Week 5 of my 6 week Detox Programme – Cutting Wheat & Gluten out of your diet

6 Week Detox Program finishing with a 2/3 day juice fast – This is a gentle Naturopathic programme that will change your lifestyle and make you glow from the inside out.

OK, so this is where it get’s tough for me. I love bread, I eat it every day and I crave it so eliminating Wheat & Gluten is going to be the toughest week yet. We are 2/3 rd’s of the way through the Detox programme, come on stick with it!

As a nation we eat so much Wheat and grains, it’s like with the dairy, we are constantly being told that bread/wheat is good for us and is a source of complex carbohydrates, minerals, dietary fibre and protein, however the processes that wheat and grains go through to make our beloved breads and cakes involves alot of processes mainly grinding, milling and crushing, this allows air and light to penetrate the sensitive interior of the grain and therefor the loss of nutrients occurs. The shelf life for most flours for optimum nutrition is 10-12 days.

Grains contain albumen, or the protein gluten. It is found in varying amounts amongst the grains with wheat, rye, oats, and barley. Wheat has the highest content, whereas millet, quinoa and buckwheat do not contain gluten.

Wheat consists of several varieties and three basic types:

  • Hard red spring or winter wheat has a high gluten level and is used to make breads (bread flour)
  • Soft red winter wheat (lower gluten content) is used as pastry flour to make sweet bakery products such as cookies, biscuits etc…
  • Durum and red durum wheat is made into pastas such as spaghetti and noodles

The milling of wheat into refined white flour removes 40% of the Chromium, 86% of the Manganese, 76% of the Cobolt, 68% of Copper, 78% of Zinc, 48% of Molybdenum – these are all the trace elements that are essential for health!

In addition, 60% of the Calcium, 71% of the Phosphorus, 85% of the Magnesium, 77% of the Potassium and 78% of the Sodium is removed. This is crazy!

Gluten
Gluten is a composite protein that is most often found in foods processed from wheat, barley or rye. Its “stickiness” gives dough its elasticity, helps it rise, maintain its shape and provides it with that “chewy” texture. Gluten is also an inexpensive and widely accessible source of protein that can be consumed directly from wheat products or as an additive to increase the protein value of processed or modified foods. Most supermarkets have a small gluten free section of packaged foods, these are not necessarily the best choice as they are highly processed and expensive, but if you are craving that slice of toast like I will be, go for it, a few slices wont harm.
Sensitivity & Disease
Eating wheat-free is particularly important for those with gluten sensitivities and for those with Celiac disease. When those sensitive to gluten or those with Celiac disease are exposed to gluten, the immune system cross-reacts with intestinal tissue causing an inflammatory response, which can interfere with nutrient absorption. This is obviously not ideal because inefficient nutrient absorption can lead to malnutrition and a variety of health concerns like anemia, osteoporosis, fatigue, stunted growth, the inability to “thrive” and can eventually lead to intestinal and bowel cancer. Common symptoms of gluten sensitivity or intolerance include: diarrhea, weight loss, stomach pain, fatigue and anemia, however its not uncommon to display no symptoms at all with such tremendous potential to harm.
Elimination
There is no doubt that a gluten-free diet is extremely beneficial to those with Celiac disease or who exhibit sensitivities to gluten, but how about for the rest of us that have sluggish bowels, bloated, are tired, find it difficult to loose weight etc.. Well, by adopting a gluten-free diet in an effort to improve health may be misguided because gluten free products can be just as unhealthy as those containing wheat.
For those with Celiac disease or gluten sensitivities, a diet free of wheat and its relatives is the best way to prevent intestinal discomfort and the risk of health concerns. For those simply wishing to lose weight or regain health, Gluten-free is certainly an option if it encourages you to be more conscientious of your dietary decisions.
For a full list of gluten free foods please check out www.celiac.com
So here are some easy tips on replacing gluten in your diet, delicious and nutritious!

1. Smoothies: Chuck the bagel or toast breakfast and instead make a healthy smoothie/shake! Here’s a quick recipe:
  • 1 cup berries (or other fruit)
  • 1 big handful of spinach (kale is good, too, but spinach is more easily blended)
  • 1/2 cup almond or coconut milk
  • 1-2 scoops plant protein powder (I got Jarrow Formulas Optimal Plant Proteins from www.iherb.com) – not essential
  • purified water or coconut water to get the consistency you like
2. Quinoa: It’s your new best friend! Quinoa is a complete protein (balanced amino acids) and is perfect for replacing white rice at dinner, putting in stirfries, or even having for breakfast in place of oatmeal. Delicious breakfast/lunch:
  • 1/4 cup  cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup berries
  • 1 apple, chopped
  • 1 tsp natural honey
  • small handful of mixed seeds – Pumpkin and Sunflower
  • coconut milk or coconut water to mix to your desired consistency
3. Lettuce Wraps: Simply switch the wheat wrap for a big leaf of lettuce and you can still make delicious lunches. Try spreading hummus on the lettuce, filling with Tuna, Spinach, Alfalfa sprouts, and avocado and finishing with fresh squeezed lemon juice, a little sea salt, and fresh ground pepper. YUM!!
4. New way to snack:
  • 1 apple with 1 tbsp almond butter
  • Carrots and celery with hummus
  • If you’re dying for something crunchy there are gluten-free crackers  in the supermarkets you could pair with hummus
  • Even a homemade green juice will totally keep you full until dinner
Going gluten-free seems like its going to be tough, I’m a total bread-lover and it’s going to be a challenge but I know that the health benefits are massive,  if you can’t seem to get rid of that extra layer of fat or generally just feel bloated or low energy, eliminating  gluten for even a couple weeks will really help you discover what’s right for your body!
Keep up the good work.
Helena

Week 4 of my 6 week Detox Programme – Eliminating Dairy

6 Week Detox Program finishing with a 2/3 day juice fast – This is a gentle Naturopathic programme that will change your lifestyle and make you glow from the inside out.

So how are you getting on with the detox, are you starting to have more energy and your skin looking brighter? I hope so, I can defiantly feel a difference and it’s so good to not be relying on Caffeine for that pick me up, I feel great. Still a way to go though, this week the food group to eliminate is Dairy.

There are so many misconceptions with Dairy, we are lead to believe from a young age (thanks to the government funded Dairy Council) that Milk is good for us and will help protect us from diseases such as Osteoporosis and Heart Disease and that it’s full of vitamins and minerals (yeah right!). In fact is that dairy is responsible for so many health disorders especially allergies, eczema, asthma, arthritis, bloating and acne as well as being high in saturated fat, cholesterol and calories.

Think about it, we are the only mammal on the planet that drinks another mammal’s milk; this surely has to be wrong. Here are a few further facts on dairy:

  • After weaning, milk is not an essential part of an adult’s diet, after the age about two the enzyme rennin, responsible for milks proper digestion dries up. Milk can damage the small intestinal wall leading it to be permeated; this can lead to a lot of health problems.
  • Dairy attacks the lymphatic system – this is the first line of defence for the body, cow’s milk is high in acid and this causes congestion of the lymph as bacterial cultures can develop very quickly, this is a primary source of infection for the body especially in children – ear infections, eczema, asthma etc…
  • Cultures that don’t drink milk have the strongest bones.
  • We are all lead to believe that the Calcium in dairy is good for our bones, realistically the calcium that we ingest into our body’s from dairy products creates too much calcium, this cannot be absorbed without magnesium, most people are deficient in magnesium, therefore the calcium is ‘free’ and cannot be used.
  • The high acids in dairy products are a main factor in Osteoporosis, instead of going for the diary option you should switch to green leafy veg. Many green vegetables have calcium-absorption rates of over 50%, compared with about 32% for milk. Additionally since animal protein induces calcium excretion in the urine, the calcium retention from vegetables is higher plus you are also getting the Magnesium you require to absorb the Calcium, so it is of more benefit.
  • Green vegetables, beans, tofu, sesame seeds, and even oranges contain lots of usable calcium, without problems associated with diary. Keep in mind that you retain the calcium better and just do not need as much when you don’t consume a diet heavy in animal products and sodium, sugar, and caffeine.
  • Milk and dairy are a huge factor in the production of Gall Stones
  • Because of the demand for dairy, cows need to produce 55 litres a day to be viable, this is not possible without the help of growth hormones and antibiotics, and we are also ingesting these nasty’s.

So as you can see there are many health benefits from eliminating dairy and maintaining a plant based diet. There are some really good dairy free options to look out for and most supermarkets and all health stores stock them.

 

Milk alternatives:kara

Every dairy product has a non-dairy alternative. Milk from cows and other animals is used as a beverage and in recipes for both sweet and savoury foods. You can get non-dairy milk from Soya, Almond, Rice and Coconut milk – my personal preference is from a brand called Kara, have a Coconut milk and it is not as sweet as some of the alternatives and is great for cooking with. If a recipe calls for buttermilk, simply stir 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar into 1 cup of soy milk and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes.

Yogurt alternatives:                                                                                                                

With more people giving up dairy for health or dietary reasons, the selection of soy-based yogurts is growing. Peruse the supermarket yogurt section and you’ll find plain, vanilla and fruit flavoured soy yogurts. Soy yogurt seamlessly replaces dairy-based yogurt as a snack and in recipes.

Replacing cheese:

Tofu and vegan cheeses are delicious non-dairy substitutes for nearly all types of cheese. You may have to visit a natural foods store to find vegan cheeses, but tofu is available at most grocery stores. You can use crumbled, seasoned tofu in place of cottage cheese or ricotta.

Replacing ice cream:

If ice cream is one of your favourite desserts, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the vast selection of non-dairy ice creams made from soy, rice and coconut.

Replacing butter:

Your morning toast habit and love of baking don’t have to end just because you’re eliminating butter from your diet. Dairy-free or vegan butter substitutes come in stick, spreadable and shortening forms and can be used in many recipes, in addition to adding moistness and flavour to your breakfast foods. If you opt for margarine, go with organic and trans fat-free varieties.

One more tip, remember to read labels, just because you eliminate the obvious dairy in your diet (i.e., milk, yogurt, cheese and butter) doesn’t mean you are in the clear. Dairy may lurk in other everyday foods. Read labels on all packaged foods before buying or consuming. Be on the lookout for — and avoid — these common dairy-derived ingredients: casein, whey, ghee, lactic acid, lactalbumin, lactoglobulin, lactose, milk sugar and recaldent (found in dental products).

This week may sound as if it’s going to be tough, but stick with it, the health benefits from eliminating dairy are immense. Good Luck as always and please get in touch if you have any further questions.

Helena

Week 3 of my 6 week Detox Programme – Eliminating Meat, Benefits of a Plant-based Diet

6 Week Detox Program finishing with a 2/3 day juice fast – This is a gentle Naturopathic programme that will change your lifestyle and make you glow from the inside out.

The food to eliminate from your diet this week is Meat. There are many health benefits from a plant-based diet, it will help decrease your risk of heart disease, lower your risk of cancer and stroke, reduce constipation, help you to lose weight while watching diabetes evaporate or osteoporosis be reversed as well as having profound effects on the planet’s resources and saving animals.

Love your vegetables
Love your vegetables

Many people are unaware that vegetables, in many cases contain much larger amounts of protein per calories that dairy or meat products. High levels of protein are found in green leafy vegetables, especially Spinach and Broccoli where as beans, lentils and grains are the staple of any vegetarian and vegans diet. Look out this week for some recipe ideas.

A very common symptom from eating meat is constipation. Are you constipated right now? Whether you are occasionally constipated or suffer from chronic constipation, as a high percentage of the population do, a plant-based diet will help solve the problem.

The transit time for all foods in your system should be 16 hours. So if you’re interested in testing your digestive timing, ingest some corn and time how long it takes to appear in your stool. The time from ingestion to the time the corn ceases to appear in your stool is the true transit time. To the extent that the interval is greater than 16 hours, you are constipated and waste products are remaining in your body long enough to cause disease.

Major danger can arise when we add meat products to a poorly functioning or constipated system. Red meat that stays in the system for over 16 hours begins to putrefy and becomes toxic. Not only will this create discomfort and intense odour, but food that purifies in the stomach, colon, or intestines creates a breeding ground for viruses, bacteria and tumours.

The toxins and diseases that arise from a constipated system aren’t the only reasons for concern. In addition to cancer, heart disease, diverticulitis, IBS, obesity, arthritis and a plethora of other conditions that have some link to constipation, the energy and straining required to relieve a clogged system can cause heart attacks, hemorrhoids, a ballooning of the intestinal wall, and can negatively affect the prostate.

Cutting meat out of your diet will detoxify colon and make your bowel’s work more efficiently, when you eat a healthy plant-based diet, your challenges with constipation will evaporate. Your acid/alkaline balance will improve making your body more alkaline and your skin will also benefit immensely and become healthy and glowing. Now there is a reason in itself to give up meat.

Give it a try, swap that Steak for a Tofu stir-fry, you will feel the health benefits almost straight away with not feeling as bloated and full. And remember Vegetarian and Vegan food is far from boring.

Keep up the good work!

Helena

Week 2 of my 6 week Detox Program – Caffeine Detox – How are you Surviving?!

6 Week Detox Program finishing with a 2/3 day juice fast – This is a gentle Naturopathic programme that will change your lifestyle and make you glow from the inside out.

So, how are you surviving without that Caffeine hit? It’s hard and I’ll be the first to admit there have been points this week where I have just wanted to get a Cappuccino, but I’ve stuck with it :). If  the latter half of the week has been easier, this is because Caffeine is leaving your system and if you are feeling a bit tired you have probably been relying on Caffeine for energy. If you have experienced any headaches, this is a sign that your body has been dependent on Caffeine. If you can over the weekend, sleep in for a while, relax and nap if needed to build your energy back up.

Feeling Good
Feeling Good

Here are a few more tips to help you stay off Caffeine:

Drink water
Drink at least 1-1.5 liters of purified water throughout the day. Staying hydrated will help prevent that caffeine withdrawal headache as well as flush toxins from your system.
Drink tea
Enjoy unlimited amounts of herbal tea as I said before there are hundreds of delicious blends to choose from, tantalize your taste buds!
Get moving
Get your body moving! Go for a walk, a jog or go to a Yoga class. Sweating will help to release the toxins from your system and exercise helps to release the endorphins that keep us upbeat and happy.
Grain alternatives
I spoke about these earlier in the week, there are several companies that make coffee alternatives made from barley, rye, malt and chicory. These taste very much like coffee and can be a fabulous alternative to coffee. However, if you are celiac or gluten sensitive, please avoid these.
Keep up the good work, you will feel great for it!
If you would like to ask me any questions please feel free to contact me.
Helena x

Week 2 of my 6 week Detox Program – Caffeine Detox

6 Week Detox Program finishing with a 2/3 day juice fast – This is a gentle programme that will change your lifestyle and make you glow from the inside out.

Week 2 – Caffeine Detox

Well done, hopefully you have survived week one of my detox. Well, how was it? Did you manage to stay off the booze? I managed it, even when I went out for a Valentine’s dinner I managed to stay clear from the White Wine.

Even if you slipped up you should carry on with the Detox programme, as each week is accumulative you will continue to stay clear of alcohol.

This week the item to eliminate is Caffeine. This is going to be tougher as Caffeine is an everyday item, the main culprets being Coffee & Tea.

Below is a chart that shows the Caffeine content in everyday items:

Item Caffeine (mg)

Coffee, brewed (240ml/8oz) 60-120

Coffee, instant (240ml/8oz) 70

Coffee, decaf (240ml/8oz) 2-5

Tea, black, 5-min steep (240ml/8oz) 60-100

Tea, green (240ml/8oz) 20

Coca-Cola (355ml/12oz) 34

Milk Choc (30g/1oz) 1-15

Dark Choc (30g/1oz) 20

As you can see from this, it’s not just Tea & Coffee that you have to eliminate from your diet. Sorry the Chocolate has to go…! As you may know, Green Tea has many health benefits but I will come back to these at a later date, for now all you need to know is that it contains caffeine so it’s a no, no.

What you can drink:

It’s all about the Herbal Tea’s, these days the shops are filled with so many flavours and you will be surprised at how good they taste. I recommend that you get yourself a ‘Tower of Tea’, below is mine and I’ve been an Herbal Tea addict for a long time and I’m always finding new flavours. My new favourite is from a brand called Clipper and is an Orange & Coconut flavour – Yum.

Tearefreshing-organic-infusion-wth-orange-and-coconut_3

Side effects from Detoxing from Caffeine:

Caffeine is a drug. It’s addictive, gives you a sudden rush of energy and offers you a bit of a high, which is usually followed by a bit of a crash. Once you start to feel the crash, more Caffeine is needed to maintain stimulation. But the biggest sign that Caffeine is a drug is that when you have a go at detoxing from it, you will experience crazy withdrawal symptoms.

Headaches, nausea and moods so bad…this is what prolonged periods of abstinence can do to the caffeine addicted.
Drinking Coffee is a ritual and symbol of important, busy people. The more responsibilities we have, the bigger the cup of Coffee we need to carry around with us. I never drank Coffee untill I started studying to be an Acupuncturist & Naturopath, I think that it was the working full-time and studying that did it. Now I can go through phases of one Coffee a week or one everyday and I’m partial to black Tea and dark Chocolate so this is going to be a challenge.
The more stress we have in our life, the more Caffeine we drink. It’s a vicious cycle. We need Caffeine to keep up with the pace of modern life, but if Coffee is your choice, itself actually helps to create nervous energy. Coffee wakes us up and gets us going, but over time this unnatural stimulation of our nerves creates stress levels that wreak havoc on our immune systems, hormones and our adrenals.
It is widely known that Caffeine enhances alertness and concentration, but the negative effects are pretty well downplayed. The health risks include inhibiting the absorption of essential minerals like iron, magnesium and zinc as well as B vitamins. Many studies have also linked heavy Coffee consumption with higher risks for miscarriages, osteoporosis and heart disease.
Drinking Caffeine is a habit that should be gradually given up – especially if you rely on more than one cup each day. Caffeine withdrawal is not fun – for you or for those around you. Here are a few things you can do to help you kick the habit:
1. Drink more water – you can help to flush out the Caffeine in your system by drinking a lot more water throughout the day.
2. Try Dandelion and Chicory root blend tea – this tea is a great Coffee substitute as it looks like Coffee and it still has a rich flavor. You can also add oat milk or almond milk if you prefer it creamy. This stuff is rich in minerals, provides energy and is also known for its detoxifying properties.
3. Get plenty of rest – when you take Caffeine away, your body won’t know what’s hit it. Without that false energy, you will most likely feel tired and more lethargic than usual. Be gentle with yourself and honor your body with more sleep and rest.
So Good Luck, this is going to be a tough week. Any questions let me know and I’ll check in, in the week to see how you’re getting on.
Helena x

Detox & Fasting Programme for a brighter you…

6 Week Detox Programme finishing with a 2/3 day juice fast – This is a gentle programme that will change your lifestyle and make you glow from the inside out.

If your body is getting everything it needs, i.e. nutrients & minerals, your body can work properly. I work on the encouragement of self-healing and in my practice my emphasis is on ‘treating the cause not the symptoms’ and ‘treating the patient as a whole’.

I have mixed views on fasting, these fad diets of fasting for 2 days a week and then eating and drinking as ‘normal’ for the rest give out the wrong impression for a balanced lifestyle.

I do praise the benefits of fasting though if it is done properly. It gives your body a break from dealing with everything it has to break down and gives it time to regenerate and heal itself. You can eat during this fast, but only portions of raw vegetables or fruit. Fasting is an integral part of many cultures and done quite naturally in countries around the world.

Join me on this 6 week detox programme followed by a 2/3 day juice fast – this will leave you feeling amazing both inside & out.

The 6 week detox plan is to prepare your body for the fast, it just makes the whole process a lot smoother and it’s an easier transition for the body so it’s not such a drastic change all of a sudden.

We all have toxins in our body; they come in in many forms. Toxins are proteins produces by certain bacteria, animals or plants. The main toxins that we are vulnerable to are:

  • Exogenous Toxins – Alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, recreational & prescription drugs, additives preservatives, hair bleach & skin creams etc…
  • Environmental Toxins – Pesticides, herbicides, solvents, petrochemicals, exhaust gases, carbon monoxide, fluoride, heavy metals etc…

And the list goes on…

The three basic ways to avoid Toxicity are to avoid heavy metals, eat organic food and live in an eco-friendly environment. There are simple ways that we can change our lifestyle that I will go over during the course of this programme.

6 Week Detox Programme – pre fasting

  • Week 1 – No Alcohol
  • Week 2 – No Caffeine
  • Week 3 – No Meat
  • Week 4 – No Dairy
  • Week 5 – No Wheat
  • Week 6 – No Sugar

That’s accumulative so you start the 2/3 day fast with none of these in your system, and depending on your diet at the moment it could be shorter than 6 weeks eg. If you’re a vegetarian it would only be 5 weeks.

It looks simple, but it gets tough…

I will keep you updated with my progress throughout the programme and also give you encouragement and helpful tips along the way. I will also give you the recipe’s for the juices well in advance and please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or need some advice in regard to the programme.

The 2/3 day Juice Fast starts at the end of the 6th week

2/3 day Juice fasts are a great thing to do once or twice a year. Spring and Summer are best as in Winter the Qi (vital force) retreats and you need building up.

The juices can be a mix of Veg or Fruit juices, and you can eat raw Organic fruit and vegetables throughout the fast just limit yourself to either fruit or vegetables in one day.

Vegetables are the builders and fruit are the cleansers & vegetable juices are best in the morning time.

Here are some examples of some juices but I will send more ideas and recipes in the coming weeks.

  • Veg Juices: Carrot, Kale, Celery, Parsley, Beetroot & Cucumber
  • Fruit Juices: Apple, Pear, Grape, Pineapple & Watermelon

 Image

Here is some Fasting info:

The body uses up 50% of its energy in digestion. By fasting, that energy can be utilised in other processes such as self-healing, tissue repair and enhancement of cell-mediated immunity. Fasting encourages toxins stored in fat cells and elsewhere to be mobilised into the blood stream to be dealt with by the Liver.

It is important prior to fasting that the main organs of elimination (Liver, Colon & Kidneys) be in an optimally efficient state – this is why the 6 week detox is required.

To prevent your body from going into a toxic overload due to inadequate levels of essential nutrients, the organic fruit and/or vegetables will prevent this. This is the reason that juice fasts are favoured over water fasts.

The Important Stuff…

  • Long fasts (more than 2 days) should be supervised by a Naturopath
  • During a ‘fast’, pollutants are mobilised into the bloodstream as fat stores are used up. A body overloaded with toxins can produce reactions which are unpredictable as the ‘cocktail’ of chemicals hits the bloodstream. Watch out for the side effects.
  • Common side effects of short term fasting include: headaches, nausea, coated tongue, dizziness, skin rashes, acne, aching limbs & muscles, feeling colder than usual, insomnia, urine may be cloudy or darker than usual and your bowels may stop functioning during the fast. These symptoms will pass as soon as the waste materials are through your Kidneys.
  • Benefits of fasting: Clearer skin and eyes, more energy, increased elimination, decreased pain and inflammation, increased concentration and a feeling of wellbeing.
  • Contraindications to extend fasting (beyond 48 hours) without provisional supervision: Pregnancy & Breast Feeding, Severe Liver disease or Anemia, Kidney disease, if you suffer from an eating disorder, mental illness or a chronic condition which needs medication.
  • Ensure that 2 litres of pure, filtered water is consumed on fasting days

So who is with me to start this week? It’s only 6 ½ weeks of your life, you will be completed before Easter. Put the wine away and start planning your next few weeks.

For me the 1st week will be easy, I’ve been off the booze for a while but when we hit week 2, eliminating Caffeine…ouch. I wouldn’t be a big Coffee drinker, but I’m defiantly a Tea drinker and watch out for all the other Caffeine laden items, such as Chocolate. It’s going to be tough… Good Luck!

Remember if you have any questions please feel free to contact me.

Helena x

086~8163130

helena_barker@hotmail.com

How to improve your Fertility? – Male & Female

What is Fertility?

Fertility simply refers to a couple’s chances of becoming pregnant. If you are fertile, than there is a good chance that you will become pregnant at some point in time. Though pregnancy may not happen right away, if both a man and a woman are fertile, they will conceive a child eventually. Certain factors play a key role in determining fertility. In order for a woman to be fertile she must produce a viable egg during each monthly cycle. In order for a man to be fertile he must be able to produce strong and healthy sperm that can fertilize this egg. Numerous factors play a part in these roles including your diet, lifestyle and stress management. Keeping in mind the following guidelines, they will increase both your chances of conceiving and improve the health of your baby also.

Start a 3 month plan incorporating Diet, Exercise, Lifestyle and Stress management.

Why 3 months?

  1. It takes 3 months for eggs to mature and be ready for ovulation
  2. Men also take 3 months to produce a batch of sperm
  3. The body requires 3 months to eliminate toxins and increase to optimum nutrient status

Diet

Optimize nutrient intake using following information. Eat a diet sufficient in Carbohydrates, Fibre, EFA (essential fatty acids) with a healthy amount of protein. Drink plenty of water 6-8 250 ml glasses per day.

Decrease Saturated Fats

Increased amounts of Saturated Fats are associated with increase in oestrogen causing an oestrogen imbalance. They also trigger body to produce inflammatory substances which can also increase period pains. They also block the body’s ability to absorb Essential Fatty Acids or “good” fats.

Food Sources: Reduce meat and dairy. Avoid all processed foods, such as biscuits, cakes, white bread, white pasta, and white rice. Aim for whole foods in their natural state.

Increase your Good Fats

Especially the omega 3 as they help decrease inflammation in the body, hormone balance and development of a baby brain, eyes and nervous system.

Food Sources: You will find good fats especially Omega 3 in oily fish e.g. salmon, mackerel, trout, sardines, herring, fresh tuna. Also found in walnuts, flax and pumpkins. Vegetable sources include kale and cabbage.

Increase Fibre intake

Fibre helps control the levels of Oestrogen. Old oestrogen enters the gut where fibre binds and helps excrete it from the system thus preventing re-absorption of old oestrogen into circulatory system leading to oestrogen dominance and hormonal imbalance.

Soluble fibre: found in vegetables, fruit, oats and beans.

Insoluble fibre: wholegrains and nuts.

Optimise fertility vitamins & minerals

Vitamin B6 – hormone balance and fertility.

Food Sources: Eggs, banana, mushrooms, oats, soya, sunflower seeds, salmon, mackerel, lentils.

Vitamin C – can trigger ovulation, with Vitamin E it may keep you fertile longer and improve the quality of the eggs.

Food Sources: Fruit, vegetables, citrus fruits, berries, green vegetables such as brussel sprouts and cauliflower.

Vitamin E – plays an important role in egg production.

Food Sources: Seeds, nuts, egg yolk, oily fish and broccoli.

Folic Acid – critical to baby’s health and in lowering risk of low birth weight, premature birth, and/or neural tube defects, such as Spina Bifida and Anencephaly.

Vitamin A – Important for your baby’s embryonic growth – including the development of the heart, lungs, kidneys, eyes & bones and the circulatory , respiratory and central nervous system. It also helps with infection resistance and fat metabolism. It also helps to assure you that your cervical fluid will be sperm-nourishing, fertile consistency. It also increases the amount of fertile fluid.

Food Sources: Coloured fruit & vegetables.

Zinc – essential for conception. Important for men to ensure the head of the sperm is hard and can penetrate the egg to fertilise.

Food Sources: Almonds, fish, beans, yogurt, oats, corn, eggs, peas and wholegrains.

Others Important Nutrients:

Magnesium: nuts, vegetables, brown rice, eggs & sunflower seeds.

Manganese: help boost sperm quality, improves health of baby.

Food Sources: Wholegrains, seeds, leafy green vegetables, green beans, sweet potatoes, onions, strawberries, bananas, apples & eggs.

Selenium: essential for sperm production.

Food Sources: Found in eggs, nuts (Brazil), broccoli & garlic.

Calcium: needed for babies bones, teeth & nervous system.

Food Sources: Organic dairy products, salmon, oranges, prunes, sesame seeds, almonds, pulses, wholegrains and green leafy vegetables.

Royal Jelly: Royal Jelly is rich in amino acids (29 to be exact), lipids, sugars, some vitamins, fatty acids and most importantly, proteins. It contains high levels of vitamin D and E as well as ample levels of Iron & Calcium.

Evening primrose oil: This is an essential fatty acid that you can take from your period until ovulation to improve fertile mucus. It is not recommended to take this after ovulation as it can cause mild contractions in the uterus and prevent implantation.

Co Q 10: Improves ovulation and even rejuvenates eggs so that they act like younger eggs, can be linked to higher success rates in IVF. In men it is thought to have a protective action on sperm, improving the count and motility.

Other considerations:

Fitness

Exercising encourages hormonal balance which in turn increases your fertility, aim for 30 mins a day gentle exercise. Try incorporate Yoga or Pilates to de-stress.

De-stress

Chronic stress leads to high levels of the hormone cortisol, however in order to continually make cortisol your body requires progesterone, decreasing the amount available for your fertility cycle. Stress can also affect the release of other hormones necessary for your cycle. It can also affect libido inevitably affecting chances of conceiving.

Detox your lifestyle

Avoid environmental toxins e.g. organic foods as much as possible, avoid plastic containers and bottles which contain xenoestrogens disrupting your hormone balance and instead use cast iron, steel or glass cookware.

Watch your weight

A certain amount of body fat is essential for conception however if too low you may stop ovulation. If it is too high, it can interfere with ovulation as excess fat causes imbalance in the ratios of reproductive hormones. Men being overweight can affect the quality and quantity of your sperm.  Achieve optimal weight through healthy eating and exercise.

Decrease Caffeine

Coffee can delay conception for a year, its best to try to avoid completely if you can.

Decrease Alcohol

Alcohol may increase production of oestrogen. Alcohol may decrease fertility by half and increase risk of miscarriage. 1-2 glasses of wine ok if special occasion only, however if you experience any hormonal imbalances it is best to avoid completely.

Don’t Smoke

Smoking may increase the risk of miscarriage; it may decrease oestrogen by interfering with ability of cells in the ovaries to make oestrogen. Smoking can increase the rate at which a woman loses eggs causing early onset of the menopause.

Whether you are working with a fertility clinic, or planning to take a more natural approach, incorporating acupuncture into your plan will help you get pregnant and start your family.

Overview

It is always best to try to get your daily Vitamins, Minerals and Essential fatty acid’s through food sources, but this is not always possible, this is when supplementation comes in.

Female Vitamins & Minerals to maximise Fertility     

  • Pre-natal Multi Vitamin & Mineral – improves nutritional status
  • B complex – reduces stress and is a nervous system tonic
  • B6 – synthesis of RNA & DNA – will be in B complex
  • Folic Acid – 400mcg
  • EPA (essential fatty acids) – for healthy glandular function and hormone balancer
  • Selenium – deficiency is linked to infertility
  • Vitamin E – use D-alpha-topherol form, carries oxygen to sex glands
  • Zinc – for cell division
  • Vitamin C – improves hormone levels
  • Vitamin D – boost levels of progesterone and estrogen, which regulate the menstrual cycle & improve the likelihood of successful conception
  • Co-enzyme Q 10 – needed for basic functioning of cells and fertility benefit for women with low egg reserve
  • Royal Jelly – has been shown to help balance hormones, to increase libido and support egg health
  • Evening Primrose oil – improve fertile mucus

Male Vitamins & Minerals to maximise Fertility

  • Multi Vitamin & Mineral – to improve nutritional status
  • Vitamin E – increases sperm count and carries oxygen to sex organs – D-alpha-topherol form
  • Vitamin C – helps to manufacture healthy sperm, prevents sperm from sticking together and can improve their motility, can increase sperm up to 1/3 – 500mg twice a day
  • Vitamin D – essential for the healthy development of the nucleus of the sperm cell, and helps maintain semen quality and sperm count. Vitamin D also increases levels of testosterone, which may boost libido
  • Zinc – cell division and improves desire & ejaculation
  • Selenium – lack of selenium is linked with sterility
  • Vitamin B Complex – stress and nervous system tonic
  • L-Arginine & L-Carnitine – crucial for male fertility and sperm development
  • Coenzyme Q10 – energy for sperm

I treat fertility patients with Acupuncture and Naturopathy. For advice on recommended daily amounts, the best brands and where to get supplements please contact me.

 

 

Stress ~ What is it? and how to manage it with Acupuncture & Naturopathy

Stress is not an easy word to define, although everybody has a sense of what stress means.  Stress means a pressure or tension, created by too many physical, mental or emotional demands.  Physiologically our reaction to stress is known as the “fight or flight syndrome”. Situations frequently occur that require physical action quickly.  The body prepares for this rise in effort by diverting blood from the digestive system to the muscles, raising the level of blood sugar, mobilising fats into the blood stream and increasing the pulse and blood pressure.  This reaction is caused not only by stress, but also by “adrenal stimulants”, such as coffee, alcohol, and many other drugs.  Refined sugar in the diet has a similar effect in raising blood sugar levels.  Today, unlike our ancestors, we do not respond with a burst of activity, which is the natural way of utilising the extra sugar and fats made available.

Our diet consists of the foodstuffs and liquids we take into our bodies on a daily basis.  The diet when broken down by the digestive system then provides the nutrients the body needs to function properly.  The better the quality and source of the food we intake the better the quality of the nutrients (or fuel) we provide for the maintenance of our overall health.

The long term effects of stress and its interaction with nutrition are directly the result of being in “top gear” too often.  This uses up nutrients needed in the stress cycle at an alarming rate.  Stress weakens the immune system, thus increasing the risk of frequent infections.  In the body stress manifests itself as physical tension and the inability to relax. But stress is not just physical.  Emotional upsets and awkward relationships cause anxiety, and mental stress results in preoccupying fears and worries, the mind endlessly chattering without a break.  Whatever its origins, stress has a profound effect on our body chemistry.  The heart beats faster and stronger, the blood vessels constrict, the liver converts protein to glucose, muscle cells break down glycogen (stored sugar) to glucose, our who biochemical system swings into action, all conducted by the adrenal glands.

Avoid the following foods when stressed Increase the following foods when stressed
Processed foods Whole-wheat cereals, porridge, oats, millet, spelt.
Saturated fats and trans fats (max 4 g per 100g serving Chicken and fish – especially cold water fish for E.F.A.’s
Sugars – such as white bread, sweets, breakfast cereals (they contain no nutrients and stimulate the pancreas to release more insulin) Vegetables, especially leafy green vegetables.  Eat a variety for optimum nutrient intake.
Alcohol – high in calories, low in nutrients, depletes B vitamins, increases blood pressure and alters blood sugar levels. Fruits – eat a variety in season for optimum nutrient intake.
Chocolate and confectionery – see above re sugars Tofu – to provide good quality protein
Coffee and stimulants – can lead to mood swings, irritability, digestive problems, nervousness and interfere with sleep. Seeds, nuts, brown rice, legumes, avocados, examples of these include sunflower, sesame, pumpkin, hemp, flat seeds, walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts, beans, lentils, quinoa etc.
Salt / sodium – 1 slice of bread usually provides our daily requirement Some dairy including milk, yogurt, cheese, eggs.

The body needs an increased amount of B vitamins, especially Vitamin B5, Vitamin C, Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc and Selenium when stressed.  They help adrenal function and also help protect the body from free radical damage.  Sources of these nutrients are as follows:

B Vitamins: sources include dark leafy green vegetables, whole wheat, wholegrain, brewer’s yeast, broccoli, legumes, nuts, seeds, meat, fish, egg yolks, yogurt, mushrooms, brown rice and wheat germ.

Vitamin C: Good food sources include: avocado, blackcurrants, broccoli, brown rice, cabbage, cheese, citrus fruits, nuts, oat bran, parsley, peppers, pineapple, potatoes, sesame seeds, strawberries, sunflower seeds and wholegrains.

Calcium: sources include: milk, cheese, dairy products and green leafy vegetables.

Magnesium: Good food sources include: brown rice, soybeans, nuts, brewer’s yeast and wholegrains, cod and mackerel.

Potassium: Consume more avocado, lima beans, potato, tomato, nuts, fish, bananas, fruit juices, carrots, cauliflower, celery, leafy green vegetables, mushrooms, peas, potatoes, spinach, tomatoes,watercress and whole-wheat.

Sodium: As sodium is present in so many foods it is unlikely to be deficient.  The body in stress, especially prolonged stress, retains sodium and this helps to increase blood volume and raise blood pressure.  So do not add salt to the diet.  Cut it out wherever possible.

Zinc: Sources include: oysters, pumpkin seeds, hazelnuts, fish, oats, ginger, sunflower seeds, pine nuts, almonds, turnips, pecans and brewer’s yeast.  Recommended daily dosage is 15mg.

Selenium: Good sources include: Brazil nuts, brewer’s yeast, broccoli, brown rice, cashew nuts, chicken, crab, seaweed, garlic, eggs, herrings, onions, salmon, tuna, tomatoes and wholegrains.

Relaxation techniques for Stress Management:

Breathing exercises for awareness; tension release; progressive relaxation exercises; meditation; visualisation; affirmations; massage can help relax the nervous system, lead to better sleep and an increased ability to deal with stress. Also beneficial are techniques to deal with worry control and better time management, improved life / work balance. A stress management therapist can teach the above techniques.  To restore balance daily try the following:

  • Make time every day for yourself (even 10 minutes or better still 30 minutes per day can help).
  • Do something which you enjoy every day and which makes you LAUGH; laughter is wonderful for relieving stress. Ensure there is some FUN in your life.
  • Exercise such as walking, swimming, yoga, tai chi can help relax the nervous system, release endorphins and provide an increased ability to deal with stress.
  • Reconnect daily with family and loved ones, a daily meal together is ideal as it creates a break with work-time, reconnects with family and loved ones and can be relaxing.

Changing unhealthy eating habits can make a positive difference to health, changes such as:

  • Eating more complex carbohydrates and fibre.  These are better for the body than refined sugars; they provide bulk in the diet and help feed our essential friendly gut bacteria.  They also a) help to give a sense of fullness and satisfaction, b) protect against chronic illness as wholegrains, fruit, vegetables, legumes also reduce constipation, c) help to control blood sugar, d) maintain a healthy digestive system, e) reduce the risk of colon cancer, f) support out adrenal glands.  Eat some protein foods with carbohydrate foods to maintain blood sugar levels.
  • Attain / Maintain ideal weight.  Overeating stresses the body and carrying extra weight is a  continuous physiological strain.  Psychologically the image of being overweight is even more pervasively damaging. So eat when hungry and try not to comfort eat.  To lose weight, follow a sensible eating plan and exercise to expend surplus calories.  Individually our correct weight is dependent on height, size and structure and our ideal body weight should be in the body mass   index range of 20 – 25.  Exercise with a friend if this helps.
  • Eat frequent, calm meals. Our fast paced society, together with our many available fast food options, encourages us to eat on the run and denies us the time to relax as we eat.  Our bodies’ run/work better if we refuel them frequently and properly.

Simple Methods to improve your digestion and reduce stress:

1)Eat in a settled and quiet atmosphere and sit down to eat.  It is important that you take meals during a settled and pleasant time of day when you are free of distractions.  Sitting relaxes the digestive tract and helps focus your attention on the process of eating.  Even if you are only having a small snack, sit down to eat it.

2)Take a few minutes to rest quietly at the end of your meal. By relaxing at the finish of your meal, the digestive process can begin in an effortless way.

3)Don’t eat when you are upset. If you feel upset at mealtime, wait a little while until you feel calmer.  When you are emotionally upset there is an increase in the production of acid and a slowing of normal stomach contractions.  These acid rich secretions remain the stomach longer and cause severe irritation.

4)Avoid overeating. You should eat to about three quarters of your stomach’s capacity.  Eating beyond this point prevents normal stomach contractions.  This is also the point that gives us a feeling of satisfaction without the sensation of overeating.  The average stomach size is that of a closed fist, each person’s stomach size being individual to them.

5)Don’t drink while you are eating. Many of us are in the habit of washing our food down with a drink, before we have chewed it properly and by drinking whilst we have food in our mouths.  Chewing your food helps your digestive system with the process of digestion, as there are smaller pieces to break down, and helps prevent indigestion and excess wind.

6)Eat at a moderate pace. This allows you to chew your food well and helps you to find the point at which you feel satisfied.  If you find that you eat too quickly, simply put your fork down after each mouthful and don’t eat more food until that mouthful has been chewed and swallowed.  Your digestion will thank you!

7)Eat meals that a freshly cooked using a variety of ingredients.  This will ensure that you get all the necessary nutrients needed for a healthy diet and enable your body to maintain balance.

8)Eat your meals at a regular time each day.  This will allow you to develop a routine, helps to prevent snacking, maintain blood sugar levels, and put less stress on your digestion.

Acupuncture for Stress management:
Acupuncture is a great way of relieving stress because it relaxes the muscles in the body and causes a mental feel of tranquility. The benefits of acupuncture not only relieve stress but may provide many other benefits as well. When learning to manage stress, acupuncture gives you the emotional break to rein in your emotions. Often, with the assistance of acupuncture, the triggers for stress are greatly reduced or eliminated.

Acupuncture

Natural Antibiotics for Colds & Flu

Well I got hit straight in the face by a virus this week, nasty little mite. You all know it, achy muscles and bones, hot eyes, sore throat etc… It can knock even the healthiest person sideways for a couple of days.

A common cold should not last for more than 3-4 days. When using natural therapies in shifting colds & flu they involve assisting the body rather than suppressing symptoms as drugs do, therefore the symptoms of the cold & flu temporarily worsen.

Many of the symptoms of colds and flu are a result of our body’s defence mechanisms – Interferon the immune-stimulating compound is released by our blood cells and other tissues during infections and this is responsible for many symptoms. The suppression of a fever is thought to counteract a major defence mechanism and prolong the infection so however uncomfortable a high temperature is just sweat it out.

Here are some  simple & useful tips to help you naturally fight these nasty little seasonal bugs:

  • Rest –  nothing is that important that it can’t wait for a few days, your health is – Get to bed!
  • Liquids – drink lots of water
  • Echinacea – huge immune enhancing effects, a tincture is best
  • Vit C – 2000mg twice a day
  • Hot lemon with grated ginger & a teaspoon of honey – anti-inflammatory & anti-viral
  • Cayenne pepper – 8th teaspoon in warm water – promotes circulation and helps sweat it out. I use Potters Lifedrops, it’s a tincture made from Capsicum, Elderflowers and Peppermint oil, it’s really effective
  • Home made hearty soups – pack them full of virus fighting compounds – colourful veg and especially onions & garlic
  • Keep warm – simple but effective

After a few days you should feel back to normal.

Helena

Helena Barker – Acupuncture & Naturopathy

So I’ve done it, 4 years of training as a Acupuncturist & Naturopath and I’m taking the first steps into becoming a Complementary Therapist.

Daunting (screaming inside!), but ready to face it head on… (with a smile) 🙂

I will be praciticing in Navan and Slane, Co. Meath

This is where I’m going to Blog about anything Healthcare, Acupuncture, Naturopathy, Life, recommendations & advice.

Onwards & Up!

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“Health is the greatest gift” Buddha

Fertility acupuncture, pregnancy acupuncture, women's health, hormone balance, migraine, pain relief