SOY... FRIEND OR FOE?

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

Soy has received a lot of press with many people avoiding it like the plague, and some embracing it as a health-promoting food. There are much confusion and confliction, even within the research, leaving many of us not knowing where we stand on the matter.

WHAT IS SOY

Soy is part of the legume family, coming from our humble soybean. It's rich in isoflavones, actually being one of the richest sources in the human diet. Isoflavones are polyphenolic compounds that are capable of exerting oestrogen-like effects in the body. Because of this, they are classed as phytoestrogens (plant-derived compounds with oestrogenic activity) along with other foods like flaxseeds and lentils.

Oestrogens are signalling molecules (hormones) that exert their effects by binding to oestrogen receptors in the body, similar to how a lock and key fit together so do oestrogen and their receptor sites. The difference with phytoestrogens is that although they mimic oestrogen in the body, once bound to the receptor they will exert a weaker effect to what the body’s true oestrogen would (80x weaker). Therefore, phytoestrogens are known to be amphoteric, meaning they can work both ways - to help build estrogen levels in a deficiency or to help reduce oestrogen levels when there’s dominance.

We have oestrogen receptors present in numerous sites within the body, not just within the reproductive organs. They are found in bone, liver, heart, and brain meaning that estrogen serves a far greater purpose for many other organ systems other than the female reproductive organs. Of course, like with anything, too much can also negatively impact as too little would. Balance is key.

In soybeans, the isoflavones are present as glycosides meaning they are bound to a sugar molecule. When fermented as with tempeh or digested, the sugar molecule is released leaving the isoflavone to remain as either genistein or daidzein (two different types of isoflavones). The effects of isoflavones within the body are greatly influenced by how they are metabolised. Their metabolism is dependent upon the activity of certain bacteria that colonise the human intestines. For example, the soy isoflavone daidzein may be metabolised in the intestine to equol, a metabolite that has greater estrogenic activity than daidzein but this would be dependent on the type of bacteria in the intestinal tract. Studies that measure urinary equol excretion after soy consumption indicate that only 33% of individuals from western populations metabolise daidzein to equol.

SO, WHY SUCH VARIATIONS?

  1.  It could be due to the gut health of the individual, and since the standard Australian diet (SAD) does not support good gut health it would mean that soy metabolism would be impacted.

  2. We have unique genetic variations and vast differences to our microbiome. Our microbiome is like a fingerprint, each one different to another’s.

With these reasons in mind, we can understand how such differences occur with our isoflavone metabolism and utilisation of phytoestrogens.

THE IMPACT ON OESTROGEN

The interest of soy consumption within the research lies mostly within the tissue-selective activities of phytoestrogens because anti-oestrogenic (reducing oestrogen) effects in reproductive tissue could help reduce the risk of hormone-associated cancers (such as breast, uterine, ovarian and prostate), while oestrogenic (oestrogen building) effects in bone could help maintain bone density.

We know from the research that the incidence of breast cancer in Asia where the average soy isoflavone intakes range between 25-50mg per day is lower than breast cancer rates in western countries where the average intake of isoflavones in non-Asian women are less than 2mg per day. However, many other hereditary and lifestyle factors could contribute to this difference.

WHATS THE VERDICT?

The humble soybean in its natural form can be a nutritious food. Traditional Asian foods made from soybeans include tofu, tempeh, miso, and natto. Edamame refers to varieties of soybeans that are harvested and eaten in their green phase. Yet the soy products that are gaining popularity in Western countries include soy-based meat substitutes, soy milk, soy cheese, and soy yogurt. So likewise, with anything, the quality counts. Choosing less processed, organic and non-GMO sources of soy like that of tempeh, tamari, tofu, natto, miso, and edamame beans can be a part of a healthy, nutritious diet. On the contrary, there are certain circumstances when soy products should be avoided.

WHEN TO AVOID

  • Thyroid conditions especially underactive thyroid or Hashimoto's disease. Soybeans contain plant compounds (glucosinolates) called goitrogens, which have been shown to block the thyroids utilisation of iodine. People with underactive or unstable thyroid conditions should avoid soy products. Individuals with overactive thyroid conditions such as Grave's disease may find some symptomatic
benefit from consuming goitrogenic food but their condition is often driven by immune system dysregulation.

  • Oestrogen dominant female reproductive conditions such as fibroids, endometriosis, heavy menstrual periods, early puberty and infertility.

  • Testosterone sensitive male reproductive conditions such as infertility and sperm irregularities, prostate problems

  • Weight gain when weight is contributed to a sluggish metabolism, soy consumption can interfere with thyroid function so can contribute to fluid retention and weight increases.

  • Nutritional deficiencies as soy is a legume, it contains phytic acid which reduces the absorption of nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc.

CAN YOU STILL HAVE IT?

Yes…better if it is fermented.

The fermentation process largely deactivates the phytates, enzyme inhibitors, and goitrogens. Moderate intake of fermented soy products have been shown to produce positive effects on these health conditions:

  • Osteoporosis prevention and treatment

  • Lowered risk of cardiovascular disease

  • Reduced incidence of prostate and breast cancer

  • Menopausal symptoms

Overall, my general recommendation is to always:

  • Choose whole soybean products (never isolates)

  • Ensure soy products are organic and free from contributing chemicals that aggravate health

  • Ensure soy products are free from genetic modification

  • Choose traditional preparations - fermented foods 


  • Keep consumption to a realistic level, around 50g per day as this is in line with the maximum average level Asian cultures consume

For most of us, we would assume that plant-based dieters would be consuming higher amounts of soy, but quite the contrary.  A typical western diet that’s high in processed and packaged foods can consume up to 250g per day coming from processed meats, confectionery, bars, and cereals.

If you decide to have yourself a coffee on soy each day, add some tamari as a dressing or the occasional tofu stir fry in line with a mostly unpackaged and unprocessed diet I wouldn’t lose sleep over it. If you are choosing more packaged foods always check the ingredients list and be mindful of your intake. Of course, as with anything, seek professional advice to tailor a diet to you if there are health concerns involved.

Yours in health,

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Q&A WITH ALEXIS FROM MANA WELLNESS

I recently connected with Alexis via social media and was captivated by her poetic writings and passion for womens health - an area I myself am so drawn to and have much experience with both personally and professionally. Read on to hear about the work Alexis is doing in the health and wellness space, she has taken a holistic approach to womens health that encompasses mind, body and soul.

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Q: Tell us about what you do, what is at the heart of it?

My mission is to recreate women’s “health care” into a multi-dimensional journey of wellness. I work with women to detox not only their bodies, but their minds, hearts and spirits as well. I started in wellness about 6 years ago from the sport/fitness angle. The job burnt me out and opened my eyes to a new meaning of health. Over the years I’ve been drawn to more holistic practices such as TCM, ayurveda, meditation, yoga, etc. By trade I am a certified Holistic Health Coach, but my tool box is filled with practices from all sorts of philosophies. While nutrition is a huge component of my work, I also spend a good bit of time supporting my clients in emotional processing. The truth is a woman is not going to heal from green juice and cardio, she needs to get right down to the root first - which can be scary to do alone.  That’s where I come in!

How did it all begin?

I think this work has been lifelong for me and as I follow the breadcrumbs back I can see the evolution of how I got here. I’ve always been so passionate about empowering women and did so in many capacities throughout my life. However, becoming a holistic health practitioner was catalyzed by my own mysterious chronic illness. Throughout my twenties I struggled with all sorts of strange things that none of my friends struggled with. I was dealing with kidney infections, chronic UTI’s, ongoing sinus problems, etc. I had to lose my health several times before I finally started to surrender and take back my own power. The final straw was mysterious auto-immune symptoms that looked like extreme exhaustion, severe gut problems, zero libido, heavy brain fog, explosive anger, sleep disorder, hormonal hell, skin problems, anxiety, and finally heavy depression and weight loss. I was 27 and I was an angry mess. I was the “healthiest” person I knew yet I was also the sickest person I knew and that was enraging. This is when I really started to understand the depth of emotional health as a key factor in creating health or disease. I wasn’t dealing with emotional pain and it was festering in my body and manifesting in a way that I could no longer ignore. After 1000 blood tests, doctors visits, procedures, and pain, I found the right path with the right team.

The realization that finally changed my health was recognizing that I was the only one capable of healing myself. I stopped relying on external validation or tests to tell me how I felt or what I needed AND I started a gratitude practice that truly transformed my emotional health (among other things).  It was a long hard journey that has given me the empathy, compassion, and wisdom to support other women in healing.

Now, I have become the practitioner I wish I would have had at the very beginning before my whole life came undone. I empower women to activate their inner healer, reverse chronic illness and live wildly vital lives.

Q: You focus a lot on educating women around their own bodies, particularly their menstrual cycles, what does a ‘healthy’ cycle look and feel like to you?

Yes, body wisdom is super duper important. The first place to start understanding your body is in your cycle.  A woman’s cycle is not just menstruation as many women assume, but actually the entire 28-30 days. Each month a woman will move through the 4 phases of her cycle, each with unique needs and energy. Your cycle contains powerful information about how the rest of  your body is functioning.

Like most women I was always quite annoyed by my body, as though it were something I had to fight against. My periods used to be something to “deal with” not something to connect with. Whenever my body didn’t behave the way I wanted it to, I lashed out even further on it. I was “using” my body instead of honoring it. I wouldn’t consider myself a “hormone expert” but I do consider myself a translator. I help women listen to the language of their body and slowly decode the message.

Most women think suffering with menstrual pain every month is “normal.” I help them realize their cramps, migraines, bloating, and intense mood swings are a microcosm of the macrocosm. If you are dreading your painful menstrual phase, it’s more than likely you are dealing with gut imbalances and excess toxicity in the body. A healthy cycle means eating, moving and living in harmony with each phase. For example during your menstrual phase is not the time to be running marathons and hosting big important meetings. This is the time to rest and go inward. Meditation, journaling and restorative yoga are some of my favorite menstrual practices. During your ovulatory phase is a great time to be social, have a glass of red wine and enjoy group classes like dance or kickboxing. Getting in touch with these phases means you will work in alignment with your body and thus enhance it’s natural flow.

Q: Where can someone start on their way to learning about their own cycle and how to best support it?

Journaling is huge! I always have my clients do at least 1 week of food, mood, and movement journaling to start assessing their bodies. Alissa Vitti of Flo Living has pioneered a process known as “cycle syncing,” which teaches women how to follow the natural flow of their cycle. Her book Womancode is an amazing resource when first starting out and trying to educate yourself. While the book provides detailed suggestions around diet, exercise, &  lifestyle, I ALWAYS encourage my clients to be intuitive about their choices. Just because a book or a doctor tells you what to do doesn’t mean you should dismiss your own bodily intuition. Womancode is a great resource but again, every woman is completely different and should honor her inner knowing first and use resources as guidelines. My mission is to help women connect with their intuition in a way that leaves them less codependent on what others tell them and more self-empowered.

Q: What is your number one health tip for healthy humming hormones?

Rest! Women these days are struggling with so much fatigue, HPA axis dysfunction and overwhelming stress. Rarely do we give ourselves permission to rest without guilt. Rest is truly transformative and something I learned on my own healing journey. During my recovery I took 6 months off! I was petrified of what that meant because I had derived so much meaning from what I was “doing.” It took me some time before I completely surrendered to rest but when I did, WOW!  My mother actually said to me, “how many times in your life are you going to have the chance to rest for 6 months? Just embrace it because you have your whole life to work and produce.” I would say the same thing to all the women out there struggling to let go of the reigns for fear of losing “productivity” and thus self worth.

The truth is you could be eating the healthiest diet on the planet, but if you’re not regularly resting you will find yourself in a chronic cycle of dis-harmony.

Q: What is one thing you have daily or couldn’t live without?

One thing I have daily is green juice first thing in the morning. It makes a huge difference in my energy and metabolism. I usually make some mix of celery, cucumber, chard, green apple and herbs.

One thing I couldn’t live without though, would be meditation. Meditation is a form of rest that keeps me grounded and centered. Anyone who knows me knows I’m quite fiery and intense sometimes. Before meditation I had no grip on emotional/mental processing. I was always flying by the seat of my pants. I started meditating seriously almost 4 years ago and wouldn’t be the woman I am without it. It’s a tool I use with all of my clients because it is a cornerstone of optimal health. It fits perfectly with the whole concept of being your own healer, because when you meditate enough you truly realize that all of the answers are within. The trick is sticking with it long enough to connect with that channel. I suggest finding yourself a teacher or practitioner who can support you when you’re first getting started.

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Q: Where can people find out more about you and the work you’re doing?

My website or instagram page is a great place to start! You can find details about my story, my programs and my philosophy on both pages.

W: www.manawellnesshealing.com

IG:@_mana_wellness




Q&A WITH JARROD TUCKER FITNESS

I am beyond exited to share this interview I had with Jarrod Tucker. Jarrod is a fitness instructor, Zumba presenter, Strong by Zumba master trainer and the owner of Energize Studios running multiple exercise classes throughout the week. I personally have been attending his Strong by Zumba classes weekly for about 1 year now and it is by far my favourite way to move, its fast paced and varied and, with Jarrod leading the workout, you’ll push yourself harder and achieve far more than you thought was possible. His energy is contagious, his passion is obvious and his own personal health and fitness journey is one to inspire and transform. I know you’re going to get so much out of this interview, and I highly encourage any and all of you to check out one of his classes here in Newcastle – you are more than welcome to join me for Strong by Zumba each Monday and Wednesday evening.

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Q: Tell us what you do?

A: What I do is two-fold, I am very fortunate to be the Australia/New Zealand Master Trainer for the Strong By Zumba program which is a High-Intensity Interval Training and Muscle Conditioning program synced to music and also a Zumba Education Specialist and trainer for the original Zumba Dance-Fitness programs. 

Q: What does this involve?

A: Basically my job is to travel Australia, New Zealand and other parts of the world and train instructors in how to teach these programs so they can run classes their own classes in gyms, community halls etc

 The second part of what I do is teaching regular group fitness classes every single week at my fitness studio, Energize Studios. I along with other members of our team deliver many group fitness classes each week in a variety of programs, styles and fitness levels to help inspire people to lead a healthy lifestyle.

Q: How did it all begin?

A: Strangely enough, my real journey through fitness and teaching began when a job I was at closed down and I was forced to fall back on skills I had which happened to be singing. So, with a few week’s notice I raced around to find out what venues I could hire and spoke to friends I had in the industry and I opened a dance and talent school. 

During that first year back in 2010, Zumba Fitness came to Australia and everyone was running classes. So I thought “we have to have this as well to stay relevant”. A dance teacher and I went to the training to become instructors (I was intending to be the backup) and when it came to crunch time, I ended up being the one who had to teach the classes. It turned out to be something I loved, and it helped me with my own fitness cause I enjoyed it (I was 110KG when I started. It also led me down the path of wanting to teach, help and inspire people with their health and fitness. 

Q: What does health and wellness mean to you?

A: Health and wellness is more than just about weight loss and looking good etc, although it often starts that way with many of us.

“I realized very quickly how important leading a healthy lifestyle was to my mobility, joint pain, energy, motivation, drive and also confidence. It really does help to remove limitations people place on themselves. Health and wellness is about being able to live your life feeling good and loving it on your own terms for as long as you are able to”.

Q: How do you have so much energy?

A: from the very beginning of my fitness journey I gave 100% to everything I did and even when I got tired I told myself “suck it up, you can do this”. So, my body has learned to adapt and operate at a high level.

Of course, you can’t do this without the right fuel and what you put in your mouth makes a huge difference to your energy levels. This doesn’t mean dieting always, or depriving yourself, but making smart choices about what you want from your health and your life.

Q: What is your number 1 tip for balancing everything?

A: Make time to enjoy your life. It’s so easy to get caught up in this cycle of training/crazy eating and chasing unrealistic goals. Make time to train, time to work, time to chase your dreams BUT don’t forget to make time for what you love to do and what helps you relax unwind and be yourself. 

Q: You’ve had an amazing fitness journey what do you credit to your success?

A: Two things mainly: find physical activities that you love and make you feel good so they become a want instead of a need, and always remember to continually push the boundaries of what you think you can do. The human body is capable of so much and there is little stopping you, except for you. 

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A photo of Jarrod himself from 10 years ago (2009)

 

Q Who inspires you the most?

A: In all honesty I am most inspired by the people I teach and train. I don’t follow a lot of celebrities or social media rubbish, but I am inspired when I have people in my classes or trainings that want it, and I see them continually strive for more. When I see those people achieve what they set out to do and continually improve it really drives me.

Q: What tips do you have for people starting a fitness journey?

A: A few simple points to remember: 

  • Start by finding an activity that appeals to you

  • At the beginning just try and make the chosen activities part of your regular routine so you don’t have to think about doing them instead of stressing about going hard and getting a huge workout

  • When you feel you can give more, give it

  • Make some positive changes to your eating habits 

Where can people find you if they want to connect?

You can follow me and/or connect with me on Instagram or Facebook.

If you would love to come and try a class you can see our full timetable here or stay up to date on Facebook.

If you would like to become a Zumba Instructor you can find training online here.

If you would like to become a Strong By Zumba Instructor and teach an awesome new high intensity program you can find a training online here.

 I hope you found some inspiration and encouragement from my latest interview. Check out a class near you and get in touch if you have any questions for myself or Jarrod about health, wellness, weightloss and fitness.

Yours in Health,

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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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THE KETOGENIC DIET

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

Please note this is not to be taken as health advice or used to treat and health condition. If you want to know more about how this information can be applied to you, please seek advice from your health care provider.

Both Personally and professionally I believe that being in a state of ketosis is beneficial for human health. However, I don’t agree that it is something to be sustained long term and I certainly don’t agree that being in ketosis is our default nutritional state. When we look back through history at traditional cultures and diets, how we ate was influenced largely by our environment, the seasons and the produce we had available. There would be periods of feasting and famine, times of increased and decreased carbohydrate sources from the varying local plant foods they had access too, something that we have lost in our modern times. Now we are in a constant ‘fed state’, rarely experiencing deprivation of caloric energy, but for many consuming a SAD diet (Standard Australian Diet) or heavily processed diet would be lacking essential nutrients.

Photo Cred:  Jordann Wood

Photo Cred: Jordann Wood

What is Ketosis

Ketosis is a physiological state, it’s something that naturally occurs in a state of fasting or starvation, or when there is limited carbohydrates (that are broken down to glucose) and glycogen (stored glucose) is depleted through movement. The end goal is to enter a state of ketosis, this occurs when our metabolism switches from burning glucose to burning ketones for fuel. In order to produce ketones, the diet must be carefully managed so that more fat is being consumed and carbohydrates are limited with moderate protein.

The ketogenic diet is a term used to describe a low carbohydrate and high-fat diet, this is to support and maintain this state of ketosis that can be difficult to maintain. There’s no one size fits all approach to this, due to our biochemical diversity some may maintain this ketogenic state far easier and be able to consume higher amounts of carbohydrates than the next.

Where most fall short in this is, they consume too many carbohydrates without realising. This can be through different milk products, like almond milk and soy milk, yogurts, cacao powder or chocolate and even nuts and seeds. Others may not track appropriately and simply not eat enough fat in their diet. Choosing the right fats is also important, more on this later.

So, What Are My Thoughts on Ketosis?

I think it’s great when done appropriately. A standard ‘keto diet’ is heavily focused on meats and dairy products like cream and cheese, which I don’t agree with. We need minerals, we need polyphenols as these are great for our health and there are many great high-fat plant foods that can be included in the mix.

I personally cycle in and out of ketosis quite easily. I practice of time restricted feeding, ensuring that I eat within a 10-hour window or less but not reducing my food quantity, I combine this with fasting intermittently for 16-20 hours only a few days out of the week, combined with a low carbohydrate, high fat diet allows me to remain in a state of ketosis. I’ll do this for 2-3 weeks at a time, no more. This feels good for me, its balanced and it gets me the benefits of being in ketosis short term. But this would not apply to everyone as we are all so wonderfully unique.

What Can Go Wrong

A true ketogenic diet is low in carbohydrates and high in fat, however its paramount that protein is moderate and at the right amounts for you. There are certain amino acids broken down from the protein we eat that are able to be used as glucose via a process known as gluconeogenesis. For women, in the long term low carb diets or restrictive dieting can influence female sex hormones and have negative outcomes on female fertility, our menstrual cycles, mental health, sleep and more. As women we have a beautifully complex and perfectly designed system which relies on our intricate hormonal dance, something we don’t want to disrupt with extreme dietary approaches.

Another occurrence with many low carb dieters is the demonisation of all carbohydrates that can take place, so its important to remind you all of the vast difference between carbohydrates found in refined flours and sugar or those that are from whole-food sources like potatoes and other starchy vegetables and whole fruit. Eating too many refined carbohydrates can have damaging effects on metabolic markers and blood sugar levels however I have not come across any research to show that eating carbohydrates from whole-foods leads to metabolic dysfunctions or conditions like diabetes.

I am mindful of the change to our microbiome that occurs with the restriction of carbohydrates. The bacteria within our gut feeds off of fibre from the diet, fibre is found in carbohydrate containing foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, legumes and beans. A ketogenic diet restricts many of these food groups and as a result the bacteria starve. It’s important to ensure you’re consuming non-digestable fermentable fibres like resistant starch that don’t contribute to our carbohydrate load. I always advise you work with a health professional on this to ensure your diet is appropriate.

What Can Go Right

The application of a ketogenic diet has been shown to have therapeutic effects for many health conditions, however this does not mean that it is to be applied to everyone. We know from research that conditions like epilepsy, type 2 diabetes, PCOS, Parkinsons and Alzheirmers Disease may benefit from the application of a ketogenic diet as well as to support weight loss in some people groups, like menopause (working with a health professional, of course). There is no one-size-fits-all approach to diet.

Another known benefit of ketosis is that fasting mimicking effects it has within the body. This triggers autophagy a process of cell cleaning, removing old cells and repairing damaged ones. This can have benefits on our immune system, brain function, skin health, energy, inflammation levels and more.

I see many people benefit greatly from this style of eating, but many also don’t. We are so beautifully and wonderfully unique and this should be celebrated. I have seen differences between different body types that can help indicate whether a low carb approach is right for you, but please always consult with your health practitioner before radically changing your diet.

Some Food for Thought

When thinking about trying a low carb or ketogenic diet ensure that you’re still getting a wide variety of plant foods, this is still possible to do so while maintaining your ketogenic state.

  • Make it primarily plant-based. Eat plenty of low carb vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, and spinach.

  • If choosing to eat meat, opt for quality meat products like grass-fed organic beef, pasture raised hens, wild caught fish, and organic pastured eggs.

  • Drink lots of water, add a little sea salt for electrolytes

  • Eat a variety of fat-rich plant foods like avocado, macadamias, hemp seeds and olives

  • Always opt for whole foods, not binge on ‘fat bombs’ and coconut oil

  • Listen to your body and work with a professional, please!

Interesting in trying this out for yourself? Get in touch, I’d be happy to put together a tailored to you ketogenic plan to suit your needs and be aligned with your health goals.

Yours in health,

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