10 ways to get better sleep

Having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep can be very frustrating and becomes draining over time. Here are some safe, easy and tried and true strategies for getting you the deep, restful slumber that your body so desires:

  1. Avoid stimulating activities at night time – this includes working (!), playing on your phone, watching TV and even vigorous exercise.
  2. Turn off your screens – aside from being mentally stimulating, the wavelength of light coming from your phone and computer screen tells your brain that it is wake time and will inhibit your ability to fall asleep easily
  3. Avoid stimulants later in the day. The magic time to stop drinking tea or coffee is different for everybody, but a good rule of thumb is to avoid caffeine after midday. For some people that even means putting the chocolate bar away as these contain caffeine too. Try rooibos tea if you are used to a black tea or dandelion to replace coffee – it’s not the same but it is a great substitute. Also, be sure to limit your overall coffee intake to 1-2 single shots per day
  4. Get some exercise – burning up some energy during the day is a great way to allow your nervous system to relax and help you get into a healthy sleeping habit. For some people, night time exercise can be too stimulating, so getting your walk or run in the morning is probably best.
  5. Write lists of things you need to do tomorrow and leave them at work. Often we cant sleep because we are thinking of all the things we need to do at work (or at home). By writing a list, we are letting ourselves know that we have thought of the things that need doing and by leaving it where is belongs (at work), we don’t have to mentally take work home with us and think about it as we try to fall asleep
  6. Take a nice long bath with Epsom salts an essential oils. I recommend ½ -1 cup Epsom salts and lavender oil to calm the body and the mind
  7. Try some relaxing herbal teas after dinner – favourites are chamomile, valerian, passionflower and lemon balm – these help to calm your nervous system ready for sleep
  8. Switch your phone to flight mode – so that your sleep is not interrupted by text messages or emails and to reduce the electromagnetic frequency (EMF) coming from your phone sitting on your bedside table – EMFs are known to disrupt brain waves and sleep patterns
  9. Turn the lights down – bright lights tell the brain that it is day time and that you should be awake. Have you ever noticed how when you go camping, you fall asleep easily at 9pm even though at home you can stay awake till 11pm no worries? Part of the reason for that is the lack of artificial light when you are camping – try and recreate this effect in your home. After dinner and the clean up, switch off your overhead lights and use lamps or candles instead.
  10. Try some sleep hypnosis – there are hundreds of these on youtube and for use as aps on your phone. I suggest finding a hypnosis with a voice that you like and then downloading it to your phone so that you can listen as you drift off and still have your phone wifi switched off to avoid the EMFs. Hypnosis gives your brain something to focus on so that it can easily drift off into sleep without getting caught up with thoughts that could keep you awake.
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5 Possible Signs of Thyroid Trouble

Many people experience symptoms of low thyroid function despite their blood tests showing that everything is normal.  Generally, thyroid screening tests such as TSH will only pick up the more serious cases of thyroid disease, but even mild dysfunction and sub-clinical hypothyroidism can cause debilitating symptoms such as fatigue, low mood and stubborn weight problems. It is possible for your thyroid tests to read normal at the same time as your body making antibodies which attack your thyroid.  Below is a list of possible signs your thyroid could be in trouble.

  1. Weight Changes – Sneaky weight gain or difficulty losing weight despite a good diet and plenty of exercise is the most common complaint among people with an underactive thyroid or sub-clinical hypothyroidism.
  1. Debilitating fatigue, depression and anxiety are some of the most disruptive symptoms of poor thyroid health.
  1. Menstrual Irregularities & Fertility Issues – Undiagnosed and untreated thyroid disease can be a cause for infertility as well as sub-fertility and menstrual problems such as absent or heavy bleeding.  In a recent study, a total of 394 infertile women visiting an infertility clinic for the first time were investigated for thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). Of 394 infertile women, 23.9% had an underactive thyroid. Int J App Basic Med Res 2012;2:17-9
  1. Hair & Skin changes- if you have started to notice your skin become dry or rough, your hair feeling course, dry, brittle or falling out more than usual, this could be a sign your thyroid needs some help.
  1. Family History – If you have a family history of thyroid problems, you are at a higher risk of having a thyroid condition yourself.   Some older family members may refer to thyroid problems as gland trouble or goiter, or may suggest their weight problems are glandular.

Why should you be concerned?  Low-normal thyroid function is more of a heart attack risk than smoking, cholesterol or hypertension.  Sub-clinical hypothyroidism is linked with atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Low-normal thyroid function contributes to 60% of heart attacks!

According to the Australian Prescriber, underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism occurs in 10% of the adult population and 90% of these cases are autoimmune. ie. where the immune system attacks the thyroid gland.  Women are approximately 7 times more likely than men to suffer with hypothyroidism and it commonly occurs 2-12 months after childbirth or around menopause.

Feel more energetic and enthusiastic, lose weight naturally and reduce your risk of ongoing health problems with the professional help of your Naturopath.

Written by: Anne – Marie McDonald B.Nat

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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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