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.
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?
- 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
- 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…
- 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!
- 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!
- Milk alternative – Whatever your dietary needs are, you may choose to use almond, coconut, oat or macadamia milk.
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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