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Author Archives: Arlie Miguel

Categories Gut Health, Gut Health

All I Want For Christmas Is… A Good Poop!

We just could not resist a Christmas countdown post…. But, seriously… constipation is no laughing matter. And we know for many, a good reliable poop is the stuff of dreams. 

Constipation is the inability to pass stools regularly or empty your bowels completely. Some people who suffer from constipation may pass stools less than three times per week, they may be hard or dry stools, there may be straining, a feeling of incomplete evacuation or complete inability to pass at all.

Pooing at least once per day up to 3 times per day is normal.

You’ll be relieved to know that most cases of constipation can be successfully resolved by eating a diet high in fibre, drinking more fluids and exercising daily.

Here are our top tips for keeping things moving… and achieving a good reliable poop. ⠀

  • Eat a whole food diet with a variety of fresh vegetables, fruit and whole grains. Many people hear this advice, but simply do not know how to put it into practice – this is where we come in. Book your appointment here
  • Increase your fibre intake – add chia or flax seeds, leafy green vegetables, and fruits like pears, kiwi, prunes and apple. (Tip – do this slowly… and pay attention to the next point below).
  • Keep hydrated – drink at least 2 litres of water per day. Minimum. When did we all forget about water? 
  • Exercise daily. Go for a walk. A light jog if you can. These things can help stimulate ‘movement’ down there…. Ask any runner, and one of the benefits they may cite is ‘it also keeps me regular.’ 
  • Go to the toilet as soon as you feel the urge – don’t wait! Psychologically, you will keep telling your brain this over and over and over again until… it will do all of the holding for you! 
  • Use a footstool or ‘squatty potty’ to elevate your feet when on the toilet. Other cultures don’t sit to poop. And to be honest, squatting is an easier position to eliminate from. Squatty potties are much more common these days.
  • Give yourself an abdominal massage. 

Tried all of these things? Embarrassed about it? Still not getting a good reliable poop? LOTS of people have problems down there, Nicole has even shared her story about this very topic. Read it HERE.

Maybe you aren’t sure where to start? Give us a shout at The Balanced Nutritionist so we can gradually help you ease the discomfort through your nutrition and appropriate gut supplementation if necessary. 

Categories Health, Uncategorized

Breaking news: research confirms ‘processed food’ is bad for us

So. Breaking News…. “ULTRA PROCESSED FOODS CAUSE OVEREATING AND WEIGHT GAIN

Ok. In all seriousness, our initial response was ‘seriously, did we really need a study to prove this but….’

The really interesting thing about the research here was that the subjects receiving the ultra processed foods versus those receiving the minimally processed foods, received the exact SAME number of calories and macronutrients… initially.

Participants were instructed to consume until they were satisfied and what the research found was that those receiving minimally processed foods simply ate less. Those receiving the ultra processed foods ate more – carbohydrates and fat in particular. The ultra processed group gained weight, whilst those receiving minimally processed foods lost it.

Take home points:

-processed food is completely unsatisfying for the body. Its nutrient devoid; you will go looking for more because the body is simply not getting what it needs. We discuss this with clients. All. The. Time. You have to get off the bandwagon of addictive snacks, sauces, sugary cereals and drinks.

-processed food completely highjacks the appetite. You will have not appetite control on a diet of ultraprocessed foods. You will not stop. You know… the pringles saying? Its the truth!

-eat whole foods… good thing happen.

-Finally, in the same week, we have also heard that Weight Watchers have released a new app for kids in the US for kids to track their food intake, weight ad physical activity. Oh no. No no no. From someone who also deals with adolescents with eating conditions this is NOT good news.

Doesn’t this research prove that resources would be better directed at removing said processed food from kids’ diets because that is a major underlying cause of the childhood obesity crisis. Instead of allowing another generation of humans with eating disorders to evolve?

We are PASSIONATE about simply moving people to a wholefoods program here at The Balanced Nutritionist because even THAT can see some magic happen.

If you are struggling with too much ‘packet’ convenience food creeping in to your diet, feeling sluggish, heavy and yuck as a result book online here because our Back to Basics wholefoods program is perfect for you.

Anyhow, what we would like to see from here in the research world:

-we would have loved to see the result if both groups had to consume exactly the same amount of calories but in 2 different forms still – ultra processed and minimally processed. This would prove the point that its beyond calories and macros. Processed food interferes with the body on a cellular level. It results in vastly different hormonal and neurotransmitter reactions and that is how the damage is done…. providing excess energy is only half the problem.

These principles are exactly why our current wholefoods program is working well – the Back to Basics protocol I mentioned above.

Its a ‘no counting,’ ‘eat to your own appetite’ ‘wholefoods’ based 4 – 8 week program which just takes it back to basics, supporting you with the structure and accountability to do so.

Guess what happens as a result? You gain energy, clarity, happiness, health and released unwanted weight. Without math. Without stress. Without packets. Genius.

Categories GENERAL HEALTH, WEIGHT LOSS

Why Am I Gaining Weight but Barely Eating?

Firstly. Let’s just say that writing a blog that is so blatantly about ‘weight loss’ isn’t really our cup of tea. We prefer to focus on ‘health’ because weight release will naturally follow ‘health’ but this precise question is quite literally coming at us from many new clients of late.
The answer is probably going to vary from person to person, but here are a few things to consider in the journey to a healthy weight.
Firstly, weight loss is not easy. Please don’t be fooled by reality television shows that make us believe losing weight just ‘happens’ overnight because it doesn’t.
Second, you need to change your thinking. Stop. Re read the third line of this post again. Know that ‘health’ comes before ‘weight.’ You just can’t have a long list of symptoms and health concerns but only want to ‘lose weight.’ You have to tackle the whole package. A healthy body will find its natural, healthy weight. And maintain it. Is a ‘starving body’ a healthy body? Unlikely.
In addition to not eating much food, some or all of the following might be part of the problem.
1. You could be incredibly stressed. Which could mean very high levels of stress hormones and not a lot of sleep. Both of these are going to make releasing weight a lot more difficult.
2. You are possibly drinking a lot coffee… and / or not a lot of water. This is a recipe for dehydration. The metabolic process of ‘burning fat’  (lipolysis) is much harder for a dehydrated body. In addition, dehydration puts extra strain on the kidneys, which means its harder for the kidneys to do their job – essentially, too eliminate waste. And weight loss is essentially… the elimination of a lot of waste. So you really want your elimination pathways to be working really well.
3. Not eating enough food=probably not getting enough fibre from plant based sources like whole fruits and vegies. This, along with dehydration will probably block the pipes… not the water pipes, the other ones! Then you’ve got a situation where all that ‘solid’ waste hasn’t got anywhere to go either. Translation: healthy poos help with weight release.
4. Less ‘excretion’ of waste products as well as less fibre means those friendlies in your gut are going to suffer. We’ve linked just about everything to the health of our guts and guess what? That includes weight! Having a healthy gut is part of the picture when it comes to finding a healthy weight range. This does not mean you should go out and buy a probiotic and all of your problems will be fixed by the way… its just part of the picture and it can be altered without a pill.
5. Food is so much more than just macronutrients. The micronutrients i.e. vitamins and minerals that are found in healthy foods are critical for so many processes in our bodies. Like enzyme production for digestion, maintaining the thyroid health, neurotransmitter synthesis for happy, balanced moods and building our hormones… and lots more. So good food keeps… all of the parts of our bodies working really well. This leads to health which leads to a healthy weight.
6. When you are eating… the choices might not be great. Food is confusing right now. Far more confusing than it should be. And our addiction to ‘diets’ leads to some pretty crazy eating styles. Like only eating meat or fat but no vegetables… or going for something really processed like a ‘diet bar.’ Sorry. But we just don’t believe in that rubbish. Have you looked at the ingredients on those things? If you can’t pronounce it… your body ain’t going to know what to do with it, we guarantee!
7. Starving all day but then eating anything and everything by the afternoon. Because you are just. so. hungry. Wouldn’t it be easier to just eat well, giving your body

what it needs from the morning onwards… and watch as things fall into place over time?

We could go on… but this is a blog not a book. We just like to help people get healthy, reduce their requirements for medication, eat without stress, learn to love healthy nutritious foods, get comfortable preparing quick, wholefood meals…. and feel great as a result for a lifetime. That’s pretty much it in a nutshell.
Our favourite tool to use to achieve the former is personalised nutrition using the Metabolic Balance® program. It means we work with our client long term, they get to know the foods that will nourish not punish their bodies and we have the best chance of long term success.
Book online if you need us in your life. 🙂
Categories GENERAL HEALTH

Welcome Nicole

Hello, I’m Nicole. I’m a Clinical Nutritionist, certified Metabolic Balance® Coach, and lover of avocado, coffee, chocolate and the beach and I started here at the Balanced Nutritionist in early July 2019.

My food philosophy is simple: eating nutritious, whole, real foods will provide your body with the nutrients it needs to be healthy and vibrant.

I also believe that healthy eating is not about deprivation. It’s important to give ourselves permission to indulge in the foods we love, without guilt, because good nutrition and good health is also about having a healthy relationship with food.

My Story

I’ve had tummy troubles for as long as I can remember. My gut has always been unpredictable and a bit ‘sluggish’. As a child, I remember going days without, you know, going and taking a book to the toilet (because I’d be sitting there for a while!). As I got older my symptoms got worse – bloating almost every day, abdominal pain (which sometimes felt like I was being stabbed in the stomach), and difficulty going to the toilet alternating with diarrhoea.

My digestive issues were compounded by overseas travel and several bouts of ‘Bali Belly’ (in Bali, as well as Africa, Turkey, Bosnia and Fiji), taking the OCP (oral contraceptive pill) for 10 years (which I now know can impact on your gut microbiome and increase your risk of gastrointestinal conditions, such as IBS and IBD), poor dietary choices and a stressful job.

In my mid-twenties, desperate to get to the bottom (excuse the pun) of my digestive issues, I visited numerous doctors and specialists, only to be told that I “probably” had IBS.

No one tested me for food intolerances, talked to me about how stress can affect our digestion, considered that the pill may be contributing to my digestive woes or recommended that I make dietary changes. That was until I went to see a Natural Health Practitioner for a different health concern. She suggested that I make some dietary changes and I felt better, almost immediately!

While that wasn’t the end of my journey (it took years of self-discovery to restore my digestive balance), it was the start of my journey to becoming a Nutritionist.

Fast forward to today, and my tummy is much happier – I seldom experience stomach aches or bloating (unless I choose to eat something that I know won’t agree with me) and I go to the toilet easily, every day. My overall health has also greatly improved – my weight has stabilised without me even trying (or worrying about how many calories I’m consuming), I now have more energy, consistently throughout the day and, most importantly, I feel really good both physically and emotionally. This lead me to want to help other people to feel better too!

Helping clients to optimise their health, sort out their digestive issues, improve their skin and release unwanted weight is a real passion of mine. And, thanks to my own health journey, I have a genuine appreciation of the struggles that many of you are living with day in, day out.

Before life as a Nutritionist, I worked in a demanding corporate job, so I know that it can be difficult to prioritise your health and eat ‘right’ when you lead a busy lifestyle, juggling work and family commitments. My goal is to provide you with individualised nutrition strategies that fit you, your lifestyle and your health goals.

A few more things about me

I live with my husband, Greg and fur-child, Billy the Westie.

I was born in Sydney, but my family moved to Brisbane when I was 2. I have two younger sisters and four beautiful nieces, a handsome nephew, and another niece or nephew on the way.

I am not ashamed to admit that I am slightly obsessed with my dog (Billy). He’s treated like a human in our house, my personal Instagram account is mostly photos of him and I usually greet him before my husband when I get home. I’ve always loved animals and once wanted to become a vet when I grew up.

I am a multi-tasker. I am usually doing multiple things at once and always have numerous tabs open on every device. 

I look forward to going to the farmer’s markets on a Sunday morning to pick up fresh produce for the week ahead.

I love pouring through home magazines and buying homewares.

My go-to outfit is jeans and a blue and white striped top (I have at least 10 in my wardrobe).

I am a self-confessed neat-freak and actual enjoy organising things, especially my pantry. 

I start every day with a cup of tea.

Categories Uncategorized, WEIGHT LOSS

Do You Eat Consciously? Or on Autopilot?

We’ve all been there … you walk past the communal lolly jar at work and dip your hand in without thinking, automatically grab a few biscuits from the lunch room while making a cup of tea, or mindlessly eat from the cheese platter at a party.

It’s easy to consume less healthy food when we give in to impulsive eating, by pushing aside conscious decisions and automatically saying “yes” to food, without stopping to consider what we’re actually eating.

On the other hand, when we make deliberate and conscious decisions about food, we’re more likely to choose real, whole foods that nourish our body and make us feel great. This is conscious eating.

“Every time you eat is an opportunity to nourish your body.”

Conscious eating is the practice of thinking about what you put in your body, before you eat it.

Do you eat consciously or on autopilot?

Try this: Whenever you are presented with the option of a less healthy food, give yourself the space to stop and make a conscious decision about whether to eat the food or not.

Before you mindlessly shove it into your mouth, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I really want to eat this food right now?
  • Is it especially delicious?
  • Will this food nourish me (my body or my soul)?
  • How will I feel after eating this food?

When we stop to make a conscious decision about food, often we realise that the food we’re about to eat isn’t particularly special or delicious, we’re not really hungry or we don’t really want it right now, and it won’t make us feel great.

That’s not to say that we shouldn’t choose to enjoy less healthy foods that we really love on occassion.

When you do choose to indulge, savour the food and enjoy it fully. Don’t eat too fast – really taste what you’re eating. And, be kind to yourself – don’t deprive yourself and don’t feel guilty for enjoying less healthy foods in moderation.

Because when you consciously chose to enjoy less healthy foods occasionally, and you really enjoy it, you are choosing to nourish your soul.

Written by Nicole Bence. You can book with Nicole here

Categories GENERAL HEALTH

A Day at Cobram Estate Olive Oil

Wow, what a day. If you follow me over on Instagram and Facebook, you would know that yesterday I was privileged enough to be flown in a private plane with 8 other Brisbane health professionals, to the Cobram Estate olive oil farm in Cobram, Victoria.

 

First. Let me tell you about the plane. It was tiny. Plush… but tiny. The pilot, Neil, who I will be grateful to forever for getting us down and back safely, informed us that the each of the (8) seats was worth almost $50,000. So, I’d like to call it a mini version of Air Force One. But real, real mini. And to make matters slightly more terrifying, as we did our last toilet stop before boarding on the private airstrip at Archerfield, the weather report said…. ‘severe warnings for Victoria. Strong, gustily winds forecasted.’

Gulp. Ok. So, I did hold the hand of a stranger as we descended. And I did count forwards and backwards from 10 as we sunk through the very bumpy clouds on the way down. But 3 and a half hours later… with both feet shakily on the red dirt runway, the adventure began.

I love paddock to plate experiences. I love knowing where my food has come from. You tell me it’s made with care, love, the best quality ingredients, integrity, passion… that is something money cannot buy. And I will support it. And once you read this, you like me, will never buy another brand of olive oil outside of the Cobram Estate label, ever again.

So let me tell you a little about what we learnt. Our day was mostly led by the incredibly kind hearted, friendly and passionate man behind the brand, Rob McGavin. It turns out that Rob and his uni mate Paul planted the first olive tree around 20 years ago on what is now Cobram Estate, with the view to give olive oil making a crack. So… it started with 2 guys and a tree. And they’ve certainly made history since then.

Here are some of the astounding things we learnt about Cobram Estate the brand:

  • The company has about 2.5 million olive trees and what they do to one they do to all of them. All of their trees receive the same love, attention, care and consideration
  • The estate at Cobram stretches for about 21km one way… hello, what a great venue for a marathon (#justsaying…. #planting the seed). There is a second estate near Bort, also Victoria.
  • They grow about 35 varieties of olive trees and each tree produces about 45kg of fruit per year of which approximately 20% becomes olive oil.
  • The absolute maximum time between picking and pressing is 4 hours. And we witnessed the procedures that guarantee this. No stale, rancid olive oil in a Cobram Estate product. Only the freshest and highest in antioxidants, that I can say with conviction.
  • An olive used for olive oil never touches the ground…. It is picked fresh from the tree and then transported to the plant. I’ll put some videos and photos in my stories over coming weeks featuring some of the amazing technology that enables this.

As far as their corporate social responsibility….

  • Cobram Estate are leaders in research. They have produced 17 peer reviewed research studies about olives and olive oil. This is an incredible contribution to the scientific community.
  • About 40% of the land they own is essentially left in its natural state, it’s not even ploughed.
  • Cobram Estate have dedicated a great deal of thought and research into reducing the waste products from their manufacturing efforts. These efforts include using as much from the tree as possible. They are now producing an incredibly high quality olive leaf tea and olive leaf extract; you may find this in your supermarket under the label ‘Wellgrove.’ It took 5 years to develop and they have a TGA approved laboratory. They also recycle some of the ‘seed’ from the olives to power their boilers. They are stockpiling the rest of the seed waste, for future use and thinking of innovative ways this could be recycled. We saw piles of seed on our travels around the estate, awaiting its final destiny.
  • They remove the squalene from some of their reject olives which is highly beneficial for skin, This is sold back to cosmetic companies. The only 2 places squalene is found in commercial doses is in olives and in shark’s livers… so by doing this, the lives of more sharks are spared.

The manufacturing process was incredible to witness….

  • Olives are picked and then received for pressing within 4 hours.
  • They are washed first… they look beautiful in action when this happens (see my stories archive over coming weeks).
  • Then the entire olive, seed and all undergoes some brutal bashing with a mallet and its turned into this kind of tapenade. It smells incredible. It would be nice to dip a cracker in this. This process goes on for about 30 minutes.
  • It then undergoes centrifugal force to separate the oil from the rest of the fruit. We got to taste it basically straight after this process!
  • There is no filtering process once its separated because further processing would only destroy more of the health benefits. Instead, the oil is left to settle for about 3 weeks and some of the cloudy bits (for want of a better term) are drained away and what is left is bottled. How pure!

A few fascinating facts about olives you may not have known….

  • They are all green to begin with. The black ones have just been picked later and they are riper.
  • Generally, the more robust the olive oil is in flavour, the more antioxidants it has.
  • Olive oil is completely safe, even beneficial to heat and use in cooking. See the Olive Wellness Institute for the latest research around this.
  • Olives have amazing survival tactics…. The olive tree can suck lots of moisture from its fruit if necessary. Then, once water is no longer scarce, the fruit can regain its hydration really quickly. I found this irrigation system quite fascinating.
  • You should endeavour to use your olive oil within 4 to 6 weeks of opening so that the antioxidant content has not declined greatly.

The best thing about the day…

  • The food… of course. The food was kind of amazing. We enjoyed this incredible lunch thanks to Chef Kevin O’Connor who prepared us homemade Chapa bread with spelt flour for dipping with the First Harvest Olive oil, a beautiful side dish of beetroot and caviar, plus carrots and pesto and finally an amazing medley of mushrooms and slow cooked meats on a bed of ancient grains along with a turmeric slow baked eggplant. Much of the food was baked slowly over this incredible outside stove and olive oil alongside fresh herbs made the dishes sing. We finished off with dark chocolate and olive oil bark and olive oil carrot cake. It was served with local wines. It was amazing. Please close your mouth I see you drooling.

Something I’ve really come to realise in the last year or so is that ‘big’ and ‘successful’ doesn’t mean that the value system is watered down. I used to be quite adamant on supporting small, local businesses and yes I certainly am still this way inclined. But experiences like this remind us that just because a company is really successful, doesn’t mean that they have necessary lost sight of their value system. I can relate to this myself. I’ve built my business to a level I didn’t think possible and shortly I’ll have 2 staff working alongside me. And who knows where it could from there. But have my values been watered down? No. If anything, they are stronger than ever because I need those values to ripple further and further. Likewise, Cobram Estate’s values are as visible and obvious as ever. And their business is massive! I honestly cannot see myself supporting another olive oil brand ever, now that I know the integrity behind each and every bottle they produce. It’s also really important to remember that you and I as consumers do have a lot of power and influence when it comes to how we spend our money. Sure, individually it may not seem much. But collectively we can make a real difference. Put your money where your mouth is and spend your dollars supporting businesses that have values that align with yours. Each time you go to the supermarket or even a café, is an opportunity to demand transparency, quality and the best ingredients in your food. Know where your food comes from. This is a topic we spend so much time talking about over on the podcast too.

Anyhow. I am writing this on the flight home, whilst the knowledge and experience is still fresh. This leg of the journey is much less terrifying thanks to a red or two over lunch…. And it’s time for a nap!

Thanks to Rob, Abby, Chef, Tris, Jacqui and the team for such a memorable experience.

Oh and a final comment… ‘lite’ olive oil…. well, when have I ever suggested you buy ‘lite’ anything? We don’t need to dwell on the negatives… but let’s just say you definitely do not want that stuff in your life!

*All attempts have been made to ensure any facts made in this article are indeed as correct as possible, but there may be minor errors in a few of the details as it gets difficult to take notes after one has enjoyed a long lunch and a couple of glasses of red wine. I’d safely say this blog is 98% accurate, but some names / figures may be ever so slightly wrong. Thank you for your understanding.

Categories GENERAL HEALTH

I HATE THIS TIME OF YEAR

I cringe as I write that as I always strive to keep things positive across all my platforms. Maybe hate’s the wrong word…. Maybe this time of year scares me? Frustrates me? It’s somewhere between those 2 emotions, neither seems exactly right.

I watch quietly and observe as people declare what they’re going to give up this year, or how they’re going to get fit or which trendy diet they might follow… as if doing these things will solve all of their problems. But in a couple of months, for most of them, ‘life’ will get in the way, their intentions will start to slip and they’ll accept the original status quo. It won’t be too big a deal for them, but I sit here and worry that it actually is a really big deal for all of us.

We seem to be a society simultaneously obsessed with eating trends, yet completely lacking respect for how important what we put in our mouths actually is. We like the superficial stuff; this actor follows xyz diet and looks this way…. This food will give you glowing skin…. Blah blah blah. But my gosh, it’s so much more than this. In the last year in particular, I’ve seen changes in people’s health through diet that even surprised me! I’ve seen psoriasis plaques all but disappear after a few months of eating the right food, debilitating asthma become a mere annoyance, the black clouds of depression clear, chronic pain and inflammation improve, even tachycardia (irregular and fast heart rhythms) become pretty much a thing of the past….

Because that’s the power of food. On the one hand, it’s all we seem to talk about these days, but on the other, people are still SHOCKED that what you put in your mouth a few times per day, which literally becomes a part of you, really, truly, influences you at every single level.

My wish for this year, is that we do actually start to take food seriously for the right reasons. I want us all to invest a little bit of time each day in the kitchen… preparing food. Actual food. Not something from a box that gets heated in a microwave. And then, I want us all to spend a little time eating it together. With people we call friends and family. Away from bright lights and around a table. I want us all to spend a little time each week buying food. Fresh, real, unprocessed food from local suppliers. If we don’t start supporting these local suppliers then they too will disappear. I want all of us to remember what ‘sometimes’ foods actually are. Because those sometimes foods are becoming everyday foods. For both kids and adults. And I know that if we do all of these things there will be less illness, less need for medication, more health and more happiness.

These are the changes that I think will genuinely make a difference long term, on a large scale.

People will say to me, ‘this must be a great time for your business. You must love the New Year. You should run a challenge. Blah blah blah.’ That’s not really what I do…. Or what I stand for… or what will make a difference. In truth, the clients I have worked with successfully have really changed the way they think about themselves, their bodies, their family values…  they’ve had to grow on more than a physical level. It’s not been trendy or easy but I’m sure it’s been worth it.

Just don’t get sucked in by the magazine headlines for the new month. Or what the half-naked ‘influencers’ are saying on their social media feeds. Don’t make a resolution. Make a habit… make a real change.

Welcome to 2019. May this be the only ‘negative’ post I write for the year.

Categories GENERAL HEALTH

SHOULD I GO VEGAN?

Veganism is set to be one of the major nutrition trends of 2019 and in case you missed it, Veganuary (celebrated in January – i.e. now) is a charity set up to inspire people to give this way of eating a go. Lots of people are asking the question ‘should I go vegan’ or ‘how can I be a healthy vegan?’
We’ve certainly seen a massive increase in this way of eating in Australia over the last few years; now, you don’t have to go too far in Brisbane to find a vegan restaurant!
Remember I don’t engage in debates about ‘which is the best diet’ given that all of us humans are completely unique. It’s my job instead to make sure, however you decide to eat, you are doing it the very best way. So, if you are giving veganism a go in January this year, or at any other stage of the year for that matter, here are the top 5 rookie errors I witness in ‘new vegans’ in the clinic:

1. Thinking it’s just about ‘giving up meat.’ No. You give up 1 thing (in this case, it’s more than just meat, it’s all animal products) you are going to need to ensure you include a wide variety of other things instead. Otherwise you will end up with the following 4 problems.
2. Not getting enough protein: yes it’s important for muscle and all that, but protein goes a lot further than that. Amino acids (protein broken down) make up our digestive enzymes which literally makes absorbing nutrients possible.
They also make up our neurotransmitters – these are the chemicals in our brain that keep us happy, level headed, help us sleep etc. Protein is also needed for hormones. So I can go on… but seriously, having enough muscle is the least of your worries when it comes to protein. Replacing said animal proteins with a huge variety and enough plant based proteins is now key. I will emphasis variety too. because too much of anything has consequences. Legumes, tofu, seeds, tempeh, nuts, good quality protein powders, higher proteins grains (buckwheat, quinoa etc.) will now need to be an integral part of your diet. Please, do be realistic. If you can’t stand legumes or you refuse to eat tofu… well, maybe going vegan just isn’t for you?  You can’t exist on air. For more on mental health and nutrition you should also read this article here.

3. Missing out on essential nutrients, particularly B12, iodine and iron. These are big ticket items and again, really important for our mental wellbeing, muscle and nerve function, energy, oxygen transportation around the body, thyroid function, immune system… again, I could go on. You can’t just ‘exist’ on suboptimal iron and B12 levels so these little numbers need to be checked
regularly, say every 12 months. It’s likely B12 will need to be supplemented as its simply too scant in a diet completely devoid of animal products and iron levels will need careful monitoring. Book in for a consult if you have concerns around these key nutrients and we can talk more detail one on one.
4. Trying to combine ‘multiple diets’ in one. E.g. low carb and veganism. Personally I think when we get wrapped up in labels and start combining ‘trends’ it means more restriction, less variety, more complication, more rules, less intuition… it’s just a recipe for disaster (pardon the pun). In particular, the combo I just listed – low carb veganism just ain’t going to work together. Refer to point 5 if you are all muddled up and guilty of trying to follow everything that’s trendy all at once.
5. Why are you starting? Going vegan is a big decision. Don’t do it for a friend or a family member and damn, do not do it because some model with a 6 pack is endorsing it. Do it for you, because it aligns with your values and it feels good for you. If you are clear on this, point 4 shouldn’t be an issue.

Finally, please be brave enough to tweak things if it just isn’t working for you. Personally, I think some of us thrive on plant based proteins and others just thrive when we include animal proteins. We aren’t all the same. That’s what makes life kinda cool but also a little messy sometimes.  Whatever you do, don’t stick with something that just doesn’t feel right for you – find something that feels right on all levels. Make THAT your goal for 2019!

Categories GENERAL HEALTH

Are dairy products good for you?

I’m a dairy lover. I mean, not the nut milk kind, the real kind. I have no problems at all with a reasonable amount of full-fat milk, yoghurt and cheese in my diet.

Wow. Some of you are probably going to hit the ‘unfollow’ button now I’ve got that little number off my chest, BUT you know I’m not one for trends. In this post, I want to give you the ‘upside’ on real, animal-based dairy – are dairy products good for you and what might be a better dairy milk alternative. I also want to provide you with some ‘detective skills’ to determine if you can or can not truly tolerate dairy. And then, I want to give you some options you could consider ‘beyond the cow’ if dairy is proving to be problematic for you.

Please, let’s challenge ourselves to keep the conversation around this positive, given its perhaps the most controversial topic in the nutrition world today.

First, some pros for dairy:

  1. It’s a great source of calcium. Over 60% of Australians over the age of 50 have poor bone health. Getting enough calcium will help reduce this epidemic. K2 is another important ingredient for bone health – this is found in butter and cheese. Eat your breakfast on the porch in the sun? Well, you’ve got the whole recipe for beautiful bones thanks to the vitamin D you’ll absorb through your skin. (Note: For those converted nut milk drinkers, buy the best quality nut milk you can afford. Higher quality brands may have up to 300mg of calcium per serve, which is similar to the amount in dairy. The cheap stuff? It’s basically expensive, cloudy water. For more on bone health, see this post)
  2. It’s a source of protein that isn’t meat. This is a plus for the vegetarians out there. When I’m working with vegetarians, I want to minimise exclusions other than meat. A varied diet reduces our chances of nutrient deficiencies. Plus, it’s more interesting. Fancy being a vegetarian who didn’t eat dairy or soy? You’d have to be pretty devoted to legumes! On another note, having some non-meat meals for everyone, vegetarian or not, has health and environmental benefits.
  3. It provides us with options for snacks that are refined sugar-free. This is particularly important for kids who tend to require smaller meals more frequently. Some natural yoghurt sweetened with whole fruit or some full-fat cheese with some vegetable sticks or even some plain crackers is far better than most of the ‘stuff’ out there labelled as ‘snack food.’
  4. Yoghurt, in particular, is a great source of probiotics or good bacteria. Whilst fermented vegetables like kraut have seen a resurgence in recent times, it’s just not everyone’s cup of tea. Yoghurt is an easy, cheap, daily ‘probiotic.’
  5. Umm, it tastes damn delicious!

Now, let’s look at some of the genuine signs and symptoms that you may have an issue with dairy:

  1. You run to the bathroom straight after eating it. Could be lactose. Could simply be an issue with the ‘richness’ of the dairy selected. Maybe try one with a lower fat content before dismissing it altogether? Natural yoghurt, for example, is not as fatty as Greek in general.
  2. You are consistently congested through the sinus area and/or you suffer a lot of hayfever and/or you get headaches on a regular basis that feel like ‘pressure’ in the head and/or you have asthma. Whilst the asthma foundation continually denies the link between asthma or congestion in general with milk, I have seen countless cases where minimising cow’s dairy in the diet provides relief from the before mentioned symptoms.
  3. On the contrary, to point 1 above, you suffer from constipation. Could be casein, another type of protein in dairy.

In relation to the above, please work with a professional to determine if your symptom/s are linked to dairy as all of the above could be a response to something entirely different. It’s always better to get professional help, otherwise you run the risk of basically eliminating everything!

Moving on, maybe you’ve done the detective work and/or seen someone to confirm that dairy is indeed an issue. Maybe, you don’t have to dismiss it altogether? Perhaps, skipping out the cow’s milk products will see an improvement in your health, but before jumping on the nut milk bandwagon, did you ever think about dairy from a goat?

Here are some interesting facts about goat milk products:

  1. A 2010 study revealed that milk from a goat is actually higher in calcium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium than milk from a cow. So, switching to goat’s milk will not compromise your calcium intake, it might actually increase it.
  2. The structure and type of fat from goat milk is very different from cow’s milk. There are more fat globules, but they have a much smaller diameter. This makes it easier to digest. Goat milk also contains a higher proportion of short and medium chain fatty acids than cow’s dairy, as well as more medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). These fatty acids have antimicrobial and antibacterial properties and also aid nutrient absorption. Furthermore, they have proven anti-inflammatory effects particularly in conditions that include irritable bowel disease and atherosclerosis (plaque in the arteries).
  3. Specifically, the conjugated linoleic acid in goats milk has anti-allergenic properties.
  4. The form of casein protein in goats milk differs from the form in cow’s milk, making it gentler and easier to digest.
  5. There is more taurine in goat’s dairy. Interestingly, taurine assists with the formation of bile salts, which again help us to digest fat and fat-soluble vitamins. This is another reason why goat milk may be more tolerable.

I could seriously go on and on about reasons to consider goat’s dairy, as I have found this research into other dairy milks really fascinating. Two relatively easy reading research papers discussing the benefits of goats dairy can be found here and here for those of you who are interested. Both also discuss the anti carcinogenic properties of goat milk – wowzer, how cool is that?

In a nutshell, those who may benefit from considering goat’s milk over dairy from a cow include:

  • New Mum’s when weaning bubs off the breast as its more digestible than cow’s milk and closer to human breast milk in its composition.
  • People suffering from irritable bowel (IBS) like symptoms including constipation, diarrhoea, bloating and gas.
  • Those suffering from allergies, hayfever or asthma.
  • Those wanting to improve their cardiovascular health, particularly anyone who is at high risk of stroke due to a high calcium score (i.e. plaque built up in the arteries).
  • Honestly anyone. Even for those of us who do tolerate cow’s dairy, variety provides us with a wider nutrient intake so why not switcharoo from time to time?

It’s common for goat or sheep dairy (a topic for a future post) to come up as a recommended protein for my Metabolic Balancers. It might seem a little strange but, honestly, is getting milk from a goat any weirder than drinking it from a cow? It’s pretty common in European countries, it’s just a bit of a brain twist for us Aussies.

You will find both goat milk and goat yoghurt in your supermarket. Some feta cheeses are made from goat’s milk or a combination of goat and sheep. Many delis and IGAs provide a wide variety of speciality goat’s cheeses and even ALDI has a beautiful goat’s cheese log.

Gotta go. Off to fetch some goat’s milk.
Categories GENERAL HEALTH

What iron deficiency does to the body

I’ve had a string of iron-deficient women through the door in the last two weeks and at times I’ve been tearing my hair out with frustration. Not in frustration at these women…. more in frustration that we don’t educate enough around the seriousness of iron deficiency and what iron deficiency does to the body.

You see, most women believe that having low iron will just make you tired and, yes, this is one of the symptoms. This is due to the fact that iron is a major component of red blood cells, which carries oxygen around the body. However, as I continue to remind all of my clients, all of our ‘parts’ talk to each other and nutrients have more than one role within the body.

So, let’s take a closer look at iron and three of the major consequences of long-term iron deficiency:

  1. Iron is critical for immune function, specifically the formation of lymphocytes which fight infections. A chronic iron deficient presentation may include recurring sicknesses, for this reason.
  2. Iron is required for the formation of and proper functioning of thyroid hormones. So, long-term deficiency places a great deal of stress on the proper functioning of this sensitive little gland. In an individual who is genetically susceptible to thyroid problems, this could be enough to ‘flick the switch’ to a full-blown thyroid condition.
  3. The sheer exhaustion and fatigue that accompanies iron deficiency may lead to depressive symptoms. In fact, there are many nutrient deficiencies that may be treated with anti-depressants for symptomatic relief that are in fact caused by underlying deficiencies that may never be addressed (unless you see a Nutritionist of course!).

I’m not going to give you a list of symptoms of iron deficiency because that will inevitable lead to everyone deciding they have an issue with their iron levels, when in fact you MUST have your levels tested to confirm or deny an iron deficiency.

Now for the second part of this update, let’s talk about why it’s more challenging than many may think to maintain iron levels.

It’s actually not that difficult for men, however, most healthy women menstruate monthly which means, not only do we have to meet our daily needs for iron, we also must have good stores to allow for blood lost every 28 days.

The daily recommendation for iron intake, as per the Nutrition Australia website is 18mg or women. Now, a 200g steak, which is a decent serve for a woman, will give you less than half of this… And, I doubt your throwing two of these back a day right?

In fact, go to the website now and check out the iron content of some of the most iron-rich foods. What you will quickly find, and what I spend my days showing clients, is that its quite difficult to meet the RDI with food alone.

Therefore, supplementation of this little mineral that does so much for us is sometimes required (again, a deficiency must be confirmed by a blood test – don’t simply supplement it!). Vegetarians, vegans, pregnant and lactating women, super active women, those with IBS or coeliac disease (who aren’t absorbing much) and those with heavy periods are most likely to require supplemental iron.

In my view, it’s far better to top up on a nutrient from time to time, if you know you are susceptible to a deficiency, than wait until you face more serious consequences like those listed above.

I’d like to address another myth here too: You can not, I repeat, you can not treat an iron deficiency by ‘eating more spinach.’ This is another little one I’m hearing all too often. It’s not going to work guys – again go back and do the math yourself!

Ok, the final hurdle. Perhaps you’ve been told you have a definitive iron deficiency. You’ve made a few changes to your diet to assist with this long-term and short-term you’re taking an iron supplement… but man its yuck! Hello constipation and sore tummies! Don’t give up! You’ve been told to supplement for a reason (again, to avoid consequences listed above) and there are OTHER options that are gentle on the bowels and the tummy that will not cause major blockages in the pipes!

If you want to know more about iron, listen to our podcast dedicated to iron deficiency on The Nourished Wrap.

If you suspect this may be an issue for you, then book in to see us. We’ll run some tests, we’ll sort you out with the right treatment and correct your diet to prevent it from happening again.

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