1. Salted Water
This one is particularly good for patients that suffer from high levels of stress and adrenal dysfunction. The sodium chloride helps to replace the salts excreted in high levels during high stress periods. This is particularly useful for patients with high cortisol levels and problems with energy and cognition. I like to use pink himalayan salt as it contains more trace nutrients that your average table salt.
The trick to it is to add enough salt so that it tastes good. This is a rather ingenious way to determine the right amount as it is relying on your body's own feedback system as to how much salt is needed. So if it tastes like seawater to you, you've gone to too far. If you can't taste it at all, you have too little. It just needs to be a little hint of the flavour to be just right for your adrenal health and it should taste pleasant to you because your body needs it!
2. Green Vegies
Not only are green vegies useful as fibre (which helps bowel motion and the removal of toxicants and waste products), these vegies also contain key constituents that are required for liver detoxification.
If you don't have enough of these in your diet, you can run into liver detox problems and by association, your hormones will not be happy :(
3. Cardiovascular Exercise
Cardio exercise ie walking, running, swimming – anything that gets your heart rate up; not only is it important to cardiovascular health, heart pumping exercise like this helps our lymphatic system to function. Our lymphatic system helps to bring all waste products from tissues and toxicants back to the liver to be detoxified and filtered out.
Without proper exercise, out lymphatic system can become congested, meaning that toxicants and hormonal waste material stagnate or recirculate in the body (we most definitely don't want that!). So get out there and get the heart going to help clear yuckies from our lymphatic system.
4. R & R (Rest and Relaxation)
This is a nice one. Getting some rest and relaxation can have a profound affect on the kind of hormones you are producing and also helps to give the liver a chance to detox yuckies and balance hormonal levels.
At least 3 times a week there needs to be a significant period of rest and relaxation. Whether its going for a massage, having as nap, being intimate with your partner or spending time with friends that make you feel happy. These are all great ways to help stabilise and modulate hormonal production and help the liver to do its job (FYI heavy drinking binges do not count as R & R, sorry!)
So when I say bitters, I mean any food or beverage that stimulates the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is the thing that is stimulated when you get that tingly feeling in your mouth and then all of a sudden you have produced lots of saliva. This nerve helps to “juice up” the digestive tract. It helps to stimulate all the organs of the digestive tract to switch on and get cracking. This includes the liver. So by consuming bitter foods and beverages, you are helping to keep the digestive tract stimulated so it can digest better, detox better and handle hormone balancing better.
Some key bitter foods/beverages include:
- Lemon (in food or as lemon in warm water)
- apple cider vinegar (in food or as lemon in warm water)
- rocket & spinach
- globe artichokes
- citrus fruits
- red wine (in moderate doses ie a glass of wine before/at the beginning of diner)
- bitter melon
- kiwi fruit
So it is pretty standard for most people this time of year, for the diet to go out the window. There is so much more rich food, processed food, more alcohol and just MORE!
Along with all of this MORE comes the inevitable indigestion, feeling blah and feeling sluggish. Not to mention the pressure all this food and grog has on our liver which is having to process more chemicals and constituents in food as well as probably more stress hormones. 'Cos lets face it,even though this is meant to be a merry time of year, it can also be a stressful time of year.
So our poor adrenals are probably making more and more adaptive hormones just to keep us going until we can pass out on the couch after Christmas lunch and wake up just after New Year.
But a big one that takes a hard knock at this time of year is the poor old gut microflora. For some people, health is all about the microflora in your gut. For others, when I say gut flora or microbiome, they don't know what the fig I am talking about.
For those who are already friends with their microflora, you probably understand already the repercussions of fatty foods, alcohol and low fiber food over the Christmas break can have.
For those who have yet to realize they have a microflora let alone make friends with it, sit down and let me drop some knowledge on your be-hind.
So news flash, you are more microbes than you are human (I know, freaky right?). As in, I am more microbes than I am Jaz. Don't get me wrong, there is a lot of Jaz here. About a trillion cells worth of Jaz. But there are about 10 trillion microbes (10 trillion!!) on and in us (talk about up close and personal).
In this article we are primarily focusing on our gut flora. Because these are the microbes that take the hardest knock this time of year) Our gut microbes (i.e. gut flora) are pretty rad and are responsible for modulating a lot of stuff.
More and more studies are showing the link between good gut flora diversity/density and the health of the immune system, mood, weight modulation and even our tendencies towards certain kinds of behaviour (my fav study showed that changes in gut flora could induce subjects to be more risk taking and others more cautious - so the next time someone you know tries to do something risky, tell them to take a multi flora probiotic - it's probably just their gut flora being rebellious B) ).
Anywho, our gut flora are happiest when we are chill and when we aren't taking antibiotics all the time and most importantly when we feed them right.
Lots of alcohol, rich foods and overeating can make our gut flora stroppy, hence discomfort after eating and feeling yuck.
Feeding them right is all about probiotic foods and lots of fiber!
In the King-Ancora household (my household) we get cartons of bottled kombucha so we can have one everyday (see cover image). Love love love Happy Hippie brand as they add hemp seed oil which is a great source of essential fatty acids (their Mixed Berry flavour is the bomb yo).
Kombucha contains lots of happy little microbes that help to replenish your gut flora.
If you are not a fan of Kombucha you can also get happy flora from:
So those foods help to replenish good flora in your gut, but you also have to feed the good flora to keep them happy (like a tamogotchi or a neopet - does anyone remember them??).
So flora loves fiber (hey, some great alliteration there!). So upping the high fiber foods is the way to go. Think:
So the moral of the story is, this time of year can be rough on our flora, and they do so much for us, we should at least try to have their back too.
So even if its something as simple as making sure to have a bottle of kombucha everyday over the silly season; every little bit counts :)
What most people do not realize is that everything you put on your skin, your body absorbs. Everything your body absorbs affects the way it functions.
Make-up, moisturizers body wash, shampoos, conditioners and anti-perspirants/deoderants all seep through the layers of our skin and absorb into our blood stream. All of them.
What many people don't realize is that many of the funny names that are listed under the ingredients in these products actually screw with our Endocrine system.
Our Endocrine system is the system that regulates your reproductive cycle (your period and the month leading up to your period), your adrenals (these bad boys get you up in the morning, regulate your stress response and modulate your blood sugar & energy among other things) and last but not least your thyroid, which is vital to the regulation of your metabolism (this affects how well you burn fat, how happy you are, body temperature and how well you are able to think and how clearly).
So how does it affect your weight?
The straight forward answer is that some of the chemicals found in body products are known as Endocrine disruptors.
These chemicals act like hormones in the body and confuse our Endocrine system into thinking, "Woops, think we have made too many hormones. Time to slow it down..." So the body slows down the production of normal healthy hormones. The normal healthy hormones are the ones that help to regulate our metabolisms and help us loose weight and modulate weight gain.
This is why many people struggle to loose weight. Even if they are dieting and exercising, they have trouble loosing weight because their body is in slow mode. They have all these Endocrine disrupting chemicals floating around in their body acting like hormones.
What makes it even more difficult is that these chemicals can build up over decades! So by the time you notice there is a problem, your body is already congested with these pretend hormones.
So what can we do to fix it?
The first step is to start choosing wisely when it comes to body products. Look at the ingredients. The less ingredients the better. Any weird suspicious names in the ingredients list. Put that product back.
Try to choose products with more natural ingredients. It may take a bit of work as some products we come to rely on like certain deodorants are hard to say goodbye to.
But once you start to go more natural you will also notice many benefits, not just weight loss.
In order to help rid your body of a congested backlog of Endocrine disrupting chemicals from many years of using body products, it is also important to do gentle detoxing.
Many of the chemicals in these products are harsh and can create problems as they are being detoxed. It is important to slowly detox as appose to "crash-diet" detoxing. Intense detoxing after years of toxicity can create some serious symptoms such as nausea, migraines, cognitive problems, bloody sugar problems, tremors, light headedness, extreme digestive problems and in some extreme cases, hallucinations.
If you feel like you need to detox, it is best to seek advice and guidance whilst doing so. Every one is different and not all detox plans suit everyone. It is safest to seek advice and a personalized detox plan from your qualified Naturopath or Nutritionist.
Have any questions about this post? Feel free to ask any questions below or contact us directly if you are keen for a free meet & greet with me :)
- Jaz xx :)
The history of the Pill is as recent as the last century. Development of a pill like contraceptive began in the early part of the 20th century (Nikolchev 2010). It wasn’t until the late 1950s that the Pill as a pharmaceutical for “menstrual problems” was approved by the FDA (Nikolchev 2010).
Even though the Pill was government approved at that time, the significant side effects were not common knowledge to patients.
The Pill's Effect on Nutrients
The Pill can effect how well a patient absorbs certain nutrients. Unless the patient is supplementing and increasing sources in the diet, key nutrients are constantly depleted whilst taking the Pill. Certain nutrients are vital in supporting good mental health and healthy sleep patterns.
When the Pill depletes these stores of nutrients, we can start to see problems with mood and anxiety; and problems maintaining good sleep cycles.
Nutrients for Anxiety & Sleep
Vitamin B1 –
This nutrient is primarily responsible for supporting energy, muscle conduction and nerve response (Naish 2012). When there is a deficiency of this nutrient, patients feel tired and have chronic tightened muscles. Patients may feel that they can’t quite relax. B1 deficiency is common in patients with chronic neck and shoulder muscular stiffness (May et al. 2006).
B1 is also vital for the production of the brain chemical Acetylcholine. Acetylcholine modulates our Flight or Flight reflex (survival) and our Rest & Digest reflex (relaxation). Without adequate levels of it being produced patients can start to notice anxiety symptoms, short-term memory problems and problems with sleep onset and maintenance.
Best Dietary Sources:
Asparagus, red meat, nuts & seeds, spirullina, whole grains (Oseicki, 2010).
Vitamin B6 –
Mood changes and digestive problems are particularly connected with B6 deficiency (Aspy et al. 2018). Symptoms such as low stress tolerance, anxiety, depression, fatigue, bloating, insomnia and dermatitis can all manifest with deficiency (Naish 2012). B6 is a nutrient that is needed to produce GABA, a brain chemical that modulates anxiety. Without it, a patient will not be able to alleviate feelings of anxiety(Aspy et al. 2018).
Best Dietary Sources:
Avocado, bananas, white meat, eggs, legumes, mackerel, oats, salmon, tuna, sunflower seeds, walnuts (Oseicki, 2010).
Vitamin B12 -
Levels of B12 can be reduced in pill users; particularly in those that are vegetarian or vegan (Pawlak et al. 2014). Reduced levels can lead to anaemia and neurological issues. Neurological issues can manifest as problems with cognition, extreme mood issues and problems with nerve conduction (Brito et al. 2017).
B12 is also needed for the production of brain chemical Acetylcholine. Without B12 this chemical cannot be produced which can lead to symptoms of short term memory problems, muscular tension and problems maintaining sleep during the night.
Best Dietary Sources:
Clams, egg yolk, herring, red meat, milk, oysters, salmon, sardines, swiss cheese (Oseicki, 2010).
The pill can also lead to Magnesium deficiency (Naish 2012). Magnesium is a major nutrient in the conduction of muscle (Parazzini 2017). Deficiency can lead to tightening and low relaxation of muscles. This effect can lead to muscular cramps, anxiety and insomnia (Parazzini 2017).
Magnesium is also a key nutrient needed in the production of Serotonin & Melatonin. Serotonin is a brain chemical that helps to control stress response and sleep. Deficiencies can manifest in depression, anxiety, social anxiety, Low pain tolerance and insomnia.
Melatonin is also a brain chemical that regulates circadian rhythms and promotes sleep. Deficiency of which can lead to problems with sleep onset and maintenance of sleep throughout the night.
SIDE NOTE: Magnesium deficiency has also been associated with chocolate craving as cocoa contains trace amounts of this nutrient. However you won't find much in your average dairy milk or white chocolate! Dark chocolate tends to contain the highest levels of magnesium but it is still no substitute for leafy greens and whole grains!
Best Dietary Sources:
Cocoa, cod, lima beans, figs, mineral water, molasses, parsnips, soy beans, kelp, egg, seeds (Oseicki, 2010).
Zinc is a vital nutrient in so many body processes. Reduced zinc levels can induce anxiety, reduce immunity and affect the skin (Akinloye et al. 2011).
Zinc is a vital co factor nutrient in the production of GABA. GABA is a neurotransmitter that modulates anxiety and stress response. Without adequate levels, patients can start to see anxiety symptoms such as low stress tolerance, palpitations, panic attacks and fear associated with everyday tasks.
Best Dietary Sources:
Beef, bilberry, capsicum, egg yolks, ginger, fish, dairy products, oysters, sunflower and pumpkins seeds, seafood, wholegrains (Oseicki, 2010).
Akinloye, O, Adebayo, T, Oguntibeju, O, et al, 2011, ‘Effects of Contraceptives on Serum Trace Elements, Calcium and Phosphorus Levels’, West Indian Med J, 60 (3): 308
Aspy, D, Madden, N, Delfabbro, P, 2018, ‘Effects of Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) and a B Complex Preparation on Dreaming and Sleep’, Sage Pub, 125(3) 451-462
Brito, A, Grapov, D, Fahrmann, J, et al, 2017, ‘The Human Serum Metabolome of Vitmain b12 Deficiency and Repletion, and Associations with Neurological Function in Elderly Adults’,
May, A, Leone, M, Afra, J et al. 2006, ‘EFNS guidelines on the treatment of cluster headache and other trigeminal-autonomic cephalalgias’, European Journal of Neurology, 13: 1066-1077
Naish, F, 2012, ‘Natural Fertility’, Milner Health Series, Woodville
Nikolchev, A, 2010, ‘A brief history of the birth control pill’, PBS, viewed 24/05/18, http://www.pbs.org/wnet/need-to-know/health/a-brief-history-of-the-birth-control-pill/480/
Parazzini, F, Martino, M, Pellegrino, P, 2017, ‘Magnesium in the gynecological practice: a literature review’, Magnesium Research, 30 (1): 1-7
Pawlak, R, Lester, SE, Babatunde, T, 2014, ‘The prevalence of cobalamin deficiency among vegetarians assessed by serum vitamin B12: a review of literature’, European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 68, 541-548
So I specialize in Hormonal, Genitourinary and Sexual Health and it is totally my jam. I love figuring out the best treatment for my patients that suits their lifestyle and I love seeing the results of treatment on physical ailments. .
But I also find a lot of the time that seeing a Naturopath isn't always about 'fixing' the physical. I see a lot of patients who feel lost and unsure about their health and their life. Sometimes my patients need someone who will listen without judgement and with genuine compassion and concern for their welfare and happiness. .
Sometimes patients need someone there who is impartial, who they can have a laugh with, a cry with and a d'n'm (deep and meaningful convo) with to pick apart their worries and problems and see their life and their choices anew. . Sometimes they just need a friendly face to say, 'it's ok, you're not alone. We can work this out together..'❤️❤️❤️
I really love that in this day and age we can talk more freely about periods. Back in the day you had to keep you "sanitary napkins" and you menstrual hysteria to yourself because yuck and grose.
But more and more these days women feel more comfortable talking about their menstrual and secual health, which I think is just ace. Many women don't really understand menstruation. Like, how do you even right??
But it is a pretty rad thing to learn about because once you get it, you get the ebbs and flows of your body. You get that at one end of your cycle you maybe kicking ass and taking names and at the other you want people out of your face and you just want a blankie and a cuppa. And the beauty is, that is totally fine.
Our hormonal cycles are like a dance, when they flow beautifully I imagine they are like ribbons of sequen-y colour wirling and and circling each other but never touching. Always balanced and never collides. As you can see, I have a vivd imagination but basically the sentiment is:
Our hormones are amazing; our cycles are amazing; it's amazing to learn more about them and understand what your body is doing and how you can control your fertility and optimize health and contraception. If you don't know this stuff, come and organize to have a chat with me and we can see what your sequen-y ribbons of colour are doing :)
When it comes to looking after anxiety & mental health, nutrition is key. So many times in clinic I speak to patients with chronic anxiety who are missing key nutrients in their diet.
I am a big advocate of smoothies to help jam in some nutrients into your diet. It just makes it a lot easier and it's a pretty yummy way to do your Naturopathic homework as it were :)
So I thought I'd share one of my easy mental health smoothies to help with anxiety & cognition. I can confirm with some certainty that they help as I am cool as a cucumber most of the time *slowly takes of sunglasses like the guy in CSI:Miami*
The key ingredients in my mental health smoothies are a good protein powder, Zinc, Magnesium, antioxidants and something to help the gut stay happy.
Protein - Alkaline Complete Protein Raw & Organic
Protein is made up of amino acids. Certain amino acids are vital in the production of neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are brain messengers that regulate sleep, concentration and help to reduce feelings of anxiety. Without these amino acids we can't produce these brain chemicals that are important to healthy function. So keep your protein up!
I like to use Raw & Organic Alkaline Complete Protein. It's made from wholegrain brown rice & pea protein. This tends to be a more hypoallergenic (meaning a low chance of having an allergy to these ingredients). Whey protein is dairy based and I prefer to avoid too much dairy due to its mucus forming and hyper-allergenic nature (ingredient that has a high chance of causing allergy).
Zinc - Pepitas/Pumpkin Seeds
Zinc is a co-factor nutrient (co-factor nutrients are important to a particular process in the body - in this case Zinc is important to the process of creating a neurotransmitter) needed to create GABA and a bunch of other neurotransmitters. GABA is particularly important in the management of anxiety. This is the neurotransmitter that helps to keep you chilled in stressful situations and in day to day life.
Happily, Pepitas or pumpkin seeds (whatever you want to call them!) are a great source of Zinc. So into the smoothie they go!
Magnesium - Spinach & Wholegrains
So Magnesium is another super important co-factor for the production of neurotransmitters. Just like Zinc, certain neurotransmitters can't be created without it. Not only that but magnesium is a key nutrient in muscle conduction. It is responsible for endorsing relaxation in skeletal muscle. Skeletal muscle is all the muscles you can control, like the muscles in your shoulders and back. It is super common for patients suffering with anxiety to experience extreme muscular tension. This is usually because:
1. The body is ripping through magnesium stores trying to keep up with the demand for magnesium in neurotransmitter production
2. The body is burning through magnesium stores in an effort to control muscle conduction and help them to relax
So people suffering with chronic anxiety have a much greater need for magnesium (and really all the nutrients I am listing in this article) because they use them up so much faster than someone who isn't fighting anxiety. So into the smoothie it goes!!
Antioxidants - Berries & Spinach
So antioxidants are pretty rad. They help fight oxidative stress and inflammation in the body. They also help to keep your little grey cells pumped and ready to go. They can help to inhibit premature aging and fraying of neurological tissue. The more we can have in our diets the better, as we are constantly exposed to carcinogens and toxins that create damage. So chuck it into your smoothie as well :D
Gut Love - Barberries & Yoghurt
Recent research has connected how much the health of the gut impacts mental health. Particularly the microflora, ie probiotics. These are the gut bugs that keep your digestion happy and strong. They also have a big influence over the health of the immune system.
Pathogenic bacterial, yeast and parasitic infections have all been connected with changes in cognitive function and stress response. By eating the right foods you can keep your microflora happy and healthy and help to impede pathogenic flora that may contribute to anxiety and poor cognition.
In my smoothie I popped coconut yogurt which is a probiotic source to help support the gut flora and also Barberry. Barberries are my latest thing. They are a relatively tart flavored berry, but I like a bit of tart now and then ;) I use Barberry tincture in my naturopathic treatment to support the health of good microflora/probiotics. Barberries also happen to be great at supporting the production of bile and gastric acid to help with digestion. 'Cos you won't be absorbing all these wonderful nutrients if your digestion is crap. So chuck them in as well :) !!!
So this is an easy smoothie mix with ingredients you can pretty much grab from any fruit & veg and/or health food store. Mix it all together with your favourite seed milk (i use Soy but you can pop almond milk, rice milk or even cows milk in if you tolerate it well). Wizz it up and enjoy. Popping it all together is a low stress way to ensure you are consuming the right nutrients to support mental health :)
<3 naturaljaz xx
As we lead up to Easter it's not unusual to start seeing hot cross buns and choccie eggs in our fridges. One of the primary reasons most people celebrate Easter is for the sugary goodness!!
However increasing dietary sugar intake can play havoc with energy, as the body has trouble stabilising blood sugar.
Enter Cinnamon. Cinnamon is one of the primary herbs I use to help patients with blood sugar regulation issues.
Symptoms of Blood Sugar Regulation Issues
- Drops in energy throughout the day
- Feeling tired after meals
- Prone to getting “Hangry” when you haven't eaten
- Waking in the middle of the night for a snack
- Craving sugar/carbs and/or coffee
Cinnamon is used as an antidiabetic herb that aids in insulin resistance. It helps to maintain and modulate blood sugar to help minimise these symptoms. I usually prescribe Cinnamon as a herbal extract but it can also be used as food as medicine as well. You can obtain ground Cinnamon from your local health food shop. You can use it in your cooking, sprinkle it on your cereal or oats in the morning. Add it to a chia pudding or some yoghurt; anything you like, just find a way to add it into your diet. But make sure that you do not use Cinnamon Sugar! However tasty it s, it is not medicinal like raw ground Cinnamon :)
- Aunty Jaz xx
Anxiety is a huge mental health concern affecting millions of people everyday. I see it all of the time in my practice and it's astonishing how much anxiety can affect other aspects of health. In recent years it has been established how much digestion can be affected by anxiety and low mood. As people become more inclined to live a fast-paced high pressure life, it is important to be able to find ways to improve mental well-being and reduce feelings of anxiety in everyday life.
In Buddhist teaching a mantra is a powerful way to instil an intention. A mantra is performed by repeating a powerful phase over and over. Traditionally a mala is used in order to count and repeat the phrase. A mala is a string of 108 beads (plus an additional one – this is considered the Guru bead) similar to rosary beads. The mala works by twisting one of the beads for every time you repeat the phrase and working your way through the beads until you reach the Guru bead. It is a helpful tool but you can perform the mantra without it.
So let's give it a go! So either take your mala or other method of counting out 108 times (this can be as simple as ticking off a tally etc.) and begin to repeat the following phrase to help allay your anxiety.
“I love and approve of myself, I trust the process of life. I am safe”
By repeating the phrase over and over we create a strong neurological pathway in the brain that makes it easier for us to integrate the belief. The wonderful neuroplasticity of the brain will help you to refer to this belief more so than the feelings of anxiety.
Try to do 108 repetitions everyday or even if you just have a bit of time whilst you are waiting at the trains station, waiting for your coffee or waiting in traffic; just repeat the phrase as many times as you can. The more you do it, the stronger the neural pathway will be and the more it can help to reduce your anxiety!
I have found this technique wonderfully helpful for my patients and myself. It can be a beautiful way to start appreciating and nourishing yourself and begin supporting your mental health :)
- Jazz xx
I had the pleasure of being a guest Naturopath at the beautiful Herbal Apothecary in Geelong's West. The beautiful Naturopathic clinic is owned and operated by the wonderful Michelle Reynolds. She is one of my favourite naturopaths and has been a good friend for many years.
I was able to come in during Geelong's famous Pako Street Festival and enjoy the festivities as well as a the throng of beautiful patrons that came into the shop. Follow the link below for more details on the Pako Festival.
Michelle, like myself, specializes in herbal medicine; and the shop houses a wide selection of teas, balms, soaps, body care products and herbal tinctures. Naturopath and Psychology consults are also available by appointment at the clinic. I'm hoping I will have the pleasure of being a guest at the Herbal Apothecary again soon :)
Check out The Herbal Apothecary link below for details on location, consults and other bits and pieces!