All Posts in Category: Anxiety & Depression

Are you getting enough Iron?

Are You Getting Enough Iron?
 
Iron is essential for maintaining good energy levels and optimal health. It is arguably one of the most important minerals, particularly as it is involved in carrying oxygen to every cell in your body. Haemoglobin is the body’s oxygen-carrying protein and where you find approximately two-thirds of your iron; therefore, without adequate iron the transportation of oxygen is affected. As ironis involved in maintaining healthy immunity, it’s no wonder you don’t feel great when your levels are low!

Symptoms of Low Iron 
The following symptoms could be signs of low iron levels:

  • Fatigue and lethargy
  • Frequent colds and flus
  • Paleness inside the mouth and lower eyelid
  • Fuzzy head, not thinking clearly
  • Low body temperature
  • Dizziness
  • Restless legs or leg cramps at night.

Reasons for Low Iron 
Iron deficiency can be mild, however when it is very low you can become ‘anaemic’. Low iron can be a result of not obtaining enough from your diet. Factors that may cause low iron include tea and coffee intake, blood loss, pregnancy or poor absorption as a result of underlying gut problems. Certain populations have been identified as potentially more at risk of low iron levels, including teenagers, the elderly, pregnant women, vegetarians and vegans.

Test – Don’t Guess 
If you suspect you may be low in iron, it is important to speak to your healthcare practitioner about a simple blood test to assess your iron levels, especially if you are at increased risk. Testing can ensure your safety, as symptoms of iron excess may be similar to signs of iron deficiency and in some circumstances, high ironintake can be detrimental.

Dietary Sources of Iron 
Include plenty of iron-rich foods in your diet to maintain a healthy intake. Animal foods provide
a good source of iron, including beef, lamb, kangaroo, turkey, chicken, fish, oysters, liver and sardines. The redder the meat, the higher the ironcontent. Plant-sources of iron include molasses, shiitake mushrooms, dark green leafy vegetables (see below for an absolutely delicious kale and spinach pie recipe) and lentils. Vegetarian sources of iron may not be as well-absorbed as animal sources. Talk to your Practitioner today about taking a high potency ironsupplement. If you are vegan or vegetarian, your Practitioner can provide vegan-friendly options.

Iron Needs a Little Help from its Friends 
Iron works best in your body with the help of other nutrients:

  • B vitamins: Vitamins B6, B12 and folate are involved in iron transportation and red blood cell production. Taking an essential B vitamin can help you build healthy cells and move energising oxygen around your body.
  • 5-MTHF: Known as 5-methyltetrahydrofolate – the activated form of folate. It is the same form made by your body and is readily utilised.
  • Vitamin C: It has long been known that vitamin C increases the absorption of iron; therefore when taking iron, ideally pair it with vitamin C.

The Supplemental Form of Iron Matters
Side-effects, such as constipation, are commonly complained about with certain forms of iron. Therefore it is important to choose a highly absorbable form of ironto minimise the chance of gut symptoms. Your Practitioner can recommend a suitable iron formula with all the necessary nutrients needed to restore your energy levels and maintain healthy immunity.

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Natural steps to beat Anxiety!

Natural anxiety treatment The Anxiety Monster- The Natural anxiety treatment 

Feeling occasionally anxious is a normal response to modern life. However, for some people their anxiety is like a little monster living inside, who stirs up uncomfortable feelings when faced with simple everyday situations. If you or someone you know avoids social gatherings, work meetings or confrontations, due to anxiety, then don’t ignore these feelings. It’s time to get some help to tackle the anxiety monster.

Symptoms Can Be Physical AND Emotional

Symptoms of anxiety can be very unsettling. Your heart rate increases, your mind races and you can no longer think straight. Though everyone experiences anxiety a bit differently, there are some more common symptoms to look out for.

• Physical sensations: racing heart; hot flushes, sweating and skin clamminess; rapid breathing; and/or frequent gastrointestinal upsets.

• Emotional sensations: feelings of excess worry, panic, fear or guilt; obsessive thinking and behaviours; and/or feeling generally tense and wound up.

If you can relate to any of the above, speak with your healthcare Practitioner today – this doesn’t have to be your everyday ‘normal’.

Breaking the Cycle

Herbal medicine can be used to help reduce anxiety and nervousness; improving your emotional resilience:

Passion flower – decreases that sense of ‘restlessness’ and can help settle nervous stomachs. It increases the calming neurotransmitters (brain chemicals), such as GABA; soothing a racing mind, decreasing tension and irritability.

Zizyphus – widely used in Chinese herbal formulas for its anxiolytic (anxietyreducing) properties; zizyphus is considered cooling, calming and another herb that’s effective for restlessness.

Bupleurum – useful for those experiencing stress and unrest due to excessive nervous energy.

Daily Strategies to Support Yourself

The best things in life are free – well almost! Incorporate as many of the following resilience-building strategies as you can each day. These tips will lead to better overall wellbeing as well as helping you to manage stress and anxiety:

• Connect with friends – keeping in touch with people maintains your support network;
• Exercise (ideally outdoors) – regular exercise has been shown to improve mood and reduce feelings of stress;
• Choose healthy foods – consume protein at each meal and avoid refined and sugary foods. This can help balance your blood sugar levels, reducing mood imbalances and lessening anxiety;
• Avoid caffeine – stimulants such as caffeine can exacerbate anxiety; and
• Breathe! – if you start to feel panicky or anxious, focus on taking some slow, purposeful, deep breaths, helping you return to a state of calm. Meditation can also help to quieten your mind and instill calm.

Feeling like you need more answers? Look into these areas by clicking the link:

  1. Hormonal imbalance
  2. Genetics such as MTHFR 
  3. Addressing all possible triggers of anxiety 

Conquering the Monster
Everyone experiences fears and worries from time to time, however, if anxiety becomes excessive and stops you from enjoying everyday life, then it’s time to conquer the monster.

Speak to your Practitioner about how we can help you feel calmer, more positive and in control of your situation.

Book your free naturopathic consultation or phone  (07) 5458 4800 to book a consultation.

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Gut And Brain Depressed

Even if You Eat “Perfectly”, Not Knowing This Could Leave You Depressed

guthealth

Every human being serves as a home to thousands of different species of microbes. But scientists are now reporting that there are just three distinct microbial ecosystems in the guts of people they have studied.

The three “enterotypes” showed no particular link to ethnic background, sex, weight, health or age. One possibility is that the intestines of infants are simply randomly colonized by different pioneering species of microbes, which alter the gut so that only certain species can follow them.

The New York Times reports:

“Whatever the cause of the different enterotypes, they may end up having discrete effects on people’s health. Gut microbes aid in food digestion and synthesize vitamins … Enterotype 1 produces more enzymes for making vitamin B7 (also known as biotin), for example, and Enterotype 2 more enzymes for vitamin B1 (thiamine).”

This is an interesting finding to say the least, particularly in light of how nutritional typing is increasingly used by physicians who practice “individualized medicine.” For example, a customized meal plan based on the patient’s nutritional type is the cornerstone of Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez’ highly successful non-traditional cancer treatment.

Tailoring your diet to your own biochemical needs is also the hallmark of my Total Health program.

I believe eating according to your nutritional type is so essential for optimizing your health that I now offer the entire online nutritional typing test for free. We’ve charged thousands of people $29 for this test in the past, but decided this was too important and therefore made a mission decision to offer this to everyone for free. So if you have not yet taken it I would encourage you to do so.

Please remember that it is not a test that will tell you the perfect foods to eat but more of a process to help you learn and discover the foods that will make your thrive and move toward optimal health based on your specific biochemistry and genetics. It will teach you, over the course of several months, how to determine the best foods for you.

In this study, which supports nutritional typing, lead researcher Peer Bork suggests that one of the “obvious” potential benefits of his finding is that doctors may someday be able to tailor diets or drug prescriptions based on their gastrointestinal enterotype.

Considering that the process for determining your nutritional type is currently heavily dependent on listening to your body and tracking how different foods make you feel, both physically and psychologically, it’s exciting to see the potential for using gut flora analysis as an aid.

Another exciting avenue is using gene typing. Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski and his son, Dr. Gregory Burzynski, already employ gene-target therapies in the treatment of cancer, and their approach also includes customized diets, tailored to the patient’s genetic makeup.

Three Types of Human Gut Ecosystems Discovered

When you consider that your intestines contain about 100 trillion bacteria, it may seem surprising that people would fall into one of just three distinct types of bacterial ecosystems—each composed of a different balance of various bacteria species. But it makes sense when viewed as part and parcel of your nutritional type.

As of yet, we don’t know which enterotype might correspond to which nutritional type, but I believe we will in time.

Remember, your body responds uniquely to food — your fuel — based on your genetics, biochemical makeup, family history, and your own interaction with your environment. Nutritional typing also divides people up into three groups:

  1. Carb/Veggie types normally feel best when the majority, about 60 percent, of their food is vegetable carbohydrate, along with about 25 percent protein and 15 percent fat, but this type may need as little as 10 percent fat and as high as 80 percent carb in exceptional times.
  2. Protein types do better on low-carbohydrate, high-protein and high-fat diets. A typical ratio might be 40 percent protein and 30 percent each of fats and carbohydrates, but the amounts could easily shift to 50 percent fats and as little as 10 percent carbohydrates depending on individual genetic requirements.
  3. Mixed are between the carb and protein types.

Since gut microbes aid in food digestion and absorption of nutrients, and help synthesize vitamins by creating specific enzymes, it actually makes perfect sense that different nutritional types might have the specialized gut flora required to optimize the utilization of their ideal dietary fuel…

The Powerful Connection between Your Gut and Brain

Most people fail to realize that your gut is quite literally your second brain, and in addition to digesting your food actually has the ability to significantly influence your:

  • Mind
  • Mood
  • Behavior

It’s not a widely understood or emphasized fact, but studies have repeatedly shown that a healthy gut reinforces a positive outlook and behavior, while depression and a variety of behavioral problems have been linked to an imbalance or lack of gut bacteria.

For example, a recent animal study published in the journal Neurogastroenterology & Motility, found that mice lacking gut bacteria behave differently from normal mice, engaging in what would be referred to as “high-risk behavior.” This altered behavior was accompanied by neurochemical changes in the mouse brain.

According to the authors, microbiota (your gut flora)  plays a role in the communication between your gut and your brain, and:

“Acquisition of intestinal microbiota in the immediate postnatal period has a defining impact on the development and function of the gastrointestinal, immune, neuroendocrine and metabolic systems. For example, the presence of gut microbiotaregulates the set point for hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activity.”

So, not only does this finding dovetail nicely with the theory that your gut flora may be a factor of your nutritional type, but it also helps explain how your diet and gut flora can impact your mental health, for better or worse.

Remember, your diet is largely responsible for your gut health, and when you feed your body the fuel it’s designed for, your gut flora will be able to maintain optimal balance, which then supports optimal physicaland mental health.

The intrinsic connection between your gut and your brain becomes easier to understand once you know that your brain and gut are actually created out of the same type of tissue. During fetal development, one part turns into your central nervous system while the other develops into your enteric nervous system. These two systems are connected via the vagus nerve; the tenth cranial nerve that runs from your brain stem down to your abdomen. This is what connects your two brains together.

Your gut and brain actually work in tandem, each influencing the other.

This is why your intestinal health can have such a profound influence on your mental health, and vice versa. For an interesting and well-written layman’s explanation of the gut/brain connection, read through Sandra Blakeslee’s 1996 New York Times article Complex and Hidden Brain in Gut Makes Stomachaches and Butterflies.

Now, even more interesting is the fact that certain neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, can also be found in your gut—in fact, the greatest concentration of serotonin, which is involved in mood control, depression and aggression, is found in your intestines, not your brain! Your bowels also contain some 100 million neurons—more than in either your spinal cord or your peripheral nervous system.

An excellent article by Adam Hadhazy, published in Scientific American last year, explains the intrinsic connection between your gut and your psychological well-being.

Hadhazy writes:

“The system is way too complicated to have evolved only to make sure things move out of your colon,” saysEmeran Mayer, professor of physiology, psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (U.C.L.A.). For example, scientists were shocked to learn that about 90 percent of the fibers in the primary visceral nerve, the vagus, carry information from the gutto the brain and not the other way around…

The second brain informs our state of mind in other more obscure ways, as well. “A big part of our emotions are probably influenced by the nerves in our gut,” Mayer says…

Given the two brains’ commonalities, depression treatments that target the mind can unintentionally impact the gut. The enteric nervous system uses more than 30 neurotransmitters, just like the brain, and in fact 95 percent of the body’s serotonin is found in the bowels. Because antidepressant medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) increase serotonin levels, it’s little wonder that meds meant to cause chemical changes in the mind often provoke GI issues as a side effect.”

All of that said, it makes perfect sense to nourish your gut flora to achieve optimal serotonin function, as it can clearly have a profound impact on your mood, psychological health, and behavior.

Gut Problems Also Linked to Brain Disorders

There’s also no shortage of evidence of gastrointestinal involvement in a variety of neurological diseases, including autism, so in this way some forms of vaccine damage may also be explained.

Dr. Andrew Wakefield is just one of many who have investigated the connection between developmental disorders and bowel disease. He has published about 130-140 peer-reviewed papers looking at the mechanism and cause of inflammatory bowel disease, and has extensively investigated the brain-bowel connection in the context of children with developmental disorders such as autism.

For example, gluten intolerance is a frequent feature of autism, and many autistic children will improve when following a strict gluten-free diet. Many autistic children also tend to improve when given probiotics, either in the form of fermented foods or probiotic supplements.

A large number of replication studies have also been performed around the world, confirming the curious link between brain disorders such as autism and gastrointestinal dysfunction. For a list of more than 25 of those studies, please see this previous article.

According to Michael Gershon, chairman of the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at New York–Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center; a neurogastroenterology expert and author ofThe Second Brain, the same genes that make synapses form in your brain are also involved in the formation of synapses in your gut. Hence, if these genes are affected in autism, it could help explain both the GI abnormalities suffered by so many kids with autism, as well as the elevated levels of gut-produced serotonin in their blood.

How to Optimize the Bacteria in Your Gut

Fortunately, regardless of your type, optimizing your gut flora (the balance between “good” and “bad” bacteria in your gut) is relatively easy.

First, the MOST important step is to avoid consuming sugar and processed foods.  The sugars actually serve as fuel for the growth of pathogenic anaerobic bacteria, fungi and yeast, and competitively inhibit your good bacteria, tending to crowd them out of their appropriate niche. These pathogenic bacteria, fungi and yeast then produce metabolic waste products that will cause your health to deteriorate.

When you eat a healthy diet, based on your nutritional type that is low in sugars and processed foods, it automatically causes the beneficial bacteria in your gut to flourish. This is one of the many reasons why I highly recommend reducing, with the plan of eliminating, sugars and most grains from your diet.

Yet, even with an extremely low-sugar diet, there are other factors that influence your microflora, so you’ll also want to avoid some of the factors that destroy healthy bacteria, such as:

  • Antibiotics
  • Chlorinated water
  • Antibacterial soap
  • Agricultural chemicals
  • Pollution

Considering the many toxins that surround most of us on a daily basis, it’s generally a wise choice to “reseed” your body with good bacteria from time to time by taking a high-quality probiotic supplement or eating traditionally fermented foods. Healthy choices include:

  • Lassi (an Indian yoghurt drink, traditionally enjoyed before dinner)
  • Fermented milk, such as kefir
  • Various pickled fermentations of cabbage, turnips, eggplant, cucumbers, onions, squash and carrots
  • Natto (fermented soy)

If you were to eat a diet rich in fermented foods that have NOT been pasteurized (as pasteurization kills the naturally occurring probiotics), then you would likely enjoy great digestive health without any additional supplementation.

However, if you simply do not like any of these types of fermented foods, your next best option is to use a high quality probiotic supplement.

I’ve used many different brands over the past 20 years and there are many good ones out there. I also spent a long time researching and developing my own, called Complete Probiotics, in which I incorporated everything I have learned about this important tool over the years and include it in my daily meal plan.

Source:Mercola
Image Source:PBS

If you are tired of your current health status and you are ready to take the next step contact us to make a FREE Introductory appointment with one of our Naturopath’s (07) 5458 4800 .

Our Naturopaths have patients locally, interstate and overseas, we can help by offering phone or skype consultations. 

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Good Mood Food!

We all know that food can affect our weight, skin, cardiovascular system and energy, but did you know it can significantly affect your mood and Sunshine Coast Integrated Wellness Clinicmind? There is always more that can be done in correcting your diet for mental stamina, calmness, clarity, motivation and happiness.

A diet centred around food for mood should include eating ideally grain free, increasing high nutrient value foods, significantly increasing the fats your brain loves and increasing fermented foods.

Neurotransmitters are made from a huge range of nutrient cofactors, but the most clinically significant nutrients that are often low are zinc, vitamin B6 and magnesium. These nutrients are all essential for the formation of serotonin, dopamine and GABA. A naturally colourful, diversified vegetable loaded diet with a good level of proteins will ensure these vitamins are available.

Why reduce the grains for a happy mind? Grains contain lectins, a known gut irritant, and phytic acid, which inhibits bioavailability of nutrients needed for neurotransmitter production. Grains are often heavily farmed, so often are nutrient poor. And most importantly they almost always take place of what should be vegetables thus reducing mood boosting nutrient intake.

The first questions I often get asked is “Will I get constipated if I reduce grains?” Yes you may, but that is not normal. If you are constipated it is probably because you have either not increased your vegetable intake enough, you have not drank enough water or your gut flora and/or enzyme activity is out of balance. In which case it is best to see a Practitioner as there are many physiological factors that need addressing as one diet does not fit every single person.

Fermented foods are becoming so popular and for good reasons. Kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha and kimchi are all superb examples of imputing good bacteria into your gut. Bacterias help with increasing your nutrient absorption, providing precursors for neurotransmitters, balancing inflammatory responses and digestion of your food. It is well documented that gut bacteria can indeed affect our mental state. The more of the good bacterias that are there the more in favour your microbiome is for a happy mental state.

Your brain is mostly made of fat so it is important to include plenty of good fats in your diet. Omega 3 fats fatty acids, naturally high in seafood, is a key nutrient in nerve function. Research shows us that omega 3’s can reduce significantly inflammation in the body, and inflammation has been implicated as a contributing factor of many psychological imbalances.

How you feed your gut, is how you are feeding your mind. Make your diet naturally colourful, eat foods that are not processed, eat plenty of vegetables, drink copious amounts of water, eat moderate protein & plenty of good fats.  The results can be transformational!

This article was written by Suzi Le Fanue and published in Holistic Bliss magazine April edition.

Phone 54584800 for your FREE Introductory Consultation.

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Anxiety or Depression a part of your life? Could Bacteria be the answer?

Can bacteria cause Anxiety or Depression? Suzi Le Fanue from Integrated Wellness Clinic reports the research.

We all know how bacteria can affect us when we are sick. But what about the seemingly harmless bacteria that colonise our gut every day?               Naturopath Suzi Le Fanue Reports.

Are you finding yourself frustrated, thinking negatively, unmotivated and overwhelmed? Are you tired of taking medication that is not offering you the relief you would like?  Have you ever wondered why all this happens? Could Bacteria be the answer?

Are you anxious when you wake up, find it hard to fall asleep, tired all the time and irritable?

There is always a cause.

A survey of 8,841 people aged 16 to 85 was conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and they found that a staggering 7.3 million (45%) of the respondents reported a lifetime mental disorder. You have to wonder, why this is becoming more frequent?

Research shows us some promising answers. Often part of the problem is not in the brain, it is further south… your digestive system to be exact. After all, for years Scientist’s have been called it your “second brain”.

The digestive system is like the roots of a tree; it absorbs your nutrients and helps you to flourish. But what if you carried a pathogenic infection that released neuro-toxins, affecting the way your brain works and at the same time robbed you of your nutrients?

Researchers at McMaster University have supportive evidence that bacteria residing in the gut influence brain chemistry and behaviour. When there was a change in the gut flora of the test subject’s increased anxiety and behaviour change was noted. For years these bacteria’s have been seen to be harmless, but the negative impact of specific strains of bacteria on the brain are documented.

The pathogenic bacteria have the potential to cause havoc on your digestive system and indirectly can cause Serotonin to drop. Serotonin is your happy, chirpy, relaxing neurotransmitter. Not many people are aware that it is predominantly made in the gut. So viewing depression or anxiety as a one organ “disease” is clearly not the only way it should be treated.

The expressions “gut wrenching” and “butterflies in my belly” are used for a reason, and we have all experienced them. So we know there is a connection between the gut and brain.

Most research around the connection of the gut to brain has been focused on early childhood mental health such as autism, with only recently emerging studies on adult onset mental health conditions. It is exciting to see the medical world of research extend beyond just looking at one organ. Let’s hope this area of research continues to grow.

Written by Suzi Le Fanue

Integrated Wellness Clinic

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Vitamin C found to reduce Depression

A study published in the Nutrition Journal done demonstrated that 1000mg Vitamin C used alongside fluoxetine (an antidepressant aka Prozac) reduced symptoms of depression. They suggest that this may be the result of the anti-oxidant properties of vitamin C (since there may be oxidative side effects from fluoxetine). Your brain loves Vitamin C. It was really interesting reading their discussion, they cite many papers that link vitamin C to a reduction in all sorts of psychological issues. Promising area of research. Vitamin C is one of my favourite vitamins. This is the sort of research I love!

I will also add that vitamin C is also needed for dopamine production. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is often forgotten about, it is vital for mental clarity and motivation. I like to explain dopamine as being the controller of the filing system in your brain. It ensures you are able to focus, absorb and store the right information.

Best sources of vitamin C: Kale (and pretty much all greens), Broccoli, Peppers, Berries.

www.nutritionj.com/content/pdf/1475-2891-12-31.pdf

 

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Is Depression in your family? Could it be from DNA? ( 5-HTT gene)

Can your mental health be in your DNA? Sunshine Coast Integrated Wellness Clinic. Suzi Le Fanue.

Anxiety, Depression: Could it be in the DNA?

The 5-HTT gene has been found to have an area that “changes” this affects the re uptake of serotonin (our happy neurotransmitter) in the brain. This is called a polymorphism. These polymorphisms are seen to be higher in those with major depression. Watersports in Goa In the future, I would love to see that screening of 5-HTT gene is done in those with depression. Knowing whats happening doesn’t treat it, but knowing what your dealing with makes it that much easier to deal with. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2684780/

Let’s hope the study of genetics and mental health continues!

Yours in Health,

Suzi Le Fanue Naturopath at Sunshine Coast Integrated Wellness Clinic

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