To all you gorgeous folk out there rolling your protein snacks into perfectly spherical bite size snacks – good on you. But honestly, I can be bothered! I just don’t want to be standing in the kitchen any longer than needs be. It’s not that I don’t enjoy cooking, I do (although I don’t enjoy the endless mess I seem to make) I just don’t want to be in the kitchen any longer than absolutely possible, I want to be out enjoying the fruits of my labour (sometimes too many fruits – burp – I feel full, oh alright I’ll have just one more as they lure me with their sumptuous look).

It’s all, just well, I’m lazy! If there is an easier option to do something, I’m gunna give  that a crack!

So to get to my point, for anyone else out there who can’t be bothered to roll perfect ball shape snacks (please tell me I’m not the only one – please?) there is a solution. Many recipes can be pressed into slice pan (check with your nan she probably has one) pop it in the fridge to firm up, pop it out cut it into square, triangles or any other shape that takes your fancy,  and volar! Snack balls in a pan? Snack in a slice? Slice balls? Anyway you get my drift.

Below is a recipe I borrowed from One Fit Mother (http://onefitmother.com/raw-chocolate-almond-coconut-balls-recipe/ ) which I regularly make into a slice. Ok sometimes I make this? Ok, fine I’ve done it a couple of times, stop harrassing me.

Raw Chocolate Almond Coconut Balls

2 cups raw almonds (grind in a food processor)

¼ cup raw cacao powder

½ tsp pink salt

1 Tbsp cinnamon

2 Tbsp coconut oil (liquid form)

2 tsp vanilla

¼ c Grade B maple syrup (grade B is darker, richer, more complex and contains more minerals)

Shredded coconut (to roll the balls in)

Mix the first 4 dry ingredients together in one bowl.  Mix the wet ingredients together in a separate bowl.  Combine the wet with the dry a little at a time and blend well.  Form into balls and gently roll in shredded coconut.  Place them flat on a dish, cover and put in the fridge.  Take out when ready to serve.

However, something about best-laid plans, that when I started off on my cooking adventure I discovered that I didn’t have all the required ingredients, but it’s ok I adapted to make…….

Almond Zen Bites

1 Cup raw almonds (grind in a food processor)

1 Cup raw macadamias

¼ cup raw cacao powder

2 Tbsp coconut oil (liquid form)

A few drops of doTERRA peppermint oil

¼ Cup maple syrup (grade B is darker, richer, more complex and contains more minerals)

Shredded coconut to sprinkle over the top.

Blitz up the nuts in the food processor until a crumbly texture.20161114_162402

Put all the other ingredients (except the shredded coconut) in the bowl and blitz again

Press the mix into you pre-prepared tin lined with baking paper.20161115_140747

Sprinkle coconut over the top and pop in the fridge to firm up.

When the slice is firm remove from pan and slice into bites size chunks – Enjoy!!!!20161115_141123

Keep refrigerated!

Allison Faulkner is a qualified and accredited Naturopath, also holding qualifications in Nutritional Medicine.She runs a Naturopathy and Wellness clinic in Albion Park, NSW.

 

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Balls to that!

I’m Sick…cough, sniffle, moan, cough!

Try as we may sickness befalls the best of us. A combination of life circumstances and environmental factors can mix together to cause the “perfect storm” seeing us fall victim to the multitudes viruses and bugs out in the big bad world.

So what do Naturopaths do when they get sick? Apart from feeling sorry for themselves and curling up with our favourite snuggle (be feline, canine or teddy), I generally try and be proactive in heading the bugs “off at the pass”. This means as soon as I get that twinge or tickle telling me something is not right, I’m on to it.

Rest forms an important part of recuperating from any illness. By resting our bodies we give ourselves maximum chances for an optimum and speedy recovery. When we push-past and ignore the internal screams from our body we often find that illness is prolonged dragging out the agony for ourselves and those around us.

Probiotics are a staple in a Naturopath’s repertoire, but when illness strikes their function is vital. Probiotics are the healthy bacteria which is used to help crowd out the bad stuff as well as helping boost immune function [1].

Maximising fluid intake is also important. When we are sick our lymphatic system is in overdrive as the body rids itself of cellular debris caused by the immune system destroying the invading germs. Increasing fluid intake helps ensure that detoxification can occur effectively, with the body able to flush this through waste. When we are feeling ill we often will turn away from food but we need to stave off dehydration which can complicate matters. As my mother always tells me “it doesn’t matter if you don’t eat but you need to drink – lots”. So what should you be drinking? Stay away from surgery drinks such as juices, soft drinks and alcohol as these can compromise the immune system further, opt for herbal teas, bone broths or soups and of course good old fashioned H2O.

Food wise it will always be our recommendation, whether you’re infirmed or well, to eat whole foods, organic where possible. This helps ensure that you are getting the maximum amount of nutrients and minimal nasties, providing a solid base for your body to conquer the invading germ army. Look at it this way you wouldn’t expect an army to be fit and healthy, ready to mount an attack if they were only fed junk and highly processed foods.

Usually, when I start to get that familiar feeling that a nasty bug or germ is trying to invade my system I grab the Olive Leaf extract. This is a great all round immune tonic with antiviral and antibacterial properties is Olive leaf extract with studies showing it to be effective in combating many bugs and germs including the common cold and flu bug and retroviruses. I have been even known to give this to the kids as “cough medicine”, but don’t tell them that.

So what about other special, secret herbs that will cure all? Unfortunately, there are no magic pills or tonics, but there are several that can help boost your immune army battle the invasion. Commonly known herbs for immune health include Echinacea which helps to stimulate the immune system, Garlic which is like nature’s antibiotic. Less commonly known herbs include Astragalus which is widely used for prolonged illness and where stress may be contributing factors.Many herbs can have interactions with prescriptive medications hence it is always advised to speak to your Naturopath or other health care professional to ensure that you are taking the correct supplements for you.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24499072

Allison Faulkner is a qualified and accredited Naturopath, also holding qualifications in Nutritional and Herbal Medicine.She runs a Naturopathy and Wellness clinic in Albion Park, NSW.

Diet – a four letter word!

food-man-person-eatingOver time through the course of history and marketing, the word diet has lost its way. Once upon a time diet would refer to the eating habits of a person, animal or community. But in today’s society, the meaning has been morphed into a word which strikes fear in many, indicating a period of deprivation during which you will be miserable as you miss out on all the fun of foods in the pursuit of weight loss.

Today we are constantly bombarded through multiple forms of media of different eating styles – Paleo, Vegan, Ketogenic, Atkins, South Beach Diet, Blood Type Diet, Vegetarian, Pescetarian, Lemon detox diet, Baby food diet, Kale-tarian, Fat Fever Diet, Carbs are king diet, The tapeworm diet – ok so I may have made a few of them up but you get my point.

The term diet now indicates a short-term solution to a long-term problem. The obesity epidemic is growing, not only our waistlines but also the amount of money we are willing to spend in the pursuit of weight loss. We now have more food type convenience products than ever before sprouting the promise of health and weight loss – but are they the solution or the problem?

Diet now tells us that if we restrict our calories or abstain from certain foods for a specified period of time then we will lose weight. Quite often weight loss will result but does that mean its healthy? What happens when the diet ends? Usually, we go back to our nasty old eating habits and the weight creeps back on and brings a few extra kilos for good measure. So then we start another diet and before we know it we’re in a vicious cycle with our waistlines and food.

Another issue to commonly arises from diets, especially the super restrictive ones are mental health issues including anxiety. People are restricting their diet so much and being extremely dedicated to their diet protocols that the thought of going out for a meal to catch up with friends has them hyperventilating into the nearest paper bag.

doughnuts-1209614_1920As perfect as we would all like to claim to be, slipping up while on our “diet” is common too. We give into temptation and eat a piece of chocolate cake because it’s a mates birthday and just one piece won’t hurt. Mmmmm actually that tasted good. So you have a second piece,  this time with a large side of guilt as you realise that the hard work you have put in is slipping away as you shovel another spoonful in your mouth. We feel dirty and disgusted with ourselves as we start spinning into a shame spiral and think to hell with it! It’s all gone to pot now, may as well finish the rest of the cake!

We need to stop this over-obsession with “diet” and take a more realistic and rounded approach to food. The word diet should be stripped from the vocabulary and replaced with “way of eating”, “eat style”, “food preference” something to those effects.

Wholefoods should always, always be chosen over processed, fast and packaged options. Each meal should be seen as an opportunity to reset and refuel our bodies. And if we do opt for unhealthier type foods, understand it ok, as long as you don’t do it all the time this one choice is not going to undo all the other better choices that have been made.

Support for others is important too, eating habits are vastly different and what works for one person is not always going to work for everyone, we are all different. As long as the majority of food of choice is from fresh whole foods does it matter if it’s vegan or paleo? If someone is trying to break bad habits, change their eating patterns or has different food philosophy to you – don’t try and find fault with it,  berate and belittle them. Support and encourage them in their pursuit of increased health and general wellbeing.

Allie xx

 

Allison is qualified in both Naturopathy and Nutritional Medicine. As the founder of Fundamental Wellbeing, she specialises in gut health and stress related conditions. Allison possesses a strong passion for all things health and wellness, she understands that balance is essential to life, looking for real world solutions to help clients reach their health goals.

For more information visit https://www.facebook.com/fundamentalwellbeingaustralia/ or book and appointment online  https://fundamental-wellbeing.cliniko.com/bookings.

Stress and the Gut

In clinical practice there are often re-occurring themes and two common ones are digestive complaints and stress related issues. However these issues maybe more inter-related than you think.

In my last blog, we chatted about stress and how it can have long term effects on your physical wellbeing, and the digestive tract does not escape from its effects. We looked at fight or flight mode, but as with Newton’s law there is an opposite reaction to this and that is our rest and repair or rest and digest phase.

When our bodies are in constant fight or flight mode our bodies sympathetic nervous system is in overdrive, hogging all the attention meaning that key actions which should occur during the rest and repair phases are prevented, thus inhibiting good health.

During the rest and repair phase, activities which have been put on hold by our fight or flight responses are tended to. This includes healing and repairing, elimination and detoxification as well as boosting immune activities.

One of the major areas to be affected by stress is our digestive system. Issues which can occur include reduced nutrient absorption, increased acidity leading to heart burn and reflux issues, effects on our mood as the microbiome and gut-brain axis is interrupted, as well as food sensitivities and leaky gut. During a stress phase, there is less, blood, oxygen and other nutrients going to the gut meaning that it is ineffective at performing its duties. This contributes to the common digestive signs of stress such as constipation, diarrhoea, both, IBS, bloating, belching, farting, heart burn and if the condition has been.

Chronic stress, poor food choices, toxic loads and bacterial imbalances can all combine together to create the perfect storm – leaky gut!

So what is leaky gut? One of the best analogies I have heard of is to think of gut lining as a fly screen (I know, hang on, bear with me). Fly screens let the good stuff in like fresh air but keeps the stingy bitey bugs out – right? But what happens when the kid from next door (cause It’s never your kids) put the cricket ball through the screen? Before you know it the screen is no longer effective at stopping the bitey bugs from getting in. So when we have good gut integrity all the good nutrients are able to move freely and absorption into the blood and move around the body, but when there are bigger holes/reduce integrity, bigger particles are also able to more freely into the blood stream causing inflammation. This can have long term disease implications including autoimmune diseases, Eczema and psoriasis as well as Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Food sensitivities are a common sign of leaky gut this is due to the high levels of toxins pouring into the blood stream causing the immune system to crank it up a notch, making the body more susceptible to certain foods.

So what can you do to help? Firstly stress needs to be moderated, this can be done through stress free activities such as yoga, meditation or other gentle relaxation therapies – massage is always a good one too.

If you are reacting to foods is avoid these will help kerb the inflammation and associated reactions. If you are unsure what foods are aggravating things for you one option is for an elimination diet. This sees you take a lot of food out of your diet for a period of time and then slowly, one at time reintroduce them paying close attention as to how they affect your body. But if you like me and a bit impatient another option is for an IgG food sensitivity test which will give much quicker results.

Once the offending foods have been eliminated you can then focus on healing up those holes in the lining. Supplements including glutamine and herbs such as slippery elm and aloe vera are gold for this.

Healing is a matter of time and opportunity – Hippocrates. You need to make sure that you give your body both.

 

Photo sourced: http://victorschueller.blogspot.com.au/2011/04/theres-hole-in-my-bucket.html

 

 

Arrgh!!! STRESS!!!!

stressStress is a natural part of life and is our body’s response to a perceived danger or threat. This physiological stress response was used in hunter-gatherer days: The moment of “Ahh!!! It’s gunna eat me!!!” – our heart starts pounding, you get a surge of energy of instant energy – either kill it or run away from it – the fight or flight response.

Once upon a time we would only experience this maybe three times a year but in modern society, we can experience this same response 2 – 3 times a day!

healthy-person-woman-sport

Time to fight or flee

Stress is meant to be an acute event – not a chronic or long-term state.  Chronic stress can have long-term implications for our health including cardiovascular and mental health risks, as well as an increased risk of diabetes and cancer.

Yet, most stressors we face today aren’t going to kill us. And have you ever noticed how stress seems to steamroll? Just thinking can stress us out! You start off being late for picking the kids up from school, then you get anxious because the kids may have to wait for you, then you remember you forgot to buy milk and have nothing to cook for dinner. The kids have soccer and dancing this afternoon, maybe you can duck to the shops between? Did I pay the phone bill? Oh my god is there enough money in to pay that? Argh, I forgot to call that client back and the boss wanted that report tomorrow morning!!!

All of this is producing the same physical reaction in our bodies although we are not at risk of being eaten.

During a stress phase, our bodies release 3 hormones: adrenaline, nor-adrenaline and cortisol. The first two move the body into battle stations increasing blood flow, heart rate and blood glucose. This fires and fuels the muscles to stand and fight or flee.

Cortisol is slower to the party but then hangs around longer. He is well known for decreasing inflammation – Doesn’t matter if you twisted your ankle – it’s not going to kill you right now unless you stop running because of it – and the bear eats you!

Cortisol also enhances the brain’s use of glucose, heightening your awareness but your cognitive function declines. Have you ever been in and exam when you feel you’re very alert, you know the answer but can’t think of it? – That’s cortisol!

Another key function to cortisol is to divert the body’s attention away from non-essential functions, remember we’re trying to survive the beast so these are important right now.

This is the reason that chronic stress impacts our immune system making you more susceptible to every cold and flu going around – again that cold virus you’re fighting isn’t going to kill you – right now, but that bear chasing you might!

The digestive function is highly susceptible to the impacts of stress. Have you ever heard of the runner’s trots? This is the body diverting the troops to focus on fleeing or fighting and is unable to deal with digesting foods so “evacuation” is required! Many people who suffer digestive conditions including IBS, Crohn’s and diverticulitis find conditions can be improved through modulation of stress.

Prolonged stress also increases your odds of developing leaky gut – but that’s for another blog another day ☺.

On top of all of this chronic stress could be a hidden cause of weight gain. To keep the body the fuelled for fighting or flighting the body needs a constant supply of food, so cortisol signals the body to keep pumping out glucose. Meaning we have constantly high blood glucose levels – increasing our risk of type II diabetes ☹.

As we are not actually physically running or fighting our stress, all this glucose has to go somewhere. Cortisol signals to the body “man we’re in a pickle here, not sure how long it’s gunna last better get some supplies to see us through. I know lets store fat!”

Cortisol also makes us crave that high carb sugary treat – because it has the most bang for cortisol buck! It has sugar we can use now, and fat we can store for later – win win right?

Managing and reducing stress is key to many health conditions. To do this try and include meditation and mindful activities into your daily routine. If you feel yourself getting wound up and the steam roller is about to come through -Stop it! Ask yourself what is the worst that can happen? Often the answer is not that bad, and remind yourself that you are ok and everything will work out – I know it’s simple but try it you might be surprised. ☺

pexels-photo-12344

Omm. Omm!

Allison is qualified in both Naturopathy, Nutritional and Western Herbal Medicine. As the founder of Fundamental Wellbeing, she specialises in gut health and stress related conditions. She is also a co-founded the Whole Life Wellness Program. Allison possesses a strong passion for all things health and wellness, she understands that balance is essential to life, looking for real world solutions to help clients reach their health goals.

For more information visit https://www.facebook.com/fundamentalwellbeingaustralia/ or book and appointment online  https://fundamental-wellbeing.cliniko.com/bookings.

Makes sense to me!

So this is my first attempt at a blog and using a programme  I have no idea about, and I won’t even mention posting on the big world wide web, well because it makes me anxious (I like my safe little world – they know me here!). It is my ambition with this blog bring you regular information about health wellness and the world of natural therapies.

Everyone’s health journey is different. Yet in modern medicine today we are allotted a box to which our symptoms fit, and then prescribed the medications which are also fitted to that box, without any real thought as to how the symptoms have come about. Natural medicine made sense to me with the philosophy of diagnosing and treatment of the underlying cause. Because let’s face it what is causing your headache and what is causing my headache may be completely different, yet if you just pop a pill it will cure that ill. Well at least make it seem like it for a little while!

I recently came across the analogy which describe our health as a tree. When the tree is healthy and happy, the tree thrives and the leaves are bright and glossy. But if something is wrong then the leaves may turn brown and fall from the tree (unless it’s winter and a deciduous tree). You wouldn’t pick up the leave and paint them green, then try to stick them back on the tree would you? You would look at nurturing the tree, look at its food and water and the root of the problem (literally). Natural medicines take this approach to discovering the underlying cause and treating it as well as possible symptomatic relief.