Four amazing benefits of chocolate

shutterstock_383928862Chocolate in its raw state is an amazing mix of nutrients , both minerals and plant compounds such as polyphenols. Come Easter time is it possible to enjoy a little dark chocolate and support your health as well ?

1. Nutritional Content 100mg of good quality dark chocolate has 230mg of magnesium, which is 58% of the recommended daily intake (RDI) . It also has 12mg of iron (67%) 1.8mg of copper , 722mg of Potassium and 3.3 mg of zinc. That’s a nutrient dense package however it will account for 30% of your daily kilojoules intake as well.

2. Fibre content is actually reasonable as like many plants there is a good amount of fibre , around 8g in a 100g block. Usually 25-40g in a day is considered a good quantity of fibre so dark chocolate can contribute to that intake. Fibre is essential for the effective functioning of the bowel and it also provides a food source for beneficial gut bacteria.

3. Caffeine – well at around 80mg per block it’s equal to one cup of coffee so it’s good for an energy burst for at least an hour afterwards. Possibly best to avoid later in the evening if you have trouble sleeping.

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4. Theobromine – one of the valuable anti-oxidants in chocolate is theobromine. It is a vasodilator which helps move improve blood flow to the brain and increase oxygen. Its the mental boost without having to suffer the effects of excessive amounts of caffeine.

Better energy and a nice shot of your daily minerals! Just keep intake moderate and enjoy a small amount daily!

Christine Pope is a naturopath and nutritionist based at Elemental Health St Ives. You can make appointments on 8084 0081 or online at www.elementalhealth.net.au .

6 common medications that are robbing you of nutrients.

Fish Oil Capsules

Do you need to worry about the effect of medications on your intake of vitamins and minerals from your food? More than likely its worth having the conversation to see if there are any particular concerns that need to be addressed. You may be able to do it via your diet but often the dosage required is easier to get through supplementation.

What do you need to think about when you are on medications in regards to managing side effects? I have compiled a list below of common medications and some suggested nutrients to manage the side effects, however rather than taking everything on the list its always preferable to work with a practitioner to ensure that any interactions are monitored and that you have a workable program.

  1. Statins. A common problem is for people on statins (cholesterol lowering medication) that they start feeling less energetic as the statins deplete the levels of Co Q 10. CoQ10 is important for energy production within the cell. Supplementing an appropriate level of CoQ10 can make a big difference for these people.
  2. The Oral Contraceptive Pill is known for reducing levels of B6 an important B vitamin for hormonal health. Support at around 50mg a day of B6 is usually best sought in the form of a multi-vitamin with a range of B’s.
  3. Metformin which is often given for Diabetes can reduce levels of both B6 and B12. Low B12 may lead to peripheral neuropathy which can cause loss of sensation in the feet or tingling or burning sensations. Again a Multi vitamin with adequate B12 is essential .
  4. Anti-depressants need B vitamins for optimal effect and whilst they may not reduce levels specifically they may be less effective if you are not taking a multi vitamin at the same time.
  5. Antibiotics Antibiotics can disrupt the natural bacteria flora in the digestive system, killing  beneficial bacteria, including Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum . Use a good quality brand such as Inner Health with at least 1 billion live organisms for effective management.
  6. Hormone Replacement Therapy impacts on folic acid (B9), B6 and B12 as well as magnesium levels.

Natural medicine can be a great option to help manage side effects as well as providing options to drugs when side effects are not well tolerated. Christine Pope is an experienced nutritionist and homeopath based at Elemental Health , St Ives and is available on 8084 0081 for appointments.

 

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.

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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.

What’s your mineral status like?

Dairy products

Most of us are aware that we need calcium and the dairy lobby do a great job at reminding us that we need three serves a day. I think we need a marketing lobby for the other sixteen nutrient minerals which really don’t get the same air time but have really critical roles to play in how well we function.

I have posted extensively about the role of magnesium in the past as its probably calcium’s forgotten partner. Calcium and magnesium are required for effective muscle contraction and release as well as to assist calcium to mobilise into bone. Muscle cramping is a common sign of magnesium deficiency. Good sources of magnesium include most of the green leafy vegetables, ideally at least one cup a day.

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Magnesium is also well indicated if your energy levels are low and will often help improve energy quite quickly. However if magnesium isn’t doing the job you may need to add Manganese as well. Good sources include most of the legumes such as chickpeas and lentils.

Zinc for example is critical for effective digestion as it is required for many digestive enzymes. Good sources of red meat are zinc and oysters – two things that many women don’t eat enough of or don’t like (really oysters YUK). Low zinc status means low immunity so you are prone to getting every infection that goes around. Signs of zinc deficiency include white spots on the finger nails and noticing you are losing your sense of taste or smell. Compromised digestion can also be another signal that zinc levels are low.

So how do you check all these levels easily – there are a couple of tools in naturopathic practice , Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis, which is offered by a few companies such as Interclinical and Healthscope Pathology. There is also a new tool which has been recently released in Australia called Oligoscan, which uses Spectrophotometry to measure the optical density of the trace elements, minerals and heavy metals, currently present in the tissues. It provides, in real time, a precise analysis of the minerals in the skin and peripheral blood vessels. No biopsy, blood or hair sample is needed. There are often delays in waiting for Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis as women often need to grow out colour before a sample can be taken and many dislike cutting their hair.

Having recently introduced the Oligoscan I have found it really helps target potential health issues related to mineral deficiciencies and heavy metal toxicity. One of the areas that is consistently a problem is Aluminium levels as we are exposed to it in so many ways. Basically you think of Aluminium in cans and foil but it is widely present in toiletries and cosmetics as well as being used in the form of aluminium sulfate to treat water to kill off bacteria. Given the concerns about Aluminium and it relationship to Alzheimers it would be sensible to reduce your exposure to this element as much as possible. A good quality water filter should remove the Aluminium before you drink the water, after all you only need the Aluminium sulfate to do its job killing bacteria you don’t need it after that.

A quick preview of the technology is given on this Youtube clip. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6nwFFQndS10wG6t2FWBsGQ

More information on Oligoscan is on their website at http://www.oligoscan.net.au or you can visit me at St Ives and organise a test either as part of a consult or as a standalone test. Clinic number is 8084 0081 and I am available Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Other days I am lecturing at Nature Care College.