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
Maintaining Healthy Blood Pressure The cardiovascular system, also commonly known as the circulatory system, consists of the heart, veins, arteries, capillaries and blood. These structures work together in circulating blood throughout the body while transporting oxygen, nutrients, hormones and waste products. The circulatory system has the vital role of maintaining blood homeostasis and the mechanisms which regulate this process are closely related to blood pressure. Blood pressure is determined by two factors: 1) the amount of blood your heart pumps, and 2) the amount of resistance to blood flow in the arteries. This results with a blood pressure reading of two numbers: the systolic and diastolic, in a measurement of millimetres of mercury (mmHg). The systolic (top) number shows the pressure in the arteries during heart beats while pumping out blood; and the diastolic (bottom) number shows the pressure in arteries during the rests in-between heart beats. Healthy blood pressure is less than 120/80 mmHg. Blood pressure naturally rises and falls throughout the day, however a consistently high force of blood flowing against arteries, causing circulatory resistance can result in high blood pressure. Prolonged high blood pressure may lead to a clinical diagnosis of hypertension, a common circulatory system condition and leading risk factor of cardiovascular disease. The National Health Survey of 2017-2018 indicated that 4.3 million people had high blood pressure and 2.6 million adults reported hypertension. Hypertension and high blood pressure are often termed ‘silent conditions’, as they can be present for many years without any signs or symptoms. When uncontrolled, further complications may arise and for this reason, it is important to regularly monitor blood pressure. There are five categories of hypertension: healthy, elevated, stage 1, stage 2 and hypertensive crisis. The progression of this condition can be caused by primary or secondary factors. Primary or essential hypertension is the most common type which develops gradually over many years with no direct cause, however it can be influenced by genetics, environmental factors, diet and lifestyle. Secondary hypertension has a rapid onset and tends to be more severe, occurring as a result of underlying health conditions. Risk factors of hypertension include age, gender, ethnicity, family history and pregnancy. The proportion of Australians with high blood pressure and hypertension shows a trend which increases with age. The prevalence also varies with gender, with 25% of men and 20% of women reporting high blood pressure. Additional contributing factors in the development of hypertension include: insufficient physical activity, being overweight, poor sleep quality, stress, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and an unhealthy diet.So what are some ways to support healthy blood pressure?Diet The DASH diet, short for ‘Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension’ is a nutritional program which aims to support healthy blood pressure. The DASH diet recommends a reduction of sodium, saturated fats, sugars and alcohol, while encouraging more vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, wholegrains, poultry, fish and low-fat dairy products. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, in 2015, 5.8% of Australia’s total burden of disease was attributed to high blood pressure and of this, 21% was due to diets high in sodium. Sodium can directly increase the risk of hypertension and based on national guidelines, it is recommended to restrict daily intake to 1,500mg – 2,300mg. Potassium has dual actions in hypertension, it helps to reduce the effects of sodium and also supports blood vessel health. The recommended intake of potassium is 2,800mg – 3,800mg daily and can be found in foods including: apricots, avocados, bananas, beans, raisins, prunes, spinach, mushrooms and potato. Calcium is a mineral required for healthy functioning of the cardiovascular system and heart. The recommended intake of calcium is 1,000mg – 1,300mg daily and food sources include low-fat dairy, seafood, collard greens, legumes, white beans, tofu and dried fruit. Magnesium supports cardiovascular system health and functions. The recommended daily intake is 255mg – 420mg and dietary sources include: pumpkin seeds, almond, spinach, cashew, and black beans. Other heart healthy foods: antioxidants and flavonoids i.e. berries; polyphenols i.e. dark cocoa chocolate; nitrates i.e. beetroot juice; fibre i.e. oatmeal; and omega-3 i.e. salmon. Other foods to avoid: sugars and fructose, refined carbohydrates, red meats, caffeine and processed foods. An unhealthy diet has been associated with high blood pressure and reports indicate Australians don’t consume enough from the five food groups. Lifestyle Statistics show that four in five Australian adults do not meet the national guidelines for physical activity and that 67% of adults are classified as overweight or obese. Being overweight places extra stress on the cardiovascular system, with studies linking excessive body fat to increased risk of high blood pressure. A healthy weight range as indicated by the Body Mass Index (BMI) scale, supports a healthy blood pressure. Weekly recommendations include 150 minutes of moderate physical activity. Stress is a contributing factor to elevated blood pressure, particularly when faced by a stressful situation. The release of hormones activates the body’s “fight or flight” response, causing blood vessels to constrict and the heart rate to increase. Stress management techniques such as mediation, deep breathing or yoga can help to manage stress and shield against the short-term onset of high blood pressure. Sleep regulates various function in the body, including blood pressure. During sleep, blood pressure usually decreases and having deprived or disturbed sleeping patterns may negatively impact the cardiovascular system health and increase the risk of high blood pressure. It is recommended to sleep 7-9 hours per night and to promote good sleep quality, bedtime routines are encouraged. A clean lifestyle can help to maintain healthy blood pressure and also general wellbeing. Studies show that excessive alcohol consumption and smoking can have a damaging effect on the cardiovascular system and increase the risk of hypertension. Reports from 2019 indicate that of Australians aged 14 and over, 11% are daily smokers and 5.4% are daily consumers of alcohol. Reducing to a moderate intake, or ideally cessation of smoking and alcohol consumption habits can help to support healthy blood pressure. To maintain a healthy blood pressure level, consider these modifiable risk factors of diet and lifestyle for a proactive approach towards supporting overall cardiovascular system health.
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
How To Boost Your Microbiome There is nothing like getting the best value for your dollar, right? Beneficial bacteria (and prebiotics) have that type of value. Whilst, many may assume that good bacteria (which are live microorganisms that live in harmony with their host) are only located in our digestive system and may only help with gut health. There are, in fact trillions which live within and on us as humans. It is now known that probiotics are not only important for our gut health, but for our whole body and organ systems from our immune system to our brain. Their role is truly unbelievable and extensive. So, if you want the best value for the biggest impact, why not try probiotics!How can we find them?Beneficial bacteria, also known as friendly or good bacteria are microscopically tiny. It is thought that our digestive system may contain over a 1000 species of beneficial bacteria and the microbiome can weigh up to 2kgs. A microbiome is an ecosystem within our body where our good bacteria live. A microbiome environment is an evolving and changing ecosystem, which many factors affect it to change. These may include: medication, illness, diet, surgery, chronic inflammation, mental health, stress and aging. As we grow and age our good bacteria change within us. We know that we have our own unique blend of beneficial bacterial species, which is unique to each of us, but the volume and new ones may come and go. Your unique beneficial bacterial make up is like your own finger print, special to you. We can consume many types of bacterium and viruses on a daily basis. Some of these types of microorganisms may be of help to us, whilst others are a hindrance. What are the best food sources of beneficial bacteria?Beneficial microorganisms can be found in many food types and they can be eaten on a daily basis to help increase or support your own beneficial bacterial colony. Many countries around the world have their own fermented foods types. Fermented foods naturally contain probiotics and can be found in foods such as: yoghurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, miso, natto, amazake, tempeh, apple cider vinegar to name a few. Whether, you include a small amount occasionally or eat these types of foods daily, you will be aiding your beneficial bacteria and its microbiome. Super boost your MicrobiomeWhilst fermented food products are traditionally the best way to get your daily dose. Let’s look at other food items which are newbies on the block!Probiotic Tea and coffee– These have been developed by the University of Singapore using special strains in the right environment to help them flourish and decrease their susceptibility heat damage. Food manufacturing companies are now using patented probiotic strains, which are added to the end of the manufacturing process. As tea is often drunk hot, these special patented probiotic strains are heat resistant and stable. Snack foods with probiotics- Food manufacturers are getting on the probiotic brand wagon. Whilst the amount of probiotic may vary somewhat, they are using a special strain, which can withstand commercial processing, heat and the addition of high sugars which may destroy natural beneficial bacteria content. We can see this emerging market in muesli bars, crackers, chocolate, cereals and “healthy” crisp. Remember, these items may have added probiotics but what about the unhealthy processed oils and sugar content that goes into making these snack foods? Kombucha- this is a classic probiotic “tea”. Traditionally known as a fermented tea and often drunk cold, it is a slightly fizzy and sour drink with an acquired taste. Looking at the whole pictureWe know that probiotics are important, but there is a bigger picture to consider. We must look at the environment in which they live in, the microbiome. Probiotics flourish in a healthy and vibrant microbiome. Again, including certain foods that can help our probiotic colony to stay around and benefit the rest of our body. Prebiotics are the missing link to having healthy gut flora and keeping the microbiome in good working order. Prebiotic foods include different types of fibres such as soluble and insoluble fibre. These prebiotics slowly break down and ferment their way along the digestive tract as they nourish the microbiome. They contain special fibre structures such as: inulin, fructooligosaccarides (FOS), beta glucan, arabinoxlyin oligosaccride (AXOS) and pectin to name a few. These prebiotics are found in foods such as: apples, watermelon, garlic, leeks, asparagus, chickpeas and other legumes, grapefruit, almonds, Slippery elm powder, wheat bran, oats and psyllium husks… the list can go on. Primarily, fruits, vegetables, herbs, some nuts and wholegrains are important for the microbiome and our friendly probiotics to thrive. Keeping it real!Stick with what you know and what you like. You may not like every fermented type of food out there, but find one you do like. If you really can’t stomach any of them, then consider taking a probiotic in a capsule or powder. Get one with strains that are suited to your health needs, whether it be your current health status or perhaps your age. The verdictSo, what is the verdict? Do you need to take a probiotic all the time?To be honest, it depends on your circumstances. The answer may be yes, if you are unwell, have a complex health history, poor diet or a family history of poor health. You may wish to just look at some food sources that contain probiotics and prebiotics. It’s always best to start to look at what you feed your body. Diet and nutrition are always important, remember to start slowly by introducing one or two types of foods first. Or perhaps, you are fit and well with no health issues. Then maybe taking a probiotic once or twice a year, or perhaps you already include beneficial bacteria containing foods into your daily diet. These microscopic friendly bacteria just may be your missing link to better health and wellness.
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
Turmeric- The ancient healing herb that’s now a modern wellness sensation. Traditional Ayurvedic and Chinese Medicine healers have been using turmeric as a natural remedy for centuries. Turmeric is now one of the most researched herbs in the world and thousands of studies have demonstrated its therapeutic benefits for a wide range of health conditions…particularly conditions which involve inflammation. Is turmeric a herb or is it a spice? It’s both. Turmeric is a perennial herbaceous plant from the same family as ginger. The underground stems, called rhizomes, are harvested, dried and ground into a powder, which is the golden spice used for medicinal and culinary purposes. What gives turmeric its health benefits? There’s a lot of confusion out there about how turmeric works. Turmeric isn’t just a homogenous powder. Like many natural remedies, it’s made up of a number of biologically active substances. Of these, there is a group of three compounds, called curcuminoids, which make up about 2% -5% of turmeric. They are curcumin, demethoxycurcumin and bisdemethoxycurcumin. Curcumin is the star of the trio. It’s the curcuminoid primarily responsible for turmeric’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Curcumin is a natural anti-inflammatory Inflammation can be triggered as the body’s way of defending and healing. But it can also run riot and cause pain and damage. Tissue damage, as in arthritis, causes the release of cytokines and sets off pro-inflammatory processes which lead to the production of inflammatory molecules such as thromboxane and prostaglandins. These inflammatory molecules are produced by enzymes such as phospholipase, lipoxygenase, 5-LOX and COX-2. Curcumin works by inhibiting some of these inflammatory processes and enzymes, and also by down-regulating the activity of some inflammatory molecules. And that’s good news if you suffer from mild osteoarthritis as it means that curcumin can relieve symptoms such as mild joint inflammation, pain and stiffness. Curcumin also helps improve overall joint health and maintain joint mobility. Curcumin also helps to protect cells from damage by free radicals Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that roam around the body and can damage cells through a process called oxidative stress. Oxidative stress has been linked to many health conditions, including poor joint health and function, so antioxidants are important to keep our bodies healthy. Learn more about the benefits of Turmeric for joint health, here. Curcumin works by directly scavenging free radicals as well as by inhibiting some of the processes that generate free radicals, so it helps to reduce the damage they can cause to body cells. Can you just eat turmeric powder to get the benefits of curcumin? Not really. Firstly, like we mentioned earlier, curcumin and turmeric are not the same thing. Curcuminoids make up only around 2-5% of turmeric rhizome powder, and of that 2-5%, curcumin makes up about 75%. So that means an average teaspoon of turmeric powder may contain less than 1% of the all-important curcumin. And that’s not the only reason that turmeric powder alone can’t really deliver much in the way of health benefits. To have a therapeutic effect in your body curcumin needs to get into your blood plasma. Once there it can circulate around the body and exert its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. But turmeric, and the curcumin in it, is very poorly absorbed by your body. It is naturally insoluble in water (just check out that yellow gunk at the bottom of your turmeric latte or tea!) Very little remains intact after it gets into the highly acidic stomach environment What does remain isn’t absorbed very well by your digestive system And what is absorbed gets broken down and excreted by your liver really quickly. This is known as low bioavailability…and to counteract it you would need to eat a LOT of turmeric powder or drink a LOT of golden lattes every day! You can see recipe here So consuming turmeric, or even straight curcumin powder, isn’t a very effective way of getting enough bioactive curcumin into your bloodstream. A better way to get the health benefits of curcumin The best way to get the health benefits of curcumin is by taking a high strength supplement which has been formulated for higher bioavailability.
HERBAL MEDICINE WELLNESSTurmeric- The ancient healing herb that’s now a modern wellness sensation.
Traditional Ayurvedic and Chinese Medicine healers have been using turmeric as a natural remedy for centuries. T...Read more
Sleep hygiene and regulating your child’s natural sleep/wake cycle On average, kids aged between 1-3 years of age should be sleeping 12-14 hours per day, and kids aged between 5-11 should be getting between 9-11 hours of sleep a night. Realistically, most kids on average, only sleep around 10 hours a night. Most children fall asleep easily, however, if you find your child struggles to get to sleep, wakes up feeling tired or wakes up frequently during the night, you may find that they have been exposed to too much blue light. What’s blue light, you ask? Natural blue light emitted from the sun during the day is beneficial to our circadian rhythm, our sleep/wake cycle. However, at night artificial blue light is usually emitted from sources such as digital devices, the TV, house lights, appliances, computers and street lights. All this exposure to artificial blue light can have detrimental effects on the health and wellbeing of your child. One modern health concern that we are all facing regarding our children and teenagers, is the impact that blue light is having on their sleep. The disruption that blue light has on sleep, has been extensively studied and documented. Melatonin, is the hormone responsible for inducing and ensuring we get a good night’s sleep, however, blue light disrupts the regulation and function of melatonin and turns the sleep inducing hormone off. Without a good night’s sleep, children and teenagers may wake up feeling tired and disinterested in their upcoming day. Continual lack of or disrupted sleep, has potentially been related to many health conditions and may affect their daily mental and physical health. Sleep hygiene and regulating your child’s natural sleep/wake cycle One of the best habits to teach your children, regardless of their age, to help improve the quality of their sleep is, the importance of practicing sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene is intimately related to the natural ebb and flow of your body’s circadian rhythm. Have you ever noticed how you seem to feel tired around the same time each day, or your body just won’t let you sleep in on a weekend? Well, this is known as the body’s natural circadian rhythm, which is governed by the natural cycles of the earth. When it naturally begins to get dark, our eyes send a signal to our hypothalamus, located in our brain, that it’s time to start feeling tired. The brain directs the pineal gland to start secreting high levels of melatonin, a hormone that induces a state of quiet relaxed wakefulness, making us feel tired enough to start preparing for sleep. When we wake up in the morning, daylight naturally hits the eye, which sends a signal to your adrenal glands, instructing the body that it’s time to wake up for the day. The adrenal glands produce cortisol, the hormone responsible for waking us up in the morning, and direct us to get out of bed and begin our day. One of the things that disrupts the circadian rhythm, is exposure to artificial blue light. Artificial blue light interferes with the body’s natural production and regulation of melatonin and stops its natural secretion. Melatonin is secreted a few hours before and during sleep as a natural response to prepare the body for sleep. As children and teenagers get home from school and spend time on their devices, the light they are exposed to makes their body think and respond like it’s the middle of the day and it is time to wake up and be alert. As a result, the natural sleep cycle is disrupted, the production of melatonin ceases and the exposure to light causes the body to switch from secreting melatonin, the hormone of sleep, to cortisol, the hormone that wakes us up. Melatonin is also an antioxidant, protecting the natural functioning of cells while we sleep, it supports the immune system and is essential for our general health and wellbeing. Top Sleep Tips Below are 5 tips to help minimise your children’s and teenager’s exposure to blue light and potentially improve the quality and quantity of their sleep; Practice sleep hygiene - Turn off all devices 2 hours before going to bed to help minimise melatonin suppression and allow the body to naturally prepare for sleep. Blue light blocking glasses - Invest in a pair of blue light blocking glasses to help protect the health of your eyes as well as to help regulate the natural rhythm of your body. We are constantly exposed to artificial light, disrupting our bodies natural ability to implement natural biological responses. Turn your phone screen to red. This unfortunately is not the same as night shift mode or low blue light. Go to https://www.blublox.com/blogs/news/ how-to-turn-your-iphone-screen-red At sunset turn down the lighting in your home, using lamps to create an ambience of soft lighting to help minimise your exposure to blue light emitted from light bulbs. Try to avoid disrupting the circadian rhythm as much as possible, trying to get your children to bed and up each morning at the same time. Listen to natures cues and minimise exposure to artificial light that can create all sorts of confusion in your body.
WELLNESSSleep hygiene and regulating your child’s natural sleep/wake cycle
Without a good night’s sleep, children and teenagers may wake up feeling tired and disinterested in their upcomi...Read more
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.
Suzanne's Back To School Guide For Parents: Kindergarten Ready My little boy is now five and is super keen to start big school, well Kindy. He tells people that he is going to sisters’ school, however it will now be known as his school, since sisters are going to high school and no longer the primary school. It is a shame that the girls miss being with their brother, but this cannot be helped. It might be an understatement to say he is keen; I think he could have started during the holidays and been very happy to be at school. One thing that I have been telling my little boy is that he needs to listen his teacher, keep his shoes on in class and to make sure that he eats his lunch. Without food my five-year-old gets very angry or otherwise known as hangry. What do Kindergarten kids need? A school bag Kindy kids don’t need to carry much but a bag makes taking what you need to school so much easier. Your child’s teacher will give them a reader to bring home to learn to read, kids might be borrowing books from the library and want to put the book in their bag and of course art that your little ones create and bring home. School Uniform Many schools require you to wear a school uniform. Since the girls went to the same school my little boy is attending, I have most of the uniform already, although in a variety of sizes. My five year is like the twins and he has a little bitty waist so needs a micro size, size 4 shorts still fall off him! I have managed to get some smaller shorts and hopefully these will be adequate for school. I did not want to have his shorts tied too tightly he couldn’t get them off to go to the toilet. Make sure that your child if small like mine can easily untie the drawstring of the pants or get some with just elastic if you can. A lunch box and drink bottle Make sure that the lunch box your child has they can easily open, and the same with the drink bottle. Create snackable lunch items, like sandwiches, fruit, crackers and cheese, yoghurt and more. It might not be a surprise but little people who start school get very overwhelmed and busy, so therefore don’t eat much or anything at all. When my twins were in Kindy, they came home nearly all week with a full lunch box and when I asked why they didn’t eat their lunch they said they got busy playing (Don’t be shocked if this happens to you). Making sure that you have bite sized snacks is a good idea. Change of clothes Kids who are starting school are probably happy to be wearing the school uniform and looking like a big kid, even though they are more grown up they are still little. Your child might not get to the bathroom on time, get wet at school, or just get involved in messy play and all this will require new and dry clothes. As I live in an area that has four seasons in one day, I make sure to pack long pants and a jumper in case the weather gets cold. Adding a plastic bag in case there are wet clothes is recommended, as you don’t want to get all the dry things wet too. A library bag Kids who wish to borrow anything from the library need to have a library bag, even if they don’t borrow immediately from the library this bag will come in handy if they have artwork to bring home. A hat Make sure your child has a hat. At schools there is a no hat no play policy, everyone has to be sun safe. Sunblock Have sunblock in your bag. You can get sunblock that attach on the side of your bag and then your child can put a bit on their face and arms during the day. Make sure to label everything! Kids just take off jumpers, leave water bottles and lunch boxes everywhere. When the twins were in primary the lost property basket was overflowing. You don’t want to spend more money if you don’t have to. To ensure that my boy is getting what he needs I like to add the Caruso’s Kids & Teens Probiotic to his smoothies and breakfast cereal. One thing that is easy to make is a breakfast smoothie with banana, honey, a teaspoon of the Caruso’s Kids & Teens Probiotic and milk. This will be an instant hit and one drink that the kids will drink that they have no idea is good for them. Starting Kindy is a big milestone and one that will exhaust your child, when they come home, they will be tired and out of sorts. Another thing to remember is that if you ask your child what they did at school 9 times out of 10 they will not remember, or tell you I don’t know, I forget or give you a very strange story that makes you wonder what they did all day. I am looking forward to how my little boy grows and learns at big school. My little one is ready for his next adventure and needs the stimulation of primary school, so he is now counting the days of when big school starts.
WELLNESSSuzanne's Back To School Guide For Parents: Kindergarten Ready
Back to school season is already upon us, and there’s likely no place you’re thinking about more than getting yo...Read more
Suzanne's Back To School Guide For Parents: Get High School Ready Starting high school is a major transition, my girls are very excited but also nervous about day one of grade seven. High school is a fresh start and one that means that the big kids of primary will now be the little kids of high school…. yes, you have to start all over again. A new school, new teachers, new subjects, and new kids to meet is a great adventure, and one that my kids are really looking forward to. A new school brings a new uniform and a colour that is different from their primary school, they are now wearing navy blue rather than bottle green, and according to the twins this is a major win. I have been telling my girls that high school is exciting and can be a shock to the system. A bigger school with more subjects and more work can be rather overwhelming. The twins have purchased their books, sorted everything for their pencil case and have labelled all items ready for day one. Even though they are nervous both kids are very excited to be starting the next chapter of their school lives. My tips are: To do a little bit of work on an assignment each day and make sure to do your homework. If you need help ask for it, there are teachers available and parents ready to help you get to grips with high school and what is expected. Do not freak out just take a day at a time, you will get there. When you start anything, you feel a little nervous, it is all natural. So how do you prepare your kids for starting high school? You will have more than 1 teacher In fact you might have 6-8 teachers or more. This is a massive change compared to having one main teacher and a few others for library or music. It will take you a while to get to know how each teacher works and what they expect from you as a student. Each teacher will give you work Different subjects will assign homework and assignments to do. Make sure you understand what is needed from each teacher and do a little work to get the assignments and work done. You need to be responsible for your scheduleNow you are a high schooler it is your job to keep on top of all your work and when it is due. No more doing everything the night before. If you have a diary you should enter the dates when assignments are due as well as tests. If you have the dates listed, you can work towards them in a strategic fashion. Each class will be held in a different classroom Each subject will be in a different classroom, so this means you need to go to each room. When you do move to each classroom make sure to take your bag with you. Follow your interests and pick subjects that you are good at If you are interested in drama and art then do more subjects that follow this path, or if you are into maths and science then you can do more of these subjects. In high school you can follow what you want to do. There are subjects that you must do (compulsory subjects) but there are some that you can pick (electives). Involve yourself in groups at school Find out what clubs and groups are available at your new school. Joining a club is a great way to meet friends and to get involved with likeminded people that share your passion for art, drama or computer programming. Make new friends Our local high school is for all the primary schools in the area, this means that the kids that you socialized with at your primary school is not your only choice for friends this year. This is your chance to meet a whole new batch of kids that are starting High School at the same time. Introduce yourself and invite new kids to play, do not just stick with your old groups. I know starting a new school is a bit scary and kids are nervous, but there are many kids feeling the same. You might not have met your best friend yet as they are from a different primary school. Be open to new experiences and embrace being with new groups that you do not know well yet. Make sure that you get enough sleep and eat well Starting high school is a big transition and one that comes with a lot things to learn and to take in. Your child will most likely be a bit overwhelmed and that is normal. Making sure that your child is getting enough sleep and eating well is essential, as it will help them cope with a busy schedule. Sleep also helps you recharge, lowers stress, helps you to concentrate at school, and allows you to be in a better mood. My girls are growing and need the extra support so I add Caruso's Kids & Teens Probiotic to their diet. It is either added to their cereal in the morning or in a milo smoothie, which is just milk mixed with Milo in the blender, plus the Kids & Teens Probiotic which “contains beneficial flora which can help to provide support for a healthy immune system.” The first day of high school cannot come soon enough for my girls, although they are nervous the main emotion is excitement and keenness to go to the next step in their lives. High school is a big change for kids and the first day is a massive milestone. My girls were over primary late last year and keen for their next challenge at school. It’s going to be interesting to see what they want to do at high school and how they enjoy it.
WELLNESSSuzanne's Back To School Guide For Parents: Get High School Ready
Do you have a child or teenager going into high school? Then you'll want to read this guide where Suzanne is sha...Read more
Tips to make back to school easy The morning routine getting kids ready for school can be crazy. Kids cannot find a shoe, someone is wearing the uniform that the other kid carefully put out the night before, children are getting ready at such a slow pace everyone will be late for everything, and the youngest is yelling at how he just wants to watch Bluey! It is so frustrating that when your children want to go somewhere, they get ready at breakneck speed, but if it is school drop off, they seem to be moving at a snail’s pace, in fact I think snails might move quicker than my three kids do. This year the twins off to high school and their brother off to primary school (he is starting kindergarten) and these schools are in different parts of town. The kid who is starting kindy cannot walk there or get a bus by himself so we will need to take him and pick him up, however his older sisters are able to get a bus and come home on their own. Even though the twins are more grown up I think the first day is something you will never get again, and I am dropping them off for the obligatory first day photos to probable protests by the girls about how it is so annoying, and I am embarrassing them. So how can you make the morning routine easier? Pack your bag the night before Make sure your school bag is packed with everything you need for day one. This way you are not racing around wondering where any item is, it is all secure and sorted in your school bag ready to start the new school year. Organise your lunch boxes & drink bottle the night before as well It is a good idea to pack your lunch box the night before too, this means that all you must do in the morning is have breakfast, a shower and get into your school uniform. Easy! HINT: Put juice poppers in the freezer and then use them as an ice block in the lunch box. When they melt the juice will be icy cold. Put out the clothes you going to wear to school Another item that is a good idea to organise the night before is your school clothes. Pick out what you will be wearing, shorts, t-shirt, jumper, hat, socks, and shoes. Then you are all sorted for your first day back. This is a good habit to get into as it makes the morning routine so much easier. Think about what day it is going to be tomorrow & what you will need for school Make sure you are thinking about what is happening on each day of school, do you need your library bag, or your apron for woodwork and protective goggles? Start thinking ahead and make sure you have what you need in your bag. You do not want to be the only kid without your book to do your work. Having a timetable easily seen on your wall is helpful as this can remind you easily of what is on each day. Make sure you have your travel pass (smartcard) for the bus or train If your child catches a bus or train make sure that they have their school travel pass on them. They do not want to get to the bus or train and find they don’t have it. If you are getting picked up know where to wait for Mum & Dad or another family member Make sure to tell your child when they start school where you will come and pick them up. If you have a dedicated spot, they will know to wait for you there. If you are running late notify the office and they will let your child know. When you come home from school what you do will impact your next day. When you get home unpack your bags and wash your lunch box and drink bottle. Do not leave any food in your bag. Take out any work that you need to bring home or notes you need to give to your parents. If you only have subjects on certain days take out the books that you will not need and pack your bag with the correct items for the next day at school. If you are in kindy you will need to make sure that your library bag is in your bag on certain days, as well as making sure your reader is in your bag for when parents and teachers listen to you read in class. Do the homework that has been given to you and if it is an assignment do a little bit. Kindy kids don’t get homework and learn through play and games. If your kindy kid has sight words to learn, work with them to understand them and know the words. This makes reading so much easier if you know your sight words. Once all kids have done some work you can then give them an afternoon snack. I like to give my kids some yoghurt and fruit, and yes, I add Caruso's Kids & Teens Probiotic to the yoghurt (if they have not had it for breakfast). It helps maintain gut health and wellbeing, so good for busy kids at school. Now you can relax and play in the garden, play with mates, read a book, play a computer game, or watch an episode of your favourite show. Downtime is essential and spending time playing makes you relax and recharged for another day of learning. I hope that these tips make your back-to-school morning routine easier and calmer.
Why is Gardening Good for Kids Any parent will already know that kids are attracted to mess, mud, water and getting extremely dirty. So, having the kids help in the garden will make them very happy, as they can get their fix of being messy and you can get some help planting and watering plants. A win for both parties, but you must clean your very eager helper afterwards. I have never been a parent that worries about dirt, but I know some that do. They freak out and race quickly to wash every trace of dirt of their child. However, dirt and the microbes that exist in it can be very helpful to your immune system. They are beneficial to make you stronger and more able to fight off infection. There are many benefits of gardening, and some are: Growing your own food Having a veggie garden in your backyard is helpful, it not only promotes healthy eating, but it makes things cheaper. If you are growing something you normally get at the shops all you need to do is to walk into the garden, pick it, wash it, and it is ready for dinner. The only cost is taking care of the plant and waiting until it is grown…basically time and a little bit of gardening. Easy really. Teaches kids about plants Gardening teaches kids about the different types of plants, how to care for them and the different seasons. Plus, how the different seasons affect the lifecycle of the plant. Helps with sensory development Children get to experience different textures of the plants, soil, and seeds. Seeing different shapes, flowers, colours, smelling flowers is a great learning experience as kids learn what scents go with what flower and plant. Teaches responsibility and patience Gardening is not something that happens overnight, waiting for a plant to grow from a seed can take a while. Children need to keep caring for their growing plant, water it, tend to it even when they cannot see any sign that things are changing. Exercise Helping in the garden allows kids to get a bit of exercise. Carrying soil, plants, and digging holes is a lot of work for little kids. Gardening also helps with hand eye coordination and can make writing easier when at school. Relieves Stress Gardening is a calm activity that allows everyone to relax and just be. The focus is on the task of caring for the plants and maintaining the garden. It is a nice change of pace in the fast-paced environment we are living in. Learn by doing Kids learn best by learning by doing. Putting what they have been told into practice allows children to really take in what they are being taught, as well as have fun giving it a go for themselves. Quality time with family Kids who garden with their family spend some good quality time just being with mum and dad or their brothers and sisters. This time allows the family to have some one-on-one connection and move at a slower pace. Another plus of gardening with the family is that you get outdoors, get some much-needed Vitamin D, and have fun together. It is all about connection to others and to the earth. To make sure that my little boy is in tip top health and ready to garden, I add Caruso's Kids & Teens Probiotic to his breakfast. It must give him a boost as he has been racing around like he is full of beans lately, and was very happy to be my gardening buddy. Some suggestions to help kids get involved in gardening: Give the kids their own part of the garden. It does not have to be big; it can be a few pots or a little area that is just for them. Having their own area for their little garden will allow a sense of ownership and you will see how keen they are to look after their part of the garden. Make sure that the tools for kids are lightweight and right for little hands. Involve older kids in decisions about the design of the garden and what plants you are planting. Start a worm farm – Creating a worm farm will show kids how essential worms are to gardens. You will see how much your kids blossom (yes, a planting pun) from gardening. They will grow (yes, another pun) in confidence, creativity, have learnt some science about plants and the environment and cooperated with others to work in the garden. Gardening is not just beneficial for kids it is also great for everyone, so I urge you to get out in the sunshine, plant something and enjoy the outdoors. Enjoy and Happy Gardening!
Adventure Clubs For Kids Joining a community association has so many benefits especially when the association is Scouts, and yes, I am biased. My twins have been involved in Scouts since they were eight years of age. They joined due to a friend at school being a Cub Scout. The girls are now twelve years old and they have moved up to Scouts and are loving every minute of what is offered by this amazing community group. You can join Scouts when you turn five and you start as a Joey Scout. You don’t need to join when you are five, you can join whenever you like. Scouts will welcome you no matter what level you are at, or skills you possess. “Scouts has been around for over 113 years” My nearly five-year-old is super keen to be like big sisters and join Scouts too! Scouting offers children an array of activities that build confidence, helps kids form friendships and teaches them useful life skills. I love the fact that Scouts Australia gives kids the opportunity to be outdoors and have amazing adventures. What Can You Do at Scouts? Hiking Camping Map reading Planning and preparation for hikes, camps and more Cooking Abseiling Canoeing, kayaking and water safety Learning about tying knots Learn first aid Learning to be a leader Teamwork Creating friendships Help and participate in the community Learn by doing STEM Activities Work towards goals and gaining badges (Each badge is different and requires different work to be done to attain each badge) Scouts can focus on their interests to work on badges that appeal to them. And lots more! Did you know that Scouts can even teach you to fly a plane! Yep, that is right, they can teach you to fly while you are a Scout. Scouts Air Activity Centre has been teaching Scouts to fly since 1972. They take kids up in planes so that they can experience what is like to be in a plane and also learn more about flying. There are also activity days that whole Scout groups can organise to share the cost of the plane. Kids now have so many distractions, and one of them is the mobile phone or the iPad. We are staring at screens on phones, screens on an iPad, and the television screen. Basically, staring at screens non-stop!When I was a kid I was always outside, either exploring or having adventures with my friends. I only came home when the sun was going down or my mum called us in for dinner.Scouts feels like it is a time before everyone got so obsessed with screens and technology. A time that values what it means to be outdoors. Showing kids that it is fun but also healthier to be at one with the environment and the outdoors.The twins have organised their own huge hike and shown Scout leaders that they can read and understand a map and where everything is, ensure that the group has the right things for the hike, helped other younger members and recently completed a leadership course. With all the adventure and activity the twins are involved with, I like to make sure that my girls stay healthy with Caruso's Kids & Teens Probiotic. Supporting my girl’s immune system allows them to be more active, stay healthier and have fewer sick days. The girls have also gained their 200km hiking badge (not done in one hike but all the hikes add up to gain this badge), and in fact they are close to hiking 230km so far. Scouts Australia have hundreds of groups in each state, just look for your area and pop into the local Scout Hall for a chat.If you want your children to have more outdoor adventure, then Scouts is a great option. You will notice how confident your child will become being a Scout, not only will they learn lots, they will also make new friends and so will you!
Getting The Family Outdoors Kids seem to be inside more and more. TV, phones, computers, school and homework. So how do you encourage kids to be outside and to connect more with nature? Take bikes to the park We are lucky that we live near two parks and can easily walk or ride our bikes to them. However, there is a park that used to be an old racetrack that is perfect for riding bikes and exploring the bush while we are there. It is super easy to drive to and take our bikes and then we can cycle around the racetrack, do the bush walk or even sit on the grass and look at the pond. Walk to our destination if it is close If we don’t have far to travel, I like to take the kids and walk there. Maybe we are going to the shops, or the movies (and yes, it is another indoor activity the movies, but if you walk there and walk back you get exercise and have an adventure all at the same time), walk around the block and explore different streets and places to have some fun. Take a ball when you go to the park I like to keep a ball in the car as this way I am ready for any park that we end up at. My little boy is keen on kicking the ball around and this way we can all play a quick game of soccer and everyone gets a bit of exercise too. Explore your local parks Have you been to every local park yet? If you seem to only go to one all the time, now is your time to visit another. When you get to your new park make sure to explore all that it has to offer, the play equipment, walks you can take, the views, and maybe have a picnic while you are there. Go to the pool or beach Taking everyone to the pool allows kids to burn off some energy swimming and playing, plus to practice some of the techniques they are learning in swimming class. If you are lucky enough to go to the beach you why not try body surfing, using a surfboard or other things like boogie boards. Simply walking up and down the beach is good exercise too, alongside having a bit of a swim. Create games to have more fun When my little boy and I go to parks we are always on the hunt for crystals and diamonds and also painted rocks. We have successfully collected diamonds (otherwise known as sparkly rocks). While we are searching for the mysterious diamonds, we are exploring our environment and walk and see more rather than just stay at the play equipment. You can create your own painted rocks to leave at parks too, and this way the family visits more parks and has more outdoor adventures. Bug and insect watching Are your kids fascinated by bugs? Do they love to find them in the garden? My little boy is fixated with slaters, lady bugs, cicadas, snails, ants and more. He has named a snail Maggie. Yes, we have a snail somewhere in our garden called Maggie. Since my little one is so taken with bug watching he has tried to bring them inside to live with him. Seeing bugs and insects in their natural habitat allows kids to learn more about animals and nature. Jumping in muddy puddles Peppa Pig really has a lot to answer for, but when you are a kid being in the rain and jumping in puddles is so much fun. Allowing kids to get dirty and experience mud, rain and racing around outdoors can be some of the best days as a kid. Not only are these fun things to do, but it is also good for your immune system to be exposed to different germs and experiences. Spending time outdoors is so good for you…in fact it is the best thing you can do. Scientists believe that breathing in fresh air can boost your white blood cells, improves your vision, allows you to get natural Vitamin D from the sun, keep fit and stay at a healthy weight, and also ensures you get a good night’s sleep. I like to make sure that my kids stay healthy, adding Caruso's Kids & Teens Probiotic to their diet means that I know they are getting what they need. Probiotics help with gut health and assists with healthy digestion and is a great addition to being in nature. Being outdoors makes you calmer and a happier person, so if you are not feeling great, getting outside is the best medicine. I hope that this list gives you some great ideas to enjoy the outdoors with the family and be healthy together.
The Ultimate Guide From Stress to Unwind There cannot be a stressful crisis next week. My schedules are already full! – Henry Kissinger Do you feel like this is not just a week, but every day of your life? Stress! So many people are currently feeling like they’re sailing through turbulent seas, on constant watch and anxiously awaiting the unknown. We’re all experiencing the same thing! 2020, has been a year filled with uncertainty, confusion, fear, change and so many unexpected emotions in comparison to other historical events such as famine, world wars and the Spanish Flu that killed 20-50 million people that lasted 2 years. Stress is a natural part of life, however, this year it has been experienced on a global scale. Reminding us that we all respond and cope with to stress in different ways. In this guide we will look at: What is stress? The effects of stress and how it can affect your body, mind and psyche and how do we deal with it? What techniques can we use to help us cope with stress or maybe it’s best to just go with the flow? What is stress? Stress is a biological and psychological reaction that occurs in the body in response to a trigger. Stress can have both positive or negative effects on the body. A trigger can be anything from receiving sad news, being involved in an accident, relationship conflict, running late for an appointment, financial stress, loss of a job, or the opposite, a happy event, like good news, a wedding, a lotto win or sale of a house. Different circumstances can trigger different responses to stress, the key thing is, how you choose to respond to the circumstance will determine the severity or effect of your stress response. A negative stress response can start from an idea, an emotion or a perception we may have about an event which may be based on past experiences. For example, swimming is an enjoyable fun experience for many, however some may find swimming scary or stressful because they may not know how to swim, have fear of the water or perhaps they had a negative past experience around water. Remember, we are all different and perceive and experience the world differently. What one person perceives as stressful, may not be such an issue for another. How our body is changing and adapting to stress Our body goes through biochemical changes to cope with stress and to moderate its response. The body will release hormones to help you physically adapt. Neurotransmitters, such as cortisol and adrenaline are hormones that race through the body to areas and organs such as the lungs, heart and muscles in response to the “fight or flight” response. Get ready to fight or run! Adrenaline and cortisol can flood the body extremely fast and you can feel the effect of the rush in as little as two minutes. Did you know the body does not know the difference between current or past stress? So, if you think about a stressful past event, your body will respond as if it’s happening today, right now. Our memories and thoughts can trigger our body into a stress response, by simply thinking about it! The body will often perceive a stressful incident to be short lived or a temporary experience. During the fight or flight response, our adrenaline and cortisol levels rise quickly to prepare the body for a response. The adrenaline surge only lasts for up to one hour, numbing pain receptors in the body, in anticipation of running away from danger and preventing feeling the pain from a potential injury while fleeing or fighting. However, in today’s current climate, stress is not a short lived experience, as is naturally intended. It is an ongoing persistent addition to life. Often termed, chronic stress, it is felt by many and its biological consequences can have a negative impact on our health in the long run. Chronic stress compromises the body’s natural ability to produce those key hormones involved in the stress response. Over time, your body’s attempt to keep you in a state of balance, begins to decline and it may start to produce different symptoms to help your body adapt to the ongoing exposure to stressful events. From a mindful perspective, this is simply your body’s way of bringing your attention to yourself. Some of the additional symptoms you may start to experience are: restless sleep, inability to fall asleep, headaches or daily physical pain in areas throughout the body. A classic scenario may be the return of old injuries or symptoms. Psyche power We may be able to grapple with the idea of physical stress in our body, but we cannot completely understand the consequences of stress without acknowledging the psyche, which can also be called the spirit or the soul. Now, do not lose faith and think this is all a bit “airy fairy”, the impact that stress has on our mind and spirit has been extensively studied for decades. We may disregard this aspect of our health and think it’s not important, but in many cases, the effect of stress on our psyche can be harder to cope with, than physical stress. This type of stress can be intangible and may not be physically seen, but it is reflected in our emotional state. Whilst we have discussed our stress hormones kicking in, in response to stress, these hormones also affect our nervous system and brain chemicals. In short, our stress hormones directly affect our sympathetic nervous system to help ramp things up during fight or flight, and also affect the parasympathetic nervous system, when trying to restore balance in the body and mind, whilst restoring a state of calm. However, when this emotional imbalance does not relinquish and resolve, our psyche or soul can potentially feel lost. You may start to feel anxious, nervous, low in mood, sadness, grief, inconsolable, feel constant worry or racing thoughts or simply just lost and feel an emptiness that you can’t explain. These feelings may go hand in hand with the physical signs of stress. But our soul and emotions need to be cared for and acknowledged just like our physical body does. Just remember, life is never a stable constant journey, it is always changing and our body and mind are always trying to make our life a smooth and easy ride. The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another – William James Why do people get stressed? Stress can affect everyone differently and as we discussed in part 1, what may affect one person may not necessarily affect another. We accept and acknowledge that “stress” is inevitable and part of life, but also remember there are positive and negative forms of stress. 1. Control Less Two things that determine how we are affected by stress, are our reactions and responses. Some people may have a greater reaction or response to a situation than others. Many situations in life are often beyond our control, and we need to effectively determine what we can and cannot control in life, in order to keep our body’s natural stress response healthy. A forced effort to try to “keep in control” can increase your response to any stressful event or incident. Accept and acknowledge that some decisions and events are often not in your control and don’t require you to make a choice! This does not mean that you relent, give in or become complacent, it can be an opportunity for you to focus on how you can make a positive impact. Let’s look at the most recent event affecting us all. The current COVID 19 pandemic, whilst you may not be able to make a global impact, you can take action in your immediate environment and with your close family and friends. Some things you can do to make your situation better: Reach out: Check on family and friends via phone or email, make a meal and leave it at their door, make sure you are eating well and practicing government guidelines, relevant to your state when you are out and about. Don’t think about how bad things are or that we are in a dire situation, take action and think about ways you can make your or someone else’s day a little better. Present moment - Live in the moment, do not contemplate the “what if” or “could be” or “what about the future”.These anticipated thought patterns can only elevate your stress, over an event or scenario that may never happen! Focus on the now and present moment. Take a minute, an hour or one day at a time. In this way, you will feel calmer and feel a sense of self-control. 2. Self-Care You may cringe at the thought of someone mentioning self-care or putting your own needs first. You may be used to putting your needs to the side and putting the needs of others first. However, this is an opportunity to put yourself first, especially when you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious or stressed. You have to ask yourself, “How can I care for others, when I cannot care for myself?” When people demand your attention and time, and you’re feeling overwhelmed, you won’t be able to give much of yourself. You may start to feel tearful, tired, exhausted, anxious and physically drained. These are all symptoms indicating that you need to acknowledge, that you may need time for yourself. Does this sound familiar? I am sure you are nodding. How can you care for yourself with ease? Do what you love – Read a book, take a walk, do some gardening, watch your favourite movie, have a sleep in, take a bath or resume an old hobby. The list can be endless. Deep breathing – The power of the breath is so underrated! We take breathing for granted, something that we do without thinking. However, you can take your breathing to another level by practicing deep diaphragmatic breathing. Doing 3-5 slow deep breaths (in through your nose and out through your mouth) can reduce blood pressure, reduce cortisol and adrenaline (those stress hormones) and calm the mind. You can do it anytime and anywhere! Journal writing – Daily writing in a book or note pad (also known as automatic writing) is another powerful way to get those persistent and worrying thoughts out of your head and onto paper. Nobody needs to see these words, nor do you have to re-read them. You can write about anything that is troubling you, even if you think it is minor. There is no judgement on what you write. Self-talk- Believe it or not, you are your own worst critic. When you are feeling stressed, you may often berate yourself on how well or not, you deal with something. How many times in a day do you tell yourself, your stupid, an idiot, dumb, not worth it or can’t do it! Endless, right! You probably don’t even realise it. This type of negative self-talk only affirms your self-worth, or lack of it, as well as diminish your self-belief. It can make you feel down, anxious, low and less likely to cope with stress. Take the time to be kind to yourself. If you are struggling to do something, just try again and tell yourself you can do it and it takes time. Be kind to yourself, because you are worth it! Nourish your body – Your body thrives on foods that make you feel good. Eat foods that make you feel nourished. Eat a variety of vegetables, fresh fruits and proteins. There is nothing as comforting as warm vegetable or chicken soup or your favourite meal. Let someone else make something for you. 3. Gratitude and Appreciation How many times in a day do you appreciate the little things in life? Being thankful for what is, can go a long way to reduce the current stress you may be under. Rather than dwell on what is not, take the time to be thankful and grateful for what is. Apply appreciation to yourself, on a job well done or being grateful that you got through the day. Being grateful or appreciative does not have to be a grand gesture, it may simply be a small gesture of kindness that can make all the difference. Be grateful to those close to you, give appreciation to that person who you rang today, your partner making dinner, a child picking a flower from a garden and giving it to you, or even someone showing you affection. Being grateful or appreciative can help you feel more positive, improve your mental wellbeing, increase longevity and build stronger relationships. Try being grateful or appreciative every day, no matter how small. A simple Thank you today can go along way for someone tomorrow. 4. Mindful Relaxation When things are overwhelming and you have racing thoughts or too many decisions to make. That is the time to stop. Mindful relaxation is a method of observing your thoughts in a nonjudgmental way. How do you get there? There is no bus, train or someone to take you there. Only you can get there. The following suggestions may help. Sensory Creation is a method of engaging all your senses to calm the mind. Ideal for any child who can feel overwhelmed and heightened by their surroundings or their environment, but can be used by adults too. What 5 things can you see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you hear, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you taste? By the time you have acknowledged and engaged all your senses with these tasks, your mind will be calm and racing thoughts should have dissipated. Meditation is a wonderful way to gently sit and observe your mind and thoughts. Whilst closing your eyes and concentrating on your breath, flowing in and out, simply observe and let go of any passing or racing thoughts. Try not to engage in your thoughts or get side tracked by them, simply focus on your breathing if your mind starts to wonder. Meditation is known for its ability to help ease worry and calm the mind. Physically, when you slow down your breathing, it may help reduce blood pressure and reduce physical pain. There is no right or wrong way to do it. Do it for as long as you feel the need to. Music comes in many styles and rhythms, which can benefit a stressful mind. Certain styles of music can reduce beta brain waves which can contribute to stress and rapid thoughts and increase more calming slow alpha brain waves which can calm the mind. There has been research and study done on the effects of music being played in operating theatres. The music has been shown to help a surgeon focus during an operation and has also benefited the patient by aiding in a faster recovery. Instrumental soothing music will increase your alpha brain waves and may help to calm and relax a worried mind. Your stress may be constant or transient, but be comforted by the thought that in today’s current global challenge, you are not alone. The road may be long and difficult but there are blue skies and sunshine ahead!
How to stop emotional eating Stop! Are you looking for just a little something sweet to help you through your day? How many times have you used this excuse, to turn to food to make you feel better? Well, you may be an emotional eater! Food represents so much more than what it is. We use food to provide connection, social interaction, rewards, punishment and attachment. However, food is just food. Food provides our body with nutrients to help us live, grow and thrive. Many of us Live to Eat rather than Eat to Live. From a young age, many of us learn that food is connected or linked to our emotions. How many times does a parent or carer give a child, chocolate as a reward or restrict food, as punishment? These types of associations can instil in us, a negative emotional relationship with food which can affect us greatly later in life. What is emotional eating? There are many reasons why we develop emotional attachments to food. Some of these reasons may include; stress, trauma, grief, self-sabotage, conditioned behaviour and the list can be endless. Emotional eating, is using food to create a positive response in our body to negate or attain a better feeling. However, using food does not fill an emotional need, it will not replace the feeling you are trying to achieve, but can potentially compound a problem, because you may also feel guilty later that you over ate. When you are upset, stressed or low in mood, there is a decrease in the good feeling brain chemical, serotonin. To make you feel better an increase is needed. Foods that are high in sugar/carbohydrate can temporarily increase serotonin production in the brain, unfortunately, the effects are short lived. We may feel better or have a sense of elation for only just a short moment, but we cannot replace long term problems with instant gratification. The negative long term effects occur when dependency develops, when we may be chasing that “good feeling rush” and we increase in weight or other health problems occur as a result of the regular intake of eating high sugar/ carbohydrate foods. Am I an emotional eater? If you are not sure if you eat food to help you fill that emotional void, then try answering the following questions: Do you eat when you are upset or stressed? Is food your comforter or friend? Do you reward yourself with food? Do you eat to make your feelings go away, or to make yourself feel better? Do you feel out of control when you eat? Do you eat when you are not hungry or over eat? If you answered yes, to three or more questions, then you may be an emotional eater. How can I stop my emotional eating? This can be a loaded question! If you think your emotional eating is long term and connected to more traumatic emotional issues, then consider: Getting professional help - Seek professional help from a counsellor or support groups like, Over Eaters Anonymous if you feel that you have more deep seated emotional issues. Eat only when you are hungry- Listen to your body and only eat when you are hungry. Our satiety centre is located within our brain not our stomach! Our body produces a hormone called leptin to tell us when we are full and no longer require food. Listen to your body when it signals that it’s had enough. Mindful eating – When you do eat, make it more of a ritual and sit down to eat. Eating with good company, friends and family can make your meals more meaningful. Keep a diet dairy – Record what food you eat in a day, this may help you to identify what foods you are eating and you can also record how you feel when you eat certain foods or what feelings are triggered when you eat. Self-care- Often a difficult one for many to do. Try being kind to yourself. Do something for yourself, that you haven’t done in a long time or take some time for yourself. You deserve it! Exercise- Is the serotonin elevator! Being active and moving, helps to increase your ‘feel good’ factor. Do something that will be fun and that you enjoy. Need Comfort – Get some comforting words from a friend or a family member. Ring a friend who will listen, understand and has time for a chat. Meditation and relaxation – Learn to do mindful meditation. Meditation can really help to calm the mind and evoke a sense of relaxation and control. Incorporate deep breathing in your meditation, trying to maintain a daily practice, will help minimise stress and clear the mind. Happy rewards – If you feel like you need a reward, then give yourself one. Reward yourself in other ways, rather than with food such as: Treat yourself to a new book, a massage, meet up with a friend or go on a shopping trip. Whilst, you may think that food has control over you, it does not. Remember food has no emotions, it cannot talk, hug, support or fill that emotional void. Follow some of these ideas to help you on the road to being emotionally free from food. Health Disclaimer: Seek professional help, from a counsellor or a support group who may help with long term emotional or traumatic issues.
How to support your kids during exams Have I studied enough, what if I forget something, what if they ask me something I haven’t reviewed? Sound familiar? Whether we are children, teenagers or adults, we all experience the same fears, adrenaline rush, pressure and doubt, when preparing for an exam. Preparing for a speech in primary school or preparing for our H.S.C in Year 12, triggers the same biological responses within the body, in accordance to the pressures experienced before and during exams. The main difference determining your experience, is your age! Each developmental point in our educational journey comes with its own pressures. In today’s article, we’re going to focus on teenagers and young adults, and explore some tips that can support your kids during this time. There’s a lot going on when you’re a teenager or young adult. Lots of factors can influence how you feel and experience your world. There are raging hormones, gender curiosity, changing body image, acne, career options, jobs, parents, alcohol, socialising, friends, you name it, it’s happening! Too much! Add onto that, EXAMS, and we have a recipe for additional mental, emotional and physical stress. Below are some tips that may help teenagers and young adults, regardless of their age, keep it together during these challenging times. Sleep- This is one of the most important habits to get yourself into. Aim to get 8-10 hours of sleep per night. Getting a great night’s sleep before an exam will make the difference between, being able to retain information, concentration and interest in your exam. If you don’t have a good night’s rest, you may experience, brain fog, feeling unmotivated and sluggish and fatigue. Water- Stay hydrated! Kids, teenagers and young adults should aim at drinking at least 6-8 glasses of water per day. Signs of dehydration include; feeling tired, thirsty, hungry, lightheaded, dark and smelly pee. Avoid stimulants- Teenagers and young adults are exposed to a variety of stimulants these days. Energy drinks, caffeinated drinks and alcohol. It’s easy to reach for stimulants when you’re feeling tired and need an instant energy buzz! The truth is, they’ll make you feel good for about 5 mins and then you’ll start to feel the downward effects of caffeine. Devices- Practice sleep hygiene. Stay off all devices 1-2 hours before going to bed. Blue light interferes with melatonin, which is a hormone that is naturally involved in your body’s natural sleep cycle and helps improve our sleep quality and quantity. Eat well- Leading up to your exams and during your exams, eat a good variety of foods to help support your nervous system and enhance your body’s ability to produce energy. Try to consume fresh produce, eat regularly and keep your portions small. Be organised- To help minimise unnecessary stress, make sure your child knows the location of the exam and is equipped with everything they need during the exam, like; Pencils, calculators, pens, paper etc Quiet space- Providing a quiet space for your teenager to study and prepare is important. A dedicated noise free zone allows your teenager to feel safe and relax into the intention of the space. Study breaks- This is a great habit to teach from an early age. Taking a study break every 2 hours and encouraging them to get up and move, breathe, stretch and have a change of scenery, will reinvigorate their body and mind.
Pathway International* lobby Osteoporosis Australia for recognition of Vitamin K2 as important for bone health RE: NATIONAL STRATEGIC ACTION PLAN FOR OSTEOPOROSIS 2019The initiative led by Osteoporosis Australia and backed by the Department of Health is a great step forward in addressing the various challenges and financial burden around Osteoporosis, and educating the public about awareness and the focus on prevention at all stages of life. A nationally coordinated and government backed Strategic Action Plan allows Australians to begin taking those necessary steps in the right direction. The plan calls for input from a wide range of partners, including public and private healthcare sectors, researchers, academics, and industry. Pathway International’s involvement is from industry and extends to include clinical data from researchers and academics. Pathway’s focus is on the first part of the challenge - Priority 1: Increase awareness and education with a focus on early prevention. This is where an education focus on vitamin K2 is required. Vitamin K2 puts calcium into balance by directing calcium to the bones. Vitamin K2 (menaquinone-7) together with calcium and vitamin D3 is an optimal combination for bone health. Supplementation at an early age and throughout the life cycle is vitally important. Vitamin K2 offers key benefits for bone and heart health and the Western diet lacks this essential vitamin. There are many clinical studies on K2 over the last 20 years.There are currently more than 60 complementary medicines available on the market from many recognised brands, yet the public awareness for K2 is way behind that of D3. This is the perfect time for Australia to take the lead in this area by including Vitamin K2 as another key ingredient in the “increase awareness and education with a focus on early prevention” part of Priority 1. While the Action Plan only includes Calcium and Vitamin D3, Pathway International’s Wayne Coote has highlighted the importance of the emerging science around the perfect pairing of Vitamins D3 and K2 which together help regulate the calcium balance and utilisation in the body. “Caruso’s Natural Health has a K2 + D3 softgel capsule product, and there are a few other brands in market. It would be timely for healthcare professionals to be made aware of, and educated around the benefits of Vitamin K2, either alone or in combination with D3, in order to recommend their customers and patients to take K2 in addition to calcium and/or D3” Mr Coote said.*Pathway International is a privately owned Australian company that was established in 1995 to supply key ingredients to the complementary medicine, personal care, food and beverage, pharmaceutical and veterinary industries in Australia and New Zealand. Pathway International supplies specialty healthcare ingredients to vitamin and supplement sponsors such as Caruso’s Natural Health for their Vitamin K2 and D3 formula amongst others.This medicine may not be right for you. Read the label before purchase. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, worsen or change unexpectedly, talk to your health professional. Vitamin supplements should not replace a balanced diet.
NUTRITION WELLNESSPathway International* lobby Osteoporosis Australia for recognition of Vitamin K2 as important for bone health
The initiative led by Osteoporosis Australia and backed by the Department of Health is a great step forward in a...Read more
Should I Be Doing a Detox? 'Detox’ is a loose term that is used quite frequently amongst the health-conscious, but what does it actually mean? Our bodies are already well equipped with the appropriate mechanisms to filter out waste. The liver and kidneys are the two major organs involved in detoxification. The body’s largest organ, the skin, also helps to eliminate waste products through perspiration. So what makes us think that we might need a detox?While our bodies generally do a great job eliminating waste products from our system, we may still feel like we need a little help from time to time. Modern lifestyles, stress and poor dietary choices can take a toll on our body, and our natural elimination channels may become sluggish and need a little help now and then. How do you know if detoxing is for you? Detoxing isn’t about starving yourself or depriving your body of food. A healthy detox is about taking the load off your digestive system by nourishing it with healthy foods and eliminating those foods that put a strain on our system. Healthy eating is the key to a healthy body, every cell in our body is made up of all that we eat and drink on a daily basis. We all know that in order to build a strong, well functioning body, we need to consume a nutritious diet, however, sometimes it may feel that even though we are eating healthy foods, getting enough exercise and drinking enough water, we just don’t feel as healthy as we should. Social engagements, work commitments or stress can use up our time and energy and our diet may begin to suffer along the way. Sometimes our body may give us subtle signs that it needs a little attention, or perhaps even a detox. Digestive symptoms are often a telltale sign that we may benefit from a detox. Bloating after meals, reflux or excess wind can be indicators that the digestive system is not quite working effectively. When food is not thoroughly digested, it can stay in the gastrointestinal tract longer than it should, encouraging a buildup of gas and waste which may cause pain and discomfort. Constipation may be another sign that our digestive system is not functioning at its best, chronic constipation can also upset the delicate balance of good bacteria in our gut, often creating further digestive symptoms. The condition of our skin can often be a visual indicator of how well our elimination channels are working. Persistent breakouts, dry, oily or rough skin can often be an indicator that we may benefit from a detox. Good gut health is important for great skin and our skin often reflects what’s going on inside, so if our skin isn’t looking as good as it should, chances are our insides may need a little help. Can anybody do a detox? Although everybody can benefit from improving their diet, detoxes aren’t for everyone. If you have current health issues or are on medication, it’s best to consult your health professional before you start. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, this is not the time to detox, speak to your health professional about dietary advice that is suitable to your needs.
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.
What is K2+D3 & Why It's Important For Your Bones Did you know that bones make up only 3-5 % of your body? Bones are vital and important structures to keep us sturdy and upright. Our bones are made up of about 65% calcium, a mineral found throughout the body, however mainly in the bone.However, calcium is not the only nutrient that your bones need.There are other nutrients your bones need to help keep them strong and sturdy such as vitamin K2 and vitamin D3.Vitamin K2This is a fat-soluble vitamin that is often overlooked for bone health but plays such a critical role. Vitamin K2, is a member of the Vitamin K family. There are two primary nutrients in the vitamin K family, vitamin K1 and vitamin K2. Vitamin K2 is not to be confused with vitamin K1, which is found in dark green leafy vegetables and plays a role in blood clotting.Vitamin K2 has a different role altogether, by supporting calcium absorption in bones and supporting healthy cardiovascular system function. It is also known as a menaquinone of which there are two derivatives, MK-4 and MK-7. Vitamin K2 is naturally found in fermented foods which are often part of Asian or Eastern European diets but not commonly eaten in Western-style diets. It can also be found in animal foods and to a certain extent, vitamin K2 can be produced by the bacteria in our gut.Vitamin D3Vitamin D3 (Colecalciferol) is also a fat soluble vitamin like vitamin K2. Vitamin D3 is lovingly known as the “sunshine vitamin” because your skin produces vitamin D in response to sunlight. However, like vitamin K there are a few substrates which include vitamin D1, D2, and D3. Your body’s ability to produce vitamin D greatly depends on a number of factors. The earth tilt and latitudes either below or above 33° diminish the skins ability to produce any vitamin D. The addition of sunscreens, aging and darker skin tones also hinders your ability to produce vitamin D via the sun.How do these vitamins help with bone health?Vitamin D helps with calcium and phosphorous (another mineral important for bone health) metabolism by increasing absorption of these minerals in various ways. Firstly, via enhancing dietary absorption in the digestive system, secondly via increasing kidney re-absorption (calcium) and finally by activating bone reabsorption.In the bone tissue vitamin D3 stimulates osteoblastic cells (cells which develop in bone tissue) to produce osteocalcin. Osteocalcin is a protein which binds calcium and incorporates it into the bone. Osteocalcin is dependent on Vitamin K for its activation.In simple terms, vitamin D help stimulate osteoblastic cells to produce osteocalcin, Osteocalcin is then activated by Vitamin K2. The activated osteocalcin then forms a complex with calcium which is transported and incorporated into the bone matrix. Vitamin K2 and Vitamin D3 therefore work together to increase the metabolism of calcium in the bones, enhance bone mineralisation, promote bone mass density and improve bone health.So, now we can see that calcium does not work alone and whilst, we may think we can easily increase our bone health by eating or drinking more calcium dense products, we need to think of calcium’s vital co-factors to support optimal bone health - it is more than just about calcium!
How To Maintain Healthy Habits We’ve all been there, we make grand plans to improve our health or fitness levels and unfortunately, somewhere along the line, we get a little off track. We may buy new exercise equipment, expensive hi-tech watches or the latest kitchen gadget all with the intention of somehow bettering ourselves, only to leave it all collecting dust two weeks later.So why is it so hard to keep up our healthy habits, even when we start with so much enthusiasm and the best of intentions? Sometimes our reasons for making changes can be based on feelings of guilt or fear, rather than coming from a positive place. Sometimes we may feel that we ‘should’ do something rather than making changes which are genuinely self-motivated. Sometimes we may just take on too many changes at once, which can quickly overwhelm us.Start with small changesNot every change we make for the better needs to be monumental, nor does everything need to be changed at once. Want to start eating more healthily? Perhaps start with small changes such as preparing a healthy lunch for work, rather than taking the easy option of buying unhealthy foods from the food truck or café down the road. Even small changes such as skipping dessert or replacing soft drinks with water can make a huge difference and are much more manageable than a sudden, complete diet overhaul. Focusing on achieving small goals can often help keep us on track to get to our long term goals.Set clear goals and practical ways to achieve themBe specific about your goals. Wanting to eat better or get more exercise is great, but try to create well defined, achievable goals and work out what steps you need to take in order to achieve them.Want to lose weight or tone up? Why not join a gym and use the on-site personal trainer to help plan a personalised workout routine, based on your fitness goals? Don’t just turn up, jump on a machine and expect results, plan for your success.Something has come up and you can’t get to the gym? Have a plan for when life gets in the way, because it will. A plan B gives you options, rather than excuses and keeps you headed in the right direction to achieving your goals.Have realistic expectations and be prepared to forgive yourselfWe all tend to start out full of enthusiasm and with big plans, but life can often get in the way. Some days we may not be feeling well, work or family commitments may need to take priority at times and we need to be ok with this. We can’t control everything that happens around us but that doesn’t mean we must go down a shame-spiral just because we missed a few sessions at the gym or had a piece of birthday cake. We can control how we deal with disruptions to our plans by simply getting back on track when we can. Choose not to let distractions derail your progress.Hang in there!When it comes to making long term life changes, it’s important to maintain momentum in the short term. Small, positive changes can support us along the way, helping to gradually build long-lasting lifestyle habits. Remember, try not to get overwhelmed by how far away your goals might seem. Plan for success by having a plan B for when life throws you a curveball, but most importantly, keep moving forward.
Mineral Bath Ideas Mineral baths have long been enjoyed for their relaxing and rejuvenating properties. Taking the time to relax in a warm bath is surely one of life’s simple pleasures. The ritual of bathing goes way back in time from naturally formed rock pools to steamy thermal mud baths.The health benefits of mineral baths have been known since the millennia. Historically, mineral baths have been enjoyed the world over, with a long list of purported benefits including relief from joint pain, sore muscles, stress relief and everything in between.While the chaos of everyday life may make showering a more time-efficient way of getting clean, a good long soak in the bath when time permits, is a cheap and easy way to escape the daily pressures of our lives, if only for a little while.So how can you recreate a relaxing, therapeutic bath in the comfort of your own home? Read on to discover how you too can experience the benefits of a relaxing, therapeutic bath, tailored to your own personal needs.To get started, you’ll need a few ingredients.Firstly, get your hands on either Epsom salts or magnesium chloride flakes. Epsom salts are not actually a salt, but rather, magnesium sulphate. Magnesium is great for easing sore muscles and has a soothing effect on our nervous system, so it’s great for stress and tense muscles.Magnesium chloride flakes are available in most health food stores and pharmacies. Some would argue that magnesium chloride is superior to Epsom salts, however, both contain magnesium, so whichever form you can find will still offer the great benefits associated with magnesium.Magnesium is well known for its muscle-relaxing properties, it’s also great for cramping and muscle spasms so it makes an essential addition to a therapeutic soak.Another ingredient to include is Pink Himalayan salt. Pink Himalayan salt is full of trace minerals making it a great addition for a DIY mineral bath experience. You can find Pink Himalayan salt in the spice aisle in the supermarket or health food stores, look for the salt with the lovely pink hue.Start with a basic mix: 1 cup of either Epsom salts or magnesium chloride flakes Chosen Essential Oils ¼ cup of Pink Himalayan salt Combine ingredients in a bowl and then add the suggested oils in the recipes below. Mix well and add to a warm bath, lock the bathroom door and relax for at least 20 minutes. Bliss……Rest and relaxation mixLavender oil is well known for its relaxing properties and is a skin-friendly essential oil. It’s also quite an easy oil to find in stores as it is so popular. You may even have some Lavender growing in your garden, feel free to throw a handful of fresh blooms in the tub too if you wish.Chamomile and Lavender go hand in hand when it comes to relaxation. Check your local health food store for some Chamomile tea and maybe add a tea bag or two to the bath water. Add the following to the basic mix and feel your body gently ease into a state of relaxation. 4 drops Lavender oil 3 drops Chamomile oil 2 Chamomile tea bags or handful of loose dried Chamomile flowers Fresh or dried Lavender blooms Sensuality mixSometimes we need a little something to feel good in our own skin. Rose geranium smells divine and when combined with either fresh or dried rose petals, makes a truly decadent bathing experience. The inclusion of baking soda has the added benefit of leaving the skin silky soft. Add the following to the basic mix and enjoy: 5 drops Rose geranium oil ¼ cup of baking soda Fresh or dried rose petals – or any flowers you may have on hand Pick me up mix Sometimes we need a little pick me up and citrus essential oils are perfect for doing just that. Not only do they smell great and uplifting, but they are great for perking up a flat mood and putting that smile back on your face. Combine the ingredients below with the basic mix, add it to your bath and let the sunshine in! 3 drops Lemon oil 3 drops Sweet Orange oil 1 or 2 drops of Rosemary oil – or a couple of sprigs of fresh rosemary from the garden Several slices of orange or lemon for a bit of fun We all need to spend a little time looking after ourselves now and then and what better way, than with a warm, relaxing mineral-rich bath. With a few ingredients to make it special, you’ll soon be soaking away your tense muscles along with your stress and worries. Enjoy!
The Healing Benefits of Yoga & Meditation Its Origins Yoga and meditation have both been around for so long, nobody can be certain exactly when it began. Ancient scriptures from around 5000 years ago hint at the early beginnings of yogic practice and meditation, however, it has only been in the last 200 years that it has gained momentum in the Western world. The popularity of yoga continues to grow in Australia. A survey conducted in 2017 showed that it was Australia’s preferred choice for cardio, strength and flexibility exercise with two million participants getting out their yoga mats1, while one in six adults in Australia will practice meditation2. Both yoga and meditation had been a pivotal aspect of wholistic health and wellbeing long before Instagram came about, they are not simply a trend and are here to stay. So why such enduring longevity? There’s no denying that modern lives can often be busy, rushed and at times quite stressful for most of us. Many people use yoga and meditation as a means of bringing calm and quiet to their lives. The benefits of both yoga and meditation are many and although often used in conjunction with each other, they also offer their own individual benefits. Yoga Yoga comes from the Sanskrit word meaning ‘union of the body and mind’. Using both physical postures and rhythmic breathing techniques, there are many forms of yoga, providing a broad range of options for every body type and level of agility. There are many benefits of yoga, here are just a few. 1. Improved Flexibility Most of us associate yoga with flexibility which may deter some people from taking up the practice. Yoga is suitable for all levels of flexibility, the more yoga you do, the more flexible and agile you will become. Yoga poses, or asanas, are slow and gentle, helping your body to ease into each position within our own capability. By improving flexibility, our bodies can move more freely as we increase our range of movement and develop strength in our muscles and joints. This conditioning may also lessen our risk of injury and improve our everyday functions like balance. 2. Stress and Anxiety Relief More and more people are turning to yoga to help them deal with their stress and anxiety. When we are stressed or anxious, we often hold it within our bodies. We tend to tense up, grit our teeth or clench our muscles. Yoga helps to ease out this tension by encouraging relaxation within our muscles and joints, effectively soothing both the body and mind. Several studies have shown that yoga can be an effective tool for supporting mental health3. A survey conducted in Australia in 2012 on 3892 participants, concluded that the majority used yoga as a form of stress relief4. 3. Pain Relief Modern-day living may see many of us sitting at our computers or hunched over our phones for hours on end. Extended time spent in the same position can cause tightness and stiffness throughout our muscles and joints resulting in back, shoulder and neck pain. Yoga can help to counteract these positions helping to prevent further complications which may include headaches and unwanted postural changes. Meditation Meditation is a mental exercise which encourages mindfulness, deep concentration and relaxation. When you meditate you are in a fully awake state however, the most common form of meditation is to clear the mind and aim your focus internally, rather than on what is going on around you. Meditation can be practiced by anyone young or old and is often used to help calm and clear the mind but there are many more benefits, here are just some of them. 4. Improved Neuroplasticity Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to change throughout a person’s life by forming new neural connections through experiences. Studies have shown that meditation can help to support the neuroplasticity of our brains, effectively re-wiring our brains and boosting the health and function of our body and minds, in a similar way to that of acquiring a new skill6. It basically keeps our brains young. 5. Increasing Focus and Concentration Meditation helps us to be more mindful and in the present moment, it also helps us to fully focus and concentrate. Sometimes our lives can be so busy that we find ourselves multitasking so frequently that we may barely remember doing a particular task at all. Meditation helps to eliminate outside distractions and concentrate on the task at hand, enabling us to complete the task mindfully and effectively. 6. Focusing on the Present Research indicates that regular meditation can help to lift our mood and enable us to let go of negative thoughts and habits7. By resetting our minds through meditation, we can better move past repetitive thoughts on the past or future and focus more on the present moment. Often thinking too far ahead or dwelling on past issues can cause stress and anxiety, meditation can help to bring us back into the present moment and focus on what is important. Yoga and meditation are practices that all ages can benefit from. Take a little time for yourself to re-centre or calm your mind with some quiet meditation or why not involve your children in some wind-down yoga poses before bed? References: http://www.roymorgan.com/findings/7544-yoga-pilates-participation-december-2017-201803290641 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17718647/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5116432/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3410203/ https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/1809754 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2944261/ https://ucdavis.pure.elsevier.com/en/publications/the-effects-of-mindfulness-meditation-on-cognitive-processes-and-
7 Ways To Better Manage Mild Anxiety & Stress These days it can feel as though stress is a constant part of our daily lives, and for a lot of us it is. Most of us are stressed in one way or another and it’s not always necessarily a bad thing. Stress is a natural response to changes within our environment, we need some stress in our lives to help us function effectively as human beings. Stress helps us to get things done, it keeps us accountable for our actions and gives us motivation. But too much stress can take its toll on both our mental and physical health. Mild anxiety is our response to stress, but it can be more than just worrying too much if left unaddressed mild anxiety can start to affect our concentration, our sleep, how we eat and it can even impact on how we function day today. We’ll always have some level of stress in our lives, but there are lots of ways to find a little peace for ourselves and get a little control, here are seven ideas that you might like to try.1. DisconnectDo you feel anxious when you watch the news at night? Does checking your social media make you feel like you are missing out? If so, then maybe it’s time to step back a little. It’s ok to take time out from the chaos, the world won’t end if you haven’t seen the latest cat video or a status update from your cousin’s former roommate. Stay informed, but not overwhelmed and accept that there are some things that you just can’t control, but many that you can. Don’t check your phone constantly or watch the latest news bulletin every hour. If you must, make a point to check in at a chosen time once a day and then busy yourself with other matters that bring joy and calm to your life, not stress.2. Get a hobbyEverybody has a hidden talent! Sometimes it just takes a little effort to find it. If you have some spare time, try to fill it with something that you’ve never tried before or even restart an old hobby that maybe you’ve forgotten about. Try to think of things that you loved doing as a child. Did you love to draw? Did you love watching your mum create beautiful garments with the sewing machine? Maybe you loved getting dirty and digging in the garden? Or perhaps you loved helping in the kitchen? Connect with an activity that lets your mind focus on the task at hand and let your creative side take over for a while.3. Make small goalsSometimes just sorting out our day to day lives can give us a feeling of control. List the things that you would like to have done that day. They don’t have to be monumental tasks, putting a load of washing on, taking the dog for a walk or sorting out the pantry all count and nothing feels better than ticking things off your to-do list.4. Consider getting a pet….The benefits of having a pet are endless. Sometimes taking the time to tend to the needs of our furry friends can help lift our spirits and help us to relax. Pets can be great caregivers too, they keep us company and will happily listen to our problems in exchange for a scratch under the chin or a walk around the block. If you are looking to get yourself a furry companion, make sure that you check out your local animal shelter, those little guys are just bursting with love to give and you may just be rescuing each other.5. …..or a plantIf a pet just isn’t an option for you, maybe a potted plant would be more suited to you. Growing and tending to Bonsai trees can be a great stress reliever, you could keep it as simple or as intricate as you like. There are many to choose from, your local plant nursery will have a variety of species on offer. Don’t forget the tiny decorative figurines that you can use to personalise your pot and add your own personal touch!If you have the space, try your hand at a veggie garden or pot, watch the results of your hard work grow before your eyes and relish in the satisfaction that you have produced both a delicious addition to your plate and also a new way to relax.6. Help outVolunteering can help us to feel more connected to others. It can help us to share our experiences and knowledge while also helping foster new friendships and a feeling of community and purpose. When we help others, we are more inclined to be less absorbed by our own troubles, instead focussing on issues outside ourselves while helping to improve the lives of others. There are many organisations simply crying out for volunteers, so why not get in touch with one of them and enrich not only your life, but also that of others?7. Reach outDon’t forget that humans are social beings, we’re not designed to deal with things alone. We need to interact both emotionally and physically with others for our minds to function at their best. Try to get outside your comfort zone occasionally, try new things, meet new people and change things if they don’t seem to be working for you, they don’t need to be enormous changes. Remember, if you feel like everything is becoming too overwhelming and you are just not managing, take care of yourself by getting some help. There are many brilliant organisations that are available such as Lifeline, Beyond Blue or check with your local medical centre to find a counsellor to help you through, there is light at the end of the tunnel and it’s closer than you think.
5 Challenges of Aging & How To Better Address Them Aging is a natural and inevitable process of life and living. However, we do our best to slow the process down, keep in the best shape and eat well. There are other facets to consider about aging and the challenges of it as we get older. 1. Chronic illness We are afflicted by chronic illness from any age, not only when we are older. Chronic illness refers to, “long lasting conditions with persistent effects”. The Australian Government Department of Health lists eight common chronic illnesses. Some of these include back pain, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and mental health conditions. In Australia at least 1 in 2 (50%) have at least one of these conditions.Chronic illness places a strain on the body’s ability to regulate, balance and harmonise, adding to the oxidative load of the body. Additionally, chronic inflammation can affect the functioning of the immune system. Whilst, chronic illness covers a range of conditions, there are some simple things you can do to help manage your health. Eat fresh fruit and vegetables especially dark greens: Fruits and vegetables are known for their antioxidant qualities. Having a higher antioxidant diet may offset the oxidative stress from chronic illness. Exercise: Whatever exercise you choose to embark on, any movement is good for your body. Activity can help the body release good feeling hormones, keep your joints mobile and may assist with weight loss. 2. Sun skin damage The sun is a vital source of energy and helps our body produce vitamin D. But extended sun exposure for long periods of time can cause skin damage such as sunburn and premature aging. The skin can age quicker as the UV light can cause oxidative damage to skin cells and disrupt the collagen protein structure (within the skin layers).As we age and the collagen in our skin breaks down, we naturally lose our plump, fuller, soft skin. Our skin becomes thin, easily broken and fragile. Frequent sun exposure will hasten this process.It is always best to protect your skin from the sun if you go outside: Hot days: Avoid going outside during the hottest part the day ie: 10am-2pm Protection: Always apply a natural sunscreen to your skin Head wear: Use a hat and long-sleeved clothing Nutrition: Take a super antioxidant supplement which may reduce free radical damage forming the body. You can also increase foods that are high in antioxidants to your dies such as green, orange, yellow and red fruits and vegetables Healing: If you do get sunburnt, allow your skin to heal and recover fully 3. Memory and cognition Did you know that memory loss is not an evitable part of aging? The brain has the ability to repair and generate new brain cells throughout your whole life. The discovery of the brain's ability to do this is called neuroplasticity or brain plasticity. This simply means that the brain continues to repair and evolve throughout your whole life, making new neuron connections all the time.Although, there is a condition called Age-related memory loss this does not affect everyone. It is important to look after your brain for your whole life.Use these useful tips: Keep mentally active: Use your brain to solve problems such as puzzles, crossword and Sudoku games Learn a new hobby: Learning a new skill or hobby helps to develop new neural pathway in the brain. You can learn a new skill or hobby whatever your age! Vitamin B12: Often considered a nutritional vitamin for vegetarian or vegans. However, this little unsung hero helps to support the health and function of the nervous system. Vitamin B12 plays a vital role in the synthesis of the myelin sheath, a fatty acid sleeve that helps with nerve conduction. It also helps with cognitive and nerve development. Highest sources are found in meat, eggs and milk products. Stay connected: We are social beings and regular contact with people can help on so many levels. Whether, it is over the phone, via an email, a letter or visiting people it is this human connection that can help keep our mind active and our thoughts moving and our minds active. Dehydration: The brain shrinks with age and it is important to keep hydrated as dehydration can result in fatigue, malaise, forgetfulness and confusion. As we age our thirst receptors and taste buds also become less sensitive and certain medications can reduce our ability to retain water. It is important to make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day. 4. Decreased mobility Decreased movement can be very stressful for anybody. Long extended periods of inactivity can also result in bone and muscle loss. As we age we naturally lose muscle mass, unless of course we keep physically active and do weight-bearing exercise. Exercise can help keep our joints healthy, our muscles toned and our minds active. It is important to do a range of exercises to utilise all different types of muscles in the body. If you don’t use it, you will lose it!Here are some top tips to keep mobile: Use some light hand weights to do daily lifting and strengthening exercise Walking is a great way to keep mobile Sit in a chair and do some light lifting arm and leg raises Do regular stretches to keep your body limber 5. Immune resistance As we age, our immune system declines. Our body can often be slower to respond to infection, reduce the production of immune cells and our recovery time from illness is slower. Whilst there is no direct reason as to why our immune system slows as we age, some contributing factors can include poor quality sleep, chronic illness, stress, poor nutritional health and smoking and alcohol to name a few.Let’s look at some potential options to improve your immune health as you age: Eat well: It is important to have a range of foods in your diet. Just think about eating the rainbow, including all colours of fruits and vegetables and with good quality clean proteins such as fish, chicken, eggs etc. Reduce your stress: Often we overlook how we adapt and cope with stressful situations. In the elderly, stress may not be as evident as it is in a younger person. It is important to identify any triggers and mediate your response. Deep breathing, maintain a positive outlook and make sure that you discuss your stress with someone such as family, friends or a health professional. Nutritional support: Vitamins and minerals are naturally sourced from fresh food. However, sometimes older people may have a smaller appetite or not eat as often and malnutrition may develop. Nutritional supplements such as vitamin C and Zinc, and herbs such as Echinacea and Elderberry may help to support immune system health. We may not be able to stop the aging process but we can live a healthy, joyful and youthful life when we look after our body and mind. Remember, it is never too late to start!
Is getting a good night's sleep something you only dream about? Ahhhh, a good night’s sleep, there’s nothing better is there? Well no, but for some people, sleep just doesn’t come that easy. If you find it hard to get your hard-earned forty winks, then keep reading.Sleep is super important. Good quality sleep helps to keep our mental and physical health in peak condition. It’s also important for our safety too, it’s hard to keep your eyes on the road when you’re constantly yawning or imagine trying to climb a ladder safely or chop vegetables with a razor-sharp knife when you can hardly keep your eyes open!When we sleep our bodies are busy repairing tissues and blood vessels, our immune system is producing cytokines to help keep us safe from infections, our cortisol levels are lowering so our stress levels don’t go through the roof and our brain is busy sorting through all the information that it had processed that day. It sounds exhausting! But what if you have trouble sleeping? Try these ideas to help you get back into a regular sleep pattern and make the most of all the benefits that great sleep brings.7 Essential Tips To Help You Get Back Into Regular Sleep1. Address the Stress!!Often people think that they have a sleeping problem, when in fact they may actually just be stressed. When you have a lot on your mind, your body tenses up, making it extremely hard to ease into a relaxing sleep. The first step to fixing the problem is to work out what is causing the stress and address it, this isn’t always as easy as it sounds, plus, stress doesn’t always come from an obvious cause. If you can’t pinpoint a particular source of your stress, try some relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation.2. Write down a planIf you have things on your mind, write them down before you go to bed, don’t let them linger on your mind. Make a plan of what you need to do the next day to get things done and crossed off your list. It can often be comforting just to know that you have made a start, then your mind can start to focus on getting you to sleep, rather than that thing that you were supposed to do but forgot.3. Clean your room!Don’t underestimate the power of a clean room. If your bedroom is a dustbowl, full of clutter or has poor air circulation, it’s not surprising that you can’t get a good night’s sleep. Give your sleeping quarters a regular clean, ensuring that there is minimal dust to irritate your nose and lungs as you sleep. Clear away clutter and unnecessary ‘stuff’ that takes up space. Weather permitting, open a window and let in some fresh air. Make your bedroom a technology-free zone, get rid of the computer, TV or bunch of phones and tablets that may be on constant charge, put it all in another room where it can’t cause a distraction.4. Get some sunlightYour circadian rhythm is your internal body clock linked to your natural sleep/wake cycle. Sometimes this rhythm can go out of whack and we find ourselves wide awake at night and sleepy during the day. Natural sunlight is known to have a positive impact on our circadian rhythm, basically training our bodies to be awake during the day when there is light and preparing for sleep once the sun has set and outside has become dark. Being stuck indoors all day with limited sunlight can confuse our natural circadian rhythm, so ensure to get a good dose of sunlight each day.5. Take a moment for yourselfIf you have been running around crazy all day with work, the kids, the grandkids, the shopping, whatever, then you need to take a little time for yourself. Treat yourself to a calming cup of herbal tea, read a few pages of a book that you’ve been meaning to read or simply just sit and enjoy your garden, even a simple sunset is relaxing – and it’s free.6. Watch what you eat and drinkWatch what you eat and drink in the evenings. Tea and coffee both contain caffeine and can keep you awake with their stimulating effects. Try replacing them with a relaxing herbal tea in the evening such as chamomile or lemon balm and add a slice of lemon if you feel like being fancy.7. Get helpQuality, refreshing sleep is paramount to good health and wellbeing. If you are still not getting enough sleep or continuously waking up feeling unrefreshed and exhausted, it’s time to get professional help. Improved sleep takes time, changes to your routine, diet and lifestyle can all help but it all takes time, be kind to yourself, get help if you need it and have patience.
6 Steps Towards Healthier Joints According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2017-2018, a survey showed that one in seven Australians suffered from joint pain. Taking care of your joints and keeping them healthy is the best way to keep mobile and active as we age. There are plenty of ways to keep your joints healthy, here are just a few tips.According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2017-2018, a survey showed that one in seven Australians suffered from joint pain. Taking care of your joints and keeping them healthy is the best way to keep mobile and active as we age. There are plenty of ways to keep your joints healthy, here are just a few tips.Eat Well!It’s no secret that the first step to a healthy body is a good diet, this is especially true for your joints. While there is no miracle diet for joints, there are many delicious foods, full of healthy nutrients which can help ease inflammation. Try incorporating more of these foods into your diet: Omega-3 fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines Nuts and seeds such as walnuts, almonds or ground linseeds Colourful fruit and vegetables – the more colours, the more beneficial nutrients Green leafy vegetables, avocadoes and olives (including olive oil) Avoid fried foods, margarine and processed foods, these foods are not conducive to good health, let alone healthy joints! Maintain a healthy weightIt makes sense that if we keep a healthy weight our joints will ultimately benefit. Carrying excess weight puts further pressure on our joints, particularly weight bearing joints such as knees. Keeping a healthy weight benefits not only our joints but also our entire body and mind.Keep movingOften when people experience joint pain, they tend to stop exercising or moving as much as before due to the pain or discomfort. Joints are meant to move and gentle exercise has been shown to reduce joint pain, improve flexibility and keep your weight down. It’s also important to keep exercising to maintain good muscle tone. Strong muscles help to support bones and take the strain off joints.The type of exercise that you choose is important, it will depend on which joints are affected, however, keep it low impact and know your limits. You don’t need to be the fastest runner or swimmer, there’s no medal for who can endure the most pain! Tailor your exercises to your needs, generally low impact exercises are gentle and won’t overwhelm you. Try aqua aerobics, cycling, yoga or simply walking the dog. Take it easy, only you know what your body can handle and it’s always a good idea to speak to a health professional such as a physiotherapist for a more personalised exercise program if you need some guidance.Watch your postureBe mindful of how you are holding yourself. When part of us hurts, we tend to compensate by using other parts of our body to help out. This can lead to further joint or muscle pain, sometimes in another part of the body! That’s the last thing anybody wants!When you are walking, keep your shoulders back, when you are sitting, check that you aren’t slouching and when you are resting, ensure that your neck is supported with the right pillow. Muscle tone is important, particularly core strength. When your core is strong, your back is supported and your balance is improved, lessening the likelihood of injury.Be kind to yourselfIf you can, treat yourself to a gentle massage occasionally or seek some professional advice on learning self-massage. Sometimes a long soak in a warm bath can help ease away any stiffness, take a good book with you and enjoy a little time in your own company.Use it or lose itWe’ve all heard it a million times, the old phrase, “use it or lose it” but looking after and protecting our joints now, will pay off in the future. Joints that are under used, tend to become stiff and inflexible, limiting mobility and activities that were once enjoyed. The most important thing to remember is to keep moving, eat well and enjoy better mobility in the later years.
What is pain and the different types? The World Health Organisation (WHO) describes pain as ‘an unpleasant sensory or emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage’. Pain is there to alert the body that something is wrong and needs to be addressed to prevent further damage.The three stages of pain There are three different types of pain which make up the pain cycle. Each stage is dependent on the severity, duration and nature of the injury where the pain occurs.The first stage, acute pain, is often associated with nociceptive pain which is felt when the nervous system initially detects damage or potential damage to the body and sends an alert signal to the brain. This is often experienced when we touch a hot iron or slamming your fingers in the door or is even classified as the initial stage of an injury. It is highly responsive to pain-alleviating medications and usually subsides in a short time.The second stage of pain is associated with nociceptive inflammatory pain, which is when the body detects tissue damage and begins signalling the beginning of the inflammatory process. It is a more serious response and activates the inflammatory process, which is necessary to help protect and support the damaged area and begin the healing process. The immune system is activated and the presence of inflammation acts to discourage further use of the area until healing occurs. This type of pain response is experienced in situations such as broken bones, sprained ankles and back pain.The third stage of pain that may be experienced, is Neuropathic pain which occurs when there is damage or injury to the nerves themselves and is often described as burning, prickling or like an electric shock shooting pain. Neuropathic pain is difficult to alleviate unlike nociceptive pain, which responds rapidly to pain-alleviating medication. Neuropathic pain is often experienced in people with herniated or bulging discs, shingles, carpal tunnel syndrome or conditions such as multiple sclerosis.Prevalence of Pain in AustraliansUnfortunately for many Australians, pain is a daily reality. Did you know that in 2018, 3.24 million Australians were living with chronic pain?1 Over half of these people reported that the pain was so debilitating that it restricted their daily activities such as work, school or even just going to buy groceries. Pain doesn’t discriminate between age groups, the majority of pain sufferers are older Australians or those with a disability. That doesn’t mean that younger people aren’t impacted too, pain in younger children may often be overlooked due to their lack of communication skills or older children may have their complaints simply dismissed as stress or anxiety.Pain is always subjective, everyone feels pain differently, we all have different pain thresholds and tolerance levels, but pain is pain. It is your body telling you that something is wrong and it is of the utmost importance to have thorough investigations into what is causing the pain in the first place.Pain can also have an emotional impact. In Australia those who suffer from chronic pain experience depression at a rate of four times that of those who do not experience ongoing pain. Chronic pain can also have a detrimental effect on relationships and because pain is invisible, sufferers may become stigmatised or misunderstood by colleagues and friends, which may then go on to affect their social and work life.Referenceshttps://www.painaustralia.org.auhttps://systematicreviewsjournal.biomedcentral.com
What is PEA? PEA is known by many names including palmitoylethanolamide and palmidrol. PEA is a fatty acid molecule known as a cannabinoid, which is naturally produced in the human body in response to pain and inflammation, it also helps to support the myelin sheath around nerves which is essential for healthy nerve function. PEA is produced on demand and subsequently utilised within the cell where injury, inflammation or tissue damage is detected.PEA can be found in protein-rich foods such as egg yolk and meat. It works by enhancing the body’s natural pain response while also reducing the response of the nervous system which also causes pain.Throughout our bodies exists a system called the Endocannabinoid System. It consists of a network of receptors and compounds which help to restore balance when there are pain and inflammation present in the body. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury. Once the body detects injury, signals are sent to the immune system to heal the injured area. This turn of events results in the area becoming inflamed and painful due to the increased blood flow that is transporting the immune and proinflammatory cells to the area. Increased blood flow also helps to carry oxygen and nutrients to the site of an injury, assisting with the healing process. Not all inflammation is productive, however, and chronic inflammation can lead to further health problems if remained unchecked.The body naturally makes its own cannabinoids (such as PEA) which lock into Endocannabinoid receptors on injured cells and exert their effects in relation to nerve pain and inflammation via a number of cellular processes. Put simply, PEA works by interacting with several inflammatory mediators naturally occurring within the body resulting in a reduction in pain and inflammation. This is a natural process which occurs in the human body. Unfortunately, PEA levels can decline due to its natural breakdown in the body and so the body’s own natural anti-inflammatory processes are not always sufficient. In some cases, where there is a history of chronic pain and inflammation, the body can become low in PEA levels.PEA works by interacting with several inflammatory mediators naturally occurring within the body resulting in a reduction in pain and inflammation.Supplemental PEA can help reduce this over activation of inflammatory activity, effectively stopping the breakdown of natural PEA made within the body and balancing the inflammatory process. It does this by mimicking the effects of the body’s own PEA and natural anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving systems.
Top Benefits of Probiotics & Prebiotics- Nature’s Internal Guardians Probiotics are the new "power word" for health. Whilst, we have known about probiotics for over 25 years, in recent years more research and studies have been conducted into their health benefits.So, what are probiotics?Probiotics is a collective term used to describe bacteria or another micro-organism that dwell in a microbiome (environment) which promotes the health of the host in which they reside. We also now know that probiotics require the right environment to survive and flourish.The microbiome of the intestinal system is promoted or enhanced by the right environment. It is the role of prebiotics to do this job. Prebiotics are soluble or non-soluble dietary fibres that help encourage the growth and development of probiotics. They are truly probiotics best friend!Did you know that probiotics work beyond the scope of your digestive system?Probiotics are a significant contributor to your whole immune system. Your digestive system harbours about 70-80% of your immune cells, so it is really important that you have a healthy gut to support your immune system. There are in fact, many species of probiotics and some have been extensively researched for their specific action on the immune system and for the benefit of some health issues.Top benefits of Probiotics and Prebiotics:1. Provide a barrier to harmful pathogensWe live in a non-sterile world and your body and digestive system is the same. Daily, we come into contact or ingest foreign pathogens which challenge our own immune system. Sometimes, our immune system can recognise certain invaders and quickly deal with the fall-out to help us stay healthy, whilst some other invaders may be new and more difficult to contain. Probiotics are our own microbes which live all over us to protect us. They can be found on our skin, mouth, nose, bowels and of course in our digestive system. One great job that our friendly microbes can do is provide a barrier to these invaders. They can crowd out harmful pathogens and prevent them from sticking around, they arrest and inhibit invaders from causing harm and can expel them out through our digestive, respiratory or urinary system. Leaving our immune cells to deal with more important jobs in our body.2. Keep a healthy balance of good bacteria in our gutPrebiotics are really our probiotics best friends! Prebiotics provide fibre as a food source for our probiotics to grow. Prebiotics contribute to keeping the right balance of probiotics in the gut. If we have the right balance of probiotics, then pathogenic invaders cannot dominate. Often foreign invaders can cause disruption by disturbing the environment in our digestive system and the colonies of good bacterium.3. Keeping a healthy colonyProbiotics have a unique ability to look after themselves. It is often the job of certain probiotic strains such as Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus paracasei and Lactobacillus brevis to name a few, to help support their probiotic colonies by maintaining the environment and the function of fellow probiotics species.4. Direct Immune supportThere are many species of probiotics which can have a specific action. Bifidobacterium bifidum and Bifidobacterium infantis provides a direct barrier to foreign invaders and can support the immune system in reducing the frequency and duration of illness. Bifidocbacterium lactis although has similar actions to its fellow family strains, it can also increase specific immune cells, immunoglobulin IgA and serum IgG. Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus reuteri, and Lactobacillus paracasei support the immune system by stimulating anti-inflammatory cells response and activating gut immune cells. Lactobacillus casei can support immune system health by increasing the production of lymphocyte cells and Natural killer (NK) cells. Both components of our innate immune system.Probiotics have many actions and just like our immune system, are extremely complex. Support your immune system by supporting your gut health to keep your body strong and resilient.
NUTRITION WELLNESSTop Benefits of Probiotics & Prebiotics- Nature’s Internal Guardians Read more
Immune System 101 Your Immune system is a complex defence mechanism which protects your internal organs and body from foreign invaders and infections. It is highly organised and strategic in how it defends you. It comprises of a number of different cells, proteins, tissues and organs throughout the whole body. Just think of it as your personal police force (immune system) protecting your home (your body)!SpleenThis organ is vital to your immune system. It helps to filter old red blood cells but more importantly synthesises white blood cells and T lymphocytes and is a place of storage for these cells. White blood cells are your body’s immune cells and T lymphocytes are immune cells that help your body fight infections.Thymus glandThis small gland located near the top of your sternum, it is often a forgotten organ. It actually starts to shrink when you reach puberty and completely disappears by the age of 65years. However, the thymus gland is the location in which T lymphocyte cells develop and mature.Lymphatic system and lymph nodesThis system is throughout the whole body, comprising of a tubular network and small collections of cluster tissue (lymph nodes) in which foreign bacteria or virus are sent to be destroyed. Your lymph nodes are located in your neck, armpits, groin and the largest collection is in your digestive system. When your body is fighting an infection your lymph nodes swell because the immune system is fighting the foreign invader and sending it to the nearest lymph nodes to isolate and destroy it.Bone marrowBone marrow is the soft tissue within all bones. Bone marrow plays a major role in the immune system by producing all blood, platelets and white blood cells of the body.White blood cellsThese are the key defence cells of the immune system. There are many types of immune cells which come under this category. They travel throughout the body looking and scouring for foreign invaders, ready to pounce and attack.AntibodiesThese cells of the immune system help your body fight infections or toxins that foreign invaders produce. They flag these invaders or toxins and then call on other immune cells to come destroy and remove them.SkinThe skin is the largest organ in the body. Whilst, we may obsess over how it looks, its main role is to protect us from the outside world via its water barrier properties. The skin protects the body from bacteria by excreting oil which has an antibacterial action.Mucous membranesMucous membranes are located throughout your whole body. One of the many roles of our mucous membranes is to protect us via the secretions they produce.Mouth, nose and eyesSaliva, tears and mucous help to prevent the adherence of various pathogens and toxins and stops them from taking hold. Tears also have a mild antibacterial property, should an invader be brushed into your eyes.TonsilsYour tonsils are located at the back of your mouth and help to protect your throat, respiratory system and digestive tract. Your tonsils are part of your lymphatic system. When the tonsils are swollen or inflamed they are usually fighting an infection.Digestive tractYour digestive system is lined with mucous membranes and contains antibodies throughout it. Whilst your stomach is very acidic and can kill any microbes that enter it. Your large intestines contain a collection of microflora or friendly probiotic bacteria which prevent foreign microbes to establish a stake hold.LungsThese two large organs are susceptible to airborne invaders, however the lungs and airways contain fine hairs which trap invaders. The mucous membranes also produce mucous to trap and expel any foreign objects via the body by coughing.Genitourinary SystemThe bladder and genital system is also lined with mucous membranes which produce a mucous that helps to prevent harmful substances from sticking to any of the tissues. The mucous also helps to expel any invaders.As you can see, the immune system is a very complex system that keeps our whole body healthy and free of infection. There is no one magic pill or remedy that helps specifically with immune system health in the way that keeping your entire body healthy does. Maintaining your body’s overall health and wellbeing through lifestyle, diet and exercise can contribute to the healthy functioning of your immune system.
Natural Immunity Boosting Remedies for Allergies There are many natural immune boosting remedies you can take to help get you through any allergy season. Allergies are a common chronic condition in Australia. In 2010, approximately 4.1 million or about 20% of the population suffered with at least one allergy.*Whilst, you may first think of a nut allergy, an allergy can include other substances as well. Some allergenic substances or allergies may include food, insects, animals, dust and chemicals. Some allergies are life threatening which cause an immunological anaphylactic response and this is a medical emergency.Here are some handy tips and remedies to help support your immune system and keep your allergies at bay:RosemaryRosemary is a European herb known for its culinary use and aroma. However, rosemary has been long used in Western Herbal Medicine for health ailments and conditions. One active ingredient in rosemary, rosmarinic acid has been shown to help reduce the inflammatory response and exert is the antioxidant activity by suppressing certain white blood cells and allergic antibodies.Vitamin CVitamin C maybe a household product for the common cold or flu, however, it has other powerful actions on immune health too. Vitamin C can reduce free radical damage to your body and it also supports immune system function if you are experiencing allergies.Stinging nettleStinging nettle is a wild European weed. If brushed up against its fine prickly hairs it can give you an itchy, stinging rash commonly known as nettle rash. However, just as it can quickly give you a rash, it can also appease it as well. Boiled leaves can be consumed as a tea to help relieve what it has caused! Stinging nettle is very high in minerals and nutrients including vitamin C and iron. It has an anti-inflammatory action and can help to provide support for allergies.Albizia lebbeck (Powder puff tree)This tree is native to Indochina and is also found in Northern Australia. It has long been used in Ayurvedic Medicine for respiratory health conditions. It also has a long history in many Traditional Medicine paradigms to help support the immune system in those suffering from allergies including hay fever.Omega-3 Fatty acidsOmega-3 fatty acids from fish oil have been a long time favourite for its anti-inflammatory action. But how does it help allergies specifically? When an allergy takes hold, our immune cells are over-activated. Omega-3 fatty acids help to regulate and decrease inflammatory cell production.ProbioticsBeneficial bacteria are widely known to help support immune system health. Although, you may think they only reside in the gut, they are actually present inside and outside of us. If prone to allergies, then always consider your gut health as 70-80% of your immune system cells live in your digestive system. These friendly bacteria need to be looked after and taking a regular probiotic during or before allergy season may assist your immune system response.Consider some of these natural immune-boosting remedies, before your allergy sets in!Reference:www.allergy.org.au Venkastesh, P et.al, 2010 Anti-allergic activity of standardised extra if Albizia lebbeck with reference to catechin as a phytomarker, Immunopharmacology and Immunotoxicology, 32(2):272-6
Healing & Health Benefits of Olive Oil "Published studies show that no other food comes close to Extra Virgin Olive Oil for the prevention and treatment of chronic disease”- Senior Research Dietician and Associate Professor of Medicine Mary Flynn, Brown University.Recently, some members of the Caruso’s Team and I had the privilege of being taken on a tour of the Cobram Estate olive groves which lie on the flat plains of regional Victoria, just south of the Murray River. The Australian Olive Industry has gained an international reputation for producing some of the freshest and finest quality Olive Oils in the world. A great achievement for local business!It was a fantastic day that started with a drive through the groves to watch the fascinating process of olive oil manufacture from harvesting through to pressing and vatting. An unrefined and uncomplicated procedure done in the absence of heat or chemicals, which can take as little as four hours and produces the freshest of oils.Fresh Extra Virgin Olive Oil is rich in Vitamin E, squalene, the monounsaturated Omega 9 Fatty Acid known as Oleic Acid, and many antioxidants and phytosterols unique to olive oil. You can taste the antioxidant content as a peppery sensation at the back of your throat. “Extra Light” or “Pure” Olive Oils do not contain these valuable constituents and are therefore much less likely to convey all of the health benefits associated with the use of fresh Extra Virgin Olive Oil.Extra Virgin Olive Oil is actually considered to be the “juice of the fruit” and when consumed at its freshest, doesn’t leave an oily residue or taste in your mouth. Rather, good quality olive oil should taste clean and fresh and remind you of the smell of freshly cut grass, citrus or tomato bush.Not only did we gain insights into how olive oil is manufactured, but we were also introduced to the team working in the Olive Wellness Institute. The Institute has dedicated itself to compiling high-quality evidence that shows the myriad of health benefits conveyed by fresh Extra Virgin Olive Oil. The main constituents conferring these health benefits are the antioxidant phenols, phytosterols, squalene and Oleic Acid.Fresh Extra Virgin Olive Oil contains over 30 different antioxidants - more than any other mainstream cooking oil - which is important, not only for protecting the valuable Omega 9 Fatty Acids found in Olive Oil but also for helping to combat free radical damage to body cells. Interestingly, one of olive oil’s most potent anti-inflammatory compounds - oleocanthal - is ONLY found in Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It is formed during the olive oil manufacturing process and is not present in the olive itself. Oleocanthal has been shown to have a mild anti-inflammatory action similar to that of some over the counter products for inflammation. Oleocanthal gives a slight bitterness to Fresh Extra Virgin Olive Oil which you can often feel on the sides of your tongue.The antioxidant phenols and the phytosterols in fresh Extra Virgin Olive Oil have been well researched and have been shown to improve the LDL/HDL (Good Cholesterol/Bad Cholesterol) ratio, reduce the oxidation of LDL cholesterol (helping to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease), maintain healthy blood pressure and confer some antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antiviral activity.The squalene content of Extra Virgin Olive Oil is amongst the highest of all foods. Squalene is another type of antioxidant that is often used in cosmetic products as it may help to protect the skin. Often, squalene is sourced from sharks which are killed in order to obtain the squalene. Extra Virgin Olive Oil provides a “cruelty-free” alternative to most commercially available sources of squalene.Oleic acid has been shown to benefit cardiovascular disease by helping to maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Around 20mLs each day of Extra Virgin Olive Oil is enough for you to reap the health benefits. Get some on your salad, or your bread, or your roasted veggies, or your eggs, or your beets, or your avocado on toast, or your tomatoes.Did You Know?Fresh Extra Virgin Olive Oil is safe for use in cooking. The large antioxidant content of the Extra Virgin Olive Oil adds stability to the oil and will protect the valuable Fatty Acids from break down when exposed to high temperatures. When oils are heated, they produce substances known as “polar compounds”. The more polar compounds that are produced when the oil is heated, the more degraded and less beneficial to your health the oil has become. Recent studies have shown, that Fresh Extra Virgin Olive Oil produces less polar compounds when heated than any other mainstream cooking oil. For further information visit Olivewellnessinstitute.org
Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar Using Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) for its health benefits isn’t a new concept, it’s actually an ancient remedy that’s been around for thousands of years. Long ago, some clever people discovered that if you fermented apples using a little yeast, then added a touch of good bacteria, eventually the end result would be a liquid, rich in acetic acid. Acetic acid is not only responsible for the distinct sour smell and taste that we associate with ACV, but it also provides the many health benefits that it is known for. How to use Apple Cider Vinegar (AVC) To fully benefit from ACV, look out for the organic and unfiltered kind, the bottle will often have ‘with the Mother’ or similar on the label. The ‘Mother’ will look like little threads or sediment that sinks to the bottom of the bottle, so best to give it a good shake before you use it. Gut power – Fermented products can boost your gut health. By providing nutrients to your gut microbiome, it may help manufacture vitamins and minerals in the gut. ACV is a fermented product; it can help boost your gut microbiome, by adding it to your daily diet. It can go a long way. Place a few drops into a glass of water and sip before you eat any foods. Bloating and wind - Low stomach acid can often result in bloating or wind. This often occurs because the food is unable to move through the digestive tract in a timely manner, the longer it remains in the system, the more gas it will produce. Taking ACV before a meal may help to improve stomach acid levels which in turn helps the food to breakdown easier and be digested effectively, providing your body with vital nutrients from the food. Banish fungus – ACV may have the power to get rid of fungal & bacterial infections. Bacterial and fungus are unable to thrive and grow in an acetic environment. You can place toes and/or finger nails into a solution of water and ACV to stop the spread and growth of fungal infections. Skin boost- ACV may act as a skin cleanser or toner and act as a barrier to unwanted microbes. Using a few drops into water as a skin wash, may help to cleanse the skin and create the right levels of acid or pH on the skin. It also has healthy bacterial properties to help with any nasty spots. Just a word of warning, it is an acid, so be gentle on your skin as too much may sting broken or damaged skin. House cleaning – Vinegar has been used as an easy chemical free house cleaner. Wiping surfaces or cleaning your fridge with vinegar gives household surfaces a clean and fresh smell. Using ACV as your household cleaner has added antibacterial benefits. Best to use ACV in a spray bottle with a dilution of water and fresh lemon juice or some lemon rind for that clean spring smell. Weight loss –There have been a number of scientific studies to show that ACV may in fact aid weight loss in a number of ways. Appetite suppressor -ACV may have the ability to suppress the appetite by working on the satiety centre of the brain, keeping you fuller for longer. If you are fuller for longer then you may be inclined to eat less. Balance blood sugar levels – Research studies have revealed drinking ACV before meals results in lower blood sugar surges. It helps to stabilise blood sugar levels in the blood and helps to prevent sugar drop after eating. Researchers believed that ACV may prevent or reduce the absorptions of some carbohydrates and starches when eaten. Cholesterol health – It is important to keep your cardiovascular system healthy and keep your cholesterol levels in check. ACV may just help you to do that! A special antioxidant compound found in ACV, polyphenols called chlorogenic acid may inhibit oxidating LDL cholesterol. Boost your salad – ACV is a great addition as a salad dressing. Add flavour to any salad, mixing it with a little olive oil and dried herbs. So, what is the Mother and why would you want it in your vinegar?The Mother is a complex colony of helpful bacteria and acids which are similar to the SCOBY found in the fermented drink Kombucha. The Mother is said to be beneficial for health, however, these benefits are soon lost when the vinegar is filtered or heated, so stick to the unfiltered, organic kind. Leave the filtered vinegar for cleaning or preserving food. How can you use Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) to boost your health? Good gut health is vital for a strong and healthy body and mind. If our gut health is poor, how can the rest of our body be functioning at its best? You could have the cleanest organic diet possible, but if you have poor gut health, that all means nothing. Your gut is where the nutrients from your food are digested and absorbed, giving your body the nutrition that you need. Not only this, but a large part of your immune system actually resides in your gut.Good and bad bacteria inhabit the gut in a harmonious balance, however, when the gut function is impaired, this balance may become disturbed and an overgrowth of the bad bacteria may occur. This imbalance may result in the immune system becoming less than effective. ACV may also help to lower the levels of bacteria associated with a number of bowel problems, thereby helping to support the body’s natural immune balance.Low stomach acid can often result in bloating or wind. This often occurs because the food is unable to move through the digestive tract in a timely manner, the longer it remains in the system, the more gas it will produce. ACV before a meal may help to improve stomach acid levels which in turn helps the food to breakdown easier and be digested effectively, providing your body with vital nutrients. So, it makes sense that a healthy gut is conducive to a healthy immune system. Is there anything that Apple cider vinegar (ACV) can’t do? Don’t forget it is an acid, so teeth beware! Numerous dentists have reported a surge in interest in ACV that people are visiting their dentist more often with enamel erosion. Acid will make teeth enamel porous and can erode tooth enamel. So, try drinking it through a straw or mix into food and on salads. Ouch, stingy! If you are using it on skin, make sure it is in dilution of water. Do not apply ACV to broken or raw skin. Again, it is an acid and will sting. More is not better. ACV is taken in only small amounts. Excessive consumption for longer periods of time of ACV can lower potassium levels and may increase bone loss. Irritated throat. Consumption of ACV may irritate your throat lining, so make sure you have it with water or something else to disperse the acid content. Whether, you may wish to take ACV for your gut health, skin or use it for cleaning it is certainly versatile!
Tips to keep you calm, engaged and focused at home As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to dominate the headlines, you may be staying away from the workplace and regular activities. It may be that you’re already set up to work from home or it may be that you’ll be at home on leave as working from home is not an option. Here are a few tips to try and keep you calm, engaged and focussed. Set some goals If you are going to be home for a period of time, what would you like to achieve? There are plenty of goals you can set for yourself in the following categories: - Work goals - Exercise goals - Relaxation or de-stress goals - Entertainment goals - Family goals - Spiritual/meditation goals You can even take on a creative challenge, there could be many! Set a timetable If you like routine then set a timetable for this period. Allocate time for the key tasks, you can break up the day with a mix of work, physical activity and entertainment. If you have work commitments make sure you lock them in to ensuring you’re meeting your requirements. Other goals can drop in every few days, whatever way you can make it work and give yourself some variety. Make time for some Vitamin DIf you can, setting up a time for a bit of sunshine vitamin D can go a long way. According to the Cancer Council, spending time outside during lunchtime or in the middle of the day can help maintain your vitamin D levels. Ideas could be to spend some time in the garden, sweeping the path or sitting outside with a cuppa, newspaper, book or magazine. Entertaining the kidsIf we can avoid being on devices all day, that’s a win! Get children involved in developing their own goals and timetable (age dependant of course). It may be a good opportunity to reconnect and tell stories and play together. If you’re working from home, you could set up some creative jobs that they can do quietly alongside you in case you need to jump into a video call, for example. Add some challenges, maybe set a dress theme for the day from superheroes to pirates or princesses. This theme can extend to the stories they write, pictures they draw, movie scripts, plays or dances they do in preparation for an evening show. Creative cooking, you may not be able to get your hands on all the staples and fresh produce that you’re used to cooking with, no stress. Set yourself or your family a creative cooking challenge. Using available ingredients, possibly some substitutes, what masterpieces can you whip up? Exercise & de-stress goals If you’re primarily trying to stay indoors, what exercise routine can you put together? Set up your own little circuit. Check out franks 20-minute functional exercise, here. Alternatively, there are plenty of strength, cardio, pilates or yoga YouTube videos available and mix it up. The variety will play a big part in keeping you energised. The kids may like to help select a kids yoga that appeals to them or you might have a gaming console which has a dance challenge or exercise component. This may not be something you get to do together often, but that could be memorable and a great way to connect. Is there a four-legged family member who would love the added attention and a walk? Home aloneWhat social goals can you set? A virtual cuppa and a chat with a friend on FaceTime? Some people find the break from routine and social isolation quite daunting. Consider what plans can you put in place to interact with others and possibly bring a smile to the face of someone in a similar situation or someone you just haven’t reached out to for a little while. Are there any neighbours you can leave a few supplies or a message to help make sure they are ok? So to avoid going stir crazy trapped at home, spend a bit of time planning to keep yourself engaged and achieving each day. Children need entertainment and stimulation and maybe some quiet work, drawing, reading, lego building time can be rewarded with some exercise, relax, and playtime together. Ref: https://www.cancer.org.au/news/media-releases/how-much-sun-is-enough.html
7 Ways to reduce your risk of infection Wash your hands frequentlyOne of the quickest ways to transfer bacteria to others is by not washing your hands, so ensure that you are washing your hands frequently with soap or alcohol-based hand sanitisers. Hand sanitisers are very effective and handy to keep around but they can be harsh on your skin, by washing your hands with soap for at least twenty seconds you can still clean your hands effectively. Make sure that you dry your hands with a hand dryer or paper towel and that you pop the used towel straight in the bin to stop any further contamination.Be aware of your handsTry to keep your hands out of your eyes and off your nose and mouth, it’s not easy, most of us do it subconsciously. Mucous membranes are the easiest way for bacteria and viruses to enter the body if you need to blow your nose or scratch an itch, use a tissue and then dispose of it properly as soon as you have finished.Cover your cough or sneezeCover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or bent elbow. Not only is this common courtesy but infected droplets can travel in the air and infect others around you. Don’t use your hand to cover your mouth or nose and do not shake hands with others, some people may not be as diligent with their hygiene as you are.Use hospital grade disinfectant Use a hospital grade disinfectant or cleaning solution to wipe down common surfaces and do it frequently. Door knobs, fridge handles, keyboards, balustrades, remote controls, telephones and gaming controllers are just a few places where bacteria may be transferred on.Drink plenty of water and eat healthilyDrink plenty of water and eat healthily, just because we are spending more time inside doesn’t give us the go ahead to overeat or lounge about. One of the best things we can do to is to keep our bodies healthy so we can fight off infections. Plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables are best, they are jam-packed with nutrients to keep us strong and healthy. Junk food only depresses the immune system, that’s the last thing anybody needs at the moment.If you are unwell, stay homeBy self-isolating where possible, the chance of others coming into contact with bacteria or viruses is minimised. People can respond to infection with varying intensity of symptoms, depending on age, race and pre-existing health status.Get plenty of sleepGet plenty of sleep and try not to stress. Keep your stress levels down by continuing on with your usual exercise regime and eat fresh, healthy foods. Keep some herbal teas handy such as Chamomile or Peppermint and take time to relax and unwind when you can. Stressing about things we have limited control over is pointless and takes its toll on our mental and immune health. Call a friend or an elderly loved one for a chat and to check up on their wellbeing too.
Natural Healthy Aging Secrets We are all ageing from the time we are born. It is the process of life. We are also living longer than ever before. The total world population of centenarians is estimated to reach 3.2 million by 2050 (*American society of ageing) with Japan and Monaco in the lead with the highest volume of citizens over the age of 65 years.We cannot stop the ageing process but we can do things to help promote a healthy, longer, meaningful and fulfilling life.So, what are the best secrets to ageing well?1. Be social This is not spending hours on social media! But, rather having engaging conversations and interactions with friends and families. Involve yourself in your favourite social activity, local community or volunteer program. The interaction with people is vital to your social and mental wellbeing and your connection to the community.2. Sleep Your quality of sleep and sleeping habits may be predisposing you to more rapid ageing. How does this work? Your body is required to have a good amount of rest to allow recovery and repair to occur within the body. If you have restlessness and waking, less than 6 hours of sleep a night, or you are working in shift patterns, your quality of sleep may be compromised. You may experience fatigue, tiredness, clouded judgment and emotional upset.3. Exercise & be activeKeep moving whatever your age. We know that when you become sedentary for prolonged and extended periods of time your body will start to lose its muscle mass and strength. The elderly are more prone to falls, trips and restricted mobility when muscles start to decline and strength is lost. Resistant exercise such as walking, light weights, tennis or dancing may help to keep your muscles healthy and your joints mobile.4. Good dietThere is so much talk around what is the ideal diet for healthy ageing. Mediterranean, Japanese or anti-inflammatory diet, which to choose? In fact, all of these diets may help to reduce ageing. The best advice is to eat what is best for you, but avoid foods such as processed meat, sugar, refined carbohydrates, take away foods, fast foods, and sugary and stimulant drinks. Some good suggestions may be to buy fresh fruits and vegetables, clean and ethically sourced meat and fish, good fats and oils and complex carbohydrates. Try to always cook from fresh, and enjoy your food.5. Stress This is often underrated when talking about ageing. Our stress does not stop at the age of 65 years, or even when we retire from work! Stress can come in many forms and affect us all differently. However, there is no greater sign that you are under stress than when it affects you mentally, physically or both. Often the effects of stress can also be seen on our faces. These signs may bags under the eyes, more lines and furrows and a downturned mouth. Although stress is unavoidable in today’s society, it is the way that we deal with stress which needs to be addressed. Talk about your stress with family, friends or a professional. Learn techniques such as writing it down, tai chi or deep diaphragmatic breathing which all may help.6. Hydration Our body is made of 60% water and is required by many functions of the body daily to stay healthy. It is important to keep your body hydrated. As we age we can feel less inclined to drink as our thirst and appetite can decline. Water keeps our skin, ligaments and joints fluid and supple. Remember to keep a bottle of water in your bag or near you as a reminder to drink more.7. Use it or Lose it Did you know that our mind and brain are not fixed. But in fact, our brain and mind is adaptable and can grow and learn whatever your age. We may often perceive that when we get old our mind and brain will deteriorate, but new research has revealed this is not the case. To keep your mind active, alert and prevent cognition loss try mind games or activities such as Sudoku, board games, playing cards, knitting, crosswords, learning a new language, learning a new skill or helping the grandkids with their homework. These activities can help keep your mind and brain active.8. Get a pet The unconditional love from an animal is priceless. Having a pet may help with healthy ageing, as animals have the ability to calm the nerves, provide companionship and may sense when things are not right. Research has shown that when we are in the presence of an animal, it can reduce stress (lowering cortisol) and lower blood pressure. Many nursing homes acknowledge the benefits of the animal-human connection and often have animal visits help reduce, feelings of loneliness, relieve stress and reduce mild anxiety.There are many ways in which you can look after yourself as you age. Taking the time to truly care for “you” through a healthy diet, sleep, social interaction, and body and mind activity can enable you to enjoy your later years, and get the most out of fulfilling and abundant life!
10 Gut Healthy Tips Did you know that your gut or digestive system is much more complex than once thought? The power the gut has on your whole body is amazing! Beside digesting and breaking down your foods, it also has the ability to produce hormones which signal the brain and produce immune cells which influence the immune system. Some studies have revealed that the microbes that live in the gut have an impact on heart health and blood sugar metabolism.So, learn to love your gut and how you can keep it in tip-top condition.Here are 10 tips to help keep your gut healthy1. Cheers! Do not eat and drink togetherEat and drinking for a merry occasion is common practice. However, it is not recommended for promoting good gut health. Eating and drinking at the same time can dilute your digestive enzymes and decrease your body’s ability to break down food. It can also contribute to indigestion and flatulence.2. Focus on your foodHow many times have you eaten food and not remembered it? Walking, working or talking while eating distracts your ability to concentrate on your food. It can also contribute to an increase in weight. When you sit down to eat, be conscious of what you eating. Be present and acknowledge your food as it will give you a greater sense of satiety. Take the time to sit and eat.3. Inhaling food!Often when hunger is rampant you feel that you are inhaling your food! However, it is vital that you actually chew your food thoroughly. Good digestion starts in your mouth, by chewing your food properly first. Remember there are no teeth in your stomach! So, if you gulp your food, it can lead to ingestion, bloating and abdominal pain.4. Fabulous fibreFibre comes in many forms and is often a suggested remedy for constipation. But let’s look beyond the obvious. There are basically two forms of fibre, insoluble and soluble. These fibre types help to set the right type of environment within your gut. You need the right environment in your gut to help your good bacteria to survive. These forms of beneficial fibre which promote good gut bacteria are called, “prebiotics”. Some of the best ones are: slippery elm powder, linseeds, leeks, garlic, barley and oats to name a few.5. Bitter is betterI see you wince! But bitter foods are wonderful foods to help promote good gut health. Bitter foods naturally stimulate your own digestive juices to break down foods. Some of the best bitter foods are: dandelion greens, arugula (or rocket), radicchio, chicory, endive, bitter melon and white asparagus. Introduce a few of these vegetables into your daily diet.6. Bowel motionsHow many times do you go to loo to do a number two? This is a question asked all the time by Naturopaths to their clients. Whilst it may cause you to blush, it is so important to know how many times you do move your bowels in a day. Constipation is epidemic in our western culture and often you don’t realise it. Ideally, moving your bowels three times a day is normal! Yes, moving your bowels after each meal. However, most may go to the toilet once or twice a day, if lucky. It is so important that you excrete unwanted matter from your digestive system daily. If not, then flatulence, abdominal bloating and pain can set in. Good bowel motions rely on a good diet such as clean proteins, complex fibres and good oils to keep your whole gut functioning properly.7. Power of probiotics'Probiotics' is the current buzz word of good gut health. They are very beneficial not only to your gut health but your whole body. Although, we have known about how good they are for some time. We now know there are many trillions of strains and some specific stains which can influence many types of health conditions. Probiotics can be found in many fermented foods such as kefir, yoghurt, kimchi, miso and sauerkraut to name a few. 8. FastingIs simply the abstinence of eating food. Generally, we fast every day from sleeping to waking hence we have the meal “breakfast” to “break” our overnight fast. However, prolonged fasting has been shown to be of benefit to the digestive system too. Not only does it provide rest for our body from breaking down and assimilating foods, some studies have revealed it may help to balance blood glucose metabolism and aid in weight management. There are many types and styles of fasting and for different lengths. Seek advice of a health professional before considering any type of fasting.9. ExerciseMovement and exercise are important for your whole body. But more recent research has revealed that exercise can have a positive effect on gut health. Exercise can improve the gut microbiome by encouraging the growth of friendly bacteria, which then helps to support healthy digestive function and overall health and wellbeing.10. Stressed outWe often underestimate the power of stress and its effect on our gut. Stress often leads to physical, emotional and hormonal responses. Whilst we have stress hormones which are produced to respond to stress, we also have a digestive hormone response as well. Sure, you may have vented or heard the saying, “I have a bad gut feeling” in response to an unpleasant situation. If you are in a constant state of upheaval, stress or anxiety, your digestive system will have difficulty functioning and the constant hormone surges can lead to altered gut function. Another prominent area of gut health which can be directly affected by stress is your gut microbiome. Our friendly gut bacteria are very sensitive to changes in our environment and how we respond to stress.Optimal gut health is vitally important to our general health and wellbeing. Following these few tips can help facilitate healthy gut function and keep it in great condition.
Top Herbs For Stress Management Are you feeling Stressed during these times? Did you know feeling stressed is a normal physiological and physical response the body manifests to protect itself? Stress can be classified into positive and negative forms which the body experiences: Positive stress (referred to as eustress) is often temporary or short-lived experience which can include, excitement, anticipation, happiness and joy. A new job, wedding or sporting event which has an anticipated change that will result in a good outcome, is positive stress. Negative stress (referred to as distress) is often all too familiar to many of us. Negative stress can be short term but sometimes results in a long term scenario which can include an experience or a state of dis-ease within the body. Commonly, our emotional system can be heavily taxed in negative stressful situations. This can give rise to mild anxiety, mood imbalance or irritability, nervous tension, irrational thoughts or behaviour and physical symptoms as well. Out of control? The most common feeling that we experience with negative stress is being “out of control”. This feeling can present itself in many ways and can compound the current state of stress. Never fear! There are many herbs at your disposal which can help with reducing the negative effects of stress. The power of herbs is fascinating as herbs or plants have many different actions. No one single herb may resolve all your stress, however, there are some key herbs to consider. Herbs have many actions or effects on the body and it is often easier to look at herbs by their action on the body. Let’s look at the actions of some herbs: Adaptogen - This term applies to herbs that, “help the body adapt to stress”, whether it be emotional or physical stress. Primarily, adaptogens can help support the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal system (or HPA system or axis) of the body. The HPA system is the driver of the “fight or flight” response within the body, and also helps the body adapt to the more chronic states of stress we may experience. In today’s world, we live in a state of constant stress, not from fear of being chased by a lion, but from the stress of daily living, family, ill health and work, the list is endless! We all need a little helping hand at times to give us the support we need. Here are some top adaptogenic herbs: Ashwagandha (Withania sominfera) Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus)Borage (Borago officinalis) Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) Schisandra (Schisandra chinesis) Rehmannia (Rehmannia glutinosa) Nervine- This term refers to the herbs ability to “relax the nervous system or nerves” and a part of the brain (Limbic system) to evoke a state of calm in periods of stress. When in a relaxed and calm state the body can cope with stress better and rationalise the stress, which may seem like a threat or overwhelming experience. Here are common nervine herbs to support the nervous system: Skullcap (Scutallaria lateriflora) Oats (Avena sativa) Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) Lavender (Lavendula officinalis) More than one herb may be needed to help you through your stressful period. In fact, some of these herbs combine well with each other and can be taken as a tea, in liquid or as a tablet form. Try some of these herbs as a tea to help you create a sense of balance, calm and ahhhh….
Healing Power of Bilberry For Eye Health Vaccinium myrtillus, commonly known as ‘Bilberry’ is a small berry from the Ericaceae family. The Bilberry plant is a leafy shrub which grows up to 60cm long and is mostly found in the woodlands. When flowering, this plant produces berries that are similar in appearance to the traditional blueberry – a purple-black colour with wrinkles and contains tiny seeds. The berries and leaves from the Bilberry plant are the parts used for medicinal health purposes.History & Use of BilberryThe Bilberry plant is native to European countries and dating back to the 12th century, German herbalists have been recommending Bilberry for health purposes. The medicinal properties were again recognised during World War II, where pilots had found that consuming Bilberries assisted them with their night vision. In addition to several medicinal applications, Bilberry was used as a means of consumption, commonly in the form of tea.Bilberry may be used as a culinary ingredient for sweet condiments such as a natural jam, syrup or jelly; for beverages including tea, fresh juice or in smoothies; and for home-made baked goods such as traditional Bilberry pies and upside-down cakes or take a modern twist in baking tarts, muffins, crumbles or streusel. Forms which have been used less commonly include macerates, decoctions, infusions and also as a food colouring agent. To include Bilberry in your diet, keep an eye out for products such as dried, frozen or powdered berries.The active constituents found in Bilberries include tannins (catechins), flavonoids and polyphenols such as anthocyanosides and proanthocyanidins. The Bilberry leaves also contain a potent polyphenol known as resveratrol, additional to flavonoids such as quercetin.Polyphenols, flavonoids and tannins are all phytoprotective compounds which are naturally produced as a defence mechanism by the fruiting plant, as a response to harmful external pathogens or stressors such as pests, extreme weather conditions and high UV radiation. The phytoprotective effects inhibit the growth of bacteria or viruses in the plant. These constituents are commonly found in the skin of berries, producing the rich hues of red, purple and blue. Tannins have astringent effects on mucous membranes and are responsible for the bitter after-taste and dry mouth feeling you may experience after consuming tannin-rich foods. Great examples of other tannin containing foods include unsweetened green tea or concentrated natural cranberry juice. The polyphenol and flavonoid components of Bilberry provide various health promoting benefits such as its antioxidant action, which reduces free radical formation and damage to cells.Some health indications for Bilberry: Maintaining overall eye health, including important structures, such as the retina and macula. Supporting healthy eye development and functions such as healthy eyesight, vision and also assisting the eye to adapt to variations of light intensity, for e.g. night-vision. In addition, Bilberry helps to support ocular health and function and maintain healthy eyesight by relieving symptoms of eye discomfort such as redness, soreness and dry eyes while also decreasing eye strain and reducing associated visual fatigue. Administration forms of Bilberry include dried fruits, liquid extracts and most commonly, standardised extracts. Preparations which contain the dry fruit of Vaccinium myrtillus generally have a daily dose which ranges between 1.2g – 75g and may contain a standardised extract of Anthocyanosides at 40mg – 120mg. Therapeutic effects may take effect after durations of approximately 4 – 8 weeks.Caruso’s Bilberry for eye health contains 15g of Bilberry and 60mg of Anthocyanosides.For more information, please contact one of our friendly naturopaths from Carusos on 1300304480. Always read the label and follow directions for use. If symptoms persist, worsen or change unexpectedly, talk to your health professional. This medicine may not be right for you. Read the warnings before purchase. Reference ListANC Clinical Overview – Bilberryhttp://cms.herbalgram.org/ABCGuide/GuidePDFs/Bilberry.pdfBraun & Cohen (2015). Herbs & Natural Supplements, 4th, vol. 2.https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/bilberry-fruithttps://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com/databases/food,-herbs-supplements/professional.aspx?productid=202https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/earth-and-planetary-sciences/tanninhttps://www.britannica.com/science/tanninhttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9759559https://www.healthline.com/health/what-are-flavonoids-everything-you-need-to-know#takeawayhttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25272572https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15678717https://www.hindawi.com/journals/tswj/2013/162750/https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/biochemistry-genetics-and-molecular-biology/flavonoid
Healing Power of Maca Lepidium meyenii, commonly known as “Maca” has also been referred to as the ‘Peruvian ginseng’ due to its Traditional use in Peruvian medicine for its invigorating effects. Maca is a plant from the Brassicaceae / Cruciferae family. It’s related to the radish, yet has an aroma similar to that of butterscotch. The Maca plant grows as a root vegetable and has an appearance which is similar to a turnip or parsnip. There are variations to the Maca plant although the most widely used form is the flattened-circular shaped, yellow coloured root. For medicinal purposes and therapeutic benefits, the plant part used is the tuberous root.Maca is a plant which is native to South America in countries such as Peru, Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia. Maca is most commonly found growing in what is known to be the ‘highest plateaus’ of the Peruvian Andes Mountains, reaching between 3700m – 4500m above sea level, where it has been found and cultivated as a root crop for over 3000 years.History of MacaThe history of Maca root usage dates back before the 13th century, where it had been incorporated into the Incan culture after conquering the Peruvian Andes population in the highlands. During these times and within the community, consuming Maca was considered to be a privilege, as it was limited only to the wealthy, noble, clergy and even warriors.Maca was first described as a medicinal food in 1553 and later in 1653 was followed-up for its effects on sexual function, energy and emotional wellbeing. Traditionally, Maca has been used in humans and even livestock for agricultural practices. It was recognised as a medicinal food throughout traditional Peruvian medicine and was used to support emotional wellbeing, enhance vitality and maintain energy levels while supporting physical endurance, stamina and capacity. Primary indications in traditional Peruvian medicine supported female complaints by relieving symptoms of menopause and regulating healthy menstrual cycles.Benefits of MacaMaca is considered to be a superfood, which is a food that is nutritionally dense, provides health benefits and supports wellbeing. Maca contains a powerhouse of macro and micro nutrients, such as: a high energy content, protein, amino acids, fibre, healthy fatty acids, plant sterols, iron, calcium, copper, manganese, potassium and zinc. It also contains an array of active constituents that add value to its therapeutic effects as a medicinal herb.There is a rich content of active constituents found in Maca, including multiple glucosinolates and the polyunsaturated fats, macaene and macamide. The actions which these constituents convey are abundant, although the most beneficial health effects are: antioxidant and aphrodisiac. These actions support healthy sexual functions including the maintenance of a healthy libido. Maca provides female reproductive hormonal support by relieving symptoms associated with menopause and also in reducing the occurrence of these symptoms, in both menopausal and peri-menopausal women. Maca has shown to work efficiently for healthy emotional balance and reducing menopausal symptoms such as moodiness. Additional benefits of Maca may include antioxidant support in reducing free radicals, maintaining physical endurance, capacity and stamina and also promoting general health and wellbeing.Some health indications of Maca:- Maca maintains healthy sexual wellbeing and sexual functions in men and women.- Maca helps to support a healthy libido in men.- Maca helps to reduce symptoms of menopause. Additionally, Maca can help to relieve moodiness and support emotional wellbeing associated with menopause.- Maca can support physical endurance and maintain physical stamina.- Maca is an antioxidant herb which can reduce free radical formation within the body and also help to decrease free radical damage caused to body cells.- Maca maintains general health and wellbeing, including emotional wellbeing.Use of MacaAs a food, Maca root has been consumed for thousands of years and popular choices have been cooking methods of baking, roasting, a soup and also fermented as a drink or coffee. Traditionally Maca was prepared with dosage ranges of 50-100g daily. Research supported by clinical evidence now demonstrates doses between 2-3.5g daily have optimal results. Caruso’s Maca 3500 for vitality and libido is a one-a-day 3.5g dose of Lepidium meyenii.For more information, please contact one of our friendly naturopaths from Carusos on 1300304480. Always read the label and follow directions for use. If symptoms persist, worsen or change unexpectedly, talk to your health professional. This medicine may not be right for you. Read the warnings before purchase. If you would like to purchase Caruso’s Maca or browse our product range, please visit hereReference Listhttps://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/555.htmlhttps://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com/databases/food,-herbs-supplements/professional.aspx?productid=555Braun & Cohen (2015). Herbs & Natural Supplements, 4th, vol. 2.Therapeutic Research Faculty (2005). Natural Medicine Comprehensive Database.http://cms.herbalgram.org/herbmedpro/index.html?ts=1536950729&signature=74ce3e33a3df1eeccc45a6984fb05d34&ts=1578615874&signature=9b587df636dcc76135e338ce3525c9c2#param.wapp?sw_page=@@subcategory%3FherbID%3D51%26categoryID%3D1http://cms.herbalgram.org/herbmedpro/index.html?ts=1536950729&signature=74ce3e33a3df1eeccc45a6984fb05d34#param.wapp?sw_page=@@viewHerb%3FherbID%3D51https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/maca
Brain Boosting Herbs for Memory and Cognition Your brain is ever-evolving. It is not something which is fixed or stationary. In recent years, new research into brain plasticity (neuroplasticity) which is the study of the brain's ability to change and adapt as a result of an experience (new and old), has helped to revolutionise how we think about our brain function and memory. We now know that the brain has the ability to re-wire itself to adapt to changes, whilst the neurons in the brain can decline with age, it still has the ability to learn new things and change. We all want to remain young, active and retain our memory as we age, right? There are in fact many steps you can take to help your brain and memory work to an optimal level. Whether you are trying to maintain the health of your already healthy brain, or strengthen your memory recall or retention. Some of these brain-boosting herbs may help support the function of the brain and the neural pathways within it. Here are a few herbs to consider: Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) With a long history of use in traditional Ayurvedic medicine, Brahmi has been used as a brain tonic to help improve memory and cognition. Additionally, Brahmi was also used as a nerve tonic to help nourish the nervous system. Brahmi also helps to maintain cognitive function and development, therefore helping to enhance learning ability. Short term memory may also be improved by taking Brahmi as it helps to support memory and mental recall. Gotu kola (Centella asiatica) Known as the only living plant that lived alongside dinosaurs, the Ginkgo tree is the one of the oldest trees which still exists today. With its leaves full of antioxidant compounds, Ginkgo helps to support brain function and can enhance short term memory. The leaves of this ancient tree are also used to help support mental concentration, including focus and clarity and overall brain health. Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) Known as the only living plant that lived alongside dinosaurs, the Ginkgo tree is the one of the oldest trees which still exists today. With its leaves full of antioxidant compounds, Ginkgo helps to support brain function and can enhance short term memory. The leaves of this ancient tree are also used to help support mental concentration, including focus and clarity and overall brain health. Lions mane mushroom (Hericium erinaceus) Interestingly, this mushroom looks like a lion’s mane! Traditionally used in Asian culture in countries such as China, Korea and Japan as a tea to aid in vitality and vigor. Lions mane mushroom has the ability to influence neuroactive compounds which lead to nerve growth and development in the brain. Improved cognitive function and recognition memory have also been noted with this herb. Sage (Salvia officinalis) This fragrant herb is originally from the Mediterranean and European regions of the world. Today, it can be found growing across the globe and is used for a multitude of culinary and medicinal purposes. Sage has been used traditionally in Western Herbal Medicine to improve memory recall. It is also used to support mental concentration and focus. In addition to these herbs keeping the mind active can help boost the brain function too. Consider learning a new language, a musical instrument, take an art class, learn to dance, play board games or master Sudoku. Exercise may also help to give the brain a boost of oxygen a few times each week, which will also contribute to its health. These activities just may help to keep memory loss at bay.
The Benefits of Activated Charcoal These days it seems that you can’t go down the personal care aisle in a health food store, pharmacy or even a supermarket without being inundated with products from face masks, shampoo and even toothpaste which are touting the benefits of activated charcoal.Even the local cafés, food trucks and restaurants are all getting in on the craze with charcoal being included in food items such as buns, lattes, juices and even ice cream! It’s the latest craze, yet its use can be traced back to the ancient Egyptians who were using it around 3750 B.C.The Egyptians used it in the manufacture of bronze and the preservation of wooden posts used in construction work which took place in the damp soils along the Nile. It was the Egyptians who soon realised the antibacterial and antifungal properties of charcoal making it brilliant for, among other things, water purification.With this knowledge, they were able to transport potable water on long sea voyages by using wooden barrels, charred on the inside. Further on, ancient healers Hippocratesand Pliny began using charcoal medicinally for various ailments including epilepsy and vertigo and later Galen wrote hundreds of medical papers touting the benefits of charcoal in the treatment of a variety of diseases. Beyond the dark ages, it wasn’t until the mid-1800s that charcoal came back into favour, this time more focus was placed on its medicinal applications. By the 1900s charcoal was starting to appear in lozenges, food and even tooth powders!So, what is activated charcoal anyway?Activated charcoal is usually made from a carbon-rich substance such as coconut fibre which has been burnt at a very high temperature. Once it has burnt to charcoal, it then undergoes ‘activation’ where steam is introduced, this not only purifies the charcoal but also dramatically increases the surface area of the molecules, making it incredibly porous. What’s left is a fine, tasteless black powder, hence its newfound addition on trendy menus. It is this dramatic increase in surface area which enables activated charcoal to be of so many uses. The porous texture of the charcoal has a negative charge which naturally attracts gases and impurities which are positively charged.Give it a try yourself!Activated charcoal can be found in convenient capsule or tablet form and used in instances of excess gas, diarrhoea or indigestion where it’s claimed to help capture and remove impurities easing digestive discomfort.Not just confined to the medicine cabinet, you can now find activated charcoal in many kinds of toothpaste, where it is claimed to draw out stubborn stains to keep teeth white and bright. Then there are the charcoal mouthwashes and dental floss to use in conjunction.There are face masks to draw out impurities from blocked pores, face washes to keep skin clear, charcoal shampoos for thoroughly cleansed hair and even sponges and exfoliating gloves, all using the wonderfully magnetic-like properties of activated charcoal. So, if you’re curious about trying activated charcoal, and you aren’t an adventurous eater, why not simply pop on a face mask or brush your teeth and see what activated charcoal can do for you?
How to revitalise your digestive system One of the topics currently getting the nutrition and medical world excited is gut flora, also known as the gut microbiome. These are microorganisms like bacteria, fungi and viruses living in your gastrointestinal tract, otherwise known as your gut. We all have our own unique colony.Why all the interest in a bunch of bacteria in our digestive systems? We are learning that the gut microbiome has an influence on many aspects of our health, ranging from digestion to immune function to mental health. It is responsible for: Protecting against harmful bacteria by lining the gut and making antimicrobial compounds. Making vitamin K and a variety of B group vitamins. Digesting carbohydrates such as fibres in the colon that would not be otherwise broken down, like resistant starch and insoluble fibres. This produces short-chain fatty acids and gases that are beneficial for the health of the colon and in some cases protective against colon cancer (e.g. butyrate) Producing chemicals that enter the bloodstream and ‘talk’ to other organs like the brain and liver Aiding digestion and bowel function. Disruption of gut microbiota may also have an influence on conditions such as obesity, non-alcoholic liver disease, anxiety and depression, but the method is still not understood. How to change your gut flora?One of the most exciting parts is that we can make positive changes to the gut flora and its function with the way we eat. You can quite quickly change your gut colony – changes have been seen in a number of days when people change from a high animal-based diet to one that is plant-based.Feed it with fibreWith the right food, your gut flora will flourish - just like fertilising your garden plants at home. In particular, the good bacteria in your guts feed on certain types of dietary fibre. The Australian dietary guidelines recommend eating at least 25 g of fibre per day for women, and 30g per day for men. Dietary fibre is found in plant foods, and many of these contain a combination of fibre types, so stock up on those fruit and veggies, wholegrain breads and cereals. Here is where you can find the fibre types you need: Insoluble fibre: This type of fibre helps bulk up stools and keep you regular. You can find it whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and the outskin of fruits and vegetables. Soluble fibre: This slows the breakdown of carbohydrates, keeping you feeling full and preventing blood sugar spikes. To get soluble fibre, eat fruits and vegetables, legumes and oats. Prebiotic fibre: This is a type of soluble fibre that feeds gut bacteria that help absorb certain nutrients and stimulate hormone production. It is found in cereal grains, vegetables (including asparagus, onions, garlic and cabbage), legumes (like chickpeas and lentils), fruit (such as bananas and nectarines) and nuts. This is an exciting area of research, but we still need to learn more. Resistant starch: This is formed when you cook some carbohydrate foods (for example potatoes and pasta) and let them cool. It is also found in underripe bananas and overnight soaked oats. The starch is resistant to digestion in the small intestines and passes to the large, where it stimulates bacteria to produce butyrate gas. This helps keep the colon lining healthy. To maximise your gut microbiota with dietary fibre, aim for the simple nutrition message of 'two and five' - two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables each day. Throw in a handful of nuts, some wholegrain breads and cereals and legumes and you might have the best looking 'gut garden' around.Prime it with probioticsAnother ingredient for gut health is probiotics - introducing some good bacteria to your gut to help improve the balance. This is particularly important after a course of antibiotics, which can wipe out lots of gut bacteria. Generally, for a health benefit, you need to pick a bacteria strain that is specific, for example, looking for immune benefits or bowel regularity. You can find various types of probiotics in foods like yoghurt (check the quantities of probiotics as some can be low), milk drinks like kefir, and other fermented foods like kombucha (be careful if making your own –you only want beneficial strains of bacteria!), kimchi, miso, tempeh, sauerkraut (only if not pasteurised, as this will kill the bacteria) and sourdough bread.About the authorSimone Austin is an Accredited Practising Dietitian and Advanced Sports Dietitian. She is currently president at Sports Dietitians Australia, dietitian of Hawthorn AFL football club and has previously worked with the Australian Men’s Cricket Team, Melbourne Storm Rugby League and MelbourneCity A-League soccer teams
5 Natural Skin Detox Ideas For Glowing Skin The term ‘detox’ gets thrown around a lot these days, but are we all really that toxic? Can we really detox our skin? Scientists tell us that the only way to actually detox our bodies is through the action of our kidneys and liver. Generally, when we talk about skin detoxing, we're talking about removing the buildup of dead skin cells along with the pollutants and dirt that we come into contact with on a daily basisDetoxing allows your skin to function as it should, protecting you from bacteria and viruses while helping to regulate your body temperature and moisture loss. The health of your skin is very important, it has many vital functions and there are several ways in which you can help keep your skin functioning at its absolute best. Get your skin ready for the warmer months with some of these detoxing ideas.Skin BrushingSkin brushing is an effective way to keep your skin smooth and exfoliated, particularly after the during effects of winter. It's also great for aiding blood circulation and encouraging lymphatic drainage. Lymphatic drainage is important as it helps to remove waste from the tissues in the body. To experience the benefits of skin brushing, all you need is a natural, stiff-bristled brush. Starting at your feet, work your way up towards your heart using gentle long upwards strokes, then repeat for your arms, starting from your hands and again, long strokes towards the heart. Once you have completed several overlapping strokes, jump in the shower and then finish with nourishing natural moisturiser.SaunaSaunas have been used for hundreds of years for a variety of health conditions. The steam from a hot sauna makes your skin temperature rise and your blood vessels dilate, causing increased blood flow. This increase in blood flow encourages the body to produce sweat and therefore helps to flush out impurities via the pores of the skin, keeping it smooth and clear. Some people like to lightly exfoliate their skin whilst in the sauna with a gentle brush or loofah, this is thought to help stimulate the pores and aid in the detox process. You lose a lot of fluid while you’re sweating and you need to make sure that you’re replacing it to ensure that you stay well hydrated, so rehydrate with plenty of water once you have completed your sauna session. Saunas are not only well known for their skin detoxing properties but enthusiasts claim that they re great for reducing stress and encouraging deeper sleep.Foot DetoxEpsom salts have been used for years in both baths and foot soaks as part of a health regime. Epsom salts are a combination of both magnesium and sulphate which are easily dissolved in water and are touted as having many health benefits. Please talk to your doctor before you do a foot soak if you have diabetes as you will have special needs when it comes to foot care.For a soothing foot bath, simply add 1 cup of Epsom salts to a foot bath full of warm water. Soak your feet for 30 minutes and finish with a soothing moisturiser.Exfoliation is important to ensure that skin is smooth and pores are clear of dead skin cells and bacteria. Try this foot scrub recipe for smooth, fresh feet:Mix together: 1 cup of Epsom salt 1/2 cup of olive oil 2 drops of essential oils such as lemon, lavender or peppermint Gently massage into feet focusing on the soles and between the toes, rinse and pat dry.Face MasksMasksMany different types of clays such as bentonite or kaolin have long been used in various situations for drawing out impurities, often in the form of face masks. If you have oily or acne-prone skin, you’ve probably tried a clay mask or two before. Clay is a negatively charged mineral which binds on to impurities and leaves behind minerals, so basically taking out the bad and leaving the good. The clay works by grabbing onto impurities such as dirt and excess oil, rinsing it all away after it dries, keeping your pores clear.You can make your own clay mask with minimal ingredients to keep your skin clear and glowing.Mix together in a small bowl: 1 tablespoon of kaolin or bentonite clay (available from health food stores) 1-2 tablespoon of water 2-3 drops of essential oil (lavender, rose or chamomile are nice) Once mixed, apply to the face and leave to dry for 10-15 minutes. Once dry, rinse off with warm water. Try to use weekly.Fresh WaterAs our largest organ, our skin needs to be kept well hydrated. The skin, like every part of the body, is made up of cells and these cells are mostly made up of water. By drinking at least 2 litres of pure water our skin is able to keep plump and moist rather than dry and flaky, which may potentially increase the occurrence of blocked pores and congestion. To keep your skin clean and clear, start with a good diet which is full of fresh fruit and veggies and plenty of fresh water. This will ensure that your skin is getting all the nutrients it needs to function efficiently, team your good diet with some of the suggestions above and prepare to see your skin glow
Here's good news on how you may help & maintain healthy bones! Did you know that you need more than just calcium to build strong healthy bones? And did you know that the bone in your body is reformed about every 10 years1?This process is regulated by Osteoblasts, the cells that build up your skeleton and Osteoclasts, the cells that break down your skeleton. As long as the bone building activity of Osteoblasts exceeds the destructive action of Osteoclasts, the process of maintaining healthy bone is kept under control. In order for your body to build the bone structure, Osteoblasts produce a Vitamin K2 dependent protein called Osteocalcin. Osteocalcin binds calcium from your diet to your bone matrix helping to build healthy bones. Vitamin K2 helps maintain bone strength and may help support and maintain bone mineral density.Bone building nutrients work and belong together.Vitamin K2 naturally complements calcium as they work together as part of a team. You may take a calcium supplement to maintain the health of your bones. However a key additional vitamin for your bone health is Vitamin K2. While calcium is essential for good bone health, Vitamin K2 is also a co-factor in helping to maintain bone health.As we know the major use of calcium in your body is in your skeleton. You need calcium to help keep up the constant repair and rebuilding of your bones. However calcium does not function in isolation and it’s important to also maintain your intake of Vitamin K2. So if you want a quality vitamin, which may help your body build healthy bones, try Caruso’s Vitamin K2 today. Always read the label and use only as directed. If symptoms persist consult your Healthcare Professional. Vitamin supplements should not replace a balanced diet. Vitamin supplements may only be of assistance if dietary intakes are inadequate. 1.The Basics of Bone In Health & Disease. Office of the surgeon General U.S. National Institute of health. 2004
FITNESS WELLNESSHere's good news on how you may help & maintain healthy bones! Read more
Health tips on how you can reduce developing chronic disease dramatically! Yes, it’s true: Australians are living longer today than ever before. The average life expectancy for males is 81 whilst the average life expectancy for females is 84. However, with 70% of Australian adults living with at least one chronic disease I think it would be fair to say that their quality of life could be a lot better! I don’t believe anyone wants to live a long life in pain and misery. One ingredient that can be credited to many of our health problems is sugar. As a nation, we consume too much sugar. White sugar does not contain a single nutrient capable of supporting life.2 Australians, on average, consume 27 teaspoons of total sugars a day (that’s 50 kilos per year, including natural sugars), according to the 2012 report Sugar Consumption in Australia: A Statistical Update. That adds up to an incredible 157,000 calories a year! As a result, Australia’s obesity levels are increasing. A 2005 World Health Organisation (WHO) study found that just over 20% of Australian adults are obese, and predicted that this was to rise to 29% in 2010.3 In 2007, WHO found that 67.4% of Australian adults were overweight. That ranked Australia as the 21st in the world, and third out of the major countries in the English-speaking world, behind the United States (ranked 9th) and New Zealand (ranked 17th). In the latest issue of the Australian Government’s Profiles of Health Survey coordinated by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, which was published in 2013, stated the average Australian has a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 27.6. A healthy BMI range is between 20-25. I didn’t want to become a statistic so I made a decision to start taking responsibility for my own health! It all started back in 1979 when I joined a gym to lose weight and get t. At the time I weighed over 101 kilos. I’m only 164cm (5’3”) tall so I was obese and as a result very self-conscious so I decided to do something about it. One day I arrived at the gym with a burger in one hand and a can of soft drink in the other. George, (the gym owner) pulled me aside and said, “Frank, it’s really great that you’re training here, but if you don’t change your diet you won’t live a long and healthy life... What you eat today, is what you are tomorrow!” I asked George; “So in your opinion, what is a good diet?” George turned around and picked up a book from behind the counter, handed it to me and said, “Frank, do yourself a favour, buy this book and read it, I promise you it will change your life.” I thought to myself, “Do I really need to read a book to know what to eat?” George was very persistent. Reluctantly, I purchased the book just to get him off my back. I really didn’t have any intention of reading it. After a couple of days, I thought I should read a few pages because George would surely ask me questions next time I popped into the gym. I eventually picked up the book and started reading the first chapter and I couldn’t put it down. I read the whole book in 3 days and just as George had promised, it changed my life forever. The book was called ‘The Miracle of Fasting’ by best selling author Paul Bragg. Before reading the book I knew absolutely nothing about a balanced diet or that food and regular exercise played an essential role in maintaining good health and preventing disease. People ask me how did one book have so much impact on my life so quickly. It’s a good question! The reason Paul’s book had such a profound impact on me instantly was because it was the first time in my life someone ever said to me: “Eat to live, where most of us live to eat”. It was the first time I heard the saying “Prevention is Better than Cure” and “if I take responsibility for my own health I could live a long, healthy and vibrant life!” It was as though I had been struck by lightning. You see, before I read the book I thought I had no influence or control over my health. Now, for the first time in my life I realised that I had an option. I had a choice to maintain my health or I could throw caution to the wind and hope that I wouldn’t end up with a chronic disease. It was a no brainer - I decided to maintain my health by choice! As soon as I discovered that I had some control over the outcome of my health I instantly changed my lifestyle habits. I didn’t want to waste another second eating foods that would undermine my health. I started reading every book I could get my hands on about natural living, bowel health, internal cleansing, herbal medicine and vitamin therapy. The more I read, the more I wanted to know! All my time was totally consumed with learning more about this new health approach that I now believed was the secret to regaining and maintaining vibrant health. In 2 years I went from weighing 101 kilos, with a body fat percentage of 38% down to 64 kilos and 11% body fat. At 26 years of age, I was in the best shape of my life. I felt amazing. Not just physically but I was mentally strong. My head was so clear, I was less stressed, sleeping better, better mood. I was a much happier person. I was so inspired by my learnings that I couldn’t wait to tell the world. I started with telling my family, friends, works mates and anyone who would listen. I would talk all day if people were willing to listen. I felt it was my duty to spread the word of natural living so others could experience the health benefits, just like I did. Then, one day I said to my wife Grace, I would really like to do this full time. I would love to open a health food store so I could talk about my passion with the world. We had just put a deposit on a block of land and were planning on building our new home. Grace had her heart set on it. I said; “Grace, do we build a new home or do we open a health food store? ”We discussed it and she said; “It’s your passion, let’s open a health food store and we can build the house another day!” After 36 years it still brings tears to my eyes when I think about that moment. I’ve always had Grace’s support. She is my rock! So on the 1st of November 1982, on my 28th birthday, I opened my health food store. It was one of the happiest days of my life Every day I couldn’t wait for the sun to come up so I could get to the store and start talking to my customers. I absolutely loved what I was doing! After 13 years of working in my store, it became obvious to me that many health companies weren’t as passionate as I was about natural living. So in June 1995, I decided to start my own herbal and nutritional range of health products. I wanted to develop a small range of unique, high quality herbal and nutritional products and lifestyle programs that would have a positive affect on people’s health and make a difference to their lives. I’m now in my sixties, I train 5 to 6 days a week. I’m in good health and take no medication. It’s not that I’m against them I simply don’t need them. I can say with my hand on my heart that I feel just as alert, have just as much energy, and feel just as enthusiastic about life today as I did in my twenties. I would like to think I can live well into my nineties and beyond in good health. If I continue to eat to live and exercise regularly, I can’t see why not! What you eat today is what you are tomorrow! For over 39 years I’ve believed that if you follow the principles of natural living you can not only maintain good health and reduce your chances of developing chronic disease dramatically but I believe you can also regain your health. You just need to give your body a chance. The human body is magnificent – it’s perfect – but just like anything that has moving parts, you need to take care of it otherwise it eventually breaks down. If you give your body the opportunity it will heal itself! If I didn’t experience this myself all those years ago, I would never have believed it. Over the years, I’ve seen many friends; family members and customers transform their health and their lives by simply adopting a lifestyle that comprises of eating mostly real food, exercising regularly, avoiding processed foods and drinks that contain added sugar. People always ask me what do I eat? It’s difficult to cover my complete menu in this article but basically I eat mostly real food, fresh food, lots of vegetables (mostly green), raw nuts and seeds, sprouted seeds, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, lots of fresh herbs, grass-fed beef, free-range chicken and eggs, oily fish, and selected fresh fruit. These foods contain an abundance of vitamins, minerals, micronutrients, amino acids, healthy fats (essential fatty acids) and much, much more. I don’t eat foods containing refined added sugar, ice cream, cakes, biscuits, sweetened fruit juices, candy, canned fruit juice, canned fruit, soft drinks and I don’t chew gum. I avoid processed food, refined foods, foods made with white flour, foods that contain artificial colours, flavours, preservatives, most canned foods, potato chips, corn chips, prepackaged foods, and white rice. I also don’t eat processed breakfast cereals because many contain added sugar, artificial colours, flavours and preservatives. I have so much more information I would love to share about natural living but it would need several hundred pages to include all my learning’s over the last 39 years. Over the next 12 months, I will be writing articles that will reveal all of my principles for a long, healthy and vibrant life. For a limited time, only you can download my free e-health pack here To this day I remain just as committed about educating and helping people to achieve better health through good nutrition and regular exercise, as I was when I started way back in 1979. I considered myself somewhat lucky to have discovered the benefits of natural living at a young age. So I have made it my life mission to inspire other Australian’s to join with me in building an army of health crusaders, to educate others on the benefits of natural living and the essential role it plays in preventing disease. I hope you will join me on my crusade to encourage our fellow Australians to embrace the principles of natural health so that they too can live a long, healthy and vibrant life. Make time for good health and you will always have enough health for a good time! Yours in vibrant health,Frank Caruso
10 Top Tips for Winter Skin Health Your skin is the largest organ of your body, and consists of three layers: the epidermis (or outer layer), the dermis (middle layer) and the hypodermis (the deepest layer). The epidermis itself is made up of five layers, the outermost being known as the stratum corneum. The stratum corneum consists mostly of dead skin cells, and creates a barrier between your body’s internal and external environments. This provides protection for your body as it prevents both foreign material entry into your skin, and moisture loss from your skin. The cells of the stratum corneum are surrounded by natural oils (including fatty acids and cholesterol), and the greater the oil content, the more moisturised your skin will be. During the cooler months, exposure to the cold air outside can really irritate the surface layers of your skin, whilst indoor heating can cause dryness and redness by taking moisture out of the air, making the moisture on the surface of your skin evaporate more quickly. What’s more, your skin tends to produce less of the valuable oils in the stratum corneum during the winter. The result can be dry, red, itchy or flaky skin which can become very irritated and uncomfortable. There are some simple things that you can do to help negate the harsh effects that cold air and indoor heating can have on your skin during the winter. Here are our “Top Tips” for keeping your skin healthy in the cold! 1. Keep the Air Moist As mentioned previously, heaters take the moisture out of the air which can then go on to dry your skin, nose and throat. Humidifiers put the moisture back into the air, helping to minimise any chance of your skin or other respiratory tissues getting too dry. If you don’t have a humidifier, try not to have your indoor heating turned up too high- you don’t need to be hot, just warm. 2. Shower & Bath Temperatures Keep shower and bath water temperatures warm, not hot. Hot water can strip your skin of many of its natural oils and tends, therefore, to make your skin quite dry. 3. Skin Care Routine Changing your skin care routine during the winter months can also really help. Replacing your foaming cleanser which can be quite harsh and drying to a cream cleanser which can help to replace moisture is one way that you can help protect your skin. Using products or serums that contain natural oils such as rosehip oil, olive oil, vitamin E or coconut oil can be very beneficial. Try to avoid petrochemical based moisturisers and skin care products as they can dry skin further. You might also like to get creative and make your own skin care products.Homemade moisturising face masks are a really simple and effective way to give your skin some extra moisture, whilst giving yourself a little TLC at the same time. You can mash up an avocado and add things like sweet almond oil, yoghurt, olive oil, jojoba oil, almond oil, honey, egg yolks, vitamin E oil or aloe. Mix it to a paste, apply it to your skin and find a nice cosy spot to sit and relax for 10 or 15 minutes before gently cleansing away. 4. Healthy & Fatty Foods Eat plenty of healthy oils to help provide moisture for the stratum corneum. Fatty foods can provide some much-needed nourishment to dry, red and irritated skin. Be sure to include plenty of nuts, seeds, avocados, eggs (yolks) and fish to your diet, along with fresh, unprocessed oils such as extra virgin olive oil, almond oil, wheat germ oil and flaxseed oil. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a fantastic source of squalene which can help to provide strength and support for the membranes surrounding skin cells. 5. Stay Hydrated With Water During the colder months, it is really important that you stay hydrated. Although it may not directly relieve dry, flaky or irritated skin, drinking plenty of water can help your skin cells stay plump and your skin stay smooth. 6. Mist Sprays Mist sprays can be a godsend! You can purchase skin mist sprays from your local pharmacy or health food store, or again, you can get creative and make your own! You will need to find a spray bottle (usually around 100mL should be enough). Fill it almost to the top with some pure filtered water, add a couple of teaspoons of your favourite oil - jojoba oil or sweet almond oil, a few drops of your favourite essential oils - lavender or rose geranium are great, screw down the lid, give it a shake and away you go. You can apply it to any part of your body, whenever necessary to help freshen up dry skin. 7. Natural Loofah Keeping the stratum corneum healthy by gently brushing with a natural loofah to remove some of the surface skin cells when your skin is dry can be a very effective way to help prevent moisture loss and relieve dry skin. Doing this 2-3 times per week during the winter will be enough to keep your skin smooth and healthy. 8. Natural & Unprocessed Oils As moisturisers are generally designed to lock moisture in rather than provide moisture to your skin, moisturising straight out of the shower ensures that while your skin is still moist and soft, most of that moisture will be locked n. Natural and unprocessed oils such as coconut oil make great body moisturisers by providing a lovely fatty barrier from which moisture dare not escape! 9. Winter Clothes Protecting your skin by covering up with gloves, scarves and a good quality sunscreen during the winter will reduce its exposure to wind, rain and winter sun which can all be very drying and irritating to the skin. 10. Irritants and Fabrics Avoid irritants that can cause itching and redness from contacting your skin. Prickly fabrics can aggravate your skin and be a trigger or you to start scratching, and using harsh or heavily fragranced cleaning chemicals on your clothes, bed sheets and towels can also lead to skin inflammation – particularly in those with sensitive skin. Look for fragrance-free laundry detergents designed for sensitive skin, to minimise any potential for irritation from the fabrics that will come into close contact with your skin. Winter time can be a very beautiful time of the year, and by applying these suggestions, your skin can also stay soft, moisturised and beautiful through the cold.
My 9 secrets to maintaining a healthy bowel & living a long, healthy and vibrant life! Some people I’ve spoken to believe its normal to have one bowel movement every 3 days. After reading over 50 books of bowel health and natural living over the last 38 years, in my opinion, one bowel movement every 3 days is definitely not ok. I do believe that the normal range of bowel movements should be 1 to 3 a day for maintaining a healthy bowel and for optimum health. Here are my 9 secrets to maintaining a healthy bowel and living a long, healthy and vibrant life1. Dietary fibreIncrease your dietary fibre intake to 35 grams a day for men and 30 grams a day for women. Below I have listed a few common fruits and vegetables and the amount of fibre they contain. It’s important that you calculate the total amount of fibre you are consuming from your foods.Please read the labels of all packaged food you buy to ensure they contain a good amount of dietary fibre. Start by reducing the number of refined foods you purchase and introduce more whole foods to your weekly shopping list such as multigrain/wholemeal breads and pasta, brown rice, raw cereals etc. You can see by this list that it doesn’t take much to add up to your recommended daily dietary fibre intake. Fibre content of foods Apple 1 medium = 4 grams Peach 1 medium = 2 grams Pear 1 medium = 5 grams Avocado 1 medium = 10 grams Kiwi Fruit 1 medium = 1.2 grams Fig fresh 1 large = 2 grams Banana 1 medium = 3 grams Passion Fruit 1 medium = 2 grams Orange 1 medium = 3 grams Nectarine 1 medium = 2 grams Papaya 1 cup = 3 Mango 1 cup = 3 Pineapple 1 cup = 3.5 Broccoli, fresh, cooked 1 cup = 2 Zucchini, Fresh, cooked 1 cup = 1 Brown rice, cooked 1 cup = 3.5 Cereal, bran flakes 1 cup = 5 Oatmeal, plain, cooked 1 cup = 4 Wholemeal pasta 1 cup = 6 Chickpeas 1 cup = 12.5 Lima Beans 1 cup = 13 Lentils 1 cup = 10 Flax seed 1 tablespoon = 12.5 Chia seeds 1 tablespoon = 2 Ref: healthline.com.au In addition, you could take 2 tablespoons of Caruso’s Quick Fibre Plus every morning. Not only does it provide you with 10 grams of dietary fibre (1/3 of your daily allowance) but also an abundance of Omega 3, 6 & 9 essential fatty acids (EFA’s), protein and complex carbohydrates. 2. Drink waterDrink 2 litres (8 glasses) of pure water daily. Drinking at least 2 litres of water throughout the day is essential for bowel health. Particularly when consuming 30 grams of dietary fibre daily. It’s also important that you don’t consume 2 litres at once and rather over an 8 to 12 hour period during the day. Try and not drink water or fluids during mail meals. Best to drink an hour before meals and 30 minutes after main meals.3. ExerciseExercise 20 minutes every day. Moderate exercise stimulates your bowels, helping your intestines do their job and increase bowel movements. Exercising 20 minutes a day reduces the risk of developing chronic disease dramatically! Certain yoga poses increase blood flow to the digestive tract and stimulates your intestines to contract. In my opinion the best exercises that help stimulate the bowels are totally functional, bodyweight exercises that focus mostly on your stomach (core) muscles. To view my 20-minute bodyweight workout video please clink here; 20 minute workout video4. Don't overeatMost people overeat their main meal. Even overeating of nutritional food can cause constipation and upset your digestive system. Your digestive system needs time to properly digest the food that you eat and to unitise all the goodness that these foods provide. So by eating five smaller meals daily rather than three large meals takes a huge load off your digestive system. As an example, you should have a good wholesome breakfast which includes fresh fruit, unprocessed cereal, almonds and seeds. Its important that you ensure that breakfast provides you with at least 1/3 of your daily fibre intake. By mid-morning you could eat 2 pieces of fruit, a hand full of raw nuts or seeds. Lunch/midday grilled chicken/tuna salad and pine nuts (with or without whole grain bread), mid-afternoon another 2 pieces of fruit and hand full of nuts, and evening you can have a wholesome meal with a fruit salad afterwards for dessert. If you get a little peckish later at night please have another piece of fresh fruit of raw nuts (almonds or cashews). These are easy to digest!5. Don't eat too lateMany people I talk to who have digestive problems eat just before going to bed. Please don’t eat too late at night or 2 hours before going to bed. Eating just before bed may slow down digestion, may cause unpleasant side effects such as: problems sleeping, nightmares, indigestion, gas just to name a few. Studies have also shown that when food is consumed late at night — anywhere from after dinner to outside a person's typical sleep/wake cycle — your body is more likely to store those calories as fat and gain weight rather than burn it as energy,6. Eat and chew your foodEating slowly and chewing your food probably is essential for good digestion. When consuming main meals its really important that you chew your food slowly and properly before swallowing. The physical process of chewing food in your mouth helps to break down larger particles of food into smaller particles. This helps to reduce stress on the oesophagus and helps the stomach metabolize your food. When you chew each mouthful properly, you also release a lot of salivae, which contain digestive enzymes which break down starch. This goes a long way in preventing digestive problems and preventing constipation.7. Avoid eating processed foodPlease try and reduce the amount of processed food that you eat on a daily basis. Most processed food contains little fibre and even less nourishment. As a result, it robs your body of the opportunity to receive the nutrition it so desperately needs from whole foods to maintain optimum health and wellbeing. It’s what I call a diet saboteur. It's blamed for our nation's obesity epidemic, high blood pressure and the rise of Type 2 diabetes. You can reduce your chances of developing chronic disease dramatically by just reducing processed food from your diet.8. Taking ProbioticsIf you have taken antibiotics at any time I would strongly recommend you take probiotic supplements for about 3 months.Antibiotics are medicines used to treat infections or diseases caused by bacteria. However Antibiotics not only kill off the ‘bad’ bacteria that are causing an infection, but they can also wipe out some of our good essential bacteria – particularly in the gut.With the reduction in ‘good’ bacteria, the body finds it harder to maintain good gut balance, and this may result in some unwanted symptoms such as constipation, poor digestion, wind, stomach cramps and even possibly diarrhoea. This is because the “good bacteria” also assist with the digestion of food!However, this imbalance may be assisted by taking a probiotic every day during your course of antibiotics and for at least 3 months after the course is finished. This way you can replenish your friendly bacteria on a daily basis before your digestive system is upset by a longstanding microbial imbalance.9. Eat to liveMost people living in the western world today live to eat rather than eat to live. It’s not rocket science. Eating an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables, raw seeds and nuts, whole grains and whole foods daily is undoubtedly going to not only reduce your chances of developing chronic disease but improve your quality of life I promise you that if you embrace the principles of healthy living, you can live a long, healthy and vibrant life. If you make time for good health you will always have enough health for a good time.Yours in Vibrant health,
Caruso's Keeps Me Going!-78 year old Triathlete Alf Lakin. Meet Alf Lakin. Gold Coast based triathlete now 78 years of age, representing Australia in various domestic and international events. Alf started competing in triathlons approximately three years ago, when he decided he needed a change from his usual track and field activity.He says that the "challenge of doing the sport" was what inspired him to give it a go. He also believes that keeping active helps to keep your mind and body feeling young. In a recent interview with Channel 7's The Daily Edition, Alf said he believed that being inactive causes things to "start slowing down". But doing triathlons "keeps me in good health and is better than sitting around".Alf credits his activity physically and the sense of satisfaction and community that it brings for his positive outlook, proclaiming during a chat with Caruso's recently "life is great!". Alf has been a long term user of Caruso's products and also says that he believes supplementation "makes a big difference". Frank and the team at Caruso's are proud to support Alf in his athletic challenges and as he inspires people all around the world to stay active, no matter your age. See his interview from August 2018 with The Daily Edition here Find Alf on Instagram
FITNESS WELLNESSCaruso's Keeps Me Going!-78 year old Triathlete Alf Lakin. Read more
The Benefits of Tai Chi Tai Chi reduces tress, increases mobility, relieves pain, promotes happiness and improves quality of life! Tai Chi's popularity in Australia is on the increase and it is not just the elderly practicing Tai Chi in the local park! People of all age groups and walks of life are embracing the benefits of Tai Chi. So what is it about Tai Chi that is making many of us want to try it? Tai Chi aims to improve overall health an wellbeing including both the body and mind with a low-impact, slow-style exercise, designed to leave a sense of relaxation and calm after each session. Tai Chi is very different to many forms of exercise as it aims to relax muscles, rather than tensing muscles, using circular motions that flow and are never forces, whilst ensuring connective tissues are not over-stretched or over-exerted. Tai Chi originated in Ancient China as a martial art, often being described as "meditation in motion" due to the tranquility and fluidity of the movements involved. One of Tai Chi's beauties is that it can be practiced by nearly everyone, spanning across varying degrees of fitness and range of motion as the movements can be tailored to individual requirements. Tai Chi is said to cultivate and stimulate QI, the energy force believed to flow throughout the body. This then removes blockages that may have occurred and may be causing certain ailments in the body. Tai Ch also works on balancing Yin and Yang in the body. Yin and Yang are opposing elements that are said to promote balance and harmony. How could Tai Chi help you? Tai Chi boasts many benefits to health and wellbeing, including: Stress Tai Chi may help reduce stress levels from the gentle movement, breathing techniques and mental concentration required. During a session you are encouraged to remain tranquil, yet alert enough to consciously command the body. Balance and Fall Prevention Most research surrounding Tai chi's health benefits have been on fall prevention. With studies supporting Tai Chi's involvement in assisting balance and fall prevention, due to increased coordination in the elderly. Proprioception- the ability to sense the position of one's body in space - declines with age, meaning the elderly are at a higher risk of losing balance and falling. Due to Tai Chi's ability to be adjusted, it is an exercise form that many elderly can embrace and add to their lives. Muscle Strength Continued Tai Chi will improve muscle strength in both the upper and lower body, similar to that of bris walkgin or light resistance training. Increased muscle strength helps joints remain stable and protected, which may prevent certain types of injuries and may be beneficial in those who exercise frequently and more vigorously. Flexibility Flexibility allows us to move and improves our range of motion. Tai Chi is believed o be beneficial in those wishing to improve their range of motion, particularly after certain injuries. Other reasons to try Tai Chi You can do it anywhere as minimal space is required. Many people choose to practice Tai Chi outside, however this is not a requirement, just personal choice. Many classes available Australia wide as well as many DVDs and online classes available, if you prefer the comfort of your own home. The risk of injury is very low from Tai Chi. You can do it alone, at your own pace, or with others. No fancy outfits required, just loose clothes to move freely in and flat shoes that you can still feel the ground in. Look out for instructors or courses in your local area if you are beginning and / or buy or download some Tai Chi DVDs if you prefer to practice in the comfort of your own home an enjoy the many benefits Tai Chi can bring to your life. Disclaimer If you suffer from any medical condition or pre-existing injuries check with your healthcare professional before undertaking any exercise program.
Kombucha- The 2000 Year Old Superfood Although fermented foods and beverages have long been part of many cultures, some as far back as 2000 years, we are only now really seeing a big increase in popularity and consumption of these here in Australia. Whilst they may seem just like a trend to some, fermented foods and beverages have a whole host of benefits that you can reap with regular consumption. The myriad of health benefits of fermented foods and beverages is largely due to the production of beneficial bacteria and acids produced during the fermentation process. Why ferment foods and beverages? Fermentation of foods and beverages dates back to the time before we had refrigerators or electricity to store our food and beverages and had to rely on other methods to stop food from spoiling. Fermentation is an anaerobic (without oxygen) process that converts carbohydrates (such as sugar) into either alcohols and carbon dioxide or to organic acids. The process involves the presence of bacteria, yeast or a combination of the two. The bacteria and the yeast are responsible for converting the carbohydrates into bacteria strains that are beneficial probiotics. This increase in beneficial bacteria or probiotics helps us in many ways including immune and gut health. Over 70% of our immune system resides in our gut and relies on a balance between the beneficial bacteria and the bacteria that may lead to poor health. There is sufficient evidence to suggest a strong connection with gut health and brain function, including focus, clarity and energy levels. Not to mention general functioning of the digestive tract, such as reduction in bloating, indigestion and poor bowel function. So, what are some of the popular fermented food and beverage options? Kombucha Kombucha’s popularity has been growing rapidly with this drink now beingavailable almost anywhere, from health food stores to cafes, restaurants and even convenience stores. Homebrewing has taken a shift with many people now brewing kombucha at home, in a relatively simple fermentation process. So, what exactly is kombucha? You may actually be surprised to learn that kombucha is not a new creation, but in fact has been consumed for approximately 2000 years. It is believed to have started in China or Japan. Kombucha is a probiotic and nutrient rich drink that is made from adding a SCOBY (a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) to green or black tea and fermenting with sugar. The good news is that the sugar is needed in the fermentation process and the majority of it (around 90%) is actually utilised during this process so the end product is actually a low sugar drink. (Do keep an eye on the label however as some mass produced products may have sugar added to the drink to help with flavour). What is SCOBY? SCOBY is the living culture that is added to the tea and sugar, often referred to as “The Mother” as it is responsible for turning the tea to “kombucha”. SCOBY is a blob-like disc that covers the surface of the liquid and providesa seal to prevent air from entering the liquid, ensuring the fermentation happens in an anaerobic environment. Benefits of Kombucha? Apart from the wonderful probiotic benefits of this drink already discussed, kombucha is naturally high in antioxidants which assist us in fighting free radicals that may damage our cells. When kombucha is made from green tea, it will contain the powerful antioxidants known as polyphenols. Polyphenols have long been documented as important antioxidants. Another wonderful benefit of consuming kombucha is that it is high in acetic acid due to the fermentation process. Acetic acid may kill potentially harmful microorganisms in our gut, further assisting gut health. Kefir Kefir’s popularity may not be as widespread as kombucha in Australia; however it is very popular in the Middle East and Europe with its numerous health benefits make this cultured, creamy product a great addition to your diet. Another great thing about kefir is it can be cultured from dairy and nondairy making it suitable for most people. The milk-based kefir is generally well tolerated by most, even those with sensitivities to lactose as it contains the lactase enzyme needed for proper digestion of the often-troubling lactose. Kefir is similar in texture to a drinkingyoghurt, with a tart, slightly effervescent refreshing taste that has been long used throughout the Middle East, Eastern European and Russian cultures. Like kombucha, kefir is naturally high in probiotics, but also has a broad spectrum of yeasts making it very nutritious and a beneficial addition to your diet. Like any fermented product there are specific bacterial strains needed to produce individual products. In kefir’s case it is the kefir grains that are used to create it. These grains contain both bacteria and yeasts, in white/yellow grain-like clumps. The grains are what is needed for the milk to ferment, and the beauty of these grains is that once the fermentation process has finished, they can be strained from the mixture and reused to make new batches. Sauerkraut Sauerkraut translates to “sour cabbage” in German and is a fermented cabbage dish that has been widely consumed throughout Central Europe for hundreds of years and is widely known, even here in Australia. Sauerkraut not only provides beneficial probiotics and antioxidants, but it is also a great source of fibre and is low in calories. Keep in mind however, it can be high in sodium as salt is one of the main ingredients in this dish, so stick with a smaller serving size, having it as a snack or a side dish.
The Hemp Revolution After more than 15 years of lobbying, the Australian Hemp Industry has persuaded the Government to follow countries such as the UK, USA and Canada, and pass legislation that legalises the use of Hemp in food products. As of November 12th, 2017 you have been legally able to purchase products such as Hemp oil, Hemp seeds, Hemp protein powder and Hemp flour from your local Health Food Shop for the purpose of dietary consumption. This means that products that were previously labelled “external use only” are now available as foods. But hemp is not just any old food – Hemp is a true superfood! What Is Hemp? Hemp is a variety of cannabis (Cannabissativa) which is different to marijuana. It has been specifically bred to produce very low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the psychoactive constituent in marijuana. Hemp therefore will not cause the “high” associated with marijuana use. Presently, Hemp is cultivated as an industrial product for use in textiles and clothing, body products, paper, alternatives to plastic, biofuel and the building industry, however, it is an extremely nutritious plant. It is gluten free, low in naturally occurring sugars and full of fibre, protein, essential* fatty acids (EFAs), vitamins and minerals. What are the nutritional benefits of Hemp? Hemp is one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. It is what is known as a complete protein, meaning it contains all 10 essential* amino acids. This is rare for a plant food. Just 30g of Hemp contains almost 10g of protein. Hemp is the richest source of the omega 3 and omega 6 essential fatty acids of all foods. The seeds are made up of around 85% EFA’s which your body uses to maintain skin, eye and nervous system health, as well as to manage inflammation. It is high in the fat soluble vitamins A and E and is also a great source of the minerals magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, manganese, zinc and iron. 30g of Hemp contains a whopping 50% of your daily requirement for magnesium and phosphorus, and 60% of the Recommended Daily Intake for manganese. With the exception of Pumpkin seeds, Hemp seeds contain more antioxidants than any other plant based oil. Antioxidants play a vital role in maintaining cellular health and are involved in healthy cardiovascular function, nervous system function, reproductive function and healthy aging. What types of food products can be made from Hemp, and how can I use it in my cooking? All of the food products made from hemp are produced by using the seeds. The seeds impart a delicious nutty flavour to the dishes you create. After pressing the seeds to extract the EFA rich oil, you are left with a fibrous mass known as “hemp cake”. The hemp cake is milled to make hemp flour. Hemp flour can be used in gluten free baking to make cakes, biscuits, and muffins. The oil is not recommended for use in cooking due to its high EFA content. It is best used in salad dressings, dips and smoothies. Hemp seeds, as mentioned above, are extremely high in protein so it comes as no surprise to learn that hemp protein powders are now among the most popular types of vegetarian/vegan, gluten free and dairy free protein powders on the market. Just like its dairy counterparts, hemp protein can be used as a drink after workouts when mixed with water or some type of milk. It can also be added to pancake mix and smoothies for a convenient protein boost. Hemp seeds themselves can also be freshly ground and used as a sprinkle to give your salads, muesli, yoghurt or fruit a nutrient kick. Does Hemp have any other benefits? Hemp is one of the most sustainable and fast growing crops in Australia. It is also naturally resistant to pests meaning that pesticide, herbicide and fungicide use is minimal in Hemp production. It consumes less water than other crops (such as cotton), and is extremely hardy as it will grow in most soil types. Each plant is able to grow very close to the next and within a very small area so crops can be compact and utilise less space. What all this means is that the demand for similar products that utilise more non sustainable farming practises (such as textiles, fish, dairy and wheat) may be reduced, easing the negative load on the environment. With so many benefits to the health of both you and the environment, why not give hemp a try today? *An “essential” nutrient (amino acid or fatty acid) is one that your body cannot make, so you need to get it from your diet. Deficiencies of essential nutrients can have a negative impact on your health so it is vitally important that you are getting them from the food you eat.
Top 5 Essential Oil Headache Busters The term “headache” refers to any pain that occurs around the head, face or neck. Headaches are among the most common cause of pain and will effect most of us at some time in our lives. Headaches can be mild and annoying or severe and debilitating. Headaches can be caused by stress, eyestrain, poor posture, dehydration, not eating enough or skipping meals, hormone changes (periods), alcohol, allergies or infections such as colds, flus and sinusitis. The 3 most common types of headaches are tension headaches, migraines or sinus headaches. Tension headaches might feel like you have a tight band or feel pressure around your head. The pain can be mild to severe and is concentrated at your temples or around the back of your head – extending from the base of your skull down into your neck. Migraines are another more serious and common form of headache that can be quite debilitating, often seeing you bed ridden for up to a couple of days. They are usually accompanied by nausea and vomiting, blind spots or flashing lights in your eyes. The pain is described as throbbing, one sided and severe. These headaches will usually interfere with, and inhibit your normal daily activities. If you experience migraines on a regular basis you should see your healthcare practitioner as you may have nutritional deficiencies. Sinus headaches can also be quite painful and debilitating and are usually caused by allergies or an infection. If you have a sinus headache you will notice pain around your eyes, forehead, and across the bridge of your nose. Generally speaking, the most common way to alleviate the pain of headaches is with pain relief medicine. However, before you reach for the tablets, it might pay to consider some natural alternatives. The underlying cause of most headaches is dehydration, even mild levels of dehydration. So please make sure to keep hydrated by drinking 8 glasses (at least 1 litre) of water per day! Fresh air and some outdoor time also can reduce the occurrence of headaches. Our eyes need to focus on distant objects rather than just looking at things that are close to us. This can cause strain in the muscles of the eye and face which can lead to headaches. This is most commonly seen in people who work in front of a computer or in an office environment. So try going outside for a short walk. If these two simple things don’t work, then consider the use of natural essential oils! Essential oils are a popular addition to first aid kits in many homes. From mild anxiety and sleeplessness to stings and scratches, essential oils have been able to provide useful benefits for common ailments for hundreds of years. The five most commonly used essential oils for headaches are lavender, rosemary, peppermint, eucalyptus and chamomile. As each of the different oils have their own particular actions, they can be used for different types of headaches. Lavender oil is one of the most common oils found in Australian households, mainly because it has a wide array of uses for you, your pets and your home. Importantly, Lavender is considered to be a soothing pain reliever. It is also very calming to the nervous system which makes it an ideal choice for assisting with tension headaches caused by stress and anxiety. Peppermint is another oil which enjoys popularity in bathroom cabinets around the country. Peppermint oil contains menthol which helps to decongest the sinuses, ease pain and relax tense muscles. These actions make Peppermint oil a great choice for both tension and sinus headaches. Eucalyptus oil is invaluable in the treatment of sinus headaches as it has some very powerful decongestant actions. On top of that, Eucalyptus oil can also open up the nasal passages making breathing easier when you are suffering from colds and flus. It is the perfect oil to place in a vapouriser in the home to assist with respiratory conditions. Rosemary oil can be extremely beneficial to use for headaches as it is a potent pain reliever and decongestant. Rosemary also helps to promote healthy circulation - particularly to the head. This makes it a valuable oil to help alleviate the pain of both sinus headaches and migraines. Chamomile oil is considered to be anti-inflammatory and soothing for anxiety so it can be a very useful oil to use for tension headaches and stress. These oils can be used on their own or as a blend depending upon the type of headache you have. Tension headaches can be soothed when the oils are used as part of a relaxing warm bath with added Epsom salts. You will only need a few drops of each oil for the best results, and try to stay in the bath for at least 20 minutes. Tension headaches also respond well when the oils are diluted in a carrier base (such as almond oil) and dabbed or massaged onto the back of the neck and temples. Once again, you will only need 1-3 drops of the oil diluted in about 10-20mLs of the carrier oil. Migraines may also be soothed with topical application such as this. Sinus headaches respond well when the oils are placed (diluted) on the temples and on the lower edge of the cheekbones, or placed on a tissue and inhaled periodically. Infusing the air in your home by placing the oils in a vapouriser or diffuser is also great for painful sinuses and sinus headaches. When using oils topically, be careful not to get the oils in your eyes, and never place oils directly on the skin as some can cause irritation when used undiluted. Remember too that rosemary and peppermint oils are not suitable for use if you are pregnant. Some headaches however, may need more attention than others. If you are experiencing recurring headaches or your headaches are not being relieved with pharmaceutical medication, it may be best to check with your healthcare practitioner. Otherwise, essential oils are one of the safest and most non-invasive ways to help soothe the painful and bothersome discomfort of your headache naturally.
Managing the sneezing season Spring may bring warmer weather and longer days. However it is a season which is not welcomed by everyone. For some people spring means itchy eyes, sneezing, and congestion from hay fever and other allergies. So is there anything you can do to aid hay fever and allergies during the spring season? Hay fever is typically an acute inflammatory response to an allergen, (an allergic reaction) triggered by pollen, mould, animal dander, dust and other similar inhaled allergens. For some their allergies may be severe and require the attention of a doctor or other health care professional. For milder cases, home remedies may provide all the relief you need. Nutrients and food to add to your diet: Vitamin CVitamin C is a known natural antihistamine and can be found in a range of citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons and grapefruit. These fruits also contain bioflavonoids, which have powerful anti-allergy effects. The combination of vitamin C and bioflavonoids provides a natural decongestant and antihistamine for sufferers and may help alleviate symptoms of hay fever effectively. Foods high in Omega 3Omega 3 Fatty Acids are naturally anti-inflammatory. They may aid in reducing your susceptibility to allergens while improving immunity. You can find high amounts of Omega 3 in:• Sardines• Salmon• Flax seeds• Walnuts Local HoneyIncorporating a teaspoon or two of locally grown honey into your diet even before the season may enhance resistance to pollen. Bees collect honey from local plants, which may contain pollen by consuming the product it aids in helping your body adjust to pollen exposure. TeaGinger is very good as a decongestant and antihistamine. It has a direct effect on the anti-inflammatory processes of the human body, as it plays an essential role in controlling the platelet-activating factor. If you are not a fan of ginger tea, you can use chamomile or green tea as an alternative which both also have antihistamine effects. Peppermint Tea may also be used to aid in relieving congestion. Use honey to sweeten and enjoy the benefits. Add to your daily routine: ShowersShowers offer an added benefit for springtime allergy sufferers. A quick rinse after spending time outdoors can help remove allergens from your skin and hair which may aid in soothing hay fever symptoms. Aromatherapy oilsAromatherapy oils such as eucalyptus oil when used in a vaporizer can clear the air in your home and ease the symptoms of hay fever by helping to open your sinuses and nasal passages. If you don’t have a vaporizer simply add a few drops of oil to a bowl of steaming water. Don’t swallow the oil or apply it directly to your skin. Home remedies may take time to aid and prevent allergies, but if they are followed properly, one can stay healthier and enjoy spring and its benefits without suffering from allergies and the irritating symptoms that come along with them.
Good and bad cooking oils You have many options when it comes to choosing your oil for cooking, which can become more confusing and frustrating. There are two types of fatty acids - saturated and unsaturated. The different types of fatty acids are structurally different and as we would expect, they have different functions in the body. Saturated fats have a single bond and are found in animal products and dairy. These types of fats are solid at room temperature. Unsaturated fats are divided into two groups known as Polyunsaturated and Monounsaturated. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, are found primarily in fish, plant oils, seeds and nuts. These “healthy” fats have been shown to maintain healthy blood cholesterol levels. Even though these fats are better for you than saturated and trans fats, they are still fats, and intake should be moderate to maintain the best of health. When cooking on a high heat or deep frying, you would want to use fats that are stable and that don’t oxidise or become rancid. When fats go through oxidation, they react with oxygen to form free radicals and become harmful to use. Anytime you cook food, you run the risk of creating heat-induced damage. The oils you choose to cook with must be stable enough to resist chemical changes when heated on high temperatures, or you run the risk of damaging your health. One of the ways vegetable oils can cause damage is by converting your good cholesterol into bad cholesterol when they oxidise. Cooking oils to include in your diet Olive oil: Olive oil can do so much more when it comes to your health. Olive oil is one of the best and healthiest fats, which is pressed from the fruit of the olive. It is known for its benefit in balancing bad LDL cholesterol and raising good HDL cholesterol. Olive oil is packed with antioxidants called phenols, which may protect soft tissues. Extra virgin olive oil is best used in salad dressings and dips. Olive oil has a low smoke point that is the temperature at which it starts to burn and breaks down causing changes in its molecular structure. It is best to add olive oil towards the end of cooking. Ensure that you keep your olive oil in a dry, cool, dark place to prevent it from going rancid. Ghee: Ghee is the most preferred cooking oil in India, due to its high smoke point which makes it suitable for cooking. Ghee is rich in CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) the Essential fatty acid found in grass-fed animals. Casein and lactose have been removed from ghee, these are the substances that are found in dairy, which many people are sensitive to. Often, those with dairy sensitivities can tolerate ghee. Palm oil: Palm oil is made from palm fruit, which is a great healthy option for high heat cooking and is native to South East Asia. There has been a lot of controversy surrounding palm oil because many palm oil plantations have contributed to the destruction of rainforests. However, it is important to know your source. Avocado oil: This is one of the best cooking oils because it has such a high smoke point. However, it contains a reasonable amount of polyunsaturated fats which in excess, have been known to cause inflammation. Because of this, it is best not to use avocado oil as your everyday cooking, but it is a good choice foroccasional use. Butter: It is believed that high-quality grass fed butter can be good for you in small amounts. Our body and brain need dietary cholesterol as they are essential for our bodies to function properly. Make sure you source good quality grass fed butter, Organic raw grass fed butter is the best option. Cooking oils to use in moderation There are two types of polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) Omega 3 and Omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acid. Omega 3 Essential fatty acids are primarily found in fish, shell fish and flaxseed. These oils are good for use in moderation. Coconut oil: Coconut oil has been used for thousands of years for its astonishing and remarkable health benefits. When it comes to high heat cooking, coconut oil is your best option as it contains an exclusive composition of 90% saturated fatty acids. Coconut oil has powerful health benefits. It is mainly rich in Lauric Acid which makes it a great oil for wound healing. Make sure to choose organic virgin coconut oil to reap the health benefits. Canola oil: Is widely recognised as the healthiest salad and cooking oil, which is available to consumers, even though canola oil contains Omega 3s. These oils are fragile and exposed to oxidation through heating. Canola oil also contain uric acid, which can be toxic if consumed in large amounts. Grape seed oil: Has a moderate high smoke point and contains lots of vitamin E, about twice as much as olive oil. It has the highest concentration of Omega 6 and over 70% polyunsaturated fats (PUFA). As we know, these fats can cause inflammation and can have an absolutely devastating effects on the body’s metabolism. Oils can be used at the end of cooking to enhance the flavour. Remember to also keep your consumption of all fats to a minimum.
Laugh your way to good health! Laughter is contagious If you laugh, people laugh with you, even if they don’t always know what you’re laughing about. It connects us to those around us, and can even be used to ease interpersonal tension. Crack a joke during your next heated argument and see the tension melt away. Laughter and exercise may share more in common than you think. Most notably, both can boost your health. Sure you know about the infinite benefits of an active lifestyle, but did you know that laughter can support the immune system, blood pressure, stimulate the organs and reduce pain? Laughter is also readily available, free, has no side effects, and you don’t have to worry about overdosing. Moreover, it’s good for everyone around you. Laughter can relieve stress, boost your immune system and even change your perspective on life. When you are feeling stressed Laughter affects your blood pressure and pulse rate and helps your muscles to relax. It counteracts your body’s stress response by balancing the stress hormones cortisol, epinephrine and adrenaline. In addition, it releases “happy chemicals” in your brain, leaving you with a sense of well-being or even euphoria. Laughter helps increase immunity Laughter increases the number of antibody-producing cells and enhances the effectiveness of killer T-cells. This means a stronger immune system, as well as fewer physical effects that may be caused by stress. When you’re in pain, laughter increases the production of natural painkillers, thereby improving your tolerance to pain. As a muscle relaxant, laughter exercises the diaphragm, contracts the abdominal muscles and even works the shoulders, leaving muscles more relaxed afterwards. It even provides a good workout for the heart. According to the late Dr Laurence Peter, author of The Peter Principle, the bigger the laugh, the lower the tension and the more long-lasting the relief. Laughter changes your perspective on life, humour gives us an entirely different perspective on our problems. By viewing a problem a little more light-heartedly, it becomes a challenge instead of a threat, and your body won’t react with a stressful response. This gives us a sense of mastery and control over our environment, which helps us cope with adversity. Use laughter as a distraction Laughter diverts our attention away from our negative feelings like guilt, anger, stress and being miserable. So I say, fix your funny bone and teach yourself how to see the comedy in bad brain chemistry, the humour in mood disorders, and the satire in dysfunctional situations, because sometimes the only thing we can change is our perspective. Ha ha ha!
Looking after your immune system will support good health The immune system is composed of specialised cells, various proteins, tissue and organs. The role of the immune system is to defend us against millions of bacteria, microbes, viruses, toxins and parasites that would love to invade our body. The immune system cells, tissues and organs work together to attack the disease causing microorganisms and protect the human body. The cells of the immune system are the leukocytes or the white blood cells. There are two main cell types that work in combination to destroy organisms and substances that invade the body. Phagocytes: These are cells that protect the body by ingesting harmful microorganisms as they enter the body. There are a number of different types of phagocytes, the most common being neutrophils which fight bacteria primarily. Lymphocytes: These are the cells that help the body to remember the organisms, recognise and destroy them when they invade the body again for a second or third time. Lymphocytes are of two types: B lymphocytes and T lymphocytes. These cells are produced in the bone marrow and they either remain there and mature to form B lymphocytes or move to the thymus gland and mature to form T lymphocytes. Both these cells have different functions; B cells seek their target and send defence to lock them out, whereas T cells destroy the target identified by the B cells. The usual problems encountered within the immune system are usually associated with nutrient deficiency. Poor Immunity signs and symptoms are commonly implicated by sedentary lifestyle, not enough sleep, a weakened state of the body, a poor diet, consumption of alcohol and other stimulants. It takes more than an apple to keep the doctor away.Consume foods that are high in nutrients and minerals to keep your immune system on guard. Start your day with a “greens” drink to balance acidity for optimum health, rounding out your plate with plenty of colourful servings of fruits and vegetables. Include nuts, seeds, grains and foods that are high in fibre to help eliminate toxic build up to ensure that your body and immunity runs smoothly. Detoxing: Regular internal cleansing is vital for a strong immune system to eliminate bacteria, viruses, fungus, heavy metals and other invaders that weaken the immune system. This will depend on a type of detox program you are using to eliminate toxins. Exercise: Doing moderate exercise just a few times every week is beneficial for human health. Exercise is not just for reducing the number of colds and strengthening immunity but it can also drastically improve cardiovascular health, improve healthy blood pressure, helps control body weight and protects your body from bad bacteria. Just like a healthy diet, exercise can contribute to good general health and therefore to a healthy immune system. It may contribute even more directly by promoting good circulation, which allows the cells and substances of the immune system to move through the body freely and do their job efficiently.
What does your skin say about your health and age? Having healthy skin starts from within. You nourish and rejuvenate your skin from the inside. Causes of ageing are a complex interaction of environmental, dietary and internal changes. Many people think that the answer to fighting ageing is to spend thousands of dollars on expensive anti-ageing creams, injections and or going under the knife. This may seem to be the best ’fix’ - well actually it is not. A healthy diet can help you look and feel your best You can stop and prevent your body from ageing by making changes in your diet - a healthy diet can help you look and feel your best inside and out. Suddenly you will have lots of energy, you become more alert, your mood will improve, you will start to sleep better and the sex drive returns. You really don’t need expensive, fancy creams or plastic surgery to maintain your youthfulness. Make the changes today that will have a long effect on how you look and feel tomorrow. You may not have control over your environment, but you do have control over your diet which in turn fights things that accelerate ageing and ill health. Rejuvenate by sleeping: You need a good sleep for your whole body not just for your skin. Did you know while you’re asleep your skin and your whole body goes into repair mode; new skin cells grow and replace older cells, whilst chronic sleeplessness is linked to health problems. Deep sleep may be indeed a beauty sleep! Stress: Stress is part of life. When you get overwhelmed, your skin is one of the organs which might suffer. When you’re under stress, your cortisol levels, which is your body’s stress hormone, will increase. Your skin will sag, and wrinkles will appear, which will make you look older. Eating clean: Have you ever noticed how much some people don’t look anywhere close to their actual age, while others look much older than they are? Well you know what? It is not just genetics - so much of ageing is in your diet and depends on what you eat on a daily basis. The food you eat can be either destructive or constructive. Avoid sugar completely. Sweets can ruinyour skin health by increasing inflammation. Sugar molecules attach themselves to collagen and proteins which maintain elasticity and so your skin loses firmness. This speeds up ageing. That means more wrinkles for you. I know what you’re thinking!!! The answer to all your questions is yes! It is never too late to turn the clock back. Ageing gracefully and remaining healthy is about eating the right foods. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables such as mushrooms, leafy greens, onions, berries, cherries or any richly coloured fruit or vegetable. These foods are rich in antioxidants which slow down the ageing process. Important Vitamins and Minerals: Vitamin C: the main function is to produce collagen the structural protein that holds our bodies together and hastens the healing of wounds. Vitamin E: is a most important lipid antioxidant. It binds oxygen and protects the fats in our bodies from the damaging effects of uncontrolled oxidation free radicles. Selenium: an antioxidant which may assist with your immunity
Discover the “feel good” essential oil: Rose Geranium We’ve all heard the sayings, “Come up smelling like roses”, “Life’s a bed of roses”, “Everything’s coming up roses”, and seeing things through, ”Rose coloured glasses”. When we want to express looking good, or feeling good or a state of luxury we often refer to the beautiful and aromatic rose. The rose has been adored throughout history and has been a symbol of love, beauty, war and politics, but unfortunately the pure rose essential oil is the most expensive essential oil! Lucky for us there’s Rose geranium. A plant indigenous to Africa the geranium comes in over 200 different species. Geranium essential oil comes from two particular species: Pelargonium graveolens which is used to produce the geranium essential oil and has a more citrus-like scent and the species Pelargonium odorantissium has a rose-like scent and produces Rose geranium essential oil. This variety of geranium is often added to rose essential oil to lower its price making it more affordable and offering a wider range of health benefits. Rose geranium is described as being able to, “inspire natural beauty and enjoyment, uplifts and instantly tonifies the mind and intellect.” (Malte Hozzel) So how does smelling a rose make you feel? Making you feel good Rose geranium used topically has an overall balancing effect on the body. Its main benefit is on the mind and nervous system helping to lift the spirits and for relieving stress, generally making you “feel good”. Aromatherapists traditionally use Rose geranium for a wide range of health benefits. Traditional uses of Rose geranium by Aromatherapists In the Lymphatic system Rose geranium helps to detoxify your body and in female health has a balancing effect.The adrenal cortex is stimulated and balanced helping with hormonal imbalances in the body. Great for balancing oily and dry skin, as an antiseptic helps with minor wounds and burns. Rose geranium helps with the circulation, muscles and tissues of the skin improving the overall health and appearance of your skin. Its effects on the skin also help in dealing with scarring. As a Deodorant it has a long-lasting pleasant odour that is not harsh on the skin and combined with its antibacterial properties helps to eliminate body odour caused by bacteria. Rose geranium is best applied topically blended in massage oil, used in burners or vaporisers or as an ingredient in creams and body lotions for an uplifting, energising effect. So, next time you need your spirits lifted don’t forget to stop and smell the roses!
HERBAL MEDICINE WELLNESSDiscover the “feel good” essential oil: Rose Geranium Read more
Yoga Can Help with Aches and Pains Yoga is a simple process of reversing the ordinary outward flow of energy and consciousness so that the mind becomes a dynamic centre of direct perception which is no longer dependent upon the fallible senses but capable of actually experiencing the truth. In Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism the word yoga means “spiritual discipline”. Yoga is not new; it was developed in India more than 5000 years ago, and was used to unite the body, mind, and spirit. People often associate yoga with the postures and positions that make up the physical activity of the exercise, but after closer inspection it becomes clear that there are many more aspects of yoga. However, the progress of learning to still the mind and unify consciousness is also important in yoga exercise. Benefits of yoga Yoga practice can do more than to help improve the flexibility and strengthening of your muscles, most yoga poses are designed to flex and increase flexibility and reduce stress. Twisting your body into different shapes helps to release tension and ease the aches and pains. Mental Health: Yoga can be beneficial in achieving balance in physical, spiritual and emotional health. It helps you achieve deeper knowledge of yourself, and it facilitates in the discovery of your own power and makes you feel optimistic about yourself. It also helps to relieve irregularities in the brain and the entire Nervous System. Reference: A yoga intervention for young adults with elevated symptoms of depression. Woolery, A, Myers, H, Sternlieb, B and Zelter, L.2004 Immune system: Yoga practicing may enhance healthy living by allowing you to get enough sleep, eating healthy foods and drinking plenty of liquid. This kind of lifestyle will not only help in preventing you from being sick, but also in improving your health and strengthening your immunity by reducing your susceptibility to viruses which can cause ill health. There are many different types of yoga to practice. It is important to find out which type of yoga is right for you. Here is an introduction of a few of the most common and popular types of yoga: Asanas yoga: These techniques reach deep into the yogi’s body, massaging important internal organs. Helps to cleanse and maintain the nervous and circulatory systems, which automatically results in a healthier body and mind. Breathing exercises can also help in keeping a person healthy by supplying a fixed amount of oxygen to the muscles and internal organs. Ananda yoga: This type of yoga will appeal to the beginners who desire to cultivate spirituality and learn how to meditate as it focuses on gentle posture and is designed to move energy up to the brain. Hatha Yoga: Is the foundation of all Yoga styles. This is a basic form of yoga that has become very popular and easy to learn. It incorporates postures, regulated breathing, and meditation. The ideal way to practice the Hatha Yoga poses is to approach the practice session in a calm, meditative mood. One of the basic principles of yoga is to have a proper diet. The practice should be complemented by the right kind of foods in order to fully benefit from what yoga has to offer. You must have a well-balanced diet and it should nourish both your mind and body. https://carusosnaturalhealth.com.au/articles/harmonise-the-mind-and-body-with-yoga/
Healing powers of Lavender Lavender is the most versatile of all essential oils. Used for thousands of years both medicinally and in the home, lavender is most commonly known for its relaxing effects on the mind and body, the fragrance is pleasant, calming and soothinghelping to relax the nervous system. The English word for Lavender is generally thought to have come from the old French word Lavandre and the Latin word Lavare meaning “to wash” giving us some idea of how it was used at the time. However, the authenticity of this is uncertain and it’s more likely that the word Lavender comes from the Latin word Livere describing the “blueish” colour of the flower. Not only is Lavender beautiful to look at it has so many uses as well. The use of lavender even goes as far back in history as the ancient Greeks, Romans and Arabic cultures and in modern times lavender has a long history of use medicinally and in the home. Lavender is a shrubby plant, part of a larger group of flowering plants that include the mint family. Altogether, there are 39 different species of Lavender the most popular being the English Lavender or Old English Lavender. Did you know the colour “lavender” has been named after the English Lavender? Under the right conditions Lavender is relatively easy to grow and grows around the world in the temperate climates of southern Europe across to England, northern and eastern Africa, the Mediterranean, southwest Asia to southeast India. The various types of Lavender are used in many gardens and landscapes across the globe but it is the fragrant essential oil of the English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) that is cultivated for commercial purposes. The essential oil gives the Lavender flowers its characteristic colour and odour. Lavender is the most versatile of all essential oils. It’s like carrying your very own bottle of personal perfume, first-aid kit and pick-me-up. Most commonly known for its relaxing effects on the mind and body, the fragrance is pleasant, calming and soothing helping to relax the nervous system. Lavender has so many different uses and can be used fresh, dried or as an essential oil. Here’s some inspiration in making the most of your own remedies with lavender: • Use lavender in aromatherapy. Burn a few drops of lavender essential oil in an oil burner in your room at night to help induce relaxation and sleep. • Deodorise with lavender. Use a lavender room spray to refresh an area. Dried lavender simmered in a pot of water with citrus peels makes a great natural air freshener. Making sachets of dried lavender leaves and hung in wardrobes can help to deter moths and keep your wardrobe smelling fresh. It was common practice at one time to drape washing over lavender bushes to infuse their scent into clothes and bedding. Today we can simply add a sachet of dried lavender in a dryer for the same effect instead of dryer sheets. Don’t forget fresh lavender in a vase to brighten and fragrance any home. • First Aid with Lavender. Lavender oil is believed to have antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties which can be used to help heal minor burns and bug bites. Lavender was used in hospitals during World War I as an antiseptic and disinfectant for sterilizing medical equipment and treating wounds. It can be added to vaporizers for coughs and colds as it is believed that lavender has anti-viral properties. • Inhale lavender. Rub 2-3 drops of lavender oil in your palms and inhale for an instant calming effect. Even rubbing it on your wrists, feet and temples for the same effect. • Massage with lavender. Use the essential oil mixed in a massage oil base to relieve tension headaches by rubbing the oil on your temples and neck or relieve tired aching muscles. • Bathe with lavender. The soothing scent and refreshing nature of lavender makes it ideal for use in bathing and body products like soaps, body butters and lotions to keep clean and smell lovely. A hot footbath infused with lavender oil helps to relieve fatigue at the end of a day. • Sleep with lavender. Add a couple of drops of lavender oil to your pillow at night as a sleep aid. Or make buckwheat sleep masks and pillows and add dried lavender to promote relaxation and sleep. Used in massage oil can help to relieve tired aching muscles releasing tension. Try massaging some lavender oil on your temples and under your nose at night to prepare the body for rest and induce sleep. • Cook with lavender. As long as the lavender used has been organically grown and free of chemical pesticides why not use lavender as candied cake decorations. • Make gifts with lavender. Lavender makes great gifts as potpourri bags, lavender wash balls, lavender soaps, bath sachets, the list is endless. And let’s not forget, the beautiful fragrant violet flowers of lavender make a beautiful ornament to any garden.
Is your mood as positive as it could be? We all know the saying “you are what you eat”, however can it be true to say that what we eat influences how we feel! It’s widely known that your mood can trigger food cravings, cause you to overeat or supress your appetite completely. The foods that you eat can actually change the chemical composition of your brain. This influences the way you are feeling, your clarity of mind and how alert you are. Fluctuations in blood sugar levels are associated with changes in mood and energy, and are affected by what we eat. Brain chemicals such as such as serotonin, dopamine and acetylcholine influence the way we think, feel and behave. What we eat can have a large influence on them. So what particular foods can influence your mood? Refined sugarWe may all crave a chocolate bar at some time or another however, that chocolate bar and all its refined sugars causes our blood glucose levels to fall, resulting in sugar withdrawal effects that disrupts our mood, depletes our energy, and can contribute to sleep deprivation. Complex carbohydratesConsuming refined or processed carbohydrates such as white bread, white pasta and processed breakfast cereal, is going to have the same impact on your blood sugar levels as what a chocolate bar would. After the initial insulin boost, you will end up feeling fatigued, irritated, and down. Artificial sweetenersArtificial sweeteners may not be as good of a sugar alternative as we would like to think. Aspartame is an artificial sweetener that can block the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin and causes mood inclines and declines, headaches, and sleeplessness. Trans FatResearch has found a link between trans-fatty acid intake and biological changes that can contribute to depression. Unhealthy fats like those found in fast food and pastries can contribute to inflammatory responses in your body that can interfere with mood-boosting neurotransmitters. A poor diet can contribute to malnutrition which then leads to low levels of vitamins, minerals and Essential Fatty Acids. This can affect your mental health. Symptoms associated with particular nutritional deficiencies can also contribute to your mood. So what should you be eating?Aim to eat balanced meals and have at least five different types of vegetables a day, spread evenly throughout the day. Include a balance of lean proteins, whole grains, healthy fats and fruits and vegetables. These are great mood elevators with a great range of overall health benefits for your body.
Chemical Free Cleaning Two or three easy to find household products may be all you need for most of your cleaning. It is not really necessary to have a different cleaning product for every possible dirty or smelly problem. Homemade cleaning products can be made to be non-toxic for both you and the environment; they also help to reduce the environmental impact of packaging waste while saving money! Best of all… the ingredients needed are probably already in your cupboard! Non-Toxic Cleaning Ingredient List: Vinegar – just plain white will do the trick. Do not use vinegar on marble, granite or stone. Sodium bicarbonate – also known as bicarbonate of soda, bicarb soda, baking soda. (Not baking powder, this is a combination of sodium bicarbonate and cream of tartar). Essential Oils – lemon, eucalyptus, tea tree, lavender Do It Yourself Spring Cleaning Recipe Sparkly Clean Spray (Not for marble, granite or stone surfaces) ¼ cup vinegar ¾ cup water 5 drops lemon essential oil Spray bottle Mix together all ingredients in the spray bottle and shake well before use.Spray on surface and wipe with damp cloth. This can be used as an all-purpose spray, great also for windows and mirrors. But what about that vinegar aroma? This will dissipate when dry and the essential oils will help mask it during use. Opening windows and using a fan will speed up the drying process. Eucalyptus oil can be used instead of lemon oil; this is especially suited to cleaning the bathroom and laundry Other Vinegary Ideas… Tiled floors – 1 part Vinegar and 2 parts water in a bucket, 10 drops eucalyptus essential oil (not for wooden floors). Toilet cleaner – ¼ cup of vinegar and 10 drops of tea tree oil in and around the bowl, leave for 15 minutes then add a little elbow grease. Washing machine – by running clean ¼ cup vinegar through a short cycle. The Magic of Bicarbonate of Soda Sprinkle it on To clean surfaces (also inside the fridge and children’s toys) - sprinkle bicarb soda on damp cloth, wipe and then wipe again with rinsed cloth. Reduce odours – pour in an open container and place in cupboards and fridge. Sprinkle in bottom of bins, shoes, cloth nappy bucket and laundry basket. Pets – sprinkle in kitty litter trays (you’ll know if you’ve added too much when you see their little white footprints coming out from it). And to take the edge off that ‘wet dog’ odour – use as a dry shampoo, sprinkle on their coat and comb through. Carpet – Sprinkle bicarb soda on carpet, leave for 15 minutes and vacuum up. Burnt food stuck to pots & pans – sprinkle on, add hot water and soak. Simmering this for 10 – 20 minutes will help remove the most stubborn. Laundry – Reduce usual amount of laundry detergent and top up with bicarb soda. Paste it on Make a paste by mixing 2 parts bicarb soda to 1 part water. Use as a grout cleaner and to remove grime from most surfaces. Use paste on stains prior to washing, leave for 1 to 2 hours. Paste on the surface of the oven walls and leave for a few hours. Scrape off and wipe clean with a damp cloth. Environmentally friendly cleaning products are becoming more widely available also, allowing an easy transition to a chemical free home. Happy spring cleaning!
Spicing up your winter drinks! One of the simplest and easiest ways to warm up in winter is with a nice, hot drink. Whether you are at home, under a blanket or in the office a hot drink can take the winter chills away and warm you up from the inside out. The addition of herbs and spices that may already be in your pantry can add a new spin to the hot drinks you are currently consuming. Why not try the following: Chilli spiced cacao and almond milk Try this alternate to the standard hot chocolate drink if you are looking to cut down on sugar and dairy consumption, or simply just want to try something a little different. The herbs not only add a different dimension in flavour, but also add to the warming effects. You will need: 2 cups of almond milk (you may use other milk varieties), 3 – 4 tablespoons of raw cacao powder, 1 long red chilli cut in thirds and 1 cinnamon stick. Place in saucepan over stove and gently simmer on low heat for 15 minutes, or until aromatic. Strain and serve.Ginger and cinnamon tea Ginger is an excellent herb in teas as it is a circulatory stimulant and boasts warming properties. Ginger is lovely on its own, but the addition of cinnamon adds a slight sweetness to the taste. This tea will not only help you feel warmer in winter, but may assist with soothing the digestive system. Add 1 inch of grated fresh ginger and 2 cinnamon sticks to 2 cups of boiling water in a teapot and let it steep for 10 minutes. Rosemary and Lemon tea You may already use rosemary as an addition to cooking for its beautiful flavour, but have you ever tried it as a drink? Rosemary has a unique, aromatic flavour that is very uplifting and also nice and warming for your body. A few slices of lemon really adds to the flavour and fresh taste of this tea. Add 1-2 sprigs of fresh rosemary and 3 slices of lemon to 2 cups of boiling water in a teapot and let it steep for 10 minutes. Homemade Chai Chai actually means “tea” but a common chai is the masala chai. Making this yourself at home not only tastes amazing but will also fill your home with the beautiful, aromatic scent of the herbs and spices in this tea. You can also control the sweetness as many prepacked “chai” that you can buy have added quite a bit of sugar. You will need: 4 cloves, 1 cinnamon stick, 2 cardamom pods, ¼ teaspoon fresh, ground ginger, 2 tablespoons of black tea (or a teabag), 3 peppercorns, ½ cup of milk and 3 cups of water. In a mortar and pestle gentle crush the cloves, cinnamon and cardamom. Add these herbs to a small saucepan, add water, pepper and ginger and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and let it steep for 5-10 minutes. Add the milk and bring to the boil, remove from the heat and add the tea. Allow this to steep for 3-5 minutes, strain and serve. You may add honey to sweeten if need be. Herbs and spices are such a great way to add flavour and help improve the feelings of warmth this winter. Personal taste is key, so go through your herbs and spices and try mixing up your regular drinks to spice things up a little.
The Health Benefits of Acupuncture Ever wondered what drug-free pain relief looks like? Well take a look at Acupuncture. Acupuncture is a key component of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and the theory is that an energy force called “qi” flows through the body along an energy network (or conduit) called meridians regulating the functions of the body. Disharmony in the body is thought to be brought about by blockages or disruption to the flow of “qi” through the body. Acupuncture corrects the flow of “qi” in the body by stimulating specific points along the meridians of the body. This is done by inserting fine metal needles along the skin restoring harmony and balance within an individual. Did you know that in ancient China it was forbidden to dissect a body and the subject of anatomy didn’t exist? This meant that their knowledge of health and disease came from observing living subjects. It’s generally agreed that Acupuncture originated back in ancient China but how it evolved exactly is uncertain. Chinese history mentions that in the time of the Emperor Shennong, Han Chinese doctors observed that soldiers wounded in battle by arrows would be cured of their chronic complaints without having ever being treated with anything. What we do know exists is a document that records an organised system of diagnosing and treating called The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine. This is the first ever written record of acupuncture and dates back to 100 BCE. In today’s modern life we are in a constant state of “busy-ness” and quick fixes are the easiest way of dealing with common ailments like stress, headaches, back pain or lack of sleep. Like all quick fixes they are only band aid solutions and over time these common ailments may become persistent. Then when problems become unfixable what options do we have? Acupuncture! Just about everybody is doing it or knows someone who has done it and if you’re not doing it you’ve probably wondered about it. If you’re thinking, “What’s acupuncture good for?” The short answer is ‘’anything you may need help with”. Acupuncture can work wonders for: Back, neck and shoulder pain Headaches Alleviating digestive problems Problems with sleep Skin conditions like eczema Menstrual irregularities Acupuncture is gaining acceptance across the wider medical community as more and more people are experiencing the positive benefits. Many physicians in Australia having seen the positive benefits their patients are getting from acupuncture for pain relief, and are taking their own initiative and looking into it further with about one fifth of GP’s in Australia going on to do post-graduate training in acupuncture. A randomised controlled trial using acupuncture in three Melbourne hospitals to alleviate pain from acute migraines, back pain and ankle sprain is now underway. If the results from this trial are positive, then it will certainly open the way for more acceptance and use of acupuncture in other Australian hospitals. But the idea of needles has scared you off? Ok you may feel a slight pinch initially or a tingling as the needle takes effect but if you’re suffering aches and pains on a daily basis, then the slight pinch of a hair-thin needle is a small price to pay for relief from those aches and pains. And it has such lovely side-effects too, like a good night’s sleep. You have to take the right dose for it to work. If the issue you’re seeking acupuncture for has been bothering you for some time, then more than likely you will need to have more than one treatment. Acupuncture works cumulatively, this means that with each treatment the effect gets better.So, if drug-free pain relief is something you’ve been looking for then give acupuncture a try. For more information or finding a practitioner visit the Australian Acupuncture and Chinese medicine Association LTD website: www.acupuncture.org.au
Natural Hair Treatments During Winter The winter months can be quite harsh on your hair. With the wind drying out the hair and naturally stripping oils from the cuticle, through to wearing hats and beanies which can then lead to an increase in moisture on your scalp leading to oily hair. The good news is hair treatments do not have to be expensive, messy or only done in a salon. Treatments can be done in your own home with ingredients you may already have in your pantry. See which ones may be suitable for your hair type. For people with DRY HAIR Winter can further dry out your hair with the increased use of dry heaters in your home and work place, not to mention you may not feel as thirsty as you do in summer, meaning that you may not be as hydrated as you should be. Here are a few simple ingredients to help improve the condition of dry hair: Coconut Oil Coconut oil is naturally high in medium chain fatty acids that naturally have an affinity for the proteins found in hair and are able to penetrate inside the shaft to add moisture and lustre. Coconut oil naturally has a beautiful scent and is super easy to use. Apply to the tips and ends of your hair and leave anywhere from 20 minutes to overnight for improved moisture, shine and a lovely scent. Wash out as normal. Eggs Eggs are packed full of protein and nutrients and make a great treatment for dry hair. Simply whisk a full egg (or 2 depending on your hair length) and add 2 tablespoons of oil (olive or coconut oil work well) apply the mixture to the tips and ends of your hair and leave for 30 mins. Rinse with cold water first (you do not want to cook the egg) and then wash as normal. Carbonated Water One of the simplest ways to help seal the hair cuticle is by using a cold rinse of water once you have finished with your hair routine. Due to the balanced pH level, carbonated water can be used as a substitute for regular water to help reduce fizz and seal the cuticle. For people with OILY HAIR Bicarbonate Soda Bicarbonate soda helps to balance the pH of the scalp due to its alkalising nature, as well as being a great oil absorber, making this commonly used powder great if you are wanting to reduce excessive oil in your hair and scalp. You may have already used bicarbonate soda in your fridge to remove bad smells, but it also works on reducing smells in your hair and scalp too. Simply mix 1 part bicarbonate soda and 3 parts water and mix to a thick paste. Apply this to your scalp and hair, leave on for 5-10 minutes and then shampoo/condition as normal. Due to the oil absorbing nature of bicarbonate soda, you can also rub a small amount of the dry powder into your scalp as a dry shampoo between washes! Apple Cider Vinegar Apple cider vinegar naturally contains acetic acid which has been shown to neutralise pH (similar to that of bicarbonate soda), which in turn helps control the secretion of excess oils, but is also commonly used to improve softness and shine of the hair. Doing an apple cider vinegar rinse is the easiest way to do it. Mix 1 part apple cider vinegar and 2 parts water (play around with the ratio until you find what works best for you) and add to a spray bottle or water bottle. Pour over hair, leave for a few minutes and rinse out with water. Do this as the last part of your hair washing regime for best results. Don’t forget DIET plays a key role in quality of your hair! Comfort food is often associated with winter, but ensuring you continue to get the right nutrients in your diet can work wonders on your hair. Here are some foods to include in your diet this winter: Fish: Especially deep sea fish such as salmon and tuna as they contain good levels of Omega 3 essential fatty acids, as does your hair. As your body is unable to produce its own Omega 3 it is vital to get it from your diet daily. Other sources of Omega 3 are avocado, walnuts and chia seeds. Eggs: Naturally are good sources of both sulphur and biotin, which are both needed in hair health. Pumpkin Seeds: Naturally high in Zinc. Zinc is a nutrient involved in the function of hair growth and skin health. So next time you are in your local store why not grab some of these inexpensive ingredients and treat your hair all year round.
Super Foods for Healthy Blood Circulation Your body’s circulation system is responsible for sending blood, oxygen, and nutrients throughout your body. When your blood flow to a specific part of your body is reduced, you may experience the symptoms of poor circulation. But don’t be afraid because there are a lot of foods that you can add to your diet to aid in improving blood circulation. Blood Circulation SUPER FOODS Blueberries: Blueberries are a great source of antioxidants. The antioxidants in blueberries strengthen and protect capillaries and larger blood vessels which are beneficial in aiding in strengthening blood circulation. Oranges: We all know that oranges are a great source of Vitamin C to aid with immunity but did you know that the high Vitamin C content in oranges can aid with blood circulation too? Vitamin C has a natural blood thinning ability which may aid in increasing circulation and strengthening capillaries. Watermelon: Watermelon is rich in lycopene which is a natural antioxidant linked to improving circulation. It also contains a great source of Vitamin C which is beneficial in Blood circulation. Garlic: Garlic boosts circulation by aiding in thinning the blood and preserving the elasticity of arteries and capillaries. Onion: Onions are a rich source of flavonoids, which are substances known to provide protection against cardiovascular disease. Onions also contain sulfur compounds, which improve red blood cell function and lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels. Cayeen pepper: Known for both flavour and health benefits, cayenne aids the circulatory system by adding strength to blood vessels and arteries. Ginger: Acts as a natural anti-inflammatory by improving circulation while inhibiting the release of prostaglandins a hormone that promotes inflammation and pain. Cinnamon: Cinnamon has been used for many years in western herbal medicine to promote circulation in the peripheral areas. Dark chocolate: Having one piece a day of 70-90% cocoa dark chocolate can aid in blood circulation. Cocoa contains flavonoids which is naturally found in plants and fruits and has been well linked to improving blood circulation. Salmon: Salmon is a great source of Omega 3 fatty acids, which has shown to be beneficial in increasing blood circulation. Try these nutritious circulatory foods and watch your body warm to it by thanking you. *If you are taking any pharmaceutical medication consult your doctor before introducing these foods in your diet.
Winter Activities For Kids As the winter months grow colder, you may struggle to find ways other than outdoor activities to keep your children active. But your child’s physical activity does not need to rely on the weather. There is so much that they can do besides staying cooped inside up all winter. Active Video Games Technology: According to the 2003 Australian Bureau of Statistics survey 81.8 per cent of children aged 5–14 years play video games for an average of eight hours over a school fortnight! That’s equivalent to just over 45 minutes a day. This time could be perfectly utilised for you to adopt physical activity in your child’s life. Nowadays, video games come in all shapes and sizes, and thanks to motion-sensing controllers like Wii Remotes and the Xbox Kinect, games can encourage them to get off the couch and move around. If your child is one of those who would spend that time on video games try and change the games to Active Video Games with movement. Create an active space for your child at home Children can be active anywhere in your home, by setting up a special place with activities for them to do. This give them a special place of their own and so will help keep them motivated throughout winter. This could range from hanging a basketball hoop on the wall, chalking hopscotch squares to the floor outside or setting up indoor soccer nets. Regardless of the activities you choose, making the space their own will keep them motivated. Winter Sports If you child is old enough enrol them in great winter sports such as such as football, hockey, netball, rugby and even indoor soccer. If they’re not keen on team sports there’s still a lot they can do such as dancing, gymnastics or swimming. Indoor Facilities If it is too cold outside and the children want to get out of the house, take advantage of the array of indoor activities available near you. Indoor activities include indoor play centres, heated swimming pools, indoor trampolining, indoor rock climbing, ice-skating, tennis and ten-pin bowling. Take a break from the TV, walk when you can Some winter mornings and afternoons are perfect for a walk, so take advantage of it and walk with your child. Whether it is to school or the local park on the weekend a 30 minute walk on a winter’s day is just as beneficial for you and your child. As you can see, there are many physical activities that are beneficial for your child’s health that can be incorporated throughout winter. So don’t let winter slow them down. To keep them healthy keep them moving, active and motivated.
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.
Winter Warming Circulation Boosting Habits Cheap, effective ways to stay warm this winter! The winter months can often bring with it the dreaded cold feelings such as poor circulation, cold hands and feet and a big increase in energy bills. There are many ways that you can assist in keeping yourself warm throughout the winter months, improving your circulation and not adding to your energy bill. Diet There are many culinary herbs that are classed as “warming” herbs that taste great but are also very beneficial in helping you stay warm during winter. These herbs include ginger, chilli, garlic, black pepper, cinnamon, cardamom and turmeric and can assist with warming your body up and increasing circulation. A great way to utilise these herbs is in a slow cooker with dishes such as curries, stews and soups. Not only can you add your own spice level, they are generally quite easy to make and when you come home after a long day, the aroma of an already cooked dinner will be there to greet you. Using vegetables such as onion, garlic and carrots may also support the immune system if you or your family are feeling a little under the weather. Drinks Hot drinks will assist circulation and warm you up almost instantly. Hold the mug in your hand to let the warmth warm your fingers. Chai tea uses many of the above listed herbs to further increase circulation and warming. Even a nice, warm lemon and honey drink will help you stay warm, and can also be used if you are unwell. Get creative with your drinks! Instead of making a plain hot chocolate why not add some chilli or cinnamon to further warm your body and boost your taste buds. Heat packs Investing in a wheat bag or heat pillow can help on those particularly cold winter nights, or if you are suffering with sore/stiff joints. Adding a few drops of essential oils such as lavender may assist in relaxing you and can be placed in the bed to warm it before you jump in. If your hands are particularly cold, or you need to be outside for extended periods of time, you can now purchase pocket sized hand warmers to keep your fingers nice and warm. Exercise Outdoor exercise may be something we tend to shy away from in the cooler months, whether it be because it is darker earlier or just too hard to get out of bed earlier, but gentle exercise will increase your body’s circulation and warm you up. Exercise does not need to be fancy or always done in a gym. Pop on an exercise DVD or dust off the old treadmill/exercise bike and start with gentle exercise daily. If you are looking at getting out of the house check if your local pool is heated and has a sauna, so you can do some gentle swimming and warm your body up in a sauna. The sauna will aid circulation and in Scandinavian countries where sauna is part of their routine, they say it also boosts the immune system. Dressing in layers Rather than just wearing one, big, item of clothing dressing in many lighter layers provides more relief from the cold. Try a pair of stockings under your socks or a singlet under your shirt. Layers can be removed or increased easily when the temperature changes or you need to go outside etc. Wearing a beanie or hat will also help, as the head can let a lot of warmth escape the body. Keeping your feet and head warm will go a long way in making you stay warm. Remember the saying ‘There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes’.
When You’re Fit You Don’t Feel Old As our working lives come to an end, life can start to take an exciting turn. The next chapter has a lot to offer – travel, time to enjoy the grand children, new hobbies, new friends, some long awaited “me time”, no rush hour… Just because we are getting older, doesn’t mean we need to slow down. Good health will enable us to get the most out of this time, and one of the best ways to maintain good health is with regular exercise. Regular exercise has been shown to: Improve insulin sensitivity, keeping our blood sugar levels healthy and lowering our risk of developing type 2 diabetes; Maintain normal blood pressure; Maintain healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels; Reduce the risk of a heart attack and other chronic diseases; Build strong healthy bones and lower the risk of falls Recover better after periods of illness or bed rest Manage our weight Improve our psychological wellbeing Improve overall general well being (more energy, a better mood, better sleep, stress reduction etc.) In addition to these health benefits, researchers are learning that physical activity can also affect the risk of cancer. There is convincing evidence that physical activity is associated with a reduced risk of cancers of the colon and breast. Several studies also have reported links between physical activity and a reduced risk of cancers of the prostate, lung, and lining of the uterus (endometrial cancer). Speaking to a healthcare professional before you begin any exercise program is always recommended, but once you have decided on a course of action, the sky really is the limit and you could find yourself fitter and in better health than ever before. Staying active doesn’t only provide the benefits mentioned above. Picking the right exercises will also help to maintain balance, mobility, agility and co-ordination into your later years. Exercises that replicate everyday activities will offer many benefits in this regard, whilst strength training will help to maintain optimal muscle and bone strength. A mixture of exercises that promote strength, mobility, co-ordination, balance and cardiovascular fitness is optimal and a qualified exercise physiologist or personal trainer will help you to develop a program that is just right for you. Warming up and cooling down are vital to help prevent injury, and don’t forget to stretch! Exercises that promote flexibility will help to keep you mobile for much longer. Exercises to Promote Strength Exercises which promote strength are many and varied and will often see you utilising either some hand held weights or your own body weight. If you are working out at the local gym then you may also like to use some of the machines on offer – speak to one of the trainers first to make sure you are using the machines correctly, as incorrect use may result in an injury. Strength exercises will usually isolate muscle groups such as those in the shoulders or thighs and should be done at least twice per week for best results. Frank Caruso has developed a strength training exercise video which you can do in the comfort of your own home. The program can be viewed in this blog or on the Caruso’s Youtube channel. These exercises have been designed to assist with strength training using your own body weight and will take just 20 minutes of your time. Start by doing them at your own pace and slowly build up so that you are able to perform them at least a few times each week. Don’t forget to check with your doctor first and if you have any trouble with any of the exercises, please seek the advice of a qualified personal trainer or exercise physiologist. Someone who is qualified will be able to help you out with correct technique and balance, or help you with some alternatives if you are finding these exercises too difficult. Exercises to Promote Balance and Co-ordination Believe it or not, golf is actually a really great game to play to help to promote balance, co-ordination and agility. Stability of posture through the golf swing requires balance and core strength. Balance is also practiced as you bend over to pick up balls and crouch down to check the logistics of a putt. Hand eye and general body co-ordination is trained as you are hitting the ball, and the muscles which stabilise posture are exercised as you carry your bag around the course. Other exercises to help improve balance and core stability include canoeing, kayaking or paddle boarding, surfing, cycling, boxing and bowling. Activities that may help to promote co-ordination include tennis, squash, cricket, softball and dancing. These types of activities are recommended to be done at least once per week for optimal results. Exercises to Promote Cardiovascular Fitness Cardiovascular (aerobic) exercise is the most beneficial form of exercise for helping to maintain healthy blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels. It will also help to promote oxygen flow to the muscles and therefore increase energy. Any activity that gets your heart rate up will be promoting cardiovascular fitness and a healthy heart. Try to incorporate some kind of aerobic exercise into your routine at least two to three times per week for optimal benefits. It may take a while to build up your endurance levels. Start out by doing 5 – 10 minutes at a time and try to increase this slowly over the course of about a month until you are doing about 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three times per week. Some examples of cardiovascular or aerobic exercise include water aerobics, brisk walking (golf or walking the dog), hiking, tennis, cycling, swimming and dancing. Even a big day in the garden or washing the car can count as cardiovascular exercise. Exercises that Promote Flexibility and Mobility Being flexible and maintaining supple joints will aid in overall mobility and keep you active for much longer. Some examples of exercises which promote flexibility include yoga, pilates and tai chi. Rest and Fuel Set aside one or two days per week as rest days. This will help your body to recover after all of that activity! Eating a diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables, plenty of fresh protein and some healthy fats from nuts, seeds and avocados will ensure that your muscles and bones are getting all of the nutrients they need to keep up with you. Drinking at least 1.5 litres of fresh, clean water daily will also help to maintain hydration and make sure your body is ready to do it all again tomorrow! Remember, the best exercise program is one that is not only tailored to you, but one that you will enjoy and look forward to doing. Combining indoor and outdoor activities will keep things varied and interesting, and that will keep you motivated, active and healthy well into the golden years.
How to Prevent Premature Ageing No one wants to get old. We live in a beauty focused world, and from a very young age we’re taught to fear fine lines, wrinkles, age spots, and other imperfections that come naturally as the clock winds down. On the other hand ageing is not only about looks. It’s also about what happens to the body internally. Premature ageing can mean many different things on the inside, for example the early onset of prolonged health issues. Chronological age and biological age are not the same. Ageing is a physiological process that at times is only remotely connected to how old you are. How you look is sometimes a sign of your biological age, but appearances often can be deceptive. Most people are capable of living their lives without pain and suffering caused by lingering degenerative illnesses. Growing old and getting sick simply are not similar or even inseparable. If you maintain an optimal level of wellness, you should be able to get older without being predisposed to aches and discomfort of pain. The reasons behind premature ageing 1. Not enough sleep Most of us know that when we don’t get adequate sleep we don’t look our best. Sleep related premature ageing occurs because the body sees sleep deprivation as a form of stress, therefore releasing the stress hormone cortisol which breaks down collagen. A lack of sleep also diminishes the amount of other hormones within the body like human growth hormone which help to nourish the skin and hair. During the stage of deep sleep, the pituitary gland in our brain secretes growth hormone. A continuous night sleep is actually one of the few times in the day in which this growth hormone is secreted in adults, and this hormone has a great importance in keeping various body tissues healthy, including the skin tissue. Prolonged lack of sleep is clearly evident on the face and accelerates aging. 2. Smoking Carbon monoxide is a component from cigarette smoke, which causes blood vessels to contract. When blood vessels are constricted they transport less blood through the body, and therefore reduce the supply of nutrients and oxygen needed by damaged cells which the skin depends on to regenerate. 3. Alcohol To begin with, there are no nutrients in alcohol. Alcohol can affect your nutrition levels by causing a depletion in healthy nutrients that aid in carrying oxygen throughout your body. Over indulging inhibits the liver’s production of digestive enzymes, impairing the body’s ability to absorb proteins and fats soluble vitamins such as Vitamin D, E, A and K. It inhibits protein uptake, leading to amino acid deficiencies and reduces the body’s storage of zinc, which can affect the skin as the accumulation of toxic by- products in the deeper layers of the skin that can cause the appearance of capillaries and redness of the cheeks which can make you look older than your biological clock. Who wants to get old? If you look after your body, your body will look after you.
Are You Being Exposed to Harmful Pesticides in Your Fruits and Vegetables? Most of us know that choosing organic is good for our health and better for the environment; however the cost often prevents many of us from even considering it. This is where the ‘The Dirty Dozen’ and ‘The Clean Fifteen’ lists can come in handy. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is an American environmental organisation that specialises in research and advocacy in the areas of toxic chemicals, agricultural subsidies, public lands, and corporate accountability. EWG is a non-profit organisation whose mission is “to use the power of public information to protect public health and the environment”. Each year the Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases these lists to help you decide which fruits and vegetables to purchase based on pesticide residue detected. Those found with the least pesticide residue are categorised as ‘clean’ and those with the most as ‘dirty’. The EWG is an independent United States health and environmental research organisation based on the United States farming practices, however much of the findings are applicable in Australia. Using the EWG’s lists as guides when shopping will help us to reduce our exposure to pesticides as much as possible. By choosing more from the ‘Clean Fifteen’ list and if the budget allows, buying organic alternatives from the ‘Dirty Dozen’ list you can potentially reduce your pesticide exposure. However eating conventionally grown produce (non-organic) is still better than not eating fruits and vegetables at all. It is recommended to eat foods from the ‘Dirty Dozen’ list over processed products that are high in unhealthy fats, sugars and additives. A fruit and vegetable rich diet provides health benefits that outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure. The Dirty Dozen 2016 Strawberries Apples Nectarines Peaches Celery Grapes Cherries Spinach Tomatoes Capsicum Cherry Tomatoes Cucumbers The Clean Fifteen 2016 Avocados Sweet Corn Pineapples Cabbage Sweet Peas Frozen Onions Asparagus Mangos Papayas Kiwi Eggplant Honeydew Melon Grapefruit Rockmelon Cauliflower If you are able to purchase organic products, not only do you reduce your exposure to pesticides, but you support environmentally-friendly farming practices that protect workers, reduce soil erosion and care for water quality and wildlife. Look for ‘certified organic’ on the label as well as the logo of the certification association as the word ‘organic’ in Australia is often misused. It is an expensive and long process for farmers to reach “certified organic” standards. The strict guidelines that need to be followed include prohibition of artificial fertilisers, pesticides and genetically modified components. Certified organic eggs and meat includes humane treatment of animals that are raised on organic food and prohibits the use of hormones and antibiotics. However not everyone has access to certified organic food or can afford it so please take a good look at the ‘Dirty Dozen’ and the ‘Clean Fifteen’ lists above to help make the healthiest choices from conventionally grown produce. Remember though, the ‘Dirty Dozen’ produce is still cleaner than processed and unhealthy foods!
Sugar Detox Recipe: Grilled Salmon and Zucchini Noodles Ingredients: 125g Salmon 100g zucchini (grated into thin strips) Lemon Dill (handful) 1 teaspoon sesame seeds Olive oil spray 1 tablespoon olive oil Method: Lightly spray pan with olive oil spray. Grill salmon until half cooked and flip and cook through. In a separate pan heat olive oil and add zucchini strips, cook for 3 minutes over high heat or until cooked through. Serve the salmon on top of the zucchini noodles, sprinkle with sesame seeds, dill and lemon. Serves 1
NUTRITION WELLNESSSugar Detox Recipe: Grilled Salmon and Zucchini Noodles Read more
Harmonise the Mind and Body with Yoga Yoga is a form of spiritual and meditative based exercise that originated in India over 5000 years ago. By following a sequence of postures (or “äsanas”), whilst applying careful breathing control, you are able to harmonise the body and the mind, achieving health and relaxation. Yoga can be used to strengthen and stretch the body, maintaining flexibility and suppleness of muscles. Yoga can be practised by people of all ages and fitness levels from beginners to elite athletes. This is because there are many different forms of yoga – from strenuous and fast to meditative and calming. To figure out which style you may enjoy, we have compiled a brief summary of the most popular forms. Hatha Yoga This form of yoga gives you a gentle introduction to the basic asanas. This is great for beginners or kids. It is done at a slow pace and blocks or other props are often used to make sure the postures are done correctly. Emphasis is placed on breathing control and meditation so this type of yoga leaves you feeling very relaxed and refreshed. Iyengar Yoga Iyengar yoga moves on from the basics and starts to see the poses becoming more precise. More props are used with this form of yoga as the focus moves towards body alignment in each asana. Poses are held for longer which can be challenging as body placement needs to be very exact. If you are interested in discovering more about how the body works and enjoy learning about anatomy, movement and form, this is the yoga style for you. Anusara Yoga Anusara Yoga is based on the belief that we are innately and intrinsically filled with goodness, and this goodness can be accessed and opened up through the practise of yoga and meditation. Anusara means “flowing with grace” and “following your heart” and it focusses on experiencing bliss and joy through yoga. The practise of this style of yoga provides the body and mind with resilience, happiness and balance, and is suited for those who wish for a type of activity that provides a total body, mind and heart connection. Bikram Yoga If you are looking for an entire mind and body workout that makes you sweat and burns hundreds of calories then Bikram may be for you. It consists of a specific set of 26 asanas and two breathing exercises performed over 90 minutes in a room heated to 40 degrees celsius and with 40% humidity, so remember to bring plenty of water! Bikram Yoga is great for improving fitness and flexibility. Practising yoga in the heat also engages your concentration, fortitude and patience to improve mental clarity and reduce stress. Vinyasa Yoga The word Vinyasa means “to place in a special way”. Vinyasa classes are often choreographed to music, and you move through each of the poses in a dance like fluid way. Those who get bored easily and love intensive exercise will enjoy Vinyasa yoga. No two classes are choreographed to be the same, the poses aren’t held for long and the pace of the class is quick. There are many more forms of yoga available – almost 800 different styles! At the end of the day though, you need to find a style that you feel comfortable with. Any type of yoga will develop strength, flexibility and balance, so once you find one you love, stick with it. The health benefits are best seen when you can practise yoga regularly. So, grab your yoga mat and your water bottle and enjoy!
Dietary Fibre and Metabolic Syndrome A Natural Approach Backed Up by Science Metabolic Syndrome is not an actual disease. It is a group of risk factors that occur together in the same person. A person has “Metabolic Syndrome” if they have any three or more of the following conditions: Central or abdominal obesity – excess fat in and around the stomach or abdomen High blood pressure (hypertension) High blood triglycerides (Cholesterol) Low levels of high density lipoproteins (HDL) – the ‘good’ cholesterol Insulin resistance Metabolic syndrome increases the risk of developing Cardiovascular Disease and Type 2 Diabetes, so it’s increasing incidence in Australia and worldwide is a cause for concern. Poor diet and lifestyle choices have been identified as a primary cause of Metabolic Syndrome. However there is some very strong evidence emerging for the beneficial role that dietary fibre plays in helping to manage this group of conditions – a relatively simple fix! Dietary fibre is defined as “the edible parts of plants…that resist digestion and absorption in the small intestine, with complete or partial fermentation in the large intestine”1. In other words, they pass through our intestines almost untouched, helping to facilitate the process of digestion by influencing the absorption and transit time of the foods that we eat. There are two different types of dietary fibre: insoluble and soluble. Insoluble fibre refers to those types of plant fibres that act like a broom in the intestines. They attract water to help provide bulk to and soften the stool making it easier to pass. Insoluble fibre may have a role to play in maintaining the health of the good bacteria in our small intestines as well, further enhancing the digestive process. Soluble fibre retains water to create a gel like substance. This increases the thickness of the stomach and intestinal contents, slowing down stomach emptying and nutrient absorption and providing a feeling of fullness after we eat. Each type of fibre has its own individual benefits in relation to the management of the conditions of Metabolic Syndrome but the general consensus is that a mixture of each type in the diet is optimal as most foods contain a combination of both in different quantities. Good food sources of fibre include fruits and vegetables; however the best sources of both types of fibre include whole grains (particularly oats and rye but also wheat and brown rice) and legumes (beans, lentils etc). What is most important is that these grains need to be consumed in their unrefined state. This means that your best choice at the supermarket when keeping fibre in mind is to go for the brown stuff! Whole wheat pasta, brown rice, and whole grain breads contain much more dietary fibre than their white counterparts. In fact, a meta-analysis of 6 population studies has shown that increasing your whole grain intake by as little as two servings per day may decrease your risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes by as much as 21% due to its high fibre content1. Fibre may help to regulate and maintain healthy blood sugar levels by bulking and thickening up the foods in the stomach and intestines, thereby slowing down the digestion and absorption of sugars from the foods you have consumed. This creates a “slow release” mechanism for the delivery of sugar into the bloodstream, minimising the negative effects of blood sugar spikes such as high insulin levels, lowered insulin sensitivity and energy crashes.3 Healthy cholesterol, HDL and LDL levels are thought to be maintained by the ability of fibre to increase bowel regularity. The liver will naturally help to regulate cholesterol levels by adding it to bile which is secreted into the small intestine, incorporated into the stool and later excreted when you go to the toilet. By making defecation more regular, fibre may help to reduce and then regulate healthy cholesterol levels in the body1. Fibre exerts its beneficial effects on obesity by promoting a feeling of fullness or satiety. It helps to slow down the digestion and movement of food through the stomach and intestines, thereby helping you feel fuller sooner and for longer. This action has shown in numerous long term clinical trials involving high numbers of participants to contribute to weight loss and reduce the chance of weight gain3. The recommended daily intake of fibre for adults is around 30gms daily to maintain healthy digestive function; however, according to a survey done in Australia in 2016 by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australians are falling extremely short of getting this amount each day. Less than 4% of us are meeting the recommended guidelines for the consumption of fruit, vegetables and legumes each day. Two thirds of recommended grain serves are coming from highly refined grains rather than the wholemeal, higher fibre sources. And one third of the fruit serves we are consuming come from juice which contains little to no fibre at all2. It seems almost absurd to think that one of the most concerning metabolic conditions facing us today can be managed by some very simple and for some of us relatively small changes to our diets. Diseases of lifestyle kill more Australians each year than anything else and some small, simple steps may be all it takes to slow the progression of the conditions associated with Metabolic Syndrome. For more information, take some time to chat to your Naturopath or other Healthcare Professional and take control of your health! 1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/ PMC2903728/ Gastroenterology 2010 Jan; 138(1): 65–72.Dietary Fiber Supplements: Effects in Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome and Relationship to Gastrointestinal Functions. Papathanasopoulos, A. M.D. and Camilleri, M. M.D.2 http://www.ausstats.abs.gov.au/Ausstats/subscriber.nsf/0/12E8766EBAB492B0CA257FAF001A3CFD/$File/43640do002_20112012.pdf3 Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry 2008; 19: 71-84. Effects of dietary fibres on disturbances clustered in the metabolic syndrome. Galisteo, M, Duarte, J and Zarzuelo, A