Blood sugar dysregulation and reactive hypoglycaemia

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.

Whole grains like oats are an excellent source of complex carbohydrates.

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. 

Cause Assessment Tool

The Cause Assessment Tool takes around 5 minutes to complete. Once you’ve finished we’ll send you a 6 page report with detailed information about which causes are affecting you and tips to help do something about them.


7 Natural Strategies For Healthy Gut Flora

Did you know that there are 2-3kg of symbiotic bacteria and fungal organisms living in your gut? This army of organisms (called your microbiome) comprises of bacteria that are equivalent to over 10 times the amount of cells you have in your body.

The role of bacteria and health is discussed in depth here, but let’s take a look at what you can do everyday to help create a healthy microbiome.

  1. Get a water filter

Town water contains chloride to kill off any bug that may harm you. Chlorine is a very effective antibacterial agent so when you drink chlorinated water your gut bacteria will suffer. The best water filters have several stages of filtration including layers to reduce fluoride, heavy metals and other contaminants as well as layers to alkalise and remineralise your water.

  1. Cut back on sugar

Excessive sugar intake, particularly of refined sugars, will disrupt the balance of your microbiome by ‘feeding’ fungal organisms and causing overgrowths. This can lead to candida or other organisms that are endemic to the gut increasing in numbers and crowding out your ‘good’ bacteria.

  1. Eat foods rich in both soluble and insoluble fibre

Fibre provides ‘food’ for your gut bacteria – without it your good guys won’t be able to thrive. Include plenty of fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa and buckwheat in the diet to bolster your fibre intake.

  1. Avoid excessive alcohol intake

Drinking alcohol has the same effect as consuming too much sugar as alcohol is carbohydrate rich. The carbohydrates in alcohol can lead to fungal overgrowth and can kill of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Beer in particular can be problematic because it contains yeasts which can cause further disruption in the microbiome.


Too much alcohol can damage your microbiome.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

Eating a diet rich in fermented foods will help to bolster your levels of healthy gut bacteria.

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.

Listen to Katherine Maslen talk about How to Up your Good Gut Bacteria on 2UE

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.

Avoiding BPA and other bisphenol chemicals

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.

BPA releases up to 55 times more when it is heated.

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

  1. Get a glass or stainless steel drinking bottle and fill it with filtered water.
  2. Avoid sodas and mineral water from plastic bottles.
  3. Use glass storage containers or reused jars to store leftover food in. Never, ever heat plastic in the microwave.
  4. Avoid ready made and frozen meals that come in plastic.
  5. 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.
  6. Brink your own ceramic or glass re-usable coffee cup for takeaways.
  7. 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.

Natural Cures For Insomnia

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.

Sleep issues lead to fatigue and mood issues.

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:

  1. 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.
  1. 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!
  1. Dim the lights – use lamps at least an hour before bed to let your body know it’s close to snooze time.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.

 

 

Natural Treatment of Acne and Breakouts

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.

Topical

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.

Internally

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.

A multi-faceted approach is needed to stop breakouts.

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.

 

Be patient with your body – it takes time to heal.

Being unwell can be so frustrating, especially when you’re not exactly sure what is happening in your body. The question that everyone asks us is ‘how long will it take until I get better’? Although we can give you approximate time frames of how long you might take to heal, there is no way to know for sure because everyone is unique – and each person has their own set of circumstances that can affect their healing time.

Some of the things that can affect how quickly you heal from a certain ailment include:

  • Your genetics
  • If you’re eating the right diet
  • How stressed you are
  • If you’re getting enough sleep
  • How long you have had the illness for
  • What your lifestyle is like – exercise, relaxation, self care
  • How well you can stick to your treatment plan

You need to look back to see how far you have come.

At the beginning of treatment, changes are often more noticeable – you can feel remarkably different in the first weeks and really feel the shift. As time goes on though, changes are often slower and can be less noticeable. Quite commonly we get patients in their 3rd or 4th month or treatment that report that they don’t really fell very different, but when you look back at where they started and compare symptoms you can clearly see that they are much better off then when they started. What can be unnoticeable to the patient can be obvious for the practitioner – that’s why it is important that the right questions are asked and the right tests are undertaken to make sure we can track your progress along the way.

You need to look back to see what changes have really been made.

You’re not called a patient for nothing!

A mentor of mine, master herbalist Kerry Bone, often says to his frustrated patients ‘you’re not called a patient for nothing’. Healing takes time and you do need to be patient as your body does its thing. A good adage is that for every year that you have had a certain condition or ailment it is going to take at least one month to correct it. If you have been bloated since you were a teen and you’re now 30 then you’ll likely need 15 months of treatment to get to the bottom of it. It is important to understand that healing takes time and persistence, and as long as you are giving your body the right combination of treatment, food and lifestyle factors then you will heal.

Some symptoms will resolve within weeks whereas others may take months or even years. It helps to remember that it took some time for your body to get into this state and it is going to take some time to unravel the damage and get it back to health.

 

If you have any questions about your treatment plan, please ask your naturopath, acupuncturist or case manager who will be able to talk about your individual case.

Breast Health and Self Care

Breasts are the best! You have to give them some more love.

Whether you own them or not, you know that they are good – a symbol of nourishment, fertility, warmth and sexuality; breasts are synonymous with all things good and wholesome. Breasts are the ultimate expression of giving. Women offer up their beautiful breasts to nurse their babies until they can chew and swallow food on their own. We see breasts as a symbol of femininity and sexuality – in fact, the breast is flaunted about our media like giant sacks of wealth, our eyes glued to their every move as though at any moment, they might explode, showering us with nurturing, warmth and riches.

So, as with all things that we need, use, want and desire – we need to be aware of the constant flow of energy, and give back from where we have taken. This means giving some love back to the breasts in the form of nutrients, energy and nourishment. The breast needs to be nurtured as much as anything or anyone else. I’m going to give you a few ideas on how to feed your feeders, nourish your knockers, and make your jubbly’s feel lovely.

1. Nutrition – important nutrients for breast health include:

  • Iodine – this is found primarily in seaweed, seafood, mushrooms, sunflower seeds, asparagus and garlic. Iodine insufficiency can cause breast tissue hyperplasia and painful, lumpy breasts
  • Vitamin B6 – found in avocado, carrot, chicken, eggs, legumes, sunflower seeds and walnuts – vitamin B6 can help reduce premenstrual breast tenderness
  • Vitamin E – found in almonds, corn, eggs, hazel nuts, sunflowers and wheat germ. Vitamin E can reduce the painful condition of fibrocystic breast disease and quell premenstrual breast tenderness
  • Brassica family foods – these include cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale and radishes
  • Phyto-oestrogen foods such as linseeds compete with stronger oestrogens in the body for receptor sites, thereby reducing the proliferative effect of oestrogen on breast tissue
  • Foods to support the liver – herbs such as turmeric, rosemary and bitter greens are known to increase liver detoxification thereby promoting healthy oestrogen clearance in the body

Self-massage helps to identify any lumps or pain early on so you can get it checked out.

2. Massage – lymphatic drainage

  • Breast massage is not only a great way to perform a regular check for lumps or abnormalities, but is also necessary for good breast health. Breast tissue contains lots of lymphatic vessels, which are designed to drain wastes and toxins from the tissues into the circulation for eventual removal and excretion. By massaging the breast tissue regularly, you are helping this garbage collection system to do its job more efficiently resulting in tissue detoxification.
  • Start by using some nice massage oil – I suggest an almond or macadamia oil base, with the inclusion of essential oils to help lymphatic drainage (such as calendula oil). Start at the nipple and work in a circular sweeping motion outwards towards the armpit. Practice this massage technique twice weekly for best results.

3. Things to reduce

  • Caffeine – can add to the painful breast changes that occur with a menstrual cycle as well as the condition known as ‘fibrocystic breast disease’ where lumps of ropey tissue develop under the skin.
  • Alcohol is also known to have a negative impact on breast health
  • Saturated fats and trans fats – these are essentially inflammatory foods and can have a negative impact on all areas of health – breast included.

If you have specific breast issues or experience painful breasts leading up to your period you may have a hormonal imbalance that requires the advice of your naturopath. Breast pain is not normal and needs to be assessed – call us on 07 3367 0337 for help or see your doctor.