Obesogens is a term you may have not heard before. It refers to a group of endocrine disrupting chemicals that are found abundantly in our day-to-day environment. Some are unavoidable, others we slather all over our skin at our own volition. The World Health Organization and various studies class these obesogens as chemicals that are known to disrupt lipid metabolism (aka fat metabolism).
These are now abundant in our environment, including the atmosphere, sediments, soils and water. They are derived both from industrial chemicals, such as bisphenol A and phthalates used as plastic packaging components, and other consumer products from agricultural sources such as pesticides, fungicides, insecticides or herbicides.
Why environmentalism is also a health issue
All of these obesogens, or endocrine disruptors, have come about following the industrial revolution. A recent report following investigation into our drinking water finding that we drink up to a credit card’s worth of plastic in a week. While many of these chemicals are unavoidable as they are rampant in the air, many can be avoided, especially those in our cosmetics, food and cleaning products. Reducing the use of plastics (yes, even BPA free) will help to reduce these chemicals. Note: when heated, plastics leach into your water and food so glass or stainless steel are good alternatives. The number six on a plastic product (usually on disposable coffee cups) means it includes polystyrene which is known to be a carcinogen.
Reducing everyday use of plastics is also important for our waterways, where a lot of our plastic ends up. Protecting our environment should always be high on our list of priorities. And it’s not only the waterways that are affected by plastics but our sea life too. Again, chemicals from plastics leach into the water where our sea life live which we, in turn, are consuming.
What does this mean for us?
Endocrine disruptors have a major effect on blocking of signalling and receptors for hormonal systems of the body. This means they can influence hormonal conditions such as PCOS, blood sugar control (diabetes), sex hormones, stress + more. These obesogens store themselves in fat cells, which makes it hard for us to excrete them, and can easily accumulate, making it even more important to try to avoid them.
These endocrine disruptors are especially important to avoid when you are pregnant or with young children as they can stunt foetal growth, affect metabolism and, down the track, affect weight control.
How obesogens affect weight control
increase the number of fat cells
increase the size of fat cells
alter endocrine pathways responsible for control of adipose tissue development
alter hormones that regulate appetite satiety and food preferences
alter basal metabolic rate
alter energy balance to favour storage of calories.
alter insulin sensitivity and lipid metabolism in endocrine tissues such as pancreas, adipose tissue, liver, gastrointestinal tract, brain and muscle.
Tips for reducing obesogens
Exercise at least 150 minutes per week. Sweat helps to release BPAs and other toxins.
Sleep well. Get adequate amounts of sleep, generally > 7 hours per night.
Keep stress levels low. Find ways to decrease/manage stress.
Watch your products. Look at detergents, cleaning products, hygiene products, make up, gardening treatments etc.
Use an air purifier, especially if you live in the city.
Try to avoid shift work if possible.
Store your food in glass containers.
Try to avoid food in plastic packaging.
Buy local food. This helps reduce food miles, further aiding the environment.
Consider a water filter. (Ask us about our beautiful zazen BPA-free and glass water systems!)
The more you think about what you are using and doing and ways you could change some habits, the easier it will become. And small changes can have a global impact!
If you would like to chat to one of our naturopaths about your health and wellbeing, please get in touch. We offer a range of consultation options including a FREE Discovery Call to see if we are a good fit for your current needs. Make a booking at www.kismethealth.com.au/bookings/ today!
Ally Stuart BHSc Naturopath
NEW PROGRAM COMING TO KISMET HEALTH
JOIN US during February when our exciting new weight-loss program begins! Personalised nutrition is a game changer when it comes to healthy weight loss and optimum results. Karly is finalising her special training soon and can’t wait to start this exciting program with you. It’s a highly individual total body and health reset! YES! Sign up to the waitlist now and be among the first to be offered a place.
Did you know that poor sleep significantly affects insulin activity and your resting metabolic rate? Burning the candle at both ends, tossing and turning during the night or, even worse, insomnia, can lead to weight gain and type 2 diabetes.
Insomnia is the inability to sleep and there are many reasons people may suffer with it. Here are a few common causes:
poor sleep habits, lack of bedtime routine
depression or anxiety
lack of exercise
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body’s cells become resistant to insulin. Insulin works like a transporter, carrying glucose into the cells which is then used for energy production. If the cells can’t get their sugar fix, they become starved (this is why you crave carbs). The glucose stays in the blood where it can cause a lot of inflammation and damage to organs such as the eyes or even the limbs where it can result in diabetic-induced ulcers and amputation.
How does sleep deprivation lead to weight gain and diabetes?
Cortisol does many things in the body and is one of our stress hormones. It is supposed to be at its lowest at night, helping us drift off into a deep and blissful sleep. It then begins to rise in the early hours of the morning to wake us up. But, if you are chronically stressed, your cortisol can go on a rollercoaster ride that significantly affects your ability to sleep.
High cortisol levels not only keep you awake at night, they also stimulate the production of blood glucose, because we need the energy to deal with the stress. Our bodies quickly become insulin resistant, even after only 24 hours of sleep deprivation.
Other consequences of sleep deprivation include the production of inflammatory molecules and free fatty acids that accumulate in your adipose (or fat) tissue. Also, high cortisol-induced sleep deprivation leads to cravings for fatty foods and carbohydrates (chocolate anyone?) by the same mechanisms, leading to further weight gain.
Who feels like exercising when they are exhausted? I would think not many people, and the science backs this up. Sleep deprivation typically results in more sedentary behaviour, also leading to weight gain.
It is important to note that too much sleep can be just as bad for you according to the research.
So, what is the magic number of hours of sleep to aim for? Those who get less than six hours or more than nine hours per night have a much higher risk of central adiposity (that is fat around the middle) than those who get between six and nine hours.
BUT there is some good news! Studies have shown that you can turn this all around in only nine days.
Here are some top sleep tips for you:
exercise for 20-30 minutes daily (preferably in the middle of the day, in the sun!)
avoid stimulants such as coffee, tea and chocolate after 3 pm (or earlier if you are sensitive)
use dim lighting at night (salt lamps are great for this) to avoid the blue light which messes with your circadian rhythm. Even better, invest in a decent pair of blue-light-blocker glasses (especially if you are looking at a screen).
switch off your screens at least an hour before bed or wear the abovementioned glasses
don’t eat after 7 pm so your body can do its night shift work (rest and repair) instead of digesting that late night snack and keeping you awake
meditate for 5-10 minutes before bed or have a warm (not hot) Epsom salts bath
switch off your phone and your wi-fi – microwave radiation is not your friend
establish a regular bedtime, wake time and sleep routine and stick to it
if you want to go ‘next level’ – and this is AMAZING for your health – watch the sunrise AND the sunset.
Sleep is THE most important thing when it comes to your health. Remember, there is no magic pill so it’s up to you to make the changes you need to be the best version of yourself. Make a booking today to get the support you need.
NEW PROGRAM COMING TO KISMET HEALTH
JOIN US in February when our exciting new weight-loss program begins! Personalised nutrition is a game changer when it comes to healthy weight-loss and optimum results. Karly is finalising her special training right now and can’t wait to start this exciting program with you. It’s a highly individual total body and health reset! YES! Sign up to the waitlist now and be among the first to be offered a place.
Anytime is a good time to talk about healthy drinking but it is especially important as we head into Christmas and New Year celebrations. Don’t get us wrong, we are not suggesting you can’t enjoy a few beverages (naturopaths drink too!), but we want you to make informed choices and create healthier habits when it comes to drinking.
There are some excellent benefits when it comes to cutting back on alcohol consumption including reduced risk of disease, decreased anxiety, improved mood, better sleep, aid in weight-loss efforts and more. If this sounds like something you want in your life, please read on.
Let’s start with some facts.
What is a healthy amount of alcohol?
1–2 drinks per day for women, maximum 7 in a week
2–3 drinks per day for men, maximum 14 in a week.
This is the amount recommended by many health experts as being a ‘safe’ limit. Drink more than this and your body really starts the feel the effects.
Excessive drinking can affect:
hormones – exceeding the above amount can have a deleterious effect on hormones especially in women
gut – we have all been using alcohol to sterilise our hands this year, so think of what it does to the microbiome. Consistently consuming high amounts of alcohol can cause dysbiosis in the gut.
the brain – it is a known neurotoxin and can cause neuroinflammation, which is highly correlated with conditions such as Alzheimer’s
the liver – alcohol is metabolised through the liver, putting excess strain on what is already a highly used organ.
Alcohol inhibits the absorption and usage of vital nutrients such as thiamin (vitamin B1), vitamin B12, folic acid, magnesium, electrolytes and zinc. These are crucial for energy production and important for the formation of neurotransmitters and the reason behind why you may feel low and exhausted after a night of drinking.
Kismet Health Organic Herbal Energy Tea
In addition to how much you drink, what you drink is important to think about and we suggest always choosing good quality alcohol. Many alcoholic drinks are high in sugar and contain preservatives and sulphites (which can cause increased hangovers and allergic type symptoms).
Clear spirits are a good place to start as they contain fewer toxic compounds that are formed when alcohol is fermented. When it comes to wine, again quality wins so look for organic and, ideally, wild fermented. Aim for a darker wine, for the benefit of the range of polyphenols and resveratrol found in red wine, and a drier style of wine to limit the amount of sugars per glass.
Tips for the festive season
Get as much sleep as possible before your drink. Alcohol shunts the secretion of melatonin so getting that deep, restful sleep in beforehand is crucial.
Increase your polyphenol content pre-party to help mitigate oxidative damage caused by alcohol. This means eating lots of colourful vegetables, olive oil, dark chocolate, herbs and spices.
Ensure you eat even a light meal before you drink. Most drinks contain a decent amount of sugar and slowing both this and the alcohol into the blood stream is important. Aim for a balanced meal containing protein, fats and complex carbohydrates.
Drink water between each alcoholic beverage. Alcohol is a diuretic and dehydration plays a significant role in the severity of the hangover.
Give your drink a health boost!
Add lemon or lime. These influence liver detoxification, helping you to remove the alcohol from your body more quickly. This also helps with bile production which aids in protecting the gut – 25 per cent of waste is removed through the gut.
Add bitters. The bitter taste stimulates receptors on your tongue to help the digestive process and improve liver function.
Mix with soda water instead of tonic. Tonic contains a substantial amount of sugar which adds up over a few drinks and worsens the hangover.
Try kombucha as your mixer! This is our favourite way to supercharge your drink. It is bubbly and sweet without containing too much sugar. It also contains beneficial bacteria. Add a sprig of mint and you’ve got yourself a cocktail!
If you would like to learn more about supporting your body and what good health really means, please book an appointment with us. We’d love to help you. Bookings available here.
When I speak to women who are considering coming off the oral contraceptive pill (the pill), their most common questions are, ‘What if I get acne?’ and ‘What if my acne comes back?’ While these concerns largely come from females who have originally been prescribed the pill for their acne, post-pill acne can, in fact, affect any female, even those with no prior history of acne!
So, what’s the story behind post-pill acne?
Well, first we need to start with how the pill ‘treats’ acne.
Despite what we are often led to believe, the pill does not actually ‘treat’ acne, but rather it helps to control or clear acne by suppressing natural hormone production. The pill shuts down communication between the brain and the ovaries, which means ovulation is suppressed and your body no longer produces ‘normal’ levels of sex hormones such as oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Without these sex hormones, the body, or more precisely, the skin, also stops producing sebum (oil) to the point where sebum levels become similar to those seen in a child.
Because sex hormones and sebum are major drivers of breakouts and acne, the suppression of these is ultimately what leads to a reduction in acne and clearer skin.
What happens when we take the pill away?
When a female stops taking the pill, it can take several months for the brain to restore communication with the ovaries. However, once this communication is restored, the body, or the ovaries, start to ramp up hormone production, essentially making up for lost time. Often over-compensating, the ovaries begin to produce excessive amounts of sex hormones, particularly androgens such as testosterone! As a result, sebum production (which is driven by testosterone levels) also goes into overdrive and you are now producing more sebum than before you initially went on the pill.
Due to the excessive hormone and sebum production, the skin’s pores are at greater risk of blockages, which contributes to acne – blackheads, whiteheads, pimples and cysts.
Other ways the pill causes or contributes to post-pill acne
In addition to its influence on sex hormone and sebum production, the pill also contributes to vitamin and mineral deficiencies (including zinc, vitamin C, magnesium and iron – all VERY important nutrients required for tissue/skin healing i.e. healing breakouts), gut inflammation, liver congestion, blood sugar dysregulation and impaired immune function, which all worsen the severity of post-pill acne.
A little note on stress
Stress affects the skin and post-pill acne in several ways. When post-pill acne does present, typically that female has gone from having relatively clear skin on the pill to now having frequent uncontrolled break outs. This can be very confusing and stressful for the individual and often has a detrimental effect on their mental and emotional health. The more their skin starts to break out, the more they stress about it, and this can become a vicious cycle that impairs treatment.
In brief, stress causes our adrenal glands to produce increased levels of cortisol to help our body respond to, or cope with, the stress. Exposure to regular and/or ongoing stress (i.e. the stress of constantly breaking out) eventually leads to the over-production of cortisol. Cortisol is a pro-inflammatory hormone and therefore it exacerbates any pre-existing inflammatory condition within the body, including inflammatory skin conditions such as acne.
How can you help prevent this happening to you?
Naturopaths generally recommend at least three months of ‘pre-treatment’ before coming off the pill. This gives us time to optimise key aspects of your health, to ensure the transition off the pill is as seamless as possible.
If you would like to discuss treatment before coming of the OCP, or any other skin concerns you may have, please book an appointment with us. We are skilled at helping women just like you! Bookings available here.
What is it, why is it bad for your health and what can you do about it
I have three patients who have been on my mind a lot lately. All three have quite different stories, experiences and symptoms, but they all share one common thread that is affecting their ability to really thrive – STRESS.
Let’s face it, 2020 has been stressful.
I saw a Facebook post recently that said ‘2020 is what happens when you mix your tarot deck with Cards Against Humanity’. I know many of you reading this will have had a very different experience; some of you may have even taken the opportunity to slow down, take stock and perhaps make a plan for change in your life moving forward. However, I am aware of many others who feel like they were dealt a rough hand and have struggled with unemployment, isolation, chronic stress, anxiety and depression.
What actually IS stress?
Stress is any physical, mental or emotional strain that forces the body to adjust in some way. You can also consider stress as ‘distress’, where situations or events challenge or exceed our ability to cope.
I find that many people don’t really have a true concept of what stress is. It can include over-exercising, eating an inflammatory diet and not getting enough sleep, as well as the more obvious stressors such as school, work, family and relationships.
And then there is the classic patient who tells me they aren’t stressed, they are just ‘really busy’.
Those of you with a grade 1 or 2 iris or an anxiety tetanic structure who thrive on being busy, I’m talking directly to YOU right now. If you struggle to sit still, be quiet and really be in the moment, then your sympathetic nervous system is switched on, and this means the stress response is alive and well in you. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.
When we think of stress more broadly as a physical, mental or emotional distress, it’s easy to see the far-reaching impact it can have on our daily lives.
The stress response.
The stress response is a cascade of events that starts in the brain, specifically in the hypothalamus and pituitary gland (HP). Numerous organs in the body receive messages from the HP including the adrenals (A), ovaries/testicles (O) and thyroid (T). You may have heard of the HPA, HPO and HPT axis. Now you know what they stand for.
Let’s start with the HPA axis.
Our initial reaction to stress is a result of the HP stimulating the adrenals to produce cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline. We need these hormones to mobilise the body to run away from the threat and get ourselves out of immediate danger.
This reaction essentially shuts down other bodily processes that it perceives as less important. For example, your stress hormones:
shunt blood flow away from the digestive tract to the arms and legs so you can run away, leading to a variety of digestive complaints
increase blood glucose levels dramatically as your liver starts to break down glycogen stores so you have the energy required to deal with the stress.
These last two points are important for anyone with an autoimmune or inflammatory condition such as diabetes, as well as those who have weight or digestive issues. Your stress levels are making these issues worse.
And guess what else this stress response brings to the party? Pro-inflammatory cytokines (particularly IL-6 for the other nerds like me out there) that lead to oxidative stress. Hello autoimmune and inflammatory conditions!
The problem is that the amygdala, our reptilian (or lizard) brain, is not smart enough to tell the difference between running late for work and a bear running straight for you. The same cascade of signalling and hormone production will happen in both situations, although perhaps to a slightly lesser degree in the first situation if you can keep things in perspective!
If you’ve ever been in a car accident, you will remember your initial reaction where you may have tried to correct to miss the other car – that was the quick-thinking action of cortisol. Later, when you were sitting on the side of the road, you got the shakes as the shock kicked in – that was adrenaline. Adrenaline is slightly slower to come to the party in the stress response and it hangs around a bit longer than cortisol. These are completely normal and required physiological responses if you are in a car accident, but not so much if you are simply stuck in traffic.
Finally, anything that affects the HPA axis also affects the HPO (think hormones, period issues, libido) and HPT (the thyroid is our master metabolic regulator). Stress reaches literally every organ and system of our body.
A quick note on adrenal fatigue.
The stress response I have described above is really the initial ‘alarm’ phase, but when people get stuck in a cycle of chronic stress, it can lead to what has been termed ‘adrenal fatigue’. A better name for adrenal fatigue is HPA axis dysfunction because it is the signalling that gets dialled down over time, rather than an issue with the adrenals themselves.
When you reach the exhaustion phase of the stress response, where stress hormones are reduced, we no longer have enough cortisol and adrenaline to get jobs done in the body. For example, the adrenal cortex slows the production of glucocorticosteroids, resulting in reduced blood sugar control that can develop into type 2 diabetes. Neurotransmitters including serotonin and GABA are supressed, leading to an increase in anxiety and depression. The immune system becomes depressed, resulting in a reduced capacity to bounce back from illness. And, of course, there is more… but I think you get the idea.
We need our stress hormones, just in the right balance – not too high, not too low.
Kismet Health De-Stress Bath Soak
I mentioned three patients at the start of this blog post. The first is a woman with autoimmune disease who has a history of significant trauma. She is constantly in fight or flight mode and to date we have only managed to stem the inflammation to prevent a flare in her symptoms. We are unlikely to see a better result until we can find a way to stimulate her vagus nerve (see below for what this is and how to achieve it).
Another patient has type 1 diabetes, and we were really lucky to be able to observe patterns in blood glucose in response to different stimuli (food, exercise and stress) thanks to a continuous glucose monitor. There were visible changes with exercise (long distance running) and significant spikes with stressful events and higher carbohydrate foods which had snuck back into the diet. Remember, ALL these things are a physical stress on the body, impacting on gut and immune function as well as overall health and wellbeing.
The third patient is currently 22 weeks pregnant with her first baby and has recently been diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Hopefully this blog post will be a good reminder of the significance of being ‘busy’, along with other physical stressors such as poor sleep and dietary choices, on pregnancy and health.
What you can do to offset the stress response.
The first thing I need to say about stress is that it is not always a negative thing. Stressful events can bring about positive change when you view them as a learning experience. It all depends on your perspective and how you perceive stress.
It is your individual interpretation of stress that will determine its potential health impact.
I want you to go back and read that last sentence again. It is important.
I often talk to patients about switching on their vagus nerve. Never heard of it? Google it and have a look at an image. It is the longest nerve in the body that goes from the brain to every major organ including the gut and is a two-way communication route (so your gut literally communicates with your brain and vice versa). If you are stressed and your HPA axis is engaged, your vagus nerve is switched off and you are in fight or flight mode. Want to be in rest and digest mode? Then you need to find your Zen!
How do I find my Zen, I hear you ask?
What do you LOVE to do? What gets you in the zone where the rest of the world just drifts away into the background? This is what you need to do.
For me it is singing, especially in harmony with others. It takes me to my happy place.
For others it might be gardening, sewing, catching up with friends, hugging (been in short supply this year), art, music, restoring furniture or cars, the list goes on… The key is to find what YOU love to do and DO IT EVERY SINGLE DAY.
Here are some other sure-fire scientifically proven ways to engage your vagus nerve:
meditation and mindfulness
singing (even if you are terrible at it)
deep diaphragmatic breathing
eat foods that make you salivate (this one isn’t too tough is it?)
get enough good quality fat in your diet e.g. olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds, oily fish (triggers the release of CCK – a hormone – which is a potent vagal nerve stimulator).
I hope this blog helps to give you a better understanding of the effect stress can have on your health and inspires you with some strategies to help reduce those effects.
It really comes down to making the time and space for YOU. Ditch the guilt (because I know you feel it!) and understand that when you are fit, healthy and happy, you will be able to serve others better.
Need some more help? Our naturopaths are qualified and experienced in managing hormonal health, autoimmune and inflammatory conditions. If you are ready to get your mojo back, please feel free to book an appointment today.
Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light produced by the sun, repeated over time, eventually begins to damage the DNA of our skin cells, resulting in a loss of DNA integrity and subsequent mutations to our DNA. This means that eventually our body is unable to produce ‘normal’, healthy, proper-functioning skin cells and instead begins to produce unhealthy, dysfunctioning skin cells. Furthermore, this DNA damage can be cancerous, which leads to mutations in DNA that produce cancerous skin cells, such as squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and melanoma – types of skin cancers.
Over time, repeated UV exposure also depletes our skin of its natural antioxidant defences, causing oxidative stress, which further damages the DNA of our skin cells and contributes to the increased production of unhealthy, dysfunctioning skin cells.
The production of poor quality, unhealthy, dysfunctional skin cells causes them to appear damaged or ‘aged’ to the naked eye. Since our skin is composed of trillions of skin cells, then trillions of poor-quality, unhealthy, dysfunctional skin cells equals visibly damaged or aged skin.
UV exposure further damages our skin by disrupting the natural production of collagen and elastin – the proteins responsible for giving our skin its suppleness, strength and elasticity. It triggers an enzymatic reaction that breaks down collagen and elastin within the body, so while our bodies are always working hard to produce collagen and elastin (which naturally declines as we age), UV exposure is working to break it down or hinder the process.
If you have ever had an intensive skin treatment designed to ‘promote collagen production’, your skin therapist has probably told you to avoid UV exposure for some time afterwards. This is because UV exposure is going to undo the collagen production, just as quickly as your body is working to produce more.
It is important to note that sun damaged or aged skin does not suddenly appear overnight, but rather it is a culmination of repeated, daily UV exposure over years and decades, with a few episodes of sunburn thrown in here and there for good measure. For this reason, it is never too early to start looking after your skin.
Sun protection factor
It is commonly believed that the higher the sun protection factor (SPF), the higher the level of UV protection, however there is actually only a very small (5%) difference in the level of UV protection offered between an SPF 15 and an SPF 50 (93% protection versus 98% protection).
What SPF actually relates to is the unique UV exposed burn time of your skin.
For example, if your natural UV exposed burn time (the amount of time where your skin cells start to react, not necessarily burn) is 10 minutes, then using an SPF 15 sunscreen means that, ideally, you are extending your skin’s natural UV exposed burn time by 15 times longer than this, so up to 150 minutes (10 X 15 = 150). Based on this, wearing an SPF 50 rated sunscreen would extend your burn time by 50 times, so up to 500 minutes (10 X 50 = 500).
It is important to note that this is not an exact guide (no one should be exposed to the sun for 500 minutes and rely on one single application of sunscreen). Everyone’s skin is different and there are many factors involved (genetics, water, UV index, time of day, weather, location, altitude, seasons etc.) that alter your skin’s natural UV-exposed burn time, which therefore alters how often you need to reapply sunscreen. SPF should be used to give you a better idea of how often you need to reapply your sunscreen.
Another important thing to note is that SPF + SPF does not equal a higher SPF. For example, if you apply sunscreen with an SPF 15 and then apply make-up with an SPF 20, this does not equal an SPF 35. You are only ever protected by the highest SPF, in this case SPF 20.
Kismet Health Skin Healing Cream
Physical v chemical sunscreen
For a few years now there has been much debate about chemical versus physical sunscreens and which is better.
It is typically thought that chemical-based sunscreens absorb UV rays (convert them into heat and then release them from the body) and that physical sunscreens scatter or reflect UV rays, however this is not entirely true.
According to studies, physical sunscreens scatter or reflect no more than 15% of UV rays. The remainder is absorbed, just like a chemical sunscreen, meaning both chemical and physical sunscreens absorb UV rays.
Both chemical and physical sunscreens are equally as effective as one another, and one isn’t better than the other, they just work in slightly different ways.
So how do you choose a sunscreen?
My advice is to choose a sunscreen based on the non-active ingredients and what impact they will have on your skin cells. Select a sunscreen that is free from fragrances, colours, dyes, preservatives, emulsifiers, sulphates etc. as these can irritate the skin.
Physical sunscreens are ideal for sensitive skins as they typically contain fewer chemicals, meaning they are less likely to cause skin irritation. They do, however, tend to contain zinc oxide, which can make them quite thick and therefore sit heavier on the skin. This can lead to surface blockages (breakouts) so people with oily, congested and acne-prone skin need to be mindful of this.
On the other hand, chemical-based sunscreens typically contain between 3–4 chemical compounds in the one sunscreen and are therefore more likely to cause skin irritation than physical sunscreens. They are, however, more light-weight and don’t sit as heavy on the skin and therefore have their place with people who suffer from oily, congested and acne-prone skin.
How do you apply sunscreen?
Sunscreen needs to be applied at least 20 minutes BEFORE exposure to the sun. This gives the active ingredients time to settle into the skin and take effect – the effectiveness of sunscreen is all in the time it is given to absorb into the skin and start working.
Applying sunscreen just before you jump in the water or while you are sitting out in the sun does not actually give you proper protection. You need to apply it as you are getting ready to leave the house.
You also need to re-apply your sunscreen following each time you jump in the water, as sunscreens are not waterproof and they do wash off.
Apply sunscreen to all the areas that won’t be covered by clothing and remember the front and back of the neck, your ears and the tops of your feet!
If you would like to work with one of our naturopaths, please feel free to book an appointment to discuss your individual circumstances.
If you haven’t come across forgiveness and gratitude therapy before now, it might sound like an esoteric concept however it has been used for thousands of years across many religions. While it is tightly tied to spiritual practices, feelings of gratitude and continuously forgiving self and others can bring us some wonderful physical health benefits too.
This therapy helps us actualise what we have in our lives and direct our focus to these as opposed to focusing on the all-consuming negatives which, in turn, stimulates the stress response. A negative focus results in a cascade of activity by neurotransmitters and stress hormones and eventually leads to worsening of many health conditions. As naturopaths, we rarely have a case that does not have some component of stress to it.
Forgiveness and gratitude therapy can be a great alternative for people who find meditation difficult. You can achieve some amazing stress relieving benefits with this remedy in a short amount of time.
F O R G I V E N E S S
noun 1. the act of forgiving.
What is forgiveness?
To forgive, we must release or let go of negative effects, beliefs or behaviours towards an offender, whether that is yourself or another.
Forgiveness is not about condoning an unkindness, forgetting a hurt or excusing poor behaviour, nor is it about denying or minimising your hurt. These are all valid feelings you might experience. However, the idea in this practice is to encourage and experience greater feelings of peace, power, responsibility, awareness and self-control – feelings which are positive and beneficial to your health. It is about choosing helpful feelings.
At times, forgiveness can feel like submitting but a good way to think of it is that you are letting go of the negative rumination that is causing you hurt and, in turn, poor health.
G R A T I T U D E
noun 1. the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful.
What is gratitude?
Gratitude is feeling a sense of joy and appreciation of someone or something external to ourselves. It is being grateful for what we have and involves acknowledging good things that happen to us and bringing our mind to beneficial elements as well as recognising the source of our gratitude. Feeling strong positive emotions is key to receiving the health benefits from a gratitude practice.
Kismet Health Calm Bath Soak
How do we incorporate forgiveness and gratitude into our lives?
Daily journaling is the best way to get in your dose of gratitude. Use any type of journal that you like. Begin by writing three things you are grateful for. Don’t overthink it; it can be anything from your family to the sound of the birds in the garden. (A good idea is to steer away from material items as these are not as constant.) The more you follow this practice, the easier it will become and the more you will realise there is to be grateful for. End this by sitting into the feeling to really supercharge the health benefits.
Forgiveness can be a little more difficult. It can be done internally or also undertaken on paper if you prefer. Start by define who and what you would like to forgive and then remember the hurtful event. Empathise with the offender and acknowledge the wrongdoings by self or others. (Note: if working on forgiving yourself, it is good to and see the event from another’s perspective.) Next, commitment to forgive, ensuring you are solidifying the practice by internally or verbally saying you commit to forgive.
Feel free to perform both practices at the same time. However, when a thought of an event strikes, it is possible to undertake the forgiveness practice internally at that moment.
Healthy coping mechanisms
Many of us have unhealthy coping mechanisms which lead us towards a spiral of bad habits. Forgiveness and gratitude have been found time and time again to be associated with good health habits and resilience. When you are next feeling down, take just five minutes before you slouch on the couch and binge watch Netflix to spend writing down some things you are grateful for and one thing you would like to forgive.
What are the health benefits?
Forgiveness and gratitude therapy is gaining popularity due to the significant benefits which result from the practice.
Lower levels of depression and anxiety
Builds resilience and will
Reduces stress – a big factor in many condition outcomes
Reduces blood pressure
Beneficial for symptoms of fibromyalgia
Enhanced quality of life for individuals with serious health conditions i.e. arthritis, cancer
Promotes other healthy habits
Boost your wellbeing and happiness – starting today – and see and acknowledge all the wonderful positive things already around you.
If you would like to work with one of our naturopaths and learn techniques like this and more, please feel free to book an appointment to discuss your individual circumstances.
Are you overweight? Are you struggling with high blood sugar, cholesterol or blood pressure? Do you want to avoid medication at all costs? Then please keep reading.
Let us start with a definition:
Metabolic syndrome is an umbrella term that includes a cluster of symptoms such as excess weight/obesity, increased blood pressure, fatty liver, high cholesterol and/or triglycerides and blood sugar. It is a major risk factor in the development of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease.
When we talk about metabolism, most people link it to weight, e.g. a slow metabolism is the reason for weight gain. However, the term ‘metabolic’ refers to the biochemical processes that happen as part of your body’s normal functioning. Developing a metabolic dysfunction or disease is a way of saying that your biochemistry has gone off track.
Our diet and lifestyle are killing us.
The standard Australian diet (SAD) is just that – sad. We have moved away from homegrown food and visiting the butcher, bakery and greengrocer for our staples. Instead we visit the supermarket where we get bombarded with clever advertising pushing heavily processed foods with a promise of ‘health’. Breakfast cereal with milk is a staple in Australia, as are sandwiches with fillings such as ham and cheese for lunch. Snacks often include crackers and biscuits, while dinner favourites are chicken parmas, pasta and meat and three veg (usually potato, carrot and peas/beans). Inflammatory seed oils (think canola and vegetable) have snuck into most processed foods too, contributing significantly to the development of metabolic disease.
Many of my patients have tried a variety of diet and exercise regimes hoping for an easy solution to their problems, but, as you no doubt already know, most plans out there really are too good to be true because they aren’t sustainable in the longer term. In fact, many exclude whole food groups, are devoid of key nutrients and advocate high-intensity exercise which can be incredibly inflammatory for a large proportion of people (myself included), increasing their risk of developing disease.
Metabolic diseases are the leading cause of mortality in Australia. And guess what? They are primarily driven by diet and lifestyle, which means they are reversible if you are prepared to take action and make some changes to improve your health. It might not be easy – breaking habits of a lifetime can be a huge challenge for many – but it will be worth it.
The impact of your genetics on health
Before I launch into the impact of diet and lifestyle, it would be remiss of me not to mention the role of genetics in metabolic disease (and let’s face it, I’m a giant genetics nerd so I can’t help myself).
My family has a strong history of metabolic disease including hypertension, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. My own personal genetic profile shows I have a number of genetic variants that increase my risk. BUT knowledge is power and understanding this has enabled me to tweak my diet and lifestyle and choose the right supplements to offset the risk. It is powerful stuff.
The link between diet, gut health and metabolic disease
I am a big fan of a good diagram and this one is excellent. It is from the team at Cell-Logic who designed the Gut Ecology and Metabolic Modulation (GEMM) protocol.
Everything you eat affects your gut epithelial cells. These are what form your gut barrier and protect you from harmful microbes, toxins and foods that don’t agree with you. Keeping this barrier intact is a priority of treatment. The typical SAD diet (discussed above) also feeds some of our non-beneficial gut bacteria, producing lipopolysaccharides. This sets off the inflammatory cascade, a normal response because your body is trying to protect itself from foods that are not great for it. Your body is smart.
If you only dabble in these types of foods on occasion, then it is probably not going to be a big deal for you. However, when you are eating these foods daily, that is when you can end up with chronic low-grade inflammation.
Chronic low-grade inflammation leads to damage to the cells, tissues and organs and the development of disease. It specifically impacts blood vessels, liver, blood glucose regulation, fat metabolism, clot formation, altered brain structure and function and joint disease, to name just a few.
Why do some people experience certain conditions and not others? It comes back to your genetics. Look to your family history to give you a clue about how your diet and lifestyle may impact your health as you age.
What to eat for optimal health
What you eat, think and do has more of an impact on your health and wellbeing than many people realise. We all know we should eat more vegetables, but do you know why they are so important?
Tip: It is not just about vitamins and minerals; it is also about phytochemicals and plant fibres.
The phytochemicals found in plants act as signalling molecules. This means they have the power to switch genes and enzymes on or off, impacting inflammation in a positive way. Phytochemicals have taken a back seat to vitamins and minerals for years, but they deserve a seat at the table too.
Many plant foods are prebiotic fibres, meaning they feed our gut bacteria. A diverse microbiome equals optimal health. The more plant foods you eat, the happier your gut bugs will be. These will down-regulate inflammation and protect your body from damage to cells, tissue and organs.
Eat those vegetables!
What else can you do?
If you have a strong family history but currently do not have any early warning signs or symptoms, then changing your diet to a Mediterranean style of eating is the single best thing you can do for your health.
If you have developed an early sign of metabolic disease such as high cholesterol, blood pressure or blood sugar, then now is the time to act. Some people will be able to reverse their symptoms simply by making the appropriate dietary changes, while others may need additional support to restore their gut health.
If you have been diagnosed with a metabolic condition such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, fatty liver disease, PCOS (yes, this is a metabolic disease) or heart disease, then I strongly recommend seeing a practitioner who can work with you to improve your metabolic function and gut health, and your overall quality of life.
If you would like to know more about metabolic disease or think you may have a metabolic condition, make a booking with one of our naturopaths. Bookings available here.
Now that the weather has well and truly warmed up and summer is fast approaching, it is not uncommon for us to notice or complain of changes in our skin or skin condition/s. Perhaps a pre-existing skin condition has flared up or a completely new skin condition has presented, leaving you feeling frustrated and self-conscious.
For us in Australian, summer tends to mean heat, humidity, sweat and oil, which can wreak havoc with our skin, particularly if we have sensitive or temperamental skin types. The majority of skin conditions are inflammatory based or driven. When combined with the above factors that characterise the Australian summer, it is no wonder we see exacerbations in certain skin types and conditions during the warmer months.
Below is information on some of the specific skin conditions that are typically worsened during summer.
Dermatitis is simply ‘inflammation of the skin’. It most typically presents as red, dry, cracked, inflamed skin, which can be itchy and irritating. Eczema (atopic dermatitis) falls under this category. Dermatitis can affect any area of the body but is most commonly seen at the flexures of the neck, elbows, wrists, knees and ankles, on the limbs or on the face, specifically the cheeks, eyebrows and hairline.
Dermatitis sufferers typically find their condition flares up during the summer months. During summer, the heat/hot weather, humidity and exposure to air conditioning increases water loss and causes dehydration, leading to dry, dehydrated skin. This causes dry, cracked skin conditions such as dermatitis to become worse.
Additionally, direct exposure of the skin to heat and sunlight triggers the release of histamine from mast cells, which causes swelling, redness and itching of the skin. Again, this causes red, inflamed, itchy skin conditions such as dermatitis to become worse.
To help prevent flare ups of dermatitis during the summer months, you should:
avoid direct exposure to heat and sunlight, particularly midday sunlight exposure
avoid sitting directly in front of air conditioning and ensuring the air conditioner is set at a moderate temperature
keep well-hydrated (aim for 2.5L of water per day minimum during summer months)
keep the skin well-moisturised. Ideally, use a moisturising cream that is hydrating, rich in essential fatty acids and targeted at repairing the skin’s barrier function.
Rosacea is a chronic inflammatory skin condition which primarily affects the nose, cheeks and chin. Dilation of the blood vessels causes flushing and visible capillaries. Papules and pustules are often seen within the affected areas, which is why rosacea can sometimes be mistaken for acne.
For rosacea sufferers, exposure to extreme heat and/or hot temperatures experienced during the summer months is one of the biggest triggers for their condition. Sunlight, heat and humidity exacerbate the skin condition by increasing blood flow to the skin and further dilating the blood vessels, worsening the appearance of the redness and flushing that characterises rosacea.
To help prevent flare ups of rosacea during the summer months, you should:
avoid direct exposure to heat and sunlight, particularly midday sunlight exposure
avoid overheating – utilise cold compresses, spray bottles and ice to keep cool
avoid exercise or physical exertion during the middle or hotter parts of the day.
Acne is classified as a blockage (with inflammation) of the pilosebaceous (hair) follicles. Pilosebaceous follicles become blocked as a result of either a surface blockage (from a topical product, dirt etc.), improper desquamation (skin shedding) or poor quality, thick, sluggish oil production.
Although higher vitamin D levels associated with greater sunlight exposure during the summer months has been implicated in the treatment of acne, acne sufferers often find that their skin condition worsens during the summer months, particularly those with oily skin types. Heat/hot weather and humidity naturally causes the body to increase both its sweat and oil production. Sweat traps things like dirt and bacteria on the skin, which leads to surface blockages (breakouts), while greater oil production also blocks the pilosebaceous follicles, leading to breakouts.
To help prevent flare ups of acne during the summer months, you should:
avoid overheating and excessive sweating – utilise cold compresses, spray bottles and ice to keep cool
avoid exercise or physical exertion during the middle or hotter parts of the day
shower and change your clothes if you have sweated
choose clothing materials that absorb sweat and oil, such as cotton – avoid wearing any clothing that is occlusive.
Pigmentation is the darkening of the skin in localised patches caused by the over-production of melanin (natural skin pigment) from melanocytes (the skin cells that make skin pigment) within that patch of the skin. There are many factors that cause pigmentation including trauma to the skin, hormonal fluctuations, certain medications and topical products, however, sun exposure, heat and UV exposure through the retina are the biggest driving forces behind this skin condition.
Even incidental, every day sun and UV exposure is enough to cause melanocytes to go into overdrive, producing melanin at a rapid rate. It is therefore no surprise that this skin condition presents or flares up during the summer months.
To help prevent flare ups of pigmentation during the summer months, you should:
avoid direct exposure to heat and sunlight, particularly midday sunlight exposure
limit sun exposure as much as possible
use complete and proper sun protection (sunscreen, wide-brimmed hat, long-sleeve clothing) AT ALL TIMES
wear polarised UV-rated sunglasses AT ALL TIMES to prevent sunlight entering through the retina.
Our long, hot Australian summers have a number of varied impacts on our skin and particular skin conditions, often making them worse. If you suffer from one or more of the above skin conditions, it is imperative that you take preventative measures during the summer months to help minimise the impact of extreme heat, humidity and sun exposure on your skin condition.
If you would like to know more about your skin condition and your individual skin needs, get in touch with one of our naturopaths. Bookings available here.
Written by Perri Baldwin BHSc Naturopath
Summer Skin Event
Perri is presenting an upcoming webinar on skin health for summer with lots of valuable information, skin tips and more.
Wednesday, 11 November 2020, 7.30pm Online via Zoom BOOK NOW
Come along and find out how to look after your skin, naturally.
Digestion begins with the thought, sight and smell of food. These senses trigger appetite and oral and gastric secretions, preparing the upper digestive tract for food.
The next stage is chewing your food, breaking it down into smaller pieces and mixing it with saliva. Our saliva contains enzymes, minerals and antibacterial substances. The enzyme lipase helps to break down fats and amylase breaks down carbohydrates. This is where protein digestion starts.
Now on to the oesophagus. This is the gateway for food which travels through the sphincter and into the stomach. Loss of sphincter tone is one of the major causes of reflux, not an issue with acid as many people think.
Then we have the stomach. The inner most layer of the stomach is made up of parietal cells which secrete hydrochloric acid, chief cells which produce pepsinogen and mucous-secreting cells. Can you believe that around one to three litres of gastric fluid containing hydrochloric acid, digestive enzymes and binding products is secreted in a day? All of this helps to break down our food when it reaches the stomach. The main role of the stomach is to break down protein, convert enzymes, solubilise nutrients and convert iron into its bioavailable state. Water, iodine, copper, fluoride and molybdenum are all also absorbed in the stomach.
The small intestine is up next. This is where the MOST of our digestion occurs. A series of finger-like projections, called villi, are present on the mucous membranes of the small intestine, increasing the surface area where ABSORPTION occurs. Carbohydrate digestion is completed here as more enzymes are released by the pancreas. Protein is also further digested and fat digestion continues.
The small intestine is so important as this is where substances are absorbed including essential vitamins, minerals and amino acids. If people have upper-digestive issues, constant inflammation or damage occurring to the small intestine, they are at risk of further issues throughout the whole body.
The small intestine can get an overgrowth of bacteria which is called small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). This is highly correlated to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a disorder causing abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation. Many people who are diagnosed with IBS actually have SIBO. There are numerous causes of SIBO including medication use, infections, stress and poor diet to name a few.
One of the most important elements within the small intestine is secretory IgA (SIgA). SIgA plays an important role in mucosal immunity, the part of our immune system that separates the outside environment from the inside of the body including digestive and respiratory tracts. An important activity of mucosal surfaces (SIgA) is that they serve as a first line of defence to repel pathogenic microorganisms and provide a finely tuned balance to guarantee controlled survival of essential commensal bacteria.
SIgA may also have beneficial effects in overall immunity by reducing inflammation within the digestive tract. Microbiome testing can identify if levels of SlgA have been affected (commonly by medication use, poor diet, high stress, inactivity, infections, high gut inflammation and poor gut immunity) and are contributing to major gut symptoms. Prolonged low SIgA levels are not ideal as this creates an environment within the gut where unwanted bacteria and infections can thrive, creating an imbalance in the gut microbial community associated with disease. When we can identify low SlgA levels, we can address it through naturopathic treatment, changing the health of people’s gut.
Written by Karly Raven BHSc Naturopath
Want to know more about the digestive system?
The above is an excerpt (modified) from Nourish Your Gut, the latest ebook from naturopath and gut health guru Karly launching on 29 October.
A special pre-launch party is kicking off on 26 October in the Nourished Gut Community on Facebook. Join now to be a part of the fun and receive special bonuses, live Q&A and education sessions plus your chance to win a copy of the ebook!