How to curb your sugar (and carbohydrate) cravings naturally

Are you at the type of person that is at the café for a piece of cake every afternoon at 3pm? Or perhaps you can’t finish a meal without having a sugary treat. Some of us think about sugar all day long! And no doubt the media has taught you that sugar is the crack cocaine of the food world – so a sugar addiction can’t be good right?

Well, we certainly are eating more of it than ever before, and the type of sugar that we eat is more refined than what  our ancestors were eating. This combined with the fact that most of us sit in chairs all day with limited physical movement has created an issue. However it’s not all bad news. You can have your cake and eat it too – but it’s about understanding the various types of sugar and being in control of when we have it so that we can look after our bodies without feeling deprived.

Sugar is the simplest form of carbohydrate available to the body and can be used as a source of fuel for our cells to turn into energy. It can also be used a little bit like a drug, making us feel good when we are feeling down or giving us that kick of energy in the mid-afternoon when the post-lunch slump turns the computer screen into a blur. When we have a craving for sugar or for more complex carbs (like grains, potatoes, sweet potatoes) when our blood sugar drops a little (or when we are feeling a bit crappy). This can happen with ‘blood sugar imbalance’, which is not really an illness as such, more a slight dysfunction which is easily fixed. What often happens is we can get caught up in a vicious sugar cycle – we crave, we eat, we crave again, we eat again and so on – and a blood sugar yo-yo effect is what keeps us coming back for more. Breaking this cycle is not always easy, but once it is done, we are no longer in the trap, and no longer a slave to sugar.

Let’s look at some simple ways to improve your blood sugar balance and reduce your sugar cravings:

  • Eat protein at breakfast time – this has been shown to be beneficial for many different physiological syndromes of blood sugar imbalance. It also helps to keep you fuller for longer throughout the day and make better food choices.
  • Try some healthy alternatives when the craving hits– an apple and a handful of almonds or cashews makes a great mid afternoon snack to keep you going until knock off time.
  • Make sure to snack on healthy snacks regularly throughout the day – try a piece of fruit and a handful of nuts, a boiled egg, hummus and carrot sticks, bliss balls
  • Add 1 teaspoon of cinnamon to your breakfast or include in cups of tea. Cinnamon helps to regulate blood sugar, which in turn reduces your body’s likelihood of having a craving
  • Try dark chocolate instead of milk/sweet chocolate. Often a switch to 70% dark chocolate (which is low in sugar) allows you to feel like you have had your treat, without you needing to consume a high level of sugar. Chocolate also contains antioxidants which are protective to your health and theobromines, which make you feel good.
  • If you are going to have a sweet treat, try having it with some protein and fat – this will slow down digestion time, delaying the release of sugar into your blood stream and reducing the yo-yo effect of eating sugar explained above.
  • If you are still struggling with your cravings, please book in to see a naturopath as there can be deeper reasons for this that need examination.

 

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All about MATCHA

What’s so great about MATCHA?

Matcha is a fine bright green powdered form of specially grown and processed green tea, Camellia sinensis. Historically this tea was used by Japanese Zen monks in the 8th century, as a ceremonial drink for its calming and clarity inducing properties.

The really great thing about green tea, and particularly Matcha is that it has many health benefits, supported by both historical records and literally thousands of scientific studies.

Green tea has a great reputation for it’s health giving benefits as a result of the compounds chlorophyll, theanine and catachins. Matcha green tea is grown in the shade, enhancing its levels of these valuable compounds significantly. 

Here is a quick approximate comparison of the variation of compounds in green tea compared to Matcha.

Compound Green Tea Matcha – 1 teaspoon powder
EGCG (epigallocatechingallate) 80mg per cup 240mg per cup
Theanine 4mg per cup 20mg per cup
Caffeine 31.8mg per cup 68mg per cup

So what do these fancy pants compounds do?

Mood & Brain Food

A 2017 study showed that match tea intake improved attention, memory and suppression of distraction when compared to control subjects.  This was attributed to the unique balance of green tea phytochemicals L-Theanine and caffeine.  L-Theanine reportedly improving relaxation and calmness and reducing tension. The study found that when compared to using caffeine in the form of coffee, green tea had equal or better alertness and focus benefits than coffee without the associated anxiety or jitteriness.

Healthy Heart & Arteries

In a 2016 study, Matcha was shown to improve HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol), reduce LDL cholesterol (the bad guy), reduce blood glucose levels and improve antioxidant levels in rats fed a high saturated fat diet in combination with Matcha. In other words rats eating hamburgers reduced their cardiovascular risk if they had Matcha powder with their meal. This showed good potential for Matcha consumption improving fat metabolism, blood sugars and inflammation. Go green!

Detox

Unfortunately we live in a world laden with all kinds of toxic compounds, many of which we are exposed to constantly without our conscious knowledge. PCB’s or polychlorinated biphenyls are one such class of toxic chemical compounds which are found in electrical equipment, inks, glues, flame retardents (used in our clothes, carpets and furnishings) and paints. The unfortunate thing about this compound is that is volatile, it can be measured in our soils, drinking water and in the air we are breathing. PCB’s accumulate in our tissues and in those of the animals we eat. Matcha to the rescue! A recent Japanese study showed that rats fed a diet of PCB’s along with Matcha were able to excrete up to nine times more PCB’s in their faeces and also showed reduced distribution of PCB’s in their livers as compared to rats who missed out on the Matcha.

There are many more studies supporting the health benefits of matcha and green tea for everything from protection against cancer to the removal of mould toxins from the body. Do yourself a favour and switch out a cup of coffee per day for a nice Matcha latte!

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Baked Salmon with Basil Pesto and wilted greens

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Golden Milk Recipe

Winter’s finally here and I’ll admit, much to the disbelief of my fellow Queenslanders, I absolutely couldn’t be happier! I love the multi-layers of clothes, the amazing night sleeps and best of all, curling up on the coach with a hot drink, blanket and slippers, watching my favourite show on Netflix. For many of you, that hot drink would be a warm cocoa, cup of tea or coffee, but for me, it’s the delicious, calming and immune boosting warm mug of Golden milk.

What’s golden milk you ask? Well, for those of you that are members of Brisbane Natural Health, health food bloggers or just have a keen interest in healthy eating, then you will already know! For the rest of you, let me share this magical drink with you!

GOLDEN MILK – WHAT IT IS AND WHAT IT’S GOOD FOR!

Golden milk is fast becoming a popular drink on many websites, blogs, instagrams and healthy chef websites. And for good reason! This potent anti-inflammatory, digestive and immune boosting drink has replaced hot chocolates, and cups of tea and coffee for many health aware individuals because of its strong medicinal active constituents. So what’s in it?

  1. Turmeric – one of the greatest natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant rich spices known to science. The active constituent, curcumin, has had massive amounts of research poured into its uses as a medicinal food and supplement
  2. Ginger – a circulatory stimulant, anti-emetic (stop you feeling nauseas) and calming spice used for centuries by numerous cultures, and still one of the many superfoods I think needs to be added to everyones diet…
  3. Cayenne pepper – another circulatory stimulant and pyretic (makes you sweat – which is great for detoxifying!). You may also just use black pepper here or a mix of the 2. Black pepper in particular, allows your body to absorb curcumin <2000X more effectively!
  4. Raw honey – the proper stuff you get from your local market or health food store. Real raw honey contains amazing immune boosting properties and is incredibly mineral dense and, of course, tastes delicious!
  5. Milk alternative – Whatever your dietary needs are, you may choose to use almond, coconut, oat or macadamia milk.

Ingredients:

1 cup of milk

1 thumb sized piece of organic turmeric, grated

1 thumb sized piece of organic ginger, grated

¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper (or more depending on your taste)

Raw honey to taste

 

Recipe:

Simply add all the ingredients into a pot on the stove or thermomix and heat up on a low heat until your desired temperature (not boiling). If you don’t like little bits of ginger or turmeric in your drink, simply strain into your mug.

Perfect for those chilli winter nights, taken to work in a thermos, for the kids (or adult kids) to prevent the cold, or simply for yourself because you deserve some comfort and YOU time!

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Is farmed salmon healthy?

Our days of eating wild caught fish are getting numbered with dwindling fish supplies caused by overfishing. The fish that is available is increasingly contaminated with mercury and with other persistent organic pollutants (POPs) like Bisphenol A caused by the huge amount of plastic that has ended up in our oceans.

All fresh and smoked salmon available in Australia is farmed. Farmed salmon is an attractive alternative and may well bridge the gap we need to boost our omega 3 content. There are some pros and cons to eating farmed salmon which we’ll discuss in this article.

 

Omega 3 content

Farmed salmon traditionally contained higher levels of omega 3 than wild salmon, even though wild salmon has a more favourable omega 3 fatty acid profile. This is likely due to the overall fat content being up to three times as high in farmed salmon. In recent years however studies have found that the omega 3 levels in farmed salmon are dropping. This Australian study for example found that since 2002 omega 3 levels have dropped 30 – 50% in farmed salmon.

This is a result of the change in their diet – farmed salmon used to be fed on pellets made form small fish like anchovies and sardines, however a reduction in supply of these fish has lead to other feeds being produced. These newer generation feeds can contain, soy, barley, algae, trimmings from seafood processing, insects and leftovers from processing almonds and pistachio nuts. There is also a genetically modified yeast that produces omega 3 that some salmon farms are using to bolster omega 3 levels.

This UK study found that farmed salmon that were fed on more vegetable oils were indeed lower in omega 3 than those fed on fish oil rich pellets. It also found that the omega 3 concentrations in the fat of wild caught salmon was higher. Even given this, the nutritional content of omega 3 per 100g was higher for farmed salmon due to the higher fat content of the fish.

Smoked salmon is an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids.

Heavy metals and contaminants

Because fish can bio-accumulate toxins through the food chain it’s important to look at levels of mercury, dioxins, PCB’s and pesticides. Toxins levels correlate mostly with the feed given to the fish but also the environment they are grown in. This Norwegian study found that over a 13 year period from 1999 to 2011 contaminant levels of mercury, arsenic, dioxins, PCB’s and DDT had reduced, however pesticide levels remained steady.

In this British study, they found that there were higher heavy metal concentrations in feed than there was in the farmed salmon. Mercury showed a slight degree of bio-magnification – meaning that it could be transferred from feed to salmon. Other heavy metals like lead and cadmium did not transfer across and became less available through the fish. The study found that overall mercury levels in farmed salmon were well below safety guidelines.

In this human study participants ate 380g of farmed salmon a week for 30 weeks and then tested for mercury and POP levels. No increases were found in these toxic compounds as a result of consuming farmed salmon.

As fish supplies dwindle farmed fish may be the only viable alternative.

The verdict?

Based on the research it would seem that farmed salmon is still a great candidate to fill our omega 3 requirements. Even with the decline in omega 3 levels brought about by the increase in vegetable matter in their feed, farmed salmon is still one of the best sources of omega 3 by weight.

Because of the decline in our fish stocks we’ll need to watch this space as new fish feeds are being trialed constantly and they will determine the quality of the end product. With the increase in man made toxins and POPs studies will need to be conducted regularly to ensure that farmed salmon remains safe to eat.

Want to learn more about toxins in our food supply? Come along to our environmental toxins workshop. View our upcoming workshop timetable here.

 

 

 

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10 Tips For Glowing Skin

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Gluten and Leaky Gut

To gluten or not to gluten, that is the question. Gluten is the stuff that makes bread soft and chewy, that holds cakes and biscuits together. The modern diet is high in gluten – most people consuming the gluten containing grain wheat at least once a day. Bread, pasta and pastries have become staples in our diet – but are they ruining our guts?

Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, rye, kamut and barley. Perhaps once, when these grains were eaten in small amount and in their natural form, gluten was not so problematic. The issue is that we are eating more gluten than ever and wheat is far removed from what it used to be – having been cultivated and modified to contain higher levels of gluten and to be more pest resistant. Gluten-free diets seem to be all the rage right now, but is there any merit to it?

 

Gluten and your gut

Studies have found that gluten is bad news for our guts. One example is this study, that found that gliadin, a component of gluten, increased the production of an enzyme called zonulin. Zonulin causes the breakdown of the glue that holds the tight epithelial junctions of our intestines together. In simple terms this means that the spaces between your cells become bigger and you begin to get large molecules and even whole bacteria passing through the intestines and into your bloodstream. Termed as ‘leaky gut’ – this process means that you are more likely to get an abnormal reaction of the immune system and develop an autoimmune disease. It also means that you’ll have more inflammation in the gut, which can impair your digestion.

 

Gluten and inflammation in the gut

This review article summaries the research available on grain intake and inflammation. Basically, there are a lot of studies that show that the intestinal permeability or leaky gut caused by gluten intake is very pro-inflammatory and may have a role in chronic inflammation and autoimmune disease. Most people are best to eat a low gluten diet, but for those patients with any autoimmune disease, severe digestive problems or inflammatory conditions like endometriosis, migraines, chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia our naturopaths recommend following a strict gluten free diet.

Gluten free is the way to go if you have any type of inflammation in your body.

Gluten alternatives

If you’re used to eating a lot of bread then you will need to make some changes to your diet when eliminating gluten. Gluten free bread is not a healthy option – most that are even close to bread are highly processed and have additives to make the bread light and fluffy like traditional bread. For pasta you can use wholegrain brown rice, buckwheat or quinoa pasta. Including quinoa, brown rice and buckwheat in the diet is a good way to get the benefits of fibre and protein from grains while preventing damage on your digestive system.

 

Need help with your diet? Make an appointment with one of our qualified nutritionists by calling 07 3367 0337 now.

 

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Which diet is right for my body type?

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Cold and Flu Prevention Plan

Do you dread the cold and flu season? Catching a cold is an inconvenient and uncomfortable experience – one that we’d all rather live without! Thankfully, there is a lot that you can do to help your body’s immune defence work at it’s best, which means you can prevent colds or significantly reduce their severity. This means less snot up your nose and less time off work – a win-win really.

So why do some people catch everything going around while others don’t? It comes down to the function of your immune system – your very own line of defense against cold and flu viruses. If your immune system is working well you won’t catch nearly as many colds and when you do, your body will be all over it – helping you to recover much faster.

Stress, a poor diet and bad sleep all deplete your immune system, as does smoking and alcohol intake. On the other hand, eating a diet rich in nutrients, managing your stress well and getting a great nights sleep can help your immune system to do what it needs to do.

For a healthy immune system, eat:

  • A whole food diet based on vegetables, fruit, legumes, whole grains, organic meat, fish, nuts and seeds.
  • Fresh fruit and raw vegetables that are high in Vitamin C and bioflavonoids – kiwifruit, berries, citrus in season, pawpaw, pineapple, capsicum, parsley and radishes.
  • High zinc foods – oysters, pepitas, sunflower seeds, ginger and organic red meat.
  • Immune enhancing and antiviral foods such as garlic, onion and bee pollen (great in smoothies).

There are also many herbal medicines and nutrients that can help to replete your immune system and prevent colds and flus. Studies show that Echinacea root, when taken preventatively can reduce your risk of catching a cold significantly. Beware of over the counter Echinacea products though – they are often made from the cheaper aerial parts of the plant and even those made from the root may not have enough of the active alklyamides to have a beneficial effect.

Echinacea root, rather than the aerial parts are what helps to boost your immunity.

Seeing a naturopath is the best way to ensure you’re getting good quality products that are going to work how they are meant to. As well as Echinacea our naturopaths commonly prescribe other immune and antiviral herbs along with Vitamin C and bioflavonoid complexes, zinc and other more complex immune enhancing nutrients. Our naturopaths also help to improve both stress and sleep quality, which further enhances your natural immunity (as well as making you feel great!).

Look after your body so it can look after you. Eat well, get some rest and see one of our naturopaths to help you avoid getting sick.

To make an appointment with one of our naturopathic experts, call us on 07 3367 0337 or book online here

 

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