Gluten, just about the most well known word in the health and wellness industry right now. It’s feared, but often people have no idea why, or the repercussions it can have not only on your digestive health, but also the overall functioning of your body.
Well, I am here to break it down for you!
Gluten, is the main storage protein in the grain wheat. Some proteins found in gluten are called gliadin and glutenin. Gluten is also found in barley and rye; however the protein in oats, called ‘Avenin’ does not contain gluten or gliadin – due to cross contamination in manufacturing, oats can become ‘contaminated’ with gluten and its proteins; therefore correct manufacturing processes must be performed to eliminate any cross contamination. You are able to purchase gluten free oats, just be sure that it is clearly displayed on the label.
Gluten is a highly digestion-resistant grain, therefore it can travel to the small intestine in whole particles, causing inflammation, pain, bloating, poor memory and concentration, and in some cases diarrhoea or constipation. In Coeliac disease, gluten consumption triggers the immune system to attack it’s own tissues – the microvilli of the small intestine. This causes severe nutrient depletion, due to the destruction and loss of surface area, resulting in impaired nutrient assimilation and absorption.
Unfortunately, whether you’re Coeliac, gluten intolerant or not, due to gluten’s ability to resist the power of our digestive enzymes to break it down, resulting in inflammation in our gut, it can also result in a term known as ‘Leaky Gut’.
In our gut, we have something known as tight gap junctions; these junctions serve as a barrier that enables the integrity of our gut to be strong, preventing food particles, bacteria and toxins from travelling into our bloodstream wreaking havoc. However, when gluten is consumed, it causes these tight gap junctions to become permeable, reducing the integrity of our gut, allowing said bacteria, pathogens, toxins and food particles to flow into our circulation, evening reaching up into the blood supply to our brain.
Ever experienced brain fog after eating? There’s a good chance you may have some underlying permeability in your small intestine.
Now why is this important in regards to the functioning of our immune system?
Well, if you think about it, our gut is the one part of our internal body that comes into contact with the outside world; so it makes sense that our immune system needs to be present there to help fight off invading pathogens. However, when there’s intestinal permeability (aka Leaky Gut), this can result in our immune system to be less concentrated in our guts, and causes our white blood cells to travel elsewhere in the body where these floating bacteria, toxins and food particles may be. As a result, this can not only cause our immune system to be depleted and unable to fight off pathogens that do find their way into our body via our gut, but also can cause create Dysbiosis in the body.
Dysbiosis is simply an overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria in our gut. This basically allows the bad bacteria to flourish, increases inflammation and systemic stress in the body, and allows the kill off of our healthy, disease fighting bacteria. If this is the case, it allows pathogenic bacteria to adhere to the lining of our gastrointestinal cells, resulting in infection and illness. Furthermore, this inflammation and immune dysfunction can also give rise to conditions such as auto-immune disease; where (like in Coeliac Disease) the body attacks it’s own tissues, unable to decipher self from non-self.
To prevent this from happening, we need to ensure we’re supporting the integrity of our gastrointestinal cells, reducing inflammation, providing antioxidant support, have a wide array of healthy bacteria in our gut, and ensure we’re providing prebiotic rich foods as a food source for our beneficial bacteria to feed on and flourish. Some essential nutrients to help our gut to heal include collagen, glutamine, gelatin, vitamin C and vitamin A.
If you’re concerned about your gastrointestinal health, are wondering about food intolerances or allergies, or are interested in using herbal and nutritional medicine to help your immune system, gut health or anything else in your body, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with me. I offer complimentary 15 minute consultations face to face or over the phone if you’re interested in an initial chat. If you’re ready to jump straight into consultation, bookings can be made with me online here or by calling me on 0427 375 986.
Vis Medicatrix Naturae – The Healing Power of Mother Nature.
WHAT IS STRESS?
A brief over view of the HPA axis/stress system.
Increased levels of glucocorticoids (cortisol and aldosterone) in response to stress, over activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis) and sympathetic nervous system dominance can inhibit reproduction as a mechanism to ‘protect self’. Your body simply won’t put preference to grow and nourish another human being, if its priority is to protect itself, which is the mechanism it’s in when stressed – fight or flight mode (sympathetic nervous system dominance).
How stress affects your reproductive hormones:
Further to this, continuous maternal exposure to stress whilst pregnant, or exogenous glucocorticoids (steroidal drugs) can result in permanent damage to the HPA axis and stress-related behaviours of the offspring, as glucocorticoids are vital for normal brain development.
EXPLAINING THE FEMALE HORMONES DURING MENSTRUATION.
During menstruation, oestrogen drops, & in response the hypothalamus release GnRH, which signals the pituitary to release FSH, which initiates follicular growth in the ovary.
Hypothalamus releases gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) & in response, the pituitary releases luteinising hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) to signal the ovaries.
In response, the ovaries release oestrogen and progesterone, which signal back to the hypothalamus, like a feedback loop.
While the follicles are developing, it stimulates the endometrium to develop/proliferate.
The rise in oestrogen in the follicular phase causes changes in the cervical mucous to make it a sticky ‘egg-white’ consistency, Oestrogen continues to rise whilst the ovum (egg) develops in the (most mature) follicle.
The rise in oestrogen triggers the hypothalamus to secrete GnRH, which stimulates the release of LH and FSH, which in turn stimulates the release of the ovum. This is when ovulation occurs.
Once ovulation occurs, FSH levels sharply drop and LH slowly declines.
The Luteal phase follows after ovulation, by which the corpus luteum (which is stimulated by LH) secretes larger quantities of progesterone, followed by constant levels of oestrogen.
Progesterone influences the endometrium (which started to develop under the influence of oestrogen) to develop blood vessels and glandular structures that are able to nourish a developing embryo (if fertilised).
If fertilisation doesn’t occur, the corpus luteum regresses after approx. 14 days, which leads to a decline in the hormones and the endometrium sheds (menstruation).
Once oestrogen levels reach a low enough point, the hypothalamus secretes GnRH, and the cycle starts again.
If your cycle is irregular, and you think stress may be effecting your hormones, then get in contact with me for a Naturopathy appointment in Melbourne or Bright.
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In the age of plant based eating, smoothie loving, wellness warriors - are we doing ourselves more harm than good?
A diet high in fruit, equals a diet higher in fructose, which is a form of sugar found in fruit.
This fructose can cause some digestive discomfort when eaten in exceeding amounts (>50g/day), as it pulls water into the small intestine, which can cause bloating, discomfort, flatulence and diarrhea. This can actually cause dehydration and nutrient depletion - the opposite of what we want.
Yes fruit does provide a fantastic source of nutrients such as vitamin C, antioxidants, Vitamin A and fibre, and we shouldn't exclude them from our diet entirely! Try combining fruit with protein and fats, not only to increase satiety, but slows down the rate of absorption in the small intestine; this also aids in balancing blood glucose levels.
Instead of starting your day with a smoothie or juice ladened with sugar with 5 or more serves of fruit, try and cut it down to 1/2 to 1 serve of fruit. With the recommended serving of 2 serves of fruit per day, this leaves your other 1-1.5 serves of fruit as a great, nutritious snack later in the day!
If you're experiencing any digestive discomfort after eating certain foods or are unsure of how to eat a balanced diet, please contact me for a Naturopathy and Nutrition appointment today. I'm available for consultations in Melbourne and Bright. Click here for bookings.
Try this delicious green smoothie recipe below to create your own low-sugar, nutrient rich breakfast!
CHOOSE YOUR BASE:
choose 1-2 of the below, ensuring you always have at least 1 vegetable option, and no more than one fruit option
CHOOSE YOUR PROTEIN:
CHOOSE YOUR FATS:
CHOOSE YOUR EXTRA NUTRIENTS:
Mix chosen ingredients into a high powered blender and enjoy!
SO...you're thinking of trying to conceive?
You've probably been told by someone that you need to take at least a Folate supplement at the very minimum for pre-conception care. Well they'd be right, but there's also many other vitamins, minerals and nutrients that are of utter importance in the health of both mother and baby when it comes to pre-conception and pregnancy care.
Before we get into it, if you're thinking of trying for a baby, or perhaps you've just come off the oral contraceptive pill or other forms of contraception, and are looking at what you need to do next for preconception care - please book a Nutritional or Naturopathic appointment with me prior to just going to Chemist Warehouse and choosing any off-the-shelf pre-conception supplement - NEWS FLASH - they're oftne not high enough in the nutrient you're requiring, or they're in a poorly absorbable form - NOT WHAT YOU WANT!
Now, lets get into it.
Folate (also known as Vitamin B9) is an essential nutrient required for DNA replication, growth and the development of the fetus and the formation of the neural tube.
Deficiencies are associated with congenital abnormailities such as orofacial clefts, Anencephaly & Spina Bifida.
FORMS OF FOLATE:
Folate is the form of folate naturally found in foods such as leafy green vegetables, eggs, legumes, liver and citrus fruits.
Folic Acid is the synthetic form of folate, that's often in fortified foods or supplements.
*NEITHER of these forms of folate are metabolically active, meaning that they must go through processing in the body, to be able to actually have an action.
Both of these forms of folate need to be metabolized in the body by a process called Methylation; the end result of which is the most active form of folate: 5-Methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF).
In this process of methylation, we require enzymes to change folate or folic acid into THF; the enyzyme Methylenetetrahydrofolate-Reductase is the enzyme that allows this process to happen.
It's quite common for this process not to be able to occur in many individuals, due to genetic polymorphisms in the MTHFR genotype. This ultimately results in the inability to convert INACTIVE Folate to ACTIVE Folate (5-MTHF).
However, this entire process occurs in the digestive system, before moving onto the liver, and out into the bloodstream. Not only is this conversion of inactive to active folate a very slow process, if the health and function of the digestive system and the liver aren't working (let alone Genetic polymorphysms in MTHFR genes) at their best capacity, this process is slowed down even further.
Ultimately, the result is reduced levels of active folate; which can actually worsens when high doses of inactive folate is prescribed.
If a MTHFR dysfunction is prevalent, the treatment is usually folic acid; however this completely defeats the purpose as it's not able to be metabolized into its active form - only to result in an excess of inactive folate sitting in the blood stream rendered completely useless, and even potentially able to cause immune dysfunction amongst other health concerns!
So how do we combat this?
Well, considering the above discussion, as well as recent research, it just makes sense to only take the active form of folate, 5-MTHF. It's the most bio-available (meaning it will be the best absorbed and utilized by the body), avoids any genetic defects in the MTHFR gene, and prevents any detrimental health defects resulting from a build up of in-active folate in the body.
If you're thinking of trying to conceive, a minimum of 3 months pre-conception care for the female, and minimum of 4 months for the male should be implemented.
Please contact me for any questions in regards to folate supplementation, pregnancy or pre-conception care for both males and females.
The Natural Nutritionist - Sandringham, Melbourne.
Ph: 0407 736 463
BRIGHT, NORTH EAST VIC BOOKINGS:
Bright Allied Health, Bright, Victoria.
Ph: (03) 5750 1965
Naturopath, Nutritionist & Yoga Teacher
BHSc Naturopathy, Advn Dip Nutritional Medicine, RYT200
The Oral Contraceptive Pill - A blessing or a curse?
Numerous women around the world rely on Oral Contraceptive Pills (OCP), whether it be for hormonal regulation or contraception. But what many women don't know, or aren't advised of are the detrimental effects it can have on their health.
This is especially evident for women who are thinking of coming off the pill prior to trying for a baby - it's extremely important that you understand what vitamin and mineral deficiencies can be caused by the OCP, as these stores will need to be replenished before conceiving.
ILL-HEALTH effects of the OCP:
Key nutritional deficiencies associated with oral contraceptive use include:
WHY ARE THESE NUTRIENTS IMPORTANT IF WE WANT TO CONCEIVE?
ZINC: Zinc is an essential metal that is a cofactor for over 300 enzymes in the human body, as well as the proteins that defend us against oxidative stress (Osiecki, 2010, p210). It’s also essential for the proper development of the brain and sexual organs, maintains immune function, has a structural role in the development of respiration and helps the body absorb the B group vitamins (just to name a few important things) (Osiecki, 2010, p210).
SELENIUM: Involved in the maintenance of cellular membranes, protects against chromosomal damage, reduces sepsis in neonates, synergises with sex hormones, stimulates DNA repair, and is essential for healthy thyroid hormones (Osiecki, 2010, p198). A selenium deficiency can result in damage of the foetus’s immune and nervous system, and is associated with low birth weight (Pieczynska & Grajeta, 2015).
MAGNESIUM: Required for DNA stabilization and promotes DNA transcription and replication, and is a cofactor to many enzymes in the body including the production of energy and is essential for bone structure (Osiecki, 2010, p182).
VITAMIN E: vitamin E is a potent antioxidant that is also essential for immune modulation, to maintain the integrity of lipid membranes, regulates the synthesis of sex hormones, stabilizes normal growth maintenance (Osiecki, 2010, p78), and deficiencies have been associated with preterm births (Institute of Medicine, 1990).
VITAMIN C: Required for the formation of blood cells, the growth of bones and teeth, collagen synthesis, essential for the integrity of connective tissue and the maintenance of cell membranes (Osiecki, 2010, p65).
VITAMIN B12 (COBALAMIN): Essential for the normal growth and development of the peripheral and central nervous system, bone marrow, skin, bones, mucous membranes and blood vessels; it’s also required for the biosynthesis of DNA and protein and blood cells (Osiecki, 2010, p49).
VITAMIN B6 (Pyridoxine): B6 is essential for the development of the nervous system and neurotransmitter synthesis, thus making it an essential nutrient during pregnancy (Osiecki, 2010, p45).
VITAMIN B2 (RIBOFLAVIN): Required for the growth and development of the foetus, the maintenance of epithelial and eye tissues, as well as the maintenance of mucosa and myelin sheath (Osiecki, 2010, p33).
FOLATE: Required for the differentiation of embryonic tissue including nervous tissue, required for healthy formation of the neural tube, DNA growth, reduces the expression of chromosomal mutations and is required for the synthesis of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, choline and noradrenaline (Osiecki, 2010, p89).
If you're thinking of coming off the pill for various reasons, check in with a Naturopath, Nutritionist or GP/healthcare practitioner to discuss the important steps you can take to help support your body during this process, as well as prepare you for pregnancy.
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The key functional ingredients in this soup are Turmeric and Bone broth!
Turmeric is a highly powerful anti-inflamamtory, which helps down-regulate the expression of pro-inflammatory pathways in the body that are up-regulated in many diseases such as Arthritis. Excessive inflammation also increases noicoceptive receptor stimulus, meaning that your pain sensitivity can be increased! Who would want that??
Turmeric is also a powerful antioxidant, meaning that it helps scavenge free radicals and reduce oxidative stress in the body.
Furthermore, Turmeric also enhances both phase 1 and phase 2 liver detoxification, meaning it's a key ingredient for those with sluggish livers due to many years of excessive alcohol consumption or toxin exposure, and can help promote the removal of said toxins, as well as the removal of excess hormones in the body (such as oestrogen excess seen in conditions such as Fibroids and Endometriosis).
Turmeric can also help promote cardiovascular and metabolic health by lowering LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol), CRP (C-reactive protein = an inflammatory marker), triglycerides, and elevating HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol), due to it's anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects.
Bone broth on the other hand, contains numerous amino acids from proteins which help heal the lining of your gastrointestinal tract, specifically the tight gap junctions of the small intestine. By doing so, it will help promote the synthesis of our feel-good neurotransmitter Serotonin (which is synthesized in out gut), enhance beneficial bacteria colonization, and promote Secretory IgA production, which helps fight off pathogenic invaders from adhering to our gut lining. The key ingredients in bone broth that have this gut healing action is Collagen, Gelatin and glutamine! There are many different amino acids present in bone broth, which are also essential for healthy detoxification pathways in the liver - without protein/amino acids, these pathways would not work efficiently!!
Bone broth also contains a myriad of beneficial minerals and vitamins, which are necessary for white blood cell production and immune health, neurotransmitter synthesis, enhancing the conversion of food to energy, promoting further collagen production for wound healing and tissue repair, amongst numerous other benefits.
ENOUGH BABBLING - INTO THE RECIPE!
INGREDIENTS (all ORGANIC):
Simple, easy and incredible nutritious, even the littlies will love this one!
Deliciously decadent, these balls should be eaten in moderation as they contain high amounts of fat.
In saying that, they make a delicious treat for a special occasion!
So simple and easy, these cookies will be a sure-hit with your family and friends.
Craving something sweet and chocolatey? These cookies are sure to kick those cravings in the butt!
Often when we're craving something sweet, specifically chocolate it can mean that our body is actually craving a certain mineral, vitamin or other nutrient.
For example, chocolate cravings can indicate that you body may need some magnesium or carbohydrates to help boost it's mood or energy levels (Magnesium is an important cofactor for neurotransmitter synthesis such as dopamine and serotonin, and is required to synthesis ATP/energy from the food we eat). Carbohydrates help tryptophan (the serotonin precursor) cross the blood brain barrier to create more bioavailable serotonin (aka the happy/feel good neurotransmitter). It's funny isn't it? That our body has its own way of saying "Hey you! I need something to make me feel better!".
However, before you think it's ok to reach for that deliciously fatty and sugar rich chocolate bar...take a step back and have a big drink of water - often when we're getting mixed cravings our body is simply dehydrated. This will also give you some time to think of a more healthy alternative to some Cadbury chocolate.
Cacao (not to be confused with Cocoa - it's the raw form of the cacao bean and has a much higher nutritional profile) is naturally rich in the mineral Magnesium, which as mentioned is an essential cofactor in what's called the Krebs/TCA cycle; this specialized cycle is when our body creates ATP (energy) from the food we eat. Magnesium is also required for healthy neurotransmitter synthesis, which can improve our moods, cognitive function and even our sleep! Magnesium is also a wonderful mineral because it acts as a Calcium antagonist - which functions in muscular tissue by enabling our smooth muscle tissue to relax and stop cramping/spasming. Magnesium is a fantastic mineral to aid in stress relief; it helps down regulate what's known as our 'HPA axis' (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal) and reduce our levels of cortisol (our stress hormone). So enough about me blabbing on about how much I love magnesium (and let me tell you, those facts above are just the tip of the iceberg for all the wonderful actions Magnesium has on our body) - lets get into the recipe!