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 Horne, our naturopath
So we are more than half way through winter but the nights are still cool and the morning still has that cold bite to it. The sun during the day is beautiful so I hope you are getting out for some warmth and vitamin D when you can.
This mix of cold weather with a little taste of warmth puts us in the perfect position to become dehydrated, if we aren’t already of course! I don’t know about you but I have been struggling to drink enough water this winter. Did you realise that your body has the exact same water requirements regardless of the weather, even if your thirst reflex is reduced? Yes we need to replace more from sweating in summer but during winter our body still has all the same functions happening. Water is required for every function of the body and even a slight reduction in hydration can slow all of these functions.
Not only do we drink less water in winter but we are also in drier conditions. We spend time in air conditioning, car heaters, near fire places, hotter showers, more blankets and warm layered clothing. Sweat also evaporates quicker in the dry weather so you don’t feel it on your skin like you do in summer. I believe the cause of dry winter skin is mostly due to our hotter and longer showers. The two most common winter related complaints I see are dry skin and colds/flu. Hydration is vital to prevent them both. You need moist mucus membranes to form a barrier against bacteria and viruses to prevent their access to your body.
Luckily our body sends us signals when we are dehydrated but most of us aren’t in tune with them. The most obvious one is the colour of our urine. Look at your urine every time you go to the toilet – it should be clear and pale yellow. The more yellow or brown it is, the more dehydrated you are.
Steps to prevent dehydration in winter
Start your morning hydrated – Drink two large glasses of water first thing in the morning. You can add a squeeze of lemon juice to help fire up your digestion if you like. It also helps to flush out the toxins your body has processed during the night. Starting off on the right hydrated foot will help you to continue during the day.
Set a water goal – To determine your required water intake multiply your body weight by 0.033 – for example 80kg multiplied by 0.033 = 2.64L. This means a person who weighs 80kg would need to drink at least 2.6L a day to be well hydrated. Once you know what your water needs are, fill a glass or stainless steel water bottle or two in the morning with your water for the day. Your bottle doesn’t need to be fancy – an empty glass juice bottle will do the job. Make sure you keep your water close by and take a sip regularly.
Apps – Like everything else in the world ‘there is an app for that’. Yep there is apps that you can install onto your phone which will remind you to drink water. My favourite is called Plant Nanny and it is so cute! The app allows you “grow” plants and the water you drink is also watering the plants. Seeing your plants wilting is a great motivator!
Limit alcohol, tea and coffee – these have a diuretic effect on the body which means that the water gets removed through the urinary system at a faster rate. Don’t be fooled into thinking that any form of liquid will count towards your fluid intake. If you drink alcohol, tea or coffee it is vital that you compensate it with extra water.
Herbal tea – Many herbal teas can act in the body as a diuretic even if they are caffeine free. Use them when your need some warmth but make sure you don’t count on them for a large portion of your fluid intake. A nice option is licorice tea. It is a tea that many people enjoy but it also helps to keep the fluid balance of the body in check.
Eat fruit and vegetables – the high water content and the nutrients contained in them help fight off colds and fluids. They also contain electrolytes which are important for the fluid balance in your body. You can also infuse your water with fruit and vegetables to make it taste nice. Chopped cucumber and mint is a yummy and hydrating combination.
Eat/drink soups and bone broth – The broth and vegetables contained in the soups offer electrolytes and fluids. The unrefined salt you add will help your body absorbed and make use of the water as well. Many people complain that when they drink lots of water they just end up peeing it out more. The natural electrolytes will help to prevent this.
These are just a few tips that can help you keep up your hydration during winter. Being hydrated is such a simple and important thing for our health. Many conditions we experience have a root cause of dehydration so please make it a priority. Keep an eye out for another article on how to keep your skin from becoming dry in the winter.
By Dr. Annika
Someone asked me that the other day. I will go about answering that question the long way.
Most of us talk about “stress” meaning emotional stress and generally too much of it – it’s also known as distress. I think it can generally be summarized as: “too much to do and not enough time or energy to get it done.”
The interesting thing about this is that the stress is only detrimental if you think it is (!) and also that people who feel stressed generally have deeply meaningful lives (at least in our society where food on the table/roof over head/ not in a warzone applies) – which is a good thing and contributes to longevity.
So maybe we should all just reassess what we class as “stress” – such as instead of “I hate doing the dishes!” maybe “I feel so blessed that I have shared a delicious meal with those I care about”.
Another strategy is re-evaluating it by asking if what we are stressed about will actually matter in 5 years’ time. Prioritize the important things. And to the women in the audience: I suspect that most husbands prefer a happy and content wife to a “better homes and gardens”-ready home!
Then there is Eustress (yes, it has a name!) which is that sweet spot when you are stimulated enough to be interested and engaged but not overwhelmed.
So now here comes the answer to the question: Is there such a thing as not enough stress? YES! It’s called “boredom”. I actually think that boredom is an incredibly valuable space to be in, because this is where creativity resides.
This is when you can tune in to what exactly your heart desires just at the moment, what would feed your soul. Or where you can tune in to what your body desires – rest or walking in nature, for example. Wonderful! It’s where you try cooking a new kind of food or activity or meet new people or go somewhere you haven’t been before. I think we can agree that it is incredibly enriching.
This is when kids play games with very little raw material and build these incredible worlds and stories in their imaginations. Allow the kids to be bored rather than offering entertainment – when it gets painful enough they will come up with something.
This is also where play as a family blossoms – and families that play together stay together.
So relish boredom!
Taking this whole concept a bit further and looking at other types of stress.
Mechanical eustress for our bones, say, is walking and running in Earth’s gravity. This stimulates our bones and keeps them strong and healthy. Too much stress creates a fracture, such as a stress fracture. And not enough stress is what astronauts experience in outer space – they lose a lot of bone mass while in zero gravity and need to pound their bones for a while (gently to start with of course) so that they re-mineralize and get strong again.
Chemical stress is a bit trickier and not one I suggest fooling around with. By using certain substances, like say caffeine, we increase the production of liver enzymes that break down caffeine – as well as other compounds, which are then more easily broken down if they show up in the body. The trouble with trying to induce your liver enzymes is though that you kind of rob Peter to pay Paul, because they all require nutrients and those are scarce already with our normal Western diet. In fact, our livers are already running to capacity to deal with all the man-made chemicals in our environment (possibly one of the reasons so many of us have a hard time with diary for example); liver enzymes were really only ever designed to deal with the toxins that our own bodies produce as a normal part of our metabolism as well as a few outside nature-made toxins.
In any event, the take home message is this: A little bit of stress is actually good for you! It keeps you engaged and interested and feeling alive. Too much stress needs to be chunked down so it becomes manageable. And boredom can be a wonderful way to explore new things.
May you find your eustress sweet spot!
by Dr. Annika
EMF is an abbreviation for Electro-magnetic field.
Essentially, an electromagnetic field arises anywhere that you have electricity moving or waves of certain frequencies being emitted (tv waves are infrared, for example).
Think about it: 100 years ago, the only radiation we were exposed to were from the sun and what naturally occurs in the earth in some places. Now we live in a soup of
- tv waves
- mobile phone waves
- mobile phone towers (watch out for 5G)
- electrical appliances including computers and wiring
- WiFi (yours and your neighbours’)
- and if you have a mattress with springs and/or sleep on an electric blanket that is plugged in, you are sleeping on a sea of electricity
- the list goes on….
The reason why this is a discussion worth having is because our bodies also have an EMF. There is a voltage across every cell membrane, which is the basis for how cells keep good stuff in and bad stuff out, for example. Our nerves and muscles are famous for running on electricity, including our hearts of course.
EMFs interact with one another, just as the ripples from two stones thrown into a pond at the same time will interact, meaning that if you come into contact with an EMF it is going to have an effect on your body. The question is, of course, if this effect is harmful.
A quick google search will bring up scientific papers that conclude that there is no conclusive evidence of a link between mobile phone use and brain cancers (absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence). – The only caution with that is that radiation is the only known cause for brain cancers (that doesn’t mean it’s the only cause) because brain cells divide very little and are relatively safe from cancer; the cells that live in tissues that divide frequently are far more prone to cancers.
We do know that mobile phone waves, for example, heat up the tissues in the head, such as the brain. You might notice your eyes being dry after talking on the mobile, for example. I don’t know about you, but I personally prefer not to have my brain tissue heated up on a regular basis.
The other concern is that while they may have studied the effect of a single type of radiation on a person or animal, they have definitely not looked into what the cumulative effect is of all the different types of radiation put together. And the new 5G network is a complete unkown, as it uses waves of a length that has a different effect on tissues that the other kinds we have been exposed to for a while now. And then add in all the other toxins we are exposed to and we really have no idea whatsoever what is likely to happen.
In our opinion, it’s not worth the risk. In our practice we only rarely find that people can handle having their phone on their body using muscle testing. How long did it take before it was finally scientifically evident let alone admitted publicly that smoking tobacco is harmful and that sugar wrecks your health? And while we might not all feel like going remote to stay out of reach of reception, there are some number of things you can do to reduce your exposure. Here are some suggestions:
- Switch off your WiFi router unless you are currently using it.
- Switch your phone on flight mode if you sleep with it near you.
- Buy a mattress made from natural fibres (check out the natural bedding company)
- Please just DON’T use a smartwatch. (I mean seriously??? You need to carry your device on your wrist??? Sleep with it near your head???) Or any other emitting/receiving device for that matter.
- Only use your mobile on speakermode. Some of the few good news are that the radiation from mobiles is exponential, meaning that even if you are just at arm’s length, it will be a lot less radiation.
- PLEASE keep your phone away from pregnant bellies and also children. Children’s skulls have not yet formed fully, and so let through a lot more radiation than adult ones.
- Use protective devices (that work)