So, as a nutritionist I obviously have an impeccable diet. Wait, I mean mostly perfect diet. Well, pretty good. Actually, sometimes my diet downright sucks. Why am I telling you this? Because I think it’s really important that people (yeah, I mean you) stop beating themselves up when life isn’t all green tea and mung beans.
We live in a society that has become obsessed with image and food elitism (being seen to eat the organic, paleo, gluten free, vegan, activated, blessed by a shaman, superfoods). Sure, these things have their merits, but it’s also important to live a little. Sometimes we need to eat things simply because they make us happy and feed our soul. Obsessing over always eating the perfect diet will actually cause more damage to your health than the occasional treat.
Do I sometimes eat more treats than I should? You bet! Sometimes I’m stressed, tired, busy, excited or just want to eat my emotions and that makes me…normal. The best thing about life is that it’s never too late to start again with our diet.
If you’ve had a bad run lately, be kind to yourself and encourage yourself. Don’t set yourself up to fail by setting yourself impossible goals, just take each day at a time, each meal at a time. So, coming up to the weekend I thought I’d share one of the best things I was ever told in relation to treats … to always remember that the first bite tastes the same as the last….
Hemp seeds! We are still battling to have these legalised as a food product in Australia, but in the meantime we can purchase them for beauty use. For those of you lucky enough to be able to use hemp freely, let me tell you about some of the benefits.
Hemp seeds are a complete protein, which is especially exciting for vegetarians and vegans who are looking for balanced protein sources. Hemps seeds are highly nutritious, containing EFAs, antioxidants, amino acids, B vitamins, calcium and much more. What a great little ingredient to boost your health! The other great thing is that hemp is gentle on the stomach and easy to digest, so it’s often a great choice for those with digestive issues.
Have you ever noticed how many people take ownership of their health issues? Time after time I meet people who talk about things like “my arthritis”, “my diabetes”, or “my asthma”. As a kid I thought my parents were really weird (ok, so nothing has changed there!) when we used to sing a silly song our nanny taught us with the line “my eyes are dim, I cannot see” and my parents encouraged us to change it to “my eyes are fine, I clearly see”.
It may seem picky to change a small detail in what was just some silly fun, but now as an adult and a practitioner I see the value in this. Words are powerful and I really believe that when we take ownership of our health issues, we are accepting them. I dont know about you, but I don’t want any health issues hanging around!!
I shared recently about having alopecia and I too have been guilty of owning health issues in the past. I have made an effort to be mindful of this. Instead of saying “my alopecia”, I changed it to just “alopecia”. I even took it as far as saying “my hair is growing”, when there was absolutely no sign of improvement…yet.
As shared in my previous post, my hair grew back, despite experts telling me it wouldn’t. Mindfulness and a great nutritional programme were key. The thing about nutrition, which differs greatly to current medical practice, is that we treat the WHOLE person. This means actively restoring balance to the mind, body and soul, because if one of these is experiencing an imbalance, the others will too.
I encourage everyone with any health issues to stop owning your condition and to start distancing yourself from it. It may very well be the first step in your journey to health.
I was searching through my laptop recently and stumbled across some old photos, one of which prompted me to share my personal story with you. 6 years ago I lost all my hair. What didn’t fall out ended up snapping off. I was in an abusive relationship at the time and it caused me immeasurable stress, eventually resulting in alopecia. Alopecia is an autoimmune condition, which essentially means that the body attacks itself. Great fun😏
I spent tens of thousands of dollars seeking help – everything from doctors, to dermatologists to hair loss specialists (similar to Ashley and Martin), only to be repeatedly told that there was nothing that could be done. I should buy a nice wig and learn to live with it. Talk about deflating! You don’t realise how much your femininity and womanliness can be tied up in your hair until you suddenly don’t have any. It’s confronting and honestly, rather depressing. However, it prompted me to leave my abusive relationship and start my journey on healing and self respect.
I’ve grown up in a family that rarely goes to the doctor (we aren’t anti, we just believe it’s not always the BEST option) and I was determined to find an answer, even though numerous experts had told me there wasn’t one. Thank goodness I did!
A friend encouraged me to see a naturopath and I figured that after all the consults I’d been to, I had nothing to lose. I honestly can’t remember my practitioners name or what I was prescribed, but I do remember bursting into tears of disbelief and gratitude when she told me that she thought my condition could be treated.
I told her not to play with me because I was so deflated and emotional. Well, within 12 weeks my hair was starting to grow back. It was fluffy like a chicken, but it was growing!!! It took forever, but after 2 years of wearing wigs, I finally had my first (rather atrocious) haircut!
I sometimes still battle with balding when I’m under extreme stress, but now I’ve learned how to manage it. I’m thankful I didn’t listen to the doctors when they told me there was no cure, because now my hair is long, thick and strong and it guided me into a career as a nutritionist. Doctors don’t always have the answers – ask questions, do research.
I posted this a few years ago on my personal Facebook page and now wanted to share this deeply personal and very exciting story with the rest of you…
1 week before this last Christmas I got given the most wonderful present in the world…. here’s what happened.
Just over a year ago (October 2014) my mum Alli was diagnosed with breast cancer. As a family we weighed up the different treatment options, carefully investigating research and EBM (evidence based medicine) papers. As a family who has never been one to opt for “drugs as first port of call”, and after a lot of prayer, mum felt convicted to try natural therapies.
Mum asked me to support her through this, but as someone who was still studying I didn’t feel well enough equipped to handle this, and as her daughter I didn’t feel that I could be completely objective with her treatment. But that didn’t stop me from researching the heck out of this, asking my mentors for help and finding mum the best damn practitioner I could.
Mum spoke with her doctors about her choice and presented them with a comprehensive list of things I’d compiled for her of things she needed to implement. One doctor was supportive, the other was not, despite the thorough EBM and treatment plan presented to him.
Thankfully, I know a pretty amazing naturopath who was fantastic in the treatment she prescribed. I’d implemented many things for mum already, so it was nice to know I was on the right track and to have her add a few extra things to the mix.
Mum has been amazingly compliant (kudos ma, coz your treatment was tough and rather depressing on the food front!!!) with what was an incredibly strict diet and treatment programme and today was rewarded with the news from her oncologist that she is 100% cancer free!!!!!!!!
Not everyone has been supportive of the choice to use natural remedies to treat cancer, with many people being downright nasty during a time that was already difficult and emotional for everyone involved. I was told that I was playing with her life and even had people question if I actually loved my mum because I was stupid to gamble with her health. To those people I say, I will happily be called stupid, naive and a quack a thousand times over if it means that mum could be cancer free without damaging drugs, without radiation, without chemotherapy, without nasty side effects and without 10 to 15 years of follow up treatment.
This was such a rewarding experience for me to see the thing that I am so passionate about and truly believe in being proven. Nutritionists and naturopaths often come up against a lot of criticism due to the lack of EBM available as a result of the major deficit of funds available for natural therapies research.
This is not to say that natural remedies are always the best option, but that are a credible one. You should always speak with your healthcare practitioner to discuss the best treatment options for you, though I do encourage people to explore the options available to them. Pharmaceuticals are often not the only or best choice for your health and it pays to be educated on what is going into your body.
So here’s to nutritional medicine and kicking cancer’s butt!
I absolutely love that I’m the first person my 92 year old grandma calls when she has health issues. Struggling with arthritis in her hands, she’s asked for some pain relief. Using all organic ingredients, I mixed up some capsules for her that have turmeric powder, hemp protein, coconut oil and black pepper. I spent about 1.5 hours syringing them into veggie capsules for her. Turmeric powder is rich in curcuminoids, which is noted for its powerful anti-inflammatory properties. The black pepper and coconut oil are really important for creating bioactivity, which essentially means you’re getting more of the good stuff from what you’re consuming. Hemp protein isn’t yet legal to be sold for consumption in Australia, so please don’t take this as a recommendation for this. I’ve popped it into the combination because I know my Granny dear doesn’t eat enough, and even a little extra protein will help. On the advice of a vet friend, I also give these to the furry members of my family.
To read more about the effects of turmeric on arthritis check out thislink
I’d love to know what your favourite home remedies are.
Most people have been on a diet or 3 at some stage of their life. We start off with the best of intentions, throw out half of the food in the pantry and renounce junk food forever, well, for this afternoon at least. I mean, chocolate’s not really that bad for you, is it? Just a square? Before you know it, you’ve forgotten all about your plans to lose 10kg by Friday lunch time. Besides, who wants to count calories or weigh every. single. bite.? Sigh!!!!
Surely I’m not the only one who has been through this! So, why is dieting so hard? Well, the answer is pretty simple really. Because we aren’t designed to deny ourselves pleasure!!! Guess what? It’s ok to like food! It’s ok to eat for pleasure and to enjoy every morsel that you put in your mouth. You don’t have to live on lettuce and purified water in order to have a body you love. Firstly, let’s ditch the word diet, I can feel you cringe at the very mention of it. Instead, embrace a way of eating (WOE) that is sustainable. Most diets fail because they’re not enjoyable and therefore, not sustainable. The trick is to find a WOE that you can embrace because it’s delicious, satisfying and good for you.
Oh, is that all? Yep. Is there really any such thing? You bet! So let me explain what I’m talking about, but before I do, let me walk you through some of the more common detoxes and diets.
The Lemon Detox – this detox contains maple syrup, cayenne pepper, lemon juice and water, and promotes drinking this concoction for up to 30 days, with no other form of sustenance. This detox has been around for decades and promises everything from drastic weight loss to curing cancer. Does it work? While people may initially experience weight loss, there are some pretty major problems with this one. Firstly, the sugar. Modern science agrees that sugar, especially fructose, is the major dietary culprit for making us fat. I could bore you with a major lesson in science, but instead you can check out the research here and here done by people far smarter than I. Fructose places an enormous amount of pressure on the liver, causing issues with hormone production and regulation, which in turn affect our weight. Fructose also creates insulin resistance, and can lead to conditions such as diabetes. Fructose is also known for tricking our brain into thinking we are still hungry, even when we’re not. What a kicker!!! Sure, you might lose some, or even a lot of weight initially, but that will always happen when you significantly reduce your calorific intake, but keeping it off is another story. Once you start eating real food again your body is going to store everything it can in case you decide to starve it again!!!
High Protein Diet – On the surface, this sounds pretty good to a lot of people. I mean, eggs are good for you, right? Sure, except for the fact that unless you’re an athlete, you don’t need anywhere near as much protein as these diets suggest. Too much protein also puts a lot of pressure on the kidneys (uh-oh) and may even contribute to weight gain. As I learned in many lectures as a student, taking unnecessary protein supplements often just creates super expensive wee. Oh, and our kidneys are kind of important since they’re responsible for detoxing our blood. No biggie.
Isajunkix – This one makes all sorts of claims which they stand steadfastly by, despite being repeatedly proven false (such as being non GMO and sugar free). That may not sound like the worst thing in the world, but is it actually any good? The short answer is no. Isagenix uses nasty oils such as canola, which contains a long chain fatty acid called erucic acid and has strong links to cancers, cardiovascular diseases and neurological disorders. Canola is generally agreed to be toxic. Another nasty ingredient in these products is soy lecithin. Firstly, soy is only effectively digested by our system if it is fermented. Unfermented soy has been linked with problems such as auto-immune disorders, cardiovascular disease, allergies, reproductive issues, cognitive function and more. Unfermented soy is difficult to digest because it is high in enzyme inhibitors, meaning it blocks the production of enzymes such as protease and amylase lipase, which are produced to break down food and release the nutrients into our body for effective absorption. You would think that would be enough to scare anyone off, but there’s more. SUGAR!!! This one is usually under the name of agave syrup in these products. This is fructose, so has all the same issues as mentioned earlier in the article. Is this really the type of thing you want to be putting into your body? For a more in depth overview of Isagenix products, check out this great article. This is not the only misleading brand on the market, many others such as Juice Plus, Yor Health, Herbalife etc. present similar issues.
Grapefruit Diet – there are many variations of this diet, but you might be surprised to know that it’s not too far from the mark when it comes to a diet that actually works. Wait, what? Yep, you read that right. Traditionally, the grapefruit diet promoted eating grapefruit before all other food because it has magical properties, um, because it supposedly creates chemical reactions that increase metabolism. However, the real reason this diet yields results is because it promotes reducing carbs and sugar while increasing protein and good quality fat. There is a lot of science, such as this article and this one, this one too and don’t forget this one, to support reducing carb and sugar intake, moderate protein intake and high fat consumption. So, am I suggesting that fat is good for you? Read on, MacDuff!
Low Carb High Fat (LCHF). You may have seen variations of this one around the traps and it may even sound like a really bad idea. Don’t worry, I totally feel you. There has been a war on fat since the 50’s, drumming into us the perils of cholesterol and that eating fat will make us less than waifish. Oh no!!! But the truth is, we need fat, and lots of it. Our body relies on fat in order to function effectively, relying on fat to transport nutrients such as vitamins A, D, E and K throughout our system. We rely on fats to help regulate hormones, promote healthy hair and skin, assist with cognitive function, regulate sleep patterns and……. Drum roll please…….. weight management. I can hear you chew on this tasty little morsel of information. So, how does this work? Well, there are a few pretty cool factors that come in to play here. Remember where I mentioned hormone regulation? Often, our weight issues stem from hormone imbalances (such as leptin and cortisol), and good quality fats help the liver rebalance hormones and stimulate others. Again, this is getting way too sciencey for this article, but you can read more here and here. Next, fat promotes satiety. This is the feeling of satisfaction/fullness after eating. This is pretty important, as it prevents us from overeating if we listen to our bodies. This element is also key to a sustainable way of eating, as feeling satisfied means that we are more likely to follow a WOE long term, leading to more permanent results. There is also a profound psychological effect that goes along with this – it’s easier to stick to a diet that is satisfying and therefore we feel good because we are kicking goals. Nobody likes falling off the wagon, and doing so can often cause us to spin into a cycle of emotional eating or other unhealthy habits. Unlike sugar and many carbs, saturated fats such as coconut oil, butter, ghee etc, also provide us with long lasting energy, diminishing our need to constantly refuel. Another great thing about fat is that it tastes great!!! And since food is meant to be enjoyed, this is kind of important! I don’t know about you, but I don’t exactly relish eating food that tastes like cardboard just because it promises to make me look like Cara Delevingne. So, a diet that tastes good, makes you full, provides slow burning energy and has numerous health benefits (as outlined here and here). Sounds pretty good to me!
Now, obviously there is no one-size-fits-all approach to health and this doesn’t take into account individual needs, but I’d encourage you to do some research of your own. The LCHF approach certainly seems to tick all the boxes for me, as well as encouraging a balanced WOE.
Miley Cyrus, Joaquin Phoenix and The Terminator himself are all advocates for a plant based diet. And as it becomes more common, you will probably notice that more people are gravitating toward a plant based diet. But did you know it’s not as simple as just cutting out animal products? Being a healthy vegan or vegetarian can be tricky! There is so much conflicting information out there that it can leave you wondering what’s what. So we’ve created these quick guides to help you navigate a vegan or vegetarian diet. Besides, who doesn’t want to be healthy and have access to great nutritional information!
Animal products contain so many great nutrients, but does that really mean you can’t be healthy if you choose a plant based diet? And whether you’re new or well acquainted with a plant based diet, you’ve probably experienced the same old questions… Are you getting enough protein or iron? You may not be, but you absolutely can! This information teaches you how to effectively calculate your intake requirements and combine foods so that you can always answer ‘yes’ with confidence!
How much protein do I need and how do I get it? What do I need to be mindful of? How do I get sufficient iron without supplementing? You’ve probably asked yourself all of these questions and more. Now you can take the guess work out and ensure that your body is getting everything it needs. Discover the key nutrients and best food sources for healthy vegans and vegetarians in these guides.
Recently I’ve had an overwhelming number of clients bring up the 5 Star Health Rating as one of the tools they are using in an effort to getting their health on track.
Obesity and health are major problems in the western world, so kudos to the government for attempting to do something about it. Unfortunately, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be and may actually be preventing you from achieving your health goals.
Ok, so you’re probably wondering if I’m just being an uptight nutritionist who is high on kale, cacao and self importance, or if there’s really something to my claims. Let’s break it down.
The idea behind the star rating is pretty simple – the fewer stars, the worse it is for you, whereas 5 stars will have you glowing with health and smug satisfaction. Apparently.
Health Star Ratings are based on:
Total energy (kilojoules) of the product. An average Australian adult should consume around 8,700 kJ a day.
The saturated fat, sodium (salt) and sugar content. Consuming too much of these risk nutrients is linked to being overweight and obese, some cancers, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
The fibre, protein, fruit, vegetable, nut and legume content. Increasing consumption of these healthy nutrients and ingredients is good for your health.
This was pulled straight from the government site FAQ
For those of you who have been reading my articles for a while now, you’ll know how passionate I am about fighting the war against fat and promoting it as a healthy part of our diet. As I’ve referenced in these articles, good quality fat – including saturated fat – is an important part of our diet and promotes satiety and weight management, improved mental health, better quality sleep, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, increased cognitive function and much more. Saturated fat is the first thing on their watch list, yet is effective at reducing the risk of a number of risk factors mentioned in their brief.
Salt is also an essential part of our diet, especially for those of us living in tropical and subtropical climates. It’s important to ensure that we are getting this from proper food sources such as sea salt and not processed foods or the nasty salt that seems to grace the tables of every food court in the world, but more on that another day.
Sugar. Well, at last I have found something I can agree with! As people are becoming aware, sugar is responsible for weight gain, inflammation, promoting disease, hyperactivity, energy crashes, inability to focus and more. I was excited to see sugar on here and thought this might be a redeeming feature, but it doesn’t really seem to add up with the health ratings being doled out.
For example, did you know that Milo has a 4.5 health star rating? While my inner 8 year old jumped for joy at reading that and had flashbacks to hiding in her Nanny’s pantry to secretly eat milo straight from the tin, the nutritionist in me couldn’t help but die a little inside. At 27.3g of sugar per 100g, this is hardly a low sugar option, while Nutrigrain gets a 4 star rating and has a staggering 32g of sugar per 100g. Up & Go also comes in with a 4.5 star rating and while it is relatively low in sugar (3.3g per 100g), it has a whopping 67g per 100g of carbohydrates. A further issue is that Up & Go has 3.3 serves per unit, though most of us would consume the entire contents in one go.
Just like the Heart Foundation tick of approval that was thankfully discredited, this rating system doesn’t accurately demonstrate which foods are healthy, only how they stack up against other foods in their category. “The system allows us to quickly compare the general nutritional profile of foods within the same category of packaged and processed goods. And it’s simple to understand and use.” It’s one saving grace is that it’s not a rating that is bought, though it is left up to manufacturers to create their own rating in accordance with some very confusing and flexible guidelines. So while it’s great that they’re comparing apples with apples, it seems they’ve forgotten to rate apples at all!
Sadly, unprocessed foods such as fresh meat, fruit and vegetables don’t get a star rating at all. Yet isn’t this what should comprise the majority of our diet?
So, scrap the star rating, the heart foundation tick and any other gimmick they pitch at us and just get back to basics. Shop the outside of the supermarket, eat predominantly fresh food and stick to items that are low in sugar and don’t have more than a handful of ingredients in them. Simples!
My dad is pretty motivated when it comes to staying healthy and is often a great source of questions because of this (thanks Dad!). One of the things he asked me about recently was cholesterol, because the misinformation surrounding this topic is something I often like to rant about. I know, how unlike me! Dad isn’t the only one with questions though. Cholesterol is a bit of a hot topic in my clinic at the moment, especially with my patients over 50, so I figured with all these questions coming at me I’d take some time to set the record straight. It seems to be something that doctors love testing and medicating for, but what’s the truth behind cholesterol?
It’s pretty standard these days for medical practitioners, the media and government sources to promote all the perils of elevated cholesterol, including increased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. We’re usually told that elevated cholesterol, particularly LDL, accumulates in blood vessel walls and over time will lead to clots, blockages, strokes and heart attacks. We’re encouraged to focus on reducing our “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and increasing our “good” cholesterol (HDL) to reduce our risk of these conditions. But is there any truth to this?
It might surprise you to learn that in truth, there’s no such thing as “good” and “bad” cholesterol. Cholesterol is a fat that we not only consume from animal products, but create naturally within our body. Every cell, with the exception of the gonads and adrenal cortex, has the ability to create cholesterol. It is imperative for our cell health as it ensures that our cells maintain their fluidity. Without this fluidity our cells lose the ability to regulate what passes in and out of our cells and will eventually lead to cell death (cue dramatic music). Cholesterol also plays an essential role in transporting fat around our blood, creating new cells, producing and regulating our hormones, and aiding in food digestion.
Our body is pretty switched on, and is designed for homeostasis, which essentially means it regulates things within our body to maintain happy levels. This includes cholesterol! If we increase our dietary intake of foods rich in cholesterol, then our body naturally adjusts to produce less. If we eat fewer cholesterol rich foods, our body will produce more! So, this means that vegans and vegetarians will generally produce more cholesterol than meat eaters, simply because it isn’t part of their diets!
HDL are generally classed as good cholesterol due to the fact that they are smaller and their primary role is to collect fat molecules that have accumulated in blood vessels and transport them to the liver and other organs to be reused (talk about upcycling!). But, what you may not know is that LDL are larger and transport fat molecules to the cells throughout our body so they can be utilised for hormone production, generating new cells, energy production and more. That doesn’t sound so bad in reality, does it?
This paper from the British Medical Journal is just one of many that demonstrates that elevated LDL does NOT increase risk of mortality. It links to 19 other research papers that collectively studied over 68,000 subjects, which ALL concluded that elevated LDL was associated with a DECREASED risk of death.
When we experience prolonged or chronic inflammation, there is a breakdown of structural integrity in the blood vessels. This results in thinning of the blood vessel walls, and in order to protect the damaged areas, they attract deposits of cholesterol. Inflammation can be caused by things such as a diet rich in processed and high sugar foods, high carbs, high oxidised fats (this is where fats are broken down into smaller particles, which results in our body being unable to utilise them for energy), rich in grains, elevated blood sugar levels (BSL), insufficient antioxidants and many other factors. Unfortunately, these can lead to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis, stroke, dementia and more. If you want to truly reduce your risk of these conditions, it’s important to address the real causes of the inflammation.
If you have what is deemed to be high LDL cholesterol levels, it’s likely that you will have been prescribed statins by your GP in order to drop those levels back down. The problem with statins is that they don’t treat the underlying cause and only succeed in masking the symptoms you are experiencing, as well as coming with a whole variety of nasty side effects such as liver damage, increased BSL resulting in risk of diabetes II, and muscle pain and weakness. Studies have shown that “statins may be causative in coronary artery calcification and can function as mitochondrial toxins that impair muscle function in the heart and blood vessels through the depletion of CoQ10 and haem A and thereby ATP generation. Statins inhibit the synthesis of vitamin K2, the cofactor for matrix Gla-protein activation, which in turn protects arteries from calcification. Statins inhibit the biosynthesis of selenium containing proteins, one of which is glutathione peroxidase serving to suppress per oxidative stress.” But aren’t these the very things statins are trying to prevent?
There are literally thousands of in vitro clinical trials surrounding the safety and efficacy of statins, so how have they got it so wrong? There is no contest that these studies have consistently demonstrated their ability to effectively reduce LDL, but what the study above has established (and the others have failed to examine) is that statins also deplete CoQ10. This may not seem like a big deal until you realise that low levels of CoQ10 have been attributed to increased risk of HEART DISEASE, CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE, brain disorders, diabetes and cancer. I’ll let that sit with you for a moment.
So if we take into account the fact that LDL isn’t the problem and we’re also depleting CoQ10 stores, what does this mean for our health? In a nutshell, we are creating an environment that is perfect for the development of CVD, not the prevention! Is it any wonder that those who experience benefits from taking statins are in the minority?
In keeping with the proven Hippocratic principle of “let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”, a variety of published studies demonstrate that dietary changes are significantly more likely to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease than statins.
So next time you’re prescribed any kind of medication, I’d encourage you to take the time to examine the research and and seek a second opinion. Pharmaceuticals aren’t the devil and definitely have their place, but they’re often not the miracles they’re purported to be and may not be the best option for you.
If you have questions about your health, book in to see your natural health practitioner. Prevention is always better than the cure, and your health is the most valuable thing you have.