Detoxification

What is the Microbiome and does it need probiotics?

Posted by | Balm Blog, Blog, Detoxification, Diet, Digestion, Food allergy, Food intolerance, Health, IBS, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Naturopathy, Weight Gain, Weight Loss | No Comments

Part 1

We’ve all heard about our gut bacteria and been told we need to have a balance of more good bacteria to bad, but is it really that simple?

What is the microbiome and where does it come from?

Our microbiome is the collection of living microbes that live in our large intestines and are essential for health. A healthy microbiome can synthesise important vitamins that the body can’t get in any other way, helps strengthen and regulate your immune system and is important for healthy bowel habits and waste elimination. These microbes are originally colonized from our mother own microbiome during pregnancy and birth. If your mothers microbiome was unhealthy at this time then this puts your ongoing health at a disadvantage from day 1.

Our gut holds around 2kg or 38 trillion microbes. In fact, the amount of genetic material in your microbiome may be many hundreds of times greater than the genetic material that makes up your own genes. This effectively means that your gut bugs have a greater influence on your health than your own genes.

Mostly the collection of different species of microbes work well together and are collectively referred to as your commensal microbiome. Various diet and lifestyle choices can create an environment in our gut where pathogenic or ‘opportunistic’ microbes get the chance to grow and prosper. These microbes are inflammatory and disease causing and are usually kept under control by our commensal species until such an opportunity arises. Antibiotic use is a good example of a situation where these nasty microbes, which are always present in low numbers, find an opportunity to thrive. This is called dysbiosis and cause all sorts of problems.

What can ‘dysbiosis’ do to you?

There is a strong pathway of communication between the brain and the gut. This explains why stress can have such a strong and immediate effect on your gut. For example, have you ever experienced needing to run for the bathroom when confronted with an acutely stressful situation? But the communication works the other way too. Your gut bugs can strongly influence mood and brain function and can even make you crave certain foods (especially fat and sugar when the pathogenic species are thriving).

This ‘dysbiosis’ of the gut mircobiome can lead to health issues such as digestive complaints, toxicity from inefficient waste removal and this can lead to foggy brain, skin disorders, fatigue, poor sleep and muscle and joint inflammation. You can develop nutrient deficiencies because your commensal bacteria aren’t able to synthesise important vitamins. Much of your immune system also presides in your gut and having dysbiosis can make you more susceptible to allergies, colds and flu, food intolerances and even autoimmune conditions.

What makes a healthy microbiome?

Researchers have spent a lot of time trying to work out which microbiome composition is the most healthy. They found there isn’t one! They tested the microbiomes of a number of healthy, indigenous communities but discovered that their species of gut bugs were all quite different. The thing they did find was that the most healthy people had the most diverse microbiomes. That is, the greater the number of different types of species present in your gut, the better your health. In fact, low bacterial diversity has now been linked with obesity, insulin resistance, inflammation, autism and bowel disease.

 

Check in again in early December for part 2 of the microbiome and find out exactly how probiotics work (it’s not just about replacing the good bugs) and what you can do to directly influence your microbiome diversity.

Image courtesy of Scimat Scimat at Getty Images

Detoxification – is it necessary?

Posted by | Balm Blog, Detox, Detoxification, Diet, Digestion, Fat, Health, hormones, IBS, IBS, Naturopathy, Weight Gain, Weight Loss | No Comments

Our bodies are busily detoxifying all the time, so is it really necessary to do a detox? The answer is yes due to the dramatic changes we’ve seen over the last 100 years. Historically our detoxification processes were generally completely adequate for our needs. These days, the speed at which toxins enter our body has increased dramatically while our bodies ability to deal with these toxins is generally compromised by our modern day diet and lifestyle.

Imagine a bucket being filled with water from a tap while water escapes through a hole in the bottom of the bucket. If the tap is turned up and the hole is slightly blocked the bucket will soon fill.

Now imagine the bucket is your body and the tap represents toxins entering your body (via the mouth, your skin and your lungs). The hole in the bucket represents your body’s detoxification processes. Just as the bucket fills, your body soon becomes overwhelmed with a build up of toxins. This can be expressed as fatigue, headaches, body aches and pains, poor immunity, digestive issues, mood disorders and hormone balance issues.

A good detox program aims to not only unblock the hole in the bucket, but to also turn down the tap.

Just some of the benefits of a good periodic detox include:

  • It can reset your appetite, decreasing sugar cravings and assist weight loss
  • Happy, healthier, glowing skin
  • Lots more energy
  • Better sleep
  • Better moods
  • Less colds and flues
  • Better concentration and motivation
  • Better digestive processes (less bloating, discomfort, nausea

Balm offers a number of detoxification programs and packages, including the program offered through Metagencis.

Click the links below to check out the various detox packages available from Balm.

2 Visit Personalized Detoxification Program

4 Week Detox Kits

Am I Toxic?

Posted by | Balm Blog, Detox, Detoxification, Naturopathy | No Comments

In just the last 2-4 generations, the number and concentration of toxins we are exposed to everyday has exploded exponentially, however, our inbuilt detoxification processes have hardly evolved at all in this same time period. When our bodies struggle to keep up with this increased load, we can be left feeling fatigued, run down, anxious, and foggy. We may experience poor skin quality and eczema like rashes, hormone disruption and thyroid or reproductive dysfunction, recurrent infections, digestive issues, food sensitivities, weight struggles, hair loss and unexplained aches and pains or tingling sensations.

One of the big culprits is mercury toxicity due to fish consumption or old dental fillings. Mercury fillings release inorganic mercury in liquid and gas form which is then inhaled and swallowed. One of the ways it is excreted from the body is via the kidneys and so urine testing is one of the best tests to detect your level of exposure to inorganic mercury. Methyl mercury is a highly absorbable form of mercury obtained from eating fish and is easily diffused into the circulation where itcan cause many problems. It can take up to 60 days for the mercury from 2 tins of tuna to get out of your blood. Hair testing is one of the best ways to assess methyl mercury exposure. Blood tests can also be performed for further details of toxin exposure, but all these tests can become very expensive. However, there are also comprehensive questionnaires you can do which are free and can give you a very good indication of your general toxin exposure and how it may be affecting you.

Here at Balm Natural Health we can arrange these questionnaires for you as part of your initial consultation. We then assess your results and can formulate a naturopathic detoxification program tailored specifically to you.

 

Image courtesy of Suat Eman at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

What the MTHFR!

Posted by | Balm Blog, Blog, Cardiovascular disease, Detox, Detoxification, Diet, Health, Naturopathy, Supplements | No Comments

Ever heard of MTHFR?  It’s a somewhat suggestive acronym for an important enzyme in the body used to convert folic acid into a useable form. It’s been getting a lot of press lately because about 50% of the population has a mutation in the genes that produce this enzyme, potentially leading to a whole host of common symptoms and health complaints. This enzyme (called methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase or MTHFR for short) is extremely important for a process called methylation. Methylation takes place in the body over a billion times a second and is required to:

  • process and eliminate toxins;Folic Acid graphic
  • produce cellular energy;
  • create neurotransmitters (which can affect mood and memory);
  • produce internal antioxidants important to protect the body;
  • build and maintain DNA, cell membranes and myelin (which coats our nerves so they function properly); and
  • promote effective immune function.

Methylation is also needed to reduce the level of homocysteine in the body. Increased homocysteine is a known cardiovascular risk factor. Another very important thing impacted by this mutation is pregnancy. We know it is important to take folic acid to prevent neural tube defects, however, if you have this mutation, folic acid may not be as effectively utilized by the body. It is now thought that this un-metabolised folic acid could accumulate to toxic levels in genetically susceptible people, increasing the risk of miscarriage and other birth defects.

Poor functioning of MTHFR is associated with around 60 different health conditions, including diabetes, infertility, anxiety, depression, chronic fatigue, cancer, cardiovascular disease, insomnia, allergy, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s and dementia.

There is a simple, inexpensive test you can take to see if you have this genetic mutation which naturopaths can order.

The good news is there is much you can do to lower the impact of this gene mutation. The most important thing you can do is to eat your greens!  They provide you with naturally occurring folates which are more easily utilized in the body than the cheaply produced, synthetic folic acid form used in so many supplements. This is the safest way to ensure you are providing your body with useable forms of these important vitamins as overdoing supplements containing activated or methylated forms can potentially lead to other health problems. Therefore it is important to see your naturopath who can prescribe the correct forms at the correct dose according to your needs and genetic make up. They can also directly assist your detoxification processes and improve your general health and vitality which in turn reduces the expression of any detrimental gene mutations such as MTHFR.

Winter programs at Balm

Posted by | Balm Blog, Blog, Detox, Detoxification, Free health checks, Naturopathy | No Comments

This winter Balm has a couple of new programs, in addition to general naturopathic consultations. Free health checks and a 2 visit detoxification program.

Free Naturopathic Health Check

During Friday’s at Knoxfield this winter, come in for your free half hour naturopathic health check. Bring in your latest blood tests to see if they fall within the “optimal range”. Find out your body fat percentage, hydration level, muscle mass percentage, assess your diet and lifestyle and find out your level of disease risk. Learn some simple tips you can use to improve your health and energy levels and lower your risk for major health complaints before they develop.

2 Visit Detox Program

Sliced capsicums

The number and concentration of toxins we are exposed to everyday has exploded exponentially over the last 2-4 generations, however, our bodies detoxification processes have hardly evolved at all during this time and struggle to keep up with this increased demand on our system.

Detoxification needs to be individualised, targeted, gentle and thorough. You don’t want all your good work wasted by recycling toxins straight back into your system so they can settle back where they started.

Our Naturopath Rebecca has a new “2 Visit Detoxification Program” which offers exactly this. See the Detoxification Program page for more information. This program is available at both Knoxfield and Wantirna. Call 0414 957 555 or click the book now button on the home page to arrange a time for visit 1.

Image courtesy of Lobster20 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net