Junk Food

Festive Season Health

The festive season is now upon us and that generally means an increase in social engagements.   While for most of us this is a fun time of year, it can also result in health issues such as sluggishness, weight gain and fatigue.  So let’s look at what goes on and how we can stay healthy during the Christmas and New Year period.

Alcohol is certainly the first thing most people think of when they think of the ‘silly season’.  Most of us know that alcohol and our livers are not good friends.  In fact, alcohol consumption can affect many different systems not just the liver.  Alcohol directly damages the stomach wall causing inflammation and alcohol is also a nervous system depressant, which can lead to mood change, irritability and depression – especially over time or with excess consumption.

The amount of alcohol that a person can safely consume is highly individual, depending on age, sex, weight and family history.  So the festive message is to be mindful of the affects that alcohol has on your body and take it easy.  Pace yourself with drinks (no more than one per hour) and drink hydrating water in between alcoholic drinks to avoid dehydration which is the major cause of hangovers.   You can easily make festive non-alcoholic drinks with plain mineral water by adding lime, mint and berries. Alcohol is rapidly absorbed on an empty stomach, so be sure to always eat something when you are having a drink.  Women who are pregnant or planning to get pregnant should completely avoid alcohol. Supplementing with a multivitamin that contains good amounts of B vitamins is also a good idea to support your health especially at this time of year.

With all the socialising that comes with the festive season, many people not only drink too much but often end up eating too much food and more of the wrong kinds of food.  Finger foods at functions are often high in refined flour products and sugar and may be cooked in trans fats.  Try to avoid foods with artificial flavours, colours and preservatives which stress the liver and kidneys. Choose where possible healthy options such as raw vegies with dips, cheese, wholemeal pitta breads, succhi, fruit platters and nuts.  Avoid over eating by not eating lots of nibbles before dinner.  When planning your menus think about choosing lighter alternatives such as fresh seafood, salads, fruit and cheese instead of a hot, traditional festive lunch or dinner.  Also try to keep up your exercise routine, and think of swimming when the weather is too hot for other exercise.

Many of my patients find the festive season very stressful emotionally.  Some people are not close or compatible with their family and find getting together very difficult.  While others might feel lonely spending Christmas miles away from their family.  Regardless of our situation, nearly everyone gets a bit overwhelmed with the sheer busyness of the festive season.  However, we can approach Christmas with a different attitude and take time out for ourselves to reflect on the year, our friends and family.  This is particularly helpful with children who can get too easily caught up with the commercialism of the season.

Remember what the underlying meaning of this time of year is and seek to be more peaceful and content with simple pleasures.  We are lucky enough to live in a beautiful natural environment – so connecting to nature through the sea or the bush can bring much needed peace.  Try not to fill the social calendar to capacity, allow some time for a quiet night or day. Lastly, it is essential to try and get good quality and sufficient sleep as this will help recharge your batteries.  This might even mean taking a siesta - something we shouldn’t feel guilty about at this time of year!

Real versus Processed Food

Real Versus Processed Foods

Ok, so if we are going to debate what is best, real versus processed foods, I don't imagine it would be hard to pick the winner. But here are  my top 5 reasons to include real food or avoid processed food.

realfoodReal Food

  1. Tastes better - real food comes straight from nature and doesn't need to be flavour enhanced to taste good.
  2. Avoids chemical additives - whether it be organic produce or natural, untampered food, real food doesn't have hidden chemicals from any part of the production process.
  3. Real food has loads of nutrition and vitamins come in a form that the body can readily use. Vitamins don't need to be added back in, like in processed foods, because they were never taken out in the first place by processing.
  4. Real food is what our bodies have evolved with, living close to nature over thousands of years, we have adapted to the foods available. Modern processed foods are so far removed from their natural origin, that our bodies may struggle to adapt.
  5. Real food promotes health, while processed foods destroy health. So many chemicals added as artificial sweeteners, flavours and preservatives have been shown to create dysfunction and disease.


Wonder what a beaver has to do with strawberry flavouring?  Or maybe how you can get natural chicken flavour that doesn't contain chicken for vegan foods? I go into much more detailed information about the problems with natural flavours and other additives in my webinar video included in the Healthy Lunchbox package.


Here is a great and very funny video to watch that reveals the awful truth about the advertising of natural food products to unassuming consumers...

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Junk Food Advertising



Sneaky Use of Apps To Target Kids

Mobile phone apps and social media are increasingly being used to advertise and promote junk food according to a review by consumer magazine Choice.

Mobile apps that have been singled out as being of concern include Hungry Jack’s “Shake & Win” and KFC’s “Snack! In the Face” which offer easy to play games that generate vouchers for free snacks or discounted food and prizes can even be gifted to friends via facebook.

With children increasingly exposed to junk food advertising via apps, social media, viral marketing and celebrity endorsements, competitions and 'advergames' with embedded brand messages and licensed characters, educating kids about junk food has never been more challenging,” a Choice spokesman said in a statement.

At present apps are able to sidestep some of the criteria in the Advertising Standards Board and companies are merely required to voluntarily limit advertising to children, a form of self-regulation. However, independent surveys across many countries have found self-regulation by the food and beverage industries has had little impact on the volume of advertising seen by kids in the last five years. Children can find it difficult to tell the difference between advertising and entertainment, especially when popular characters are used.

So just another reason to be vigilant with digital media access and use for our kids and we need to keep up the message at home about the importance of healthy food!










Benefits of Fats

It seems like nearly everyone I see in my practice lately avoids fats. When recalling their daily diet to me, they proudly point out all the low fat and fat-free foods they eat. This is all very well, but I am not too impressed. The reason is that fat is essential for good health. With the growing controversy in the media recently regarding cholesterol and statin drugs, it is time to set the record straight about the benefits of fats.
So why do we need fats in the diet?

Fats are important for healthy brain function (60% of brain is composed of fat), for hormone production, for absorption of certain nutrients and for healthy cell function. Certain fats also carry the 'fat soluble' vitamins (vitamin A, D, E & K), so a low fat diet often creates vitamin deficiencies. Fat in a meal will slow down the absorption of other foods such as sugars and increases satiety – a fact often overlooked. Most fat-free products contain additional sugars and flavours to make up for the absence of fat. This in turn adds calories to the product and can lead to weight gain despite its fat-free label. Many people report being hungry again soon after eating fat free products which may cause them to eat more. Indeed, the increasing incidence of obesity and diabetes is linked to carbohydrate intake, not fat intake.

So fats are essential in the diet but all fats are not equal when it comes to health. Let’s look at different fats and see which ones are good for us and which ones are not so good. Firstly you need to know that fats are categorised according to their chemical structure. In reality, all fats are made up of different types of fatty acids, however the dominant fat is the one they are grouped under. The more 'saturated' a fat, the more stable it is, whereas the 'polyunsaturated' fats have inherent instability in the structure and can easily be denatured with cooking and processing.

  • Saturated Fats – saturated fats are found mostly in animal foods (eg. butter), but also in coconut and palm oils. While these fats have been demonised in recent years, saturated fats make up 50% of every cell membrane in the body, contain important vitamins and are required for a host of body functions including healthy immunity. These fats are also very stable for cooking.
  • Monounsaturated Fats – well known one is olive oil, but many people are surprised to learn that lard (pig fat) is also a monounsaturated fat. Monounsaturates are healthy fats that are also quite stable for cooking.
  • Polyunsaturated Fats – this large group of fats have a chemical structure that makes it vulnerable to oxidation and damage. Polyunsaturates include the wonderful omega 3 fats (eg. Fish oil) linked to healthy hearts and smart brains. While many of these oils have health benefits, they should never be heated in cooking as they form free radicals.
  • Trans Fats – these are not generally found in nature and are formed when polyunsaturated fats are hydrogenated. Hydrogenation is used to convert liquid vegetable oils into margarines or other solid fats and in the process changes its shape making it a very unstable free radical. Trans fats can damage healthy cells in the body and have been linked to cardiovascular disease and cancer.  You should void margarines and all commercial foods containing margarines or hydrogenated fats (check labels).  See my article on butter versus margarine for more info.
  • Cholesterol – around 80% of the cholesterol in our blood is made by our liver. Cholesterol is essential for hormone production, bone health, brain function, digestion and other cell functions. Avoiding cholesterol in the diet will only have a modest effect on blood levels of cholesterol. While many people are scared of cholesterol and its theoretical link to heart disease, it is much more complex than merely looking at cholesterol levels in the blood. Eg. The proteins lipoprotein (a) and homocysteine are also involved in atherosclerosis and lifestyle factors such as smoking and stress are linked to heart disease.  For more information about cholesterol see Cholesterol & Health website.


So don’t assume that a fat free diet is healthy as healthy fats are essential for many aspects of body function. If you are worried about weight gain, cut back on the carbs before you cut back on the fats!







Obesity - is it a disease or a lifestyle issue?

There has been much debate and controversy lately since the American Medical Association reclassified obesity as a disease, rather than a lifestyle. The obesity disease classification came about in July this year. Obesity is a growing problem worldwide and affects a third of the US nation and is estimated to cost the US healthcare system $190 billion annually and the costs are rising. More and more children and young adults are overweight or obese and the resultant diseases of heart disease, diabetes and cancer are rising in direct proportion.

Clearly, obesity is not something you can catch or contract like a regular disease, but it is the result of a lifestyle imbalance. Obesity certainly gives rise to a range of diseases, just as smoking gives rise to lung cancer and heart disease. But what they both have in common is the lifestyle choice factor. There are genetic factors, but really it is epigenetics rather than straight genetics - in other words it is the result of genes interacting with poor lifestyle choices that 'switch' on obesity genes.

Food is one of the few things many people freely choose each day, but some argue that the culture has become so entrenched with marketing of high sugar and junk foods and a focus on media use and lack of exercise that people no longer can 'choose' what they consume or how to live their life. Some in the medical profession argue the obesity disease classification will increase funding for research. Others suggest that it will make it easier for paediatricians to approach parents in terms of treating a disease rather than telling them their child eats too much or fails to exercise enough. But is this just avoiding the cold hard facts?

Please watch the interesting video below where a range of experts discuss this widespread social and health problem and look at ways of dealing with it.

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player



Getting the Scoop on Sugar

I don't advocate the same diet for everyone and I prefer to personalise things for each person. But when it comes to sugar, the reality is that we really all do better without it.

Sugar is linked to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, fatigue, headaches, tooth decay, cancer and it also promotes premature ageing. It is a highly addictive food, that some argue is more difficult to quit than many street drugs. According to the latest statistics, sugar consumption in Australia is around 42 kgs per person per annum. The problem is that sugar is in just about every processed food today...from tomato sauce, breakfast cereals, savoury crackers and breads to yoghurts, dips, tinned foods and the obvious lollies and sweets.

In recent years with the push towards low fat products, we have seen a big rise in the amount of sugar going into processed low fat foods. When food manufacturers remove the fat from a product to make it 'low-fat' they replace it with sugar! 

Sugar is used to make up for the loss of taste, because much of the flavour in our foods comes with the fat. Just think about the taste difference between full cream and skim milk. Sugar is also used in products as a natural preservative - when the sugar level is high enough bacteria can't survive....which makes you wonder why we think we can survive with a high sugar diet!
Why Aren't Artificial Sweeteners Recommended?

Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame (nutrasweet) and sucralose (Splenda) are not a safe option in any way. These processed food additives have been linked to cancer, migraine, obesity, high cholesterol and a range of brain issues - including memory loss, seizures and cancer.  What is probably most absurd is that the artificial sweeteners can even contribute to weight gain and increased sugar cravings. Aspartame failed to get FDA approval for 20 years, before it was finally approved in what appeared to be political bargaining rather than assured safety.

 What is wrong with fructose?... Isn't it just fruit sugar? 

There has been so much research into the damaging effects of sugar and processed sweet foods on our health. In particular a large body of evidence is mounting regarding consumption of high fructose corn syrup. This sweetener is used in many commercial goods that are sweetened, including cakes, biscuits, soft drinks and lollies. While fructose does not raise your blood sugar level directly the way that glucose does, it creates a whole series of other stresses that we can ill afford. The major problem with fructose is the effect that it has on the liver and is linked to many diseases including fatty liver and hyperlipidemia as well as obesity and cardiovascular disease.  Most forms of fructose also have a glucose molecule with it, so you tend to get both sugars operating in different ways in the body - making it double trouble.

Humans never evolved in an orchard with fruits all year round - so our modern ability to eat abundant amounts of fruit, regardless of the season, is a big unknown experiment. This is aside from the other issue of the enormous food miles in many cases that the imported or interstate fruit travels to get to our fruit bowl!  If you are going to eat fructose - you really are best to get it from local in-season fruit as the fibre it contains helps slow down the sugar surge. But remember you should really be limiting your fruit intake as well as it is still high sugar - so just stick to a couple of pieces a day of seasonal fruits. This is of course, as opposed to vegetables - where there is no limit!

What about the 'natural' sweeteners?

The judicious and occasional use of natural unrefined sugars such as rapadura sugar or coconut sugar can be an option when you need to bake or prepare traditional items. These work well in cooking as a substitute for regular sugar, though they will impart more flavour and colour to the recipes. Honey and maple syrup are also good natural sweeteners but they are still very sweet and should be used very sparingly.


Honey has a host of medicinal benefits - especially when in the raw and unheated form. Although honey is around 50% fructose it is a natural sweetener that has been prized for centuries. It is important to note that cooking with honey destroys some of these enzymes. Medicinal honey such as Manuka (from NZ) and Jelly Bush (from Australia) have high amounts of active constituents with antibiotic, anti-fungal and antibacterial properties. It can be used externally for wounds as well as internally for sore throats, mouth ulcers and coughs. (I sell the Australian Jelly Bush honey in my clinic.)

Maple Syrup

Maple syrup is a traditional sweetener that has the characteristic earthy and caramel flavour. It is naturally quite high in a range of minerals - particularly manganese and zinc - that are important nutrients for a range of body functions. The syrup is a clear sap when tapped from the Maple tree and is then boiled to evaporate off the water and what is left is the golden brown syrup that is around 60% sugar.

Rapadura & Molasses

Evaporated cane juice is an unrefined sugar, also known as rapadura sugar or jaggery (which can sometimes come from palm sugar/dates).  As there is no refining and minimal processing, rapadura and jaggery still contain many of the natural minerals.  Do not confuse rapadura with brown sugar - as brown sugar is just refined sugar with some molasses added for colour and flavour.  Molasses is the left over by product of cane sugar or beet sugar refining. It is the mineral rich dark sticky byproduct and can be used sparingly as it is a rich source of minerals including iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium. It has traditionally been used as a health tonic - served in water. Its very strong and robust flavour only lends itself to a few traditional recipes if used in cooking.

Coconut Sugar

Coconut sugar is a sugar produced from the sap of cut flower buds of the coconut palm. It has been used as a sweetener for thousands of years throughout Asia.  The sap is collected and then heated to evaporate the water content which results in a thick syrup which is then reduced into a crystalline granulated form. Coconut sugar is a low GI sugar that is also a rich source of potassium, magnesium, zinc and iron. Compared to brown sugar, coconut sugar has 36 times the iron, four times the magnesium, and over 10 times the amount of zinc!

Agave syrup

Agave nectar/syrup is the new darling sweetener of the health food world - but in reality it is far from a good option. Agave is a mild flavoured low GI sugar alternative - but one that is very high in fructose - close to 90%!  We have already learned above why we would want to avoid too much fructose. The other problem with agave is that it is not a traditional sweetener in the same way that honey or maple syrup is. Agave has only been manufactured since the 1990's and requires quite a bit of processing to get it to be edible and commercially viable. While it starts out as a sweet watery liquid known as aguamiel or 'honey water' - it undergoes centrifuge processing and enzymatic conversion that turns the natural sugars into ones rich in high fructose and dextrose and then it is further processed and evaporated to condense the sugar content. The resultant sugar nectar is a far cry from the original honey water traditionally consumed and it packs a powerful fructose punch.


Stevia is a natural sweetener that comes from the very sweet leaves of the South American herb, Stevia rebaudiana. Stevia is a safe sweetener and has no effect on blood sugar balance or liver health - though it is very sweet and slightly bitter in its natural form and is not always suitable in all recipes. Processed Stevia products have had their bitter compounds removed and come in the way of granulated products or liquids that can be used in cooking.


So really, all in all, the best thing to do is to kick the sugar habit! Once you stop having sweet foods all the time, your body adjusts and the cravings abate. Ensuring plenty of good quality fats and protein in your diet will also be helpful when giving up sugar as it ensures your blood sugar stays stable and your cravings will be minimised. I often use key nutrients and herbs when we need to support the body in initially adjusting to a low sugar life, so consider some personalised support by way of a consultation, if you are struggling to curb sugar cravings.

Remember you are sweet enough - so no added sugar is required!






Environmental Chemicals in Hiding

 Chemicals in Hiding

So many environmental chemicals we are exposed to every day have never been tested for safety.

There is a bizarre law that allows things to be released under the guise of assumed safety.  So unless it can be proven unsafe, it is permitted to be used in industry with little testing.  Of course, this essentially means that the safety tests are conducted out in the open with us members of the public as the guinea pigs.  Once a chemical appears to be linked to a disorder, side effect or overt problem, it then gets banned from the market. This often takes years before it is proven to be dangerous or potentially risky - so in the mean time exposure continues to happen.  A good example of this is the plastic BPA (see my blog on BPA) and many developing countries continue to be the dumping ground for chemicals that have already been banned in the west.

The best way to deal with this issue is to be educated, get savvy and vote with your dollar by buying environmentally sound products and support the industries who do care!

While we can't avoid much of the pollution that is already there in our air and water, remember your home should be a sanctuary! Don't bring unsafe and potentially dangerous chemicals into your home.  Make informed choices - it is that simple.

There are many nasty chemicals found in everyday household products that have be shown to affect your hormones, brain function and can contribute to cancer.  They are found in so many things - from the obvious ones found in cleaning products, insect sprays and air fresheners to the less obvious ones in hair products, cosmetics and regular sunscreens. Try to buy organic food to avoid the hidden pesticides and herbicides used in conventional agriculture. Even many processed and packaged foods house synthetic chemicals, colours and preservatives that have been linked to a range of disorders.

So get savvy, be mindful and protect you and your family's health by making good choices!


Watch this great little clip with interviews by experts including some of the good folk at the Environmental Working Group.






Nature Cure

Live Your Life in Harmony with Nature

A person who lives in accordance with the rules of nature is likely to be a healthy person. This is a cornerstone of naturopathic practice...nature know best! I have been immersing myself in the old naturopathic philosophy books and the Nature Cure approach at the moment, as I am writing a seminar for practitioners on the energetics of herbs and healing.


So what are these mysterious Laws or Rules of Nature? Like most creatures in the world we are blessed with an innate capacity to maintain health through a complex system of feedback loops. Basically our body is a wonderful self-regulating organism that really is a marvel of nature. From the moment of conception when two cells collide, the mysterious force of creation takes over and before long we are a fully-formed and functioning human being. This same creative vital force of nature, is what keeps us healthy – it is what heals a scratch, and repairs a damaged nerve – without any conscious effort on our part!


When you think about it, the capacity to self-heal is quite remarkable and one that we mostly take for granted. After all, it is only when we get sick that many of us even become aware of our body. The breakdown in order gives rise to symptoms – which grab our attention because they are mostly inconvenient to us busy humans. Symptoms often bring pain, discomfort or irritation and in some cases threaten our very existence. In reality though, symptoms are just signposts that something in the natural order of our system is out of balance. They are not the culprit and should not be ignored or suppressed as they are part of the body’s defence mechanism – and they generally herald an imbalance that is deeper or further afield. All natural systems must maintain homoeostasis or balance to remain healthy and sustainable. Whether you are looking at an eco-system or our human body, the principles are the same. If something gets out of whack, the system suffers.


We are a natural ‘mammalian’ species (even if we don’t identify ourselves as such) and living close to nature, feeds and nourishes us on all levels. We cannot survive without nature, but most of us live disconnected from nature, oblivious to the fact that our existence is totally reliant on products from nature – whether it be the food on our plate, to the clothes we wear and the shelter of our homes.

So what does it look like to live close to nature, and follow her laws? When we support the body with the basics of fresh air, clean water, nourishing whole foods,  regular exercise and proper rest & relaxation and the fostering of healthy emotions and relationships - it is amazing what level of health we can achieve. It really can't get much simpler than that - but just because it is simple, doesn't mean it is easy to achieve, especially in our modern lives!  It seems crazy that many of us no longer experience our natural birth right of good health and vitality. The laws of nature are not complicated, but it does require effort and a little bit of discipline to live according to them. So many people would rather buy a box of processed cereal for breakfast than cook up some whole grain porridge. Or buy a jar of pasta sauce than make their own fresh one. When I suggest to patients to scramble some eggs to have with their morning toast, they often claim they don’t have time. In reality – it only takes a few minutes to scramble eggs – as long as it takes to cook the toast!


We have become lazy in the kitchen and we have so many convenient options that tempt us – especially when we are time poor and tired. But when we buy these processed convenience foods, we are getting more than we bargained for. Laden with chemicals and preservatives and devoid of any vital nutrition – these foods offer nothing, and indeed rob us of other aspects of our health and nutrition and overload our detoxification pathways. We are not just lazy in the kitchen though, but we are also too tired to exercise, too busy to take a holiday and too distracted to notice the sunset at dusk. We take our relationships for granted, and would rather watch some senseless TV show than spend time talking to our partners or going to bed early with a good book. Many of us are often disconnected from our soul life and rarely take the time and effort to contemplate life, write a poem or explore our inner realms with a journal.


So it is all these things that I would say foster good health and constitute living a rich and natural life. It is not just eating good food – though that is of course important. It is attending to our health on all levels of our being – body, mind and spirit – that allows us to self-heal and self-regulate. So instead of next time reaching for the paracetamol to ease some pain, why not take the opportunity to reflect on what is out of balance and make some positive changes. Your commitment to good health will require a bit of discipline to get started (and often a bit of education and support from natural healthcare providers), but you will soon be richly rewarded with wonderful vitality, peace and happiness.


NB: this is me with one of my trees getting my daily dose of nature energy ---->





Vitamin C

Vitamin C - not just for colds!

When we think of Vitamin C we often think of it in relation to colds and immune health. But vitamin C is a vitamin with far reaching effects and benefits in the human body.

Did you know that humans are one of only a couple of species (including guinea pigs) who cannot manufacture their own vitamin C? Even plants make vitamin C!  The theory is that we lost the ability to produce it over time because our diets were rich in vitamin C and we no longer needed to make it.  However, most of us now have a diet that is rich in processed foods and we do not live as close to nature – so in most cases we do not get our foods straight from the garden and our vitamin C intake has been much reduced.  Vitamin C levels decline easily in foods once they are picked or processed, so that by the time we eat even so called ‘fresh’ foods thelevels are often very low.

Animals are known to increase their production of vitamin C when they are sick or stressed – sometimes to amazing levels.  Acting as a free radical scavenger (or antioxidant), vitamin C is able to protect the body against toxins and stress.  Scurvy is the classic sign of gross vitamin C deficiency – giving rise to easy bruising, skin lesions, bleeding gums, depression and fatigue. While most people consume enough vitamin C to prevent overt scurvy – which is about 50mg per day, there are also theories that many western people suffer from a more chronic kind of scurvy – due to insufficient vitamin C levels.  This has been implicated in a range of conditions from cardiovascular disease to cancer, skin conditions, premature ageing and diabetes.  It is an essential nutrient for adrenal health and when we are under stress we go through lots of vitamin C.  Anyone who smokes, will also use up around 5-10mg of vitamin C per cigarette, so there is another reason to quit!  Vitamin C also acts as a natural anti-histamine and is great for allergies and inflammation.

While focusing on a healthy diet rich in vitamin C foods is recommended , supplementing is also worthwhile – particularly if you suffer from stress, immune dysfunction or your diet is not always optimal.  Foods rich in vitamin C include most fruits and vegetables – particularly wild berries, rosehip, acerola cherry, guava, parsley, citrus, capsicum, tomatoes.

The native Australian fruit the Kakadu plum (pictured right) has the highest known source of vitamin C – giving around 1000-5000mg per 100g! Meats – especially liver also contain vitamin C.  Remember that cooking foods will reduce the vitamin C content by around 50%, so be sure to have some raw foods in your diet.

Supplements can be in powder or tablets and should really contain bioflavonoids for best effects, as this is how they occur in nature.  Massive doses of injectable vitamin C have also been used in modern medicine for treating cancer.  As a water soluble nutrient the risk of toxicity is minimal as it is readily excreted when consumed in excess.  The standard of bowel tolerance is often used when dosing vitamin C supplements. As loose stools are a transient sign of excess intake, we generally recommend dosage be scaled back if this occurs.

Please discuss this if you think you could benefit from vitamin C next time you visit the clinic, and we can look at the best one for you from the range of vitamin C supplements, I stock.



The Common Culprit in Snoring, Infections, Behavioural Problems & Overcrowded Teeth


So what do snoring, ear infections, behavioural problems and overcrowded teeth all have in common?

This eclectic array of common childhood complaints may seem diverse and unrelated but in fact they all have a common root cause.  I thought to write about this as I just came across a new study* that reported preschool kids who snore are three times more likely to also suffer from behavioural disorders.

The researchers could only come up with a couple of plausible causes for this - including poorer sleep and lack of oxygenation to the brain.  While these are certainly going to play a small role, in my opinion, there is a much more likely reason for this.


For many kids, especially three to six year-olds, loud snoring is caused by enlarged tonsils or adenoids. Enlarged tonsils and adenoids are also linked to recurrent ear infections and of course tonsillitis.   Conventional medical solutions normally involve surgery to remove the adenoids or tonsils to improve the child's breathing and reduce their ear and throat infections.  While we can survive without adenoids and tonsils, I think we can do better than simply whipping out these important immune organs.

From my perspective this is just symptomatic and fails to address the underlying problem, which is nearly always food intolerance and environmental allergens.  When children are exposed to allergens either through the diet or through the environment - their immune system reacts by producing more mucus to help trap the airborne allergens and also it releases immune agents (such as histamine) and increases the output of antibodies and other immune cells. The tonsils (and neighbouring adenoids) are a first line of defence and where our immune system does much of its production of the important immune cells.

All this immune activity causes an enlargement in the adenoid and tonsillar tissue.  Adenoids can get so large that they seriously impede on the airways - and not enough air can be obtained from normal nasal breathing leading to kids resorting to mouth breathing.

And now - here is where the crowded teeth issue comes along.  When we breath through our mouths, we must have our lips apart and our tongue tends to move away from resting in the upper hard palate where it belongs.  The muscular pressure of the tongue and lips are largely responsible for shaping the upper palate into a nice broad arch.  Without this support, the palate tends to grow less favourably and more a narrow palate results - which in turn cannot comfortably house the emerging adult teeth. Then we get overcrowded teeth - which is a very common problem today.

Lastly, let's look at behaviour. This is where food allergies come in.  Of course, I agree with the researchers that children who snore are more likely to get poorer sleep and decreased oxygenation to the brain and this will have a hangover effect on learning and behaviour.  When kids are tired, they get more easily frustrated and have less capacity for delayed gratification which can lead to 'behavioural issues'.  From my clinical experience with kids with behavioural disorders though, I generally find that it is food intolerance (along with a generally poor diet) that is driving the problem. Intolerances to common foods have been linked to digestive issues and in turn can affect the way the brain functions.  When we can sort this out, children can function more normally, learn better and be happier and more resilient.


My motto is that children are always doing the best they can  - given the circumstances they find themselves in.  Kids don't deliberately want to be annoying, aggressive or mean. Their capacity to cope with the world is a combination of learnt behaviour and modelling from the adults closest to them,  alongside a delicate interaction with their environment - food, water, allergens and other everyday exposures.

Let's start treating kids with the respect, intelligence and sensitivity that they deserve and create an environment and healing paradigm that allows them to truly flourish.





* Research paper can be found here

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