Caruso's Health Blog
Find natural approaches to conditions, herbal use and supplements, recipes, fitness inspiration for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
The dreaded belly bloat One day your jeans zip up without a problem… the next day you’re undoing the top button or browsing for clothes with elasticated waistbands. Belly bloat, food baby, abdominal bloating, abdominal distension…whatever it’s called it’s uncomfortable! What causes bloating? A bloated stomach is that feeling of pressure or fullness in your belly. It may or may not be accompanied by distension, which is a noticeable difference in the size of your abdomen. A build-up of gas in the stomach and intestines is one of the most common causes of bloating. Intestinal gas can be caused by eating certain foods, particularly beans and cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage. Some foods are high in a type of sugar called FODMAPS. In people sensitive to FODMAP-rich foods, the small intestine doesn't always fully absorb these carbohydrates, and instead passes them to the colon, where they are fermented by bacteria and produce gas. FODMAPs don’t affect everyone equally, so while certain FODMAPs may make you feel bloated, you may be able to process others just fine. Eating too quickly, drinking through a straw, or drinking lots of fizzy drinks can cause you to swallow lots of air and make you feel full. Constipation can cause a build-up of faecal matter in the intestine leading to abdominal distension and bloating. Bloating can also be caused by medically diagnosed conditions such as food intolerances and intestinal disorders such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), IBD (inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), and SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). Is bloating the same thing as fluid retention? Yes and no. Fluid (water) retention, also known as oedema, is related to the kidneys, while bloating is usually related to the gastrointestinal tract. Fluid retention can make you feel bloated, but it doesn’t usually affect your abdomen as much as bloating caused by intestinal gas. Fluid retention occurs when excess fluid builds up in your body's circulatory system and generally causes swelling in your extremities, such as your feet, ankles, legs and hands. A common sign of fluid retention is when your rings feel tight on your fingers, or your ankles are swollen after sitting down for a long time. A diet high in carbohydrates, sugar and salt can cause your body to retain water, leading to that feeling of puffiness and heaviness. Fluid retention can also be caused by hot weather and hormonal changes. What can I do about bloating? Bloating that comes and goes is usually digestive-related and tends to disappear after a couple of days. It will often help if you cut down on salty foods, carbohydrates and fizzy drinks. If you have a food intolerance, or suspect that FODMAPS might be the issue, try eating less of the problem foods for a while. Keep a food diary for a couple of weeks, noting everything that you eat and drink and when bloating troubles you most. If you find you have a regular problem with certain foods though, you should consult a doctor or dietitian before making any permanent dietary changes. Adopting a few simple lifestyle changes may also help. Avoid chewing gum Eat slowly Avoid drinking from a straw Drink plenty of water If you suffer from constipation, try eating more high-fibre foods, increasing the amount of water that you drink, and exercising regularly. It might also be helpful to try taking probiotics. These can support a healthy gut bacteria population and help your digestive system moderate the effects of a bloated stomach. If bloating or fluid retention persists for more than a couple of days, or is accompanied by pain or diarrhoea, then you should speak to a doctor.
Men's Mental Health & Wellbeing It is a common stereotype that men have a tendency to bottle up their feelings – but mental health is no topic to be shy about, it’s something that should be comfortably discussed, just like our physical health is. Mental health is an essential component of overall health, alongside physical and social wellbeing. It is a state of wellness that is more than just psychological wellbeing or having the absence of mental illness, it’s fundamental in our everyday lives, relating to cognitive functions, behaviours, processing emotions, social interactions, ability to cope with stress and essentially, a positive state of mental health allows us to realise our abilities and function at our full potential. The phrase ‘mental health’ is often confused with the conditions that impact mental health, however the two are very different. A mental illness is defined as “a clinically diagnosable disorder that significantly interferes with a person’s cognitive, emotional or social abilities” and can include conditions such as stress, mild anxiety, sleep disorders, affective or mood disorders and substance use disorders. There are varying degrees to these conditions and an individual does not need to meet all of the criteria of a mental illness or disorder to display some of the signs and symptoms. All individuals face the risk of being affected by mental health conditions, although there are factors which can make certain groups of people more vulnerable to developing mental health problems. Factors that can play a role in this include: psychological, biological and genetic, environmental, social, lifestyle and dietary factors. Negative mental health can be associated with traumatic life experiences, a rapid change in social settings, discrimination, exclusion, stressful work conditions or the misuse of recreational drugs, alcohol and tobacco. Socioeconomic factors such as a person’s education level, employment status, level of income, housing conditions and accessibility / availability to services also strongly influence mental health. Mental health conditions and disorders are more common than you may think. The most recent National Health Survey indicated that almost 1 in 2 (46%) of Australians aged 16-85 years have experienced a mental health disorder during their lifetime and of this, 48% were males which is a higher proportion when compared to females. The most prevalent type of disorder was mild anxiety (14%), followed by affective disorders (6.2%) and substance use disorders (5.1%). Substance use disorders were male dominated, with men displaying twice the rate of women. The data suggested that there is also a strong association of co-morbidity with mental health conditions and physical chronic conditions, meaning these two areas often overlap. So what can this look like in populations of men? Well some of the early warning signs can be vague although they can be seen as withdrawal from social activities, trouble sleeping, low energy and fatigue, inconsistent eating patterns, difficulty with daily tasks, impacted cognitive functions such as focus, concentration and clarity, changes in mood/emotions and increased feelings of irritability, nervous tension, restlessness and/or stress. Mental health disorders and their related signs and symptoms can appear differently for everyone, as it is a unique experience for every individual with varying levels of severity, duration and this may also change throughout different stages of life. There are specific types of health factors known as ‘modifiable risk factors’, which are recognised influencers of mental health, both positively and negatively. Maintaining a healthy balance of these modifiable risk factors may help you to keep a consistent positive state of mental health.Examples of modifiable risk factors include: An unhealthy weight can also be a contributing factor to conditions of poor mental health. Research has shown the association between the two, but it being overweight can impact additional things such as our self-confidence levels, which can be closely related to our mood. Data showed that of Australians aged 18 and over, there was a greater proportion of men who were overweight or obese (74.5%). To support a healthy weight range, start by calculating your Body Mass Index (BMI) and set target goals to achieve, using the BMI scale as a reference guide. If you are unsure how to start, don’t be afraid to seek the advice of a qualified health practitioner who specialises in this area. In Australia, the minority of the population has met the national physical activity guidelines, with only 15% of people aged 18-64 years achieving these daily recommendations. Physical activity is essential for our wellbeing, not just physically but mentally too – It helps to simulate the release of brain chemicals that are essential for a healthy mood balance. The Australian guidelines recommend adults participate in 30 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity, daily. This is equivalent to a total of approximately 2.5 – 5 hours per week. Men have a higher prevalence of substance use compared to women, but they also have higher rates of tobacco smoking (16.5%) and exceeding alcohol consumption of more than four standard drinks per day (54.2%). The misuse of substances alongside mental health disorders is known as a ‘dual diagnosis’ and can have a complex relationship. People may initially find the reduction of substances difficult, however the long-term benefits outweigh these complaints and they are likely to experience improvements in various aspects of their general health with the positive changes. Diet plays a major role in many aspects of our life, and this doesn’t fall short when it comes to mental health. Our diet is a source of important vitamins, minerals, amino acids, antioxidants and much more, which all support numerous body systems and functions. In Australia, only 5.4% of adults had met the guidelines for daily intake of both fruit and vegetables. The Australian guidelines recommend enjoying a wide variety of nutritious, colourful foods from the main five food groups: vegetables, fruits, grains, lean meats and reduced fat dairy. Statistics show that when compared to women, men are almost twice as likely to consume sugar sweetened drinks daily (11.8%), so it is also important to minimise the intake of junk foods such as sugary drinks, saturated fats, processed and refined foods, which contain minimal nutrients . Sleep is essential for our overall health, but it is especially important for our mental health, with research showing that there’s a strong association between sleep quality and mental health. During sleep, the body relaxes and restores itself while the mind calms down from daily chatter. Research from the 2016 Sleep Health Survey of Australian Adults has shown that 33-45% of adults have inadequate sleep, either duration or quality, and this has shown to consequently impact daytime performances in a negative way. The national sleep guidelines recommend that adults aged 18 and over sleep for 7-9 hours per night. To support a healthy sleeping pattern and bedtime routine, try out some of the practices of sleep hygiene. **Statistics derived from the AIHW National Health Survey 2017-18 and ABS National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing, unless mentioned otherwise. In the same way everybody presents differently with their mental health disorder, the treatments which are used to manage these conditions, will also be unique to each individual. The path to positive mental health can often be a journey where various methods and approaches are used, however they are most successful in combination. Seeking medical advice from a qualified health professional will ensure that suitable options are explored, to benefit the needs of each individual person. In addition to modifiable risk factors, other ways to manage your mental health may include: Psychotherapy, or ‘talk therapy’ such as with a counsellor, psychologist or psychiatrist Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation or mindfulness Support network of close friends, family or community – staying connected with others Environments which are safe, respectful and protect all human rights Increasing education and self-awareness surrounding mental health Developing a range of coping skills and mechanisms to draw from in times of need The use of nutritional supplementation or prescribed medications So to all the men out there: whether you are recovering from a mental illness, wanting to improve your current circumstances or looking to help a friend – mental health disorders are more common than you may think, and most importantly, they can be effectively managed with the right treatment. Maintaining a positive state of mental health can significantly improve the quality of your life. References available upon request
Do you wish you could ‘wee less’ or ‘hold on’ more? Do you feel like your entire day revolves around your bladder? Making sure you know where the nearest bathroom is, or worrying whether you’ll manage to hold until you get there? Your bladder is basically a muscular storage tank, about the size of a grapefruit. It sits in your pelvic area and is supported by your pelvic floor muscles. A healthy bladder can hold around 300-400mls of urine. It expands as it fills with urine, and when it’s around half full, the muscle walls start to contract. This sends a message to your brain to say it needs to be emptied soon, which is when you start to feel the need to wee. Most people can hold on for quite a bit longer than this first stage. Once you get to the bathroom your brain then tells another muscle that forms part of your urinary system, the external urethral sphincter, to go ahead and open… and out it comes. Urinary incontinence is the accidental or involuntary leakage of urine and means that something in your urinary system isn’t working as well as it should. If this is happening to you, it’s best to seek professional help sooner rather than later as it may get worse if left untreated. On the positive side, with the right management it’s often possible to experience good improvements. So why can’t I hold on? There are different types of urinary incontinence, but the most common types are stress incontinence and urge incontinence. Stress incontinence is the accidental loss of wee when you cough, laugh, sneeze or lift heavy objects. It can also happen with certain types of exercise. It’s usually only a few drops. It occurs mainly in women and is most often caused by the physical or hormonal changes of pregnancy, childbirth, or menopause which can affect the integrity of the pelvic floor and urethra muscles. The pelvic floor muscles support the bladder and the urethra, so if they are weakened it can affect bladder control. Being overweight or suffering from constipation can also affect your pelvic floor. Urge incontinence is usually associated with a condition known as medically diagnosed overactive bladder (OAB). You get an overwhelming feeling that you need to wee…even though your bladder isn’t full. The feeling can be so strong that you can’t hold on and you leak wee before you get to the toilet. Sometimes it’s just a few drops, but sometimes it can be a lot more. You may also feel that you need to go to the toilet frequently during both day and night. The feeling is often triggered by common things like the sound of running water, getting to the front door or just washing your hands. Even if you don’t experience leakage, the urgency and frequency associated with OAB can interfere with everyday activities because of the need to keep going to the toilet. What causes Overactive Bladder? The muscle of the bladder is called the ‘detrusor’ muscle. If it squeezes or contracts more often than normal it causes the sudden and strong urge to wee. Age, gender, obesity, diabetes, nervous system abnormalities are possible causes for this overactivity. Sometimes it doesn’t have any clear cause though. Is it possible to alleviate urinary incontinence? Whatever your symptoms, urinary incontinence doesn’t tend to improve without management. It needs to be investigated and diagnosed by a health professional as it may be caused by one or more of several factors. Once tests have been done to determine the reason for your incontinence, your doctor will suggest a solution to address your symptoms. Depending on the cause it could be one or a combination of treatments including lifestyle changes, pelvic floor exercises, bladder retraining, medications or surgery. Pelvic floor exercises can help In most types of incontinence, Pelvic floor exercises (Kegel exercises) can help to strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor which support the urethra and bladder. Strong pelvic floor muscles help to hold back the strong urge to pass urine and help you hold on until you reach the toilet. Intensive pelvic floor physiotherapy for a period of 3-6 months can result in a significant reduction in stress incontinence. Incontinence can be embarrassing and stressful, but it is not something that you need to learn to live with. It’s not a normal part of ageing or an inevitable result of childbirth and there are many solutions available to help you manage your symptoms. Seek professional help if it’s happening to you…don’t let your bladder control your life!
IN SEASON WELLNESSDo you wish you could ‘wee less’ or ‘hold on’ more?
Do you feel like your entire day revolves around your bladder? Making sure you know where the nearest bathroom i...Read more
Can you detox your way to healthier, glowing skin? Most of us would agree that if we’ve been making too many unhealthy food choices, drinking too much alcohol or not sleeping properly, then after a while our skin can start to look less than radiant. It’s tempting to think you can fix it by detoxing. But experts are divided on what detoxing actually means in relation to your skin. You can remove grime and dirt from your skin by your skincare routine, but it’s not really possible to purge toxins from the body via the skin. Your skin is an organ that needs nourishment, and it can’t look healthy and divine if you don’t nourish your body well. So rather than looking for quick fixes, it’s better to think of detoxing your skin as more about hitting the reset button when it comes to your regular diet and lifestyle…and then adding some specific skin-nourishing strategies into your daily routine. A nutrient-rich drink every day can be a great way to boost your intake of skin-loving nutrients, support your fluid levels and put you on the road to healthy skin…just don’t think of it as a detox! Skin-loving nutrients Your body needs lots of certain nutrients to make the collagen and other structural components that are essential for healthy, glowing skin. The big hitters for skin health in the vitamin alphabet are Bs, C and E. Vitamin C is absolutely vital for skin health. It helps to maintain the integrity of the collagen fibres which make up a large part of the structure of your skin as well as promoting the formation of collagen. Along with Vitamin E, it protects against cell damage which can lead to signs of premature ageing. Vitamin B5 enhances skin health by supporting skin regeneration. Nutrients like collagen peptides, omega 3s and zinc also really help to support skin health. Collagen peptides are tiny bioactive fragments of collagen that enhance and support your body’s own collagen production and help to improve skin firmness and elasticity. Zinc supports collagen production and helps skin repair and omega 3s help to relieve skin inflammation. To hydrate or not to hydrate The skin is “hydrated” from the inside out by pulling fluid from the blood flow to your skin. So if there isn’t enough water in the bloodstream — say, if you’re dehydrated — then the outermost layer of the skin, the epidermis, can lose elasticity and feel dry. In this case increasing water intake can increase skin hydration, but there's a lack of robust research showing that drinking lots of extra water directly affects skin hydration in people who are already adequately hydrated. Drinking plenty of water is still a great thing to do for your health and your skin though. Your body needs it to flush out the toxins and waste that are produced by its natural metabolic processes and to support hydration levels in all of your cells. You just don’t need to drink quite as much as you might think when you see all those insta-images of H2O guzzling celebrities. How much water is enough? The amount of fluid your body needs each day depends on several factors, such as your gender, age, how active you are, and whether you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. For a woman 19 years or older the current Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend 2.1 litres of fluid a day. Fluids include fresh water and all other liquids, such as milk, coffee, tea, soup, juice and even soft drinks, but fresh water is the best choice because it’s calorie-free and is most effective at hydrating the body. A lot of commercially bottled mineral water contains salt, so it’s a good idea to limit the amount of mineral water your drink, or choose low-sodium varieties (less than 30 mg sodium per 100 ml).10 ideas for a daily skin-nourishing drink Water is the gold standard for hydration. But milk, coconut water, green tea or low calorie juices are also good choices. By pimping them up with yummy extras like fruit, vegetables, herbs, spices or collagen powders you can support your fluid levels and boost your intake of skin-nourishing vitamins and nutrients. It’s important to note though that just because you can taste the flavour of a fruit or vegetable in your drink, it doesn’t mean that you’re getting the full nutritional boost from them. If you’re using citrus fruits like lemons or oranges, then squeezing every bit of juice out is quite effective. But depending on what you’re using, blending them into your drink is a better way to get all the goodness out…or just make sure you eat them as you drink. Most of the combos below are great sources of vitamin C. To get vitamin E into your drink use unsweetened almond milk as the base. Adding a tablespoon of chia seeds is a vegan-friendly way to get omega-3s into your drink as well as some zinc. Lemon and ginger Cucumber and mint. Lemon and cayenne pepper. Watermelon, lime and mint. Coconut water, lime and ginger Orange and lemon. Lemon and lime. Strawberry and basil. Green tea, apple and cucumber. Collagen supplements in the form of powders or liquids
IN SEASON WELLNESSCan you detox your way to healthier, glowing skin?
Water is the gold standard for hydration. But milk, coconut water, green tea or low calorie juices are also good...Read more
The Benefits Of Detox Drinks Detoxification is a method of cleansing which has been practiced for centuries around the world, with traditional roots in Ayurvedic, Chinese and Native American medicine. Today, it has become popular, with many approaches including juicing, fasting, oil pulling, colonic irrigation, hydrotherapy, saunas, massage techniques and more. The human body is fascinating with its inherent ability to heal itself, but did you know it also has its own self-regulating system of detoxification? A healthy body has the capability to restore itself and eliminate toxic waste from the body, which can be naturally occurring by-products of metabolic waste such as hormones, or acquired from the external environment such as synthetic chemicals. More than ever, we are being exposed to toxic substances through an urban lifestyle. For example, we find our environment has polluted air; our diets are impact by some of the foods we consume that contain herbicides, pesticides, heavy metals, artificial additives and preservatives, or even the excessive consumption of refined sugars, caffeine, alcohol and nicotine; and our lifestyle habits are susceptible to toxins from cleaning products, skincare products, perfumes and also medications. So What Exactly Is The Process Of Detoxification? Detoxification is the process of the body naturally removing its waste products and toxins, mainly involving the liver, along with other channels of elimination such as the kidneys, digestive system, lymphatic system, skin and lungs. The detoxification process involves three phases, and of these, two are predominantly in the liver which is why it is commonly referred to as the primary detoxification organ. Phase 1 is activated by the exposure to toxins which are converted into smaller molecules and during this, oxidative free radicals are formed which is where the importance of antioxidants come in. In phase 2, six different pathways are involved to transport the water-soluble substances for further filtration and then into phase 3, which involves the excretion of waste through our stools, urination and sweat. Although the body can naturally detoxify itself, the exposure to toxins on a daily basis can create a burden on body systems and organs. If the organ function becomes impaired or the pathways are compromised, this can impact the filtration process, which limits the body's ability to efficiently excrete toxic waste. In-turn this causes toxic substances to accumulate and be stored within the body, making the body as a whole become vulnerable and adversely affecting our health. So by supporting the body with essential nutrients, you can optimise the process of detoxification. What Are Some Signs That Your Body May Benefit From Doing A Detox? Fatigue, headaches, poor sleep, digestive disturbances i.e. bloating, ‘sluggish’ bowels or poor bowel motions, cravings particularly of refined sugars or carbohydrates, over-indulging in food or substances, sensitivity to smell, strong body odour, bad breath, blemished or irritated skin, puffy eyes, allergies, low immunity, trouble concentrating, irritability and fluctuating weight, are all signs that your body may benefit from doing a detox. The inherent detoxification system maintains homeostasis of overall health with the excretion of toxins, a detox program will help support the digestive system and other organs of elimination. What To Include In Your Detox Drinks Detox drinks are high in fibre, antioxidants and make a great tasting addition to your detox program, they replenish the body with essential nutrients that are easily digested and highly absorbable. Antioxidants Antioxidants help to protect cells against the damaging effects of free radicals and provide a defence against harmful substances, often occurring during detoxification processes. Antioxidants can be found in berries, grapes, mangoes, apricots and grapefruit. An important antioxidant for liver health is glutathione, which can be found in vegetables including spinach, kale and watercress. Avocados also contain glutathione plus essential fatty acids which are great for maintaining radiant skin. Antioxidant Smoothie 1 cup of mixed berries ½ cup of baby spinach ½ cup of avocado ½ cup of mango pieces 300mL plant-based milk Alkalising Greens The cruciferous family of vegetables contain nutrients which are essential for detoxification such as sulphur compounds and can be found in broccoli, kale and beet greens – but they don’t always taste great in a smoothie. To increase your intake of natural phytonutrients, try chlorophyll rich foods such as spinach, celery, romaine lettuce, wheat grass, barley grass, alfalfa leaf or sea kelp. Dark leafy green vegetables have an alkalising effect that may help reduce inflammation and stimulate digestive enzymes. For extra benefits, include dandelion greens to support liver health and function. Alkalising Greens Smoothie 1 cup of chopped celery ½ cup of kale ½ cup of dandelion greens ½ cup of beet greens, Swiss chard or baby spinach Optional superfood powders: wheat grass, barley grass, spirulina 300mL of coconut water Fibre When most people think of fibre they think of pre-mixed powders, but it can be found in many fruits and vegetables such as pears, strawberries, apples, raspberries, blackberries, bananas, carrots, avocados, beetroots and almonds. They are excellent sources of fibre and also contain antioxidants and prebiotics. Fibre facilitates the body's detoxification process by improving digestive function and supporting the natural elimination of waste. Natural prebiotics help to support the growth of friendly, or ‘good’ bacteria in the gut and further support bowel elimination of waste. Fibre Smoothie 1 cup of pear ½ cup of chopped banana ½ cup of chopped apple ½ cup of berries 300mL of almond milk Citrus Fruits Citrus fruits are naturally high in antioxidants such as vitamin C, which is beneficial in supporting immune system health, brain function and skin health. They are a source of fibre which also aids in digestion. Citrus fruits include variations of oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes, kumquat, mandarin and tangerine. For an extra kick, add root herbs such as ginger or turmeric – both have anti-inflammatory properties and ginger is great for digestion. Citrus Fruit Juice 1 ½ cups of orange segments ½ cup of mandarin segments ½ cup of lemon segments A few slices of fresh ginger or turmeric 250mL of water If you are looking to support your body's natural detoxification process by practicing a clean lifestyle and consuming a healthy diet, try one of these yummy and nutritious detox drinks to complement
Overactive Bladder (OAB): Causes, symptoms and management Have you ever thought that perhaps your exercise options might be limited these days? Fear of sneezing, coughing or jumping and having a little wee as a result! It’s embarrassing and can often be the bane of many women’s lives. Urinary incontinence is the lack of urinary control and may have many causative factors. When problems with urination becomes unbearable and starts to affect daily life, many adults, mainly including women may be medically diagnosed with (OAB). In Australia 10% of the population suffer with urinary incontinence, of which 80% are women1. Symptoms of OAB not only include leakage, but also urgency and frequency of urination that has become difficult to control. There are many reasons for OAB, mistakenly, many women may assume that it is an age-related condition. No need to worry, right? I’ll worry about that in my 70’s. Wrong! An overactive bladder is a condition that is more prevalent in women from their late 30’s to 50’s and beyond. OAB does affect men too, but to a much lesser extent1. Pregnancy (including multiple births), stress incontinence, nerve damage, muscle weakness, prolapsed bladder, alcohol and caffeine are among some of the causes of OAB with the severity of the condition varying between individuals. Pregnancy can have a major impact on the urinary tract organs and system, which may often lead to problems such as muscle weakness or even prolapsed bladder. The inability to control urine flow coupled with frequency and urgency can be very distressing and debilitating. Caffeine and alcohol intake can increase bladder activity and hence exacerbate urinary incontinence. Stress incontinence is the most common type of incontinence. It occurs when there is an increase in pressure within in the abdomen, creating a force or pressure down onto the urinary organs. When activities such as sneezing, laughing, coughing or exercise result in the inability to adequately hold urine, then you may be experiencing stress incontinence. How can I reduce the embarrassment of urinary incontinence? Muscle strength – Increasing your pelvic floor muscle strength is vital to support urinary tract function. Your pelvic floor muscles are like a hammock that help to hold the pelvic organs and pelvic region up. You use these muscles whenever you go to toilet. Kegel exercises are specific for the pelvic floor muscles. Avoid the pressure – Lifting heavy objects places pressure in the abdominal regions which then pushes down on the urinary tract organs. So, lifting heavy objects or small children can quickly lead to bladder leakage. Lifting in a controlled manner and lifting correctly may help to reduce these leaks. Try to work on your core muscles to help strengthen this area. You can always ask someone else to help you lift heavy objects! Caffeine – Caffeine drinks have a stimulating effect on the body and especially on the bladder. Try cutting back on your caffeinated drinks and remember to try and drink lots of water instead. Straining on the loo- It is never comfortable to be straining on the toilet to do your number two! Straining when going to toilet can weaken your pelvic floor muscles and contribute to your urinary leaks. Address your bowel habits by looking at your diet and increasing your water intake. Urinary incontinence will never go away on its own. It is important to understand the triggers or the cause of the problem. Some women may have to resort to medical intervention, however you may wish to start with these few handy tips first. They may be just the key to improving your urinary incontinence and help to reduce the embarrassment. Please consult a medical practitioner if your symptoms worsen or persist and seek further medical advice. References www.continence.org.au
IN SEASON WELLNESSOveractive Bladder (OAB): Causes, symptoms and management
Have you ever thought that perhaps your exercise options might be limited these days? Fear of sneezing, coughing...Read more
Women’s Mental Health & Wellbeing Mental health expands beyond psychological aspects, it’s a fundamental pillar to overall wellbeing, at every stage of life. Mental health has been defined as a state of wellbeing where individuals realise their own capabilities, have the ability to cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and are able to make contributions in their community. It is a worldwide priority to ensure the promotion, protection and restoration of mental health is maintained throughout life. According to the National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing, mental health conditions are a growing concern, with almost half (46%) of individuals aged 16-85 reporting they have experienced a mental health disorder. Women have the highest prevalence and statistics show 14.5% of women reported high to very high levels of psychological distress and one third of females have experienced anxiety, all at higher rates compared to men. Women aged 18-24 years actually had the highest rate of psychological distress compared with any group of age or gender throughout Australia. The determinants of mental health include: biological, lifestyle, environmental and socioeconomic factors, with gender increasingly being recognised as an influence. Women are affected by hormonal changes such as those during menstruation, pregnancy, lactation and menopause. Mental health conditions occur as a results of various accumulative factors and are rarely due to a single cause. Contributing factors include: genetics, age, health status/history, living conditions, unemployment, workplace environments, discrimination, prolonged stress, trauma, diet, physical activity and more. So what are some approaches that women can take to maintain a positive state of mental health? Physical activity is an outlet for stress and helps to keep focus on the present moment, plus supports cognition, sleep, energy and a healthy weight range. Exercise stimulates the release of endorphins and serotonin which can reduce symptoms of stress, mild anxiety, a low mood and also boost self-esteem. Australian guidelines recommend 30 minutes of moderate to intense exercise, daily. Healthy lifestyle habits can improve both mental and physical wellbeing. The reduction of smoking, alcohol intake, recreational drug use and also screen time can together help to prevent a sedentary lifestyle that contributes towards poor mental wellbeing. Sleep plays an integral role in general health but also benefits mental wellbeing. It’s recommended to sleep 7-9 hours per night, and according to the Sleep Foundation, women have longer sleeping durations than men, although they have an inferior sleep quality. To optimise sleep quality, practices of sleep hygiene including sleeping environment and sleep-related habits will help to rebalance your internal clock, the circadian rhythm. There is a strong association between diet and mental health, with focus on omega-3 essential fatty acids such as those found in fatty fish, flaxseeds and walnuts, in supporting nervous system health. Other nutrients to consider include vitamins B12, B6, B9, B1, magnesium, iron, inositol, tryptophan, tyrosine and zinc. Foods to avoid are caffeine, sugar and refined or processed foods as they have an effect on blood glucose levels, which in rapid decline can have a negative impact on mood. Relaxation is a state of calmness where individuals can manage their day-to-day stress levels. Relaxation practices are beneficial for mental and physical health and can help with muscle tension, sleep, mood and concentration. Find a technique that works for you to make part of your routine. Relaxation and Stress Management Practices Include: Deep Breathing Exercises Mindfulness & Gratitude Meditation Visualisation Progressive Muscle Relaxation Art & Music Therapy Aromatherapy Yoga or Tai Chi Massage Traditional herbal medicine has an array of benefits to support a healthy nervous system, providing soothing, calming, restorative, adaptogenic, anxiolytic, aphrodisiac, cognitive enhancing, stimulating, nervine and sedative actions. It is best to seek the advice of a qualified health practitioner such as a naturopath for a personalised health plan, however herbs to consider for support of the nervous system include: Lemon Balm: soothes the nerves, increasing both mind and body relaxation to relieve symptoms of stress and mild anxiety. Saffron: calms the mind and enhances mind relaxation to support a healthy mood, emotional balance and general mental wellbeing. Rhodiola: reduces symptoms of mild anxiety such as irritability and nervous tension to help increase mental endurance and cognitive functions of concentration, focus and clarity. Withania: enhancing the body's adaptation to stress and promoting physical stamina which helps to improve exercise performance, muscle strength and also reduce fatigue or debility. Passionflower: promotes a refreshing sleep by restoring the circadian rhythm cycle, reducing the time required to fall asleep and relieving disturbed sleep to improve overall sleep quality. For women wanting to improve their mental wellbeing, ensure you are practicing healthy lifestyle habits, partaking in physical activity, having adequate sleep, eating a nutritious diet and where appropriate, trying relaxation techniques or herbal medicines that suit you. References: Upon request.
Anxiety in Kids- Most common tell-tale signs Screaming, shouting, crying or being disruptive are common expressions of children being difficult, right? Any parent can relate to these types of behaviour. Parents and children are under pressure more than ever due to extended lockdowns occurring all across Australia. Whilst, some states may have more experience with this, it certainly is challenging for everyone.Are these episodes expressions of defiance, or are they valuable emotions?Growing children are constantly developing and changing. During this period of time, when children are continually learning, comprehending and processing information, some children may become overwhelmed or frustrated, leading to outbursts of emotion. Let’s take a different perspective of how a child’s brain develops. A child’s brain develops from the bottom up, just like a cup filling from the bottom to the top. A child’s brain starts to develop at the brain stem, which is referred to as the primitive brain. This governs sensory and motor skills and survival. We see this stage of development from birth. Up to the age of 3 years, children develop the next stage in their brain called the limbic brain. This governs physical attachment and emotional attachments. Finally, from 3 years and over, a child develops into their thinking brain or the cortical brain. This area governs reason, thinking, language and learning. If we think of a child’s brain in this way, we come to understand perhaps why they react in the way they do, to events or situations. A child’s response to an event or situation can greatly depend on their age and how they process information. The additional factor to consider is environmental influences and associations with an issue. As children develop they create stories to correlate a place with an emotion or an experience. For example: When Dad takes me (3.5year old) to grandma’s house she always hugs me, makes me lunch and I get to play in her big garden. Here, the child may associate this experience (or story) as a positive experience and feels comforted, happy and knows that it’s a safe place to go. Let’s look at another experience of a child: A 2-year-old boy, only wants a certain cup to drink from, however the mother gives him another cup which the child has used in the past. A fixation and an attachment has developed with a preferred cup. Already, an emotional connection (as a story) has been made to the preferred cup, yet the mother gives the child another cup. The different cup has resulted in a crying child, whilst the mother assures the child that it is ok, and that it’s fine to use other cups. The child’s brain is unable to process logic and reasoning at this age. Here, the child may associate the experience with being sad, upset and angry. Only, certain neural pathways have been developed, and a child at this age is still operating off their emotional brain rather than their logical brain. Believe it or not, this is a normal emotional pattern of behaviour for this age regarding the possession of an item. This is often why a child who is processing from their limbic brain may seem to have five emotions within ten minutes! Emotions can seem to switch on and off, with no clear logic or reasoning. This can be exhausting for both the parent and the child. Processing these emotions can be overwhelming for a child, particularly when they are tired and need to rest. Children will often nap during the day up until the age of 3 years. Sleeping is extremely important for children, it allows the brain to collate, organise and file information from the day’s events. Sleep helps the brain to make new pathways and connections, if a child were to have the same or a similar experience, the emotional reaction may be less intense the next time around because the brain already has some evidence of a familiar experience. When we process information as adults we are able to understand logic, reason and negotiation. A child’s brain is not fully developed until the age of 18-20 years. A growing child goes through peak periods of growth and development, both physically and emotionally.But why is my child constantly emotional?Some parents may feel that their child is constantly emotional, however these emotions may be a sign of anxiety. In Australia, anxiety in children is a common concern. It is estimated 1 in 14 children, aged between 4- 17 years old, suffer with anxiety. Anxiety is a feeling of an overwhelming response to stress. Anxiety may be a short lived experience or for some, it may be a constant concern. Children, as they grow and develop, process and interpret information at a rate which may be beyond their comprehension. As their world expands as they grow, some children may become overwhelmed, this may be interpreted as a negative response.How can I tell if my child is feeling anxious?There are often tell-tale signs when a child is feeling anxious or has developed anxiety. Some of these signs may be: Becoming withdrawn and non-communicative Becoming angry or aggressive Physically hitting other children or adults Worrying about things or having worrying thoughts Not sleeping Not concentrating or have difficulty at school Loss of appetite or not eating properly Five top tips support your child? Acknowledge and confirm how they are feeling- Whatever the child’s age is, acknowledge that their emotions are important too. Being dismissive of a child’s feelings is not a positive way to deal with an outburst. It’s impossible to reason with a child when they are in the throes of a meltdown, remember, here they are operating from the limbic or emotional brain. Rather than shut them down, acknowledge that they are upset and allow them to express their feelings in a safe place. Let the fire burn out and then comfort and compassionately discuss how they are feeling. Create a positive and safe experience - This may involve a number of extended family members to help the child to feel safe and supported. There is a saying, “It takes a village to raise a child”. There may be many people in a child’s life who play positive roles and offer different elements to a child’s growth and development. Having a family night or family day, may be one way that you and your child, or other children in the family, can spend time together. Perhaps try, a walk with a grandparent, simply watching a TV show together, or playing charades as a family. Give the child an objective or chore – Believe it or not, some children like to have some type of responsibility within a family dynamic. It may give them a sense of contribution and independence and allow the child to have structure and routine. It can help children to focus on something else and allow their feelings to become more manageable. Make sure that they have a task that they are able to complete within their capabilities, not unrealistic tasks which may create frustration. Do not avoid situations or events because it may make them anxious – A child may become anxious due to a myriad of reasons or an event. Help the child acknowledge that sometimes things can be scary, difficult or challenging. Trying to avoid every scary situation or event will not allow them the opportunity to develop the skills required to manage their reactions . Confirm with them that it is ok, and that you are there too. You may even share your own thoughts and fears with them too. Whisking them away or avoiding challenging situations will only reinforce negative repetitive patterns. Tools and resources for an anxious child – Some children may find focussing on an external object may help them to calm their anxiety. Teaching them about deep breathing is another way they can be encouraged to help themselves in an anxious moment. As a parent, you may be not always be around to help them or discuss their concerns, but helping them to find useful tools and techniques may give them a sense of control over their own emotions. No matter the age of your child, communication is the key. As parents, we all go through challenging stages with our children. These five handy tips are a starting point for an anxious child. You may find more tips and hints in the recourse section below. Resources & References Got it! Program: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/mentalhealth/resources/Publications/got-it-guidelines.pdfhttps://childmind.orghttps://www.healthdirect.gov.au/anxiety-in-childrenhttps://www.childrens.health.qld.gov.au/fact-sheet-anxiety
Allergies in children and how your doctor tests for them Allergies in children are quite common. The Health Nuts Study* run by the Population Allergy Group of the Murdoch Children's Research Institute found that as many as one in ten of 12-month-old infants have a clinically confirmed food allergy – one of the highest reported rates in the world, so if you’re worried that your son or daughter might have an allergy then you should see your doctor. Your doctor will help you work out whether their symptoms are caused by an allergic reaction, which is an immune system reaction - or an intolerance, which is an uncomfortable but unexplained reaction that doesn't have a clear immunological outcome. Food allergies can be really uncomfortable and sometimes very serious Allergies can have a big impact on a child’s life so being armed with that knowledge will help you manage their condition. If it’s a serious allergy it may be necessary to take extra precautions. Or you may find out that your child isn’t allergic to anything! Common things that children are allergic to (allergens) are foods such as eggs, dairy, nuts, soy, sesame and seafood. They can also be allergic to pets (their skin dander), pollens, medicines, insect stings and house dust mites. Food allergy can develop at any age, but it is most common in children less than five years old. Most children who are allergic to cow's milk, soy, wheat or egg, will outgrow their food allergy. However, allergic reactions to peanut, tree nuts, sesame seeds and seafood are less likely to be outgrown and can persist into adulthood. What to expect when you take your child for an allergy test Your doctor will ask when you’ve noticed symptoms appearing in your child and discuss their medical history, as well as the medical history of your family. They’ll use this information to determine which allergens to test. They might choose only a few, or they could test for up to twenty. Allergy testing using skin prick tests or blood tests are the most commonly used tests for children. Skin prick testing There are no needles involved with skin prick testing. Skin prick testing is performed using prickers which look a bit like toothpicks. The prickers are dipped into allergen extracts. They are pointed, but do not usually draw blood, as the breaks made in the skin are only shallow. Some children say it is a little bit uncomfortable or ‘ouchy’, other children say it tickles. Their back may be quite itchy after the test is done. If they have an allergy to a substance, a swollen reddish bump will form, along with a ring around It, within 15-20 minutes. The test is usually over quite quickly and you can stay with them the whole time. Blood tests Blood tests (specific IgE tests) are another way to detect allergies. They measure the amount of IgE antibodies in the blood that have been produced by your child’s immune system in response to a suspected allergen. Your doctor may recommend a blood test if skin prick testing isn’t easily available, if your child has eczema or another skin condition, or if your child is taking medications that interfere with skin prick testing, such as antihistamines. Your child will have blood drawn, and the sample will be sent to a lab for testing. Multiple allergies can be tested with one blood draw and results usually take a few days. Patch tests If your child suffers from hives or a rash the doctor might do patch testing to investigate topical allergens. A paste with up to twenty allergens is put onto the skin, usually their back, and secured with tape. You have to keep the tape in place and dry for 48 hours ( easier said than done!). Your doctor will check the test sites regularly during this time for any reaction. If your child is sensitive to one of the allergens, they may develop a rash where the tape’s been applied. Intradermal tests Sometimes your doctor may decide to do an intradermal test if they suspect a medicine or insect sting allergy – this involves injecting a small amount of the allergen under the skin. Childhood allergies are difficult to navigate and having your child's allergy diagnosed and treated can be stressful for you and for them. It’s important not to try diagnosing the issue yourself, for example by restricting your child’s diet to try to work out the source of an allergy. The key to avoiding misdiagnosis is to see your doctor. *https://www.mcri.edu.au/populationallergy
IN SEASON WELLNESSAllergies in children and how your doctor tests for them
Allergies in children are quite common. The Health Nuts Study* run by the Population Allergy Group of the Murdoc...Read more
Inflammation & Top Anti-Inflammatory Foods What is inflammation? The word inflammation is derived from the latin word, “inflammatio”, which translates to ‘ignite’ or to ‘set fire’. During the 1st century AD, the Roman scholar and medical encyclopaedist Aulus Cornelius Celsus described the clinical symptoms of inflammation, as: calor (heat), dolor (pain), rubor (redness) and tumour (swelling). With thousands of years in medical advances, the understanding of inflammation’s pathogenesis has subsequently expanded into a sophisticatedly coordinated cascade of events. The 5 cardinal symptoms are: heat, pain, redness, swelling and a limited range of motion. Inflammation is a defence mechanism and essential component in the healing process where the body attempts to maintain homeostasis by repairing affected structures and restoring function, in order to return the site of damage back to its pre-injury state. Inflammation is produced by the body when it interprets trauma or potentially harmful agents and in response stimulates a series of immune reactions, however depending on the cause of inflammation, the process may slightly differ and involve condition specific immune reactions. For example, inflammation from physical injuries, skin irritation and sinus allergies will have unique immune responses such as the chemicals stimulated and pathwaysollowed, although the common phases of the inflammation cascade are as followed: Understanding the inflammation process The process of inflammation is initiated by a varying degree of trauma or damage, which can occur either internally or externally. The initial trauma which triggers inflammation can be due to virtually anything that causes damage to our body cells, tissues, organs or other structures. Common causes could include injuries, infections, allergens, certain medications, chronic stress and exposure to harmful pathogens, irritants, toxins or chemicals. There is a diverse range of inflammation causes, examples may range from a paper cut, pollen, certain foods, topical sensitives, sprained ankle, broken bone or underlying health conditions i.e. arthritis. Inflammation is a multi-factorial however the progression has various influences, such as: genetic predisposition, medical history, lifestyle and dietary factors, age, weight, immune function, sensitivities and allergies and current health status. The first response is the immediate recognition of trauma to the cells which is detected by sentinel cells, such as mast cells or macrophages. These immune sentinel cells are often referred to as the body's first line of defence as their duty is to recognise damage or harmful microbes and signal for a recruitment of inflammatory factors to regulate and remove the damage, thereby commencing the immune-inflammation cascade. In this acute phase, there is a stimulation of chemicals and hormones such as histamine which assists in the breakdown of our blood barriers at a microcirculatory level. The release of histamine increases local blood flow and a process of vasodilation takes place where blood vessels dilate and enlarge, resulting in an increased capillary permeability. The vasodilation facilitates the transportation of inflammatory factors including plasma and White Blood Cells (WBC) at the site of injury. This activation causes the presentation of heat and redness and can generally last 2-5 days. In the sub-acute phase, the focus is removing acquired threats and repairing damaged structures. The immune WBC’s migrate towards the affected area where they stimulate the release of inflammatory mediators such as antibodies, immunoglobulins (IgE), cytokines (IL, TNF) and prostaglandins (PGE2). Inflammatory mediators are essentially ‘messengers’ that promote stimulation of immune responses. This stimulation causes an accumulation of various active hormones, chemicals and plasma proteins which then actively work together in removing the damaged cells. The localised concentration of substances is what causes swelling. An additional process in this phase is the production of nitric oxide (NO), which is a ‘pain producing’ substance. The local release of NO signals the nervous system for the generation of the pain sensation, which interestingly is a protective mechanism the body makes! If the structure that is inflamed is experiencing pain, we are more likely to protect the area. A fifth symptom is also observed here, a limited range of motion which is another protective method. The repair and removal of cellular waste can have a duration lasting up to approximately 6-8 weeks. Throughout this sub-acute phase, the main pathway involved is the cyclooxygenase (COX) pathway. The final stage is known as the chronic phase, where remodelling and maturation of the original injury or trauma takes place. Once the inflammation inducer has been removed, the process of wound healing and/or tissue repair occurs, where damaged tissue is regenerated or they may be replaced with collagen strands and fibroblasts to begin the remodelling process. When there has been collagen generated, the strands are progressively replaced by other materials and they adapt to the original tissue. If the inflammation continues or the structures further destruct, scar tissue or fibrosis follows. This chronic phase can last months to years, depending on the type of injury and the inflammation. What is the difference between acute and chronic inflammation? Inflammation may present as acute or chronic and the main influence of this is the type and intensity of trauma. In acute inflammation, the onset is rapid with short-term symptoms which may be severe, whereas chronic inflammation has a long-term presentation with a prolonged duration that may last years. In some cases, chronic stressors causing inflammation can have a suppressive effect on the immune system in contrast to the acute stressors which enhance immediate adaptive immunity. In this scenario, sustained stressors may actually over-activate the immune system causing an imbalance of pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory mediators in the body, causing chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation has a negative impact on overall health including our cells, tissues and organs which in-turn can increase the risk of developing disease and poor health conditions. Although chronic inflammation could have a silent progression, it is a major contributing factor in various health conditions such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, allergic asthma, Alzheimer’s disease, liver and kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, pulmonary disease and inflammatory bowel disease. In-fact, statistics have shown that approx. 3/5 people die due to chronic inflammatory disease, worldwide. Chronic inflammation has additional symptoms including fatigue, mood changes, sleep difficulties, fever, rashes, weight changes, gastrointestinal complications, frequent infections and ongoing pain. 9 Tips to help better manage inflammation Just as there are various factors contributing to the progression of inflammation, there are also multiple strategies for the management of symptoms, including pharmaceutical, physical therapies, dietary or lifestyle alterations and other complimentary or alternative medicine modalities. Natural anti-inflammatory Some natural remedy suggestions may include herbal or nutritional sources with anti-inflammatory actions. The term ‘anti-inflammatory’ relates to a substance which has direct actions in reduces inflammation. Dietary food sources with anti-inflammatory actions can inhibit pathways such as the COX and therefore the inflammatory mediators such as prostaglandins, TNF, IL etc. described earlier. Food sources which utilise the COX pathway include spices such as turmeric, ginger and rosemary which are great in cooking, especially for yummy vegetable roasts. Anti-oxidants Resveratrol found in grapes and peanuts; or catechins found in green tea have anti-oxidant actions in addition to anti-inflammatory properties. Through the process of inhibition, essential fatty acids (EFA) such as Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) can modulate the production of pro-inflammatory mediators. Excellent sources of EPA include seafood such as salmon, herring, anchovies or algae products. Other sources of EFA’s include olive oil, walnuts, flaxseeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, navy beans, brussel sprouts and avocados. When managing symptoms of inflammation, ensure you are consuming a higher ratio of omega-3 than omega-6. Quercetin is another phytonutrient with anti-inflammatory benefits and can be food in foods such as red onions, kale, capers, tomatoes, asparagus, broccoli, citrus, cherries, berries and apples. Bromelain is a constituent found in pineapple which also has natural anti-inflammatory actions. What foods can help? Anti-oxidant rich foods provide benefits to inflammatory conditions. Minerals such as Magnesium as found in green leafy vegetables; and Zinc as found in oysters have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions. Vitamins such as Vitamin D as found in cheese or egg yolk; Vitamin E as found in sunflower seeds or almonds; and Vitamin C as found in capsicum or kiwifruit have antioxidant actions with the additional benefits to immune system health, which is an important consideration in the management of inflammation as it is an immune reaction. Should I change my diet? Diets popular in supporting the anti-inflammatory effects include the Mediterranean diet, a low Glycaemic Index (GI) diet and ketogenic diets. Overall, an anti-inflammatory diet would ideally include higher intakes of antioxidant and fibre rich foods plus ensuring an adequate balance between healthy fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Try to avoid In inflammatory conditions, it is advised to limit the intake of refined carbohydrates i.e. white pasta, trans fats i.e. margarine, processed meats i.e. deli meats and sugars. It is best to avoid these food groups as they aggravate inflammation and contribute to inflammation by producing Advanced Glycation End (AGE’s) and may raise blood glucose levels, with cell damaging effects. Lifestyle suggestions to support the anti-inflammatory diet may include moderate physical activity to maintain a healthy weight range, reducing stress levels, allowing enough sleep for cell repair and recovery and managing any associated pre-existing conditions. It is also recommended to reduce alcohol intake and smoking as they can create inflammation driving toxins in the body.Fun Fact: Conditions ending in ‘-itis’ indicate inflammation of a specific organ, tissue or structure. For example: derma (skin) + itis (inflammation) = dermatitis
Sustainable Bunny Planters Reuse your empty Caruso’s children’s vitamin bottles for a fun Easter activity that the whole family will love. At school children often discuss the environment and ways to reuse and recycle where possible. Here’s an opportunity to reuse your empty Caruso’s bottles when they’re done. What you will need: Seedling or succulents Caruso’s Vitamin Bottle emptied, washed and dried Bunny template printed - Download templates here 2 cups of all-purpose garden soil Scissors* Hot glue gun* Black marker * Please note that parent supervision is always recommended Step 1: Remove Caruso’s label from bottle. Thoroughly wash and dry your Caruso’s vitamin bottle. Step 2: Pour soil ¾ into bottle. Carefully place succulent into soil, adding remainder of the soil to secure succulent. Step 3: Under adult supervision, carefully use scissors to cut out each bunny body part. Step 4: With the help of an adult, carefully glue the ears to the back of the Caruso’s vitamin bottle. Next, glue eyes and nose to front of bottle. Step 5: With your marker, draw whiskers and mouth. Step 6: Finally, glue feet to the bottom of the bottle. For an extra challenge, trying using pom poms to create your bunnies’ nose and some cotton balls for a fluffy tail. You can even try a different bottle size. P.S Carefully water to avoid wetting bunny face, ears and feet.
Candida & Women's Health What is Candida? Candida is a type of fungi with a budding growth pattern that gives it the classification of a yeast. There are hundreds of candida species that exist, although the main culprit in causing yeast infections is the Candida albicans strain, which accounts for approximately 75% of all candida or yeast infections. From early infancy onwards, candida yeast is a normal part of our microflora which is present throughout the body and can be predominantly located on the skin, in the lumen of the digestive tract and along the linings of mucous membranes, which can be found in the oral cavity, urinary tract and in genital areas. Candida causes no harm being part of our natural microbiome, however it becomes a health concern when certain changes to our body's environment occur, creating an imbalance of microbiota which may favour the growth of candida and encourage an overgrowth of yeast, referred to as ‘candidiasis’ or more commonly known as a ‘yeast infection’. Essentially, candidiasis is a fungal/yeast infection which is caused by the overgrowth of Candida albicans and can present internally, externally or in severe cases, can progress to an invasive form of candidiasis which is referred to as ‘candidemia’. Candidemia is a systemic candida infection of the bloodstream which can secondarily affect internal organs such as the heart, kidney, brain and bones. Symptoms of Candida Candidiasis has an array of symptoms which range from mild to moderate, however this may present very differently depending on the type of yeast infection acquired and the location site of the body. Some of the most commonly known types of candida yeast infections are described below: Oral candidiasis also commonly known as oral thrush may appear on mucosal surfaces of the mouth such as the tongue, palate, inner cheeks, gums and may even spread to the oesophagus. Symptoms of oral thrush include white coloured patches that resemble a curd-like texture with an underlying surface area of redness and inflammation. These patches can be scraped off and may sometimes be painful and bleed slightly. Externally, this may also appear on the outer corners of the lips where there is a warm or moist area and the skin becomes cracked, red and inflamed. Contributing factors include having poor oral hygiene and there is increased risk with dentures. A genital yeast infection also known as thrush may occur in both males and females, however the prevalence rate is much higher in women with approximately 75% of females experiencing vaginal thrush in their lifetime. Recurrent vaginal yeast infections which occur 4 or more times within a year is a condition known as ‘Recurrent Vulvovaginal Candidiasis’ (RVVC), affecting around 5% of the Symptoms of vaginal thrush include; itching, soreness, redness, inflammation, irritation, localised rash, a burning discomfort especially during urination or during sexual intercourse and abnormal vaginal discharge which may be watery or more commonly has a thick, cottage-cheese like appearance and generally does not have a strong odour. Males who experience genital thrush will present with similar symptoms, they are generally less severe due to our reproductive structure. Poorly managed yeast infections may contribute to candida-related Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) and therefore it is important to ensure good hygiene practices are emphasised and avoid over-cleansing or douching. Keep mindful that the infection may be spread through sexual intercourse, so ensure you're always practicing safe sex. If the condition is recurrent, it is best suggested to visit your health professional as the symptoms may be similar to Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) or Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) and will require a different course of treatment. Routine pap smears are also encouraged for women. Cutaneous candidiasis is a yeast infection of the skin and is commonly known as an external fungal infection. It can appear anywhere on the skin but is most prone to areas which are warm, moist or creased areas including the skinfolds (armpits, groin area, inner elbows and knees) and scalp. The symptoms of cutaneous candidiasis include redness, itching, a visible rash, flaking white patches which may scale or shed, weeping skin and occasional small pustules. Areas in-between the toes and fingers are also quite susceptible to infection which may even appear on the nails, commonly known as athlete’s foot, tinea, onychomycosis or fungal nail infection. Skin fungal infections are a prime example of how environmental changes may directly trigger a microbiota imbalance making it prone to infection; naturally occurring candida protects us against pathogens, however alterations to temperature, moisture and acidity (pH) impact the living conditions of this fungus, resulting in a thriving environment for overgrowth. Factors to consider in this condition are products applied topically including soaps, cleansers, lotions etc., changing out of wet or sweaty clothing as soon as possible, avoid restrictive clothing and opting for cotton. Due to the nature of the infections onset, it is considered to be an opportunistic condition as the disorder will arise as a result of alterations to our biochemical environment and will occur primarily in those individuals who have a compromised state of health or with existing reduced immune defence mechanisms. Research surrounding the relationship between genders and yeast growth intensity have displayed that there is a significantly higher prevalence occurring in women compared to men, and most frequently in the younger age groups. Additionally, women with higher oestrogen levels such as in pregnancy and/or breastfeeding or when taking medications such as the Oral Contraceptive Pill (OCP) and hormone therapy have an increased risk of acquiring candidiasis. Populations who have an increased susceptibility also include newborns, infants, the elderly, hospitalised patients and those who are overweight. Other individuals who are at a higher risk of developing candidiasis include those with unmanaged diabetes due to the relation with blood sugar balance, people with high stress levels due to the impact on digestive and immune systems, people who frequently use antibiotics due to the disruption of internal flora and there is a strong correlation between candida overgrowth and people with conditions causing immunosuppression, such as HIV or AIDS. Dietary factors largely contribute towards the development of yeast overgrowth as food groups including sugars, refined carbohydrates, lactose containing dairy products and alcoholic beverages may have a direct impact on our internal homeostasis, promoting the growth of candida yeasts. Symptom Management The symptom management has similar treatment protocols for the various presentations of candidiasis as they generally arise from the same underlying causes. Recommendations will be specific for individuals once taking into consideration their personal factors such as dietary intake, lifestyle, genetic, current or previous medical conditions, topical products and external environment. In addition to the dietary and lifestyle factors mentioned, some natural suggestions may also include: foods and beverages which are rich in prebiotics and probiotics will provide beneficial bacteria to nourish the microbiota; garlic has anti-fungal properties and coconut oil is rich in caprylic acid and lauric acid which when applied topically is beneficial to skin health maintenance.
Natural Remedies For Hormonal Imbalance In Women Feeling cranky and irritable over seemingly nothing? Do you feel like having a good cry every now and then for no good reason? Bloated? Irregular period? Sweating on a cold day? There may be a chance your hormones are responsible. What is a hormonal imbalance? Hormones play an enormous part in the way that the human body functions, they are effectively chemical messengers which tell our organs and tissues what to do and when to do it. In a woman’s body, the main hormones present are oestrogen, progesterone and to a lesser extent, testosterone. These hormones play vital roles in sexual development, fertility, reproduction and beyond. Hormone levels fluctuate dramatically during life stages such as puberty, pregnancy and menopause when the body experiences great change. In order for these bodily functions to take place smoothly, the hormones need to be in a delicate balance. Occasionally, this balance can become disturbed causing an array of symptoms and for some women, continual problems. How do you know if you have a hormonal imbalance? There are many factors which may cause a hormonal imbalance and the symptoms can present in many different ways for each individual. Some women may experience symptoms surrounding their menstrual cycle such as painful, heavy or irregular periods, bloating, breast tenderness or acne. Others may find that they are unable to lose weight easily, perhaps their hair is thinning or their moods are unstable. Some women may notice that they are fatigued even after adequate rest or that they are experiencing episodes of anxiety or having trouble sleeping. The list of symptoms is long and some women may experience more symptoms than others and to varying degrees of severity. What causes hormones to become imbalanced? Hormones exist in a delicate balance, however, they may occasionally get out of balance due to a myriad of reasons causing much grief for some women.Many factors can cause our hormones to become unbalanced including unusually high levels of stress, medications, bad diet, poor sleep patterns, thyroid issues and environmental pollutants.While back in the old days women may have been told to simply grin and bear what was once seen as ‘women’s problems’, we now know that there is a lot that can be done to encourage hormones back in to their natural balance. Are there herbs that can help? There sure are! Herbs are a great way to help your hormones get back into balance. There are a multitude of herbs specific for the female reproductive system. A herbalist is your best friend when it comes to selecting the right herb or herb mix for you. The actions of herbs are complicated and often a blend of herbs may be indicated for particular issues that are specific to you. Below are four great herbs to help with female hormonal balance. Vitex - Vitex agnus-castus Vitex has long been used for hormone balancing in women, its strengths lie in the role that it plays in supporting a healthy menstrual cycle. By maintain a healthy balance of hormones, Vitex can help to reduce painful periods, relieve mood swings and help to regulate an irregular menstrual cycle. Vitex can also be beneficial for women who are experiencing symptoms of menopause such as night sweats and moodiness. White Peony (Paeonia lactiflora) For thousands of years the sliced, dry root of White Peony has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to help support female hormonal balance. By positively influencing female hormones, White Peony is a valuable herb for regulating the menstrual cycle and relieving painful periods. White Peony is often combined with Licorice (Glycyrrhyza glabra) for hormonal problems including excess facial hair growth, irregular ovarian function and infertility. Sage (Salvia officinalis) Sage has a long history of use in herbal medicine and the benefits are wide ranging. While Sage tastes great when stuffing your roast chicken or roast pumpkin, it can also be beneficial in the management of hormonal issues. Sage can help to relieve the dreaded night sweats and hot flushes often associated with menopause. The symptoms of menopause are many, impaired memory recall and poor concentration are among them. Sage with its antioxidant properties can help in this area by supporting mental clarity and improving memory recall. Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa or Actaea racemosa) Used in Traditional Native American medicine, Black Cohosh is much regarded for its vast array of benefits including supporting female hormones during menopause and perimenopause. The antioxidant properties of Black Cohosh may be responsible for its use in helping alleviate hot flushes associated with menopause. Will improving my diet and lifestyle help? Most definitely! Diet and exercise play an enormous part in every area of health. Try to tidy up your diet and lifestyle with the tips below: Include healthier fats into your diet, not only do they taste great they also support a healthy balance of hormones, fight inflammation, and help you to feel full, curbing the appetite. Try adding avocado, fatty fish such as salmon, seeds such as linseeds and nuts to your shopping list along with beneficial oils such as extra virgin olive oil. Avoid bad fats such as those in fried or processed foods, this type of fat can promote inflammation and poor health all round. You don’t need it in your life. Avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates! These aren’t good for anybody, so they need to be avoided. Try sticking to whole foods like brown rice, quinoa, wholegrain bread, beans and legumes. These foods will help keep your blood sugar levels balanced, keeping your energy levels up and your mood stable. Physical activity is beneficial for everybody, find what works for you and do it regularly. Being physically active can help to boost hormones which naturally decline as we age, exercise also helps to keep insulin levels at a healthy range ensuring that our blood sugar remains stable. Keep stress to a minimum. Too much stress may cause menstrual cycles to become irregular and trigger mood swings. Seek help if you need it There are many natural approaches to balancing hormones that you can implement yourself, however if you can relate to some of the symptoms and suspect that you may have a hormonal imbalance please see a health professional, they are in the best position to guide you in your path to get well and offer further assistance should it be required.
A child's health begins in the bowel The key to your child’s good health begins in the bowel, and a healthy bowel is one with a good, healthy balance of friendly bacteria. Your child’s digestive system simply can’t function at its best without an abundance of good bacteria. They're nature’s internal healers. Your child's body is thriving with trillions of microorganisms, many that live inside their digestive system. Together, they create a population of friendly bacteria known as the intestinal microbiome. There is a mutually beneficial relationship that occurs between our body and our intestinal microbiome. This is called a symbiotic relationship; we help out each other. Friendly bacteria are not limited to just the digestive system, they also live on our skin, in our nose and mouth, and in our reproductive and urinary systems. These internal healers are acquired in the very early stages of life and stay with us for the rest of our days. They are invisible to the human eye, but they are there, trillions of them. So, let's dive deeper into this amazing world of probiotics and why they are so important to your child's health. We used to think that a baby was born into the world, with an almost sterile microbiome. However, research has recently revealed that some colonisation of friendly bacteria begins in the uterus. If you are pregnant, your diet, environment and the use of medication during pregnancy can also affect the microbiome of your unborn baby. Your baby is further exposed to a large proportion of good bacteria through the birth canal during a natural delivery. As a mother, you can enhance your new baby’s gut microbiome by breastfeeding and skin to skin contact within the first few days of birth. The colonisation of your baby’s intestinal microbiome develops over a period of about two years. Science has also discovered that the microflora of an infant is different to that of a child or an adult. An amazing world exists within your child’s digestive system; it contains over one thousand species of beneficial bacteria which make up their microbiome environment. Bifidobacterium bifidum and Lactobacillus salivarius are two species which have been found in breastmilk and therefore the gut of breastfed babies. Interestingly, Lactobacillus salivarius is also found in the mouths of children born via natural delivery. These two species may help support and stimulate your baby’s immune system function and help establish a healthy immune response. Up to 80% of the immune system can reside in a child’s gut. Immune cells and good bacteria in the digestive tract help prevent the over growth of bad bacteria and microbes which may be ingested along with food. Your child’s gut microbiota plays an important role in the way they absorb their nutrients, immune system development and overall health. The natural biome can be affected by health conditions, medications, diet, physical and emotional health. In order to help nourish a healthy biome it is important to ensure that children are provided a diet full of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains and fermented foods such as good quality yoghurt. Children today are exposed to many more environmental contaminants via fast food, air pollution and stress, more so than in the past twenty to thirty years. Often parents or carers are working, which often results in more children attending daycare or after school care. Children are spending more time indoors on electronic devices and often less time outdoors. The increased exposure to classmates, often in larger classes can see them picking up ills and chills, leading to more days off sick and a depleted immune system. Don’t forget your child’s diet! They will not simply “eat better when they are older”, by then it may just be too late. A child’s good eating habits start from the time they start solids. Lead by example as a parent, what they see you eat and do, they will naturally want to copy. A variety of flavours and textures will help to expand your child’s taste and encourage a diverse range of friendly bacteria that will develop in their system, creating a happy tummy and healthy immune system. Remember, if they do not like something straight away, do not disregard it, try again at another time or perhaps try to prepare it in a different way. Some probiotic species (such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Lactobacillus paracasei and Bifidobacterium lactis) can actually help to support the immune system and help reduce the number of sick days by shortening the duration of an illness. Supporting and feeding your child’s microbiome can help maximise their health and help support and maintain their immune and digestive systems. The microbiome protects them against germs, breaks down food to release energy, and produces vitamins. As a child’s microbiome is diverse and ever changing, and probiotic species do not exist alone, taking a probiotic supplement can help to enhance or restore health to their gut microbiome.
The Importance of a Balanced Diet in Children’s Growth & Development The early years of life involves not only a period of rapid physical growth but also significant cognitive and behavioural development. Bones, muscles and organs, not to mention hair, skin, nails and brain matter, all need a constant stream of nutrients to function. A healthy, balanced diet is essential to provide these necessary nutrients to facilitate this growth and development, not only in the early stages of life but also to ensure resilience into the future. Behaviour surrounding food and eating habits begins early in life and evolves as children grow. Outside influences including the eating habits of family and friends can strongly impact the choices children will make around food as they go on to develop their own habits and preferences, potentially setting the stage for lifelong habits. Bad habits established early can be hard to shift later in life. Providing children healthy food and encouraging good dietary habits early on is a gift which will continue on giving well into their adult years, potentially lowering their risk factor for chronic health issues as they age. Starting life with healthy food sets your body on the right path, health wise. Good food builds healthy, strong bodies which are more resilient towards future health problems. Babies are born with an innate preference for sweet foods and an aversion to bitter tasting foods, this is thought to be an evolutionary way of attracting us to foods high in energy producing sugars and directing us away from unpleasant tasting and potentially harmful substances like poisons. This is often thought to be why most children prefer the sweet taste of fruit rather than the bitter taste of leafy greens. Some young children may need some encouragement when it comes to eating a healthy diet. Children don’t begin life with a taste for salty, unhealthy foods, it’s an acquired taste, so it’s best to try and steer clear of these kinds of foods and encourage children to enjoy the natural flavours of foods for as long as possible. It’s not always just the type of food that we need to keep an eye on, but also the portion size which can tend to increase if we are not mindful. Try to keep to appropriate portion sizes, don’t let children mindlessly eat out of a packet. Place the food in a bowl so they are able to get a good sense of what a healthy portion looks like. Perhaps have a fruit bowl within reach or healthy snacks like cut up fruit and vegetable sticks in the fridge for quick, easy snacks. Fussy Eaters Once they reach school age, children start to become more aware of the eating habits of others around them. This may not always prove to be a positive influence, so it is important to educate children early as to why it is important to make those healthy food choices in the first place. Children who understand more about how food affects our body may be more inclined to make better choices. Perhaps ask older children to read out the ingredients on food labels so they become more aware of hidden nasties and additives. Younger children may be better suited to help out with selecting fruit and vegetables at the grocery store, or organise a trip to a local farm and pick your own fruit. Don’t forget that often parents are often the best role models, so make sure that you practice what you preach and lead by example. Children who are constantly exposed to a variety of healthy options may tend to be less fussy and more willing to try new foods. Eating away from home, such as at school camp or dinner at a friend’s house can be quite stressful for children who are less adventurous or have limited food preferences. While eating a variety of food is ideal, fussy eaters may tend to favour one or two foods or drinks and tend to stick to these. Pasta or milk are often popular and children may fill up on these and claim to be too full for anything else. Gently encourage a new food item each meal, but try not to make a fuss. Make every bite count by making meals nutrient dense. Try adding avocado to a wrap or toast, cheese or hummus to a sandwich or perhaps a pasta sauce made with pureed vegetables. The number of people who follow a plant based diet is on the rise. Carefully balanced plant based diets can be suitable for all ages, however when it comes to children, careful planning and preparation is of the utmost importance to ensure that all their nutritional requirements are met. Vitamins and minerals are important, but so are macro nutrients such as protein which are needed for growth. A diet with a variety of fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and tofu will provide all the nutrients that a child needs, however a paediatric dietitian will be in the best position to offer advice best suited to your child and their individual circumstances. Kids in the kitchen These days, it seems as though we never have enough hours in a day and takeaway for dinner can often feel like an easy option at the end of a long day. Home cooked meals don’t need to be complicated and stressful, try to find healthy, child friendly recipes that the whole family can enjoy or perhaps get creative and try to sneak some grated veggies into the family’s favourite recipes. Finely chopped mushrooms, grated carrot or zucchini can be added to spaghetti bolognaise, they’ll never know it’s there. Homemade food is generally best as you know exactly what goes into making it, plus it makes life a lot easier when it comes to catering to personal tastes and keeping the whole family happy. Kids often love to help out, so try to allocate age appropriate jobs if you have a child who is eager to help. Cutting mushrooms with a child friendly knife or whisking eggs may be suitable jobs for little hands or simply helping to wash the vegetables can help children explore new colours and shapes and perhaps spark their interest and curiosity. If you have a vegetable garden, try to get the kids involved. Perhaps they can help to pick out which vegetables they would like to grow. Give them their own little basket and let them pick the produce for themselves. If you don’t have the space for a vegetable garden, try growing herbs in a pot or colourful container and check your local nurseries for varieties which have been specially propagated for pots and smaller areas. The early years of life involves not only a period of rapid physical growth but also significant cognitive and behavioural development. Bones, muscles and organs, not to mention hair, skin, nails and brain matter, all need a constant stream of nutrients to function. A healthy, balanced diet is essential to provide these necessary nutrients to facilitate this growth and development, not only in the early stages of life but also to ensure resilience into the future. Behaviour surrounding food and eating habits begins early in life and evolves as children grow. Outside influences including the eating habits of family and friends can strongly impact the choices children will make around food as they go on to develop their own habits and preferences, potentially setting the stage for lifelong habits. Bad habits established early can be hard to shift later in life. Providing children healthy food and encouraging good dietary habits early on is a gift which will continue on giving well into their adult years, potentially lowering their risk factor for chronic health issues as they age. Starting life with healthy food sets your body on the right path, health wise. Good food builds healthy, strong bodies which are more resilient towards future health problems. Babies are born with an innate preference for sweet foods and an aversion to bitter tasting foods, this is thought to be an evolutionary way of attracting us to foods high in energy producing sugars and directing us away from unpleasant tasting and potentially harmful substances like poisons. This is often thought to be why most children prefer the sweet taste of fruit rather than the bitter taste of leafy greens. Some young children may need some encouragement when it comes to eating a healthy diet. Children don’t begin life with a taste for salty, unhealthy foods, it’s an acquired taste, so it’s best to try and steer clear of these kinds of foods and encourage children to enjoy the natural flavours of foods for as long as possible. It’s not always just the type of food that we need to keep an eye on, but also the portion size which can tend to increase if we are not mindful. Try to keep to appropriate portion sizes, don’t let children mindlessly eat out of a packet. Place the food in a bowl so they are able to get a good sense of what a healthy portion looks like. Perhaps have a fruit bowl within reach or healthy snacks like cut up fruit and vegetable sticks in the fridge for quick, easy snacks.
IN SEASON NUTRITIONThe Importance of a Balanced Diet in Children’s Growth & Development
A healthy, balanced diet is essential to provide these necessary nutrients to facilitate this growth and develop...Read more
Magnesium for children The role of magnesium in the body is an important one, for both adults and children. It’s vital for a broad range of bodily functions, in fact it’s involved in hundreds of reactions taking place in the body every day. The human body can’t produce its own magnesium, therefore it’s important to ensure that we get enough magnesium either through our diet or through supplementation. Why is magnesium especially important for children? Magnesium is essential for the healthy growth and development of the body, including the maintenance of healthy bones and teeth. Did you know, that in adolescence, a large percentage of the body’s bone mass has already been reached, eventually peaking at about 18- 20 years old?  This highlights the importance of ensuring that children receive adequate levels of magnesium from an early age, to help give them a strong start in life. Magnesium affects many areas of our lives, without adequate magnesium levels our heart couldn’t keep a steady beat, our muscles wouldn’t be able to contract and relax properly and our energy levels would be very low. Magnesium also helps us get restful sleep and plays a role in maintaining our blood sugar levels. It may also help in soothing the nervous system and may help relieve the symptoms of stress and mild anxiety, which is particularly important for anxious or nervous children. Emotional stress can increase our requirements for magnesium, so it’s vital that we have an adequate intake of magnesium to help us deal with daily stress and emotional tension . According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, between 2011 and 2012, one in three children aged over two years, did not meet their dietary requirements for magnesium . Constant growth and development means that children need a continuous intake of magnesium to keep up with the high demands of a growing child. Magnesium deficiency signs Early signs of magnesium deficiency may include; loss of appetite, fatigue, muscle tension, cramping and even mood changes. Clinical trials have been conducted, supporting the connection between magnesium nutritional status and behaviour . Magnesium helps to convert glucose from the food you eat, into energy for your body. Without adequate levels of magnesium, your cells can become less sensitive to insulin, therefore potentially disturbing healthy blood sugar levels, which may result in altered mood and energy levels. Occasional tantrums and challenging behaviour are normal for growing children, however if the episodes become more frequent or intensify, be mindful of their diet and make sure that the episode isn’t a result of a sugar crash or a nutritional deficiency. Diet While magnesium is readily available in food, children who are fussy eaters may tend to be more prone to magnesium deficiency. Allergies and food intolerances may also mean that some children may not be reaching their daily recommended magnesium intake. Farming practices and the processing of foods have seen a decrease in the amount of magnesium found in some foods. Foods such as fruit and vegetables grown in nutrient depleted soil may no longer have the magnesium levels they once had. Highly refined foods such as white bread or pasta contribute very little to the dietary intake of magnesium and therefore the consumption of these foods should be limited. Try to eat wholegrain versions where possible. The way that we cook and prepare foods can also affect the magnesium content in food, for example boiling vegetables can increase the loss of magnesium in food, while steaming can help to retain nutrients. Processed foods are high in salt and sugar and can increase magnesium loss in the body, they generally offer minimal nutritional value and are best left on the shelf. However, it’s not only foods that can affect magnesium levels, soft drinks and sports drinks contain high levels of phosphoric acid which can affect magnesium absorption. Water is the best option for children. Remember children often mimic what their parents or carers do, so try to lead by example and have plenty of fresh water within easy access, or pack water bottles when away from the home. Activity Magnesium is easily lost through body fluids such as sweat, so children who are frequently active or involved in extracurricular sport activities, may require more magnesium than those children who have more sedentary lifestyles. Illness can also influence magnesium levels, diarrhoea and vomiting may leave the body depleted of magnesium due to fluid loss. Dietary sources Magnesium is an essential part of chlorophyll, which gives plants their green colour. This would explain why green leafy vegetables are so full of magnesium. Green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale top the list for magnesium content, however broccoli, avocados, pepitas, wholegrains, nuts and legumes are all great sources as well. Sources of magnesium: Green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale Pumpkin seeds, Flax seeds, Brazil nuts Whole grain bread Avocados Bananas Snack ideas for a magnesium boost: Smashed avocado on wholegrain toast Fruit smoothie with baby spinach Almond or peanut butter on whole grain crackers Remember, if you are in any way concerned about your child and their health, seek the advice of a health professional who can give you a personalised health plan, specific for your child’s needs. References1. www.bones.nih.gov/health-info/bone/bone-health2. Schwalfenber, GK. (2017). The Importance of Magnesium in Clinical Healthcare. Hindawi, doi.org/10.1155/2017/41793263. www.abs.gov.au4. Black LJ et al.(2014). Low dietary intake of magnesium is associated with increased externalising behaviour in adolescents. Public Health Nutrition, 18(10), 1824-30.doi: 10.1017/S1368980014002432
The common causes of fluid retention What is fluid retention? Fluid retention occurs when excess fluid is stored in the tissues of the body, rather than being directed to the kidneys where it can be naturally expelled. Fluid retention can cause areas of our body to swell and may even cause joints to become painful and stiff. There are many reasons why we might be retaining excess fluid; injuries, hormones, medications and diet can all play a role. Diet Salt, or sodium, is essential for life. Sodium helps to keep fluids in the blood perfectly balanced, it helps to keep our blood pressure regular and it’s also important for the healthy functioning of our muscles and nerves. When there is an excess of sodium in the body, your body will try to dilute the sodium levels by encouraging the retention of water. The body works hard to keep a perfect balance of fluid levels, however, too much sodium can cause a disruption in this balance. We only need a small amount of sodium from our diet to keep our bodies healthy. High sodium foods such as processed foods, takeaway foods, potato chips, crackers and processed meats can all substantially add to our sodium intake. Try to decrease the sodium in your diet by including more fresh fruit and vegetables, particularly foods such as green leafy vegetables, celery, cucumbers, lemons and ginger. Herbs offer great benefits too, parsley is a great natural diuretic, perhaps try your hand at making a big, fresh bowl of tabbouleh. Homemade juices are great too, try celery, green apple and ginger to help flush away excess fluid. Herbal teas can also assist in balancing fluid levels. Check out your local health food store for teas such as celery seed, nettle or dandelion leaf. These teas are caffeine free so help yourself to a few cups a day. Many people find that by taking a good look at their diet, they may be able to improve their fluid retention symptoms. Hydration Our water intake is important too, don’t forget that our bodies are made up of around 60% water. Although, seemingly counterintuitive, when we experience fluid retention, increasing our water intake can help flush out excess sodium and help to re-establish a normal balance of fluid within the body. Dehydration can also cause our bodies to retain fluid so try to get at least two litres of pure water every day to keep well hydrated. Movement Our daily activities can influence how we retain water as well. If your job keeps you on your feet, by the end of the day you may notice that your legs feel heavy or perhaps your feet are looking a bit puffier than they were in the morning. Sitting for long periods of time can also trigger fluid retention, think long haul flights or sitting at a desk all day. Movement helps improve blood flow and circulation, naturally helping to assist with fluid retention. Physical injuries or joints affected by mild arthritis can also result in fluid retention as the body draws fluid towards the affected area, creating swollen, painful joints. Gentle exercise or massage may help to mobilise this excess fluid, easing discomfort. Persistent fluid retention may be a symptom of a more serious health issue, so if swelling continues, please seek the advice of your health professional who will be able to provide you with more information about your treatment options.
4 Healthy Habits for Kids As a parent you nurture, guide, discipline and teach your child values and qualities which forms who they become as a person. With an alarming 25 per cent of Australian children being classified as overweight or obese1, teaching your kids positive eating behaviours during childhood can set them up with healthy eating habits for life. So as a parent what can you do? Whether you have a toddler or a teen, here are strategies to improve nutrition and encourage smart eating habits: Having regular family meals Serve a variety of healthy foods and snacks Ensure your child is having breakfast Involving kids in the meal making process 1. Having regular family meals Family schedules can be hectic so making the time for family meals allows you as a parent to not only catch up with your kids but can allow your children to pick up good habits such as sitting down to eat a meal. This is a habit, which you would want to promote. Focusing on a meal allows your child to be less distracted therefore promoting satisfaction with their meal so your child is less likely to overeat and snack later on. Family meals also promote healthy eating, a child sitting at a table is more likely to eat vegetables and grains and less likely to snack on unhealthy foods. 2. Serve a variety of healthy foods and snacks The old saying ‘you are what you eat’ can also be applied to ‘you are what you buy’. Kids, especially younger ones, will eat mostly what’s available at home. Ensuring you have healthy snacks available in the household not only reduces the amount of unhealthy eating in the household but also promotes healthy eating. Making small changes in your children’s snacks can make a big difference. A good start is to slowly introduce whole foods in their diet. For example, replace white bread with wholemeal bread, potato chips with rice crackers, fruit drinks with water and chocolate with seasonal fruits. Even try and make your own sweet treats for the lunch box, like our Kids beetroot brownie stars on page 22. A lunch box with less processed foods and more whole foods is a great start. 3. Ensure your child is having breakfast In the morning, your child’s body needs to refuel for the day ahead after going without food for 8 to 12 hours during sleep. This is why breakfast is essential; skipping breakfast can make kids feel tired, restless, or irritable. There has been extensive research in Australia and overseas which has found that not having breakfast may reduce mental performance. Eating breakfast may aid children in learning, as they are able to pay better attention and are more interested in learning. So ensure your child is not skipping breakfast and is having a nutritious meal for breakfast daily. So, why not start your child’s day off with a nutritious breakfast for more energy and better attention levels? 4. Involving kids in the process of making a meal Most kids will enjoy deciding what to make for dinner or what to have for a meal. However if they were to decide on a meal, which is not appropriate, it does not mean you have to consider it. Talk to them about making choices and planning a balanced meal. Some might even want to help shop for ingredients and prepare the meal. In the kitchen, select age-appropriate tasks so kids can play a part in this and at the end don’t forget to praise the chef. Healthy eating for your children does not have to be a battle. Remember you’re the person who will have the most influence in your child’s life. Your nutritional decisions are the ones they will most likely continue with. Reference: 1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2012. Australia’s food & nutrition 2012. Cat. no. PHE 163. Canberra: AIHW.