Are you missing out on ways that you can start ageing outrageously well ?

Are you missing out on ways that you can start ageing outrageously well ?

70 may be the new 50 but its possible that it won’t be that enjoyable if you haven’t looked after your physical health. Over the last decade through global challenges, like the Covid pandemic and personal challenges like three rounds of surgery I have been researching how to age well and there are some common themes.

In 2016 I was able to do the training on the Recode protocol, which was developed by Dr Dale Bredesen. The training was run in San Francisco (which was a very good reason for enrolling as well as the content) and involved looking at thirty six points of intervention based on the five major triggers for Alzheimers. Dr Bredesen has subsequently completed two case study series and more recently a clinical trials for his protocol and it is showing improvement in over 80% of cases who had been classified as having mild cognitive impairment (1). For more information on the protocol have a look at the blog on Delaying Alzheimer’s .

In Melbourne in 2018 Dr Terry Wahl’s presented her strategies for managing Multiple Sclerosis and neurodegenerative diseases and I have followed her work extensively after that symposium. Her focus in clinical practice is on using food rather than supplements primarily as well as looking at specific types of exercise that can support recovery. Dr Wahl is a neurologist who was in a tilt wheelchair with her advanced MS and is now back to riding her bike. Her programs have been implemented at the Iowa City Veteran’s Affairs Hospital and she has conducted four clinical trials on the program. To date the trials are showing significant improvements in fatigue scores and quality of life. Key features of her program involve balancing blood sugar and flooding the body with nutrients from whole foods, in particular up to 9 cups of vegetables and fruit a day plus good quality protein. Her program really encourages the use of organ meats, like liver, for good levels of key nutrients which are quite expensive as supplements. In particular CoQ10 which is essential for energy production in your cells.

There are six key areas that you need to consider in order to age outrageously well.

  1. Eat your vegetables! Flooding your body with nutrients in a form that you are best designed to absorb. Make sure you are eating the rainbow with vegetables and including at least one cup of green leafy vegetables, one cup of brassica vegetables and one cup of brightly coloured vegetables daily. If you are trying to add more vegetables to your diet it is always helpful to increase gradually and to look at adding them to snacks, soups and smoothies as well. It can also be a good idea to prepare extra vegetables with dinner and have them ready to add to lunches or soups the next day. Roast vegetables are a particularly tasty way to improve the vegetable content of your lunch and you can add them to spinach leaves in a salad or blend them with bone broth for an easy and quick soup.
  2. Balance your Blood Sugar ideally by including protein with every meal and minimising your intake of sugary foods and simple carbohydrates like bread and cereal. You do not need to be eating large quantities of protein but rather a palm size amount at each meal over the day. Adequate protein for most people would involve 2 eggs at breakfast, a small can of tuna with lunch and a chicken breast fillet at dinner. At the same time it’s important to include some carbohydrate in the diet as well but optimally it’s from whole foods and provides a slow release of glucose and a good serve of fibre as well. If you struggle to add enough protein then adding a protein shake or smoothie can be a good way to up it daily. Usually I do recommend clean brands, whey protein if you can tolerate it or plant protein for those who like variety. The plant protein options that I find useful at the moment are Nuut, Amazonia and Vital Protein. Nuut is offering sampler packs which is a good way to try a few different flavours. The other two brands are usually available in health food stores and the fermented split pea protein from Vital Protein is one of the better vegan options as its not grainy.
  3. Exercise regularly and mix it up. Ideally including both strength based training as well as cardio will really assist in maintaining good bone health as well as improving balance and energy levels. Start low and build exercise levels slowly to minimise the risk of injury and setbacks. The simplest and easiest way to start exercising is to walk regularly, starting with a five minute lap of the block and then building up over weeks by adding five minutes each week and then multiple walks per day. On e of my favourite quotes about exercise is from JIm Rohn “Take care of your body its the only place you have to live in”.
  4. Identify the sources of inflammation and manage them as well as possible. Key areas to consider are a history of infections, such as recurring sinusitis, food intolerances and allergies, heavy metal toxicity, sedentary lifestyle and chronic pain from old injuries. There are a wide number of sources of inflammation in the body and dealing with those assaults can be challenging. That’s why quite a number of “anti-ageing” programs remove common allergens like gluten and dairy as anyone with gut problems will have challenges digesting and absorbing nutrients from them. Lactose intolerance is increasingly common as we age as we were really designed to have milk in our diets only as babies and small children. Generally we should be able to absorb small amounts if our digestion is working well. Removing allergenic foods can really assist you in feeling better however test first to make sure its the right foods. For ten years I removed dairy from my diet and whilst it helped a little removing gluten was the game changer for my brain and energy levels.

5. Meditate like a Buddhist monk! Research is showing that twenty minutes of meditation can reduce levels of anxiety, depression and pain (2). Meditation is a relatively inexpensive tool with many apps which can be helpful like Gaia and Calm. Recent research undertaken at a VA hospital in the States showed that twenty minutes of meditation twice a day reduced PTSD symptoms (3). The Wellness experience provide a free thirty day meditation series in either ten minute or twenty minute increments which you can do through the website themeaningoflife.tv . One of the most essential attributes of meditation is its ability to increase grey matter in the brain and assist with clarity and focus.

6. Add appropriate supplements as needed. Look at the key symptoms and determine what is needed for you. For those who are experiencing significant inflammation for example it can be useful to look at supplementing with Tumeric and good quality essential fatty acids. If your issues are more around cramping and low energy then consider adding a magnesium supplement (preferably a powder for better absorption) and a multi vitamin. Just make sure that you do check the use of any supplements with your medications. Your pharmacist or practitioner can advise you on the right dosing and minimise the risk of any interactions.

Interested in more information on Healthy Ageing ? Click on this link Ageing Outrageously to receive regular updates.

Christine Pope is a naturopath and nutritionist based at Elemental Health at St Ives and is available for consultations online and in clinic.

1. https://content.iospress.com/articles/journal-of-alzheimers-disease/jad215707

2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7287297/

3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29921143/

Heat and cold, stressors which boost energy and slow ageing

Looking for a way to improve your energy levels ? Turns out we can certainly benefit from some of the strategies from Nordic countries particularly in regards to saunas and cold plunging. Mild hormetic stressors such as heat and cold can be really beneficial (and enjoyable).

What is a hormetic stressor ? It’s a mild stress to the body which actually generates a low level of free radicals. In the presence of a low level of free radicals we produce more mitochondria. Mitochondria are the energy producing part of a cell and as we age we tend to start losing them. The major hormetic stressor which we are all familiar with is exercise and the reason this is beneficial is it encourages the body to make more mitochondria which in turn means we can produce more energy. Stimulating these processes gives us improvement in both our short term and long term health.

Often we talk about stress as being negative for our health however it really comes down to the type of stress and the dose. Prolonged stress of any type can have negative implications for our health in the same way that prolonged exposure to cold water can result in hypothermia. A few minutes in the cold water is beneficial, too long an exposure is a problem.

What are some other types of hormetic stress ? The top 10 include the following;

  1. Intermittent Fasting
  2. Cold
  3. Heat
  4. Hypoxia
  5. Red and near infrared light
  6. Exercise
  7. Dietary Phytochemicals
  8. UV light
  9. Xenobiotics
  10. Intermittent Nutrient Cycling

In this blog we are going to focus on the benefit of Heat and infrared light however there is more information on some of these options in my blogs such as Is Fasting for me ? and Six ways to increase your energy If you are interested in looking at cold hormetic stressors the latest blog on my clinic page is also useful Is it good to have a cold shower every day

Infra red light such at that from an infra red sauna penetrates soft tissue up to 3 centimetres warming the body and opening blood vessels in a process called “vasodilation.” The blood vessels on the surface expand and as the body heats it encourages sweating. Spending 30 minutes in a sauna is believed to increase heart rate and improve your exercise tolerance. A small study in 2005 showed that a month of sauna bathing in a group with Chronic Heart Failure saw improvements in 13 of 15 participants. In addition to a reduction in blood pressure and improved exercise tolerance they also say reduced levels of stress hormones. (1)

Recently my husband decided to see if a month of infra red sauna was beneficial and he found after a few weeks that his heat tolerance had improved, he felt his stress levels had reduced and he was noticing less muscle pain. He is a much smaller study group but still interesting to see the benefits over a short period of time. He is also quite keen to continue so expect an update on his progress in a couple of months.

A recent article in The Conversation “Can’t face running try a hot bath or sauna” looks at some of the benefits of hot bathing and also the advantages of using sauna to build up your tolerance when you are unable to exercise. In this way it could be useful for those people suffering from Chronic Fatigue for slowly improving resilience and assisting in recovery so that they can start to exercise. It is important if you suffer from Chronic Fatigue that you build up very slowly and gently with any new routine.

Need more assistance with improving your energy levels ? Book in with Christine Pope at Elemental Health at St Ives on Tuesday or Wednesdays. Bookings online at http://www.elementalhealth.net.au or by phone on (02) 8084 0081 .

(1) https://www.onlinejcf.com/article/S1071-9164(05)00108-9/fulltext

Confused by Zucchini? 5 simple ways to use it in meals.

One of the best ways to keep your food budget under control is to eat seasonally. At the moment Zucchini is in season and Harris Farm is offering the imperfect picks known as unruly Zucchini at good prices. So how do you make the best use of Zucchini? One of my favourites is a stir fry with ginger and orange but its also lovely in ratatouille, grated in fritters or chargrilled in salads.

Zucchini is a low carb vegetable with one cup of zucchini providing 3g of carbohydate, 40% of your daily Vitamin A requirements and is a good source of carotenoids such as lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene. These carotenoids are beneficial for eye health and vision.

A few other options for zucchini recipes from some favourite sites and a few recipes for inspiration;

Gratin with Potato and Zucchini

  • 500g potato sliced thinly
  • 4 small zucchini cut into small rounds
  • 2 red capsicum finely sliced
  • Thyme

In a casserole dish layer zucchini, capsicum and potato. Start with zucchini on the bottom and finish with potato on the top and sprinkle with 2 tsps dried thyme. Cover with lid and cook in over an 180C for up to an hour. Serve as a side with grilled meats or fish.

Stir fried zucchini with ginger and orange

  • 600 g zucchini
  • Small knob of ginger
  • peel of half an orange grated
  • 2 Tblsp Soy Sauce

Cut zucchini into batons. Grate ginger finely and saute lightly for 30 seconds in a wok. Add zucchini and stir fry until soft and a little blackened. Stir through the grated peel and add the soy sauce, stir through for 30 seconds and then serve.

Simple Potato Curry

One tablespoon curry paste,
1 tsp each cumin, mustard, ginger and garlic
One onion
2 potatoes
1 piece sweet potato or pumpkin or 2 carrots
2 red capsicum
1 eggplant
2 zucchini
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 can coconut milk


Add a little oil to the pan and a chopped onion plus the spices. Fry the onion in the spices. Add two potatoes, a quarter pumpkin, two red capsicum (scrub potatoes, don’t peel – less work and better for you). Cut all the vegetables about the same size – for instance, in quarters.

Chop and slice salted eggplant and two zucchini. (Before you use eggplant – slice it, pour salt on it and then after 10 minutes wash it off). Stir this through, add a can of chopped tomatoes, cover for 20 minutes, cook on low heat. Check that the potatoes are getting soft. Add a small can of coconut milk and simmer for a further 5 mins before serving.

Variations: add a bunch of spinach (chopped) or Chinese cabbage a few minutes before it is finished cooking. Leftovers will make another meal with a tin of legumes or chickpeas added.

Christine Pope is a naturopath and nutritionist based at Elemental Health St Ives. Appointments can be made on 02 8084 0081 or online.

Balancing Blood Sugar

Did you join me for my Natural Medicine Week Webinar? If you missed it or want a review of the highlights then click through to the youtube recording or scroll through the powerpoint which is attached below.

In the webinar we cover the following topics;

  • Blood Glucose and insulin how does this work and what does this mean for you?
  • What are the risks from a health perspective of poorly managed blood sugar?
  • Which diet is best able to assist you to manage blood sugar
  • A simple meal plan to help you put it altogether

The webinar recording is linked below.

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If you have any other queries please pop them in the comments below or book in with Christine on 02 8084 0081. Christine Pope is an accredited naturopath and nutritionist based at Elemental Health at St Ives and is offering both in person and online consultations.

Natural Medicine First Aid 2022

Did you miss my latest webinar for Natural Medicine Week ? If you want an overview of how to treat coughs, colds and stomach upsets as well as common injuries please review the powerpoint links below or click through to the youtube recording further down.

The recordings are linked to my youtube site and can be accessed by clicking on the link below, but please feel free to subscribe to the channel for updates.

Thanks to all those who attended the workshop and please consider following my blog for future updates on all things natural medicine. If you are interested in treating common illnesses and injuries have a look at these recent blogs;

  1. Treating Colds and Flu at home
  2. Natural medicine first aid – bruises, sprains and strains
  3. Stomach Aches and Pains
  4. Post Viral Fatigue (and other symptoms)

Christine is a naturopath and nutritionist based at Elemental Health St Ives. Appointment can be made on 02 8084 0081 or online at the website.

Six ways to increase your energy

One of the most common reasons for people to see a naturopath is that they are really tired and lack energy. If you are feeling like this at the moment its important to understand why your energy is low but there are also several things you can introduce which may help improve your energy levels on a permanent basis.

The area of the body that produces energy is a component of each cell called a mitochondria, think of them like little factories. As we get older the number of mitochondria in the body can reduce, typically we see a halving of the levels between 20-40 and then again by the time we reach 70. These mitochondria can also be damaged by a range of environmental factors which means they don’t work as effectively and produce less energy.

There are a number of “hacks” which can improve both the number of these little factories and also the quality. Most people are aware of the benefits of regular exercise however they may not be aware that muscle cells will build more mitochondria as a result and they will operate more effectively. However often when people are really fatigued they are not in a position to exercise so these are my top six strategies for improving cellular energy. There are other strategies however this list focuses on those with minimal costs.

  1. Thirty minutes of daylight as close to waking as possible. This is an invaluable reset for your body’s circadian rhythms and helps you produce a reasonable amount of melatonin. Melatonin is important to generate sleep but turns out it also helps with cell repair and can improve energy. Literally one week of eating my breakfast outside followed by a short walk saw a significant improvement in my energy levels.
  2. Mild stressors for the body such as cold can improve energy quality. Its really important with this strategy to start with a very modest amount and slowly increase. A cold swim in a mountain stream might be the goal but start by having a minute or two of your shower with cold water. If you are very temperature sensitive start with it on your arms and legs and then gradually move to the trunk.
  3. Eat in a 11-12 hour window. Allow the bodies waste systems to function effectively by giving them a reasonable window to operate with. This is particularly important if you suffer from brain fog as a result of tiredness. This is really fairly straightforward and may just see you have breakfast at 8am and dinner at 7pm.
  4. Reduce your exposure to blue light from computers and devices. This could involve using blue light blocking glasses however a lower cost solution is as simple as switching off all devices at least one hour before your bedtime. Blue light blocks the production of melatonin and results in more difficulty in getting to sleep. Low melatonin will also reduce the ability of the mitochondria to repair themselves and result in a worsening of fatigue.
  5. Sleep in complete darkness using blockout curtains and turning off all lights and devices. Good quality sleep is essential for energy as cell repair happens during our deep REM cycles. Typically if you aim for 7-8 hours of sleep you will have between 3-5 REM cycles. Each cycle tends to be longer with the first being about 90 minutes. For more information on improving your sleep quality read my blogs on Can you build up sleep Pressure and Six Sleep Myths Debunked
  6. Reduce inflammation in your diet as much as possible. Chronic inflammation reduces your ability to produce energy in your cells. The first step could be avoiding any known allergens or intolerances and the second to try and ensure that you are having at least three cups of vegetables a day. For more information on reducing inflammation my blog on Post Viral Fatigue has some useful resources. More generally to understand which vegetables are most useful for your health What are the best vegetables for feeding your gut ?

There are also a range of strategies to improve energy using tailored diet plans and supplements however these need to be prepared in consultation with a practitioner to ensure that underlying triggers are identified and addressed.

Christine Pope is a naturopath and nutritionist based at Elemental Health at St Ives. You can make appointments on 02 8084 0081 on online at Elemental Health .