Every day we’re learning more about toxins – chemicals in our environment that are having an adverse affect on our health. You may be trying to eat organic produce, buying hormone free meat and avoiding sugar. But what if you’re still exposing yourself to high levels of toxins every day? Let’s check out 5 key things that you might be missing.
Let’s begin with something that many women use every month (sorry guys) – tampons. But hold up – we’re not eating tampons, so what’s the problem? Well you may be surprised to know that the vaginal wall with its delicate tissue is a very absorbent area – an easy passage of toxins into your body. And you might be even more shocked to consider that tampons are made from cotton, one of the crops most heavily sprayed with pesticides. Of course this is because cotton isn’t eaten, but those pesticide residues will be in direct contact with the vaginal wall and absorbed into the area that they affect the most – your reproductive system. On top of this tampons can also contain plastics that have the endocrine disrupting chemicals bisphenol A (BPA) or phthalates in them, which you don’t want to be absorbed into your body.
The solution? If you’re going to use tampons opt for organic ones, or use a menstrual cup or pads instead.
Now, we all love a glass of wine now and then, but have you considered where the grapes come from? Grapes are one of the most heavily sprayed crops – the Environmental Working Group (EWG) rates them as 5th in fruit or vegetables with high pesticide content. In fact a single grape could contain over 15 different pesticides on it. So considering it takes around 100 grapes to make just one glass of wine, you could be getting a good dose of endocrine disrupting pesticides with that ½ a bottle you have with dinner.
The solution? There are many organic and biodynamic wines on the market. If wine is something you enjoy regularly, then switching to organic will eliminate this problem.
- Coffee and Tea
Like wine, we often don’t consider the coffee we buy when trying to avoid pesticides. Coffee is also a heavily sprayed crop and you may be getting a hefty dose of chemicals with your morning pick-me-up. Tea is also one of the most highly sprayed crops. Because tea and coffee is brewed at high temperatures, these residues are easily washed off the leaves and ground beans into your cup.
The solution? If you drink coffee or tea daily, then make sure you buy organic.
- Takeaway Coffee
So aside from the issue above, you might be shocked to learn that the paper cups that you buy your coffee in are lined with a thin layer of plastic – which likely contains bisphenol A (BPA) or other bisphenol compounds. Studies show that when heating plastic up to 55 times the amount of BPA is released into the food or drink it contains, so hot takeaway coffee will give you a hefty dose of BPA as well as the pesticides I talked about previously.
The solution? Buy a glass, ceramic or stainless steel re-usable coffee cup and get your morning hit in that. It’s also better for the environment, so a win-win!
- Air Freshener
The fragrance contained in air fresheners, including sprays, scented sticks and scented candles, can be made up of over 300 chemicals. The most common chemical in fragrances are phthalates – hormone disrupting chemicals that have been associated with infertility, endometriosis and breast cancer. Every time you smell a synthetic fragrance you are exposed to these endocrine-disrupting chemicals.
The solution? Ditch any air fresheners, fragrance sticks or scented candles and use natural essential oils instead. Simply put a few drops of your favorite essential oil in a spray bottle with water and use in place of air fresheners.
There are so many sources of hidden toxins – hopefully this list helps you to remove a few more from your life. To learn more about environmental toxins, attend one of our workshops.
Sugar cravings? Feeling ‘hangry’? Energy levels all over the place? Does this sound like you? If it does, there is a good chance that the reason for your symptoms is an underlying imbalance in your blood sugar levels, and the good news is that these symptoms are fixable.
Your body has some very tight controls in place to keep things working at optimal function and this is especially true when it comes to blood sugar levels. Blood sugar can either be too high, which is what happens in diabetes when insulin is either no longer produced or does not work properly, or you can also have low blood sugar, which is what causes the symptoms mentioned above.
High blood sugar causes damage to organs over time and is generally not considered a crisis for the body in the short term. Low blood sugar, on the other hand, is considered an emergency for the body as sugar is the primary energy supply to the brain, and once levels get too low, your brain can stop working properly – definitely an emergency! We know that high blood sugar can be caused by a diet high in simple (refined) carbohydrates, sugar and not enough exercise, but why does low blood sugar occur? Well, there are a few reasons. One of these is called reactive hypoglycaemia which occurs when your body’s insulin signalling is out of balance. What happens in reactive hypoglycaemia is that when you eat something (especially foods high in sugar or more refined), your body releases too much insulin. Insulin acts like a key to open the doors of your cells, allowing glucose to go into the cells to be used to make energy. When you release too much insulin, more of the glucose travels into the cells and you are left with less in your blood. When the blood glucose levels get to low, your body sends out distress signals such as carbohydrate or sugar cravings, shaking, sweating, feeling like you might kill someone if they stand in the way of you and food (hangry) and your energy levels can drop too as your body thinks it is in starvation mode and stops producing energy.
The other reason that you can have low blood sugar is simply because you are not eating enough, regularly enough or have done lots of exercise without eating enough. This second type of low blood sugar is easily remedied by making sure you eat regularly especially when exercising.
So, what can be done about it?
Reactive hypoglycaemia is a reaction to the food that you are eating, so the easiest thing to do is to change your diet. The best diet for this condition is a well-balanced whole foods diet with a special focus on eating a good breakfast containing protein. Research shows that eating a higher protein breakfast leads to reduced food intake throughout the day. Make sure that you have protein with each meal, some unrefined complex carbohydrates (like whole grains, fruits and vegetables) and some healthy fats too as these also help to slow down the digestive process and reduce spikes in blood sugar.
Other things that help with healthy insulin signalling and maintaining good blood sugar levels are:
- Avoiding high sugar foods and refined carbohydrates
- Exercising (improves insulin signalling) and making sure you eat after exercising
- Eating at regular intervals – try not to go too long in between meals – snacks are a good idea for you
- Omega 3 fats – these assist insulin signalling
- Nutrients such as chromium, zinc, magnesium and vitamin B3 also help your body to hear the signals it is receiving
- Reducing stress – the release of cortisol, your main stress hormone, increases blood glucose and can cause a crash later on in the day
- Avoid caffeine – this works in a similar fashion to stress at causing blood sugar crashes
- Talk to your naturopath about herbal medicine to help your body get back into balance
If you have symptoms of blood sugar dysregulation, it is important that you seek the advice of your health care practitioner as these symptoms can be due to other health issues which need investigating.
Our naturopaths routinely help people with diabetes, pre-diabetes and blood sugar dysregulation. Call us on 07 3367 0337 to make an appointment.
- Avoid taking antibiotics
You probably already know that antibiotics damage gut flora. Some gastroenterologists believe that once you take antibiotics your microbiome will never be the same again. The WHO recommends that antibiotics are only used when absolutely necessary however we still see them being used frequently for the common cold when often the illness would resolve on it’s own over time. The advice used to be to always finish a course of antibiotics, but the WHO now recommends that you cease the course of antibiotics as soon as your symptoms subside.
- Boost up your natural immunity
The best way to avoid antibiotic use is to boost up your own natural immunity so you don’t get sick as often or as severely. Eating a diet high in vitamin C and bioflavonoid rich foods such as berries, onions, pineapple, paw paw, kiwifruit, lemons, grapefruit, capsicum and passionfruit will help to support your immunity. Eating foods high in zinc such as pepitas, sunflower seeds, organic red meat, oysters, lentils, asparagus and mushrooms will help to boost your white blood cell counts and fight of viruses. Other immune boosting foods are garlic, raw honey, bee pollen and chinese mushrooms.
- Eat loads of fermented foods
Fermented foods have loads of natural probiotic bacteria that will help to colonise your gut with the good stuff. We recommend that you eat 2 different types of fermented food each day. You can choose from yoghurt (dairy, cashew or coconut), cashew cheese, fermented vegetables (sauerkraut, kim chi etc), kombucha, kefir and many other fermented foods that you can make yourself.
If you’re going to choose one thing to focus on for wellness we recommend it be your gut health. Following these tips will help you to build a healthy microbiome that will provide benefit to your immune and nervous system and help you to ward off disease.
Professional help for healing the gut
Our naturopaths help people with gut problems every day. If you haven’t been following these guidelines or have a history of high antibiotic use then it is worthwhile ordering a CSA (comprehensive stool assessment) to check out your levels of good vs bad bacteria. From this information, your naturopath can provide a tailored gut rehabilitation program using herbal antimicrobials and probiotics along with a specific diet to support gut health.
Bisphenol A (BPA) is a common additive to plastics that has been shown to be harmful to human health. You’ll find it in things like plastic water bottles, plastic food storage containers. BPA can also be found in the plastic that lines canned food and tetra packs and food packaging (long life drinks and food).
Bisphenol chemicals are endocrine disruptors and xenoestrogens. Studies have shown that BPA is associated with an increased risk of endometriosis, infertility, breast cancer. It can contribute to learning difficulties in children and can even affect their behaviour.
Studies like this one are now also finding that blood BPA levels are associated with hypertension (high blood pressure) and that those that have higher BPA are more likely to get complications from their hypertension, like kidney dysfunction.
We know from studies that just about every human in the developed world has detectable levels of BPA in their bodies. You ingest BPA when you drink from plastic bottles, use plastic food storage (especially if you’re heating it in the microwave), canned food (the lining has plastic) and tetra packs (also lined with plastic). Heating plastic releases up to 55 times more BPA in your food or drink – so anything that has been pastuerised in the bottle or canned will have high levels of BPA. Takeaway coffee cups are also lined with plastic containing BPA and the hot liquid aids its release.
But, isn’t plastic going BPA free? A lot of plastic manufacturers are now producing BPA free plastic – but it isn’t any safer. BPA free plastic contains other bisphenol chemicals, like BPS or BPD. The only safe way to avoid bisphenol is to try and eliminate plastic from your food and drink altogether.
Tips for going bisphenol free
- Get a glass or stainless steel drinking bottle and fill it with filtered water.
- Avoid sodas and mineral water from plastic bottles.
- Use glass storage containers or reused jars to store leftover food in. Never, ever heat plastic in the microwave.
- Avoid ready made and frozen meals that come in plastic.
- Stop eating canned food. Tomatoes in particular are high in BPA due to the acidity in the fruit, which leaches even more BPA out. Use organic passata in glass jars instead. For coconut milk we stock a freshly made version that is in a glass jar, available at our Healthy Living Store.
- Brink your own ceramic or glass re-usable coffee cup for takeaways.
- Avoid tetra pack liquids, like long life milk.
For more advice about BPA and other chemicals, come to our Environmental Toxins workshop which provides a wealthy of knowledge about how to detoxify your home and body.
Sleep issues are something that we’ll all experience at some point in our lives. Whether you have trouble getting to sleep, staying asleep or have a restless sleep the end result is the same – you’ll wake up feeling exhausted in the morning.
Insomnia can be divided into two categories. Sleep onset insomnia is when you have trouble falling asleep. It should only take 5-15 minutes to fall asleep – anything more than this and you have a problem. Often we have patients that take hours to fall asleep, which cuts into their valuable sleep hours.
Sleep maintenance insomnia is where you wake up during the night – usually multiple times and have difficulty going straight back to sleep. Interruptions in your sleep, even if briefly, disrupt the waves in your sleep cycle and don’t allow you to get a proper rest.
Many people have both sleep onset and sleep maintenance insomnia, which of course leaves them feeling floored in the morning.
It is critical to fix your sleep issues because sleep is the time that your body does most of it’s healing. While you sleep your body is regenerating its cells, balancing your hormones, detoxifying and processing your memories from the day. Sleep deprivation causes weight gain, fatigue, depression and hormonal issues. Without adequate sleep we simply cannot heal.
So is there a natural cure for insomnia?
Naturopathy is perfect for the treatment of insomnia because it works on the underlying cause. Sleep issues are caused by 3 main areas:
Stress – leading to a disruption in the sleep-wake cycle
Fatigue – you actually need energy to initiate sleep so fatigue can mean you don’t sleep well
Neurotransmitter deficiency – a reduction in the production of serotonin, melatonin or GABA can interfere with your sleep
Our naturopaths use herbs and nutrients that work on these areas which works amazingly well to correct your sleep. Improvements in sleep can be seen in as little as 2 weeks, with most of our patients curing their insomnia within 3 months. Herbs that support your body in dealing with stress and repairing your adrenal glands, the glands that secrete your stress hormones, is a huge help. They will also assess you for neurotransmitter issues and correct these using nutritional support.
We also recommend that our clients focus on improving their ‘sleep hygiene’, which involves the following:
- Go to bed at the same time every night, preferably between the hours of 9pm and 10pm. Also, wake up at the same time each day, preferably between the hours of 5am and 6am. This will help to reset your sleep-wake cycle.
- Stop looking at screens before bed – it sends signals to your brain that it is daytime. This means no iphone or TV at least an hour before bedtime. Do not use your phone in bed!
- Dim the lights – use lamps at least an hour before bed to let your body know it’s close to snooze time.
- Move your body immediately on rising. Run on the spot or do a few star jumps. This lets your body know you’re awake and helps to reset the sleep wake cycle.
- Lay off the caffeine after 12pm – it stimulates your adrenal glands and can prevent your body winding down for sleep.
Hypnotherapy and sleep
Hypnotherapy is also a great solution for sleep – particularly when you can’t switch off your mind. For patients with chronic or severe sleep issues a combination of hypnotherapy and naturopathy is perfect to get speedy results.
Hypnotherapy helps you to release any subconscious emotions and worry that could stop you from being in a restful state. You can also get hypnotherapy CDs that can help to continue the process once you’re out of the office.
Want to fix your sleep issues now? Call our team on 3367 0337 or book an appointment with our naturopaths online now.
Acne is one of the most troublesome issues in both men and women. It commonly begins in the teenage years as your hormones change, but can also persist later in life. Some people also experience on onset of acne in their adult life.
Because acne is so cosmetic, it can really bother people and lead to issues with self-confidence. This causes stress which then can further exacerbate the problem. More severe acne can also be quite uncomfortable and can lead to scarring.
What causes acne?
Acne is usually a multifaceted problem which is why it can be tricky to pin-point one cause. Most often hormones are involved – acne that begins in the teenage years is due to the fluctuations in sex hormones that occur. Other factors can also be at play, including eating the wrong type of diet, stress and digestive issues.
Acne occurrence based on location
From a naturopathic perspective, different parts of the face give clues as to the underlying cause of the breakouts. Breakouts around the mouth and chin-line are usually due to hormonal issues. Breakouts between your brows are normally liver related and the forehead are from digestive toxicity.
Can you cure acne naturally?
YES! In our experience acne can be treated very successfully. The key is to uncover all of the underlying causes – usually we find there is more than one factor. For example it is very common for people to have acne that is affected by stress, which disrupts the hormones, but is also affected by diet. If we take a holistic approach to healing the acne both externally an internally then we have an excellent chance of a successful outcome.
How do you treat acne?
There are 2 main areas of treatment that need to be covered for the best results. You need to look at topical treatment (your skin care) as well as internal treatment that will address the underlying causes.
What you put on your skin can make a huge difference to your acne. Most people that have had acne have tried everything under the sun – the issue is that most products do not help to balance and heal the skin; rather they are very stripping and encourage scarring. We stock a range of natural and organic skin care lines that are designed to heal your skin and reduce scarring. Rather than using strong antibacterial agents, we recommend cleansers that help to make the skin slightly acidic, which stops bacteria from populating. Organic facials are also a great way to facilitate healing and break up scarring in acne sufferers.
Internal treatment is individualised to suit what is going on for you. Here are some of the ways that our naturopaths may treat acne.
Stress management – In nearly all cases of acne, there is a stress component. Our naturopaths use herbal adaptogens – herbs that help your body to cope with stress better as well as nutritional support.
Hormonal support – We work on helping your body to regulate hormones as well as to detoxify excess hormones that can be causing acne. Our naturopaths can specifically work on issues like PCOS that can contribute to acne.
Detoxification – Improving your detoxification pathways always helps with skin conditions. This includes clearing any digestive toxicity, improving your liver function so it can eliminate hormones properly and using herbal medicines that help to purify the blood.
Sebum control – For cystic acne working internally on sebum control can be very effective. Our naturopaths use specific nutrients that help to reduce the production of excess sebum as well as herbs that remove congestion in the skin to prevent blind pimples.
Digestive support – It is important to clear any constipation as this can lead to more toxins building up in the system. Our naturopaths also look at your levels of good vs. bad bacteria in the gut as this can impact your skin as well.
Most people need a combination of these approaches to fix their acne. Our naturopaths are experts in finding the underlying cause of acne and will be able to give you an idea of what might be the issue after your initial consultation.
How long does acne take to treat?
Unfortunately, acne is not a quick fix and most patients find that they need a good 6-12 months treatment to resolve it. Significant improvements can be made in the first few months though – and often within 4 weeks, we have some reduction in severity. Combining the naturopathy with our recommended skin care regime can take the severity down a notch pretty quickly.
Can acupuncture help acne?
Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine is another way that you can treat acne. Acne treatment from a Chinese medicine perspective is quite different to a naturopathic approach – it will depend on the type of acne, location as well as your concurrent symptoms as to what your TCM diagnosis will be. Acupuncture should still also be combined with a good topical therapy for best results.
If you’d like more information about how we can help your skin or would like to make an initial appointment, please call us on 07 3367 0337.
At Brisbane Natural Health we are passionate about helping people to live a life that they love. We specialize in helping people reclaim their health so they can get back to living