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.

Evil Energy Drinks (and what to consume instead)

“Red Bull gives you wings”

“The massive hit that improves you a bit” (V Energy Drink)

“Feel the thrill” (Monster Energy Drink)

Sound too good to be true? That’s because it is. Not only are energy drinks packed full of sugar and synthetic ingredients, their promised buzz will send you crashing once your body has begun breaking it down. And then you’ll need another one, right?

A quick glance at the ingredients of these chemical-laden caffeine bombs reveal so much about the quality of the product. The marketing experts within these brands make the ingredients sound good for you, so you are tricked into thinking an energy drink is a healthy option for a pick-me-up.

The break down of a common energy drink consists of:

  • Caffeine (about 80mg)

  • Taurine

  • B-group vitamins

  • Sugars (about 10g per serve)

  • Alpine water

Sounds okay right?

Except that the taurine is a occurring amino acid, which we get plenty of in our food. And there has been no research done into the long-term effects of supplementing with this, especially from a synthetic source.

“B-group vitamins” again are sourced synthetically, so are hard for your body to breakdown and assimilate. If you are not vitamin B deficient, you will just urinate all these vitamins out, they won’t be boosting your energy at all.

Sugar, well we all know what that is and how excess of it can negatively impact our health. You can listen to our podcast on The Sugar Sin here.

Okay, so now we get that energy drinks aren’t the best option for our morning pick-me-up or 3pm slump buster, what are some healthier options?

1.Organic coffee, with plant-based organic milk.

Yes, your caramel latte with extra sugar is not any healthier than a Red Bull (even with skim milk).

Reduce your toxic load by choosing a cafe (or make at home option) that uses organic coffee beans. Not only are these usually ethically sourced, coffee crops are on of the most heavily sprayed. Find or suggest to your local to go organic and pick a plant-based milk that doesn’t have nasty fillers or added sugar (we love CocoQuench).

Try to limit yourself to one per day, and don’t consume after lunchtime. Also, you need to drink double the amount of water - so one coffee equals two big glasses of water to re-hydrate!

2. Maybe you’re actually just thirsty.

Feeling sleepy? Notice your energy dropping?

You might just be thirsty! Fatigue is one of the first signs of dehydration.

So get hold of some filtered water (or even better, alkaline water) and start sipping!

Need more of a pick-me-up? Add fresh lemon, cucumber or mint!

3. Grab our Fatigue Tonic

Use this tonic if you are feeling tired and overwhelmed by day to day tasks so that you can spend less time yawning and more time doing the things you love.

The herbs may help provide a natural and sustained enhanced energy curve without a drop of caffeine, meaning you can leave those sugar-filled energy drinks behind.

4. Satiate with a snack

Craving that quick sugary kick?

Choose something that will give you slow burning energy and keep the rest of your body energised too.

Apple with nut butter or tahini, carrots and hummus and flax crackers with avocado are all good options, quick, easy and tasty too!

5. Book a naturopathic consultation

There may be an underlying cause! We can make lifestyle and diet changes that suit you, find a suitable supplement or herbal tonic to meet your needs and get testing done if required.

Simple Spring Detox Tips

Spring has sprung, and whilst most of us are celebrating it’s long awaited arrival, many others are dreading the impending doom of hayfever, seasonal allergies and the effects of the changes in weather!

Here are five simple, everyday detox tips that will have your immune system firing and your body prepared to tackle spring head first,

1.Tongue Scraping

According to the Chopra Institute, this ancient Ayurvedic based practice “helps to stimulate the internal organs through energetic connections with the rest of the body, improve digestion by increasing your sense of taste, and cleanse the body by removing Ama (toxic residue) and bacteria from your oral cavity.

From personal experience, it just feels good to have a simple practice like this in the morning, and each scrape you notice how much clearer and cleaner you feel. It’s also a good indication of how your health is, if there is a lot of build up on the tongue you have to think about what your diet is like and how effectively is your body processing toxins.

2. Lemon water

Drinking warm, filtered water with freshly squeezed lemon might not sound like the most exciting combination to drink first thing in the morning, but the health benefits are documented and plentiful!

Not only does this act as a detoxifying agent, it is very effective at cleansing the liver as it promotes the liver to flush out toxins as well, which is imperative to you body’s detox process.

Simply squeeze the juice of about half a lemon, add your warm, filtered water (you can pre-boil the water and then just add some cold water in) and consume on waking.

3. Move your body

Regular exercise encourages circulation in the blood and lymph system. Moving your body will also enhance digestion, reduce tension, lubricate joints, and strengthen your body.

People who exercise regularly have far fewer total toxins in their systems, so what are you waiting for? Find something you enjoy, and for extra detox points, do it in nature!

4. Contrast Showers

Naturopathic Doctor Cathy Wong suggests that contrast showers “the contrast between hot and cold water increases circulation, which helps to bring nutrients, oxygen and immune cells to damaged and stressed tissues and carries away metabolic waste, inflammatory by-products and other toxic substances.”

Try it next time you hit the shower, with three minutes of hot water, followed by less than one minute of cold water. Repeat this pattern at least once, always finishing with cold (e.g. 3 minutes hot - 1 minute cold - 3 minutes hot - 1 minute cold).

Best to fit your shower with a filter to get rid of the nasties in our water, including chlorine and synthetic chemicals like fluoride. These filters are readily available to order online.

5. Eat More Wholefoods

Add naturally detoxing foods to your (real foods) diet can be extremely beneficial. These should be in addition to a whole, real foods diet. Here are just a few of the best detoxing foods include:

Fruits – High in liquid-content, fruits help the body wash out toxins. They are also very easy to digest and full of nutrients, an added bonus in the detox process.

Citrus fruit – In particular, things like oranges, lemons, and limes aid the body in flushing out toxins and jump starting the digestive tract with enzymatic processes. Lemon juice aids the liver in its cleansing processes. Try starting each morning with a warm glass of lemon water.

Veggies – Green plants will help give a chlorophyll-boost to your digestive tract and are very cleansing to your system. Other foods like: Onions, carrots, artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, kale, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, beet, turmeric, and oregano are great to help cleanse the body. These are high in naturally occurring sulphur and glutathione. Sulphur helps the liver detoxify harmful chemicals. It’s important to add raw veggies to your diet, as the digestive enzymes are very beneficial in the natural detox process.

Garlic – This little food is one of the best detoxing foods there is. It helps stimulate the liver into producing detoxification enzymes that help filter toxic residues from the digestive system.

Want more detox? Join us for our online detox program that just might transform your life forever!


Stressed & Tired Always?

You might be suffering from adrenal fatigue, along with 80% of the adult population.

Do you:

- Exercise intensively everyday or even twice a day?
- Feel tired when you wake up in the morning?
- Use coffee to get you through the day?
- Spend your rest days sleeping on the lounge?
- Always get sick?
- Feel down, irritable and cranky all the time?

These are some of the most common signs and symptoms that you may have adrenal fatigue.

What is Adrenal fatigue?

It’s a condition that usually results from a long period of chronic stress. Over time, this stress taxes the adrenal glands and HPA axis, thereby disrupting the production of cortisol and other hormones.

The body initially produces large amounts of cortisol to cope with the stressors, but eventually cortisol levels drop. The cortisol cycle can also become dysregulated, with irregular peaks in the evening.

Adrenal function determines the body’s ability to shed excess weight as secretion of our stress hormones regulates sugar release in muscles and determines our rate of metabolism.

What causes Adrenal Fatigue?

Adrenal fatigue is usually caused by long-term stressors. These can include financial stress, overwork, family disputes, or marital problems. Often it might a be a combination of factors, such as those experienced by a high-flying executive with young children.

Other factors can come into play too. A poor diet means that your body has fewer reserves and less capacity to deal with stress. Chronic or latent disease can be a factor, as can regular exposure to toxic chemicals or pollutants.

And don’t forget sleep – one of the most important requirements for your body to function properly. If you’re burning the candle at both ends, consider that a lack of sleep might be damaging your long-term health.

How do you treat Adrenal Fatigue?

Treating adrenal fatigue usually means reversing the factors that led to your poor health in the first place. This might mean removing added sugars and junk food from your diet, getting enough sleep, and avoiding or eliminating sources of stress.

There are other ways to support your body, make it more resilient to stress, and treat your adrenal fatigue. Adaptogenic supplements like ashwagandha can help to moderate your stress response, while basic nutrients like vitamin C (always good quality) can give your adrenal glands the nutrients they need.

Adding in nurturing practices for your body, such as mindfulness, meditation, yoga and walking in nature are helpful to calm your nervous system and looking after yourself with massages, naps and downtime are important in the process of recovery.

Of course, seeing a natural health practitioner like myself can help you get back on track, we have specific supplements and herbal tonics to treat this condition, as well as diet and exercise recommendations for you. Book your appointment now!

Want to know more about Adrenal Fatigue? Come along to Mel’s free talk at Verve For Life on Wednesday October 17.

My No BS Baby Tips

Looking back on the last twelve months has been an insightful meditation. Hindsight is always an amazing opportunity to learn. In those moments when I had no idea what I was doing raising my first child, there was some intuition that guided me but there was also advice and help from loved ones.

There are a few things that just worked when Callie was little. It’s so hard in the hubbub of advice to know what is right so it’s just worth having options, trying them, and deciding what works best for you and your child.

Here is what worked for me, I hope it helps you!

  1. Rubbing her back to burp her. This worked so well for us. After weeks of tapping and patting, some soft circular rubbing brought air up easily and soothed her at the same time.

  2. Softly bouncing on a medicine ball. She has always liked movement, even when not going to sleep. The ball gave me a seat to rest while still allowing me to move with her. 

  3. Bathing. Water always soothes me when I am in pain or stressed and it certainly has the same effect on Callie. Enjoying a relaxing bath either on her own or with one of us calms and relaxes our daughter and we relish this time for connection.

  4. Homeopathic medicine. It is so helpful to have options for remedies. Homeopathics were calming to both Callie and I when she needed them. It gave me something to do, to help, to give. It gave Callie medicine to help treat her complaints. 

  5. Paracetamol when things got real. I am so sick of people saying that pharmaceuticals are the devil. I am a Naturopath and I do not believe this. Drugs and herbs, homeopathics and food are all forms of medicine and when used appropriately are heaven sent. You may never need it but paracetamol has taken away Callie’s pain, fever and extreme distress when she has needed it.

  6. Don’t believe everything you hear, read or are told! For some reason everyone has an opinion when it comes to YOUR baby. Do what it right for you and Bub, follow your intuition and get professional advice where needed. 

For more individualised advice and support, please book an appointment with Mel.

Super Food Series - Finale

We hope that you have gained some super powers from using our favourite super foods so far!

This is the last in our series, for more on super foods and how you can implement them into your everyday eating, grab your copy of From Peasants Food To Superfoods.

M A C A is high in iron, iodine, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, selenium, and vitamins B1, B2, C, and E. It is full of amino acids and plant sterols which improve immune system and lower cholesterol. Maca is an energy food, and a powerful adaptogen. It can help enhance energy without being a stimulant. It is also able to increase libido and energy, and help decrease chronic fatigue, anxiety and stress, as well as enhancing fertility by normalising the hormones testosterone, progesterone and estrogen. Perfect in smoothies with nuts and seeds, and sweet fruits like banana and dates due to its malty, earthy flavour that varies from butterscotch to radish-like depending on what it is accompanying.

M A Q U I contains anthocyanins, antioxidant levels 3 times higher than acai, vitamin C, has higher ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) levels than any other fruit discovered, is high in vitamin C, low in sugar, and one for one contains 10 times the amount of antioxidants in a blueberry. Add it to smoothies, juices, cereals, water, and yoghurt. It has a mild flavour and cannot be tasted in smoothies but gives a vibrant and intense violet colour.

M E S Q U I T E has a great mineral pro le including signi cant calcium and magnesium, high lysine, low GI (25), and high protein, making it a wonderful diet addition to keep full for longer or help with muscle recovery. It can also be used to assist weight loss by adding it to shakes.

Q U I N O A is high in lysine, manganese, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, copper, zinc, vitamin E and B6, riboflavin, niacin and thiamine. This little grain has more calcium than milk, as well as antioxidants, fibre, and iron. It is high in unsaturated fats, low carb and low GI. Quinoa is a complete food and high in protein, full of vitamins, gluten/wheat free, and cholesterol free.. Quinoa grains make a perfect substitute for rice, quinoa flakes can be used in place of oats, and quinoa flour is wonderful for gluten-free baking.

S P I R U L I N A is nature’s multi vitamin. Spirulina is jam packed with nutrients and helps the body to detox any heavy metals, as well as kill off any pathogenic bugs. It also improves energy and may assist with weight loss as is it so nutrient-dense.

T U R M E R I C is the ultimate anti-inflammatory food! Turmeric works in every part of the body to reduce inflammation. It can also move out excess fluid and encourages huge detoxing from the liver so that all toxins are sent out of your body. This may assist with weight loss goals as well.

VEGETABLE PROTEIN POWDER Although I am the biggest fan of a real food approach I do believe that good quality food based protein powder has a place. Rather than get pea or rice or another type of single plant based protein, look for a blend. Protein is essentially a chain of links we call amino acids. When we look at amino acids from animal sources such as eggs and meat, they are complete. This means they have all of the links in the chain. Plant proteins are often incomplete, missing a link or two. This means that they do not serve the body with a whole protein and therefore do not function as well in the body. This is why teaming foods together is important for vegetarians, or adding an animal product such as cheese or milk. Combining the right foods will deliver a complete protein from plant bases, such as eating almonds, brazil nuts and cashews all together. This can be done with plant protein powder as well. By using rice and pea protein, and adding some extra goodies such as chia and linseeds, it is a beautiful protein source. This is a much easier source of protein for the body to utilise than whey protein powder.

Thanks for being on this journey to uncover the superfood alphabet with us!

Keep on discovering new and ancient superfoods and their powers with our new cookbook, From Peasants Food To Superfoods.

Super Food Series - Part Two

Are you falling in love with superfoods as much as we have?

We hope you have gained some insight into why superfoods are called super and that you have begun to introduce them more into your day to day eating.

Let's continue to dive into our favourite, functional foods...Continuing our journey through the superfood alphabet!

FLAXSEED/LINSEED are the same thing! These little seeds are full of oily fibre which is a prebiotic, and they assist the bowels to move well. They also provide a beautiful balance of omega 3 and protein, as well as many micronutrients, and are one of the oldest seeds in the world.

G I N G E R is warming, encouraging the blood to move around the body It is also anti-inflammatory and can assist with pain, cramps, cold hands and feet, and arthritis. A little ginger each day can assist in healing a leaky gut as well.

GOJI BERRY is the ultimate berry! They are unlike any other berry as they are full of protein, including 18 essential amino acids. Plus more beta carotene than our carrot friends, high vitamin C, B2, A, iron and selenium. Gojis are also full of antioxidants which are great for the skin and in preventing cancer.

GOLDEN BERRIES are full of vitamin A, vitamin C, fibre and calcium. They have a high protein count and are a good source of bioavonoids (vitamin P). Gobble these straight up, or add to trail mix, fruit cakes, muffins and more.

H E M P is full of chlorophyll, all 8 essential amino acids, essential fatty acids- omega 3 and gamma-linolenic acid. High in iron, magnesium and zinc, it is a great source of plant protein. It is easy to digest and is alkaline to help balance hormones, as well as provides full amino acid pro le, is high in minerals, and easy to absorb. Note: hemp seeds DO NOT contain THC.

H I M A L A Y A N  S A L T is an amazing substitute for avoiding refined salt. This is most important due to the additions of nasty chemicals and bleaching that can be found in your average table salt. Pink salt helps to balance electrolytes in the body so that you hydrate better while providing a huge array of micronutrients. It also has healing properties and is known for its effect on allergies, sinus and asthma. It aids in nutrient absorption and helps to reduce fluid retention, and maintains an acid-alkaline balance in the body. Plus it contains over 84 minerals!

K A L E will assist with liver detox and fat metabolism, like most leafy greens. It also has the added bene t of being jammed with so many nutrients that it has been dubbed a superfood in its own right. It is full of vitamins and minerals including the ever elusive and always needed magnesium.

L U C U M A contains carbohydrates, fibre, vitamins, and minerals. It is loaded with antioxidants such as beta carotene and complex carbs, fibre, B3, zinc, magnesium and iron. With a creamy citrus flavour, not only does it smell delicious, it can also be used as a low GI subtle sweetener and as a natural flavouring.

Join us on the next blog to uncover the last of the superfood alphabet with us!

In the meantime, pop over to the shop and pre-order your copy of From Peasants Food To Superfoods.

Super Food Series - A, B & C

We love our super foods here at MG Herbs!

In the first blog of this series, we introduced you to superfoods, what they are, how they work and why we use them.

For the next couple of weeks, come and meet some of our favourite, functional foods...Starting off with the As, Bs and Cs of the superfood alphabet!

A L M O N D S are high in magnesium, calcium, protein and good fats. These super nuts are the perfect addition to the diet for recovery. They also keep you full and help stabilise blood sugar levels as they are slow burning fuel for your body. A tasty addition to an afternoon fruit or veg snack to help make the energy from other foods last longer.

A C A I is full of anthocyanins, avonoids, anti-ageing pigments, lot’s of minerals and vitamins, as well as omega-3, 6 and 9. It is a super powerful berry and is loaded with 19 amino acids, 30% fibre, and monosaturated fats. It also has low GI and low sugar, making it a heart-healthy essential.

B A N A N A is rich in potassium but what does that mean? It means that they can help reduce high blood pressure and risk of stroke as potassium helps to stop hardening of the arteries. Banana can also help reduce reflux as its works like an antacid so is great for gut healing. They are also jammed with energy so are perfect for a pre-workout snack or if you are just on the go and need a pickup. A perfect component of an energy smoothie!

B E E T R O O T is full of nitric oxide, which relaxes the blood vessels and increases oxygen circulation in the blood. It is perfect for those with high blood pressure. Beetroot is also great for detoxifying the liver so it can assist with weight loss goals and cleansing. As a vasodilator it can also be used as nature’s Viagra for the boys.

C A R R O T is full of the powerful antioxidant beta carotene which is super important for good skin, so it will help to clear any blemishes and also supports your immune system. Carrots also reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer with this amazing antioxidant, fighting free radicals in the body. Of course it’s still great for eyesight as we all know as well!

C H I A S E E D is the ultimate seed and is thought to be the most nutritious food in the world. We now grow the majority of chia here in Australia in the KiImberly's. Full of omega 3, 6 and 9, antioxidants, protein, calcium, protein, magnesium and fibre, these little miracle seeds are anti-inflammatory, blood sugar balancing, satiating and great for detoxing the gut and bowels. Easy to throw into a smoothie or sprinkle on top of salads.

C A C A O is a natural antidepressant and stress reliever! Cacao is full of antioxidants which keep our mind sharp and our skin young. Plus it’s the highest magnesium food in the world which is important in preventing cramps and headaches (hence why we girls crave it around our cycles!) as well as helping with stress and anxiety. It is the most mineral rich superfood, and is energising and mood enhancing since it increases serotonin levels in the brain (our feel good chemical). It has almost double the ORAC value (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) as acai berry and is rich in polyphenols to help reduce cholesterol and support heart health.

C O C O N U T is the ultimate fat. It keeps us full, satiated and helps stabilise blood sugar levels as it is slow burning fuel for your body. Coconut is also antimicrobial so is perfect for keeping any nasty bugs at bay. It will help keep your mind switched on ghting brain fog and is great for your hair, skin and nails as well!

COCONUT OIL is a rich source of super good saturated fats (90%) which are medium chain triglycerides. This means that they are metabolised uniquely and can actually help to burn fat when eaten by increasing the calories you burn. This oil is also antimicrobial so can help kill pathogens in the body and on the skin as well. It will keep you full and reduce hunger and sugar cravings.

Join us on the next blog to uncover more of the superfood alphabet with us!

In the meantime, pop over to the shop and pre-order your copy of From Peasants Food To Superfoods.

Super Food Series - Introduction

All real foods are super foods.

The key word here is real. Real, whole foods are medicine and they all possess innate abilities to serve our bodies and communicate with our cells in their own unique way. There have been many foods in the last few years that have been touted as ‘superfoods’ and it has become a word associated with expensive, hard to pronounce and alternative health foods.

However, we have always known that oats give us energy and beetroot makes us poop. We may just not have know exactly why, and we didn’t think of them as super- they are just everyday foods that we eat to help keep us full and make us feel like we can face the day.

There is a huge difference between margarine and butter. One is a real food, and one has been dreamed up in a lab and has a nice yellow colour added in the end to make it resemble its counterpart.

Over the next few weeks I am going to preview some of the amazing superfoods that are used in my upcoming book, and some extras to get you started. One of my aims in writing recipes is to ensure that you can whip something up at home out of everyday ingredients. Do not underrate the power of your meat and veg combinations. However, there are some extra little things that can make it easier for you to get more nutrients and they become especially important if you are unwell or trying to achieve a health goal.

If you have any kind of gut complaint, from a leaky gut to food allergies & intolerances, it can be as simple as adding some good quality gelatin to your pantry. Once you are comfortable with using this you may like to try some hemp seeds in a smoothie. Whatever you do, don’t feel like you have to have a health food shop at home. Just start with a few little things, allow them to become the norm (if you like them), and add to your journey as you go.

If you don’t like it there is no need to force it down or upon the kids. As you can see there are many different super foods and those I preview here are only some of hundreds of others. Many of the properties also overlap so get through the bag or give it away if you do not like it and try something different next time.

Our next blog will start to introduce you to some of our favourite superfoods, how they work and what they can be used in. Don't miss it!

PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY OF FROM PEASANTS FOOD TO SUPERFOODS NOW!

Be A Food Label Detective #2

Now that we have a better understanding of food labelling from the first blog, let's look a little closer at the ingredients listing.

Probably the easiest way to read ingredients is to keep this in mind - If you don't know how to pronounce an ingredient, or what it is, then your body won't either. Even if you do vaguely know what it is, can you think about the process it has taken to get there? How far is the ingredient from the whole food in its natural form?

You can then make a decision for yourself as to whether you want to put that in your body.

Of course, there will be times when you simply need to eat, can't find an alternative or just don't want to fuss around. This is simply a guide and good to keep in mind as you are learning more about foods and how they can help or harm your health.

There are so many options now on the shelves, which means there is most likely an alternative option if you are finding your go-to foods are actually not as healthy as you originally thought.

If you are wanting to make a version of your favourite packaged foods from scratch to avoid unhealthy ingredients, usually Googling the food name and homemade or from scratch will pull up a recipe or two!

Here is a guide to most of the ingredients that show up in packaged foods that you probably want to avoid wherever possible:

COLOURS: 102, 104, 107, 110, 120, 122-129, 132, 142, 150, 151, 155, 160b (annatto)

PRESERVATIVES: (200-203), Benzoates (210-213), Sulphites (220-228), Nitrates & Nitrites (249, 252), Proprionates (280-283)

ANTIOXIDANTS: Gallates (310-312), TBHQ, BHA, BHT (319-321)

FLAVOUR ENHANCERS: 620-625, 627, 631, 635

OTHERS: Hydrolysed Vegetable Protein (HVP), Hydrolysed Soy Protein (HSP), Soy Protein Isolate (SPI), Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), Hydrogentaed Vegetable Oil, Vegetable Oil

+ SUGARS AND SUGAR SUBSTITUTES – Remember, even though they aren’t “sugar” the body still reads them as so! 

They include: Aspartame, erythritol, stevia, palm sugar, agave, sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, xylitol, polydextrose.

A simple online search can tell you the negative side-effects from some of these ingredients if you do want to find out more. 

In summary, be alert but not alarmed! Nobody is perfect and sometimes you need to make compromises. It's good to be educated and to have an awareness about what is going into you foods so you can make conscious decisions for you and your family.

If you need help around reading ingredient labels or finding the right eating plan to suit you and your goals, be sure to make an appointment with Mel.

Be A Food Label Detective #1

Food labelling can be so overwhelming!

It can take a matter of minutes to interpret exactly what the food is, let alone sort through the hundreds of words and numbers on the packaging to find out if it's actually any good for you.

Because we spend hours looking through packaged foods when trying to make a healthy choice, we wanted to help you navigate your way through the supermarket with ease.

In this blog, let's distinguish what is on the packaging of our foods.

HEALTH CLAIMS - These are things like "nutritious", "healthy" and "no sugar added". These claims can be the most misleading part of the food label. They are not well regulated and often the claims are false. Most of the time, avoid making a judgement based on these claims!

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION - This is the panel which tells you how much fat, carbohydrate and protein are in the food. This is where things get tricky.

First of all, if you are going to refer to this panel, look at the values per 100g, not per serving size, as serving size differs across the board.

Again, you shouldn't judge your food too much by this panel, but main things you might want to look out for are the amounts of sugar (you'd be surprised when you start thinking about the % of sugar in your food) and perhaps the amount of protein and fat if you are trying to find a satiating food choice.

INGREDIENTS LISTING - This is where the gold is! The list of what is actually in your food. The listing begins with the ingredient that is in the food the most down to the least. 

It is easy to see by looking at this panel whether the food is going to be good for you or not.

In the next blog, we'll talk more about what the numbers and chemical-sounding names mean, but for now, look for foods that sound the most whole.

Do you recognise the ingredient listed? Is it a whole food?

If the answer is YES than you're probably on the right track. If no, you may need to look for an alternative or weigh up whether to go ahead or not. 

IE. If sugar is your number one ingredient, perhaps best to stay away!

Other easy to avoid ingredients are vegetable or canola oils, processed flours, gluten and dairy if you're intolerant, highly processed parts of whole foods and flavourings (even natural ones).

We'll cover these more on the next blog, but for now, start taking notice of what goes into your trolley.

The easiest thing to do? Avoid the packaged foods where possible. Use the outside aisles of your supermarket more than the inside ones.

Can you make it yourself or find an alternative? Or do you even need it?

For more nutritional tips, recipes and alternatives please make an appointment with Mel.

Struggling With Sleep?

You're not alone.

Research by the Sleep Health Foundation has found between 33 and 45 per cent of us Australians have poor sleep patterns that lead to fatigue and irritability that's putting us at risk of low productivity, damage to their mental health and unsafe behaviours.

You might already been experiencing these symptoms, and more. Reliance on coffee and sugar to keep you going through the day. Disruption to your digestion and hormones, leading to fatigue, weight gain, stress, anxiety and a whole host of other symptoms.

We all know we should be getting more sleep, but what if we simply cannot fall asleep? Or maybe we keep waking up through the night?

There are some really simple methods that my family and I use that help us get a healthy amount of sleep (most nights, Callie is still interrupting that a little!). Start introducing these into your bedtime routine and let's prioritise our sleep for a healthier life!

1. Lights Down, Devices Down

At least half an hour before bed (one hour is possible). Dim lights if you can, or at least turn the bright ones off. Electronic devices out of the bedroom and screens off! Use this time to wind down, connect with your loved ones, or maybe even meditate or journal before bed.

This puts your nervous system in a state of calm and prepares your body for sleep.

2. Teatime

Herbal tea before bed is a fantastic bedtime ritual. Choose an organic blend of sleep or calming tea, and enjoy this in bed (maybe during your lights down time). Herbs in the tea can help you fall asleep and stay asleep.

Small cup is perfect, because you don't want to be going to the toilet all night!

3. Herbal Help

My Sleep Tonic is a classic and effective blend of passionflower and kava, with a hint of rescue sleep remedy. 

The passionflower in the mix will assist sleep onset helping you get to sleep quicker. Perfect for those who are tired and snuggle up but then lay there thinking about everything or nothing and don’t drift off easily. There’s nothing worse than tossing and turning!

Meanwhile the blend of traditional Kava will allow you to get a deeper and better quality sleep. This means it may help to keep you asleep for the entire night rather than that pesky midnight toilet wake or early morning wide eyed think.  Kava has a 3000 year old history of use and folklore. It is used today to assist relaxation and stress as well as insomnia by people in multiple countries. It is safe and effective if used correctly.

Neither of these herbs is a heavy sedative so there is no hungover feeling in the morning. After a good night’s sleep with less worries you can wake feeling refreshed and ready to start your day.

4. Get To Bed On Time!

And at the same time every night, or as close to as possible. Studies have shown that sleep before midnight is much better quality, so make sure you are going to bed before then!

Also, getting up at the same time every day will help your body settle into a healthy rhythm.

5. Watch What You Eat

Eat well before you're planning to go to bed. Minimise caffeine and sugar, especially in the hours before hitting the sack. 

Ensure your dinner is satiating so you won't be hungry and tempted to eat late night treats!

Lastly, don't worry! Enjoy creating a healthy bedtime ritual that works for you.

Still struggling to sleep?

Make an appointment with Mel and get a personalised sleep plan today.