Happy Halloween!🎃

Eat pumpkin and not lollies…😏

Happy Halloween to everyone celebrating over the next couple of days!👻 🎃

Here are some tips to help you choose low FODMAP treats:

🍬 Looks for candies sweetened with glucose, dextrose, corn syrup, sugar, sucrose.

🍬 Avoid sweets with sorbitol, mannitol, isomalt, xylitol, maltitol, honey, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), fructose, agave syrup, concentrated fruit juices, or high FODMAP fruit

🍬 Avoid sweets that have high FODMAP flavours (like apple, pear, mango, boysenberry).

🍬 Limit your serve to a small handful… too much sugar is hard for our bodies to process and can trigger symptoms.

Did YOU KNOW that your GUT and your BRAIN HEALTH are linked?🤔💫

The Mind-Gut Connection is Real

Did you know that your gut and your brain are in regular conversation? They have a pretty close relationship, with your mental state influencing gut function and vice versa. Perhaps you’ve experienced ‘butterflies in your stomach’, or felt nauseous before an event? Or felt your mouth water upon seeing or smelling a delicious meal? These are all very real phenomena and due to your mind-gut connection.

Less ideal is how feeling under pressure or stressed decreases digestive function – this is because when your body-mind perceives ‘danger’ (which is what stress is from a physiological sense – see this article here), then it’s not a priority to be eating, therefore digestion suffers and you may experience bloating or heartburn or some other uncomfortable symptom.

Knowing this mind-gut link exists can help explain how feeling anxious may impact how your gut is functioning, but perhaps more significant (though not as well known) is that what’s going on in your gut could also be impacting your mental health.

Lighting a Fire in the Brain

Though the causes may be multifactorial, a key player in this situation is gut-derived inflammation. This can result from dysbiosis, which is an imbalance in your gut microbiota (the microbial life that resides within your intestines), and/or some degree of insult to the digestive tract lining – your gut ‘barrier’. Both your gut barrier and your microbiota work synergistically to support effective digestion, immune health, and overall wellbeing. However, if they become disrupted then biochemical signals or ‘cytokines’ are released that travel throughout your body causing what’s referred to as oxidative stress in any number of tissues in your body including your brain.

Though many of these cytokines cannot cross what’s called the blood-brain-barrier, their presence triggers similar ‘alarm’ signals in the brain so it too is impacted by its own inflammatory processes. This sequence of events can be why symptoms such as poor mood, brain fog and anxiety occur; but for those who want a more specific example – inflammation can promote the neurotransmitter precursor tryptophan to produce quinolinic acid[1] instead of serotonin and melatonin – the former situation leading to what can most simply be described as nerve cell ‘agitation’ that can present as anxiety.[2]

Soothe Your gut to Settle Your Mind

As gut health is fundamental to all aspects of wellbeing then any symptoms really need to be attended to – and to do that with the least guesswork then my recommendation is to see a natural healthcare Practitioner who can help you navigate what may be the contributing causes for you, e.g. do you need to tweak your diet? Get some help with digesting certain foods? Heal your gut barrier? Equally, if you are struggling with stress, sleep, or experiencing regular mood problems then speak to your Practitioner about this too – there are many natural medicine solutions available, but to find the best ones for you will require assessing your personal situation first.

Is it too Early to Rely on Psychobiotics?

If you are already a fan of natural medicine you may be wondering what the role of probiotics are in this, particularly as there is emerging talk of ‘psychobiotics’ or probiotics that can impact mood. This is clearly of interest to those who may be experiencing stress or anxiety, so I’d say to you that the human evidence for what may be the ‘best’ probiotic strain and at what dose to help is still in its infancy; but watch this space for future research developments.

What we do know currently is that supporting whole gut health by decreasing gut-derived inflammation and increasing the diversity of the gut microbiota is a proven clinical approach to whole-body wellbeing – and this includes improving mental health.

So if you experience symptoms impacting either your mind or your gut, please don’t put up with them any longer, or try to figure it all out on your own. Contact your Clinical Naturopath or Integrative Doctor and let them know what’s going on, so they can personalise a solution for your situation.

[1] Lugo-Huitrón R, Muñiz PU, Pineda B, Pedreaza-Chaverri J, Rios C, Pérez-de la Cruz V. Quinolinic acid: an edogenous neurotoxin with multiple targets. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity. 2013;Article ID 104024, 14 pages. Available from: https://www.hindawi.com/journals/omcl/2013/104024/

[2] Bryleva EY, Brundin L. Kynurenine pathway metabolites and suicidality. Neuropharmacology. 2017 Jan;112(Pt B):324-330. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2016.01.034. Epub 2016 Jan 26. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0028390816300338

Are you looking after YOUR BONE HEALTH…🤔🍃

It’s World Osteoporosis Day!

Osteoporosis is a common disease in Australia and according to Osteoporosis Australia, we’re estimated to have 1.2 million people with osteoporosis and a further 6.3 million with low bone density. What’s even more alarming is that osteoporosis is sometimes referred to as the ‘silent disease’ as there are often no signs or symptoms, until an unexpected fracture occurs. The good news is that there are many ways to help you successfully live the ‘healthy bone lifestyle’ to look after your bones for years to come! We can make lifestyle changes and choices to get more exercise, eat calcium-rich foods and cut out those nasties!
Another way to help support your bone health is by supplementing with a high-strength, highly absorbable form of calcium. Calcium hydroxyapatite is one of the best sources of calcium and has been consistently found to be superior to many other forms of calcium. Being highly absorbable with additional cofactors needed for bone growth, the calcium reaches the bones where it’s needed the most. Ask your Natural Healthcare Practitioner for a calcium hydroxyapatite supplement to help prevent, or manage osteoporosis for you.

Visit the Osteoporosis Australia website for more information and resources: http://bit.ly/2S0VoKh

LIFE can be stressful.🤯 Adding these LIFESTYLE STRATEGIES can help improve your HEALTH!🍃🌸

Building Resilience – The Key to Supporting Mental Health

Which best describes your day? Is it busy but everything goes smoothly and you respond positively to whatever challenges arise – or does it feel more like everything is a frantic juggle and you literally cannot take on board a single additional thing? The difference in how a day can feel has much to do with how resilient you are to life’s stressors, because it is your degree of resilience that helps you adapt to an ever-changing environment.

So, how can you build resilience? This begins with acknowledging that life can get stressful (no matter who you are or what you do) and just as you know eating well is good for your physical wellbeing, supporting mental health requires regularly incorporate the lifestyle strategies shown to be beneficial.

While stress is a word used a lot, in this context it refers to the physical response of your body to demands made upon it, whether they are physical, mental or emotional. This is important to understand as ongoing, unmanaged stress can be harmful – the adrenaline you need to power through a really busy day is the same chemical body signal that would be released if something sudden and life threatening occurred to you.

The impact on your body is the same in both scenarios – an increase in blood pressure, faster respiration rate, a rapid heart rate, a decrease in digestive capacity, along with an eventual corresponding decrease in immune function. Known as the ‘stress response’, adrenaline is released as it is useful acutely when you need to run away from, for example, a lion – but it’s not so great if you are exposed to it on a day to day basis.

In fact, being in a heightened state of systemic ‘alarm’ is the reason why many people experience daily fatigue, and is why sometimes innocuous events can begin to trigger a feeling of overwhelm for some people.

For moments of acute stress and tension (which can happen to anyone), there are some stress-busters listed here. However, the aim of building resilience is to reduce the number and/or impact of these acute events. To do this requires your ongoing investment in positive health-based decisions. The foundational tactics with which you can help yourself enjoy a smoother ride through life:

  • Start by sprucing up your diet – everyone has to eat so this is a logical place to start. Whilst a balanced wholefood diet is good for general health, some foods are packed with the nutrients specifically required for healthy nervous system function. These include the omega-3 fatty acids (found in oily fish, walnuts, flaxseeds, chia), foods rich in zinc (meat, fish, nuts and seeds again!), magnesium (green leafy vegetables, legumes, figs, avocado, fish and nuts and seeds…again!). Avoid the refined, processed packet foods that include unhealthy fats, sugars and artificial chemicals. Don’t underestimate the impact of dietary improvement for all aspects of health – this is your #1 tactic.
  • Carry out a personal sleep audit – between 33% and 45% of adults in Australia sleep poorly, or not enough,[1] which can definitely undermine mental wellbeing. After all, it’s no surprise that things can get a bit too much if you are constantly tired. Aim for 7 to 8 hours of actual sleep a night, and speak to your natural healthcare Practitioner if you are struggling, as there are herbs and nutrients able to help you improve the quality and quantity of your sleep if needed.
  • Prioritise moving – time and time again regular exercise has been shown to be specifically beneficial for mental health. Get outdoors if you can and walk, jog, run, cycle, kayak, hill-climb – or head to the gym or a dance class if that’s your preference – as long as it’s happening and regularly. Moving and exercising regularly not only reduces feelings of stress but helps improve memory, sleep, and boosts mood. Australian guidelines recommend 30 minutes of moderate to intensive physical exercise on most days of the week.[2] Incorporating any movement helps so it’s not an ‘all or nothing’ thing – if you rarely move then start small and work up to it – the important thing is it’s regular (every day is best!).
  • “Pay attention on purpose” – this is how I once saw the practice of ‘mindfulness’ being described; but all humour aside, the evidence for developing a mindfulness practice is growing with a number of studies showing people reporting less stress, improved physical and emotional health, and better sleep. Plus it can lead to the all-important physical reductions of stress-related biomarkers including blood pressure and cortisol levels (the stress hormone),[3] good for your long-term health also. So what is mindfulness? Well it does not necessarily have to involve meditation, but can instead be a technique applied to everyday life; a mental state whereby you practice focussing on each present moment, and calmly acknowledge your thoughts, feelings, emotions and body sensations – all without judgement. Becoming more mindful gets easier with time and practice, and can help you to remain calm, regulate your thoughts, emotions and reactions, and stay present even in the midst of stressful events.
  • Look after your gut bugs – any disturbance in digestive health can contribute to mood swings, anxiety and low mood due to what’s referred to as the ‘gut-brain axis’.[4] The beneficial microbes that reside in your gastrointestinal tract contribute to more than your gut health so are very worth looking after – starting by feeding them well. Ensure you have plenty of fibre in your diet as this is what they feed on primarily. Eat widely from a range of wholegrains, legumes, fresh nuts, and lots of colourful vegetables and fruits (unpeeled where possible). That said, if you have any digestive symptoms this is a sign that something is not quite right; but as this could be due to a range of things, avoid the guesswork and discuss your situation with your healthcare Practitioner.
  • Do the things you love – maybe its skateboarding, dancing, reading a good book, dragon boat racing, painting, bushwalking, rebuilding classic cars – whatever it is that rocks your boat, just do it and do it regularly. Think of all the experiences you want to have that you can look back on and be grateful you made time for – that’s probably not working a 60 hour week, every week, with no ‘play-time’. Which would you prefer?

Strategic Supplemental Support

  • Nervous system nutrients – like it or not it is not uncommon for adults to get insufficient magnesium from their diets, so this is one of the really helpful supplements for mental wellbeing. Not all magnesium’s are made equal – some are cheap and poorly absorbed and these are the ones too often for sale ‘over the counter’. Also, it can be more economical to use a formula that’s combined with other nervous system supporting nutrients including zinc, B vitamins and taurine to get the best results. Ask a suitably qualified Practitioner (e.g. Clinical Naturopath, Nutritionist) for assistance with the best nutritional solutions for your particular situation.
  • Adaptogenic herbs – this is one you may not have heard about but there is a whole class of natural medicines termed ‘adaptogens’ due to their ability to support physical and mental health during times of stress, and which improve performance. Examples include Withania somnifera, Eleuthrococcus senticosus, and Rhodiola rosea. These are best discussed with a qualified Clinical Naturopath or Herbalist, who can take into consideration your health history and any medications you may be taking as well as assess which herb matches your situation best (e.g. do you need a tonifying or calming adaptogenic herb?). They are very different in action.

Help yourself to create a life that goes more smoothly by incorporating as many of the above strategies that you feel you could improve upon. By doing so you can look forward to improved physical, mental and emotional wellbeing for the long-term, whatever comes your way.

[1] Sleep Health Foundation. Australia’s Sleepiness Epidemic. [Internet]. Sydney NSW; Sleep Health Foundation [cited 2018 Sept 19].

[2] Australian Government – Department of Health. Exercise and mental health. [Internet]. Canberra ACT: Australian Government; [cited 2018 Sept 19]. Available from:

[3] Turakitwanakan W, Mekseepralard C, Busarakumtragul P. Effects of mindfulness meditation on serum cortisol of medical students. J Med Assoc Thai. 2013 Jan;96 Suppl 1:S90-5. PubMed PMID: 23724462.

[4] Harvard Health Publishing. The gut-brain connection. [Internet] Boston, MA: Harvard University; 2010-2018. [cited 2018 Sept 19]. Available from: