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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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2015 Integrative Healthcare Symposium in NYC

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International HealthCare Symposium in New York, Feb 2015.

This Symposium was a privilege to attend, and a gathering of some of the world’s leading integrative medicine practitioners and researchers. It was truly uplifting, and I hoped to share with you a quick summary below of some of the outstanding things I learned.

One of my standouts was Dr Phillip Landrigan, an extraordinarily accomplished person (who’s Bio takes three days to read), is an American epidemiologist and pediatrician and one of the world’s leading advocates of children’s health. His pioneering work in the 1970’s led to removal of lead from gasoline many years ago. His efforts were instrumental to a measurable and timely reduction in blood lead levels in American children and public. He’s extremely humble, accomplished, and one of my personal and professional heroes.

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I was lucky enough to see Dr Philip Landrigan speak about exposures to toxins in paediatrics. The environment is a very big determinant in health for all of us, but particularly in children. He discussed evidence behind environmental causation in disease being strongest in asthma, and in neurodevelopment disorders, and the major costs that this places on society. He passionately discussed the complete failure of chemical regulation around the world, and shared some take home messages about the necessity of identifying in consultation with families, people high at risk to environmental chemical exposures, to asbestos, lead, pesticides, plastics, and flouride. I have implemented some of his specific questioning into my  work and his talk was very aligned with the current Book project I am undertaking with Dr Sarah Lantz. Hearing him speak was so consolidating to the work we have already invested.

I also heard inspiring speakers such as Aviva Romm (MD, Midwife and Herbalist) & Dr Lise Alschuler (Naturopathic Doctor and Naturopathic Oncologist) speak of the adverse physiological and physical effects of stress, particularly on overloaded women. “Allostatic load” is also a major driver of salt, fat and sugar intake. Strategies to better manage our responses to stressors around us were discussed, as well as the benefits of constantly trying to find your ‘sweet spot’ when it comes to balancing the stressors in your day, with breath, a nourishing diet, tight blood sugar control, exercise, and biological support such as nutritional supplementation and the use of adaptogenic herbal medicines. Strategies I find myself discussing every day with my gorgeous clients.

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The proliferation of  Wifi  (Electromagnetic Radiation) with wide-spread phone / gadget use and the health effects was also discussed, and is a “newer’ area of environmental health medicine that is building momentum as we understand more about it. The term ‘distance is your friend’ was used to describe the importance of keeping your phone when not in use on Aeroplane mode, or keeping it at least off your body with an ear piece when you do take a call. I think we are going to see a lot more about this in the future!

I hope you enjoyed some of that food for thought 😉

Wishing you all peace & happiness. 

Yours in good health,
Tabitha x

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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

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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.

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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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How Can I Reduce My Chemical Exposures? By Tabitha McIntosh ND

Have you ever thought about the hundreds of different chemicals we are exposed to each day – in products we use to clean our homes, the personal care products we use on our bodies, in the pesticides we spray in our homes, offices, gardens, and playgrounds and in our food, water and air?

Numerous industrial chemicals have been detected in human blood, urine, hair, breast milk, and even umbilical cord blood.

It’s an even scarier thought that the vast majority of chemicals that are in use and in circulation have not been adequately tested for their impacts on human health or their particular impacts on children and developing babies – yet – it is now widely recognised that babies and young children are at greatest risk from these chemical exposures. Some chemical exposures can have life-long impacts on an infant’s health, immune function, and ability to learn.

As a mother, I want to do everything I can to keep my family safe from harmful chemicals, and no doubt you feel the same way. Parents can do a lot to protect their children from chemical hazards simply by changing their own personal behaviours and consumption patterns.

So if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, are breastfeeding or have young children, it is advisable to pay particular attention to reducing chemical exposures as much as possible.

Here’s a ‘starter-list’ of some practical measures you can take to protect yourself and your children from common chemicals: making yours and your family’s life just a little less toxic.

Stay tuned for information to come about a lecture I will be giving on this exact topic atBondi Beach Public School in August this year.

Store your food in glass containers whenever possible, as it is the most inert container you can use. Don’t microwave in plastic or with Gladwrap: use glass or ceramic instead. It is especially important to look for BPA-free bottles for your infants (these will have a golden tint); and BPA-free water bottles for your children and yourself. Ask your health care provider for some options of suppliers.

• Avoid processed foods, and become a food label detective. Avoid artificial food additives of all kinds, including MSG and artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners are found in most chewing gums, diet foods and drinks, and some children’s medications.

Buy and eat organic produce and free-range, organic foodswhere possible, to reduce your exposure to pesticides, GMOs and fertilizers. This especially applies to animal produce (meat, chicken, eggs) and full-cream dairy products, as these may contain higher levels of some pollutants. If you don’t have access to Organic produce, consider eating fewer meat and high-fat dairy products. In addition, ask your Naturopath or Health care provider about the EWG’s ‘Clean Fifteen’ Vegetable and Fruits List.

Avoid the use of insecticides / pesticides in the home or garden, or on your family pets. Examples of common things to avoid: Mortein, Baygone, garden sprays, flea treatments, mosquito repellants that contain DEET etc. There are safe, effective and natural alternatives out there.

• Throw out your Teflon pots and pans and instead use safer cooking materials like ceramic, stainless steel, and glass.

Run your tap water through a home-filter, or drink spring water. Filters can reduce levels of common tap water pollutants.

Avoid artificial fragrances: in air fresheners, fabric softeners, perfumes, cheap candles, and other synthetic fragrances. Use fresh flowers, essential oils and natural alternatives instead.

Reduce the number of cosmetics and other personal care products you use, which can contain harmful chemicals and can be sold with no safety testing. With most people using about 10 cosmetic and personal care products each day, aim to switch to Natural brands of personal care items: including shampoo, toothpaste,antiperspirants and cosmetics. Skin care products are notorious for containing a slew of dangerous chemicals. See the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database or ONE Groups’ Chemical Directory for more info.

• Avoid Nail polishes and Nail polish removers; aerosols like hairspray, conventional hair dyes and bleaches while pregnant and breastfeeding.

Carefully consider what you put on your baby’s skin: be cautious of Ingredients such as preservatives, parabens, foaming agents (SLS), fragrances and petroleum-based ointments. Speak to your Health Care provider about some alternative brands and products.

Carefully consider the toys you choose for your children, as children like to ‘mouth’ things. Avoid toys that have been painted overseas, plastics, adhesives, lip-glosses, nail polishes, etc.

When renovating your home, look for “green”, toxin-free alternatives in lieu of regular paints, varnishes and floor coverings. Use low VOC paints, varnishes and sealants (available from your hardware) and avoid formaldehyde resins. Ideally, aim to finish the Reno’s, polish the floor boards, and paint the baby room well before you conceive. See the Safer Solutions website for more advice on healthy home renovations.

Become a conscious purchaser when buying house-hold goods, cleaning chemicals, aerosoles, air fresheners etc. Look for green, toxin-free alternatives.

Reduce the number of household cleaners you use; and only use natural cleaning products in your home. Most health food stores will have these available or you can search online for them.

See the Safer Solutions website for keeping your home healthy and green

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Winter Wellness for our Children By Tabitha McIntosh

Winter is the peak cold and flu period and prevention is the most important strategy for our littlies, however – particularly when Kindy or Pre-school are involved – some infections are almost inevitable. These simple strategies will help protect against winter infections and speed recovery if a cold or flu takes hold.

Good Hygiene
The first line of defence is to keep germs at bay and stopping spread. Encourage hand washing with a gentle soap, covering mouths when coughing or sneezing, and always have a chemical-free hand-sanitiser gel handy.

Encourage Vitamin C and Betacarotene rich foods plus garlic
Encourage foods such as red capsicum, citrus fruits, papaya, parsley, kiwi fruits, dried apricots, berries, broccoli, pumpkin, spinach and tomatoes. Garlic has antimicrobial and immune support properties. Mashed sweet potato with garlic and parsley is a winner with my kids when they are sick.

Boost Vitamin C and Zinc
Best taken as low, divided doses throughout the day – see your healthcare provider for specific formulas, as children always need their dose individually assessed based on height, weight and age.

Minimise hidden sugar in your child’s diet
Sugar reduces the immune response and lowers our ability to fight a bug. Eliminate lollies, juices, honey, jams, boxed cereals, sultanas, flavoured milks, sweetened yoghurts for the best chance at recovery.

Be informed about Vitamin D
Research has identified Vitamin D as a key factor in promoting healthy immune response, and supplementation has been shown to reduce the risk of flu infection by half1. Ensure your children get regular safe and smart sunscreen-free exposure to the sun; and include Vitamin D rich foods like oily fish, eggs and fortified milk.

Probiotics and immunity
Probiotics have demonstrated effectiveness in providing kids’ protection against infections such as colds and flu’s2. In fact, over 70 percent of your child’s immune tissue surrounds their gut. Remember the effects of Probiotics are strain-specific, so speak to your health care professional.

Rest rest rest
Getting adequate sleep is essential to prevent and manage infection. Lack of sleep reduces our immune response and makes us more susceptible to catching bugs.

Other tips
Essential oils like tea tree, eucalyptus, lavender, peppermint, and lemon are natural decongestants. A couple of drops into a vaporiser while sleeping or in the bath can break down mucous and improve breathing. Chest rubs with pure paw paw and calendula calm (Petroleum-free) can soothe dry and chapped skin around the nose.

Remember
Always speak with a health professional before giving your children any supplements, or if symptoms worsen or persist. Also, delay immunisation appointments if your child has an acute infection, a runny nose or seems not themselves.

References:
1. Urashima M et al. Randomised trial of vitamin D supplementation to prevent seasonal influenza-A in school children. Am J Clinical Nutrition 2010 May; 91(5):1255-1260.

2. Leyer GJ et al. Probiotic effects on cold and influenza-like symptom incidence and duration in children. Pediatrics 2009 Aug; 124(2):e172-179.

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Gwinganna Retreat

I am feeling genuinely refreshed and re-inspired following a beautiful stay at Gwinganna Health and Lifestyle Retreat. Gwinganna Retreat is on a plateau in a hidden region of the Tallebudgera Valley, Sunshine Coast, QLD. It is a serene ‘escape’ from the modern age of technology, allowing people to really focus their attention on their own health and wellbeing. Amongst other things, I discovered on my 6-day retreat that it is entirely possible to survive almost a week without an iphone, laptop, the internet, coffee, wine or chocolate! And I felt amazing for it. What a revolution! It was good to re-connect back in with nature and with my inner-self.

Gwinganna functions on four simple ‘health’ philosophies:

  • Regular, Functional Movement
    • Fostering emotional Wellbeing
    • Effective management of Lifestyle Stress
    • Nourishment – almost all food served at Gwinganna has been organically grown on the property & is prepared innovatively by their top organic chefs.

All of these philosophies are implemented daily at the Gwinganna Retreat & are specifically directed towards maintaining optimal wellbeing and therefore are ‘preventative medicine’ concepts. Gwinganna’s world-class Spa was outstanding – my personal favourite being the sublime ‘crystal steam room’ followed by a cold shower and crushed ice form the ice machine – enlivening!

With ‘Nourishment’, in particular, Gwinganna’s organic food philosophy is based around the belief that Mother Nature knows best. I especially enjoyed their focus on Low Human Intervention Food – (Low HI foods) – where food has undergone no or minimal changes from it’s place in nature to your plate.

For example, a piece of sweet potato may have been steamed or roasted, but it is still recognizable as a sweet potato the way it came from the earth. Too many foods today have lost this simple but essential philosophy. It was really wonderful during my stay to re-evaluate my relationship (as a Nutritionist, mother, and woman) with food – and to be reminded of the meaning of true nourishment.


Choose Low Human-Intervention Foods!

As inspiration; I have included below a recipe from Gwinganna’s fabulous cookbook:“From garden to gourmet”; plus have included some photos of the organic vegetable garden from which we ate. Enjoy!

Tahini Balls

½ cup tahini
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup LSA
1 cup dried fruit of your choice (I used organic dried apricots)
1/4 cup chopped almonds (soaked overnight in water)

Mix all the ingredients together to make a stiff mixture. Use more coconut if necessary. Shape and roll into balls with dampened hands and coat with coconut or LSA.

The Organic Veggie Garden
chooks

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salad

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Recipe for Tab’s Brown Rice Salad

A delicious recipe that makes 4-6 lunch or dinner meals

Boil 3 cups of brown rice. While the rice is cooking, heat a large fry pan or wok with1-2 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil

Add to the fry pan:

3 cloves garlic chopped finely
1 bunch shallots chopped finely
2 red capsicums chopped finely
Optional one chile without seeds, chopped finely
(ALL INGREDIENTS ARE CHOPPED TO APPROX SIZE OF A FINGERNAIL)

Once these ingredients have softened, add:

1-2 bunches chopped asparagus
1-2 bunches chopped broccolini
any other chopped green Chinese veggies
1-2 finely chopped carrots
1 cup of frozen peas or corn or both
(for extra taste, add 1 tsp sesame oil and 1-2 tbsp tamari to fry pan)
Add one bunch of finely chopped coriander towards the end
Cook all ingredients until medium soft.
Once the brown rice is cooked, rinse well and put in a large bowl.
Add the stir-fried veggies to the same bowl and stir rice in with veggies well.
Add 1 tbsp of sesame seeds
Add 2 x 185g cans Sirena Tuna in oil or Paramount red Salmon or Mackerel (drain oil)
Optional, add one can red or brown lentils (drained and rinsed) for extra fibre and protein.
Mix all ingredients and eat hot or cold. Enjoy!
Note: This keeps well in the fridge in Tuppaware (transfer to tuppaware only once the food is room temperature – never when hot), and is a great lunch to take to school or work.

Note: Don’t feel limited to the ingredients above – add whatever veggies you enjoy – the more colour, the better.

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Eating more Legumes – Some recipe ideas

Lentils are a great source of vegetarian protein with low-to-negligible fat. They are also a fabulous source of dietary fibre. Generally, one cup of cooked lentils provides you with 5-10g of dietary fibre. Substituting meat dishes with a dish of legumes & whole grains once or twice a week can improve your health.
A high fibre diet prevents constipation, haemorrhoids and diverticular disease and may be protective against bowel polyps and cancer. A high fibre diet is also associated with a lower risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, gallbladder disease, obesity and diabetes. Foods high in fibre tend to be low in GI (glycemic index) and so are well suited to weight loss and diabetic diets. (see www.glycemicindex.com).
Lentils are generally good with extra virgin olive oil; onion; garlic; carrot; celery; tomato; spinach; sage; parsley; thyme; coriander; bay leaf; saffron; lamb; beef; chorizo sausage; chutney; brown/basmati rice and all flat breads. Try experimenting with international dishes (such as Indian and MiddleEeastern).

Canned lentils are fine to use when they have been drained and rinsed. To reduce gas when cooking with dried beans/lentils, soak the beans for 18 hours (to remove a large percentage of the oligosaccharides which ferment in the colon to produce gas). Throw away the water and then cook with fresh water.

Below are three delicious and simple recipes for you to try at home.
For more ideas, see my recipes section or www.edenfoods.com/recipes/

Red Lentil and Salmon Burgers – Makes 8-10 patties

1 can of red lentils (drained and rinsed)
1 210g can of red salmon (drained)
1 medium sweet potato
1 medium Spanish onion (the purple ones)
1 bunch fresh coriander (chopped finely)
1 egg
½ a cup of wholemeal bread crumbs
1-2 teaspoons of curry powder
Pinch of salt and pepper
Some wholemeal bread-rolls, tomato, lettuce and sweet chilli sauce to serve!
What to do:

Wash the sweet potato and onion and wrap them in alfoil. Put them in the oven to roast at 250 degrees for one hour. After one hour, test with a skewer to see if soft. If skewer goes through, take out and let cool.
When they are cool, take the skin of them and chop them up. Place into a large mixing bowl and mash.
Add finely chopped coriander, raw egg, drained red salmon, drained and rinsed red lentils and curry powder. Mix well.
Add bread-crumbs to the wet mix. This will dry it out a little and help it to stick together. Mix very well.
Heat a frying pan on low to medium heat with some olive oil or canola oil.
Take handfuls of the mixture (btwn size of a tennis ball and a golf ball) and place into hot frying pan.
Lightly brown the patties (1-2 mins on each side) so they are warm through. You don’t need to cook them, just heat and brown them.
Serve hot or cold in a wholemeal roll or on a sandwich with lettuce, tomato, avocado, tahini +/- sweet chilli sauce.

Curried Lentil Soup (Dahl) – Serves 6

1 Onion chopped
3 Garlic cloves crushed
1 tsp Coriander ground
1 tsp Cumin ground
2 tsp Curry Powder (adjust to taste requirements)
1 tsp Turmeric ground
1 tbsp Ginger freshly grated
4-6 cans Red or Brown Lentils (drained and rinsed)
2 med Carrots and 3 celery sticks (cut into large chunky pieces)
3 small Zucchini (cut into large chunky pieces)
½ small Cauliflower
2 cans of diced Tomatoes
1 bunch of fresh coriander finely chopped
1L of water or stock liquid (the more water you add, the more ‘soupy’ it will be&hellipWinking
What to do:

Sauté the Onions, carrots and celery in a little water in a large heavy based saucepan.
When soft add the Garlic, then the Coriander, Cumin, Turmeric, Ginger and Curry Powder. Mix through well and cook off the spices. Do not burn.
Add the Lentils and enough water or stock to cover.
Cover with lid and simmer, checking constantly to see if there is enough liquid – adding extra water as required.
When the lentils are cooked, add the Zucchini, Cauliflower, Tomatoes and Tamari. Simmer until vegetables are cooked.
Check for flavour and add a small amount of Vegetable Salt or Tamari and more Curry Powder if required.
Serve with Yoghurt, fresh Coriander, Chutney, Papadams and brown rice.
Pumpkin and Chickpea Hot Pot

Pumpkin and Chickpea Hot Pot – Serves 6

½ cup Chickpeas (soaked overnight)
2 Kg Butternut Pumpkin (cubed 3cm)
1 medium Parsnip or sweet potato (cubed)
1 Red Capsicum (cut in 2cm squares)
1 Onion (sliced in 8 wedges)
2 small Zucchini (cut into chunks)
1/2 Cauliflower (in florets)
1 tsp. Coriander
1 tsp. Cumin
1 tsp. Turmeric
1x375gm tin Tomatoes (organic, crushed)
4 tbsp. Tomato Paste (organic)
½ cup Water
2 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
2 handfuls Fresh Coriander (chopped)
What to do:

Preheat oven to 200 degrees celcius.
Cook chickpeas in rapidly boiling water for 1 hour.
Lightly steam cauliflower.
Mix spices together. Sprinkle spices over onion and roast.
Roast on separate trays – butternut and parsnip till just cooked. Roast Capsicum and Zucchini together till just done.
Mix tomatoes together with tomato paste, water and Braggs to make tomato sauce.
Lightly toss together the roasted vegetables, cauliflower, chickpeas and the tomato sauce and place into a casserole or baking dish.
Lower oven temperature to 160c and gently heat hotpot in oven with lid on.
Once the dish is hot, stir in fresh coriander and check seasonings. Serve with rice for a wonder winter meal.
Enjoy & be well!

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