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

Five Foods to Improve Your Mood

Five Foods to Improve Your Mood

Hormonal changes, fluctuations in blood sugar, and thyroid issues all play a part in our mood levels. Any deficiencies in our vital nutrients can have a knock-on effect on the way that we feel. Good nutrition plays a key role in maintaining our mood also.

Here’s 5 food groups that can start you on the way:

· Mushrooms A handful of mushrooms will provide 36% of your recommended daily intake of selenium, a vital component in supporting your immune system, and are the richest source of selenium in the produce department.

· Leafy greens such as spinach, kale and silverbeet are excellent sources of mood boosting nutrients folate and magnesium. Include a good serving of these daily

· Seafood is a rich source 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 salmon for their superior omega 3 supply. Mussels and oysters provide high levels of zinc, and 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.

To optimise your health and get expert advice on how you can best support your mood and energy levels through nutrition, make an appointment with one of the Holistic Medical Centre Naturopaths or Holistic GP’s . Contact us on 09 370 0650

Back to Basics with Food Choices

Back to Basics with Food Choices

We are fortunate to live in a country where healthy food choices are in abundance. At the same time, diet fads change daily and marketing spin has far too great a punch. It’s therefore not surprising that so many of us feel completely confused and overwhelmed by what we should, or shouldn’t, be eating. This is particularly the case as we head into the summer months, when many of us begin to focus on weight loss.

As a naturopath and holistic nutritionist, one of the most common questions I am asked is: what should I eat? When I’m asked this question, I go back to basics.

Become a food detective

Generally speaking, if it is a wholefood that has been grown and prepared as nature intended, without excessive heating, processing or additives, then it will serve your body well. The challenge is when food is being portrayed as whole and natural but has actually been transformed into something quite different. For this reason, I really encourage you to become a food detective and read all food labels carefully:

  • If it has more than 5-6 ingredients on the label, includes numbers, flavourings, or buzz words like “lite”, “fat free” , then it’s probably not all that good for you.
  • Similarly, be wary of terms such as “natural”, “sugar-free” and “gluten free”. Just because it sounds healthy, it may still contain high quantities of sugar or sugar alternatives.
  • Heavily heated oils (deep fried) and hydrogenated fats (widely used in sweets, frozen meals, fried foods and many dairy products) will have had a change in structure, which means they are no longer in their natural form.

Manage your portion sizes

Another question I’m often asked is which protein, fats and carbohydrates should I eat, and how much. The answer will depend on the individual and their circumstances, how well they tolerate different food groups, and how active they are. For the average person, however, the following generally applies at each meal. By following these simple guidelines, most people are amazed by how good they look and feel once they start getting this balance right:

  • Protein the size of your palm– with red meat no more than twice weekly, 2-3 servings of fish per week, and plenty of plant-based proteins too.
  • A tablespoon of healthy fat such as olive oil, coconut or avocado.
  • A cup of good quality carbohydrate such as kumara, pumpkin or brown rice.
  • 2-3 servings of extra vegetables.
  • And stop eating once you feel feel 80% full…it can take up to 20 minutes for your brain to actually register that you are full.

Therapeutic or restrictive diets such as FODMAPS, high fat, or low carbohydrate diets are best practised under the guidance of a qualified health practitioner, and be followed for a limited period to achieve the best results. Our bodies are not designed to go for long periods without certain macronutrients, and over time this can cause health problems in itself.

Anticipate and manage the dreaded cravings

One of the biggest hindrances to following a healthy diet can be food cravings. We can have the best intentions, but somehow that bag of chips, packet of biscuits, or bar of chocolate manages to sneak its way in.

Food cravings can be incredibly debilitating when it comes to the food choices we make, so it is really essential to address the cause of these if you want to overcome them. One of the most common reasons for cravings can be that you are not getting enough good quality protein and fat in your meals, particularly at breakfast.

There are lots of ways to help beat the cravings, including:

1) Breakfast like royalty! Start your day with a good hearty breakfast, rich in healthy proteins and fats, and this will set you up for the rest of your day. Eggs with steamed greens, chia pudding, porridge or muesli with plenty of nuts and seeds mixed in.

2) Include protein or healthy fats in each meal and include these macronutrients in your snacks too. If you get the balance right, you should find you don’t need the afternoon coffee and muffin after all.

3) Don’t graze through the day. Have a quality breakfast, lunch and dinner, and then if you need to, a small good quality snack in between, such as some mixed nuts and seeds, or veggie sticks with hummus.

4) Use cinnamon and ginger to sweeten and flavour your food. These spices are not only delicious, but they also help to regulate your blood sugar and combat your sweet tooth!

5) There can often be an emotional element to people’s food cravings or eating habits. This may stem from ongoing stress, or it may well be more deep rooted than this. If this resonates with you, then I encourage you to consider seeing a qualified practitioner .


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, Nicola or any of the holistic GP’s call T: 09 370 0650 or visit for more information.