Latest from the blog.

Recipe from Erin Hall ~ Clinical Nutritionist at The Longevity Nutritionist. We know, it's still November... but in our opinion it is never too early to get festive and enjoy those classic Christmas foods we all love! This Christmas cake isn't your typical fruit cake, it is dairy, gluten and refined sugar free as well as being paleo, making it a great low allergen option. The fruit used is free from preservatives and extra added sugar, fruit is sweet enough! This cake is high in beautiful plant based fibre and protein making it gut friendly. We hope you love it. Healthy Christmas Cake. Makes six mini cakes or one big one. Ingredients: 650g sugar-free dried fruit (chopped) including cherries, strawberries, pitted dates, black currants and Turkish apricots. You can adapt this as you please though. 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 1/4 teaspoon bicarb soda 1 tablespoon chia seeds 3 organic eggs 1 orange (zest and juice) 3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 1/2 cup buckwheat flour 2 cups almonds 1/3 cup walnuts 1/4 cup almond flakes (for topping) Method: Preheat oven to 160°C fan forced. Lightly spray 6 mini cake tins OR one big round tin with olive oil and set aside. In a bowl, lightly fold dried fruit, spices, vanilla, chia seeds and bicarb. Combine eggs, olive oil, orange juice and zest. In a blender or food processor, pulse almonds and walnuts into a crumble consistency. Add crumble and flour to the remaining mixture and combine well. Spoon mixture into the baking tins, adding almond flakes for decoration. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until your cake skewer comes out clean. Add crumble and flour to the remaining mixture, combine well. Spoon mixture into the baking tins, adding almond flakes for decoration. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until skewer comes out clean. Let us know in the comments if you make and love this recipe! For more delicious nutrition information and recipes, visit  https://www.thelongevitynutritionist.com.au/journal

Christmas cake that is actually good for you!

Recipe from Erin Hall ~ Clinical Nutritionist at The Longevity Nutritionist. We know, it's still November... but in our opinion it is...

Runner’s Gut? 8 Quick Tips to turn your run into fun. One of the most common problems for runners is gastrointestinal issues in training and on race day, racing from nausea, gut pain, diarrhoea and cramping. It can be from race nutrition that is not suitable for your body, hydration, general nutrition, poor gut health, anxiety/nerves, pace, temperature - so many reasons! This can be exacerbated by nerves and excitement on race day, however there are some tips to minimise this happening and having you focus on your run instead of where the next toilet stop is. 1. Fibre - Low fibre diet is recommended the morning of, and for some, the night before the event. This is the one time I recommend white bread & avoiding whole-grains. 2. Hydrate - Hydration is important all the time, not just the day before. Poor hydration can play a role in constipation & resulting in bowel emptying when you run. Not ideal! Have a glass of room temperature water on waking. 4. Caffeine - Caffeine can aid with bowel motions. However, timing the caffeine well so the bowel movement isn't happening on your run is the key. Some people aren't tolerant of caffeine so this is something that needs to be tested. 5. Gut Irritants - Dairy (predominantly cow's milk), artificial sweeteners & sugar alcohols can be a digestive trigger for many runners. It's worthwhile having a test period without these in the diet. 6. The essential toilet visit - Giving yourself sufficient time to visit the toilet to allow your bowels to function without the stress of running late. Many of us get stage fright, even our bowels. 7. Oats - Skip the oats the morning of an event or run. No, there's no science behind it that I can find, other than fibre. However, I have many clients who have ditched the oats pre-run and have a happy runner's gut! 8. Food Timing - Ensure there is enough time to digest food before your run. Liquid energy can be a better option if you are short on time. 9. Use your breath - More so for events or performance sessions where anxiety & nerves can come into play. Deep breathing/square breathing can be very helpful here. Click here for your free download - bit.ly/essential_runners_tips Tried everything? Still having issues with diarrhoea, nausea or gut pain? Your runs would be perfect if you had a happy gut? It might be time to book in for a consult - Happy Gut, Happy Runner! About Alethea! Alethea is a Clinical Nutritionist graduating with a Bachelor of Health Science in Nutritional and Dietetic Medicine (BHSc). Aletha loves to run and is a rock chick behind the scenes. You’ll find Alethea most days running the beachfront, out on the local trails or creating plans for her clients. Alethea doesn’t believe in nutrition perfection, her approach is personal for you allowing you to live and perform your best. Alethea's interests are with athletes and gut health (digestive issues, IBS, IBD, bowel health, reflux/heartburn). Alethea has worked with runners and endurance athletes from the weekend warrior, first time marathoner, world championship Ironman athletes and a local runner who completed 31 Marathons in 31 Days. For more information about Alethea or how to book, hit the button below:

Optimising your gut health for running.

Runner’s Gut? 8 Quick Tips to turn your run into fun. One of the most common problems for runners is gastrointestinal issues in training...

This loaf is what banana bread dreams are made of! We love having a loaf of banana bread in the house to slice up and take for morning or afternoon tea, perfect with a hot cup of tea or coffee. If you want to be extra prepared for times where you need ready to go snacks, double the recipe and pre-slice a loaf and freeze in portions wrapped in baking paper and stored in a container. It will keep in the freezer for up to three months. You'll thank yourself later. Spelt banana bread. 2 cups wholemeal spelt flour 3 teaspoons baking powder 3 bananas 1/4 cup of desiccated coconut 1/2 cup raw caster sugar 1/4 brown sugar 2 eggs 1/4 cup milk (of choice) 125g butter, unsalted 2 teaspoons cinnamon 3 tablespoons crushed walnuts Mix all the dry ingredients (spelt flour, baking powder, sugars, coconut and cinnamon). Mash two of the bananas, and add them to the dry ingredients. Add your milk, and your eggs and mix altogether. Melt your butter and add it too, then add your walnuts ~ keeping some for the top as well if you want. Place in a baking tray, split the third banana and place on the top of the mixture in the baking tray. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden on top and cooked through (check with a skewer for no wet mixture) on 180C. With the rise in banana bread baking in the last 18 months, I thought I would offer a recipe that is delicious and high in fibre to keep your gut microbes happy (even in lockdowns). Wholemeal spelt flour is higher in fibre then regular plain flour and spelt is an ancient grain that is known to be lower in gluten then regular flour, which may be helpful for those who are non coeliac gluten sensitive ~ depending on your tolerance to gluten. With the addition of coconut, cinnamon and walnuts, you have additional plant foods and variety for your gut microbes. This recipe is more traditional with the addition of sugar and butter, so enjoy this banana bread mindfully, enjoy every mouthful and let yourself have a calm moment. Put simply, enjoy! Ellie x About Ellie! Ellie is a Clinical Nutritionist graduating with a Bachelor of Health Science in Nutritional and Dietetic Medicine (BHSc). She is also a member of ATMS 52393. As a nutritionist Ellie support's women to feel confident in their health and learn to trust their bodies by providing an evidence based, holistic approach to nutrition and work preventatively as well as proactively. Ellie's focus area is around pregnancy nutrition and supporting mums postpartum to ensure they are just as nourished and cared for as baby is. Ellie also has a strong gut health focus, and offers comprehensive microbiome testing and interpretation via Microba for clients in need. To follow Ellie on instagram for more health and wellness tips, click here:

Spelt banana bread.

This loaf is what banana bread dreams are made of! We love having a loaf of banana bread in the house to slice up and take for morning or...

Written by Ellie from Ellie Gillam Nutrition.  https://www.elliegillam.com/ Intuitive Eating is about learning to trust your body's innate wisdom of what feels good and what feels comfortable, it’s about finding joy in eating and having a healthy relationship with food. There are 10 guidelines to Intuitive Eating (IE), you may resonate with some or man. I think everyone is on a different journey in their relationship with food and it can be challenging to overcome years of engrained diet mentality. The goal is really to become in tune with your body wisdom and learn to listen to it’s cues…that may be what foods feel good or don’t feel good for you, it’s also about respecting your hunger and fullness, making peace with food choices and respecting your body how it is. Even if you feel that you want to change the way your body looks, you can still respect it for all that it gives you each day - this is a gratitude practice that doesn’t come easily! It is something we work on daily, understanding while we might not have body positive days every day (that is totally okay and normal!) we can strive instead for some body neutrality - respecting where you are at now and not needing to feel positive or negative about your body. The Intuitive Eating Guidelines are as follows: Reject diet mentality - Dieting doesn’t work long term. It promotes shame, guilt, and unhealthy habits with food - ditch the diets for GOOD and come to understand everyone has different nutritional needs, be comfortable doing your own thing. Honour your hunger - Feeling hungry? Eat something! Make peace with food - if you tell yourself you can’t eat something, does that make you want to eat it more? Give yourself unconditional permission to eat all foods, and learn not to assign a moral value of “good” and “bad” to food. Food is just food - it will nourish your cells, your soul, your emotions or your whole body system - be okay with not depriving yourself. Challenge the food police - that voice in your head saying that food is bad…thank it, and let it know you’ve got this, then ignore it. Similar responses go to family members or anyone offering unsolicited food advice. Discover the satisfaction factor - this one is a great exercise in mindful eating! Have you ever sat down and actually tasted chocolate? Slowly, mindfully…there is a big difference in taste when you are eating quality chocolate! Discover what foods really taste like and why you like them, you might be surprised about some foods you think you love… Feel your fullness - this one can take a bit of mindfulness as well, learn when you feel comfortably full vs uncomfortably full, learn to listen to your body and honour it. Cope with your emotions with kindness - this is really hitting home dealing with your emotions. If you are an emotional eater, that is okay - food has likely gotten you through some really though times. Work to understand your emotions and what it is you need, it might not be food at all, but rather a long conversation with your mum, clearing your head in nature or going to bed early. Respect your body - this comes back to body neutrality; respect your body for exactly how it is. Movement, feel the difference - Practice movement you enjoy and do it because exercise, we know offers so much more benefit then just weight loss; mental health, longevity, improving bone density, reducing muscle wastage, improving insulin resistance and helps to manage ageing. Find something you enjoy, whether its group tennis, a weights session, surfing, yoga. Honour your health with gentle nutrition - Learn what feels good for your body and make food choices based on how you want to FEEL. Remember its not one food that will make a dramatic impact on your health, but rather what you choose every day over time that makes the biggest difference. If you would like to learn more about Intuitive Eating and would like to work with Ellie, click the button below. About Ellie! Ellie is a Clinical Nutritionist graduating with a Bachelor of Health Science in Nutritional and Dietetic Medicine (BHSc). She is also a member of ATMS 52393. As a nutritionist Ellie support's women to feel confident in their health and learn to trust their bodies by providing an evidence based, holistic approach to nutrition and work preventatively as well as proactively. Ellie's focus area is around pregnancy nutrition and supporting mums postpartum to ensure they are just as nourished and cared for as baby is. Ellie also has a strong gut health focus, and offers comprehensive microbiome testing and interpretation via Microba for clients in need. To follow Ellie on instagram for more health and wellness tips, click here:

Your guide to Intuitive Eating.

Written by Ellie from Ellie Gillam Nutrition. https://www.elliegillam.com/ Intuitive Eating is about learning to trust your body's...

Ever lost your period or wondered how on earth your period could just stop? I know those people out there that suffer through their periods might be thinking, wow that sounds like bliss! However, loss of menstruation can lead to more health complications which can impact your future health. Amenorrhoea and the two types. Amenorrhoea (absence of menstruation) is termed after the absence of a period for more than 6 months. We like to look at this as less of a ‘condition’ and more of a ‘symptom’ of something else going on within the body. Which is why we investigate and find the cause for why this is occurring and aim at treating the root issue. There are two types: Primary amenorrhoea Termed when menstruation has not commenced by age 17 Secondary amenorrhoea Cessation of menstruation for more than 6 months during any years after your menstruation has started Secondary amenorrhoea is a more common type that we can see anywhere in the lifespan up until menopause Why does this happen? As mentioned, amenorrhoea is a symptom of something deeper that is going wrong in the body. There are a few reasons why your period may stop and it is important to understand which reason sounds true for you. Structural abnormalities in the uterus. Structural issues can cause a few complications when it comes to bleeding via menstruation, as blood flow can become obstructed or blocked and thus causing cessation of menstruation. Tissue abnormalities caused by inflammation or destruction can also occur. Asherman's or Cervical stenosis can impact normal bleeding which can result from invasive intra-uterine surgeries, cauterisation or laser surgery. This can be more difficult to treat due to the difficulties in correcting structural integrity in the uterus and consultations with specialise surgeons is needed. Hypothalamic amenorrhoea. This is probably the most common cause of amenorrhoea seen in the younger population and can respond well to the correct interventions. It is important to identify the drivers for hypothalamic amenorrhoea to target treatment correctly. The following factors can interfere with GnRH secretion which leads to poor communication between the hypothalamus and ovaries, thus leading to absent menstruation. 1. Stress Stress negatively impacts ovulation and hormonal signalling. Commonly things such as emotional stress, relationship issues, environmental stress, work, study, trauma and travelling can drive amenorrhoea. 2. Low body weight or weight loss Long term low body weight or intentional excessive weight loss can lead to amenorrhoea due to lower levels of hormones such as oestrogen and progesterone. Most research indicates a body fat percentage less than 22% can create a risk of menstruation cessation. Low body weight often stems from low oral intake or poor eating habits, individuals with a history of eating disorders or disordered eating patterns are at higher risk of amenorrhoea. 3. Excessive exercise GnRH secretion from the hypothalamus is negatively impacted by excessive exercise. This of course is all relative to your other lifestyle factors. My general guide, is if you feel lethargic or tired an hour or so after exercising you may be overdoing it. 4. Contraceptive pill cessation Post-pill hormonal complications are quite common and it can often take a few months before a regular cycle and menstruation returns, the usual time it takes is within 3 months of cessation of the pill. Post-pill PCOS or pre-existing PCOS is another common irregularity which can lead to amenorrhoea. 5. Chronic illness or lesions Conditions affecting the hypothalamus can lead to amenorrhoea, as well as chronic organ conditions related to the liver and kidneys, Lesions on the hypothalamus can lead to lowered levels of FSH and LH which means ovulation does not occur and neither does menstruation Other conditions and situations that can lead to amenorrhoea: Hypothyroidism Pituitary tumours Hyperprolactinaemia PCOS Annovulation Pregnancy and breastfeeding Androgen excess Certain medications Diagnosis of amenorrhoea can be confirmed based on symptom assessment and case taking but pathology and testing can also be completed with your practitioner. Why is this an issue? Amenorrhoea can have implications on bone density later in life due to the associated lower levels of oestrogen. Osteoporosis is a common complication of amenorrhoea and is usually witnessed later in life post menopause, however younger people are suffering poor bone density due to issues related to amenorrhoea. Low bone density leaves you susceptible to fractures, limited mobility and pain. Ovulation and menstruation are important indicators of health to allow for your normal cascades of hormonal reactions to occur, as always, if something is not happening correctly in the body it can create an imbalance in many other systems. So what can you do? See a practitioner with experience in the area to give you the best treatment possible! A good practitioner will educate you, advise you and guide you in the best direction of how you can re-balance your body. Finding the cause for why the amenorrhoea has occurred is paramount, without this things may not change or if they do it may only be a temporary fix. Improving your eating habits and eating a well balanced range of foods to regulate your body weight and nutrition status. This is where practitioner support is crucial however as a general rule, eating a source of protein, carbohydrates and essential fatty acids with each meal is a good way to refuel. There are some beautiful herbs such as Paeonia lactiflora, Vitex agnus-castus, Serenoa repens and Dioscorea villosa are some of my favourites however there are so many complimentary herbs that can be used depending on your presentation. Specific nutrient replacement can be indicated to ensure you have all the precursors you need to be supporting ovulation and hormone production. Stress reduction and outlets for stress, this includes exercise as the body can view excess exercise as a stressor. This is individual and often cannot be figured out on your own, reach out if you need guidance in this area. A final note Remember, the contraceptive pill will not regulate your hormones, the bleed you experience whilst being on contraception is a withdrawal bleed from the synthetic hormones not a 'period'. The pill is a temporary solution to a problem that is very treatable with the right support. As always, any questions or comments drop them below. Yours in good hormonal health, Brooke x References: Altayar, Osama, Alaa Al Nofal, B. Gisella Carranza Leon, Larry J. Prokop, Zhen Wang, and M. Hassan Murad. 2017. “Treatments to Prevent Bone Loss in Functional Hypothalamic Amenorrhea: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” Journal of the Endocrine Society 1(5):500–511. doi: 10.1210/js.2017-00102. McGee, C. 1997. “Secondary Amenorrhea Leading to Osteoporosis: Incidence and Prevention.” The Nurse Practitioner 22(5):38, 41–45, 48 passim. Trickey, Ruth. 2004. Women, Hormones and the Menstrual Cycle: Herbal and Medical Solutions from Adolescence to Menopause. St. Leonards, N.S.W.; London: Allen & Unwin ; Orion.

Where's my period gone?

Ever lost your period or wondered how on earth your period could just stop? I know those people out there that suffer through their...

The skin is our bodies largest organ. The 'dermatological' system or 'integumentary' system is the fancy term to describe our skin, hair, nails, mucous membranes and glands. Due to the large surface area of our skin it is commonly referred to as our largest organ. To understand how to honour your skin and take care of it, it is important to know how it works. The skin is comprised of three layers: The epidermis is the layer that is exposed to our external environment and contains different types of cells such as Langerhans cells (responsible for immune signalling), Merkel cells (for touch reception) and melanocytes (for melanin/pigment). The next layer down is the dermis. The dermis contains connective tissue and elastic fibres. This layer is probably the biggest and juiciest layer as it holds a host of functions such as, sweat production, oil production, hair production, reception of light touch and vibration. It also contains a large amount of capillaries and lymphatic vessels that help supply and filtrate the dermis and all of its cells. The deepest section of the skin is the subcutaneous layer, it contains our adipose (fat) and connective tissue. There are an array of capillaries and blood vessels located in this region. The four functions of skin. Our skin is more than just an aesthetic cover and should be treated with care. If we break up the main functions into four main areas we can grasp all the incredible roles it plays for us. Hint: skin is more important for just the way we look! Protection. One of the more obvious functions of our skin, is that of protection from our external environment. The body uses our skin for protection by producing sweat (temperature regulation and toxin dilution), secreting melanin (to protect from UV rays), exocrine secretions (to lower the pH for microbial protection) and immune cells (for further microbial and infection protection). Sensation. Multiple nerve and sensory receptors present in the dermal layers of our skin signal both pleasant and unpleasant stimuli. This sensory input is important as it can warn us from danger (have you ever accidentally grabbed an oven tray fresh out of the oven and quickly flinched away?! Ouch!!). They are also responsible for messages of light touch, vibration and deep pressure. Homeostasis. The main function of homeostasis via the skin occurs through perspiration. Sweating helps us lose heat through convection (sorry lots of oven related terms in here ha!) and evaporation, this supports a drop of our core body temperature and return to homeostasis. We can also warm ourselves up via activation of 'piloerection' which causes goosebumps, this helps insulate the skin from heat loss when we are cold. Our bodies are so clever! Nutrition. The surface of our skin is actually a giant vitamin D sponge. Exposure of our skin to UV radiation causes the conversion of 'dehydrocholesterol' in the epidermis to 'cholecalciferol' aka vitamin D3. The subcutaneous layer of our skin also stores fat soluble vitamins such as vitamin E, A and D. This is important to highlight as the presence of adipose tissue is crucial for fat soluble nutrient conversion and storage, low body fat or extremely low body fat can lead to potential deficiencies in these nutrients. Common skin conditions and how they come about. Treating our skin from the outside only may produce great results in the short term, however if we do not address the body internally we may never get to the bottom of things. Think of it this way, if you had a big infected wound on your arm that was making you sick, you wouldn't just chuck a bandaid over it and think it will get better- it won't. You would perhaps need to address the infection with antibiotics or other treatments, skin treatment is the same! Inner and outer health needs to be addressed to get on top of it. Starting with the most common disorder, Acne vulgaris. Acne affects 85% of teenagers, 43.5% of men and 50.9% of women aged 20-30 years old. If you've experienced acne, I probably don't need to tell you about the various impacts it has on quality of life. Not only is acne uncomfortable and often painful, it affects our confidence, mental health, finances and relationships. With such massive impacts, why is this something that we can really struggle to get on top of?? My view is that it's complex. There are multiple drivers for acne that all interact and can be hard to pin point. More recently, research suggests there are hormonal, endocrine and pathogenic factors including specific microbes (p.acnes and c.acnes) that heavily contribute to acne. Similarly, dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema and rosacea can be driven by these factors mentioned above. Our immune systems are a less commonly known driver for skin conditions and are often associated with these issues, therefor immune function needs to be addressed in treatment. Skin disorders can be tricky to work with as there are multiple systems and organs that influence the production of excess oils, inflammation, infections and integrity of our skin. Common realms that can lead to skin issues: Gut dysbiosis (bacterial imbalance), digestive infections, SIBO, candida Sluggish liver function with reduced detoxification capacity Sex hormone imbalance, especially with androgens, testosterone, oestrogen and progesterone Stress and overburdened adrenal glands leading to cortisol imbalance Insulin and blood sugar issues related to sensitivity, signalling and release Lymphatic congestion Dietary triggers, the main ones being dairy, whey protein, refined grains and sugars, fast foods and chocolate So what can we do to help? Often the wisest step is seeking practitioner support as this will truly address your situation from a holistic perspective backed by evidence, knowledge and clinical skills. There are however a few simple ways to support your skin health on your own that you can do now! As I mentioned earlier on, we need to look after ourselves internally and externally. Internal My number one tip for good skin is hydration. Not drinking enough water is a big cause for dry, wrinkled and poor quality skin. My recommendation is at least 2-3 litres but no more than 4.5 litres. For every hour of exercise make sure you add an extra 0.5 litres to counteract fluid loss (0.5 litres = 2 cups). Remember, not all supplements are made the same. Often over the counter or supplements from chemists are non-activated or synthetic forms of vitamins and minerals. For the highest quality supplements please seek support from your practitioner. The following nutrients are commonly deficient in skin disorders but are also needed for many processes in the body contributing to skin health: Zinc Vitamin D Selenium Chromium Omega 3's Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin C Copper Glycine Vitamin B5 and B6 A caveat to this, is the prescription of pharmaceutical drugs to combat common skin issues are known to deplete many of the above nutrients. Another reason why guidance from natural medicine practitioners can be helpful. You can however get loads of these specific nutrients from foods, include shades of red, orange, yellow, green and purple! These coloured foods are high in antioxidants and the nutrients mentioned above so eat up. External My favourite tried and tested weapons when it comes to looking after your skin are: Dry skin brushing- I can't recommend dry skin brushing enough for lymphatic drainage, cellular turnover and detoxification. Gua sha- I love my jade gua sha stones but rose quartz is also beautiful! I recommend checking out stephflockhart on instagram as she has loads of amazing tutorials. LED suanas- if you live on the Gold Coast I recommend the Freedom Float Centre. Sunlight- 15-20 minutes of sunshine on the skin daily, on the belly and forearms is best. Salt water- salt is a lovely natural cleanser for the skin (and soul!), be careful swimming in water that is murky or contaminated as it can worsen bacterial infections. Hydration- you can hydrate from the inside but outer hydration is great to support your barrier to the environment. Serums, oils and moisturisers daily are obvious choices here. Face masks- these can help remove unwanted bacteria and sebum whilst improving cell turnover and hydration. My favourite is the superdose luminosity masque by sansceuticals (not sponsored but wish I was). Navigating skin care. How society and social media influences our perspectives on skincare. The beauty industry shapes our thinking style into that of 'needing'. We think we 'need' all of these products because duh, they make a profit the more you buy! Truth is, when it comes to skincare less (on the outside) can be more. Try to catch yourself when you're being lured by clever marketing, influencers selling products or glorifying things that quite frankly don't work or are not necessary. Also remember, influencers often have no specific qualifications in the areas of products they are pushing so misinformation can be spread like wildfire. By empowering yourself with the knowledge to know a 'shoddy' product when you see one, you can see straight through these marketing tactics and re-frame the way you think about skincare and skincare products. With the rise of social media and loads of information at our fingertips, it's any wonder we end up buying all these serums, mists, masks, oils, day cream, night cream, eye cream because we are persuaded to think they will fix our skin! Let me gently remind you, external potions and products are only 50% of the picture here, without addressing our health from the inside we can only get so far. The golden message. After lots of research into this area, it seems the potentially harmful ingredients are well referenced in the literature, so why is it still so confusing? Thing is, most of the evidence suggests that the ingredients aren't necessarily the threat to our health, it is the amounts in which we are exposed to them. There are also some highlighted issues with a lack of safety data for some ingredients, which is even more reason to minimise or eliminate them. A saying we use a lot in herbal medicine, 'the dose defines the poison' cannot be more true here! Rather than stressing ourselves to completely eliminate all these toxic ingredients from our lives, our aim (which is much more reasonable) should be on minimising our exposure and use. In saying that, you could absolutely eliminate the ingredients highlighted below. My perspective is that this is not always realistic for people with budget constraints, social issues or other priorities. So do your best! Ingredients to include: Vitamin E (tocopherol) Vitamin A Vitamin C Collagen Herbal botanicals Hyaluronic acid Lactic acid Manuka honey Vitamin B5 (panthenol) Enzymes (betaine, papain, bromelain) Ingredients to minimise: Aluminum Formaldehyde Fragrance Lead (including eye makeup containing kohl) Mineral Oil and Petroleum Parabens Phthalates Sulfates (SLS and SLES) Talc Triclosan I hope you love this post and got something out of it, skin is something I am super passionate about and really enjoy treating in clinical practice. With the right support we can get great results. If you have any questions about how I can help, please don't hesitate to reach out. Yours in kindness, Brooke x Special thanks for Tayla Gardinder, Student Naturopath who contributed to this post. Follow her over at essentieelhealth. *All information mentioned in this post has been referenced from relevant text and journal articles. See references below for sources: References: Barrett, J. R. (2005). Chemical Exposures: The Ugly Side of Beauty Products. Environmental Health Perspectives, 113(1). https://doi.org/10.1289/ehp.113-a24 Halla, N., Fernandes, I., Heleno, S., Costa, P., Boucherit-Otmani, Z., Boucherit, K., Rodrigues, A., Ferreira, I., & Barreiro, M. (2018). Cosmetics Preservation: A Review on Present Strategies. Molecules, 23(7), 1571. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules23071571 Hechtman, L. (2019). Clinical naturopathic medicine. Elsevier, Chatswood NSW. Bone, K. (2020). Beyond Skin Deep, Clinical Naturopathic Dermatology. Integria Healthcare. Juhász, M. L. W., & Marmur, E. S. (2014). A review of selected chemical additives in cosmetic products: A review of selected chemical additives. Dermatologic Therapy, 27(6), 317–322. https://doi.org/10.1111/dth.12146 Kaličanin, B., & Velimirović, D. (2016). A Study of the Possible Harmful Effects of Cosmetic Beauty Products on Human Health. Biological Trace Element Research, 170(2), 476–484. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12011-015-0477-2

The in's and out's of skin.

The skin is our bodies largest organ. The 'dermatological' system or 'integumentary' system is the fancy term to describe our skin, hair,...

Each and every one of us are so unique and we all experience our hormones and cycles differently. When it comes to female reproductive hormones, things can feel a little overwhelming as there is a lot to consider. Simple adjustments to diet and lifestyle are often a nice way to support balanced hormones, however sometimes you may need additional support from herbs, nutrients and other modalities to get the best results. With the support of your practitioner the hope is to empower you to take control of your hormones and menstrual cycle to feel in control and have all the knowledge available to make the best decisions for you. Knowledge is always power when it comes to understanding your body. Our aim is to understand what is going on to help us make decisions about how to take control of our health if we are experiencing difficulties. REMINDER! It is NOT normal to experience pain that impacts on your quality of life, mood changes that make you feel out of control, skin issues that affect your confidence and comfort and your period going missing all together. These are all signs that you may need some professional support with your hormonal health. Stages in the Menstrual Cycle. Often referred to as 'Seasons' Menstrual (days 1-5) aka Winter The menstrual phase is the first 5 days of your cycle, the first day of your cycle is counted from the first day of your menstrual bleed/period. Declining levels of progesterone stimulate a chain reaction of events that eventually leads to the endometrium (lining of the uterus) to shed. This of course only occurs if the endometrium is unfertilised by male sperm, if this occurs, then a menstrual bleed does not occur and instead pregnancy does! Common symptoms: Heavy bleeding Clots Cramps or pain Radiating pain in your back or down the thighs Fatigue Using food as medicine to help: Avoid coffee and alcohol, these can often increase inflammation and in-turn, pain. Swap coffee for a medicinal mushroom latte, dandelion tea, cacao or herbal teas. Fatty foods can increase prostaglandin release (which increase pain), avoid processed foods or excess oily foods/takeaway. Small amounts of fish, olive oil and avocados are okay. Aim for easy to digest foods such as soups, slow cooked meals and stews. Avoid dairy and heavy ‘cold’ foods such as ice-cream, milk, iced drinks, smoothies as these are cooling on digestion. Avoiding dairy is important in this phase if you experience pain, heavy bleeding and skin breakouts. The proteins in dairy can convert to inflammatory agents in some people which causes a chain reaction ending in more pain, inflammation and heavy bleeding. Many people find eliminating dairy does wonders for their period issues. Incorporate lots of herbs and spices such as turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne, cardamom etc into cooking and hot drinks! Lifestyle adjustments and moving your body: Try using heat over your tummy and back, wheat packs or hot water bottles are great Avoid doing high intensity exercise during this phase, focus on restorative movement such as yoga, stretching and walking. Gentle exercise or movement is actually a nice way to release endorphins which are our natural pain killers, don’t avoid movement all together but just take it slow. Magnesium baths or foot soaks can be great for aiding with relaxation and aches. Take lots of time to rest if you can, this is a period for slowing down and letting your body do it's thing, over exertion during your bleed can lead to worsening of pain and fatigue. Follicular/Proliferative (days 6-13) aka Spring In response to rising oestrogen following the menstrual phase, the lining of the endometrium starts to thicken again to prepare for implantation of an egg. Lowered progesterone permits the pituitary gland to secrete follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), this stimulates the ovary to begin selection of an egg ready for ovulation. Increasing levels of oestrogen causes the cervix to secrete cervical fluid, which acts as a natural lubricant, nutrients for sperm to survive and a means of travel in the fallopian tubes for sperm. Many of us might think that this fluid or mucous is abnormal or ‘thrush’, it is absolutely normal and a good indicator of ovulation! In this phase, the fluid is usually sticky and opaque or ‘egg white’ texture. Cervical mucous should not be excessively noticeable or ever offensive in smell, if it is, this may be indicating a bacterial issue such as bacterial vaginosis or another infection and a consult is recommended. Using food as medicine to help: Consuming foods which aid with oestrogen metabolism and utilisation such as cruciferous vegetables (kale, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts) can support normal oestrogen/progesterone ratios and support your liver to rid excess oestrogen (for those with over production issues). Avoiding alcohol is important as this can cause dehydration, ensure you increase your water intake during this time to aid with cervical fluid production. Lifestyle adjustments and moving your body: Focus on lighter exercise but movement that gets your heart rate up at the same time. Try hiking, medium intensity walks, swimming or pilates. This is the perfect time for intimacy with yourself or partner, ensure you are practicing safe and consensual sex but make it fun! As this is the most fertile part of your cycle extra caution is needed if you are wanting to avoid pregnancy, but with cervical fluids at their highest this is the time that sex may be the easiest and most enjoyable for you. Ovulatory (day 13-16)- Summer Once oestrogen levels reach their highest, the pituitary releases luteinising hormone (LH). This causes the ovarian follicle to release the ovum (egg) in the process of ovulation Common symptoms: Often people will complain of ‘ovulation pain’, this can often be felt on one side or in alternating cycles. Sometimes this is due to the egg being released from the ovary, however the pain should not be unmanageable or impact on your life. Using food as medicine to help: Consume foods high in zinc and essential fatty acids, try salmon, oysters, eggs, legumes, pumpkin seeds, small amounts of red meat, flaxseeds and sesame seeds. Foods high in fibre can also help to support hormonal regulation. Foods high in protein are important to consume not only during ovulation but most days, protein is important for implantation and cellular replication. Focus on lean proteins including vegetarian based proteins such as beans, legumes, quinoa etc. Lifestyle adjustments and moving your body: Since oestrogen and testosterone are at their highest, maximise your potential! High intensity training or interval training is where you’ll find the most benefit, spin classes, bike riding or running are also good choices during this phase to get the most bang for your buck. Luteal (days 16-28)- Autumn This is the phase where progesterone is steadily increasing. Progesterone is present to strengthen the endometrium lining (to support pregnancy if this occurs) but it is also important to prevent menstruation. If fertilisation does not occur, then progesterone eventually drops and menstruation occurs. Progesterone is needed to keep us feeling calm, happy, help us sleep and regulate our appetite and temperature. If progesterone becomes low or does not rise like it should in this phase, PMS can often occur. Common symptoms: PMS symptoms: moodiness, low energy, bloating, fluid retention, anxiety, increased appetite, cravings, breast tenderness, nipple sensitivity and dizziness. Using food as medicine to help: Avoid: caffeine, saturated fats, deep fried foods, refined sugars and added sodium. These have been shown to worsen PMS symptoms so best to avoid or limit these foods. Consume progesterone increasing foods such as: beans, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, oysters, sunflower seeds, turkey, dried fruit, spinach, cacao and fish. Lifestyle adjustments and moving your body: Strength training, weights, intense versions of yoga and pilates are great during this phase due to the presence of progesterone, this is a great time to focus on lean muscle gain and overall cardiovascular fitness. Fluid retention can be common in this phase, if this affects you, try slow walking through shallow water at the ocean or dry skin brushing to stimulate your lymphatic system to balance your fluid. Common culprits for hormonal imbalance. 1. Stress. Stress is experienced differently for everyone. Stress is usually defined as an event or series of events that causes physical or emotional burden to the individual. This can be things like exams, family issues, changes, relationship difficulties, physical illness, work pressure, physical exertion and travelling. Stress can interfere with the menstrual cycle and often causes temporary cessation of menstruation, heavy periods, irregular cycles, PMS and increased pain. How does stress affect us physically? Our nervous system monitors and responds to stress, it is the central point for telling the rest of the body what it needs to do. The ‘hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian/HPO’ axis has it’s own feedback loop, which is responsible for initiating signals for hormone secretion and regulation. When this axis is disrupted (by stress), imbalances in hormones can occur. Once the HPO-axis is disrupted, it can stop secretion of hormones that signal release of FSH and LH, which then results in an-ovulation (failure to ovulate). Lack of ovulation can cause issues like worsened PMS, heavy periods, no bleeds, pain and mood changes. Increased stress levels have been linked to painful and heavy menstruation, so reducing stress where possible is very important. Common stressors that can affect our menstrual cycle: Excessive exercise (eg: daily intense exercise, athletic training, training for marathons/triathlons etc) Under eating (eg: restricted eating, avoiding food, binging/purging) Weight loss or low body weight, eg; BMI below 20 Chronic illness or liver failure Ceasing the contraceptive pill or hormone devices Given this, it is essential we make every effort to reduce stress and it's impact where possible. This is not always possible on your own, so if you need guidance, seeking support from a practitioner might be the way to go. 2. Hormone disrupters. Hormone or endocrine disrupters are chemicals that mimic our natural hormones by binding to their receptors, which creates an imbalance in hormone signalling, leading to hormone dysregulation. Sources include: Pesticides: in food, soil and water Flame retardants: clothing, furniture, carpets, car seats and mattresses PCB’s and dioxins: non-organic tampons, pads, pesticides in food and clothing BPA: plastic, lining of cans, containers, drink bottles Phthalates: cosmetics, hair products, perfumes, fragrances, plastics, cleaning products PFC’s: non-stick coating on cookware What to do. Eat organic or spray free where possible, or avoid the ‘dirty dozen’ foods, which are most heavily sprayed with pesticides (strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery, potatoes, capsicum) Swap to natural or organic personal hygiene and care products as much as possible, check the labels for added ingredients above Switch your deodorant to a natural alternative, body crystal is a great alternative ($5 from Coles or Woolies) Try essential oils as natural fragrances over perfume Invest in a menstrual cup, period underwear or use organic tampons and pads Use stainless steel or cast-iron cookware Check labels on cans for BPA free and same with plastic containers/drink bottles 3. The OCP or contraceptive devices. The oral contraceptive pill. How it works: There are a few different types, but essentially all of the OCP’s stop the ovary producing an egg each month. The bleed you experience when you take the sugar pills is not a normal period stemming from ovulation, it is bleed due to the acute withdrawal from the hormones in the OCP, not your own. These hormones still stimulate your uterine lining to produce a bleed, however ovulation does not occur whilst taking the OCP which can be an issue as ovulation is the key event in reaching hormonal balance and health. Although a lot of doctors will use and recommend the OCP for menstrual problems, PMS and contraception, it does not work to regulate hormones or promote healthy levels of female hormones. It simply stops ovulation so you can control when you bleed and prevent pregnancy. The OCP is known to deplete the body of certain nutrients with long term use, the following are commonly low in individuals taking the OCP: Vitamin E Folate Vitamin A Vitamin B2, B3, B6 and B12 Remember, the OCP is not the only option if contraception is your priority! There are a few different options that may be less impactful on the body (discussed below). IUD’s. There are two types of intra-uterine devices. The copper IUD and progestogen IUD (or Mirena). Although IUD’s have been used for more than 30 years for pregnancy prevention, how they work is still not fully understood. Their main action affects sperm movement and survival in the uterus so sperm cannot reach the egg to fertilise it. The IUD also changes the lining of the uterus so that it prevents the egg from attaching and fertilising. They are said to be 99.8% effective at preventing pregnancy (The Womens, 2020). Positives: Budget friendly Often less associated hormonal issues (acne, mood changes) than the OCP Long term contraception Said to be up to 99.8% effective in preventing pregnancy Ovulation still occurs (with Copper IUD) Negatives: Can be painful to insert and remove Bleeding can occur randomly and sometimes for prolonged periods Can cause discomfort during intercourse Can be dislodged or come out Can cause complications if you fall pregnant with one in Can cause increased anxiety, depression or feeling off/not yourself Always consult with your GP and healthcare provider (such as a naturopath) if you need more information on these as they are not the same scenario for every individual. The Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) and why I love it! The Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) is a 'natural' alternative to contraception which does not involve taking any hormonal methods to control your cycle. When done correctly, FAM can be incredibly safe and effective at preventing unwanted pregnancies and more importantly taking control of your cycle and getting to know your body more! Positives: It's free! Non-hormonal (yay you will still ovulate!) Effective for planning pregnancy Increases awareness of your body No need for medical professional guidance Negatives: Does not protect you from STI's (so please use protection!) Only effective if you have a regular and predictable cycle or if you can accurately monitor your cervical signs FAM is a way to monitor ovulation and be able to plan intercourse safely and confidently to ensure you are avoiding pregnancy (if this is a priority for you). Remember, sperm can remain active for up to 7 days in the uterus/pelvic cavity, meaning you can still become pregnant up to a week after ovulation. This translates to a fertile window of around a week, during this time FAM recommends you either abstain from intercourse or use contraception around this time. There are a few different ways you can safely practice FAM. Calendar method: - Charting your menstrual cycle on a calendar or app (see below recommendations) Cervical mucous method: - Checking your cervical mucous to track ovulation (see resources here https://www.med.unc.edu/timetoconceive/study-participant-resources/cervical-mucus-testing-information/) Temperature method: - Taking your basal body temperature before rising each day. It’s most effective to combine all 3 of these methods. When used together, they’re called the 'symptothermal' method. App's that you can use to practice FAM! Kindara Flo Clue Eve by Glow MyFlo Cycles Glow What can you do to give your hormones a little helping hand: Testing. There are a few different practitioner ordered tests that can help to identify any underlying biological issues that may be causing issues with your hormones. These can be discussed with your practitioner. A common hormone test, the Dutch Panel is a comprehensive review of all your sex hormones and can provide an in-depth insight into what is in and out of balance and how to rectify this. The Dutch Test is said to be more clinically accurate compared to cortisol serum or urine samples when testing hormones, see sample report here: This test needs to be discussed and ordered through a qualified Naturopath. Other tests such as basic pathology, blood tests or ultrasounds may provide insights, these should be discussed with your healthcare provider. Practitioner support. As mainstream medicine often provides limited options for support with menstrual cycle and common hormonal/female reproductive issues, alternative or holistic healthcare providers may have other systems and solutions to these issues. The following practitioners are very well equipped to support you with your hormonal disharmony: - Naturopaths - Nutritionists - Chinese medicine doctors - Acupuncturists - Holistic GP's Diet changes. As mentioned above with the different phases of your cycle, dietary modifications can be extremely helpful and impactful to support a balanced menstrual cycle. Using food as medicine is simple, cost effective and will all round benefit your health. Lifestyle changes. As with dietary tweaks, lifestyle changes are just as important. Figuring out the source of your hormonal problems and working to help that will be the best thing in optimising your health. Simple adjustments such as lowering stress, removing exposure to environmental toxins, getting a healthy dose of sunshine, spending time in nature or engaging in physical activity are a few ways to support positive health. I hope this was helpful and you learned a little bit about your body. Comment your questions below! Brooke x Further reading/resources you should check out! The Period Repair Manual- Lara Briden. https://www.larabriden.com/ Taking Charge of Your Fertility- Toni Weschler. https://www.tcoyf.com/ Information on Dutch Hormone Testing: https://dutchtest.com/dutch-research/ Cervical mucus testing https://www.med.unc.edu/timetoconceive/study-participant-resources/cervical-mucus-testing-information/ IUD https://www.thewomens.org.au/health-information/contraception/intra-uterine-device-iud

The menstrual cycle and female hormones.

Each and every one of us are so unique and we all experience our hormones and cycles differently. When it comes to female reproductive...

Moving into a new year leases us a fresh look into our lives and lends a feeling of space and freedom. Having the feeling of a clean slate can be a perfect platform to transform your environment into one that is relaxing, fulfilling, safe and pleasing. Nature provides us with all the resources we need to bring calm and contentment into our lives. Not all of us are lucky enough to live in the wild woods and have an abundance of natural life at our doorsteps, but having a sense of comfort and lushness in our urban homes is totally achievable! Here are a few simple ways to entwine nature into your existence. Grow your own herbs. The first one is kind of obvious. Growing herbs can be done just about anywhere. You can grow potted herbs on a balcony, kitchen sink, on a windowsill or just about anywhere with a nice amount of sun and fresh water. Having access to your own herbs not only saves you money but also allows you to use them whenever you need, and not just for cooking! My favourite (easy to care for herbs) include: Lavender, rosemary, chamomile, parsley, mint, lemon balm, dill and coriander. Fresh mint steeped in hot water (as a tea) is a lovely digestive tonic, it can help with indigestion and reflux after a big meal. Lemon balm is a lovely calming herb that can be used fresh in a tea (like mint) and can be enjoyed any time of the day when you need some calm. It is also a nice tonic for stomach aches and spasms. Make a delicious sauce for salads, steak, fish or eggs by blending parsley, dill and coriander with some extra virgin olive oil or macadamia oil. You can add a squeeze of lemon to really elevate the taste! Store in the fridge for up to two weeks. Incorporate fresh herbs into your salads, stews and sauces. This is an easy way to bring medicine into your meals. Fresh lavender can be picked and placed in a little vase next to your bed or inside your pillow slip to produce relaxing sleepy vibes. Up your hydration game. Enticing yourself to drink more water can only be a good thing. During the summer months our water demands can increase as we naturally perspire more. Often people who work outdoors or have physically demanding lifestyles can feel as though they drink plenty of water but never feel 'hydrated'. This can often be due to an electrolyte imbalances stemming from losing salt through our sweat. Adding a small pinch of celtic or sea salt to your water bottles can help increase hydration on a cellular level. Ways to motivate you to drink more water (with a little help from nature): Add fresh herbs to your water (like mint, rosemary, lemon balm, lavender). Make some ice blocks with fruit or herbs frozen into them to cool your water down and give it a little hint of flavour. Add fresh or frozen fruit (such as berries, lemon, lime, pomegranate) to your water for a little flavour and fun. Make up a big jar of tea (such as peppermint, chamomile, hibiscus, calendula, spearmint, rooibos etc.) and place it in the fridge overnight. Enjoy this over ice for a hydrating and medicinal elixir. Keep clean without the chemicals. Reducing your exposure to everyday household cleaners and chemicals is essential for liver and hormonal health. Making your own products is cheap, safe and easy and allows you to control exactly what is going into your home. You'd be surprised how many random things in your fridge and cupboard can actually be used as safe, natural household cleaners! Multi-purpose spray: Make yourself a fresh orange juice and keep the remainder of the oranges (flesh and peel). Cut them into quarters and place in a large jar tightly pushed down. Cover with white vinegar and let infuse for 1-2 weeks. Optional: add some cloves or rosemary for an additional lovely scent. Pour liquid into a spray bottle and label so you don't forget what you've made! Perfect for bench tops, cook tops, oven cleaning, bathrooms and high traffic areas. Stain/grease remover: For everyday stains (hello turmeric stains on the bench) a mix of bicarbonate soda and dishwashing detergent works wonders to lift grease and stains. Make a paste of bicarbonate soda and detergent and apply to area. If you are needing to soak something (like a baking tray or dish) then sprinkle the bicarb soda and detergent into the dish and add hot water. Let it soak for a few hours then wash clean. Fresh shower: Hang a bunch of fresh or dried eucalyptus on your shower head. The steam from your hot shower vaporises the air with the lovely oils from the eucalyptus which is naturally anti-bacterial. After a shower you can use the multi spray to give it a good scrub and clean (without the nasty smell of bleach). Bring greenery into your life. I probably don't need to encourage most of you to buy more plants, but it is well known that plants in the home are a welcome addition. Bringing plants into your environment has been shown to decrease anxiety, reduce stress, improve mood and increase feelings of relaxation (Beyond Blue, 2010). With our lives now being saturated with technology and our homes being filled with electronic devices, it is important we don't lose our connection with the natural world. American biologist E.O Wilson in 1984 introduced the concept of 'biophilia'. This refers to our human affinity for life and living systems. This concept described the notion that because we evolved out of nature, we have a deep inherent and genetic need to connect to nature. When we become separated from nature we become disconnected from our biological needs and ourselves. This separation is often detrimental to our health. To counteract the 'modern-ness' of our environment, plants can be used to fulfil our need to be connected to nature. Indoor plants are perfect to bring a dose of greenery to your home and most of them are pretty simple to care for. Succulents, peace lilies, fiddle leaf figs and devils ivy are common plants that you can create a sacred space with. To bring out your inner gatherer, pick a few sprigs of foliage on your neighbourhood walk and pop them in a little vase or glass around the house, this not only is a lovely ritual but is a reminder of the natural world that surrounds you and makes you appreciate the environment. For more inspiration and resources have a look at these: https://www.wellbeing.com.au/at-home/home/heard-biophilic-design-find-bring-nature-indoors.html https://www.deakin.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/310747/Beyond-Blue-To-Green-Literature-Review.pdf https://www.natureaustralia.org.au/get-involved/take-action/greendesking/ Stay green folks, Brooke.

Weave nature into your every day (urban) life.

Moving into a new year leases us a fresh look into our lives and lends a feeling of space and freedom. Having the feeling of a clean...

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