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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Q&A WITH DR STEVEN LIN

My gosh, this was one super exciting interview for me - I’m such a fan of Stevens work. Steven is a Functional Dentist practicing from the Central Coast of NSW Australia, He’s the author of ‘The Dental Diet’ drawing the link between your teeth, real food and life-changing natural health - something we all must read. He shares his knowledge and passion across his instagram account which is worth the follow. You can also find more on Stevens work, keep up to date with what he’s doing and get in touch with him here or book in with him at his dentistry here.

I think you’ll be surprised by his tips for oral and dental health - not the typical ‘brush and floss daily’ kinda thing…

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

A:  I see people with problems in the mouth every day. Our view of dentistry has been that we go to the dentist when we have a broken tooth. However, dental diseases are 99% preventable! That means they are a long-term chronic process in the body. When we understand this, it changes our view of our teeth and our body. For example, gut health is intimately connected to (and most easily measured) in the mouth. One of the most significant problems is that crooked teeth (why kids need braces today), is a nutritional problem! We can prevent crooked teeth with the correct nutritional and functional habits in kids.

Functional dentistry is an exciting model that uses the mouth to  heal the entire body. We prevent braces in kids, heal gum disease alongside the gut, reverse chronic sleep disorders and use biocompatible aesthetic dental materials.

Q: How did it all begin?

A: I was taking some time away from dentistry because I was unsure if I could continue to practice for the rest of my life. It felt like my inspiration had left me. During a backpacking trip through Europe, I came across a book called ‘Nutrition and Physical Degeneration’ by a dentist named Weston A Price. He wrote it in the 30s and showed that all diet diseases linked to eating the modern diet. At first I didn’t understand it, however I began to realise that Price’s work was far more advanced than what my dental training had taught me. It would take me many years to fully understand crooked teeth as a nutritional problem and led me to write The Dental Diet

Q: What does health and wellness mean to you?

A: It’s always been a fundamental part of my life. When I see patients who are suffering from health issues, I always try to help bring this connection back into their perspective. Health is everything and we really suffer when we disconnect it from our everyday life.

Q: What is your number one health tip for general well-being?

A: Eat for strong teeth! Foods rich in calcium balancing fat-soluble vitamins are rich in vitamins A, D, and K2. These are organ meats, full-fat grass-raised dairy, egg  yolks, ferments & whole seafoods.  

Q: What is your favorite food/meal

A: So many to choose from! Lamb shanks braised in broth & butter soaked spinach comes to mind. 

Q: What is one thing people can do today to support their dental and oral health?

A: Sleep well. One thing we often miss is how important sleep is for our brain and teeth. You  have one job to do when you  sleep, and that’s to breathe. People often miss oxygen as the number on nutrient and if you don’t breathe correctly, you could be suffering from a tiredness/teethgrinding/headaches/digestive issues/anxiety & depression. In my practice we always use sleep as the foundation to  both dental and overall health.

I love the work and the message Dr Steven is spreading, helping us to draw the links between the importance of diet and dental health, we have known for years now the damage that sugar can cause but we don’t often think about the benefits of specific foods on our development of health jaws, teeth and bones. I strongly encourage you to get your hands on his latest book, The Dental Diet - its information we all need to read.

If anything has really stuck out for you, share it in the comments below - would love to know what your top takeaway from this interview was.

Yours in Health,

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Q&A WITH LUKA McCABE

If you don’t already, I’d strongly encourage you all to check out the incredible work Luka is doing over on her instagram. It was an absolute pleasure to chat with Luka this week on a topic that is very near and dear to me. Luka is a mumma, mid wife, nurse and health & wellness advocate empowering others and providing incredible resources to guide, nourish and inspire. She educates around all matters of child nutrition, baby led weaning, parenting, health and more. In this interview we cover the why behind why she does what she does, how she got to where she is and what her home-birthing experiences were like!

This is a powerful and truly moving interview, Luka is one bold, compassionate and empowered woman who is doing incredible things for the health and wellness space - providing evidence based recommendations so that other mums who are overwhelmed with the information can find peace, clarity and confidence in how to feed and raise a healthy family.

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

A: I run a small instagram account called @boobtofood which focuses on ideas to help guide, nourish and inspire mum’s (and dad’s) and their babies journey from ‘boob to food’. How to navigate the world of first foods focusing on foods that are nutrient dense, gut loving, easy to digest and provide the ‘why’ behind the foods - why should we eat it, or avoid it and what is it doing to our bodies. My aim is that mums will be INFORMED, educated and can then make evidence based decisions regarding their babies health. That they will see food as medicine, as fuel, and that their babies will grow up healthy and hopefully see preventable diseases decrease (eg obesity, hypertension, diabetes etc).

Q: How did it all begin? 

A: Ive been interested in health for years, and definitely really ‘cleaned up’ my diet when I was pregnant with my first born Flynn. Pregnancy seems like a very common time for women to focus on looking after themselves - as they are now caring for two! When it came time to introduce him to solids I did ALOT of research. At the time the recommendation was to start solids at 4 months (from the healthcare system) however after attending nutrition seminars for babies and doing my own research especially into gut health it was clear to me that babies should start food at 6 months (which the recommendation has been recently changed back to). It was also recommended to me that I start him on rice cereal (which went against everything I believed in), so instead I searched for alternatives. He was started with egg yolk, liver, bone broth, marrow, sardines, sauerkraut, and lots of fruit and vegetables. He has grown into a healthy toddler who eats anything and everything! I was surprised with my second born Florence that again I was recommended to start her on rice cereal (I have a blog post on why I hate rice cereal!), so I decided to start @boobtofood and HOPE and PRAY that people would see the message, and see feeding their baby as an opportunity to nourish them and help them thrive, not just fill them with empty ‘cardboard-hydrates’.

Q: What does health & wellness mean to you?

A: Everything! Im not strict, I don’t diet, and I live life. If I go out with my friends I will eat the gluten etc. However for my daily life, my home life and my kids life we place health and wellness in the highest regard. I INVEST our money into good ingredients; an investment into our health, we cook everything from scratch, we also look after our physical bodies; we see regularly chiropractors, remedial massage, I go to the gym most days, my husband practices Jiu-Jitsu and surfing most days. I know what it feels like to live life with optimum health, and I don’t want to ever feel any different!

Q: What is your number one health tip for general well-being?

A: My biggest rule of thumb is if that food didn’t exist (or couldn’t have existed without machines/heat etc) 200 years ago, then we shouldn’t eat it! Theres alot to say for ancient traditions, and thats how I treat our health. 

For wellbeing, especially for mums would be to take time for yourself  as often as you need. For me this is the gym in the morning, or a walk, or a coffee with friends without children. I also need to see people daily to help me feel alive and sane!

Q: What is your favorite food/meal

A: My favourite meal is a very simple one - good quality sourdough with avocado and all the toppings! My favourite food would have to be haloumi ;) 

Q: What is your number one tip for balancing all that you do – work, marriage, family, health, relationships?

A: Not sure if I can say I have balanced it all, most days feel like a juggling act and I feel like i’m failing at one aspect every day. If i’m focusing on family I feel like I can’t focus on ‘work’, if I focus on ‘work’ I feel like i’m not doing enough for my kids.. but I feel like thats life, its that ‘mum guilt’ we all get! 

The best thing I can do, is to love the kids dad, to stick together as a family unit and hope that together we can raise nice children and keep a roof over our heads! 

Q: Since becoming a mum, what is one of the most important lessons you have learned?

A: I always thought I would hate to be a stay home mum, that I would be so bored and want to go back to work straight away - how I was wrong. Becoming a mother released my purpose for life that I didn’t know existed. I learnt to wholeheartedly put others first, to become selfless, giving and a source of strength. Ive been taught patience, empathy, love, understanding and also to look at things again through a child's eyes. To slow down, to realise whats important, what true joy looks like, and also what sleep deprivation and the brink of insanity feels like haha!

Q: Tell us about your experience with pregnancy, homebirth and raising healthy children? 

A: Ive had two children - Flynn (nearly 4) and Florence (11 months). My pregnancies were straight forward and relatively easy (although both were nearly 2 weeks overdue). 

With Flynn I planned a birth at Belmont birthing centre, as we lived in a granny flat at the time and wasn’t enough room to birth in. My birth was ok, it was long (about 36 hours total) and I had a water birth but unfortunately had a nasty tear that required surgery at the John Hunter (which was embarrassing as thats where I work as a midwife haha). For Florence I planned a home birth and it was again very long as she was posterior, but NO TEAR (thanks to perineal massage! Too much info? Haha). My recovery was great with her!

Q: What would you tell someone who is considering doing a home birth – what do they need to consider and what can they expect? 

A: Homebirthing is amazing, to not have to leave your sanctuary, to not have to get in the car, to not have to adjust to a new sterile environment, to control who is in your space, to go to bed straight after birth - it was beautiful.

However, in saying that, home birthing was something I really wanted. For me I felt ‘safer’ at home, and had a peace to stay at home, and was more scared to go to hospital than to stay home. I had complete trust in my birth team; in my midwives. I never had doubts because I trusted their opinion explicitly. 

But for some people, the thought of home birth could inflict fear, anxiety, worry and doubt. You need to birth somewhere where YOU feel comfortable, as if you have that fear and anxiety in labour, you will produce adrenaline, which counteracts the oxytocin that is helping you to labour well - and in turn you might not labour well because of your fear. 

Remember that your birth choices are yours, educate yourself, be informed and remember that you are always a part of decision making when it comes to your pregnancy and labour xxx


You can connect with Luka via instagram and be in the know of any upcoming workshops and E books she has. She has recently released the Nourished Kids Lunchbox which is a must have for any parents out there. Please let us know in the comments below what you loved about this interview and if anything really resonated with you from this.

Yours in health,

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POST NATAL DEPLETION (+ AN EXCITING ANNOUNCEMENT)

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

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Transitioning into motherhood not only brings on enormous waves of emotions, but it also brings about some complex and overwhelming experiences for both mum and dad. Many mothers experience postnatal depletion, which can occur within weeks, months, years – or even a decade after the birth itself. Which, when you think about it, makes complete sense. You are growing a tiny human inside of you for 9 months and this draws upon your own nutrient stores & resources leaving you with less. This is why preconception care is so important to ensure that you’re nourished and well fed to take on the task of growing and birthing a tiny, precious, human into this world.

DID YOU KNOW? A mothers brain shrinks by 5% within the third trimester? This is to support the growth of our babies - that baby brain is a legitimate thing!

The purpose of this article is to get the information out there, to build awareness on the topic so that mothers can get the care and the advice of how to nourish and replenish their stores to give them back their vibrancy and their vitality. Yet commonly we see new parents running off little to no sleep, feeling overwhelmed and forgetting to feed themselves which not only affects their own health and wellbeing but puts a strain on their relationship with their partner, or even those with family and friends.

It takes a village to raise a child, but in this modern day, many women are doing it all themselves – the cooking, cleaning, caring, washing, driving, more cleaning and more washing at the expense of their own sleep, nourishment, and sanity. This scenario itself being stressed out and overwhelmed contributes further to the loss of nutrients and combined with breastfeeding (If you do) is a recipe for depletion.

In traditional cultures, women in their reproductive years of life would be fed specific diets that were laden with nutrient dense organ meats, fatty cuts of meats and broths to ensure that they remained well nourished. You’re eating for two in the sense of nutritional needs, rather than caloric requirements.

What Does Post Natal Depletion Look Like?

  • Exhaustion

  • Pain

  • Forgetfulness

  • Indecisiveness

  • Moodiness

  • Weight gain or significant loss

  • Foggy head or ‘baby brain’

  • Low mood and lack of concentration

Is this sounding familiar? Well fear not because it’s not all bad news - there is hope. I’ve got an online short course in the works ‘Nourishing Mums & Bubs’ that will be designed with new mammas in mind to be time savvy, cost-effective and with practical advice & education on how to replenish the stores and keep up with the demands nutritionally, physically and mentally post-birth.

The Nourishing Mums & Bubs E-Course Will Include:

  • A preparatory phase that will begin in your final trimester of pregnancy to get you ready for what lies ahead. We will talk through your after birth plan - will you have family close by to help with the cooking and cleaning? Do you have a partner on board who will take time off work to be your hands and feet? Have you got nourishing meals batch-cooked and ready to whip out of the freezer for a fast and stress-free dinner? These are some of the things we will go over in short segmented videos that you can watch in the comfort of your own home.

  • Identifying and supporting the changes in hormones, when they occur, how you may expect to feel and how best to support the changes and the transition through.

  • A list of nutrients that have been lost with simple and easy ways to get them to combat the depletion.

  • Support for sleep - how to enhance it, when to get it and how to cope with less of it

  • Tips, tools and tricks that will safeguard your mental and emotional health

  • Exercise guides to begin with (thanks to my husband who is a Clinical Exercise Physiologist)

  • Plus many recipes (that won't take you too much time or effort) but that will be replenishing and nourishing for both mum and bub (once bub is ready)

I will also get you thinking for the months ahead and what obstacles may arise – how to avoid mastitis, or treat it if needed, how to care for cracked and dry nipples, beat the baby blues and so much more. This will be formatted in a way that’s easy to view, access, learn from and apply.

If you’re interested to learn more about this or would like to sign up to the course please leave an expression of interest below and I can get in touch to give you the run down and the expected date of launch.

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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WHY YOU'RE NOT LOSING WEIGHT

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

Weight loss isn’t always as simple as calories in vs calories out, and this confusion can leave many of us feeling defeated and frustrated after trying time and time again to reach our goals. What many don’t often realise is that there are so many other players involved when it comes to our weight. The body can often resist weight loss purely form a survival mechanism but with hormones, stress, lifestyle and environmental influences mixed in it can create a whole cocktail of roadblocks stopping you from reaching your goal.

#1 Stress

Stress can inhibit weight loss, this is largely due to elevations our stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol disrupts our appetite and leads to increased weight that’s predominantly stored around the abdomen. When stressed we are in a state of sympathetic nervous system dominance, this is also known as our ‘fight or flight response’. When in this state blood sugar levels rise and fall that may trigger cravings for refined carbohydrates and sugars.

What can you do?

Focusing on stress reduction either through lifestyle practices like gentle exercise, meditation and mindfulness, Epsom salt baths and use of essential oils, as well as diet to include more healthy fats, quality proteins, and smart carbs. Not to mention specific nutrients like magnesium and B group vitamins, these are best sourced from a qualified practitioner like me for the appropriate script.

#2 Over-Exercising and/or Under Eating

This is another form of stress, and particularly important for women to note. Too much exercise can place too much of a stress on the body and when combined with calorie restriction, this can trigger a starvation response, signalling to the body that there aren’t enough resources and now is not the time to lose any more! Exercise also increases the elimination of estrogens and simultaneously reduces the production of estrogen – this may be of benefit with women with estrogen levels that are too high, but a deficiency of estrogen can also lead to weight gain – more on this to come!

What can you do?

Take a break, take a long walk and swap out your CrossFit or HIIT sessions to more outdoor walks, pilates or a Barre class to minimise that cortisol production but still, provide the many benefits of movement. Focus on nourishment at meal times, work with a practitioner to put together an appropriate meal plan for you that will give your body the nutrients it needs for pre and post exercise as well as the correct macronutrients needed to support healthy weight loss.

#3 Sleep

Getting quality sleep and the right quantity of hours of sleep is crucial for healthy weight loss and body composition. Studies have found that those who slept between 3.5-5.5 hours a night consume nearly 385 more calories the next day compared to those who sleep between 7-10 hours. Lack of sleep also increases your risk of chronic disease, cancer, diabetes, anxiety, depression and many more.

What can you do?

Focus on sleep hygiene as well as including dietary and lifestyle practices that will promote restful, restorative sleep. See these tips to get a good nights sleep here.

#4 Toxicity

We may not be aware of the toxins we are exposed to, but it’s now estimated that food alone is sprayed with toxins in numbers that are 17 times greater than what they were 40 years ago providing us with a chemical cocktail of toxic substances. What’s more is that for many of us before we leave the house we have already exposed ourselves to an alarming amount of different chemicals and pollutants. They are in skin care, makeup, cleaning products, cookware, electronic devices, car fumes, factories, in our food and drinks, through alcohol and even coffee consumption. Toxicity places an additional stress on the body, which as we have discussed, can lead to obstacles with healthy weight loss and many of these substances now being shown to disrupt our hormonal systems, wreaking havoc on our body.

Vitamin D and calcium work together to promote weight loss yet we are living in a culture that is largely deficient in vitamin D, common skin care products contain substances that strip our skin of the compounds needed to convert the rays from the sun into active vitamin D in the body.

What can we do?

Detox! Take a good inventory of your household, your workplace and the environments you spend a lot of your time in. You can either go all out and throw out everything or work through it one item at a time consciously swapping over chemical-laden products for natural alternatives. Using food, olive oil or coconut oil works wonders in terms of moisturiser, you can use essential oils with baking or bicarb soda for cleaning, or fill a spray bottle with water, vinegar, and lemon essential oil as a surface spray and wipe. I use essential oils instead of perfume, I don’t wear deodorant (eating clean and keeping clean fights and funky smells) and I clean my teeth with baking soda toothpaste. There are many different options to support your low-tox lifestyle! Getting adequate sunlight for that vitamin D! Being outdoors for 20 minutes at least with skin exposed in large enough areas to increase absorption - think tops of legs, arms and chest.

For more advice on cosmetics and beauty products, I encourage you to check out Emily Banks from Depths of Beauty she is a wealth of knowledge and an incredible resource.

#5 Poor Gut Function

The way we digest, extract and absorb the nutrients from the foods we eat is pretty important. With any digestive disturbance, it’s important to investigate with a qualified practitioner to get to the root of the cause. The microbiome plays an important role in metabolism, food cravings, and nutrient absorption and this may need to be addressed, pesticides on foods, antibiotic use, chronic stress, fibre deficient diets and use of microwaves can all disrupt our microbiome and lead to dysbiosis. Parasites are also very common and can cause nutrient deficiencies, bloating, fatigue and changes to appetite. There may be specific foods that cause an immune response, triggering a cascade of processes that may result in inflammation, further sustaining weight loss resistance.

What can we do?

For an individualised approach and appropriate prescription I would encourage you to work alongside a practitioner, I see many clients for digestive complaints and all will involve a completely different approach to their treatment. Simple dietary tips to support gut function is to get adequate fibre, lots of colour and antioxidant, drink plenty of water and even trial the inclusion of fermented foods. Please note that when trying ferments for the first time start slow, depending on the state of your microbiome you may respond with some bloating or gas. Fermented foods are histamine-containing foods as well as bone broth which is also important for gut health, to address histamine issues please work with a practitioner for support.

#6 Hormone Imbalances

The thyroid gland is responsible for the metabolic functions within the body. It secreted hormones T3 and T4 which are important when it comes to our weight and body composition. The intricate hormonal dance we have going in on can be disrupted, the thyroid is particularly sensitive to a diet that’s low in iodine, or too high in iodine, toxicity, and stress as well as inflammation and autoimmunity. With this, the thyroid can produce too much or too little T4 and this can impact on your metabolism.

 Steroid hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone also need to be in balance. Estrogen deficiency can occur just as easily as estrogen dominance can. This can happen in cases of increased stress as the body’s precursor to these hormones is also needed to create cortisol so the body will make more cortisol to get through the stress at the expense of our sex hormones. Too much exercise as we have discussed will also promote estrogen excretion and reduce the production of it.  

Fat cells act as a secondary source of estrogen. So, when estrogen is low, the body will create more fat cells necessary to maintain adequate levels. The body is resourceful like that!

What can you do?

Stress reduction, dietary analysis and nutritional treatments work beautifully to balance hormones. If you suspect a hormone imbalance is going on definitely go and speak with your health care practitioner to conduct the appropriate testing to confirm. Symptoms experienced with thyroid imbalances include:

  • Nervousness

  • Insomnia

  • Racing heart

  • Increased sweating

  • Muscle weakness

  • Multiple bowel movements

  • Thin, brittle hair

 This would indicate an overactive thyroid.

Additionally, there are symptoms such as:

  • Fatigue

  • Dry skin

  • Weight gain

  • Feeling cold

  • Low mood

  • Constipation

  • Muscle weakness

 And these would point more towards an underactive thyroid gland.

#7 Medications

Your medications may be playing a part – and this is in no way to tell you to stop taking them, but to learn to be mindful of the implications on your weight that they can cause. Common culprits are the oral contraceptive pill, antidepressants, steroids, and angiotensin-receptor blockers.

What can you do?

If your medication can be changed, then work with your prescribing physician to slowly come off them. If it’s the pill you’re on for contraception only then there are other options you can explore, if it's for skin or period complaints it’s worthwhile working with a practitioner to get to the root of the problem – is it a zinc deficiency? Do you have endometriosis or PCOS? Are your natural hormones off balance? These are worthwhile investigations to bring your body back to a state of balance.  

#8 Overeating or simply eating the wrong thing

We are all uniquely and wonderfully made, meaning that one diet fits all is not a sound approach to health or weight. For many we simply may not be eating the right amounts, or tricked into consuming ‘superfoods’ that are not so super after all, foods like the trendy acai bowl, many store-bought dips, dressings and condiments, marinades and seasonings in foods, vegetable oils used like grapeseed, sunflower, canola, safflower and ‘natural’ sweeteners like agave.

What can you do?

Keep it simple, choose to eat SLOW:

  • Seasonal

  • Local

  • Organic

  • Whole

Studies have shown that diets that are moderate-low in palatability work well in supporting weight loss. Consuming adequate protein to increase thermogenesis through digestion as well as taking ‘diet breaks’ to help lower the body’s set point and also give you a break from it all. These are all areas worthy of another article in and of itself, but we can see from this one alone just how many other factors there are to consider when it comes to weight loss.

I always encourage you to work alongside a practitioner to support you, give sound advice and prescribe necessary nutrients for you. We are all so beautifully unique and this is something to treasure and work with it, rather than work against it by taking the advice from Dr. Google or the latest celebrity endorsement.  

Yours in health,

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SO, YOU WANT TO LOSE WEIGHT?

Written by: Jon Freund ESSA AEP at Hunter Rehabilitation and Health in Newcastle NSW

W: www.hunterrehab.com.au/E: info@hunterrehab.com.au/IG: @hunterrehab

Ever heard that weight loss is 80% diet, and 20% exercise? Well I’m going to tell you that is most probably true or at least a decent approximation. You won’t lose weight without addressing diet.  However, do not mistake weight loss alone for health. Many of those who are looking for dietary advice, such as can be found at a high quality on this website, are looking to lose weight. While weight loss and achieving healthy weight can be a good indicator of health, we know that that there is much more to good health than just weight loss.

So why exercise? There’s the obvious benefits such as increased muscle strength, increased aerobic capacity, increased perceived energy levels, and improved sleep. But here’s a few interesting effects of exercise that you may not be aware of:

Exercise increases cognitive function both now and in your future

Research has found that exercise not only increases your cognitive function acutely, but also that exercise in your youth and adulthood actually carries over to reducing the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease as you age. It’s also been found that exercise increases cognitive function in those who have already been diagnosed as having dementia.

Exercise decreases the risk of osteoporosis and improves bone density in those with osteoporosis

This one has been known for a long time, however I am still impressed by the number of people we see in clinic with osteoporosis who have either been told not to exercise or that simply aren’t exercising. Exercise increases bone density due to Woolf’s law (Bones adapt to load). They become denser with regular loading. You should exercise appropriately for your bone density though, if you have osteoporosis it would be wise to engage an Exercise Physiologist to help you get started. If you want to know more check out Exercise and Sports Science Australia position statement here https://www.essa.org.au/for-media/advocacy-platform/position-statements/

Exercise helps regulate psychological health, in terms of depression and anxiety

Exercise has been repeatedly shown to help with combatting depression and other mental health conditions. However, it should be noted that exercise alone has not been proven to counteract these conditions alone and should be viewed as part of a holistic approach (which may need pharmaceutical intervention). There is some really intriguing evidence around exercise and diet in regards to the human gut microbiome and the role of healthy gut bacteria in mental health, however there is more research needed.

If you want to know more about what exercise can do for you, and your specific health condition or set of challenges, you should engage with an Exercise Physiologist (EP). EP’s are allied health professionals who specialise in exercise prescription for chronic disease and injury and are the experts when it comes to exercise. Ask your GP for a referral if you don’t know where to go!

References

Colcombe, S., & Kramer, A. F. (2003). Fitness effects on the cognitive function of older adults: a meta-analytic study. Psychological science14(2), 125-130.

Hillman, C. H., Erickson, K. I., & Kramer, A. F. (2008). Be smart, exercise your heart: exercise effects on brain and cognition. Nature reviews neuroscience9(1), 58.

Rovio, S., Kåreholt, I., Helkala, E. L., Viitanen, M., Winblad, B., Tuomilehto, J., ... & Kivipelto, M. (2005). Leisure-time physical activity at midlife and the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease. The Lancet Neurology4(11), 705-711.

https://www.essa.org.au/for-media/advocacy-platform/position-statements/

Scully, D., Kremer, J., Meade, M. M., Graham, R., & Dudgeon, K. (1998). Physical exercise and psychological well being: a critical review. British journal of sports medicine32(2), 111-120.

Hassmen, P., Koivula, N., & Uutela, A. (2000). Physical exercise and psychological well-being: a population study in Finland. Preventive medicine30(1), 17-25.

Cooney, G., Dwan, K., & Mead, G. (2014). Exercise for depression. Jama311(23), 2432-2433.

TAKING TREATMENT FOR DEPRESSION IN A NEW DIRECTION

Written by: Brittani Kolasinski (BHSc - Nut, AdvDip Nut Med) 

For a number of years now depression has been thought of as a condition triggered by some ‘chemical imbalance’ within our brains – more specifically a deficiency of a neurotransmitter serotonin. However, more recently depression is now more understood of as a condition influenced by inflammation and closely connected to our immune system – and we now know that the majority of our immune cells are located within our gut (also where 97% of our serotonin is produced!).

Studies have found that depressed people have elevated levels of inflammatory proteins in plasma and cerebrospinal fluid, with increases of cytokines TNF-alpha, IL-6 and C-reactive protein.

Tryptophan is of importance to note - as an amino acid that is required for the synthesis of serotonin and melatonin. However, there is also a lesser known biochemical pathway for tryptophan and this is known as the kynurenine pathway. This kynurenine pathway accounts for about 99% of ingested tryptophan that isn’t used for protein synthesis (amino acids make up the structure of proteins within the body), and this pathway was first thought to be involved in the creation of a substance known as nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (Davis & Liu, 2015)

…. (please stay with me through these biochemical terms – its really interesting stuff!)

The kynurenine pathway has been linked now with neurodegenerative disease, tumour proliferation, inflammation and depression! You see, when inflammation is present, more tryptophan goes into the kynurenine pathway to produce quinolinic acid and kynurenic acid, and not serotonin. Quinolinic acid and kynurenic acid are neuroactive and its believed that they contribute to behavioural changes experienced by individuals when inflammation is increased through exposure to stimuli like chronic stress, toxin exposure, diet or lifestyle. Common antidepressant medications (SSRIs) work by increasing the amount of tryptophan to serotonin, but also ignoring the effects of the inflammatory cytokines which have triggered the depression (Raison et al, 2010).

Factors that increase inflammation and increase risk and severity of depression

  • Inactivity

  • Reduced sleep

  • Social isolation

  • Obesity

  • Diet low in omega 3 fatty acids (anti-inflammatory fatty acids)

  • Low serum cholesterol

  • High sugar diet

  • Smoking

Interventions that reduce depressive symptoms have been reported to lower inflammatory and/or increase anti-inflammatory, immune-regulatory activity in the body and brain (Raison et al. 2010).

Apart from SSRI’s, there are a number of dietary interventions and lifestyle habits that can help to reduce inflammation, alleviate feelings of depression and help combat future occurrences of the condition…

Get in touch if you’d like to know more, I’d be happy to work with you as your health practitioner, using food as medicine and lifestyle modifications to have you happy and healthy.


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References

Davis, I., & Liu, A. (2015). What is the tryptophan kynurenine pathway and why is it important to neurotherapy? Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics15(7), 719–721. http://doi.org/10.1586/14737175.2015.1049999

Raison, C. L., Dantzer, R., Kelley, K. W., Lawson, M. A., Woolwine, B. J., Vogt, G., ... & Miller, A. H. (2010). CSF concentrations of brain tryptophan and kynurenines during immune stimulation with IFN-α: relationship to CNS immune responses and depression. Molecular psychiatry15(4), 393.

 

 

 

SEVEN SUGGESTIONS FOR SOUND SLEEP

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

Humans need sleep. If we don’t sleep, we will die. It’s an essential part to complete a healthy life style – yes, I do believe wholeheartedly that food is medicine, but without quality sleep you won’t get far in terms of health, disease prevention or longevity.

Sleep is an active process, in terms of detoxifying the central nervous system, memory consolidation, synthesis of neurotransmitters, tissue repair, cellular repair and DNA repair. Our sleep cycle is, in part, regulated by the hormones cortisol and melatonin. Cortisol should spike in the early hours of the morning to get us up and out of bed, then taper off towards the evening as melatonin surges. Melatonin helps to prepare you for sleep, then fades throughout the night as the morning nears, which is when cortisol begins to rise yet again, and so starts another day.

This sleep cycle is known as our circadian rhythm, and it’s hardwired into every cell & organ system in our body. We have our ‘master clock’, but then with each organ they have their very own ‘clocks’ [circadian rhythms], which is not only dictated by sleep, but also our eating and drinking patterns too… for example, with our liver and digestive system.

The suprachiasmatic nucleus is the main controller of our circadian rhythm, it is located within a region of the brain known as the hippocampus. When altered, by either staying up late or waking earlier – our rhythm is disrupted, making consistency with our sleep and wake times crucial to optimal health, with exception to minor variations due to seasonal changes – i.e day light savings.

Almost 90% of Australians suffer from a sleeping disorder. Inadequate sleep and the issues that arise with day to day functioning affect 35-45% of Australian adults, and on average it is reported we are getting about 7 hours, although 12% report sleeping less than 5 ½ hours and also note that their daytime activities and ability to function is impaired.

It’s something that needs to be addressed, for this, some things need to change.

Seven and a half to nine hours is recommended for optimal quantity, but quality also counts. There are many different factors that can influence sleep quality, and how you set yourself up for the day in the morning, as well as the tasks and diet you have during the day can have huge impacts on how well you sleep that night.

1.     Get sunlight exposure first thing in the morning

Exposure to bright light, as in outdoor sunlight helps to regulate the sleep wake cycle. Getting outside first thing in the morning, even just for a walk around the block, or driving to work without sun glasses on, allows the sunlight to get into your eyes. Indoor lights or screens from phones/laptop/iPads do not count in this instance. 15 minutes is desired – it’s important to help change how our central nervous system synthesises serotonin, which is the precursor to melatonin, our sleep inducing hormone… Getting back outside at lunchtime will also help further – Try taking your lunch break away from your desk and sit outside, if possible.

2.     Eat a protein rich breakfast

Serotonin, as mentioned previously, is the precursor to melatonin. Serotonin is made from an amino acid tryptophan, which is found in protein rich foods, particularly of animal origin. Starting the day with a breakfast of eggs is a great way to get the tryptophan into your diet, a quick scramble, boiled, poached or fried – whatever you feel.

3.     Cut down caffeine

Caffeine has about a 6-hour half-life, longer in some who are sensitive. This can blunt your ability to wind down sufficiently for sleep that night. Even an afternoon coffee can cause a disruption in your sleep cycle later that night. Anyone who is having issues with insomnia, I would recommend going cold turkey on this stuff and monitor how it makes you feel and how it changes your sleep quality overall. Just try it for a week to see the difference.

4.     Alcohol must go

Alcohol disrupts the body’s ability to get into that REM cycle of sleep, it’s also a toxin to the body, meaning that while sleeping, when the body has many other processes to get through, it will prioritise the removal of alcohol before anything else. Initially it has a sedative effect, however the delayed effect of this is actually a stimulating or disrupting effect. If you do choose to drink in the evenings, try having them earlier to give the liver time to break it down and metabolise.

5.     Put the electronics away

Screens and lights from laptops, TVs, iPads, phones emit blue light, which sends your brain the message that ‘it’s still light out’ and will block or delay the melatonin secretion. Having at least 2 hours break between screen time and bed time is suggested or investing in blue light blocking sunglasses or using a filter on laptops if you must be on your device for whatever reason. However, its not just the blue light that’s the issue - just the stimulus of what is being viewed [60% of the brains stimulus is through what we see], whatever it may be, can be emotionally taxing and trigger a stress response which can impact on our sleep quality that night.

EMFs are also a problem, these secrete from electronics its best to have them all out of the bedroom altogether, and if the phone must be in the room for alarm or whatever the reason – have it on aeroplane mode at the bear minimum or invest in an old school alarm clock.

6.     Sleep Hygiene

This involves setting up the right environment for your body to prepare for sleep and maintain quality sleep through the night. Having the temperature slightly cool, a dark room, with clean sheets – all really important. The body’s core temperature must drop slightly to help induce sleep, taking a warm bath prior can have a rebound effect, letting off some heat before bedtime. You want it to be cool enough so that its uncomfortable to be not under the covers. Having the room dark enough is also vital to optimal sleep – as we know, melatonin is sensitive to light and dark. Your eyes are not the only light sensitive part of your body – so even if your eyes are closed and there’s some slight light coming in through the door or the blinds, your body will pick this up and it can disrupt your sleep.

Sleep hygiene also makes note to keep the bedroom for 2 things only – sleeping and sex. Not for watching Netflix or scrolling through social media. This sets the tone for the room, what its purposes are, so you know, and your body knows once it enters the bedroom it’s one of two options.

7.     Have a bedtime routine

A ritual to wind down, to signal to the body that its preparing for sleep. This can include taking time to read, meditate, pray, practice deep breathing, have a bath, maybe take a light walk, reduce the lights in the house, stop all work – don’t check emails etc. Keeping this consistent evening to evening is ideal, psychologically can have profound impacts on your sleeping patterns. Use this time, if you find a racing mind is impairing sleep preparation, then go deal with those issues – write things down, sort them out, so that you can quiet your mind ready for sound sleep.

Of course, this is a quick guide with some tools to help improve the quality of sleep, for specific health advice regarding medications, health conditions and so on I must advise that you work with your health care practitioner for further and more individualised treatments. 

Sweet dreams,

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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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PRECONCEPTION CARE

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

Planning for your pregnancy should not only consider your circumstances, but also your diet and nutrition. The process of conception, pregnancy and birth in and of itself is a miracle and a completely mind-blowing process of creating and growing new life – it is a time where good nutrition is critical, and I’m not just talking about the 9months of pregnancy itself, but the time leading up to it.

The amount of time you take can vary depending on your own desires, the quality of your current diet, smoking and drinking status, oral contraceptive use, toxin exposure and so on. For some it might only be 6 months (which, ideally should be the minimum), for others up to 2 years might be needed to get your health and diet in check to support this miraculous process.

So, why is this so important…?

Ever heard of epigenetics?

For so long it was believed that our genetic makeup we were born with remained as it was throughout our lifespan, however now with more recent understanding, we can see that environmental factors – specifically diet in this case, can alter our genetic expression throughout our life, known as 'nutrigenomics' when discussing the influence of diet and nutrition on genetic expression... 

Think of these genetics as tiny light switches, being turned ‘on’ or ‘off’. This is a total game changer. Not only this, but how we eat can influence the genes within our offspring. Research has shown that within males consuming a high fat high sugar diet (that which is similar to a typical ‘western’ diet) actually increases the chances of their children developing type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition and was not believed to be influenced by diet and lifestyle as Type 2 has been.

Correlations exist between characteristics of nutritional quality during pregnancy and the risk of the child developing a range of diseases in adolescence and adulthood including cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, osteoporosis and mental health disorders.

This goes to show, it’s not just about the mother’s diet during pregnancy, but both parties need to get on board with ensuring that the best nutrition is provided for their body’s well before they even think to conceive. The diet of both mum and dad before conception, and the diet of the mother during pregnancy, will determine to a very large extent the physical health, the appearance as well as mental and emotional well-being of the child.

A malnourished or depleted body needs time to recover, and that recovery should take place before, not during your pregnancy

Specific nutrients can influence sperm motility and morphology – literally the shape and their ability to swim is affected. It takes 3 months for new sperm cells to develop, its not something that a 7-day detox can fix! For women however, for a new oocyte to form, the cycle is about 100 days!

When nutritionally depleted, or with increased stress (physical, emotional, from toxin exposure and so on) fertility shuts down.

The body knows this is not an ideal environment to conceive and conserves its energy – in a nutshell (and, please note I’m not saying this is solely the reason behind every single infertility case – of course other common conditions influence this from obstruction, PID, infection, endometriosis, PCOS, lack of ovulation, in which women can still have a period, or otherwise). This is commonly seen in women with low body fat percentage and a higher muscle ratio, who exercise to the point when menstruation stops – referred to as the female athlete triad.

Macronutrients are important, in the right amounts – as deficiencies or excesses can both influence fertility, the pregnancy, the risk of complications and the size and health of the foetus, even into their adolescent and adult years.

“Female obesity is associated with significant alterations in reproductive health and fertility. Not only does obesity decrease the likelihood of ovulation, it also significantly reduces the chance for pregnancy in women who ovulate regularly. These data are of particular concern given the ongoing obesity epidemic and its effects on reproductive-age women. Furthermore, women on the extremes of body mass spectrum suffer from subfertility, implicating nutrition in cases of both underweight and overweight women.”

(Shaum & Polotsky, 2013)

A few beneficial nutrients to consider... 

  • Vitamin A - Vitamin A is crucial for genetic expression and genetic potential, for strong bones, healthy skin and keen eye sight, mineral metabolism, hormone production and mental stability. It is vitamin A which gives signal to the undifferentiated stem cells to differentiate into the various organs, such as heart, liver and lungs…

    Vitamin A is also needed for sperm production in men, as well as protects the sperm from oxidative damage.

  • Vitamin D - Vitamin D and A work in synergy and ensures optimal foetal development. Adequate vitamin D levels pre-pregnancy prepares the mothers bones, teeth, organs and brain for the additional stress that comes with being pregnant.

  • Vitamin E - Vitamin E is an antioxidant and important for immune and cardiovascular health. Studies have found that low vitamin E is associated with an increased risk of pre-eclampsia during pregnancy. Vitamin E is also known to prevent preterm infants and male infertility

  • Vitamin K - For vitamin K2 specifically, research has identified K2 dependent proteins in sperm itself, and it plays a vital role in reproduction. K2 activates receptors responsible for the deposition of calcium and phosphorus in the bones and teeth.

    The brain contains high concentrations of K2, where it is involved in the creation of myelin sheaths (protective cases around our neurons), making it important to the development of the central nervous system.

  • B Vitamins – B12 and B9 – specific for methylation, a cellular process involved within every cell for the appropriate cell division and DNA replication – a vital part of fertility, growth and development during pregnancy

  • Vitamin C – The ovaries contain high levels of vitamin C and this nutrient is used rapidly during ovulation. It’s also an antioxidant nutrient, important for collagen synthesis and immune system support.

  • Choline - Choline is necessary for the development of the brain, and especially important for cholinergic neurons (acetylcholine for example). Egg yolks are rich in this nutrient, when from free range hens also provide vitamins A, D, E and K2 as well as minerals iron, zinc, copper and selenium

  • Iron – Required for the activation of the enzymes that are essential for DNA synthesis during cell replication. During pregnancy, iron demands increase to about 600mg per day. This is to support the increase in red blood cell production, a further 300mg is then needed for foetus. Iron deficiency during pregnancy may affect maternal morbidity, foetal and infant development and pregnancy outcomes.

  • Cholesterol – Needed for the structure of cell membranes, brain function, hormone production as well as the formation of vitamin D. Within the brain, it supports the brains structure and the myelin sheath of nerve fibres. It supports neurotransmitter functions, such as serotonin, our ‘feel good’ hormone.

  • EPA & DHA – Part of the essential fatty acids that must be obtained in the diet. EPA is anti-inflammatory, however DHA is critical for brain growth and development. Getting this through the diet by way of fatty fish consumption as well as supplementation with fish oils, krill oil and cod liver oil is highly recommended.

    More recently, researchers have even conducted many clinical trials using fish oil supplementation during pregnancy and breast feeding reduced the risk of sensitisation to food allergens. These studies revealed a 30 per cent reduction in risk of egg allergy by age one when supplementing with fish oils during pregnancy and breastfeeding. This is the equivalent of 31 children per 100, making it greatly relevant in a clinical setting to support and reduce egg allergy in children.

  • Probiotics – The research shows that supplementation with probiotics during pregnancy and whilst breastfeeding may reduce eczema risk. Specific strains were studied, which included Lactobacilus rhamnosus, that did show an effect in eczema risk reduction.

More specifically, for healthy sperm…

  • Selenium – increases sperm concentration and motility, improves morphology and increases pregnancy rate

  • Folate – increases sperm concentration, increases pregnancy rate

  • Zinc – improved sperm motility and concentration, improves pregnancy outcome, reduces sperm anti-bodies

  • CoQ10 – increases motility and sperm concentration, improves morphology and enhances acrosome reaction (basically fertilisation).

  • Vitamin C – improves motility and sperm density, reduces DNA fragmentation

  • Vitamin E – improves motility, concentration and pregnancy rate whilst reducing DNA fragmentation.

I could go on and on about every single nutrient and its benefit in pre-conception, fertility, healthy pregnancy as well as optimal health of your child but I fear it would result in an essay to be read.

Take home point – plan for your pregnancy, detox before conception, you’re creating new life and we want to give our bubs the best possible chance at life, not just their life but the generations that flow on from them – not only this, but nutrition to support the health of both parents during a time of rapid growth, change and increase physical and emotional demands – this to be continued after the birth, the ‘fourth trimester’ of pregnancy. For more information on this topic check out the brilliant work of Annalies Corse.

This is an area of nutrition I am personally so passionate about – if you have any further questions or would like guidance and help to plan for your pregnancy you can email to book in a consultation with myself, either face to face or on Skype.

Heres to happy, healthy family’s,


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References

Shaum, K. M., & Polotsky, A. J. (2013). Nutrition and reproduction: Is there evidence to support a “Fertility Diet” to improve mitochondrial function?. Maturitas74(4), 309-312.

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 MARVEL OF OUR MICROBIOTA

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

Our microbiome is the home of many different strains, a colony if you will of many types of bacteria. The largest amount of these are found within our guts, more specifically within our colons (the farthest part of the gastrointestinal tract). It may or may not surprise you to know that we are in fact more bacteria cells than we are human cells! Even our genes are out-numbered, in comparison to the vast number of bacterial cells that we host. These tiny bacteria friends of ours can be in excess of 1 trillion. With this in mind it is now redefining how we view our own human bodies and with the research being conducted we are still only just scratching the surface on what we know about their functions and effects on human health. What we know so far will be highlighted in this article, with some practical tips on how to maintain and optimise your microbiome… Prepare to be amazed and simply marvel at the wonders of your microbiota!

Whole body effects

Our microbiomes are the dictators of so much of our biology, closely linked with our metabolism, immune system, our brains and so much more! Referred to as our gut-brain axis is the link between the microbiome and our nervous system. It is known to effect our moods, behaviours, even playing a role in the development of neuro-degenerative conditions such as autism, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Immune health

If I were to ask you where you think the largest number of immune cells lived would your first guess be the gut? Maybe not, but that is the honest truth. The gut houses the largest number of immune cells. There is a complex interaction between bacteria cells and immune cells. They communicate with each other, creating harmony. They can impact respiratory function, how we respond to vaccines and even the progression of autoimmune diseases.

Gut bacteria can increase the number of T-regulatory cells, these are immune cells which help to attenuate inflammation as well as display calming effects on the immune system.

Gut-brain Axis

Communicating by way of the vagus nerve, either from the brain to the gut, or from the gut back to the brain and gives us a bit of an explanation as to why we experience the fluttering in our stomach when nervous, or the nausea we experience when stressed or anxious. When we perceive stress however it also effects our digestive capacity, making nutrient absorption somewhat limited. Our hydrochloric acid is also reduced in the stomach making the breakdown of proteins and other food products more difficult which can result in IBS type symptoms – altered bowel habits, bloating and discomfort as well as impaired cognition - that ‘foggy headed’ feeling coupled with fatigue & lethargy. On top of that, serotonin, responsible for feelings of happiness and which also impacts on bowel motility is predominantly produced in our guts, by our microbiome. In fact a whopping 95% or so is produced in the gut!

Fibre – ‘The Forgotten Nutrient’

Our microbiota are directly influenced by what we feed ourselves, as it will in turn result in feeding them. So, although our microbiome may be dictators of our biology, we ultimately hold the reigns with how we supply the fuel for them to flourish.

Fibre is ideally what they require, it is recommended that we consume 28g of dietary fibre, however with our western diets, a high majority of us are only getting about half of this.

Fibre is somewhat of a forgotten nutrient, although it doesn’t provide much in the way of caloric energy for the body, it does provide our microbiome with the energy it needs to produce the positive effects within the body. The bacteria ferment the fibre we eat, providing short chain fatty acids, as well as other immune-modulating compounds.

A lack of fibre can promote inflammation due to the impact on the immune system, meaning that our bodies may be kept in a hyper-inflamed state. Inflammation is the driver of almost ALL disease states, from asthma, arthritis, obesity, heart disease, metabolic syndrome and depression making it vital that we incorporate a high majority of anti-inflammatory foods in the diet and restrict the inflammatory ones (more on this in a later blog post…).

Not only does it promote inflammation but a low fibre diet will also starve the bacteria in the gut, which then results in these bacteria feeding of the carbohydrates in the mucin which lines our gastrointestinal tract, gradually weakening this barrier and allowing particles that are to be eliminated be reabsorbed into the blood stream, further wreaking havoc. This is what is known as ‘leaky gut’.

A typical western diet is rich in carbohydrates and fats which are absorbed further up in the GI tract, mainly in the small intestine. Due to their simple nature and lack of fibre makes them more readily absorbed, meaning that they will not reach the colon where our microbiome lives. By consuming complex carbohydrates and a variety of fibres from wholegrains, fruits, vegetables, legumes and lentils, we can ensure that the fibrous parts of the plants will reach our gut bugs and give them the sustenance they need to thrive.

Of course, like with most things; variety is key! Eating seasonally is an easy way to achieve this diversity. Including different vegetables, fruits, beans, peas, wholegrains (whole wheat, oats, rice, quinoa, millet, barley, rye etc) meaning across the year you will be filling yourself with all types of fibre. This ensures a variety of different strains of bacteria, all of which will provide a different effect and benefit for the body

Yes, fruits, vegetables, legumes and wholegrains are carbohydrates, but they are not to be feared! However, with the mounting research coming out about the negative effects of processed carbohydrates; sugars & packaged foods, it’s understandable that we than associate ALL carbs with this group of ‘bad guys’ and avoid them. But in reality, it is about educating ourselves on which types of carbohydrates are of benefit to us and which are to restrict. This is where visits with a nutritionist can be of great benefit, to provide you with an individualised diet suitable to you, to educate you on what to eat, when to eat it and how to prepare it and how exactly it will benefit you. To empower you and work alongside you to enhance your health and wellbeing.

Consultations are available with myself and can be booked online

Yours in health,



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WHAT'S THE DEAL WITH VITAMIN D?

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

With some of the world’s most beautiful beaches and predominantly most of Australia’s population residing along the coastal fringe yet there is a notable number of people having sub-optimal and even deficient levels of vitamin D. The Australian Bureau for Statistics (ABS) concluded that during the years of 2011 and 2012 approximately 4 million Australian adults were considered vitamin D deficient. It was found that 23%, or 1 in 4 Australians adults suffered some form of vitamin D deficiency (ABS, 2013).

We know for one, that we increase our levels through sun exposure, [through a complex procedure within the body which I won’t go into detail] but we also need to obtain this fat-soluble vitamin from dietary sources such as butter, egg yolks, fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines) and dairy (Paxton, 2015).

So, what is the deal with vitamin D? and why do we need to have more than adequate levels? 50nmol/L is recommended to prevent osteoporosis, however optimal levels should exceed 100nmol/L and most of us are not hitting this mark.

Vitamin D is known for its benefits to our bones, maintaining skeletal homeostasis, however it is also a vital component of our immune system, acting as an immuno-modulator, targeting specific immune cells, which contain vitamin D receptors, including our T-lymphocytes, B-lymphocytes, dendritic cells and macrophages (Baeke et al, 2010).

“Several epidemiological studies have linked inadequate vitamin D levels to a higher susceptibility of immune-mediated disorders, including chronic infections and autoimmune diseases”

(Baeke et al, 2010).

Vitamin D adequacy can be attributed to telomere length… Studies found that those with lower vitamin D levels had shortened telomeres which correlated to additional years of age and subsequent cellular damage (Richards et al, 2007).

Side note: Telomeres are caps at the end of our DNA strands which protect our chromosomes and are a biochemical marker for aging and cell damage. As these telomeres shorten with every new cell division (which is occurring all the time throughout our lives) they ensure that the DNA remains intact. Eventually telomeres get to the point where they are too short to continue to function, this results in our cells to age and cease functioning properly themselves. Telomeres can therefore be considered as an aging clock in every cell within our body.

Deficiency of vitamin D is also associated with autoimmune disease (AID), occurrence of AID in Australia has also been increasingly apparent (AIDA Report, 2013). Low vitamin D levels has also been attributed to obesity through its mechanisms of influence on insulin secretion, as well as showing positive effects on blood sugar levels (Earthman et al, 2012; Alvarez & Ashral, 2010).

The purpose of this article is to educate on the many functions of vitamin D in humans, backed by research. As we can see there are a multitude of benefits of having optimal levels, however too much can be toxic to the body. If you’re wanting to increase or assess your own levels of vitamin D please consult with your health practitioner to get appropriate supplementation and dietary interventions for your own individual needs.

I am happy to have a consultation with you, if you haven’t found yourself a practitioner to work with. You can book online here

Yours in health,

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References

Alvarez, J. A., & Ashraf, A. (2009). Role of vitamin D in insulin secretion and insulin sensitivity for glucose homeostasis. International journal of endocrinology2010.

Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2013, Australian Health Survey: Biomedical Results for Nutrients, 2011-12.

Baeke, F., Takiishi, T., Korf, H., Gysemans, C., & Mathieu, C. (2010). Vitamin D: modulator of the immune system. Current opinion in pharmacology10(4), 482-496.

Earthman, C. P., Beckman, L. M., Masodkar, K., & Sibley, S. D. (2012). The link between obesity and low circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations: considerations and implications. International journal of obesity36(3), 387.

Paxton, F. (2015). Foundations of Naturopathic Nutrition.

Richards, J. B., Valdes, A. M., Gardner, J. P., Paximadas, D., Kimura, M., Nessa, A., ... & Aviv, A. (2007). Higher serum vitamin D concentrations are associated with longer leukocyte telomere length in women. The American journal of clinical nutrition86(5), 1420-1425.

FATS TO FUEL THE BRAIN

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

Our brains are primarily made of fats, in fact the brain is 60% fat! (Chang, Ke & Chen, 2009) and these fats are required through dietary sources to maintain structure of the brain, help with development through times of growth and to form the fibres of nerves to enable nerve transmission. This is important for cognition, balanced moods, memory, learning and vision (Kidd, 2007; Haast & Kiliaan, 2015).

Effects on the brain

Essential fatty acids, our Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are essential as they must be obtained through diet as they cannot be synthesised by the body (Chang, Ke & Chen, 2009).

DHA is especially important for the brain. The structure of DHA is rather unique and its functions are involved within nerve synapses in the brain (Paxton, 2015, pp.89-92). Brain tissue has a high concentration of DHA, as well as the retina, testes and sperm. DHA protects the brain against oxidative damage, it aids nerve development and enhances transmission. It is particularly important during times of rapid growth and development, as in pregnancy, new-borns and infancy. Breast milk contains large amounts of DHA as it is vital for the development of the baby’s central nervous system (Chang, Ke & Chen, 2009).

Phosphatidylserine a component of cell membranes and part of the phospholipid family is also another major player when it comes to brain health and function. Phosphatidylserine is particularly concentrated within the regions of the brain. It forms part of the myelin sheath of nerves as well as having a role in cell communication and the transmission of biochemical messages within the central nervous system (Paxton, 2015, p.100). It also regulates the functions of neurotransmitters such as acetylcholine, noradrenaline, serotonin and dopamine which are all involved in promoting a good mood and help with concentration and memory (Purves, Augustine & Fitzpatrick, 2001). Phosphatidylserine is also involved in glucose utilisation in the brain as well as displaying antioxidant activity (Paxton, 2015, p.100).

Fats are of particular benefit when it comes to brain health and most certainly not to be feared. All macronutrients serve a purpose within the body and restrictions of some may effect other systems or the body in its entirety. Pease consult a trained professional before making major changes to your diet.

Yours in health,

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References

Chang, C. Y., Ke, D. S., & Chen, J. Y. (2009). Essential fatty acids and human brain. Acta Neurol Taiwan18(4), 231-41.

Haast, R. A., & Kiliaan, A. J. (2015). Impact of fatty acids on brain circulation, structure and function. Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids (PLEFA)92, 3-14.

Kidd, P. M. (2007). Omega-3 DHA and EPA for cognition, behavior, and mood: clinical findings and structural-functional synergies with cell membrane phospholipids. Alternative medicine review12(3), 207.

Purves, D., Augustine, G.J., Fitzpatrick, D. (2001). Biogenic Amines. Neuroscience 2nd edn. Sunderland (MA): Sinauer Associates. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK11035/

CHOLESTEROL.. IT'S NOT A DIRTY WORD

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

There’s a lot of fear associated with cholesterol, with it "being linked to an increased risk of heart disease & all" (which is another blog post all in and of itself). But, what you may not know is that cholesterol is required for a number of different reasons; hormone synthesis, as an antioxidant, aids the bodies healing process, is required to form vitamin D, neurotransmitters and is also needed for our cells membrane’s (the outer layer) structure (Marieb, Hoehn & Hutchinson, 2013).

Cholesterol is found in the foods we eat, but misinformation may have you believe that dietary cholesterol will increase your blood levels… When in fact our liver produces about 85% of it! You may be familiar already with the different types of cholesterol; HDL (known as the 'good' cholesterol) & LDL (known as the 'bad'). These terms in fact are referring to the lipoproteins which act as transporters carrying the cholesterol throughout the blood stream.

Dietary cholesterol will not effect your bodies cholesterol levels, saturated fat however, will & you know what else will?...

Stress.

When you’re stressed the body creates more cholesterol as it helps to mop up endotoxins. Endotoxins are released during this time of stress and are damaging to the body, creating inflammation. So, to counteract this effect, cholesterol is produced (Marieb, Hoehn & Hutchinson, 2013).

Diets low in saturated fats (commonly in vegan/vegetarian diets) can reduce the total level of cholesterol within the body, and this can result in depression and anxiety (Colin, Reggers, Castronovo & Ansseau, 2002; Papakostas et al, 2004).

As I’ve mentioned earlier, cholesterol is needed for hormone synthesis. Sex hormones testosterone, progesterone and estrogen are all dependent on cholesterol. Cholesterol is also a pre-cursor to vitamin D, an essential fat-soluble vitamin required for multiple functions in the body (too many to list here).

Morale of the story; cholesterol is GOOD, its needed by the body and it’s also created by the body. So you can stress less & as always, be kind to yourself x

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References

Colin, A., Reggers, J., Castronovo, V., & Ansseau, M. (2002). Lipids, depression and suicide. L'Encephale29(1), 49-58.

Marieb, E., Hoehn, K., & Hutchinson, M. (2013). Human anatomy & physiology. [San Francisco, Calif.]: Pearson Education/Benjamin Cummings

Papakostas, G. I., Öngür, D., Iosifescu, D. V., Mischoulon, D., & Fava, M. (2004). Cholesterol in mood and anxiety disorders: review of the literature and new hypotheses. European Neuropsychopharmacology14(2), 135-142.

CRACKING THE CODE OF YOUR CRAVINGS

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

 Our bodies have a funny way of asking for what it needs, different food cravings can be an indication of different nutrients that it needs and signalling you towards a possible deficiency. This blog post aims to identify what your food cravings could be telling you…

1.     Chocolate

This is one of the most common ones I hear of, and I get it. Chocolate is amazing – but when your body has this constant incessant need for it could be indicating that your body might need some magnesium! In which case, it may be worthwhile switching up the Cadbury (not actually chocolate, mind you) for some raw cacao – which is one of the richest sources of magnesium. Other foods high in magnesium also include dark leafy green vegetables (chard, spinach), broccoli, almonds, cashews, hemp seeds, sesame seeds, dates, kelp, beans, legumes and chickpeas.

2.     Ice

Yep, this is a thing! Cravings for ice or other non-food items like dirt or sand is something referred to as ‘pica’ and can mean that your body is low in iron.

Iron comes in 2 forms, haem and non-haem. Haem iron is more readily absorbed, and is found in animal products, mainly red meats, pork, eggs, chicken and fish. Non-haem are your plant based sources, including spinach, swiss chard, collard greens, quinoa, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, cashews and sunflower seeds as well as legumes, lentils and beans.

Also to note NEVER assume an iron deficiency and self-prescribe supplements, in high doses iron is TOXIC to the body and symptoms of excess are in fact similar to signs of deficiency, i.e fatigue – always see your practitioner first for the appropriate testing and supplementation.

3.     Sugar!

Highly addictive stuff, you may find yourself reaching for the sweet stuff purely out of stress or exhaustion as a quick energy source, which is soon after followed by a slump, or because your body is lacking one or more of the following:

  • Chromium – sources include mushrooms, beetroot, broccoli, grapes and chicken

  • Phosphorus – food sources are animal products/meats like chicken, beef, organ meats, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, legumes and chia seeds

  • Sulfur – foods containing this element include cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts), garlic, onions, kale

  • Tryptophan – amino acid found in foods such as cheese, organ meats, lamb, turkey, sweet potato and spinach

4.     Coffee

Again, could be because you’re simply exhausted and need the caffeine, but if you find yourself fantasising about the taste it could be due to a lack of phosphorus, sulfur, salt or iron – see above for the food sources listed

5.     Oily, fried foods

You may just need some more calcium! Calcium can be found in an abundance of different plant based foods, so even if you don’t eat dairy you can still get adequate amounts of this mineral in your diet. Dark leafy greens, like kale, mustard greens and broccoli are rich in calcium. Seeds such as sesame seeds, tahini (ground sesame) and chia seeds as well as legumes.. and then of course you’ve got your dairy based sources – cheeses, milk, yoghurt and creams

6.     Bread

Cravings for bread/ toast could actually be indicating a need for nitrogen – this is found in all high protein foods: animal products, meats, dairy, nuts and beans

Hopefully this might give some more insight into some of these weird, whacky and wonderful signals your beautiful body is giving you. Please do reach out if you feel you need more guidance around this.

Yours in health,

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'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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