Why Are Antibiotics Still Being Overprescribed?

Depositphotos_24939595_s-2015.jpg

The overuse of antibiotics is now a well recognised issue however, it seems, old habits are hard to break. A recent study published in the Medical Journal of Australia found that antibiotics were still being heavily prescribed (up to nine times the recommended rate) in some medical conditions for which they are not recommended such as chest colds caused by acute bronchitis and overprescribed in conditions like tonsillitis and acute pharyngitis (sore throat). 

One of the chief concerns of overprescribing antibiotics is the proliferation of antibiotic resistant ‘superbugs’ which can result in untreatable infections and the fear that, in the decades to come, one of the cornerstones of modern medicine may fail us. It is predicted that deaths from currently treatable infections will overtake deaths caused by all types of cancer by 2050. Of further concern is that commonly performed surgical procedures like hip replacement or caesarians will become too dangerous to perform without reliable antibiotics. 

 

So why are antibiotics still heavily overprescribed? 

Studies by Bond’s University’s Centre for Research in Evidence Based Practice (CREBP) have found one of the most common reasons for antibiotic overprescribing seems to be the difficulty in differentiating between fairly innocuous acute respiratory infections and the early stages of more serious infections. In other words, it’s safer and quicker to write a script for an antibiotic and send a patient on their way than run the risk of potentially getting the diagnosis wrong. GP’s also talk about feeling under pressure to satisfy patients expectations of getting a ‘silver bullet’ when waiting a few days and letting a virus run its course is the much better option. CREBP also found that GP’s also over inflate the benefits of medical treatments generally which has fed the misconceptions about the effectiveness of antibiotics. 

 

It would seem a more collaborative approach between GP’s and their patients is needed where the pros and cons of using antibiotics in any particular case is openly discussed and the responsibility for decisions made about appropriate medication is shared. Health professionals must take the lead in challenging our perceptions about antibiotics, and patients may need to readjust their expectations so that when we really do need the lifesaving benefits of antibiotics we will be able to rely on them. 

3 Healthy Habits You Might Be Overlooking

Depositphotos_31818793_s-2015.jpg

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! 

Kate

kate

I Have Back Pain - Where do I Start?

Untitled.png

If you’re suffering with pain you already know how much it impacts on your life. Everything you do is measured against the impact it will have on your pain levels. You might have to give up activities you love, working can be difficult, anything that requires concentration is a struggle. You might even feel depressed as it’s not much fun when your life contracts, it can become pretty miserable, lonely and scary place to be.

For all these reasons it’s really important that you get the right help for back pain as every day you’re in pain is one too many. As well as wasting time, you can also burn through a lot of money seeking a cure, so my first piece of advice is if you have been in pain and the treatment you’re already receiving is not working seek an alternative. When I say not working I mean you are feeling only minor improvements after treatment or the improvements only last a day or two. You want to see obvious improvements after a treatment and over the course of a few treatments see significant change, otherwise you have to ask is this treatment really treating the cause of my pain?

There are many options to choose from but these three treatments are the ones I have seen be the most effective for back pain:

ACUPUNCTURE

Most people associate acupuncture with pain relief and for good reason. Clients invariably walk out feeling significant relief from just their first session and in all but the most difficult cases that improvement is sustained. The reason acupuncture is so effective in treating back pain is that it’s able to do three things exceptionally well: reduce inflammation, release muscular tension and relax your nervous system.

OSTEOPATHY

Pain doesn’t just appear out of thin air. Sometimes the pain can be traced to an injury such as a car accident or a fall, however when you think about all the injuries you’ve had in your life, 99% of the time you recover without needing any help. It’s the 1% of the time when the injury has exposed an underlying weakness in you body, an area of chronic tension or postural imbalance for example, when you get stuck. Osteopathy restores optimal movement, corrects postural imbalances and treats the underlying structural causes of why you’re in pain. It also works fast.

REMEDIAL MASSAGE

Not all massages and massage therapists are equal. A properly trained and experienced remedial massage therapist is able to treat the underlying cause of your pain not just offer a temporary feel good experience. They can also advise you about what self care strategies such as specific stretches that will complement the treatment and have you feeling better sooner. We have three senior massage therapists at Live Well who are exceptionally skilled and experience in helping people recover from injury and pain.

If you need help figuring our where to start then please send us an email or give us a call and we’ll direct you to the best possible care. We’d like nothing more than to help you resolve your pain and be able to live you life to the full again.

Why it's Healthy to Feel Anger, Jealousy, Shame and Fear...

shame

Have you ever felt really angry or afraid, embarrassed or lonely? Of course you have, they are just some of the common side effects of being alive! What's interesting is that whilst we may answer YES when asked directly, we may still expend enormous energy trying to not feel these common emotional states when they arise. Why is that? Well its a good question, one that I'd like to explore here and in doing so we will cover one of the most helpful concepts I've ever come across, one that's made a huge impact on my life.

Emotions are like the weather

One of the most helpful lesson I have learned from Yoga philosophy is that emotions are like the weather; they are very changeable (a concept that I grasped easily having grown up in ‘four seasons in a day’ Melbourne) but more significantly emotions are BEYOND OUR CONTROL. We have no say in whether it rains or is sunny today all we can do it adjust the way it is, if its cold we rug up, if its raining we take an umbrella. No amount of effort will change what the weather wants to do! If its sunny and we want rain….too bad!

When it comes to emotions, most of us want it to be sunny all the time, we prefer “positive” emotions like love, joy, happiness, contentment and gratitude to so called “negative” emotions like fear, sadness, anger, despair and bitterness. The problem is at some stage or other we experience all emotions, every day a hundred or more emotional states arise within us. If we like some and don’t like others we’re going to try and hang on to the one’s we like and push away the ones we don’t like…the result is tremendous tension and guaranteed misery.

Letting go

Before I understood the idea that emotions were beyond my control I had been suffering under the illusion that I could make myself feel only enjoyable emotional states if I tried hard enough. If I felt bad, sad or mad I thought I must have done the wrong thing, I should have meditated more, should have exercised more, should have thought different thoughts or eaten different foods! In truth, I could have done everything "right" and yet be visited by sadness, confusion or fear. When I truly understood emotions come and go of their own accord it was an immense relief, for I could begin to accept how I felt. It was the start of a journey away from trying to make circumstances fit how I wanted them to be and towards a state of more ease with how things are.

Having a War With Reality

Yoga teacher and author Steven Cope describes the battle between how we want things to be and the way things are as our “War With Reality”. Fundamentally whenever we are suffering the root cause is this war between how we want to feel and how we actually feel. The result of denying or suppressing the unwanted feelings we have is we lose the opportunity to feel ok with how things are.

Remember the weather analogy, if its raining we’re sad, if its sunny we’re happy and even though we know its not going to last we spend our days chasing this temporary happiness and running away from (or suppressing) a temporary sadness. It’s exhausting and futile and we end up being anxious about not just how we feel but also who we are and how our life is.

Acceptance

What heals the dissatisfying gap between how we want to feel and how we actually are feeling is the practice of acceptance. Remember no amount of wanting the sun to come out when it’s raining is going to make a difference, so its time to stop fighting a loosing battle. A good starting point is to become curious, just like meeting new people is interesting, meeting these previously shunned feeling states is fascinating. What we find is that these yucky feelings are really not that scary when we consciously choose to be with them rather than run away from them. Some states are more challenging than others, who really wants to feel ashamed or lonely or full of dread, I’m not saying this is always fun or easy necessarily but it’s a relief to really FEEL what’s been there all the while. Each time you feel an uncomfortable emotional state without running away you start dismantling the tension built up around trying to avoid feeling it. The experience is like being able to welcome all these feelings that are just different parts of yourself, no part of you need be in exile anymore, all of you is welcome.

Welcoming

So the theory is very simple, feel whatever arises, whether it’s a pleasant or unpleasant emotion. I would suggest starting with a daily practice of quiet observation for 2o minutes. In that time sit or lie somewhere where you won’t be disturbed, close your eyes and take your awareness inside your body and feel what’s present. It’s a bit like sticking your head out the window to see what the weather’s doing but this time your taking a look inside of your self. Ask yourself how you feel. Is its sunny and warm and peaceful in there or is there a storm raging with wild winds or something in between. The crucial thing is to not judge what you find but practice welcoming what you feel. Imagine you are opening the door to a dear friend, as you open the door you don’t know if she is elated and smiling or upset about something and in tears, either way you welcome them in. Extend the same courtesy to yourself and welcome what you find no matter what state you’re in.

If you find it hard to feel anything, try mentally visualising the events of the day in one hour blocks and see whether it triggers any emotional states to observe. With practice you can check in with your emotional state throughout the day, it only takes a moment to stop take your awareness inside and feel what’s going on in there. In time you’ll be able to stay aware of uncomfortable feelings as they’re arising even in really challenging situations.

Important Tips:

Avoid the Story

Try to avoid getting involved in the story of WHY you feel how you feel, for our purpose of making friends with your feelings the why is not important, it can easily become a distraction from feeling which is our goal.

Acceptance is not the same as being passive

Accepting how you feel from moment to moment isn’t the same as being passive and accepting circumstances in your life that you need to change. For instance your may observe a feeling of frustration arising frequently. Really feeling the frustration and accepting its presence (without wishing it was wasn’t there and without creating a story about why it’s occurring) lets you be comfortable with observing the feeling in yourself. Once we tap into and accept our true feelings they can be a catalyst to change and growth as we are no longer numb, no longer in such conflict with ourselves. Feeling frustration arise regularly and accepting its presence may lead to embarking on a new path, perhaps more in accord with your deep desires in life. Interestingly the more we can open to feeling the uncomfortable emotions like fear and loneliness the more open we are to feeling the enjoyable emotions like love and contentment.

You’re not alone

You’re never alone. If you feel overwhelmed by grief for example, imagine all the billions of human beings around the world, and in the very same moment that you are grieving many thousands of others are also in that exact same state. We’re all human, we all have the same challenges and experiences, that can be a comforting thought.

Sometime this work brings up sensations and feelings that are very powerful and challenging. If you feel overwhelmed and scared find a professional to support you as you do the work, such as a psychologist, or counselor.

I hope these ideas and practices help you as much as they have helped me over the years. Its an ongoing task but one that is well worth the effort.

Wishing you the best of health and happiness.

IS INNER PEACE THE NEW SUCCESS?

PEACE

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

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

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

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

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

Tips to Unwind and Recharge These Holidays!

xmas.jpg

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

Unplug

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

Monotask

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

Nature

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

Holiday Living

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

FOOD AND MOOD - EMERGING RESEARCH ALIGNS WITH TRADITIONAL WISDOM

1469673337776.jpeg

You may have you heard about the gut-brain connection, or heard the gut being referred to as our ‘second brain’. But what if I were to tell you that you could fundamentally change your mental health and how you feel, by treating your gut? 

Sounds “out there”, doesn’t it...

But if you’ve ever “followed your gut”,

had “butterflies” in your tummy from excitement,

or a “knot” in the pit of your stomach when you’ve been worried,

a “gut-wrenching” experience,

“lost your appetite”,

found yourself “hangry”  (being a moody-chops because you haven’t eaten in a while),

or had the proverbial “s**ts” with something;

then you’ve experienced the gut-brain connection first-hand, and can probably conceptualise how inextricably linked our gut, mood, and emotions are.

It may come as little surprise to you, that anxiety and other mood and mental health disorders can be directly linked to poor gut health...

Whilst gut health has always been at the core of Naturopathic philosophy and treatment (we’re talking in the realm of a couple-thousand years, since Hippocrates ‘The Father of Modern Medicine’ time). It is only in more recent times that we are seeing both a huge shift in paradigms and awareness; with more promising research on the gut-brain relationship emerging, the idea is coming into a space of more understanding and general acceptance. There are now even bestseller books based solely on gut health at the local book store! It’s wonderful to be able to discuss the relevance of the gut and how it is linked to mood, skin, autoimmune disorders and more -and suddenly it’s actually kinda plausible; not just some crazy thing you might hear about in a Naturopathic consultation...

Did you know that you are about 90% bacteria?! I’m not kidding...And the make-up, or balance, of this bacteria (our personal “ecosystem”) can impact not only our gut, digestion, and immune system function; but can also profoundly impact our mental health and emotional wellbeing.

There is a rapidly expanding body of research showing that specific strains of bacteria are indeed influencing our brain. They are actually termed ‘psychobiotics’, because their actions are not dissimilar to that of psychiatric pharmaceutical drugs (like common anti-anxiety drugs that work by targeting GABA receptors). These bacterial strains have been observed toinfluence our emotions, higher cognitive functions, ‘intuitive’ (perhaps quite literally, “from the gut”!) decision-making and motivation. In studies on both mice andhealthy human volunteers, using an array of brain-scanning and psychological tests, psychobiotics are having distinguishable effects.

One study on mice of calm vs. anxious highlighted the psychiatric possibilities of modulating gut flora when faecal microbiota was transplanted from an anxious strain of mice caused a previously calm mouse to behave very anxiously. And, yep, you guessed it... A transplant of gut content from the calm strain had a relaxing (and even confidence-boosting) effect on the anxious strain.

Our mircobiome is influenced by factors like how we were born (vaginal vs c-section), if we were breastfed or bottlefed, our diet or stress levels, metabolism, medications -especially antibiotics, age, geography, and genetics. Whilst there is much more to learn, especially on the exact mechanisms of action; what we are understanding is their ability to modulate our brain chemistry. With a serious percentage of neurotransmitter (NT) production and receptor sites residing in the gut (40 NTs in the gut have been identified, to date), it makes sense that if the ecology of our gut is out, our mental and emotional wellbeing is going to follow (and vice versa).

But our mental health and emotional wellbeing is not just governed by the health status of our microbiome. It is also profoundly influenced by an orchestra of nervous system data, endocrine, inflammatory and immune messengers...

The gut pretty much has an entire nervous system cosmos of its own. This is the Enteric nervous system, which is embedded in the gastrointestinal lining, and also referred to as the “second brain”. The Enteric nervous system contains an estimated 500 million neurons -yup; and it is thought to house more neural tissue than that the spinal cord or the peripheral nervous system (everything outside of the brain and spinal cord!).This means there is a veritable information superhighway in there; that is constantly sending, receiving and reacting to various neural and chemical signals!  Some of these messengers that traverse it include:

●      Stress hormones such as Adrenalin, Noradrenalin, Cortisol

●      Metabolites including toxic materials produced by the microbiome -which, Sarkis Mazmanian, a Medical Microbiologist and Professor at the California Institute of Technology, says function as “equally drug-like chemicals” in their communication with the brain.These metabolic molecules have a demonstrated ability to cause behavioral abnormalities in mice that are associated withanxiety (and even autism) when otherwise healthy mice are inoculated with them.

●      Inflammatory cytokines: messengers of inflammation

●      Serotonin: the happy, calming, feel-good NT (95% of which is produced in the gut, meaning only 5% is made in the brain)

●      GABA: the chillaxing NT (significant amounts of GABA are synthesised by the bacteria species Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, which are known to inhabit the gut);

●      Dopamine: the pleasure and motivation NT (about 50% produced by the enteric nervous system in the gut)

THE ROLE OF STRESS

“Stress” can be experienced on different levels (mental, emotional, physical), and originate from various sources (e.g. nutritional, chemical, psycho-social, environmental, visceral). Now, consider how extensive this nerve plexus in our bellies I’m talking about is; and how positively connected this neural superhighway is to our brain... This (enteric) nervous system, and the vagus nerve are highly attuned to our thoughts, moods, emotions, and of course, stress response. In fact, stress signals release neurotransmitters and proinflammatory cytokines, affecting the gut in a number of ways, one of which being the initiation of an inflammatory cascade, which compromises intestinal integrity; contributing to ‘leaky gut’ issues.

Some studies have demonstrated how bacterium exposed to noradrenaline (a stress hormone) clearly responded to stress, and may even induce stress, as a heightened perception of stress or anxiety-like behaviour has been demonstrated.

So, whilst the ‘beneficial’ bacteria are associated with more positive mood and mental health states, greater nerve plasticity and repair; the pathogenic bacteria appear to have the opposite effect.

As you can see, a crucial part of treating anxiety, and other mood and mental health disorders (even more serious disorders such as bi-polar and schizophrenia) actually lies within addressing the gut.

NATUROPATHIC TREATMENT

The basis of Naturopathic treatment uses the tenets of ‘Nutritional Psychiatry’ (that is, a nutritional medicine approach to prevention and treatment of mental disorders) to restore mental (emotional and behavioural) wellbeing.

From a Naturopathic standpoint, it is always important to work holistically. So one would also consider the regulation of these pathways through not only the modulation of the microbiome inhabiting the system; but also the repair the intestinal lining to resolve any pervasive“leaky” gut issues. The latter being where toxic metabolites may be escaping into the bloodstream causing a cascade of chemical messengers to ensue. This inflames the system and the brain; which is a mechanism shown to cause, drive, and exacerbate mood and mental health disorders.

The power of a few significant dietary and lifestyle changes are utilised; avoiding those things we understand have a negative impact on our gut, microbiotica, and mood -such as: processed, fried, and sugary stuff.  And getting stuck into real, whole foods; fresh, from the source, non-adulterated, that grows in the ground, on trees, in your garden, or hails from a farm, and are recognisable as foods (wild-caught fish, organic, grass-fed meat, free range eggs, legumes, leafy greens, and an array of fresh, seasonal fruit and veg for example), rather than packaged goods. Along with specific, individualised supplementation to replete and balance the system, where necessary.

CRANIOSACRAL THERAPY 

The Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility reported the probiotic Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001 normalised anxiety-like behavior in mice with infectious colitis by modulating the vagal pathways within the gut-brain. The gut-brain connection is actually via the vagus nerve, which acts as a direct neuronal higway between our gut, brain and organs.

Craniosacral therapy can work to activate and “tone” the vagus nerve. This downregulates the sympathetic stress response in the body, and promotes your natural relaxation response, elevating feelings of calm and stability, and decreasing inflammatory mediators.

As your vagus nerve is activated, you are reassociated with what it feels like to be at ease. It stimulates the release of oxytocin (aka the “hug” or “bliss” hormone), and has a myriad of other benefits on the gut, digestion, organs and wellbeing.

shanna

If you would like to make a Naturopathy or Craniosacral therapy appointment, you can book online

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

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

Learn more about Shanna
Make an appointment to see Shanna

Simplifying Emotions - The Dog In the Room

emotions

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

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.

Learn more about Kate

Book an appointment

Your Home Has a Microbiome Too!

home

With the plethora of studies linking poor gut health to a myriad of diseases we’ve become familiar with the concept that the human microbiome (the collective population of all the non-human cells that inhabit us) is a crucial part of the ecosystem that keeps you and I healthy and happy. We also know that 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.

It turns out our daily environment also hosts a diverse population of bacteria and other organisms and these microbes greatly influences out bodily microbiome as well, nowhere being more influential than our home.

Ways to create a healthy biome in your home

Cleaning products

If you look around your house and see antibacterial soap, antibacterial spray, antibacterial cleaning wipes and a myriad of disinfecting cleaning products, chances are you’re living in an environment that’s been stripped of its beneficial bacteria. There is research connecting kids growing up in overly sterile and clean environments being linked to issues like allergies, autoimmune conditions and gut related disorders.

Where possible use natural soaps and detergents and use disinfectant products as sparingly as possible.

Get a pet

Household pets broaden our exposure to bacteria in a good way. Interestingly, having a pet is correlated with reduced rates of asthma and allergies in children. Obviously it’s a big commitment to own a pet but if you were considering it anyway, knowing the added health benefits apart from companionship may help you choose.

Bring some plants inside

The leaves and soil of house plants bring beneficial bacteria and viruses into the home as well as help improve indoor air quality. If you needed any more convincing, an interesting study by Melbourne University researchers found that having 5 indoor plants in the home was enough to significantly boost mental wellbeing. 

 So with your home environment sorted don’t forget to keep nourishing your internal microbiome with a diet loaded with nutrient rich and fermented foods as your internal and external microbiome support each other.

What if Herbicide Residues Really Do Cause Cancer?

analysing food

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

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

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

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

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

Do You Need To Boost Your Magnesium Levels?

Depositphotos_140333678_m-2015.jpg

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

 Depression

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

 Thyroid

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

 Heart Health

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

 Healthy muscles

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

 PMS

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

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

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

Is Inner Peace the New Success?

peace

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

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

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

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

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

Small Steps Become a Giant Leap

leap

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

1.     NOURISH

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

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

 

2.     MOVE

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

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

 

3.     REFRESH

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

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

 

THE MAGIC OF MOMENTUM

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

Boost Your Immune System the Natural Way

9da2c66e-8e72-49dd-a58b-5778a8931bf2.jpg

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

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

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

Astragalus

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

Echinacea

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

Garlic

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

Goldenseal

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

Shiitake Mushroom

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

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

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

Relief from Anxiety

eb524c9d-66e5-431d-ad8f-1080d623b996.jpg

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

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

Are you feeling:

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

OR

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

OR

Emotional fear and dread about now and the future?

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

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

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

 

1493206878765.jpeg

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

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

Secondly, let’s try a simple breathing technique.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

1493206661482.png

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

Read more about Dr Orla Tehan

Make an appointment to see Dr Orla Tehan

 

References:

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

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

Doulas- Providing Family Centred Support

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

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

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

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

http://www.thebirthyurt.com/

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

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

 

 

Author- Kellie Hermes, Adorabirth

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

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

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

Eating breakfast helps:

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

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

Here are 6 reasons why you should eat HEALTHY breakfast:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quinoa Oat Porridge

  • 1/3 cup quinoa, soaked overnight in filtered water
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats, rinsed
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • pinch sea salt
  • pinch cinnamon
poridge.jpg

Drain and rinse quinoa. Place in a pot with oats, add boiling water, salt and cinnamon. Bring to a boil lower heat, cover, crack lid a little so that oatmeal doesn’t boil over. Simmer for 25 minutes, stirring every 5 or 10 minutes.

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

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

Chia Porridge w/Seeds, Nuts & Berries

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

Method

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

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

Why Denial is a Heavy Load to Bear

ostrich

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

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

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

“refusal to admit the truth or reality of something”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

kate+pamphilon+kinesiology+canberra.png

Kate's passion is to educate and empower each client to understand their mind, body, and Spirit and how these aspects are all connected. Her integrative approach to health and healing is to explore and treat the whole person.
To find out more about Kinesiology.

To make an appointment with Kate.

Artificial Sweeteners: Healthy Or Not?

sugar.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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