Fat Archives - Balm Natural Health

Who will you be post social isolation

Posted by | Accountability, Balm Blog, Blog, changing habits, Diet, Exercise, Fat, Health, Naturopathy, Social isolation, Weight Gain, Weight Loss | No Comments

Most people are going to go one of 2 possible ways during the months of home isolation we are facing.

  • They will use the time to keep fit, using a home gym or doing whatever they can to work out at home. They will come out looking great, healthy, toned and fit. OR
  • They will spend the majority of their time on the couch feeling down and depressed, eating all of the comfort food they have stocked up on. They will come out feeling rotten and having put on lots of weight.

Quick question…

Which category are you going to be in once we are allowed out to socialise again???

One of the biggest issues with social isolation and having to spend so much time at home, is that it can have a profound effect on your mindset. This in turn impacts your health and your waist line because you are doing less and generally eating more calorie dense foods. The consequence of both poor mindset and gaining weight is that it can impact your immunity making you more susceptible to infections. Furthermore, any illnesses can then hit you harder than they otherwise might have.

The three key issues you need to consider to keep you healthy, fit and trim & terrific in ISO are:

  1. Easy and constant access to the wrong food

In the past we were always told simply not to have bad food in the house. But when the hoarding began, it was generally the quick energy, lower nutrition and processed foods that people grabbed. This generally included pasta, noodles, biscuits, processed snacks and canned food. Having so many of these foods in the house provides a constant temptation at a time when your resolve is probably at its lowest.

Quick tip #1 – Plan your meals ahead.  Choose meals that use healthy fresh ingredients wherever you can, such as fruits and veg. If you don’t have to think about what you are going to have when it is meal time and you are already hungry, you are less likely to reach for the quick fix.

Quick tip #2 – If you just can’t help yourself with the snack food, decide ahead what you consider to be a healthy amount of snack food to consume in a day. Then use containers to create daily quota portions. Once your daily quota for the day is gone, that is it! Your next option is to eat an apple or carrot sticks.

  1. Reduced motivation to exercise

When you fill your body with energy dense foods, this can spike your blood sugar up. This is always followed by a blood sugar low. Low blood sugar not only drives you to seek more energy dense food to bring the blood sugar back up again, but it will reduce your energy and motivation to exercise.

Quick tip #1 – Getting up and starting to exercise is always the hardest part. Once you start exercising you will start feeling better straight away. Schedule a time that you will set aside to exercise and have any equipment and work out clothes out and ready to go. At the time, just get started. Even if you tell yourself “I can stop in 10 minutes if I need”. Once you’ve started, you’re more likely to keep going.

Quick tip #2 –  Get in as much incidental exercise as you can. For example, do your housework with vigour, do some squats while waiting for the kettle to boil or jog on the spot during the advert breaks on tv.

  1. Lack of accountability

Research has shown that those people who are regularly accountable to someone will lose far more weight than someone who is accountable to no-body or only now and then.  This is probably one of the most important aspects of weight loss. During social isolation many people are living alone and therefore not being accountable to anyone.

Quick tip #1 – Set yourself up an accountability buddy. Tell them what you plan to do each day in terms of exercise or diet and how much weight you want to lose each week and check in with them at least weekly (if not daily) to boast how well you’ve done or confess what you just haven’t managed to do.

Quick tip #2 – Even better, take your health online. set yourself up on a program making you accountable to a professional who is completely on your side and knows how to keep you motivated and can provide professional advice and tips to keep you on track.

So, the 3 things you need to really watch for are: Be aware of what food you are making accessible to yourself and make sure you have plenty of healthy options available; find ways to get any exercise in where ever you can and make a plan for your daily physical activity; make yourself regularly accountable to someone who can keep you honest, motivated and on track.

By the way, if social isolation is turning you into a comfort food eating couch potato and your frustrated by not being able to go to the gym, missing the peer support and accountability of your friends and personal trainer and don’t know where to start with keeping fit and health at home then the ‘TeleHealth to Trim and Terrific’Online MiniProgram will be perfect for you.

Click here to find out more

Why do some women breeze through menopause while others suffer?

Posted by | Balm Blog, Blog, Cardiovascular disease, Diet, Digestion, Fat, Health, hormones, Hot Flush, Insomnia, Menopause, Microbiome, Naturopathy, Sleep, Weight Gain, Weight Loss | No Comments

Menopause seems to be a uniquely different experience for every woman. However in my experience as a naturopath helping women through the transition, a few symptoms seem to be more common than others. Hot flushes and weight gain around the middle are of course the main ones. Another common complaint is swinging wildly between anxiety, depression and irritability. Sometimes so bad it almost becomes rage. One lady explained how her rage seemed to be centred on one poor man at her work who hadn’t even done anything in particular to anger her. She would just see him and immediately feel rage at him. It sounds like a script for a comedy but it was actually quite distressing for her as she wasn’t that sort of person and she felt guilty for the way she was thinking. Other common symptoms are fatigue, feeling more highly stressed, insomnia, night sweats, loss of libido, aches and pains and changes in skin and hair condition.

I’m going crazy, why aren’t you?

So why do you feel like you are going crazy and that life is about to end while your friend says “Oh my periods just stopped one day and that was it”. That can be infuriating to hear from someone already suffering bouts of rage and depression. Of course genetics do play a large role in how well your body copes with the transition. Generally, if your mother and older sisters had a hard time of it, chances are it won’t be a breeze for you either. But there are a lot of other factors involved which you do have much more control over.

Stress and body weight

One of the biggest things determining how well you will experience menopause is your stress levels. When you are constantly under stress, your adrenal glands are continuously being stimulated and their production of something called DHEA is affected. DHEA can be converted to a form of oestrogen in your fat cells. When the production of oestrogen from the ovaries is in rapid decline, this source of oestrogen can really help to reduce the symptoms of menopause.

For this same reason, your weight plays a big part too. Thinner women can sometimes experience more symptoms simply because they don’t have the fat reserves needed for this oestrogen conversion to occur.  This is also the reason the body seems to put weight on at this time.

Diet and lifestyle

As you will have guessed, diet and exercise are also extremely important determinants of how well you cope with the transition to menopause. Phyto-estrogen rich foods such as tofu and flaxseeds help raise the body’s perceived level of oestrogen. This can greatly reduce hot flushes and night sweats, not to mention help reduce the later risks of osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.

Consumption of stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol, sugar and spicy foods will be detrimental while good dietary fibre, antioxidant rich foods and good fats will help.

There’s not much exercise isn’t good for and menopause symptoms are no exception. Many studies have found exercise, especially of the short burst HIIT (high intensity interval training) variety, to be most effective in reducing many common symptoms of menopause. Since stress is not helpful, spending gruelling long hours in the gym won’t help and isn’t necessary. Just a couple of short sessions a week (combining both cardio and weight bearing exercises) can make a huge difference.

My specialty area

Menopause and the associated symptoms, especially fatigue, stress, anxiety and depression, is my specialty area. If you think you could use some help, book yourself in online or if you’re not sure, give me a call for a free 10 minute phone chat to explore if it’s the right thing for you. Check out my webpage all about menopause here. I can work with you to design a tailored plan to help you through the transition and beyond with dietary and lifestyle advise as well as TGA approved, highly affective herbal and nutritional supplements.

Want more?

Email me if you’d like a great 3 page handout with diet and lifestyle recommendations for managing menopause. balmnaturalhealth@gmail.com

Keep an eye out for my next blog which will be all about the hot flush. What is happening and why and what to do about it.

Why take fish oils?

Posted by | Balm Blog, Blog, Fat, Fish oil, Health, Heart health, hormones, Omega-3 | No Comments

Most people know that fish oils are anti-inflammatory and good for joints and skin health, but that’s generally where public awareness ends. Fish oils are a cornerstone treatment for so many conditions and have been shown to have significant benefits for asthma, eczema, migraine, diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, depression, poly cystic ovarian syndrome, and rheumatoid arthritis, as well as other autoimmune conditions. Fish oils can also help improve your cholesterol values on your blood test, are important for baby’s development during pregnancy and can improve memory, vision and nerve function. However, before you race down to the supermarket for your tub of 500 capsules for $10, know that in a lot of circumstances, fish oils can actually have the opposite effect and be pro-inflammatory!

Quality is key!

I often tell my patients that of all supplements, ensuring you are buying quality is most important when it comes to fish oils. Fish oil can easily oxidise which is why it is important to keep fish oils in the fridge after opening, just to preserve the quality and prevent oxidation due to heat. Unfortunately, many of the cheaper fish oils aren’t manufactured or transported under controlled conditions and can already be completely spoiled before they hit the shelves. Also, they can be high in heavy metals such as mercury, plastics, pesticides and other environmental toxins. Many manufacturers don’t even test at all for levels of plastics. 

The fish oils I use are strictly manufactured and third party tested to be as pure and fresh as possible. They guarantee levels of these contaminants to be many times lower than the health and safety requirements dictate as acceptable.  

How do I know if I need a fish oil?

If you’re not consuming oily fish such as salmon or tuna at least once or twice a week, you likely won’t be getting enough omega-3. Similarly, if your diet is highly processed and low in fruits and vegetables, this will bring down your omega-3 status. 80% of Australians are not meeting the recommended daily intakes for omega-3 fatty acids. 

A simple finger prick test allows us to find out your omega-3 index. You want to aim for a value between 8 and 12%. Most people from cultures who consume a lot of oily fish generally fall within this range. Unfortunately, most Australians are closer to the 4-6% mark.

I have test kits in the clinic. You can either come in and I’ll perform the test for you, or you can pick up a test to complete at home and post off for analysis. Click here for more information.

Can it be dangerous?

There is really only one precaution to using fish oils. That is that they can thin the blood slightly. This is actually one of their many benefits as it is cardioprotective. However, if you are about to have surgery it can prolong bleeding so should be stopped for a few days before and a couple of days after surgery. 

Give me a call if you’d like to discuss whether fish oil supplementation or omega-3 testing is a good idea for you.

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

Stressed about your cholesterol?

Posted by | Balm Blog, Blog, Cardiovascular disease, Fat, Health, Weight Gain, Weight Loss | No Comments

For years we have been avoiding fat in our diets wherever we can, believing that by doing so, we will keep our all important cholesterol number down, saving us from cardiovascular disease. New findings suggest it is not quite as simple as this and that cholesterol itself may not be the real problem at all. There are actually at least 395 identified cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors and I believe cholesterol has received far more than it’s share of attention.

Cholesterol meterCholesterol is extremely important in the body. It is the main building block for production of all the important hormones such as oestrogen, progesterone, testosterone, cortisol and aldosterone (produced by the adrenals to regulate blood pressure and the rate of water lost from the body). Cholesterol is needed to make vitamin D, as well as bile which is produced by the liver to help digest fats. Cholesterol is also found in the membranes that surround every cell in the body, making it important in skin health. It keeps skin hydrated and helps it maintain an effective barrier against bacteria and irritating substances. Cholesterol is also important in immunity and brain function.

Doctors typically prescribed statin medications to lower cholesterol levels. These drugs come with a long list of side effects, not the least of which is an increased incidence of cancer and cardiovascular disease! Yes, the very thing they are meant to be preventing by lowering your cholesterol is a listed side effect. Statin medications block the pathway in the body by which it makes cholesterol. This is the same pathway by which the body creates coQ10, an extremely important antioxidant which also enables every cell in the body to produce energy. It is also highly protective against oxidative damage, which is one of the main problems leading to the build up of plaques in the blood vessels leading to heart attack and stroke.

When doctors test blood for cholesterol readings, they actually measure a number of things.

  • Total Cholesterol
    New research suggests this number has little correlation with CDV risk
  • LDL (low density lipoproteins)
    LDL is sometimes also referred to as the bad fat
  • HDL (high density lipoproteins)
    HDL is sometimes referred to as the good fat because it is protective and gathers up cholesterol to transport it safely back to the liver
  • Triglycerides
  • The ratios of HDL to LDL and HDL to cholesterol

The main thing to be concerned with is your HDL:LDL ratio and your triglyceride numbers. You want the HDL:LDL ratio to be less than around 3.5 (ideally the lower the better) and your triglycerides to be around 1.0 mmol/L (fasting) or less.

The real problem occurs when inflammation in the blood vessels act on these LDL’s and triglycerides. This damages the blood vessel wall and causes cholesterol to accumulate and adhere to the wall, resulting in a blockage. Inflammation is caused by a diet of excess sugar, preservatives, trans fat and alcohol, as well as smoking and excessive stress. When blood fats are in good condition and circulating in healthy, undamaged blood vessels, they are actually protective against this damage and build up. It is only when inflammatory damage has occurred that plaques can form.

Obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking, poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle are still the biggest risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease, and should be your first priority in the prevention of CVD. Exercise is one of the most effective ways to raise your HDL level, giving you a strong level of protection against CVD. Quitting smoking, eating less sugary, processed foods and increasing your intake of water and good fats from sources such as oily fish, nuts, seeds and fruits and vegetables are the best preventative measures you can take.

Your naturopath can prescribe numerous different minerals, herbs and supplements to lower blood pressure, protect against oxidative damage and give your heart and cardiovascular system all the nutrients it needs to remain as healthy and strong as possible.

Image courtesy of tungphoto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So is fat okay now?

Posted by | Balm Blog, Blog, Blood tests, Diet, Fat, Health, Sugar | No Comments

There has been a lot of new information coming out lately regarding fat and sugar. First fat was the big nasty and everyone steered clear of any fat, often favouring low fat or “lite” versions of food believing we were doing the right thing for our arteries. Now it seems this was the wrong thing to do as these products generally have had the fat content replaced by extra sugar. And sugar is now the new demon.

Latest findings show that sugar is the thing doing us the most damage these days because it is so readily converted to fat for storage within the body, including within the liver. It is pro-inflammatory and causes oxidation which accelerates damage and aging throughout the body. So, does this mean we can now eat all the fat we like? After all, it has been shown that populations with some of the highest fat intakes also exhibit some of the lowest incidence of cardiovascular disease.

Well, when it comes to cardiovascular risk, yes, eating fat is fine. However there are a couple of guidelines which we’ll look at later.

So what is the interaction between sugar and fat in the blood? Sugar (including that readily obtained by the body from breaking down excessive carbohydrates) can cause oxidative damage to the fats circulating in our blood. This is the time when high blood fat and cholesterol levels become a problem. When blood fats are in good condition and circulating in healthy, undamaged blood vessels, they are protective. It is only when inflammatory damage has occurred (usually from excessive sugars), that plaques can form, leading to heart attack and stroke.

The other interesting thing is that excessive carbohydrate and sugar intake is more likely to cause an increase in your blood fats than eating dietary fat. This is because one of the ways the body deals with excessive carbohydrates is for the liver to convert it into fatty acids.

So don’t feel guilty about including fat in your diet. Stop buying low fat versions of food just because you think it’s best for your health. Simply follow these 5 guidelines:

  1. Trans fat intake is the only fat shown to have a significantly detrimental effect on cardiovascular risk. This should be avoided wherever possible. (See below for a list of the different types of fats and their main sources)
  2. Omega-3 has been shown to have a significantly protective impact on cardiovascular risk and should be included wherever possible.
  3. The ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 intake is 2:1. The average dietary intake is closer to 20:1 and this imbalance promotes its own inflammation. So enjoy eating sources of omega-6 but make sure you are also eating good sources of omega-3.
  4. Only if you are already suffering insulin resistance and inflammatory damage should you moderate saturated fat intake, taking care not to subsequently increase your carbohydrate intake to compensate.
  5. Fat is an essential nutrient and generally only detrimental when consumed in excess, along with excessive calories overall, inadequate exercise and inadequate fruit and vegetable intake.

The Types of Fat:

  1. Saturated fat – found in meat, dairy, eggs and coconut oil
  2. Monounsaturated fat – found in meat, poultry, dairy, eggs, avocado, nuts, seeds, olive oil and canola oil.
  3. Polyunsaturated fat:
    1. Omega-6 – Found in nuts, seeds, poultry, grapeseed oil, sunflower oil, sesame and soybean oils.
    2. Omega-3 – Grassfed beef, dairy, seafood, fish, flaxseeds, fish oil and flaxseed oil.
  4. Trans fats – partially dehydrogenated fats, deep fried foods, commercial cakes, biscuits and pastries.

The brilliant thing is that most natural foods contain a variety of types of fat, not just saturated or unsaturated, and they are generally in the best ratio for your body’s health. What’s more, natural, unprocessed foods are also packed with all the antioxidants needed to offset any oxidative damage that may occur to the fats they contain. This is the beauty of nature.

Raw salmon pic ID-10017101

Image by voraorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net        Image by m_bartosch at FreeDigitalPhotos.net