Pregnancy in the time of COVID-19

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t exactly plan to be heavily pregnant during a global pandemic. I found myself pregnant, barefoot and in the kitchen the other day home-schooling my children. I did not see that coming. Like many of you, my life has drastically changed in the past few weeks and it is a huge adjustment.

Globally, we are all dealing with change, uncertainty and underlying stress. We are bombarded by the media and news, and our lives are fundamentally different to how they were a few weeks/months ago. It is a lot for anyone to deal with and like many, I am taking comfort from the fact that we are all in this together. This is a huge opportunity for us individually and collectively to take stock of our ways of life and focus on what really matters.

But I won’t lie, being pregnant adds a certain complexity to the current situation. I am 35 weeks pregnant and facing giving birth during lockdown with heightened restrictions in hospitals to ensure that our health care workers and hospitals are best placed to manage a potential influx of COVID-19 cases.

The logical part of my brain is completely cool with this, I support the bigger effort and I trust in the decisions of those amazing health care workers and know that not only my interests, but the broader community’s interests, are at stake.

This is also my third baby, I have done this twice before and whilst it definitely wasn’t easy, I believe in myself and my husband and know we can get through this all together.

But guess what, my logical brain isn’t always in action. The other side of my brain is screaming, “this sucks!”. The uncertainty, the change, the stress, the fears – these emotions are real and valid and it is totally cool for me to go to my bedroom and have a cry about this all. It’s cool for you to do that too.

I’m not going to go into the potential situation at the hospital for my birth as (a) I don’t want to stress anyone out and (b) the situation is literally changing daily, both at the hospital I will birth in, and in hospitals all around the world. My situation may well be very different to yours, and in a few weeks we may be dealing with completely new rules again. That’s part of the challenge to be honest, as I am a planner, and I like to know what’s ahead of me.

So rather than focus on what is going to happen in hospital, I would like to share a few things that I am doing to try to combat the stress and uncertainty of it all. I hope these are helpful for you.

 

  • If you feel yourself getting upset or your brain running away on itself, that’s okay! Feel the emotion, it’s valid and it’s real. Acknowledge it, feel it and then try to let it go through some deep breathing (maybe after a good cry).
  • Try to focus on the moment, and what is under your control. What are your tasks today? What’s for dinner? Stay present and try to bring yourself back to the now. I have done a few mindfulness courses and find mindfulness techniques helpful to do this. Yes, even with children around!
  • Limit social media, the news, your phone, screens, scrolling. I am hopeless at this but I know for sure it contributes to my feelings of anxiety.
  • Reach out to friends, family and your lead maternity carer and discuss your concerns.
  • Get outside, exercise and get fresh air. Try to incorporate meditation daily if you can, even if it’s just some focused deep breathing. We are in lockdown but we can still go for local walks and goodness, I need them. I am keeping up my yoga and personal training through the wonders of the internet in my living room and getting out for a walk every day. This is critical for my physical and mental health.
  • Focus on the elements of your birth and post-partum period that you can control. I am doing lots of reading on the first few weeks post partum to remind myself of those hazy newborn days and what to expect.
  • Bond with your baby. Spend time each day breathing and connecting with that beautiful life growing inside you. Your baby is the most wonderful blessing and will be such a beautiful source of joy and hope in these crazy times. Connect, focus and show love to your baby and yourself.

Courtesy of Fran, from Franjos Kitchen.

https://franjoskitchen.com/blogs/news

 


SUPPORTING YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM

Wondering what you can do to support your immune system? Read on to learn more about how it works and discover a herb that may help keep it fighting fit.

Your immune system is a collection of body structures, organs and cells. Between them, they help protect you from infections, and if you do catch one, they work together to help you to fight it off.

3 WAYS THE IMMUNE SYSTEM WORKS AGAINST INFECTIONS

One way to think of your immune system is as a series of defences, with each layer being more specific in its action than the one before. Three of its most important components include:

  1. Physical barriers against infection

The first layer of immune defence is the outer surface of the body, including structures like the skin, mucous membranes in your nose, throat and sinuses, and the cilia, which are the very fine hairs that line the nose.

These surfaces all act as physical barriers aimed at helping to prevent infectious organisms from entering the body, so they’re often referred to as our first line of defence.

However, despite functioning very well, they’re not impenetrable, which is why it’s important to wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, and to avoid touching your mouth, nose or face.

  1. Innate immune system

If an infectious organism gets through those first lines of defence, the non-specific immune system attempts to fight it off.

This aspect of your immune system is comprised of several types of proteins and white blood cells and is also known as the innate immune system (with ‘innate’ meaning that it’s with you from birth).

The non-specific immune system is so named because it responds to a vast array of infectious organisms, regardless of whether you’ve encountered them before or not.1

  1. Acquired immune system

The specific immune system is also known as the acquired immune system (because it develops over time) or adaptive immune system (because it adapts its approach to the specific type of infectious organism it is dealing with).

It works by encoding a ‘memory’ of infectious microbes when it initially encounters them, enabling it to respond more aggressively and effectively if you experience the same infection again1.

This system is highly advantageous when it comes to minimising our risk of experiencing some types of infections repeatedly1.

When a new or unfamiliar microbe is encountered (for example a new strain of common cold or flu virus), the specific immune system first recognises it and then works hard to fight it off1.

ASTRAGALUS: TRADITIONALLY USED TO IMPROVE THE IMMUNE DEFENCES IN CHINESE MEDICINE

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), astragalus is traditionally used to enhance immunity, and to help reduce the frequency of common colds and flu. It’s also traditionally taken to increase vitality and help the body to adapt to stress in TCM.

Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, worsen or change unexpectedly, talk to your health professional.

 

References

  1. Betts, J.G. et al. 21.3 The Adaptive Immune Response: T lymphocytes and Their Functional Types. In Anatomy and Physiology,OpenStax, Houston, Texas, 2013. Accessed March 2020 from https://openstax.org/books/anatomy-and-physiology/pages/21-3-the-adaptive-immune-response-t-lymphocytes-and-their-functional-types

Courtesey of Fusion Health.


Resisting Colds and Flu Part 3: Six Natural Remedies for your Cold and Flu First Aid Kit

In Resisting Colds and Flu Part Two, we learned five key factors that put you at risk of infection, and how to overcome them. Although prevention is better than cure, it’s important to stock up on remedies that can reduce your symptoms and help you get better quickly if you do fall sick. Create your very own cold and flu ‘first aid’ kit, using our top six natural remedies, so you can knock infections on the head and stay well this winter.

Start with Herbal Heavyweights

When it comes to reducing fever, cough, sore throat and thick phlegm, Andrographis packs a punch. In a review of 33 clinical trials, it was shown to speed up recovery and shorten the duration of cold symptoms. Andro NK, a potent herbal formula containing Andrographis, stimulates your immune defences, which can help lessen the severity of the common cold. To find out whether Andro NK would benefit you, speak to one of our naturopaths today.

 

Call for Nutritional Back-Up

The combination of zinc and vitamin C has been shown to reduce the duration and severity of common cold symptoms due to its immune-supporting actions.2 As such, providing the body with a high-strength blend such as Meta Zinc with Vitamin C can help reload your body with the ingredients it needs to defend you.

 

‘Shrooms to the Rescue

Medicinal mushrooms such as reishi, cordyceps, coriolus and shiitake have been used in traditional Chinese medicine over many centuries to help:

  • Manage mild upper respiratory tract infections (reishi and coriolus);
  • Relieve mucus congestion (reishi and cordyceps);
  • Support the immune system (shiitake); and,
  • Enhance energy and stamina and reduce fatigue (cordyceps).

Super Mushroom Complex blends these four mushrooms together, helping to support your immune response.

assorted japanese mushroomassorted japanese mushroom

Load Your Freezer with Soup

Soups make for excellent emergency meals if you start to feel sick. Set aside a day where you can prepare bases, using either chicken frames or vegetable peels with plenty of garlic, thyme and oregano, as these herbs are rich with antibacterial compounds which can help your immune system. Strain and freeze your soup bases. Then, when you need them, defrost and add fresh vegetables. Your future self will thank you!

Stock Up on Tea to Help Replace Your Fallen Fluids

If you do get sick, one way to improve your recovery time is by topping up any fluids you’ve lost to fever or sweats with herbal tea. Herbs such as thyme, peppermint, liquorice and ginger steeped with a teaspoon of honey can help to decongest your nose and soothe your throat; giving you relief when symptoms arise.

Invest in Eucalyptus Oil

Eucalyptus essential oil is fantastic for keeping airways clear and open, particularly when you’re feeling congested in your sinuses or chest.Using eucalyptus oil-containing chest rubs, or adding a few drops to an oil diffuser before bed, can help with symptom relief, making it easier to breathe when you’re feeling stuffy.

Eucalyptus stems. For more flowers and plants 

Prep Yourself Before you Wreck Yourself

To help you come out on top this cold and flu season, speak to a Practitioner about sourcing the best quality supplements to help you beat cold and flu symptoms. Gather everything you need for your ‘First Aid’ kit to keep you and your household protected with access to emergency relief before winter arrives, so you can thrive throughout these cooler months.

Written by Natruopath Ruth Kirk-Garcia

Courtesy of Metagenics 


Resisting Colds and Flu Part Two: 5 Things That Put You At Risk and How to Fix Them

In Resisting Colds and Flu Part One, we learned about the immune system and how seeing a Practitioner can help you strengthen it in time for illness. In order to prevent illness, your immune cells are constantly on the lookout for infectious bacteria and viruses, ready to mount defensive attacks against them.

However, to help your army of immune cells protect you from infection, you need to create the right conditions for them to effectively defend you. In other words, just as unfavourable conditions (e.g. harsh weather) affect a soldier’s efforts in battle, the following conditions make it more difficult for your immune soldiers to defend your body:

  • Poor gut health;
  • Low nutrient levels;
  • Poor sleep quality;
  • Chronic stress; and
  • Not enough exercise.

Read on to learn more about how these five areas can make or break your ability to triumph over illness this winter.

 

  1. Engage your Gut Bacteria

It might surprise you to learn that the gut is the key to your immune health. Within your gut, your resident bacteria (and other microscopic organisms), known as your microbiome, directly interact with your immune army, (a large proportion of which is housed in the gut). This affects your overall immune response against infection.

Put simply, a healthy microbiome full of beneficial bacteria helps to build immune function, whilst a compromised microbiome can hinder your immune army’s response against infection.

Unfortunately, many things can reduce your levels of good bacteria. A common example is antibiotics, which is often what you are prescribed when infection keeps getting the better of you. Repeat courses of antibiotics may cause a loss of beneficial bacteria every time you get sick, making you more susceptible to future infections.

Put simply, a healthy microbiome full of beneficial bacteria helps to build immune function, whilst a compromised microbiome can hinder your immune army’s response against infection.

If this pattern sounds familiar to you, consider seeking out the care of a natural healthcare Practitioner who can assess and address the health of your gut bacteria. Your Practitioner can also prescribe specific probiotic strains (types) that have been shown to boost immunity and reduce the risk of catching a cold, such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus (LGG®), Lactobacillus plantarum (HEAL 9), Lactobacillus paracasei (8700:2). To learn more about the benefits of specific probiotic strains, and why it’s important to choose the right strain for your particular needs, book in to speak with one of our naturopaths.

 

  1. Stock up on Nutritional Ammunition

Your immune system’s ability to protect you also depends upon on your nutritional health. Several nutrients, including zinc and vitamin C, are involved in keeping your immune cells in good shape, as they help your body to create them on a daily basis. As such, without enough of these nutrients to create your immune army, your chance of getting sick is higher.1

If you’re usually on the losing end of colds and flu, and haven’t considered topping up your nutritional stores, there’s a fair chance that supplementing zinc and vitamin C can increase your resistance to infection and support faster recovery, buying back your time and health over winter.

To discover which specific nutrients you may be lacking, and what supplements you need to help boost your levels, speak to your Naturopath or health Practitioner.

If you’re usually on the losing end of colds and flu and haven’t considered topping up your nutritional stores, there’s a fair chance that supplementing zinc and vitamin C can increase your resistance to infection and support faster recovery, buying back your time and health over winter.

  1. Maximise Your Sleep Quality

You’ve probably experienced the difference between a restful and sleepless night, and you know which you would prefer, right? Your immune system feels the same, especially when it’s faced with the threat of illness. Put simply, sleep is the body’s time to rest and regenerate itself, so it can create enough immune cells to defend you from illness. To learn more about the benefits of sleep, and for more advice and guidance around sleep-promoting natural remedies, speak with a natural healthcare Practitioner.

4. Keep an Eye on Your Stress

High and prolonged levels of stress take a toll on the immune system, weakening your defences and making you more susceptible to sickness. Managing stress helps more than just immune function; it also improves the overall health of your body. This is why having a few stress-busting strategies built into your daily routine can fortify your health and keep infection from taking hold.

 

  1. Stay Fighting Fit with Exercise

Exercise helps you to build strong muscles and allows you to extend the limits of what you’re physically capable of. Similarly, exercise also strengthens your immune system, making it more powerful and effective in its response to nasty infections. Even just 30 minutes of walking has been shown to boost the quantity of immune cells in the body2, which is why regular exercise is a key weapon in beating back illness.

 

Winter is Coming

To prepare your immune army for cold and flu season, see one of our health practitioners to equip yourself with the best strategy to shut down infection before it becomes a battle. By taking professional advice on board and focusing on these five areas (for at least four weeks before winter hits), you will be setting yourself up to triumph against illness, so you can spend more time appreciating the magic of winter.

Written by Naturopath Ruth Kirk-Garcia

Courtesy of Metagenics Australia


Resisting Colds and Flu Part One: How to Strengthen Your Immune System Naturally

Evading this season’s colds, coughs and flu can feel like an uphill battle through a treacherous warzone. As you forge through uncharted territory, you remain constantly vulnerable to an enemy ambush closing in on you. The same can be said of your body during winter, when it must regularly defend against viruses and bacteria. Poor battle tactics, such as inadequate immune defences, can increase the chance of viruses and bacteria leading to an infection. Fortunately, arming yourself with tools that enhance your immune response can turn the tables on the enemy and mount a counterattack that could win the war, allowing you to conquer any bugs that may come your way.

The Nitty Gritty of the Warzone

Your immune system has evolved to identify and destroy pathogens, viruses and bacteria, before they win the war. It does so by drawing on two lines of immune defence.

The innate immune response is activated when a pathogen you are exposed to invades your body, immediately setting into motion the production and release of immune cells that hunt down and destroy the attacker. Conversely, the adaptive immune response plays a slow and measured strategy, using other types of specialised immune cells (known as B cells and T cells) to learn about the threat and adjust it’s defences accordingly for a targeted approach.1

When these two lines of defence are in peak form, your immune system does a solid job of protecting you against pathogenic threats. However, an inadequate immune response increases the likelihood of pathogens overcoming your immune defences, leading to infection. In these instances, enhancing your immune system’s function using natural medicines can help build resistance against viral and bacterial pathogens and prevent the onset of infection.

 

Your Tactical Advantage

Arm yourself with an immune-enhancing artillery this winter by consulting a natural healthcare Practitioner. Skilled at identifying the weaknesses in your defence, your Practitioner can advise you of the best battle plan for your needs. A Practitioner can also recommend supplements to enhance your body’s immune response, providing you with an added edge when fending off viral and bacterial foes.

However, should a formidable opponent sneak past your defences, leading to a cold, cough or flu, your Practitioner can prescribe additional immune-boosting strategies to help you recover faster. The best options for you will depend on the type of infection that’s slipped past your guard, which is why it is important to get expert help. However, the strategies found here are a good place to start.

This is part one of a three-part series, highlighting ingredients and methods you can implement to resist colds and flu.

Part two will be posted on April 15th 2021.

Written by Naturopath Julia Mellios

Courtesy of Metagenics Australia


5 Ways You Might Upset Your Gut Microbiome and What to Do About It

Microbiome’ is a hot topic right now for anyone interested in health; but you may be wondering what exactly it is? You’ve potentially heard about the good bacteria living within your digestive system, and may have even thought about taking a probiotic to support them. Well it’s this internal community – actually encompassing a massive 38 trillion microbes (not just bacteria) – that are collectively referred to as your commensal microbiome. When healthy and balanced, your microbiome has wide-reaching health effects, such as synthesising important vitamins you need; helping to modulate and boost your immune system; assisting with waste elimination (therefore supporting healthy bowel function); and even influencing your mood.1

However, your diet and lifestyle choices can negatively impact the health of your microbiome; resulting in a reduction in both the numbers and/or diversity of the organisms within your gut. Disruption to your internal microbial community can then create an environment where pathogenic (disease causing) organisms have the opportunity to grow and prosper. This state of imbalance is termed ‘dysbiosis’, and can lead to a plethora of negative health effects, including digestive complaints, nutrient deficiencies, or maybe a compromised immune system (which can lead to allergies and/or frequent illness) – these are all common outcomes when the microbiome becomes imbalanced.

The following are five of the most common diet and lifestyle factors that may negatively impact the health of your microbiome, along with some tips to help you re-establish a healthy and thriving microbial community once more.

Five ways you can upset your microbiome:

  1. Eating a low fibre diet: as your gut microbes rely on the fibre in your food for fuel, a low fibre diet leads to a reduction in the diversity of your microbiome.

Interestingly, evidence now shows those who consume more than 30 different types of plants/vegetables each week have a much more diverse microbiome compared to those who consume 10 or fewer types of plants weekly.2

  1. Alcohol intake: the consumption of alcohol can result in dysbiotic changes in your intestinal microbiome, and also triggers gastrointestinal inflammation.3If you’re consuming more than one standard drink per day, your microbiome’s probably keen for you to abstain a bit more often!
  2. Unmanaged stress: when you are stressed, the release of the stress hormone cortisol, and adrenaline sensitise your body to inflammation, including gut inflammation.4This disrupts the gut environment, compromising the conditions your beneficial microbes need to flourish.
  3. Leading a sedentary lifestyle: lack of exercise has also been linked to reduced microbial diversity in the gut – another reason to get moving!
  4. Antibiotic use: a round of antibiotics does lead to some loss of core commensal organisms (antibiotics are supposed to kill off bacteria however in this instance the good stuff goes too). This leaves the gut susceptible to microbiome imbalances and dysfunction. Due to this disruption, up to 10% of people experience gastrointestinal side effects5from antibiotic use, referred to as antibiotic-associated diarrhoea (AAD).6,7

Do any of these situations apply to you? Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to support your microbiome and help correct any imbalance.

Fighting, Fixing and Fuelling

Addressing the five diet and lifestyle factors listed above is important for improving the health and diversity of your microbiome. Managing your stress levels, utilising antibiotics only when specifically needed (and taking stain-specific probiotic to restore your microbiome if you do), moderating your alcohol intake, and regularly exercising will all have your microbiome singing your praises! Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, consuming a diet rich in plant based fibres will provide ample fuel for your beneficial organisms to flourish. See Table 1 below for ideas on foods your microbiome loves.

Nevertheless, there are situations where pathogenic organisms have the opportunity to establish within your gut and create dysbiosis, requiring specific natural formulations to address it. In this instance, antimicrobial herbal medicines can be employed, including pomegranate (Punica granatum),8 nigella (Nigella sativa),9 and myrrh (Commiphora myrrha).1011 These herbs work to eliminate unwanted organisms within the gut, and have even shown to be as effective as their pharmaceutical counterparts in helping to reduce pathogenic populations in scientific research.

However, while eliminating pathogenic species can begin to address an imbalanced microbiome, this is only one part of the puzzle. You also need to focus on regenerating and rebuilding the diversity of your commensal microbiome, which can be achieved with specific probiotic strains such as:

    • Lactobacillus rhamnosus(LGG®): one of the most studied probiotic stains in the world, research shows LGG® administration to promote the growth and function of key core commensal bacteria.
    • Saccharomyces cerevisiae (boulardii) (SB):multiple investigations have shown that boulardii reduces antibiotic-associated loss of bacteria, whilst also supporting the rapid restoration of the microbiome after antibiotic use.12
    • Lactobacillus acidophilus(NCFM®)13 and Bifidobacterium animalis lactis (Bi-07): are two strains also highly indicated to protect and support a healthy microbiome.14

So whilst there are factors that can upset your microbiome, be assured there is also a multitude of natural medicines, diet and lifestyle options you can harness to encourage it’s health too, and hence the wellbeing of your whole body. Many of these tips are under your control, but if you feel you need some extra help and support with antimicrobial herbs and/or strain-specific probiotics talk to your healthcare practitioner about a tailored microbiome-restoring treatment plan to suit your needs. Your beneficial bugs will thank you for it!

References

  1. 1. D’Argenio S. The role of the gut microbiome in the healthy adult status. Clinica Chimica Acta. 2015;451(Part A):97-102.
  2. 2. Buschman H, Bright D. Big Data from World’s Largest Citizen Science Microbiome Project Serves Food for Thought. [Internet]. San Diego (CA): UC San Diego School of Medicine. 2018 [cited 2018 July 05]. Available from: https://health.ucsd.edu/news/releases/Pages/2018-05-15-big-data-from-worlds-largest-citizen-science-microbiome-project-serves-food-for-thought.aspx
  3. 3. Engen PA, Green SJ, Voiqt RM, Forsyth CB, Keshavarzian A. The Gastrointestinal Microbiome: Alcohol Effects on the Composition of Intestinal Microbiota. Alcohol Res. 2015;37(2):223-36.
  4. 4. Guilliams TG. The role of stress and the HPA axis in chronic disease management. Point Institute, Stevens point (WI). 2015;80.
  5. 5. NPS Medicinewise. What are the side effects of antibiotics? [Internet]. Sydney NSW: NPS Medicinewise; 2012 [updated 2017 Mar; cited 2018 July 05]. Available from: http://www.nps.org.au/medicines/infections-and-infestations/antibiotics/for-individuals/side-effects-of-antibiotics.
  6. 6. Eloe-Fedrosh E, Brady A ,Crabtree J, Drabek E, Ma B, Mahurkar A, et al. Functional dynamics of the gut microbiome in elderly people during probiotic consumption. M Bio. 2015 Apr 14;16(2):e00231-15.
  7. 7. McFarland L. Use of probiotics to correct dysbiosis of normal microbiota following disease or disruptive events: a systematic review. BMJ Open. 2014 Aug 25;4(8):e005047.
  8. 8. Abdel-Haffez E, Ahmed A, Abdellatif M, Kamal A, Toni N. The efficacy of pomegranate (Punica granatum) peel extract on experimentally infected rats with blastocystis spp. J Infect Dis Preve Med. 2016;4(1):1-6.
  9. 9. Salem EM, Yar T, Bamosa AO, Al-Quorain A, Yasawy MI, Alsulaiman RM, et al. Comparative study of Nigella sativa and triple therapy in eradication of Helicobacter pylori in patients with non-ulcer dyspepsia. Saudi J Gastroenterol. 2010 Jul;16(3):207.
  10. 10. Fathy FM. Effect of mirazid (Commiphora molmol) on experimental giardiasis. J Egypt Soc Parasitol. 2011 Apr;41(1):155-77.
  11. 11. Basyoni MM, El-Sabaa AA. Therapeutic potential of myrrh and ivermectin against experimental Trichinella spiralis infection in mice. Korean J Parasitol. 2013 Jun;51(3):297-304. doi: 10.3347/kjp.2013.51.3.297.
  12. 12. Moré M, Swidsinski A. Saccharomyces boulardii CNCM 1-745 supports regeneration of the intestinal microbiota after diarrheic dysbiosis – a review. Clinical and Experimental Gastroenterology. 2015;8:237-55.
  13. 13. Anderson JM, Barrangou R, Hachem MA, Lahtinen SJ, Goh YJ, Svensson B, et al. Transcriptional analysis of prebiotic uptake and catabolism by Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM. PLos ONE. 2012;7(9):e44409.
  14. 14. Mäkeläinen H, Saarinen M, Stowell J, Rautonen N, Ouwehand AC. Xylo-oligosaccharides and lactitol promote the growth of Bifidobacterium lactis and Lactobacillus species in pure cultures. Benef Microbes. 2010 Jun;1(2):139-48.

 

Ruth Kirk-Garcia

Ruth is a passionate and experienced Practitioner who has a strong background in research and evidence-based clinical practice. Ruth’s recent experience includes two years of Naturopathic practice working with Dr Jason Hawrelak within a holistic medical apothecary and clinic in Tasmania. Her particular fields of interest include treating children, women’s health and gut health.

 


What is a detox?

What Is a Detox?

Fasting for days?

Juicing green vegetables?

Grimacing after herbal tonics?

Surviving off lemon juice and maple syrup?

Detox programs can take many weird and wonderful forms, with as many options as people’s opinions of them!

Those who believe in detox claim it can reduce or eliminate symptoms such as brain fog, irritable bowel syndrome, fatigue and joint pain; while others strongly assert there is no need to detox, and it’s simply marketing hype.

So Where Do You Stand?

Confusing and misleading information certainly exists around what a detox is, how it should look, what it achieves, and what results are possible from completing one.

However, whether you’re detox-converted or detox-doubtful, it’s vitally important to understand what a comprehensive detox actually looks like, and what it encompasses. This ensures you get the most out of your detox, and don’t fall victim to regimes that promise the world…but leave you hungry, out of pocket, and feeling no better than when you started!

A professionally designed clinical detoxification program comprises two main aspects:

  1. It reduces the toxic burden on your body; lessening your exposure to harmful everyday toxins by modifying your diet and lifestyle; and
  2. Offers strategically selected natural herbs and nutrients able to support healthy toxin elimination, whilst also increasing your body’s resilience to toxins for the future.

A truly comprehensive detoxification program will address both of these factors, as optimal results cannot be achieved from just addressing one or, as is often the case with fad detoxes, none of these.

So how does a professionally designed and supported detox program address these two factors?

  1. Reduce the toxin burden on your body.

This first step of a clinical detoxification program is to follow a specific detox diet that guides you with a simplified list of foods you can enjoy, and foods to avoid during your program.

Common foods temporarily eliminated from your diet during a detox are:

  • Wheat/gluten;
  • Dairy;
  • Caffeine;
  • Sugar;
  • Alcohol; and
  • Red meat.

Don’t worry, it’s not forever!

Restricting these foods reduces inflammation and oxidative stress within your body, lessening the demand on your liver as well as your digestive and immune systems.

Reducing toxin burden also means finding areas within your home or lifestyle that could increase your toxin exposure. For example, hormone disrupting chemicals (also referred to as endocrine disrupting chemicals or EDCs) can be found in plastics, synthetic skincare and make-up, unfiltered water, and home cleaning products, so should also be eliminated. Using your detox program as a time to switch over to natural alternatives is a fantastic opportunity to reduce your toxin burden ongoing, for lasting benefits beyond your detox program timeframe.

  1. Support toxin elimination and increase your body’s resilience to toxins.

While you eliminate items increasing toxicity within the body, it’s important to also bolster your body’s capacity to detoxify.

Focusing on a diet rich in plant-based wholefoods (e.g. colourful vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, eggs, nuts and seeds) is ideal for supplying the body (the liver especially) with the vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that support its capacity to detoxify substances and eliminate them from the body. Natural detoxification can also be amplified by simple lifestyle measures such as dry body brushing, sweating (e.g. exercise and saunas) and ensuring adequate hydration.

Appropriate supplementation is an integral part of a clinical detox program, as targeted nutrients and herbal medicines can greatly assist and amplify your body’s detoxification capacity. Ingredients to look for include:

  • Vitamins B6, B12 and folate – required by the liver to neutralise and transform toxins in preparation for elimination;1
  • Milk thistle – a herb that increases the production of the body’s primary antioxidant, glutathione, which improves the ability of the body to offset the damage caused by toxins;2
  • Amino acids – liver detoxification pathways require good quality protein (which is made up of amino acids) to bind to toxins and facilitate their removal;
  • Cape jasmine – protects the liver and binds to specific gut-induced toxins, eliminating them and reducing the inflammation they can cause;
  • Glutamine and zinc– nutrients that protect and heal the lining of the gut.

As we are each unique, it’s vitally important to take a tailored approach to detoxification. Remember this when faced with a Health Food store detox-in-a-box that promises the world, but cannot take into consideration your individual health status. A Natural Healthcare Practitioner can offer a comprehensive and personalised clinical detox program for you, ensuring:

  • All aspects integral to successful detox are addressed;
  • Your goals are factored into your program; and
  • You get results!

Remember, a truly comprehensive detox will assist you to reduce you exposure to toxins, while also boosting their elimination for your body. It is this holistic combination, personalised to your needs that is the recipe for results and vitality.

References

  1. 1. Liska D, Lyon M, Jones DS. Detoxification and biotransformational imbalances. Explore (NY). 2006 Mar;2(2):125.
  2. 2. Gopalakrishnan R, Sundaram J, Sattu K, Pandi A, Thiruvengadam D. Dietary supplementation of silymarin is associated with decreased cell proliferation, increased apoptosis, and activation of detoxification system in hepatocellular carcinoma. Mol Cell Biochem. 2013;377:163-176.

 

Curtsey of Claire Murray Naturopath & Metagenics  


10 reasons why you need magnesium

Did you know that magnesium is required by the trillions of cells in your body to carry out hundreds of different processes every day? Magnesium is involved with the metabolism of your foods, hormone production, stress modulation, muscle relaxation, bone health and sleep regulation. So you can see why magnesium is a vital nutrient! With this in mind, it is important you are getting enough to ensure your body can perform these functions. Here are my top 10 reasons you may need a little more of this miracle mineral.

You’re not getting enough

Reason 1: Do you belong to 33% of the Australian population not meeting their minimum daily magnesium requirement?[1]

Do you belong to 33% of the Australian population not meeting their minimum daily magnesium requirement?[1]

Recommended dietary intakes (RDIs) for magnesium range from 310 mg/day (females) to 420 mg/day (males),[2] which can easily be obtained from consuming roughly one cup of cooked green vegetables, a handful of nuts, and a raw cacao smoothie. Sounds doable right? Unfortunately, that’s not what everyone is eating, with magnesium deficient refined and processed foods creeping onto people plates. These RDIs also do not take into consideration when your body has an increased demand or is actively deficient in magnesium, meaning you may need even more to meet your needs.

Reason 2: Even if you are eating a diet predominant in wholefoods, modern agricultural practices have unfortunately depleted the soil from many key minerals including magnesium,[3] again making it harder to meet your RDI for magnesium.

You’re losing too much

Reasons 3, 4 & 5: Coffee and tea contain tannins that can decrease the intestinal absorption magnesium. Additionally, caffeine, as well as alcohol have a diuretic effect, increasing the loss of water and minerals, such as magnesium, via the urine.

Reason 6 & 7: Certain medications (such as antibiotics, diuretics and steroids) can cause moderate to severe depletion in magnesium,[4] as can exercise through urinary excretion and sweat. [5]

Reason 8: Did you know about magnesium’s special relationship with stress? Firstly, having a low level of magnesium is associated with the onset of stressful conditions.[6] However, the activation of the stress response then actually increases the use and elimination of magnesium from the body.[7]

This can result in a vicious cycle: low magnesium causes increased stress, which leads to an increase in the use and excretion of magnesium, leading to lower magnesium levels.


low magnesium causes increased stress, which leads to an increase in the use and excretion of magnesium, leading to lower magnesium levels.

On the bright side, this also means that you can use magnesium therapeutically as both a preventative and treatment of stress.

Reasons 9 & 10: Some of the most common presentations seen by healthcare Practitioners are those of poor sleep and fatigue, with low magnesium playing a causative role in both conditions. This is because magnesium is needed to synthesise the relaxing and sleep-promoting neurotransmitters GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) and melatonin, as well as being required to produce the energy your cells need to stay firing throughout the day.

Boost your magnesium levels

If you’re now thinking it’s time to increase your magnesium intake, a supplement can be a great way to top up your diet, support an increase in demand or address a deficiency. To make choosing a magnesium supplement available easier, focus on the two points below so you can make the right decision:


When perusing supplement labels, look for how much elemental or equivalent magnesium it contains – 300 mg per dose is an ideal amount.

Dose:

When perusing supplement labels, look for how much elemental or equivalent magnesium it contains – 300 mg per dose is an ideal amount. Talk to your healthcare Practitioner when interpreting supplement labels for further explanation and clarification.

Form:

Not all forms of magnesium are the same, with different types leading to different levels of absorption and tolerability. For example, salt forms of magnesium such as magnesium oxide and magnesium citrate are suboptimal for replenishing magnesium levels, as they can draw water into the bowel and cause diarrhoea. Alternately, amino acid chelate forms, such as magnesium bisglycinate, provide optimal absorption[8] and lower side effects when compared to other forms of magnesium available.

In the instance of magnesium bisglycinate, these superior outcomes are due to magnesium’s chemical bond to the amino acid glycine. Glycine:

  • allows the magnesium to be absorbed via efficient protein channels in the intestine (instead of competitive mineral channels),
  • protects magnesium from binding to things like tannins (ensuring absorption again), and
  • stops drawing water into the bowel (preventing diarrhoea).

Courtesy of Metagenics Australia.

Writtten by Talia Feller, Naturopath.

(1)Australian Bureau of Statistics. Australian Health Survey: Usual Nutrient Intakes, 2011-12 [Internet]. 2015 [updated 2015 Apr 27; cited 2019 Feb 11]. Available from: http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/4364.0.55.008~2011-12~Main%20Features~Magnesium~406

[2] National Health and Medical Research Council. Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand [Internet]. 2014

[3] Guo, W, Nazim, H, Liang, Z, Yang, D. Magnesium deficiency in plants: An urgent problem. The Crop Journal [Internet]. 2016 Apr
4(2): 83-91. DOI: 10.1016/j.cj.2015.11.003

[4] Therapeutic Research Center. Magnesium Professional Monograph [database on the Internet]. 2019 [updated 2019 Jan 29; cited 2019 Feb 11]. Available from: https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com/databases/food,-herbs-supplements/professional.aspx?productid=998#nutrientDepletion. Subscription required to view.

[5] Nielsen, F, Lukaski, H. Update on the relationship between magnesium and exercise. Magnesium Research. 2006. [cited 2019 Feb 11]. 19(3): 180-9. DOI: 10.1684/mrh.2006.0060

[6] Cuciureanu, M, Vink, R. Magnesium and stress. Magnesium in the Central Nervous System [Internet]. Adelaide: University of Adelaide Press. 2011 [cited 2019 Feb 11]. 251-261. Available from:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29920004

[7] Cuciureanu, M, Vink, R. Magnesium and stress. Magnesium in the Central Nervous System [Internet]. Adelaide: University of Adelaide Press. 2011 [cited 2019 Feb 11]. 251-261. Available from:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29920004

[8] Hartle JW, Morgan S, Poulsen T. Development of a model for in-vitro comparative absorption of magnesium from five magnesium sources commonly used as dietary supplements. FASEB Journal. 2016 Apr[cited 2019 Feb 11]. 128(6). DOI: 10.1096/fasebj.30.1_supplement.128.6


We can grow our brain back – BDNF to the rescue!

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to think and remember more clearly, stave off depression and anxiety, change your stress response and get your brain working top notch? There is absolutely no doubt that prolonged stress shrinks your brain1, but the good news to share is:  “we can grow our brain back!”

The chemistry of the brain continues to be very complex and baffles scientists the world over, however there is emerging evidence about very important chemicals that can help improve the way the brain adapts to the stressors and challenges of life. One of these chemicals, called BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor),  has attracted much interest in recent years because it seems to function in achieving all of the goals listed above. Some liken BDNF to a ‘fertilizer for your brain’ because it helps to prevent the death of existing brain cells and stimulates the growth of new ones, supporting brain function in many ways. Low levels of BDNF are linked to anxiety, depression,2 obesity,3 Schizophrenia4 and Alzheimer’s Disease.5

While science delves into the microscopic detail of the roles of BDNF, the most solid evidence that has been uncovered is about the very simple ways that this chemical can be increased in the brain.

How to increase BDNF = Top Tips for Growing your brain back:

Exercise (the challenging type) – the most consistently reliable technique for increasing BDNF production. High Intensity Interval Training done regularly over a period of months will elevate BDNF significantly6 and therefore help you better adapt to everyday stress.

Sunlight – catch some rays every day, every bit helps. Locking yourself away in an office can work against you in terms of stress management and productivity. In a Norwegian study of 2851 people, levels of BDNF directly correlated with hours of sun exposure in both men and women, levels dropped when hours were reduced.7

Diet –  a whole food, Mediterranean style diet is beneficial. A diet high in fresh vegetables, fruit, fish, with the addition of ‘good fats’, while avoiding refined sugar, prepackaged and takeaway foods, has been shown to promote higher BDNF levels in the brain, compared to a standard Western style diet and even compared to low fat style diets.8 Results are noticed if these dietary changes are consistently followed for two months or more.  Poor response to sugars and high levels of inflammation seem to effect BDNF negatively, so this is the proposed reason why the Mediterranean style diet works well:9 ‘Good fats’ (from fish, olive oil, nuts, seeds and avocados) have anti-inflammatory properties, and natural sugars found in wholefoods (fruits, vegetables, pulses, wholegrains, nuts and seeds) are processed more effectively by the body than refined sugars.

Food restriction / Intermittent fasting – Eating less will challenge our brain to produce more BDNF.10 A sensible way to achieve this is simply eating only during certain hours. For example, some people may choose to eat only between the hours of 8am and 4pm (effectively fasting for 16 hours overnight). It is most important though to consult your health practitioner to assess whether this eating style is appropriate for your health background.

Exposure to cold (brr…) – Strange, but true, exposure to bursts of cold stimulates BDNF production.11,12 For those of you that don’t fancy the idea of plunging into icy water or doing nudie runs in the snow, this may be partly achieved by turning the hot water off during showering for approximately 20-30 seconds on a regular basis.

Stress Less – Prolonged perceived stress is a huge inhibitor of BDNF production, which sets up a viscious cycle that is difficult to interrupt. Researchers are examining the effects of a variety of interventions to increase the plasticity of the brain so that individuals can adapt more effectively to stress.  “Enriching the environment” of a person’s life produces a positive effect on BDNF and improves stress resilience. Some examples of enrichment strategies are:

  • bevavioural therapies including CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy), mindfulness and meditation techniques.
  • finding meaning and purpose in life
  • increasing social support and human connection
  • physical activity.13

Natural Compounds – Good evidence exists for the supplemental use of various nutritional and plant compounds for increasing BDNF levels and managing the drivers of BDNF depletion. Magnesium,14 Vitamin B12,15 Turmeric (Curcuma longa)16 and Saffron (Crocus sativus)17 are strong contenders as excellent choices for brain health in that they stimulate BDNF production and other similar growth factors. Please consult your professional Healthcare Practitioner for advice on the dosage and appropriate use of these supplements and always use in conjunction with sound medical advice.

Find out more!

The strategies listed in this blog are our top picks for stimulating new brain cell growth, however there are many more ideas on the subject that can be shared. Please see your qualified Healthcare Practitioner for more details and to tailor a treatment plan that suits your circumstances.

Written by Emily Grieger – Naturopath at Des Lardner’s Organic.

 


How menopause affects sleep (and so much more!) from Sleep Health Foundation

Important Things to Know About Menopause and Sleep

  • Hormonal changes affect the quality of sleep of many women.
  • There is a link between hot flushes, night sweats and not sleeping well.
  • Other issues may also affect sleep quality at this time of life (e.g. sleep apnoea and depression).
  • There is no evidence that hormone treatment helps sleep.

 

How does sleep change during the menopause?

 Many women report that it is more difficult to sleep well during the menopause. They say that it is not as easy to get to sleep or to stay asleep and they also tend to wake up earlier than planned. This may be due to less oestrogen in the body. After the menopause, sleep will improve. What about hot flushes, cold sweats and night sweats? During the menopause, the levels of hormones in the body change. This means that the body temperature is less stable and sometimes there are surges of adrenaline. When this happens, a hot flush is felt. All of these can happen during the day or at night. Women tend to wake up just before a hot flush occurs. Experts think that both the waking up and the hot flushes are caused by the same thing.

 

Our Naturopaths, Emily Grieger and Ebony Jordan are available for consultations to discuss symptoms that can interfere with your wellbeing.

 

Does this happen to all women as they go through menopause?

 Before menopause, about 30% of women say they have some type of problem sleeping more than three times a week. But for women in menopausal transition, this percentage goes up by two to three times. It can take a long time for sleep to settle down again for women after the menopause. We do know that women in menopausal transition who find it the hardest to get to sleep and stay asleep are also the ones who tend to have other problems, particularly hot flushes and sweats. Is poor sleep at this time of life always due to hormonal changes? It can be hard to know how much sleep difficulties are linked to hormonal changes rather than just getting older. We also know that women’s risk of depression is higher in menopause. Hormonal changes may not be the only reason for this.

 

Myth: Only Men Suffer from Sleep Apnoea – Sorry Ladies, you do to!

 Up to 5% of women have sleep apnoea and not aware of it! Menopausal hormonal changes may be linked with Obstructive Sleep Apnoea, too. Hormonal changes around the time of menopause makes body fat move to different places. This increases the chances of snoring and having sleep apnoea. This leads to trouble breathing which can get in the way of your sleep and be bad for your health. The symptoms of sleep apnoea include:

  • Daytime Symptoms
  • Early morning headaches
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Poor concentration
  • Irritability
  • Falling asleep during routine activities

Night time symptoms

  • Loud persistent snoring
  • Observed paused breathing
  • Choking or gasping for air
  • Restless sleep
  • Frequent urination

 

If you would like to find out more about Sleep Apnoea contact the store to discuss with our sleep therapist, Julie Rees.

 

For some women Restless Legs may affect their sleep. However it is not certain that this is linked with menopausal symptoms. What can help? There is a view that Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) may help with sleep during menopause, but there is no proof for this yet and the issue needs more study. Some studies have found HT is slightly helpful for sleep but others have shown no consistent benefit. If you are thinking of HT it is best to discuss this with your doctor and weigh up the pros and cons.

 

It can help if you sleep in a cool room where air can flow through freely (e.g. using a fan). Avoid heavy bedclothes or tight bedspreads. If you can put your feet outside the blankets, it will help cool down from a hot flush. Sleep in light sleep wear. Cotton is best. Make sure that you have good sleep routines. This will help you get the best sleep that you can.

 

Where can I get further information?  A variety of articles can be found at

https://www.menopause.org.au/hp/information-sheets/949-sleep-disturbance-and-the-menopause2

https://www.webmd.com/menopause/guide/sleep-disorders-sleep-menopause#1

https://www.healthline.com/health/menopause/menopause-and-insomnia#connection

https://sleephub.com.au/sleep-apnea-in-women/

https://www.resmed.com.au/blog/what-are-the-symptoms-of-sleep-apnea-in-women

https://www.resmed.com.au/blog/9-out-of-10-women-with-sleep-apnea-dont-know-they-have-it

https://www.resmed.com.au/blog/are-you-at-higher-risk-of-sleep-apnea-after-menopause