I had an amazing time at the Seven Sisters Festival in Mount Martha. It was a hot weekend but lots of amazing women turned out to enjoy the festival and all it had to offer.
I had the pleasure of being able to present a talk on Hormonal Contraception in the Lifeskills Hall. I was able to share some of my knowledge and insight with these ladies as a Naturopath and educator. Lots of lovely ladies turned up to hear me speak and I was privileged to be able to chat to many of these ladies after my talk about their own personal health concerns.
In the talk I discussed how women can support themselves through their diet and lifestyle whilst using mainstream forms of contraception. I focused primarily on the forms of contraception I see a lot in clinical practice.
I had some wonderful feedback and was able to offer a handout to patrons detailing some of the key elements of my talk. You can find that pdf here:
It was a wonderful event and I look forward to giving more talks at Seven Sisters in the future!
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 :)
Jaz is a Naturopath, Pathology Testing Adviser and educator. She practice as a Naturopath in Melbourne, Australia and via skype worldwide. She teaches fellow practitioners on pathology testing and educates pracs and the public on the bridge between Naturopathic care Biomedicine.