I wanted to share with you some interesting research that I have been looking at around gut health and weight loss. The concept of weight being related to gut health first came about in the early 2000's when researchers inoculated germ-free mice with the microbiome of conventional mice. What they discovered was that once the mice had the new gut flora they instantly put on weight, and became insulin resistant, even when they were fed less food and were made to exercise more. This discovery led researchers to the theory that our gut flora, in fact help us to capture more energy from our food. But before you go reaching for the antibiotics to decimate your gut flora, remember, our microbiome is our friend!
So, in an attempt to find out more, researchers took healthy lean mice and inoculated obese mice (and yes when I say inoculated, I mean they took the blended up poo from one mouse and inserted it into the bottom of another) …ok, are you still with me? The results were astonishing, the obese mice become skinnier, their blood pressure came down, their insulin sensitivity increased, and their blood sugars stabilised.
So, what was the difference between the two groups of mice? When researchers looked into this they found that obese mice had a reduction of a genre of bacteria called Bacteroidetes, and an increase in Firmicutes. In follow up investigations it was discovered that the Firmicutes in obese mice were interacting with the body in a way that caused a rise in blood pressure, a rise in cholesterol and blood lipids, interfered with the hormones that help us feel full, and created inflammation in the body by playing havoc with the immune system.
What’s more they found that this can be changed by diet. A change from a whole food diet rich in plant starches and fibres to a typical junk food diet changed the microbiome of the mice to the “obese microbiome” within one day. The good news is, that this change can occur the other way as well. In fact, just by adding in some plant based starches and fibres you can protect against the effects of junk food.
Not only that, in human studies it’s been demonstrated that adding in specific species of probiotics produces weight loss, lowered blood pressure, reduced cholesterol, decreased inflammation, improved fasting blood glucose and increased insulin sensitivity.
The specific strains that have been studied and found to have benefit are:
Bifidobacterium lactis HNO19
Lactobacillus acidophilus LA5
Bifidobacterium animalis BB12
L. delbrueckii subsp.
While you can get hold of these in a capsule, my advice is to incorporate probiotics into a healthy diet. This can be done by using these specific strains in your fermented foods, or mixing an open capsule into your daily yogurt. You can learn how to make your own "functional foods" by signing up to one of my fermentation parties.
Or come in to see me for a tailored weight loss plan.
Last month I wrote about insulin resistance and spoke about why it is so important to get insulin resistance under control to avoid a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. This month I wanted to tell you about the insulin resistance score. The insulin resistance score (IRS) is a measurement of your insulin resistance.
Although, insulin resistance happens most often in overweight and obese people, not all overweight or obese people are insulin resistant. Similarly, not all people who are insulin resistant are overweight. Actually, fit people who are insulin resistant are more likely at risk of having undiagnosed cardiovascular issues. It's these highly active people, who aren't flagged by medical intervention because they are so healthy looking, that suddenly and shockingly succumb to a major stroke or heart attack.
Assessing your IRS is quite easy. It's not a special test that you need. It can be part of your regular GP check ups.
Remember that up to 17% of the Australian population is considered to have some form of glucose regulation issues, and insulin resistance can be present up to 15 years prior to a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.
Cardiovascular disease kills one Australian every 12 minutes
It's really worth getting this assessed!
Insulin resistance and its relative syndrome, Syndrome X or Metabolic Syndrome was first talked about by Professor Gerald Reaven in a lecture he gave at the American Diabetes Association in 1988. Reaven described a cluster of conditions that occured before the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. What Reaven called "the deadly quartet" were four seemingly unrelated health conditions; high blood pressure, insulin resistance, high blood triglycerides (fat in the blood) and low HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol). Reaven detailed how this cluster of conditions made people more at risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
Ok, so what did the medical community do with that information? Well, of course logically, eating low fat would be a great idea -less fat in the diet, the less fat in the blood right? A low fat diet approach was recommended.
And let's get rid of the cholesterol, because cholesterol is bad right?- Hello cholesterol lowering statin drugs!
And we'll put people on blood pressure medication, so that will fix THAT problem.
But the big thing we are missing here, and the main point that Reaven made in his lecture was-
It is the insulin resistance that causes the other three problems!!
Remember that insulin resistance causes high blood pressure by triggering the body to reserve sodium and waste potassium.
Remember that insulin resistance and the over consumption of dietary carbohydrates (not fats) causes the liver to turn excess carbs into triglycerides which are circulated in the blood stream. Remember that when the liver is resitant to insulin it doesn't get the message to stop making triglycerides.
Insulin resistance also affects the liver's glucose production, insulin SHOULD tell the liver to stop making glucose, but insulin resistance stops that message from getting through. So the body requires ever increasing amounts of insulin- some to deal with the glucose that is being made by the liver and some for the incoming dietary carbohydrates.
Remember that insulin resistance stops the body from being able to use stored fat as energy and causes the rise in LDL (bad cholesterol) in the blood.
It is the LDL cholesterol that gets trapped in arteries and causes heart attack and stroke.
There is no effective pharmaceutical treatment for insulin resistance. In other words, your doctor has no pill to treat it. However, that does not mean that insulin resistance can't be fixed!
Insulin Resistance is best treated with diet and exercise
If you want the professional guidance of someone who understands this issue, please don't hesitate to make a booking. Doing something now could save literally save your life.
Insulin Resistance- It could be making you fat!
Insulin is a hormone that helps us absorb glucose from our bloodstream, into our cells to use for energy. But that’s not all it does, insulin is also a fat storing hormone, and it affects how our kidneys balance sodium and potassium. So, when we can’t use insulin, it affects more than just our blood sugars.
What happens when we are insulin resistant? And how do we get there?
An inactive lifestyle and over consumption of food, in particular excess carbohydrates, cause the body to store fat. Fat uses twice as much insulin as lean muscle, to clear the same amount of sugar from the blood. So, fat competes with muscle for insulin, the more fat we have, the more insulin we need. The more carbohydrates we eat, the more insulin we need. The more insulin we need, the greater pressure on the pancreas to produce. The more insulin produced, the more fat is stored. The more fat that is stored- the more insulin is needed.
The body starts to become “insulin resistant”, the cells can no longer properly use insulin to get blood sugar (energy) into the cells.
Because our bodies can’t get blood sugar into the cells we feel tired and foggy headed. This causes cravings for sugar or carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, rice and potato. Higher carbohydrate intake requires…..you guessed it, more insulin!
Eventually the pancreas can’t keep up with the ever-increasing amounts of insulin needed and blood sugars begin to rise. This is the road to type 2 diabetes.
Our genetics can play a big part in whether we will be more prone to insulin resistance, but increasingly research shows that our environmental exposure to things like POPs (persistent organic pollutants), pesticides and plastics are having an impact on the rising epidemic of type 2 diabetes.
Signs of insulin resistance:
Did you know?? Up to 20% of Australians have some form of impaired blood sugars and about 7.5% have type 2 diabetes.
Insulin resistance can occur up to 15 years before a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes is made.
The benefits of diagnosing insulin resistance early is avoiding a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, being able to manage blood pressure without pharmaceutical intervention and breaking the weight gain cycle.
If being overweight is the main reason that insulin resistance occurs, and insulin resistance contributes to weight gain, how do we stop this self-perpetuating down ward spiral?
It will be no surprise that the main remedy to insulin resistance is weight loss! So the big question is, how to we achieve weight loss, and combat insulin resistance?
The evidence is that a diet with good amounts of protein, lower in carbohydrates and moderate amounts of healthy fats help people not only lose weight, but also combat hormones driving food cravings.
But losing weight is not an easy task. Otherwise we would not be seeing the obesity epidemic occurring globally.
What is needed is a good weight loss program that provides emotional, practical and ongoing support for participants. A good weight loss plan includes healthy meal suggestions, that can be adopted for a long-term lifestyle change and gives weekly guidance from a health professional to avoid common pitfalls.
The fact that our modern exposure to chemicals known as obesogens are having an impact on our health, also needs to be taken into consideration. We need to follow a "low tox" weight loss plan that encourages less exposure to these chemicals and a plan that help's us detoxify them from our bodies.
Click here for more information about my 8 week detox and weight loss plan
If you're looking for a snack that packs a healthy protein punch then Bliss Balls are your answer!
There are a plethora of recipes out there for the perfect bliss ball, but knowing the basics can get you creating the taste combinations that you'll love.
You can even get away with not having a food processor to make these, if you stick to combinations of nut butters, seeds, powders and syrups. However to really get creative, a food processor is going to be a handy tool.
Here's a few tips for getting your bliss balls to be more bliss and less "balls up".
1. Blend the protein (nut and seed portion) of the recipe first then add the dried fruit to make a smooth consistency.
2. Use flavour combinations that you enjoy. Some I like are Choc-mint or Choc-orange, lemon & macadamia, goji berry & pecan, or date and vanilla makes a lovely caramel flavour.
3. Go easy on the sweeteners. Nutritionally, you want the bliss balls provide you with protein predominately. So keep the sweet flavours to a bare minimum.
4. Add a tiny amount of filtered water to the mixture to get it to form a dough. Roll into balls and cover with desiccated coconut, coconut flour, sesame seeds, or chia seeds. Or leave as is.
With Naturopath Melanie Turner
To book in to the program, please click the Book Now button and choose the Detox and Weight loss Program under the Programs drop down menu.
As many of you know I have been running a successful Detox and Weight loss program for a few years now. This program is full of delicious recipes, weekly meal plans, and is divided into 4 specific detox stages. As part of the program you get a 1 hour Naturopathic assessment, a weekly mentoring session with me and weigh-in on our bio-impedance machine. I have had great success with this program, not just for weight loss, but also in reducing pain and inflammation, and increasing vitality. But there is something that is bothering me about the program, and I wanted to share it with you.
Detoxing has become a dirty word.
Why? Because it was a big trend about 20 years ago, just like fermented foods and handlebar mustaches are today. Does that make them intrinsically bad?
What happened is that a bunch of people jumped on the "detox bandwagon" to make some quick bucks from riding the trend and preying on the weight loss market. And some of the products that ensued were, well pretty bad to say the least.
The Good, The Bad, The Ugly
Most products or programs in the Ugly and Bad realm focus on two key areas: Starvation and Purging. In the purging group are products like "flush away" "slim tea" "ballerina tea" "bowel cleanse" or "quick cleanse". This category contains nothing more than thinly veiled laxatives. The over use of unnecessary laxatives causes dehydration, microbiome disruption and irritation to the bowel, as well as the very uncomfortable symptom of urgently needing to poo. (several times day and night)
In the starvation department we have "master cleanse", "lemon detox", "juice cleanse" or Isagenix. These systems call for a heavy restriction on food intake. Not only can this destroy the metabolism, it can unlock a whole lot of toxic fat tissue and cause a toxic overload of the organs.
Okay, so what about The Good? What is a good detox? One that supports the detoxification processes with herbal medicine and nutrition. One that is tailored by an educated practitioner who cares about your wellbeing. A good detox doesn't require you to starve yourself, eat unnatural food or put up with excruciating symptoms. A good detox leaves you feeling more vital, strong and in touch with your body.
It stuns me that people will pay $$$$$ hundreds of dollars a month to buy a one size fits all supplement program sold by a friend or neighbour, when they could see a tertiary qualified Naturopath for cheaper! It's crazy! What's worse is that these programs are primarily focused on making people into "top sellers" not taking care of people's health.
Actually, I get a bit mad about it. Because when someone's liver fails from taking dodgy supplements, it's my profession that takes the hit.
If you are thinking about trying a weight loss program or supplement regime recommended through a friend, ask a few questions before you commit.
This goes for supplements recommended to you by your personal trainer, nail technician, or beauty therapist!
If it sounds too good to be true......maybe it is.
So what can you expect from my program?
When I'm running my detox and weight loss program it's not about body shaming.
It's not about everyone fitting in to a size 8. It is not about a quick fix or a magic pill or potion to melt away the pounds.
It is about positive attitudes toward food. It is about feeling better. It is about having more energy. It is about addressing underlying issues. It is about learning to listen to our bodies. It is about the emotional support. It is about feeling strong.
So if you want a quick fix, a magic pill or a starvation plan, my program is not for you.
If you want all that other stuff delivered with good-natured humour and earthiness, then I am your Gal 😉
Click here to see what others are saying
Makes about 24 mini cheesecakes, aprox 5gm of carbohydrate per cake.
1 cup almonds
1 cup coconut
3 mejool dates
2 tbs cocao powder
2 tbs coconut oil
250gm Cream cheese
1/2 cup cream
1 tbs gelatine
1/3 cup boiling water
1/4 cup maple syrup
Process all the base ingredients in a food processor, press into the bottom of the cake tin- or mini muffin cases (I used reusable silicone muffin cases). Refrigerate.
Mix the cream cheese and cream in a mixer until smooth. Dissolve the gelatin in the hot water. In a blender mix the strawberries, gelatin and maple syrup. Add that to the cream cheese mixture, mix until smooth.
Spoon the cream mixture on top of the base. Refrigerate for about 2 hours. Remove casing and garnish with a slice of strawberry and a mint leaf.
Recently, I presented a talk and a sauerkraut demonstration at the NSW Health Wellness Expo. It was such a pleasure to meet up with all the other wonderful community and business groups who offer an amazing array of Health and Wellbeing services to our community.
I'd like to thank those who attended the talk and for your positive feedback. I thought I would re-cap on the talk for those who attended and for the others of you, who may be interested.
To understand the role that gut health plays in disease prevention and progression, first we need to look at gut flora.
What is gut flora? What are its functions?
And how does it get out of balance?
Research into the human microbiome (gut flora) is one of the most exciting areas of study in human health. This is a relatively new field with most being done in the last 20-30 years, so there is a lot more to be discovered. So what makes gut flora so important? Let’s run through a few of the functions of our microbiome.
Have you ever wondered what differentiates us from....say a carrot?
Well not that much genetically speaking. One of the surprises of the Human Genome Project was the discovery that the human genome contains only 20,000 - 25,000 protein-coding genes, about a fifth the number researchers had expected to find.
Researchers are now looking to the human microbiome, which houses a whopping 90% of our overall genetic material.
In other words, we are 10% human genes and 90% bacteria! Our microbiome is our second genome!
This burgeoning science is discovering just how much influence our microbiome has over our health and our genetic expression of disease.
We are beginning to understand that our evolution- what makes us a more “advanced” species over that of a vegetable may be down to our gut flora.
The microbiome is made up of a huge range of bacteria, yeasts and viruses. Rather than thinking of our gut microbes as either being just bad or good, we need to recognise that they can be either, depending on what species is dominant.
Research is now beginning to discover that the microbes in our gut communicate with each other. Gut microbes can sense how many of each microbe is present and send out messages between microbes. Essentially microbes are constantly conducting a sensus and coordinating a collective response according to the information that is being gathered. This is known as quorum sensing.
If only the Australian Bureau of Statistics was managed by gut flora our recent online sensus might have gone better- just another way that microbes could be more evolved than humans!!
Through quorum sensing gut bacteria can respond to incoming bacteria and viruses, and communicate with our brain using neurotransmitters via the vagus nerve.
This gives weight to the importance of having the right bacteria in dominance. When beneficial bacterial species dominate, it leads the response and keeps the opportunistic bacteria in check. I don’t want to get political here, but you really want the right guys in power, the ones that will look after the terrain (your body). Not the ones that decimate the environment and cause disease.
Transitional microbes are the ones that don’t take up residence in the body. They just come in, hang around for a few days then leave. But they can still have a huge impact on health. And a good example of this is a yeast called saccromyces boularrdii (SB). SB has been extensively studied for its use in gastrointestinal diseases such as post antibiotic diarrhea, blastocystis infection and other infections like travelers diarrohea, Bali Belly, that sort of thing. It is also very good for thrush or candida overgrowth and should be used in conjunction with antibiotics to prevent post antibiotic thrush. SB crowds out the candida, but does not take up residence in the body.
Healthy gut flora creates and extra barrier from the outside world.
It protects the gut lining from becoming inflamed when coming into contact with incoming food or pathogens and restricts the adherence of incoming pathogens to the gut wall by forming a blanket lining over the intestine. This also filters access to the blood stream.
Healthy gut flora creates short chain fatty acids, like butyrate, that help heal the gut lining and repair intestinal permeability or leaky gut.
Healthy gut flora is important in detoxification, neutralising nitrates, indoles, phenols and other toxic substances that can be ingested or made in the body.
Gut flora is involved in the breakdown and fermentation of food to make it more easily digested or converted to essential vitamins.
The following vitamins, synthesized by gut flora: K2, B5, Folic acid, B1, B2, B3, B6, B12 are important in bone health, cardiovascular health, DNA replication, mental wellbeing and energy production.
Lymphoid tissue which makes up part of our immune system is located just inside the gut wall. Bacteria in the gut communicate with the lymphoid tissue and modulate the production of lymphocytes (the cells that eat up parasites and viruses)
When the gut flora is out of balance, the immune system is compromised, causing allergies, leaky gut and autoimmunity. This is another complex subject- I have a whole other talk about Gut Health and Immunity!
Have you heard of the term "The Gut Brain Axis"?
The gut–brain axis is the biochemical signaling that takes place between the gastrointestinal tract and the central nervous system and this includes the gut flora.
Interest in this field was sparked by a 2004 study showing that germ-free mice showed an exaggerated stress response when compared to non-GF laboratory mice.
Most of the work that has been done since on the role of gut flora in the gut-brain axis has been conducted in animals, or has categorized the various neurotransmitters that gut flora can produce. Gut flora are responsible for making some of our most important neurotransmitters. One of the ones you might recognise is serotonin. Serotonin enhancing antidepressant prescriptions have tripled in the last 20 years, with a study published in 2014 showing that between 2010-11 8.9% of the Australian population were prescribed anti-depressants and this ranked the second most prescribed medication in Australia. Second to blood pressure medications (also strongly linked to stress).
What if Drs could prescribe a probiotic and some diet and lifestyle medication before heading for the antidepressants?
For more information on this topic see leading Australian researcher in this field Professor Felice Jacka of Deakin University.
Although serotonin is well known as a brain neurotransmitter, it is estimated that 90 percent of the body's serotonin is made in the digestive tract. In fact, altered levels of this peripheral serotonin have been linked to diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and osteoporosis.
I won’t go into too much detail about the other neurotransmitters,- it’s another talk that I do! But you get the picture, dopamine- parkinsons disease, norepinephrine- blood pressure, heart rate, stress; GABA- downregulates stress response, down regulates excitatory response (think ADD ADHD). And so on……
So what can damage our gut flora?
So that brings us to the question:
How do we look after our gut flora?
Following these simple rules can go a long way to looking after your second Genome.
If you feel you need help, please consider my 12-week gut health program. I have researched extensively on gut health and have put together a plan that incorporates the most successful diets for managing digestive symptoms and healing & sealing the gut lining. As well as following and elimination diet my plan includes the GAPS diet (Dr Natasha Campbell McBride), the Low FODMAP diet ( Dr Sue Shepherd) and the Autoimmune Paleo Diet- AIP (Dr. Loren Cordain).
When I was working on the floor of the health food shop I would often get people coming in looking for allergy testing. Now I am the clinic I still get many people asking about what kind of allergy testing that I do.
My answer is that I usually use diet and gut repair work as a foundation of allergy repair and management. My response is usually met with a look of disappointment or even confusion. People seem to have the misconception that if they just find out what the one thing is that they are reacting to, they can simply avoid this substance for the rest of their lives and they will be cured.
The unfortunate thing is that it doesn’t work like that, and here’s why:
First of all the gold standard in allergy testing is an elimination diet. That goes for the most prestigious allergy clinics and hospitals as well as Naturopathic practitioners. The reason why most Doctors or hospitals don’t put people on elimination diets for allergies is simply because they think it’s too hard. Mainstream medicine just doesn’t have the time to support people through the process.
That is why I formulated my 12 week Gut health program. The benefits of an elimination diet is that it removes all likely reactive foods, it is the gold standard in medical care for allergies/intolerance's, it repairs the gut at the same time as finding reactive foods, reintroducing foods one at a time helps you take control of symptoms.
I have researched extensively on gut health and have put together a plan that incorporates the most successful diets for managing digestive symptoms and healing & sealing the gut lining. As well as following and elimination diet my plan includes the GAPS diet (Dr Natasha Campbell McBride), the Low FODMAP diet ( Dr Sue Shepherd) and the Autoimmune Paleo Diet- AIP (Dr. Loren Cordain).
To book in for my Gut Health program or to make an appointment to discuss your health go here
If you are reacting to a food or even an inhaled allergen, then you most probably have a leaky gut (increased intestinal permeability), so you are most likely reacting to a multitude of foods/substances, and taking those substances away won’t solve your underlying problem.
Think of it like this; if you are pouring milk through a cracked bowl, will changing from milk to water solve the problem of the liquid running through the cracks? The water may be less reactive, but if you don’t seal up the cracks in the gut/mucous membrane the immune system will actually begin to react to the most benign substance.
If a person with a leaky gut comes in for a food intolerance test, they are likely to have almost every food that they have been eating come up as reactive. This is because bits of almost all the food that they are eating is passing not fully digested into the bloodstream. The results of these tests can cause a lot of confusion and heartache for people who aren’t fully aware about why they are reacting to everything, and the amount of foods that they assume they will now need to remove from their diet can be just too overwhelming.
Remember for those with hay fever/asthma/eczema and dermatitis, the mucous membrane in the digestive system is very similar to the mucous membrane in the nasal cavity, both are closely related to the skin; all can be reactive and inflamed.
Right about now I probably should say that I do offer allergy/food intolerance testing in clinic. I do think there is a place for it.
But what I don’t understand is why many people are willing to spend hundreds of dollars on testing before determining which test will be the right one! It’s vitally important to have an understanding of how an allergy test works in order to determine which test, if any, is the best one for you. That is why I sit down with people for a full hour (sometimes more) before I advise on testing. A small investment upfront and getting the right information is worth it, before you go down the path of spending hundreds on tests!
The number one thing to know is that when we do an allergy/intolerance test of any kind, is that we are observing the immune system’s response to stimuli.
The particular part of the immune system we are looking at are the immunoglobulins. Immunoglobulins are part of the blood that function as “antibodies”. Antibodies combine chemically with substances which the body recognises as alien, such as bacteria, viruses, and foreign substances in the blood. I like to think of these immunoglobulins like big boofy rugby players that tackle and hold onto a foreign substance until it can be removed by the body. Imagine thousands of these guys piling up in the mucous membrane, skin or gut tissue; that is what inflammation looks like.
There are a few different immunoglobulins that have differing functions, the following are the main ones that we look at in allergies/hay fever/food sensitivities;
Immunoglobulin A (IgA): IgA is found most prevalently in the mucous membranes of the body (mouth, digestive tract, vagina)and is mostly found in secretions such as saliva, tears, colostrum, mucous, sweat and gastric fluid. IgA is the first line of defence against viruses and bacteria. IgA is found abundantly in the first breast milk. It gives the newborn baby antibodies to substances that are exposed to both the mother and child in the first months of life. Increased IgA activity in the gut can be caused by an active viral infection or it could be a sign of an inflamed damaged gut lining. Not enough IgA can be a sign of lowered immunity and points to adrenal exhaustion. Secretary IgA is a really interesting topic, which I'd like to discuss in detail another time.
Immunoglobulin G (IgG): IgG is the most abundant immunoglobulin in the body and is found everywhere, in blood, cerebrospinal fluid and lymph. IgG is what passes between a mother and her unborn foetus and gives the baby the mother's immunity. IgG antibodies produce a delayed response and stay around in the system for a long time and can show past infections or vaccination history. IgG interacts with other parts of the immune system to regulate anaphylactic response.
IgG testing is what a lot of Naturopath's use to find food and inhaled sensitivities. These may be vague, delayed responses, or seemingly unrelated symptoms that don’t seem to correlate to exposure. You may even be having IgG reactions to foods without any apparent symptoms. This kind of low level continued inflammation could play into immune dysregulation down the track (remember that one of IgG's roles is to regulate anaphylactic response) and is a sign that some digestive function needs to be restored. It’s important to remember that before doing an IgG test, you should eat a large variety of foods in the two weeks prior to testing. You may get a false negative if you haven’t had recent exposure to a food.
Immunoglobulin E (IgE): This is the least common antibody and is the reason for the typical anaphylactic allergic responses that happen quickly after exposure to an allergen. IgE are mostly found in the lungs, skin and mucous membranes. A typical IgE response is wheezing, swelling, excessive tears, asthma, rhinitis, eczema, hives and dermatitis. Some parasitic infections (worms) can cause a raised IgG response. IgE is what is measured when you go for a skin prick test. IgE testing (otherwise known as RAST) is the only kind of allergy testing recognised by mainstream medicine in Australia.
The reason that mainstream medicine doesn't recognise IgG and IgA testing as valid forms of testing for allergies is because studies carried out showed that you can have IgG and IgA reactions to foods and other substances without necessarily having typical symptoms of allergy. Unfortunately mainstream medicine is not great at recognising immune sensitivities or low grade chronic inflammation as health risk factors.
You can see how important it is to know what you are looking for before you send out for a test kit.
Why not get in touch with me? I'd be happy to talk you through your options.
Feeling like a spring clean? Why not try my 5 day cleanse.
A quick cleanse is a great for getting rid of bloating, resetting your metabolism and kick-starting the liver into action. I’ve outlined for you some simple, wholesome guidelines to a 5 day cleanse that will get you kick started for summer.
There are two basic rules to any cleansing program and a quick cleanse is no different.
Rule number 1: Reduce the toxic burden
During the cleanse you will want to omit or reduce all inflammatory foods and drinks, this includes: red meat, wheat and other gluten containing foods (Rye, oats, barely), dairy, coffee and alcohol. You may also want to reduce all grains (rice, quinoa and buckwheat). Many people are unable to digest grains well, especially when they aren’t properly prepared (soaked and fermented).
All fried foods are off the table, as are all processed and pre-packaged foods.
You can do this! It’s only for 5 days!
Limit your exposure to all chemicals including those in cleaning products, washing powder, moisturisers, shampoo, conditioner, soap and perfume. There are plenty of alternatives out there to replace the chemical laden stuff, just go in to your local health food shop and ask for natural sage alternatives. Reduce your exposure to plastics, such as food wrap, drink bottles and plastic food containers. Consider your air quality; are you in a high pollution environment? Are you inhaling second hand smoke? What can you do to limit your exposure? Open the windows to your house every day and allow plenty of fresh air in. Nicole Biljasma from Building Biology has some great advice for detoxing the home here
Stress is a big contributor to inflammation in the body and is a major cause of sleep disturbance. What can you do to reduce your stress load? Try breathing exercises, mindfulness techniques and meditation. Exercise is one of the most under-utilised tools for mental health. Get out in the fresh air and go for a walk! Being in nature can make a significant impact on your mental wellbeing, go to your local park and take your shoes off and ground yourself (watch out for dog poo!). If sleep disturbance is an issue try a calming herbal tea 1 hour before bed.
Limit screen time, electrical devices and screens emit toxic pollutants and electromagnetic fields from electronic devices are a known source of endocrine (hormonal) disrupters. They also impact immensely on your sleep quality. Try going back to the dark ages for at least one night during your detox, turn off all the lights and electrical appliances at the wall, use candles for light, go out and gaze at the stars.
Rule number 2: Assist the cleansing process
Starting the day with some freshly squeezed lemon juice in water is a fundamental beginning to any self-respecting detox. Lemon in water is alkalising for the body, improves secretion of digestive juices, is a good source of vitamin C, assists with liver function and assists with appetite control.
Filtered water is a must! Chemicals that are used to kill bacteria in your tap water also kill good bacteria in your gut! Water will assist your kidneys to flush out toxins. Drink plenty of filtered water throughout each day. No plastic bottles!
Drink 2-3 cups of green tea per day, green tea is a powerful antioxidant and will assist with burning off any unwanted fat. Ginger tea is a great digestive and powerful metabolic booster and Chamomile tea is great for those suffering from IBS type symptoms. You may freely drink any herbal tea of your choice.
Eat loads of vegetables, especially greens such as cooked broccoli, alfalfa sprouts, spinach, lettuce and rocket. These greens will assist the liver in hormonal balance, help alkalise your system and heal the gut. Coriander is particularly useful in a detox as it helps the body get rid of heavy metal toxicity.
Think whole foods, unprocessed foods and seasonal foods. Summer is a great time to be eating lots of fresh veg and antioxidant packed berries.
Breakfast: A green smoothie for breakfast is a fantastic way to get some greens in to the beginning of your day. A simple green smoothie recipe can be found on my website http://www.wholistichealthnutrition.com/blog. Or if you are on Instagram, you can find many clean breakfast ideas on my account @wholehealthnut.
Lunch: Lunch should consist of as many vegetables of your choice (limiting starchy veg like potato and concentrating on colourful vegetables), and a palm sized piece of protein (fish, chicken breast or vegetarian option) A good rule is to fill 80% of your plate with vegetables that grow above the ground, 15% with a lean protein, and 5% healthy fat.
Dinner: A light vegetable based soup for dinner is good for adding more water to your daily intake and is easily digestible. Home made chicken broth will assist any digestive symptoms that you may have. You don’t want to be eating a heavy meal at night that will sit in your tummy and disturb your sleep.
Fibre is as equally important for those suffering from constipation as those suffering the diarrhea (or a mixture of both). You will be getting amazing fibre from all of those vegetables that you are eating but you may like to take a supplement. A good fibre supplement that contains slippery elm assists in healing the bowel and removing any matter that is stuck to the bowel wall. Taken as a powder with water, slippery elm will help with reflux and heartburn as well as reducing inflammation (pain) in the bowel. Most people can tolerate slippery elm, however if it makes your bowels too loose, stop taking it.
Eat plenty of probiotic rich foods such as yogurt (non-dairy), kefir and sauerkraut. You can also take a probiotic supplement to enhance your digestive health, find out from your Naturopath which one will be best for you.
Sleep is our time to repair, absorb and reset, go to bed no later than 10pm and be up by 6.30am. Getting exposure to daylight assists to reset our circadian rhythm, so try and expose yourself to the morning light (and by that I don’t mean scaring the neighbours into thinking you’ve joined a nudist colony- just your eyes and clothed body will do!).
Go to your local health food store or ask your Naturopath about a liver cleansing tablet. They will be able to direct you to the most suitable one for your situation and advise you on a dosage. You might want to inquire about a good spirulina or microgreens powder and a quality vitamin C to assist your cleanse. You can continue to take these after the 5 day cleanse to assist your body to detox.
Within a couple of days you will be feeling more vibrant and lighter. You may even want to continue with some of the suggestions to keep you feeling your best.
If you are serious about detoxing why not join up to one of my detox programs. You can find all the information about how to join here
Show me one person that isn’t under stress these days. We all seem to have financial worries, family issues, work pressure, not to mention life’s lovely curve balls that bowl you off your feet.
So why is it that some people seem to be coping with it all, while others are falling in a heap or flying off the handle at the slightest bit of pressure?
There are quite a few people out there who champion the theory that there is no such thing as stress. They quite validly make the point that there is no event or external pressure that creates stress, but instead our stress response is created by it is our perception. Stress is officially defined as a physical response to a physical pressure. As our perception is not a tangible thing and can be changed with a change in mindset, therefore there is no such thing as stress, only a perception of stress.
So all we need to do is change our mindset and stop perceiving things as stressful situations and everything will be hunky dory……..Right???? Yeah because, you know, when you are really stressed about something and your well-meaning friend says “just RELAX, stop stressing” it makes you feel a whole lot better doesn’t it?? NOT!!
There are some holes in the “There is no such thing as stress” theory.
One particular weakness in the stress/perception theory is that there is actually an inequity in stress perception. We are not all as capable of changing our perception to reduce our stress response. This is because people who have chronic stress, (a prolonged and elevated exposure to stressful events) have a consistent elevation in stress hormones, so they lack the buffer from acute situations that will cause a stress response.
You may even be born with elevated stress hormones. Researchers have found that the level of the stress hormone, cortisol is passed on from mother to baby. What they found was, that women who were highly stressed and materially-deprived, had associated higher cortisol levels and delivered babies with higher cortisol levels. When cortisol is consistently elevated, as with chronic stress, the ability to cope in stressful situations is diminished.
So in short our cortisol levels contribute to our perception of stressful situations.
So if you are suffering from chronic stress, your capacity to cope becomes diminished over time. This propels us in to a negative spiral of not coping and an over response to stressful events, things or people. Until eventually the adrenals become exhausted and burn out.
So while we CAN change our perception of stressful situations, sometimes it is actually harder to do than say. People that have suffered chronic stress have a harder time changing their perceptions because they have elevated stress hormones keeping them on edge.
That’s why I like to describe this kind of situation as adaption deficiency, because it is our capacity to cope that is impaired. We need find ways to increase our ADAPTION to stressful events. We need to nurture our adrenals to down regulate stress hormone imbalance and promote appropriate stress responses. What we don’t want, is to have elevated stress hormones coursing out unnecessarily, making us feel jittery, snappy, and cranky, upsetting our digestion, disturbing our sleep and making everyone around us walk on egg shells. And just quietly guys, if you don't want to have a gripey, cranky baby make sure you look after your lady when she is pregnant!
Cortisol imbalance is also associated with the occurrence of eczema and asthma in babies.
It is now well documented that elevated stress hormones is related to a raft of chronic illness, such as: auto-immune diseases, asthma, eczema, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, menstrual disorders, low libido, infertility and cancer, blood pressure irregularities, thyroid issues, gut issues just to name a few. So getting your stress response under control is kinda important!
As a Naturopath I love to use herbal medicine to nourish the adrenals. Why? Because they produce amazing results in my patients. The premium herbs for stress adaption are Withania, Siberian Ginseng and Rhodiola. These herbs are classed as adaptogens- meaning that they assist your body to adapt to physical and emotional stress. I will often mix these adaptogens with an adrenal restorative such as Licorice and Rhemania. Giving the hard working adrenals, a bit of love can create amazing results in healing. I like to call this my “bottom up” approach, bolstering and nourishing the adrenals rather than attempting to suppress the stress response with sedation. People describe the feeling of taking these herbs as like "a warm hug" and they start to experience sustaining energy that is nourishing and supportive.
The nutritional vacuum that is created in the body through elevated stress may require nutritional supplementation of activated B vitamins, vitamin C and zinc.
Empty sources of energy are often the go to for those under stress. Depending on your level of adrenal exhaustion you may be reaching for the coffee as soon as you wake to get you out of bed, you will be craving high carb salty and sweet snacks to keep you going through the day and at night after a full day of feeling tired you will be reaching for the wine, as you now can't seem to wind down.
All of this serves to deplete your body further of the nutrients that it needs to cope with the out put of stress hormones.
In my clinic I advise my adrenally exhausted patients to eat a nutritious whole food diet that includes a good amount of clean protein, lots of colourful vegetables and plenty of hydration.
So if you feel you need a bit of help to increase your adaption to stressful events, you may like to try some of the herbs and nutrition that I have mentioned or you may like to make an appointment to see me.
Melanie Turner, Naturopath, mother, gardener, lover of wholesome food