Climate Change – what can you do?

During the recent election there was a lot of debate about climate change and the need to take action. It is an overwhelming issue for any one person to deal with on their own. What I thought might help is to break it down into smaller tasks and see what you can do to reduce your carbon consumption. In the last 18 months Australians have reduced consumption of plastic bags by 1.5 billion bags so I am sure collectively we can make some reasonable changes.

First up where are the big contributors to greenhouse emissions – well it depends a little bit on your source but according to Austalian government data

transport is a major contributor to emissions.

How do we reduce reliance on gas guzzling cars ? My top four suggestions are as follows:

  1. Use public transport where possible. Ever since they dug up George St for the light rail I have found driving into town a nightmare. Roads are blocked off and its really hard to find places to cross over. Consequently my entire family now uses the train consistently and its really reduced the mileage in our cars significantly. Look at bus routes too it is so easy now with the Opal card to jump on a bus for short distances.
  2. Consider whether you really need a second car (which is an expensive cost in terms of depreciation, insurance and registration etc) and whether you could use taxis or Ubershutterstock_1216160155 particularly if you live close to where you work. If you really only use a car intermittently have a look at services like Go-Get for short term use or hire a car for bigger trips.
  3. Walk more! On Sundays we walk to a local coffee bar with the dog and pop in and buy a few things at Harris Farm. More steps for us and lower use of the car.
  4. Invest in the latest energy efficient vehicle , whether its an electric car or a hybrid like the Honda Civic.
  5. Put the kids on the bus to school. Traffic on the North Shore is chaotic in the mornings and part of that is due to the number of children who are driven to school. Due to the fact that many parents are unaware of bus services to school they don’t use them and then it becomes increasingly difficult to justify the service. 40 kids on a bus is much less problematic than 40 parents individually driving children to school.

What’s next? If you have already adopted as many of those options that are affordable probably the next area to look at in reducing your carbon footprint is food. Agriculture is responsible for around 16% of carbon emissions and the biggest part of that is methane from livestock accounting for in excess of 50%.

  1. Reduce your consumption of meat and other animal products. I am not recommending that you adopt veganism however it may well be worthwhile looking at making vegetables the star of your dinner table and meat more of a condiment.
  2. Look at more than just a Meat Free Monday – ideally look at vegetarian proteins like chickpeas, tofu and other legumes as well as cheese or eggs to make up your protein requirements. This also makes a much more affordable diet than relying heavily on meat.shutterstock_158785211
  3. What can you grow at home ? Whether its simply some herbs or fruit, most people can grow things they use regularly like lemons or mint or rosemary. It all helps reduce the amount of transport used for shipping food as well as food miles.
  4. See if you can buy produce locally as there are now lots of farmers markets or organic markets on offer.

Another way to reduce your carbon footprint is to look at reducing plastic use in your home. My recent blog on Quitting Plastic has some straightforward ideas.

How are you planning on reducing your footprint ?  Post in the comments section to share your ideas.

Christine Pope is an experienced natural medicine practitioner based at Elemental Health, St Ives. You can make appointments on 8084 0081 or online at http://www.elementalhealth.net.au .

2016 was a blast!

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Often at this time of year there are so many messages about planning for 2017 and making New Year’s resolutions. How about starting by recognising your achievements in 2016!

This is by far one of the most useful exercises that I have done. Last year I worked with Cheryl Alderman of Be Ultimate and as part of our planning for the year we started by acknowledging the achievements from the previous year.

In many ways 2016 was a big year personally and also for nutrition.

On the nutrition front there was some significant progress in terms of recognising flaws in government dietary guidelines. For the first time we seem to be recognising the role of sugar in obesity and ceasing to demonise all fats as the enemy. Whether this is due to “That Sugar Movie” or “I Quit sugar” or simply that the research is showing that cutting down fat has not actually resulted in improvements in obesity . In fact we have actually seen significant increases in obesity due to the substitution of sugar in many products.

img_0061We have also seen a discussion about the introduction of a sugar tax in Australia to discourage the use of sugar in products but also to address the continued costs of the obesity epidemic.

2016 has also seen the rise of interest in traditional foods such as bone broth and fermented foods such as yoghurt, keffir, kombucha and sauerkraut. Many of these products are now commercially available providing people with great food based options for gut healing and nutrition.

From an industry and personal perspective as Chair of the Marketing Committee for ATMS I oversaw the introduction of Natural Medicine Week and the development of a microsite to support it at www.naturalmedicineweek.com.au  There was great industry support with members from my association hosting over 44 events to promote the week. This included Open Days, Public Talks and Special Offers. My own event, a Homeopathic First Aid workshop booked out, meaning that I ran a second workshop.

Natural Medicine Week occurred during the run up to the Federal election and one of the focal points was encouraging discussion on the proposal by Bill Shorten to remove natural medicine from Private Health insurance rebates. A personal highlight was seeing that measure was not successful.

From my practice standpoint I was fortunate enough to attend the Metagenics Congress in June 2016 and see Dr Dale Bredesen speak about his protocol for reversing Alzheimer’s and in December this year I attended the Buck Institute and completed the program to train you in the protocol. Watch this blog for updates as I figure out how to access the testing I need to implement the protocol !

I also found a non invasive form of testing for food intolerances which was affordable and is already yielding good results in my practice particularly with skin problems which can often be tricky.

So achievements for 2016 – launching Natural Medicine Week, lobbying on Private Health Insurance, new testing and working on Reversing Alzheimer’s . Watch out 2017!

Christine Pope is a nutritionist and homeopath based at Elemental health at St Ives. She is available for appointments on Tuesdays and Wednesdays on 8084 0081. Alternatively the website has online bookings.

Arriving in great shape

Arriving in great shape

The worst thing in the world when you start a holiday is getting sick. You just spent thousands getting to your destination and now you have to deal with being sick, missing out on part of your holiday and even dealing with a doctor in a language you don’t speak. So what can you do to avoid this?

First up don’t work right up to the second you get on the plane. You are setting yourself up for a lovely adrenal crash when you land, depressing your immune system so you can’t resist the bugs that were on the plane or in the airport. You are going on holidays and they need to cope when you are gone – coach them with some baby steps the weeks before your trip so that its all running smoothly and you can enjoy your break.

Support your immune system assiduously before the trip. Ideally look at a minimum a good quality probiotic for at least a month, plus if you are prone to colds and flu think about some form of immune support in the form of Echinacea, Vitamin C and Zinc. If its really your adrenals that are struggling then consider some ginsengs such as Withania which provides gentle support. Again start at least a month before travelling to really build up your adrenals.

Book your flights so that you start relaxed. By this I mean rather than getting a 6am flight because its cheapest, travel at 10 or 11am when its more relaxed and you can enjoy a slow start to the day. Treat the travel as part of the holiday and make it a relaxed experience. If you are doing Europe in economy think about breaking it overnight to sleep flat in a real bed and make it easier on your body. Alternatively book a massage once you arrive to really start your holiday in the best frame of mind.

Then on the plane work on barrier support. Try a nasal spray with saline and essential oils to keep mucous membranes functioning and bugs at bay. This is also good if you are prone to difficulties with ears on takeoffs or landings as it will help keep the passages clear. Stay well hydrated even if you have to get out to the toilet every few hours – moving around will help you feel better at the other end anyway.

My favourite homeopathic combination for long trips is a dose of Oscillococinum and Hepar Sulph on each leg of the flight. Oscillococinum is marketed as Flu Stop in Europe and its a great preventative if you are prone to catching those type of bugs. Better still it can be used as treatment if you do get a bug so it covers a few bases.

Christine Pope is a Homeopath and Nutritionist who practices at Elemental Health, St Ives and can be contacted on 8084 0081 for appointments. Her travel bug has been curtailed of recent years due to a busy work schedule but she is planning a trip to New Zealand in January.

Is stress making you fat?

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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

5 simple strategies for losing weight

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What is stopping you losing weight?

This month I am looking at the major “obstacles” as I believe until you deal with these issues it is really hard to successfully lose weight and keep it off.

Insulin Resistance is one of the most common problems blocking weight loss and unfortunately yo yo dieting usually makes it worse. So how do you deal with insulin resistance?

First up be clear this is the problem – usually insulin resistance presents with a craving for sweet and fatty foods as well as dips in energy if you haven’t eaten for a few hours. This then makes you crave sweet food to boost your blood glucose perpetuating a nasty cycle. Your body then releases insulin to store the elevated glucose (often as fat) and this frequent activation can cause the pancreas, which produces insulin, to become less effective.

Strategies for improving your insulin resistance;

1. A low carbohydrate diet with modest amounts of protein at every meal. Low carbs doesn’t mean no carbs it just means that you need to reduce carbohydrates (such as bread and pasta) to 2-3 serves a day and increase the nutrient density of your meals with 6 serves of vegetables a day.  In addition try and eat some protein containing food every 4 hours to avoid dips in blood glucose – a handful of nuts or half a tub of yoghurt could be some easy options.

2. Regular exercise has consistently been shown to improve insulin sensitivity – 30 minutes of walking five times a week is enough to produce consistent benefit. Ideally you could add some resistance exercise to build muscle however just the walking will produce significant benefits and you don’t need special gear!

3. Supplements – this area is a little tricky as it can depend on your specific symptoms. A good base is a multi vitamin and good quality fish oil (1000mg).  If sweet cravings are an issue then chromium is often indicated. Australian soils are old and depleted so it is hard to get it from your diet. The other key nutrient is magnesium and if you also get cramps or muscle aches and pains or sleep badly this is a good signal that you may require it – generally at least 400mg a day is a good level.

4. Stress less – find a way to start managing the stress in your life as this is a major trigger. It can lead to abdominal obesity and inflammation thereby aggravating your symptoms. Ideal ways to manage stress could include a regular yoga class, meditation tapes, journalling, walking on the beach or simply meeting with a friend.

5. Avoid CRAP foods – Carbonated , Refined, Additive laden and Processed foods. If you look on the back of the packet and you don’t know what things are, then basically its not food.  Trans fats in particular are very damaging to your arteries and these substances are often used to preserve foods so best to avoid them!

Christine Pope is a nutritionist and homeopath based at Elemental health at St Ives. If you need help with managing your weight you can make an appointment on 8084 0081.