Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Cranberry Pistachio Flourless Biscotti

1 1/2 cups almond meal

1 egg, beaten
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup maple syrup
3 tbsp almond milk
1/4 cup pistachios, shell removed
¼ cup dried cranberries
Grated rind of ½ orange
1.         Preheat oven to 170 degrees C.
2.         In a large mixing bowl whisk together the almond flour, egg, baking soda and salt.
3.         Add the maple syrup and almond milk. Mix together with a wooden spoon until ingredients are well combined.
4.         Fold in the pistachios, cranberries and orange rind.
5.         Line a baking tray with baking paper.
6.         Using your hands pour the dough out of the bowl and onto the baking paper. Use your hands to form the dough into a sort of flat log. It should be about 1 inch high, 8 inches long and 2 inches wide.
7.         Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, until it begins to brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for at least 1 hour.
8.         Once the dough is cool use a knife to cut the log into about 15 strips. I prefer to make diagonal cuts because this gives you longer biscotti.
9.         Place the biscotti on their side.
10.      Bake in a 130 degree oven for 10 minutes to dry the biscotti out. Flip the biscotti over and bake for an additional 10 minutes on the other side. If they are still very moist you may need to flip again and put back in the oven for an additional 5-10 minutes. Be careful not to overcook.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Breast Cancer Prevention

Breast cancer is one of the most common cancer diagnosed in women in New Zealand and around the world.  In New Zealand, 1 in 9 women have a breast cancer diagnosis.
We have been told that mammograms are your best detection method.  I would argue that mammogram is a passive surveillance method to detect if you have breast cancer.  What are you doing to prevent or reduce your risk of breast cancer?

We need to commit to proactive prevention.  It is very important for us to take a look at our food.  Sugar is a potent toxin.  Sugar increases our blood sugar hence increasing the production of insulin, which is a growth hormone.  The Harvard Medical School conducted a six year study of over 32,000 nurses found that increased levels of insulin growth factor-1 (IGF-1) contributed to the increased growth of tumours, including breast cancers. 

It is well known that fibre is important to maintain good health.  The excessive intake of antibiotics or increased infection in the gut will weaken the immune system and increase your susceptibility to cancer.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the liver meridian travels through the breasts and the growth of cancer tumours show stagnation in liver energy.  A poor liver detoxification profile combined with poor dietary intake with increased sugar and processed food will increase the risk of breast cancer.  The presence of bad estrogens is commonly implicated in breast cancer.  It is therefore important to reduce intake of xenoestrogens, which are endocrine disruptors and behave like estrogen in the body.  Xenoestrogens are present in plastics, flame retardants, cosmetics, pesticides and food colouring.

To engage in active surveillance, you should avoid increasing your intake of xenoestrogens:
  1. Do not heat food up in any plastic containers in the microwave, in fact, do not use the microwave.  Heat it up on the stove or the oven. 
  2. Do not refill plastic drinking bottles, leave them in the sun or freeze water in plastic bottles.  Avoid plastic bottles, use stainless steel or glass bottles.
  3. Avoid using plastic wrap when storing or heating food.
  4. Avoid non-stick Teflon cookware.  When overheated, Teflon will leach into the food and disrupt the estrogen balance in the body.
  5. Avoid pesticides.  Eat organic where possible.
  6. Consume hormone free meats.
  7. Choose cosmetics and skin care products that are as natural as possible without names too long to pronounce and numbers you cannot decipher.  A common estrogenic ingredient found in cosmetics is paraben.
Increasing physical activity, increase intake of detoxifying foods and antioxidants with adequate protein can help reduce the risk of breast cancer.  Cruciferous vegetables, tumeric, rosemary and garlic are great to help detoxify estrogen.  Tumeric is synergistically absorbed with black pepper, so if you are marinating your food with tumeric, add some black pepper too!  If you are overweight, your risk of breast cancer increases.  Lose excess weight.  Being overweight by 7kgs increases your cancer risk as much as smoking!

Get enough Vitamin D, in the summer, do activities in the sun without sunscreen before 11 a.m. until the skin turns pink.  Do not burn.  In the winter, supplement!  Vitamin D acts as a vitamin and a hormone and is a very important vitamin for healthy breasts.

Reducing intake of alcohol to less than 3 glasses a week will help reduce the risk of breast cancer.  Keeping the bowels regular with adequate fibre, prebiotics, probiotics and greens is important to prevent breast cancer.  Your liver and bowels are really important to help reduce your risk of breast cancer, hence keeping liver toxins low and keeping your bowels healthy will help prevent breast cancer.  

Metabolic syndrome may be the cause of your fatigue, diabetes or weight gain

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of signs that can drive many serious diseases in our society.  Some of the indicators of metabolic syndrome include:

  • Waist circumference over 80cm for women and over 94cm for men
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes or prediabetes or poor control of blood sugar
  • Carrying extra weight around the waist – beer belly
  • Increase triglycerides in your blood lipids test

Metabolic syndrome increases your risk of serious diseases such as diabetes, stroke, cancer and Alzheimer’s.  We live in an age of plenty, where our genomics are designed to cater for survival against scarcity.  Average calories per day have increased from 2100 to 2800 over the past 60 years, and energy expenditure from physical activity has reduced by 46% over the same period.  Excess adipose (fat) tissues lead to systemic inflammation.

Every cell is equipped with its own energy sensing mechanism.  Like a fuel gauge, cells can sense states of high or low energy (ATP) and activate the adaptive mechanism accordingly.  When ATP is low, our cells activate an adaptive response to boost cellular energy which stimulates glucose and fat burning and reduce oxidative stress and inflammation.  This also activates the mitochondria (energy production powerhouse in the cell). This is called the AMPK response.  However, if there are large fluctuations with insulin induced from the diet, AMPK levels will be low and there will be less down regulation of inflammation, hence more pain, increase in fatigue and subsequent development of insulin resistance.

The more carbohydrate rich food we eat, the more insulin needs to be secreted. The more processed a carbohydrate food is, e.g. pastries compared to kumara (sweet potatoes), the more insulin is secreted to deal with larger blood sugar fluctuations. Insulin promotes glucose, protein and fat storage, inhibits fat burning and promotes growth of tissues.  Some insulin is essential, some growth of tissues are crucial for cell functioning, repair, growth and muscle building.  With excess carbohydrate intake in modern societies, insulin levels are higher, which by nature of the anabolic function of insulin, is associated with common health problems like acne, polycystic ovarian syndrome, atherosclerosis, hypertension and cancer.

So if you are having issues of weight gain, increasing waist circumference, fatigue, sweet cravings, imbalance in blood sugar levels, diabetes or prediabetes, I highly recommend that you address these problems before it turns into more serious diseases.  Consume foods that increase your satiety, with good fats and protein, rather than carbohydrates.  I can help you with dietary, nutritional and physical activity strategies to reverse your problems and run appropriate tests to monitor your progress over time.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Managing Cold & Flu Symptoms

This winter has been unusually cold.  Despite your best efforts at preventing infection through diet, exercise and supplementation, you may succumb to a cold or flu at some stage this winter. This can occur particularly if stress or life events get in the way of maintaining the healthy habits that help keep your immune system strong.  Should you find yourself ‘under the weather’, the good news is that there are natural remedies you can take to help you get back on your feet.

Both the common cold and influenza (flu) are caused by viruses, most commonly the rhinovirus. What many people may not realise is that antibiotics only target bacteria and are not able to kill the viruses responsible for colds and flu. Fortunately, there are herbs and nutrients that can help manage these viral infections and keep your immune defences strong.

A number of traditional herbs have been clinically shown to improve immune function and reduce symptoms of the common cold and flu, for example:

-         andrographis can reduce both the severity and duration of cold and flu symptoms;
-         picorrhiza can help maintain a healthy immune system, and it is now understood that this herb has both anti-inflammatory and immune-stimulating actions;
-         elderberry, a mainstay of traditional Western herbalism for its anti-catarrhal and fever-reducing activity can help relieve acute cold symptoms as well as recurrent coughs.

If you are unwell with a respiratory virus, a herbal formula that contains the above immune-supporting herbs can help you cope with your symptoms.

Medicinal mushrooms have a long history of use in Asian cultures and are now known to have potent antiviral activity. In particular, the immune-boosting potential of reishi, shiitake, cordyceps and coriolus mushrooms has been extensively studied.  Not only can they help reduce the length and severity of an acute cold, they can also help prevent future recurrences.  A concentrated extract of these mushrooms can help reduce the symptoms and severity of your cold.

Mucus and phlegm are signs that your immune system is hard at work, but the resulting congestion can lead to blocked sinuses and breathing difficulty. The decongestant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial essential oils of eucalyptus, thyme, lavender and peppermint may help to reduce the nasal and sinus congestion that accompanies upper respiratory tract infections. Mucus congestion can also cause irritating or chesty coughs.  Liquorice is recognised in Western herbal medicine for its soothing, anti-inflammatory and expectorant properties. An extract of liquorice root can reduce irritation of the respiratory mucous membranes, helping to soothe dry coughs and relieve mild bronchitis. The Ayurvedic herb adhatoda is a helpful bronchodilator also with expectorant properties. By encouraging the clearing of congestion-causing phlegm, your airway becomes more open and that irritating wheeze reduces. If you are coughing or your sinuses are blocked, an appropriate formula containing these mucus-busting herbs and essential oils may help.

In this modern world, we seem to have lost the “art of convalescence”. We always feel obliged to ‘soldier on’ despite coughing, sneezing and operating at less than optimal capacity.   Taking the time to rest and recuperate can help you to recover sooner.  So, the lifestyle prescription when you are unwell is sleep, sleep and more sleep! Resist the temptation to check your work emails. Instead, focus your efforts on restoring your energy levels with warm, nourishing foods such as soups; drink plenty of fluids to replace those lost from blowing your nose repeatedly; and avoid mucus-promoting, inflammatory foods such as dairy and processed foods.

If a cold or flu finds its way to you this winter and is stopping you from performing at your best, don’t despair.  There are herbal or nutritional formula with antiviral, anti-inflammatory, decongestant and immune-boosting power to support your convalescence and help get you back in the game again.

Hot and sour fish soup


4 kaffir lime leaves (middle vein removed, sliced)
1 stalk lemon grass, crushed
4 cloves garlic, bruised
½ large onion, chopped
3-5 birds eye chilli, optional
1 bunch coriander, chopped

300g white fish (this can be gurnard, dory or tarakihi), cut into pieces
1 medium carrot, sliced
4 large broccoli florets
4 large cauliflower florets
6 button mushrooms, quartered
8 okra, cut into 2-3 pieces per okra

1L prepared chicken or vegetable broth

½ lime, squeezed for juice
¼ tsp salt


  1. Warm 1 tablespoon of olive oil and put herbs in (except coriander) to fry till fragrant.  Add chicken broth and let it simmer for 10 minutes to get the fragrance of the essential oils of the herbs into the broth.
  2. Add the fish and vegetables and cook.  Let boil for 2-3 minutes until vegetables are just cooked.
  3. Switch off fire, add salt and lime juice.
  4. Serve and garnish with chopped coriander.

This is a great way of making hot and sour soup without using artificially flavoured soup sachets, which almost always contain a large quantity of MSG.

Serves 2

Friday, 3 July 2015

Undiagnosed Subclinical Hypothyroidism may be making you Sick, Tired, Fat, Inflamed and Anxious

Subclinical hypothyroidism is not only commonly ignored, it is also grossly under diagnosed.  It is easy to dismiss tiredness, feeling sick and fat to our modern lifestyle of having too much to do and too little time.  In turn, this affects sleep, mood and can cause anxiety.

There are many reasons why subclinical hypothyroidism is under diagnosed.  The symptoms are common with many other causes – tiredness, weight gain, anxiety, dry skin and hair, cold hands and feet, poor memory, low sex drive, infertility, hoarse voice, etc. 

The measure of TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) is very commonly used by doctors to measure the “normality” of thyroid function.  Unfortunately, through running functional testing for thyroid profile for many of our clients in clinic has revealed that very often, a patient’s TSH is normal but the free T3 is not normal or low.  The free T3 is the active thyroid hormone and if that is low, any or a combination of the above symptoms can show.

What can you do to make sure you have the correct diagnosis?

If your symptoms have been persistent, you need to order the right tests. 
  1. You need to know your TSH, Free T4, Free T3, Reverse T3, Thyroid Peroxidase, Antithyroglobulin, TSH receptor antibodies.
  2. Vitamin D status
It is also important to make sure that you have adequate amount of trace minerals iodine, selenium and zinc to allow conversion of thyroid hormones to function adequately.

If you have high exposure to heavy metals, which can show up in mercury dental amalgams, pesticides, exhaust fumes, cigarette smoke (both active and passive smokers) you will “crowd out” your important thyroid nutrients.  Removing these sources of heavy metals and having adequate minerals is the first step to help chaperone your thyroid nutrients into your cells.

At NutriActionz Natural Health Clinic, we use appropriate testing and work through your individual biochemistry to ensure that the root causes of your problems are identified and addressed.  If you have been suffering from the above symptoms for a while and want some light at the end of the tunnel, contact us for a consultation so we can lead you on the right path.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Simple Healthy Cooking - Warm Nutty Lettuce and Eggplant Salad


½ head of lettuce, soaked, washed and broken into small pieces
1 long eggplant, cut lengthwise into 2 inch strips
1 kumara, cut lengthwise into 2 inch strips
1 small carrot, grated
100g shelled pistachio
50g pine nuts

3 tablespoons hempseed/ flaxseed oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1-2 teaspoon maple syrup, optional

  1. Drizzle olive oil onto eggplant pieces and kumara pieces and roast in the oven for 20 minutes (eggplant) to 30 minutes (kumara).
  2. Mix dressing ingredients together.
  3. Combine warm vegetables once cooked into the raw vegetables and mix in dressing. 
  4. Add in the nuts just before serving.

How to reduce the risk of Osteoporosis

Age-related bone degeneration due to osteoporosis had been accepted as a normal part of ageing in the past.  Elderly folks with stooped backs and brittle bones often suffered from fall and left them incapacitated due to broken bones. It is estimated that around 15% of women and 3% of men over the age of 50 suffer from osteoporosis.  

Osteoporosis occurs when there is a loss of calcium and other minerals from your bones, undermining the normal bone structure and therefore strength. A reduction in mineral content (also referred to as a loss of bone mineral density) can result in porous, brittle bones that can be easily broken in a fall or merely carrying out everyday activities, such as lifting a heavy object.  As there may be no indication that a loss of bone density is happening until a fracture occurs, Osteoporosis is often called a ‘silent disease’.  While broken bones are a concern, reduced bone mineral density can also lead to significant pain, immobility and ultimately a loss of independence. So what can you do to maximise your bone density and reduce bone mineral losses?

Your Diet

Your diet is one of the most important sources of calcium right from your growth years. Peak bone mass is achieved during your 20s.  Calcium and other minerals from your diet form the foundation of strong healthy bones.  A diet incorporating dark green leafy vegetables, sardines, nuts and seeds, as well as dairy products all offer excellent sources of calcium. You also need to ensure that you are getting sufficient vitamin D through moderate sun exposure, or supplementation, to support calcium absorption.  Regular weight bearing exercises can help promote bone density and help create a solid foundation for skeletal health. 

Bone mineral density begins to wane naturally by mid-30s.  Poor lifestyle choices such as smoking and excessive alcohol intake, as well as the onset of menopause in women can all accelerate this process. At this time diet becomes even more essential to ensure you are obtaining sufficient calcium to keep your bones strong. However, obtaining your daily calcium needs through diet alone is not always achievable. Fortunately, you can help support bone mineral density by utilising a highly absorbable form of calcium.

Calcium and Mineral supplementation

When taking calcium supplementation, it is important to know that you are taking a good form of highly absorbable natural calcium together with all the elements required for bone reconstruction in a protein-mineral complex.  These elements should include the two key minerals required to maintain bone density - calcium and phosphorus, in ideally 2:1 ratio, trace minerals including zinc, boron, chromium, copper and iron. In addition to the bone-building minerals, specific proteins needed to ‘cement’ the minerals together such as collagen and bone amino acids should also be needed. As vitamins K and D play important roles in the regulation of calcium movement into and out of bone, these form an important addition to any bone supporting formula. Last but not least, soy isoflavones help enhance bone reconstruction, particularly in postmenopausal women, making this ideal for
women in particular.

You now know that there is a great deal you can do to support your bones and help prevent osteoporosis, even if your bone mineral density has already started to decline.  So, take action now so you can live a longer, stronger life!

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Simple Healthy Cooking - Spiced lamb with pistachio pine nuts and buckwheat

In the cold winter nights, having some warming (or 'yang' in TCM terms) foods is great for balancing. The black pepper and cumin add to the warming effect.


2-3 pcs lamb loin chops cut into cubes, marinated in some Himalayan salt and ½ tsp of cumin and black pepper
½ large onion chopped
2 tablespoons shelled pistachios
2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 tablespoons buckwheat, dry roasted
1 bowl cabbage sliced
Salt to taste
½ teaspoon nutmeg and cinnamon spice powder mix
Chicken stock (from boiling chicken frames with ginger and garlic)


  1. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil and fry chopped onion until limp and fragrant. Save half of the onions for the cabbage buckwheat mix. Add in lamb cubes.  Fry until lamb is just cooked, add in pistachios and pine nuts, stir through and dish onto serving plate.
  2. Add a small amount of olive oil onto the pan and fry cabbage, dry roasted buckwheat and onions (the half saved from above).  Once cabbage turns bright green, add in chicken stock and allow it to boil, cook and soften buckwheat.  Add some nutmeg and cinnamon mix into the pan. Once the stock dries up, it is ready to be served.  Garnish with some extra pistachio and pine nuts.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

How to boost your sex drive naturally

The media always reminds us that there is another pill to increase sex drive, deal with erectile dysfunction or increase our libido. Your sex drive and libido is a reflection of what you are doing to your body.  Nature typically has it that fertility and libido is appropriate when a person’s health is in a good state.

So, if you are having trouble in the bedroom, you may want to consider these factors:

  1. Are you on a low fat diet, or a bad fat diet?  Hormones are fat soluble substances and having adequate good fats is important for the body to maintain a good level of hormones.  It may surprise you, but cholesterol is a precursor to the making of hormones!  Bad fats create oxidative stress in the body and can affect the body’s optimal hormone production.  So make sure you are having adequate good fats from raw seeds, nuts, cold water fish and avocado.
  2. Are you not exercising enough?  We all know exercise helps to increase our output of endorphins, our feel good hormones.  Adequate endorphin is important to the making of sex hormones and manages the making of stress hormones.
  3. Are you overweight? Increased abdominal fats, imbalance in blood sugar levels, diabetes and inflammation often affects peripheral circulation and will have an impact in your sex drive.
  4. Are you not eating enough real food and having adequate antioxidant support?  Food as close to its naturally occurring state as possible supplies nutrients for the making of cells in the body, including those of the reproductive system.  Good, lean protein from fish, egg, chicken, lean meat, nuts and seeds help the making of good cells. Antioxidant from fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs has a protective effect on our cells and assist in making healthier cells.
  5. Are you stressed?  Stress and sex typically do not go together.  In a fight or flight situation, stress requires us to “run from danger”.  In the “danger” situation, our body shuts down the reproductive system and focuses on giving energy to the muscles and pupils to “run from danger”.  If you have persistent, high levels of stress, take time out for yourself, do some yoga, meditation, prayers or your own de-stressing activity, some people de- stress by tending to the garden, play a musical instrument, play a sport, watch a comedy or do some handicraft.

If you still have trouble in the bedroom after answering “No” to all of the above questions, it is worthwhile to run a hormones test to see what is going on.  You can run a blood sex hormones test but blood is not a good indication of free hormones (the ones that matter) as it measures bound and unbound hormones.  The better choices are salivary or dried urine hormones tests.  We offer these tests at NutriActionz.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Simple Healthy Cooking - Quick tasty tofu curried vegetables in 20 minutes

1 block firm tofu, cut into 8 pieces
1 bowl cabbage
6 okra, cut into 2 inch lengths
2 sprigs fresh curry leaves
1 tablespoon umeboshi vinegar
2 tsp maple syrup
Pinch of salt.

Blended ingredients:
2 cloves garlic
½ onion
1 tsp tumeric powder
2 chillies

  1. Prepare blended ingredients.  Blend with stick blender.  I usually prepare a few portions at a time and freeze them for future use.
  2. Put a tablespoon of olive oil and pan fry tofu pieces
  3. Remove from pan when golden.
  4. Add a tablespoon of oil into pan and put in curry leaves.  This gives a fragrant aroma.  Add blended ingredients and fry till blended ingredients look translucent.
  5. Add cabbage and okra.
  6. Add water and tofu back into pan to absorb the spices.
  7. Add umeboshi vinegar, salt and maple syrup.
  8. Serves 2.
 I prepared this in 20 minutes, with my blended ingredients.  It is blissful to enjoy a warm lunch on such cold winter days.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Inflammation: the Cause of many illnesses and How you are Causing it

Inflammation is signified by pain, heat, redness and swelling.  We have all experienced inflammation.  When you bump your knee on that corner table, there was swelling, redness and pain.  There was inflammation, it is a response from our body to hasten up the healing process.

The problem arises when inflammation runs longer than just for an acute situation.  Long term inflammation keeps spinning up inflammatory compounds.  Chronic inflammation causes ageing, weight gain, loss of vitality, illness and disease.

These are some of the things you are doing that may cause inflammation:

  1. Sugar – sugar is one of the most inflammatory foods.  By creating imbalances in blood sugar levels, sugar drives up oxidation and inflammation. 
  2. Processed food – a study of the healthiest and longest living people on the planet reveals that their diet comprises fresh foods.  Processed foods are inflammatory and are packed with preservatives and additives.
  3. You are not eating enough leafy greens - green leafy vegetables are anti-inflammatory, so eat more of them!
  4. The wrong fats – you may be looking out for the wrong fats to consume, with so many theories out there, you could well be confused as to what fats constitute good fats.  If you are confused, I don’t blame you.  Anti-inflammatory good fats are olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil and macadamia oil.
  5. You are not having enough omega 3 intake – we typically do not have a shortage of omega 6, and the ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 in the diet gets too low.
  6. You don’t have enough hydration, get that water in!  If you don’t like the taste of plain water, put in some peppermint leaves, cucumber or lemon.  Avoid artificially sweetened drinks and flavoured water.
  7. You consume too many grains – depending on what your individual situation is, some people do well with whole grains, others do well with no grains!
In our clinic, Hemaview Live Blood Screening screens for inflammation.  In pathology blood testing, imbalances may show up in CRP, ESR, HbA1C, ANA, Rheumatoid Factor, etc. 

Decrease inflammation and you will decrease your risk of premature ageing, and gain back your vitality!

What does your Body Shape say about your Cravings? What can you Do about it to Lose Weight?

The Apple

The apple body tends to accumulate fats around the abdomen, may have skinny chest, arms and legs, and if they put on weight, it is around the middle, creating a “spare tyre”.  This body shape is at the highest risk of cardiovascular events, because visceral fats (fats around the abdomen) are packed close to critical organs of the heart and liver. 

The apple body typically craves carbohydrate foods, sweets and desserts, and may have a “mid-afternoon dip” in energy.  The key hormone involved in controlling these cravings is insulin which can be spiked by increased cortisol.  Cortisol is the stress hormone, and typically, the apple body reaches out for comfort foods (which tend to be sweet or carbohydrate rich) if they are stressed.

To lose weight, the apple body should keep blood sugar level and refrain from high glycemic load foods.  High glycemic load foods are carbohydrate containing foods that convert to sugar quickly, typically processed foods tend to have higher glycemic load compared to fresh food.  In the fruit kingdom, berries tend to have the lowest glycemic load and they are also rich in Vitamin C which is important for this body type.

The Pear

The pear body tends to accumulate fats around the hips, butt and thighs.  This body tends to be “heavy at the bottom”.  This type of body is heavily linked to hormonal imbalance, particularly estrogen dominance.

The pear body typically crave high fat foods and dairy rich foods.  As fats in the hips and thighs are harder to shift, fat loss can be more challenging for the pear body.

To lose weight, managing hormonal balance, working on clearance of estrogen is important.  Increase fibre in the food intake, include soluble and insoluble fibre like oat bran, psyllium, slippery elm and buckwheat.  Reduce rich, fatty food intake and swap dairy fats out for non-dairy fats and cheeses.  Increase cardio exercises 30 minutes at least 3 times a week.  Resistance and weights for the upper body can help to balance the body.

The Tube

The tube tends to accumulate fat all over and does not particularly have a shape.  It can be frustrating, as they tend to find wearing a loose T-shirt and jeans what would suit them.  Sometimes the tube has a combination of both apple and pear bodies, and when not looked after, both areas balloon so much that there is not much more distinction for the waist and hip.

The tube, when overweight, should reduce carbohydrate and startchy foods as well as high fat and dairy rich foods.  The diet should contain healthy fats like raw seeds and nuts, good quality protein and high in vegetables, both raw and cook.  Resistance and cardio exercise is important to help the tube get back into shape.

Breakfast should consist of a high quality protein like Shape Up, mixed with some LSA, blueberries, ½ an avocado and 3 brazil nuts.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Long Term Use of Paracetamol for Low Back Pain is Ineffective and can be Harmful

In a published study in the British Medical Journal, BMJ, of 31 March 2015, 12 high quality studies of the use of paracetamol and the treatment of low back pain and osteoarthritis have shown some very interesting results in terms of its efficacy and side effects.

Low back pain is a main cause of absenteeism and according to the World Health Organisation, low back pain is responsible for more than 100 million workdays lost per year in the United Kingdom and the loss of 149 million workdays or US$200 billion a year in the United States.  We do not have the numbers for New Zealand but using per capita calculation, this should approximate 2 million workdays lost here due to low back pain.

The BMJ reported that negative side effects from the use of paracetamol included liver toxicity, kidney disease, gastrointestinal problems and in some cases may even cause premature death. These negative side effects are suffered even though paracetamol has been shown to be ineffective in the treatment of low back pain.

Most people with low back pain do not have a serious problem in the lower back like fracture or nerve issues.  Low back pain is commonly caused by muscle, ligament, disc or facet problems.  Treatment with microcurrent by increasing the energy going to the specific cells to allow cellular detoxification and healing can help alleviate low back pain.  In Traditional Chinese Medicine, low back pain is caused by low kidney energy.  Many patients with low back pain, especially the elderly will also have knee pain.  Acupuncture is proven to help.  These are more natural non-pharmacologic treatments without the side effects that pain killers like paracetamol has.  Weight loss to reduce the burden of carrying an overweight body, physiotherapy and pilates are all useful.

So, the next time you hear of a family, friend or workmate suffering from low back pain, suggest other therapies to them if they are reaching for paracetamol.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Sleep Hygiene to improve the Quality and Quantity of a Night’s Sleep

Sleep problems are common these days and are often worse in summer.  Whilst there can be many problems that lead to poor quality and lack of sleep, maintaining good sleep hygiene can help to alleviate some of the problems.  If pain is keeping you awake, make sure you address the problem so that you are not constantly woken up because of pain.  If frequent urination at night is a problem, investigate the possibility of benign prostate hyperplasia or chronic nocturia which should be treated.

Here are 10 tips to help you sleep better:
  1. Keep a journal of the things that need to be done the next day.  You can keep the journal beside your bed so that tasks can be dumped into the journal and you will revisit them in the morning.
  2. Do not have constant exposure to computer screens 2 hours prior to bedtime.
  3. Exercise earlier in the day, especially vigorous aerobic type exercise.  As strenuous exercise can produce lactic acid in the muscles, this can affect your sleep quality.  Gentle exercise that helps increase endorphins are helpful in aiding sleep, but should be done at least 3 hours before bed.
  4. Avoid caffeine (tea, coffee and any caffeinated beverages) after 2 p.m.
  5. Do not drink massive amount of water later in the day.  Sip your water after dinner and make yourself a chamomile tea to calm down.
  6. Make sure the temperature in the room and comfortable for sleeping.  Having too many sheets or inadequate sheets can wake you up unnecessarily.
  7. Keep the bed to relaxation, sleep and sex.  The bed should not be associated with work and stress.
  8. Obesity is a leading cause of sleep apnoea which is a common reason overweight people do not sleep well.  Reduce your weight.
  9. Actively work on reducing stress or your perception of stress in your life.  Being a perfectionist often does not help with stress management, be a realist!
  10. Have an aromatherapy bath before bed.  Drop some lavender and ylang ylang essential oil into your bath and relax!
If you constantly have sleep problems, it could be a sign of more serious medical condition and needs to be checked out by your health care professional.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Not all Fish Oils are created equal

A recent University of Auckland study has found the bulk of fish oil pills sold in New Zealand and Australia are misleading consumers with false claims.  The study found the bulk of supplements sold in the two countries were almost a third lower in omega-3 fatty acids than their labels claimed.  Only three of the 32 fish oil supplements analysed by the scientists contained the concentrations of fatty acids listed on the label.  The rest had on average 68 per cent of the claimed content.  The majority of the supplements tested were considerably oxidised, ie. the oils were on the way to becoming rancid, and the price made no difference to the quality of the product.

There are many benefits that a high quality and highly concentrated fish oil supplement can bring to the health and wellness of you and your family.  Fish oil is important for us at all different stages of our life - during childhood, adulthood and even into old age.  Without doubt, omega-3 fatty acids are part of a balanced diet.  Fish oils rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids are important to enhance general health, as well as supporting cardiovascular and metabolic health, promoting healthy brain development and cognitive function, reducing inflammation and supporting healthy mood.

How do you choose a good quality fish oil supplement?

Although the study did not indicate any relationship between price and the quality of the fish oils, commonsense tells us that if the price is too good to be true, it is most likely the case.  The market is now flooded with fish oil supplements at unbelievably cheap prices.  Just imagine how much oil you can get out of a fish, I hope you would think twice on what sort of oil you are actually getting, next time you think of buying those fish oils at very special prices!

Find out what the manufacturers do to remove and test for impurities, organic pollutants and contaminants such as DDT and other pesticide derivatives, dioxins, heavy metals such as mercury, lead, cadmium and arsenic, as compared to the standards provided by the authority.  If a manufacturer cannot provide or does not have this information, you might want to consider another brand.

Good quality fish oils are manufactured using nitrogen flushing to produce oils that are fresh and are protected from oxidation.  Like all other oils, fish oils can become oxidised or rancid when exposed to heat, air or light.  Anisidine and Peroxide are indicators of the level of oxidation in a fish oil.  Oxidised fish oils can taste and smell very “fishy”.  If you are using liquid fish oil, you will know your fish oil is oxidised when it tastes and smells too “fishy” to be normal.  If you are using fish oil pills, you can always chew into one and check the taste if it is too “fishy”.  Fish oils being fish oils will always taste and smell a bit “fishy”.  Most fish oil supplements will use some kind of flavouring to make it palatable. Check that natural flavouring is used.  You may want to avoid fish oils that have synthetic flavouring or sweeteners as artificial flavouring may mask the taste and smell of the fish oil that has gone rancid.

Fish oil manufacturers that support sustainable fishing and marine conservation tend to source their fish oils from small fish species.  Small fish species generally have less organic pollutants and heavy metal loads than large fish species.  So, check if the manufacturers of your fish oils support sustainable fishing.  If they do, they should have information that they are certified by for example, Friend of the Sea, an independent organisation that audits and certifies products that practise sustainable fishing.

Remember different health conditions need varying levels of omega-3 essential fatty acids (EPA/DHA). Therapeutic amounts of EPA and/or DHA are needed to deal with different health conditions.  High level of DHA is needed to help support normal, healthy brain function as well as improve memory in people with age-related cognitive decline.  For temporary relief of pain and inflammation from arthritis and help maintain cardiovascular health, you will need higher level of EPA.  Depending on the health condition you are trying to address, you will need a fish oil created specifically to help with your condition. 

If you are still confused about what fish oils you should be choosing after reading this article, come and see us.  We can advise you and help you choose the fish oil that best suits your needs based on the health outcomes you want to achieve.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Is Cholesterol really that bad?

Cholesterol lowering drugs are now one of the most prescribed drugs in the world.  It seems like everyone has high cholesterol nowadays!  But, cholesterol is a type of fat that is vital for life. It is a building block for many metabolic processes in the body including making hormones such as oestrogen, testosterone and cortisol, supporting cell structure and making bile. Cholesterol can be found in certain foods such as meats, dairy products and eggs, but most people are not aware that cholesterol is also made by our liver.

Too much cholesterol can be detrimental to your health by promoting fatty plaque deposits in blood vessels, known as atherosclerosis, increasing your risk of cardiovascular disease. But, our bodies need cholesterol to function properly and remain healthy.  Lowering it too much can also be detrimental to your health.  So, managing your cholesterol at a healthy level is key to being healthy and well.

There are two main types of cholesterol: high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. HDL is essentially the ‘good’ form of cholesterol while LDL is the ‘bad’ form of cholesterol. If the ratio of HDL:LDL is out of balance (i.e. not enough HDL, too much LDL), this puts you at increased risk of heart disease. So, it is important to look at the HDL:LDL ratio. If you have unhealthy cholesterol balance, specific nutrients are needed to restore the balance between the good and bad types of cholesterol.

Most people can control their cholesterol levels without the use of any prescription drugs.  Remember that you need cholesterol to remain healthy.  So, you can’t just avoid eating foods high in fats.  Also, your liver can play a part in your cholesterol levels.  One thing for sure – you need to eliminate damaging trans fats found in fast foods, fried foods and baked goods. Trans fats increase the ‘bad’ cholesterol.  You need to increase the amount of good fats you eat from fresh fish, nuts and seeds.  Embrace a diet full of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, olive oil and garlic. Cut down on sugar in your diet.  Soft drinks, fruit juices and processed foods frequently contain ‘hidden sugars’. When there is an over-supply of sugar the body converts this to fat, which negatively affects cholesterol balance.

If you are overweight, weight loss is an essential part of reducing your cholesterol levels. Daily physical activity is vital for stabilising cholesterol levels and for weight maintenance.  As well as the dietary and lifestyle strategies suggested, appropriate natural supplements and medicines may also help prevent and/or treat high cholesterol.

It is never too late to improve your health. Simple dietary and lifestyle modifications, along with appropriate supplementation, can add years to your life and life to your years!

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Depressed? Changing what you eat may help you get out of it!

Depression is a whole body illness, affecting the body, the nervous system, moods, thoughts and behaviour. It affects the way you eat and sleep, the way you think about people around you and the way you react and think. Food greatly influence the brain’s behaviour. The level of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters which regulate our behaviour are closely related to what we eat and neurotransmitters are closely linked to mood. The neurotransmitters related to mood are dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. Low levels of serotonin can lead to depression, anxiety and sleep disorders. The precursor to serotonin is tryptophan, an essential amino acid. Sufficient amounts of vitamins B6, C, folate and magnesium are necessary for the formation of tryptophan.

Here are some changes you can make to your diet to help you deal with depression:

·        A diet high in complex carbohydrates, whole grains, seeds, nuts, brown rice, millet, soy protein, beans and pulses will help you become more relaxed.
·        Consume salmon and turkey. Both are rich in protein and tryptophan. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons we feel good at Christmas!
·        Omit wheat and gluten from your diet. Wheat and gluten have been found to be linked to depressive disorders.
·        Take essential fatty acids like flaxseed oil, fish oil or evening primrose oil. Essential fatty acids aid in the transmission of nerve impulses, which is needed for brain function. Essential fatty acids are also rich in seeds and nuts like pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds and walnuts.
·        Some natural supplements that are recommended include 5HTP which increases the body’s production of serotonin, SAMe which works as an antidepressant, Vitamin B complex which is necessary for the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system, Kava Kava which helps to induce calm and relieve depression and St John’s Wort.  Magnesium is a mineral that helps us to relax.  Selenium has been shown to elevate mood and decrease anxiety. These effects were more noticeable in people who had lower levels of selenium in their diets. NZ soil is deficient in selenium. This may explain why so many Kiwis are depressed!  Folic acid deficiency has also been linked to depression, especially in the elderly.   A word of caution - there are contraindications between prescription drugs and natural supplements to increase serotonin production.  Please consult a qualified natural health care professional before taking any of the supplements.

Also, aromatherapy is great for relaxing ourselves and uplifting our moods. A combination of Lavender, Bergamot and Cedarwood is great for rest, relaxation and for an uplift. It can be used as a massage, in the bath, or in a burner.

If you are still depressed after reading this article and making the dietary changes, come in and see what we can help you with! Small steps can make a big difference!