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by February 27, 2021

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Diet | Gut Health | Anxiety

by February 27, 2021

This week I have been reading The Better Brain by Julia Rucklidge and Bonnie Kaplan.  This has cemented what I have already known, nutrition plays a huge part in our mental wellbeing.

Chronic inflammation can also be a contributing factor to anxiety and again our diet can contribute to inflammation in the body. 

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People who have an anxiety disorder or generalised anxiety disorder often have elevated markers of inflammation (such as C-Reactive protein).  Raised CRP can interfere with serotonin and dopamine, that contribute our feelings of pleasure. When these are disrupted this can impact how we feel.

When it comes to food and their impact on anxiety , we do know the highly processed Western diet is a contributing factor.

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The Western diet is mostly made up of highly refined carbohydrates which contribute to inflammatory processes in the body. This type of diet is often lacking in nutrients and can create oxidative stress in the body and increases inflammation. 

While our bodies have an inbuilt antioxidant system to help combat oxidative stress, we have to work extra hard to combat the free radicals that are created due to a high carbohydrate diet.

The less processed the food, the better it is for our body and is easier for our gut to digest and our body to utilise the nutrients.

Food labelling can at times be deceiving and foods we think of as “whole grain” can also be highly processed.  Examples of these are bagels, pasta, rice, cereals and muesli bars. These foods can also contribute to inflammation which can have a flow on affect to our mental health and wellbeing.

Proteins and fats have been shown to dampen down inflammation and in turn can help reduce anxiety.

Focusing on a diet that contains nutrients to reduce inflammation and support the body’s effort to overcome oxidative stress and reduce anxiety is a much better choice overall.

If you would like to discuss anxiety, nutrition or gut health and get a handle on your current diet, then please get in touch and we can work together to focus on a healthier lifestyle for you.

Prepare for winter – Boost you Immunity

by February 27, 2021

Colds and flu become more common through the winter months and this can be made worse by physical and emotional stress, that are known to reduce your immunity and increase risk of infection.

There are a few key nutrients that can support the immune system:

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Vitamin D deficiency becomes very common throughout winter due to lack of sunlight, which we need to make vitamin D. Although diet can provide small amounts of vitamin D this is not enough to ensure adequate vitamin D levels and that is why vitamin D supplements are very important.

Vitamin D from cod liver oil was unknowingly used to treat infections long before the arrival of antibiotics and it is now known that your immune system’s ability to fight infection is dependent on adequate vitamin D.  Studies have shown vitamin D has a protective effect against respiratory tract infections.

Current recommendations for vitamin D intake from supplements are a minimum of 400 IU daily for children and at least 600 IU daily for adults.

If you are pregnant, older age, have darker skin, are overweight or work indoors your risk of vitamin D deficiency is particularly high. Vitamin D is extremely safe and no cases of harm have ever been reported at commonly recommended doses.

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Vitamin C is known to be a potent immune stimulating nutrient. It has been shown to inhibit viral replication and can reduce the severity of the common cold.

The human body cannot produce or store vitamin C. Therefore, it’s essential to consume it regularly in sufficient amounts.

Vitamin C supplementation may prevent the common cold and shorten the duration of symptoms. Clinical assessment has demonstrated that 2000mg of vitamin C per day for two weeks reduced blood histamine concentrations by 30-40% in adult subjects.

Vitamin C can be consumed through diet or a good quality liposphereic vitamin supplement.

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Zinc is essential for cells of the immune system, and zinc deficiency affects the ability of immune cells to function as they should.   Zinc deficiency impacts on the immune system and lack of zinc also directly influences the production, maturation and function of the immune cells.

Natural remedies for your home this winter

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Elderberry

The blackberries of the elder tree have been used as medicine for centuries and have direct anti-viral effects. Two clinical studies have found extract of elderberry to reduce the symptoms of flu when taken in the first few days of infection then continued for at least 5 days.

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 The well-known herb Echinacea has been shown to reduce cold symptoms by 58% and duration by 1.4 days across a number of studies. Echinacea may also improve overall health wellbeing if you get sick.

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Honey

A natural anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory, honey has been shown to help with night time coughs. It is thought the sweet taste stimulates saliva in your respiratory system and helps calm down irritation. Honey may also have a direct calming effect on the nerves that cause coughing.

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Horseradish and garlic
Both were used as natural remedies for infections centuries before it was discovered that they are a rich in compounds with immune boosting, antibacterial and antiviral activity.

Historically, horseradish was used during medieval times for coughs and colds. And during the 19th century the famous microbiologist Louis Pasteur recognized the antibiotic properties of garlic and used it to treat infections.

A number of studies have found that natural products containing garlic and horseradish can help with infections like the common cold by relieving symptoms and reducing the time you are sick. Horseradish may also have a decongestant effect, making it ideal for the nasal congestion and discharge, sneezing, cough, sore throat that often accompany a cold.

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Self-care and lifestyle changes

Traditionally people have prepared for the dark winter months by changing their diet and lifestyle to be in harmony with the season. The cold and darkness of winter urges us to slow down. This is the time of year to reflect on our health, replenish and conserve energy by eating the right foods.

Traditional winter foods:

  • Soups and stews, especially with rich stocks and broths.
  • Root vegetables, squashes, winter greens, mushrooms
  • Cooked apples, pears, citrus fruit.
  • Beans, legumes, whole grains.
  • Miso and seaweed.
  • Garlic, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamon.
  • Roasted nuts especially walnuts and chestnuts.

There are also a number of preventative measures and lifestyle changes you should consider if you do fall ill.

  • Drink fluids to maintain hydration
  • Regularly wash your hands to prevent infecting others
  • Take time out to relax, rest and recover
  • Maintain healthy eating

To stay well and keep you immune system healthy make sure you maintain regular exercise though the winter (at least 30 minutes daily), avoid excessive alcohol consumption and consider some stress management practices such as yoga, meditation or just spending more quality time with family and friends.

For more information on boosting your immunity this winter, contact Kathie at Red Naturopathy.

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