Lets FACE It.

Healthy-skin

Lets FACE it, age creeps up on us all. How old we feel isn’t always a reflection of how we look! You can feel frustrated or unhappy with your skins appearance whether you are 16 or 60. At 16 it may be the breakouts and persistent acne that weighs you down. At 60 the lines, wrinkles, sagging and lack of inner glow may be what stares back at you every time you step in front of the mirror.

Skin health really is an inside job. When it comes to skin wellbeing and appearance what you eat and drink is extremely important. What you ingest can either give you smooth, glowing, radiant skin or lack lustre, dry, irritated and inflamed skin.

Though essential to take care of your skin externally in order to protect it from external environmental factors (UVA & UVB rays, pollution, heating + cooling & harsh winds) all which wreck havoc on our skin, dietary choices are the most influential. The connection between nutrition and skin conditions or rather the effect of nutrition on skin health and aging has been an interesting research field for scientists and humans throughout the ages.

You write your skin story with every bite that you take just as you change the microbiota (GUT bacteria) with every mouth full. What you eat becomes who you are instantly. There are no overnight miracles however switching from an inflammatory diet to an anti-inflammatory diet starts to take effect quite quickly.

Our skin is made up of 3 layers. The epidermis the outer most layer of the skin is our border between the inside and outside environment. The epidermis provides a waterproof barrier, makes melanin that creates our skin tone and holds immune cells. The dermis the second layer of the skin holds sweat & oil glands, is the root of hair growth and holds nerve endings. The third layer known as the subcutaneous fat layer is made up of fat and connective tissue. Here body temperature is controlled and this layer of fat attaches the dermis to muscles and bone.

Within these layers there are proteins (collagen, elastin + keratin) and fats which provide skin cushioning as well as assist with communication between our internal and external world through nerve fibres covered by fat. Therefore doesn’t it make sense to nourish and feed our skin with what it is in fact made up of?

Lets look at which foods are going to give you the glow.

 The Glow Givers

Good Fats

Lets get things straight–not all fats are created equally. Healthy fats are essential for strong cell membranes, supple hydrated skin, the absorption of nutrients and energy production. In fact much evidence now leads to the conclusion that the replacement of fats from our diet during the low fat era led to the increase in carbohydrate and simple sugars intake which lead to the development of many present day diseases (depression, hormonal imbalances, increased risk of certain cancers, high cholesterol, heart disease, arthritis and skin aliments like eczema and psoriasis).

So which skin loving fats should we be eating daily?

  • Avocados (fires up the natural detox process of the liver to flush out unwanted wastes, rich in Vitamin E (antioxidant), B3 – Niacin needed for detox, DNA repair and the reduction of redness and inflammation).
  • Olive oil (anti inflammatory, rich in Vitamin E which strengthens cell membranes, protects skin against UV damage & works along side Vitamin C to produce collagen).
  • Coconut Oil (made up of medium chained fatty acids coconut oil contains lauric acid an anti viral, anti bacterial component – awesome for skin woes.
  • Chia Seeds (complete protein packed with cell strengthening Omega 3 that reduces inflammation. Being full of fibre chia seeds assist elimination meaning there’s less nasties systemically which may lead to skin issues).
  • Fats from Nuts & Seeds (protein rich, B Vitamin & Mineral rich).
  • Flaxseeds (anti inflammatory Omega 3’s help reduce hormonal levels that can factor in clogged pores and breakouts).
  • Salmon & Oily Fish (anti inflammatory Omega 3’s help protect skin from sun damage and keep skin smooth and supple).

Healthy fats are essential for beautiful, glowing, supple skin pushing dryness and inflammation aside.

Antioxidants

The reason why fruit and vegetables are so brightly coloured = antioxidants. Antioxidants are compounds found in foods that search and neutralise free radicals. Free radicals cause oxidation and cellular damage which leads to a multitude of issues one of them being collagen breakdown and therefore aging! Examples of antioxidants found in food are Vitamins A, C, E, Folic Acid, Beta-carotene –which gives food the orange pigment, & Lycopene, which gives food its red pigment. In terms of skin loving antioxidant filled foods/drinks think berries, pomegranates, reservatoal found in grapes, vegetables (carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato, zucchini, capsicum, spinach etc), green + white tea, raw cacao, nuts, herbs and spices etc.

 Protein

Protein is the building block of life, helping maintain structure and function of the entire body. Protein is responsible for repairing and rebuilding muscle and tissue, hair + nail growth, the creation of enzymes and hormones as well as the health and maintenance of internal organs and blood. If we look specifically at Skin – it is in fact 25% protein being made up of three major proteins à collagen, elastin and keratin. Hence, doesn’t it make sense to feed skin with what it is in fact mad of? Skin loving proteins to include in your skin health program à organic free range eggs, salmon + other oily fish, grass feed poultry and meat, raw nuts and seeds, legumes, quinoa and pea protein to mention a few.

 Greens

Dark leafy greens have a multitude of health benefits. In fact green vegetables are the most nutritious carbohydrate and most nutrient dense of all foods. Anti inflammatory on cellular level, green vegetables are little nutrition powerhouses! They are high in B Vitamins essential for so many processes within our bodies from energy production to hormone regulation, nervous system health and support, digestive health as well as skin, hair, liver and mouth health etc. Greens have great amounts of Vitamin A which supports the turn over and production of new skin cells therefore eating adequate amounts helps prevent rough, dry, wrinkled skin. Greens are high in Phytonutrients and AntioxidantsVitamins K, C, E, Folate and Carotenoids as well as essential minerals Calcium, Magnesium, Iron and PotassiumVitamin C plays a major role in, tissue health and healing and importantly collagen synthesis. Greens are full of fibre, which helps keep your GUT healthy and bowels busy at work moving toxins out. Greens get their beautiful colour from Chlorophyll. Chlorophyll has a very detoxifying action on the body. It cleanses the body of harmful toxins, which can lead to hormone imbalances and flare skin ailments. It also oxygenates blood, alkalizes the body’s ph level and improves circulation to increase nutrient supply to skin cells.

Zinc

Foods rich in the mineral Zinc are also indispensable. Zinc is fundamental to skin integrity as well as healing/renewal of skin cells. Research shows that dietary deficiency of zinc is found in 50% of patients suffering with skin conditions (dry, itch skin, acne). You may be interested to know that 6% of the body’s zinc is found in skin. Foods rich in zinc are oysters, grass fed meat, chickpeas, lentils, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, pecans, walnuts mushrooms, quinoa and tahini.

Humans undergo two types of aging. Chronological aging otherwise known as intrinsic aging determined by genetics. The second type of aging extrinsic aging is the result of external factors mainly UV exposure, environmental pollutions, stress and poor nutritional choices. Hence doesn’t it make sense of take control of what we can to ward off extrinsic aging as much as possible?

Look at for part two of this blog where I will discuss skin traitor foods.

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Liver Love

imageThe liver has certainly attracted a lot of attention over the last couple of years. Numerous books, blogs and magazine articles have been written regarding ways of taking care of our second largest organ via the use of detoxes, juice fasts, specific eating plans and supplements.

Centuries ago the liver was considered to be the seat of the soul. Plato the ancient Greek philosopher believed that our subconscious thoughts and deepest desires passed through our liver to be deciphered while the rational mind was asleep. The art of reading the liver (Hepatoscopy) began during the period of the Bronze Age (approximately 5000 years ago). In fact ancient Greek’s examined the livers of sacrificed animals to predict natural disasters while ancient Italians formed connections between the Gods and constellations with zones of the liver.

The liver holds great importance in Chinese Medicine and plays many important roles within the body. In fact in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the liver is viewed as the Army General as it’s involved in the overall planning of the body’s function.

Here are the roles the liver plays according to TCM
Stores blood and controls the volume of blood within the body. Blood flows to muscles and tendons during periods of movement and activity and later gets stored in the liver at periods of rest.
Ensures the smooth flow of Qi (energy) throughout the body. If Liver Qi stagnates, emotions, digestion and menstruation will be affected.
The liver is responsible for our capacity to recover energy.
Controls the tendons. In fact the blood of the liver nourishes tendons.
Manifest in the nails. A deficiency of liver blood is noted in dry, cracked, splitting nails.
Opens into the eyes. Liver blood nourishes the eyes, hence good vision relies on the liver. If heat occurs within the liver red, irritated and itchy eyes will occur.
Regulates menstruation. Along with the spleen which is involved in blood production via the food it receives, the liver blood provides for menstruation to occur. If liver blood is lacking the period will be too.
Houses the ethereal soul known as the HUN which influences our capacity to plan.

In TCM the liver is the place where we store anger, frustration, unresolved emotions and energy. It is most active between the hours of 1-3am hence it is common for individuals to process their emotions and blood at this time. In fact it is very common for an anxiety attack to occur between 1-3am.

Unfortunately on average most people’s knowledge of the liver extends as far as its involvement of filtering alcohol. You might be surprised to know that our liver is involved in approximately 499 processes within our body making it the ultimate multi-tasker! Everything we eat, drink, put on our skin and breath in is taken in by our liver to be processed, purified and redistributed around the body, to then be extracted via the kidneys, bowels or skin.

Our liver is also involved in the manufacture of hormones, cholesterol and bile (stored in the Gallbladder – involved in fat metabolism). It stores glycogen (form of glucose used as an energy source), amino acids (building blocks of protein), vitamins A, B12, Vitamin D and iron. It’s assist with the filtration of blood, blood sugar regulation and disposes old RBC (red blood cells). It is also the distribution centre sending hormones and nutrients where they are needed most in the body. The most amazing thing about the liver is that it regenerates itself. Hence if it undergoes surgery and a piece is removed it has the astounding capacity to regenerate itself.

We Acupuncturists place much emphasis on the liver and the overall health/function of the female gynecological system in particular menstruation. Western medicine also strongly recognises the role the liver plays with menstruation.

The liver processes excess levels of oestrogen allowing it to be extracted. Signs and symptoms related to this female hormone being unbalanced are hair loss, weight gain, leg cramps, mood swings, depression, nausea and vomiting, bloating, headaches (often bilateral and pounding), fluid retention, breast soreness, recurrent yeast infections, yellow tinged skin as well as excessive bleeding during menstruation. PCOS and endometriosis are also signs that the liver isn’t clearing oestrogen as it should. Oestrogen is normally balanced by another hormone known as progesterone. Progesterone is produced by the adrenal glands and is known as an anti-anxiety, anti-depressant, diuretic and fat burning hormone. Our adrenal glands are more commonly known for their role in producing two stress hormones – cortisol and adrenaline. When the body is under excessive stress the consequence results in the ceasing of progesterone which makes females feel less than average.

The frightening outcome of an overloaded liver is that excess oestrogen gets sent to the bloodstream. From here it gets stored in fat cells such as breast tissue. Research findings show that individuals diagnosed with oestrogen sensitive breast cancer have oestrogen levels 400 times higher than in other individuals. Hence an important reason to look after your liver!!

So how do we support our liver?
~ Limiting alcohol or removing it for a period of time when your liver is showing signs of overload is the first step.
~ Steering clear of highly processed, packaged foods, refined sugars and trans fats.
~ Begin your day with a cup of warm water and lemon juice to purify the liver and alkaline the body.
~ Increase fibre in the diet. As an example eating oats for breakfast would help mop up excess oestrogen levels in the body – pushing them out via the bowel.
~ Drink liver supportive tea such as dandelion. Aim for 2 cups daily.
~ Milk Thistle is a herb which is very liver supportive. Taking it as a supplement can be quite beneficial.
~Eat greens daily (spinach, spring beans, silverbeet, broccoli) and include bitter greens a few times a week (endive, radicchio, rocket, dandelion greens, nettle, watercress) are a few examples.
~ Reduce coffee intake or better still steer clear of it all together for a while to take pressure off the liver.
~ Eat organic produce whenever possible to lessen the impact and levels of pesticides and herbicides absorbed by the body.
~ Do not store food in plastic containers and most importantly don’t heat up food in plastic containers in microwaves. When plastic is heated it releases xenoestrogens an environmental compound which mimics oestrogen and is a well known endocrine disruptor.
~ Chemical overload impacts the liver as previously mentioned. Hence use toxin free cleaning products whenever possible. Earth and Eco Store are two great non toxic cleaning and laundry products easily accessible in supermarkets.
~ Exercise to encourage and move liver Qi and lymphatic waste.

If there is one organ that should be grabbing your attention it’s definitely your liver.image

Its a GUT Feeling…….

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When the ‘Father of Western Medicine’ Hippocrates stated, “All disease begins in the GUT” over 2000 years ago he definitely was ahead of his time.

Our GUT is home to 100 trillion foreign bacteria, known as microbiome, which play a pivotal role in the way many of our body’s organs and systems work. In fact approximately 1200 different bacterial species can be found in the GUT of an individual living in a developed country. Through research we now know that our GUT bacteria are responsible for how many kilojoules we absorb from the food we eat, how well our immunity works, how much Serotonin we produce (a neurotransmitter responsible for many processes in our body in particular mood stabilisation) and the detoxification of the body. About 20 of the body’s essential hormones are also produced in the GUT.

Science has uncovered that damage to this ecosystem (one of the most complex on the planet) known as Dysbiosis is linked to the development of many diseases such as Chron’s Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis, Thyroid Issues, many Auto-Immune Diseases, some Cancers, Heart Disease, Autism, Skin Issues and Mood Disorders such as depression.

Of all the recent research that has been uncovered about the GUT, the most interesting and exciting is the profound connection between the Brain and GUT. The GUT has its own nervous system – The Enteric Nervous System (ENS). The GUT is known as our ‘second brain’ however research is now starting to unfold that quiet possibly our GUT is formed prior to the brain in the womb. Our emotions and brain are constantly responding to what is happening in our GUT and our intestines are linked to our emotions and mental state. In fact the same chemicals that are in the brain are in the GUT hence why when nervous we may find ourselves running to the bathroom more than once!!! We have all heard the expressions “Go with your GUT”, “GUT Instinct” and “GUT Wrenching” and can now understand their meaning.

Some of the latest research is also now focusing on the link between the bacteria in our GUT and our body weight. Bacteria have different capabilities for harvesting energy according to Gastroenterologist Dr Robynne Chutkan. “You can take the exact some meal and give it to 2 people with different GUT microbiome and one individual will absorb 1250Kj and another will absorb 2100Kj from the same meal”.

The bad news is that our modern lifestyle is really bad for our overall wellbeing and this precious ecosystem. So what leads to imbalances in our digestive tract and damage to our GUT lining?

  • Consuming Sugar as it promotes the growth of bad bacteria and therefore gets in the way of the growth of beneficial species. Stay away from refined carbohydrates & processed (non-food) & soft drinks.
  • Inflammatory gluten and excessive quantities of dairy
  • Food containing preservatives (kill healthy bacteria) and grown with antibiotics and growth hormones.
  • Chemicals from plastics and the absorption of chemical compounds from cleaning products. This is why I always use non-chemical cleaning & laundry products.
  • Our obsession with hand sanitizes has lead to a disturbance in the balance of bacteria in our GUT.
  • The over use of Antibiotics has lead to the destruction of not only the bad bugs but also the essential good ones! When good bacteria die off bad bacteria thrive and out number healthy strains. The over prescription of Antibiotics by Doctors has played a huge part!!
  • Stress – It is no surprise how stressful situations impact out GUT.

Healthy GUT = Healthy Body

A diet filled with plentiful amounts of wholefoods, greens, vegetables and pre & probiotics can rehab your microbiome. Examples of prebiotic foods are sweet potato, asparagus, brussel sprouts, avocado, garlic & onion. You may be interested to know that your GUT microbes use fruit and vegetable fibres as food ‘fermenting’ these prebiotics in the intestines.

Taking a course of high strength Probiotics a few times a year is also another fantastic way of realigning the microbiome in your tummy. These live microorganisms really are “pro + bios = for + life. There are several different strains of probiotics, which are specific to certain aliments.

A healthy Gut means a healthier life. Give your GUT some more love so that it can love you back.

It’s a GUT Feeling……

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When the ‘Father of Western Medicine’ Hippocrates stated, “All disease begins in the GUT” over 2000 years ago he definitely was ahead of his time.

Our GUT is home to 100 trillion foreign bacteria, known as microbiome, which play a pivotal role in the way many of our body’s organs and systems work. In fact approximately 1200 different bacterial species can be found in the GUT of an individual living in a developed country. Through research we now know that our GUT bacteria are responsible for how many kilojoules we absorb from the food we eat, how well our immunity works, how much Serotonin we produce (a neurotransmitter responsible for many processes in our body in particular mood stabilisation) and the detoxification of the body. About 20 of the body’s essential hormones are also produced in the GUT.

Science has uncovered that damage to this ecosystem (one of the most complex on the planet) known as Dysbiosis is linked to the development of many diseases such as Chron’s Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis, Thyroid Issues, many Auto-Immune Diseases, some Cancers, Heart Disease, Autism, Skin Issues and Mood Disorders such as depression.

Of all the recent research that has been uncovered about the GUT, the most interesting and exciting is the profound connection between the Brain and GUT. The GUT has its own nervous system – The Enteric Nervous System (ENS). The GUT is known as our ‘second brain’ however research is now starting to unfold that quiet possibly our GUT is formed prior to the brain in the womb. Our emotions and brain are constantly responding to what is happening in our GUT and our intestines are linked to our emotions and mental state. In fact the same chemicals that are in the brain are in the GUT hence why when nervous we may find ourselves running to the bathroom more than once!!! We have all heard the expressions “Go with your GUT”, “GUT Instinct” and “GUT Wrenching” and can now understand their meaning.

Some of the latest research is also now focusing on the link between the bacteria in our GUT and our body weight. Bacteria have different capabilities for harvesting energy according to Gastroenterologist Dr Robynne Chutkan. “You can take the exact some meal and give it to 2 people with different GUT microbiome and one individual will absorb 1250Kj and another will absorb 2100Kj from the same meal”.

The bad news is that our modern lifestyle is really bad for our overall wellbeing and this precious ecosystem. So what leads to imbalances in our digestive tract and damage to our GUT lining?
• Consuming Sugar as it promotes the growth of bad bacteria and therefore gets in the way of the growth of beneficial species. Stay away from refined carbohydrates & processed (non-food) & soft drinks.
• Inflammatory gluten and excessive quantities of dairy
• Food containing preservatives (kill healthy bacteria) and grown with antibiotics and growth hormones.
• Chemicals from plastics and the absorption of chemical compounds from cleaning products. This is why I always use non-chemical cleaning & laundry products.
• Our obsession with hand sanitizes has lead to a disturbance in the balance of bacteria in our GUT.
• The over use of Antibiotics has lead to the destruction of not only the bad bugs but also the essential good ones! When good bacteria die off bad bacteria thrive and out number healthy strains. The over prescription of Antibiotics by Doctors has played a huge part!!
• Stress – It is no surprise how stressful situations impact out GUT.

Healthy GUT = Healthy Body
A diet filled with plentiful amounts of wholefoods, greens, vegetables and pre & probiotics can rehab your microbiome. Examples of prebiotic foods are sweet potato, asparagus, brussel sprouts, avocado, garlic & onion. You may be interested to know that your GUT microbes use fruit and vegetable fibres as food ‘fermenting’ these prebiotics in the intestines.

Taking a course of high strength Probiotics a few times a year is also another fantastic way of realigning the microbiome in your tummy. These live microorganisms really are “pro + bios = for + life. There are several different strains of probiotics, which are specific to certain aliments.

A healthy Gut means a healthier life. Give your GUT some more love so that it can love you back.

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For The Love of Cacao

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Here’s the thing, i’m not one of those girls whom reaches for milk chocolate when feeling a little or a lot worse for wear or emotionally low. It just doesn’t do it for me! If anything it actually makes me feel a little nauseous and definitely not satisfied. I’m definitely drawn to the ‘dark side’ and i go by the preference that a square or 2 of dark chocolate is good for me.

The Latin name for cocoa—Theobroma—literally means, “food of the gods” and is considered one of the original “superfoods” with its origins dating date to the Amazon and other regions in South America.

Cacao now has scientific research to back up its health benefits. Here are the facts.

  • Dark chocolate (70-85%) is nutritious containing a high quality cacao, not to be mistaken for the processed commercial version cocoa. 100gm of 70-85% chocolate contains 11gm of fibre, 67%/ 7.3mg of the RDA for iron (highest plant source known to man), 58% of the RDA for magnesium, 89% of the RDA for copper & 98% of the RDA for manganese. It also has plenty of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium.
  • Its full of antioxidants. Cacao is choc full of polyphenols, flavanols and catechins. One study showing that it has more antioxidant activity than fruits such as blueberries and acai berries.
  • Cacao improves blood flow and lowers blood pressure. Bioactive compounds in cacao can improve blood flow in the arteries and cause a small decrease in blood pressure.
  • Cacao improves good cholesterol (HDL) and guards against oxidation. It can lower oxidative damage and improves insulin sensitivity.
  • Cacao helps lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Studies have concluded a drastic reduction in heart disease risk for individuals whom eat the best quality dark chocolate.
  • Cacao may protect your skin against the sun. Studies show that flavanols found in cacao can improve blood flow to the skin and protect skin against sun induced damage.
  • Dark chocolate may improve brain function. A study which involved healthy volunteers showed that following 5 days of eating high flavanol cacao – improvements  to blood flow to the brain occurred.Research also shows that it may also significantly improve cognitive function in elderly people with mental impairment and improve verbal fluency as well as risk factors for the disease.
  • Its full of Magnesium. Raw cacao is one of the highest plant based sources of one of my favourite minerals. Magnesium is quiet deficient in our soil and very often stripped from our food via too much processing. Magnesium is essential for muscular relaxation of the skeletal system, blood vessels and GUT and nourishes the nervous system therefore considered the “anti-stress” mineral. Also think of the benefits it could have with menstual pain ladies!
  • Cacao has more calcium than cow’s milk. 160mg per 100gm v’s 125mg per 100ml of milk.
  • Raw cacao is a natural mood elevator because its full of serotonin, dopamine, anandamide and phenylethylamine. These neurotransmitters are associated with feelings of well-being, happiness and can even help with depression.

Its essential not to confuse cacao with cocoa. Commercial cocoa has been chemically processed and roasted which destroys a large amount of antioxidants and flavanols (these help keep us healthy). In fact 60-90% of the original antioxidants are destroyed through “dutch” processing which was developed to decrease the bitterness and colour of cacao.

 

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I love to add a tablespoon or two to my smoothie, protein/bliss balls, cookies, muffins and only use raw cacao powder to make my hot chocolate drinks in the cooler months making it not only delicious but nutritious.

 

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Why Mum Was Right When She Said, “Eat Your Greens”…..

greens

From the time you could eat solids and way into your childhood and adolescence you were told to eat your veggies especially the green stuff on your plate. Unlike many nutritional messages which seem to change constantly, eating your greens has definitely stuck and isn’t a fad or myth. Hence, when mum was nagging you every night she was on to something!

Dark leafy greens have a multitude of health benefits. In fact green vegetables are the most nutritious carbohydrate and most nutrient dense of all foods.

  • Green vegetables are little nutrition powerhouses! They are high in B Vitamins. B vitamins are essential for so many processes in our bodies from energy production to hormone regulation, nervous system health and support, digestive health as well as skin, hair, liver and mouth health etc.
  • Greens have great amounts of Vitamin A which supports the turn over and production of new skin cells therefore eating adequate amounts helps prevent rough, dry, wrinkled skin. Vitamin A is also required for the health of epithelial tissue of which mucous membranes are composed. Vitamin A precursors –Alpha Carotene and Beta Carotene enhance the immune system and protect eye health.
  • Greens are high in Phytonutrients and Antioxidants, Vitamins K, C, E, Folate and Carotenoids as well as essential minerals Calcium, Magnesium, Iron and Potassium. Vitamin K plays a big role in intestinal function as well as heart and brain health. Good levels of Vitamin K regulate blood clotting and protect bones, decrease calcium in arterial plaques, reduces inflammation, helps prevent type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Vitamin C plays a major role in immunity, tissue health and healing, adrenal gland function and iron absorption. Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant preventing cell damage by inhibiting the oxidation of fats and the formation of free radicals.
  • Phytonutrients found in greens – beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin (important for preventing cell damage and protecting eyes). Phytonutrients also possess antibiotic and antioxidant properties, which facilitate toxin removal improving brain function, immune support and the strength of blood vessels.
  • Greens are full of fibre, which helps keep your GUT healthy and bowels busy at work moving toxins out.
  • Greens get their colour from Chlorophyll. Chlorophyll has a very detoxifying action on the body. It cleanses the body of harmful toxins, which can lead to hormone imbalances and flare skin ailments. It also oxygenates blood, alkalizes the body’s ph level and improves circulation to increase nutrient supply to skin cells. Greens are also powerful mood enhancers, lifting the spirit therefore help depression. The colour green is also associated with spring time, the liver in chinese medicine and hence a time of renewal, refreshment and vital energy.
  • Green vegetables stimulate enzymes and bile, which help overall digestion.
  • Leafy greens assist in balancing sugar cravings.
  • Greens are anti-inflammatory on a cellular level, which is scientifically proven to be one of the main causes of illness whether it is heart disease, Crohn’s disease,  cancer or osteoarthritis.
  • Leafy Vegetables have a light flexible energy about them. Therefore, when you are feeling heavy and weighted down eat more of them and less heavy animal proteins for example.
  • Greens improve circulation and clear congestion, especially in the lungs therefore help reduce mucus build up.

Some of my Personal Favourite Greens

Baby Spinach

Endive (Bitter Green therefore great for the Liver)

Romaine Lettuce

Silver Beet

Bok Choy

Rocket

Black Cabbage

Others to Try

Watercress

Cabbage

Chard

Beet greens

Chicory

Collard green

Kale

~ Aim for 2 to 3 cups daily

eat-your-greens

Spring isn’t all Blooms & Sunshine

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When a new season arises such as Spring it stirs up feelings of excitement in anticipation of warmer weather, sunny days and warm nights.

However, Spring time and the appearance of new blooms for many individuals (including myself) elicits feelings of anxiety as flowers equals pollen and pollen equals dreaded HAYFEVER!!!!

Hayfever (Allergic Rhinitis) is a common respiratory condition affecting 15% of Australians (approximately 3 million / 1 in 5 individuals) and numbers seem to be on the rise every year.

When Hayfever sufferers are exposed to particular pollens, their body mistakenly thinks this is a treat and triggers an allergic reaction. Inflammatory cells quickly release mediators such as histamine and that’s when the symptoms kick in

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Itchy mouth
  • Throat irritation
  • Burning/itchy/watery/swollen eyes
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Itchy skin
  • Headaches
  • Nasal congestion
  • Asthma
  • Foggy head & thoughts
  • Muscle aches & fatigue

And as a consequence

  • Lack of sleep
  • Decreased appetite
  • Irritability

Inhaled allergens cause a hypersensitivity reaction of the immune system known as an immunoglobulin (IgE) mediated response. The antigen-antibody reaction in the nasal mucosa and the release of histamines makes capillaries more permeable to fluid accumulation resulting in swelling and irritation.

nasal

In Chinese Medicine Hayfever is known as ‘Bi Yuan’, which literally translates to “nose pool”. According to TCM principles it’s caused by the invasion of Wind Cold or Wind Heat due to a weak body constitution, Wei (defence) Qi deficiency, Weak Lung Qi, a genetic predisposition to lung aliments and poor dietary habits.

Emotions also play a part in the development of this aliment.

Worry = spleen deficiency = damp development/accumulation

Sadness = weakens the lungs = breathing difficulties

Anger = weakens white blood cells = decreased immunity

Fear =weakens the kidneys = weakens the constitution

Wind Cold Symptoms

  • Sneezing
  • Blocked & congestion of nasal/sinus membranes
  • Runny nose with clear mucus
  • Itchy throat
  • Cough
  • Frontal headache
  • Chills

Wind Heat Symptoms

  • Itchy, sore, red throat
  • Itchy, sore, burning red eyes
  • Itchy nose with redness & swelling
  • Sneezing
  • Blocked or runny nose with yellow mucus
  • Cough
  • Sweating
  • Thirst

Once hayfever takes hold it’s difficult to tackle. The best approach is prevention and strengthening immunity before the season starts. Acupuncture is amazing at supporting sufferers pre-season and also while the symptoms are taking hold.

Herbs (Chinese & Western) are also very effective at supporting immunity and suppressing symptoms when they arise.

Diet & Gut Health

As many of you may know 80% of our immunity lies within the GUT. Hence it’s imperative to support the Gut through good nutrition.

  • Eliminate or reduce your consumption of dairy. Dairy contains lactose, which leads to the formation of mucus and phlegm in the body. This of course only heightens hayfever symptoms of nasal congestion, blocked sinuses and discharge.
  • Include more EFA (Essential Fatty Acids) in your diet by eating more oily fish (sardines, tuna, cod, mackerel, trevally, blue grenadier, herring, rainbow trout, whiting), flaxseeds, nuts such as walnuts & pecans & olive oil. These contain anti-inflammatory EPA & DHA, reducing mucus membrane inflammation.
  • Seeking out some local honey, which contains pollen from flowers and blooms in your immediate environment, is also a great supportive tool. This acts to desensitize the body and the immune system in the same way injections from an allergist would. It’s a good idea to start at least 6 weeks before the season begins and continue throughout.
  • Horseradish is useful in cooking as it has an affect on airways by clearing heat, breaking up mucous, is an expectorant and opens up sinuses.
  • Drink 2 cups of Fenugreek tea daily as it acts as an expectorant. It is also anti-inflammatory to mucous membranes.
  • Dried Chrysanthemum Flowers seeped in 2 cups of water helps reduce itchy eyes, irritability and sneezing. Allow infusion for 10 minutes.
  • Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties. Include grated ginger in cooking or slice ginger and seep it in boiling water for 5 minutes for a soothing tea.
  • Include more Garlic in your cooking as it decreases mucous, is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory.
  • Eat an array of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables. Bioflavonoids help inhibit histamine released by mast cells in response to allergens. In nature, bioflavonoids are found together with Vitamin C and work together to reduce allergies. Found in citrus fruits, apricots, berries, grapes, papaya, green tea, capsicum and tomato.
  • Decrease Alcohol consumption as it swells mucus membranes.
  • Decrease your consumption of cold/raw foods as these foods weaken the spleen and are difficult for the spleen to breakdown. Excess consumption leads to damp formation.
  • Decrease wheat and gluten containing products because they are inflammatory to the Gut.
  • Decrease your intake of sweets. Sweets weaken the spleen and again this leads to damp.
  • Hot spicy foods may assist in opening up the nasal passages clearing congestion
  • Avoid fried foods as they encourage damp formation. Colours, flavors, preservatives & refined carbohydrates should be greatly decreased or better still removed as they unquestionably suppress the immune system.

Supplements

  • Zinc + Vitamin C Lozenges can be useful at soothing the throat and assist in drying up mucous from the nasal passages.
  • Coenzyme Q10 is useful in regulating histamine release, improves oxygenation and immunity.
  • Vitamin C acts as a potent immune-stimulant and is anti-inflammatory
  • Quercetin is a bioflavonoid that stabilizes the membranes of cells responsible for the release of histamine which triggers allergic symptoms.
  • Probiotics increase your levels of good bacteria in the Gut. Healthy bacteria levels are essential for an effective immunity, which hence decreases susceptibility to allergies.
  • Vitamin D’s importance cannot be emphasised enough. Low Vitamin D levels have been linked to asthma, allergies be they environmental or food related.

Some Other Tips

  • Weekly washing of bed sheets & towels and finishing off the drying process in the dryer to remove any pollen, which may be sitting on the clothing, is important.
  • Advised to stay indoors on particularly windy days
  • Applying some organic paw paw ointment to the inside of your nose will trap and prevent pollen particles from entering the nasal passengers causing symptoms
  • Steam inhalations with bicarb soda can also be useful at clearing up nasal congestion.
  • Pollen count is highest in the early morning and at night so keep windows and doors closed.
  • Wear sunglasses to prevent pollen from getting into your eyes.
  • Self massage techniques.. Massage along and down the sides of your fingers. Also find the web between your thumb and index finger. Press several times. Acupressure just to the side of your nostril several times.springtime