Pregnancy Archives - Awaken Your Health
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5 natural ways to help reduce excess hair growth

If you are experiencing excess hair growth in areas that are typically characteristic of male patterns (e.g. face, chest, stomach, upper lip and excessive leg and arm hair), you may have a condition called hirsutism. Thick and excessive hair can be in part contributable to genetics, however hirsutism is most likely caused by elevated levels of androgens (male hormones), including testosterone. Androgens boost male pattern hair growth and intensify the pigmentation of body hair, making it look darker and more noticeable.

spearmint tea has been shown to reduce hirsutism

While it is important to get professional advice to address the underlying cause of hirsutism, here are 5 simple and effective naturopathic interventions that can help reduce symptoms.

1. Spearmint tea

The consumption of spearmint tea has been shown to reduce hirsutism and significantly decrease androgens in females with elevated levels. It was also shown to increase sex hormone binding globulin levels and consequently decrease circulating testosterone (source). For a therapeutic effect, aim to drink 4 cups per day.

2. Low glycemic diet

Carbohydrates that have a high Glycemic Index (GI) rating are quickly broken down by the body and result in a rapid spike in blood glucose levels, which consequently triggers the pancreas to release large amounts of insulin. In contrast, low-GI carbohydrates, which take longer to digest and are generally higher in fibre, result in a slower, steadier rise in the blood glucose, and a steadier insulin response. While insulin is necessary to transport glucose from the blood into the cells, spikes in insulin can drive spikes in androgens, resulting in that unwanted hair, or hirsutism. Opt for low GI carbs such as brown rice, quinoa, barley and rye: and aim to have a protein at every meal.

3. Cinnamon

Cinnamon is not only a delicious, warming spice perfect for winter but it has also been shown to increase insulin sensitivity (source). This can play out to reduce excess androgens and help to treat hirsutism particularly in women with PCOS and insulin sensitivity.

4. Licorice root

Now before you get excited, we are not talking about the delicious black sweet, loaded with sugar but rather the straight herb found in teas and herbal tinctures. Licorice root has been shown to significantly reduce testosterone levels in women with elevated levels (source), helping to reduce hirsutism. Speak to your naturopath before supplementation.

5. Exercise

Regular exercise can significantly improve insulin sensitivity, which as we now know, can help reduce androgens in the body. Aim to move your body daily with high intensity exercise incorporated 3-4 times per week.

For further support please book in to see us for a consultation.

Tabitha & Maddy x

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Cruciferous Vegetables: How to use them to help balance hormones

Cruciferous veggies are nutrient powerhouses! Those of you that have been in recently have most probably heard me speak about the “Brassica”s a lot, trying to sneak them in to staple recipes (Cauliflower mash on a Shepherds pie; Broccolo and Almond soup, etc) to support hormone clearance. The Brassicas are a family of vegetables that include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, bok choy, rocket, brussel sprouts, kale, collards, watercress, turnips, kohlrabi and horseradish. These vegetables are particularly powerful thanks to their glucosinolate content, which gives them their
delicious peppery and slightly bitter taste. When glucosinolates are broken down through chewing, chopping, blending and digestion, an enzyme called mironase is activated that converts the glucosinolates to indole-3-carbinol. It is indole-3-carbinol that gives cruciferous vegetables their punchy hormone regulatory effect.

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How does indol-3-carbinol impact hormone levels?

The liver plays an important role in manufacturing and clearing hormones in the body. When the liver is not functioning optimally – rather than being cleared out, hormones can recirculate through the body and lead to hormonal excesses and imbalances. It is therefore essential that when a client is experiencing symptoms of hormonal imbalances such as acne, PMS, menorrhagia, menstrual disorders, low energy, weight-gain etc. that we restore optimal liver functioning.

This is where cruciferous vegetables and its powerful constituent indol-3-carbinol come into play. Indole-3-carbinol supports the liver’s detoxification process through stimulating the enzymes required to remove toxins and hormones from the body. Indole-3-carbinol has been shown to selectively bind to oestrogen receptors, which has a regulatory effect on oestrogen levels in the body. This regulatory ‘balancing’ effect is therefore beneficial in both individuals with low and high oestrogen.

How to use cruciferous vegetables therapeutically

It is important to first determine whether your symptoms are due hormonal imbalances and if hormonal clearance and liver support is necessary. Speak to your health care provider to determine if this is you.

For mild cases of hormonal imbalance, aim to eat 1-2 cups of cruciferous vegetables daily, lightly cooked to reap it’s full benefits.

Examples include:
· Warm chicken and rocket salad with blanched asparagus
· Asian stir-fry with cabbage and broccoli
· Roasted Brussel sprouts tossed in garlic, lemon and olive oil
· Sourdough toast with smashed avocado and sauerkraut
· Slow cooked pork with a shredded cabbage slaw
· Broccolini frittata with a side of sauerkraut.

For more severe or longstanding conditions, supplementation may be necessary. Again, this is best determined by your nutritionist or naturopath so be sure to run it past them first.

A word of warning…

If you suffer from an underactive thyroid then be sure to slightly cook your cruciferous vegetables. These veggies contain goitrogens, which is a natural compound that inhibits the body’s ability to use iodine, an essential element required for the formation of thyroid hormones. Lightly cooking cruciferous vegetables will significantly reduce the
levels of goitrogens.

Enjoy!

A Brassica a day can certainly do wonders to keep the Doctor away 😉

Tabitha & Madeleine

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The Gut Microbiome: How it affects your baby’s health

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I recently had the pleasure of watching Dr Natasha Cambell McBride speak at the Conscious Club and the MINDD Forum in Sydney. For those of you who are not familiar with her work, Dr Natasha wrote the revered book, The Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS).

Her book primarily focuses on the gut’s microbiome and how it profoundly affects our mental and physical health. Dr Natasha mainly works with children with autism and has had great success in improving and even reversing the condition in many of her patients. For more information please visit her website.

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So, what is the gut microbiome?

The gut microbiome is the body’s residential bacteria that are primarily found in our large intestine—around 2kg of bacteria in total (see Catalyst for more information). Think of your large intestine as a hollow tube and the bacteria as a barrier or coating that lines the inside. As food passes through your intestine, this bacterial barrier has many functions. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Aiding in the breakdown of food, resulting in easily digestible and absorbed nutrients— this prevents larger, undigested food molecules from entering the blood stream that can result in inflammation and an immune response.
  • Synthesising nutrients including vitamin K, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, folic acid and various amino acids.
  • Protects the body from foreign pathogens and toxins by providing a physical barrier as well as producing various anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal substances.
  • Strengthens the intestinal barrier—The bacteria increases mucin in the gut, which provides a protective coating for intestinal cells. The bacteria also tighten the gap junctions between the cells in the large intestines and prevent conditions such as leaky gut.

Symptoms and disorders that can result from altered gut flora or dysbiosis include:

-Bloating                                         -Low Energy                          -Autism
-Constipation                                  -Anxiety                                 -ADHD
-Cramping                                       -Depression                          -Dyslexia
-Diarrhea                                         -Bipolar                                 -Eczema
-Food intolerances                          -Schizophrenia                     -Auto-immune conditions
-Poor immune function                                                                 -Recurrent infections

Why should I care about my gut health when trying to fall pregnant and how will it affect my child’s health?

As you can see, a healthy gut microbiome is very important. In fact, we cannot live without it! An unborn baby has a sterile gut in the mother’s womb. The moment the child passes through the mother’s birth canal, he or she ingests their first dose of bacteria from the canal, which will provide the foundation for the child’s gut microbiome. The child will continue to build and shape their gut flora through their food intake (breast milk/ formula) and environment. The first months of the child’s life are essential in creating a healthy gut microbiome, which will consequently impact their health for the rest of their lives.

It is therefore critical that the mother has a healthy gut flora as possible when giving birth, as this will get passed onto the infant. Furthermore, the repeated use of antibiotics, baby formulas, antibacterial soaps and cleaning products can alter the child’s gut flora and contribute to a dysbiotic state, potentially resulting in the conditions mentioned above.

Unfortunately, changing your gut flora is not as simple as taking a probiotic and once lost, some strains of bacteria may never return. This is why it is essential to get it right from the start!

What needs to be done?

Ideally, the mother and father need to address their gut health prior to the birth of their child. This may involve testing for parasites and other infections, investigating any food intolerances, determining if gut lining is damaged and reviewing diet and other environmental exposures that may be harming the gut microbiome.

Specific foods that are fantastic in promoting optimum gut health include:

· Bone broths
· Fermented vegetables
· Prebiotic rich foods: garlic, onions, Jerusalem artichokes, dandelion greens, asparagus, bananas
· Yoghurt
· Kefir
· Warming soups and stews

If you are planning on falling pregnant, are about to give birth or are experiencing any of the conditions mentioned above, be sure to book in for a consultation to address your gut health.

Wishing you all peace & happiness. 
Yours in good health,
Tabitha & Madeleine

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4 Fertility Enhancing Effects of Cinnamon

Spring-2014

Cinnamon

Cinnamon

The cooler weather calls for warming spices, of which cinnamon is our favourite. Not only does this delicious spice impart a warm and slightly sweet dimension to meals, but it is also a host of many amazing health benefits. The three
active chemical compounds found in cinnamon – cinnamaldehyde, cinnamlyl alcohol and cinnamyl acetate – are responsible for its widely researched therapeutic effect. At AYH, we frequently request patients to increase their
consumption of cinnamon as an aromatic digestive, as a warming circulatory stimulant to promote blood flow to reproductive organs, and to support balanced hormone responses.
When it comes to fertility, here are our top 4 fertility-enhancing effects of cinnamon:

1. Lowers blood glucose levels and increases insulin sensitivity

A  2007 study showed that the intake of 6g of cinnamon per day (a heaped teaspoon) reduced blood glucose levels by improving the insulin receptor function and consequently insulin sensitivity. This effect will therefore help prevent pre-eclampsia, obesity, type 2 diabetes, all while regulating energy levels, promoting regular ovulation and balancing reproductive hormones. This is particularly beneficial for our patients with PCOS.

2. Improves circulation

The warming and blood thinning effect of cinnamon increases circulation in the body. Good blood circulation ensures that ample oxygen and nutrients are nourishing reproductive organs, enabling them to function at their best.

3. Reduces inflammation

Cinnamon is generous in it’s proanthocyanidin content, and this antioxidant is particularly beneficial in dampening pain and inflammation associated with experiencing endometriosis, period pain and ageing.

4. Anti-spasmodic

The antispasmodic effect of cinnamon makes in not only an excellent spice to aid digestion and calm stomach cramps, but is also useful in relaxing the uterus and easing period pain.
One teaspoon per day is recommended to reach a therapeutic effect. Supplementation is also available for more sever cases. Book in for a consultation to determine the dose necessary for you.

Simple ways to increase cinnamon consumption

  • Enjoy a warm cup of cinnamon tea (we love Pukka’a cinnamon and licorice tea) or spice up your nut-milk hot chocolate as a treat!
  • Add a teaspoon to your morning porridge or smoothie
  • Sprinkle on top of natural yogurt with stewed apples / pears and some nuts for an afternoon snack
  • Add to curries and casseroles
  • Coat sweet potato in coconut oil and cinnamon for a delicious side dish
  • Add to baking such as a almond meal cookies and quinoa flake & coconut topped apple crumble

 

Wishing you all peace & happiness. 
Yours in good health,
Tabitha x and Madeleine
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Fertility Superfood: Maca

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Maca

When it comes to fertility superfoods, Maca certainly stands out from the rest. This Peruvian root is a member of the cruciferous family that resembles a radish or a turnip. Maca is a rich plant source of calcium, magnesium, selenium and iron as well as being relatively high fatty acids and protein. This powerful superfood functions as an adaptogen—a natural substance that produces an adaptive response to stress, supporting our handling of life’s daily stressors. According to Peruvian biologist Gloria Chacon de Popovici, PhD, maca stimulates the hypothalamus and pituitary gland to produce balanced levels of sex hormones including follicle stimulating hormone, oestrogen, testosterone and progesterone, while also regulating the adrenals and balancing stress levels. This is why Maca has been used for centuries as a superfood to boost energy, resilience, vitality and libido, while promoting fertility and overall well being.
Maca is great for individuals with menstrual irregularities, bothersome pre-menstrual symptoms, endometriosis, acne and for reducing the symptoms of menopause. At AYH we also recommend it to couples trying to conceive. We advise taking about 1 tablespoon of the dried root daily. Maca can be purchased at most health food stores and is a simple addition to bliss balls, smoothies, natural yoghurt, oats and healthy baked muffins.
Enjoy this below recipe as well! 

Magic Maca Warrior Balls

½ cup raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
½ cup raw almonds
½ cup raw sunflower seeds
1 tbs chia seeds
10 organic medjool dates, pits removed
3 tbs maca root powder
2 tbs water
2 tbs coconut oil (heated if solid) 

Method

In a blender or food processor, blend all the ingredients aside from the  dates and water, until a course consistency is reached.

Add dates and continue to blend. Add water 1tbs at a time until a dough forms.

Roll into balls and store in fridge up to 2 weeks.

Wishing you all peace & happiness. 
Yours in good health,
Tabitha x and Madeleine

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Fertility and Omega 3 EFA’s

Spring-2014

When we think hormones, we think healthy fats. But not all fats are created equal! Omega 3 is the therapeutic King, which is why we’d like to shine some light on it now for you. Omega 3 fatty acids EPA & DHA are both found in small oily fish, and each have their own unique role in our body’s. One of EPA’s primary roles in the body is to dampen inflammatory process, while DHA is considered a major structural component of brain, eyes and nervous system. This combined action of EPA & DHA omega 3s works to reduce the inflammatory stress that our bodies are continually challenged by (from pollution, caffeine, fried foods, alcohol, stress, excess weight etc.), whilst also providing structural integrity for optimal hormonal production and receptor function.

Read more here: Omega-3

fish
Clinically, we see fish oil work it’s magic every day, reducing PMS, skin breakouts, improving skin barrier function, dampening period pain or ovulation pain, and promoting more regular ovulation.

Increasing your consumption of oily fish to 3-4 serves per week has some gentle therapeutic potential. Small oily fish such as sardines, herring, blue mackerel, anchovies, blue eyed cod, salmon (wild caught), flathead and snapper are recommended as they are both low in mercury and contain a number of other fertility enhancing nutrients such as protein, iodine, calcium, and zinc. Supplementation is also a simple and effective way to ensure you are reaching the therapeutic level of EPA & DHA.

Book in for a consultation or speak to us when choosing a brand of fish oil, to ensure you are receiving a therapeutic dpse spelling dose for your particular situation, as well as a purchasing a pure and sustainably sourced product.

Wishing you all peace & happiness. 
Yours in good health,
Tabitha x and Madeleine

Click here to read more

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Fertility and Weight Control

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Weight Control

 
 

avocado

Being both underweight and overweight can have a significant impact on
hormone balance and consequently menstrual cycle rhythm. 
Clinically, in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) whom
are also overweight, research and clinical practice both show that just a
drop of 5% of body weight can result in more regular ovulation.

 

On the other hand however, being underweight and having low intake
of healthy dietary fats can compromise hormone production, and can
be a significant contributor to  menstrual irregularities. This is common
to amenorrhea (absence of periods) and also irregular ovulation.

 

Ensuring regular intake of clean healthy fats and adequate body
fat levels 0f between 19-26% will therefore assist in balancing hormones
and regulating your menstrual cycle. If you feel you’d like some input
and advice with your diet and how it can support menstrual regularity,
 

 

 
 
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Wishing you all peace & happiness. 
Yours in good health,
Tabitha x

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 Level 1, 101-103 Queen St, Woollahra NSW 2025  Phone: 0421 921 469
Consultations Available: Wednesday to Saturday 8.00 am – 5.00 pm
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Understanding Irregular Menstrual Cycles

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Something we see all the time at awaken your health is women experiencing
irregular menstrual cycles. Whether they’re just coming off the oral contraceptive
pill, are trying to conceive, or are wanting to reduce bothersome symptoms of
hormonal fluctuations such as pre-menstrual anxiety, mood swings and
weight gain (sound familiar?); we see it all.

 

Most women agree that the feel their best with a regular and balanced
menstrual cycle. Whilst it’s crucial to uncover the underlying cause
of menstrual irregularities through particular investigations and thorough
case taking of corresponding symptoms,there are some simple baseline
steps that can be taken to promote a regular and problem-free cycle.
Over the next 5 weeks we will explore these steps and share a weekly
tip on how to get some harmony into your hormones creating a
balanced and regular menstrual cycle. Hurrah!

 

Using a period App to track your cycle- this daily ritual of checking
in with your body -which takes no more that 2 minutes –  allows
you to assess what’s happening in your body. You may wish
to take note of symptoms such as breast tenderness, food cravings,
changes to appetite, moodiness, brown spotting before your
menstrual flow, the heaviness of your bleed, and so on.
Cultivating this body awareness by keeping a record of your cycle
provides valuable information to share with us to your next consultation,
and helps you mentally work towards your intention of having a regular cycle.
It may also be interesting to note where you are in relation to the moon’s cycle.
While the theory is largely founded on traditional beliefs, it is believed
that women are more likely to ovulate on the full moon and menstruate on
the new moon, due to the impact of changing moon light on your
ovulation timing. I for one, also have a moon / lunar app on my
iPhone which helps me be aware of where I am at in relation to the moon’s cycle.

moon

 

Luckily, technology makes recording these symptoms and changes
so simple. Using a menstrual tracking app allows you to quickly
enter in this information, which is stored conveniently on your phone,
tied in with your iCal.  A good app will chart your cycles, predict fertile
windows and inform you when you are due to menstruate.
Sound convenient? We think so too!
Some apps to check out include:

 

 

For more information on tracking your cycle and understanding your
menstrual patterns book in for a consultation.

 

Wishing you all peace & happiness. 
Yours in good health,
Tabitha x
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 Level 1, 101-103 Queen St, Woollahra NSW 2025  Phone: 0421 921 469
Consultations Available: Wednesday to Saturday 8.00 am – 5.00 pm
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Fertility & Hormone Balancing Banana Icecream

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Introducing… Fertility Friday!

Fertility is not just about making babies, but rather a deeper reflection of
optimal health, nutrition,balance & vitality. Whilst there are infinite variations
on ‘normal’, for the ladies at least , it means experiencing a balanced
menstrual cycle, free of debilitating pain, mood-swings, skin breakouts,
weight fluctuations, and without drive to overeat.

Here at awaken your health, we love nothing more than
harmonised hormones and are dedicated to helping you achieve just that!
Each Friday, we will post recipes, tips,give examples of common
clinical presentations and the latest research
that will help you nurture your hormones and promote optimum fertility.

So, to kick off our first Fertility Friday and to celebrate the
last weeks of summer we are starting with our super simple and delicious

Balance-Banana Ice-Cream

If you haven’t tried making banana ice-cream before, then you are in for a treat!
This recipe is not only gluten, dairy and sugar-free but also contains
essential nutrients & ingredients that help balance hormones and
promote fertility including:

Maca– this South American root vegetable has been used for centuries to boost fertility.
It is a hormone balancing, libido & stamina enhancing superfood that is also
nutrient-rich.
Coconut butter– A rich source of mct saturated fat, which provides the building
blocks needed for hormone synthesis. Not enough fat in our diets can lead to
poor hormone production and hormonal disturbance.
Cinnamon– This super spice is fantastic for improving insulin sensitivity
and balancing blood sugar levels. It also promotes blood flow to the
reproductive organs. Balanced blood sugar levels are essential for
regular ovulation and healthy ormonal balance.
Banana– High in tryptophan, which converts to serotonin or our ‘happiness hormone’
and helps ward off postnatal depression. Bananas are also high in potassium,
an essential nutrient for regulating blood pressure and preventing pre-eclampsia.

Ingredients:
2x frozen bananas (peel, chop & freeze)
1tsp maca powder
1 tbs coconut butter or oil
¾ tsp ground cinnamon

Optional: chopped nuts or seeds of choice – pepitas or cashews are excellent
for their generous Zinc content.

Method
Place all ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend until
smooth and creamy. If bananas are too frozen, add 1 tablespoon of water.
Add chopped seeds or nuts!

Fertility Friday
Enjoy!

Wishing you all peace & happiness. 
Yours in good health,
Tabitha x

 Level 1, 101-103 Queen St, Woollahra NSW 2025  Phone: 0421 921 469
Consultations Available: Wednesday to Saturday 8.00 am – 5.00 pm
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