Sleep

Adrenal Health

Adrenal Health

suprarenalThe adrenal glands are small glands that sit like a hat on top of the kidneys. They are powerful little endocrine glands that manufacture and secrete steroid hormones such as cortisol, DHEA (which in turn can be made into oestrogen and testosterone) as well as adrenalin (sometimes called epinephrine). Many of the hormones produced by the adrenals are essential for good health and vitality, so if your adrenals aren’t functioning well, there can be widespread impacts.  They modulate and support the function of every tissue, organ and gland in your body to maintain balance during stress or illness to help you heal or keep you alive. The adrenal hormones closely modulate many metabolic processes in the body:

  • the utilization of carbohydrates and fats
  • reproductive function and fertility
  • the conversion of fats and proteins into energy
  • bone density and muscle mass
  • inflammation and immune function
  • the distribution of stored fat  – especially around your waist
  • normal blood sugar regulation
  • proper cardiovascular function
  • gastrointestinal function and digestion

 

Some of the signs that your adrenals are struggling include:

stressENERGY & MOOD

  • low energy, tired all the time
  • up and down or erratic energy
  • tired but wired feeling
  • irritable, easily angered, cranky
  • depressed, sad, teary, anxious

SLEEP

  • poor sleep, waking often, insomnia, night sweats
  • increased need for sleep, excessive sleep
  • waking unrefreshed and tired in the morning

IMMUNE

  • recurrent illness (colds, flu, sinusitis)
  • take a long time to recover from simple disorder
  • chronic & autoimmune conditions like eczema, arthritis & allergies.

obesityDIGESTION, WEIGHT & BODY COMPLAINTS

  • headaches and migraines
  • craving sugar or caffeine
  • weight gain (especially around belly), difficulty losing weight,
  • digestive problems (irritable bowel, nausea)
  • muscle tension and pain
  • chest pain, difficulty breathing

Stress and Adrenal Function

It is important to understand the role of stress and how it influences adrenal function when we are looking at improving the function of the adrenals and optimizing energy and vitality.

The body has an inbuilt survival mechanism which allows us to mobilize its resources to escape or fight off danger and survive. The fight or flight response is a well known cascade of physiological effects that harness energy and strength to enable us to survive. While we may have evolved dealing with real life threatening situations (such as escaping from a wild animal or enemy clan) our bodily response to modern day stresses are the same. We don’t differentiate very well between true life threatening stress and mere emotional stress, because the part of our brain that responds to stress needs to act quickly and automatically. Taking time to consider the options and engage the rational mind, may delay actions that could be costly or deadly.

tired business manModern life for many of us is fraught with constant low grade stress. Even being available and switched ‘on’ 24/7 can often give us a feeling of mild stress. We are always anticipating the next thing to do or the next stress to deal with. Common stresses that I see amongst my patients include work dissatisfaction, a difficult boss, financial stress, relationship dramas and parenting demands. Then we also have the issues of environmental stress such as air pollution, electromagnetic radiation and chemicals in food and water. The stresses in turn can lead to a variety of physical and psychological health problems that can themselves be a further source of stress.

It is also the job of the adrenal glands to keep our body’s reactions to stress in balance so that they are appropriate and not destructive. Cortisol has a protective anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant activity that can help to minimize the inflammatory reactions in allergies and autoimmune disorders.

Adrenals & Reproductive Function

The adrenals are also responsible for producing DHEA which is a precursor to oestrogen and testosterone and thus have a role in reproductive function. Prolonged stress is a well known cause of reproductive dysfunction and in women can lead to delayed or lack of ovulation, erratic cycles or heavier periods.  In men, chronic or acute stress can impact on hormones and lead to lowered sperm count and poor libido in men. After mid-life when the ovaries and testes start to decline in function, the adrenal glands gradually become the major source of the sex hormones circulating throughout the body in both men and women. These hormones themselves have a whole host of physical, emotional and psychological effects, from the level of your sex drive to the tendency to gain weight. Thus, I find in my patients that the function and integrity of the adrenal glands is an important predictor of how easy or trouble free a woman's experience of menopause will be.

Stress Management – the key to healthy adrenals

corporate yoga womanLearning to manage our stress is essential for health and wellbeing on all levels. Much of what I do with many of my patients is help them make choices and create strategies that can moderate their stress. We go through all the events or situations which contribute to their stress load and identify the things that they can change in a practical sense. In some cases, even just changing our attitude or perception of situations can help decrease the effect of these stresses on our health and wellbeing.

Generally I find the two best strategies for managing life’s inevitable stresses are exercise and relaxation/meditation.  Some people find one is enough, but most people will benefit from doing both. In terms of exercise, though,  I want to emphasize that it is important to not overdo it. While many of us use exercise as a stress management tool, sometime it can add more pressure and physiological demands on our system. Many patients I have treated for adrenal fatigue and burnout have been over-exercising. Once they slowed down and did more gentle approaches, they started to improve.

I am a big fan of having a daily practice of some kind, such as meditation, yoga or breathing. Having a regular activity that allows us to pause and get perspective can make a big difference in how we feel and cope with stressful events. Learn more about managing stress with specific meditation and breathing tools I can teach you here.

 

Herbs & Nutrients for Adrenal Health

The first thing to know when it comes to supporting your adrenals is to ensure you choose foods and eating patterns that stabilize your blood sugar. Skipping meals or eating high carbohydrate or sugar laden foods will put more pressure on your adrenals (as well as your liver and pancreas!) Choosing regular meal times and ensuring there is a good quality protein (think eggs, nuts, seeds, dairy, meat/fish) at each meal. Protein and good quality fats will create a stable slow burning energy and avoid blood sugar swings. It is also good to avoid caffeine which can be too stimulating on worn out adrenals. There are a range of nutrients that can support optimal adrenal function and energy and normally I prescribe specific supplements designed to support the adrenal glands, that often include B vitamins, zinc, amino acids etc. You can learn more about foods and how they support energy here.

Holy Basil - a great herb for supporting the adrenals.

Holy Basil - a great herb for supporting the adrenals.

Herbs that support adrenal health are normally referred to as adrenal tonics or adaptogens. Kidney herbs can also be useful for supporting the adrenals. Some of my favourite adrenal herbs include Rhodiola, Withania, Siberian Ginseng, Licorice, Oats and Holy Basil. These herbs can help support our body to adapt and better cope with stress and promote good levels of energy. Generally speaking these types of herbs are taken for a period of at least 6-8 weeks and often for a number of months to get the best results in building resilience, conserving energy and preventing burnout during stressful or demanding periods.

 

So in summary, having well functioning adrenals is essential for optimal health. Take time to look after yourself, make healthy food choices, get regular exercise and manage your stress and you will be rewarded with healthy adrenals which will flow on and impact the rest of your body, mind and spirit!

 

Boost your brain power

Natural Ways to Boost Your Brain Power

Who doesn't want better memory, focus, concentration and mental performance? Whether you are a stay at home mum with little kids, a corporate executive, a student or a builder working on a complex building project - we all need our brain to be in top gear. Let's explore some natural ways to boost your brain power with herbs and nutrients.
bacopaOne of my favourite herbs that can help sharpen the mind and adapt to stress is Bacopa. Bacopa monnieri is a herb, which hails from the Indian Ayurvedic tradition, has been used for thousands of years to aid memory and learning. It is also a wonderful adaptogen, which essentially means it can help us adapt to stress by supporting adrenal and nerve health. This small creeper thrives in wet and marshy conditions and is found in many regions throughout the world, including Australia. I have some growing in my garden in a water pond and the small leaves and white flowers are very pleasant, though quite bitter to taste!

 

Modern research has revealed that Bacopa is indeed a valuable herb to improve cognition, mental performance and memory. There has been a large body of research including clinical trials that have been done on a specific Bacopa extract that have found it to be neuroprotective, antioxidant, anxiolytic and antiinflammatory - which basically means it can protect our brain cells, decrease inflammation and decrease anxiety. It has been shown to improve the speed at which we learn and process information as well as improve our short and long term memory. As Bacopa also helps us when we feel stressed and anxious, it makes it a valuable herb for modern times.

 

negative-thinking-patterns-fullIndeed, stress is a big impediment to mental performance and memory. When our brain is in a flight or fight response, we tend to access our primitive brain centres and act on impulse rather than being able to utilise our higher brain centres involved with reason, logic and even intuition. Stress makes us feel anxious and overwhelmed and will adversely affect our ability to think, remember and perform mental tasks. Our brain is really not designed to multitask the way modern life dictates. While we can certainly be engaged in many things at once, we tend to lack accuracy and focus and our performance declines. We really are far better to switch off our phone and email and remove ourselves from other distractions when we need to engage with some serious study, learning or mental work tasks.

 

Herbs and nutrients that can help us with stress will often indirectly improve our brain function and walnutsperformance. In addition to Bacopa, other herbs we often use to improve mental function include Gingko, Rhodiola, Gotu Kola and the Ginsengs. The B complex vitamins, magnesium and omega 3 fats (fish oils) are probably the most important nutrients to optimise memory, concentration and brain function.  Making sure you have regular meals and protein rich snacks will also ensure your blood sugar is stable and this will in turn enhance performance and mood. Nuts are a great option as a snack as they are rich in magnesium which has been shown to increase the cell connections in our brain. I love the way walnuts just look like little brains - a perfect example of the doctrine of signatures! Generally increasing fruit and vegetables will provide the antioxidants your brain needs for optimal function.

 

It is well known that when it comes to brain power if we "don't use it, we lose it." This motto is behind the push to exercise our brain as we get older, engaging it in specific tasks to improve mental performance and memory such as crosswords, puzzles and learning a new skill like an instrument or creative activity. Working with using all aspects of your brain, gives you a well rounded function that supports learning and cognition as you age.

 

timeout natureWorking with your stress levels and engaging in relaxing practices like breathing, yoga, sitting down with a cup of tea for a conscious break, walking in nature, playing with a pet, doing a craft project, playing an instrument or getting some sunshine are all important. Choose one that resonates with you and give yourself regular small "time outs" that will make a big difference to stress and performance!

 

Lastly, ensure that you get adequate sleep as being sleep deprived is a certain recipe for poor brain function! Research shows that learning is also consolidated at night when we sleep, so the old traditional saying that "the morning is always wiser than the evening" is true.

 

 

 

Sleep

A Good Night’s Sleep

sleepA good night’s sleep is something we all need for a healthy body and mind. Sleep primarily rejuvenates our bodies and provides much needed physical and mental rest from our busy lifestyles. So it follows that poor sleep can lead to many health issues. Insomnia can affect immune function, mood, perception of stress, energy levels and even shorten your life expectancy. Sleep disturbance can also be one of the first signs that something is out of balance with physical or emotional health.

Causes of insomnia are many and varied. Insomnia is often linked to mental overstimulation where people can’t switch off.  This is a very common problem in today’s 24/7 lifestyle with computers, TV, phones and other devices being used around the clock. Anxiety and depression can contribute to abnormal sleep patterns. Not getting enough sleep or oversleeping can be a symptom of poor moods, depression and lack of motivation for life. Hormonal problems in women can affect sleep with menopausal hot flushes a common cause of insomnia. Thyroid or liver problems, chronic pain and illness can also effect sleep and trigger bouts of insomnia. A disruption in your circadian rhythm (such as shift work or jetlag) can affect your production of the hormones, melatonin and serotonin – which in turn can affect your sleep patterns as well as mood.  So given all the possible interrelated causes, it makes sense to get to the bottom of it, rather than just treat the symptoms with sedatives.

sleep_deprivationAlso, it is important to understand that the quality of your diet and lifestyle will often affect your sleep. Substances such as caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, recreational drugs and some medications can have an impact on sleep quality. Following a healthy diet that is rich in minerals such as magnesium and calcium will help to promote nerve and muscle function and help to promote sleep. Green tea is also a useful remedy as it contains the substance theanine which can be used for stress, anxiety and tension that may contribute to poor sleep. It is essential to take regular time out from busy lifestyles and have down time. Balancing work with regular periods of relaxation is essential to promote sleep, while engaging in exercise will regulate circadian rhythms and help to decrease stress.

While pharmaceutical medications can assist with insomnia they can have unwanted side effects and should be a last resort. Luckily, there are effective and safe natural sleep remedies to promote chamomilea good night’s sleep. Herbal medicine has long been used for sleep issues and modern research shows certain sedative herbs can promote sleep and relieve anxiety and tension. Using a good quality chamomile tea can help in mild cases, but for more entrenched insomnia a visit to a naturopath is recommended. I often prescribe daytime tonics to help restore worn out nerves and adrenals or balance hormones alongside sedative herbs before bed. Just taking sleep herbs before bed may not be effective if there are other underlying health or emotional issues that need addressing professionally.

 

There are many other general tips to ensuring a good night’s sleep. Sleeping in total darkness can be helpful as even a tiny bit of light in the bedroom can effect melatonin production.  Turn off the Woman Resting in BathTV and computer at least half an hour before bed and avoid having your phone on the bedside table - or at least put it in flight mode overnight, if you need to use it as an alarm. The flickering blue light of media screens is very stimulating and will decrease melatonin output and keep your adrenals switched on. (See my webinar on wifi/phones for more info on media and health.) Establishing a regular and simple night time routine is also a good idea. By doing something restful such as taking a bath, journaling or listening to music can help unwind and will make it clear to your body and mind, that it is rest time!

Coping With Motherhood

 

New mothers all around the world are given the same job description which looks something like this:
  • Must be able to multi-task 24 hours a day, cope with no sleep and expect no pay. No prior training is available. Job satisfaction is anticipated to be high.”

Motherhood-imageCertainly new motherhood brings with it unprecedented joy but also a fair share of anxiety and exhaustion. With so much to learn from feeding, changing nappies and sleep cues to settling and interpreting crying, mothers often look outside themselves for answers. Yet despite our information age of internet and chat forums, as mothers we should also remember that we possess good instincts and intuition that ought to be listened to. So many mothers go against their instincts when they choose to follow some of the modern parenting styles such as controlled crying and teaching early independence. When we really stop to listen to what we need and what our children need, there is no need for experts because we already know the answers. Even so, the road to being a relaxed and confident mother often starts rocky and has many pitfalls.

Postnatal depression is common these days as mothers struggle to meet their own and society’s expectations.   The myth of the superwoman who can have it all – a successful career, happy children, a healthy relationship and personal intimacy has been questioned more and more in recent years. We now know that this is hard to achieve or sustain and rarely brings the quality of life that we want. Most mothers (and fathers) crave more time with their kids and more meaningful relationships with their partners and loved ones. When this fails to be achieved it can bring about depression and anxiety.

mother overwhelmOther causes of postnatal depression are birth dissatisfaction or trauma, not having any support from family or friends and hormonal imbalance. Another risk factor for postnatal depression and anxiety which affects most new mothers is simple sleep deprivation. Babies are born very dependent on their mothers for their wellbeing and survival.  Unlike most species, humans are born with an immature physical and mental capacity and they take the longest to mature to adulthood.  This means that babies and children depend on their parents (or caregivers) completely for food, clothing, shelter, warmth, hygiene and emotional security.   These needs are most intense and physically demanding in the early days and often lead to exhaustion.

Babies need to be fed regularly as their tiny tummies don’t hold much. Humans are a ‘cached’ species – meaning that we have evolved carrying our babies and feeding them regularly. The composition of breastmilk is designed for this close relationship with mother and baby. It is high in lactose (milk sugar) and relatively low in protein and fat. This means that babies really need to feed regularly as breastmilk is quickly broken down.   This contrasts with ruminant mammals such as cows whose milk is much higher in protein and allows the offspring to have much longer stretches between milk feeds and they grow quickly to maturity over a year or two.

Being up feeding a tiny baby in the night means a full night’s sleep is uncommon for mothers in the first 6-12 months.   Breastfeeding does offer some help by way of hormones such as oxytocin and prolactin that promote calm and connection. After breastfeeding mothers tend to sleep deeper and more soundly until the next feed, so even though their sleep is interrupted it is still refreshing. Even so, night after night does add up and most mothers end up feeling tired and emotional at least some of the time.

timeout natureLooking after ourselves really well is essential to prevent exhaustion and depression.   This means making sure you eat a healthy, nutritious diet to provide nutrients for physical and mental wellness and stamina.   If depression or anxiety is apparent then herbal and nutritional remedies can be safe and effective, even while breastfeeding.  Mothers of all ages need to take time out for themselves regularly. Even just a short walk, a long bath or the occasional massage can really help with our ability to cope with the demands of motherhood. Ensuring you have a nap in the day occasionally can really help to recharge your mind and body.

Baby’s thrive on gentle rhythms and predictability and are easily upset by overstimulation and too many activities. As parents we need to welcome this time of quietness and stillness and learn to say ‘no’ to unnecessary engagements. Slowing down and not over-committing to social engagements is a good idea. Trying to let some days unfold at their own pace will bring a sense of calm and peace for you and your baby.

Last of all, build a community of likeminded friends and ask for help from family where possible. Support makes all the difference – so don’t try to do it all on your own!

 

 

 

Benefits of Earthing

 

 

Go Barefoot for Health with Earthing

Part of my strategy for healing my recent back injury and reducing inflammation has been to do earthing. I have been onto this wonderful ‘free’ health tool for a long time and was even instinctively doing it well before I knew the scientific benefits of earthing.

This technique, also called grounding, has become a popular way of improving health after researchers have discovered that contact with the earth through the feet brings many healing benefits. While this understanding may be new, there is nothing new in the earthing technique as we humans have lived close to the earth for aeons.

The difference is that today our modern life often put barriers between us and the earth, whether it be houses, offices, cars or shoes!  Natural surfaces such as timber floors and some tiles still have the ability to ground us, but many modern surfaces and the vast majority of shoes do not conduct the earth’s energy and leave us cut off from this free and abundant energy supply.

 

So how does earthing work?

The earth has an enormous and powerful magnetic energy field and humans and other living things also have their own mini energy field. These are comprised of a mixture of either positive or negative electrons.  So similar to a battery recharging, our body can get recharged or grounded from the bigger energy field of the earth.

Grounding is the process of removing the excess charge on any object by means of the transfer of electrons between it and another object of substantial size. When a charged object is grounded, the excess charge is balanced by the transfer of electrons between the charged object and the ground. Humans tend to accumulate a lot of positive electrons (which are akin to free radicals) from electricity and electromagnetic radiation that can damage our health unless they are regularly released.  The earth is our natural partner in this, offering the opposite polarity of a big negative field that can discharge the excess positive electrons.

Standing on grass barefoot or on dirt, stones, or sand or even hugging a tree can all conduct the earth’s electromagnetic energy field into our body and can help to discharge accumulated electrons and rebalance our energy. The beach is particularly good as it offers the combination of water and earth (via wet sand) for enhanced conductivity.  Spending at least 30-60 minutes everyday earthing will definitely improve your health. Aside from the known physiological benefits, most people (and all children!) recognise that it simply feels good to have their bare feet on the earth!

What if I live in the city?

There have been many new devices created to help us ground when we can’t be close to the earth.  This is especially good for city dwellers or those who live in apartments. These often utilise and hook up to the earth wiring in our homes. By plugging devices into the earth point in a power point we can conduct the energy of the earth into the device and transfer it to us. I use these when I am working on my computer to lower the electromagnetic toll on the body and I have also used a earthing blanket to improve sleeping – especially while my back has been sore!

While the devices are useful, remember that the best way to earth is the old fashioned way – standing on the ground barefoot. Being in nature and in green environments has also been shown to offer many other benefits on our emotions, moods and energy.  So there is no excuse not to get your feet just a little bit dirty!

 

Earthing devices can be purchased at Earthing Australia's site Barefoot Healing.

 

Check out this video if you would like to learn more from the founder of Earthing...

 

 

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”.

 

 

 

 

 

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

Sleep Deprivation & Food Choices

Midnight Snacks

While we all know that a good night’s sleep is important, new research has now linked lack of sleep to poor food choices.

So many people are now getting too little sleep due to our 24 hour lifestyles. With computers and electricity, we can literally power on right through the night – but unfortunately this has a detrimental impact on many aspects of our health.

 

A couple of new studies have found that when we are sleep deprived we are more likely to eat unhealthy food. Furthermore, food cravings and sleep related hunger have been shown to contribute to weight gain and obesity. People who are sleep deprived tend to snack more and consume more calories. Scientists have discovered that the hormones in control of appetite are negatively impacted by lack of sleep, but other mechanisms in our brain are also playing a role. It seems that staying up all night or even just skimping on sleep can lead a person to seek out high fat and processed foods.

 

Two small studies conducted by sleep researchers have found that sleep deprivation appears to increase activity in areas of the brain that seek out pleasure.  It seems that these same pleasure centres are also activated by junk food. Unfortunately, tiredness can also dampen activity in other brain regions that usually serve as a brake on this type of craving.

 

The researchers performed functional MRI scans while showing the volunteers images of unhealthy foods interspersed with healthy foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and oatmeal. Brain networks associated with craving and reward were more active when the participants were sleep-deprived than when they were well-rested. This was especially the case when the participants were shown the images of unhealthy foods.

 

The researchers postulated that when we are tired we tend to gravitate to energy dense fatty and sugary foods because our brains are seeking an extra energy boost to help our functioning. The sleep deprived brain reacts to food stimuli as though it were actually food deprived.  In addition, higher-order brain functions – such as making complex choices and being able to assess the pros and cons of situations - including about what we eat – may also be compromised by a lack of sleep. The frontal lobe of the brain is the region critical to making choices that are wise and health promoting and it is also associated with our ability to imagine and visualize our dreams and desires.  This was the region that was affected by sleep rather than the more primitive reward centres of the brain.

 

So getting a good night’s sleep will ensure you have the energy, brain function and discipline to make healthy choices and decisions in many areas of life. If we are making poor food choices based on lack of sleep, imagine how many other areas of our life are impacted and how many decisions that we make that are potentially effected by insufficient sleep!

Sleep Tight!

Karen

 

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Upcoming Events
Nov
6
Wed
6:30 pm 4 Week Introduction to Meditatio... @ The Grove
4 Week Introduction to Meditatio... @ The Grove
Nov 6 @ 6:30 pm – Nov 27 @ 8:00 pm
4 Week Introduction to Meditation Course @ The Grove | Noosaville | Queensland | Australia
Have you always wanted to learn to meditate, but didn’t know how? Do you want to learn how to manage stress and find it easier to relax? Meditation has been proven to provide fantastic benefits[...]
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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