Tips for Alleviating Period Pain

Tips for Alleviating Period Pain

Are you or someone you know experiencing regular period pain?

Are you or someone you know experiencing regular period pain? Sadly dysmenorrhea, as it is medically known, is so common today that hugging a hot water bottle and reaching for the painkillers for a few days of each month is simply accepted as part and parcel of being a woman.

However, period pain, believe it or not, is not actually normal. Most cases of mild to moderate period pain can be remedied within one to two cycles, while more severe cases may need more support and investigation before they improve.

Period pain can be classified into two different types.  Primary dysmenorrhea, or “normal” period pain, usually occurs on the first or second day of menstruation in the form of mild cramping that improves with pain killers, or a hot water bottle and will not generally interrupt daily activities. It often lessens with age and may be caused by hormonal imbalances, nutrient deficiencies, stress, inflammation, or a combination of these.

Secondary dysmenorrhea is such a severe period pain that it interferes with daily activity. It can last many days and may be so bad as to cause vomiting. This pain won’t be ameliorated by your standard ibuprofen, and usually worsens with age. Severe period pain is usually a sign of an underlying condition such as endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, or fibroids and needs further investigation by your doctor.

Assessments to investigate the underlying cause of period pain may include:

  • A full clinical case assessment discussing signs and symptoms, age of onset, duration and level of pain
  • Physical investigation, possibly including internal exam
  • Ultra sound scan to check for fibroids
  • Full blood tests to check for nutrient deficiencies, thyroid function, inflammation
  • In more complex or chronic cases, functional tests such as Dried Urine Test for Comprehensive Hormones (DUTCH) or salivary hormone testing can tell us a lot more about your individual hormone balance

Tips for alleviating period pain:

The good news is that for both forms of period pain, there are a lot natural approaches to help improve, and in many cases completely alleviate the pain and discomfort. It can be useful to make an appointment with a naturopath who can assess which approach would work best for you as well as guide you with the correct dose and forms of supplements. They can also provide valuable support through the process. It can take 2-3 cycles or more before a significant improvement in symptoms occurs so having someone experienced to work with can make all the difference in achieving results.

A low inflammatory diet can be one of the most powerful things that you can do to help period pain. Dairy is probably the number one inflammatory food group that contributes to period pain. Many women find that removing this alone can have a hugely positive impact. Gluten, alcohol, caffeine, sugars and trans-fats are also very inflammatory. It can be challenging to remove all these from your diet, but at least consider reducing them and see how it makes you feel. Foods such as vegetables, fish and flaxseed oils, as well as herbs and spices such as turmeric, ginger, garlic and cinnamon, are very anti-inflammatory and great to include. It usually takes one to two months of eating an anti-inflammatory diet before an effect is noticed, so do persevere – it will be worth it!

Magnesium is a smooth muscle relaxant as well as helping to calm the nervous system, reduce inflammation and lessen our experience of pain and discomfort. Taking a high dose – 300mg or more- of a good quality magnesium supplement daily will help to reduce the inflammatory chemicals that cause uterine cramping. Increasing the dose over the most painful period can also help to reduce acute pain and cramping.

Zinc is another important mineral when it comes to period pain. It helps to regulate hormone production as well as reduce inflammation. Zinc deficiencies amongst Kiwis are common because New Zealand soils are low in in this vital mineral, which means most of our foods are too. It is a good idea to have your zinc levels tested to check for zinc depletion and supplement if there is a deficiency.

Fish oils are powerfully anti-inflammatory, and anyone who is not eating at least two servings of oily fish per week would benefit from a good quality supplement. Studies have shown fish oil supplementation to be as effective as taking ibuprofen for relieving mild to moderate period pain, and without the side effects. It is important to take a high standard fish oil supplement, as some off-the-shelf products have been found to be rancid, or contain traces of toxic metals. Speak with your naturopath or doctor to ensure you are taking the best quality fish oil and therapeutic dose for you.

Turmeric is one of the most powerfully anti-inflammatory spices.  For addressing period pain it is best taken daily using therapeutic doses in supplemental form as the spice itself is not well absorbed.

Exercise increases circulation, boost mood and reduces inflammation and is a great way to help support the reduction of period pain and cramping. Try to include regular movement in your day – be it dancing, yoga, team sports, running or walking, whatever floats your boat. Excessive exercise can have the opposite effect so no need to sign up for a marathon just yet!

More specific approaches using supplements and herbal medicines such as chaste tree, bupleurum, cramp bark, and DIM (di-indolymethane – an extract from broccoli) can also have a powerful effect on alleviating period pain through regulating hormone balance and inflammation. These should always be prescribed by a qualified naturopath or health practitioner based on an assessment of your specific requirements.

How to improve your heart health!

How to improve your heart health!

Carrying excess fat, high blood pressure and cholesterol imbalances all have an impact on the health of your heart. Nutritional deficiencies such as B12, folate, iron, vitamin D and zinc are also important to keep an eye on, in order to maintain the health of your heart. Imbalanced levels of these can vastly increase your risk of cardiovascular problems and yet are usually simple to address.

The good news is that your cardiovascular health can be greatly improved – and preserved – through following a healthy diet and lifestyle. If caught early it is much easier to manage cardiovascular problems such as high blood pressure, cholesterol imbalances and inflammation naturally, and thus avoid the need for medication.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”, as Hippocrates’ ancient saying goes. Following a Mediterranean-style diet has been consistently proven to be one of the most effective steps you can take to prevent heart disease. There is no calorie counting, but rather simple guidelines around the best foods to eat, including an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, regular servings of oily fish, cold pressed oils such as olive and avocado, fresh nuts and seeds, and wholegrains rather than refined carbohydrates.

Follow a heart- healthy Mediterranean-style diet by including:

· An abundance of fruits and vegetables rich in heart healthy antioxidants, fibre, vitamins and minerals.
· Lean and plant-based proteins such as fish, poultry, beans, nuts and seeds.
· High-quality oils and fats such as cold pressed olive oil and avocado.
· Whole grains including brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, and oats.
· Fibre, in the form of fruits and vegetables, wholegrains, nuts and seeds.
· Heart protective herbs and spices such as turmeric, garlic, ginger and cinnamon.

To optimise your cardiovascular health and get expert advice, make an appointment with one of the Holistic Medical Centre Naturopaths or Holistic GP’s . Contact us on 09 370 0650

Spring Cleanse

Spring Cleanse

The health of your liver can determine your weight, mood, energy levels, and quality of sleep. Are you looking after this critical organ?

For many of us, spring is a chance to revive our health and wellbeing goals. The long winter months can lead to food and lifestyle choices that don’t always contribute to our good health (or our beach body). We may enter spring with the best intentions for our bodies and minds but can be unsure of what to do.

When it comes to bearing the brunt of winter indulgence, the liver probably carries the heaviest load in our body. It detoxifiesdaily toxins such as alcohol, caffeine, sugar, trans fats, refined foods, unnatural skin care products, medications and pain killers,regulates blood sugar and cholesterol levels, assists with hormone balance and supports our metabolism.

Fortunately the liver has an incredible capacity to multitask, however if it’s working too hard in one area, it gets out of balance in another.

An overburdened liver can reveal itself in a number of different ways including:

  • Sleep and performance. Feeling tired, waking up during the night; foggy thinking and poor memory Irritability, short temper, low mood, feeling sluggish
  • Weight, appetite and physical appearance. Weight gain, especially around midriff; poor appetite in the morning; sugar cravings or cravings for refined carbohydrate foods (pastries, cakes, pasta, bread); cellulite
  • Poor ability to digest fatty meals, nausea, bloating, burping, excessive flatulence
  • Premenstrual symptoms, or other hormonal imbalances.

The best way to get your weight, moods, sleep, skin and energy back on track is to give your liver a little love! A spring cleanse is a wonderful way to reduce your liver’s workload and strengthen its working capacity.

Four Week Cleanse Package

The Holistic Medical Centre’s four week cleanse package includes

  • One-hour  initial naturopath consultation for a full personal health assessment
  • a detox guide and recipes
  • Two, half-hour follow-up naturopath consultations to guide you through your cleanse
  • Three body composition tests, which will assess your body health and composition before, during & after the cleanse.

Top Foods For Your Cleanse

  • Go Green. Cruciferous vegetables such as kale, broccoli, cabbage, watercress and brussel sprouts. These contain compounds that assist the production of the liver’s detoxifying enzymes, improving the livers capacity to deal with toxins.
  • Spring into sulphur.. Cruciferous vegetables, eggs, onions, raw garlic, leaks and spring onion are all excellent sources of sulphur compounds.
  • Bitter is better… help to promote natural detoxification by the liver and reduce cravings for sweet foods. They also stimulate bile flow and the production of digestive enzymes which supports healthy digestion and nutrient absorption. Excellent bitter foods for a spring cleanse include rocket, endives, mustard leaf, dandelion greens, kale, turmeric and grapefruit.
  • Antioxidants assist liver function and protect it from the potentially damaging after-effects of detoxification. Fresh fruits and vegetables, and herbs and spices, provide an abundance of natural antioxidants. Some of the highest-rated antioxidant foods include goji berries, blueberries, raw dark chocolate, rosemary, thyme, turmeric . Catechins found in green tea are also potent antioxidants.
  • Get toned. Liver-toning herbs such as dandelion root and milk thistle act as digestive bitters and also help to strengthen and tone the liver. Clinical studies have proven the ability of milk thistle to repair liver damage.

There are many benefits of a cleanse but cleansing isn’t about depriving yourself. It’s an opportunity to indulge your body with wonderful nutrients, rid your body of unwanted toxins and give yourself the gift of renewed energy levels and a healthier body and mind.

 

Cardiovascular Health

Cardiovascular Health

When it comes to cardiovascular health, prevention is much better than cure. Catching the disease in its early stage can help halt its progression and may even help reverse any damage done.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in New Zealand, accounting for 30% of deaths each year. This is a gloomy statistic, particularly when this high number could be reduced by simple diet and lifestyle adjustments. The challenge is heart disease has few obvious symptoms, and many people are unaware they have a problem until it has moved to a serious stage. There are a number of genetic and congenital causes of heart disease that require specialist diagnosis, however, most people can have their health risk assessed by a qualified physician.

Carrying excess fat, particularly visceral fat, is a serious red flag for cardiovascular disease. Visceral fat is stored underneath the skin in the abdominal cavity where it wraps around the internal organs. As it builds up it pushes out of the abdomen, creating a firm, protruding belly. Although people may joke about pot-bellies, visceral fat is dangerous as it is capable of producing hormones and chemicals that increase inflammation in the body and raise the risk of heart disease. While it is most pronounced in obese people, visceral fat is not always obvious and can be in thin people too. While levels can be estimated using weight and waist measurements, a more accurate measure can be obtained using a body composition monitor.

High blood pressure causes extra pressure to be placed on your blood vessel walls as blood flows around your body. This increases the likelihood of the delicate lining of the blood vessel walls becoming damaged and inflamed, which in turn raises the risk of heart disease and stroke. Hypertension has been coined the silent killer as it often has no warning signs or symptoms. So if it’s been a while since you had yours checked, it might be an idea to book in a wellness check with your doctor or naturopath soon.

Cholesterol is a waxy fat-like substance found in all cells of your body. It is necessary for healthy cell membranes, hormone production, vitamin D synthesis, and digestive function. However, too much cholesterol can increase your cardiovascular risk. Cholesterol imbalances can be improved through diet and lifestyle changes, as well as professionally prescribed supplements and herbs that address what’s behind a person’s high cholesterol levels.

Weight gain, poor cholesterol balance and blood pressure can all be exacerbated by elevated blood sugar levels. This may be the underlying driver of heart disease for many people. Symptoms of high blood sugars are often masked until they become severe, so it is important to have these checked regularly. When caught early, elevated blood sugars can usually be remedied by diet alone.

Inflammation is often overlooked when it comes to assessing an individual’s cardiovascular health, yet if prolonged this can dramatically raise the risk of cardiovascular problems. Addressing inflammation may include investigating and supporting adrenal and thyroid function, hormone balance, allergies and autoimmune conditions as well as checking specific inflammatory markers in the blood such as homocysteine and high sensitivity C-reactive protein.

Nutritional deficiencies such as B12, folate, iron, vitamin D and zinc are also important to check. Imbalanced levels of these can vastly increase your risk of cardiovascular problems and yet are usually simple to address.

The good news is that your cardiovascular health can be greatly improved – and preserved – through following a healthy diet and lifestyle. If caught early it is much easier to manage cardiovascular problems such as high blood pressure, cholesterol imbalances and inflammation naturally, and thus avoid the need for medication.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”, as Hippocrates’ ancient saying goes. Following a Mediterranean-style diet has been consistently proven to be one of the most effective steps you can take to prevent heart disease. There is no calorie counting, but rather simple guidelines around the best foods to eat, including an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, regular servings of oily fish, cold pressed oils such as olive and avocado, fresh nuts and seeds, and wholegrains rather than refined carbohydrates.

However, for those with existing cardiovascular disease, or a higher risk of heart disease, there are a number of nutrients that may be beneficial to take in a supplement form alongside enjoying a heart-healthy diet including the powerful antioxidant co-enzyme Q10. This assists with maintaining healthy cholesterol levels as well as blood vessel health and supports optimal heart function and energy production. Magnesium, taurine and omega 3 essential fatty acids will also help reduce risk factors for heart disease.

For nutrients that may be beneficial in reducing heart disease risk factors, visit our website…

Follow a heart- healthy Mediterranean-style diet by including:

  • An abundance of fruits and vegetables rich in heart healthy antioxidants, fibre, vitamins and minerals.
  • Lean and plant-based proteins such as fish, poultry, beans, nuts and seeds.
  • High quality oils and fats such as cold pressed olive oil and avocado.
  • Whole grains including brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, and oats.
  • Fibre, in the form of fruits and vegetables, wholegrains, nuts and seeds.
  • Heart protective herbs and spices such as turmeric, garlic, ginger and cinnamon.
  • Daily exercise of 30 minutes or more.
  • Stress management, and good social support.

 

Andrea Frires is a qualified naturopath, nutritionist and medical herbalist from The Holistic Medical Centre, 48 Ponsonby Road. To make an appointment for a consultation with Andrea or any of the holistic GP’s call T: 09 370 0650.

Mood

Mood

Many people notice that their mood and energy levels begin to dip as the days get colder and shorter. Our bodies naturally prepare to hunker down through the winter months as we are innately programmed to conserve our energy to survive this more challenging time of year. I’m sure most people would agree that jumping out of bed is hardly the most inspiring thing to do on a cold, dark winter’s morning!

Although a small shift in mood is common, some people may notice that their mood seems lower than normal, and they can be particularly affected by the change in season. While there can be a wide variety of emotional and environmental issues that can affect an individual’s mood there are some key contributing factors that may be worth considering.

Hormonal imbalances can cause mood disturbances including anxiety, anger and depression. In particular, high levels of oestrogen can be linked to physical discomfort such as weight gain, fluid retention and headaches which can also adversely impact our mood. Premenstrual, peri-menopausal and post-menopausal women can be particularly affected by hormone fluctuations, but everyone, including men, can experience hormonal imbalances. Nutrients that support digestion and detoxification pathways can help our bodies to breakdown excess hormones and restore balance. Zinc and B vitamins are key nutrients for this. Phytoestrogenic foods such as flaxseeds, legumes and properly prepared non-GMO soy, can also help to reduce the impact of excess body oestrogens by blocking the docking sites of this hormone in body cells.

Fluctuations in blood sugar levels can cause dramatic mood and energy swings. If you find yourself constantly turning to sweet foods or caffeinated drinks for energy then this is a sign that you are experiencing some degree of blood sugar imbalance. The best way to avoid this is to limit your consumption of caffeine and sugary or refined carbohydrate foods, breads, muffins, biscuits and lollies, and try to have a maximum of one coffee daily.

The thyroid gland plays a major role in our energy production as well as being intricately involved with the regulation of our mood, hormones, weight, body temperature, and cholesterol levels. Signs of a sluggish thyroid include depressed mood, poor concentration, weight gain, dry skin and cold hands and feet. Often low thyroid function is not considered a problem until medication is required. However, many people with suboptimal thyroid function can find great relief from their symptoms by taking nutrients that specifically support their thyroid health. Iodine is one of these key nutrients as it is the main ingredient of thyroid hormones. Zinc and selenium are also intricately involved in thyroid hormone production and activation. Seafood such as mussels, oysters, and edible seaweeds are rich sources of these minerals. However, if you aren’t regularly eating seafood, it may pay to take a good quality supplement to boost your levels. Deficiencies are very common in New Zealand due to low levels in our soils. It is best to check with a qualified health care provided to ensure safe dosing. The amount of iodine required varies among individuals, so getting this right is important as excessive iodine intake can cause dangerous hyperthyroid symptoms

Serotonin is an important hormone for balancing our mood. It helps us to feel happy and content. Up to 80% of this is thought to be made in our bowels. A happy digestive system is a happy mind! If you experience excessive bloating, gas, heartburn or abdominal discomfort, this is an indicator your bowels aren’t as cheery as they could be. Fermented foods such as yogurt and sauerkraut contain probiotic bacteria that improve digestive health. For those with severe digestive discomfort, the beneficial yeast Saccharomyces boulardii can help soothe digestive inflammation and help probiotic bacteria to recolonise.

Good nutrition plays a key role in maintaining our mood. Any deficiencies in our vital nutrients can have a knock-on effect on the way that we feel. Magnesium is often depleted in depression and anxiety and it plays an important role in the cellular uptake of serotonin. Zinc is important for serotonin production too and like magnesium it is commonly depleted with stress and depression. Low levels of folate, iron, omega 3 essential fatty acids, and vitamin D have also been linked to low mood and depression and are common deficiencies in New Zealand. Some people lack the enzyme that is required to convert folate into its active form L-5-methy tetrahydrofolate and may require an activated form of this vitamin to assist optimal health and mood.

Protein supplies us with essential amino acids to synthesize our mood-boosting hormones serotonin and dopamine. Tryptophan is an important amino acid for the production of serotonin. Some fabulous dietary sources include free-range chicken, eggs, sardines, cod, halibut, and wild salmon. Tyrosine helps synthesize dopamine in the brain. Ripe bananas, eggs, almonds and meats are good sources of this essential amino acid.

Mood boosting foods

  • Leafy greens such as spinach, kale and silverbeet are excellent sources of the mood boosting nutrients folate and magnesium. Include a good serving of these daily.
  • Seafood supplies a rich supply of omega 3 oils for healthy mood as well as zinc and iodine for thyroid health. Choose oily fish such as sardines, anchovies or wild caught salmon for their superior omega 3 supply. Mussels and oysters provide high levels of zinc, while sea veggies such as New Zealand karengo are rich in iodine.
  • Fermented foods supply beneficial probiotic bacteria to support bowel health and the production of the mood-boosting hormone serotonin,
  • Cinnamon is a spice that is traditionally used to help support blood sugar regulation. Use this liberally in cooking, mixed into natural muesli, or add to soups and smoothies to help with maintain your blood sugar levels and rebalance your mood.

 

Skin Health

Skin Health

Our skin has many roles. It acts as an armour protecting our internal organs from the outside world, helps to regulate our body temperature, is the body’s largest sensory organ and is responsible for helping to convert sunlight energy into vitamin D.

Most people will agree that the condition of our skin can impact the way we look and feel. Good quality skin care and sunscreen may protect and support skin health on the outside, but the condition of your skin can be greatly assisted by improving your internal health too.

Premature aging, rosacea, eczema, acne, fungal infections and rashes are all signals that there may be internal deficiencies and imbalances that need correcting. Often people with chronic conditions such as eczema, rosacea and acne become reliant on topical corticosteroids or other prescribed creams and medications. While these can be useful in the short term, it can be benefical to understand and address the underlying factors contributing to these skin conditions.

Dietary and lifestyle modification is an excellent start to improving your internal health and ultimately your skin health – this includes enjoying plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet alongside wholegrains and good quality proteins such as fish, chicken, tofu, eggs and small portions of lean red meat.

The following nutrients are especially important for promoting skin health and healing:

  • Zinc is important for skin repair and immune health. Zinc can also help to balance blood sugar and hormone levels that can negatively impact skin health. There are many great food sources of zinc such as oysters, shellfish, pumpkin seeds, kidney beans, yogurt and non GMO tofu. Despite this, zinc deficiencies amongst Kiwis are common because New Zealand soils are low in in this vital mineral so supplementation may be necessary. Eczema and acne are two skin conditions that can respond well to zinc supplementation. Excess doses can cause gastric upset and nausea so it is important to talk to your health provider to find the correct dose for you.
  • Omega 3 Fish oils can have strong anti-inflammatory effects in the body and can assist with some skin conditions. Foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids include oily fish such as sardines, salmon and anchovies, as well as chia, flaxseeds and walnuts.
  • Vitamin C is a key nutrient involved in collagen synthesis. Collagen gives your skin its strength and structure, and assists in maintaining the elasticity of your skin. Vitamin C is one of many antioxidants found in fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Probiotic bacteria are important for the health of your bowels and your immune system. Having a healthy balance of probiotic bacteria in your gut may have a positive impact on inflammatory skin conditions including acne and eczema. Fermented foods such as yogurt, miso and sauerkraut contain a good supply of probiotic bacteria, but it can be hard to include enough in your diet. If this is the case for you, then a good quality probiotic supplement may be a good addition to your diet.

Limiting refined sugar and carbohydrates, MSG and the 200 numbered preservatives found in some preserved meats, sauces, spreads, soft drinks, confectionary and wine, can positively impact some skin conditions. You can limit or avoid these preservatives by reading your labels and choosing preservative free brands. Some people also find that reducing their intake of dairy can have a positive impact on their skin health, particularly those suffering from eczema and rashes.

Alongside staying well hydrated and making positive dietary changes, using good quality skin care and sunscreen can significantly assist skin health. We recommend and stock a range of Synergie skin care and Coola sunscreen products as both of these brands are free of parabens and other potentially harmful preservatives. Additionally neither brand use animal testing.

Chronic skin conditions are more difficult to manage and may require the support of a holistic health practitioner who will be able to help you to identify the cause and develop treatment strategies specifically tailored to your condition. Common investigations might include looking into food allergies and intolerances, hormonal imbalances, digestive disturbances, stress and sleep disturbances, infections and low immunity.

For specific skin concerns and other holistic medical advice, please contact the Holistic Medical Centre to make an appointment on 376 0650.

 

 

Winter Wellness Tips

Winter Wellness Tips

As we move into the cooler months many people find that they are more prone to catching coughs and colds and other airborne viruses. This means more days off work or school, more doctors’ visits and so more potential for a miserable time over winter.

The good news is that there are many things you can do to help increase your immunity and ward off the winter ills and chills naturally. When it comes to immune boosting nutrients, vitamin D, zinc and vitamin C are your magnificent three.

Vitamin D has excellent immune enhancing properties, as well as helping to improve mood and reduce the risk of respiratory infections in children. Most of your vitamin D is produced in the body from exposure to sunlight, so deficiencies are becoming more widespread due to heavy sunblock use. This valuable nutrient also takes quite a dip through the winter months as your sunlight exposure drops naturally.

Ideal vitamin D levels are around 100nm/L. If you think your levels may be low it may be an idea to have your blood levels tested. It is best to talk to a qualified health practitioner before supplementing with vitamin D as this is one of those vitamins where either too little or too much can be dangerous.

Zinc is an immensely important immune boosting mineral. Adequate levels of this nutrient can help to prevent or decrease the duration of sore throats and respiratory infections that are so common in winter. Zinc also has the additional benefit of assisting with mood, healthy skin and wound healing, as well as improving fertility and hormone balance in men and women.

There are many great food sources of zinc such as oysters, shellfish, pumpkin seeds, kidney beans, yogurt and non GMO tofu. Despite this, zinc deficiencies amongst Kiwis are common because New Zealand soils are low in in this vital mineral. To top up your levels, zinc is a great mineral to supplement with for three months during winter. Excess doses can cause gastric upset and nausea so it is important to talk to your health provider to find the correct dose for you.

Most people know how important vitamin C is for helping to boost immunity and fight infection, but you may not be aware that it has numerous other health promoting roles in the body. These include healthy skin and gums, wound healing, iron absorption, and cardio vascular health. Humans are one of the few mammals who can’t produce their own vitamin C (the others being guinea pigs some primates and bats) and so it is essential to include this vital nutrient in your diet.

As vitamin C is a water soluble nutrient, it cannot be stored for a long time in the body, so small regular daily doses are important. Some of your best winter food sources of vitamin C are parsley, kiwi fruit, citrus fruits, leafy greens, red capsicum and fresh sprouts.

It is useful to take a loading dose of vitamin C at the first sign of infection. A buffered vitamin C in a drink bottle (ideally glass) sipped throughout the day over a handful of days is a good way to top up your vitamin C levels without upsetting your digestion. For others who have poor absorption orally or where higher doses are indicated, IV vitamin C is another option you can discuss with our doctors.

There are many different supplemental forms of the various nutrients discussed above and not all are well absorbed or tolerated. Practitioner-only brands are stringently tested for quality and efficacy and guarantee to contain the correct dose and form of the nutrient best utilized by the body. It is always best to have any supplements prescribed by a qualified health provider within the context of a consultation to ensure you are using quality products prescribed to meet your needs.

Children can be particularly at risk of respiratory infections, viruses and flus during the winter time as their immune systems are still developing, and they are often picky when it comes to eating healthy immune boosting- foods. Looking into dietary strategies and food intolerances, as well as supplementing with immune boosting nutrients, can be an effective way to support your child’s health through winter.

It is also important to remember that alongside the excellent immune boosting nutrients discussed above, the main defense against illness is to have a holistic, healthy, lifestyle.

Top Tips for a Healthy Lifestyle:

  • Eat a diet rich in plants and wholefoods, and low in processed foods and sugars
  • Include plenty of immune boosting herbs and spices in your diet such as ginger, turmeric, garlic, rosemary, and thyme
  • Get adequate, good quality sleep
  • Exercise regularly
  • Manage stress
  • Drink alcohol in moderation
  • Don’t smoke
  • Avoid foods that you may be allergic or intolerant too
  • Have regular medical screening for your age appropriate group.

To make an appointment for a consultation with any of our holistic GP’s or Naturopaths call 09 376 0650

 

The importance of Vitamin D

The importance of Vitamin D

In this issue we want to provide you with a some very good reasons why it would be wise to maintain your vitamin D levels. It is especially important now that we are in the throes of winter.

tataranui

Although vitamin D is classed as a vitamin outside the body, in the body it acts like a hormone rather than a vitamin.
A common misconception is that Vitamin D is made when one is in the sun, when in fact, the process of making vitamin D is as follows:

  • The action of sunlight on the skin causes the pre-cursor of vitamin D to be made in the skin.
  • This precursor then travels to the liver and then the kidneys where active vitamin D is made.
  • Sunscreen is a limiting factor for the production of Vitamin D

This vitamin is truly extraordinary in its beneficial activity in the body and there is much more research underway into the amazing properties of vitamin D.
PLEASE NOTE: there are some medical conditions where vitamin D supplementation is contraindicated so check with your health professional.

Vitamin D to reduce the risk of breast cancer

In the following paper there is compelling evidence given to support the use of vitamin D to reduce the risk of breast cancer which is summed up in the Conclusions paragraph:
Click here to read journal

Vitamin D and pain

The British Medical Journal published a comprehensive report on vitamin D which can be found in the link below.
The report discusses vitamin D insufficiency as well as deficiency, dosing regimens and includes a list of the people most at risk of vitamin D deficiency and argues for the value of increasing the reference range. Of interest is a list of the types of symptoms found in vitamin D deficient adults.
On page 145 of the link the following statement can be found:
“Pain and proximal muscle weakness dominate the clinical picture of vitamin D deficiency in adults. Rib, hip, pelvis, thigh, and foot pain are typical. More diffuse muscular aches, and muscle weakness, including in the limbs and back, are also common and may be labelled as “fibromyalgia” or as a somatisation of depression”
Click here to read clinical review.

Vitamin D and Type II Diabetes

Vitamin D has been implicated in a number of studies to improve insulin resistance which has implications for improving Type II Diabetes and weight loss.
The following study was done right here in New Zealand and concluded the following:
“ In conclusion, improving vitamin D status in insulin resistant women resulted in improved IR and sensitivity, but no change in insulin secretion. Optimal vitamin D concentrations for reducing IR were shown to be 80–119 nmol/l, providing further evidence for an increase in the recommended adequate levels.”
Click here to read journal.

Vitamin D and menstrual pain

A study published in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) found that a one off high dose of Vitamin D improved menstrual pain and reduced the amount of pain relief required.
Click here to read journal.

Vitamin D – Low mood and cognitive performance

A study published in The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry concluded the following:
“In a cross-section of older adults, vitamin D deficiency was associated with low mood and with impairment on two of four measures of cognitive performance”.
Click here to read study.

Healthy Babies

Healthy Babies

Men

There are many nutrients that promote the formation of healthy sperm to enhance fertility for couples who are planning for a baby. Different nutrients have different effects on sperm production and the important ones include: increasing sperm count, increasing sperm quality and improving motility which means how active and in-motion the sperm are. This is an important factor in achieving conception.

Carnitine is an amino acid from protein that increases sperm motility. The richest food sources include lamb and beef with dairy at a distant third. Clinical trials that have achieved this benefit were 3000mg/day. Zinc can increase the sperm count, motility and quality. Oysters are a great source of zinc and meat runs a distant second.Folate can increase sperm count. Rich food sources include whole grains such as rye and wheat, chickpeas (hummus), spinach and brewer’s yeast*.

Vitamin B12 can increase sperm count. Meat, brewer’s yeast*, tempeh (Indonesian soy food), sardines and nori (sushi) are good sources of B12. Co-enzyme Q10 may assist in male fertility through improving sperm count and motility. CoQ10 is concentrated in the sperm where it is involved in energy production. Sardines, mackerel and soybean oil are very rich in CoQ10.

 Women

Babies need some key nutrients for their healthy development especially for the healthy growth and development of the brain and nervous system.

Vitamin B6 – needed for healthy brain development. Rich in beef, bananas, avocado, chicken, hazelnuts, salmon and walnuts. Vitamin B12 is needed for the formation of nerves, in particular the outer myelin sheath of the nerve which is required for the conduction of nerve impulses. Food sources include: meat, brewers yeast*, tempeh (Indonesian soy food), sardines and nori (sushi) are good sources of B12.

Folate is well known for preventing neural tube defects and foods rich in this very important nutrient include: whole grains such as rye and
wheat, chickpeas (hummus), spinach and brewer’s yeast*.

Choline – is needed for the myelin sheath around the nerves. The riches sources are lecithin and beef. Zinc is crucial for many aspects of development of the baby including normal weight and growth. Oysters are a great source of zinc and meat runs a distant second. Ideally your pregnancy multi will have some zinc in it. Iodine is needed for healthy brain development and can lower the risk of behavioural problems in children. Good food sources include
seaweeds such as nori (sushi) and wakame (in miso soup). There are some very tasty seaweed shakers in health food shops which can be sprinkled over salads and sandwiches. Thyroid hormone is dependant on iodine for its synthesis in the body and is critical for the development of the nervous system during pregnancy.

Fish oil – Fish has two substances that are of interest to us in regards to healthy babies. DHA (docohexanoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentanoic acid). In terms of a healthy nervous system, both, are important. The richest source of DHA in the body is in the nerve endings where it enables the nerves to communicate with other nerves.

EPA has an anti-inflammatory effect and has been shown to be useful in behavioural problems where inflammation plays a significant role. A pregnant woman who is not allergic to fish would ideally consider fish oil as a supplement both during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Please note vegetable sources of oils are not as rich in these substances as fish oil. Food sources include kahawai, salmon (fresh is preferable over farmed), fresh tuna, mackerel and herring.

Vitamin D has a role in promoting a healthy birth weight, healthy bones, teeth and nervous system. It is synthesised in the body as a result of
exposing the skin to sunlight. Iron may become deficient during pregnancy and should be supplemented only when needed. Your lead maternity caregiver can order a blood test if needed. Rich in brewer’s yeast*, kelp*, pumpkin seeds, molasses, sunflower seeds, almonds, molasses and beef.

* Popcorn sprinkled with brewers yeast and a little kelp provides a very tasty snack as well as covering many of the nutrients listed above.

Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding

There are some nutrients for breastfeeding women to consider to support baby’s growth and development as well as their own wellbeing.

Iodine is used for the development of the nervous system during pregnancy so mums can become a little low in iodine after the birth which can impact thyroid function. Even though some degree of fatigue is to be expected post-partum, optimising thyroid function by ensuring good iodine intake can surely help. Iodine is rich in seaweed such as you find in Japanese food. Seaweed salads, nori (around sushi) and Wakame (in miso soup) are good sources and we have our own NZ Karengo and the fronds are tasty enough and mild enough to sprinkle over salads or all kinds. It even tastes good over a roast vegetable salad with sliced avocado and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

Fish Oil is an important nutrient for the brain of the baby. Because it is used up during pregnancy, some women find their skin becoming dry and itchy post-partum – this is a good indicator that you need to top up. Good food sources include sardines, kahawau, wild salmon and kingfish.

Protein is especially important for breastfeeding women as they commonly snack throughout the day and mealtimes can be interrupted. As a result protein intake can be sporadic in the first few months post-partum. Good pretein intake is important for energy, mood, tissue repair, to keep blood sugar stable and to prevent carbohydrate cravings, especially sugar. Good sources of protein include meat, fish, eggs, hummus, nut, tofu, seed and whole grains such as quinoa and brown rice.

Spicy foods are good for breastfeeding mothers to avoid as they can cause colicky symptoms in many babies. Some women find during pregnancy that they start losing a good deal of hair and they feel more tired than they should. With this the hair and skin can become dry and dull looking. Many women find that these things improve  well with a good dose of B complex and sometimes zinc is needed as well. If colic is a big issue and your baby always appears to be in discomfort after eating, often cries after eating and commonly vomits or spills the milk, there may be some simple dietary issues that will resolve this. If a breastfeeding mum eliminates dairy and gluten from her diet for one week you may witness some rapid and dramatic improvements. If this is correct solution, one week is plenty of time to notice improvements and most notice it within the first couple of days. A welcome ‘side effect’ is that babies often start to sleep better as they settle down to relaxing feeds.