Sleeping Patterns for Babies

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

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

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

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

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

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

Killer Cramps

Help For Painful Periods

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

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

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

How does it work?

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

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

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

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

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

Learn more about Wes

Make an appointment to see Wes.

Breast Milk...How Much is Enough?

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

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

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

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

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

Should Sushi Be Avoided During Pregnancy?

Depositphotos_57342331_m-2015.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Acupuncture Beats Morning Sickness

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

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

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

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

Sally nourse.png

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

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

Learn more about Sally

Book an appointment

Is Going Gluten Free a Good Idea?

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

What is gluten anyway?

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

So you feel better not eating gluten?

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

Gluten and Autoimmune Disease

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

What to do next?

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

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

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

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

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

Learn more about Wes

Make an appointment to see Wes.

Regulating the Menstrual Cycle with Acupuncture

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

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

Phase 1: Menstruation (Day 1-5) 

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

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

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

Phase 3: Ovulation  

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

Phase 4: Luteal phase (post-ovulation) 

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

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

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

Learn more about Sally

Book an appointment

Simplifying Emotions - the Dog in the Room

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

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

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

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

Your internal network

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

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

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

Emotions are just like dogs

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

Validating emotions is validating YOU

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

Steps for releasing emotions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learn more about Kate

Book an appointment

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

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

What are the common thyroid problems??

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TSH is nearly always decreased in hyperthyroidism.

TSH is nearly always increased in hypothyroidism.

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

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

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

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

Learn more about Orla

Book an appointment

Winter Wellness Tips

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

Rest

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

Move

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

Nourish

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

De-stress

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

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

Support

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

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

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

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

Learn more about Wes

Make an appointment to see Wes.

Is There Such a Thing As Healthy Sugar?

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

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

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

Agave

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

Health rating ★★

Jaggery/Panela/Rapadura Sugar

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

Health rating ★★★★

Stevia

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

Health rating ★★

Artificial Sweeteners

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

Health rating: zero stars

Brown Sugar, Muscavado, Turbinado, Demarara and Raw Sugar

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

Health rating ★

White sugar/Corn Syrup/Maltodextrin

The most refined and adulterated sugars.

Health rating: half a star

What is MICBT and How Can It Help Me?

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

What is Mindfulness?

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

Aiming for Equanimity

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

Impermanence

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

How do we practice Mindfulness?

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

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

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

What is CBT?

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

MICBT: Integrating Mindfulness and CBT

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

Changing Reactive Habits 

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

Interpersonal Mindfulness

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

Mindfulness and Empathy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cracking the elusive ‘motivation’ game

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

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

●      Where does your FOCUS lie?

●      What areas of your life are consuming your ENERGY?

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

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

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

What’s the point?

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

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

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

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

Talk it through

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

Make a conscious choice

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

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

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

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

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

Learn more about Kate

Make an appointment to see Kate

Walnuts for male fertility

Walnuts have log been considered to be of benefit to male fertility according to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), now modern research supports this concept too.

Walnuts support the Kidney energy which, according to TCM, controls reproduction, development and stores the Jing.  Jing, also known as essence, is a deep form of energy within the body.  Jing is largely responsible for our physical and mental development and forms the basis of our ability to reproduce.  

A study published in 2012 I the journal Biology of Reproduction found that eating 75g of walnuts per day improved sperm vitality, motility and morphology.

The research findings correlated fertility improvement with the walnuts' alpha-linolenic content, along with other nutrients.

A recent animal study by the University of Delaware backs up these findings.  The study found that walnuts reduce lipid peroxidation, a process that can damage sperm cells.

This form of cell damage harms sperm membranes, which are primarily made up of polyunsaturated fatty acids.  Walnuts are the only tree nut that are predominantly comprised of these fatty acids - meaning they are uniquely powerful for replenishing sperm cells.

Walnuts are very nutrient dense. A cup of walnuts contains 511g of protein (about 15% by weight), a range of B vitamins ( 400mcg of thiamin, 115mcg folate and B6 at 600mcg),115mg of calcium, 185 mg of magnesium and 516mg of potassium. Walnuts are also rich in manganese, selenium and phytosterols.  However it is the omega-3 content of walnuts that makes them so beneficial to sperm health. At 10,623 mg of omega-3s per cup they really do pack a punch.

Dietary recommendations are one way that traditional Chinese medicine can help to improve sperm health. If there is aknown male factor (sperm count, motility or morphology) contributing to infertility, optimal results will be achieved through a combination of acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine and lifestyle changes.

For individualised treatment for male infertility, speak to a registered acupuncturist and Chinese herbal medicine practitioner.

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

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

To find out more about acupuncture and how it can help with infertilityendometriosisstressanxietyback pain and throughout pregnancy please click on the links. 

Learn more about Sally
Make an appointment with Sally

Relief From Anxiety

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.

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.

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 

De-Stress With Chocolate?

If you overindulged on chocolate over the Easter break, then maybe there is a silver lining. The following foods all have properties that support your nervous system and help you stay resilient when the inevitable stressful times arrive.

Chocolate
Too good to be true? Well there are a few caveats, but chocolate can be good for you. Plenty of studies have shown that eating chocolate stimulates the release of increased levels of mood enhancing endorphins, which decrease stress and pain levels.

Does that mean a big chocolate binge over Easter was a good idea? Well most chocolate is very high in sugar which is a common food we reach for under stress, however sugary foods just make your blood sugar unstable and are more likely to trigger fatigue, anxiety, depression and irritability and diminish our ability to cope. So you’re better off slowly making your way through your Easter stash and sticking to small quantities of quality dark chocolate.

Salmon
Did you eat fish on Good Friday? If you chose an oily fish like salmon you gave yourself a good dose of omega 3 fatty acids which can boost brain function and build resilience to stress.

Leafy Greens
According to Homer Simpson, you don’t win friends with salad, however you do improve your gut health, boost your mood and support the wellbeing and relaxation of your nervous system.

Whole Grains
Don’t tell your paleo pals but brown rice, quinoa, oats are good sources of complex carbohydrates that deliver sustained energy levels and corresponding mood leveling steady blood sugar levels. Additionally whole grains are a rich source of B vitamins which support nervous system health and are necessary for optimal brain chemistry. 

Mindfulness
It’s not just what you put in your mouth that’s important but what state you’re in when you’re eating.  If you’re trying to scoff some breakfast whilst rushing out the door, then eating your lunch in front of the computer it’s no surprise that you body won’t be digesting optimally.  If you can slow down and be really present while you are eating (not watching TV or checking Facebook) then meals can be time for relaxation and nourishment on all levels.


Wes portrait.png

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

Learn more about We

Make an appointment to see Wes.

How To Beat Inflammation

If you drink the odd turmeric spiced ‘golden latte’ you might already be on the right path. However if you really want to maximise your wellbeing into a ripe old age then it would be wise to get a handle on ways to switch off inflammation and its ability to create chronic disease in the body.

Inflammation can be a normal and beneficial process. Healthy inflammatory responses are launched in an effort to heal after injury, in defence against foreign invaders like viruses and bacterial and repair of damaged tissue. Generally you know something is inflamed when its, red, swollen and painful.

However there’s an increasing consideration of insidious and chronic inflammatory states that are not beneficial and can affect one or multiple organ systems and are increasingly linked to a whole host of illnesses from Alzheimer’s to cancer. These protracted periods of inflammatory response are like ongoing spot fires, often in multiple organs, that are drawing on the immune system’s resources and depleting its capacity to stay on top of its game.

Often the first warning signs of inflammation are noticed in the digestion. The more we understand about the gut, the more we’re seeing that numerous disease process including systemic inflammation begin here. Not surprisingly then, quality, nutritious food is a front line defence against inflammation.

Unfortunately, many common foods like wheat, dairy and especially sugar are seen as potentially inflammatory however there is no blanket rule that you can apply to everyone.

If you know a specific food causes bloating, heartburn or other unwelcome reactions it’s a reliable indication that your body doesn’t tolerate it. On the other hand whole grains, leafy greens and good quality fats are just a few of the common foods that can soothe the inflammatory response.

Whilst diet is the foundation of tackling inflammation, so too is managing stress as stress hormones are fuel to the fire of inflammation in the body. Restoring your ability access quality sleep and emotional wellbeing are just as important.

If you have a few mild symptoms then you can probably make some tweaks to your diet and lifestyle and restore your body back to balance. However if you have more complex and long standing health challenges then it’s advisable to seek help from a trusted professional. I would suggest a great place to start is with a naturopath or an integrative GP


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

Learn more about We

Make an appointment to see Wes.

Managing Stress with Mindfulness…One Breath at a Time

Depositphotos_31779129_l-2015.jpg

It seems most of us are living such busy lives these days, sometimes just getting through the minefield of daily activities can feel exhausting and draining on our health.Whether we are juggling the demands of our jobs or managing a family, connecting with social and intimate relationships, stress is familiar to us all these days.

While a certain amount of stress can be an enlivening and motivating force in our lives, like all things taken in the extreme, it can result in severe disruption to our wellbeing and ability to function effectively.It is well documented that unrelenting stress is linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, depression and anxiety and a compromised immune function.When we find ourselves in that stressed state it’s difficult to concentrate and solve problems without feeling overwhelmed.

By contrast we can all recall that feeling of being in life’s flow, facing challenges with realistic acceptance, grace and even humour. At these times we can mobilize our inner resources so the problem itself somehow stimulates a turning point that awakens and propels us forward.The way to gather our potential and tune into a state of flow, is to begin practicing being “here and now” in the present moment. While that’s easy to say, most of us struggle with being present.We have nearly all had the experience of driving the car and suddenly realizing that you can’t remember most of the trip.“How did I get here?”Imagine if we lived most of our lives this way and getting to the end having missed many of the great moments.

Today, meditation is universally recognised as a highly effective tool to stay present and help manage our health and wellbeing in the midst of the madness. Vast amounts of research confirms that by training the mind through meditation we give the body time to relax and recuperate, and clear away stress hormones that may have accumulated in the system.Dr Herbert Benson of Harvard University first established that meditation techniques had a very real effect of reducing the fight-or-flight response, in his groundbreaking research in 1968.Since then, many more studies have reinforced and enlarged upon Dr Benson’s findings and today meditation is widely accepted as a valid practice and complementary to the high tech advances in medical science.

The corporate world, where burnout is a growing problem, has also discovered the benefits of meditation.Ray Lopez, director of the Lawyer Assistance Program for the New York Bar Association, is a strong advocate for using meditation to deal with stress.“When you slow down for a short time on a regular basis, you reduce stress.When people are stressed they think they can do a lot, but they’re limited – they’re impaired. We have to realize that is we don’t take care of our health we’re going to be undone.”

Practicing meditation and relaxed breathing gives us the opportunity to practice responding to our thoughts patterns and stressful situations more peacefully, The positive effect of this is increased clarity, resilience andproductivity, So much so, a number of leading law schools, including Harvard and the University of California are now offering meditation courses to their students to provide budding lawyers with tools to manage stress throughout their future careers.

If you would like to learn more about mindfulness meditation and how it can help you to better manage stress or more positively enhance your experiences in life, Live Well offers a six week program in mindfulness meditation training entitled Managing the Madness.

katrina_berg_howard.jpg

This program was co-created by our resident counsellor and coach, Katrina Berg-Howard with Sal Flynn and in 2012, Katrina began presenting Managing the Madness regularly during school terms.

The program is designed to demystify meditation and make it accessible to everyday people wanting to experience the empowerment and calm that meditation practice can bring – managing the madness indeed!

A Gut Feeling

You may have already heard the term “leaky” gut floating around. Also known as Increased Intestinal Permeability, “leaky” gut is a term used to describe a condition whereby the integrity of the tight junctions and cells of the intestinal wall, and thus its functions (particularly the containment of materials and toxins) have been compromised. So the gut ends up “leaking” undigested proteins, particles, microbes, toxins, and waste metabolites into the bloodstream where they freely circulate (and shouldn’t be!). This can impact many aspects of our health, and can even affect the brain.

Why a gut tune-up is important:

The condition and functioning of the gut is not only important for digestive health, such as the ability to break down, absorb and utilise nutrients from our food, or mitigation of digestive conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease. It also feeds into, and has implications for other less obvious conditions.

Interestingly, the gut is also thought of as the ‘second brain’. This is mainly due to the fact that it relies upon the same neurons and neurotransmitters (such as serotonin) that are found in, and communicate with the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord). This helps us to understand the link between gut health and mental health, and how they feed into each other. And suffice it to say, how psychological, emotional and physical stress can cause digestive troubles.

Signs to look out for, include:

       Nutrient malabsorption -the inability to absorb essential nutrients

       Fatigue

       Chronic inflammatory conditions, such as: Asthma, Eczema, Heart disease, Dementia, Fibromyalgia, Pancreatitis, Gall bladder disease, Obesity, Autism, Depression, Lupus, Bleeding gums and Dental caries.

       Candida or Thrush infections

       Immune system function -susceptibility to, and ability to ward off infection; sensitivities and allergies; and autoimmune conditions such Hashimoto’s, Rheumatoid arthritis, and Type I Diabetes.

       Cognitive function: for example, clear vs foggy thinking, and memory decline.

       Mental health: poor mood (or moodiness and irritability), depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder

       Hormonal imbalances, for example PMS or PCOS.

       Skin conditions: eczema, psoriasis, acne, rosacea

       Thyroid disorders

       Joint pain

       Weight gain

       ‘Syndrome X’ (metabolic condition)

       Toxic build up

       Headaches and migraines

Factors that contribute to poor gut health and function, and “leaky” gut include:

       Stress! Stress has a major impact on the gut (among other things!), and I see this in clinic, time and time again… The gut is a sensitive organism, that is highly vulnerable to the ill-effects of stress. From the tension held in the nerve plexus that feeds into the gut (the vagus nerve), changes to appetite, decreased digestive capacity (the ability to break down, absorb and utilise nutrients from our food), ulcers, reflux, indigestion, constipation, diarrhoea and IBS, to lowered immunity, increased susceptibility to infections, and the development of neurodegenerative and autoimmune conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis, and Rheumatoid Arthritis.

       Poor Diet -The SAD (Standard Australian Diet), which is laden with nutrient poor, processed, sugary, and fried foods. The SAD burdens the body with rubbish, and typically lacks essential nutrients found in a nutrient-dense fresh produce, and a chemically-reduced (Organic, where possible) wholefood diet that the body requires to maintain good health and functioning.

       Foods that commonly contribute towards and aggravate poor gut health include: sugar, gluten and unsprouted grains, dairy (although the A2 variety appears to be less so), caffeine, alcohol, processed/packaged and foods.

       Medications: particularly antibiotics, due to the fact that they tend to wipe out the good bacteria colonising the digestive tract, destroying the ecological balance; the oral contraceptive pill; paracetamol and ibuprofen, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) being most common.

You can take back control of your gut health today by:

       Remove common culprits from the diet, like gluten, dairy, and sugar. This can be challenging to think about, but it doesn’t have to be too complicated or hard. The ability to collate the right resources and support, and make a plan goes a long way in making any dietary transitions like this smooth.

       Take your time to eat. Even if it is just 5 minutes, undistracted.

       Chew well. It may sound silly, but by paying attention to chewing each mouthful more completely, we’re actually helping the mechanical breakdown of our digestive process, which takes a burden off our digestion, and makes it noticeably smoother. Digestive disturbances are reduced, and nutrient absorption is enhanced.

       Get serious about minimising your stress levels -see my articles on 6 Ways to Beat Stress Fast, and Little things you can do to Unplug for a few good pointers.

       Eating more leafy greens, which feed and encourage good bacteria growth in the gut, and help physically sweep toxic waste out from the bowel. They’re also rich in stress-busting nutrients.

       Trying a gut-healing Bone Broth. You can find good recipes for how to make a bone broth all over the net. It is a nutrient-rich, mineralising broth that helps restore the mucosal lining of the gut, aids digestion and the immune system.

       Seeking professional help for a proper assessment, and treatment.

 

Preparing For Labour and Birth

While every pregnancy is unique, the trimesters of pregnancy have a natural progression that can be both exciting and challenging. The first trimester is well known as the time of ‘morning sickness’ which for many women should really be called ‘all day sickness’! The second trimester, if you’re lucky, can be a wonderful time of renewed energy, continuing exercise, work and just getting on with it!

It’s not often until the third trimester that pregnant women begin to focus on getting set-up for the arrival of the baby, known as ‘nesting’, and reality sets in - this growing baby inside your swelling belly will need to come out!

These days, for many pregnant women there are several options for:

●      the type of birth you choose (or at least - plan for!)

●      location of labour and birth (home, conventional hospital, birth centre or water)

●      who supports you through your labour and birth (obstetrician, midwife, doula) and,

●      the many painkillers available, if needed.

In many ways, these options have supported women to have the right to choose how they plan for the birth of their child. On the other hand, the cascade of intervention has increased. Whatever your choices are around the many aspects of the coming labour and birth, it’s important to prepare so that you feel physically, emotionally and mentally strong. This way, you have the best chance of having the labour and birth you wish for.

Focus on grounding, earthing and opening

To bring your beautiful baby into this world requires a focus on lowering and opening your energy, and your body will follow suit. We often look at birth as the baby coming ‘out’, however it is more about the baby ‘moving down’ then out. This can be seen through the natural physiology of birth preparation. As you venture further into the third trimester, your baby’s head and body start to move lower down into your pelvis, this is known as ‘engaging’. It’s a sign that you and your baby are getting ready. Once you’re into the full swing of contractions, and you’re often fully dilated, you begin to feel ‘bearing down’ contractions which is an intense need to push down into your bottom to help the baby down and out.

This natural pull toward Mother Earth is why many women across the world give birth in a squatting, standing or kneeling position as these positions support the need to bear down and allow your body to best open up. Allowing your energy to lower, will also help you to calm your mind, rein in your emotions and balance your hormones - thus, the important phase of ‘nesting’. The key, therefore, is during your third trimester spend time grounding yourself by:

●      taking time out to calm your mind and emotions through activities that are relaxing (swimming, baths, gentle walks, reading, gardening, mindfulness - yes, go buy a colouring book, better yet - make something for the nursery!)

●      keeping an eye on your stress levels (this raises your energy up toward your head instead of lowering, and can knock out the balance of hormones)

●      spending time in a gentle and supported squatting position (prenatal yoga classes are wonderful for teaching this)

●      meditation and visualisation focusing on a smooth, safe and joyful labour and birth

●      practice breathing down into your body and sending your breath to where pain is so as to ease the sensation, and

●      sit and fold baby clothes and blankets!

Build your team

An integrative approach to your health and wellbeing throughout pregnancy is vital. By ‘integrative’, I mean accessing both the mainstream medicine field just as much as kinesiology, acupuncture, naturopathy, osteopathy and yoga. Many women who come for kinesiology report that the ease, success and recovery of labour and birth came down to how physically, emotionally and mentally fit they were.

Pregnancy is quite a ride; one full of wonder, awe, anxieties, fears, tears and joys. Be gentle on yourself with how you’re feeling and know that somewhere, around the world there’s another woman (if not, many more) feeling just like you. If you’re feeling worried or anxious about labour and birth, if you would like to check in on your body, hormones, emotions or mental strength for pain, if you would like to check in on your baby to see if s/he needs anything, or if you would like to learn cool tips and tricks then come along to Live Well for some kinesiology. It’s all about team work for you and your baby.