What’s your metabolism blocker ?

shutterstock_559278454The first blog I wrote was about Five simple strategies to Lose Weight  was focussed on insulin resistance and how to approach weight loss for this common problem. Historically I haven’t really focussed on weight loss in clinic unless it was related to the client’s overall health. What I found was that more complex clients require more creative solutions in terms of adapting weight loss programs to suit them and their lifestyles. You need to get more specific about supporting their metabolism to really help them shed weight.

Different diets work for different people so whilst I generally recommend a low carbohydrate ketogenic diet I have had clients do well on a range of other programs. How do you know when you are on the right diet for you? Generally you find your weight stabilises. So my top tips regardless of which diet you are using are as follows;

  1. Food Intolerances – find out what foods you are reactive to and cut them out! Regardless of the diet you are following this will often result in a 2-3 kg loss and usually a smaller waist line due to the reduction in bloating. Often the side benefit is you feel better and are more energetic and better able to follow through on exercise and food preparation. Using Bio Compatability 500 Hair Test to determine what foods are compatibile with your body often speeds up this process.
  2. Hydration – Drink 6-8 glasses of water a day and at least one litre for each hour of exercise. Nothing works well when you are dehydrated.
  3. Herbal Teas – Support your liver with some herbal teas which assist with metabolism. This can include green tea, dandelion and ginger. Have a cup of hot tea with a squeeze of lemon on rising it really helps your liver function.  Herbal teas also increase fluid intake and may reduce consumption of tea and coffee which often involve milk and sugar!!
  4. Fat Burning Exercise – Dietary changes will often produce slow and steady weight loss but if you really want to boot it up walking an hour a day is the key. The first 20 minutes you burn up the glycogen in your muscles and then your blood glucose but around 30-35 minutes you start burning fat. Consistently I have seen a significant improvement in results with adding regular walks to the program – in one case the client walked every morning and lost 7kg in 6 weeks.
  5. shutterstock_146334503Get enough protein  – how much is enough? To maintain your weight you need about 0.8g per kilo daily. BUT for weight loss you need to increase it to 1.2g per day. The protein is based on the desired weight so if you want to get to 60kg you need to eat 72g of protein a day. That is the equivilant of 2 eggs, a small can of tuna and a small chicken breast. Generally animal products are about 20-25% protein whereas plant based sources are around 10% so effectively you need to double up.
  6. Main meal at lunch  eating your big meal in the middle of the day gives you a chance to really fuel yourself well for an afternoon of work but also plenty of time to really digest the meal.
  7. Fasting  – this can be a good way to give your program a  boost. Usually I would recommend starting with a 12 hour fast between dinner and breakfast. For details on who would do well with longer periods of fasting have a look at my recent blog Is Fasting For Me .

I have had a few other tips from friends and colleagues – one of my favourites was to diet when your partner was away and empty the fridge so you can’t snack on unhealthy options. Do you have any tips on weight loss? Please share in the comments section below.

Christine Pope is an experienced Naturopath and Nutritionist based at Elemental Health at St Ives. You can make appointments on 02 8084 0081 or through the website at www,elementalhealth.net.au .

Why is my skin like this?

skin problems

For many years skin problems were one of the more difficult conditions that I saw in clinic. Whether it was tinea, rashes, acne or excema often treatment can be lengthy and involve significant dietary change. Also I find it can often flare up as you are detoxing and this requires careful management.

Skin is the largest organ of the body and performs an important role in detoxification, so if you are eating badly it will show up on the skin. Even when you improve your eating patterns it may take 4-6 weeks to show changes as it takes time to work through your system, to reduce inflammation and ultimately to heal.

So what you say, I have a really good diet but I still have skin problems ? Well fabulous that you have sorted out diet but ideally this comes down to identifying the underlying triggers for your skin issues. Usually I find it comes down to one of the following ;

  1. “My excema is always bad when I am stressed ” In this case stress hormones are hijacking your system and simply addressing the skin isn’t going to be enough. Often the strategy here is to use lifestyle interventions to manage the stress – yoga, meditation, reframing exercises as well as using appropriate supplements to support the adrenals and manage the skin. People who are stressed are usually more acidic so alkalising nutrients such as lots of vegetables work well or supplements with magnesium and potassium.shutterstock_553662235
  2. My skin it so itchy but I really don’t know why? It doesn’t seem to matter what I eat or what products I use on it! Two big areas here – one in exposure to foods or external triggers which are incompatible with your system. In this case I usually look at the Bio Compatability Hair Test to identify potential triggers and determine what is causing the reaction for that person.
  3. The skin problems only seem to happen at a certain time of year ??? Yes it could be a particular stressor (like a big family Christmas) but in this case its important to be an environmental detective. Even in dry winters its possible that the house has underlying damp and mould and this can create havoc for people who are sensitive. However it could also be a seasonal intolerance to a particular plant – apparently although wattle gets blamed for a lot of hayfever its not usually the suspect as the particles are too big. Apparently grass and dust are more common allergens. If mould is the underlying issue its important that it be treated appropriately and there are specialists in its detection and removal.
  4. My tinea flares up whenever I drink a lot! This is often related to an underlying candida overgrowth which feeds off sugar – alcohol is literally liquid sugar in many cases. Apart from sticking to spirits with lime and soda and not lemonade or coke (which is not very good naturopathic advice but it does help) its important to treat the underlying fungal picture. Foods which are good sources of anti-fungal compounds include coconut oil and garlic, however I usually find a combination of approriate herbs and essential oils is faster at cleaning up the tinea.Coconut oil and fresh coconut
  5. Not only do I have rashes constantly but I am also really anxious or down. This can be related to an excess of copper in relation to zinc which reduces your ability to break down histamine and mount an appropriate immune response. In my first consultation I always include my inhouse minerals analysis tool – Oligoscan – and this can detect these imbalances. The other option is hair tissue minerals analysis which does take a little time.img_0543
  6. My baby is completely breast fed and yet he still has excema? Well unfortunately this means Mum is probably consuming something that doesn’t agree with her system and bubs is reacting.  It probably started with a colicky whiny baby and has now progressed. If this is the case its essential for Mum to eliminate any foods she reacts to and monitoring the impact this has on bubs. Usually within 2-4 weeks you can expect good resolution if you know what your triggers are. Occassionally it may be the baby care products that could be causing a reaction but its much more common that it’s Mum’s diet. Its always a bit tough since a new breastfeeding mother has a large appetite and probably not a lot of energy for lots of cooking as well as all the other chores she now gets to enjoy, however longer term it makes for a much happier baby and Mum!

The first suggestion I would make is to ideally keep a food diary for a week and track your reactions to what you are eating. Record not only what you are eating and drinking but also whether you feel tired or energised afterwards. Keep note of what is happening with your stomach as well particularly if you have urgency or constipation after a particular meal or are suffering bloating or reflux. Note how your mood is impacted by what is happening as well. Over a week you should start to see patterns emerging that will help you detect which foods are a problem for you.

If that doesn’t shine any clarity on it for you take your food diary to a naturopath or nutritionist and ask them for help. My clinic is at St Ives in Sydney and you can make appointments on 8084 0081.

 

Are you reacting to your dinner ?

If you constantly have an upset stomach, headaches or skin problems chances are you have thought about whether something you were eating was triggering your symptoms. So what options are there for finding out whether a food is upsetting you ?

The medical testing for allergies consists of either skin prick testing to determine if a substance provokes a reaction or blood testing for antibodies to Immunoglobulin E known as RAST testing. Naturopathically there are a number of other options including an Elimination Diet,  Food Intolerance Panel or Bio Compatability Hair Testing. So what are the advantages of each of these forms of testing ?

Skin prick testing involves scratching the skin with a range of allergens to see what generates a reaction. Usually done by a specialist you do need to be under supervision if a topical reaction causes full on anaphylaxis to an allergen so that you can be treated appropriately. Understandably many parents are not enthusiastic about this option however it does accurately identify  true allergens. A blood test to detect antibodies can be done where the skin prick testing is too invasive. It detects antibodies to specific allergens such as dust, pollens and foods.

Another option for determining intolerances is to use an elimination diet. Basically you eat very simple plain foods for 7-10 days  and then gradually introduce new foods to determine if it provokes a reaction. The elimination diet generally takes up to 6 weeks but has the advantage of being focussed on real food. Ideally you would also exclude any of the foods below that triggered a reaction.

What you can eat on a food sensitivity elimination diet:

  • Vegetables, well-washed (preferably organic), eliminate nightshade vegetable (such as eggplant,tomato and capsicum) if you suspect they are a problem
  • Fruits, well-washed (preferably organic), start with berries initially
  • Meat and fish (preferably organic and free range meats and wild fish)
  • Fats and seasonings – Extra-virgin coconut oil for cooking, and extra-virgin olive oil for dressings and other low-temperature applications, sea salt, herbs
  • Drink: only water (filtered if possible)

Naturopaths often conduct a food intolerance panel which looks for an immunoglobulin G reaction. It’s useful but will usually only tell you about foods you have been eating in the past few months. So if you haven’t had wheat for a year it may not show up.

Recently I have also looked at Biocompatibility Hair Testing conducted by Naturopathic Services. It has the advantage of not requiring a blood test and covers 500 widely available foods including a significant list of health foods. The test is reasonably priced and far less invasive for young children. It also has the advantage of covering foods which the client isn’t currently consuming. Blood testing will only reveal antibodies to a food that you are currently eating.

Other practitioners I know who use the test advised that it was making a big difference in cases involving skin and irritable bowel syndrome, two conditions I see frequently in clinic. Certainly in the last few months I am already seeing some significant changes in symptoms simply from removing aggravating foods from the diet.

If you have any questions about testing for food intolerances email me at Christine@elementalhealth.net.au or you can make an appointment on 8084 0081.

 

 

 

 

 

http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/test-ige.html

Gluten Free Made Easy

 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.

You realise that you need to make this change but you don’t really know where to start? This blog will help you get started with those changes. Lots of recipe ideas are contained in my page Gluten and Dairy Free Dinners and the recent blog Seven gluten and dairy free breakfasts.

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.

 

 

 

Seven gluten free and dairy free breakfasts

Many of us stick to the same boring breakfast every day however when you suddenly find out that you can’t have wheat anymore the usual toast or cereal just doesn’t cut it any longer. So what do you do?

Here is a range of suggestions that I find work well in practice. I have included recipes or links to the recipes. Its easy to substitute particularly with gluten free grains or different types of milk (coconut, almond, rice or soy).

  1. Easy peach crumble (or pear or berry or apple or any combinations you like).
  2. Banana and choc chip muffins
  3. Roast vegetable hash
  4. Mango chia pudding
  5. Gluten free muesli with fruit puree
  6. Buckwheat pancakes (Orgran packet mix has all the instructions) but works well with bacon and maple syrup or grilled banana or fruit.
  7. BLAT on gluten free bread.

The recipes for most of these options are listed below but two recipes have links. One is  for the easy mango pudding recipe from the Healthy Chef which only has four ingredients but really comes down to fruit, chia seeds, water and coconut milk plus the other link is to my gluten free muesli recipe which really can be tailored to personal preference. An even easier version can be buying a gluten free muesli and adding a few of your favourite ingredients, such as nuts and seeds or LSA mix.

shutterstock_93158164Easy peach crumble

4-6 peaches sliced

1/2 cup almond meal

1/2 cup quinoa flakes

50 g melted butter

1 tablespoon brown sugar (coconut sugar, maple syrup work well too)

Place sliced fruit in a casserole dish. Combine melted butter with almond meal, quinoa flakes and sugar . It will be a little lumpy. Sprinkle over sliced fruit and cook at 180c for 20-25 minutes until topping is crispy and golden. Serve with coconut yoghurt for a little extra protein but its delicious by itself and the quinoa and almond provide good protein and fats.

Banana and choc chip muffins

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla essence (add to sugar)

50 g butter

3 mashed bananas

1 1/2 cups gluten free self raising flour or 1 cup gluten free self raising flour plus 1/2 cup of almond meal or coconut flour (coconut gives it a nice moisture)

1 egg

1/4 cup choc chips preferably dairy free

Melt butter, mix in sugar and then egg. Add in alternately flour and bananas and stir well. Then add in the choc chips. Spoon mixture into 12 muffin cases or greased muffin tray. Cook 15-20 minutes at 180 Celsius. Muffins should be lightly browned when cooked.

Roast Vegetable Hash

This is really just a good way to use up leftover roast vegetables and many combinations work well.

Ideally you need half a cup of roast vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, parsnip, carrots, etc) per serve

2 slices of bacon per person

1/2 small brown onion

1/2 cup greens either bok choy, wombok or cabbage work well

Saute bacon and onions for 2-3 minutes until lightly cooked. Add greens and roasted vegetables and stir for 3-5 minutes until warmed through. Salt lightly and serve.

shutterstock_143818549

BLAT (Bacon lettuce avocado and tomato)

Saute two to three slices of bacon and serve on a gluten free bread roll toasted with mashed avocado and sliced tomatoes.

Christine Pope is an experienced natural medicine practitioner who also teaches and until recently was Head of Nutrition at Nature Care College. Food is one of her favourite topics!

Would love feedback on the recipes or any other easy breakfast suggestions which are gluten and dairy free!

Why I feed my dog a natural food diet

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In 2008 I was on the Organising Committee for a Homeopathic conference which was held in Sydney. One of our most popular speakers was a Vet who also used homoeopathics called Clare Middle and what really stuck in my head was her attitude towards diet. She said 70% of skin problems in animals were solved purely by feeding the pet a natural food diet. To me that showed how helpful a natural food diet could be in maintaining your pet’s health.

So what does our dog eat? Well most nights its a couple of chicken wings plus a bone of some type as well as leftover fruit and vegetables. We keep a tub in the fridge in which we put organic vegetable peelings, outside lettuce leaves and the woody bits of the broccoli and cauliflower as well as the tops and tail of carrots plus leftovers from our table like salad or risotto. Generally we avoid anything with a lot of garlic or onion which are quite toxic for dogs. Anything that is looking a little too soft from the fruit bowl also goes in the dog bowl.
Dog bowl

Feeding the dog this way is actually very cost effective – most of the vegetables would have been thrown away and the 2kg of chicken wings a week is only about $8. The vet Claire Middle also recommends a weekly meal of oily fish, we find a can of sardines work well and are usually quite cheap. She also has a little book available through her website which explains exactly what you need to feed your pet. Click here for details.

Our dog Buffy is now 7 years old and is a really healthy animal. She doesn’t seem to suffer from dog breath and has a really healthy coat. The picture above is one my son took when we were away and checking on the dog (it was taken on his sister’s bed)!

So what’s wrong with commercial dog food? Depends on what it is really, but as the Vet explained it seems that they often have a very high carbohydrate content and that’s different to what dogs would eat in the wild. Dogs were really scavengers and would eat small animals and whatever was dropped on the ground or easily accessed. Basically dogs are used to having bones in their diet and in the wild you will see animals eating the droppings of carnivores to access the calcium from the bones they consumed. There would be some carbohydrate in their diet from vegetables and fruit however not really from grains which is what many commercial dog foods may use.

We did try to convert our cat to a natural food diet with a little less success – she will eat raw minced meats like chicken and lamb but cannot figure out what to do with chicken necks, which is what was recommended for cats. She also gets a bit sniffy about fish, not really keen on canned fish but loves a bit of our leftover tuna or salmon.

How do you feed your pets? Have you tried a natural food diet with them and been successful?

Christine Pope is a nutritionist and homeopath based in Sydney at St Ives and practices at her clinic, Elemental Health. She feeds her family a largely whole food diet and her pets as well.

What do you do when your child can’t eat egg, potato, dairy or wheat?

Health food ingredients in white porcelain bowls over papyrus ba

Recently I have seen a few children with an interesting range of food intolerances. In fact one recently was such a challenge it made gluten and dairy free look easy!

So how do you make changes when your child’s diet is so restricted ? What the hell do you put in their lunches for school?

First up don’t focus on what they can’t eat, focus on what they can eat. Typically there is a long list of fruit and vegetables plus meats and fish. Not a bad start. Then look at substitutes for foods. One tougher example is egg however there are a number of options in baking including “no egg” replacer by Orgran. I also found vegan recipes have some good substitutes including 1/2 a mashed banana or soaked chia seeds in lieu of eggs. Orgran also offer vegan options in many of their baking mixes which are helpful. This vegan website has a great range of egg replacment options http://chefinyou.com/egg-substitutes-cooking/ .

Coconut oil and fresh coconutIn a previous post I have already covered options for dairy free in detail so have a look if you need some more information http://wp.me/p4iTIZ-2g .

Secondly make sure you spend time working on gut repair. Many minor intolerances fall away when you repair the gut with adequate glutamine and support effective digestion with herbs and probiotics. Continue providing support with home made stocks and fermented foods. Fermented foods are a good source of probiotics for the gut and often cheaper than supplements.

Home Made Cultured Or Fermented Vegetables

Now the school lunches – gluten free breads are available but often include rice and potato flours which are also increasingly common intolerances. Some options here could be;

1. Use firm lettuce as wraps for fillings or hollowed out cucumber or corn cakes.
2. Consider salads with a firmer leafed green such as wombok with chicken, Waldorf salad with chicken or Thai roast beef salad with cos lettuce.
3. Drumsticks are a great option with a simple marinade.
4. Meatballs – Recently I made baked chicken meatballs which were very popular. Ingredients were bacon onion and tomato paste.
5. Vegetable sticks with hummuus, avocado or mashed bean dip.
6. Leftovers are always good, specially roast meats or sausage with a roast vegetable salad.

Pinkfarm’s facebook and website have great ideas and lots of information on fermented foods. Have a look at http://www.pinkfarm.com.au/lunchbox-ideas/ for some more ideas on lunches and also their fabulous stainless steel lunchboxes.

Whilst it may seem like a lot of work initially I find a little more preparation in the evenings makes the morning rush much easier. I usually pack up lunch size portions of leftovers for my children for the next day and then it can be grabbed out of the fridge before I drive them to the train station.

The extra work really pays off when you see the change in your child’s health as a result of making these changes. I often have parents telling me how sickly kids no longer get every cold that’s going or how much their skin has improved as a result of making these changes. Its really worth giving these changes 3 months to see the full benefit. Particularly if you can work on gut repair at the same time.

Would love to hear your stories about how dietary change has made a difference to you or your child. Please leave a comment on the blog below.

Christine Pope is in clinical practice at St Ives in Sydney and if you need help managing or identifying food intolerances you can make appointments on 8084 0081.