Is Fasting for me ?


Fasting is a time honoured Naturopathic tradition although its not really taught as part of main stream courses anymore. It is still a really useful protocol for some people. There are now a wide range of options with fasting,  Juice Fasting, Five Two, Elemental Fasting, Six One and Intermittent Fasting, just to name a few . So what are the current options?

  1. Juice Fasting – this is usually a shorter fast such as a weekend or a few days and limits your intake to mainly vegetable juices, with a small amount of fruit. It floods your body with nutrition and hydration but can sometimes provoke extreme hunger on day 2. This is often used as a cleanse or weight loss starter and the usual feedback is about half the weight lost is water you do become more concious of what you eat after a juice fast.
  2. Five Two – a popular adaptation this allows you to eat on an unrestricted based 5 days a week whilst restricting calories to 25% of your normal intake on two of those days. This diet was popularised by Micheal Mosley a few years ago. Ideally to really minimise side effects and benefit from this approach you need to eat nutrient dense foods the other days and ensure that you are getting enough protein and micro-nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals on your non fasting days. Proponents of this approach suggest starting with a 12 hour fast overnight for a few weeks to make it easier.
  3. Elemental Fasting – this is used therapeutically for a digestive reset for those with serious infections such as parasites or severe SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). This fast needs to be run under supervision and comprises shakes which contain adequate amounts of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. The approach is to starve out the problematic bugs.
  4. Six One – A slight variation to the Five Two it involves completely fasting on one day a week whilst eating normally on the other days.
  5. Intermittent Fasting – Routinely fasting for twelve hours overnight – basically eating dinner by 7.30 and then breakfasting at 7.30 – can be an effective way to improve your response to glucose and insulin. As part of the Bredesen protocol I studied in 2016 it is recommended as part of a strategy to improve blood sugar as well as specific sensitising nutrients if levels are elevated. In addition its recommended that people with the specific gene for Alzheimer’s known as APO4E fast for up to 16 hours a day. For more information on this protocol see my blog Delaying Alzheimer’s 

shutterstock_513957496So what are the benefits reported from fasting ? Micheal Mosley in his 5:2 diet cites three major areas which include weight loss, improved metabolic markers and reduced inflammatory markers such as C Reactive Protein. Research published recently on pubmed is also showing that intermittent fasting or time restricted feeding is proving beneficial for weight loss and metabolic health. (1)

Intermittent Fasting can be a good way to stabilise blood sugars at the early stages of insulin resistance. The 5:2 protocol can be helpful for people who want to lose weight but have trouble sticking to a restrictive diet. Ideally your fast days are separated and you include a small amount of protein in the meals to help stabilise blood sugar.

Christine Pope is an experienced Naturopath and Nutritionist based at Elemental Health, St Ives. You can make an appointment on 8084 0081 or book online at the website .

Iodine – a critical element for metabolism

Fish Oil CapsulesEarlier this year I was working with a tall guy who was close to 100kg on the scales. He could lose 5-6kg and then get stuck. Ideally he needed to be around 86-89 kilos for his height and frame. He could be eating well and exercising a lot but he struggled to loose the extra weight and he was really frustrated with it.

I did an Oligoscan test to look at nutrient minerals and see what his levels were like. Given his overall presentation I was thinking about possibly a slow thyroid and expected to see low levels of zinc, selenium or iodine which are all critical for effective thyroid function. Surprisingly his zinc and selenium levels were all in the normal range but his Iodine was critically low.


Why is Iodine so important? Basically thyroid function is dependent on adequate levels of iodine and tyrosine. The thyroid gland produces two primary hormones – thyroxine (also referred to as T4) and tri-iodothyronine (also referred to as T3). The numbers 3 and 4 refer to the number of atoms of iodine in the hormones. Iodine is essential for the production of thyroid hormones and we need about 150 mcg each day.

Iodine is important for the health of all glands but also critical for early growth and development during pregnancy and early childhood. Iodine deficiency in early development can contribute to a 10-15 point drop in IQ’s.

Iodine deficiency is increasingly common in Australia. Good sources of iodine include eggs, fish, seaweed and Celtic Sea Salt, but many people rarely consume fish on a regular basis and will need to rely on supplements to increase levels.

My weight loss client was asked to supplement with iodine at a reasonable level and over the next 4-5 months reduced his weight to 87kg. Generally a weight loss of 0.5-1kg a week is reasonable and sustainable.

Long term supplementation with high amounts of iodine can inhibit thyroid function so it is important to ensure when supplementing that you are carefully monitored and ensure you are receiving adequate but not excessive amounts of iodine. The cautious recommendation is no more than 600 micrograms a day when you are deficient.

Interested in finding out more about your minerals? Follow my blogs or book in for an appointment and have an Oligoscan test done to see what your levels of nutrient minerals are like.

Christine Pope is a Homeopath and Nutritionist based at Elemental Health at St Ives and is contactable on 8084 0081 for appointments.

Five easy detox lunch options

One of my favourite meals to eat out is lunch so before I started the detox I scoped out the local area for some good detox lunch options.

The detox is gluten and dairy free to remove inflammatory foods as well as excluding alcohol and  coffee. It’s not that challenging for me really as I am gluten free and usually only have a little cheese or yoghurt. It also excludes processed foods such as deli meats and recommends minimal deep water fish which often have heavy metal exposures.Basically the idea is to reduce as many toxins going in to your system to lighten the load. Its helpful if you make sure you also include the following;

1. 5-6 serves of vegetables a day, including at least one of cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage;
2. A small handful of nuts and seeds – great nutrients for detox and you can use raw or activated nuts.
3. Two to three serves of fruit a day – berries are a good inclusion.
The detox is also supported with a low allergen rice protein powder which has good liver support included, plus some gently detoxifying greens. I tend to mix that all together as breakfast and that makes for an easy (but green) start to the day.

When eating out remember many meals can be adapted by asking for the sauce or dressing on the side so don’t worry about asking – the worst they can say is no! Usually if they say no it means its been pre-prepared and sitting around for a while so it might be better to eat somewhere else.

The Stanley St Cafe downstairs in our building has a great range of salads and is very accommodating so the week started with a lovely Crispy Salmon Salad with Macadamia nuts with a colleague. She is working on the weight loss program at the moment so her lunch was the chicken and haloumi salad. It was a bit tricky resisting the lovely saltiness of the haloumi.

 The following day we went round to Mischica for their Korean warm salad – Bim Bim Bap, they offer chicken, beef, pork or tofu so plenty of options. The warm salad comes with sprouts, greens, brown rice, carrots, mushrooms and other vegetables and, when on detox, grilled chicken. Delicious!

The Runaway Spoon at Lindfield has a reliable salad on its main menu which is filling and detox friendly, the Quinoa and Lemon herb chicken with avocado, pumpkin and tomato. Another great option at St Ives Shopping Centre, a Coconut Chicken salad with rocket, paw paw and avocado.

The one meal I ate at home during the week was a lamb salad my son made with mixed greens, cucumber, lamb and olives. A great range of flavours and adding more greens such as cucumbers or beans to a salad makes it filling as well.

What else would you add for lunches during a detox?

Christine Pope is a nutritionist and homeopath based at Elemental Health, St Ives. She is also a Director  and Treasurer of the Australian Traditional Medicine Society. She is available in clinic on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Appointments can be made on 02 8084 0081 or through their online booking software at

Detoxing – is it for me?

What’s the first thing you think about with detox? Not drinking? Stopping coffee? Mostly you think about the things you will miss for a little while.

Very rarely do you think about the benefits of detoxing and how great you will feel during and after the detox. I am constantly surprised in clinic by the significant improvements people get in their health from detoxing. Often there is little left to deal with after the detox as “surprisingly” when you nourish your body with healthy food and support elimination with the right combination of herbs and nutrients most people find a lot of health problems resolve. I have seen significant improvements with skin complaints, hormonal imbalances and a whole range of gut issues as a result of following a detox for four to six weeks.

The first time I did a detox I had recently gone off gluten so being wheat and dairy free wasn’t really that big a challenge by that point. The first few days I was a little tired and sluggish and I did get a fairly massive headache after doing a full on 90 minute Yoga class (probably because I hadn’t done any Yoga and then jumped straight in!) However for probably 2 years after that I noticed my hay fever was minimal and that my energy levels were a lot better. So this September approximately 3 years later I am repeating the detox. Yes I am following my own advice on two levels. One by putting it in writing I am more likely to commit to it and secondly doing the detox I will be interested to see how my general health will improve.

So why do we need to detox? Well frankly if you live in a major capital city you are constantly exposed to toxins whether its from petrol fumes, personal care products, your own hormones, highly processed diet or sterile office environments. Other areas that can expose you to toxins can be both legal and “party” drugs as well as repeated infections.  Your liver is working hard to eliminate these toxins but if it can’t deal with them it puts them into fat cells and puts more fat around them to try and protect us. This is why eliminating toxins can help with weight loss as well as improving your overall health.

Tasty Summer Fruits On A Wooden TableThe detox diet is anti-inflammatory and most people can maintain a modified form post detox to continue to maintain good health. Generally the focus is on good quality lean protein, lots of vegetables, a reasonable three serves of fruit a day plus at least a handful of nuts (assuming you are not allergic). Gluten free grains such as rice or quinoa can also be included and fermented foods in the form of good quality organic yoghurt. Plus at least two litres a day of water and green or herbal teas to help flush out toxins.

Some people may find the dietary changes sufficient however usually its more effective (ie quicker) to support the process. The first stage in my program uses a low allergenic Rice Protein which has liver support in the form of Silymarin (Milk Thistle) plus digestive enzymes and a detoxifying green powder. The second stage is individual with several options based on what presenting symptoms dominate – gut symptoms usually require more of an anti-parasitic protocol to remove bad bacteria whereas hormonal symptoms usually benefit from more liver support. There is no one size fits all in detox and its preferable to do a program which is tailored to your needs.

So what do you think? Are you ready to make some changes to enjoy better health?

Christine Pope was previously a Head of Nutrition at Nature Care College, speaks for ATMS and practices at Elemental Health at St Ives. Appointments can be made on 8084 0081.

Stuff the diet!


Christmas celebrations can be challenging when you are trying to lose weight. It’s easy to forget how much you have eaten when you drink too much. So how do you get through the silly season without gaining another 2 kilos?

The challenges at this time of year are often considerable, partly due to the type of events and partly due to the change in routine.

Planning is key to surviving the festivities with your waist line intact. Figure out what sort of food or drink is on offer and plan accordingly. In fact if you are going to cocktail parties try and avoid arriving really hungry. It just makes the deep fried spring rolls and appetisers look more tempting. Plan a snack with some protein a couple of hours before the function. It could be a small tub of yoghurt, humuus with some rice crackers or veggie sticks or a large handful of nuts. This means you can wait until they bring out snacks which are a little less calorie laden and you won’t eat as many of them.

Background of ripe cherries

Giving up drinking during the holidays can be tough, so try alternating a large sparkling water with your glass of bubbles or red wine instead. A couple of glasses of wine is probably not going to blow the calorie count in a week unless you are having two glasses a night! That works out at 2 bottles of wine which probably isn’t going to add a nice number to your scales. However for the week where you seem to have every night out try balancing it in the morning with a protein shake with some berries. Having a lower calorie but satisfying breakfast will help even out your consumption. Good options for protein shakes include Iso Why or Metagenics French Vanilla Shake as well as Vital Greens Protein for those who can’t tolerate dairy!

Changes to your routine, which often mean you work all day and then have functions in the evening, play havoc with your exercise routine. The worst thing is you really miss out on the regular endorphin boost of exercise as well as the fat burning. If you can’t get to the gym at least think about fitting a half hour walk into your day. I really enjoy coming back from a function and taking the dog up to the oval for a few laps in the coolest part of the day. Well mostly I enjoy it, last week I got attacked by Christmas beetles and got a bit freaked out!!

If all else fails consider a lovely detox and weight loss plan in January 2015!

What the hell is bioimpendence analysis??

In the last blog I mentioned that I was at a seminar where everyone else had these amazing bioimpedence analysis results and mine were to put it nicely very average!

So what is bioimpedence analysis and how is it useful to you in finding out about your health?

Bioimpedence analysis was originally developed to monitor patients who were recovering from surgery in hospitals. Bioimpedence analysis measures fat mass, muscle mass and inflammation. It does this by running a low level electric current through two points on the feet and hands and assessing how long it takes for the current to reach the points and return. The test itself only takes a few minutes however you also need a persons height, weight, wrist circumference and waist measurement to flesh out the parameters.

By measuring these parameters you can start with a baseline of where someone’s health is at and also measure changes over time. Its really useful with weight loss as people often get frustrated saying well I only lost a kilo and I was doing all this exercise. You can actually see with bioimpedence analysis that they have actually lost 2kg of fat and gained a kilo of muscle – which really helps with motivation. Also muscle burns more energy so often I start by getting people to work on building more muscle to really help them burn kilojoules.



One of the areas I really focus on in practice however is ATM and ATM energy. ATM is active tissue mass or muscle mass in the body. ATM energy is how much energy your muscle mass is producing and this can be really variable. In the picture above the client is showing as having about 4kg less muscle than is adequate for their frame.  If you think of this as being the size of their battery then the battery is too small so even with a good level of energy they may feel more fatigued.

There are several changes you can make which really help improve energy levels. Start with a healthy well balanced diet high in vegetables and good quality protein. If that doesn’t make enough of a difference then you can look at various supplements including a good quality multi vitamin and magnesium or CoQ10.

If you would like to find out what your bioimpedence analysis results look like I am happy to do a free report for you in my clinic on a Tuesday or Wednesday during May and June, 2014. You just need to book in with reception on 8084 0081 and book in a short nutrition consult for a bioimpedence analysis  (VLA) for 15 minutes.  Ideally you will also make sure you know your height as I can do all the other measurements in clinic.

Is stress making you fat?


Many of us gain weight when we are stressed simply because we grab a quick fix of carbs to keep us going. Over the course of days and weeks this often adds up quickly to quite a few kilos. We know what we should be eating, but often we are just too tired or too busy to prepare healthy meals and snacks.

But for some people stress adds another nasty surprise with elevated cortisol resulting in weight gain around the stomach. If you usually put it on around the hips something else may be contributing.

Cortisol levels should be highest in the morning and fall during the day, being lowest at midnight. Typically if your cortisol is high you may also have problems sleeping as well. Cortisol has a wide range of functions but for weight gain it stimulates the release of glucose to maintain blood sugar levels. So elevated cortisol through the day can result in increased appetite – stress is making you hungrier (and fatter).

Getting control of your cortisol levels isn’t as simple as just balancing blood sugar. You need to deal with triggers which are creating the stress for you. Sometimes it isn’t the situation itself but how you respond to it that makes you stressed. Often what is stressful for one person is not a problem for someone else.

So once you identify the trigger try and think about some other ways to handle the situation. Take five deep breaths before you even think about reacting. If you still aren’t feeling calmer then a thirty minute walk (before you scream at your boss) which will reduce your cortisol levels and help you stay calmer. A regular meditative practice, such as yoga or indeed meditation can also be a good way to get your cortisol levels under control.

Christine runs regular Stress Managment Workshop with Cheryl Alderman at Be Ultimate . Alternatively make an appointment with Christine on 8084 0081 , her practice is at Elemental Health at St Ives, Sydney