In our clinic we specialize in gut health, this is because we believe it is the foundation of one’s health and impacts many functions in the body and mind. Not many of us know our gut is unhealthy until we have the obvious signs and symptoms. Poor digestion can produce many symptoms such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, pain, cramping, reflux, nausea to name a few. The truth is ALL of us should be concerned about the health of our gut whether you have the obvious symptoms or not!
Mental health is multifactorial including family history, health behaviours, gender, genetics, personal life history and experiences, access to support and coping skills. Whilst we can’t change a number of these factors there is something we do have control over, our health behaviours, these include what we choose to put on our plate, how we eat (on the run, in a relaxed state?) and how we take time to relax and unwind from our busy days.
Your digestive system comprises of a long tube from your mouth to your anus. This tube-like cylinder can be unfolded and would be the size of two tennis courts, providing your digestive system with a large surface area to absorb food. Your food goes in one end, is processed, the goodness extracted, and then the waste is pushed out the other end – simple right?
Your gut acts as a barrier between the outside world - and the inside of your body. This barrier helps prevent toxins and large molecules escaping into your bloodstream. When the gut becomes ‘leaky’ it loses the ability to act as a barrier and this increased permeability is associated with reacting inappropriately to foods and allergens which can manifest as autoimmune diseases, skin problems, inflammation in general but especially in the joints.
It's so easy after holidays for our healthy eating habits to sway and sugar seems to be the biggest culprit - the additional biscuit with our tea or glass of wine with our meal. This might be ok short term or once in a while but if this becomes a habit it will leave you feeling flat, tired, fat, depressed, stupid and basically relying on sugar to give you a 'lift'.
I’m an amateur cyclist, a part time spin instructor and have a full time job doing Business Development for TFL. The demands of my job and exercise routine requires me to be in top shape, I expect a lot from my body and I eat a lot! I therefore approached MNC to improve my body and mind performance.
Many students are likely in the throes of year end exam preparation, during this time student’s bodies need nourishment. Follow simple dietary and lifestyle practices for optimum results, and these don't only apply to students, if you're struggling to remember things like you used to, this is for you too!
Movement is such an integral part of our daily lives it often gets taken for granted. We are here today because our ancestors MOVED. They learnt to fight or flee, run, crawl, climb, leap, lift, carry, and throw to survive and their bodies adapted to do so. Our ancestors did not gain strength from structured routines or gym programs (not that we’re against them), they just MOVED and they MOVED DAILY.
Evidence shows how movement impacts how we feel, how we think, how we behave, how we sleep, how we digest, how we reproduce, and even how we age. Newer research is proving how movement helps prevent illnesses and chronic conditions such as diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, chronic fatigue, hypothyroidism, and weight gain.
If you don’t use it, you lose it! The less we move the less we are able to move.
Like with all things though balance is crucial. Many people enjoy ultra-marathons, triathlons, iron-man/ woman, and cycling for hours, which may, for your body, be overdoing it. Pushing the body to extremes may result in imbalances such as; digestive disturbances, dehydration, poor nutrient absorption, nutrient deficiencies, muscular injuries, joint problems and poor recovery rates to name a few. If this is what you choose and what you enjoy then book a free 20-minute consult with us to understand how to support your body through extreme sport.
So, what is the balance?
Move every day, whether it be a 30-minute yoga session in your lounge, walking the kids to and from school, going to a gym dance class or spin class, or simply taking the stairs at work. Also, be sure to listen to your body to determine how much is too much or not enough. Are you recovering well after exercise, do you have rest days, are you eating/drinking properly to support the physical demand? If you are not, book a session with us to find out how we can help!
Nutrients particularly important to support recovery include Protein, Vitamin C, Zinc, Magnesium, Nitrate (found in beetroot), Maca and even Collagen. Here is our delicious Protein power smoothie to get these important nutrients in one go!
Protein power smoothies: 2 scoops of protein powder, choose 1/2 fruits (i.e. handful berries/banana), 2 veg (i.e. handful spinach/ cucumber/beetroot), add 2 tbs. of seeds (flaxseeds /chia seeds), add 1 tablespoon nut butter, ¼ avocado, ½ teaspoon maca powder, water/coconut water/milk alternatives as desired to taste and a squeeze of lime. ENJOY!
Such a pertinent question at this time of year, isn’t it?
January is normally the month for setting goals for the year ahead. Perhaps you came out of the Christmas and New Year’s festivities feeling sluggish, bloated, fat, tired, foggy headed, irritable, run down, and in need of an overall ‘clean out’ or detoxification program. Before you reach out for the latest and greatest detox, be warned – these programs often do more harm than good.
Why? Well, our bodies naturally detoxify themselves, in fact this action happens every day. What most fad detox diets don't do is actually tell you about how this happens and what nutrients are essential for this to happen effectively.
So how then do our bodies naturally rid themselves of toxins?
There are two phases: the first phase takes harmful substances in the body and oxidizes them, or reduces them, often using up vitamins A, C and E in the process. Phase two then adds another substance (created from protein) to make the toxins water soluble so that they may be excreted from the body.
Toxins cause disease when the toxic load is greater than the body can effectively deal with. When the liver becomes overloaded with toxins, your ability to detoxify becomes impaired, leading to premature ageing and chronic disease such as Alzheimer’s and heart disease.
So let’s drop the detox fad and actually look at some dietary and lifestyle choices that will support both detoxification pathways:
- Aim to reduce your toxic load: We are constantly surrounded by toxins, benzene from petrol fumes, bisphenol A (BPA) from cans and plastic packaging, parabens, phthalates and sodium lauryl sulphate from cosmetics and toiletries, mercury and PCBs from fish such as salmon and tuna, growth hormones and antibiotics in meat and dairy products, pesticides on food, poly-fluorinated chemicals (PFCs) from non-stick cookware and many more.
-> Reduce toxic load by: wearing a mask if you run or cycle to work, take routes through parks instead of walking on a busy road. Store food in glass or stainless steel containers. Buy organic, pasture reared and or free range produce whenever possible. Throw out non-stick pans – choose ceramic instead.
- Increase your fiber intake and gut motility: If you’re not ‘going’ at least once a day, there is a strong chance the toxins in your body are recirculating and causing increased toxic symptomology such as fatigue; low mood; headaches; nausea; brain fog; multiple chemical sensitivities; poor skin, hair and nail health; dark circles under your eyes; hormonal imbalances; PMS; exercise intolerance; allergies; inflammatory problems and immune imbalance.
->Increase fiber intake and colon motility by: eating at least 5, but preferably 7 portions of fruit and vegetables daily – limiting the fruit to one or two pieces. Choose starchy vegetables and cook and eat them with the skin – that’s the way nature intended them! Exercise, exercise helps increase circulation which means more blood flowing to your digestive organs, helping increase motility!
Other dietary and lifestyle choices to consider to boost detoxification include: Practice mindful meditation – clear toxic thoughts and negative thinking patterns; Switch off wifi in the evening before bed; go for a sauna, this helps flush out toxins; Choose natural organic skin care – free from parabens to decrease toxic burden; choose natural/organic home cleaning products; drink 1-1.5 liters of filtered water daily to help flush toxins out; avoid burnt/blackened food which contains harmful toxins; eat more broccoli - it supports the liver’s detoxification pathways; drink green tea, it has a high antioxidant content; eat good quality sources of protein (wild fish/ grass fed beef/free range chicken) to support liver detoxification pathways
The best thing you can do for your liver is to give it a break, providing it with the nutrients it needs to work at its best. Your liver and the rest of your body will benefit greatly if you support it on a daily basis, resulting in you feeling happier, healthier, more vibrant, energised and ready to continue the year the way you intended to.
Do you know your body physiologically responds to stress the same way no matter what the stressor is? Most of the time stress is out of our control but what is in our control is our perception of stress, how we choose to cope with it and the tools we use to support ourselves during or after stressful events.
Today’s stressors come in the form of work pressures, family pressures, social pressure, financial pressures, environmental toxins, excessive exercise, poor dietary intake – too much sugar, caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol, food allergies or intolerances, nutrient deficiencies, inflammatory disorders, physical illness or injury.
We have all experienced the stressors mentioned above, some more than others. Many of the individuals I see in clinic are dealing with the 'stress aftermath' and trying to cope with symptoms associated which may have been triggered from certain stressful events. Taking myself as an example, I am currently comparing the stress of being pregnant with how I felt when preparing for my endurance cycling events. Don't get me wrong both are such wonderful and positive things in my life but hugely taxing and ‘stressful’ to my body. So unless I put in the right support, could leave me feeling exhausted, run down, emotional and basically spent. So where and when do we intervene?
According to the brilliant works of Dr Hans Seyle, depending on one’s threshold will determine whether stress is harmful or beneficial and is therefore divided into 4 stages:
1. The Alarm Stage - In this ‘flight and fight’ response, our adrenal glands release two stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, to get us up, going and ready to spring into action. In the short term, the increase in cortisol helps maintain our resistance to stress, guards against allergies and inflammation, ensures that we have glucose available for energy, maintains our mental stability and stabilises blood pressure.
2. The Resistance Stage - This occurs when our body may be exposed to repetitive stress, resulting in the release of high levels of cortisol for prolonged periods of time. This heightened cortisol may lead to more negative effects such as; increased susceptibility to infections, prevention of cell repair, hormonal imbalance, poor bone health, poor sleep patterns and energy levels.
3. The Maladaptive Stage- With persistent stress over an extended period of time, we release even more cortisol and all the problems related to the Resistance Stage get worse.
4. The Fatigue Stage- The adrenal glands that are responsible for the release of these hormones begin to under function due to overuse. When we reach the fatigue stage our adrenal glands can no longer respond to stressors and cortisol production declines below normal levels. Research suggests low cortisol levels are linked to inflammatory disorders, fatigue, headaches, low libido, depression, poor memory and digestive problems.
Although we are all unique, it is important to manage our own thresholds when it comes to stress and listen to the warning signs when moving down these possible stages. Symptoms of stress may also be expressed in different ways because it impacts the rest of our bodily functions. When we are in this ‘fight or flight’ mode and our sympathetic nervous system is in action (pupils dilate, blood vessels dilate, heart beats faster, increased sweating), our parasympathetic nervous system responsible for rest, repair and reproduction takes a back seat because all our physiological response is preparing us to fight or flee not to digest a meal or reproduce. It’s no wonder then that evidence suggests stress may be linked to poor gut health as well as hormonal and reproductive issues. So before you start popping pills to address concerns, it is time to take stock, listen to your body, and reassess before reaching stage 4 and more chronic conditions.
Some important tips in managing stress:
1. Diet- This is probably the most important factor and the first to go out the window when we are feeling stressed. We know that the food we eat fuels our body. During times of stress our body has a higher demand for various nutrients such as B vitamins for energy, Vitamin C and zinc for immunity, Magnesium for the relaxation response and about 300 other functions in the body.
2. Blood sugar control - Ensure that you eat regularly, which means little and often. Avoid reaching for sugary snacks, instead choose whole grains, nuts and seeds, which release energy slowly, keeping your blood sugar as stable as possible. Reduce alcohol and other stimulants as these can trigger the release of cortisol and play havoc with your blood sugar levels. Eat quality protein and fat with every meal and snack, because protein and healthy fat slows down the rate at which your body processes carbohydrates, keeping your blood sugar levels stable.
3. Exercise - Making time for gentle exercise and relaxation is important and the benefit can be both physical and psychological.
4. Keep your gut happy – Your gut serves as your second brain, and even produces more of the neurotransmitter serotonin—known to have a beneficial influence on your mood—than your brain does. Your gut is also home to countless bacteria, both good and bad. These bacteria outnumber the cells in your body by at least 10 to one, and maintaining the ideal balance of good and bad bacteria forms the foundation for good health—physical, mental and emotional.
5. Sleep – This is necessary to allow your body to enter the parasympathetic response of rest and repair.
6. Find your own personal stress-buster. You will have your own unique threshold to stress so what you find stressful may differ from others. It’s important that you have good coping strategies to lessen the impact of stress. Lack of control often underpins feelings of fatigue and burnout. Learning relaxation skills, such as deep breathing, meditation and positive visualisation may be supportive and the more you do the easier it is to form this positive habit.
I have teamed up with breathing guru, Michaela Olexova, to give us some insight into breathing techniques and why these are so important in combating stress.
WHAT’S YOUR ADVICE IF SOMEONE WANTS TO DE-STRESS?
Have you ever imagined what your life could look, feel and be like if you removed all the physical and mental tension and stress? Ahhh-mazing! Whether you're looking for freedom, peace, calm, balance, comfort or flexible mind. And there's absolutely no doubt (the latest scientific research backs me up on this one) that breathing, yoga, meditation and mindfulness play a vital role in helping you with this 'self' transformation. It's as simple as that. So my advice is to start breathing!
WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT? DON’T WE ALL KNOW HOW TO BREATHE?
Not necessarily. Sure, we all know how to breathe. We do it every day, from the moment we’re born to our last breath, but the problem is that we rarely pay attention to our breath - the way we breathe and the quality of our breath. People don’t realise that your breath does not only keep you alive, it has the ability to bring you to the present moment and yourself and holds an incredible healing potential that I’d like to call “prana apothecary” as its healing powers are always at your fingertips as and when you need it throughout your life!
WHY DO YOU THINK BREATHING IS SO IMPORTANT?
Breath (prana or life force energy) interconnects our whole life and all we do. It’s represented in our actions, our thoughts, our feelings and our emotions. It’s the bridge between our body and mind and where there’s a healthy mind, there’s a healthy body and through a committed practice your breath can help you relax or energise, slow down your thoughts or even change your perception. You basically start glowing on the outside and feeling fantastic on the inside…and I know because I've been living, practicing and teaching "Art of Mindful Breathing" over the last 15 years.
WHAT’S “ART OF MINDFUL BREATHING”?
It’s a six week online course that teaches you one of the most effective and practical self-healing methods to reduce stress and bring balance into your busy lifestyle so you can feel healthy and happy again. You learn how to cultivate your breath so you can release all the body + mind tension and blockages and create more space, manifesting its incredible potential on the physical, mental and the deepest spiritual level. This course is designed for those with a busy schedule who want to practice at their own pace in the comfort of their home or on the go and I'm really excited to hopefully meet you inside "Art of Mindful Breathing" and guide you to life-long calm.
Click here for more details and to purchase “Art of Mindful Breathing” course.
- MNC exclusive 20% discount with a promo code “loveyourself”
- Offer expires on 20th September
The summer holidays have begun.
Whether you are staying at home or going on holiday it becomes easier for our healthy food choices to take a back seat. Temptations are high and unhealthy habits sneak back into our daily routines - that extra glass of wine at lunch time, croissant to accompany the latte or home-made gelato one just cannot resist on a hot summers day. Remember it’s all about balance! So top up with these superfoods and support your body’s health and vitality while still soaking up the joys of summer.
Beetroot, whether cooked, raw, blended or juiced is an excellent way to increase your daily antioxidant levels. With its red (and sometimes yellow) pigments, is a rich source of phytonutrients, which means that they contain plenty of antioxidants, are anti-inflammatory and play a role in the detoxification process. More recently Beetroot juice has been recognised for it's benefits during exercise, boosting stamina to help you exercise for longer. Research (1) indicates that due to the nitrate content of beetroot, it can improve blood flow and help lower blood pressure. So opt for a tall glass of fresh beetroot, carrot and ginger juice to accompany your breakfast.
This green vegetable is another top antioxidant and well-known superfood, but did you know that it protects against air pollution? So if you are bumping up those air miles, perhaps you should ask for a side of broccoli. Researchers (2) demonstrated that, amongst other things, broccoli helps the body to excrete benzene, a highly irritating substance found in air pollution. It was already known that cruciferous vegetables may reduce the risk of various chronic diseases. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), every year this pollution causes seven million deaths. It has now been proven that sulforaphane helps the body to excrete benzene. Sulforaphane is a metabolite of glucoraphanin, one of the main compounds of broccoli. So get crunching on these greens! In the warmer months these can be added to salads and stir-fries or eaten as a snack with your dip of choice.
Matcha is a newer kid on the block in terms of well-known antioxidants. It is most prized for being rich in polyphenol compounds called catechins, a type of antioxidant, as well as containing small amounts of various vitamins and minerals. It is a more potent source of catechins than standard green tea, because it is made from ground up whole tealeaves. One study found that Matcha contains three times more of the catechins called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), an antioxidant linked to fighting cancer, viruses and heart disease, than other kinds of standard green tea. So swap your standard morning cup of brew for a mug full of matcha.
This is personally my favourite superfood, and superfood it is indeed, with two distinct superfoods in one: coconut oil and coconut water.
Coconut oil is rich in medium-chain triglycerides, or MCTs. Medium-chain triglycerides are unique. They are a form of saturated fat yet have several health benefits. Your body utilizes MCTs differently from other fats so digesting medium-chain triglycerides is nearly effortless unlike saturated fats, and they provide immediate energy. Coconut oil is 47% Lauric acid and Lauric is anti-microbial, stable under high heat cooking and processing and therefore creates less oxidative stress. Great to use while travelling to keep the bugs at bay. Current research is exposing oxidative stress as the culprit of cardiovascular disease and various inflammatory conditions. So pack a tub in your suitcase and add it to your food or drinks, eat a spoon daily, or smother it over your body to soak up all the healthy benefits.
Coconut water is packed with electrolytes, making it ideal for keeping your body naturally hydrated during the warmer weather. It may be a useful alternative to drinks that are full of processed sugars, artificial flavors and additives. Add to smoothies for a burst of flavor.
The term Theobroma cacao is the scientific name of the cocoa tree, which comes form the Greek words theo (god) and broom (drink), and this truly is a drink of the gods! This potent superfood originated in the foothills of the Andes. The benefits of cacao are endless and it can therefore truly be classed as a superfood.
It contains flavonoids such as resveratrol, which is known to have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Resveratrol is also known for its neuroprotective effects. It has the ability to cross the blood brain barrier, which allows to moderate inflammation in the central nervous system (CNS). Research suggests raw cacao is cardio protective (3), improves endurance exercise and energy, promotes a healthy micro biome (4), supports weight loss and improves immunity.
So this summer swap your average chocolate treat for some raw cacao instead. Your treat should be at least 70% raw cacao to reap the superfood benefits, or nibble on some cacao nibs instead.
1. Morgado M et al.(2016). Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2016;67(2):153-60. Development of a beetroot-based nutritional gel containing high content of bioaccessible dietary nitrate and antioxidants.
2. Egner PA et. Al. (2014)Cancer Prev Res (Phila). Aug;7(8):813-23. Rapid and sustainable detoxication of airborne pollutants by broccoli sprout beverage: results of a randomized clinical trial in China.
4. Tzounis X et.al (2011) Am J Clin Nutr. Jan;93(1):62-72. Prebiotic evaluation of cocoa-derived flavanols in healthy humans by using a randomized, controlled, double-blind, crossover intervention study.
Guest Blog by Joy Skipper, Food and Nutrition Consultant
Fat is one of the things that makes our food tasty, and to cook without it seems somehow as if you are trying to defy nature!
And there is lots of scientific evidence to show that we need fat in our diets, but the important factor is the type of fat.
We have never been more obsessed with dieting, eating low fat foods and even trying to cut fat out of our diets completely. This is not a healthy way to eat.
The first thing to learn about fat that you eat, is that it does not cause you to be fat (unless eating the wrong kind in huge amounts of course), but rather, eating too much sugar and not burning it off, causing it to turn to fat in the body, is the main culprit in today’s society.
We need fat in our diet for –
· Body and organ insulation
· To keep toxins out of circulation
· Steroid hormone production
· To provide and circulate fat soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E and K)
· For cell membrane structure, keeping cells supple
· To help fight against inflammation
Research has shown that low fat diets can lead to; cravings, binge eating, risk of fat-soluble vitamin deficiency, depression, problems with blood sugar regulation and skin problems.
So how do we know which fats to eat? Firstly, let’s look at the fats that are in the foods we eat.
Saturated Fats – these are principally found in animal fats in meat and dairy, and are solid at room temperature (lard, bacon, suet, dripping, intensively farmed milk, cheese, cream). But they are also in coconut oil, palm oil and macadamia nuts.
Monounsaturated Fats - (mainly omega 9 and omega 7) are found in olive oil, rapeseed oil, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, goose fat, duck fat, avocado.
Polyunsaturated Fats – (includes essential fatty acids Omega 3 and Omega 6) liquid at room temperature and found in nuts, seeds and their oils – sunflower, sesame, rapeseed, soy, corn.
Essential Fatty Acids – Omega 3 and Omega 6 – linseeds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, almonds, oily fish.
Trans fats – these are fats that are created when liquid or polyunsaturated fatty acids are made solid at room temperature by the addition of hydrogen. These can be found naturally in some dairy and meats, but also in margarines, cakes and biscuits, although more recently food producers are being asked to reduce these.
So, how much fat should we eat, and of what type? As with all parts of the diet, we should aim for variety in our foods, and that also includes the fats in our diet – too much of omega 6 may effect the benefits of omega 3 for example.
When deciding how much fat to consume, remember there are many types of fats and some of these are vital. The World Health Organisation recommends we need a minimum of 32 g fat daily, with a maximum of 20 g of this being saturated fat (this is based on a diet of 2000 calories a day).
It is important to remember that fat does not necessarily make us fat – essential fatty acids are called essential for a very good reason!
Try this simple recipe for a healthy omega-3-rich lunch:
Avocado, Beetroot and Orange Salad
Light, refreshing and full of goodness.
3 tbsp olive oil
juice of ½ lemon
1/2 tsp honey
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 avocado, peeled, stoned and sliced
2 cooked beetroot, cut into wedges
1 orange, segmented
30 g watercress
125 g goats cheese, sliced or crumbled
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds, toasted
2 tbsp sunflower seeds, toasted
· Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, honey and mustard.
· Toss together the avocado, beetroot, orange segments and watercress and divide between four plates.
· Add the goats cheese, crumbled or sliced, and then sprinkle over the toasted seeds.
· Drizzle with the dressing and serve.
More recipes can be found at http://www.joyskipper.co.uk/online-journal/
Functional medicine is personalised medicine. Personalised medicine considers the individual by exploring underlying causes of an illness, diagnosis or debilitating condition, which is at the root of this approach, instead of only being symptom-based. The individuals’ story is fundamental and this enables us as practitioners to delve deeper and encourage the body’s natural healing processes.
Thomas Edison made this vital point over 100 years ago. Today, in my practice, I recognize the impact the underlying cause has on determining the wellness of individuals. We are all different. Our bodies are all complex. We also have various influences in our environment; food, drink, stress, social networks, movement, toxic exposure, and sleep patterns. We have different genetic predispositions depending on our family history. We have different goals, belief systems, values and means of achieving these.
Functional medicine reiterates our uniqueness, therefore a tailored comprehensive health programme can be put into place that suits you and aims to optimise your health. As the famous saying goes – “one mans meat is another mans poison”. Are you spending money every month on various supplements, superfoods, health foods, health drinks or food that you think is good for you, but you may not be feeling the benefit?
Why not get tested and find out what YOUR body personally needs and start seeing changes and feeling a difference.
Functional testing is different to standardized testing. We are looking at the underlying functioning of the body as opposed to diagnosing a disease or condition. I have many patients who come into the clinic with unexplained abdominal complaints; the endoscopies come back as normal, although they feel unwell. A comprehensive gastrointestinal stool analysis; enables me to determine exactly what is going on in their gut from a more functional perspective. Are they absorbing their food? Are they digesting fats, proteins and carbohydrates – our 3 main macronutrients needed for a healthy body and mind? What does the health of the microbiome look like? From the latest research, we know that the higher the diversity of the gut flora, the healthier the individual. Are there any additional pathogens, parasites, or yeasts present? Testing is used as part of an intervention not to confirm a diagnosis.
The nutritional reference ranges of functional tests are also slightly different to the standard labs. With the functional tests the ranges are more inline with moving towards optimal health. This leads me to another point of going beyond what the disease is labeled as and looking at how an individual’s body is working in an integrative manner. You may be diagnosed with hypothyroidism. What about testing the thyroid antibodies, or gluten sensitivity or the adrenal glands, in order to determine the underlying causes of this ‘diagnosis’ on your route to prevention and wellness.
You are not your diagnosis.
You are not your disease.
We all deserve wellness.