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Truth about Sourdough

Think you can’t eat gluten…. Think again.


If you or someone you know is sensitive to gluten you might be surprised to know that you may still be able to enjoy some wheat based breads.

Canberra locals, Lisabeth Gavins and her Naturopath Husband, Mark have been teaching Sourdough Bread Making and Fermented Foods Workshops for around 15 years. Over the years they have received overwhelming feedback from gluten sensitive people who are able to eat wheat bread, made using the authentic Sourdough method that they teach, with no symptoms. “But be warned”, says Lisabeth, “there are a lot of fake sourdoughs out there!”

So why is sourdough more digestible?

Many years ago the only way to make bread was with a “mother” Sourdough Culture that was passed down through generations and shared throughout communities. These live bacteria cultures were made up of wild yeast species and broad range lactobacillus bacteria. These cultures not only made the bread rise, but the bacteria pre-digested the gluten content in the grain through a fermentation process called lacto-fermentation, making grain more easily digestible and the nutrients more available.

“When bread became commercialised the sourdough method was forgotten. This was the start of all our problems with gluten. Our digestive systems just can't handle grain that has not been fermented first,” said Health Kultcha Founder Lisabeth Gavins. “This is why gluten intolerance and Coeliacs is a modern day disease. We stopped fermenting our grain.”

These days wheat is sprayed with pesticides and herbicides, it's irradiated for long term storage, it’s processed so the wheat germ and bran are removed, it’s bleached, and worst of all, it's no longer fermented. 
So is our problem wheat, or what we have done to it?

“Major bread brands know that Sourdough is trending right now, and some have been busted adding vinegar to their loaves and calling it “sour” dough. This is completely deceiving as there is absolutely no lacto-fermentation taking place whatsoever.” Said Lisabeth

Baker’s yeast is one single bacteria species that was isolated, initially to brew beer, and later found to make bread rise quickly. So Bakers could say good-bye to the 4 – 6 hour proofing period used in the traditional sourdough method.

Lisabeth and Mark are the proud owners of a 120 year old Ancient Sourdough Culture that originates from Germany. It is available to purchase online at www.healthkultcha.com.au & through Health Food Stores Australia wide.

Just in time for Easter, why not try these.

Sourdough Spelt Hot Cross Bun recipe.


¾ cup active 120yr old Ancient Sourdough Culture visit www.healthkultcha.com.au/sourdough for full instructions)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1½ teaspoons mixed spice
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
60g honey
50g melted butter (cooled) or oil
1 egg (optional)
1 cup Water or milk
150g currants, raisins & sultanas, or mixed dried fruit
4 cups Organic white or whole Spelt Flour – or a combination of the two.


Activate the culture
Combine all ingredients in order listed
Mix flour in 1 cup at a time, stir in until it is too stiff to turn by hand. Leave a little excess flour for kneading.
Knead dough for a few minutes
Cut into 9 or 10 even pieces and roll into balls.
Place on a greased tray.
Place in a warming cupboard for 2-6 hours between 29 and 35 degrees C
Once risen, make up a thick paste with flour and water, thick enough so the mixture doesn't run off the buns.
To make the crosses use a cake decorator, or a plastic bag with a hole cut in the corner
Bake at 190°C for 20-25 minutes.
Glaze the top of the buns with 50/50 melted honey and water.

Serve warm with butter – best eaten fresh from the oven

Swiss Show the Way With An Integrative Approach To Healthcare

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When I think of Switzerland, my mind conjures up images of snow clad peaks and bubbling pots of fondue, Swiss Army knives and delicious chocolate. Yet within this country famous for its impartiality and civic order lurks a radically progressive model of healthcare.

 In 2017 the Swiss government recognized that complementary medicine modalities including homeopathy, traditional Chinese Medicine and herbal medicine met sufficiently high criteria of quality and safety to satisfy the requirements of the Federal Act on Health Insurance. This ruling guaranteed Swiss citizens universal access to complementary medicine

 Surprisingly the sky did not fall in. In fact, the Swiss Society of General Internal Medicine and the Swiss Medical Association along with the major political parties, backed the interior ministry’s decision. Not surprising really given, that in Switzerland, it is commonplace for GP’s and specialists to prescribe natural remedies like herbs and homeopathic medicine.

 How are the Swiss faring? They’re very well thank you in fact they enjoy the second highest life expectancy in the world (just pipped by Japan).

 Contrast that to the situation in Australia, where our government is on April 1st preparing to axe health fund rebates for a swathe of complementary medicines including herbal medicine, homeopathy, naturopathy, pilates, tai chi, and yoga. It seems that, whilst the Australian public has embraced complementary medicine, our political parties and health institutions seem intent on dragging us back to a 1950’s white picket fence model of conservative health care.

 In 2018 Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) commented that “People who choose homeopathy may put their health at risk, if they reject or delay treatments for which there is good evidence for safety and effectiveness.”

I wonder what the 27% of Swiss GP’s who prescribe homeopathic medicines alongside pharmaceutical medicine think? Can such a large cohort of highly educated and well-trained physicians be blindly putting their patient’s well-being at risk or are they finding that the natural remedies they use are both safe and effective when used judiciously.

 I’d like to think that in 2019 its time for Australia to be embracing a Swiss style progressive medical landscape where we support and celebrate the wide choice of health modalities we have available.

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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. 

How to protect and heal your gut after antibiotics.


In an earlier wellness column, we looked at the hugely significant problem of anti-biotic overprescribing. Heading into the colder months it’s important to be mindful that antibiotics are not recommended, even though they are routinely offered, for common conditions like chest colds and sore throats. It’s always ok to ask your health professional for more information about the benefits, risks and alternatives of any medication or procedure. You and your doctor share a common goal: your wellness. Consider yourselves partners.

There are however times, when antibiotics are needed, and in these instances it’s helpful to know how to support your body to bounce back.

What do antibiotics do?

Antibiotics kill bacteria in an indiscriminate way, meaning that both harmful and beneficial bacteria bite the dust. It’s a bit like clear-felling a forest, not very subtle but, when you need them, hopefully very effective.

How long does it take for your microbiome to recover?

Your microbiome is the name given the colonies of bacteria that make your body home. Oh, and by the way, you’re currently hosting bacteria cells that outnumber your own human cells by a factor of 10 to 1. However, when you’re healthy these microbes are not invaders or freeloaders but in fact crucial facilitators of our basic body functions including digesting food, producing vitamins and keeping the immune system buoyant. So, it kind of sucks to have to kill them!

A 2018 study published in Nature Microbiology suggests that it takes around six months for your gut bacteria to recover after antibiotic use, which means six months of potential gut issues, sub-par energy, brain fog and so on. The study also found that some species of bacteria may become permanently lost or severely depleted so, like the clear-fell analogy, once you chop down the rain forest, even after it regrows, the ecosystem is never the same again.

What about probiotics and when do I take them?

Probiotics are supplements that you take to re-introduce helpful bacteria. You don’t need to wait to take probiotics until the end of the course of your antibiotics the suggestion is to take them 2 or more hours either side of each dose of antibiotics.

The more we understand about the microbiome the more we realise our knowledge of probiotics is still quite primitive. My advice with any supplement is, if you have the opportunity, seek the advice of an expert such as a naturopath otherwise you can end potentially taking lots of things that won’t help and can even give you unwanted side effects. For example, some probiotics can set of histamine reactions worsening any gut issues you might be experiencing.

What about food to help?

Fermented foods like yoghurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut and kimchi are renowned for their probiotic content however if they’re loaded with refined sugar they will do more harm than good so check the label first.

Gut repairing foods like bone broth, collagen and even supplements like glutamine can help to ensure the barrier function of the gut is restored.

Other than that, eating a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, healthy fats and proteins whilst minimising processed foods and refined sugars ensures your gut is getting the best chance of recovering fast.

3 Healthy Habits You Might Be Overlooking


Quality sleep, a nourishing diet and regular movement or exercise are the usually at the top of wellbeing to do lists. Whilst they are all powerful tools that you want to be using to your advantage, this year I’ve come up with an alternative list that are just as important but often overlooked. 

Connect with the ones you love

What like talk to them? That’s the idea! Expand the time you connect with those nearest and dearest, you can start small like making one night a week a sacred time to connect and build from there. 

 This will require turning off the TV, downing the devices, unplugging the headphones and making time to engage in a shared activity like a board game, an after-dinner walk, cooking a meal together or anything else that takes your fancy. 

 Do more of (or find out) what lights you up

Do have a solid grasp of what fills you with delight and regularly make space for it in your life? One of the most crucial steps of being responsible for your wellbeing is to keep discovering what nourishes your contentment and bliss and determinedly making the time and space to access this precious gift that life has to offer. 

 I suggest brainstorming a list of activities you love and plan your week so that you can make time for them. 

 Not sure what lights you up? Think of things you used to love that have fallen by the wayside. If you’re still stumped, then don’t worry it just means it’s the perfect time to get out of your routine and try some new things.  

 Soak up some silence

Information and entertainment are so readily available that it’s actually become necessary to consciously make time to remove yourself from stimulation in order to let your mind and body rebalance. 

 So take a bath, go for a walk in nature or just sit in the garden with a cup of tea and let your nervous system recalibrate. Just don’t take your phone with you!

 If, at first, you feel agitated or unsettled when you unplug from stimulation, don’t worry, it’s a sign your nervous system is detoxing from the constant noise. It can take a while for silence to feel normal. Try starting the day with a bit of quiet, get up 10 minutes earlier in the morning and spend some time outside in your garden or the local park. 

Hormones and Anxiety: Understanding the Connection

Anxiety is one of the most common struggles within our community today, it is a syndrome that can affect anyone no matter their age, gender or upbringing. Anxiety can be triggered by past events and for some, it feels like we are made this way – stressed, anxious, panicked or depressed. 

How to disconnect the triggers 

So what can we do when our body sends us into a state of anxiety when triggers arise? How can we disconnect the wires in the brain and the central nervous system from activating flight/fight when it's not necessary? Essentially your mind and body have learnt from past experiences that it needs to respond in this way as a protective mechanism. Any time your mind and body experience something that is similar to past hurts, be it physical, emotional or mental, it turns on your survival mode – the physiological response to stress and anxiety.

Through kinesiology, I talk to your body to find out what your triggers are, when they occurred and where they are sitting in the body and energy systems. I look at your entire energy system through Traditional Chinese Medicine meridians and yogic-Chakras to explore emotions, thoughts, physical sensations and blocks that prevent you from being at your best. One of the key ways to balance your mind, body and spirit from anxiety is through the yogic-Chakra system. The energy of chakras penetrate through your endocrine system – the very hormones that are released when you're stressed! Understanding physiology and clearing the wired response of the brain then allows you to then understand the source and break the pattern of anxiety. 

Stay with me while I simplify the connection between hormones and the endocrine glands behind anxiety 

Once a stressful event occurs, a chain of hormonal messages start within your brain travelling through the hypothalamus to your pituitary gland and finishing up in your adrenal glands (which lie on top of your kidneys). It's your adrenal glands that release stress hormones such as cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine as they help you to deal with stress. 

The HPA Axis (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis) is a brain and hormonal feedback system within your body that regulates your response to stress. Unfortunately in a fast-paced world, or through long-term stress our adrenals can become locked on and continue to pump stress hormones even through times of attempted rest, sleep and normal daily events. It's often during this phase that you can become agitated, anxious or experience panic attacks. Your levels of stress hormones flowing through your body become too high. Eventually your body cannot sustain this level of survival mode and you can experience adrenal exhaustion where you're unable to release stress hormones. If you experience anxiety, can you think back to times of high level stress? Or are you highly stressed presently? So you can see the spectrum of why hormone imbalances occur these can be from stress ►anxiety ► panic ► exhaustion.

By working with the energy model of the Yogic-Chakras, kinesiology can restore your endocrine system to balance. Once back in balance your experience of daily life is different. Your old seemingly 'hard wired' response to stressful triggers is no longer dominant. Typically you will have insights about the source of old patterns and the awareness to create new more helpful responses to stressful events. 

3 Chakras & 3 Tips to calming anxiety

As I mentioned before, the seven major chakras each penetrate through glands of your hormonal system. By working to balance a chakra, you are in turn, balancing your body, mind and spirit. This connection is the foundation of kinesiology. Here are three tips you can try now to heal your anxiety naturally. 

Your Crown Chakra influences your hypothalamus gland – the first gland in your brain that responds to stress. Frankincense essential oil slows and deepens your breathing, treats fears and anxiety, nervous tension and stress. Place a few drops in a bath, on your pillow or mix 1 drop with 5mls of almond oil and place a drop on the top of your head directly on the Crown Chakra. 

Your Brow/Third Eye Chakra influences your pituitary gland – the second gland in your brain that responds to stress. Brain foods that are high in Omega-3 fatty acids such as fish, nuts, and avocado nourish your Brow Chakra. Blueberries and strawberries can support our memory and ability to concentrate. The powerful antioxidants within berries help improve our cognitive thinking and reasoning which we can lose when anxious. 

Your Base/Root Chakra influences your adrenals – the glands above your kidneys that respond to stress. My favourite way to balance the Base Chakra and adrenals is connecting to Mother Earth energy by finding each person's 'off switch'. What brings you a sense of calm, peace and connection? Ideas include walking or sitting in nature (especially with your shoes off), gardening, music, baths, art, reading, yoga, Tai Chi, meditation and massage. 

You can read about my personal experience with childhood anxiety through to post-natal anxiety in a book I co-authored called Heart to Heart, The Path to Wellness which you can pick up at Live Well Spa and Wellness Centre and I have provided you with some of my previously written articles on anxiety that you may like to read.

Remember you don't have to do it alone. Don't let anxiety define you!