wellness

Our top 23 recommendations to avoid the hidden toxins in your diet

We had such a great response to our part one blog series looking at the hidden toxins you may be putting IN your body. We left you with some healthier alternatives to help you reduce your exposure. The post had us all brainstorming, sharing and discussing what we do in our own homes that help keep our toxin consumption to a minimum. We were so excited about our new learnings that we thought "why not share this with everyone?!" So here you are. These are some of our favourite brands, products and places we shop that will help you get through this modern day chemical maze.  

1. Additive free foods. For a lot of us this is particularly hard to find alternatives in the snack department, as it's so easy to grab a packet of something and run out the door. Try these instead:

  • You have probably heard of bliss/energy/protein balls and have been handed several DIY recipes, but what if you don't have the time or creativity? Funch has made it so much easier. All you need to do is add one or two ingredients and you are done.
  • If you want the most delicious nuts and seeds, try 2die4. Based in Byron Bay, these guys have a wide range to choose from single types, mixed, paleo and tamari. Yum! 
  • Botanical Cuisine, a Melbourne company, has nailed the market of raw, vegan, preservative free dips that are perfect for veggie sticks. Some of their dips can also be used as a dressing, spread or added to scrambled eggs! 

2. Clean cooking with perfluorochemical free cookware.

  • Le Creuset has a massive range of cookware from pots, pans and bakeware in a variety of materials.
  • If you are after a slow cooker for soups, stews or bone broths try this one by Breville.

3. Glass containers and jars to store and reheat food.

  • Buying things in jars mean you have jars to re-use for storage. Looking in our pantries, we all laughed about the over-abundance of glass jars we have in our homes!
  • Alternatively, IKEA and Kmart have affordable options.

4. To avoid trans fat you need to throw out the margarine and anything called a 'vegetable spread', think Nuttelex and Flora. Store bought and packaged baked goods are also hidden sources. Alternative products include:

  • Butter from Organic Dairy Farmers as it is certified organic and supports local farmers. Other alternatives for spreads we love are avocado, Spiral's unhulled tahini, or Artisana's deliciously creamy cashew butter.
  • For those times you want to treat yourself, get inspired by one of the many margarine free recipes by The Healthy Chef!   

5. Healthy cooking oils we are a fan of:

  • SOL Ghee is made from 100% certified organic unsalted butter from Australian and New Zealand grass fed cows.
  • Coconut oil options are endless! You want to buy the least modified oil, look for these words on the packaging: certified organic, virgin, extra-virgin or unrefined, unbleached, expeller, centrifuge or cold pressed. We also prefer glass packaging to avoid BPA. Brands that tick all these boxes include Loving Earth and Niugini Organics.

6. Our go-to fish and sea vegetable products are:

  • This Fish is a health and environmentally conscious brand. They are organic and use sustainable source for their products. 
  • Power Super Foods have a great range organic sea vegetables including dulse, wakame and nori.
  • If you like making your own sushi Gold Mine have excellent nori sheets!

7.  The best organic whole food stores in Melbourne. They are stockists for so many of the products we have mentioned.

  • Visit Apples and Sage Organic Wholefoods, this is an amazing, certified organic, family owned business located in Balwyn. Known in the area as a friendly, affordable, one stop shop destination.
  • Terra Madre Organics is a local favourite and organic institution, known for its huge bulk range at bulk prices.
  • Wild Things in Fitzroy values everything we do; community, local, organics and the environment. 

BONUS TIPS

  • Looking for a great water filter? Southern Cross Pottery have filters of all shapes and sizes to remove some of the nasties in your water. Waters Co Bio Mineral offer great compact, portable water filter jugs too. 

If have any products, shops and brands you passionate about we would love you to share it with us!

The perks of pregnancy; what you can do to help your morning sickness

There's nothing like a personal experience to help give some perspective on what my patient's might be going through. I'm not going to lie, my first four months pregnancy has been tough! Fatigue and all day nausea and vomiting is exhausting, not to mention unpleasant. I went through all sorts of feelings during this time, while being absolutely over the moon to be growing a baby, it was difficult to stay positive while having to stay so close to a bucket and carry a sick bag everywhere I went! I felt the guilt that I wasn't supplying my growing bub with adequate nutrition. All I wanted to eat was fruit, something I generally try to limit to one serve per day, and even supplements were difficult to keep down. 

Pregnancy Diet

My advice:

1. Don't be too hard on yourself. A few months of a less than ideal diet isn't going to undo all the good nutrition you put in prior. So far in my pregnancy, I ate a lot more fruit than I would usually, but it's better than nothing! And now that the nausea is over (thank goodness) I am weaning myself off slowly and increasing my intake of nutrient dense foods like eggs, meats and butter (things I went off completely for a few months). 

2. Eat little and often. I wasn't great with this one and would often forget or get too busy to eat. Preparation is key here, have ready to eat snacks on hand - nuts, fruit, vege sticks or rice crackers with hummus/pesto work well.

3. Try healthy foods in different forms. I usually don't eat too many raw vege's in winter but veggie sticks with hummus was the only way I could get my veg in. 

4. Preconception care. If you can, aim to spend 3-6 months preparing your body for pregnancy. This should include personalised advice from a qualified practitioner, a super nutrient dense diet for both mum and dad and prenatal vitamins and minerals.

5. Correcting nutrient deficiencies such as vitamin B6 and zinc. This is easier to do prior to pregnancy to potentially prevent morning sickness and should be part of your preconception care.

From one mum-to-be to another, good luck!
 

Abi Walker

BHSC Naturopathy, PGDIP Dietetics, BSC Human Nutrition

The hidden toxins in your life and how to avoid them

With the arrival of Holistic Skin Naturopathy at Narayani Wellness, we have been thinking about all the products we commonly put on our skin. As holistic practitioners, we also start thinking about the bigger picture, and consider what we put in and around our bodies that affects not only our skin, but also our overall health. Due to the industrial age we live in, our exposure to toxins has increased exponentially over the past decades. There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that the chemicals present in air, water, soil, food, building materials and household products are toxicants that contribute to many chronic diseases we see in clinical practice (1).

Fortunately, you do have some say in the amount of toxins you are exposed to, especially within your home. To help you out and give your spring clean a bit of a kick-start we have broken this HUGE topic into a three part blog series: in, on and around.

 

Part one 'in'

Of the large list of things we could discuss, here are some common toxins you may be unknowingly putting IN your body. 

1. Bisphenol A (BPA) is an industrial chemical product used in plastics and resins of food and drink packaging e.g. drink/water bottles and the lining of canned foods. BPA leaches toxins into our food and is worse when heated (2). It is an endocrine disruptor, which means it has a nasty effect on your hormone levels. For men it is linked to lower sexual function, semen quality (3), prostate disease and prostate cancer (4). In women it has been linked to breast cancer and reproductive difficulties (5). Exposure has also been associated with obesity, heart disease and behavioural problems (3,6)

2. Phalates are synthetic chemicals found in plastics commonly, and are additives for various other applications (7,8). The main concern with phalates is that they are endocrine disruptors that interfere with the hormones that regulate our reproductive and nervous system (9). Exposure during pregnancy is concerning, as it has been associated with shorter pregnancy duration, smaller babies and lower birth weight (10). Other negative effects include poor thyroid function and respiratory problems including asthma (11).

3. Perfluoro chemicals are used to make products stable and durable. They can be found in the coatings of cookware and in products where fats and oils are prevented from soaking through, such as popcorn bags and greaseproof paper (12). Animal studies suggest it is toxic to the immune system and liver, and has a negative impact on blood lipids, thyroid hormones and sex hormone production (13). Human exposure is connected to lower birth weight and birth length and obesity later in life. Like BPA, these chemicals impact our reproductive system and are linked to poor sperm quality in men, and problems with conceiving and irregular menstrual cycles for women (14).

4. Trans fats are a type of unsaturated fat produced by vegetable oils being hydrogenated (combined with hydrogen). They are used to improve food texture and stability (15) in products like deep-fried fast foods, bakery products, packaged snack foods and margarines. Trans fats have a terrible effect on our blood lipids and cholesterol, inflammation and blood vessel health. It also increases the risk of many cardiovascular diseases as well as diabetes and insulin resistance (16).

5. Heavy metals are naturally occurring elements, however arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, and mercury are a concern as they have a high degree of toxicity. Heavy metals are everywhere, but become problematic when we consume contaminated water and food such as seafood, non-organic and canned foods. Health impacts, depend on many factors and include negative effects on our nervous, immune and cardiovascular systems. They are also linked to kidney damage, diabetes, osteoporosis, mental illnesses like depression, hearing loss and various types of cancer. These metals can also interfere our metabolism of iron, calcium, copper and zinc (17).

6. Non-organic food deserves a whole discussion! However, to demonstrate our point, the following example is how only ONE chemical used on non-organic food can impact your health (brace yourselves).

Glyphosate-based herbicides, such as Roundup®, are the most widely used across the world (18, 19). Consuming non-organic foods is our main source of exposure (20). This herbicide negatively affects our gut flora and gut lining and is linked to irritable bowel disease. Its health effects are wide and varied as it is also linked to cancer, unhealthy liver function, obesity, anaemia, infertility, mental illnesses like depression, ADHD and autism, nervous system conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis (21)

7. Food additives are substances that are added into or onto food and to effect its keeping quality, texture, consistency, taste and colour (22). Processed and packaged foods (23) e.g. canned, jarred, boxed and wrapped, are commonly full of additives. Consumption has been linked to severe allergic reactions, asthma, eczema, dermatitis, irritable bowel syndrome, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, migraines, behavioural disorders and hyperactivity (24).

Hidden toxins

Safer alternatives

Thankfully, we have some solid take home messages and safer alternatives to get you through our modern day toxic maze.

1. Minimise / remove packaged and processed foods.

  • Simple changes like swapping a muesli/snack bar for a small handful of nuts or store bought salad dressing for extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice.

2. Invest in cookware that is ceramic, cast iron, stone, glass or stainless steel. If you are after non-stick ensure it is perfluorochemical free.

3. Use glass: glass jars and containers to store and reheat food.

4. Throw out the margarine and avoid store bought and packaged baked goods. Healthier options include butter or coconut oil for cooking and avocado, cashew butter or tahini as a spread.

5. When using fats or oils in cooking, opt for duck fat, ghee and coconut oil as they have higher temperature of resistance before they oxide and go rancid. The higher the saturated and monounsaturated fats are better. Avoid cooking with high polyunsaturated fats.

6. Eat deep-sea small fish to minimise heavy metal consumption. If you eat sea products like kelp and nori, ensure they are organic. 

  • Consume anchovies, cod, crab, flounder, haddock, hake, mackerel, perch, salmon, sardine, trout and whiting.
  • Avoid bluefish, bassa, grouper, marlin, shark, swordfish and tuna.

7. Eat organic foods when possible.

 

Until part two of this series, we will leave you with a final question. What changes will you implement this week?

Integrative GP’s - Helping you to restore balance

Have you ever wanted a knowledgeable, trustworthy GP who shares your desire to have your health treated holistically? Did you know that was even an option? Maybe you did. Perhaps you have noticed the options you have to address your health are evolving. The words ‘integrative’ and ‘holistic’ are used frequently these days, but what do they mean, especially when describing a GP? To help you understand how a GP can have an integrative approach, here are the answers to a few questions you may have floating around your head! 

 

What is integrative medicine?

Let's break it down. Medicine is not just a science, but it is also an art. Medical knowledge comprises the science. It is the skilful application of this knowledge to you, a unique individual, that is the art of medicine. Integrative medicine draws from both Western medicine and natural, complementary medicine. It marries the two to provide complete and holistic care, tailored specifically to you.  

Integrative medicine in melbourne

What is an integrative GP?

An integrative GP is a fully qualified general practitioner with additional expertise in areas including nutritional and environmental medicine, herbal medicine and mind-body medicine. The integrative GP is also supportive of various complementary therapies. We appreciate that these alternate forms of healing can be incorporated into a holistic model of care to support you in your journey to full health. Basically, you get the best of both worlds.

 

Dr. Fi and Dr. Elsa are integrative GPs… what is their philosophy?

We believe that the body instinctively wants to function the way nature intended it to - in balance and in harmony with itself and the world around it. When your body is out balance in some way, that is when illness occurs. Our aim is to pinpoint and address these imbalances, to return your body to its natural state of balance and thus health.

 

The Illness-Wellness Continuum:

There are degrees of wellness, just like there are degrees of illness. Wellness is not merely the absence of illness, and is a dynamic and continuous state. Another way to put it is that health is not black and white; rather we understand there are shades of grey in between. With this understanding, integrative GP’s are different in that we treat beyond a point of black and white, even if there is no medically recognisable “disease” present - we address the shades of grey. For example, you may complain of tiredness, but in the absence of an obvious disease, you are seen as “well” by your doctor and sent on your way. Yet you are still tired. Integrative GP’s recognise that you are indeed not “well”. We seek to help you achieve wellness by digging deeper into what might really be going on.

Wellness continuum.png

What can an integrative GP offer me?

If you are seeking a comprehensive and holistic analysis of your health from a caring, accepting and non-judgmental doctor, as well as a thorough, holistic explanation of your symptoms, then you will benefit from seeing an integrative GP. We aim to help you achieve optimal wellness by seeking to understand and address the root cause, or causes, of ill health. Effectively addressing the root cause of illness is crucial to sustained healing and full recovery. Close attention is always given to nutrition, exercise, sleep and your psychological, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.

 

What can I expect from seeing an integrative GP?

Unlike a standard 10-15 minute GP consultation, you can expect your first consultation to run for typically one hour. This allows a holistic assessment of your health including your symptoms, lifestyle and current health status. Additionally your integrative GP will discuss with you some likely causative factors leading to health concerns as well as what can be done about them. You may be referred for testing and investigations, which may include functional testing (for example, cell function, hormonal analysis or gut integrity and flora) to help us understand your unique situation and treat your most effectively. Your personalised, holistic management plan will then be developed, with a large focus on diet, exercise, sleep and stress. It may also include the prescription of medication, nutrients and herbs. It is important for you to realise that at all times, you are in control and remain central to your care – we are here to serve you.

 

My health issues are complex, will an integrative GP be able to help me?

You may feel like you have a very complex situation, with complex medical histories and multiple existing conditions. Luckily for you, we are very familiar with seeing these types of people. You may also have multiple symptoms, conditions and diseases that seem unrelated and have been seeing multiple specialists, who care for those individual body systems. One of our strengths of an integrative GP is our unique perspective – we tend to step back to look at your overall picture in a truly holistic manner. It is often the case that seemingly unrelated symptoms, conditions or diseases within you may actually be linked with a common cause.

 

Final word:

We recognise that the true champion in your wellness journey is you. Contact us today, and get the support you deserve.

 

Dr Elsa Gladigau

MBBS (HONS) BMedSci (HONS) DCH FRACGP