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  • 18 Feb 2021 4:22 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Your heart is constantly working. The average adult heart beats 72 times a minute equivalent to 100,000 times a day, 3,600,000 times a year, and 2.5 billion times during a lifetime. Every day, your heart creates enough energy to drive a truck over 20km – over a lifetime, that is equivalent to going to the moon and back!


    Staggeringly, one in three women die of heart disease and it is still the number one killer in Australia with an estimated 1.2 million Australians being affected by some form of heart, stroke or vascular disease.


    Some of the most basic strategies to protect your heart include lifestyle changes to reduce heart disease risk. Staying within a healthy weight range, exercising regularly, enjoying a healthy, balanced diet as well as not smoking are just a few.


    Love your heart with these 11 nutrients for heart health.


    1. Soluble fibre

    Peas, beans, and lentils (as well as grains such as oats and barley) contain soluble fibre, which can reduce low-density lipoprotein or "bad cholesterol." Apples, pears, and avocados are also rich in soluble fibre.

    Experts recommend women consume 25g of dietary fibre per day and men 30g. Find practical ways to increase your fibre intake here. Choose porridge oats, wholegrains, peas, baked beans, lentils, baked potatoes, vegetables, and fruits.


    2. Omega-3 fats

    Omega-3 fats are essential fatty acids that help to maintain good cardiovascular health. The Heart Foundation recommends all Australians try to put fish on their dish 2–3 times a week (including oily fish) as part of a heart-healthy diet; this provides around 250–500 mg of marine-sourced omega-3s (eicosapentaenoic acid - EPA, and docosahexaenoic acid - DHA) per day. Studies show that consuming two or more salmon servings per week is associated with a 30% lower risk of developing coronary heart disease.


    Omega-3 fats reduce blood cholesterol, blood triglycerides and inflammation which are underlying causes of cardiovascular disease. Choose salmon, tuna, sardines, and herring at least twice a week.


    If you do not eat fish, the Heart Foundation recommends at least 500mg DHA + EPA per day for children and adults.


    Other important sources of omega-3 fats can be flaxseed and hemp seeds. Flaxseeds contains alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) only. The body converts ALA to EPA and DHA, but conversion is only around 5-15%


    3. Unsaturated fats

    Olive oil and nuts, including pecans, walnuts, and almonds, provide heart-healthy monounsaturated fats as do avocadoes.


    Research has shown eating one avocado every day for a week reduced LDL ('bad cholesterol') and triglyceride levels associated with heart disease, by an average of 17% while HDL ('good cholesterol') levels increased.


    4. Flavonoids

    Delicious dark chocolate is rich in heart-healthy flavonoids; eating it regularly may help reduce the likelihood of developing heart disease. Flavanols in dark chocolate affect two major risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure and high cholesterol. This helps reduce inflammation and lower heart disease risk. Aim for around 20–30 g of dark, fair trade chocolate per day.


    5. Quercetin 

    Apples are a natural source of quercetin, a plant-derived flavonoid that contains natural anti-inflammatory properties. Other good sources are onions, broccoli, capers, citrus fruits, cherries, green tea, coffee, and red wine.


    6. Folate

    Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, and Swiss chard contain large amounts of a B-group vitamin called folate. Folate helps maintain healthy levels of the amino acid (a type of protein) called homocysteine. People with raised homocysteine levels may be at higher risk of heart attacks, blood vessel diseases and stroke.


    7. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)

    Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10, is a naturally occurring antioxidant that exists in almost every cell of the human body (the active form is ubiquinol because it is ubiquitous throughout the body). The body makes CoQ10, but produces less with age. While CoQ10 provides energy for every cell in your body, heart muscles contain the highest amounts. Some cholesterol lowering medications affect CoQ10 production. Beef, organ meats such as liver and kidney, soy oil, sardines and mackerel contain CoQ10.


    8. Lycopene

    Lycopene is the plant antioxidant that gives tomatoes, watermelons, and pink grapefruit their red/pink colour and consumption is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease.

    Lycopene may help to lower the risk of developing or prematurely dying from heart disease.


    9. Magnesium

    Each body organ, including your heart, needs magnesium for normal functioning.

    Changes in the amounts of different minerals in your blood can affect many tissues, including your heart. Although your body only contains small amounts of magnesium, having too much or too little can affect the rhythm of the heart.

    Studies show that magnesium reduces blood pressure. Find magnesium in walnuts, spinach, and dark chocolate.


    10. Polyphenols

    Polyphenols help increase nitric oxide production in our body, which causes blood vessels to relax and dilate, thereby lowering blood pressure.

    A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed eating about a cup of mixed berries daily for eight weeks increased levels of "good" HDL cholesterol and lowered blood pressure and increasing levels of ‘good’ cholesterol.

    Blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries, bilberries plus beetroot are polyphenol packed.


    11. Resveratrol

    Resveratrol helps to reduce blood clotting and enhances antioxidant and nitric oxide production leading to lower blood pressure.

    Dark chocolate, red wine and grape juice contain resveratrol although processing and pasteurisation reduce grape juice content. You cannot get enough resveratrol from the diet (you would need to eat and drink unhealthy amounts) so you may want to consider a supplement.


    Lifestyle habits

    As well as a healthy diet full of healthy macro and micronutrients, it is important that your live a healthy lifestyle.


    Stub it out

    Avoiding tobacco is one of the best things you can do to protect your heart and blood vessels.


    Blast belly fat

    Belly fat is different from other fat types. Called visceral fat, belly fat coats your internal organs, triggering inflammation and raising blood pressure and unhealthy blood fats. Exercise, healthy diet and cutting down on excess alcohol can help.


    Get your heart rate pumping

    Vigorous exercise helps to work your heart and lungs. Choose something you love, and it will not be a chore.

    Experts recommend 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity; or at least 75–150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity; or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity throughout the week.

    If you have not exercised for a while or are on medication, check with your health professional first.


    Relax

    Try yoga to help bust stress while improving balance strength and flexibility. It may also help to reduce heart disease risk. And get adequate sleep – try setting a sleep and wake time and stick to it if you can.


    Enjoy alcohol in moderation

    Moderate consumption can be heart-healthy but can damage the heart when overconsumed. But stick to the recommended guidelines. Find out more here.


    Watch your salt intake

    Processed and takeaway foods are overloaded with salt. Try cooking from fresh when you can and flavour foods with herbs and spices or a salt substitute. Talk to your health professional for tailored advice.


    Get your health checked

    Being aware of your risk is the most empowering thing you can do for your heart health. Be sure to see your GP regularly and have your blood pressure checked.


    Get your dental health checked

    See your dentist for regular check-ups since bacteria that cause gum disease can enter the blood if unchecked, which has been linked with heart disease.


    Reference

    Australian Dietary Guidelines: https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/


  • 16 Feb 2021 4:18 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    People power has been victorious after a massive response to proposed changes aiming to specifically regulate medical practitioners who provide complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments. 

     

    Under the significant weight of 13,000 public submissions, proposed MBA changes have been withdrawn.


    MBA withdraws 

    Medical Board of Australia (MBA), which oversees all doctors' regulation, proposed clearer rules around complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments calling for tighter regulations in 2019. "Additional safeguards to protect patients," were called for by the MBA who stated that "while some treatments may be beneficial, others may be unnecessary or expose patients to serious side effects." 

     

    But health professionals and the public disagreed strongly. Consumers were encouraged to respond to the MBA, and under the significant weight of 13,000 submissions over the six-month consultation period, the proposed changes have been withdrawn. 

     

    Both health professionals and the public were alarmed at the proposed guidelines. Health professionals feared that they would be banned from prescribing vitamins, nutritional supplements, and other therapies and that complementary medicines would be amalgamated with unconventional and emerging treatments, which are not the basis of the vast majority of integrative doctors' practise. The public reacted strongly to the potential of having their autonomy of choice in healthcare removed.  

     

    Australians trust complementary medicines 

    Carl Gibson is CEO of Complementary Medicines Australia, the peak body representing Australia's world-class complementary medicines industry. He said: "Over 70 per cent of Australians favour a more holistic approach to health and wellbeing – they trust and use complementary medicines in both prevention and treatment strategies to safeguard wellbeing." 

     

    Food, exercise, and other lifestyle factors are the mainstay of good health but so are micro- and macronutrients, attention to gut health, the microbiome and more: these contribute to the majority of Australians' chosen holistic wellness approaches. 

     

    "I am delighted that common sense wins out in this decision to withdraw these flawed proposals, and that people power has made an enormous difference,” said Gibson.  

     

    High-risk practice is not confined to one area of medicine 

    Medical Board Chair, Dr Anne Tonkin, said the consultation was robust and the submissions shed light on both the issues and the possible solutions. 

     

    "It is clear from the consultation that there is no simple equation linking areas of practice with risk to patients, and that high-risk practice is not confined to one area of medicine," Dr Tonkin said. 

     

    The proposed solution did not match the problem

    "In effect, the solution we had proposed did not match the problem we were trying to solve and the labels we used – complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments – were not helpful in defining the level of risk posed to patients," ended Dr Tonkin. 

     

    For more information,

    Complementary Medicines Australia, Ravinder Lilly, 0418928756,email: Ravinder.lilly@cmaustralia.org.au  

    Australasian Integrative Medicine Association, Cressida Hall,  0414 607 079, email: Cressidahall@aima.net.au


    Reference 

    Medical Board of Australia - Board responds to consultation on complementary medicine 


  • 10 Feb 2021 3:20 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Cutting down or cutting out alcohol can bring significant health benefits. Here are just a three.




    Mood

    It may feel like alcohol lifts your mood, but that's only short-term. Alcohol is a depressant that can aggravate low mood. Research shows that heavy drinking interferes with the neurotransmitters, including mood-boosting serotonin levels. Five or more drinks in one night can affect cognitive function for up to three days.

    And, because too much alcohol affects your energy levels, it may be that you're less likely to exercise, which can boost mood and may mean that situations feel worse than they are.

    After drinking too much alcohol, you may find it challenging to piece together what happened the night before. But the effects of alcohol on memory go much more profound. Studies show that alcohol inhibits the hippocampus's functioning – the part of the brain responsible for creating and saving memories. Frustrating!

    Giving up for a few weeks may mean that you will have more clarity and deal with issues more positively.


    Skin

    One of the fastest and most easily identifiable post-heavy drinking symptoms is dehydration – headache and dry-as-a-desert mouth plus dry skin and cracked lips. Alcohol is a diuretic; it affects the kidneys and makes you lose more fluid as urine than you take in. Alcohol also inhibits the production of the hormone vasopressin, which encourages your body to re-absorb water instead of sending it straight to the bladder. Alcohol's dehydrating effects can trigger patches of dry skin.

    The sugar in alcoholic drinks can also affect your skin – it can damage collagen, causing premature skin ageing. Plus, depletion of vitamins slows cell renewal dulling and greying the skin.

    Alcohol dilates blood vessels, increasing blood flow to the skin, causing a flushed, red and blotchy complexion. As fluid leaks from your blood vessel, the result can be puffy, discoloured skin. 

    Stop drinking alcohol and your fluid levels should return to normal, and the result will be plumper skin, fewer under-eye bags.


    Nutrition

    Drinking too much alcohol may mean that your body will not absorb as many vital nutrients. Alcohol damages the cells that line the stomach and intestines, cells involved in transporting nutrients into the bloodstream, including thiamin (vitamin B1), vitamin B12, folic acid, and zinc. A severe lack of B vitamins can trigger anaemia and neurological problems.

    When alcohol compromises healthy liver function, it can interfere with the way that vitamin D is converted into its active forms. So, heavy drinkers have low blood levels of activated vitamin D which has many vital roles.

    Because alcohol does not provide vitamins and minerals, heavy drinking depletes the body's store of vitamins and minerals to process it such as B vitamins, iron, or calcium, leading to many other complications.

    Are you drinking too much alcohol?

    The first step to getting help for addiction is recognising the problem. Talk to your GP to talk about a referral to a psychologist or other specialist service.

    For more information:


  • 12 Jan 2021 3:15 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    It is the 12th day of the January, and according to research from the USA, most of us will have ditched our new year's resolutions by today. 


    It is not about the destination, it is about the journey you live along the way.


    Whether you committed to losing some COVID kilos, moving more, drinking less alcohol, or stubbing out other bad habits, all the best-made plans can hit a bump in the road. That is why today, we are sharing nine ways get over the bump, keep going and make your goals into healthy habit reality.

     

    1. Why are you doing this?

    Be clear about why you are making changes. List your goals and put an I next to each one that you decided for yourself. Put an O next to the changes people are urging you to make. Think about why others are encouraging you to make these changes. Do you agree? Or are you going through the motions? According to psychologists, you are more likely to succeed if you are motivated to make changes that you believe in. If the changes you are being urged to make by others are better health challenges and you are not convinced, consider talking it through with your loved ones. Might it be time to see a health professional?

     

    2. How was your habit formed?

    The first step to creating positive habits is identifying and understanding how and why your current practices are the way they are. Once you know how these habits were formed, and why, you can start to identify the new patterns you would like to replace your old ones. Write down your plan. Be specific about each daily goal, what will you do and never forget why you are making better health changes in the first place.

     

    3. Go for quality not quantity

    Research shows that the likelihood of success as far as adopting a healthy habit for a year or more is better than 80% when you adopt one at a time. With two actions, chances of success are less than 35%, and when trying to alter three or more behaviours, success rate plummets to less than 5%. So, pick your most important goal and go for it one change at a time. Do not end up feeling overwhelmed by trying to make too many changes at once.

     

    4.     Bring on the buddies

    Having a buddy to help you along the way makes you accountable, encourages you to share successes and challenges. Telling others also helps to keep you accountable. Who will you choose?

     

    5. Chop up your goal

    Did you achieve your goal at the end of the day? If not, think about chopping your plan. Break up your goals into smaller chunks. For example, if you want to lose 10kg in weight, break it into five mini-goals of 2kg weight-loss each. And when you reach your goal, take time to acknowledge your success, celebrate it. And then move onto the next.

     

    6.     Get real

    It takes time to develop unhealthy habits, so it makes sense that it takes time to undo them. There is no quick fix or magic diet – and that is fine. One step at a time and you will get there.

     

    7. Don't let a bad day get in your way

    Everyone has bad days, so do not dwell on it. Look at the bigger picture and decide that you will not let one day fix your fate. Remember why you decided on your goals in the first place and get back on the road tomorrow or later that day.

     

    8. Don't compare yourself to others

    There will always be someone doing better than you – or are they? Comparing yourself with others adds unnecessary pressure and allows self-doubt to creep into your mind. Why isn't it happening for me you might ask? Remember that you, like everyone else, are unique. And it is not a race. So, wish your friends well and then put the focus back onto yourself and the things you are doing right all the while remembering why you are on this journey.

    9.     Amend it sure – but keep going

    ​Everybody has setbacks. But if you finding it trouble to keep on track, think about why - is the goal too difficult? Think about amending it a little. Your goals should be there to shape your life in a way that makes you happy, not enslave or depress you. Because it is not about the destination, it is about the journey you live along the way.


  • 08 Jan 2021 12:32 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Veganuary challenge has seen a record 500,000 people sign up to eat a plant-based diet over January – that’s double the number of people who took part in 2019. And, the figure does not include the many individuals who take up the challenge unofficially.


    “Even if you do not want to go full vegan, give plant-based eating a try. You might but be surprised about how much you enjoy eating vegan food."Charlotte Anderson

    Launched in 2014, Veganuary aims to encourage people to eat a plant-based diet during January and hopefully eat more consciously in the future. Veganuary seems to be inspiring people - research by investment bank UBS has found that around half of the people trying plant-based alternatives in Veganuary continued to eat them at least once a week afterwards.


    Reducing our environmental footprint

    Most of us accept that eating more plant-based food is a critical way to reduce our environmental footprint. In this respect, eating more plant-based foods is important for humans as well as for animals. A plant-based diet can cut a person’s carbon footprint by 50 per cent. The meat industry produces more greenhouse gases than all the world’s transportation combined. And of those countries experiencing famine, 82 per cent use vast proportions of their grain to feed animals that will be eaten in first-world countries.

    Encouraged by an increasing list of experts worldwide, including much-loved natural historian, Sir David Attenborough, there is no doubt that we are being urged to eat more consciously and kindly and choose less meat. It is no wonder that more and more people are also switching to a plant-based diet or eating less meat and animal products.


    Significant change

    Human resources executive, Charlotte Anderson, not only took up the Veganuary challenge last year but has continued to choose plant-based foods ever since. Charlotte, who grew up in England, was brought up eating meat and two vegetable meals. She enjoyed vegetarian foods, including eggs with toast or yoghurt and fruit for breakfast. So, she realised that opting for a plant-based diet would be a significant change.

    “I had seen a few documentaries and read articles about the health benefits of choosing vegan. I was particularly interested to learn that plant-based eating could help certain chronic conditions,” says Charlotte.

    People have often questioned the health benefits of a solely plant-based diet. But a 2019 study by the University of Oxford found that adopting a plant-based diet could be the single most significant way for people to improve their health and that of the planet. And top athletes, including Venus and Serena Williams, who adopted a plant-based diet in 2012, would agree that it has not hindered them in any way.


    Challenging at first

    In the beginning, Charlotte says that making significant changes was challenging. “I didn’t have many vegan recipes or know what I needed to do to substitute macro and micronutrients. And this was mostly so for main meals.

    “I bought some vegan cookbooks and began following vegan people on Instagram for recipe inspiration. I also signed up to a home delivery service because it made things a bit easier and helped to expand my recipe repertoire.”

    It has been a year since Charlotte began her plant-powered journey and she feels just as healthy – if not healthier – than she did before. Charlotte takes vitamin B12 and iron supplements – which she did before her diet overhaul.


    Friends and family

    And what do friends and family make of Charlotte’s diet direction? “Friends vary in their response,” says Charlotte. “Some people feel that it’s a great life choice and others say that they couldn’t do it because they could not live without meat. Overall, though, people are supportive. So much so that one group of my friends now have fun finding vegan restaurants for us to try around Sydney, and it is surprising how delicious and how many choices there are. For all of us.”

    “Even if you do not want to go full vegan, give plant-based eating a try – it is only a month of your life and not a lifelong commitment. You might but be surprised about how much you enjoy eating vegan food. I did not think that I could give up eggs when I started, and I did have one last year; I was surprised to find that I did not enjoy it. I feel that my tastes have changed,” Charlotte says. 

    For a long time, David Attenborough has been a hero of Charlotte’s, and she heard his unmistakable message to reduce the amount of meat we eat loud and clear.


    Time to take part

    “I know vegan eating isn’t for everyone, but if you can reduce the amount you eat, it has to have a beneficial impact. Yes, January has already started, but you still have time to take part in Veganuary.

    I’m just one person helping the planet a bet; I feel it is vital to do something new for the earth and future generations. Think about what would happen if millions of us did the same,” ends Charlotte.


  • 01 Dec 2020 3:45 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Your body is home to around 100 trillion bacterial cells (and some fungi and viruses) the majority of which live in the gut; this is known as the gut microbiome.



    Each person has a unique microbiome, and like all living things, these organisms must eat. Prebiotics are the foods that nourish your microbiome.

    Prebiotics are plant fibres that the human body cannot digest – including resistant starch and phytochemicals and polyphenols found in vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes.

    Most nutrients are absorbed in the small intestine, but because the body cannot digest prebiotics, they enter the large intestine mostly untouched. Here they provide food for beneficial probiotic bacteria. These bacteria ferment prebiotics (i.e. extract energy by breaking down foods in the absence of oxygen). As a by-product, the bacteria produce chemicals called short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) which are essential for gut health. The SCFAs acetate, butyrate, and propionate lower the pH of the intestine, helping to inhibit the growth of certain pathogenic (potentially harmful) microbes.

    Gut health is linked with general wellbeing so an imbalance of gut bacteria may lead to the build-up of toxic by-products and inflammation, both of which negatively impact wellbeing. Around 70 per cent of immune cells are found in the lymphatic tissue of the gut.

    Cells in the gut help protect the microbes in the intestines. They attack pathogenic microbes and foreign substances. A healthy immune system also suppresses inflammatory responses to non-pathogenic (non-harmful) foreign substances, including food. Feeding probiotics with prebiotics boosts the health of these cells.


    Types of prebiotics include

    Resistant oligosaccharides

    These are the most studied types of prebiotics, and they promote the growth of a type of bacteria called Bifidobacteria. Nearly 50 species of Bifidobacteria are known to exist, and each one has different functions and health benefits.

    Bifidobacteria produce SCFAs, which may also help to control hunger. These probiotics also help produce other necessary chemicals, including B vitamins and healthy fatty acids.

    Wheat, rye, chickpeas, lentils, onion, and garlic provide resistant oligosaccharides.

    Non-starch polysaccharides

    These are found in a variety of plant-based foods such as rye, wheat, barley, oats, apples, and plums.

    Resistant starch

    A prebiotic found to promote the production of the SFCA butyrate. Find resistant starch in lentils, peas, beans and rolled oats. The resistant starch content of rice and potatoes increases once cooked and then cooled. 

    Phytochemicals

    Find these in plant foods such as berries, plums, herbs and spices, artichokes, red onions, dark chocolate, and nuts.

    Each person has a uniquely different microbiome, so it is difficult to determine the precise effects of eating prebiotics on the production of the amounts of SCFAs. What is clear, though, is that enjoying plenty of prebiotic foods will help to boost SCFA production. 

  • 30 Nov 2020 12:15 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Andrea Milner, her husband Colin and two children, love to keep fit; the family prioritises exercise as an essential part of their excellent health. As well as running, Andrea plays basketball, boxes and more. Building strength and improving muscle tone helps to ease the intermittent pain she felt, especially in her hips.



    Wanting to explore approaches to controlling inflammation, Andrea Milner consulted a naturopath


    Three years ago, though, the pain became severe enough for Andrea to seek help. Having been screened and cleared for osteoporosis, an MRI detected psoriatic arthritis in her hip.

    “I went to a rheumatologist and was given steroid injections and medication to treat pain and fluid in the area. Being only 36 at the time, I didn’t want to be on such medication long-term.”


    Exploring options

    Wanting to explore approaches to controlling inflammation, Andrea consulted a naturopath. He tested her for food sensitivity, and Andrea agreed to remove several foods from her diet. She focused on lots of veggies and unprocessed foods. 

    “I lead a finance team by day, and my husband, Colin, is a stay-at-home-dad – and a great cook!” says Andrea. “We discussed the changes to my diet and in came more salads, spinach and roasted veggies, out went gluten, dairy and red meat.”

    Andrea was also advised to supplement her diet with vitamins including vitamin C, potassium and other minerals, a multivitamin, turmeric, and a probiotic.


    Diet and supplements

    “I had been focusing on my new diet and taking the supplements for six weeks, and at the six-week mark, I returned to see my rheumatologist. Amazingly, a blood test found that there were no inflammation markers observed in my blood,” Andrea says.

    That was three years ago, and since then, Andrea has lost 10kg – which she describes as her baby weight – and kept it off.

     “I haven’t eaten red meat since then and was concerned about my iron levels. But I make sure to eat plenty of spinach and broccoli, and blood tests have found that I have the highest levels of iron I have ever had,” says Andrea.

    Andrea believes that gut health is at the essence of controlling inflammation and treats occasional bouts of pain with anti-inflammatories.


    Keeping in sync

    “Mentally, I find that if I am eating the right foods, everything is in sync too,” says Andrea.

    Of course, there are times away from her usual diet – such an overseas holiday a while ago. The drastic change to her everyday diet resulted in pain. But on returning home, adopting her regular diet rich in vegetables and fruits got her back on track.

    Andrea says: “I can read my body and know what works and what doesn’t. Last year, I had a team event with pizza and drinks. I had two pieces of pizza since I was having a drink and the result was an upset stomach that lasted for two days. The same thing happened after another event where there was a cheese platter.”


    A family affair

    The whole family has been affected by Andrea’s new and improved diet. Colin now calls himself “the occasional vegan,” breakfast and lunch are meat-free, and red meat has mostly been replaced with seafood, chicken, and plant-based meals.

    “Colin has found that cutting out meat has had had some positive side effects. He does not sweat as much, he does not suffer from mouth ulcers as much, has plenty of energy, and he is much leaner! He also takes daily probiotics, vitamin B and magnesium,” explains Andrea.


    Return to the naturopath

    Recently, the couples’ son experienced some abdominal issues, and the family took him to see their naturopath who made some dietary suggestions.

                                                                                      

    “Our son, Spencer, was unhappy at the thought of excluding certain processed foods and sugar. So instead of following it for six weeks, we agreed he would do so for two weeks. After two weeks, we saw a huge change, he didn’t have any unpleasant gastro symptoms, and his mood had improved as well.”

    Spencer eats less gluten and dairy now, he chooses gluten-free pasta instead of regular pasta and prefers gelati over ice cream and. He does not go overboard on sugar, but if he is out at a party and party pies are on offer, he would have one or two.

    “Spencer knows when he has had food that does not suit him as it upsets his gut, and he will return to plain food or stay clear of certain foods until he feels better again. He wants to stick with his new way of eating. Like his parents, he reads his body,” says Andrea.

    “We think it’s fantastic that we have this knowledge and, that Spencer can read his body and that will take this throughout his life. As a family, we often talk about how our guts feel and what foods we should or should not have. We are conscious of managing a healthy balanced diet with occasional treats like take away or ice cream – gelati for Spencer!” ends Andrea.


Resources



Six herbs and nutrients that support immunity

Herbs and nutrition have been harnessed for their health benefits by people around the world since time began. With the Australian winter nearly upon us, and given the current pandemic, here are some herbs and nutrients that have been widely used to support the immune system, reduce risk of infection and minimise symptoms should an infection occur.


A healthy, varied diet, enough sleep, managing stress, adequate physical activity and not smoking support immunity.

 

The basics

The cornerstone to good health and to supporting your immune system is enjoying a healthy, varied diet, getting enough sleep, managing stress, getting enough physical activity and not smoking. In addition, several herbs and supplements may also be used to support immunity. Check with your healthcare practitioner before taking supplements and if any symptoms persist.

Because COVID-19 is a novel virus, there are no proven treatments or preventative therapies including supplements, medicines or foods that are known to protect us. Until the virus is better understood, limiting community exposure through social distancing or isolation where appropriate, and practicing good hygiene are vital to limit the spread.


Your immune system

Like other body systems, your immune system is complex. Many cells and tissues make up your defence system from your skin to your gut and even eyelashes and white blood cells. Every area of the body is supported – so you could consider your body as your castle and your immune system as the soldiers that patrol and defend every part of your body. 

Keeping your immune system in balance is important at every age and every stage of life. And, traditionally, a number of herbs and nutrients have been used to support the immune system – feeding and supporting your internal soldiers.


1.        Astragalus

Native to China, Korea, Mongolia and Russia, the herb Astragalus has been used since the second century AD to support the immune system, and recent study has shown it supports immunity at the cellular level. This herb is an adaptogen which means that it helps to support the body's reaction to stress. Astragalus root extract is traditionally used to promote a healthy immune system, increase resistance to infection and relieve fatigue.


2.        Andrographis

Used widely in Ayurvedic medicine and traditional Chinese medicine for its anti-inflammatory properties, Andrographis contains andrographolide, a terpenoid compound shown to have antiviral effects, including against those that cause respiratory infections. When taken at the first sign of cold symptoms, Andrographis may help to prevent a cold from developing with full force. Andrographis may help to ease the symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections. It might also prevent influenza viruses from binding to cells in the body, although more research is needed to understand its effectiveness in treating the flu. It can be used to relieve symptoms of treat mild fever, the common cold and sore throat.

This herb is not recommended for use in pregnancy and breast feeding.  There is a small possibility of developing taste disturbances when using Andrographis products so follow the label instructions. 


3.        Echinacea

Echinacea is a daisy-like plant and has been used by Native Americans for centuries.  There are 2 main species used - Echinacea purpurea and Echinacea angustifolia. Various parts of these different Echinacea species are active in different ways; which is why they are frequently used together.

Echinacea supports a healthy immune response when taken at the onset of symptoms. Studies have suggested that certain species improve immune health and may have antiviral effects against several respiratory viruses, including respiratory syncytial virus and rhinoviruses. The antiviral action may be due to the presence of certain polysaccharides that increase the production of infection-fighting white blood cells.

When taken at the first sign of symptoms, Echinacea can relieve symptoms of colds and mild upper respiratory infections and may reduce the duration of cold-related symptoms such as fatigue, body aches and headache.

 

4. Vitamin D

The sunshine vitamin, vitamin D, is unusual because the major source is sunshine rather than food sources (it is made when the sunlight interacts with a cholesterol-like substance in your skin). Certain groups, particularly those with restricted access to sunlight may be at risk of vitamin D deficiency, which can be medically diagnosed with a simple blood test. Vitamin D is essential to support the health and functioning of your immune system. 

This vitamin works by enhancing the pathogen (disease) fighting effects of white blood cells that are part of your immune defence and decreases inflammation, helping to support the immune response.

Being deficient in vitamin D may be associated with an increased risk of upper respiratory tract infections.

Food sources of vitamin D include some mushrooms, oily fish, fortified foods and egg yolks.


5. Zinc 

Zinc deficiency affects around 2 billion people worldwide and is very common in older adults. About 30% of older adults may be deficient in zinc. Low levels can increase the risk of infection because this mineral helps support healthy immune system function.

It's important not to overdo it though – too much zinc can interfere with copper absorption. Find zinc in whole grains, oysters, baked beans, chickpeas, and nuts.


6. Vitamin C 

The best know nutrient when it comes to your immune system is perhaps Vitamin C. Vitamin C is vital for immune health and may reduce the severity and duration of colds. It encourages the production of white blood cells (lymphocytes and phagocytes), which help protect against infection. It also helps these white blood cells function more effectively while protecting them from damage by potentially harmful molecules, such as free radicals. Free radical damage can negatively affect immune health and is linked to numerous diseases.

Because it is water-soluble, you can't store large amounts so it's important to consume some every day. Good food sources include vegetables and fruits; however if you cook veggies, cook them until just tender in a small amount of water as vitamin C is destroyed by heat and can leach out into the cooking water.


Last word

Remember that although supplements can make a difference to your immune health, they can't replace a healthy lifestyle. If you are unwell, stay at home and following Department guidelines about COVID-19 – see https://bit.ly/3evgvyN


References 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6268577/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4002847

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK71143/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25832590/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25157026/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5551541/


Soluble Fibre, Insoluble Fibre, Functions And Where to Find It

June 2020

June is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month which claims the lives of 103 Australians every week (5,375 people a year) - but it's one of the most treatable types of cancer if found early[i]. As well as regular testing, diet is an important factor where it comes to prevention.

Many studies have shown a diet high in fibre can help reduce the risk of developing bowel cancer. This features focuses on fibre – which four out of five Australians don’t consume enough of – and the many benefits of fibre for all-round good health.

Dietary fibre refers to the parts of plant foods that aren’t digested. Although you can’t absorb it – it never leaves your gastrointestinal tract – fibre is vital for good health. Experts recommend around 30g of fibre recommended daily for adults.

Here are six reasons your body needs fibre and easy ways to add more fibre into your diet.


1.      It gives your large intestine a workout

Insoluble fibre (the outer shells of seeds, grains, fruits, and vegetables) can be stringy or coarse. The large intestine is a long muscular tube and, like all muscles, it needs exercise. Insoluble fibre draws water to it and softens the stool making waste more comfortable to pass. Keeping things moving helps to prevent conditions such as constipation, haemorrhoids and diverticular disease.

 

2.      It feeds your probiotic bacteria

Resistant starch, although not traditionally thought of as fibre, acts in a similar way. It resists digestion in the small intestine (where most food is digested) and when it enters the large intestine, provides food for gut bacteria. Healthy gut bacteria play a key role in controlling inflammation; too much chronic (long-term) inflammation may predispose people to type 2 diabetes.

 

Find resistant starch in legumes (peas, beans and lentils), seeds, grains, green bananas and certain cooked-and-cooled starchy foods including potatoes and rice.

 

3.      It helps you feel fuller for longer

Soluble fibre is usually soft and moist and is found in fruit (but not the skins), vegetables and pulses, oats and ground flax seeds. This type of fibre mixes with water in the gut forming a gel-like substance, helping to slow down digestion which, in turn, helps you feel fuller for longer. It also feeds your beneficial gut bacteria. Plus, the physical bulk helps you feel fuller so you may be less likely to consume excess calories.  

 

4.      It reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes

Research suggests that if every Australian adult added just 4–5g of fibre to their diet each day, it could help prevent 126,000 cases of type 2 diabetes and 64,000 cases of heart disease saving our economy $3.3 billion[ii].

Eating a diet that is rich in fibre can help to flatten the rise in blood glucose (sugar) after eating. And, because it can help to delay the absorption of glucose from the gut and into the bloodstream, your body does not have to release as much insulin to return blood glucose levels to normal.

 

Again, fibre provides food for your probiotic bacteria, and good gut bacteria can play a part in weight regulation since obesity is a significant risk factor in the development of type 2 diabetes.

 

Soluble fibre is especially important if you have insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes. Find it in psyllium husk, legumes, oats and ground flax seeds. Ripe fruit and vegetables naturally contain more soluble fibre.

 

5.      It protects your heart

A high-fibre diet may help protect your heart by reducing cholesterol levels in the blood – the gel-like substance may reduce glucose and cholesterol absorption into the bloodstream. Again, it can also help to control weight. High cholesterol levels, high blood glucose levels and being overweight are all risk factors for heart disease.

 

Fibre also increases the production of short-chain fatty acids by probiotic bacteria which have also been shown to help to reduce inflammation and cholesterol production.

 

6.      It’s linked with gut health

Higher intakes of fibre are associated with lower rates of bowel cancer. Probiotic bacteria the short-chain fatty acids produced help to keep the lining of the intestine healthy. They also help the body absorb minerals, enhance fat and glucose metabolism in the liver, and have anti-diarrhoeal and anti-inflammatory properties. Butyrate, one of the short-chain fatty acids that is produced by the fermentation of fibre in the large intestine, may reduce the risk of tumour growth.

 

What about supplements?

Fibre supplements may help people to enjoy the many health benefits of fibre, relieve constipation and maintain regularity. Plus, by choosing a diet that is low in saturated fat and by adding soluble fibre, such as psyllium husk, may help to lower blood cholesterol levels; this may help to reduce the of heart disease. It is important to obtain the advice of a healthcare practitioner especially if you have certain health conditions.

 

Be cautious

In some medical conditions, it may be important to restrict insoluble fibre. These include acute or subacute diverticulitis, acute phases of certain inflammatory bowel conditions such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, and after some types of intestinal surgery.

 

Some types of fibre can exacerbate underlying irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). If you have IBS and you’re following a low-FODMAP diet, you may find some high-fibre foods make your symptoms worse. Talk to your healthcare practitioner for individual advice.

 

Go slow and drink plenty of fluids

If you’d like to consume more fibre, go slowly over a few weeks. Too much too soon can trigger discomfort and leave you feeling bloated and constipated. And make sure you drink plenty of fluids as fibre draws water into the bowel and needs fluid to work properly.

 

How to do it

Boost your fibre intake by choosing wholegrain foods most of the time, add legumes (beans, chickpeas and lentils) to salads, soups and stews at least two-to-three times a week, and try to choose high fibre cereals instead of fibre-stripped refined foods.

 

Aim for around 30g of fibre a day. Here are some good food sources of fibre.

 

Cereals and breads

Wholegrain barley wrap 1 wrap = 10g

Wholemeal pasta (cooked) 1 cup = 10g  

Soy-linseed bread 2 slices = 6g

Rolled oats 1/4 cup = 4g

Weet-Bix 2 biscuits = 3.5g                          

Brown rice (cooked) 1 cup = 3g   

Quinoa (cooked) 1/2 cup = 2.5g

 

Beans and pulses            

Baked beans 130g can = 6g

Four-bean mix 125g can = 6g

Chickpeas (cooked) 1/2 cup = 5g

Lentils (cooked) 1/2 cup = 3.5g

Hummus 2 tbs = 2.5g     

               

Veggies and fruits

Vegetables (cooked) 1 cup = 8g  

Carrot/celery sticks 1 cup = 4g

Banana 1 medium = 3g

Apple 1 medium = 3g     

Sweet potato 1/2 small = 3g

Avocado 1/4 medium = 2g

Potatoes 2 small = 1.5g

Dried fruit 2 tbs = 1.5g

 

Nuts and seeds

Chia seeds 1 tbs = 5.5g

Plain popcorn 2 cup = 4g              

Almonds 20 nuts = 3g

Peanut butter 1 tbs = 3g               

Seed mix 2tbs = 2.5g

 

References

 

 


[i] https://www.letsbeatbowelcancer.com.au/events/bowel-cancer-awareness-month/

[i] https://www2.deloitte.com/au/en/pages/economics/articles/expenditure-savings-increased-intake-grain-fibre-australia.html

 

 

 

Gerald Quigley talks pharmacy and immune support


Community pharmacist, master herbalist, media health commentator and author, Gerald Quigley, has been passionate about integrative medicine since his early career, which spans nearly 50 years.

Gerald is passionate about empowering people to take control of their own health via greater understanding.


Right from their beginning in their shopping strip pharmacy, Gerald and his now-retired pharmacist wife, Philippa, noticed that the same people with the same health issues returned to the pharmacy over and over again. The couple made a conscious decision to become better involved with their customers and their chronic diseases, determined to help people understand their illness better and, most of all, to ensure that their illness did not define them.


“Philippa became the dispensary manager, and my role was to spend as little dispensing time as possible. I focused on mixing with customers and those whose health we felt we could make a difference to,” says Gerald.  


The couple’s aim was to empower people to take control of their own health via greater understanding.


“This is important because, of course, pharmacists are health professionals. But if you ask anyone the name of their GP or their dentist, they will know. But what about their pharmacist, the person in charge of their health,” asks Gerald?


So, the team made a point of getting to know customers by their name and be a part of their wellness. Every staff member carried a business card, and all sought feedback on nutritional medicines and how patients were progressing.


Empowering with information

The couple often saw the same people with the same conditions, including diabetes, asthma, hypertension, raised cholesterol and psoriasis. Soon, people would line up and talk about their issues, and Gerald and the team would discuss medicines and the role that complementary medicines could play.


“We aimed to help people understand that they didn’t need to be dominated by their condition. Our message might be to consume more omega-3s, exercise regularly and not smoke – we were people-centric, and people responded to that,” Gerald says.


Better understanding, greater responsibilities

Gerald strongly believes that helping people understand more about their own health comes with responsibilities. Any food a person consumes has a physiological action, and every medicine has a pharmacological action.


“Pharmacists have a responsibility to ensure the patient understands their medicines and their health plus that they provide feedback to the pharmacist so that individual and mutual understanding can grow.”


For example, when a patient is prescribed a statin, it is important to explain how Ubiquinol and CoEnzymeQ10 production is affected. And, for people taking Metformin, explaining how vitamin B12 levels can be affected. I feel that it is professionally reprehensible not to do this, and it is a fundamental nutritional requirement.”


Supporting immunity

Gerald notes that immune support is as important as ever given the current pandemic. “Many factors contribute to immune support. And there is evidence-based research to back the use of certain nutrients. Given that so many people consume takeaway foods so often, and 94% of people don’t consume enough vegetables and fruits, clearly, there is a need for better nutrition. I recently read about the role of music in immune function – anything you can do to support healthy immune function is worthwhile,” he says.


Speaking about one of the most widely used analgesics, paracetamol, Gerald notes that according to the Australian Medicines Handbook, the mode of action is not known. “Plus a study published two years ago found that paracetamol was no better than placebo for arthritic pain,” Gerald says.


Reinventing the business of pharmacy

Now amid the current coronavirus pandemic, it may be the perfect time to reinvent the business of pharmacy suggests Gerald. “Listen to the information people can share and take the opportunities to upskill everybody who works in a pharmacy.” From a complementary medicines perspective, Gerald believes that now it is more important than ever.


“The best advice I could give pharmacy staff is to research and be confident about a topic – be it pharmaceutical or herbal. You don’t have to be an expert on everything. Choose an area and specialise in it. Currently, perhaps consider immune-supporting herbs or vitamins, to offset insomnia or anxiety? For example, understanding the role of vitamin D3, Echinacea and Astragalus to name just a few and how their antiviral actions apply.”


Pharmacists’ professionalism needs to develop faster than their commercialism,” he adds, “pharmacy graduates need to shift their thinking from illness to wellness. Teaching needs a fundamental overhaul because it can make a real and positive difference to people,” he says.


Herbal and complementary medicine training 

If asked to choose between a pharmaceutical topic or herbal topic, Gerald says he would probably choose to learn about a herbal topic or one with a base in complementary medicines.


“A lot of pharmaceutical education is company-sponsored while complementary medicine presentations tend to be headed by practitioners who can also supply a patient history. And this is practical knowledge that can be used in practical situations,” he says.


Petty controversies

“CMA does great work with the TGA and responds to the petty controversies touted by FSM, e.g. focussing on imported supplements with their sometimes outrageous claims. They should be thinking more about the many ways we could reduce the risk to patients, from overseas products. Australia’s complementary medicines industry is more responsible now than ever and needs pharmacies and medicines to support them.”


The sniping in news media about complementary medicine disturbs Gerald. “There is little publicity about the dangers of prescription medicines – take Lyrica, for example. Lyrica is now the most prescribed pain medication on PBS, but there are calls for nationwide monitoring after reports that it may cause depression and anxiety. Other side effects can include coma, but you won’t read about them in tabloids. Yet if a milk thistle supplement imported from overseas causes a side effect in one person in the outback, that would make front-page news,” Gerald says.


Ethical, not monetary 

Gerald underlines the needs for a multidisciplinary approach to healthcare for patients. Developing strong relationships with dietitians and nutritionists, naturopaths and more will forge stronger professional relationships.  The basis should be ethical, not monetary.


Finding a trusted practitioner who puts your welfare before his requires trial and error stresses Gerald. “Like finding a good GP or plumber, the professional needs to understand and respect the individual and request and respond to feedback – and that includes the pharmacist. What an opportunity for pharmacists to be involved! If patients don’t have the confidence to ask their pharmacist, then it’s a sad indictment on our profession.”


We should all aspire to unite our industry to become more ethical urges Gerald. “And pharmacists and their teams understand that we can make a difference and help to make the world a healthier place,” ends Gerald.  


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