Organic

Seasonal Eating

Seasonal Eating

In years gone by, eating according to the seasons used to be a given. People wouldn't have talked about seasonal eating, because there was no alternative! 

Nowadays, we can access food grown right across the globe, all year round. As such, much of what we eat is often out of season. Aside from the environmental cost of food miles, it is important to know that our bodies have always lived close to nature and the seasons and may well do better on the foods grown locally, than the ones that come from another country, hemisphere or the opposite season. Many folk medicine traditions also recommend that locally grown herbs and weeds are often the best medicine for the local population, like some kind of reciprocal nature agreement!

​​​​​​The other advantage of seasonal eating is that it is fresher, more nutritious and often cheaper to buy food that is in season, especially organic produce. When there is an abundance of the in season fruits and vegetables, it drives the prices down and makes them more affordable and easier to source.

When are disconnected from nature and the cycles of the earth, we often have no idea what food is in season and when. If you ask the average person when asparagus or cherries are in season, they might not know as these foods, which used to be available only with a short season, are now imported and seem to be around for most of the year. To keep food fresh and able to survive the long travelling distance has lead to genetic variations being developed that might make a food hardier and easier to transport, but less flavoursome and nutritious. Moreover, often chemicals are added to the produce to delay the deterioration, which isn't always the best or healthiest option either.

So although there can be quite significant geographical differences in locally grown produce across the vast country of Australia, the following list highlights foods that are readily available and in season during different seasons for most of Australia.

Experiment with vegetables or fruits that you maybe haven't tried before and try some new recipes!  A wide variety of plant foods means more of the powerful phytonutrients (healthy plant based goodies!) that our bodies love. Having actions that can include anticancer, antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti ageing - fresh seasonal vegetables and fruits can be medicine in our meals!

Download this handy seasonal food guide

 

 

Natural Sunscreen

Natural Sunscreen

sozAustralia, despite being the lucky country in so many ways, is unlucky when it comes to sun radiation. The hole in the ozone layer (what protects the earth from much of the sun’s rays) unfortunately stretches along much of the eastern coast of our sun-drenched country. This coupled with high temperatures and the outdoor lifestyle so many of us enjoy has resulted in a staggering 750,000 people treated for non-melanoma skin cancer each year.

While adequate sun exposure has a host of benefits for human health, including production of vitamin D, overexposure can lead to damage and negative health impacts. As in all things, getting the right amount for our skin type, for the climate we live in and current season is the key.  Avoiding the sun is not good for our health and, likewise, getting too much is also not optimal.  I find that many of my patients are fearful of skin cancer and actively avoid the sun and as a consequence suffer health issues from insufficient sun exposure.  You may wish to check out my other article on vitamin D to learn how much sun is enough for your skin type.

Sun radiation comes in the form of ultra-violet-A (UVA) and ultra-violet-B waves (UVB). Despite both of these waves associated with skin cancers, UVB waves are generally thought of as the most damaging to the skin. In order to protect your skin against radiation damage when we are exposed to extended periods of time in the sun, sunscreen in some shape or form is a must. sunscreen differencesUnfortunately most of the sunscreens on the market protect your skin at a price. Chemical based sunscreens work on different UV spectrums and are often combined to get a stronger effect and generally require a chemical reaction in the body to block impact of the UV rays.  Active chemicals (meaning they protect against UV rays) commonly found in sunscreens have been shown to have negative impacts on our health. Some such as the common oxybenzone and oxtinoxate have been shown to be endocrine disruptors and can effect sex and thyroid hormones in human and animal studies. Other people develop skin sensitivities to sunscreen, and some skin specialists recommend natural based sunscreens as a better tolerated alternative.

If you are after more in depth information regarding sunscreen and its constituents and health implications check out the Environmental Working Group’s overview  here.

There is less incidence of adverse reactions from mineral based sunscreens such as zinc and titanium dioxide. These are known as physical block outs, because they provide a mineral based or physical layer on the surface of the skin that prevents UV light and is not absorbed into the skin. Use of these mineral-based sunscreens offer a safer alternative to the chemical based oxybenzone and oxtinoxate types.

sunDWhen examining sunscreen we use the common standard of SPF rating. SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and it is a measure of a sunscreen's ability to prevent UV radiation from damaging the skin.  For example if it takes 10 minutes for your unprotected skin to start turning red, using an SPF 15 sunscreen in theory will prevent the skin reddening 15 times longer – which would equate to 150 minutes – or 2.5 hours. SPF does not equal the amount of protection per se, but rather indicates how long will it take for the skin to redden when a particular product is applied, as compared to unprotected skin.

 

Aside from natural mineral based sunscreens, there are a range of other food and plant based oils and substances that serve as mild natural sunscreeens due to their carotenoids and natural pigments. Even plain coconut oil or sesame oil has a mild ability to screen UV rays and protect the skin. See chart below for an overview of different sunscreen agents and benefits.

Table

 

rasoilThe very pigments that make blueberries blue and raspberries red protect those berries from oxidative damage from the sun. Plants have adapted to create inbuilt defence mechanisms to prevent free radical damage, and thus we can utilise some of the natural chemicals that these plants make, to protect our skin from the negative effects from the sun. Like any natural product there can be variability between batches and quality of the oil and due to different weather patterns and seasons the amount of carotenoids and actives contained in the oils may vary influencing the SPF potential. As such, I do not advocate using these oils in isolation or as a substitute to more reliable sunscreens when you do need good protection.

Making your own sunscreen is another possibility and ensuring it also has some zinc oxide in it can boost the UV protection considerably.  I found this recipe for a natural homemade sunscreen and have adapted it.  Get the recipe here.

 

 

References:

Korać RR, Khambholja KM. Potential of herbs in skin protection from ultraviolet radiation. Pharmacognosy Reviews. 2011;5(10):164-173. doi:10.4103/0973-7847.91114.

Oomah, B.D., Ladet, S., Godfrey, D.V., Liang, J., & Girard, B. (2000). Characteristics of raspberry (rubus idaeus L.) seed oil. Food Chemistry, 69;1, 187-193, S0308-8146(99)00260-5.

Kostyuk V - Natural Substances for Prevention of Skin Photoaging: Screening Systems in the Development of Sunscreen and Rejuvenation Cosmetics. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28661208

Kaur, C.D., Saraf, S. (2010). In vitro sun protection factor determination of herbal oils used in cosmetics. Pharmacognosy Research, 2(1), 22-25, 10.4103/0974-8490.60586

 

Garlic

garlic-picWe just harvested our garlic crop. It is always great to pull up the garlic heads after their six month gestation period over the cooler months. Organic garlic is a wonderful addition to both the kitchen and the medicine cabinet! 

Garlic is rich in a range of sulphur compounds, which are thought to be responsible for its flavor and aroma. One of the main medicinal agents from garlic is the substance known as allicin. But interestingly, allicin is not found in its natural state in garlic. Allicin is actually formed from the coming together of two compounds that garlic contains, called alliinase and alliin. When the enzyme allinase reacts with the compound alliin — which happens when garlic is chopped, minced or crushed  — they form the special compound known as allicin. The reaction happens very quickly and the allicin that is produced is what gives garlic it’s distinctive smell and flavour.

Allicin is a great therapeutic agent and has been found to be effective as a natural antibiotic and anticancer agent and it can also help cardiovascular health - in particular will help to lower cholesterol, reduce blood sugar and high blood pressure. I often prescribe garlic as an antimicrobial agent in my treatment of digestive issues, particularly SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) and it is also great for colds, sinus and chest infections and as a natural antiseptic.

Unfortunately when garlic is cooked, the allicin is destroyed, so it is best to eat it raw, freshly crushed and left to sit for 10 mins or so to get the best medicine. The best way to simultaneously peel and crush garlic is to use a heavy knife blade and bash it hard. The garlic shell will easily come free and the garlic can be chopped or smashed with the back of the knife.

garlic-smash

garlic-crush

Crush garlic and leave for 5-10 mins to maximise the allicin content

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course garlic still tastes great in cooking when it is roasted or braised, we just don't get the medicinal benefit. You can crush some garlic and mix with herbs and butter to make a nice final addition to everything from steamed veggies to soups, pastas or served on top of a steak. Garlic can be added to pine nuts or cashew nuts and blended with basil and olive oil to make a delicious super food pesto dip.

For sore throats or cough crushed garlic can be mixed with honey and taken as a sweet syrup medicine.

Make sure you source organic garlic when buying garlic as much of the imported garlic comes from China and it is treated with bleaching agents, antifungals and other chemicals that prevent sprouting. Methyl bromide is one such chemical routinely used in garlic harvesting and production and this is a highly toxic agent that can impact on the respiratory and nervous systems. Imported garlic tends to have much less flavour as well!

parsley

Parsley is a great cure for garlic breath!

 

Lastly, what's an article on garlic if you don't mention garlic breath!?  There are many folk cures to help with garlic odour and garlic breath. I find using a lemon and bicarb soda is a good way to take the smell off the hands.  Some good cures for garlic breath include chewing on parsley or sucking a lemon wedge. However eating an apple or drinking green or peppermint tea can also be a good idea. These all contain substances called polyphenols which can inactivate the sulphur compounds that contribute to garlic's odour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black Sapote

The black sapote fruit, is also commonly called chocolate pudding fruit, due to its resemblance to a sticky chocolate pudding!
This unusual fruit comes from the persimmon family and makes a delicious and healthy treat that is also very versatile in cooking. It is quite high in vitamin C and Vitamin A as well as containing potassium and a few other minerals.

black-sapote-green

black-sapote-ripe

 

We are blessed with a large established tree that rains down black sapotes throughout spring. They fall off the tree hard and green and then you must allow them to ripen on the bench for a few days (a bit like an avocado) until they get soft and the skin changes to a dark green/brown colour. They almost look like they are spoiled and over ripe at this point, but that is the best time for eating. You can then store them ripe in the fridge for a few more days if need be. You can sometimes see black sapotes at organic shops and locally at green grocers during their season in sub tropical and tropical areas.

The black sapote flesh is rich and creamy and it has a mildly sweet and chocolate flavour. I find it is delicious whipped into a chocolate mousse with some organic cream and a splash of maple syrup!  You can also add it to smoothies and make a simple chocolate ice cream by freezing the mashed up pulp.

sapote-cakeIt is great in cakes and brownies. You can use it much like you would a mashed banana in recipes and you can also add extra cacao or dark chocolate for a stronger chocolate flavour. I just created this recipe below for a chocolate banana cake!

Get my recipe for a banana and chocolate sapote cake

 

apple cider vinegar

ACVApple cider vinegar (ACV) is one of those natural remedies with little science to back up the claims, yet mountains of anecdotal reports, going back thousands of years, praise its powers.

There are many folk medicine claims that ACV will cure just about anything! Some of the popular uses for ACV include for weight loss, blood sugar imbalances, digestive dysfunction, high pressure and cholesterol, skin complaints and a host of inflammatory conditions.

Historical Uses of ACV

Apple cider vinegar has a long history of use - as far back as in Ancient Egypt where it was used as a preservative. Hippocrates (around 400 BC), was one of the first to extol its virtues medicinally where he recommended it for bacterial infections. In many other cultures ACV was used for strength, endurance and health. In modern times, ACV has recently made a bit of a come back and is used and recommended by both natural therapists and lay people alike.

oak vinegarThere are many types of vinegars, and apple cider is just one of them. The word “vinegar” comes from the French words “vin aigre”, which means sour wine. This is reference to the fact that vinegar is often made from grapes but in fact vinegar can be made from many types of fruits or grains. Basically anything that has a sugar base can be fermented into a vinegar. Asian cultures often use rice, coconut and cane sugars as a base, while Europe has favoured fruits such as grape, which gives us the popular balsamic and red/white wine vinegars as well as apple cider.

The bacterial culture that is added to the fruit or grain grows slowly over weeks or months and produces a cloudy sediment known as “the mother”. In most commercial vinegar production, the mother is filtered out as some people may find the cloudy residue suspicious. Pasteurisation is then performed to kill the bacteria prevent more cloud forming. Unfortunately, pasteurisation kills off the beneficial probiotics (good bacteria) as well.  So there is more benefit from including the live cultures and enzymes so always source a vinegar that is raw (unpasteurised) and includes its cloudy mother!  Given how much apples are sprayed, you really want to get an organic product as well!

Research

There are a few studies on the benefits of vinegar, but like many herbs and nutrients that have been around forever, there isn't a stack of research as products that can’t be patented can't make any money! A few studies however, have confirmed some of the folk claims for apple cider vinegar which is always a good thing.

sushicook-rice-400Several studies have shown vinegar to be useful in diabetes and insulin resistance. In one study, 20mL of white vinegar in salad dressing reduced by 30 per cent the glycaemic response to a mixed meal containing 50g of carbohydrate.

A Japanese study found that including pickled (fermented) vegetables or vinegar decreased the blood sugar surge from white rice by 20–35 per cent. Other research has found that taking vinegar before meals significantly increased insulin sensitivity and dramatically reduced the insulin and glucose spikes that occur after meals. Those with insulin resistance saw the most benefit, achieving around 50% reduction in their blood glucose readings.

Other studies have found that vinegar might help people to feel full and can help with weight loss. For example, in one study different groups drank a 500mL drink containing 30mL, 15mL or no vinegar every day for 12 weeks. Those in the vinegar-drinking groups had modest weight loss, ACV weightlossaveraging 1.2kg in the 15mL group and 1.7kg in the 30mL group. They also had lower BMI, visceral fat area, waist measurement and serum triglycerides. Other studies have shown vinegar to reduce triglycerides and increase "good" cholesterol and also lower blood pressure.

Increased research into fermentable foods and the benefits of good bacteria on the microbiome of the gut may give credence to the folk reputation of raw apple cider vinegar on many aspects of health.

How To Use

The general dose of ACV is to take a tablespoon before meals in about half a glass water. If  you don’t enjoy the taste of apple cider vinegar on its own, you can instead use it to make a really delicious salad dressing (see below for my recipe) or make it more palatable by adding a little bit of honey. Avoid taking it neat (undiluted) as it is too acidic and may corrode tooth enamel or burn the throat and avoid adding it to hot water as it will destroy the good bacteria!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Easter Health Tips

eggs nest

It seems like sugar and Easter go hand in hand. If it is not the hot cross buns at every corner, it is the plentiful chocolate! So how do we stay healthy and focussed on our health goals when we are tempted by so much sugar?

Prepare yourself mentally so that you can avoid being triggered or tempted to overindulge in chocolate. Eat regular protein rich meals and healthy fats throughout Easter so that you are satisfied and less likely to crave sweets. Ensure that you maintain your exercise routine to help ward off old negative habits around food. Ask guests to bring flowers or other non-edible Easter gifts instead of chocolate.

If you are going to indulge in a little chocolate, then stick to good quality chocolate and preferably make it the dark variety. Quality chocolate is higher in real food ingredients, has less sugar and artificial flavours. Dark chocolate contains many health benefits. It is high in chocolateantioxidants and polyphenols that have been shown to lower blood pressure and insulin levels and can help keep blood sugar levels stable. It has also been shown to have anti-ageing effects and improve circulation, memory and brain function.

The other benefit of rich, dark chocolate varieties is that most people do not overindulge compared to the sweeter milk chocolate types! Choose varieties that are at least 70% dark chocolate for the most active ingredients and also try to choose fairtrade and organic varieties to support cocoa farmers and be eco-friendly.

Other healthy options at Easter can include making healthy versions of traditional Easter fare. For example, you can make healthy “easter eggs” from simple bliss ball recipes shaped into eggs instead of balls. See this page for more info.

Happy Easter!

 

 

Feminine Hygiene

Feminine Hygiene Products & Your Health

tamponsWe are all aware of the widespread use of personal care products that many women and some men use daily. These range from shampoo, conditioner and other hair styling products to facial and body washes, moisturisers, makeup and deodorants. In addition, there are, of course, the other much more personal, personal care products that women use. These are things like tampons, pads, vaginal douches and feminine wipes. There has been growing concern in recent years about the chemicals used in these products and their potential negative impact on women’s health.

As a naturopath who specializes in women’s health, I am regularly advising women about the potential for everyday household products to contain hidden chemicals that can negatively affect their reproductive health, hormones and fertility. Many of the feminine hygiene products used by women are also sources of such hidden chemicals. The problem is that many of these products get up close and personal with the highly sensitive and highly absorptive female genitalia. This delicate area is filled with an enormous array of blood and lymphatic vessels, which means chemicals absorbed "down there" go straight into your circulatory system.

In fact, because of this highly absorptive nature of the vaginal wall, researchers are constantly researching new vaginal pessaries and creams as novel modes of drug delivery. Because of the many arteries, blood vessels and lymphatic vessels abundant in the walls of the vagina, drugs absorbed from the vagina do not undergo first-pass metabolism (that occurs with oral tablets in the digestive system) because blood leaving the vagina enters straight into circulatory system via a rich venous route. absorption

So, while these facts make it easy for drug companies to exploit the vagina as a mode of drug delivery for prescribed drugs, women are essentially getting a dose of unwanted and potentially harmful chemicals whenever they use many of the mainstream feminine hygiene products. These products sit against or near to the extremely permeable mucous membranes in the vulvar and vaginal area that readily absorb whatever chemicals are found in the products women use.

There has been a concerted push in recent years amongst women’s health groups for more research into the health effects of these chemical exposures on women's health, given the widespread use of these products. Many of the products do not list fragrances or the chemicals found in them (as government guidelines do not require it), so women are further left in the dark about potential ill effects.

Here is a list of the common chemicals found in different feminine hygiene products and the potential health impacts related to them:

Tampons
  • Possible Hazardous Ingredients: Dioxins and furans (from the chlorine bleaching process), pesticide residues (non-organic cotton/rayon), and unknown fragrance chemicals.
  • Health Concerns: Cancer, reproductive harm, endocrine disruption (can lead to heavier periods and reproductive disorders), and allergic rash
 Pads
  • Possible Hazardous Ingredients: Dioxins and furans, pesticide residues, unknown fragrance chemicals, and adhesive chemicals such as methyldibromo glutaronitrile
  • Health Concerns: Cancer, reproductive harm, infertility, endocrine disruption, and allergic rash
Feminine Wipes
  • Possible Hazardous Ingredients: Methylchloroisothiazolinone, methylisothiazolinone, parabens, quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, and many unknown fragrance chemicals.
  • Health Concerns: Cancer, endocrine disruption, skin allergens allergic rash
Feminine Wash

Many feminine washes contain a host of chemicals including fragrances and toxic preservatives like parabens, that are known to play havoc with your hormones.

  • Possible Hazardous Ingredients: Unknown fragrance chemicals, parabens, methylchloroisothiazolinone, methylisothiazolinone, DMDM hydantoin, D&C Red #33, Ext. D&C Violet #2, and FD&C Yellow #5
  • Health Concerns: Hormone disruption and reproductive issues, allergic rash, and asthma

 

 

It is good news to know that one solution to this complex problem is rather easy, as there are some great environmentally savvy companies creating alternatives to the mainstream products. Organic tampons and pads are now more widely available and offer a healthy alternative for both women and the environment. Pads-1Moreover, silicon menstrual cups are also becoming more popular and are a safe alternative to tampons. Reusable cloth pads are also available and have been popular with some women for years. The design and function of these have come a long way since the old days of our grandmothers!

In terms of wipes and washes, there are eco-friendly wipes that can be used (even some for babies are appropriate). However, normal hygiene really should suffice and women should not feel the need to use chemical fragrances in their delicate genital area.

So wise up women folk and start taking care of yourself by making smart and healthy choices in this very important area!

 

Here are some links to companies providing more information or healthy and eco-friendly alternatives:

 

 

Benefits of Grass Fed Meat

Is Your Meat Grass Fed?

Many of you would have heard me talk about the importance of grass fed meat. The benefits of grass fed meats are cow on grassmany and varied. Cows raised on pasture are also known as the "fish of the land", as they are a rich source of omega 3 fats. Omega 3 fats are found in grasses and when the cows (or chickens) eat grass they convert the vegetable omega 3 into a more available and active form for us....much like fish convert seaweed into omega 3. CLA is another important anticancer compound found in the fat of grass fed animals. See my article on butter for more info on CLA.

Grain fed meat, in contrast contains very little omega 3 and also distorts the healthy bacteria in the gut of the cow. Cows are more prone to infection in confined feedlots and are normally given antibiotics. The detrimental effect of grains on the digestion of cows has also been implicated in nasty e-coli poisoning from meat.

Sourcing your meat from a local farmer or purchasing from organic butchers is the best way to ensure you are getting quality grass fed meat. Many cows are shipped long distances on trucks or cattle trains causing undue stress to the animal which is unnecessary and in some cases inhumane. The quality of the meat is impacted on by stress hormones in the animal, resulting in tough, difficult to digest meat.

Hawthorne Partnership is one local farm near Warwick in Queensland that avoids many of the problems with conventional farming.  We have been lucky enough to be sourcing our meat from them for the last few years.

Here is what they have to say about their operation...

We operate 3 small Farms in the Killarney, Tannymorel & Emu Vale districts, 30 kms South East of Warwick. These farms consist of 600 acres of mineral rich farming land on which we run 100 breeders, mainly Devon Shorthorn cross cows with Angus bulls. We grow 80 acres of irrigated Lucerne, and each year we grow approximately 150 acres of Oats for winter & Millet for summer as supplementary feed for our stock. The balance of the acreage is natural grassland for grazing .darlingdowns

In our operation there is no intense grainfeeding, no cattle dipping or spraying (we live in a tick free area) and we don’t use any growth promotants or hormones. We top dress our cultivation paddocks with a natural mineral fertilizer (a custom mix of brown coal, lime and potassium silicate).  We grow Lucerne, Oats & Millet without the use of chemicals.

We sell our Vealers at approximately 9 months of age  weighing between 150kg and 190kg dressed weight. The cattle are transported to the abattoir ( which is only 12 km away) by ourselves. They are slaughtered there (which is a small family owned fully registered abattoir) and hung in a coldroom for 8 – 9 days. The carcasses are then taken to a local butcher shop (which is owned and operated by the same family) where they are processed and packed ready for us to collect. We have them packed into 1/4s of beef or into primal cuts which are cryovaced and bulk mince or sausages.

It is important to remember not all meat is created equal. Processed meats and conventionally raised animal meats do not contain the same health benefits as grass fed organic or chemical free meat. Aside from grain, feedlot cattle and intensively raised pigs are often fed many other foods that are unhealthy and a byproduct of the junk food industry. Their diet can include everything from potato chips and lollies to genetically modified corn and soy byproducts. All of this rubbish ends up in the meat of the animal and as humans are the end of the food chain, we ingest it too. It is apparent that this is just one aspect of the changes in farming practices over the past few decades that is having a flow on effect on and negatively impacting on the health of the human population.

So it is very clear that grass fed, naturally raised animals are the best choice for good health as well being the most ethical, humane and sustainable sources.

 

  • For more info about Hawthorne Partnership ring Lyle & Val on 0428 644142 or email lyleval@bigpond.com                 

 

 

 

The many benefits of heirloom seeds….

Seeds may be tiny, but they really are the basis of life, playing an essential role in our food supply and future food security. Did you know that the ten largest seed companies in the world account for over 70% of the seed market worldwide, and their market share is growing all the time. With the massive increase in genetically modified crops, we are seeing a severe reduction in the availability of old heirloom seed varieties of fruits and vegetables.  Old heritage varieties of plants offer important benefits for human and environmental health.

At the turn of the 20th century we had thousands (yes, thousands!) of varieties of apples and yet today in most supermarkets, you can only get a small handful of varieties. Most people wouldn't recognise the old apple varieties with exotic names like Calville Rouge d'Automne, Saint Edmund's Pippin or Chenango Strawberry. You can see some more of the old varieties profiled on this website devoted to apples. Many heirloom seeds from fruits and vegetables have been saved over time because they were simply the best performers in home and market gardens and gardeners loved to save seeds of their favourite plants. Historically we weren't interested in shipping food hundreds of miles like we do today, so varieties that tasted good and had optimal nutrition were favoured.

Have you tasted the difference between old varieties of tomatoes and the average pale red, early picked, dry and thick skinned modern variety? There is no comparison. Biting into a juicy and succulent tomato or a crispy heirloom apple is a taste sensation and makes you want to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables! This is certainly one reason why many people fail to eat enough fruits and vegetables, because they simply don't taste that good anymore.

A lot of the genetic programming of crops focus on commercial interests - such as increasing durability in transport or to enable early harvesting and in the process they sacrifice flavour and nutrition. The commercialisation of seed varieties also means that local varieties of plants that have adapted to local growing conditions are lost. When I first moved to Noosa I was given seeds from an old variety of lettuce, called First Fleet lettuce, from a local because she said they were the best for this area. It was originally grown at Farm Cove in Sydney and was a lettuce variety that came with the early settlers. This locally grown one though had adapted over a number of years to the subtropical climate of the Noosa hinterland, and grew well despite the vastly different climate to its birthplace of England.

With a pursuit of profit the big agricultural giants are also making it increasingly difficult for farmers to use the age old technique of seed saving. Across the world, people in all cultures always knew that seeds and plants belonged to everyone, so the thought of companies now owning patents on plants and controlling who can obtain them is both both strange and concerning. Nature is not a commodity that anyone should own and I argue that safeguarding our future food security is a basic human right. We also need to maintain the number of crop varieties which are available to stop shrinking the genetic base which ensures health in plants and humans.

If you would like to make a difference and help ensure the availability of old varieties of seeds and plants and in turn maintain the biodiversity of food supply then get active! By buying organic and biodynamic produce, you will often find interesting and less commonly available old varieties and you will also ensure better nutrition and taste. A range of environmental organisations also promote awareness about this important issue.

The True Food Network is one group that educates and advocates about the risk of genetically modified crops.  This national network has harnessed the diverse voices of well-known chefs and health advocates alike who are concerned with genetically modified foods.

Local permaculture groups such as Permaculture Noosa can help you to grow your own food and they usually have an active seed savers arm that helps create local seed banks.  You can read an article on how to save seeds in your home garden here.

I personally, also support Alliance Eliant, an organisation that promotes diversity in agriculture and nutrition, medicine and health care and education. They are also known for supporting European artisan food producers under threat by draconian EU health and safety regulations.They have recently launched a new initiative aimed at saving old varieties of seeds and increasing awareness of biodynamic agriculture methods.

So get active today and ensure the future of our food for many generations to come! And don't forget to be adventurous and seek out some unusual vegetable or fruit varieties next time you are at the farmer's market.

 

 

 

Live Life As Though Your Life Depended On It

Why Everyone Needs a Cancer Scare...

Over the years I have had many patients with cancer or other life threatening illnesses come to see me for naturopathic support. What happens when people go through this process is fairly typical. They go through a whole range of feelings from shock and disbelief to fear, anxiety and depression.

One of my good friends and my sister in-law have both gone through the journey with cancer over the past couple of years, so I have witnessed first hand the highs and lows that go with this.  Both were young and otherwise perfectly healthy women, so it came as an even bigger shock. The thing that most people have in common though when diagnosed with cancer is that they are hugely motivated to make changes. They are committed and disciplined to improve their diet and lifestyle in any way they can that will improve their chances of beating the cancer or eliminating pain or degeneration. They have will power on tap and often have a fierce determination and a strong will to live. They sort out outstanding issues in their life, heal or improve their relationships and generally start living each day with much more gratitude and grace.  Most people that go through this journey also tell you that it was the best thing that ever happened to them. They end up being more present, happy and connected.

I had a little scare of my own recently.

As a practitioner, I of course, know too much sometimes.  When it comes to my own health and that of my family, it is all too easy to catastrophise.  You notice symptoms and in your mind, you run through all the possibilities that it might be. Part of your mind puts all the symptoms together and then goes straight to a diagnosis of some rare and serious condition, while another part reassures you that it is probably nothing.

Anyway, suffice to say I had a constellation of symptoms that together could add up to cancer. To make matters worse, I had a dream that I had this type of cancer a few months ago. Just out of the blue, so dreams like that tend to hang around in your mind.  So when a couple of symptoms appeared over recent weeks, I ended up going and getting a check-up. In the meantime, though I had tuned in and sat with my body and asked for some guidance about what these symptoms were here to tell me.  This is something that I often do as a guided process with patients when I do my mind-body counselling as it is a great way of unravelling the root cause and initiating self-healing.  I assessed the situation as though I already had a diagnosis of cancer.

What would I do differently?  What needed to change?

I do generally practice what I preach when it comes to healthy choices around food and nutrition. I eat healthy organic food and I don’t drink coffee, tea or alcohol, so I couldn’t really make much improvement there.  Though I did feel that I could benefit from being a bit more in tune with my food choices and practice mindfulness when eating.  But when I did an audit of other areas of my life, my inner guidance highlighted that I needed to make some changes and take more time out. I already have a morning routine of meditation and a yoga/qi gong sequence to start my day that I am very disciplined with.  I love my work, but I do have a tendency to work too hard and too many hours. I realised that I was not living an optimal work-life balance.  When I am not working at the clinic, my time is largely spent working and studying from home or spent with the kids and the domestic duties.  I don’t have enough time for me to do the things that I love to do and to simply slow down and relax. Working long hours also means that I wasn’t getting enough sleep. Sleep is so essential for optimal health, and I knew that I wasn’t getting enough and like many modern folk, my adrenals were getting a bit worn out. I also realised that I wasn’t doing enough exercise. I had genuine excuses, like most people, mostly because I was too busy to fit it in. I am active around the little farm we live on and I am often playing or riding bikes with the kids, but a regular and consistent exercise routine was lacking.

So, I am happy to report that my tests came back normal and I can find a simple, less serious explanation for most of the symptoms. But while my cancer scare turned out to be unfounded, it left behind a strong message of getting serious about some things in my life.  I now have a firm resolve to spend my Fridays as what I call a “soul care day” doing yoga, getting massages or relaxing at the beach or in nature. I have resumed going for an early morning walk 5 days a week after my morning meditation/yoga practice.  I have also given myself a night-time curfew when I have to turn off the computer, having more relaxing baths and going to bed earlier and getting some extra sleep.  I have made myself up some herbs and am more regular with taking some supplements to support my nervous system and adrenals.

With all these simple but important changes, I know my mental, physical and emotional health will be better for it. It is much better to prevent getting cancer or some other serious illness by living your life with balance and making healthy choices. So consider what you need to change to improve your health for the better. If you had to live your life as though your life depended on it – what would you do differently? We all have an internal barometer that knows what we need to do to make our lives healthier – so lets start living like this instead of waiting for a crisis to initiate action! If you need support or guidance to make some changes to get a new healthier you into action, consider making a time to come in for a health checkup and assessment. I love to help my clients create a healthier routine in any area of their life that needs a bit more TLC.

Remember the old saying that has much wisdom, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.

 

 

 

 

 

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Free Webinar – Mind-Body medicine @ Online
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Mind-Body Workshop – from myster... @ The Grove
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Mind-Body Workshop - from mystery to mastery @ The Grove | Cooroy Mountain | Queensland | Australia
This one day intensive workshop will provide the information, tools and inspiration to heal your body and turn your health around. While there are many causes of illness and disease each person is a unique[...]
To me Karen is an absolute angel! I highly recommend Karen to anyone who is going through the whole ‘roller coaster’ journey of IVF. It was so lovely to actually have someone that actually listened to me, it was in 2010 when we decided we would give IVF one last go before having a break. Karen put me on a super tonic which I call her ‘magic potion’ and after a few weeks in taking this my FSH levels dropped dramatically and this was my lucky month and my dream had finally came true. I always feel so positive every time I leave Karen’s rooms, I’m so glad that I found her I can never thank her enough for my positive out come!
Megan Wolarczuk
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