This year the theme for the seminar run with our association’s AGM was Pain and Inflammation. This slide really captured for me a surprising fact about pain and how intense it can be for people who are acidic. There were a few other surprises too in terms of alkalinity and how beneficial it can be for the body and your health. Overall the top three takeouts from this presentation were;
People who are acidic experience more intense pain. Basically receptors are able to absorb more signals in an acidic environment thereby intensifying the experience.
Each tissue requires a different type of Ph to do its job correctly however blood operates at a very narrow range and will pull calcium from bone to form calcium carbonate and alkalise. Acidity therefore aggravates conditions such as osteoporosis where bone density is already low.
The body can excrete acidity but only about 60% of what most people produce.
The major factor in whether you are alkaline or acidic is your diet!
Well the standard Australian diet also known as SAD creates more acidity than we can excrete. Typically foods such as grains are mildly acidic, meats are more acidic and vegetables are alkaline. A diet heavy in meat and grains is more acidic. For more information on the acidity and alkalinity of foods have a look at Acid base nutrition .
How do you compensate for a diet heavy in grains and protein – well if you are eating the SAD you need 12 serves of vegetables a day! That’s the equivilant of 6 cups of vegetables which is an awful lot for most people to eat.
Alkalising your diet can be as simple as having modest serves of protein (palm sized and thickness) plus 3 serves of vegetables with each serve. A moderate amount of grains possibly 2 serves a day plus good fats. Fats are neutral in this equation. In other words a healthy balanced Mediterranean style diet. No demonising one component like protein or fat just a diet loaded with vegetables, proteins, carbs and fat!!
Christine Pope is a practicing nutritionist and homeopath based at Elemental Health, St Ives. Phone for appointments on 80840081 or book online at Elemental Health .
Do you need to worry about the effect of medications on your intake of vitamins and minerals from your food? More than likely its worth having the conversation to see if there are any particular concerns that need to be addressed. You may be able to do it via your diet but often the dosage required is easier to get through supplementation.
What do you need to think about when you are on medications in regards to managing side effects? I have compiled a list below of common medications and some suggested nutrients to manage the side effects, however rather than taking everything on the list its always preferable to work with a practitioner to ensure that any interactions are monitored and that you have a workable program.
Statins. A common problem is for people on statins (cholesterol lowering medication) that they start feeling less energetic as the statins deplete the levels of Co Q 10. CoQ10 is important for energy production within the cell. Supplementing an appropriate level of CoQ10 can make a big difference for these people.
The Oral Contraceptive Pill is known for reducing levels of B6 an important B vitamin for hormonal health. Support at around 50mg a day of B6 is usually best sought in the form of a multi-vitamin with a range of B’s.
Metformin which is often given for Diabetes can reduce levels of both B6 and B12. Low B12 may lead to peripheral neuropathy which can cause loss of sensation in the feet or tingling or burning sensations. Again a Multi vitamin with adequate B12 is essential .
Anti-depressants need B vitamins for optimal effect and whilst they may not reduce levels specifically they may be less effective if you are not taking a multi vitamin at the same time.
Antibiotics Antibiotics can disrupt the natural bacteria flora in the digestive system, killing beneficial bacteria, including Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum . Use a good quality brand such as Inner Health with at least 1 billion live organisms for effective management.
Hormone Replacement Therapy impacts on folic acid (B9), B6 and B12 as well as magnesium levels.
Natural medicine can be a great option to help manage side effects as well as providing options to drugs when side effects are not well tolerated. Christine Pope is an experienced nutritionist and homeopath based at Elemental Health , St Ives and is available on 8084 0081 for appointments.
There are a lot of people who need to change their diet and go gluten free. Whilst approximately 1% of the population need to go gluten free as a consequence of coeliac disease another 6-8% of the population suffer from non-coeliac gluten sensitivity. Many people who suffer from other auto-immune conditions also find that removing gluten from the diet assists in managing their condition.
The best way to start a gluten free diet is to do it after restocking your pantry and freezer. Look at what you usually eat and then prepare a shopping list to enable you to stock up on alternatives.
Ideal suggestions could include the following;
Replace bread and crackers with suitable gluten free alternatives. Suitable alternatives for bread could include gluten free bread from Country Life, Dovedale, Healthybake, Schars or gluten free bakeries. Choices Bakery at Turramurra has a wide range and Deeks Bakery in Canberra provides online ordering across Australia. Gluten free bread is best served toasted and should be stored in the freezer so you can use it as needed.
There is already a good range of gluten free crackers including rice crackers and corn cakes available in most supermarkets. Just read labels to make sure that there are no other ingredients that are problematic particularly if you have multiple food intolerances.
Breakfast cereals often include gluten so its important to ensure that you have a suitable alternative. Commercial rice bubbles and cornflakes for example can contain gluten so its best to find alternatives such as puffed rice. Making your own muesli is an easy and cost effective option using a range of gluten free puffs and flakes as well as dried fruit, nuts and seeds.
The porridge below is from Brookvale farms and is served with stewed plums and coconut yoghurt. Its tasty and only takes a few minutes to prepare.
Pasta might be a good option for quick meals and there are several gluten free pastas to choose from including Orgran who have an excellent lasagne as well as San Remo. Ideally when cooking gluten free pasta keep stirring it whilst cooking to stop it sticking together. Also make sure that you rinse it well before serving.
Baking is easier with gluten free options at hand such as gluten free plain and self raising flour plus gluten free cornflour. These can often be substituted in baking however generally if you don’t have gluten free flour you are better off using a mix of different gluten free flours to really improve results.
Stock up on a range of rice including basmati and risotto rice so that you have a few different alternatives for meals.
Check the Celiac organisation website for lists of foods which may have some gluten. Often it can be surprising with things such as soy sauce and BBQ sauce containing gluten which doesn’t seem quite unnecessary.
Do you have any other tips for going gluten free easily? Please post them in the comments section below.
Need help deciding if you need to change your diet? Christine Pope is practicing at Elemental Health St Ives and can be contacted for appointments on 8084 0081.
Do you find it difficult to study for an hour? Is it hard for you to concentrate? In many ways our brains are like computers – garbage in garbage out. A diet high in refined carbohydrates, such as bread and pastries, is not ideal for anyone who needs to concentrate.
Many people know that the brain’s preferred fuel is glucose and it uses approximately 120g daily which is about 60% of the body’s glucose in its resting state. This energy is required to make neurotransmitters and also initiate nerve impulses (1). Without adequate fuel we can’t think or function effectively.
On that basis if its optimal to have a constant stream of glucose entering our brain then don’t we need to be eating lots of refined carbohydrates?
Well actually no because whilst these give you a short term bounce in the blood’s glucose levels they do not actually allow for a slower release which actually provides more effective fuel. Ideally what you want is either a slow release carbohydrate which tends to be found in whole foods plus a small quantity of protein. Protein is required to make most neurotransmitters in the body and it forms an ideal combination – we don’t require large amounts and respond better to small serves regularly.
How do you know if your diet is slowing your brain? Common symptoms are things such as feeling hungry or tired within a couple of hours of eating, particularly getting sleepy two to 3 hours after lunch.
Another nutrient that is really important to brain health is DHA – an essential fatty acid found in oily fish . It is critical for brain development but also for the maintenance of the brain. Low levels of DHA contribute to learning difficulties. Good food sources are oily fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, organic meats as well as dark green leafy vegetables.
If you are preparing a student to head off for a day of study at school or University then ideally breakfast needs to include some form of protein containing food in a whole form. Some ideal options could include;
Oat based muesli or porridge. If you can’t tolerate dairy then make the porridge with half a cup of frozen berries per serve added about 1 minute before its finished.
Yoghurt and fruit with LSA mix or chopped nuts.
Traditional fry up of bacon or sausage with vegetables.
Scrambled eggs or tofu
Omelette with left over roast vegetables
Green smoothie with spinach, strawberries, almond or coconut milk or water and a protein powder.
As always nutritionally variety is ideal, so mix it up – have the smoothie when rushed and the omelette or fry up when you have a little more time.
Try these changes for for two weeks and then see what a difference it makes to your study performance.
Christine Pope is a nutritionist based at Elemental Health, St Ives and a director of ATMS. She can be contacted on 02 8084 0081 for appointments.
A trip to the South Island of NZ is a great short holiday but what impressed me on this trip was how well food intolerances were managed. It’s obviously easier with a common language to discuss menus but consistently I saw staff who were across the issues and could advise on alternatives.
One of the good things around the Canterbury region of NZ was that menu’s were often marked gluten free (or dairy free or vegetarian). Even in fairly small towns with two or three cafes there was often at least one cafe with allergens marked.
The first night we landed in Christchurch around 11pm so we were happy to eat breakfast in the hotel restaurant and I was thrilled to see a gluten free vegetarian slice on the menu. I ordered it with a side of bacon and it was very tasty. They also had a water urn with fresh citrus which was such a good idea when you are dehydrated after a flight.
We stayed at the Commodore Hotel near the airport and I can highly recommend this option for travellers. From the shuttle driver who picked us up late at night with a string of helpful instructions to the staff on the front desk who basically insisted on driving us to the car rental the next day and the restaurant staff who went out of their way to organise tea for me at midnight. It was a well run hotel with a great team!
The next day we travelled via a little town called Springfield to Arthur’s Pass where we had booked in at a wilderness lodge for New Year. Trip Advisor had flagged a gluten free cafe there but it had shut for the holidays which was disappointing. The Yello Shack cafe, which sat next to Springfield’s major attraction (a big donut) did offer a range of gluten free treats, including a gluten free caramel slice that was almost as good as my brother’s.
The lodge at Arthur’s Pass was a bit of a treat for our anniversary and provided all our meals for a few days. They catered well to allergens for entree’s and mains but were not quite as comprehensive on desserts. They also had a nice gluten free sourdough the first night with olive oil which I really appreciated. The packed lunch with sandwhiches made with a seeded Vogel loaf were also excellent.
My favourite entree was a Salmon and Potato Fish Cakes which was made with mashed potato and was fresh and flavourful. We also enjoyed fresh venison and other local specialities. Must remember to send them some gluten free muesli slice , quinoa choc chip cookie recipes and a few dessert options to round out their offerings.
From Arthur’s Pass Wilderness Lodge which had included guided walks we repaired to Hanmer Springs to soak our tired limbs. On the drive we stopped at the Red Post Cafe in Culverden which had a sign up inviting you to ask about their gluten free options. We both enjoyed a Smoked Chicken salad with a cranberry style dressing, sweet but tasty.
Hanmer Springs is a popular tourist spot with lots of dining options including our hotel which had quite a formal restaurant. The Braemar Lodge was a recommendation from my youngest sister from her last trip to NZ and its a luxurious spot if you want to indulge. They have very large rooms, spas on the balcony’s and their own Beauty Spa, which was largely priced better than the one at Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools. The only downside is its about 3km of dirt road to get there and it really isn’t easy walking distance to the Springs.
The standout meal for us whilst we were there was at Malabar, which is advertised as Asian Fusion. The menu was clearly marked with gluten and dairy free options and when queried staff could easily explain when a dish wasn’t marked gluten free. We started with onion and spinach bhaji which was in a chickpea batter and followed it with caramelised pork belly (gluten containing ingredient was soy sauce) and wok fried fish with some poppadoms. It was all delicious and we would happily have eaten there again.
There were a lot of other options for gluten free dining in Hanmer Springs with options such as salads, nachos and the option of gluten free bread for sandwhiches and our hotel also provided gluten free cookies and gluten free bread at meals which were really appreciated. The major surprise for me was that when I walked into the cafe at the thermal springs they had quite a range of gluten and dairy free items, including a delicious ginger slice which went very well with my cup of green tea.
A day trip to Akaroa, which is a lovely little French town about 100km’s from Christchurch brought us to the Trading Room restaurant with a very reasonably priced seafood platter served with gluten free bread and salad. It included generous quantities of prawns, calamari, two types of fish and the local specialty Green Lipped mussels.
We did a little bit of shopping for picnics and generally found the best gluten free options in the New World Supermarkets. We did try Pak n Save once but never again!!
My advice to people travelling in this region is to do a little bit of research on gluten free options online before you travel however Trip Advisor turned out to be the most useful app giving reviews for local restaurants and I was glad that I taken up Vodafone on their $5 a day NZ plan to access my usual data as Trip Advisor and Google Maps really made the trip a lot easier.
Its the time of year when gyms get very busy as people try to live up to their New Year’s resolutions. Instead of being active for a couple of weeks and forgetting it until next year I have developed a list of 12 changes so that at the end of the year you have made significant improvements in your health. Usually maintaining change requires at least a month so try to really adopt this change for at least a month until it becomes part of the routine.
First up see how many you are doing and then figure out how much you have left and then project out the number of months it will take you. Post that commitment on your facebook page or somewhere will you will be reminded regularly.
Drink enough water – writing this today its 38C and hydration just seems the most important thing to focus on. How much is enough water? Well it depends on your size and activity levels but generally 1.5 to 2 litres a day plus 1 litre for every hour of exercise. So for a small woman it may be more like 1.5 litres plus whatever you need for the exercise you are doing.
Find an activity you enjoy and commit time to it 4-5 times a week. It could be walking the dog, cycling, yoga classes, tennis or spin or a combination of all of the above. Block it out in your diary. Just remember if you are starting an activity start at a beginners level and build up slowly.
Add one cup of leafy green vegetables to your diet daily. It could be spinach with your poached eggs or a salad instead of a sandwhich at lunch or add chopped kale to a curry at dinner. Greens are a great source of essential minerals that many people lack. If you struggle with the taste try looking at the website Simple Green Smoothies for some great recipes.
Declutter – spend a week focussing on each major room and start with three boxes. One box is for garbage, one for recycling and one for stuff which lives somewhere else. Its critical to ensure you fill the third box before putting things back where they belong or you get distracted. Spend 1-2 hours a week on each room and then at the end of the month notice how different it is to be in a clear and productive space. Decluttering can really reduce stress levels.
Manage your stress – By this stage if you are hydrated, exercising regularly and improving your diet you may already have noticed that your stress levels are better. If not its probably time to start identifying what causes stress and whether it is still serving you. It could be a job you no longer enjoy, an employee who is driving you nuts or a friendship which leaves you feeling exhausted. Time for some change. Figure out where the issue is and make a plan to deal with it. If its really overwhelming find someone to talk to – a coach or a counsellor could really help you break those stressful patterns.
Get rid of your allergens – environmental ones may be challenging. If you suffer from reflux, bloating and flatulence, constipation or diarrhoea, chances are something in your diet needs to be removed for a while. The most common suspects are wheat and dairy with up to 70% of adults unable to tolerate lactose (milk sugar) as they age.
Laugh – go to the park and watch how children are constantly chuckling or giggling. When was the last time you enjoyed a good belly laugh? A few years ago I did a laughter yoga class and we laughed for 22 straight minutes – you feel amazing afterwards except the aching stomach muscles.
Health Checks – see your GP for those tests, get your teeth checked and get your moles mapped. Spend a month making sure you are dealing with problems before they become serious.
Swap your snacks for healthier choices. Switch the milk chocolate to good quality dark chocolate, replace the potato chips with activated nuts, the coffee for a herbal tea and the soda for a vegetable juice (perfect for an afternoon boost too).
Train your brain – read a different book every week or try crosswords or sudoku as a way to improve your brain’s health and stay mentally healthy.
Catch up with friends – having a social support network can make all the difference to our health. If you find it difficult to catch up for a meal just try scheduling in a coffee on a weekly basis or a play date with your children.
Time out – plan and take at least two weeks vacation doing something you enjoy. It could be 2 weeks by the beach or 2 weeks hiking in the mountains. It doesn’t have to be expensive and is you can travel out of peak season there are often some great deals available. Most importantly try and disconnect from your work as much as possible to really maximize your down time.
Keep me posted on how you go and let me know what makes a difference for you.
If you are interested in looking at your health holistically I have a range of tools in my clinic which can assess nutrient levels, such as minerals, as well as looking at body parameters such as fat mass, muscle mass and energy quality. I am in practice at St Ives and appointments can be made on 02 8084 0081.