Is Fasting for me ?

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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 .

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 http://www.elementalhealth.net.au

Alcohol free for a month – Four Reasons your body will thank you.

Spending a month without alcohol is for many people a less than fun way to spend the month. However your body will thank you for removing a major stressor and allowing it to function more effectively. Also I would recommend that you replace the night at the pub with some other fun activities which don’t involve alcohol – go to the movies, bush walking or try a dance or yoga class. Distract yourself to make it easier to manage the changes to your lifestyle and you may find some of them stick.

Your body will also benefit from these changes in several areas.

First up your waistline will thank you! The high kiliojoule count of alcohol (27kj per gram) particularly when combined with juice or soft drink means that cutting out alcohol removes a significant source of extra kilijoules. One of my clearest recollections in clinic was seeing a weight loss client who had put on over 20kg in a year from consuming the equivilant of half a bottle of wine a night. Cutting out the alcohol and exercising regularly saw her lose the weight in less than six months.

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Secondly if you have problematic skin replace the alcohol with 6-8 glasses of water a day and watch it improve. Alcohol is very dehydrating and as the skin is a major organ of detoxification it will often show signs of the struggle on the surface – redness, flushing, blotchy skin, greasy skin and dryness even rashes. A recent UK challenge showed before and after photo’s for a number of women doing a similar challenge with quite amazing results. Have a look at Daily Mail Cold Turkey for some real inspiration. Better still its a lot cheaper than expensive skin care and facials!

Third your liver needs a break and cutting out alcohol for a month gives it a chance to work on eliminating a significant range of other toxins from your system. It may also down regulate your alcohol dehydrogenase pathway which means less alcohol to get a buzz on in future. Fatty liver can be significantly helped by removing the stress of dealing with alcohol as well. You might need to give it a little more than a month and tweak the diet as well but the liver has an amazing ability to regenerate.

Finally you may start to smell better. Skin is one of the biggest organs of elimination so bad body odor or problematic skin is often a sign that we are not coping well with our current diet and lifestyle.  We all know how bad someone with a hangover smells as they detox the next day. Removing this burden on your system will really reduce the smell factor!


Christine Pope is a naturopath, homeopath and nutritionist based at Elemental Health, St Ives. She regularly runs Detox workshops and programs. Contact her on 8084 0081 for appointments.

Getting ready to detox!

Sick Woman On Bed Concept Of Stomachache, Headache, Hangover, SlThe first time I really detoxed was at Camp Eden. I was supposed to be studying for a nutrition exam but somehow got distracted doing “online” research and did a Blackmore’s online quiz. A few weeks later I got a phone call from Marie Claire magazine and I had won a trip for two people for a week to Camp Eden. It was an amazing week and a real turning point for me as it highlighted the benefits of just one week of healthy food and exercise.

It also highlighted how tough detoxing can be if you don’t make some preparations beforehand. I didn’t really seem to have a difficult time with it as I had already made a few changes to my diet whilst studying however I did see some quite unhappy people the first few days.

First up cut down the coffee or alcohol or whatever your drug of choice is before you arrive. With my group there were people going cold turkey from 4-6 coffees a day, several beers and a couple of other things which best stay unspecified! Just the coffee withdrawal was fairly bad, people had headaches and were quite grumpy for the first couple of days. I did hand out a bit of Nux Vomica 30c to those who were prepared to give it a try. One serious drinker left after 48 hours. So cut down significantly in the weeks before the detox. Halve the coffee for example and then reduce to one a day. With alcohol I would suggest alternating drinks with water and then making every second day alcohol free.

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Secondly start your exercise program before the detox. Ideally walking or swimming are good places to start building to at least half an hour a day. Camp Eden had a sneaky way of making you exercise as all the activities were at the bottom of the hill and the accommodation, spa and dining hall were half way up the hill. That was at least 30 minutes of intense uphill walking each day on top of whatever else you did.

The other part of the week that was a little more confronting was the group sessions which covered a range of topics from goal planning to looking at obstacles to success. If you haven’t done much counselling work on yourself you may find it a little confronting however it was fabulous to see how much other baggage people dropped as a result of this work. So perhaps a little work on yourself to see why you want to make these changes and setting yourself some goals could be a powerful addition to your motivation.

If nothing else I would love everyone to have been with us on the final day which started with tai chi on the beach at 6am, followed by an invigorating swim (it was May) and then a whole day of playing! Yep we played hours of tennis and had a lengthy water polo match. The tired stressed group who arrived at the start of the week had so much energy at the end that they could play like kids – we just had fun all day!

If you are interested in detoxing you can make an appointment on 8084 0081 or book in to our detox workshop to see what its all about.
Email christine@elementalhealth.net.au for more information

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.