means "insight" or "seeing things as they truly are". Central principles and mechanisms of mindfulness include equanimity and impermanence.

Aiming for Equanimity

Equanimity is best described as a neutral response to something we experience. It is a state of awareness where we neither feel an aversion for unpleasant experiences nor craving for pleasant ones. Other ways of describing equanimity are balance, calmness and composure. The development of equanimity, or an equanimous mind as it is sometimes called, is an important part of mindfulness skills because it gives us the ability to remain less reactive and less judgmental no matter what is experienced, thereby giving us a feeling of ease, self-control and composure as we go about our daily lives.


Mindfulness training teaches us the omnipresent reality of impermanence, the changing nature of all things including our own mental and emotional experiences. By experiencing the changing nature of internal experiences, we can learn to see ourselves in a more flexible and objective way. We can detach ourselves from rigid views and habits that can sometimes lead to stress and unhappiness.

How do we practice Mindfulness?

While we can practice being mindful in everyday life by just observing what is happening around and within us, formal training by way of sitting meditation is most effective for developing mindfulness skills. This is because the formal meditation context prevents the inevitable entanglements with daily stimulations and allows us to focus specifically inside ourselves. Meditation enables us to reprocess our internal experiences, including painful memories, with more awareness, neutrality and acceptance. 

During mindfulness meditation, we sit closed eyes and initially focus on the breath to develop concentration and take control of our attention. This alone helps decrease the intrusion of unhelpful thoughts that we may have. During this training, all sorts of thoughts frequently arise. Instead of being caught up in a thought, we learn to see it for what it is, just a thought, an impermanent mental event, no matter what the content of the thought may be, and go back to our focus of attention. In this way, we learn not to react to thoughts. We gain a direct experience that thoughts cannot truly affect us or define who we are. 

Similarly, when we pay attention to our body sensations, we also learn to perceive a body sensation merely as a body sensation, regardless of how pleasant or unpleasant it is.   Mindfulness training helps us realise that body sensations, like thoughts and all other experiences, are also impermanent by nature and no matter how pleasant or unpleasant they are, they pass away. As we become more mindful of this reality, it becomes increasingly easy to observe that body sensations are essentially an experience that cannot affect us unless we react to them. Body sensations are significant because they are the only means by which we can feel emotions. Accordingly, training ourselves to not react to them helps us accept and let go of emotions, rather than suffer from them. This is called emotional regulation.

What is CBT?

The way we think affects our emotions and behaviour and CBT or Cognitive Behaviour Therapy helps people with such conditions as anxiety and depression change the content of unhelpful thoughts and maladaptive ways of coping, such as avoidance or addictive behaviour. It can involve social skills training, such as assertiveness training, and exposure to situations we avoid out of discomfort but at the expense of mental rest. It can also involve having to verify the validity of our unhelpful beliefs.

MICBT: Integrating Mindfulness and CBT

MICBT is a four-stage therapeutic approach which integrates mindfulness and some of the basic principles of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) in order to help people improve the way they feel and change unhelpful behaviours. However, MICBT helps people make changes in a different way to CBT. While CBT attempts to change maladaptive behaviour by modifying people's unrealistic thoughts and beliefs, MICBT tries to help people learn to develop control over the processes that maintain the unrealistic thoughts and beliefs through mindfulness training. MICBT helps change the process of thinking, not just the content of our thoughts.

Changing Reactive Habits 

Like cognitive behavioural therapy, MICBT draws on the principles of exposure and desensitisation to help us change habitual unhelpful reactions or coping strategies. However, unlike traditional CBT, MICBT regards reactive habits as being the results of habit of reacting to body sensations. Body sensations are the results of the way we think, and we learn, often from early childhood, to react to the body sensations in certain ways in our attempt to feel better. Preventing such reactions, while remaining fully aware and accepting of bodily experiences, leads to rapid change in our habitual feelings and behaviours. We feel emotionally relieved.

Interpersonal Mindfulness

MICBT can not only help people change distressing thoughts, feelings and behaviours, it can also help people change their relationships with others. The skills we learn in MICBT can help us not to react to others and foster a greater understanding and acceptance of ourselves and others. This usually culminates in more harmonious relationships and helps prevent relapse into habitual moods and behaviour.

Mindfulness and Empathy

The fourth stage of MICBT teaches people to use the skills learned from the previous three stages to develop empathy for themselves and others. The three previous stages lead to the realisation that we are the first beneficiary of the emotions we produce, whether this is a positive or negative emotion. A deep sense of empowerment, acceptance and change usually takes place toward the end of the course. Please stay for the duration. 

EVEN if you have tried meditation before and feel that you have  failed or its not for you …..there is no fail….keep trying, all the best

The next MICBT group training with Dr Orla Tegan begins on Tuesday 13th June. 

Come along every Tuesday night at 7.30 p.m for one hour per week for 8 weeks and be a person armed with de-stressing skills that will assist everyone from new mums, Uni students to Senior Executives. It will be an evening of experiential learning with our integrative GP,  Orla in a very relaxed and warm atmosphere. Your commitment is 8 weeks and just 10 minutes practice every day. 

Once you have completed this course you will be on a path to a stressless day ….every day; you will have improved self awareness; be more self confident and happier!

Over the 8-weeks you will develop better interpersonal skills; you will be more accepting of your self and others; you will find work and play easier.

The course will cost just $27.50 per week, thats only $220 for the whole course. Be the first 10 people to call 6295 0400 or email us at and we will book you in. We look forward to seeing you soon at Live Well. 

Cracking the elusive ‘motivation’ game

Let’s be honest, we all feel it at some stage or another — lack of motivation. Some of us are highly skilled procrastinators! When it comes to motivation, it’s about understanding WHAT is undercutting your efforts and WHERE to start.

At the time of writing this article, 2017 is very much underway. Each of us are getting a feel for what this year will be about. On a large scale, our world is facing major challenges on environmental, political, human rights and health matters. And that's where I want to focus— what MATTERS. This is a fundamental component to success and fulfilment. Ask yourself:

●      Where does your FOCUS lie?

●      What areas of your life are consuming your ENERGY?

●      And most importantly — do these two aspects match-up?

As a global consciousness, are we focussing on what matters, what inspires us and what sustains us? Or are we held back (or driven by) fear, discomfort and difference?

It can be easy to think "what can I do as an individual when so many things bigger than me are happening in the world?" It’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

What’s the point?

When we’re struggling, it’s common to ask “what’s the point?”. My response is: “exactly”. Rather than a throw-away phrase, purpose is your starting point. What are you motivated by? Focus on what deeply matters to you in your life. Is it family, friends, self-care and self worth, our land, our people, our animals? Is it making a difference, caring, creating or building?

Secondly, and here’s the cracker: understand that your survival system (in your Central Nervous System) works to prevent you from doing anything that’s hurtful, uncomfortable or different physically, mentally or emotionally. So, why does this matter when it comes to motivation? The very system which works to protect you, will also try to prevent you from expanding or stepping out of the box. New experiences or new levels of mastery can be seen by your survival system as a threat.

Author and Research Fellow, Tiffany Watt Smith in her study of emotions (‘The Book of Human Emotions’, Wellcome Collection, 2015) linked motivation, purpose and our survival system through her study into apathy:

‘apathy was defined as more than laziness or listlessness. It was a loss of motivation or purpose, the vacuous indifference which can come when we are feeling overwhelmed’ (pg 28).

Talk it through

Overwhelm is one of the most common signs that your survival system is playing a major part in your lack of motivation. If someone you care about was stressed or overwhelmed, it’s most likely that you would talk them through what was happening. We often forget to have this same supportive conversation with ourselves. Perhaps you have focus, you’ve found meaning within your next step: a new project, a new job, a difficult conversation, or change in some form or another. But you just can’t get it off the ground. You can’t seem to take that first step. Talk with your survival system. Say to yourself "Yes, this is new or different, but THAT'S OK". Recognise that often, sitting in the zone of procrastination can be more uncomfortable than actually stepping up or out.

Make a conscious choice

The process of making a choice to do something uncomfortable is very different to circumstances whereby it just happens to you. Choice is much less threatening. Choose to step out of the box. Remind yourself of what matters and enable this to fuel action. And remember, discomfort is most likely transitory. The ‘new’ soon becomes the ‘normal’.

I came across this interview and was INSPIRED by the magnificence of Mel Robbins, one of the top 20 TEDx talks in the world, former criminal defence attorney turned on-air commentator and CNN contributor. Robbins exposes the myth of motivation and explains how to make the micro-decisions that will launch you into success in this episode of Impact. 

So, start small. Start with YOU: your focus, your energy and what matters to you. Know that sometimes you need to talk yourself through change, fear and difference. Remind yourself that "You've Got This". Inspire others and thus our global consciousness to realign focus and what truly matters in this world (love, kindness and inclusiveness, anyone?!).

"The idea that everything is purposeful really changes the way you live. To think that everything that you do has a ripple effect, that every word that you speak, every action that you make affects other people and the planet." (Victoria Moran)

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.
To find out more about Kinesiology please click here.

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