A Quick Guide to Healthy Eating

What is healthy?  Healthy eating is about consuming food for a more than adequate nutritional profile. Here are a few tips to ensure you eat foods high in nutrients rather than empty calories.

Focus on real food

Real food is fruits, vegetables, meat, seafood, nuts, seeds, wholegrains and beans.  Concentrating on these foods means reducing your consumption foods that a processed and come in a packet, box, jar or can.

Consume healthy fats

Healthy fats are found in avocados, nuts, seeds, fatty fish and oils like olive oil.  These will keep you feeling fuller for longer and is essential to help lower cholesterol and keep your skin and hair looking good.

Eat quality protein

Quality protein is lean meat, tofu, fish, pulses and nuts/seeds.  Protein is very important macronutrient required for our body to grow and function.  Protein breaks down into amino acids which form building blocks for DNA, cells, muscle, organs and more!  When it comes to processed meats such as salami and mettwurst remember…focus on real food.

Eat the rainbow

I suggest trying to incorporate at least 3 differently colours of fruit/vegetables in each meal.  This ensures you get a variety of nutrients your body needs.

Portion control

This is often the hardest for people.  A couple of strategies is to portion your meals before eating and pack away leftovers so you are not tempted to go back for seconds.  Another strategy is to pack you plate with vegetables. I like to cook extra vegetables with my meals and try to have at least half of my plate in vegetables.

Cut back on sugar

Sugar found in fruit is fine but it’s the added sugar that is the problem.  Sugars are hidden in processed food which is another reason why I recommend to eat real food.  Sugar raises insulin levels which leads to weight gain, hormonal issues and more.

Should you snack?

Technically, unless you are burning a lot of calories because you are a professional athlete you don’t really need to snack.  It is ok to feel a little bit hungry every now and then.  In fact, a substantial break between meals allows your gut to rest and detoxify.  You may also find after a couple of weeks of no snacking that your blood sugar levels will be more stable, you will no longer have the urge to snack and you might also say goodbye to the 3pm slump.  If you can’t wait for next meal I suggest choosing real food options like veggie sticks, fruit or nuts.

Plan your meals

We are all time poor which is why meal planning is so important.  Once you have done it you will see how much time it saves you and how much cheaper it is. The key is to choose easy recipes that you know don’t require too much fuss especially after a long day at work.

  • Take 15-20min on the weekend to pick out 4 meals (you can choose more or less depending if you want to have a night out)
  • Write them on a calendar or meal planner for dinner
  • double or triple the recipes according to your family size so you at least have leftovers for lunch the next day
  • Write your shopping list.  This also helps to prevent impulse buying especially when that block of Lindt chocolate is on special.
  • Cook your first scheduled dinner and portion out your dinner plates and lunches

 

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and Infertility

The prevalence of PCOS is thought to be 5-10% and is a contributing factor towards infertility.

PCOS is diagnosed when 2 of 3 criteria are met:

  • oligo-ovulation (less than 8 periods/year) and/or anovulation (no ovulation occurs)
  • Excess androgen activity (determined via blood test)
  • Polycystic ovaries (diagnosed with gynaecological ultrasound)

Obesity can contribute to the development of PCOS and can also be a cause of infertility.  Both PCOS and obesity increases your risk of diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia and cardiovascular disease.

Hyperinsulinaemia (elevated insulin) leads to increased fat – particularly around your mid-section.  Elevated insulin levels contribute to abnormalities of the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian (HPO) axis that lead to hormonal imbalances associated with PCOS.

One of the common hormonal imbalances in women with PCOS is increased testosterone production and free androgen index. These hormones lead to acne and hirsutism (excessive face and body hair growth).  The adrenal glands also produce hormones and therefore stress can over-stimulate the adrenals, thereby adding further to the hormonal imbalance.

 

Source: Healthstatus.com

Why Weight?

Although not all women with PCOS are overweight, in those who are, weight loss is an essential part of PCOS treatment.  Not only can weight loss result in dramatic improvement in the condition, weight loss has also been shown to be more effective than current medication for insulin resistance.

As little as 2-5% reduction in weight can be enough to improve metabolic and reproductive indices in women with PCOS.  A healthy lifestyle to lose weight has been shown to lower testosterone production, improve insulin resistance and decrease hirsutism in PCOS.  Even in those without PCOS, weight loss for obese people will also slow obesity related co-morbidities.  Furthermore, for overweight/obese women, a 5kg weight loss can increase the chance of pregnancy by 50%.

I advocate long-term modest weight loss which is far more effective than drastic weight change which incorporates dietary counselling, acupuncture and exercise.

PCOS can be a difficult condition to manage, therefore treatment for PCOS is ongoing. In some cases, it can be months before a client’s initial menstrual bleed.  Reduction of hirsutism can also take up to 3 months before changes are observed.  Counselling and practitioner support can be helpful for continued monitoring of improvement of signs and symptoms .  This not only allows you to track your progress but can help you to stay motivated to achieve a regular menstrual cycle and allow ovulation to occur to improve your chances of becoming pregnant.

 

References

Barry, J, Kuczmierczyk, A & Hardiman, PJ 2011, ‘Anxiety and depression in polycystic ovary syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis’, Human Reproduction, Vol. 26, No. 9, pp. 2442-2451, viewed 12 October 2015, <www.ebscohost.com>

Bhattacharya, SM & Jha, A 2010, ‘Prevalence and risk of depressive disorders in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).’, Fertility and sterility, vol. 94, no. 1, pp. 357–9, viewed 12 October 2015, <http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0015028209037042>

Johnson, N 2014, ‘Metformin use in women with polycystic ovary syndrome’, Annals of Translational Medicine, Vol. 2, No. 6, pp. 1-7, viewed 23 October 2015, <www.atmjournal.org>

King, LK, March, L & Anandacoomarasamy, A 2013, ‘Obesity & osteoarthritis’, Indian Journal of Medical Research, vol.138, pp. 185-93, viewed 25 May 2014, <www.ebscohost.com>

Sarris J & Wardle J 2014, Clinical Naturopathy: An evidence-based guide to practice, 2nd edn, Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, Australia

Sirmans S & Pate K 2013, ‘Epidemiology, diagnosis, and management of polycystic ovary syndrome’, Clinical Epidemiology, Vol. 6, No. 1, pp.1-13, viewed 23 October 2015, <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/>

Tips to reduce your toxin exposure for pregnancy

If you’re pregnant, looking to conceive or are concerned about your overall health, here are a few tips to reduce your toxin exposure.

Opt for natural

Less is more. Reduce the number of personal care products and make up and opt for natural and if possible organic.  This includes your nail polish, hair dyes, sunscreen, toothpaste and more!  Just be mindful that just because the label says “natural” it might not always be the case.  Always read the ingredients.  If you don’t know what they are, then it’s often likely they aren’t natural.

A great website to source natural skincare, cosmetics and household care items is Nourished Life (www.nourishedlife.com.au)

Clean Green

Household cleaners, insect repellants and air fresheners often contain harmful chemicals that can penetrate your skin, irritate your lungs and enter your blood stream. Furthermore, these can often irritate babies lungs and children with asthma.

Cheaper and safer alternatives for cleaning include basic household items such as vinegar, baking soda and a good micro fibre cloth.

Go fragrance free

Phtalates (endocrine disruptors), linked to reproductive, motor and behavioural development are commonly found in fragrance ingredients.  Furthermore, no one knows what’s in synthetic fragrances as manufacturers only have to indicate the combination of chemicals used with only the word “fragrance”.  There are now many fragrance-free products available and if you do want some scent, opt for products scented with essential oils instead.

 

Choose organic whenever possible (or grow your own)

Eating organic means reducing your pesticide exposure. Research has shown that switching to an organic diet reduces pesticide remnants found in urine after just five days.  In addition organic foods cannot be genetically modified.

If switching to an organic diet is not affordable for you, I recommend choosing organic (or at least grass fed) meat and dairy, eat fruits and vegetables that are in season and buy organic fruits and vegetables that are known to retain the highest levels of pesticide residue.  These can be found on EWGs dirty dozen list.

Cook your own

Preparing your own meals using fresh, whole ingredients gives you maximum control over what ends up on your plate.  And is great practice for when baby comes along.

It is important to note that safer cooking option include example coated cast iron and stainless steel cookware.  Until recently non-stick cookware was made of a chemical, PFOA, which has been linked to cancer, heart disease, infertility and pregnancy complications.  New chemicals are now being used to produce non-stick cookware however their safety is still unknown.

Swap your plastic for glass

Plastics have been shown to contain many toxic compounds that can end up in your food, especially when the plastic is heated.  Avoid canned foods as they are lined with BPA. Switch your Tupperware and drink bottles for glass.   If that is too costly, start by just replacing the old, scratched containers.  Many plastic containers have a number on the bottom indicating the type of plastic it is.  Re-use only #2, #4 and #5.  Avoid #1, #7.

Not only will this be better for your health, it will also be better for the environment.

Eat small fish

Fish are a good source of omega 3 fatty acids which are important for a healthy pregnancy and foetal development.  Eat seafood no more than 2-3 times per week and opt for smaller fish such as sardines which have less mercury contamination than deep sea fish such as swordfish and tuna.

 

By making a few changes to minimize your toxin exposure you can protect yourself and your family from possible risks.

 

 

12 Factors affecting your Nutritional Status!

Nutrition and Health

Food and Nutrients

12 Factors affecting Nutrition and Health

Your diet is good, your nutrition knowledge is sound, you are eating a variety of vegetables, fruit and protein, you drink enough water and you exercise. You are doing the right things so why don’t you feel 100%?

You are not alone, whilst we know more about food than any other time in history and we are exposed to so much information about food, diet and nutrition why is that chronic health diseases are on the rise?

As a naturopath, nutritionist, nurse and Chinese medicine practitioner I am assessing my clients’ health and diet on a constant basis. This may take form in several ways and no matter how healthy someone is or how much they are doing the right thing there is often something underlying that is affecting one’s nutrition and health status.

Thus I am sharing some of the common underlying factors that I come across daily in my clinical practice that could be affecting your nutritional status despite having a pretty good diet:

  1. Excess alcohol or caffeinated beverages that deplete water soluble nutrients by increasing urinary excretion.
  2. If you are following or have previously followed a strict diet for weight loss, body building, sport, food allergies or religious practices which may mean that food intake is unbalanced or restricted
  3. Different life stages that affect food intake and specific nutritional requirements such as pregnancy, birth, breast feeding, menopause and menstruation
  4. Poor digestion or digestive disorders that may limit the ability to obtain nutrients from food
  5. Inborn genetic factors which may increase the need for specific nutrients. For example pyrroles, MTHFR
  6. Illness which can increase the demand for specific nutrients
  7. Prescription medication or illicit drugs which may affect digestion or metabolism of nutrients. For example the Pill, cholesterol medication, antacids and the list goes on.
  8. Poor quality soil which depletes the mineral content of plant based food especially selenium and iodine (necessary for thyroid, breast and prostate health)
  9. Boiling or over cooking food that depletes essential nutrients
  10. A fast paced hectic lifestyle
  11. Smoking or exposure to pollutants, heavy metals or toxins
  12. Strenuous exercise or heavy physical work

If you feel any of these factors or something else could be impacting your nutritional status then it is worth while making some changes or looking to have your health assessed!

As Eating is an opportunity to nourish your body”