Sunday, March 27, 2016

New Blog Location

Hello Everyone!

I have decided to fancy up my blog and give it a new name.

You can now find my at

I will no longer be making new posts to this blog.

Thanks for following me so far and I look forward to seeing you at my new location!


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Healthy Holiday Food & Drink Tips

Happy Holidays!

No matter what religion (or lack thereof) you are, most of us still spend the next few weeks attending parties and often having people over. By the end of it all we usually feel bloated and tired and wishing the holidays were over. Make this year the one that you feel great and enjoy yourself all season long.  Here are some healthy food and drink ideas to keep you going from party to party!
Serve Iced Tea (skip the grog and soft drink). Make a gorgeous jug of Fruity Energy-Zing or Decaf Chai tea. These colourful drinks are sure to catch the eye of young and old. To make, boil some water and then turn the heat off. Add either tea mix and let steep for about 10 mins before cooling down in the fridge. Add apple or lemon and lots of ice to serve. These are great for a party or to just have in the fridge for a hot day. Too easy!
Healthy Pasta Salad.  When asked to bring a salad to a party, try this super easy pasta veggie salad. Make pasta as usual and then drain. While the pasta is still hot add frozen peas. Then mix in any variety of veggies. I like to include onion, broccoli, tomatoes, and capsicum. I like to end up with more veggies than pasta making it a super healthy side to any meal. Then mix through a good portion of pesto and you are ready to party!
Veggies are fun too! When having people over, put out a veggie and dip plate instead of chips and fruit instead of lollies and chocolates. You will be surprised at what kids will eat when they are presented with healthy foods. Don't worry, they won't go hungry!
Great Dessert Idea. If you are looking for a dessert, check out these gorgeous and fun (and healthy!) coconut cubes. You can find the recipe on Justine Schofield's website. What kid (and adult) wouldn't want to try one of these!

Is Caffeine Really Good for You?
Check out my latest blog article that discusses the risks and benefits and you can decide.
Gorgeous Gifts!
Looking for last minute gift ideas?  How about a teapot and some tea?  Get 20% off all teapots, travel mugs and infusers until Christmas Day.  Enter code Holiday15 at checkout. With FREE SHIPPING on orders over $50 you can't go wrong! Emily's Little Tea Company
Last Market
The last market for the year will be thePeakhurst Organic Foodies Market on Tuesday 22 December from 3-9pm.  Come out and sample my full range of teas or pick up a last minute present package.

Is Caffeine Really Good for You?

Caffeine can be found in coffee, tea, chocolate, soft drinks, and energy drinks.  It is a central nervous system stimulant so people use it to increase wakefulness, enable faster and clearer flow of thought, increase focus, and improve general body co-ordination.  In some situations it has been found to improve performance in sport and in moderate amounts may even decrease the risk of some cancers.  But that doesn’t mean that it is really good for you.

Caffeine is one of the most common causes of health problems I see in practice. Excess caffeine intake manifests as many disorders such as:
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Weight gain
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Increased risk of cardiovascular disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Poor judgment
  • Lowered mood
  • Decreased ability to learn and retain information
  • A higher risk of accidents and injury 
Caffeine can cause:
  • Nervousness
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Increased the risk of bladder cancer and osteoporosis
It is a diuretic so can also cause dehydration.  It is addictive and people can build up a tolerance to it so they have to drink more to get the same stimulating effects.

Because caffeine is a stimulant it can cause sleep disorders.  It takes 6 hours for the body
to clear half the caffeine taken in.  This means that at 10pm when you are trying to sleep there is still half the caffeine from that 4pm coffee in your system.  This length of time increases with age and impaired liver function. Oral contraceptive use doubles it while pregnancy can triple it.  Some medications can increase it by ten times.  Due to the length of time it takes the body to clear caffeine, it should not be consumed after about noon, and some people may find they need to eliminate it all together to get a good sleep.

What is a safe amount of caffeine?
There are no standards for a safe limit of caffeine.  Food Standards Australia New Zealand recommends no more than 3mg per kg of body weight. So for someone weighing 70kg this is 210mg per day.  Most energy drinks have about 80mg so should be limited to two a day based on their caffeine content.  They still contain all the sugar of soft drinks though so should be avoided.  A Starbucks Grande coffee has 330 mg of caffeine so these should only be for special occasions. 

Due to its addictive quality, stopping caffeine consumption can cause withdrawal symptoms including:
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Drowsiness
  • Insomnia
  • Pain in the stomach, upper body, and joints.
These may appear 12 to 24 hours after discontinuation of caffeine intake, peak at roughly 48 hours, and usually last from 2 to 9 days.

The benefits of caffeine are negligible so really it is best not to drink caffeine at all. If you must, only drink it in the morning. Children should never drink caffeine and teenagers, pregnant women and people on certain medications should limit their intake.

To see the caffeine content in your favourite drink check out this website:

Monday, November 16, 2015

Don’t Upset Your Microbiome

Last article I talked about how important all the bacteria living in your digestive system are – your gut microbiome.  They have many functions and without them we can acquire many serious illnesses and diseases. 

There are some things that disrupt our microbiome that we don’t have much control over.  Caesarean sections save baby’s lives but this means that they don’t get exposed to mother’s bacteria in the vaginal canal at birth.  Formula has also saved lives but formula does not expose the baby to mom’s healthy bacteria.  When antibiotics are used correctly they save many lives but these can wipe out a lifetime of healthy gut bacteria leaving a very upset microbiome.

So how do you keep your little bacteria friends happy you ask?

Eat fibre.  Avoid sugar.  Eat lots of fruit and veggies (with the skin on).  This provides great food for your microbiome as well as making sure everything keeps moving.  Bacteria don’t like it when stool sticks around too long.  Sugar only helps to feed the bad bacteria so try to limit your intake.

Don’t eat preservatives.  Preservatives are designed to kill and stop the growth of
bacteria, and that is just what they keep on doing inside your body.  These pesky chemicals have only been in our diet for less than a century and they are wreaking havoc on our gut bacteria.  Avoid products with preservatives listed.  ‘Flavouring’ and ‘colouring’ are full of preservatives, which might not be listed separately on the label so avoid any products with these.   Product labels only have to show ingredients that are higher than 10 parts per million, but many preservatives are very effective at even this low level.  Keep in mind that food manufacturers are out to make money so they may lie on their labels (even if it is illegal).  So if there is a product that doesn’t go off within a few days, don’t eat it!          

Buy organic from the dirty list.  Pesticides are also designed to kill.  Organophosphates have been banned in Europe and restricted in the US but are still widely used in Australia.  These pesticides are linked to reduced IQ, weight gain, Type II diabetes, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.  Children under 7 years old do not have the enzyme required to excrete these chemicals from their little bodies so it just builds.  The ‘dirty’ foods with the highest pesticide residues in Australia are, in order, apples, wheat, strawberries, pears, grapes, lettuce, nectarines, peaches, and tomatoes.  To save money, buy these foods organic and buy foods from the ‘clean’ list conventional.  The ‘clean’ foods are onions, sweet corn, pineapple, asparagus, sweet peas, mango, eggplant, kiwi and cabbage.

If you are worried about the state of your gut bacteria or already have symptoms of an imbalance, taking a probiotic supplement may help.

The bacteria in your gut are very important to your health and longevity.  Be nice to them and they will be nice to you.  If you have any questions, talk to your local naturopath.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

10% Human

I just can't stop talking about the importance of healthy gut bacteria.  I borrowed the title for this article from a book I have been reading by Alanna Collen.  In it she discusses the importance of gut bacteria, also known as your microbiome.  The title refers to the percentage of our bodies that are actually human cells.  Of all the cells we walk around with each day, only 10% by number are actually our skin, blood, organs, tissues, etc.  The rest are mostly bacteria with some fungi and viruses. Slowly science is realizing just how important all these bugs in our body really are.  In order for us to evolve, we have had to hire out some of our essential functions.  These bacteria help break down plant fibers, fight off bad bacteria, create vitamin B12 and shape the intestinal wall just to name a few.  And in return we give them a nice place to live with lots of food.  But what happens when this symbiotic relationship gets disrupted?

Most people think their gut is only for digesting food, but in fact the digestive tract is the central area for the nervous, hormonal and immune systems.   This means that an imbalance in this area can have far reaching, and seemingly unrelated, effects throughout the body.

Improper or lacking gut bacteria (dysbiosis) are associated with digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome, irritable bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease and food intolerances.  Any of these problems can cause debilitating symptoms.  Several autoimmune diseases are also associated with dysbiosis.  These include rheumatoid arthritis, MS, Type I diabetes and lupus. 

Our digestive tract and our little bacterial friends play a role in regulating our mood.  One of the functions of gut bacteria is to make neurotransmitters such as GABA.  GABA is the calming chemical in the brain that decreases anxiety and helps relieve anxious depression.  Therefore a lack of gut bacteria can lead to anxiety and depression.  Gut bacteria are also involved in other mental health disorders.  A recent study found that supplementing a baby with probiotics (supplement form of good gut bacteria) decreased the incidence of ADHD when these children became teenagers.

Dysbiosis is also associated with autism, allergies, eczema, asthma, some cancers and obesity.  And these are just the health problems we know of so far.  Research is only just beginning to understand the importance of the bugs that live in our digestive tract.  Scientists keep looking for a genetic cause for diseases because we have the technology to change some genes, at least for the coming generation.  But most of these disorders didn’t exist 100 years ago.  Human genetics have not changed that fast.  So that means something must have changed in our environment and lifestyles.

Next article I will talk about what you might be doing to upset your precious bacterial friends in your gut and how you can keep them happy and working hard for you.

In the meantime be nice to your microbiome!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Carrot Ginger Soup with Coconut Poached Chicken

I'm not usually one to share recipes but this one worked out so well I needed to share it.  Delicious on a cold rainy day (like it is here today!).  It will warm you up and even my kids ate it!

1 onion
3 cloves garlic
2 – 1 inch pieces of fresh ginger
3 large carrots (I also added a small sweet potato)
3 cups stock (I used A.Vogel Herbamare Bouillon Plantaforce)
2 Tbsp butter or coconut oil
1 can coconut milk
500g chicken breast – cut up into slices to decrease cooking time

Cut up onion, garlic, ginger, carrot and sweet potato.  Carrot and sweet potato can be in large pieces as they are going to be blended later.  Put in a pot with the butter and cook until onion is translucent.  Add 2 cups of stock and cook until tender.  Once cooked, blend until smooth.  I put it through my Vitamix but a stick blender is also useful.

While that is cooking put coconut milk and remaining 1 cup of stock in another pot and heat up.  Add the chicken.  Cook until chicken is cooked through.  Don’t let the coconut milk boil or it will separate. 

Once the chicken is cooked, fish it out with a slotted spoon.  Poor the remaining coconut milk/stock mixture into the carrot mixture until the desired consistency is reached. 

Take two forks and shred the chicken to bite sized pieces.  Add the chicken back into the soup and you’re done!  Add a sprig of cilantro to serve if desired.  I served it with homemade garlic bread. Mmmmmmm

Monday, November 10, 2014

Water, Water Everywhere

Our bodies are made up of over two-thirds water.  We need water for the proper functioning of all systems of the body including creating saliva, perspiration and joint fluids, moistening mucous membranes, dissolving and carrying minerals and nutrients throughout the body and flushing out waste products.   Our bodies are unable to store water so we can only last for a few days without consuming it.

Some symptoms of dehydration include headaches, fatigue, poor sleep quality, dark coloured urine, constipation, dry mouth, dizziness, muscle cramps and dry skin.  With chronic dehydration the body learns to adapt and changes the point at which it asks for water.  The less water you drink on a regular basis, the less water your body will ask for.

The generally accepted rule is to drink 8 glasses that are 8 oz each or almost 2L.  If you exercise during the day than this amount needs to increase depending on how much you sweat.  If you are exercising for longer than an hour, weigh yourself before and after exercise to see if you have lost weight due to dehydration.  If you weigh less after exercise, then you need to drink more water.  You may also need to add an electrolyte supplement if you are sweating a lot.

If you consume caffeine during the day than you also need to consume more water. Some people say you can count caffeinated beverages toward water intake.  I strongly disagree.  Caffeine is a diuretic. This means it increases the amount of water excreted in your urine.  My general rule for patients is if you drink a cup of a caffeinated beverage (coffee, tea, energy drink, soft drink) than you need to drink a cup of water to compensate.  This brings you back to zero and you have to drink your 2L on top of this.  Alcohol is an even stronger diuretic and requires even more compensation.  Some medications will also dehydrate you. 

As mentioned your body adapts to being dehydrated so you need to increase you intake slowly.  Increase your intake each week by 250ml per day.  Keep increasing until you get to 2L per day after compensating for your caffeine intake.  If you still have any of the above symptoms or your urine is still not clear or light coloured, talk to your naturopath before increasing more, as it is possible to drink too much water. 

Some of your water intake comes from fruits and vegetables especially high water content ones like watermelon or cucumber but unless you are consuming these in large quantities I don’t count them.  Juice is mostly water, but it also contains lots of sugar so should only be consumed in small quantities. If you don’t like the taste of water, add a squeeze of lemon, lime or orange.  Consult your naturopath if you are on any medications or have a kidney disease.  Start drinking water today and see the difference it makes!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Confused About Pregnancy Supplements?

Beautiful pregnant woman in fieldIt is generally accepted that prenatal vitamins are important during pregnancy; most people find out they are pregnant and rush to the chemist or drugstore.  But if you are planning on getting pregnant, you should start taking those vitamins right away!  Your baby starts growing from the moment of conception so it is important to start many supplements before becoming pregnant.  For personalised pregnancy advice, check out my website for locations and give me a call:

Research has shown that women who did not take a prenatal vitamin for the 3 months prior to conception and the first month of pregnancy were twice as likely to have a child with an autism spectrum disorder.  The risk rose to seven times more likely when combined with genetic risk factors. It is unknown exactly why this is, however it may be due to folic acid and its effect on neurodevelopment.

Iodine is important for baby brain development so make sure the multivitamin you take contains iodine in the form of iodide.  A mother’s iodine deficiency in the first trimester can lead to a lower IQ and reading ability in the child at 9 years old.

Good gut bacteria has been shown to be important for all sorts of immune and digestive problems and it is also important for baby.  Taking a probiotic supplement during pregnancy lowers the risk of baby developing eczema after birth.  Make sure you take a good quality supplement with several different strains and billions of bacteria in each capsule.

Smart kids
Another important supplement to take during pregnancy is omega-3 fatty acids.  Supplementation of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) during the third trimester may increase the length of gestation by up to 8 days. DHA is also required for proper brain development and supplementation during pregnancy may improve mental development in children. To increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids eat more fatty coldwater fish such as salmon, herring, sardines, or trout or take a good quality fish oil supplement.  Avoid king mackerel, shark, swordfish and tuna due to their high mercury content.

When women become pregnant they are told there are many foods they should avoid but there are also certain foods women should make sure they eat. Consumption of wheat, dairy and peanuts during early pregnancy actually reduces the risk of children developing asthma, dermatitis and allergic rhinitis as they get older.

These are just a few supplements that are important for almost all pregnant women to take while pregnant. Everyone is different and you may require additional supplements before and after conception.  Talk to your local naturopath if you are thinking of getting pregnant so you can give your baby the best start possible!  Or check out my website and give me a call:

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Fertility. Not just for women!

When trying to conceive, most attention is on the health of the woman while the men’s health tends to be ignored until problems arise. Men contribute 50% of the DNA to create a baby, so it is important for men to contribute healthy sperm. It takes over 70 days for sperm to develop from immature to mature.  This is an important time for men to be taking charge of their health and lifestyle to give their baby the best start possible.

The place to start is to abstain from alcohol and quit smoking.  Male alcohol consumption, especially one month before conception, increases the risk miscarriage and not achieving a live birth.[i] Alcohol effects sperm quality possibly due to a lowering of testosterone.[ii] The effects of alcohol on sperm begin to reverse when intake is ceased which is why it is important to stop a few months before conceiving. It is also very important to quit smoking a few months before conception as smoking reduces sperm production and motility and increases DNA damage.[iii]

Being overweight can have a significant effect on fertility. Being overweight is associated with infertility, decreased sperm concentration, decreased sperm motility and increased DNA damage.  There is also a very strong relationship between obesity and erectile dysfunction. [iv]

Of course I can’t forget to mention exercise.  Moderate physical activity for one hour at least three times a week shows significant benefits on sperm morphology.[iv]

There are also several supplements that have been shown to improve male fertility.  A deficiency in omega-3 fatty acids is correlated with decreased sperm motility.[v] Sperm quantity can be increased with increased fish oil intake.[vi]  To ensure sufficient intake eat more fatty coldwater fish such as salmon, herring, sardines, or trout or take a good quality fish oil supplement.  Avoid king mackerel, shark, swordfish and tuna due to their high mercury content. High blood mercury levels are associated with abnormal semen.[vii]

Zinc is essential for male hormone metabolism, sperm formation and sperm motility.  Zinc deficiency can lead to decreased testosterone and low sperm count levels. Zinc supplementation has been found to improve these factors.[viii] Vitamin C also improves semen quality while vitamin E reduces oxidative damage and improves motility.[iv] Sperm motility and morphology are improved with coenzyme Q10 supplementation.[ix]

A diet high in fruits and vegetables is associated with improved semen quality.  This may be due to an increased antioxidant intake.[iv]  A pre-conception “Mediterranean” type diet by couples has been associated with increased conception success.[x]

There are many factors that effect male fertility.  If you are planning on conceiving, talk to your local naturopath to get personalized advice.  Start getting healthy at least three months before conceiving.  This will give you the highest chance of success and give your baby the best start.


[i] Klonoff-Cohen H, Lam-Kruglick P, Gonzalez C. Effects of maternal and paternal alcohol consumption on the success rates of in vitro fertilization and gamete intrafallopian transfer. Fertility and Sterility. 2003 Feb; 79(2): 330-339.

[ii] La Vignera S, Condorelli RA, Balercia G, Vicari E, Calogero AE. Does alcohol have any effect on male reproductive function? A review of literature. Asian J. Androl. 2013 Mar; 15(2):221-5.

[iii] Mostafa T. Cigarette smoking and male infertility. Journal of Advanced Research. 2010 July; 1(3):179-186.

[iv] Sharma R, Biedenharn KR, Fedor JM, Agarwal A. Lifestyle factors and reproductive health: taking control of your fertility. Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2013 July 16; 11: 66.

[v] Comhaire FH, Mahmoud A. The role of food supplements in the treatment of the infertile man. Reprod. Biomed. Online 2003 Oct-Nov; 7(4):385-91.

[vi] Safarinejad MR. Effect of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation on semen profile and enzymatic anti-oxidant capacity of seminal plasma in infertile men with idiopathic oligoasthenoteratospermia: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomised study. Andrologia 2011 Feb; 43(1):38-47.

[vii] Choy CM, Lam CW, Cheung LT, Briton-Jones CM, Cheung LP, Haines CJ. Infertility, blood mercury concentrations and dietary seafood consumption: a case-control study. BJOG. 2002 Oct;109(10):1121-5.

[viii] Hunter P. Health Benefits of Zinc. Bioceuticals Advanced Clinical Insights, 2004; 5.

[ix] Safarinejad MR. Efficacy of Coenzyme Q10 on Semen Parameters, Sperm Function and Reproductive Hormones in Infertile Men. The Journal of Urology. 2009 July; 182(1):237-248.

[x] Vujkovic M, de Vries JH, Lindemans J, Macklon NS, van der Spek PJ, Steegers EA, Steegers-Theunissen RP. The preconception Mediterranean dietary pattern in couples undergoing in vitro fertilization/intracytoplasmic sperm injection treatment increases the chance of pregnancy. Fertil. Steril. 2010 Nov; 94(6):2096-101.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Stay Healthy this Winter (and all year long)!

While it is summer for all of you in the northern hemisphere, it is winter down under which means cold and flu season has come around again. Although for those of us with kids in daycare and school it seems that cold and flu season lasts all year-round! Here are some helpful hints for keeping the whole family healthy in winter and all year long.

Image from
Sleep is the most important activity your body needs. When sleeping, your body restores, heals, and creates important hormones. Get to bed early and stay there for at least 7-8 hours each night.  Avoid caffeine after noon to ensure you get a good quantity and quality of sleep.  Read my blog article “Having Trouble Sleeping?” for more advice.

Psychological stress is associated with a greater risk of depression, heart disease and infectious diseases.[i]  Take time out - exercise, garden, meditate, whatever it is that helps you to relax.

What would one of my articles be if I didn’t mention exercise?  Exercise is important for everyone. To keep your immune system at its best you want at least a brisk 30-minute walk each day.  If you are an avid athlete you also need to take care, as very high intensity exercise can put a strain on your immune system.[ii]

Always wash your hands before eating.  There was a 75% reduction in flu-like symptoms when a test group wore masks and washed their hands.[iii]  It can really be just that easy.

Our bodies are composed of 70% water. Proper hydration is important for the optimum functioning of all your body systems. Increase your water intake slowly getting up to 2L per day.

Hot-Cold showers are an excellent way of improving your immune system, increasing circula­tion and elevating energy levels. After finishing your regular shower routine, do 20 seconds of cold and 1 minute of hot. Alternate 2-3 times, ending with cold.  The increase in circulation will also help decrease sensitivity to the cold.

There are several supplements you can take to help boost your immune system. Daily zinc supplementation has been shown to shorten the duration and severity of the common cold, reduce the incidence of acute lower respiratory tract infections in preschool children by 45% and reduce the incidence of pneumonia by 41%.[iv]

Vitamin C is found in high concentrations in immune cells and is quickly consumed during an infection.  It is a natural antihistamine and has been found to reduce the severity and duration of the common cold and upper respiratory tract infections.

More than 80% of the body’s immune system is in the digestive tract.[v]  A lack of good bacteria in the digestive tract can cause a reduction in the immune system allowing increased infections.  Take a good quality probiotic to prevent bad bacteria from taking hold.

Vitamin D has a direct effect on the immune system. Vitamin D stimulates the production of natural antibiotic proteins thus killing more bacteria.  Insufficient levels are related to a deficiency in our immune system to protect us against infections. 

These are just a few suggestions.  For personalized advice, contact your local naturopath. Let's stay healthy this winter!


[i] Cohen S, Janicki-Deverts D, Doyle WJ, Miller GE, Frank E, Rabin BS, Turner RB. Chronic stress, glucocorticoid receptor resistance, inflammation, and disease risk. PNAS, 2012 April 17; 109(16): 5995-5999.

[ii] Society for General Microbiology. Couch potato or elite athlete? A happy medium keeps colds at bay(Internet). ScienceDaily. 2012 January 5 (Retrieved 13 May 2012). Available from:

[iii] Aiello AE, Perez V, Coulborn RM, Davis BM, Uddin M, Monto AS. Facemasks, Hand Hygiene, and Influenza among Young Adults: A Randomized Intervention Trial. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (1): e29744.

[iv] Hunter P. Health Benefits of Zinc. Bioceuticals Advanced Clinical Insights, 2004; 5.

[v] Plummer N. Dysbiosis and Disease: Ground breaking new research into probiotics and their role in preventing treating disease (presentation notes). FIT-BioCeuticals, Ltd. Online. 2010.