NATURAL BEAUTY

Written By: Brittani Kolasinski (BHSc Nut, Adv Dip Nut Med)

This is the extensive list of ‘beauty products’ I use personally.

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Over the years I have simplified my own beauty regime immensely, I was the girl who wouldn’t leave the house with a full face of makeup, spray tan on and sporting a scalp bleach hair that’s been over-toned to the point of being silver-grey-blue rather than blonde. Coming from that to the present where makeup is minimal, its worn 1-2 times during the week, I don’t spray tan and colour my hair with half head of foils 3 times per year was not an overnight thing. The first time I turned up to work makeup-free I was asked if I was sick. I felt totally naked and ashamed.

It’s a confronting thing to strip back the many cosmetic layers that many of us are masked by, completely unaware of how much of our confidence comes through this.

But, like anything, you adapt. You push through and you allow your own natural beauty to shine and see the light (finally – my face was crying out for some much-needed vitamin D). I started to swap things out, once something ran out I would purchase something of better quality, using natural ingredients and products that aligned with my values.

The Function of Your Skin

Our skin is the largest organ we have, it’s part of our immune system, detoxification, elimination, and nutrient absorption. When it comes to caring for this incredible organ it's so much more than just skin deep.

The Skin and Our Microbiome

Our skin is covered with beneficial bacteria in an intricate balance that supports our own pH – anti-bacterial lotions, cosmetics and cleaning products can disrupt their habitat and lead to imbalances in our acid-alkaline state as well as sebum and oil production. With oily skin types its best to avoid cleansers and products that strip and dry the skin out, this signals to the body that we are lacking these oils for the skin and triggers a response to produce even more – leaving you in a vicious cycle of forever having an excessively oily complexion.

Imbalances within the microbiome impacts on the health of our skin and may present as conditions such as eczema, dermatitis, and psoriasis. Acne as an example is linked to gut health. Substance P is a molecule that’s produced within the gut from altered bacteria strains and this leads to the development of acne on the skin topically.

Do You really Need Deodorant?

Our skin expels and eliminates waste products from the body primarily through sweat. Foul body odour is a sign of ill health, and using antiperspirant deodorants inhibits the body’s ability to eliminate. Naturally, we will give off a scent, but when it’s to the point of needing to mask it with fragrances and deodorants is a sure-tell sign that there’s something out of balance for you, this could be food intolerances, excessive caffeine, sugar or alcohol intake or an imbalance in bacteria. I have now been deodorant free for more than 2 years and can tell you this – there are no complaints about how I smell to other people.

Impact on Vitamin D

Then there’s the matter of vitamin D, an essential nutrient we take in from the sun. It comes into contact with our skin and is converted to a form that the body uses to help with immune function, brain health, hormone production and to allow for the absorption of calcium into the bones. Cosmetic products containing sulphate laureate actually strips the skin of the compounds needed to convert vitamin D over to its active form to be used, leaving us vulnerable to the effects of vitamin D deficiency which is ironically wide-spread throughout this sunburnt country. You can read more here about the function of vitamin D.

My Personal Skin Care Routine

So, for me, my beauty regime looks a little like this

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• Makeup I use Eco Minerals Foundation, an Australian based company providing cruelty-free, vegan mineral makeup. It’s a beautiful light coverage with a matte finish.

• For mascara, I use Ere Perez, a completely natural mascara that’s been selling for over 13 years. It contains almond oil to strengthen and lengthen lashes while stimulating their growth. Its smudge-proof and water resistant.

• And lastly, as a moisturiser and makeup remover I use My Hemple hemp-seed oil. Hemp oil contains essential fatty acids that cannot be produced by the body. I keep one bottle in the fridge for use with food and cooking and another bottle in the bathroom to use topically to moisturise my skin and give off a beautiful glow. These essential fatty acids linolenic and oleic acids that are found in hemp oil play a role in skin health and anti-aging and are important nutrients to add to the diet. Use the code BRITTANI20 upon checking out to receive 20% off your order.

Simplifying in all areas of my life, including my skin care is so freeing. I give credit to the health of my own skin really to what I’m putting into my body, nourishing every single cell, keeping my gut bacteria in balance and inflammation at bay. To do this I eat real, living foods of plants, pasture-raised animals, seafood and eggs. I also supplement with organic whole-food capsules that flood my body with all the essential nutrients, polyphenols and antioxidants with added probiotics and digestive enzymes (to find out more about these products, get in touch)

If skin health is a concern for you I’d love to chat more about it and tailor a nutrient plan to suit your skin type and your concerns. Conditions like psoriasis, acne, eczema, and dermatitis are all signs that there is something out of balance within your body and a focus on internal health is key here rather than topical ‘band-aid’ applications.

Please do get in touch.

Yours in Health,

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INTERMITTENT FASTING

Written By: Brittani Kolasinski (BHSc Nut, AdvDip Nut Med)

The term ‘Intermittent Fasting’ is broad, vague and very generalised. There are multiple methods of intermittent fasting that have more recently become popularised in the media for its health benefits. A quick Google search of intermittent fasting brings up a list of health claims ranging from improved mental clarity and concentration, weight loss and fat loss, lowered insulin and blood sugar levels, reversal of type 2 diabetes, increased energy, increased growth hormone, lowered cholesterol.

The thing is, although intermittent fasting can provide a number of benefits to your health, bio-individuality needs to be considered and this practice, like many others, must be tailored to suit you as the individual.

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting involves a period of time during the day or the week where you abstain from foods or calorie-containing drinks. Intermittent fasting has been around for centuries, historically we were hunters and gatherers, food wasn’t as readily available as it is to us now. We wouldn’t wake up in the morning to be met with a fridge full of food, supermarkets down the road or fast food delivered straight to you. Periods of feasting and famine were of the norm, and with this, we were able to progress and evolve. The types of intermittent fasting differ in their time spent feeding and fasting. Some of the most common methods are outlined below:

The 5:2 Diet

Intermittent fasting was first really popularised by Michael Mosely when he wrote the book on the 5:2 diet. What this entailed was eating your normal diet 5 days of the week but only consuming 500 calories on 2 days of the week. These 2 days could be consecutive or randomly throughout the week.

The 16:8, 18:6, 20:4 Diet

This style of fasting restricts food intake to a specific timeframe. It can be anywhere from a 14 hour fast with a 10-hour feeding window, 16-hour fast to an 8-hour window, 20-hour fast to a 4-hour window and so on (you get the drift, right?).

Alternate Day Fasting

This style of fasting is simply eating one day and fasting the next. An intense approach especially when first starting out and one that I wouldn’t recommend without the monitoring of an appropriate health professional.

Fat-Fasting

Fat fasting has been popularised in mainstream media with the beginning of the bulletproof coffee, an idea coined by Dave Asprey which involves consuming calories in the form of fats only and restricting protein and carbohydrates. This style means you still get some of the benefits of fasting but also with the inclusion of calories and energy to the body. When implemented appropriately it can induce a state of ketosis short term which also provides additional benefits.  

Time-Restricted Feeding

Time-restricted feeding is similar to intermittent fasting but involves complete avoidance of foods and drink apart from water for a select period of time. Sachin Panda’s approach is focusing on a practice known as ‘Time-Restricted Feeding’ (TRF). This concept is a daily eating pattern where nutrient intake is limited within a window of a few hours, usually less than 12, however, the quality and quantity of nutrient and calorie intake is not changed. He looks into the effects of food and drink intake on the circadian clocks of our organs. We have our master clock that regulates all sleep-wake cycles, but each organ will have their own circadian clock and rhythm that is dictated by food and drink consumption. Anything that your liver will metabolise, even herbal teas that contain no caloric value, will trigger a response by the liver and will, therefore, reset its clock. This means that outside of your allocated feeding window, you are to take in water only. No teas, coffee, juices, none. As these will reset the clock via the effects it will have on the liver.

Fasting Mimicking Diet

Formed by Valter Longo, this style of eating is considered as ‘fasting with food’ so patients are still able to have some form of calorie content but with altering where these calories come from it will trick the body to remain in a fasted state, and therefore increase client compliance in doing so. The diet is primarily a high-fat diet, with low amounts of protein and carbohydrate, giving about 10-50% of their normal caloric intake and participated for about 4 days. The diet is still able to produce effects on some markers of aging and disease states, very much the same as would a water fast for 2-3 days. In studies, fat loss has been observed, most of which was surrounding the organs, known as visceral fat (the type of body fat you don’t want to have) while there was no loss in muscle mass. 

How Does Intermittent Fasting Work

  • Autophagy

    Fasting induces a reparative state. A process known as autophagy (‘self-eating’) is the body’s system of spring cleaning, so to speak. Any dead, damaged, diseased or worn-out cells are eaten up, stripped for parts and the end result is molecules that are used for energy and the synthesis of brand new shiny cells, thus improving the overall efficiency of each cell.

 

“It’s our body’s innate recycling program, autophagy makes us more efficient machines to get rid of faulty parts, stop cancerous growths and stop metabolic dysfunction like obesity and diabetes” – Colin Champ, M.D.

 

  • Immunity

    More so with longer term fasts (fasts that are longer than 48hours), stem cells are produced. Stem cells are quite remarkable, they have the ability to become many different cell types, replicating at a rapid rate and may then aid the body’s own healing process by regenerating new cells and ultimately new tissues. Stem cell injections are becoming more of a well-known practice for injuries, although transferring someone else’s stem cells may not be so compatible, the best option is to create them yourself, which you can do through fasting. In mice, periodic fasting promoted a stem cell-dependent regeneration of immune cells.

    There are also effects on autoimmunity to take note of, more information on this can be found here  

  • Ketosis

    Ketosis is a physiological state that occurs in a fasted state or when following a diet that is limited in carbohydrates, with moderate protein and higher amounts of fat. You see the body has alternate fuel sources, in most cases, the body will utilise glucose from dietary carbohydrates or from glycogen (stored glucose) for fuel, but when this is depleted through fasting, carbohydrate restriction and exercise the body will then switch to ketones that are produced by the breakdown of fats for fuel. Ketones are an excellent source of energy for the brain specifically and add to the cognitive effects that intermittent fasting may have on the brain.

  • The Benefits on Blood Sugars

    The work in this area has prompted the thought that intermittent fasting could be of benefit when addressing blood glucose dysregulation. From the 1950s until today it has been advocated by many to consume 3 large meals and 2 snacks, encouraging foods to be eaten at 3-hour intervals with promises to ‘balance blood sugars’ and ‘speed up your metabolism’. However, now with more recent studies conducted, we can see that food restriction and periods of fasting can be of great benefit in regulating blood sugar fluctuations as well as other metabolic markers. Limiting the amount of food eaten and how regularly you are eating means that there is less glucose present and therefore less insulin needed.

    Studies conducted in humans diagnosed with type 2 diabetes assessed the efficacy of intermittent fasting on blood sugar levels. The results concluded that intermittent fasting may reduce blood sugar levels to a healthy, normal range, favoring the implementation of fasting as a safe and effective tool. It makes sense, type 2 diabetes is caused by large amounts of carbohydrates which leads to a flood of insulin in the body that the pancreas just cannot keep up with, so why are they then given insulin to treat it.? Think about it. Why would we give someone insulin to treat a condition that’s caused by too much insulin, to begin with?

  • Benefits on Gut Health

    There are also benefits on the gut. When we have a break from food between meals, and not spending the day picking, snacking and grazing it induces our migrating motor complex. This complex acts as a broom, sweeping away debris and build up from within the intestines. This can only occur during a fasted state and is particularly beneficial with sufferers of SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). Please see a medical professional for support in this area, like a Nutritionist (like me, hello) or Naturopath

  •  Endurance

    Fasting has been shown to benefit physical endurance, this I’ve noticed within myself. With periodic fasting overnight, going for a run the following day I’ve found that I am able to run longer, faster and more efficiently. Funnily enough, I was more energetic in a fasted state than if I had eaten food.

  •  Brain Function

    Mentally, it’s been noted that when in a fasted state many experience a sense of euphoria. Consider this, without food we should experience better brain function, cognition, and energy. Not the other way around. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors needed to be vigilant and agile when hungry, to be able to hunt and kill to feed again. Now with the health issues, we are facing largely due to the poor diets we are eating coupled with sleep deprivation and stress an onset of symptoms including lightheadedness, irritability, and fatigue commonly occur… Basically the feeling of being ‘hangry’. Not exactly a healthy response.

    Intermittent fasting has been shown to enhance cognitive performance, due to its effects on neuroplasticity and synapses in animal studies. Regeneration of myelin sheath, the protective outer layer of our neurons has also been attributed to fasting’s effects, as was observed in the condition of Multiple Sclerosis, an autoimmune condition characterised by the degradation of healthy myelin sheath. It’s also been shown to reduce cancer size by 45%, highlighting the effects that fasting has on disabling the growth of a number of tumours as well as increasing the effects of chemotherapy drugs to target the malignant cells and spare normal healthy cells.

  • Chemotherapy Tolerance

    Research has shown that fasting can enhance the effects of chemotherapy. This occurs as the cancer cells become more sensitive to the chemotherapy itself whereas normal healthy cells don’t seem to have the same effect.

    More on this here

  •  Longevity

    In animal models, it’s been shown that intermittent fasting does lead to a longer life. Fruit flies are commonly studied as they have a rather short lifespan, making it easier to note the effects. Results from one study, in particular, found that intermittent fasting (using the 5:2 method for just one month) was sufficient to extend lifespan. It was shown to improve resistance to oxidative stress as well as improved gut barrier function and a reduction in age-related pathologies. Dr. Valtor Longo is really leading the way in this field of longevity and healthy aging and is worth looking into for more information on this topic of fasting and longevity. For the sake of the length of this article, I won’t go into it too much more.

    You can read more on his work and the work of Satchin Panda here 

  • Fat and Muscle Mass

    During a fast fat is oxidised to provide fuel, this can result in weight loss for most or improved body composition. What’s more is that protein is generally spared, meaning that short term fasts will not lead to muscle breakdown but can actually stimulate the production of human growth hormone that is involved in the synthesis of new tissue, muscle, and even bone. 

The Difference Between Men and Women

There is so much information on the benefits of intermittent fasting, however, in the research, there is so much to consider. For example, in women fasting can induce anxiety, insomnia, irregular periods and weight gain. Which is quite the opposite effect than what is claimed by health and wellness advocates everywhere.

Women have a much more sensitive hormonal system, from a biological perspective we want to be fertile and reproduce. So in a state of deprivation, this is shut down. This is how fasting may trigger negative effects for some. Studies have shown that a 2 day fast in women shifted their nervous system state to a more sympathetic dominant one (fight or flight), whereas in men it was the opposite as they were in a parasympathetic state (rest and digest).

More recently the function of hypocretin neurons has gained interest. These have the ability to inhibit sleep and lead to feelings of wakefulness. Their excitation occurs in reaction to the body detecting a starved state. They can act on the female hormonal system and lead to insomnia or trouble sleeping. Male neurons seem to respond to starvation with autophagy far more readily than women, although this is conflicting in the research and more is needed to confirm this effect. Fear not as there are other ways to induce autophagy if this is what you’re after. Exercise and infrared sauna use can also stimulate this effect.

When Not to Fast

  • If You’re Stressed

    Fasting is a stress on the body. When blood sugars dip, cortisol is released to bring blood sugar up to a regular range. Fasting can increase cortisol levels within the blood which can lead to detrimental effects leaving you feeling worse off than before. What can you do? You can practice time-restricted feeding, eating within a 12-hour window and maintaining a 12 hour fast, you will still reap some benefits in terms of cancer risk reduced and longevity benefits without putting too much of a stress on the body.

  •  If You’re Pregnant or Breastfeeding

    As we have already noted, fasting elicits a different response in women than it does in men. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not participate in any form of fasting, restriction of dieting. A nutrient-dense whole foods approach during pregnancy and breastfeeding is crucial, this is a time of rapid growth and development and places huge nutritional demands on the body.

  • If You Have or Had an Eating Disorder

    In no way would I encourage any form of restriction if you’re still working through an eating disorder. Eating regular is important to ensure that your body is nourished and well. I understand how easily information like this can be used to fuel unhealthy habits and encourage more restriction and deprivation.

  • Thyroid Conditions

    Hyperthyroidism is a condition where the thyroid is overactive. It involves a dysregulated HPA axis or HPT axis to be more specific.  Managing hyperthyroidism requires adrenal support, reducing inflammation and improving sleep quality. Because of the effects on the metabolism regular food intake and antioxidant consumption is needed to maintain body composition and reduce oxidative stress that can occur.

  • If You Have Irregular or Missed Periods

    Hypothalamic amenorrhea occurs when the brain stops communicating with your female reproductive organs because there is too much-perceived stress. This condition is commonly driven by undereating or over-exercising. In this instance, the body will produce stress hormones at the expense of sex hormones estrogen and progesterone.

How To Start

Now, the point to reiterate here is that fasting is practiced intermittently. Not on a regular day-to-day basis. That just takes away the intermittency of it. We don’ know exactly how often, how long or how much people should fast, and of course, know that we are all so uniquely different. Fasting is a stress on the body, and this needs to be considered. When facing high stress in your day to day life, fasting would not be advised for you. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – always consult your health care professional before making any radical changes to your diet and lifestyle and respect their opinions on it.

It you are adamant about starting here is how:

  1. Start slow

  2. Switch first to a wholefoods diet first – limiting refined sugars, carbohydrates, and packaged foods

  3. Trial cyclical low carb days, eating more fat from whole foods and restricting high carb foods like grains, legumes, potatoes, and fruits.

  4. Trial an intermittent fast for 1 day of the week and note how you feel - listen to your body with this. If you feel worse, then stop.

You may feel some hunger when you first start, but if you start having issues with sleep, feeling sick, light headed and shaking then most certainly honour this and what your body is trying to tell you and stop.

For women do it less frequently on non-consecutive days and on days that you are not doing a high-intensity activity, you can also incorporate more of a fat fast to provide some calories but still getting some of the effects – this can include bulletproof coffees or teas. This will induce ketosis and give you still some cell renewing properties and can provide fuel to the brain.

Please let me know if you do intermittent fasting and how you include it in your life – how has it made you feel? I’d love to know in the comments below!

Yours in health,

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ANTIOXIDANTS - WHY ARE THEY IMPORTANT?

Written by: Brittani Kolasinski (BHSc – Nutrition, Adv.Dip Nut Med)

We always hear about antioxidants, we know they are good, but you might wonder why? What is their purpose, what’s the point?

Well, let me explain…

Within the body, through normal metabolic reactions that occur like digestion, detoxification respiration, movement and so on, oxidation occurs through a process known as oxidative phosphorylation, and reactive oxygen species are produced.

The activation of the immune system and production of immune cells like macrophages, will also create oxidative species known as reactive nitrogen species.

The production of these reactive species can cause cellular damage. The action of antioxidants, can protect the cells from this damage – this means that they prevent damage to not only the cell structure, but the DNA within the cell, the proteins within the cell and the cell membrane.

DNA damage by reactive oxygen and reactive nitrogen species can lead to chromosome damage and mutations resulting in abnormal cells. This has been linked to the development of malignant cells and progression of cancer. There is a process that occurs within the body by the action of tumour suppressor genes which do just that – supress the formation of tumours in the body, however with a constant onslaught day after day of oxidative DNA damage, without adequate dietary antioxidants, it can lead to the inactivation of the tumour suppressor gene – this has in fact been seen in over 50% of adult carcinomas!

Smoking leads to cancer in a way that it triggers massive DNA damage throughout the body and depletes the body of antioxidant nutrients such as vitamin C.

A good way to prevent DNA damage and cancer growth is to ensure you’re getting more than enough dietary antioxidants day to day. Certain vitamins and minerals provide antioxidant action, these include Vitamin A, E, C, D and minerals zinc, magnesium and selenium.

However, it is important to note that getting your antioxidants should primarily come from wholefood sources, rather than supplementation. Especially if you already have cancer.

For example, supplemental vitamin E prevents DNA damage and oxidation, and promotes cellular repair, which is normally a good thing – BUT, if you have cancer cells present, this means that they too will repair and continue to grow, being detrimental to your health.

Which is why huge generalisations cannot be made when it comes to human health and nutrition and that nutrition and supplementation should always be person-specific. This is where seeing a health practitioner can benefit you greatly to know that you are getting the right nutrients to support you.

Our DNA is the blueprint, which is then translated into RNA which then creates the proteins needed for the functions within the body. The structure of the protein is important – when compromised or damaged by reactive oxygen species it can affect the function of the protein and inactive it.

Oxidative damage also inhibits the body’s ability to remove the damaged proteins, leading to a build-up of damaged protein structures lingering around the body and can form protein aggregates. Protein aggregates have been linked to the development of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.  

Lastly, reactive oxygen species can also damage the cell membranes. All of our cells contain a cell membrane, these membranes must maintain their fluidity – these reactive species can damage fluidity making them more rigid. There are certain transporters, proteins and receptors embedded within the membrane, making the fluid nature of the membrane important for them to continue to function. With a rigid membrane there are diminished functions of the receptors – which can effect neurotransmitters function and impair cognitive functioning.

Reactive oxygen and reactive nitrogen species are being produced within the body every day as by-products of NORMAL metabolic and immune functions. This means that eating a diet rich in varied antioxidant nutrients is essential. How can we do this? Eat a variety of coloured vegetables, fill your plate with them! Eat seasonally all year round, use different culinary herbs in your cooking or in salads, snack on some fruit, or raw cacao, even squeeze fresh lemon in your water – some simple ways you can massively benefit your health and prevent cancer development, toxin build-up, enhance cognitive function and contribute to healthy aging and longevity!

Yours in health,

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INFLAMMATION; THE GOOD, THE BAD AND HOW TO BALANCE

Written By: Brittani Kolasinski (BHSc Nut, Adv.Dip Nut.Med)

The Good

Inflammation; the body’s natural response to illness or injury, characterised by pain, redness, swelling and heat. It is designed to be a short lived protective mechanism to aid the healing process within our bodies.

The pain alerts our bodies to the problem, the heat burns off any bacterial or microbial infection and the swelling allows increased blood flow of our white blood cells which assist in cleaning up the damaged site, with this increased blood flow to the area, redness occurs.

The Bad

Sometimes this response may get out of control in response to dietary or lifestyle triggers; poor diet, lack of physical activity and stress. Chronic or long-term inflammation ages us. It can occur within the body without us even knowing it. This low-grade, chronic inflammation is the driver of almost ALL disease states; obesity, asthma, eczema, acne, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, depression, autoimmune conditions, fibromyalgia, arthritis and diabetes.

It is now believed that reducing inflammation through lifestyle and diet may be the most important factor in contributing to overall health and longevity.

How to Balance...

 Firstly, diet.

As mentioned above, a poor diet can lead to chronic inflammation.

Inflammatory foods to reduce include;

  • Refined sugars; soft drinks, lollies, confectionary, baked sweets

  • Fried Foods; fries, fried chicken, coated fish, onion rings, deep fried mars bars! (obviously ha!)

  • Gluten; doesn’t mean everyone should be ‘gluten free’ (actually a lot of gluten free products can actually be worse for us, best to choose naturally gluten free grains, mentioned below) however, it is an inflammatory food. Best to cut back on its more refined forms such as white breads, pastas, cakes & chips and swap for a sourdough, rye or wholegrain varieties

  • Dairy; again, not to be completely cut out for everyone as it does come with it some good minerals, fats and proteins. Good quality dairy should be chosen as is mentioned in the list to follow. But, this does include cheeses and milk as technically being inflammatory…

  • Vegetable oils; sunflower/safflower oils, rice bran oil, canola oil, margarine ‘spreads’, sauces, dressings, chips & crackers

  • Refined flour; breakfast cereals, cakes, biscuits, pizza, white breads, pasta - ‘white flour’ as this has been stripped of its bran, fibre and nutrients

  • Artificial sweeteners and additives; ‘sugar free’ soft drinks, chocolates, protein supplements and bars, flavoured waters, packet sweeteners commonly found in cafes and restaurants – Equal, Splenda etc, again – most packaged and processed foods will have listed different additives within them, if you can’t understand or identify them it’s likely your body won’t be able to either!

Anti-inflammatory options to include/replace;

We can’t be expected to remove whole food groups from our diet but should really be focusing on what to include into our diets…

  • Instead of using refined sugars, try using more natural forms; dates or maple syrup in baking, raw honey on cereals or in tea/coffee, rapadura or coconut sugar – instead of the white stuff. You also still need to be mindful of how much added sugar you’re having each day. Craving something sweet? Try opting for a piece of whole fruit to satisfy that tooth!

  • Fried foods may be replaced with baked foods – bake chicken, fish and potato/roast veg. Even try crumbing your chicken and fish at home with wholemeal bread crumbs, crumbed nuts or quinoa! Delicious!

  • Gluten-free grains – quinoa, buckwheat, millet, amaranth, rice, oats – all wonderful options! Eating a variety is key & always soak in water before cooking – this aids digestion and increases nutrient availability

  • Dairy – whole milk, natural and unsweetened yoghurts, grass-fed butter, or for dairy free alternatives there’s an abundance of nut milks available (super easy to make! And be mindful that store bought products may be secretly laden with sugars and additives), coconut milk and cream, coconut yoghurt, ghee (lactose removed from the butter).

  • Vegetable oils – swap out for olive oil, coconut oil, grass fed butter

  • Refined flour – change it up and use buckwheat flour, almond meal, coconut flour (if gluten free) or selecting wholemeal products instead

  • Artificial sweeteners – again, can use any of the sugar alternatives listed above, or just cut it out completely. Try replacing soft drinks with mineral water with fresh fruit, lemon juice, mint etc to change it up!

Other anti-inflammatory foods to include are fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, lentils, whole grains, ‘good fats’ – avocado, olive oil, fatty fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel), grass fed beef, walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds and spices; cinnamon, ginger, turmeric & paprika!

Stress reduction

Stress can create much inflammation within the body and is vital to incorporate some relaxation techniques into your day to combat the effects. This might look different for everyone as not all of us have the time, or the will to sit in silence, meditating on a mantra for hours during the day but could be as simple as 10 deep breaths while making your cup of tea, or even in the bathroom, turning off your phone at night and taking a bath, going for a walk in nature – without your phone or even some gentle exercise like yoga or pilates.

Exercise

I’m not here to tell you when, where or how to exercise (that’s out of my scope of practice) but to encourage you just to move your body each day, work while standing at your desk, walk to work, just walk anywhere/everywhere you can, get in touch with some friends and organise a social bike ride together or a bush walk on weekends, or, get in touch with a trained professional/personal trainer to tailor an exercise program just for you. Our bodies were made to move, exercise not only helps us to cope with stress but also increases endorphins, helps with brain function and memory, bone density, muscle strength and body structure.

For more information, or advice with how to incorporate dietary changes whilst still maintaining nutrient density and variety you can book an appointment

Yours in health,

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THE SCIENCE BEHIND MEDITATION

Written by: Brittani Kolasinski (BHSc Nut, AdvDip. NutMed)

I’ve only just recently jumped on the band wagon, as of this year, and more recently made it a non-negotiable as part of my daily routine. When I started I didn’t really think there would be much change overall, but after even just 20minutes of meditating, my very first time I felt different and so I wanted to explore more the mechanisms of this action and figure out the science behind it, which brings us to this post. But first, a little background…

A LITTLE ABOUT ME;

I’ve had a history of anxiety and depression throughout childhood & adolescence, which subsided with age and a few lifestyle/dietary changes. But then just this last year they both began to rear their heads again. I had a few recent anxiety attacks, heart palpitations & months to a year of this flat, low, depressive mood that I couldn’t shake –

My kind of personality type is susceptible to anxiety and depression, I can be a bit of a perfectionist, I tend to succumb to a kind of stress referred to as ‘rumination’ – that constant worrying, about past or future, also considered a chronic stress. Rumination is also associated with high levels of cortisol which in turn effects the brain, the gut, immune system and hormones.

Anyway, the point of all this is that through meditating I felt a shift, things changed, my mood began to lift, my energy was improving, my sleep was more refreshing, anxious moments were deteriorating & I wanted to know more - I wanted to know the exact mechanisms of what meditation, mindfulness and breath work had on the brain, the nervous system, the body as a whole…

THE SCIENCE

Studies have shown that mindfulness practices may protect against the negative effects of rumination and helps to reduce the burden of chronic stress. In the brain, meditation increases the production of gamma waves, these gamma waves are an indication of neural plasticity – which is also linked to being able to learn new things, and a marker of youth and increased resilience.  

A study was conducted on individuals who had never meditated, they were instructed to meditate for 40mins per day, for a total of 8 weeks. The results were incredible! FOUR different brain regions were effected: The hippocampus (effecting our learning and memory), the pons (part of the brain stem where many neurotransmitters are synthesised), the parietal junction (which is associated with feelings of empathy and compassion) and the posterior cingulate (which is responsible for our ability to let our minds wander). In addition, there was also an observed decrease in size of the amygdala which has a role in the stress response, this was associated with a reduction in stress hormones (Hölzel et al, 2011).

What’s more is that science has demonstrated that through the simple act of deepening and slowing our breaths we can take our bodies out of this ‘fight or flight’ response and get back into our parasympathetic state of ‘rest and digest’, reducing the effects of unnecessary stress on the body (Jerath et al, 2006).

There have also been many studies conducted by Elizabeth Blackburn (Nobel prize winner) demonstrating how mindfulness & meditation can buffer the effects of stress on telomere length, which can reverse the ageing of some tissues – telomeres are like these little caps on the ends of our chromosomes which protect our DNA from damage, they shorten naturally each year and as cell replication occurs. This goes on & on until there’s no telomere left, resulting eventually in cell death. Stress can in fact accelerate this shortening, so by simply practicing meditation and mindfulness we can reduce this effect.

THE PRACTICALITY

So, how can we start to incorporate meditation into a busy life – well, there are a number of great apps you can download – 'headspace' for one, or my favourite ‘10% happier’ which contains a number of different guided meditations to choose from, ranging in times from 1 minute to 20 minutes, even with some guides that you can do on your daily commute, making it super easy to incorporate into day to day life.

I put the challenge out to you - try it, even if its only for a minute or two a day, or if its just to focus on taking long, slow deep breaths whilst driving to work, or waiting for the kettle to boil, these simple practices can have profound effects on wellbeing overall. 

As always, be kind to yourself & happy breathing! 

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REFERENCES;

Hölzel, B. K., Carmody, J., Vangel, M., Congleton, C., Yerramsetti, S. M., Gard, T., & Lazar, S. W. (2011). Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging191(1), 36-43.

Jerath, R., Edry, J. W., Barnes, V. A., & Jerath, V. (2006). Physiology of long pranayamic breathing: neural respiratory elements may provide a mechanism that explains how slow deep breathing shifts the autonomic nervous system. Medical hypotheses67(3), 566-571.

 

'COLD WATER THERAPY' - THE KIND OF STRESS YOU WANT IN YOUR LIFE!

Written by: Brittani Kolasinski (BHSc Nut, AdvDip Nut Med) and Matthew Kolasinski (MClinExP, BExSc)

How therapeutic does a cold shower sound right about now? For many, (especially those who are in the southern hemisphere with me and getting well into winter months) this may not be so tempting to give it a go, but let me first present some of the science coming out in this and see if this can motivate you to give it a go!

What started out as a conversation with friends and sharing ideas, turned into listening to many-a-podcasts and deepening our understanding & knowledge of this we have both dived right in and made cold water showers part of our daily routine.

From a purely anecdotal experience we found that after only a few minutes of cold showering we felt this physiological high - our moods were lifted, energy increased and tolerance to the cooler temperatures outdoors was heightened. From this we decided to look into the available research to understand what mechanisms are at play in contributing to the response, this rush from a cold shower.

A study conducted in 2008 by N.A Shevchuk tested the hypothesis that cold water exposure (2-3mins long at 20degrees celsius) could be used as a treatment for depression. What was found was that the cold exposure activates the sympathetic nervous system, increasing the blood levels of noradrenalin. Noradrenalin functions as a hormone and neurotransmitter that’s important for attentiveness, emotions, learning and dreaming. What’s more is that the anti-depressant effects can also be attributed to the high amounts of electrical impulses sent from the peripheral nerve endings to the brain, as the skin contains a high concentration of cold receptors, responding to the cold-water exposure (Shevchuk, 2008).

Dr Rhonda Patrick, (Ph.D. in biomedical science) has found that not only does cold water exposure create a 2-3-fold increase in noradrenalin but that when the body is cooled many genes shut down, the exception, however, are genes involved in lipid metabolism (fat burning) and the group of proteins known as ‘cold shock proteins’. Noradrenalin also contributes to having an analgesic and anti-inflammatory effect, these effects can be achieved with short periods of cold stress and has been recommended for the treatment of chronic pain. (link to the full report can be found at here.

As it has been identified in animal studies, it is currently hypothesised that the effects of cold water exposure lead to an increase in cold-inducible RNA-binding protein 3 (RBM3). RBM3 is found in the brain, heart, liver, and skeletal muscle. This cold shock protein RBM3 has the ability to decrease cell death, thus preserving muscle mass as well as showing positive neural effects (Ferry, Vanderklish & Dupont-Versteegden, 2011).

What may be criticised socially, or considered a little crazy just seems to make sense biologically and the effects we’ve felt from it personally is enough for us to keep up with this daily practice! Important to note that you must always consult your health professional before attempting anything discussed in this article – this post was written out of interest from our own personal experiences, to share some of the information we’ve come across, but not to be used as medical advice.

Happy showering!

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References

Ferry, A. L., Vanderklish, P. W., & Dupont-Versteegden, E. E. (2011). Enhanced survival of skeletal muscle myoblasts in response to overexpression of cold shock protein RBM3. American Journal of Physiology-Cell Physiology, 301(2), C392-C402.

Shevchuk, N. A. (2008). Adapted cold shower as a potential treatment for depression. Medical hypotheses, 70(5), 995-1001.

EFFECTS OF STRESS & HOW TO COPE

Written By: Brittani Kolasinski (BHSc Nut, AdvDip NutMed)

We’re all busy, our lives are full of hustle & bustle, families, kids, work, friends, cooking, cleaning, shopping, travel, events, oh, life!

With these busy lives can come a whole lot of stress. For our bodies when stressed, can enter into a ‘fight or flight’ response – it can even occur due to intense exercise/physical exertion. This ‘fight or flight’ response involves many physiological and biochemical changes, making the nervous system hypersensitive. The body responds to any sort of stress, be it physical, mental or emotional by activating our sympathetic nervous system and our adrenal glands to start releasing hormones: cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline. Through this the body will conserve energy from other organ systems, thereby slowing down their function and divert this energy to our arms, legs and brains. This was for our survival, originally a ‘stress’ would occur to man from an attack or some sort of threat, a tiger for example. So by the body slowing down other processes and directing the extra energy to our limbs we could then turn to ‘fight’ or to get away from the threat, fast! After this attack or danger would occur, cortisol would turn off the release of adrenaline and the body would return to function as normal.

But now, in this day & age the stressful event could be long term & ongoing from time constraints, job pressures, study, relationships, weddings & other events to more serious conditions of long term illness, chronic pain or emotional distress. Our bodies will remain in this stressed out state, still experiencing the same physiological and biochemical changes –leading to slow digestion, decreased immune system, changes to menstruation, effecting fertility, increased blood glucose levels, depleting our adrenal stores & keeping our cortisol levels high. During this, the bodies nutritional demands are increased, but with our digestive system being effected it leads to poor function & nutrient absorption. The elevated cortisol, the depleted adrenal stores & the effects on blood sugar can then in turn effect our moods, leaving us feeling irritable and even anxious. Sleep is also effected, that feeling of being ‘tired but wired’ leaving us as insomniacs or waking unrefreshed after a long nights sleep.

This long-term stress and adrenal depletion can leave us with a label of ‘adrenal fatigue’ – you may or may not have heard this term already. Basically, the adrenal glands secrete cortisol, following a diurnal cycle. Levels should be high in the morning when we wake, then steadily decline throughout the day. People who are chronically stressed will have elevated basal cortisol and a flattened diurnal curve, resulting in flat cortisol – this response is referred to as ‘adrenal exhaustion’.

Chronic stress is inflammatory, it raises our biochemical inflammatory markers which affect our serotonin levels, leading to anxiety or depression. It’s associated with poor memory, that ‘foggy headed’ feeling, with mood changes and irritability. With stress also decreasing our immune function leaves us susceptible to allergic diseases and the development of conditions such as chronic fatigue, autoimmune diseases, premature aging, atherosclerosis, abdominal weight gain and even cancer! In women their menstruation & fertility are also effected.

As we can see, being stressed out can have some serious side effects, so what can we do about it? We can’t always escape the stress in our lives but there are ways we can deal with it.

The first thing is to assess the stress – look at what you can change, what is in your control & what you are willing to let go of, you might be able to lighten your load with work or other commitments & have more time for yourself (SO important!).

The second is to slow down. You’re busy, I get it & this doesn’t mean that you should have hours of meditation and stillness, but you can incorporate small pockets of ‘still’ into your day. What’s one thing you do every day? When you shower, or brush your teeth, even when you make a tea/coffee or are driving from one place to the next – make these moments a time of mindfulness. Breathing long, slow, deep breaths. Create awareness in that moment, noticing how you feel, your thoughts. Science has shown that by changing our breath from short, shallow breaths to long, slow & controlled we can get our bodies out of that ‘fight or flight’ response and back into a rested state. This can even be including 5-10 long breaths upon waking, taking your time to get up and out of bed – doesn’t have to be a radical change to your routine or take up too much time but you can find these pockets of still & embrace them.

Thirdly, single task! Do one thing at a time, for at least a few of the tasks you have to do in your day, not all of them – or you probably wouldn’t get anything done, ha! It is impossible for us to be focused on more than one thing (sorry self-proclaimed multi-taskers out there). When stress is rising focus on one thing you are thankful for – it can be as simple as ‘clean water’ or ‘your pillow’, changing your thoughts in the moment does not make the stressful event go away, but at least your body will be focused on something positive & help to diminish the negative effects associated with stress - worrying will not solve the problem either!

And lastly, what can we do nutritionally –

For one; (I’m sorry) but caffeine will have to go! This raises your stress hormones and puts more pressure on your adrenal glands.

Two; sugar also – get rid of it, stress raises your blood sugar levels, as well as sugar being highly inflammatory. This means no soft drinks, confectionary, cakes, chocolates, biscuits, even white, refined carbohydrates from breads, pasta etc

Three; get some vitamin C! Your adrenal glands need it, and they need to be supported – you can talk with your qualified practitioner about supplementation specific for you and include more coloured vegetables and fruits in the diet

Four; B vitamins – these are depleted in times of stress, again speak with your practitioner about supplementing and doses needed. This way you know you’re getting the best quality practitioner only supplements at a dose that is tailored to you and your current needs

Five; Magnesium - this mineral is also depleted during times of stress and is required for hundreds of enzymatic functions within the body, relaxes muscle & assists with energy production - deficiency can contribute to anxiety and depression, again consult your nutritionist/naturopath for the appropriate form of magnesium & the correct dosing. 

Six; Eat fat! Yep, lap it up! Good fats I’m referring to here (I’ve written a blog post on fats which you can find on this site, so you can know which ones to eat). This can include oily fish, avocado, olives and olive oil, nuts and seeds – these fats are anti-inflammatory, great for brain health and development and help to balance blood sugars. Fats also give flavour to your foods & increase satiety with meals, they are not to be feared!

Seven; Practice mindful meal times; digestion begins before you take your first bite. The site of food, smell of food & the thought of it begins to prepare your body to eat and digest. This in turn triggers saliva to begin to secrete digestive enzymes ready to break down this food. When we are eating on the run, working through our lunch breaks, or mindlessly eating whilst watching TV this process is inhibited. We can end up eating way more than we need to, leave us feeling bloated and sluggish, or with indigestion and we wonder why? Maybe you have food allergies, or maybe you’re just approaching food and mealtimes with the wrong mind set. Sit down at meal times, give thanks for your food - practicing gratitude, enjoy each bite, CHEW your food (its crazy how many of us don’t chew enough) and really be present, noticing how you feel, how it tastes – it can be almost a meditative experience.

With impaired digestion, some might find benefit in utilising a slow cooker, having more soft, water rich foods in the form of soups & stews – the slow cooking starts to break down the foods, with the water increased can help to aid digestion and reduce any digestive disturbances you may be experiencing.

Also to note – exercise can help with stress relief & the body’s ability to cope with increased amounts of stress, however if you’re already in that burnt out ‘adrenally exhausted’ phase, I recommend to exercise in a way that will not be overly stimulating, as that can create more stress on the body, but through a walk in nature, pilates & stretching – does not have to mean HIIT classes at the gym & can even just be 10mins of movement included in your day – even if you just park further away from work or wake a bit earlier each day to include this.

And lastly, seek help – if you’re not coping, or have in fact experienced a trauma, don’t try to tackle it alone. There is a big difference between being stressed out, and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder – please, speak to your health professional about getting the appropriate support & treatment. Vulnerability is strength and asking for help is in no way showing weakness.

Be kind to yourself, listen to your body.

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BLUE ZONES - KEYS TO HEALTHY AGEING & LONGEVITY

Blue zones; 

Parts of the world where people are living into their 100’s, and by living, they are living life well - sharp to the very end! These blue zones are scattered amongst parts of Japan, Greece, Italy & even in the United States! Their diet & lifestyle practices have been studied, diet being a key ingredient to their longevity, however there are some differences between their diets; some abstaining from all caffeine, spices and meat, others drinking up to a litre (or more!) of wine with lunch and some with diets rich in soy & sake.

(please note I’m not here to encourage you all to drink litres of wine on your lunch break, ha!)

The food they eat is nourishing, unprocessed, quality produce & nutrient dense. They consume a largely vegetable based diet, including fruits, vegetables, beans, fish, tofu and meat. 

In Greece its the mediterranean diet, with a focus on potatoes & beans as well as a green vegetable known as ‘horta’. This green weed-like vegetable is believed to be highly associated with their healthy ageing. 

The Greeks also recommend napping, getting intimate regularly & drinking wine - however the quality of their wine is on point! They incorporate a lot of unintentional exercises into their day from gardening, walking, cooking and cleaning.

In Japan, they are eating a vegetarian diet, but whats a key factor here is that they have purpose. The elders of their communities are highly valued and respected, they have valued social connections and are intentional about maintaining relationships & friendships. 

A recent study by Harvard also concluded that Social connections not only give us pleasure, they also influence our long-term health in ways every bit as powerful as adequate sleep, a good diet, and not smoking. Loneliness can take up to 8 years off your life expectancy, compared to that of socially connected people. 

In Sardinia, the men generally live longer than the women. It it believed that this comes down to stress. The women, tending to the house and caring for the children have slightly higher stress levels than the men who spend the day in the fields and the sunshine, watching their flock. They have a long lunch together with family that can last for hours, in this time they engage in social connection, have a relaxed and rested approach to eating (not eating rushed or on the run) and drink up to a litre of quality red wine. This is usually followed by a siesta - oh how good does this lifestyle sound! 

In the States, there is a small population of people within Loma Linda, California. A community of Seventh-day Adventists who thrive on a vegetarian diet, with no ‘stimulating’ foods; sugar, caffeine or even some spices like chilli. They exercise daily, and again have many valued and intentional relationships. 

We have much to learn from these cultures with how they approach life, how they value each other and how they take the time to rest. 

Yours in health,

 

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WHAT DOES CHOCOLATE & BLUE-GREEN ALGAE HAVE IN COMMON? …

Written By: Brittani Kolasinski (BHSc Nut, Adv Dip Nut Med)

Ahh that feeling you get when you let that sweet chocolatey goodness just melt in your mouth, feelings of euphoria, the endorphins released and the happiness in your heart (and in your belly) – you could also say these are somewhat like the contentment you feel when captivated by a good book, focused on a project or the ‘runners high’ when you get back from a challenging workout, but to associate these all with the blue green vegetables of the sea? .. that’s probably not such a common feat.

The most well-known member of this blue-green algae family would be spirulina, and thankfully its becoming more popular as time goes on (with good reason!). It contains all our essential amino acids, making this guy a complete source of protein for vegans and vegetarians, has a wide range of B vitamins, contains vitamin E, and the essential minerals potassium, calcium, chromium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, sodium, & zinc.

The deep blue-green pigments of spirulina are all thanks to the phytonutrients within; chlorophyll, phycocyanin, zeaxanthin, beta-carotene, lutein & many more. These guys are responsible for the potent antioxidant levels, fighting free radical damage on a cellular level within the body. Spirulina also contains different enzymes & trace elements.

Spirulina has shown benefit for strengthening the immune system, displaying anti-cancer properties and its use for conditions such as diabetes mellitus type 2 through its blood-lipid lowering and anti-inflammatory potential.

So how do you associate the algae’s with the chocolates of the world? It all comes down to a little substance known as ‘PEA’ (phenylethylamine). A chemical that can be made within the body by the brain or adrenals from two of our amino acids – tyrosine and phenylalanine. The action of PEA increases neurotransmitters in the brain that help us focus or pay attention – those times that you’re just so engaged that you lose all track of time – that’s attributed to PEA. Studies have shown that high levels of PEA are found in happy people’s brains, due to PEA’s action of preventing dopamine from being deactivated, therefore, raising its levels. High levels of dopamine are associated with an optimistic attitude and increased concentration.

PEA is often referred to as the ‘love chemical’, and its responsible for the endorphin rush post exercise, when you are so captivated by a good book or movie or even when indulging in a chocolatey treat.

Some great ways to incorporate more algae into the diet can be through adding spirulina into green smoothies, home made salsa, salad dressings or just mixed into water with lemon juice. Always start with a small dose when having things for the first time – even if it is a naturally occurring substance, we are all different and can all respond differently to foods.

Enjoy the sea vegetables & all the happiness they bring x 

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