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Boosting Brain Performance

Discover hidden bacteria that may cause your “brain fog”.

Are you experiencing difficulty concentrating, getting distracted and not taking in what you are reading? Listening but not really hearing or finding you can’t even seem to remember a telephone number in one go?

You fumble through your day, knowing your not performing at your best but are fearful of what’s happening to your mind and too ashamed to let anyone. You may be thinking that this is your normal now and “just part of getting older and something you have to live with” or maybe a symptom of menopause or something even scarier.

However, these symptoms that are often described as “brain fog”, may be caused from an overgrowth of bacteria in your gut, with or without digestive or bowel symptoms .

In just a few weeks of treatment, you realise that the fog is clearing, your mental ability improves and you rediscover a clarity of mind and an ability to really perform again.

If you think this may be you and want to know more, contact us to book in for a complimentary 15 minute phone or skype call.

You may be thinking, what has bacteria in my gut got to do with my brain?

Your gut health and your brain are intrinsically linked, firstly by the vagal nerve that sends messages from the brain to the gut but also in reverse. Secondly, because your digestive system effectively creates a barrier between what passes into your actual body and the external environment.  When the gut is compromised by an imbalance in bacteria, substances normally partitioned in the gut may leak through and cross the BBB (blood brain barrier).

We have trillions of bacteria living in and on us and are essential for optimal health. When in the right balance you perform better.  They produce energy and nutrients, and acids to keep our cells healthy and fueled and even improve our mood.

However they also produce substances that can, if produced in large amounts cause inflammation in the gut, disrupting the balance and production of helpful substances. LPS (lipopolysachharides), produced by certain bacteria, is one of these potentially toxic substances when produced in quantity.  They compromise the gut wall and can enter the blood stream, causing inflammation throughout, causing a range of symptoms and when they cross the BBB interfere with your brain function.  There are also some bacteria, e.g Streptococci, when overgrown correlate with brain and sleep issues.

If you want to know how to fix this problem,  read on……………

There’s a couple of steps to be taken to discover if this may the cause.

1. Get a CSA (comprehensive stool analysis). This is not the stool test your normal GP will request that is looking for parasites. This is a functional test that can be organized by a naturopathically trained practitioner. It looks at the levels of your normal bacteria as well as presence of overgrown yeasts or parasites.

2. Dietary and supplement treatment plan. The CSA, along with assessing your symptoms will help inform your practitioner as to what is the best treatment protocol for you. The treatment protocol normally includes a specific eating plan and supplements to reduce the levels or overgrown bacteria, promote the flourishing of beneficial bacteria and repair any damage to the gut to prevent any further leakage of LPS.

We’re happy to discuss your particular situation to give you more direction.  Contact us to book a 15 minute free consultation and lift the veil on brain fog.

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Smoked trout and asparagus salad with creamy dressing

 

Serves 2

Ingredients

1/2 bunch watercress – take sprigs off thicker stalks and spin wash

½ Spanish onion sliced thinly into ½ rings and separate

½ Lebanese cucumber halved lengthwise and sliced

bunch asparagus spears

½ smoked rainbow trout skin & bones removed

8 walnuts halved

Dressing

1 clove garlic – pressed and diced finely

½ cup organic full fat yoghurt

1 tablespoon MCT oil or extra virgin oil

1 lemon juiced

Himalayan salt & fresh cracked pepper to taste

Method

Boil enough water to cover in a pan wide enough to fit asparagus spears flat.

Snap off woody ends of asparagus. Add to boiling water and cook for 30secs.

Remove and plunge into ice cold water immediately.

On two plates arrange watercress and top with onion and cucumber.

Flake the trout into smaller pieces and scatter over salad.

Place asparagus on top

Sprinkle with walnuts

Combine all dressing ingredients together and blend well. Shaking in a screw top container works well for this.

Drizzle over salad

 

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2018 – “Time’s up”

Today I chose to wear black just like many Women attending the Golden Globes in support of the Time’s Up campaign against sexual harassment and gender inequity.

This campaign deserves support as these high profile Women are using their presence to create a groundswell of change not only in their own industry but by creating a Legal Fund to free Women in industries who rarely have a voice such as in hospitality, nursing, etc., who are often subjected to sexual harassment and inequality and unable to free themselves from the situation.

Why is this campaign important to me?

Like many Women who have spoken out I too can claim (unfortunately)  #metoo having been subjected to harassment by Men who wielded their power over me when I was young and vulnerable and poorly paid.

Even more so I speak up now because I see so many clients who struggle to gain control of their health, eating patterns and their self-love due to historical emotional and or physical abuse.  Often without even realizing it, they have built an armour to protect themselves from external threats and withdrawn to the comfort of being in control of their food intake. Whether this manifests as excess weight or deprivation, it may give short-term comfort, but distorts their image and love for themselves and may lead to serious health issues.

So my wish for us all is that the “Time’s up” campaign is as successful as the “It’s Time” campaign, in 1972, that lead to the election of Gough Whitlam as Prime Minister and  equality for all Australians to access free tertiary education; a fundamental shift that  allowed more Women to have the chance to study, build careers and be independent.

Let’s make 2018 the time to take the next step towards true gender equality for ALL on every level.

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“Time’s Up”.

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Healthier Anzac Biscuits

Healthier Anzac biscuits

This recipe is based on a traditional Anzac biscuit recipe but with a healthier approach.  When I was a kid we never had sweets in the house with the exception being holidays, birthdays and special occasions and then Mum and the kids would make up a batch of biscuits like these.    Anzac biscuits were tradionally made on ANZAC day, a public holiday in Australia to remember and pay respect to those that were involved, died  and served in Wars.
Although sugar should be kept to a minimum, these biscuits are better than most as they contain a good amount of fibre from the coconut and rolled oats. In this recipe the amount of sugar is reduced as most recipes simply don’t need the amount of  sweetening listed and is replaced with Rapadura (or Panela) This is a cane sugar simply made by evaporating moisture out of the juice. It’s healthier than regular sugar as the plant micronutrients are retained albeit in small amounts, These include iron, potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus and vitamins A, B1, B2, B3 and B6.  Like wise golden syrup has been replaced with organic maple syrup as it’s less refined and contains antioxidants, zinc, manganese and trace amounts of calcium potassium magnesium and iron.
Ingredients
2 cups organic gluten free plain flour (or wholemeal if not gluten intolerant)
2 cups organic rolled oats
1½ cups desiccated coconut
1½ cups rapadura
250 mg organic butter
1½ tblspns organic maple syrup
120ml boiling water
2 tspns bi-carbonate of soda
Method
Sift flour into bowl
Add rolled oats, coconut & rapadura
Melt butter in saucepan, skim off the milk proteins that will float to the surface as it comes to the boil. This is particularly important if you are gluten intolerant as the proteins in dairy products may also be an intolerance for gluten sensitive people.
Add maple syrup & water
Add bi-carb of soda, stirring and allow to foam & pour immediately into dry ingredients.
Mix well then take small pieces of mixture & press out on greased trays, allowing space between each for spreading.
Bake in slow oven 140o as they burn easily. Cooks in 20-30 minutes.
Makes approximately 24 biscuits

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Wheat reaction but test clear?

Reacting to wheat /gluten even though your GP gave you the all clear?
You may be reacting to other proteins in gluten that are not tested.
In Australia the labs typically only tests for IgA & possibly IgG antibodies to deamidated gliadin and tissue transglutimanse, two of the proteins found in gluten. If you have coeliac disease and are eating gluten containing products your body produces antibodies to these two proteins.
Screenshot 2017-02-12 18.33.19.pngHowever, there are many other proteins in gluten that are not tested for and may be causing a wide range of symptoms. This is referred to as non coeliac gluten sensitivity and there currently is no definitive test for it. Some functional labs in Australia offer additional gluten sensitivity testing,  include gliadin and testing for IgE (a true food allergy) for wheat.
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Cyrex labs in the US, have an even more extensive array of tests for various wheat and gluten antibodies, which shows how complex diagnosis can be and that the standard Australian test can not rule out conclusively that wheat may be an issue for you.   Unfortunately this test is currently not available here in Australia but gives you an idea of how many more antibodies there can be.
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Some people may even be reacting to other substances in wheat, such as fructan, which is a fructooligosaccharide a type of carbohydrates included in FODMAP group.
Additionally there are proteins in other foods that are similar in structure to those found in gluten and for some people these may also cause symptoms. These are referred to as cross reactive foods.  The most common reactive proteins are dairy, corn, rice, oats, millet and yeast.  Eggs and soy are foods that quite commonly cause an autoimmune response.
The gold standard to determine if gluten or wheat is causing you a problem is to eliminate it from your diet for a period of time.
Foods are then reintroduced in a systematic manner to determine if they may be triggering inflammation and symptoms.
It’s cheap and effective and only requires your will to compliance during the elimination and challenge process.  This is best undertaken with the assistance of a practitioner so they can guide you through the process.
Be aware that whether wheat is involved or not, there may be other contributors to symptoms that may need to be investigated such as imbalanced gut bacteria, SIBO where there is overgrowth into the small intestine or pathogenic types or parasites. Increased gut permeability, aka leaky gut also contributes to symptoms.  This is where your practitioner can help you to test and rule out whether there are other factors that may be contributing to how you are feeling and help you with a treatment plan.
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Turmeric and ginger spiced prawns with quinoa cabbage salad

Turmeric & ginger spiced prawns with roasted fennel baby carrots on a quinoa cabbage salad

This is a recipe I created when visitors arrived and I was feeling like something tasty and fresh using some beautiful large wild green prawns I’d picked up on bicycle ride to the fish markets that morning.  It’s a winner and my guests were raving the next day about the flavour sensation that were tasting!

Serves 4

Ingredients

Four large green prawns per person peeled & deveined

Marinade

2 tspns macadamia oil

1 tblspn fresh turmeric grated

1 tblspn fresh ginger grated

2 cloves garlic minced

1 red chilli seeded & finely chopped

1 lemon juiced

Roasted vegetables

1 lge fennel bulb sliced top to bottom approx 5mm wide

1 bunch baby carrots

1 tblspn macadamia or coconut oil (melted)

1 tspn cumin seeds

Herbamare seasoning

Salad

1 cup red quinoa

1 cup peas

¼ cabbage finely shredded approx 3mm wide

1 stick celery including leaves finely chopped

½ Spanish onion finely chopped

1 tblspn parsley finely chopped

Himalayan salt

cracked pepper

Dressing

1 tblspn extra virgin olive oil

1 tblspn flaxseed oil

2 tblspns lemon juice

1 minced clove garlic

 Method

Peel and remove prawn heads & cut down the back to ‘devein’

Place in a shallow dish

Combine all the marinade ingredients together and pour over the prawns

Mix to coat prawns well and leave to marinade for 1hr

Preheat oven to 180oC

Chop the leaves off the baby carrots leaving a little of the stalk

Brush a little oil onto roasting tray

Lay fennel slices and baby carrots on tray and lightly brush with oil to coat

Season with cumin seeds and herbamare

Roast for approximately 30mins or until tender

Meanwhile boil 2 cups of water or bone broth

Pour in quinoa and stir. Cook for 10-15mins until nearly but not quite cooked

Add peas and cook for a further 5 mins

Drain and set aside

Heat BBQ plate or frying pan on a low temperature

Toss the cabbage onion and celery on a large platter along with the quinoa and peas

Place dressing ingredients in a bottle and shake to mix well

Drizzle ¾ of the dressing over the salad and toss again

Lightly coat pan or bbq with a little oil and place prawns on heat turning a few times until just cooked through, approximately 10mins.

Arrange fennel slices carrots & prawns on top of the salad

ENJOY!

Variations

If you manage dairy, this salad is delicious with added labna or goats cheese as I’ve added here.

Legume & grain free? – easy…….just remove the quinoa and add more cabbage

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Nutrient packed bone broth

Bone Broth

Adding bone broth to meals wherever possible super boosts the nutrient status of your meals.  It provides easily absorbed nutrients like collagen, gelatin and glucosamine that help heal the gut, improve your skin, nails & hair growth, support joints, ligaments & strengthen bones to support wellbeing.

You can make stock or broth from virtually any kind of bone. Chicken, beef, pork, lamb, fish, etc. The more gelatinous the broth is once cooled the better.

You may have noticed that I include bone broth in a number of my recipes instead of stock. If you’re busy, don’t stress. Its quick and easy to make even though it’s cooked for 24hrs.

Chicken broth contains cysteine, an amino acid that thins mucus and clears congestion (one of the reasons chicken soup is an old remedy for colds).

Ingredients

1-2 kgs of organic bones skin & cartilage

2 carrots, chopped medium

2 celery stalks, chopped medium

1 medium onion, chopped medium

4 garlic cloves, smashed

2 bay leaves

Parsley or other herbs you like

Himalayan salt

2 tablespoons of apple cider or umeboshi vinegar

Sufficient water to cover bones

Method

Add bones to large saucepan or slow cooker

Fill with filtered water until bones are covered

Add in any veges & herbs you like to flavour the broth.

Add a good grind of salt and the apple cider vinegar, which helps extract more from the bones.

Program the slow cooker to cook on low for 12-24 hours. The broth when cooled should be gelatinous.

If cooking on the cook top, bring to the boil slowly. Then transfer to the oven and cook at 120oC.

When it’s ready, pour the broth through a strainer, and discard the solids.

Allow to cool and skim off any excess fat.

You can drink the broth as it is or use it to make soups, casseroles, or any dish that requires liquid added.

Store the liquid in a glass container in fridge for a few days or freeze

If you don’t like the smell of boiling bones, roast them for 20minutes in the oven before adding to the water. This will make a deeper richer broth.

Cheap skate broth – This is what I usually do.  My bunny misses out but I use the peelings and tops of vegetables that you would normally feed to him or compost to flavour the broth.

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Cold Relieving Chicken and Vegetable Soup

Cold Relieving Chicken and Vegetable Soup

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

6 cups chicken bone broth

2 chicken thighs skin removed and cut into bite size strips

1 large brown onion quartered and sliced

2 cloves garlic chopped finely

2 cms piece of freshginger grated

1 tblspn chopped fresh thyme

1 tblspn chopped fresh parsley

1 leek including younger green stalks cut in half lengthwise and chopped

1 med potatoe diced or other root vegetable .e.g turnip or parsnip if nightshade free

1 large carrot chopped into quadrants & sliced

1 sticks of celery sliced including leaves chopped

4 shitake mushrooms – stalks removed & caps thinly sliced

1 ripe tomato chopped (exclude if nightshade free)

1 tblspn coriander leaves chopped

1 tblspn lemon juice & 2 tspns lemon zest (grated peel)

Method

Bring broth to the boil.

Add chicken, onion, garlic, thyme and parsley

Simmer for10 mins

Add vegetables, simmer covered for a further 15mins until just tender

Finally add tomato, coriander leaves, lemon zest and simmer gently for another 5 mins. Lastly add lemon juice just before serving.

Options

Add finely chopped red chilli to add a bit of zing or turmeric to reduce inflammation.

You can also add 2 tblspns of pearl barley(if not gluten free) or rice at the beginning to make the soup a more hearty meal.

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How to Support Your Immune System Before the End of Winter

Want to fight off the second round of winter cold and flu that is spreading around the office or your child’s school?

Aside from practicing good hand hygiene and getting plenty of rest, supporting your immune system is going to keep you feeling strong, healthy and free from colds!

To acquire the right vitamins and nutrients to support your immune system through the final weeks of winter check out the table below!

Nutrient Food Sources How it Helps
Vitamin C Leafy green vegetables such as spinach and kale, red and green capsicums, brussels sprouts, strawberries, papaya, mango, cauliflower, broccoli, lemons Decreases the length and severity of cold symptoms; antioxidant; builds and maintains mucous membranes and collagen
Vitamin E Almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, avocado, spinach, broccoli Powerful antioxidant effects when combined with Vitamin C; T cell enhancer (a subtype of white blood cells that play a central role in immune response by scanning for infections)
Vitamin A carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, rockmelon, squash, liver, apricots, mint, spinach Antioxidant effect to help strengthen the immune system; helps keep mucous membranes healthy and intact
Zinc oysters, crab, lean meats, poultry, baked beans, yogurt, chickpeas, eggs Essential for normal development and function of immune cells; helps to control the body’s inflammatory response

 

Medicinal Foods that

Support the Immune System

How it Helps

Mushrooms: Shiitake

Activates immune cells; immunosuppressive effects

Manuka Honey

Effective in reducing cough frequency and severity; aids in loosening mucus

Licorice Root

Anticough, provides soothing, protective film over throat

Ginger

Anti inflammatory specifically in the lungs

Thyme

Relieves symptoms of cough and mucus congestion; Anti inflammatory; anticough; aids in loosening mucus

Garlic

Rich in antioxidants; antimicrobial and antiviral properties

 

And of course, chicken soup! Keep it the chicken soup basic or add in as many of the vegetables and medicinal foods from the list and have a SuperFood Soup! Evidence suggests chicken soup may help to clear a stuffy nose, break up mucus and reduces the severity of the inflammatory response.

 

We all know that our immune system does a remarkable job of defending us against disease-causing microorganisms. But sometimes it fails; a germ invades successfully and makes you sick. Here is a brief summary of how the common cold attacks your immune system. After a virus, like the cold, invades your body and enters a health host cell, it replicates the host cell and then goes on to infect other healthy cells. This activates the immune system and the response is as follows: a) immune fighter cells are recruited to the site of infection, b) immune fighter cells release a number of substances that initiate and maintain inflammation, c) inflammation causes characteristic flu symptoms: redness, soreness, and swelling in the back of the throat, fever, headache, fatigue, mucus secretion and coughing, while the immune system is fighting the virus and d) as the concentration of virus increases in the body, symptoms intensify until the immune fighter cells fight off all the virus cells. When this battle is over and the healthy immune cells outnumber the nasty virus cells, you start to feel better!

 

Supporting and boosting the immune system with nutrients and vitamins from the table above can decrease the amount of inflammation and the length of time that inflammation occurs. Getting you back on your feet and feeling better sooner!

 

As always use caution and/or consult your healthcare professional if taking any of the vitamins and minerals from supplements.