When Winter Turns Wild, Turn Home into a Healthy Retreat

Holy Mother of Mayhem Batman - we are in for a snuggly couple of days indoors!

I hear the resounding cries of parents everywhere mixed with hopeful wishes of some valuable rest time on the lounge, unable to venture into the outdoors with their children to keep them entertained and exhausted, and restricted in any efforts to mow lawns and hang washing.    Ahhhh what to do!

If you have children who need entertaining during a weekend of wild weather, I have a few ideas below that could work in your favour.  It may not be the same as their usual expenditure of energy during their normal weekend pursuits, but it may take the edge off the crazy for a few hours...and that lounge is not too far away for you and your book!

Here are a couple of keep ém busy ideas:

  1.  If they are old enough (7+) get them involved in preparing a nourishing Winter immune building soup. They can peel carrots and parsnips, place chopped pieces into the pot, stir with supervision and add herbs for extra health benefits.
  2. If your child is under 7, get busy with them making some play dough (plenty of healthy recipes online) and line up your safe kitchen utensils for shape cutting.  To get some non toxic colours you could try adding drops of beetroot juice, strawberry juice, pulped and strained English spinach juice, blueberry juice and for orange, purple and yellow - carrots in those colours if you have them!
  3. Should your home have a lonely hall just waiting to be utilized - grab some crepe paper, old string, old stockings or something similar and set up a 'laser labyrinth' for them to make their way through without touching it.  Think any Bond Movie, Entrapment or similar spy movies to get to the 'treasure'(that could be their devices or food you have held back for treat purposes).
  4. Look up 7 minute workout on your browser and print out the chart - give one to each child.  Have them do the work out a few times over or get them to create their own (statues can be incorporated into this concept.
  5. With those unwashed bed linen and towels - get them to good use in fort building, scene creating for a mini movie and 'safe' stepping spots for adventurous lounge room activities.
  6. Put large pieces of paper together - secure them with tape. Get your children to lie on the paper and draw the outline of their body.  Google a chart of labeled human body parts and get them to label their body drawing with as many parts as they can.  Another version is to have pieces of food cut out and get them place the foods near or on the parts most likely to benefit from them.
  7. Home made spa treatments are a great way to keep them busy and relaxed!  Using household ingredients and only small quantities needed, coconut and oat scrubs, fruit facials, avocado masks and herbal tea baths become a fantastic passer of time! Make sure you put the soothing music on!

Remember - a healthy dose of fun can be had in the smallest of spaces!

Set Your Health Up For Success

Good Saturday morning to you!

I hope your week had some solid moments of achievement blended with a healthy dose of reflection on where your learning  opportunities were. After all we are never too old or experienced, skilled or affluent, depleted or over it to adapt and grow.

Much of my patient conversations are not just centred around what to eat, pop, swig or mix - most involve coaching, focusing, realignment and helping with getting back on track when the going feels tough.

I was having a chat along these lines earlier this week with one of my patients who is working on weight loss and turning around a type 2 diabetes diagnosis before Summer comes back (like it hasn't left yet!).

He is doing really well so far but something he said really stopped me mid consultation which changed the direction of the conversation.

He said, "I can't wait to get to my goal weight and glucose readings so I dont have to watch what I'm eating all the time." Wait, what?

It was then that I reminded him that it was this kind of lack of vigilance that has bought his health to the point he needed to implement such stringent strategies. I described it much like rotting timber on a house- if you know it's already diseased, would you remove it, replace it and protect it sooner or later? Is the job harder and bigger if you let it go for another 6 months? And if there was one lot of rot, could there not be more in other areas?

He quickly saw my reasoning and relevance to his own health.

I was on a roll so I suggested he adopted a new mindset that looked something like this:

Much like a renovation to a house, once you achieve a goal in the beautification and repairs department, set a new goal post. In fact, lets not call them goal posts, lets call them SUCCESS POSTS!

A success post differs from a goal post, when you reach a goal post we tend to think that's the end of the journey. When we set ourselves success posts, they are defined differently- they encompass a wider range of meaning.

What does success mean to you, look like to you, feel like to you? When you investigate this, you will find there are many levels of this and that having a youthful weight friendly body and living a life that is 'on purpose' is not a stop start process. It's a continuum.

After all, if we get to our last goal and then stop...

Setting your health up for success means having a handful of parameters over your life and ever changing ageing  process that you strive to maintain, not meet and cease.

Not sure how to get a start in this area? Let's sit down and do it together...

www.wisehealthyliving.com.au/bookings - select 'Success Posting Session'


 

Managing Blood Pressure without Medication

Good morning and sunny Saturday!

It is another beautiful weekend here on the Gold Coast and it won't surprise me to see to the beaches bustling with sun seekers as the weather defies the odds in terms of late Autumn temperatures!

Today I am preparing to hold a birthday party for my 12 year old and 20 of her lovely friends and family and with an excited pre teen hanging around during the last minute 'don't forgets' could be an opportunity for high blood pressure to set in!

As adults we face many circumstances where our blood pressure is under fire given the weight of responsibilities and concerns we have to deal with day in and out.  Yesterday I was visiting one of my corporate clients running blood pressure checks and preparing heart healthy foods for them to try.

One of the employees came in to have her pressure done, and her reading was expected to be elevated due to the obvious stress she was displaying and speaking of.  As predicted, it was high - 174/93 - dangerously high by medical standards.

I asked her to remain seated, close her eyes and breath gently (not deeply) and took her through a few minutes of visualization and relaxation techniques.  Whilst she was in this position, I re-took her pressure and once complete asked her to open her eyes.  To her astonishment (and her colleague who was watching the whole thing unfold) - her pressure dropped to 139/85!

To say the experiment was a powerful reminder to her that she is in control of how her body responds to stress and in particular her blood pressure - she left the room feeling quite determined to be mindful of her reactions to her circumstances.

Remember - elevated blood pressure does not result from a deficiency of beta blockers or loop diuretics - it is more likely all you need to take a moment and create some peace around you instead!

Two Tennis Balls and a Sock Relaxation Therapy

Happy Glorious Saturday to you!

 

What a stunning weekend to enjoy the great outdoors - I hope you are preparing to spend some time in the last few weeks of the warm sunshine before it fades along with your Vitamin D levels!

One of my favourite activities to do that brings me deep relaxation is catching a gentle sun doze when the rays aren't too hot.  I always feel thoroughly chilled out and ready to take on whatever the world wants to offer.

Relaxation techniques for the mind and body are grossly underestimated in medicine in my opinion - they simply aren't researched enough and therefore supported as serious options for patients when it comes to our usual spread of chronic diseases.  Putting it all into perspective,  the hormones your body produces under the stress response are extremely inflammatory to your body - all over.

Your muscles, tendons and ligaments are not immune to the stress hormones you can produce when under an adrenal and emotional pump.  Nor is your fascia.

What is fascia I hear you ask?  You know that thin sheath like material often found on the outside of legs of lamb and other animal flesh?  That is fascia and we have it too.  Imagine trying to run a smooth hand over your muscle but the lining on top is buckled up - this is commonly an issue with fascia tissue and can spell all kinds of painful trouble for the body - including headaches, calf tension and muscle pain.

When you release the fascia it can allow for a lot more flow in your body - including in your cranio-sacral fluid.  When your body experiences flow - it experiences deep relaxation.

Enter the 2 tennis balls and socks.  By knotting off the balls into a sock (lets face it we almost always have one floating around on its own) - you create the perfect apparatus for fascia release.

Starting at your feet - place your home made fascia roller under the arch and roll your feel over the two balls to start massaging your feet.  You can test the effects of a fascia release by doing a forward bend safely and noting where you get to.  Then roll your feet and try another forward bend.  You will be amazed at the difference.

Your fascia tissue runs from the base of your feet right up over to the front of your forehead.  By releasing from the feet your effecting the whole of your body.

Remember - you don't have to use fancy or expensive therapies to achieve full body relaxation - your body likes pretty much everything that is simple and effective.

Mustering the Madness of Menopause

Happy cloudy weekend to you!

I write yet again from another location - this time from North Stradbroke Island as I help my girl prepare for a surf comp.  There is something adventurous about being a surf mum and I love the spots we get to visit along with the wonderful people we also share these experiences with.

Its good to be part of something. I find that when you are actively involved in a community your level of well being and belonging increases markedly.  But there are times where even being involved in a community can still feel isolating.

I speak with a lot of women who are in the transition of their lives - menopause - where due to a cocktail of hormonal beasts shaking them against their otherwise capable will,  are speaking of feeling disconnected and wanting to 'run from it all'.

There are a number of obvious physical challenges she faces as well - not to harp on them, but in case you were wondering what may be happening, if this sounds like you or someone you know, these are a commonly felt 'side effects' of these hormonal changes:

  1. Surges of unruly emotions- seemingly unrelated to anything that is actually going on - these chemicals skew her perception and heightens her sensitivity
  2. Skin changes - many women will have a reoccurrence of acne and wonder what is the cause of this - shouldn't she be past all that?  The answer lies below.
  3. Cessation or changes in the flow, duration and consistency of her period - depending on the level of inflammation her body is experiencing generally and how poorly she processes toxins like alcohol - this can impact on her cycle quite substantially
  4. Fatigue, body aches, temperature changes, joint pain, changes in cravings for foods are also features of this time in her life
  5. Sleep disturbances are not uncommon in menopausal women (and andropausal men)
  6. Digestive bloating and changes to bowel habits

Wrangling these symptoms in to allow for a smoother transition takes patience and grace - a dose or two of the following may also be helpful and supportive:

Consistent exercise - it has been found that this alone can help combat the flushing to start with but can also help with toxin processing, increasing probiotic bacteria, pain and mood alterations.

Maintaining a diet where the intake of ecology altering foods are kept at a minimum with periods of tailored and supervised fasting can be very useful - a yeast managed diet is a good start.

Herbs like passionflower, zizyphus, chaste tree, shatavari, dong quai, rosemary, Jamaican dogwood  and astragalus offer a number of different actions across the above side effects.

Homeopathic remedies such as sepia, belladonna, sanguinaria, lachesis and pulsatilla all play a role in matching the presentation of each woman who has her own signature of menopausal symptoms.

Salivary hormone testing to check for clearance of stored chemistry is very useful information and equips us with a different understanding as to what your body could be struggling with moving.  Remember the return of acne?  This could be due to a surge in testosterone production and a poor clearance of this and oestrogen.

Meditation, yoga, dance, tai chi and pilates - anything that gently moves the body and stills the mind is perfect for a menopausal woman.

Remember - this is a transition phase - not a permanent one - go gently and be patient - you will emerge on the others side!

Blindfolds Become a Balancing Act Tool

Eating BlindfoldedHappy Super Saturday!

It is a glorious weekend here on the Gold Coast and most of South Eastern QLD - get out and enjoy!

Today's piece comes inspired by a few conversations I had with patients in clinic this week about using a blindfold to uncover the truth around their health.

It is a well known fact that when we lose a sense (sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste) the other senses strengthen and enhance so that we can still navigate around our world safely and with success.  In the animal world the weak become the target so sharpening other senses is very much a survival tool.

I remember a social experiment that I watched on a documentary where a group of participants were separated into two groups - one who could see, and the other who were blindfolded.  The experiment was to determine which group would eat the most on the plate in front of them.

During the experiment the groups ate in a public area where there was a lot of noise and activity, and the amount of food portioned out was the same for both groups.  At the end of the allotted time, the blindfolded group finished eating earlier and ate less food, leaving an amount on the plate vs the non blindfolded group who kept eating till their plates were clear or the time was up.  The non blindfolded group may have finished first in most cases but they had finished because the  FELT as thought they had eaten enough.

The result was clear - the group who could see how much they were eating were eating too much for their appetite (and their body's needs) - which is a common health problem in today's society.  Here is a list of some side effects of eating too fast and too much:

  1. Indigestion leading to pain and poorly absorbed nutrients
  2. Lowered stomach hydrochloric acid out put leading to impaired breakdown of proteins, calcium and iron and enzyme production
  3. Ineffective release of the leptin hormone that signals your appetite centre to tell your body it can stop eating now
  4. Weight gain due to excessive intake of calories
  5. Metabolic syndrome development from poor calorie control and nutrient metabolism
  6. Bloating and digestive discomfort leading to irregular bowel habits which can lead to other more serious bowel problems later.

Essentially you want to eat until you are 80% full, not chock-a-block full.  By using a blind fold during your next main meal you may just surprise yourself as to how much you don't need to serve yourself.

Bon Appetit!

 

 

The Wondrous Benefits of Soup

Good morning and welcome to a cooler and Winter heralding Saturday. I'm writing from Coffs Harbour today as I help my 11 year old prepare for her surf competition down here. It's a little chillier today than it was yesterday!

Spending the next few days on the beach is going to spell a few extra calorie is burnt for us if we allow ourselves to experience a little chill on our bodies.

You see your body has an in built mechanism to mobilise stored fats to keep you warm if it needs to, so I don't mind feeling the cold at all!

Another benefit of the cooler months are the nurturing healing properties of soups and casseroles. They are also perfect meals for busy people and all you need is a good large pot, some complimentary ingredients and a reheating or thermos option.

There are times where a soup or casserole are a preferred option to crunching through a raw diet and in those cases the concern around killing off a few enzymes and vitamins are far outweighed by the benefits that warmer liquid bound meals offer.

Here are some of the health benefits of including soups and casseroles into your menu this winter:

  1. When you are too busy to cut up a raw meal and munch it down - a quick re heat of a hearty stock with some green veggies thrown in at the last minute is a great way to get the best of both worlds. It's better than skipping a meal!
  2. Some raw vegetables release different nutrients when slightly cooked such as tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. The last three if eaten raw often may block absorption of some other nutrients like iodine for a healthy thyroid.
  3. You can achieve additional hydration with a liquidated meal and in the cooler months the thirst becomes less obvious so it is easy to become dehydrated.
  4. If you are experiencing stress, anxiety and worry and that affects your appetite, soups and casseroles are easy to digest during this time. Your thirst can also alter during high stress periods.
  5. Often you can cook in bulk once and eat for days. Although it is always better to eat freshly prepared meals, in a realistic 21st century world this is not as common as we would like to see. At least you know what has gone into your meals and how it was prepared - even if you did freeze it then reheat!
  6. Spices and herbs that offer additional immune and antimicrobial support for your body can be easily incorporated and utilised when added into a casserole or soup. I personally think our culinary herbs and spices are under used in modern day home cooking.

Remember- a heart soup can offer all major food groups and many trace elements for a complete meal! It's time effective, nutrient effective and cost effective!

When What You’re Doing Is Enough

imageHappy scintillating Saturday!

Have you ever asked yourself am I doing enough to maintain the health of my body or am I going overboard?

How do I know when enough is enough? And enough of what?

In my role as a Naturopath this is predominantly the most important part I play in the patient/practitioner relationship.

Your body is an I credible conglomerate of decision makers and feedback mechanisms. If you have not drunk enough water, chemical signals light up in your brain to trigger a thirst reflex...or it is supposed to.

You see when you maintain your body to meet its needs daily, you're eliminating the chance of these feedback mechanisms to fail, allowing for higher ranking issues to begin. In the case of water drinking, a higher ranking issue may be constipation, headaches, sinus issues, immune irregularities and food sensitivities to name a few.

Here are a number of 'hallmarks' you can keep an observant eye on that will indicate you are maintaining well and keeping things in check:

  1. You wake feeling well rested and refreshed with a spark of energy that grows as you move into the morning- if you don't check on your sleep patterns, breathing  during sleep, hydration the day before, content of carbs/protein and fat plus processed foods and alcohol in your meals the day before
  2. Your appetite spikes soon after waking and regularly between meals within a 3 hour period after your last meal or snack. If it isn't you may need to improve stomach emptying times and enzyme output and address lower colonic bacteria and parasite presence
  3. Your responding to life's ups and downs with clarity and focus, without hypersensitive reactions and without the sharp swings in moods. If you're struggling here- you may be experiencing too much commitment, too little self care, higher toxicity levels in your eliminatory organs, or chemical imbalances from hormone output or breakdown issues. Sometimes you may just need to sit and talk to someone.
  4. You naturally feel like moving your body for fun and exercise. If you don't your system is sluggish and your digestive, thyroid and mood management systems may need an overhaul.
  5. Your skin feels elastic, supple and well supported by firm muscles (doesn't have to be super tight but just not saggy). If it isn't your hydration, essential fatty acids and muscle mass may need to be addressed. If you have rashes or persistent blemishes you're possibly also requiring some gut attention as well, better get on top of that inflammation.
  6. Your bowels move everyday comfortably and without hard effort or discomfort, blood or mucus. If it isn't - you may need to do some investigating, bacteria and parasite work and inflammatory bowel management. I would not leave this for weeks or months.

Remember- you can over do it with your health from time to time. Knowing when enough is enough allows your body to tell you what it's needs are. Taking a supplement that isn't needed and a 'just in case' could be the start of a host of other issues.

How Do I Know How Far I Can Push Myself?

Happy Super Sunny Saturday to you!

What a glorious day to be out and about in the gentle Autumn sun and light breezes.  The heat of the sun is probably a littler warmer than gentle, but soon enough that warmth will dim and Winter will be upon us - enjoying these last weeks or so of the sun's glow is a great way to top up your Vitamin D before the chill sets in.

Many patients I see who have been through an illness or are currently recovering from an injury want to eagerly know when they can get back to their normal duties and their usual activities - the things that they do that reassures them that everything on the inside is ok again.

In essence - they want to know how far they can push themselves in the way they did before.

When I consider this question, I like to align my answer to ceiling heights in a building.  For example someone with little or no history of illness or injury, family history of chronic diseases and a relatively low to moderate stressful lifestyle would be considered to have a high ceiling height.  Couple that with strong iris fibres in the eye and a stable and well working digestive system - and that ceiling is reliably lifted to allow for a little extra mental and physical effort.

Conversely, if someone has a history of a number of decent viral or bacterial infections in one or a number of body systems (gut, respiratory, urinary, skin), recent or current digestive irregularities and suffer with emotional nuances similar to anxiety and depression or persistent irritability - their ceiling would be much lower than the high ceiling person.  Couple that with wavy or weakened iris fibres, presence of consistent pain and a family history of chronic illnesses both past and present - and the level of physical and mental pressure this person can endure is much lower and for less duration.

Finally, if someone has recently been treated for an illness or injury and is still experiencing a level of pain (above 5/10 most days) or fatigue (below 5/10 most days) and are still medicated for this condition - immediately their ceiling is low and is reminded to heed this when trying to return to normal duties.  The first goal is to raise the ceiling height on their health in order to recover their energy levels and pain management, and rely less on non necessary medication.  It is all in the success of recovery between returning to normal activities - even if your ceiling was high before, if your recovery activity is slow, your best approach is to keep working towards measured results that show your body is responding to rehabilitation efforts.

Here are some signs your body may show you that would indicate you are not ready to push too far for too long:

  1. Fatigue returns quickly following a day of work or an hour of exercise to the point where you feel you need to lay down, sleep or sit for long periods
  2. Your appetite and thirst are 'deranged'- meaning you don't have a regular pattern of eating and drinking for hydration (mostly shifts to the evening and daytime appetite is lowered or absent, or you are unable to get enough food/beverages in to satisfy your hunger/thirst at odd times of the day)
  3. Sleeping is irregular - too long or broken - and not waking refreshed
  4. When you exercise you feel as though you are coming down with something
  5. Your temperature regulation is all over the place and when you feel hot - others feel normal temperature relative to the season - regardless of hormonal flushing
  6. You feel aching and pain regularly when you are upright and doing usual things
  7. The thought of driving is exhausting
  8. Your emotional reactions to normal activities and situations are not in alignment with what is actually going on - erratic and irritable responses are common.  Also apathy and poor resilience are presenting.
  9. Your bowel habits have not reset themselves after the event or medication that was used to recover your system.
  10. It is an effort to socialize, think, converse with others more often than not

Remember - some events and illnesses draw a line in the chronological sand of your health journey and must be considered when trying to reinvent yourself to before the event activities and lifestyle pressures.  Sometimes assistance is required to help get you back to the other side of the line.

Getting Pain Out of the Way of Your Fun

Good Sunny Saturday to you!

Let's get this weekend started with a little pain management - after all - who wants to waste a stunning day with hot packs and Panadol?  If you have ever experienced ongoing pain, you will know first hand the debilitating feeling that literally drains your energy tank.  Pain is one of highest reasons why someone will investigate their health, mainly because it gets in the way of day to day activities, work commitments, your happiness and your recreation.  All the things that gives us purpose.

For many who have been experiencing pain for a long time, this has sadly become the norm and the light at the end of the tunnel often grows dimmer, but it doesn't need to.

Depending on the origin of your pain, much can be done to alleviate the intensity and in some cases completely reduce the cause of the infiltrator, reversing the pain.  When it comes to whether or not to apply heat or cold packs for relief - it all depends on the level of inflammation and the stage of repair the part is in.  The basic rule of thumb is:

Hot packs - tendon pain, 48 hours plus after an injury, general muscle tension (stress), on the feet for migraine (simultaneous to cold pack mentioned below)

Cold packs - initial injury within 48hours, nerve pain, severe joint pain, on the head for migraine

In saying that, always seek advice for your particular injury when it comes to first aid management.

There are a number of potential starting points for pain but all end up in inflammation and all have a post trigger point in inflammation and its this that your treatment is always aimed at managing.

Inflammation does play a role in turning around the insult to start with but if the insult is relentless, this inflammatory step can spell long term problems - usually triggering auto immune conditions.

When considering nutrients that turn around the pain mechanism here are my top tips:

High doses of curcumin found in turmeric - best in therapeutic doses of at least 4g

Address bacterial infections that are often at the seat of many pain conditions affecting the joints such as rheumatoid arthritis

Herbs such as Devils Claw, Jamaican Dogwood and Boswellia have been well researched in their various roles in reducing the cells that maintain pain

Address gut bacteria for best immune responses

Fish oils, potassium, magnesium and lipoic acid are great anti inflammatory allies

Remember - you don't have to suffer unnecessarily - let's get together and start programming your pain away!