Overweight and Unhappy to Bikini Model and Stoked!

Earlier in the year, Brad & I had the pleasure of attending one of the Gold Coast ‘Miss Fit Bikini Model Extravaganza’ (MFBME) heats. I must say – I’m not normally a fan of the whole beauty pageant / bikini model scene (I just think fake boobs, orange tans, body oil & lame ‘I want to create world peace’ type statements) but this one is totally different in that the focus is on fitness & health, i.e. celebrating & showcasing how eating & moving well translates naturally into healthy & gorgeously fit bodies. Our pick of the bunch (it was really hard to pick) was Brook-Lin, because we were so amazed at her 35kg weightloss! Here’s the story – her journey from being overweight & unhappy & not taking good care of herself to a fit, healthy & happy, stunning bikini model, who treats her body like it’s the only one she’ll ever have! 

1.Do you know how you ended up overweight?

About 7 years ago I was going though a really rough patch, I lost the most important people in my life & it all went downhill from there with depression, anxiety & started to binge eat.

2.At what point did you realise you wanted to make a change?

A night 2 years ago was my major turning point in my life – I didn’t want to wake up another morning.  I was scrolling though Facebook & saw an 8 week challenge advertised. I messaged her at 11pm saying I would be at her 5am class in the morning. I wanted to hold myself accountable, I took cash & paid her upfront for a whole challenge. That’s where it all began.

3.Did you feel inspired by anyone in particular? Who has influenced & guided you along the way? Did you have to do a lot of research / educate yourself?

When I first started properly training 2 years ago I didn’t know or have anyone that influenced me. Not long into my weights training I decided to further my knowledge in the gym & studied to be a personal trainer. I am always learning & trying new things in the gym & it has been amazing seeing my clients feel amazing in their own skin too.

4.Do you have any new rules / ideals / standards / preferences for the food that you eat now?

I control my portion sizes, I fuel my body with healthy fresh food, I eat a balance of protein, carbs & fats. I always stay hydrated especially when training.

5.Do you just eat whatever sometimes too?

Of course – having a balance is very important to keep your mind and body happy.

6.What does a regular food / drink / supplement / workout day look like for you these days?

I eat 5 times a day 😊

Soon as I wake up I will have my PondWater greens with water.

I will either have eggs and spinach with my greens on top or oats for breakfast.

Snacks are either protein shake, rice cakes, goodMix Blend11 or dark chocolate.

Lunch can be Greek yogurt with protein, a chicken & veggie wrap. dinner can be gluten free pasta with veg chicken/turkey , stir fry, healthy pizza.

I train 6 days a week 6 weights & 1 cardio session (clubbersise).

3 lower body & 3 upper body.

7.What was it like in the past?

I used to either be at work or sleep, I used to binge eat, I would drink 2L of coke a day, Maccas was a regular thing or I wouldn’t eat at all.

8.For you – what feels more important, eating really well or moving & challenging that body…or are they equal?

Eating well is important for me physically but training helps challenge my body & mind, so to me both would be equal. 😊

9.The beauty pageant stuff – were you always a ‘girly girl’, or did you learn a few things from entering the competition?

I haven’t been much of a girly girl, but it was amazing to feel like a princess for a day & be able to show my girly side. I achieved things I didn’t think I ever would. I learnt how to pose , how to speak in front of a crowd & most of all feel completely accepted in my own skin.

10.Was it super competitive, or did the girls support each other?

It was beautiful – the girls, judges, the whole team were so supportive and lovely. I still keep in contact with a lot of them and love seeing them progress on their own journeys.

11.Who would you recommend enter the comp / what do the girls get out of it?

I would definitely recommend FBME, it’s a comp for all women who live healthy lives and it celebrates the fact that fit looks different on everyone. It’s a comp where you can feel beautiful in your own skin and express your personality. It also connects you with a team of like minded people that will help you & support you ❤️

12.You’ve obviously changed a lot physically – do you feel like you’ve changed mentally as well?

100% fitness & health changed my life!

I was depressed for so long and it feels amazing to finally be able to feel like myself, to finally be able to find this side of me that’s been trapped since I can remember.

12.5..and if so, what came first – the physical, or the mental – or did they both evolve together?

The mental side first, the physical took awhile, I wanted to be happy more then anything.

13.What would you like to say to anyone out there struggling with their weight & feeling trapped in a body that they don’t feel great about?

You are not alone, everyone is on their own journey. Sometimes to grow we need to push outside our comfort zones to make great things happen.

14.Can we see a before pic?

We’re not all cut out to be bikini models, but if it’s on your bucket list, this is the best comp to enter – get in touch HERE. I just wanted to share this story because I was really curious about the transformation – so inspiring! Brooke-Lin’s journey really illustrates…

a) the power of just making a start, following that survival / self preservation instinct that something has to change & acting.

b) sometimes you gotta commit / make it hard for yourself to back out or quit

c) adversity can be our friend / teacher & help us become stronger, grow as a person, end up where we need to be…if you experience a decent ‘low’ you can then really appreciate the highs in life.
d) the weird journeys we go on towards finding & living our passion & purpose – so great to be able to help empower others, from a place of experience & understanding.
e) the power of getting mind & body working together in sync, sometimes one has to ‘drag’ the other along until it catches up!
f) the importance of recognising self-destructive behaviour & having the guts to really change / reverse it
g) that someone can be outwardly really smily & happy but you just never know what’s going on inside, we’ve got to always be mindful of that.
h) nice to see a bikini comp that really values health / nutrition / training / nurturing the body rather than ‘just do whatever it takes to get skinny for the swimsuit’. Beautiful, hard-working, inspiring, healthy girls challenging themselves & supporting each other to get out of their comfort zones (& into tiny bikinis & heels in front of a crowd)! That’s some serious motivation when you feel like slacking off!!)
You can follow / get in contact with Brook-Lin here:
Need some motivation – Celebrate Women 

Strawberries with Needles, or Chemicals?

Already Contaminated?

I don’t mean to kick a strawberry farmer when he’s down, but the needle scandal makes me wonder…what if all the chemicals used to grow Australian strawberries were as obvious as needles? Now is the time to eat strawberries – conventional or organic – so they don’t go to waste & the farmers can stay in business, but I just have to raise the point..most of our strawberries have always been contaminated…just in a less spiky-scary way.

There are loads of harmful things hidden in the food we eat. Aside from the current scandal, what about the things we can’t see, feel or taste?  At least you can tell if there’s a needle in something, not so easy to detect & avoid a chemical residue. I love strawberries, I buy organic when they are in season / I can afford them / I find a bargain, though sometimes I just buy the cheap, chemically grown variety & I don’t feel really great about eating them or feeding them to the kids. Not meaning to bag strawberries – I just want to raise a point now with all the needle noise, what about the chemicals that are already contaminating Aussie strawberries? How long will we just accept these for our kids? A quick rinse under the tap does not make a chemical-free berry! Strawberries are right at the top of the dirty dozen listproduce with the highest levels of chemical residue. They are difficult / expensive to grow organically, hence they will cost more when grown naturally / properly. Needles may turn out to be the least of our worries!

Mountains of Waste!

I think a lot of people who are used to cheap food become really desensitised to the wastage factor “who cares if the kids don’t eat the whole pile of mac & cheese we just served up for dinner, the packet only cost us $3.50 & all we had to do was shove it in the microwave with some water. If they won’t eat it, just scrape it into the bin & who cares”.

ARRGHHH!! Not enough care factor goes into food manufacturing, shopping, prepping…not enough money is invested in quality food & as a result food is just not valued the way it should be…& the kid’s growing bodies are also undervalued. If you put a lot of thought into feeding the family well, pay good money for quality fresh produce that’s been grown naturally, & spend time in the kitchen preparing it, you’re not gonna be happy to see it wasted & your kids won’t grow up thinking it’s ok to just chuck food out.  Our great-grandparents would roll in their graves if they knew how many kgs’s of strawberries were being dumped because some loony-tune has stuck needles into a few punnets & everyone is freaking out. Wasting them is craziness, everyone needs to just chill out & chop them up!

Most of the strawberries (& other fruit & veg) grown in Australia ARE contaminated, with chemical residues we can’t detect. This is a bigger issue than needles! Consumers are conditioned by supermarkets & food / agricultural giants to think that food should be dirt cheap & last for months / years on a shelf.

I’m all for saving money & finding a bargain, but I also appreciate (& will pay for) food that has been grown or made naturally, without the use of chemicals. I wish that was the case across the board, so I try to do my bit & support organic growers & smaller manufacturers whenever possible – that is the only way to get to a chemical-free future, if we support organic farmers & artisan food producers. If there were no $2 punnets of strawberries (or $3.50 mac & cheese packets), you’d just pay what it really should cost for them, the real cost of real food. Strawberries are a difficult & fragile thing to grow, chemicals are the cheapest & easiest way to increase yield / profit / decrease labour costs…but what is the cost to our health when we accept this type of food production? Organic & artisan produced food is more expensive, yes – but you’ve got to ask yourself…would you rather cheap, industrial, mass-produced, contaminated food to feed your family, or try to get the uncontaminated wherever you can, if at a higher price?

We all need to do our bit here – let’s get the strawberry farmers through this crisis (just buy them regardless), but let them know that in future, we’d prefer organically grown. 

Try this tasty Strawberry Smoothie recipe!

Regulation of Harmful and Addictive Substances (like Food and Beverages)

Should parents form a collaborative group with local drug manufacturers & dealers to educate teens about using drugs responsibly?

Should we work with drug manufacturers, encouraging them to reformulate, decreasing the potency & addiction potential of their offerings?

Should we introduce a labelling system that shows exactly what the contents of the snaplock bags are?

That’s the government approach to our current ‘lifestyle disease’ crisis (read: ‘crappy processed food’ crisis). With this approach to addictive drugs or food, we could probably save a few lives, but…I think we’ll still have some serious problems!

See below, my recent email / rant to health minister Greg Hunt & the reply from Senator Bridget McKenzie (For the record, I’ve never been an email ranter – this is a first). 

My email:

“Hi Greg – I have some questions for you. I hope you can help.

I’m a mother of teens, I run a health food business & I have years of experience working in both the health food industry & in pharmacy, helping Australians who are trying to lose weight, get healthy & battle chronic conditions caused largely by poor diet. I am really concerned about the health issues kids of today will begin to face as a result of what I can only describe as government negligence in the control of food & beverage availability throughout our country.   

Who regulates the availability of food & beverage products throughout Australian retail stores – is there even any regulation of what products are allowed onto supermarket shelves? Can I please have email / phone contact details & a description of their role within the preventative healthcare care / food regulation systems?

Why are food & beverage products with known addictive qualities that are now known causes of metabolic syndrome, diabetes & heart disease still available for purchase by minors & people incapable of making an ‘informed purchasing decision’?

I’m interested in the legalities – I can see from your bio online that you’re well acquainted with the Aussie legal system. I’m wondering, is this generation of children / teens going to be able to (rightly?) sue the government who has allowed this practice (harmful & addictive substances being made readily available to & marketed towards minors) to continue, for damages resulting from their diabetes, obesity & cardiovascular disease? These illnesses are now known to be caused largely by addiction to & overconsumption of these heavily sweetened products, which are addictive due to their high sugar content (& often also laced with other addictive substances like caffeine – things like energy drinks / ice coffee / cola drinks). Why today, in 2018 is a bottle of highly sweetened, nutritionally empty, caffeinated beverage still readily available for children & teens to purchase (in large quantities, daily – or even multiple times daily, if desired)? This is happening all over our disgustingly fat & sick country today. These products should not be treated any differently now to cigarettes & alcohol, given their known harmful health effects & addictive properties.

The sale of products of this nature should be regulated to protect young Australians (& take pressure off our healthcare system which is needlessly being drained, paying millions or even billions every year, caring for people with preventable, diet-induced illnesses).

I’d like to raise awareness & help the kids out there who are developing type 2 diabetes & cardiovascular disease as I write – the kids who will cost Australia billions over the next 40-60 years – because our government can not (?) / will not take the necessary action to protect them now.  This is particularly a problem among Australian indigenous communities. I feel that these kids should have every right to sue when they become chronically diseased…at what age can a child make ‘an informed choice’ about their health? At what age can a child walk into a supermarket or cafe & purchase a can or bottle of coke (or multiple bottles) every day?

Please let me know who would be best to contact in regards to this matter?

Thankyou.”

…ok so that was a bit of a rant, BUT…crappy products that nobody needs or benefits from (other than those making a big fat profit) are for sale on every corner making us big & fat. They are a MASSIVE contributing factor in the ‘lifestyle disease’ epidemic we face. It costs me money, it grosses me out, it makes me really sad & angry & yeah it puts me in the mood to have a bit of a rant!

So, I wrote that email, then forgot all about it until this lame-ass reply came through, which I feel compelled to share, because it is so lame.  Tell me what you think. Am I over-reacting? Or is this approach going to get us nowhere?

(Double click to read)

I was momentarily impressed as I opened the envelope, revealing the fancy letterhead, printed on thick, expensive paper, from someone with ‘Hon’ in front of her name. But I was completely unimpressed by the content. It basically tells me that nobody has the balls to take action where it’s badly needed.

My interpretation & commentary below

The government recognises the burden of disease associated with poor diet. (But seem totally happy to keep carrying it & paying for it with tax payers $)?

They appreciate my suggestion to impose limits on the availability of processed foods, however they prefer to educate, support & encourage Australians to adopt a healthy diet & lifestyle, not wanting to regulate what’s available for purchase in shops. (Parents, let’s fill the fridge with softdrink & lollies but read the kids a heap of health magazines & see what happens)…

They are committed to providing a safe food supply & ensuring consumers have access to sufficient information to make informed choices about food they purchase. (They also seem quite happy to place very unsafe food items in amongst that safe food supply, readily available for people incapable of making an informed choice about what they ingest & become addicted to).

FSANZ is the authority responsible for the ‘food standards code’ & determines the requirements for food sold in Australia & NZ. (FSANZ must have a very easy job, there really don’t seem to be many requirements when you spend an hour or so reading processed food ingredient labels in the supermarket)!

FSANZ requires labelling on energy drinks to communicate that the product contains caffeine, how much it has & that they are unsuitable for children, pregnant women & those sensitive to caffeine. (Ok so that makes the product ‘suitable’ for teenagers, men & the elderly who AREN’T sensitive to caffeine…there are not many of those, so how do these companies sell enough product to make them commercially viable? Hmm – maybe people aren’t reading / taking any notice of the labels? These products are actually only ‘suitable’ for people who want to waste money on addictions, get diabetes & die younger than they naturally should. Suggest a label change, though still doubt that people would read it). 

Food products are regularly checked for compliance. (Phew, lucky someone is working hard, keeping us all safe from our food. LOL).

Improving Aussie’s dietary patterns is a complex task, there are many contributing issues. We need a community-wide approach as well as individual behaviour change. (Yes, yes, yes & yes. But we also need to consider just removing some of the worst crap from our supermarket shelves)? Just start with regulating the supply of sugar-laden caffeinated beverages to kids / teens. They can at least choose their addictions when they are old enough to understand what addiction means).

The Government recognises that Australians are eating more processed foods, and they are doing a lot of things to help them get healthier. (They might be doing ‘a lot of things’….but are they neglecting to do the most effective things?)

Government is working with the food industry & public health groups, trying to promote healthier options & reducing saturated fat, added salt & added sugars. Some of their initiatives include:

‘The Health Star Rating’. Aimed at getting consumers to avoid foods high in salt, sugar & saturated fat, thus encouraging manufacturers to reformulate products, decreasing these ingredients in order to have a better rating. (The Health Star Rating is voluntary, so if your product is garbage, you can just ignore it. Plus – the system was developed in consultation with food industry & thus has little credibility. Do you really develop a regulating system in conjunction with the people you want to regulate?? This is pretty soft regulation. Give me an image of a depressed, morbidly obese person, covered in acne with an amputated leg slapped on the front of all soft drink cans & lolly packets any day, over a few stars on the front of ‘healthier-than-most’ cereal boxes. We need to be tougher on this, it’s got to be spelled out REALLY CLEARLY to the people who are still shoving this stuff into their shopping trolleys every week).

The Healthy Food Partnership’: a collaboration between the government, food industry & public health groups. Aimed at tackling obesity, encouraging healthy eating & empowering food manufacturers to make positive changes to their products. Everyone seems really committed to make this work. The aims are:

  • promote healthy eating, working towards improvement targets.
  • normalise healthy eating & encourage people to enjoy healthy foods.
  • make changes in education, food advertising, availability of foods through outlets & in food service, influence population behaviours…& ultimately rates of overweight & obesity.

(This is all well & good, but meanwhile – people are still dying & getting sick needlessly, & we’re all paying through the nose for their healthcare, & the expensive army of people out there getting paid to encourage, empower, influence & normalise. How about we just tell it exactly like it is ‘your kids will suffer from disease & die early because you keep buying X Y & Z for them to eat / drink each week, meaning the rest of Australia will be paying for your health care expenses)?

People are dying early – kids are not getting the chance to grow up healthy, 30% of them are on the road to obesity, diabetes, heart disease & early death before they even reach their teens. (No wonder so many are also depressed & anxious before they reach their 20’s). A major contributing issue is that the government allows food companies & retailers to fill our stores, trolleys & mouths with poor quality ‘food-like’ products that directly cause / contribute to the development of disease.  Millions (maybe billions) of tax dollars are spent on ads, promotion, education, liasing gently with food companies, caring for end stage diseases…we could save everyone a lot of time, money, hassle & resources (not to mention lives) if we just took a firmer approach & fixed the food standards to regulate some of these addictive & harmful substances that we clearly aren’t capable of consuming safely?

End of rant. Am I a health-nut psycho…or do I have a point here?

Leave me your thoughts in a comment below or send me an email…

Jeanie
jeanie@goodmix.com.au

Private Health Cover & Natural Therapies – 2018 Update

You may have read this blog ‘Is Australia Moving in a Healthy Direction?’, that I wrote last year when natural therapies & private healthcare were making news in Australia, & seen some conversations & petitions on social media…but it’s all gone really quiet now. Ever wonder what happened?

Well, I’ve been wondering. Did the public put enough pressure on the government that they’ve realised their error?  I made a couple of calls this morning, & after a lengthy chat with some (very helpful) private health fund phone-answering-people, here’s an update of where it’s at:

The Australian government has indeed decided that from April 2019, our private health funds will no longer be able to offer both the government rebate for private health cover AND include the following therapies in our cover:

  1. Alexander technique
  2. Aromatherapy
  3. Bowen therapy
  4. Buteyko
  5. Feldenkrais
  6. Herbalism
  7. Homeopathy
  8. Iridology
  9. Kinesiology
  10. Naturopathy
  11. Pilates
  12. Reflexology
  13. Rolfing
  14. Shiatsu
  15. Tai chi
  16. Yoga

Feeling Ripped Off?

So that means we’ll keep paying the same amount for our ‘extras’ policies, but this list of therapies will no longer be covered / you can’t claim for these services anymore & will have to pay the full cost of each treatment.  Or – potentially, (depending on what the health funds decide to do), you can look for a fund that will still offer cover on these extras, but you’ll have to pay around 30% more for your policy (there will be no government rebate for these private health policies).  

Switch Time?

There will likely be some big changes & a lot of people switching health funds around this time, depending on what the individual funds choose to do in response to the government policy change.  Either way – it boils down to some really useful preventative therapies becoming more expensive to proactive health-conscious consumers, so that more $$ can be directed into the pharmaceutical industry & ‘end stage’ treatment of illnesses. Unfortunately, many of the most costly illnesses to our healthcare system (i.e. type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease) are also the most preventable, given early support from some therapies on the ‘no-longer-covered-list’ (i.e. if you consult with a naturopath semi-regularly throughout your 20’s / 30’s / 40’s (sometimes even just once would be enough), the chances of you ending up with diabetes & heart disease are SOOOO much lower, as they’ll help to direct & support you with healthy diet /  lifestyle choices, & supplements where appropriate to maximise your health & vitality, rather than just treat illnesses as they come up).

What Were They Thinking?

Let’s encourage Australians to take even less responsibility for their health! We’ll offer no financial support for those wanting to be proactive, we’ll just channel all the funds into treatment of end stages of illness – when health is severely compromised already…often by diseases that could easily have been prevented, given the knowledge & support. Sad face. Angry face. Eye-rolling face. Good thinking guys.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m very aware & grateful for the amazing access to affordable medical care that we enjoy here in Australia, I just believe we should also encourage the use of natural therapies as well.

Massage Less Accessible, Psychiatric Treatment More Accessible.

Stress-relieving, mental-health-promoting remedial massage will no longer be covered under your private health policy from April 2019, but – feel comforted that with other changes made to the system recently, it’ll be easier to get psychiatric treatment when you need it. So if you have private health cover & are forced to stop getting your ‘now-too-expensive’ regular massage next year (& require immediate psychiatric treatment as a result – I’m sure it happens lol), rest assured that you’ll be well covered :)

Love to hear your thoughts – will this change impact the way you manage your health? However you feel about it, it would be a great idea to book everyone in for a massage / treatment / consult & make the most of your wellbeing cover while it’s still valid!

Jeanie Xx
jeanie@goodmix.com.au

Hiding Healthy Food for Kids

Food Wars & Taste Bud Corruption:

It’s a battle to get nutritious food into kids these days, with all the garbage food surrounding them & corrupting their little taste-buds!  Everywhere they look they see (conveniently placed at kid’s eye-level) pre-packaged, cartoon character endorsed ‘food’ options designed to be super-yummy, addictive & oh-so-easy for busy parents to fill their bellies, satisfy their cravings (& silence their whingeing)! Problem is, there isn’t a lot of thought put into the nutritional content of these ‘foods’ our kids are being raised on – what kind of foundations are we building for these kids & their bodies? Shaky ones at best!

Taste vs Nutrition, Food Giants & Child vs Parent:

When you are making an effort to feed your kids natural healthy foods, it’s really hard to compete with food giants & their marketing / R & D budgets! Especially when the taste is the main motivator for kids to eat something or not!  Eating to nourish the body generally isn’t a concept that sinks in deeply until kids are much older (by then they are teenagers looking for the nearest Macca’s to hang out at with their mates & likely uninterested in following advice on what they should be eating). So, if you have small children,  it’s important to get as much nutrition into them at every opportunity when they’re little, & to keep it interesting with some yummy & nutritious natural treats (for when they’ve eaten all their veggies of course)! You have to become very clever at hiding extra nutrients in amongst everything they eat (to compensate for the zero-nutrient food that they will also inevitably be eating as well)!

Supergreen Bliss Ball Recipe!

Supergreen Bliss Ball

Here’s a yummy treat to make for the kids that tastes very much like ‘green lollies’ but also has plenty of nutrition from the PondWater (super greens plus aloe vera powder) as well as the chia & hemp seed, natural & organic dried fruit, vitamin C & prebiotic rich baobab powder in the Fruity BallBags. Super easy to make & then keep a supply in the freezer. Also, nut free so the perfect treat for kindy & school lunch boxes (just use a small ice brick to keep the lunchbox cool).

Get this recipe: Zesty Supergreen Biss Balls 

Find more healthy tips for kids below:

How I Got my Kids (& Myself) to Drink Greens

8 Reasons Your Kids Are Hungry & Easy Ways to Fill Them Up

FAT KIDS – Why so Many and How we Can Help

 

FAT KIDS – Why so Many and How we Can Help

*Fat kids = kids who have an amount of body fat that’s above the healthy level, meaning there is something metabolically happening inside them which will predispose them to a long list of health conditions if they stay fat.

They might be super-cute, lovely, happy & seemingly healthy kids, & their parents may seem to be doing everything right – but the bottom line is that they’re overweight & they’re unwell (or will be).  We need to do something about it – overweight kids grow into overweight adults (& they don’t get much choice in the matter if they’re well on the way before their teen years). It’s gotta start with mum & dad…trouble is, we’re a few generations into this epidemic now, & kids learn their eating & lifestyle habits from mum & dad – who are often overweight due to these themselves.  So…I’m just exploring a few of the reasons I believe we’re all getting so fat, & offering some tips to help the kids who are looking like joining the early obesity crowd!

I’m totally guilty of many of the parenting ‘fails’ I’m going to mention here, this isn’t meant to be blaming or judgemental. The point is just to highlight where we’ve been collectively ‘messing up’ & what we can all start doing right now, to help save our kids from a lifelong struggle with obesity & all the health consequences that go along with it.  

What’s Happened In The Last 30 Years?

When I was in school (1986-1997), there were only ever 1 or 2 fat kids in the classes. In any classroom of say 25 kids, you’d see maybe 1 or 2 kids that were carrying an unhealthy amount of excess fat. It was relatively uncommon. Anyone my age or older will back me up on that. Fatness in kids was rare, you’d see it much more in older people.

Today if you visit an Aussie school & go for a wander through the classrooms, you’ll notice there are a LOT more fat kids, 25% of them or more are overweight. That means at least 1 in every 4 of our school kids are:

  • at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes (many are well on their way). It’s no longer called ‘adult onset diabetes’ as so many young people are being diagnosed.
  • more likely to die early from cardiovascular disease (Australia’s biggest killer).
  • more likely to be suffering from anxiety & depression (that will worsen as they get older)
  • more likely to develop asthma, certain skin issues, arthritis, gout, liver & gallbladder disease & some cancers.
  • physically unable to participate in activities they’d love to try.
  • going to struggle with a tendency towards obesity for their entire life (overweight kids generally turn into overweight adults).
  • more likely to have menstrual problems, & trouble having children themselves

…& the list goes on, & the scary thing is that many of these health issues used to be ‘adults only’. It’s not fair, the kids didn’t choose this path, they’ve just found themselves stuck on it. How? Why? A few factors in combination I think…

Screens, devices & games became the dominant leisure activity:

From as young as 18mths (sometimes even younger) you see kids being introduced to ‘screentime’ on an iPad or similar device. It used to be just the TV you had to limit as a parent, but now there are highly addictive ‘portable TVS’ that kids are taking with them on outings because it ‘keeps them happy’ so parents can have lunch / do their work / talk to their friend / have a meeting / go to the hairdresser / shop in peace. Whoa – what are we training our bubs to do here?? To seek happiness, entertainment, & companionship in front of a screen? And teaching them nothing else that we would otherwise be using these opportunities & outings to teach.

Some argue that devices are great to alleviate / eliminate boredom – maybe, under certain circumstances, every now & then…but remember that boredom is actually a really valuable feeling for our kids to experience, they should feel it often. It is the absolute mother of creativity in children, the ‘blank canvas’ that gives rise to new ideas. Give a few children NOTHING to do, & they’ll soon make-up something crazily creative & fun. We don’t want to deprive our young kids of this type of experience & limit chances to develop their creative skills. 

Kids who grow up in front of screens from a young age often seem completely lost without one when they get older. They can’t communicate as effectively, they have fewer face-to-face social skills & they can’t easily entertain themselves like kids who’ve grown up practicing these skills every day instead of just pushing buttons. Ok – the button pushers may end up better prepared for some of the tech jobs in future, but really – what kind of an excuse is that?! It’s the one I hear from parents who like to eat their lunch in peace!

So screen time is not something you wanna encourage / allow in really young kids for ‘non-obesity-related reasons’ – but also think about this. When do you ever see a young child sit still naturally for more than 5 minutes at a time, unless they’re feeling unwell? Maybe some will play quietly when doing things like Lego/ blocks/cars/drawing (do kids still do those things?) But they’re not spending large chunks of their time completely motionless as they will in front of a device. And they’re not so addicted to their real-life block-building that they’ll chuck a wobbly when asked to come outside / have dinner / leave it for a bit to talk to Nanna. Try taking a favourite iPad game away from an engrossed kid – it’s scary to watch the level of addiction that such young people are developing. 

What to do: 

If your kids are still babies, don’t introduce them to device-land, hold off for as long as possible!! As tempting as it may be to just give in for your own sanity, keep your little ones away from iPads / smartphones as long as you can, at least in your home. Don’t worry, they’ll soon catch up & become tech-savvy once they get their hands on them later in life! It’s like junk food & sugar – you’re never going to be able to protect your kids from the crappy addictive food surrounding them forever, but you’ll make your life sooo much harder by introducing this stuff early. Who wants to eat broccoli when they’ve tasted cupcakes??  Who wants to play with wooden blocks when they’ve had a go at Minecraft? Supply the lego / blocks, don’t supply the devices. Because…who wants to deal with addiction & behaviour problems in 7-year-olds? Allowing little kids to stay glued motionless to a screen for hours on end getting a constant stream of addictive dopamine hits is detrimental to their development & to their health, & constantly using a device to ‘babysit’ for you is borderline child abuse. They’ll turn into the teenagers who rarely leave their rooms cos they’re too busy gaming. (Parents of those teens argue that their teenagers are safest locked up in a room gaming, better there than on the streets…& they kind of have a point…but really, it’s still about making life easier for mum & dad & it’s not supporting the kid’s development).

People say about kids & gaming ‘moderation is fine’. The problem is that addictive things are very hard to consume in moderation :( 

If your kids are already fat & addicted to games (or even if they’re not overweight), you can strike a deal with them – they can play their beloved games only on days when they’ve burnt some energy in the morning. The best time to get fat kids exercising is first thing in the morning. They won’t feel like it at first (they’re insulin resistant so not much energy can get into their cells to burn), but early morning is your best fat-burning opportunity, before food. Make it a fun outing – skate park, scooter or bike ride, group fitness class, beach walk / swim / surf / kayak / dog park, swimming pool, bushwalk, yoga together, dance in the kitchen, ball games…whatever suits the kid, just do something with them to get their muscles working (that will burn any stored energy leftover from the night & mean that when it’s all gone, they’ll have to switch to fat for fuel). They’ll feel more energetic & the more you can develop & strengthen their muscles, the better their metabolism will work. Start this ideally before they’re teenagers as it can be really hard to get teens out of bed early (or get them to do anything with you)!

Early Food – Pre-conception, Pregnancy.

One of the biggest factors in the ‘childhood obesity epidemic’ is what our kids are eating early in life – even what mum is eating during pregnancy (& before) can shape her child’s metabolism & be the starting point of a lifelong battle with obesity & disease.

If you are into eating poorly – fine, you’re an adult woman & not really interested in looking after your body, that’s your choice, not a problem. Just don’t get pregnant!! That’s unfair, mean (& really quite dumb too)!

     No 1 – your child starts life with a huge health disadvantage that is your fault for not taking the responsibility of growing a new human being inside you seriously.

    No 2 – you’ll often have a much harder time with that baby / child, dealing with preventable illness & behavioural issues as they grow.

    No 3 – the rest of the population has to put up with their behaviour & pay for the health issues that you’ve created through negligence.

Come on mums! I sometimes think that growing a child should require a license (or at least a compulsory course on health & nutrition first). It shouldn’t have to, but the ‘food’ companies that are feeding us such crap everywhere don’t make it easy for mums to stay on track through a time when nutrition is so crucial (& cravings can be so strong!) 

What To Do:

Eat the best quality fresh, natural wholefood you can during pregnancy & breastfeeding, avoid the crap & know that you are literally providing the building blocks for your child’s early development. It will pay off later, plus it won’t do you any harm either! And if you don’t know the difference between good food & crap, you owe it to yourself & your unborn child to do some research / get help to understand it. And dads – you’re not off the hook, you need to eat properly & cut the crap to support your partner too, the responsibility is huge, so you can at least help out with moral support & not bringing home any tempting junk! If anyone out there is still silly enough to be smoking cigarettes (that’s mum or dad) during the pregnancy period – know that you’ll have increased your kids’ chances of becoming diabetic & obese (before it’s even been born) because you didn’t have the sense / self-discipline / care-factor to quit.

Double Income Family = Double The Kid’s Kgs?

There’s definitely some truth here – there’s a correlation between the rise of childhood obesity & women working more hours outside the home. I’ve been a stay at home mum, a part-time worker / mum & a full-time working mum & I know, with both parents working long hours all week, it leaves very little time or energy to put into shopping properly, food planning & preparation.  You just do what is quick & easy.

Families with 2 full-time working parents are much more likely to grab a quick takeaway or eat out than eat a healthy home-cooked meal together. This means their kids will be consuming a lot more trans fats, sugar, refined carbohydrates & less fresh vegetables at many of their evening meals. Older kids are also more likely to munch out on junk food after school with no parents home, & less likely to be participating in after-school sports (no taxi service!)

The ‘rush-rush’ nature of our lifestyle now means that kids may also have a higher level of baseline stress (as their busy parents will), & higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol have been found in overweight kids. Stressed out parents & kids eat more carb-rich ‘comfort’ foods & will also get less sleep (making them more insulin resistant & likely to store belly fat).

What To Do:

Value the role of parenting as much (or more) than what you do for a career. You are raising new humans, this is a big thing, absolutely worthy of sacrificing some income & your own career progression for a while. Just be prepared for the unimpressed ‘oh’ you’ll get from ’super-mums’ when you explain that you’re a stay at home parent by choice. I applaud full-time parents, those who make the decision to spend the time bringing up their own kids rather than paying someone else to do it. If you can’t see a way to work less – you need to plan better so exhaustion & lack of time doesn’t mean the kids eat KFC or beans on toast. Get quality food delivered (there are loads of companies offering these services now), make breakfasts super-nutritious (our website has loads of easy ideas), make the after school feed count (i.e. veggies, protein, good fats – have something pre-made i.e. leftover dinner or ingredients for a quick platter/ smoothie / bowl), use a slow-cooker so dinner is ready when everyone gets home exhausted, save leftovers in the freezer for crazy evenings…& just don’t make fast food an option, kids will always demand it if they know you’re likely to cave…if you need a takeaway at least make it closer to real food, like a Thai or Indian dish with loads of veggies, or choose food from a quality restaurant. Don’t teach your kids that drive-thru food 3 nights a week (or even 1 night a week) is normal / ok. It might be normal now, but normal doesn’t necessarily mean ok (look at the size of ‘normal’ kids & their ‘normal’ parents these days!)

Stress Factor:

Stress can start as young as the first year of life, when many bubs are placed in a daycare situation, away from their home & family for long hours each workday. An early return to work after childbirth doesn’t make much sense when you think about how nature has designed the baby-raising process to work. No matter what your opinion on women at work & stay at home dads, it’s pretty clear that the original design was for mums to be the primary carers early on, at least until 2 years of age (in countries where there is no pressure to wean early, babies normally still breastfeed until at least 2, giving them a great start nutritionally as far as gut health & immunity are concerned, as well as the stress-relieving aspects for both mum & bub). Many studies have shown that breastfeeding is protective not only against many childhood infections but also against obesity & metabolic syndrome.

What To Do: 

Might be worth staying home that little bit longer…it’s only a few years out of a lifetime. So worth it to pour your energy into building that strong emotional & nutritional foundation early on for your child. Remember home is only a low-stress environment if you’re a low stress kinda parent, you may have some work to do on yourself if that’s not the case! We don’t want to start daycare too early & train bubs to eat pre-packaged, processed ‘lunchbox food’ as a toddler, it’s bad enough that these are everywhere at school. And formula feeding should happen out of necessity when breastfeeding is impossible, not just for convenience / getting back to work quicker. Sorry again, getting our kids back to healthy = getting back to nature, & that means the first few years hanging mostly with mum. Mum will absolutely need a ‘village’ to support her through this time, so seek out fellow villagers. People who have similar values & similar aged kids to take turns with childcare, plus grandparents / aunties / uncles / neighbours etc.

Antibiotic Overprescription: 

Following on from the breastfeeding / daycare discussion – let’s look at antibiotic overuse (the 3 are all tightly connected & relevant to obesity). Australian kids get more unnecessary antibiotics than most in the world (second only to Italy apparently) – we’re chronic overprescribers! A big cause is pressure placed on Drs from parents needing to get back to work ASAP. Kids attending daycare from an early age are prescribed more courses of antibiotics each year than their stay-at-home friends (stressful environment, lack of regular breastmilk & the immune-challenging germ-fest maybe). These antibiotics can alter the child’s gut microbiome for 2 yrs or more. Antibiotic prescription in kids may have decreased over the past few years, due to increased awareness of the issues they can cause, & concerns about the looming antibiotic resistance crisis, but most kids in daycare (& many at home) will still be getting more than 1 course every 2 yrs, enough to potentially leave them with gut microbial & metabolic changes that predispose them to diabetes & obesity later in life. Livestock are given antibiotics to help them get heavier quicker, & it works the same with kids.

What To Do: 

Minimise infection risks in that crucial first few years by keeping them away from daycare environments while their gut-immune system is developing! Don’t rely on antibiotics as your cure-all for childhood infections, they’ll wreck your kid’s gut-immune function & they’ll be much more likely to get the next bug going around, etc etc. Educate yourself – see a naturopath or functional / integrative GP, read books about keeping kids healthy in the first place so that their immune system can deal with infections. A lot of this comes down to a good diet, exercise, sunshine, stress reduction & patience – just allowing time to rest, nurture & get back to health after an illness. If you’re dealing with a fat kid who’s been raised on antibiotics already, you’ll almost certainly need to do some pretty intensive gut work to decrease their candida overgrowth (candida – a yeast – tends to take over the gut when you kill the bacteria they compete with). People with a candida overgrowth will crave sugar like a demon (it’s actually the candida that makes you crave it – so you need to rebalance that gut so your good gut bugs crowd out the candida). Get help from a naturopath with this.

Lunch-box Treats:

Pre-packaged ‘lunchbox foods’ are a pet hate of mine, I wish we could just get rid of that whole aisle in the supermarket so kids would stop asking the parents who do make an effort for ‘normal food like everyone else gets in their lunchbox’! (By normal food they mean Nutella on white bread & chips). Fresh fruit & veg / leftover dinners can hardly compete with the brightly coloured & conveniently packaged processed, sugary, salty, artificial yumminess that is marketed to our poor addicted & obese kids.

What To Do:

Keep little kids at home eating healthy fresh ‘adult food’ as long as practical, this is the time you need to spend training their taste buds. Also, take them shopping regularly with you from a young age (without the iPad lol) & explain that some food companies only really care about making lots of money & that they don’t care if their products are making people sick. They trick us into buying their crappy ‘food’ by making it look & taste really good, but we need to be smarter than them or we will get really sick & fat, see – like that person (point out a really atrocious trolley full of processed crap with a morbidly obese person pushing it, should not be too hard to find in the average supermarket)!  Most of your shopping should be fresh fruit & veg, great to grow some yourself – esp snow peas, beans, cherry tomatoes, berries etc.  So exciting to watch them grow & great for little hands. Train your kids to eat good food & keep the treats away until you’ve got a healthy palette established. They need to know that their food choices can create their bodies, their energy & their feelings, & that their ‘bad bugs’ ask for the bad foods.

Sweet Drinks:

These are one of the biggest obesity contributors I feel. People don’t think of them as ‘food’ (calories) because they are liquids & so easy to consume alongside a meal. But they can turn a good meal into a nutritional nightmare. And they replace good calories with totally empty ones, zero nutrition & plenty of sweet poison. IF YOU DO ONE THING ONLY TO DECREASE YOUR CHILD’S CHANCES OF BECOMING AN OBESE OR DIABETIC ADULT, STOP THE SOFT DRINK.

What To Do:

Water water water. Fresh juices with veggies in them are fine, but better still smoothies, not juices so the fibre is still there. No bottled juices, no sweetened milk, no soft drink. Just flat out none when they’re really little – they don’t need it, you’ll just train their body to crave these & create a world of unhappiness for both of you. If you say no every time, they stop asking eventually (or they don’t start until much later). Tell Nannas not to give them crap early, plenty of time for that later when it’s literally everywhere, then you’ll probably need to create some ‘occaisions’ where you’ll say yes so they don’t develop a total complex. You need to loosen the rules as they get older & start to figure out they’ve been deprived of some of the ‘yummiest’ treats in the world all their young life! Soft drinks / juices should never have a permanent place on the shopping list / in the fridge / at the table – they are for parties & special occasions etc. Don’t have them at home just staring at everyone asking to be consumed, that’s how addictions start – with a few repeated doses. At parties & restaurants, you can ask for a mix of half lemonade & half sparkling mineral water / soda water (that way everyone is happy but you’ve halved the sugar intake). You can offer sparkling water with fresh lemon or lime at home in place of other ‘fizz’.

Cereal:

Another huge contributor to the childhood obesity epidemic. ‘But we only buy the healthy cereals’ I hear you say.  LOL!! You are deluding yourself if you think there are any healthy cereals. The ‘healthy cereals’ found on supermarket shelves, while lower in artificials & sugar than the ‘cereals-nobody-should-ever-buy-eat-or feed-to-their-kids’, are literally just processed lumps of carbs designed to be bathed in a soup of milk & usually topped with something else that’s also sweet. A massive insulin spike to start the day, a bowl full of nutritionally-lacking carbs with very little fat fibre & protein will mean a quick energy hit, then a dive that will mean they’ll crave something sweet again soon after breakfast.

What To Do:

Focus on including plenty of fat, fibre & protein for breakfast, so the kid’s blood glucose stays more level throughout the day, don’t keep smashing their straining pancreas with carbs.  Things like full-fat yoghurt, coconut yoghurt, natural protein powder etc can be added to porridge or smoothies, also use nuts & seeds, or try eggs, beans / lentils, check out our recipe page for yummy & fun breakfast ideas that contain loads of fat, fibre & protein nutrition. Even good quality sourdough wholegrain toast / or gluten-free if required, piled high with nourishing things like avocado, hummus, pesto, nut butter, sprouts, etc etc etc are a million miles ahead of a bowl of cereal for our poor little fat kids. A keto style approach may be worth looking into, also intermittent fasting (but get a professional to help you with these).

Poor Sleep:

Being so constantly connected to their devices & as a result of our too-busy, stressful lifestyles, our kids aren’t getting the sleep they need to maintain healthy metabolisms – especially our teens. Cortisol = hormonal metabolism wrecker, & poor sleep leads to higher cortisol. Studies on sleep-deprived people show that sleep is absolutely crucial to keeping us out of the diabetic / insulin resistant / metabolic syndrome state. Throw into the mix that many teens like to be out & about late at night socialising on weekends, possibly drinking a lot of caffeinated beverages, experimenting with drugs & alcohol…or maybe they’re really sporty & are up early for training every morning before school…either way, it’s highly likely there’s not enough sleep happening.

What To Do:

Set some rules around devices, it’s actually best that you pay for the phone & the data bill so that you have good reasons to be in control of its use, i.e. agree on a time before bed where there is no more device use (at least 1/2 an hr before bed). Devices shouldn’t be plugged in to charge overnight in bedrooms, make a designated spot for everyone to charge their phone at night (parents need to make rules for themselves here too to set a good example)! High adrenaline games are a no-no before bed too, no TV’s or gaming consoles in rooms either, or firm agreements around their use. If teens are anxious / stressed out – think about magnesium baths or supplementation (magnesium is a massively common deficiency & is also crucial for healthy blood sugar metabolism). Consider magnesium especially if your teen is heavily into sports also. There are herbs that can help with sleep & anxiety as well- passionflower is a fave of mine (ask in your local health store). Massage is super-beneficial for teens too, & can help lower cortisol levels & improve sleep, even just a foot rub or shoulder massage before bed.

I’ve tried everything! 

Don’t feel like it’s entirely your fault – as parents, we can only do the best we can with the information we have at the time. You get new info, you change tactics. Just don’t ignore new info when you have access to it, & keep looking for it.  The childhood obesity battle we can fight to a certain extent ourselves as parents, but it’s also got to be fought on a group level with the big food companies (who are massively to blame for this epidemic). We’re surrounded by ‘easy but not best’ options that they produce (to meet our demand, we have to take that responsibility) with regards to our diet & healthcare. These guys are pretty formidable adversaries for anyone to take on – but we can at least all give them less of our dollars each week!

If you’re a fat kid or you were & have now become a fat adult – don’t lose heart (or lose it at your parents), it’s obviously not just parents that are the issue, this is an epidemic with multiple causes. There’s so much new research & knowledge out there that can help you get your metabolism back to healthy (in case you feel like you’ve exhausted all your options). A lot of it now is pointing back to rehabilitating the damaged gut ecosystem. You can change your cravings, your metabolism, your mental / emotional state just by changing your gut bugs. And as always – we have to get back to nature, we’re so far removed from the way humans should be living & raising their kids, & not just with food.

Let me know if a specific ‘fatloss for kids’ e-book would be useful (I’ll write one), & I’m also interested in your own discoveries along the parenting/weight loss journey. Make a comment below or send me an email anytime.

Jeanie
jeanie@goodmix.com.au

Get Up & Go Breakfast Ideas!

What’s for breakfast? Make it yummy, make it healthy & make it the night before (more time for morning exercise = start the day amazingly)! Get up early, move your body, & then feed it well. Trust me – you’ll feel a million bucks if you can make this a habit!  Post Australia Day = no more partying or holiday laziness, it’s time to get into some healthy routines for an awesome 2018!

Get organised!

Avoid the crazy morning rush (& excuses for not exercising & eating well) with pre-made, portable breakfast jars. You can make a few on a Sunday night & then – no breakfast prep Mon Tues or Wed, yay! Leaves plenty of time for your morning exercise (this is not an excuse to sleep in)!  Plan a morning walk / run / surf / gym or yoga session or whatever you enjoy & then help make it happen by prepping breakfast for the household the night before, getting an early night & setting that alarm to make some ‘movement time’!

Goodness in a Jar!

An activated Blend11 parfait is so filling you won’t be reaching for that muffin / bar / snack mid-morning. These breakfast jars are full of enzymes, good fats, plant protein, diverse fibre & all the other good bits like polyphenols, phytosterols, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals & trace elements. The gut health benefits of having a regular diverse fibre intake can be incredible – just read some of these Facebook reviews

Eat Later?

These are perfect if you have to get up really early for work, or if you’re trying the ‘intermittent fasting’ thing (where you break the nightly fast a little later in the day to give your gut & metabolism a longer rest from constant eating). You can use any recycled jar & just keep them in the fridge, ready to grab quickly & throw into an esky / cold bag as you head out the door.

Fresh market fruit combos to try with your Blend11:

Peach & mango – team with natural unsweetened coconut yoghurt (or use half vanilla & half greek dairy yoghurt if the kids are really picky / still addicted to sugar / don’t like coconut). Just mix the yoghurts without them seeing you, & they’ll never know you’ve just halved their morning sugar intake!
Passionfruit & banana (again, awesome with natural unsweetened coconut or greek yoghurt). Mix your passionfruit & banana together so the banana doesn’t go brown.
Berries, fresh or frozen: strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, mulberries – all yum, esp with Pure n Free chocolate coconut yoghurt! (Amazing breakfast + dessert overlap)! Also delish with unsweetened yoghurt.
Red plum, cherry & red grape (again – amazing with choc coconut yoghurt!)
Apple or pear with cinnamon (awesome with a dollop of coconut or greek yoghurt).

**If your gut is a bit funny with any of the above fruits, it might be the FODMAP’s they contain. FODMAP’s are pesky carbohydrates that can turn a normal flat comfortable tummy into a bloated painful spasmodic irregular wreck in minutes – in quite a lot of IBS people! Good to know your fruity FODMAP’s if you suffer from IBS – for a small fee you can download the Monash University App from the app store, there is a fruit list in there (as well as all the other foods too)!  Blend11 is low FODMAP – just needs the right ingredients to go with it if you’re sensitive.

If you have some combos to share I’d love to feature them (recipes need to use goodMix products to get published in the recipe section ;-)
jeanie@goodmix.com.au

How Many Poos Should I Be Doing Each Day?

So we at goodMix are all for talking crap – it’s what we do best! And some of our customers have great questions that warrant a public answer (you know – the question that everyone is wondering about but is too scared to actually askthe question that everyone is wondering about but is too scared to actually ask). Here’s my best answer (sorry my answers always seem to be long) to one of these poo FAQ’s, received again via email this week!

Q: “I’m in good health, just wondering how many poos should I be doing in a day?”

A: Depends on lots of factors – including…

How many times you’ve eaten that day (or more relevantly the previous day or 3, as it takes a while for food to get all the way from entry to exit).

i.e. if you’ve been bedridden with the flu & not really eating for days, you may easily go a week with no poo action whilst recovering. Same situation when fasting. This is totally normal as your digestive system will slow almost to a standstill, & take a while to get back to normal once you’re eating regularly again.

Volume & quality of food you ate, & how much fibre that food contained.

A person eating KFC & Macca’s burgers 3x daily washed down with energy drinks will be unlikely to produce any healthy poos, as there’s nothing much in these ‘foods’ to support your gut bugs, whereas a person consuming a variety of fresh, natural, whole plant foods that agree with them will have sufficient fibre intake to support a thriving & diverse ecosystem of gut microbes who literally help your gut to produce good healthy poos. A huge percentage of your poo is actually gut bugs (yup, it’s alive – a bit freaky when you think about it!!) The rest is mostly made up of fibre & water. Fibre & fluid provide the building blocks of healthy poos, & your gut bugs are like the builders (sorry any builders reading for the comparison). Anyway – when things are ‘not happening’, it can be due to not enough or poor quality building materials coming in, or maybe there is a problem with the builders (they’ve been wiped out with a bout of gastro or a course of antibiotics, there may be a party going on in there with too many of the wrong bugs hindering the building process, or the building site (your gut) needs some maintenance to make it all work properly again.

Past health history, especially related to your brain & nervous system, hormones, gut, liver, previous medications esp antibiotics.

Everything in your body is connected, & just as your gut health influences other body systems, your other body systems influence the workings of your gut. Ie – if you’ve had a brain or spinal injury (or an illness that has affected the nerve supply to your bowel), it’s expected that nothing will work as it should – regular poo production & movement may need a lot of assistance. Even if you’re just feeling stressed out, your nervous system spends too much time in ‘fight or flight’ mode instead of in ‘rest & digest’ mode – so you will have sub-optimal digestion & subsequent poo production as all of your energy has been diverted away from your digestive system. Your hormones can also affect your gut function & your poos – ladies know this, many experience constipation a day or 2 before periods & then the floodgates open with the flow, & so many 50 plus ladies have told me that ‘everything changed’ when they became menopausal. Your liver & gallbladder function can directly influence your bowel function as well, as bile secreted by the liver is a natural laxative (we secrete more bile when we eat, especially when we eat fatty foods). Sometimes people can experience constipation whilst eating a low-fat diet, & strict low-fat diets can actually be a cause of gallstones forming (not enough bile movement).

How much water you’ve been drinking / the fluid content of your foods.

We need to be hydrated for digestion to work, & everything comes to a bit of a grinding halt when we don’t drink enough. Drinking too much fluid with meals is not a good idea though, try to drink most of your fluids in between your food ideally.

If you’ve been very sedentary or very active.

When we move, it stimulates our digestive system to move too (our body knows that when we’re active, we’re using up our food energy, so it hurries everything along & makes room for more incoming nourishment). When we’re sedentary, everything (including digestive processes & our metabolism) slows right down.

What medication you’ve used lately / chemicals in your food & environment.

Some medications cause digestive symptoms directly, & some cause them indirectly. If you are at all concerned, ask your Dr or pharmacist if it’s possible that your meds may be making you constipated, giving you diarrhoea or making you feel bloated / uncomfortable. And try to eat organically as much as possible, your gut bugs tend not to like chemicals (they may be tested safe for humans but their impact on our gut bugs hasn’t been taken into account). As a general rule, more chemicals going into your tummy = less good gut bugs = less good poos.

Stress levels.

You’ll notice a big difference in how many poos you do daily / weekly when stressed vs relaxed, but it can go either way or even alternate. People who normally go regularly & without drama can suddenly become uncomfortably constipated or ‘get the runs’ when highly stressed. Most people with IBS know only too well that when they’re stressed out, their gut symptoms are always much worse. Keep calm & poo well (that could be a fridge magnet).

Being Away From Home.

There is nothing quite like the comfort of your own home loo. People who are forced to use work bathrooms / public bathrooms etc, or cannot go easy on the job throughout the day are at high risk of developing poo problems. It can even start as young as pre-school. I often speak to mums who are little kids decide ‘I only do poos at home, not at kindy’. Arrgh!! This is something you need to sort out quickly, as it can rapidly escalate into a situation where the child becomes badly backed up, & pooing hurts – so they hold it in cos it hurts, & so on. I have heard from one market mum that this happened in her kindy aged child, to the point where she needed to be hospitalised with a ‘mass the size of a coconut’ blocking things up & she was ‘vomiting faeces’. Yup, true story. Poor little thing went through such an ordeal (narrowly avoided surgery) but now poos happily ever after with a little help from her Blend11. Kids (& adults) need to get comfortable pooing away from home – women especially have issues on holidays (take your Blend11 with you every trip, many now do) & don’t be shy, if ya gotta go – GO!

Your Constitution & Baseline Metabolism.

How your metabolism processes things – some people are just ‘fast’ & some ‘slow’ at digesting / metabolising & pushing everything through their system. It may be a case of ‘always have been always will be’ some people seem to be born fast or slow – this can just be your constitutional tendency, but it can also be related to thyroid function (an underactive thyroid will make you slower, overactive will make you move things faster – neither is good, you wanna be somewhere in the middle ‘just right’). Check thyroid if you’re a too fast or too slow type for no obvious reason.

So…let just says you’re spending plenty of time at home, you’re not overly stressed, you don’t take meds, you’re eating plenty of fibre, you exercise, you’re thyroid is sweet & you’re well hydrated. How many poos should you be producing daily?  

I speak to a lot of people about their poos each week & this is my conclusion (just my opinion – not saying it’s correct, just my thoughts based on what I’ve learned & heard so far).

There are variations of what can be considered ‘healthy’ & normal with regards to ‘poos per day’, just as there are with many other bodily functions. How fast should my hair or nails grow? How fast should my heart beat? How many hours should I sleep each night? We’re all a bit different, & there are many healthy people, who don’t all work in exactly the same way. I think there is a ‘spectrum’ of healthy.

But in general – a relatively healthy human with a plant-rich diet that works well for them & an optimally functioning gut should be producing & eliminating between 1 & 3 well formed, easy to pass stools daily (with some days that aren’t normal due to changes in routine / food / illness / stress etc). I know many of you reading this are thinking ‘I would kill for daily, regular, well-formed easy to pass poos!! Those who already have them, you should feel truly blessed, I actually think you are in the minority these days! I chat to Blend11 addicts who used to only ‘go’ every 2 weeks & are now going twice daily (rejoice) or those who were bloated, in pain & very irregular with loose stools that now feel much more comfortable & at ease. To go from unpredictable to regular can literally be life-changing!

You don’t have to be perfect every day / every week, but in general – 1 to 3 daily would seem normal & healthy to me, & no stress if you miss the occasional day due to circumstances / stress – just don’t make it a habit. The main indicators for healthy toilet habits are – does your tummy feel comfortable or do you often feel discomfort / pain? Do you need to strain or is going to the loo painful or very urgent / too fast? These are more important to me that ‘the numbers’. Quality over quantity. Some people brag about how many poos they do daily but remember you can go overboard too – if everything is being pushed through your digestive system too quickly, that leaves less time for absorption of valuable nutrients along the way. Too many poos (esp if they are on the loose side) can indicate food intolerances as well. You want the transit time to be not too fast, not too slow, & poos to be not too hard or too soft. Goldilocks poos!

In general – to speed & soften things up, use more fibre, water & exercise – to slow things down & firm them up, remove possible irritants (gluten, dairy, alcohol, FODMAP’s, caffeine etc), use some gentle fibre (low FODMAP ideally) & be calm / take time to relax. And in both circumstances – get a checkup if concerned! Work your way backwards from ‘the best poos ever’ & you’ll find a happy & healthy gut – one of the foundations for overall good health – if your poos aren’t good, neither will your insides be!

Love to hear some more numbers! What’s your average daily range? Do you feel awesome but fall outside what is considered normal / healthy? What changes have you made to your poo frequency & how? What is it that completely throws things out for you? Write a comment below or send me an email :-)

 

Bristol Stool Chart
Best Poos Ever

Place this handy chart up on your toilet door and teach everyone who sits on your loo about a healthy gut / poo: Bristol Stool Chart – free download

 

Jeanie
jeanie@goodmix.com.au 

 

 

Seven of the Worst Things You Can Do For Your Gut Health!

Let’s face it – we’ve seriously messed our collective gut health up over the last 50 years – excessive use of antibiotics & other medications, chemicals in our food, overconsumption of refined & junky ‘food’, lack of exposure to environmental microbes, high stress levels, huge rates of caesarean births & not enough breastfeeding…no wonder we’re all such a mess!! So whilst the damage is already done, there are a few things we can do to avoid making things worse – & maybe even improve the situation!

If you’re trying to get your dysfunctional & unhappy gut back to some kind of balance – here are 5 things NOT to do (& what to do instead).

Eat Lots Of Sugar & Pseudo Sugar:

Consume lollies, desserts, soft drinks, juices & sweet treats regularly. These are the favourite foods of some of the ‘baddies’ that live in our guts. These microbes love sugars & need them to survive. When you eat too much, they grow like crazy & actually compete with & kill off our helpful microbes that keep us feeling happy & healthy. They also communicate with our brain & demand that we seek out more of this type of food (they need it to survive remember) – one reason why sugar cravings can be so darn hard to ignore!! And – just a heads up, you can’t replace sugar with artificial sweeteners & expect to have a happy tummy (or lose any weight), these are some of the worst things you can put in your gut, responsible for loads of digestive discomfort, bloating & gas. They’re also mega addictive & will still screw with your blood sugar & make you fat – there’s no place for them in a healthy diet, sorry all you Pepsi Max & Diet Coke addicts!

The fix

The good news is that you can take back some control once you’re aware what’s going on. You’ll need mental strength & determination to give up your sweets cold turkey, but it is the best way I believe, as it takes the least time to really feel free (amazing feeling, so worth it). At the same time, make an effort to increase your fibre (get it from veggies, legumes if tolerated, brown rice etc – not so much fruit while you’re quitting as these are still quite sugary, just use lower sugar fruits like blueberries & raspberries). You can reintroduce small quantities of fruits & even quality dark chocolate (low sugar) once you’ve got things under control & are more aware of how sugars effect your gut, your mood & your cravings. Avoid all sweeteners, refined, natural & artificial – you’re retraining your tastebuds, your gut & your blood sugar metabolism. Make sure you include loads of healthy fats & regular protein as these will help you feel full & satisfied (you’ll still be craving sugar, expect it to be really tough – but fat, fibre & protein are your friends)! PondWater (or any quality product with a good dose of aloe vera) can be a useful helper here to improve your insulin sensitivity & also to help soothe & nourish your inflamed gut. Google ‘aloe vera / diabetes’ & you’ll find some pretty awesome results from aloe given to folks with varying degrees of insulin resistance.

Be A Carbaholic Gluten Glutton:

Eat lots of bread, pasta, cakes, cereals, pastries, crumbed foods etc. These types of carbs are really just sugar arranged differently (they feed your bad bugs & get converted into blood glucose extremely quickly in your system, so will contribute to insulin resistance & abdominal fat storage, your sweet cravings & your gut symptoms). Also – these foods all contain gluten if made from wheat, rye or barley – & gluten is one of the most problematic foods for our gut-lining (we have tiny holes that let nutrients into our bloodstream from our gut, but when we eat gluten constantly it makes these holes bigger (leaky gut) so they start to let all kinds of bigger bits into our bloodstream, things that aren’t supposed to end up in there & these can cause our immune system to become excessively reactive. You may not think gluten effects you – but if you suffer from any of the following & would prefer not to – it’s definitely worth looking into: bloating, fluid retention, abdominal pain, reflux, nausea, diarrhoea, constipation, weight gain / loss, fatigue, anaemia, rashes, joint pain, brain fog, anxiety, depression, behavioural disturbances, headaches, autoimmune problems…you can even have coeliac disease & be completely asymptomatic as well – I believe it should be something everyone is routinely checked for.

The fix

Just try 6 weeks with no gluten in your diet. You will generally lose a few kgs of fat & fluid as a bonus, & you’ll also be forced to find healthier (less refined carb) solutions to meals & snacks. Ie instead of a sandwich or wrap for lunch you’ll  just have the salad & protein (meat / fish / legumes / nuts / seeds). Instead of cereal for breakfast (who still eats that stuff anyway) you can use a nutritious soaked seed blend with yoghurt (Blend11 or NeoBlend are good options – sorry, shameless plug), or have a smoothie with plenty of good fats, protein & fibre (throw some seed blend in there). DO NOT just go looking for gluten free versions of your bread, pasta, cakes, cereal, pastries & crumbed foods – many of these can be very unhealthy – full of additives & even higher in refined carbs than their gluten containing versions! Ask advice for some good replacements in your local healthfood store (there are some great gluten free products & then there are some really, really ordinary ones)! I speak to sooo many people each week who just feel better when they avoid gluten, you never know if you’re one of them unless you give it a good trial. I used to think the whole gluten intolerance thing was a load of crap too, but it’s not.

Be A Stress Head:

Surround yourself with mess & chaos, take on more than you can handle, say yes to everything, overthink, take on responsibility for other people’s issues, worry about everything, drink copious amounts of coffee to cope with your workload, sleep minimally & never take a break…if this describes you & you’re not feeling 100% right in the guts THAT IS ONLY STAGE ONE, YOU’RE HEADED FOR MUCH WORSE!  If you’re constantly stressed, your digestion won’t happen properly, & your gut will give you trouble – which will contribute to your anxiety & stress levels, it’s a vicious cycle that will lead you to an eventual train wreck!

The fix

If you’re not coping, SEEK HELP. Change things. You have choices, you can always change your circumstances, your mindset & your actions. When we’re stressed out, our digestive system shuts down (it’s not ideal to be eating or defecating during fight or flight moments, so our hormones divert circulation & energy away from the gut & towards muscles used to fight or flee).Counselling, meditation, yoga, massage, exercise, talking things through with friends (or even strangers), scheduling regular short ’me time’ & longer periods off, away from the things that are constantly causing you mental angst – wether those things are your job, your kids, your partner, your relatives, your home environment. Do the things that you enjoy & that take your focus away from your stressed-out headspace. For some people that may be a sport, it could be art, gardening, walking in nature, playing or listening to music, whatever floats your boat (sailing is also a good one). You can eat all the quinoa & kale you like but if you’re a mess upstairs, you’ll be a mess downstairs too.

Keep Milking It:

Eat cereal & milk for breakfast, cheese & crackers for morning tea, creamy pasta for lunch, a yoghurt smoothie for afternoon tea & ice-cream after your dinner. Helloo – dairy overload!  Calves need cows milk to survive & thrive, we actually don’t (despite what the dairy industry tells us, sorry dairy farmers). Not everyone feels crappy eating dairy – but A LOT of people do, it is one of the most common gut disruptors (right up there with gluten & sugar – these are the first 3 to quit / minimise if your gut is out of whack). Some people find they’re ok with some dairy products but not with others – i.e. A2 dairy can be less reactive, as can goats or sheeps milk products, & yoghurt & butter are generally better tolerated than milk, cheese & ice-cream. Cheeses can also vary a lot, depending on the casein content, the production method & the microbes they contain.  

The fix

If you never have, try avoiding all dairy products for a minimum of 3 weeks & see if you notice an improvement in your gut symptoms. This is an especially good idea if you have previously suffered from eczema or asthma or have them running in your family, also hayfever, recurring ear infections, sinus problems & excessive mucous production can be a giveaway. There are so many great dairy free options readily available these days – coconut yoghurt, all kinds of nut milks, spreads, cheeses & ice-creams. Just remember you can overdo these & I would avoid the soy options (soy is another of our top gut enemies!). Also be aware of quality – many dairy replacement products will contain a whole list of crap that you don’t wanna ingest either – look for simple & natural ingredient labels & observe how you feel when you eat them, just because they are dairy free does not mean they’ll be good for you. If you’ve never tried it, & your gut is giving you grief – do the dairy free experiment. You may notice nothing much, or it could be life-changing. If you are reacting, you may be able to reintroduce some types of dairy or use it minimally after some gut rehabilitation – but you may feel so much better you just prefer to go without.

Be A Party Animal:

Drink several beers each evening & then several more on the weekends! They don’t call it a ‘beer gut’ for nothing – think about it.  Even keen beer drinkers will admit to it making them feel bloated & uncomfortable, but – like any pleasurable addiction – the discomfort has to get pretty severe before it becomes worth avoiding the source of pleasure. And it’s not just beer – any excessive amount of alcohol will damage your gut, I’ve actually spoken to quite a few people over the years who’ve developed a food intolerance right after a ‘huge weekend’ (likely cause: microbial devastation & gut barrier damage leading to leaky gut & consequent immune hyper-reactivity). And whilst you’re invincible when you’re young, trust me – there are many people in their 30’s, 40’s & 50’s suffering with some of the worst gut conditions who would love to be able to press rewind & take better care of themselves / drink less in their younger party years.

The fix

Sorry to be boring, but moderation / minimisation is the go here. Some current research says that we can probably enjoy a daily small glass of quality red wine (emphasise glass, not bottle) & we’ll not be damaging our gut (there’s actually some polyphenol benefits for our microbes). And you might be less stressed too. If your gut already says no to alcohol, keep avoiding it, & don’t start drinking red wine now just for the polyphenols. If you do drink, keep it minimal to maintain a happy gut. If you accidentally slip up – take some probiotics, turmeric, aloe vera, slippery elm powder, stay off the gluten / dairy / sugar etc & be sure to catch up on any missed sleep. Teach yourself other ways to destress, socialise & have fun – don’t revolve your weekly fun times around alcohol.

Just Keep On Shovelling It In:

Eat really early, eat realy late, eat large meals, eat snacks in between meals, eat desserts, have a midnight snack, drink more ‘food’ in liquid form…just keep pouring food down your throat constantly. OK so here’s a big clue – the word ‘breakfast’. We are supposed to have a fasting period, then we break that with some food the next day (the idea is to give your gut a good rest & some time to recuperate from the days work, clean up any mess & be ready to start all over agin the next day). Consider that we used to go to sleep at dark or soon after & rise at dawn or soon after…that should leave a pretty good time for sleeping & no food (24hr fast food joints & service stations were not an option). Many people just get up early for work everyday, eat food without exercising first & then continue eating at short intervals throughout the day, until their late night sweet treat with a cuppa at 9 or 10pm. If you’re waking at 5 & eating breakfast, then going to bed at 10pm after eating something late – that leaves approx 9hrs downtime for your gut. Many experts are now saying that we do much better with a longer fasting period (13-16hrs), & less continual grazing for good gut health.

The fix

Many find their gut (& the rest of their body) feels much happier when they adopt an ‘intermittent fasting’ approach – you can still eat plenty, you just have a smaller window of the day when you eat, & a longer fasting period to allow your gut & liver to really have a proper rest. This can also be a great approach if you need to lose weight or improve your insulin sensitivity. Try it by eating your dinner a bit earlier (& no snacks afterwards – unsweetened herbal tea ok), then getting up in the morning (& doing some exercise ideally), waiting until you’re actually really hungry until you first eat – i.e. try dinner at 6.30pm, then don’t eat until after 9am the next day, or even see if you feel fine until a bit later. This will be easier if you are having plenty of good fats, fibre & protein & keeping your sugars to an absolute minimum (sugar makes you feel hungry all the time).

Take Antibiotics Every Time You Get Sick:

Go to your Dr demanding antibiotics at the first sign of every rash, sore throat, cough or sniffle, so the family won’t need to take too long off work / school / daycare recovering. Believe it or not, this still happens all too often in Australia – GPs feel pressured / trapped into prescribing antibiotics when they won’t be necessary or even beneficial. Uneducated patients still request them frequently (worried parents are often guilty here) & they don’t realise that opting for a course of antibiotics will actually make them or their child MUCH more likely to catch the next infection going around – their immune system will be severely compromised as well as their gut health. There are many adults who’s gut health is still recovering from the antibiotics of their youth. Australian kids are prescribed more antibiotics than most of the world: Parents be warned!

The fix

Focus on prevention & you should very rarely need antibiotics (there are some exceptions to this rule, but this is true for most of us in reasonable health).The best course of action for most childhood (& adulthood) infections is to support the patient (at home, for as long as necessary) while it runs its course, whilst being in regular contact with your health professional whenever concerned. Just make sure your health professional is not a trigger-happy antibiotic prescriber (thankfully these are becoming less common now)!

So…I’m sure we’re all guilty of at least one of these gut sins – I totally am. There are definitely a few more things I haven’t listed too (like not eating enough fibre of course, but I kinda mention that a lot normally!). I’d love to hear what you find is your worst gut enemy too!?

Jeanie

jeanie@goodmix.com.au

“I’m Gonna Get Healthy This Year’! Yeah Yeah…

“I’m gonna get healthy this year’! Yeah yeah, you say that every January!

You start out all gung-ho, but the new year motivation – a result of your Christmas overindulgence – only lasts until around Australia Day, or maybe Easter if you’re lucky!

So many diet plans are annoyingly complex & unsustainable, meaning you get results for a few weeks (IF you can figure out the system & incorporate it into your lifestyle), but then eventually it becomes all too hard & you chuck in the towel – deciding that ‘healthy is way too hard, the benefits aren’t worth the time, effort & sacrifices’.

This year – just keep it simple, & keep it up!

Remember the 4 easy pointers below (post-it note to yourself on the mirror) & stick to them for the entire year! The key to making healthy changes is being really consistent with something sustainable. You won’t suddenly get healthy from doing a hardcore, 2 week new year’s detox. It is a great kick-start, but it’s ultimately the little everyday things, repeated consistently that will shape your health over the year & for the rest of your life.

  1. Eat Clean: Decrease your processed food intake. (Ie additives, artificials, crappy fats & refined sugar & carbs).
  2. More Green: Add in 1 green drink daily & increase your green veggies. (Even the best of us could use a top up, & for the worst of us this could literally be life or death)!
  3. Less Screen: Decrease your screen time. (Sedentary = not sexy, cancel your social accounts for a while if you have to!)
  4. Be Keen: Get involved with others, join a class, take some lessons! Hang out with healthy folks – make getting healthy fun, not a chore! Think martial arts, dance, yoga, Pilates, surfing, stand-up paddle boarding, skateboarding, cycling, kayaking, running, rock climbing, walking, gardening, bushwalking…there are sooo many things you could try! Just sign up for one & get into it!

…if you follow these 4 simple pointers in 2018, you’ll see awesome results…but for those needing a bit of a kickstart…

GRAB THIS BUNDLE DEAL

Some gut, liver detox & metabolic support will give you a huge head-start with your efforts – esp post silly season! And as an extra BONUS we’ll chuck in FREE SHIPPING (expires 26th January 2018), so get the Bundle Deal and at the checkout apply coupon code: Pondytime

  

Humans – They’re Just Like Pot Plants

Humans, like plants have a few basic needs, & when they’re not met properly, we can start to suffer from ‘failure to thrive’. We get out of balance, start to look a bit sad & become susceptible to all kinds of diseases, depending on our weak areas / our constitution & the types of stressors effecting us. Just like plants when their needs for water, soil nutrients, sunshine etc are not being met – they stop thriving.

I wonder – are we using our time, energy & research dollars efficiently, searching for a ‘cure’ for every individual disease that effects us?  Or are we better off approaching human disease from another angle: ‘why are so many things going wrong here, how do we better care for & strengthen the ‘human plants’ in this ‘earth garden’?

Think about a garden. In that garden is a plant, which is not doing so well – it looks unhealthy, maybe not dying but definitely not thriving. What do you (as the gardener) do? You go through a checklist in your head – what are the basic needs of this plant? The right amount of water & sunlight, the right temperature range, humidity, soil / potting mix suitable the individual plant, a pot big enough to provide space for the root system, maybe some mulch on the top to keep the moisture levels more even & ensure good soil health & structure, check there are no obvious signs of infestation or attack from bugs…usually this kind of checklist will give you some ideas & actions to take to help you nurture the plant back to the thriving, beautiful life form it wants to be, instead of a weak, fragile, barely ’surviving’ plant. Humans are not that different.

I believe when dealing with chronic disease, a health professional should think like a gardener. When a human is ‘not thriving’, there should be a checklist to go through at first instance, aimed at strengthening & balancing the human, before medication is employed.  You don’t automatically spray a pot plant that isn’t thriving with chemicals, yet that is often the medical approach to chronic illness! Chemical meds are commonly the first (or only option) when you’re under the care of a hospital / gp.  Obviously – in some severe acute illnesses / injuries, you need to go straight in with intensive pharmaceutical intervention & support. But in most chronic cases, you can get the ailing human back on track, & headed towards thriving, by making a few adjustments…

Here’s a health checklist to go through when you or a family member are not thriving! These are ‘stressors’ that can usually be removed / changed to support the health of the organism – it can be just like moving a pot plant into a sunnier spot!.

Air:

Fresh air! It seems like a pretty obvious human need, but sadly it’s getting hard to come by. You may think – ‘oh I’m fine, I live in the relatively unpolluted Australia’. Maybe…but what if you cycle, walk or jog along a busy road daily? Or your job requires you to be in places with poor air quality for much of the day – i.e. you work as a nail technician or a factory hand in a dusty manufacturing shed? Or you’re a painter? Humans breathing poor quality air can expect to suffer more from hay fever, asthma & other respiratory symptoms (as you’d expect), as well as many other complaints you may not have expected, as pollutants in the air can end up reaching your bloodstream through your lungs. Cancers, cognitive issues, headaches, premature babies & low birth weights, plus many more health issues you wouldn’t think – can be caused or aggravated by breathing too much polluted air.  Solution: everybody move to the country or wear a mask? Just be aware that if you are exposed to excess air pollution, it could be impacting your health – definitely your respiratory system, but also other things. Consider a move &/or change of job if you suspect this is true for you.

Water:

Another of our most basic physical needs, it makes up such a huge part of us – a healthy human should be somewhere around 60% water. When water is in short supply you start to droop – acute dehydration is fairly obvious – but chronic, mild dehydration can cause symptoms like headaches, constipation, skin problems, plus many many more. . 

Get a water bottle you love, fill it with clean filtered water daily & drink up. Especially remember to hydrate after being physically active, when the weather is hot & when you’re out in a drying wind. The same as your garden needs more or less water, depending on the conditions – your water requirements are not static. 2L a day is just an average! 

Nutrients:

Nutrients are the building blocks of all living organisms (yep, plants & humans). The ’substances that provide nourishment essential for the maintenance of life & for growth’. Just like plants need nutrients in the right balance from their soil, humans need a balanced supply of nutrients from their food to build & repair body tissue, make new cells, enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters, maintain normal metabolism & make sure everything is working properly. Things go wrong in plants & humans when nutrients are deficient or unbalanced. Ie humans with not enough iron or B12 to make healthy red blood cells can become lethargic, unable to function well physically as their red blood cells cannot properly deliver oxygen to cells. Many illnesses are known to be caused by nutrient deficiencies, & almost certainly there are many more that we’re unaware of.  Nutrient requirements can vary hugely from person to person, depending on ethnicity, genetic makeup / constitution, metabolism, gut function & microbial populations, climate, lifestyle, lifestage etc.  What works for one person may not work for the next, the same as a waterlily has some different nutrient requirements to a rose bush. The sad thing today is that whilst we have an abundance of food in Australia, much of that food is very nutrient deficient.

Microbial ecosystem:

Plants, animals & humans are like ‘mini planets’, each supporting their own ecosystem of many other life forms, hopefully living in a balanced & harmonious state. Your personal ecosystem can cause you health problems if it’s out of whack. One of the most obvious places to see microbial imbalance is the skin – living in tropical environments you can get all kinds of skin overgrowths due to the humidity, in adolescents with suddenly oily skin you can see an overgrowth of oil-loving, acne-causing bacteria. You can easily get itchy fungal imbalances in warm, damp crevices like armpits, under boobs, the groin area etc. Of course, broad spectrum antibiotics are the big one – these are devastating to our bacterial friends, wreaking havoc on the gut. Always remember that you’re a walking ecosystem, & be mindful of doing things that can unbalance your microbial life – i.e. using antibiotics necessarily, strong antibacterial washes, antifungals – anything that is powerful enough to use as a treatment can also potentially cause microbial imbalances. Opt for the gentler, more natural skin & personal care products, bathe ‘less rigorously’ use minimal products, eat organic, use natural cleaning products, & always question your Dr on the relevance of medication – sure it may be ‘safe with no known side effects’ but what about for your microbes? 

Environmental stressors:

We humans have spread across this entire planet with her many different climates – we’re pretty tolerant of the extremes because we’ve designed clothing, bedding, shelter & temperature control appliances to help us feel comfortable anywhere. But think about preference – are you a cactus or a moss? Prefer dry or damp? Do you feel happiest / more energetic in cold weather – or do you function best in the warmer months? Where do you choose for holidays? Some people seem constitutionally better suited to cool places, whereas others prefer warmth.  I’ve spoken to many people who’s arthritis / asthma / depression got much better or even resolved after a change of climate, or who ‘got sick’ immediately after they relocated.

 

…so there are a few more points to add to this checklist, but you get the idea – remember you’re just a part of nature too, consider that next time you’re feeling a little wilted :)

 

5 Health Tips From a Naturopath

Sometimes we need to look ‘outside the box’ – here are 5 things that can help you get healthier…

1. Listen To Your Body – Don’t Ignore it:

Some people get themselves into really big trouble because they ignore their body when it’s gently whispering that something is wrong. Ie – that itchy rash that you slathered with cortisone cream isn’t necessarily ‘better’ or ‘fixed’ just because it’s gone away now. The conditions in your body that created / gave rise to that rash are very likely still present, & you’ve made no attempt to change what you’re doing – just whacked some cream on to ‘make the noise go away’. That usually won’t be the last of it – often that rash will reappear somewhere else, worse than before – or you’ll get some other symptom (which may seem completely unrelated) popping up.

Symptoms are best treated as signals to pay greater attention to your health & make a change, not as annoyances to just remove ASAP. You can even use ongoing mild symptoms as a gauge to monitor where you’re at, & to help judge if a change you’ve made has been a good one for you. Respect your body’s attempts to communicate with you – if you ignore the whispers, you’ll have to deal with some shouting later on!

2. Diagnosis & Treatment – Shop Around, Get a Few Opinions:

Always get a 2nd (even a 3rd, 4th & 5th) opinion when a Dr recommends medication or surgery, or any invasive treatment that comes with its own set of risks &/or side effects. I speak to sooo many people who’re medicated unnecessarily, who’ve undergone surgery when other options would have been better. These are not decisions to take lightly, this is your body & you have the right to question your practitioner & get another opinion or 3 if you feel even slightly uneasy about the recommendations being given. I’m not suggesting that you ignore the diagnosis & recommendations of your practitioner, just putting it out there that different practitioners will have different approaches, different training, different experience & different tools to work with your issues. And no Dr has all the answers. You don’t have to go with the first piece of advice you’re given.  

3. Diet – Be Open to Change, Be Flexible:

Nobody really knows what diet is the best one for you – despite what they might say! But if you’re not feeling 100% on your current diet, it makes sense to try something different.  There are a lot of people who feel great on a vegan diet, a lot who feel better on a paleo diet, some just need to steer clear of dairy or gluten…some seem to thrive on the blood type diet…& then those who felt great for a while on some diet or other then slipped for no apparent reason.  

We really only know the tip of the iceberg about how our gut works, the way we digest & assimilate nutrients & the interactions between the gut microbiome & our brain & immune system. My personal feeling is that we need to remain open & flexible to try different approaches when we’re ‘out of whack’. You can find negatives in almost every single food if you look (even many vegetables), so don’t freak out when you read / hear something negative about one of your faves that you thought was healthy – maybe it does have some unhealthy bits, but often the overall effect is a good one when you take into account all the good bits!

4. Look After Your Emotions – They’re Much More Powerful Than You Think:

It doesn’t matter how healthy & balanced your diet is, or how active you are if you’re feeling unbalanced emotionally. Negative feelings can absolutely cause you to become unwell, especially anything that goes on for too long without you recognising it, addressing it & working through it. Things like strong sadness, grief, loneliness, anger, work or relationship stress.  We all have our challenges & stresses, we wouldn’t appreciate the ups if there were no downs – but, if there’s something in your life that is a constant niggle or a big loud disturbance to your mental-emotional wellbeing, it needs to be dealt with as a priority! Don’t set the expectation that you should be a completely zen monk-like human being, but if you’re placing all the focus on diet & exercise, & wondering why you’re not seeing results – look into the mental-emotional side of things. If you’re not laughing, playing, connecting, learning, challenging yourself, relaxing…doing whatever it is that feels most nourishing to your soul – do something about that today!! And if there’s an obvious stressor that is affecting you strongly, do something about that today too. Sometimes you just need to change the way you’re thinking about it, sometimes you need to make big scary changes.

5. Nature – Get Amongst It! You Were Designed To!:

So easy in this crazy concrete day & age to go for days / weeks without spending time immersed in (or even in contact with) nature. If you live & work in an apartment in the middle of a giant city, & have little downtime – it can be especially hard. A few ideas to help you ‘stay connected’:

  • Open your windows (unless your area is quite polluted, let the sunshine & outside air into your home – it will bring in loads of natural & healthy microbes & prevent your indoor environment from stagnating & growing toxic mould). This might not be appropriate in springtime if you’re suffering a hayfever flare, but for everyone else – open up!
  • Plant indoor plants (they can help filter & oxygenate your inside air, they attract healthy microbes & they brighten up your space). Ask at your local nursery for plants that are happy inside in pots, it doesn’t suit them all!
  • Start a veggie garden – even if it’s only a few herbs in pots on the balcony! Gardening is a proven antidepressant, it can be quite meditative & very satisfying – plus you get all those lovely dirt microbes when you work on it & when you incorporate your uber-fresh produce into a meal.
  • Head to the beach, lake, park, forest, farm etc in your downtime. Breathe deeply, hug trees, play in the mud, pat the animals, roll in the leaves / sand, swim & don’t rinse too quickly…get covered in microbes from healthy natural ecosystems! You’ll give your immune system something to do, & introduce some ‘old friends’ (microbes we evolved with) into your personal microbiome.
  • Get a pet. Yes, they drop hair all over the place & walk dirt from outside into your home, & lick the kid’s faces – but that actually makes your space healthier! Get over the grubbiness & embrace your messy pet. They make you healthier in many other ways too (studies actually show that pet owners are happier & healthier). Remember that as you’re sweeping hair & picking up poo :)
  • Buy farm fresh organic fruit & veg (shop at the markets), or grow some of your own. Plants taken fresh from a healthy organic soil ecosystem have a completely different microbiome than those grown on a chemical soaked conventional farm in chemically fertilised soil. Chemicals kill things / interrupt ecosystems. Even if the produce looks & tastes the same, you’re not getting the same good bugs with it. And bugs can have a huge impact on your health. It’s a good thing when you see a slug on the lettuce you’ve just bought…it means the food you’re eating supports life & that a living creature has chosen to eat it / make it’s home there…it’s much more scary if you never find creatures in your food!

…it’s not ALL about diet, exercise & supplements…these have their place, but they aren’t the only things to consider! Tell me what you’ve found to be the biggest health challenge, or the most unexpected healing tool you’ve figured out? Leave a comment below or send me an email.

Jeanie Xx
jeanie@goodmix.com.au