Welcome to the Spectrum Natural Family Healthcare blog. Read the latest blog below or click on the right hand side for other blog articles.
By Kelly, our naturopath
When we talk about health at this practice we are not just talking about the absence of disease. It is the total well-being of mind, body and spirit – how many people can truly say they have this? I believe you need to be aware of where your priorities are so you can make room in your life to allow health in. So, I wanted to tell you guys about a conversation I had a few weeks ago that brought me to thinking about this topic of priorities.
I told a work mate that I have a proper cooked breakfast every morning. She says “but how do you have time?” I said “oh it’s not that hard, the eggs cook while I do my eyes [makeup] or whatever, and it takes no time to put the greens, sprouts and fermented veg on the plate”. And then she goes “but how do you have enough time to eat it”. I said “well I make time and I make sure I get up early enough so I can have a proper breakfast”.
So, I will admit, I walked away from this conversation thinking “hmmm, am I abnormal….is there something in the ‘The How To Be An Adult Handbook’ that I missed? Granted, I don’t have children I need to get organised in the morning but is there something I am not doing that I should be doing in the morning?” I pondered this for a while and then it came to me – a healthy balanced breakfast is one of my priorities that I have so that I can feel good. In my mornings I go for a walk, dry body brush and have a proper breakfast but I leave all my washing up on the sink to be washed that night. If there is clothes to be folded, they stay there. If the bathroom sink needs a clean, it says dirty til later. For some people the thought of leaving their house in this state before they head out for the day would send them crazy! Some people like to wake up 15 minutes before they are due to be at work so they can get in every little bit of sleep they possible can. And that’s totally cool – everyone has a set of priorities that works for them.
The other side to this story is when your priorities aren’t serving you or are actually keeping you from feeling well. These can be the obvious ones like smoking and excessive alcohol of course. The thing is, there are also ones which aren’t so obvious, seem harmless and have become habit rather than a priority.
I will give you an example of this from my life that is common for a lot of other people too. After a long day at work I might not finish all the jobs I want to do at home until, say, 10pm. I will be exhausted and I really know I should go to bed. Instead, I decide I need some ‘chill time’ so I can tune out and relax before bed. So I will put on some Netflix and then next thing I know it is midnight! I know it doesn’t serve me but I do it pretty much every week night. Yes, I use blue light filters and luckily, it doesn’t affect the quality of my sleep but I also know I am the type of person who does best on a good 8-9 hours of sleep. I know I would be better off reading a book or listening to one of my meditations to relax but I really enjoy watching a bit of TV before bed while the rest of the house is quiet and all the work is done. It’s a priority/habit that I have formed that I know really isn’t in my best interest.
Think about your day/week/month/year and the priorities you have in place. Think about how your time and energy is split over the day/week/month. How much of it is going to something that is beneficial for you and moving you closer to your health goal? Which of these priorities make you feel better or well? Which ones are causing you frustration or stress? Are they a priority out of necessity or obligation? Is there priorities that you have now that you can let go of or reduce so you can make room for a new priority that will serve you better?
If you are having trouble with your health goals then maybe these questions might be good ones to ask yourself. You might find it gives you fresh eyes about what is truly going on with your health. If you are having trouble figuring out what you should be making a priority to achieve your best health then maybe it’s time to make an appointment to see one of us here at Spectrum.
And don’t forget – there is nothing wrong with having priorities that serve you only. You need to take care of you before you can be fully present for the people around you.
by Lydia, our nutritionist
The role stomach acid plays in your digestion and how this is a key to balancing your hormones.
In my workshops and consultations I refer to our gastric juices as our “Hot Pot”, like a burning hot bubbling cauldron. I often daydream about how fabulous it would be to be a witch, mixing potions and creating tonics! I find solace in knowing I have a chemical concoction simmering away inside me (my stomach) at all times, turning my food into magic (or rather nutrients that determine my health). As you read through this blog I want you to imagine this bubbling cauldron when I refer to your gastric juices or stomach acid…
How your Hot Pot (bubbling cauldron) helps you?
We are told that broccoli is good for your liver, it contains indole-3-carbinol which helps the cytochrome p450 pathways to detoxify hormones we no longer need, like excess oestrogen. But HOW does the body access this indole-3-carbinol from the broccoli we just munched down on? We can get so excited by eating our raw greens or making sure we have enough fat and protein in our meals. But HOW does it go from a cuisine to various nutrients that fuel our entire being?!
The gastric juices in your stomach should be a pH of 1-2, this is death burning hot acid! The hot pot ingredients are loads of enzymes and hydrochloric acid released from your liver, pancreas and cells that line the stomach*. The release of acid into your stomach is activated by your vagus nerve, The Wanderer Nerve- seriously its goes everywhere and does SO much. This burning acid is told to release, by the vagus nerve, in response to the signal of foods’ soon arrival. Upon arrival the stomach seals the doors, well sphincters, either ends of your stomach and churns your food around like a washing machine on the final high speed spin. During this time your food is smooshed and denatured into nutrients that are then sent into the small intestine to be absorbed into your blood.
Let’s role play
Okay so mostly the Hot Pot works wonders, until we introduce a modern western diet and lifestyle. Let’s see how this plays out…Let’s set the scene: You’ve woken up early, gone for a run and have a 30 minute window to get ready and go to work/school/wherever (where you go is your business!). You have read that smoothies are a great way to access a lot of your key nutritional requirements, and they’re quick! You’re stressed, life is busy and you have things to do. You quickly tap about at your computer, take some phone calls all while downing this super duper rainbow smoothie filled with fat, protein and fibre.
Now let’s ask some questions: How quickly did you consume your smoothie? Did you chew it? Were you looking at your phone/computer while drinking it? Do you remember what it tasted like? Were you thinking about the smoothie or the trillion other things you have to do that day?
I’m not saying smoothies are bad, no way! They take up a pretty significant part of my diet. But downing a smoothie filled with complex nutrients in a rushed manner is not conducive to supporting your hot pot to break it down into nutrients. The vagus nerve wasn’t told you were about to eat nor did you tell it you were eating!! You didn’t chew or even THINK about your smoothie as food that needs stomach acid. You can definitely argue that the smoothie was blended it up so you didn’t have to chew, the blender is no stomach acid – lets get that clear! Taking time out to look at your food, smell your food and CHEW your food really helps the vagal nerve switch into gear. When we are stressed or in a hurry our vagus nerves supports us in that time, it takes our energy away from digesting and to our brain and muscles. So we can think quick and run from a tiger!
Another reason to breathe
We digest best in the parasympathetic nervous system state – ‘Rest and Digest’. Your vagus nerve listens to your heart is beating slowing, breathing nice and slow and your gentle thoughts. “No tiger can get us here, it’s safe to relax our skeletal muscles and eat”. Consequently blood is around your digestive system, gastric acid is being released into your stomach and upper small intestine. When you think about food you salivate, try it now – imagine eating a lemon, imagine it sour in your mouth activating your salivary glands. Go on, say lemon over and over. Feel that? Salivary glands opening and releasing? The Vagus nerve is cool huh!? So far breathing is the most successful tool to ease our body closer to rest and digest, SO BREATHE!
Symptoms/consequences of low stomach acid:
- Food intolerance
- Histamine intolerance
- Excess burping/farting
*I just want to say stomach acid, enzymes and how they are released is WAY more complex than what I could fit in this blog
By Dr. Annika
One of the fabulous things about going to conferences is that you pick up little nuggets of clinical wisdom here and there. Research catches up with common sense and traditional wisdom eventually. So here’s a little bit of research we learnt about at the Brisbane conference in March.
So what is the natural and free pain relief everyone has access to? Sleep!
There was a study conducted where volunteers were sleep deprived. They were then tested to see how sensitive to pain they were – about 10% more sensitive than they were before the sleep deprivation.
They then were allowed to sleep and re-tested – and they were 15% less pain sensitive than before they were sleep deprived. In fact, the effect of recovery sleep on pain was greater than level 1 analgesics (such as paracetamol)!
The implications are obvious, but I have been known to state the obvious in the past, so here goes:
Most of us need 8 – 9 hours of sleep per day.
Let me say that again: Most of us need 8 – 9 hours of sleep per day.
If you don’t get that much, you will be more sensitive to pain (as well as grumpy and unfocused). And often pain disrupts sleep, so you can potentially end up in a vicious cycle of pain and sleep deprivation.
The wonderful, amazing hormone and antioxidant melatonin goes to work at night. As an antioxidant it repairs our brain tissue. This is kind of important!! As a hormone it regulates our day and night cycles.
It is released from the pineal gland, which is this tiny little gland right in the middle of our brains behind our eyes that reacts to light. So if there is light around, melatonin secretion is suppressed; if it’s dark, melatonin starts secreting and makes you sleepy.
This is a crucial point: it needs to be dark for melatonin to do its best work. REALLY dark.
That means that you should not be able to make out the fixtures in the room you sleep in at night. If you do, get block-out curtains, and remove any bright shining dots attached to devices from your bedroom.
Have you ever noticed you felt sleepy much earlier when you didn’t watch TV before bed? If you are using screens at night, or if you have LED lights illuminating your house, you are exposed to the blue part of the light spectrum, which is stimulating – and possibly the reason why people don’t think they need 8 hours of sleep at night. So switch off any screens at least 30 minutes before bed (try reading or doing craft or playing a board game or – oh my, this is revolutionary! – just talking to the people you spend your evenings with), and if possible use candles or a fire to light up the room you are in at night, as fire has lots of red light in it which has as soothing effect on the brain.
Sleep truly is the master healer and will allow you to be at your best. Enjoy it!