Treat Seasonal Sniffles Naturally

Wintery days are finally here! After a beautiful, long stretch of Summer those dark mornings and chilly evenings have definitely snuck up on us the last few weeks.

For those of us who suffer with hay fever, this seasonal change can symbolise a time of apprehension as we prepare for the increase in pollen, wind and drastic temperature changes.

Why does hay fever occur?

Hay fever is often seen as a reflection of the change in seasons that occurs during the transition from winter through to spring. Hay fever is an allergic reaction to pollen released primarily by grasses, but can also be triggered by pollen released from trees.

Pollen particles contain a protein that causes inflammation, irritation and swelling of the nasal passages, but can also affect the eyes and the throat. The pollen (the allergen) causes the release of a substance known as an inflammatory mediator called histamine. It is the histamine that influences the symptoms of ‘hay fever’ in the body.

The symptoms of hay fever can often be split into two categories:

1.Sinus congestion, watery eyes, copious mucus, itchy nose

2. Red eyes, itchy eyes, inflamed nose and mucus membranes, headache

These are a reflection of our current state of health. Those of us who are more prone to mucus accumulations will tend to suffer more from runny eyes and nose. Those who perhaps have a greater tendency towards hot, irritated and itching skin conditions will suffer more from itching and red eyes, ears and throat.

Luckily, help is at hand with some of nature’s finest herbs, in our signatire

Our Hayfever & Sinus Tonic!

  • Hayfever tonic works with your immune system to stop over reactions to everyday stimuli that may be causing your symptoms.

  • This mix is made specifically for the upper respiratory tract symptoms such as mucous congestion in the sinuses, pressure in the face, headaches, runny nose, sneezing and post nasal drip.

  • Horseradish will dry up excess mucous while elder treats clears mucous congestion in the sinuses.

  • Albizia will modulate the immune system in its response to everyday stimulants, reducing the overreaction that causes allergic symptoms and hay fever.

  • It is perfect for snotty noses, blocked sinuses, itchy eyes and allergies in general. 

    Here are some other simple tips to help:

  • For 3-5 days drink plenty of hot water with grated fresh ginger or honey, this will help to digest toxins and regulate digestion.

  • Favour foods that are warm and nourishing but easy to digest such as soups, grains and leafy green vegetables.

  • Avoid substances which are mucus producing such as dairy products and sugar.

  • Avoid cold foods such as salads and iced water. These reduce digestive capacity and can create stagnation.

And of course, make an appointment with me to understand your symptoms and how we can help prevent this allergy response in the future!

All About Our Rescue Remedy

Most of us have heard of Rescue Remedy. It is a blend of five different Bach flowers formulated as an all round emotional healer and re-balancer.

Rescue Remedy is well known for use in emergencies but can also be used for anxiety and day to day stress. Exam nerves, car accidents, relationships breakups or the death of a loved one. It can help you relax and stay calm.

It is designed to use immediately and can be taken numerous times throughout the day. It is very safe and can be used with small children and animals. 

The flowers it contains are as follows:

Impatiens: For those who act and think quickly, and are impatient with others. This flower gives and teaches empathy and understanding, and patience. In this way, it lowers tress for those who are rushing around.

Star of Bethlehem: For trauma and shock, recent and past. Allows us to move through trauma and recover. 

Cherry Plum: For fear of losing control. For those who do not trust their inherent wisdom or their own thoughts and actions. It gives confidence in ones decisions and allows trust and courage to follow one’s path. 

Rock Rose: For panic or terror. When someone freezes in an emergency.

Clematis: For those who when they are unhappy create and enter a dreamland and are no longer present i n the reality of day to day life. Clematis allows us to build a bridge between these worlds and plant our feet in the physical realm-and the ideas that are here. It can often allow creativity and clarity.

We blend ours with love!

Order here.

Anxiety Is Evil.

This blog may be triggering for some people. Please seek help from Beyond Blue and your medical professional if needed.

Anxiety is fucking evil. Excuse the language. If anything deserves vile language it is anxiety. It is all consuming and brain changing. It sucks me dry and makes me think things are 100 times worse than they are. The ironic thing is, I am usually anxious about bad stuff. So, it doesn’t need to be made any worse, thank you.

Most people I share these feelings with find it surprising. I get up, I go to work, I look after my amazing little baby and have a wonderful husband. I am fairly successful at what I do and extremely good at it. Life looks pretty good from the outside. But when a bad day hits, it takes everything I have to face it all.

Rather than stay in bed and make me sad, my anxiety drives my head into spinning worse case scenarios where the most horrific things happen in everyday life. If you know what I mean, you will know exactly what I mean. Mostly these things happen to my family, Sam or Callie. The people I care most about.

Cruel, evil anxiety. Taking my worst fears, putting them into vivid colour and playing them out in my head over and over again, all day and all night. 

The catch is, anxiety drives me to be good at life as well, as this is the only way to shut it the hell up. If I clean the house, go to work, help other people, stay busy, stay focused; I can have short-lived breaks from the constant noise. Or it can be simple stuff, like today I bought myself some flowers, a magazine (which sits unread on the table next to me as I have instead worked all morning) and made myself a pot of coffee. I have two blissful hours to myself. 

BUT, the bliss is the hardest with anxiety! Also, probably the most important. If I keep going, running with the endless ideas, thought, projects, I know I burn out. It’s not like a maybe, it’s a certainty. And then, stuck in bed with a migraine (usually my downfall) there is no escape and I am sucked into the deep hole of darkness until I can drag myself up and distract, distract, distract.

If I take this downtime (yes, my downtime is writing blogs apparently!), look at those beautiful flowers I indulged in and spent 5 minutes (a lifetime for me!) putting into a nice vase and just try to breathe, I will be able to carry on and if I get myself at the right time these days, I can actually enjoy the downtime.

Anxious is a vicious beast, but if we can learn how to tame it as it individually affects us then we can use it to our advantage. Essentially, it is there to drive us into some action, so why not make it positive if we can? And I am not saying that we always can, that I always can, but I am learning how to. I am 30 and I am still learning. I am also most days enjoying this process. I have never known myself better, nor loved myself more. 

Beating my anxiety is about accepting myself. Accepting that anxiety is part of my personality and that is ok. Doing the things I need to do to stay sane and practicing some serious self-care, just like I tell my clients to do. Take some of those pots off the boil, please!

Most of all, for me, it is about being super true to myself. I have run from this for a long time. It has given me a lot of success but a lot of sickness as well. So, it’s time for me to look at it through clear glass and realise some limitations to my capacity (oh, shit!) and that it is ok to have a nap if I’m tired, or buy the flowers and the magazine today. I deserve it (yes, I like to justify even the simplest things).

Need help? Get your butt into clinic because without my herbs, I would be a bigger mess. See your GP, there are options here as well. Short or long term. It is ok. Slow down. See a therapist. We anxious types LOVE to talk!

If you don’t already know you can head to your doctor and get a mental health plan to help cover some of the costs of a psychologist. Or jump online and use some quality resources to learn more about your anxiety. Try Black Dog Institute, Beyond Blue, SANE Australia or Head to Health

Stay Well This Autumn

Ahh, autumn. We just love this time of year. As much as we enjoy the warm, sunny days of summer, who can deny the wonders of autumn? Time to unpack your jumpers, break out the heaters, and prepare for the cooler temps to come.

Cold weather prep also means taking better care of you, so while you're prepping for fall and the upcoming holiday season, add the 11 health tips below to your autumn to-do list and everyday wellness routine.

1. Replenish Your Stash of Immune-Boosters

Help keep yourself and your family healthy by stocking up on immune health essentials now. Try a good quality vitamin C, L-lysine, zinc and immune-supporting herbs like full-spectrum olive leaf and echinacea.

And since at least 70% of your immune system is in your gut, it’s a good idea to reinforce digestive and immune health with probiotics and prebiotic fibre.

2. Get a Checkup

Did you know more heart health concerns are discovered during cold months than any other time of year? That’s because cold weather may affect circulation and make your heart work harder. 

Autumn is an ideal time to get your checkup with a naturopath like myself to make sure you’re in tip-top health before winter weather begins.

3. Embrace the Flavours of Autumn

Eating whole foods that are in season is the way to go year-round for nutritional impact. Tables and baskets at farmers markets fill to the brim with seasonal produce like squash, apples, beets. kale, and brussel sprouts—and the list goes on!

The fun doesn’t stop at the farmers market. Fall is the perfect time to try healthy soup recipes, experiment with nutritional powerhouse spices like turmeric, Ceylon cinnamon and ginger. And get in on superfoods that are perfect for cooler temps like bone broth collagen and matcha green tea (you can find some inspo in my new cookbook here).

4. Shift Your Exercise Habits with the Season

Start planning your cold-weather activity routine now so you’ll be less likely to skip a workout later when the weather changes and going outside isn’t as appealing. If joining a gym or taking a fitness class isn’t for you, try online workouts or make up your own!

If you take part in our online detox program, we’ll give you a two week workout plan you can follow at home! Find it here.

5. Hydrate from the Inside Out

Staying hydrated is just as important now as it was during the summer. Your body uses water for everything, all year long! Drink up to benefit digestion, fluid and mineral balance, waste removal, energy, mood, skin, joint lubrication and more. Herbal teas are a great way to stay warm and keep up your fluids, as well as broths.

According to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAM) an adequate daily fluid intake is about 15.5 cups (3.7 litres) of fluids for men and about 11.5 cups (2.7 litres) of fluids a day for women at a minimum.

6. Keep Your Sleep in Synch

There’s nothing like a time change to throw off your sleep schedule. The daylight savings shift combined with shorter days means it gets dark early and leaves many of us feeling tired. That’s because when the sun goes down and lights are dim our bodies are triggered to produce melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep-wake cycles.

If going to and from work in the dark makes you feel like napping on the couch by 6pm despite getting enough sleep the night before, it’s time to make some changes. Combat the urge to snooze too early by being more active in the evening—even if it’s just a brisk walk or a set of star-jumps in your living room—get your body moving.

Also, consider switching out your lightbulbs to an option that gives you natural, balanced light indoors. And don’t forget possibly supplementing with good quality vitamin D. Your body needs sunlight to produce this essential nutrient and the lack of sun leaves you more likely to be low in vitamin D, which can also contribute to feelings of fatigue.

7. Detox from Digital Overload

Chilly weather may keep you indoors more often, but that’s no excuse to spend all of your time in front of a screen. All that blue light from electronic devices can harm your eyes!

Instead of all that screen time, discover indoor activities that are interactive without the use of screens—like board games, creative hobbies, reading and puzzles that challenge your mind. Autumn is also the perfect time to start a self-care routine (go back and check out our blogs on self care here and here).

Have a Healthy Autumn!

Autumn is an amazing time to up your wellness game before cold weather! We hope these 7 healthy tips for you will help you make this the best season yet. 

As usual, for extra support during this time, please make an appointment with me!

Not All Nuts Are Created Equal

Nuts are one of the best and easiest ways to pump your diet full of good healthy fats, a range of vitamins, minerals, fibre and protein. Plus they taste great, add texture and oomph to the boring-est of salads and make you appear healthy and interesting to your friends. 

They are responsible for a host of health benefits for sure, but each nut has his or hers own unique make up of nutrients. I see so many clients that are like “yeah, I eat nuts” but when questioned further really only enjoy almonds or cashews on a weekly basis. To get the most out of nuts we really should be having an array of varieties. This will also add to your meals with each nut having a unique texture and flavour. 

Together, these little guys hoard a combination of more than 28 different and essential nutrients. Essential nutrients essentially means you gotta eat that stuff because your body can’t make it.

SO, all in all, we need to include lots of food in our diet that has essential nutrients. WHICH MEANS we have to mix our nuts and eat them up!

Need more reasons? Eating a palm size serving of nuts 5 times a week can significantly reduce the risk of getting cardiovascular disease, plus those little guys fill you up and keep you feeling full for longer so you don’t reach for the Kit Kat on Thursday afternoon. 

Lastly, have you ever noticed how a walnut looks like a little bitty brain? Well some people reckon that your food looks like what it’s good for. So, eat those walnuts to keep your beautiful brain happy and healthy (it’s mostly made of fat!).

Having A Child Changed My Life, Profoundly

Having a baby has profoundly changed me.

Or at least, I think it has because I can't really remember who I was before. Or what was important to me. Even if I do get a flashback on how I used to spend all of my time and energy, it doesn't seem all that important anyway. 

When I'm out and about instead of checking out people, I'm honing in on the new mum in the corner breastfeeding her baby. Did she have the same struggles as me? Or will she as her bub grows? Should I offer help? Can I even help? Because I don't seem to be doing that great some days anyway. 

Yes, profoundly changed.

And then at the same time, all of a sudden not. I still am a healer at heart and want the best for my clients. I love being in clinic and for me not going back to work would have crushed me. I must say though going back to work so early just about broke me. I still put everyone else before me, love to cook and feed others and get to the occasional yoga class (Sorry Claire!). 

But, that amazing baby comes first, before everything in the world.

Nothing else matters, right? Except the washing and the kitchen and the rest of the house and that client I just can’t figure out how to help exactly plus the rising anxiety, lengthy menstrual bleeds, dire low iron and ongoing guilt about wanting to ween and how the hell to start.

Back and forth back and forth. My brain is a sailing pool of emotions. And those babies I mentioned earlier? Yep, I get teary just as an onlooker. I feel everything deeper. People's pain, their struggles. At times, I wonder what is the point of it all. Then Callie runs, full speed, to me when I pick her up from daycare. She jumps into my arms and holds on as if she hasn’t seen me for weeks (despite dropping her there a few hours earlier) and happiness spreads through me, warming my heart, waking me up, and I wonder how could the world be any better.

What can I do?

Well, rather than continue to drive myself crazy I started seeing a therapist. Having someone tell you that all of our deepest darkest fears and worries are normal is surprisingly soothing, whilst at the same time infuriating. Applying simple tools to manage the thoughts in my mind has given me back some clarity and some sanity. What else? Start taking some of your own medicine Mel, literally.

We can all get lost sometimes and having a baby is one of the biggest life things that we will do. I know I need to cut myself some slack, stop feeling guilty for wanting some me time and trust that everything will be ok for that hour or two. As well as take my herbs, see my therapist, get some new bloodwork, cook dinner for my family tonight, send that invoice……. (you get the idea).

I also know that there is always tomorrow and some of that stuff can just wait. 

Having a baby is life changing. If you need help, please ask…anyone. Just asking feels good and takes some pressure off. If you feel there is no one to ask, get on the phone.

Depending on what you need, you can talk to Lifeline, Beyond Blue, Parent Line or Australian Breastfeeding Society

Could Self Care Be The Secret To Being Well? Part #2

We understand that self care is a huge part of health and healing.

This is PART TWO of our blog about self care - If you haven’t already, head here to find the first five tips on how to bring self care into your daily life and cement it as part of your wellness practices!

6. Cook something

It really doesn’t matter what it is – don’t feel you have to create some Instagram-worthy paleo recipe to be practising self-care. Try not to turn eating into yet another way of putting pressure on yourself. Cooking a meal is about nourishing and caring for yourself, which is a a great mindset to be in when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

Of course we love this tip and advocate making healthy meals in our three cookbooks (available here). We love simple, wholesome meals that the whole family can enjoy. Our tip? Plan a week out. Write the shopping lists, the meal plan and put it into action to reduce the stress.

7. Take a bath

Do this at the end of the day instead of reaching for a glass of wine. It’s good to have a winding down routine that doesn’t always involve letting off steam with alcohol.

Add Epsom salts to your bath – they’re full of magnesium which will relax your muscles and help you sleep. Add a few drops of lavender oil for its calming properties.

This is one of Mel’s favourite ways to unwind. We make sure we have time to bathe and enjoy some downtime regularly.

8. Bye-bye binge watching

Now we’re not saying that you need to give up Netflix! But there’s a big difference between watching a few episodes of a show you truly love, and zoning out to countless re-runs of the Real Housewives of Wherever. The first makes you feel good, the second makes you feel like a zombie. Choose your viewing with love and attention.

We don’t watch much TV at all, preferring reading, talking and going to bed early. Make a bedtime ritual that doesn’t revolve around screentime and prioritise your sleep over catching up on your favourite shows.

9. Do a friend detox

This one can be harder than a juice cleanse, if you ask us, but real self-care means establishing strong boundaries with your friends. If you have a friend who always makes you feel bad about yourself, or if you’re always the last to get the invitation – you can do better.

Let go of unhealthy friendships and make space for the people who truly have your back (and make sure you have theirs, too).

It’s important to maintain friend time, especially when you have a busy family life. Make friend dates part of your everyday life - Maybe you can meet for a beach walk and include this as part of your exercise regime, or meet for a coffee when you’re out grocery shopping.

10. Put yourself in your own diary

Most of us are so busy rushing from one commitment to another that we rarely stop and make time for ourselves.

Put self-care in your diary the same way you would anything else that’s important to you. Taking time out from the crazy treadmill of work, eat, sleep and repeat is the best way to resource and refuel.

Love this. Do this. We do!

11. Love more

So the news is terrible, your commute was hellish and you’ve got an inbox full of urgent emails that should have been answered yesterday.

The world can feel like a harsh place sometimes, and we can feel too small and helpless to change it.

In truth, the best cure for that feeling starts with you. If you think the world should be more loving (don’t we all?), then get out there and make the difference.

You don’t have to smooch a stranger, just a smile or a compliment can really make someone’s day. In turn, that’s going to make you feel better, too.

The world could do with a little more love, as could you! Hugs are great. Quality time is great. Touching base with friends and family is great. Spread the love!

We hope you enjoyed our two-part self care series. We’d love to hear from you if you have implemented these into your life! Comment below.

Could Self Care Be The Secret To Being Well?

Self-care has always been a prominent, yet overlooked part of our daily lives. We know that it’s important to take care of ourselves, first. But what about that work deadline or family at home?

Sometimes we put these issues before our own and can eventually fall into a fast paced life of work and home.  We forget to prioritise our own wellness and treat our bodies properly.

Self care has been portrayed as a bit of an out there concept, but we believe it is essential to your health, wellness, happiness and longevity. If we don’t learn to listen to our bodies and treat ourselves well, eventually we are going to wear out and end up sick and unhappy.

I see this a lot in clinic with adrenal fatigue, especially in females. Taking on too much, trying to do it all and forgoing any time alone or time to look after yourself takes a toll on your body. Even just a few minutes of self care every day can help to counteract the effects of our busy lives.

Healthista.com published these great tips for adding self care into your daily life, which I really love - I am going to share them with you over a two part blog series.

These tips may just be what you need to get well and stay well moving forward. You have permission to prioritise yourself and your health!

Here are the first five tips, with a little input from us:

1.Check yourself before you wreck yourself

Get in the habit of checking in with yourself — physically and mentally — every morning. This doesn’t have to be complicated. Just sit still with your eyes closed for a few minutes. Notice if your mind is racing or slow, if your breath is shallow or deep or if your body feels tense or relaxed.

Try not to judge how you’re feeling, just observe it. If you’re wired, think about how you might make the day ahead calmer. If you’re relaxed maybe today’s a good day to take on something challenging.

This is extremely important, just these few minutes can help you move into your day without your adrenals already firing too hard. This might be a good time too to check in with how you’re feeling physically, being more in touch with yourself will help you determine what you need (food, exercise, rest, etc).

2. Start each day with some movement

Start every day with some kind of physical movement. You don’t need to head to the gym or go for a run, You could just dance around the kitchen to your favourite song.

Movement brings you out of your head and into your body, and gives you energy for the day ahead. Make it fun, that way you’re more likely to stick to it.

This can be hard to do with kids, so get them involved too! Even if you’re not a morning person, getting up five minutes earlier to go for a quick walk around the block will do you wonders.

3. Like yourself

We know this one’s easy to say and hard to do, but get practising because liking yourself will change your life. When you look in the mirror, instead of seeking out the things you don’t like, pay attention to the things you do. How would you compliment your best friend? Talk to yourself that way with kindness and love.

This is essential to your wellness journey. If you don’t like yourself, you will often find yourself punishing your body with food or exercise (too much or too little). If you don’t respect your body you won’t be inclined to treat it well.

There are many resources, books, podcasts on this topic and it is worth spending time on. Find something that works for you and helps you move forward.

4. Get a nature fix

Studies show that time spent in nature is good for your health. Easier said than done if you live in a big city, but any bit of greenery will have benefits. Put a plant in your work space and get outside even if it’s just to a patch of grass between buildings. Get your feet in the sand at the ocean if you can, daily.

Even just not wearing shoes at home can help to ground you!

Tonnes of benefits to having plants in your home too - This is worth investing your time and money in.

5. Get energised without the crash

When that  4 p.m. slump hits you at work, try reaching for essential oils instead of sugar or caffeine. Peppermint is great for energising and rosemary is said to bring mental clarity. Just pop a drop into your palm, rub your hands together and inhale deeply.

Another suggestion would be to have a healthy snack - something with a good amount of fat to keep you satiated (apple and peanut butter, carrot sticks and hummus).

If you find yourself crashing often, be sure to seek support from a medical professional. Vitamin or mineral deficiencies could be to blame, as could a host of other issues.

Join us next week for more self care secrets!

The Wellness Trends For 2019 #2

If you missed part one, catch up here !

In the last blog we explored four of the hottest wellness trends for this year, along with our feedback about these. As usual, if considering any of these, please seek the advice of myself or your health practitioner.

4. Hemp on the horizon

Hemp can be used to make several food products, such as hemp seeds and hemp seed oil. Users say they like the substance’s anti-inflammatory effects.

As research increases of this superfood, so will our ability to get our hands on hemp-based products, especially ones that can make us healthier.

There are some great hemp protein powders on the market which are really clean and pack a great punch. i am glad that these products are now readily available in Australia and have read nothing but good things.

5. Bring in the bitters

Bitter foods such as asparagus, cucumbers, grapefruit, and cacao will be more popular in diets in the coming year, according to healthline.com

Bitters help detox your GI tract and love your liver. They can clean out toxic, sluggish bile, which aids digestion and can optimise thyroid function.

I’m all about cacao - It has so many other amazing properties including being a rich source of magnesium. Asparagus can be hard to tolerate for some people and as for cucumbers and grapefruit, well everything in moderation I always say! Enjoy a wide range of wholefoods and you can’t go wrong.

6. Un-dieting

Nutrition trends are one thing, but specific diets are quite another.

Bets are on that intuitive eating replaces diets all together.

With between 80 and 95 percent of diets failing in the long-term and often being harmful to our bodies, I am all for this trend!

Intuitive eating isn’t a trend and it is what I teach my clients in clinic and in my detox program.

This eating practice is not for weight loss, but instead is intended to boost an individual’s awareness and experience of eating.

What weird and wonderful wellness trends have you seen for 2019?

The Wellness Trends For 2019 #1

And our take on them!

It’s always good to know what is going on in the wider wellness world and why some of the trends have become so popular. You may have read about some of these online or in health and wellness magazines. These are adapted from the Healthline website.

It’s important to keep in mind when reading and hearing about health trends that just because they are popular does not mean they are good for you in particular. If you have any questions about these or want to try something safely, always come and have a chat to me or your wellness professional first.

1.GUT HEALTH

Well if you have been following me at all, you will know that I am well aware of the importance of gut health!

This trend is suggesting a shift from simply taking a probiotic tablet to more focus on functional gut healing foods, which is exactly why I wrote The Gut Blueprint!

These functional foods can help to balance the micro-biome in your gut, which means adding beneficial bacteria in. You may have seen our last blog about kombucha, explaining how this fermented drink works to restore gut health.

2. PLANT PROTEINS

A number of health experts believe that 2019 is the year of the plant protein. Health, environmental, and ethical concerns may cause more people to eat less animal proteins or switch to plant-centered diets.

Apparently recent food trends have increased the consumption of avocado, kale, and quinoa and this year, dandelion greens, rainbow carrots, beets, and amaranth will all become more popular.

I love the addition of superfoods into our day-to-day diets and most certainly we need to start becoming more aware of where our protein is coming from and how we can move forward more sustainably.

Just be careful with upping your soy intake! Read my blog for more info on that here.

3. INTERMITTENT FASTING

According to Healthline,  intermittent fasting will become more popular this year.

Benefits are that it’s easy to follow and it doesn’t require restriction of any specific foods, so it will not hinder your ability to eat away from home.

Some studies have shown positive weight maintenance results. Beware, though, because fasting can impact hormones.

Please come and chat to me if this is something you are considering taking on - You can book an appointment here.

4. KETO DIET

This eating plan was in the spotlight in 2018 and that will continue in 2019, but please use caution.

Manipulating a state of ketosis is not recommended without the supervision of a health professional. It can be useful if used for a chronic condition and for a set time, but not recommended for a long term use.

For weight loss and management, high-fat diets do not solely increase overall fat burn. ALL of the macronutrients are needed (this means both carbs and fats) for optimal weight management.

You can read my thoughts about keto here.

TBC - Part two coming next week!

The Lowdown On Kombucha

Many people know kombucha tea for its health-promoting benefits. But is it really good for you?

Once considered a relatively obscure health beverage, kombucha has gone mainstream.

Supermarkets around the world carry this type of tea. In 2017, sales reached more than $500 million in the U.S. alone. Food industry leaders predict global kombucha sales will be close to $2 billion by 2020.

Proponents have called it “the ultimate health drink” and the “tea of immortality.” Skeptics remain unconvinced. But what do we know?

What Is Kombucha?

Kombucha is a sweetened, fermented tea.

The fermentation process creates, among other things, carbon dioxide (which gives the tea its fizz), alcohol. It also creates a variety of acids including acetic acid, lactic acid, propionic acid, glucuronic acid, and gluconic acid.

The taste of kombucha varies. But it typically has a slightly sweet, slightly sour, vinegary flavour and a light, effervescent feel. Some people say it resembles the taste of sparkling cider.

Flavoured kombuchas are made by adding fruit purees or fruit juice concentrates, herbs, spices, and other ingredients.

How Is Kombucha Made?

If you have attended any of my ferment workshops or own my cookbooks, I hope you can answer this question! If not, grab your copy in the SHOP and try it for yourself.

Traditionally green, black, or white tea (which all come from the Camellia sinensis plant) is used to make kombucha. Most herbal teas don’t have the nutrients needed to make the process work.

A sweetener is then added — usually sugar. Other sweeteners have been used, as well, such as honey and maple syrup.

Then, the mixture of tea and sweetener ferments with the help of a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (also known as a SCOBY, or a “mother”).

A SCOBY is a thick, round, floating microbial colony that resembles a mushroom. The SCOBY is a self-perpetuating culture. This means it multiplies itself through the process of creating kombucha tea. (New starter colonies are sometimes called “babies.”)

After a period of time — anywhere between three and 30 days — the kombucha is ready to drink!

What About the Alcohol Content of Kombucha?

During the fermentation process, the culture turns sugar into ethanol, which is a type of alcohol. So the resulting beverage contains alcohol.

Kombucha typically contains about 0.5 to (rarely) as much as 2% alcohol. While the alcohol content is low, it can cause problems for some people. But for most people, it’s not much of an issue because it’s less than 1/10 the amount typically found in beer.

The Benefits

Tea is a remarkably healthy beverage. Its proven benefits range from helping fight cancer and improving bone strength to burning fat and protecting against cardiovascular disease. Kombucha comes from tea. So how does it stack up?

Studies on kombucha have found polyphenols, acids, and vitamins, which are in regular green and black tea. In fact, in one study, kombucha tea had more antioxidants than unfermented tea.

Polyphenols in tea have shown great potential in protecting against some types of cancer. The most potent benefit of tea — both fermented and unfermented — may be its catechin content. Catechins act as potent antioxidants and protect against the development of disease. And many of them are abundant in kombucha.

In addition to the beneficial components found in tea, new compounds form when you make kombucha, which may also have favourable effects. One compound is DSL (D-Saccharic acid-1,4-lactone). DSL has the potential to inhibit an important enzyme that may be linked to cancer growth. More study is needed to determine if this will also provide benefits to humans.

What Science Says

If you look at the research around kombucha and its benefits, one thing is clear: We need more research.

There are a lot of health claims made about kombucha, but so far, no studies have been published on the biological effects of kombucha on humans.

We have animal studies and some decently valid sounding theories, and it does seem plausible that it brings some positive health benefits. Especially when you look at the history of this alive beverage and how it has been used over thousands of years.

While we lack certainty, an impressive body of studies do suggest that kombucha tea could have antimicrobial, energizing, and detoxification effects. And it may even help prevent disease, including cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

Without a doubt, kombucha is a rich source of probiotics. Kombucha is a fermented food and carries a large number of probiotic bacteria that may be beneficial to your digestive health. A 2014 study published in Food Microbiology identified a prominent Lactobacillus population and numerous beneficial yeast species that were abundant in kombucha.

Risk Of Kombucha?

Kombucha can contain a high amount of sugar.

In a 2001 paper called Sucrose and Inulin Balance During Tea Fungus Fermentation, researchers found that almost 35% of the sugar remains after seven days of fermentation. After 21 days, this percentage dropped to 19%. This is why kombucha tastes sweet when you drink it — even though it’s fermented.

Some of the kombuchas on the market have fruit juice or sugar added after the fermentation process. This means those batches will have more sugar.

If you’re buying kombucha, I recommend reading the nutrition facts. And remember: If it tastes sweet, it’s probably because it is. Aim for the lower sugar options or make yours at home with no added sugar or sweeteners.

In Summary

I am all for kombucha, hence why I run workshops on how to make it and sell recipe books with instructions on how to make it for yourself. I do believe it has some wonderful healing properties and is nourishing for your gut health.

It’s a better choice than bottled juices and a much better choice than soft drinks, bringing a healthy dose of antioxidants plus some fantastic health-boosting probiotics.

But it also contains sugar, some of which remains in the final product, this is what you need to be wary of. Everything in moderation! On a recent podcast episode, The Wellness Guys suggested drinking maybe 25-50mls per day. If you buy your kombucha, you’ll realise that this means not consuming the whole thing at once!

Making your own is cheaper and healthier too, so get on board the kombucha train and start adding a little of this tasty drink into your daily wellness habits.

The Lowdown On Sunscreen

This article was based on a Wellness Mama blog, which was in turn medically reviewed by Dr. Scott Soerries, MD, Family Physician and Medical Director of SteadyMD. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.

We have probably all seen by now the research coming out about the harmful effects of sunscreens. Not only can the chemicals in most generic sunscreens be harmful to our health, but they are also harmful to our oceans.

Recently, reports from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Consumer Reports have warned consumers against using many types of conventional sunscreens, especially on children.

Sunscreen is Harmful?

Sunscreen use has risen in past decades, as media outlets and doctors tout the benefits of sunscreen for protecting against skin cancer and sunburn. Especially here in Australia, with the ‘Slip, Slop, Slap’ campaign, we have become very afraid of not using sun protection every time we step outside. The problem with this billion dollar a year market: not all sunscreens are created equal and in many cases sunscreen is harmful, not helpful.

Here’s why:

There are two ways that a sunscreen can protect the skin from sun damage: with a mineral barrier or a chemical one.

Mineral sunscreens typically include ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which create a physical barrier to protect the skin from the sun.

Chemical sunscreens (most on the market) use one or more chemicals including oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate.

These sunscreen chemicals raise some special concerns because many are able to cross into skin and other tissue (as anything you apply directly onto your skin does).

This new research by the EWG reveals that the chemicals commonly used in sunscreen are endocrine (hormone) disruptors, estrogenic and may interfere with thyroid and other hormone processes in the body.

The most common sunscreen chemical, Oxybenzone, was found in 96% of the population by a recent study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. This is especially alarming since oxybenzone is considered an endocrine disruptor, can reduce sperm count in men and may contribute to endometriosis in women.

The EWG warns against using oxybenzone, especially on children or pregnant/breastfeeding women.

Of the 1,400+ sunscreens tested by the EWG, only 5% met their safety standards and over 40% were listed as potentially contributing to skin cancer. It seems ludicrous, I know!

Spray sunscreens have become increasingly popular in recent years, but have additional dangers, especially if inhaled. Consumer Reports warns that spray sunscreens should not be used on children and that adults should exercise caution and make sure not to use on the face or inhale them. Not to mention the detrimental effects of the sprays as they are absorbed into the ozone layer.

Many sunscreens also contain methylisothiazolinone, which the American Contact Dermatitis Society named as its “allergen of the year”!

Vitamin D Dilemma

We’ve already established that some sunscreen is harmful and may do more harm than good, but another important consideration that is often ignored: Vitamin D.

Most sunscreens completely block the body’s ability to manufacture Vitamin D. Statistically, 75% of us are deficient in Vitamin D and Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to higher risk of cancer and heart disease (which kill more people than skin cancer per year).

It seems crazy, but here we are lathering up with chemical sunscreens that have the potential to greatly increase skin cancer risk and reduce Vitamin D production in the name of avoiding skin cancer, and increase our risk of more widespread diseases related to Vitamin D deficiency!

Important Note:

The topic of if sunscreen is harmful is a loaded one. We need to exercise caution in sun exposure (especially overexposure) to the sun, however, as more and more evidence emerges about the dangers of many sunscreens and their potential to increase rates of skin cancer, it is important not to depend on sunscreens or think that regular sunscreen use decreases the risk of skin cancer.

A Safer Option: Mineral Sunscreens

Mineral sunscreens are typically considered a safer option, but some mineral sunscreens also contain some of the chemical ingredients above and have the same risks.

Additionally, if nano particles of zinc oxide or titanium oxide are used, these can enter the body and carry risks as well. Since these offer physical barriers, it is also more difficult to accurately pinpoint the SPF of some mineral sunscreens.

There are also some natural mineral sunscreens that the EWG lists as safe (some of these are available on iHerb):

The Safest Option: Cover Up

If sun exposure is a big concern for you or you have a family history of skin cancers, the safest option is to avoid the sunscreens that the EWG has said might contribute to skin cancer and use the safest form of sun protection: covering up.

With all the information and mis-information about sunscreen out there, the easiest and safest way to avoid sun damage is to stay in the shade, wear a hat or long sleeves.

The recent research shows that certain chemical sunscreens may carry more of a risk than moderate sun exposure, so avoid these sunscreens is also an important step, whilst ensuring you are getting enough Vitamin D with a small amount of exposure.

Bottom Line

It is important to be responsible with sun exposure, but many sunscreens offer a false security of sun protection and may do more harm than good.

The safest option is covering up and supporting skin health internally and externally. Mineral sunscreens (without nano particles or sunscreen chemicals) are also a good option, but for the most part, spray and chemical sunscreens should be avoided.

With the widespread availability of natural mineral sunscreens on the market now, please consider choosing safer sunscreens for your family.

We stock natural sunscreen in the clinic - Ask me at your next consult and chat to me about how best to support your body internally throughout Summer.

POST HOLIDAY WELLNESS TIPS

Feeling flabby after too much Christmas pudding and New Years champagne? Finding it hard to hit the gym after the holidays?

It’s fun to enjoy a little bit of indulgence over the summer holidays, but it can make it difficult to get back on track with your healthy habits and wellness routine. New Years celebrations can lead into time away, and before we know it it’s the Australia Day holiday and we still haven’t gotten ourselves eating well or moving like we were last year!

Don’t let yourself slide down that slippery slope of carrying your unhealthy holiday habits into the New Year - Get back on the wellness train with these five easy tips:

1. Organise you Morning 

Prepare everything the night before. Lay out your workout gear and pack your gym bag.

Plan your meals and if possible, have them prepped and waiting for you. Doing this means a less stressed morning and a higher chance you follow through on your healthy routine!

2. Clear out the Crap 

Why test your will power unnecessarily? If there is leftover Christmas chocolates and that IS YOUR WEAKNESS THROW IT OUT! Nibbles hanging around from New Year? Ditch them.

Don’t think, just throw, or even better, donate!

3. Close the Kitchen

Pick a time where the kitchen is off limits. Turn out the lights, make a family service announcement. THE KITCHEN IS NOW CLOSED.

If you can do this for one week you will notice that night-time eating is a habit that will recede if you stop heeding the call.

4. Aim for Daily Movement

Of course there will be days where you miss it but if you aim for it every day and put it on your calendar you will at least end up with a solid 4 or 5 days of movement.

Start small if you have had some time off and build up over time! Pick something you enjoy, maybe a beach walk and swim or ball games with the family.

5. Give up the Booze (or at least reduce it) 

Getting on the wagon is the quickest way to lose the bloat. Not only will you save the extra calories, your willpower will be stronger to resist forbidden foods and your hunger will be more moderate.

Especially now that the major celebrations (and stress) have passed, there is no excuse really to be downing the wines. Give it a rest and notice how awesome you feel!

Remember that getting back on track is even harder than starting a brand new routine, because when you begin again, you remember how you used to feel and that can lead to some crappy thoughts.

Just keep moving and you can stay ahead of your thoughts about not being on track! You’ll get there, one step at a time.

If you need some extra support around this, please make an appointment with Mel!

It's Detox Season

This time of year usually motivates us to make some sort of grand health focused commitment to ourselves. After an indulgent Christmas and New Years celebrations, we often enter January feeling unhealthy and ready to hit the gym, start that diet and focus on our health.

Detoxing comes to mind as a good option to fast track our New Years wellness goals and it’s easy to see why. Most detoxes offer a quick fix, rapid weight loss and a solution to all of our health issues in one hit. Surely we can deprive ourselves for as long as it takes?

The problem with most commercial detoxes is just that, they promise a quick fix and deliver, however once you go back to your “normal” life and habits, all the benefits you experienced during this time are reversed. They don’t teach you positive eating and living for life and don’t set you up with skills to be able to look after yourself beyond the detox period.

We believe that detoxing doesn’t have to be this once a year drastic effort to reset your health. That’s why we offer Not Just Another Detox - Our two week online cleanse program that goes beyond starving yourself and taking some chemically-laden powder or pill to get results.

Here are our top five reasons to consider our detox program this New Year:

1.Commercial Detoxes Aren’t Sustainable

You actually need more nutrition to detox, not less. Depriving yourself of food does not much, except to reduce the amount of calories you’re taking in for the length of the detox. It can actually have a negative effect on our hormones, inducing un-needed stress in the body.

These deprivation based detoxes can only be done for a certain number of days because of this stress they cause in the body - Your body needs nutrition to survive and thrive.

2. Enjoy Real Food

Our detox allows you to eat abundantly! There are no pills or powders, no weird potions and no missing out on meals.

In fact, many of our participants comment that they have been able to eat MORE whilst detoxing, because all of the food is real and whole.

3. Learn How To Look After Yourself

Not Just Another Detox teaches you how to make healthy food for you and your family, how to shop wisely, how to detox your home and mind and how to move your body.

We provide you with our own tried and true recipes, exercise videos and daily email support to allow you to learn wellness for life, not just for the two weeks of the program.

Fall in love with looking after yourself and be able to put these learnings into practice well after the program has finished.

4. You Can Do It In Your Own Time

Our program is completely online. Yes it runs for two weeks, but you can do it in your own time. You can come back to the program whenever you need.

It’s yours for life! Save the emails you receive from us and do it at your own pace if needed.

The meal planner can be used continuously, it is highly energy dense and friendly for the whole family.

5. Access To A Qualified Naturopath, Mel

Unlike other detox programs, ours has been created and implemented by our very own naturopath, Melissa Gearing. The meals have been nutritionally formulated and balanced, and the recommendations come from years of seeing clients move through this program with amazing results.

If you have any questions along your detox journey, all you need to do is email Mel and she can support you!

Plus, add an individual naturopathy consultation to your program for continuing results and to address anything that came up for you during the program.

Ready to detox, for life?

You can start anytime with our online program!

Join us today for just $39.

How to Be Realistic With Your New Year’s Resolutions

If you’ve made and then failed to deliver on wellness-focused New Year’s resolutions in the past, it’s possible you accidentally bit off more than you could chew. Perhaps you resolved to “lose 10 kilos” or “stress less” — which are vague on how to execute at best and totally intimidating at worst.

So how can you brush those defeats off and try again this year? By focusing instead on some small changes that are actually attainable. You could start with our suggestions in the previous blog here.

To avoid failure before the month of January has passed, start with one goal. Being overwhelmed makes us resistant to change. Instead, focus on one teeny-tiny goal, the ability to have quick victories with less overwhelming moments becomes an instant win.

The more little wins you have equates to higher confidence — and confidence is what enables us to believe we are able to change. After choosing your little change, try writing down three reasons why this change will have a positive impact in your life, which will help to reinforce your why for moments when you aren’t feeling so motivated.

Here are five simple things you can do to stay true to your 2019 resolutions, that are both achievable and will make an immediate impact on your life:

1. Bedtime Gratitude

One small habit you can add to your life to immediately improve your well-being is taking a moment before bed to think of five things you are grateful for today. Research has shown that this practice leads to improved mood, happiness and even better physical health. The five things can be anything that comes to mind, as significant as your family, your friends or your health, and as trivial as what you had for lunch. Just getting in the habit of appreciating what you have will do a lot for your well-being.

2. Slow Down

Constantly feel like you’re a chicken running around with its head cut off? One of the best habits you can begin to practice is the art of slowing down. It’s the habit that will make all other habits you want to change finally fall into place.

Implementing slowing down as part of your daily life isn’t an overnight habit change — you have to switch from operating on autopilot. To begin the practice of slowing down, set an alarm on your phone to go off at certain times for your personal check-in. Take a five-minute break to be present. That might be as simple as staring out the window, journaling about your day or taking a walk around the block to clear your mind.

3. Stress Less, Sleep Better

If you deal with stress and anxiety, combating your stress throughout the day should lead to better quality sleep at night, as well. Stress wreaks havoc on the system causing many imbalances, so finding ways to calm your nervous system daily are important for your overall well-being.

Try 10 minutes of daily seated meditation or 20 minutes of a gentle moving mediation daily, such as a nice walk outside.

4. Tap the Power of Positive Peer Pressure

If you’re trying to accomplish a monumental achievement, you’ll have a better chance of sticking to it if you talk about it. Feeling accountable to others and getting the support of friends and family greatly increases your chance at success.

Tell your family, friends and coworkers. Shout it from the rooftops and invite people to help you on your journey. Find a loyal gym buddy or an encouraging healthy eating partner. Your own personal team of supporters will come in handy when you find yourself struggling or experiencing a moment of weakness.

If you’re more of a private person, there are still ways to get support from others without asking your desk partner to snack on carrots with you. There are countless online support groups, programs and even apps for your phone, that can help you stay on track whatever your goal may be.

5. Pile on the Positive

New Year’s resolutions don’t always have to be about cutting out unhealthy behaviours. Try adding something to your life rather than taking something away. Instead of vowing to never eat chocolate again, plan to add something healthy in (see our previous blog for inspo).

If you do decide to completely give up one of your vices, be sure you have a game plan in place that will help you stick to your goal when temptation comes knocking, or when your body starts to fight back. I can help you with this!

If you’re giving up or even cutting back on caffeine it can be tough on your body at first, bringing on symptoms of withdrawal like headaches and irritability. But be patient! It’s completely possible to combat fatigue in the morning and throughout the day without caffeine by doing simple things like staying hydrated, practicing stimulating breathing techniques and exercising.

Happy New Year from the whole MG Herbs team xox

See you in 2019!

OUR TOP FIVE NEW YEARS WELLNESS RESOLUTIONS

It’s almost that time! As fast as the silly season comes around, it leaves just as quick. Often at the end of it all, we find ourselves knee deep in empty wine bottles and chocolate wrappers, wondering how we managed to put on 2 kilos in one week?!

Don’t despair though, because New Years is just around the corner and with January One comes a whole new year (and new you).

Your resolutions don’t have to be as drastic as you think though. In fact, the less dramatic the better. When setting goals and intentions for next year, make sure you think about sustainability over time and be specific. There is no point in proclaiming “I want to lose weight”, without specifying how, how much, by when, otherwise you’re setting yourself up for failure and disappointment.

Set yourself up for success with our five resolution recommendations and make 2019 your healthiest year yet…

1.Eat more (WHOLE, real foods)

Resolve to fit in more probiotic foods, like miso, apple cider vinegar, and sauerkraut to improve your mood and cut cravings.

Add in fresh vegetables at every opportunity, especially with your kids.

If you do want to cut out guilty pleasures, don’t get rid of them completely. Instead of having red meat every week, say, ‘I’ll have red meat once a month’, for example.

Enjoying your cravings once in a while will make staying on track the rest of the time less gruelling.

2. Go to sleep a bit earlier

If vowing to get eight hours of sleep every night is totally unrealistic, tell yourself you’ll go to bed 15 minutes earlier than your usual bedtime. Keep shifting that number earlier and earlier, rather than vowing, ‘I usually go to bed at midnight, now I’m going to bed at 10’.

Everyone has time to go to bed 15 minutes earlier. If you keep doing it, eventually you will be going to sleep an hour and a half earlier!

3. Clean your mind daily

Clutterbugs, this one’s for you. Instead of telling yourself you’ll be more organised this year (as you’ve vowed last year and many years before that), try meditating once a day.

When you’re stressed, hurried, anxious, or depressed, you don’t want to keep their place tidy, and just a little bit of mindfulness will help centre you.

Science has even proven the extent of these benefits. In a study of 3,515 adults published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers found 30 minutes of meditation every day improved symptoms of depression and anxiety in participants after eight weeks.

4. Define every day

Pick a new word to live by each month—we’re not talking about the new words recently added to the dictionary, but positive ones like “friendly” or “wholesome”—and apply it to your daily actions.

Introduce yourself to that new neighbour, or swap your favourite fast food joint for a juice bar once a week.

So many people move through the year without a clear purpose, doing this exercise will help you take actions that feel aligned with your health and happiness. Post your word somewhere you can see it or set it as your email password as a reminder.

5. Take more steps

Really, take more steps. Instead of just worrying about working out during the week, turn your focus to accumulating more steps during your day-to-day activities. Even 500 extra steps for five days will lead to significant health changes.

You can also schedule breaks during the day to stroll around the block or walk to your coworkers’ desks instead of emailing. This way, you’re focusing on overall wellness with a goal to achieve a healthier lifestyle, instead of perhaps one to lose weight. With wellness, weight loss can happen naturally.

Need help with setting and working out a plan for your 2019 health and wellness goals?

Book an appointment with Mel in the New Year and get started on the right foot.

Why Drink Alkaline Water?

Like any health trend, it’s always important to see whether it’s worth following and investing your precious time and money into.

Ensuring that you are consuming the right water (and enough) is one of the most important things you can do for your health, thus switching to alkaline water is something to definitely consider.

Water is required for every biological function of the body – circulation, assimilation, digestion, elimination, temperature control and even thought. Our body is made up of 75% water and our brain is 91%, so by drinking water we replenish the water lost on a daily basis.

Without water, even the best vitamins and minerals cannot be absorbed or made available for cellular processes and proper bodily function. We need water as much as we need air. Yet it is easy to forget how completely we depend on it.

Here are our favourite health benefits from drinking alkaline water, courtesy of Zazen:

1. Enables cellular hydration for peak performance

Alkaline Water must contain a balanced range of electrolyte minerals, which are essential for re-hydration. An electrolyte is simply an alkaline mineral – or mineral salt. The key electrolyte minerals are Sodium, Potassium and Chloride (not chlorine!), and their job is to keep the amount of water in the body in balance, carry impulses along the nerves, helps make the muscles contract and relax and keep the body from becoming too acidic or alkaline.

2. Restores pH balance to the body

The second point we make in drinking alkaline water is as the water reaches the stomach the alkaline water helps stimulate the stomach to release hydrochloric acid – which is good, this then stimulates the body to release bicarbonate buffers into the bloodstream (to balance the acid in the stomach otherwise there would be holes burnt through the stomach lining). These bicarbonate or alkaline buffers naturally released by the body, also help aid in reducing the toxin or acid load in the blood etc. again assisting to create a healthier, more alkaline state.

3. Eliminates toxins in the body and helps to prevent disease.

As mentioned in the earlier points, when we are properly hydrated at a cellular level the body can flush out toxins that are stored in our cells. Disease and illnesses occur in the body from a high acidic diet and a lack of proper nutrition and water. 

4. Improves performance and focus

Without adequate hydration the brain cannot function properly, cannot focus, cannot concentrate and cannot remember. The human body manifests dehydration by a series of symptoms and signs, perceptive symptoms of dehydration — in other words, brain senses dehydration, or tiredness when you haven’t done a good day’s work, or first thing in the morning when you want to get up out of bed and you’re tired, if you can’t get up, that is a sign of dehydration. Then anger, quick reaction, depression, these are all signs of dehydration, when the brain has very little energy from hydroelectricity to cope with the information or take action.

5. Allows a better quality sleep

One of the main reasons why people toss and turn all night is because they are dehydrated. Drinking water throughout the day replenishes the water your body loses through sweat, urination and bowel movements. If you are thirsty at night, it means your body needs water and you should not put it off until the morning. 

A general rule of thumb for how much water you should drink throughout the day is 1 litre of water for every 25kgs of body weight. If you are exercising, drinking soft drinks or alcohol, tea or coffee or are ill, you need to drink more as the body’s water need is much higher.

GOOD NEWS IF YOU WANT TO CONVERT TO ALKALINE WATER AT HOME - We are now stocking the amazing Zazen Alkaline Water Systems!

Invest in yours and your family’s wellness today. Click here for more info and to purchase.

How To Have A Healthy Christmas

Christmas for many people means STRESS (as we mentioned on the last blog). For most people too, it means letting loose, eating too much and potentially drinking more than you usually would.

Temptations are everywhere. It’s the office Christmas party. The bring a plate street gatherings. The food and wine based presents. The catchups. And then the busy-ness, which doesn’t provide you with anytime to upkeep your normal healthy routine.

This Christmas, make it different.

You can enjoy yourself AND maintain your wellness, with a little organisation and resolve…Here’s how:

1.Eat Before You Go

You might consider this already, especially if you have food intolerances, but I always recommend having a health snack or small meal before going to a party or gathering where you might be tempted to eat unhealthy options.

Consuming a satiating and healthy snack will give you an excuse not to indulge in unhealthy offerings, sets you up to make healthier choices and provides you with at least some nutrition if you plan on having a big night.

Having something in your stomach makes those stale nibbles look less appetising too!

2. MOVE!

We know every Christmas special under the sun will be showing on the TV, but you don’t need to plonk yourself on the lounge all day!

Encourage the whole family to get out for a walk at some point – ideally, after dinner to aid digestion. The more activity, the better, so take along any new outdoor gifts, like bikes, scooters, balls or frisbees, and even better, get some time in nature together.

3. Go easy on the booze

Those alcohol units can really mount up over the holidays. Beers on Christmas eve, champagne with breakfast, wine with dinner, Christmas party cocktails… the list goes on!

So, do try to keep tabs on how much you are drinking, and intersperse alcoholic drinks with soft ones. The one alcoholic drink to one non-alcoholic drink is a great practice, order a mineral water with lemon or lime to spritz it up.

Drink plenty of water in the lead up to any event in which you’ll be consuming alcohol and have some healthy intentions in place for yourself - Buy some snack options like felafel or good quality bread for those midnight snack nights and stock up on coconut water as a rehydration option if you need it.

4. Don’t give yourself a Christmas stuffing!

Recent research suggests that we consume around 3,000 calories in our Christmas dinner – more than the entire recommended daily intake for a grown man! This huge feast not only contributes to weight gain but also to indigestion and heartburn – not to mention lethargy for the rest of the day, reducing the chances of you burning much of it off.

Instead of gorging yourself on Christmas dinner, eat a normal-sized meal and then take a 20-minute break to see if you are still hungry (it takes this long for the brain to register that the stomach is full). The chances are, you’ll realise you’ve had enough. Also, you will probably enjoy your meal, and the day, much more.

5. Eat Wholefoods First

Let’s be honest, most of us get through the entire Christmas period eating no more fruit than the dried stuff in the Christmas pud. It just doesn’t really feature on the Christmas menu.

But at this time of late nights, overindulging and partying, it’s more important than ever to get your vitamins and minerals, to help you stay in good health.

Ensure that your Christmas shopping list enables you to fill up the fruit bowl and get mostly wholefoods in your belly. This could include adding carrot sticks to the snack plate, more vegetables into the roast, and having your prawns with a home-made salad instead of a bread roll.

6. Think before you eat

Christmas is a time of plenty, and with nuts, chocolates, chips and cheese platters wherever you look, it would be rather Scrooge-like to suggest that you don’t eat any treats over the festive period!

But rather than mindlessly popping whatever is in front of you in your mouth, spend a moment thinking about whether you really want it, or are just eating it because it’s there.

Invest some time (or money) into bringing healthy, good quality Christmas goodies if you’re attending a gathering, and if you’re hosting, suggest healthy options for guests to bring along.

( We can help you out with this - We’re offering raw Christmas cakes this year - Orders must be in by early December - email to order)

7. Stress Less (see our Holiday Stress blog for more on this)

‘Tis the season to be jolly’ but jolly is the last thing many of us feel with overspending, cooking, cleaning, endless ‘to do’ lists and visitors we could do without. Try to keep a sense of humour and proportion. Is it really the end of the world if the carrots are overcooked or if the house is a bit dusty? Do you really care about Auntie Mary’s disapproval of the fact that you and your partner are living together and aren’t married?

Remember, Christmas is just one day out of 365 and it isn’t worth stressing over!

How To Deal With Holiday Stress

There is no doubt about it, Christmas and the summer holidays here in Australia are around the corner. The decorations are out in full force at your local shopping centre, the weather is getting warmer and the kids have already started a list a mile long.

Many of us want to bury our heads in the sand at this time of year - So soon? I’m not ready! Argh! The stress starts building. The fear starts rising - financial, family and having to entertain kids whilst they’re on school holidays.

As we move closed to C Day the stress begins to mount. Preparations overtake everything. Your focus is spread thin and your patience even thinner.

We don’t have to surrender to seasonal stress though! There is so much we can do to prevent this time of year becoming something to dread and despair.

Here are our top seven simple ways to deal with holiday stress:

1.Prioritise yourself over others

Even though the holidays are all about giving, we can’t give what we don’t have. You have to take care of yourself first in order to have anything left for those around you.

This is where your self-care practices come into play, as well as a healthy sleep routine; setting healthy boundaries with coworkers, family, and friends; exercising regularly; and feeding your body nutritious food (but also allow yourself the freedom to indulge occasionally).

2. Don’t forget that “no” is a complete sentence

Saying yes when you want to say no is a setup for added stress.

Family, friends and coworkers ask a lot of you this time of year, use this as an opportunity to practice doing what is right for you. Say no to at least two or three invites, and instead, take a night to yourself. It can be a stress reliever to relax and enjoy alone time.

3. Honour “good enough”

So many people strive for perfection around the holidays. Whether that’s in the kitchen, with the perfect gift or decking out the house with the best lights (remember Clark Griswold in Christmas Vacation?).

Ease off the need to control and let go of your attachment to how things should be. Be open to other possibilities, become curious about what’s really in front of you rather than being judgmental; and most importantly, open your heart to what life and this holiday season have to offer.

4. Take a breathing break

Take a four-minute time-out for yourself - You can do this exercise anywhere from the bathroom to your car. Sit quietly, close your eyes and set your watch for four minutes. Breathe — deeply and consciously. Think to yourself, "Count of seven in, hold for four and slow exhale on five."

Even four minutes a couple of times a day can help to lower your blood pressure, change your brain waves, and calm your soul.

5. Limit time with difficult family members

We all have that one person in our family who pushes our buttons. If being around certain people kicks your stress and anxiety into high gear, then you need to make a plan (ahead of time) for how you’re going to manage this common holiday trigger.

The most obvious solution is to limit your time with this family member. But if staying clear is not an option, your next best strategy is to rehearse in advance how to respond to comments that set you off and focus on what you can control in your interaction with them — not on trying to control them.

6. Have a spending plan

Another major stressor for people this time of year is money. Often, people will overspend on presents, decorations and party planning and then feel huge regret once the calendar rolls over to the next year.

Instead of dealing with buyer's remorse once January hits, try setting a budget. Although it sounds too simplistic to even work, the act of sitting down and planning out what you are going to spend your money on and then sticking to it can help alleviate a lot of stress.

7. Infuse a little mindfulness into everything you do

If you are not present in the moment, not only will you miss celebrating the holidays, but you will also feel more anxious about the future.

Whether you’re stuck in line at the shops or waiting to check in at the airport, Dow says to notice three things you see, two things you hear and one thing you feel with your skin. This approach is a way to be mindful and can help take you away from the frustration and worry associated with everyday stressors.

So take a deep breath and some time for yourself and enjoy this holiday season!

Sugar Is Out...Now What?

Most of us know or have heard of by now the dangers in consuming too much sugar. Not only can it negatively impact your waistline (and your skin and teeth), sugar has proven to be a contributing factor in developing a chronic illness, potentially leading to disease.

If you haven’t wrapped your head around the whole sugar debate, check out the movie “The Sugar Film”. And if you’re still hooked on sugar, we published a blog last year about how to prevent sugar cravings.

So, now that white sugar isn’t adorning the tables of families Australia-wide, what do we use instead?

When looking up whole-food recipes, you have probably seen various sugar alternatives listed. At face value, these probably come across as healthy options to replace white sugar with.

If we examine them deeper though, often times these “healthy” sugar options are equally as detrimental to our health as adding traditional sugar would be! You also need to think about how much of these alternative sugars are going into your cooking and into the processed foods you are eating. Just because they are not white sugar doesn’t mean they are good for you!

Let’s examine the top five sugar alternatives offered in wellness recipes.

  1. Rice Malt Syrup

    This one became well-known when it was used in Sarah Wilson’s popular book, I Quite Sugar. The problem with rice malt syrup is it is heavily processed and has a high glycemic (GI) load. Have you even seen syrup come out of your rice?

  2. Agave Nectar

    Another buzz sugar alternative, extracted mostly in Mexico from agave plants. It does have a low GI but is very high in fructose, more than normal sugar does. And because of the nature of the extraction process, this is not a environmentally sustainable option.

  3. Stevia

    A sugar substitute that is extracted from the South American plant species stevia rebaundiana. Sure, it doesn’t have any calories thus no effect on blood sugar, but it is a chemical extract (E 960) and thus does not contain any essential nutrients. A heavily processed alternative, that is probably best to avoid.

  4. Maple Syrup

    Maple syrup is a natural product and contains more than 50 beneficial compounds (including antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties). Pay attention to the purity and the ingredients though, as it often contains sugar water. The ingredients of maple syrups often contain various proportions of glucose and fructose depending on the producer. Generally, a great option!

  5. Honey

    The most natural option, containing a lot of valuable nutrients and anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiseptic properties. It does have almost as many calories and a similar impact on blood sugar levels as white sugar, so go easy! In small doses, honey (especially local raw or manuka) can be used medicinally as well. Love it!

In conclusion, let’s try to reduce the overall amount of any kinds of sugar in our cooking and foods we consume!

Always check labels for what kinds of sugar and how much is in your packaged products, and with cooking, generally look to halve the amount of sugar or sugar substitute that is recommended.

You’re sweet enough as is.