Could it be your gut? Probiotics for health

probioticsThere is a lot of discussion and information about gut health and its importance on health, from simple constipation, to immune conditions and mental health.

Here are some facts that you may find interesting about your gut.

Nutrients from food that provide the fuel for energy are absorbed in your gut. There are billions of tiny micro-organisms living in your gut that provide a balance and assist so many different functions in your body. Different strains of these micro-organisms perform different tasks. Certain illnesses, medications or environmental toxins can adversely affect the balance of micro-organisms in the gut, affecting how we process nutrients and causing unwanted symptoms. Probiotics are a concentrated form of healthy micro-organisms that may help restore the balance of good micro-organisms in the gut.

A healthy gut contributes to good health. There are some simple symptoms that tell you something is out of balance in your gut specifically such as:

  • bloating
  • indigestion
  • reflux
  • flatulence
  • constipation
  • diarrhoea

Don’t assume that you have to put up with these symptoms. The balance of micro-organisms in your gut could be restored with the right probiotic. Get the right advice and you will be amazed by the results.

Quality and strength are vital in ensuring that a probiotic will do what is expected. There are also many different strains of probiotics available that can assist you in many conditions such as skin disorders, infections, digestive disorders and more. Therefore make sure you get advice from your health practitioner with regards to which probiotic to use to ensure the best results. Keep in mind that different strains need to be available in specific amounts in order to provide an effective response. Probiotics should be tested as to their beneficial effects – not all over the counter probiotics are actually tested and some may have no effect at all.

While your practitioner will be able to give you high quality, effective probiotics, here are some examples of foods that you can introduce to your routine for better gut health in the meantime.

Saukraut
Fermented cabbage with a distinctive sour taste. Delivers a healthy dose of probiotics as well as fibre.

Kefir
This is a fermented milk drink – tastes like drinkable yoghurt.

Kombucha
This is a fermented tea that is lightly effervescent. You may need to try different ones until you can find the one that has the most agreeable taste for you.

Yoghurt
The most common and well known fermented food. Not all yoghurts are the same so again either do some reading about it or get professional advice as to what to use. Look for yoghurts that do not contain added sugar.

For further advice on improving your gut health or finding the right probiotic for you, feel free to contact us at The Centre of Health to make an appointment.

PMS – Premenstrual Symptoms

PMS - Premenstrual SymptomsRanging anywhere from mildly uncomfortable to severely debilitating, many women experience some form of hormonal based symptoms during their lifetime.

This problem occurs a lot more frequently that what we think.

Symptoms such as fluid retention, irregular cycles, cramps, backpain, irritability, sleeping disorders, heavy cycles, blood clots, the list goes on….

Many women believe this to be normal and never seek any help.

This is certainly not “normal” and women do not have to put up with these symptoms.

In addition, it is not unusual for these symptoms, if left untreated, to lead to problem such as polycystic ovaries, endometriosis and more serious health issues.

The causes of these symptoms are an imbalance in your hormonal system. Whenever one hormone dominates or is too low, symptoms are produced, Simply put, the main hormones responsible are oestrogen and progesterone. As these rise and fall during the different stages of your cycle, such as ovulation, egg maturation, release of the egg, symptoms are produced.

So you ask, what contributes to this?

Here are some influencing factors:

  • Inflammation: causes an increase in local tissue oestrogen production (meaning oestrogen produced in places other than in the ovaries), elevates androgens, (this may provoke excess facial hair for example) increases insulin levels and causes decreased progesterone levels.
  • Toxins, such as endocrine disrupting chemicals increase the oestrogenic load on the body, and are linked to abnormal puberty, irregular cycles, reduced fertility, PCOS, endometriosis, fibroids and early menopause
  • Gut dysbiosis: an imbalance of the normal, healthy microbial life residing within the gastrointestinal tract can reduce the efficiency of oestrogen detoxification and elimination, increasing the overall oestrogenic load. Dysbiosis has been linked with PCOS, endometriosis and fibroids.
There are many other triggers and reasons for imbalances that can lead to more serious problems long term – your health practitioner will be able to guide you for successful treatment.

Beat the winter ills

Beat the winter illsIts winter, its cold!

Colds and flu are prevalent during this time

What can you do that is simple and easy to reduce the chances of getting sick this winter?

Enhance your immune system through our six point approach.

Take a couple of simple supplements.

And you’re on your way to better health!

As temperatures lower, so too can your immune system’s capacity to fight off the bugs that cause colds and flus. Exposure to public places such as shopping centres, using public transport, working in an office and/or having kids at school provide ample opportunities for the whole family to be exposed to others who are sick. Airborne pathogens, as well as those present on shared items (e.g. bathroom taps and communal kitchens) can pose additional threats. Altogether, a winter-weakened immune system combined with increased exposure to infection-causing bugs, results in the ideal scenario for a cold or flu to strike; leaving you coughing and sneezing, with a sore throat and feeling under the weather!

Enhance Your Immunity

Give your immune system a head start by incorporating these healthy habits into your diet and lifestyle:

  • Eat fresh fruits and veggies: Aim for at least two serves of fruit and three cups of vegetables daily. Eat different types to provide nutrients and antioxidants to help build strong immunity.
  • Eliminate inflammatory foods: Sugar, refined carbohydrates, dairy, and wheat can all be inflammatory and may suppress immune function.
  • Reduce stress: Stress steals energy and nutrients from your immune system, leaving you susceptible to getting sick. Enjoy the benefits of scheduling time out, relaxation and time spent in nature. Take a deep breath, pace yourself and relax.
  • Exercise regularly: Remaining active not only makes you feel good; it also considerably reduces the frequency of contracting a cold. It also reduces stress levels and helps your heart and circulation.
  • Sleep soundly: Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep each night to restore energy and allow your immune system to regain its strength and resilience. Nothing replaces good sleep.
  • Spend time doing your favourite things, such as reading a book next to a fire. You do deserve some time out to re charge your batteries.

Take some simple supplements

There are many options but here are some simple and effective ones

When you consider our immune system, there are some heroes in medicinal mushrooms that can help you. They are effective and may assist in either avoiding or shortening the infections that come with the flu. Their names? Shiitake and Reishi.

Vitamin C and zinc are nutrients that have been associated with winter ills for a long time and are very helpful. Take some for winter and be stronger and healthier.

Can fruit make you fat?

HFruit can't make you fat!ave we gone fruity?

Fruit is a healthy food, full of nutrients, high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and low in fat and calories. It is a simply a great myth that fruit will make you fat!

So don’t simply go cutting fruit out of your diet until you know the facts!

I have been involved in and visited therapies overseas where many nutritionists and natural health clinics use fruit and vegetables (or fruit alone) as treatment for various health conditions, sometimes with spectacular results. While I personally do not utilise these methods exclusively, I have repeatedly witnessed fantastic results through the use of fruit and fruit juices. Properly used, fruit can have tremendous benefits without gaining a gram of fat! Actually I have never seen a person gain any amount of weight. In actual fact, weight loss has been evident on many occassions, as a positive result, even through this was not the main outcome that the treatment was designed for.

With the advent of so many nutritional approaches to achieve the ideal look, numerous inquiries regarding the practice of omitting fruit, fruit juices or any of its derivatives from a diet have surfaced. Fruit is a healthy food, full of nutrients, high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and low in fat and calories. It is a common practice for bodybuilders during pre-contest preparation to omit fruit from their diets, as it should be for anyone looking to minimize body fat for this purpose.

Now, having said the above, let me clarify a bit more.

Is fruit the diabolical diet-killer it’s sometimes made out to be or is fruit actually pretty good for you? The simple answer to this question “can fruit make you fat” isn’t as simple as black and white…the true answer is yes AND no. (Here we go)!

Are you confused? really it’s not that confusing! There are many studies on this subject, including fruit sugar (fructose) and how your body uses it. and how it’s metabolized in the body and liver, I’m going to talk about fruit from a practical standpoint.

First, here is how Fruit WON’T make you fat

Fruit is fat-free (with the exception of avocados) and is low-calorie, and high-fiber food. It might be hard to eat ENOUGH fruit to result in an excess of calories, resulting in fat gain…hard, although not impossible.

You would have to look REALLY hard to find someone who ate too much fruit and gained fat. However, we do need to mention that eating fruit roll-ups, fruit juice (with 10% real juice for example) and other sugary fruit subtances (not real fruit), may lead to noticeable weight gain. So there you go, is this really natural fruit? Of course not. However, there is little hesitation to hastily blaim fruit itself for our bad habits of eating unnatural, processed foods. I  don’t know about you, but in reality I have never heard of anyone sitting down in front of the T.V and eating an entire bag of apples or their doctor telling them they need to stop eating so many bananas! Actually “real” fruit has a lot of water content, nutrients, fiber, etc…which is healthy stuff…stuff your body NEEDS and you need to be eating. I even remember years ago when I was telling diabetics that they MUST have some fruit – as they need the nutrients – and here we go today where this diet has changed so much and fruit is now allowed in diabetes diets. It’s when we start mucking around with fruit and create the fruit derivatives and “false foods” pretending to be “fruit” that we run into problems.

That being said, there ARE metabolic issues with fruit and fat.

The body has certain limits while it processes fructose (witch is found in fruit). Fructose can only be stored as glycogen (glycogen which is the carbohydrate storage in the body) in the liver, not in the muscles. Muscle cells lack the proper enzymes to convert fructose and store it well.

So that leaves the liver for the storage responsibility…When your liver glycogen level is full and your body can no longer store any more carbs in the liver, fructose IS easier for the body to convert into fat than other carbs because of its molecular structure.

I have to say this again though

When your liver glycogen level is full – when your body can no longer store any more carbs in the liver

When this happens the fat does NOT convert into body fat quickly, however. It becomes free fatty acids circulating in the bloodstream. If they’re not burned, (I repeat again, IF they are not burned) they will be stored as bodyfat. The OTHER good stuff you find in fruit, ( fiber) and vitamins and minerals, are outweighed by the “danger” of storing extra fat.

Here is the main point that a lot of us miss, when we hear that fruit has the potential to work against fat loss when on a diet… If you’re dieting, you should be in a caloric deficit. This means that your liver glycogen levels should not be full. You’re in a deficit after all!

This is why I repeat – and repeat – When your liver glycogen level is full – when your body can no longer store any more carbs in the liver

Therefore…Which Mean’s

1. The fructose in your system should have little or no chance to convert into fat.

2. If it happens that some excess fructose in your system does convert to fat, your chance that it will be USED by the body soon after it converts to fat are good because you’re in a caloric deficit. Just like any other carbohydrate, if you eat too much of it, it will be stored as fat. If you are a competitive bodybuilder peaking for a competition, you MAY have to watch your fruit intake to be sure you look the leanest.

However, for the average person wanting to drop bodyfat, fruit is not something you should be too worried about. You should be FAR more concerned about drinking too many soft drinks while dieting before I’d even be slightly concerned about them eating an apple. The bottom line, is this…don’t feel guilty about eating much fruit, even while dieting. Just treat it as you would any other food with calories in it and simply watch your intake.

To minimize the impact of fruit on your fat-loss diet, eat it in the morning when liver glycogen levels are naturally at their lowest point. This will help ensure fructose won’t be converted into fat. Honestly, there are MUCH more important things to worry about when it comes to fat loss…your training and overall nutrition are much more important than worrying about eating too much fruit.

Now for some bad news!

Here is some information I have read in various journals – I will make it short so as this article is not long and boring.

A natural sugar found in fruits could lead to obesity if it is used to sweeten foods

A natural sugar found in fruit is fuelling the obesity epidemic, scientists say.

A study has shown that fructose – which is used to sweeten soft drinks and junk food  – might be more harmful than other types of sugar.

Pure fructose is found in fresh fruit, fruit juice and jam. – However, it also sneaks into our diet through the high-fructose corn syrup used in food manufacturing.

Concerns about high-fructose corn syrup have been growing.  – Some experts believe they play a major role in the obesity crisis sweeping Britain and the U.S.

NOW – Don’t give me the “scientific” research that says fructose makes you fat, and then go cutting fruit out of your diet and deprive your body of water in its purest form and many nutrients that your body needs. These studies are not based on fruit. They are based on fructose – which is extracted, concentrated amd added to corn syrup and other processed foods.

It is then that we get scary statements like,’

“Volunteers on the fruit sugar diet put on more intra-abdominal fat, which wraps around their internal organs and causes pot bellies”.

“Those eating fructose had higher levels of cholesterol.”

Of course we also get “studies” from manufacturers such as soft drinks that tell us which concentrated sweetener is better, fructose, glucose etc etc in order to make their product look good. Studies undertaken by the interested party are obviously biased and worthless.

Here is an interesting study! – Read the headline – but then read on!

Having read the preceeding article, you will better understand this and hopefully be as amused as I was.

Scientists have come to the conclusion that the sugar that is found in fruit is making people more obese.

Sounds really bad yes?

If we just read this in a newspaper, it might be enough to put us off fruit forever. But read on, and you will see who the real culprit is. I have underlined some interesting parts.

The study found that fructose which is used in drinks that you buy from supermarkets and or shops, and also is put into junk food (processed food) in the study participants were given large quantities of fructose, contained within drinks and/or food and, were found to put weight on around there abdomen area.

Compared to other participants who were given glucose to drink and/or eat, healthcare specialists say that this particular type of abdominal fat is linked to diseases such as diabetes and also the possibility of contracting heart disease later on in life.

Fructose can be found in things like jam and other fruits (hang on a minute here, what do we mean jam and other fruits – is jam compared to fruits? Is jam a fruit? I like how the word “fruits” has appeared in this sentence) however it can be included into other foods that we eat such as corn syrup there has been a lot of concern for quite a great deal of time now, about fructose corn syrup, and how it can affect our bodies.

Scientists seem to believe that this is one thing that is fuelling the crisis within the UK as far as you obesity is concerned.

Dear friends, remember that fresh fruit by comparison contains relatively low levels of fructose, all this does show and prove is that the food that is manufactured or processed tends to contain high levels of things that can in fact make us more overweight at the end of the day.

I think that we don’t tend to pay much attention to what it is that we are actually buying. Is it not better to just stick to fresh fruit, and vegetables and forget about all the prepackaged foods that we can buy which as we can see are doing us no good whatsoever.

There is good reason why added sugar, added fructose, corn syrup and the like are receiving bad publicity and are linked to health problems, ofthen quite serious. But don’t confuse artificial sweeteners, concentrates and processed foods, together with the advertising hype to the real and natural foods that give us much needed nutrition and keep us alive.

Chemically-altered sugars like high fructose corn syrup and crystalline fructose are dangerous foods.

Fruit and vegetable have great nutritious properties and some have been linked to containing anti cancer nutrients!

So have some fruit and be healthy!

Naturopaths – Good value for money

Naturopaths – Good value for moneyIs visiting a naturopath good value for money or is it an expensive exercise that should be avoided?

I pose this question for you in a different way. What is your health worth to you? What is easier, to wait until we have a health problem and then treat or live a lifestyle that gives us better health for longer?

Visiting a naturopath has many advantages to your health and there are countless examples that I have seen at my practice over the years that have produced such positive and rewarding results.

We could of course look at any medicinal drug and as an example list the possible side effectes, which can sometimes be quite a scary experience, versus a natural remedy that, used appropriately, produces no side effectes.

This article is not intended to “replace” medical drugs or treatment – it is simply an attempt to enlighten you about the use of naturopathy and its advantages, in your effort to maintain good health. Naturopathy is not a replacement to medical treatment – it is a complimentary treatment and sometimes we have seen that the use of naturopathy may assist us in avoiding the use of medicinal drugs that can sometimes produce side effects that can be quite serious.

You may be aware of naturopathic philosophy, disease preventaion and healthier lifestyle. However there are many other advantages for visiting a naturopath and while we cannot cover every aspect on this article, here are a few advantages.

Some people prefer to go to a health food shop and purchase their supplements. This always presents with an issue for the consumer. Which brand? Which combination? What about quality and effectiveness? For how long do I take this?

Choosing a good vitamin supplement can be a frustrating ordeal. There are 1000’s of supplements to choose from – some are good, some are total rip-offs

How well will the supplement be absorbed? Does it require co nutrients so would it be better to purchase one that has a combination of nutrients? Supplements do not necessarily exist in isolation (our food contains amounts of many substances for example) and the science of absorption of nutrients, where some are absorbed by only say 10%, needs to be carefully considered. Otherwise we are wasting our money and swallowing nothing, so what results could one expect!

An example may be taking calcium. If we add the mineral silica to this, the calcium gets absorbed and distributed effectively.

In addidtion, there are other questions, such as – What should I avoid? Although herbs, vitamins and other supplements are useful and can have great benefits, we also need to be aware that there are circumstances where we should not be consuming certain supplements.

In pregnancy for example there are many herbs that should be avoided. If someone has high blood pressure, licorice should be avoided as it can actually raise blood pressure. These are just a few examples.

The purchase of supplements without proper knowledge of quality, combination and dosage quantity that should contained in each dosage can turn out to be a very expensive exercise that has no effect on our health. Is it better to have 50mg or 1,000 mg of a particular herb? In which cases? If we combine with another herb, do we reduce the dosage for their combined effect?

Your naturopath is the person who has and continues to carefully study and obtain the information on these supplements, and offer you the best available for greatest effectiveness.

Let us also talk about symptoms. Naturopathy takes into consideration symptoms that we may overlook in our daily living. These symptoms, although they may seem insignificant to you, may assist in leading your naturopath to the selection of very appropriate and effective remedies. Symptoms such a headache for example can vary in duration, severity, area affected such as frontal or top of the head etc. The type of headache such as throbbing or congested also gives us useful information.  Headaches before meals for example may be associated with low sugar levels. Low sugar levels could be related to a pre diabetes condition. Therefore purchasing for example Feverfew that is used for dome types of headaches would be totally wrong in this case.

What about quality? Within the myriad of herbs, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, trace elements, homeopathic preparations and many more, how does one decide about quality? Is your fish oil tested for mercury and other pesticides, toxins and heavy metals? At what level? Parts per million or parts per billion does make a difference! How is it processed? (Molecular distillation etc, some methods have disadvantages and damage the oil through oxidation or other means). Is anything added? What is the capsule made of? What type of fish is used, wild caught in ocean or farmed fish? (Salmon, tuna, sardines and anchovies are the best sources ). What size fish? (Yes it does make a sigmificant difference). How much EPA or DHA is contained, and which one do you need more?  Is liquid better that capsules? What is your ideal dosage and at what frequency would you obtain the best results? How long should you take it for?

Here are some other interesting questions for you.

How do you measure your stress levels and how you feel? Who is your health mentor, physically, mentally and emotionally? Who do you talk to about things that stress you out, things you are unsure of, who cares about you as a person? Caring about your “disease” (once this happens) is not enough. Naturopathy is about caring for the individual, about having a passion to help people at a level that will make a significant improvent in their lives.

From our diet to how we sleep, from how much water we drink to how our relationships are doing are factors that can affect us in many ways.

Why Visit your naturopath?

He is a professional. You will receive the best treatment and the best remedies available. You will have a committed practitioner to help you in every step of the way. You will have ample time to discuss your issues, you won’t be rushed and you can ask all the questions you like.

The Cause

Naturopathy treats the cause of any health issue – not the symptoms alone.

Experience

This is a vital point – ensure your naturopath has the necessary experience to deal with you health concerns and support you to attain a level of health free of disease and symptoms.

Quality

Consultations represent quality and value for money. We stock in our dispensary only what we believe to be the best quality products in the natural medicine business. These products represent great value in terms of cost and results. A full range of premium liquid herbal and homeopathic medicines are available as well. Only by using the highest quality products, can we hope to achieve the quality results you are looking for.

Science

Naturopaths utilise scientifically proven, clinically researched and well validated medicines.

Education

Your naturopath undergoes many years of training. Associations also implement a continuous education program so that your practitioner is kept up to date.

If your choice was on taking a drug (or more) for a condition for life or looking at ways to either gradually reduce or eliminate the need for the drug (with your doctors approval) would you think this to be worthwhile?

If you had someone who had spent their lives in helping to prevent disease, maintain a healthy mental and emotional outlook, improve on stress management, do you think it is worth paying them a visit or would you rather “save” money and go for the marketing hype and purhase a supplement that may actually further add toxins to your body and possibly have no benefit? Or worse still, is there an option that we do nothing hoping all will continue to go well?

Once we have a disease take over, medicines, time spent on tests and hospitals and long term treatment with possible side effectes may not be the best way to enjoy life.

The choice is yours. How much is your health worth to you?