Monday, 9 December 2013

Making Good Food Choices for Christmas

Pavlova, trifles, fudge, mud cakes, Christmas mince tarts, Christmas fruit cakes, wine, and all the other indulgences of the season.  This is a great time of the year to have a well deserved rest and spend quality time with family and friends.  However, there are also lots of temptations, especially at parties.  My take on these foods is to keep a low consumption of them and if you make them yourselves, choose stevia as a sweetener.  Sugar is inflammatory and creates many gastrointestinal problems, blood sugar imbalances and loads your liver.  But a slice of Christmas cake and a mince tart once a year would not hurt.

Ham, turkey, salmon, seafood, lamb leg roast and the colourful look and smell of beautiful fresh salads also mark this season.  Many of these foods, apart from cured meats and their preservatives meet all the requirements of eating for nourishment. 

Plants are great sources of minerals, plant based phytonutrients and soluble and insoluble fibre.  Balancing the protein rich meats that you consume in this season with lots of plant based foods, is important to keep you in balance.  Protein rich meats are acidic, but provide the amino acids for our bodies, and they do taste good!  Plant based foods are alkaline with good sources of minerals absorbed from the soil, chlorophyll (a superb cleanser and oxygenator) and antioxidants (which helps to reverse ageing).  So those multicoloured, beautiful salads and fruit platter will quench your free radicals that cause ageing of cells.

After the parties, make yourself a green smoothie with kale, parsley, granny smith apple and a scoop of Shape Up (yes, you need good pH balanced protein to help with detoxing).

When you view food as nourishment, you make better choices than when you view food as love. But just know that you do not have to be perfect.  How much your body likes your choices depends on the effect after – are you bloated, have reflux and/or flatulence, did you gain a few centimetres on the waist, did you scales have a big jump (large jumps may also be due to water retention, from inappropriate eating), are you unusually hot or experience more pain?  If you do, you body is speaking to you and you should listen.

Spending time with family does not need to centre around unhealthy food, you can make healthier choices – foods that are whole and less processed, high in good oils – olive oil, coconut oil, nuts and seeds, good protein and unrefined carbohydrates. Spend time outdoors, enjoy nature and soak up the sun in the mornings!

Friday, 22 November 2013

Why Detox? Tips for a Proper Healthy Detoxification

Do you have headaches regularly?

Are you often tired or lethargic?

Are you suffering from muscle ache and pains regularly?

Do you suffer from allergies?

Do you feel bloated or suffer from diarrhoea, constipation or other digestive issues regularly?

Do you have poor short-term memory or concentration affecting your ability to function at work?

If you answered “yes” to any of the questions above and are not feeling well, toxicity may be the reason you feel unwell.

Toxins are very common in our busy modern world.  Everything we encounter nowadays is exposed to environmental toxins to a certain degree, which include things like heavy metals, pesticides, chemicals, food additives, drugs and pollutants.  These may be present in the air, water and also food that we consume.  Toxins do not only come from your external environment; toxins can also be generated internally by “bad” bacteria, yeasts and parasites in your digestive system.  These internally generated toxins are then absorbed into your bloodstream, affecting your health and vitality.

Toxins are harmful to our body and your body, naturally, has the mechanisms for eliminating them.  However, if you continue to produce, consume or absorb more toxins than you can easily get rid of, your body’s detoxification pathways can become overwhelmed and start to be less effective.  To avoid this, you need to reduce your exposure to toxins as much as possible and optimise your body’s ability to eliminate toxins everyday, rather than letting them build up.  If you are not feeling 100%, a safe proper healthy detoxification program can help.

Do not take any detoxification program lightly.  A natural detoxification program can be one of the most effective ways to rapidly improve your state of health as it will help clear accumulated toxins out of your body and leave your feeling energetic and healthy.  Detoxification is a serious business and you need to ensure that you are safe and comfortable with the detoxification process.  Everyone is different and the detoxification program needs to be suited to your individual needs.  A standard detoxification package may not be suitable for you and may actually leave you feeling sick and tired.  You should not attempt to do a detox without guidance and support from a qualified healthcare professional.

Our 3R Approach to Detoxification

A safe, proper, healthy and effective detoxification program involves the completion of three stages:
  1. Remove – this stage focuses on removing “bad bugs” from your digestive system. 
  2. Rejuvenate– this stage is aimed at replacing the “bad bugs” and populating your digestive function with the “good” bugs to facilitate the final stage below, so that wastes or toxins eliminated by your liver and kidneys can be moved out of the body effectively. 
  3. Release – this is the final stage and it involves the consumption of natural medicines to support and enhance your body’s (especially your liver and kidneys) capacity to remove waste and toxins.
During your detoxification stages, you need to be eating the right foods for your body in order to maximise the detoxification process, a diet based on your individual requirements.

Here are some tips on how you can make simple dietary changes today to help reduce your level of toxicity:

  • always look for fresh seasonal fruit and vegetables;
  • avoid packaged and processed foods as much as possible;
  • eliminate foods containing artificial colours, flavours , sweeteners, additives and flavour enhancers as well as foods containing hydrogenated fats; and
  • always read the ingredients list to ensure that your food does not contain high amounts of saturated fat, salt, gluten and/or sugar.

Also, live the detox lifestyle – exercise, drink plenty of water, avoid recreational drugs and minimise the use of heavy metal and chemical based skin / hair care products, cleaning products and deodorants.  If the label contains many numbers and chemical names that you can’t pronounce, avoid them unless you know what they are, e.g. botanical names for essential oils.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Natural Solutions to deal with Fatigue and boost your Energy

Are you feeling tired all the time?  Do you wake up feeling un-refreshed and fatigued despite getting a full night’s sleep? If you jump straight into bed at the end of the day, have a good night sleep but still have to drag yourself out of bed and struggle through the day, you may be suffering from fatigue.

Most people nowadays have extremely stressful and busy lives.  So, it is normal to feel tiredness some of the time.  This tiredness generally resolves itself after some rest and relaxation.  However, increasingly more and more people are experiencing persistent, unremitting tiredness.  Chronic fatigue is becoming a common presenting compliant of many New Zealanders and Australians.  However, it is often misunderstood and at times even dismissed, particularly if there is no easily identifiable cause.

 There are many reasons for fatigue.  Things that may lead to fatigue include:
  • infection
  • low iron levels
  • digestion issues
  • liver issues
  • hormonal imbalances
  • insomnia
  • excess body fat
  • inflammation
  • toxicity in the body
  • stress and adrenal fatigue
  • unstable blood sugar level
  • mitochondrial dysfunction
As you can see, there can be multiple reasons why you feel tired.  Basically, you can feel fatigued and lack energy when your body systems are not functioning at the optimum levels.

Persistent ongoing stress is a big contributor to fatigue.  Our adrenals are designed to pump out stress hormones for the fight or flight response. The hormone, adrenaline, converts our stored glycogen into sugar for us to run away from the saber tooth tiger.  The muscles have the sugar and the pupils dilate all ready for the run.  Modern day stress usually does not have a physical component, and the sugar made ready for the muscles to use is often not used up.  Persistent high levels of sugar in the blood stream can compromise immunity, increase inflammation, store fats and cause insomnia.

Persistent high level of stress hormones also shuts down proper digestion, which in the long term, affects our absorption of nutrients.  Nutritional deficiencies and a sluggish digestive system from stress and adrenal fatigue can profoundly impact energy production.   

Poor energy production at the cellular level is the key contributing factor for feeling weak and fatigue.  To increase your energy level, you need to ensure that your mitochondria are working at full capacity for optimal energy.  Mitochondria are the “powerhouses” within every cell.  They make energy to keep each cell in your body functioning well.  Mitochondria require certain nutrients to work efficiently.  No matter what else is going on in your body, you will have reduced energy production if the mitochondrial function is impaired.

If you experience fatigue, improving mitochondrial function is the important first step towards improving your energy levels.  Damage to your mitochondria is a primary reason why you feel fatigued.  This damage occurs when bad diets and lifestyle choices stimulate the formation of free radicals.  Free radicals are potentially harmful substances formed in your body that can damage your cells, your mitochondria and your DNA. Here are some common nutrients that can help support your mitochondrial function naturally and give your energy levels a boost:
  • Magnesium - an essential mineral that is used in over 300 biochemical processes in your body and is essential for the conversion of sugars, fats and proteins to energy.  Over half of New Zealanders and Australians are magnesium deficient.
  • CoEnzyme Q10 – a vitamin like compound that is essential for energy production. CoQ10 is a powerful antioxidant that is beneficial in the management of fatigue as it enhances cellular energy production.
  • Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids – these nutrients from fish oil or krill oil are vital for the integrity and      stability of every cell in your bodies.  Omega-3 can help lower stress levels and reduce fatigue by stimulating the growth and size of the mitochondria.
The nutrients above can help wipe up these free radicals and help boost your energy levels.  However, these nutrients may not be sufficient and depending on the level of mitochondrial dysfunction, additional nutrients may be required, especially when you have been suffering from fatigue for a long period of time.  In short, if you are tired, make sure you eat a healthy balanced diet and drink plenty of water throughout the day.  The quality and balance of the food you consume will have a significant impact on your energy and vitality.  Engaging in regular exercise is also important to help address some of the underlying issues causing your fatigue.

If you have adrenal fatigue, you need to rebuild your adrenals to support normal body function again.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Natural Medicines for Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) and Menstrual Problems

Many women treat premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and other menstrual irregularities as a normal part of their life.  In reality, menstruation should not cause any significant interruption to your everyday life.  If you experienced symptoms of PMS, painful, heavy or irregular periods, it means that your reproductive system is not functioning as well as it should be.

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) is the most common female hormonal imbalance, affecting more than 75% of women at some stage of their lives.  PMS normally occurs in the second half of a woman’s menstrual cycle, between ovulation and the onset of menstruation.  Psychological symptoms of PMS include mood swings, anxiety, irritability, nervous tension, depression, forgetfulness, poor concentration, fatigue or even insomnia.  Physical symptoms can include weight gain from fluid retention, abdominal bloating, headaches, libido issues, constipation and/or diarrhoea.

PMS normally occurs as a result of imbalances in female reproductive hormones, particularly, low levels of progesterone throughout the cycle with elevated oestrogen levels during the second half of the cycle.  It can also be related to “bad” oestrogens and not enough “good” oestrogens.  High levels of another hormone, prolactin may also be involved.

Other menstrual problems may include painful periods, irregular periods or heavy periods.  Painful periods can cause severe abdominal cramping, lower back and upper leg pain, headache, nausea/vomiting or even diarrhoea.  High oestrogen levels or too much of the “bad” oestrogens may be a primary cause of painful periods.  Some women may also experience irregular periods such as amenorrhoea (the absence of a menstrual cycle during a woman’s reproductive years for reasons other than pregnancy or lactation) or oligomenorrhoea (infrequent or very scant menstruation), which may be caused by hormonal imbalances, low body weight, stress and/or over-exercising.  Heavy periods or menorrhagia (a term for excessive and/or prolonged menstrual bleeding) can also be an indication of menstrual problems.

How can you balance your hormone levels?

You can use a range of herbs and nutrients to correct hormonal imbalances.  Vitex agnus castus has been shown to assist in the management of PMS symptoms by reducing high amounts of prolactin and normalising progesterone levels.  Vitex can also help with irregular periods.  The benefits of Vitex can be enhanced by adding herbs such as evodia, ginger, cinnamon and dong quai.  These herbs have a long history of use for managing painful, heavy or irregular periods and PMS symptoms such as headaches, sore breasts, fluid retention and abdominal bloating.

Are mood swings driving you mad? Is stress worsening your menstrual cycle or is your menstrual cycle worsening your stress?  If you know that stress is a contributing factor to your menstrual problems, herbs such as bupleurum and Chinese peony may be used.  Bupleurum can help with emotional instability and mood swings while Chinese peony is commonly used for regulating the menstrual cycle and reducing PMS symptoms.  When used with other PMS herbs such as nutgrass, tree peony, licorice and gardenia, symptoms such as anxiety, irritability, anger and mood swings can be easily managed.

Other natural ingredients which may help to maintain a healthy oestrogen balance include:
  • Flaxseed which supports the production of “good” oestrogens, whist reducing the production of “bad” oestrogens;
  • Polygonum and Kudzu which contain constituents that can help regulate the effects of oestrogen on the body;
  • Turmeric which offers potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity;
  • Folic acid, vitamin B6 and B12, which assist the processing of oestrogen in the body.

Apart from herbs, some simple changes to your diet and lifestyle can greatly improve your menstrual cycle:
  • consume a diet rich in fibre which includes fruit and vegetables;
  • increase the intake of good fats such as those from nuts, seeds and fish;
  • drink lots of water (1-2 litres a day);
  • keep yourself active with regular exercise;
  • stop smoking;
  • reduce excess fat;
  • limit salt and saturated fat intake; and
  • reduce caffeine and alcohol consumption.

PMS and other menstrual irregularities are not a normal part of life.  You don’t have to put up with the discomfort or pain.  Don’t let your monthly menstrual cycle hinder your ability to do your favourite activities and enjoy life!  Herbs and nutrients, with the appropriate dietary and lifestyle changes can let you take charge of your menstrual cycle again.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

What does your poo (stool) tell about your health?

This sounds like a “dirty” topic.  But as a naturopath, I always ask about bowel movement and stool consistency.  Your poo tells a lot about your health.

First there is the type of poo.  Watch the video to see what I say about pebbles and watery mush.

If you are constipated, you will find it hard to pass the stool, you may strain or feel some pain.  Always look at your stool, to observe the colour, the texture and the smell.  I’m not saying that it should smell good, but it should not be highly offensive.  It should smell quite “benign”.  Highly offensive, bad odour could indicate that there is a malabsorption disorder.  Rotting food at body temperature not only gives a bad odour, it can also create a lot of gas.  Flatulence or passing of gas is a normal phenomenon, up to 14 times for men and up to 7 times for women. 

Offensive odour of stool can also indicate Celiacs or Crohn’s disease.  These inflammatory conditions in the gastrointestinal tract not only cause bad odour in the poo, the stool can be mushy and watery, and the person may complain of fatigue.

If you have not been eating beetroot or red beets, your poo should not be red.  Red poo other than eating beets or coloured foods, can indicate some form of bleeding in the bowels and needs to be checked out.  If it is higher in the gastrointestinal tract, it may be darker or even black. Never be complacent with red or black stool if you have more than one or two of them.

On the other hand, poo that lacks colour – i.e. white, grey or looks faded can indicate problems in the bile duct, liver, gallbladder or pancreas. 

A normal bowel movement should be at least once a day, brown coloured stool that is well formed like sausage but not hard, and should not have any offensive, bad odour.  After the movement, you should feel that the bowels have been “emptied out” and feel complete.  It should not feel like there is still stuff stuck within.

I sometimes see in clinic patients who have lost the ability to poo normally and are dependent on enemas or colonics to poo.  Whilst this is a relief, it can be a bandaid to a more serious problem.  Adults need 35g of fibre a day.  A lack of fibre is a major cause of constipation.  Rather than relying on stimulants like enemas or laxatives, it is important to make sure that fibre intake is sufficient.  Green Fibre Blend is a combination of soluble and insoluble fibre that can help increase fibre intake if you believe you are lacking fibre in your diet. A blend of soluble and insoluble fibre in Green Fibre Blend acts as a fibre adaptogen, i.e. if you have not eaten enough fibre, it bulks it up, on the other hand if you have loose stool, it helps to bind it.  Fruits and vegetables provide fibre to move the bowels and plant based nutrients (phytonutrients) that has many different benefits to our bodies.

A good probiotic can help to balance the good and bad bacteria in the bowels and can be a big help to constipation or diarrhea.  You should always investigate the real cause of your constipation or diarrhea.  I have to emphasize a good probiotic as there are many different types out there, and some do not have numbers for therapeutic benefits, or some have not been manufactured or handled properly and many of the probiotics are dead.

Emotional stress, busy time lines causing us to ignore the urge to defacate, excessive use of laxatives or dependency on enemas or colonics are common reasons why people can have problems moving their bowels.  Whilst recycling is a great virtue, recycling stored toxins in the bowels should be avoided at all times!

If bowel movements, the lack of or excessively moving your bowels bother you or you often suffer from gut pain or have discoloured stool, you should investigate the causes with your qualified health care professional and deal with the source of the problem, not putting a bandaid over it to mask the situation (the common bandaid used here is often a laxative or enema!)

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Natural Treatment for Hayfever, Sinusitis or Seasonal Allergies

The arrival of spring normally indicates the end of the miserable cold winter weather and the beginning of warmer days and more outdoor activities.  But, for some people, spring is a time of misery as the increase of flowering plants sets off their hayfever, sinusitis and other allergy reactions. During spring, pollen can be the major trigger for the allergic response that causes hayfever; other triggers or allergens may include grass, dust and animal dander.  These allergens irritate the nasal passages causing inflammation, increased mucus production and symptoms such as itchiness, watery eyes, sneezing, runny nose and congestion.

Besides hayfever, some people can also suffer from sinusitis during spring.  Sinusitis is a painful condition involving inflammation of the paranasal sinuses (hollow spaces around the cheeks and eyes).  It may be an infection and is commonly accompanied by headaches, pain and mucus congestion.  Sinusitis if left unresolved, may lead to chronic infections lasting weeks or even months.

In allergic conditions like hayfever and sinusitis, one aspect of the immune system becomes overactive and leads to excessive immune activity causing all the signs and symptoms experienced by allergy sufferers.  Standard treatments for allergies, hayfever and sinusitis include steroids, antihistamines and decongestants.  All of these can provide symptomatic relief, but unfortunately, do little to address the underlying immune imbalance.

Natural treatment for hayfever, sinusitis or seasonal allergies involves reducing inflammation, restoring balance to the immune system and supporting long term immune health.

Here are what you can do naturally to manage your body’s response to allergens and reduce the allergic reactions or symptoms:

·              Use natural herbs and nutrients that can help manage the symptoms of sinusitis, hayfever and seasonal allergies, as well as restoring balance to the immune system.  These herbs and nutrients include Quercetin (vitamin-like compound which calms the immune system down), Albizzia (traditional Ayurvedic herb for the relief of the symptoms of allergies), Atractolodyes (a herb used in traditional Chinese medicine to support healthy immune function) and Perilla (a herb for maintaining healthy immune balance).

·              Almost 80% of your body’s total immune system is present in your digestive system.  Improve the health of your digestive system by reinoculating your digestive system with “good” bacteria.  These beneficial bacteria or probiotics such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Bifidobacterium lactics send calming messages to the immune system and help reduce the allergic responses that have been generated. 

·              Keep yourself well by making healthy lifestyle changes.  Eat a healthy diet, high in nutrients and essential fatty acids.  Minimise intake of red meat, refined starches and sugars.  Have fish as your primary source of protein.  Consume a diet high in fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds.  Drink appropriate amount of pure water (ideally 6-8 classes a day), and most importantly, exercise regularly and have fun.  

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Your Painkiller can put you at Higher Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke

The NZ Herald has reported at least a couple of times this year about diclofenac, sold as Voltaren, and its link to increased cardiovascular risks.  This drug is prescribed to 400,000 New Zealanders a year. 

Earlier in February 2013, researchers from the UK and Canada say Voltaren should be pulled off the market because it raises the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Diclofenac is the active ingredient used in Voltaren which belongs to a bigger group of drugs called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). Painkillers are commonly used in higher doses and for longer periods of time in arthritis sufferers and people who constantly suffer from headaches and migraines.

Pain, redness, swelling and heat are all signs of inflammation.  In some areas of our body, we can only “feel” the inflammation, i.e. pain.  Our diet, lifestyle and nutrition, or lack of, are major contributors to inflammation. Fortunately, there are many things that we have naturally that are natural anti-inflammatories.  Having adequate sleep to allow our bodies to repair is anti-inflammatory.  Eating a diet high in fresh food and low in processed food loaded with additives and sugar can reduce inflammation.  For each person who is in pain, you need to remove the trigger, and using diclofenac to kill or mask the pain is not a solution.  It is a bandaid to simply remove signs or feeling of the pain.  You don't feel the pain but the pain is actually still there as you have not addressed the cause of the pain.

To enjoy better health, you always need to address the cause of your health imbalance, not put a bandaid over it, especially if the bandaid increases your cardiovascular risk!

Monday, 5 August 2013

How to prevent Heart Disease and maintain a Healthy Cardiovascular System

How healthy is your heart? 

  •         Do you smoke?
  •         Are you overweight?
  •         Do you have high blood pressure?
  •         Do you have high cholesterol?
  •         Are you on cholesterol or blood pressure medication and don’t like the side effects?
  •         Does your family have a history of cardiovascular disease?
  •         Do you do very little exercise?

If you have answered ‘yes’ to any of the questions above, you should look at how you can help your heart and blood vessels be as healthy as possible naturally.

Keeping your cardiovascular system healthy is vital.  Your heart and blood vessels make up your cardiovascular system. Cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death in the world today, especially in the developed countries.

Here are five steps you can follow to optimise your heart health:

1.      Follow a healthy eating plan:
·        Eat a minimum of 3 cups of vegetables and 2 pieces of fruit every day.
·        Eat a handful of nuts and seeds and up to 2 tablespoons of “good” fat from foods such as fish, nuts, seeds and cold pressed vegetable oils (eg. Olive oil). 
·        Include protein-rich foods in each meal or snack.  Make sure you choose lean protein sources.  Reduce fatty meats high in saturated fat such as bacon.
·        Drink a minimum of 8 glasses of pure water daily.
2.      Exercise regularly.  For a healthy heart you need to do a minimum of 30 minutes of light to moderate exercise at least 5 times in a week.  Gentle to brisk walking is recommended.  Consider having a friend to join you for the exercise so you can keep each other motivated.
3.       Relax and have fun.  Stress can have a major effect on your body, especially your heart! You need to manage stress to ensure balance and health.  Take 30 minutes of each day to enjoy some relaxing and fun activities.
4.      Commit to some key lifestyle changes such as getting regular wellness checkups, maintaining a healthy weight, limiting alcohol consumption and quitting smoking if you smoke.
5.      Take natural supplements beneficial to your heart and cardiovascular system such as Bonito Peptides, Policosanols, DHA, Taurine and Magnesium, Krill Oil and Coenzyme Q10 (if you have elevated cholesterol and are taking medication for this from your doctor, then Coenzyme Q10 is even more important to take.  A class of cholesterol medications called “Statins” have an unfortunate side effect of reducing the body’s ability to manufacture Q10, which may lead to side effects such as fatigue.)

Don’t wait until it is too late to look after your heart.  Commit to improving your cardiovascular health now by making the dietary and lifestyle changes.  You can improve your heart health and maintain a healthy cardiovascular system naturally using natural herbal medicines and supplements without the side effects of drugs.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Does Fish Oil Cause Prostate Cancer?

The media has been putting up headlines like:

Fish Oils may increase prostate cancer risk – CNBC July 11 2013
Link to Prostate Cancer brings more bad news for fish oil story – Forbes July 11 2013

But, does fish oil really increase prostate cancer risk? We have been asked by our clients what our views are regarding this piece of news.  The study was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute entitled “Plasma Phospholipid Fatty Acids and Prostate Cancer Risk in the SELECT trial” and has generated lots of recent media interest and inquiries from the public.

After reviewing all the information we could get on this study and in consultation with our scientific advisors, we believe that the precautions against omega-3 consumption in this study are largely without merit.  You should be confident that fish oil is still a beneficial supplement.

This study and the conclusions drawn contain many flaws, including:
  • This is not an intervention study where the participants were given fish oil to evaluate their prostate cancer risk.  It was merely an observational study to look at the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT) where the levels of plasma phospholipids were measured.  Observation does NOT mean causation.  There can be other confounding factors in the study that have caused that observation.
  • Plasma phospholipids is a measure that can vary significantly depending on when your last meal of omega-3 or fish or fish oil is. These levels can increase or decrease, based on a single meal within a 48-hour period. 
  • The researchers base their conclusions on very small differences in mean omega-3 blood plasma phospholipid levels. The increased prostate cancer risks they ascribe to men who consume large amounts of omega-3 is based on a level of 4.66% in the cancer group, versus a level of 4.48% in the control group.
  • If high levels of omega-3 indeed increases the risk of prostate cancer, then countries with high consumption of omega 3 like Japan and Scandinavia should have high rates of prostate cancer.  However, the reverse is true.  It is the countries with low consumption of omega-3 and high consumption of trans and saturated fats that have high incidence of prostate cancer.
  • This is a small study and the conclusions are not keeping up with the rest of the literature on cancer risk and omega-3 fish oil consumption.  8 other major studies involving 78,000 participants have found NO increase in cancer risk.
The researchers have ignored many studies collated over many decades of studies of Omega-3 and its health benefits to publicise conclusions that contradict other better designed research.  However, we do advise our patients to be careful about the source of fish oil purchased.  Since the publicity of the health benefits of Omega-3, many companies have jumped onto the bandwagon and there is no shortage of brands of Omega-3 in the market, from grocery lines to properly tested therapeutically designed Omega-3 we dispense in our clinic.  You get what you pay for, not all Omega-3 fish oils are the same.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Should women have preventive double mastectomy like Angelina Jolie for fear of breast cancer?

The recent news that Angelina Jolie had preventive double mastectomy even without cancer because of her carrying the BRCA genes has sparked a lot of conversation amongst women whether that is the best way to avoid breast cancer.

When my clients speak to me about this subject in clinic, I ask them if they want to also avoid ovarian cancer and remove their ovaries, hence go through premature menopause, or avoid bowel cancer and remove their bowels.  My heart reaches out to people who think that removing organs can “prevent” cancer.  I wish Angelina was better informed than she was when she made that decision.

Breast cancer has been shown to be less prevalent in certain communities. In her book “Your life in your hands”, Professor Jane Plan, who was a breast cancer patient herself, studied how rural Chinese women did not get breast cancer.  What Prof Jane Plan found was that only one in 10,000 women in China will die from it, compared to that terrible figure of one in 12 in Britain and the even grimmer average of one in 10 across most Western countries. In highly urbanized Hong Kong , the rate rises to 34 women in every 10,000 but still puts the West to shame. The Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have similar rates. Plan found that breast cancer in China was considered a “Rich Woman’s Disease” as these people could afford the likes of dairy chocolate, ice-cream, and spaghetti and feta cheese.

Carrying a gene does not automatically make a person get cancer.  The genes need the right environment for the mutation of cells to occur to turn cancerous.  Our body, mindset, nutrition, lifestyle, exercise and food we eat make up the environment. 

There are many things a woman can do to make her environment unfriendly to cancer.  Here are some of them:

  1. Get adequate sunshine – Vitamin D deficiency has been closely linked to breast cancer. 
  2. Get moving, get active and reduce excess weight (fat) – excess visceral fat (around the abdomen) is inflammatory.
  3. Have lots of cruciferous vegetables – these have been proven to help with estrogen metabolism pathways, an excess of “bad estrogen” in the right environment will turn into breast or ovarian cancer.
  4. Eat 2-3 brazil nuts a day – brazils are a good source of selenium and this mineral is important for iodine absorption.  A lack of iodine has been seen in many pathologies of the breast.
  5. Have adequate good fats from oily fish, seeds and nuts.
  6. Reduce intake of fried foods which are a source of carcinogenic acrylamides.
  7. Drink green tea.
  8. Take a resveratrol, tumeric and acai antioxidant daily, like ResAcai.
  9. Do not use underarm deodorant that has propylene glycol, aluminium or artificial deodorants which act as xenoestrogens.
  10. Avoid plastic containers, especially microwaving in a plastic container.
  11. Use environmentally friendly home cleaning products, avoid excessive exposure to sodium lauryl sulphate.
  12. Avoid processed meats that contain sodium nitrite.
  13. Live with a purpose, think positive thoughts and be involved in the community.
  14. Practice meditation, yoga or prayers daily to achieve spiritual calmness.
And there are many different natural health therapies and supplements that can help to keep your estrogen detoxification pathways open and help you along.  Consult your natural healthcare practitioner for assistance.

Because Angelina is a well-known celebrity, what she says and does will have a big impact on women around the globe and I hope for women to be better informed.  We are not a victim of our genes.  We can take proactive action for our health and wellbeing (yes, but not proactively removing our breasts!)

I hope Angelina is adopting a good diet, lifestyle and nutrition with her carrying the BRCA genes.  Sure she has no more breasts to develop breast cancer, but are her ovaries free from cancer risk?