Articles in Category: Health & Wellbeing

Gut Instinct #299

September #299

“The stomach is the seat of all disease” the Chinese have claimed for over 2,000 years. 

They are right of course. The Chinese have treated food as medicine as part of their healing practises in all that time and we as modern naturopaths, herbalists and acupuncturists for many years now taken on this ancient wisdom.  Recently, as many of us now know, modern science is catching up and now has has been confirmed that a condition called Leaky Gut Syndrome (LGS) is contributing to many of our health problems.    When the microbial imbalance inside the digestive tract becomes upset then can be the cause of food allergies, asthma, environmental allergies and many other inflammatory issues, plus conditions affecting our  mental health such as anxiety and depression.  This condition is called “dysbiosis”

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Mental Health and Nutrition #244

Better Health, Naturally


Frequently ignored and misunderstood, mental health problems are common in our society. They range from disorders such as depression and anxiety to rarer diseases such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. In this article, I want to focus on the link between nutrition and symptoms such as depression and anxiety. Many factors contribute to the development of depression and anxiety, including genes, nutrition, trauma, psychological and social factors, environmental toxins and others. As a naturopath, I commonly see people with varying degrees of depression and/or anxiety who improve by dietary adjustments, nutritional and herbal supplements and counselling.

The foods we eat directly affect how we feel and think. Our bodies make neurotransmitters which pass on messages between cells, both in the body and brain. There are many different types of neurotransmitters, and some of them affect mood, mental alertness, calmness and concentration. The main ones for mental health include:

• Serotonin - improves your mood and keeps you happy.
• Dopamine, adrenalin and noradrenalin - help you deal with stress, stimulate, energise and motivate, keep you happy, addictions, rewards????
• Gamma-amino-butyric acid (GABA) - switches off the stimulating neurotransmitters, calms and relaxes.
• Acetylcholine and tryptamines such as melatonin.

Our body has to make these neurotransmitters from food. The main sources are amino acids found in protein, including tryptophan, phenylalanine and tyrosine, taurine and glutamine. To convert these amino acids to neurotransmitters, several other nutrients are needed, mainly vitamins B6, B12, B2, B3, C, folic acid, and the minerals magnesium, iron, zinc, manganese and copper.

People who suffer from depression may have lower levels of serotonin and noradrenalin in their brain. Tryptophan is needed to make serotonin, and this is found in meats such as chicken and turkey, eggs, tofu, beans, cheese and oats. Unfortunately, other amino acids compete with the uptake of tryptophan, and sometimes supplementing with 5-hydroxytryptophan is best, with added B vitamins and a carbohydrate meal. This can also improve sleep and ease anxiety.

Essential fatty acids (found in fish, nuts and seeds), selenium, chromium, vitamin D and stable blood sugar levels are also important for healthy brain function and mood. Avoid refined carbohydrates such as lollies and white flour, and don’t skip meals.

To give your mind the optimum nutrition, you need to eat foods high in protein, vitamins C and B complex, minerals and essential fatty acids. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, and some whole grains. Make sure you have plenty of protein in your diet – good sources are meat, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds, and combinations of grains and legumes. See a qualified practitioner for advice if you want to take amino acid supplements. For further reading, I recommend the ‘New Optimum Nutrition for the Mind’ book by Patrick Holford, or the websites of the Food for the Brain organisation: 
www.foodforthebrain.org, and Institute for Optimum Nutrition: www.ion.ac.uk (click on Information → Health notes). For best results in treating depression and anxiety, look at the specific and individual contributing factors and address them with appropriate therapies.

Martina Pattinson
Naturopath ph 0427 025051

Common Misconceptions About Chiropractic #244

 

1/ A Chiropractic treatment always involves ‘cracking and crunching’

This is probably the biggest misconception around visiting a Chiropractor. There are many modern chiropractic techniques that don’t involve any cracking or crunching at all. A chiropractor using these techniques can get just as good, if not better results than the more forceful ways.

2/ Chiropractic is only good for a bad back.

This misconception comes in a close second. Chiropractic does not seek to “fix” a back pain. The aim of chiropractic is to realign or free up the spine so that the nerves in the back are free from any pressure. Taking pressure off a nerve generally has a great effect on easing someone’s back pain, but it might not. If there are causes of the back pain other than pressure on the nerve then taking the pressure off is not going to relieve it. However, with or without pain, you are always better off with no pressure on a nerve.

3/ Once you start going to a Chiropractor you have to go the rest of your life.

I’m not hearing this one as often now because most people understand the idea of regular maintenance. I have a shower everyday. But you know what, no matter how well I wash myself, the next day I still need another shower. Why? Because I do things through the day that makes me dirty again. The same thing applies to spinal care. So long as a person chooses to keep doing those things that create spinal problems they are going to need regular chiropractic checkups. I’ve seen people who need a check-up once a month and I’ve seen people who need one once a year.

Now, what things create these spinal problems in the first place? I’ll talk about that next time.

Shaun Cashman
B.Sc, Grad Dip Chiro

Boost Your Immunity This Winter! #243

‘Better Health, Naturally’


With the cold weather fast approaching, colds and flus are on the rise again. Additionally, there are concerns that the ‘swine flu’, influenza A (H1N1) may spread throughout Australia. While the general flu ‘bug’ is very contagious, the health of your immune system also plays a role in whether you get sick, and how severe the symptoms will be. Some factors that affect your immune system include your emotional well-being, stress levels, diet, gut health, age, physical health, and genetics. There are many ways to boost your immune system and have it working at optimum level. This may decrease the likelihood of catching a cold or flu, or, if you do get sick, it may lessen the severity and duration of the infection. So what can you do?

• Eat plenty and a large variety of fresh fruit and vegetables, and foods high in essential fatty acids (fish, nuts, seeds). Garlic and onions may increase resistance to infections. Limit foods high in refined carbohydrates and saturated fats (eg fatty meats, cheese). Some natural yoghurts contain beneficial bacteria for your digestive system – a healthy gut is vital for your immunity. Drink approximately 1.5 - 2 lt. of water per day.

• The most important nutrients for your immune system are vitamins A, B6, C and E; and the minerals zinc and selenium. Vitamin C is found in fresh fruit and vegetables, and is destroyed by cooking. Zinc is abundant in seafood (particularly oysters), nuts and pumpkin seeds, and also found in lentils, eggs and meat. Australian soil is quite depleted in selenium, so it is hard to get sufficient amounts in your diet. Foods containing some selenium include brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, herring, tuna, sardines, whole wheat and some milk products. Consider taking good quality nutritional supplements if you get sick easily and when you are getting sick, particularly vitamin C and zinc. Smokers have increased vitamin C requirements.

• A number of herbs have immune-enhancing properties, including Echinacea, Andrographis, Baptisia, Astragalus and Cat’s Claw. Many of these herbs can be safely taken over many weeks and will stay effective, but make sure you take a good quality product. Some people find that Olive leaf works well for preventing and treating flus. Antimicrobial herbs such as Thyme, Sage, Golden Seal and Myrrh fight bacterial infections and may decrease the likelihood of further complications and the need for antibiotics.

• Stress also plays a major role in the health of the immune system. Ongoing stress, which releases adrenalin and cortisol, lowers your immunity over time. Try and decrease things that stress you, or learn to deal with it in a better way. Various therapies, breathing exercises, yoga, herbs and nutrition can be beneficial. Make sure you get enough sleep.

• Regular and moderate amounts of exercise stimulate the immune system. Find a type of exercise or movement you enjoy and are able to do, then try to do this 2-3 times per week.

• Enjoy life, look on the bright side and remember to laugh!

I don’t think there will be a magic natural cure for the swine flu, so if it spreads to this area, I recommend you see your GP if you feel sick. Its symptoms are very similar to that of the common flu, making it hard to distinguish. Most complications seem to be due to respiratory problems. Good information can be found on the World Health Organisation website www.who.int/en/

Take care and stay well this winter.

Martina Pattinson, qualified Naturopath, ph. 0427 025 051.

Subluxation #252


Almost without fail, when people who have just learned about chiropractic are asked if they know what a subluxation is, the response is, “Yeah, yeah, uh-huh.” Just to be sure, the chiropractor may say, “Well, what do you think it is”. Then it starts, like a reoccurring nightmare, “Well, a subjugation is...” or “A substantiation is..” We would like to set the record straight but sometimes get the feeling that may never happen, so for the purposes of review, I would like to present the following.

“Sub-lux-a-tion” is a difficult word, but we as a society have managed to incorporate a lot of words into our vocabulary that are equally difficult, few of which are as important to our well-being. We have learned cholesterol, triglycerides and lipoproteins. We have learned beta-carotene, gingivitis and angioplasty. And who has not learned Gorbachev, or supercalifragilisticexpialidocious?

Subluxation is an important word and there is simply no other word that accurately describes exactly what it is a chiropractor looks for in your spine. We do not look for the “it hurts right here doc, when I go like this.” We do not try and find the “man, it feels good when you do that;” and we definitely do not address the “I’ve got a pinched nerve, slipped disc, headache, sinus problem, this problem or that pain... .”

We address the subluxation, specifically the vertebral (i.e., the big word for the little bones that make up the spine) subluxation. Subluxation is defined as the misalignment of one of the vertebrae, and not just any misalignment but one that impinges the structures (i.e., nerves as well as blood and lymph vessels) that pass through the holes between the vertebrae and consequently impair their ability to function. With respect to the nerves, this means that the conduction of mental impulses from the brain to all the cells, tissues and organs of the body is impaired and consequently, the parts do not work as they should. It is worth noting that the nervous system controls all the other systems of the body, including the circulatory, respiratory, digestive, endocrine and reproductive systems. That means that interference in the nervous system could keep any of the many different parts of the body from working the way they should.

The sole purpose of a chiropractor is to find subluxations in the spine and adjust them to restore the proper nerve flow from the brain to all the parts of your body so they can work as well as they possibly can. Actually the concept is really very simple. So next time you visit your chiropractor instead of telling them where your back hurts, why not ask him or her to check your spine for subluxations. Just be prepared for a shocked look on the their face!

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