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Olwen Anderson's Blog

How To Use Vitamin C As An Anti-Histamine

Monday, December 01, 2008
Got the sneezes 'cos its Spring? (at least, it is in the southern hemisphere!)

Here's a tip to stop that sneezing fit in its tracks. Pop into the supermarket and pick up a bottle of 500mg chewable vitamin C tablets.

When you feel the sniffles coming on, chew on a tablet. Vitamin C is a natural anti-histamine, so it will tone down your symptoms for around 15minutes. Then you may need another tablet if you're feeling sniffly again.

***Note: people with kidney disease, pregnant women, and those taking the oral contraceptive pill or medication, should not use this remedy without checking first with their doctor. This remedy is useless for anaphylactic allergic reactions. You should always consult your doctor regarding your health concerns. This blog is not intended to replace qualified professional medical advice. If you ignore this warning, and get sick or die as a result, we'll just chalk it up to the ongoing process of natural selection.***

I'll write more about the benefits of vitamin C in another blog soon.
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I got a great deal on those fish oils! (.........or did you?)

Saturday, November 29, 2008
I always ask my new clients to bring all their existing supplements and medications to their first consultation, so I know exactly what they’re taking. Sometimes a new client will proudly present a mega-sized tub of fish oils, commenting on just what a great deal it was – so cheap!

Well friends, sometimes it was indeed a great deal, and sometimes….well…..maybe not.  I’d like to give you some information to help you avoid buying a dud tub next time you are shopping for a fish oil supplement.
Your first test when assessing whether that tub on special is worth buying is to look at the quantity of fatty acids. The therapeutic ingredients you want out of a fish oil supplement are the essential fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid, and docosahexanenoic acid, EPA and DHA for short. A high quality fish oil supplement will have around 300mg of EPA and 200mg of DHA per capsule. Most ‘over the counter’ fish oil supplements have far less than this, which means that you have to consume more capsules to get the same therapeutic effect.

The second test is to look for an antioxidant included with the fish oil to prevent them going off. Its usually vitamin E or rosemary oil. Rancid oils add to the oxidative stress burden your body already has to carry, so fresh oils are particularly important.

The last test? Unscrew the lid and take a deep breath. If your capsules smell ‘fishy’ they’re probably rancid – gone ‘off’. Take them back to the shop or throw them out.

Now you know what to look for when you’re shopping for your next tub of fish oils – or see your local clinical naturopath who can sell you the highest quality fish oil supplements.

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Fast Fibre Find

Friday, November 28, 2008
Here's a quick reference list you can use to get 5g of fibre in your diet today. We all need 25-35g of fibre every day.

1 cup cooked rolled oats
1 cob of sweet corn
3 slices bread (check the label for an accurate fibre count)
1 slice essene (sprouted grain) bread (but check the label for an accurate fibre count)
1/3 cup oat bran (not for IBS sufferers!!!
1/4 cup natural bran (not for IBS sufferers!!!)
1 3/4 cups booked brown rice

1/2 cup cooked mixed beans
1/2 cup cooked peas
1/2 cup baked beans

Nuts and Seeds:
45g almonds
1/2 cup peanuts
50g pistachio nuts

Breakfast cereals: (but check the label)
3 weetbix or vita brits
1 cup Kellogs Just Right
30g Uncle Toby's crunchy oat bran cereal
50g Uncle Toby's muesli flakes

1.5 cups steamed mixed vegetables
1 cup cooked carrots
1 cup cooked cabbage
1.5 cups cooked broccoli
1/2 cup steamed spinach
1 cup cooked sweet potato
1-2 medium steamed potatoes with skin

2 large apples
2 oranges
50g dried figs
5 dried apricots
2 large bananas
1 passionfruit
200g blueberrries
2 kiwi fruit, peeled
3-4 nectarines
2 large pears
10g prunes

1 tablespoon of psyllium husks (but do yourself a favour and use real food instead)

Look for other blog entries on this site tagged 'fibre' for more information on the importance of fibre.

Happy eating!

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What is 'lymphatic drainage'?

Thursday, November 27, 2008
Ever heard the term ‘lymphatic drainage’? Our blood circulation is not the only circulatory system in the body. All cells in the body are bathed in fluid, and a system exists for circulating and cleaning this fluid. This is the lymph system, and its health can make a big difference in how energetic we feel from day to day.

Each cell ejects waste products, proteins or worn out materials. Because of the size of the waste particles, they cannot be re-absorbed directly into the bloodstream. The fluid surrounding the cell starts to move the waste towards the nearest lymph vessel, one of a whole system of blind-ended tubes through the body. 

Once inside the tube, lymphatic fluid is propelled toward towards a lymph node. Although there are valves in the vessels to prevent backflow, and a small amount of muscle in the walls of the larger tubes, it’s mostly muscle movement that keeps the fluid moving toward the lymph nodes.

A lymph node is a collection of cells enclosing immune cells, ready to effectively engulf and destroy any foreign materials or waste. They can be as small as a pin head or as big as an almond. Some people can develop swollen lymph nodes during an infection – when there’s a lot more immune activity going on than usual.

Fluid may pass through many lymph nodes for cleaning. It is then returned to the bloodstream through a duct in the chest area. There are two major lymph channels, one for each side of the body, although they are not evenly distributed. Your lymphatic system processes about three litres of fluid every day.

Why is it called ‘drainage?’ The blood circulatory system has its own pump, the heart, which keeps blood moving through the body. The lymphatic system has no pump, and looks more like a series of pipes with regular ‘cleaning stations’ at certain points, before ‘draining’ the fluid back into the bloodstream.

How does this affect how you feel?  Movement of lymphatic fluid around the body relies almost totally on muscle movement, because there is no pump. If you don’t move around much, waste materials tend to stay where they are. If your cells are bathed in waste materials rather than clean fresh fluid, you can feel very lethargic, as though you are carrying a lot of waste inside you – which you are!

Naturopaths can identify clogged lymphatics through an iris analysis.

The key to keeping your lymphatic system healthy is to exercise. Regular massage can really help too. So keep moving!

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Blokes Can Be Healthy Too!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

It’s a well known trend – men tend to be less diligent abouttheir health than women, and females certainly make up a larger proportion ofmost naturopaths’ clients.

Men seem to find fulfilment in being regarded as strong, goodproviders for their family.  Maybe thisis why they try to soldier on through most illnesses, and summarily end anydiscussion about their health with “I’m OK mate”.


Whatever the cultural reasons, guys, here’s one very goodreason to look after your health: Being healthy and feeling energetic canreally improve your sex life!


Now that I have your full attention, here are some majorhealth areas that men particularly need to attend to:


·        At work, men often come into contact with toxinssuch as chemicals in the workplace, and pollution. Antioxidant vitamins canhelp the body deal with these toxins effectively, taking a load off your liver.Antioxidants are freely available in brightly coloured fruits and vegetables,eaten raw. Instead of a pie & chips for your lunch today, how about a saladsandwich instead?

·        Men seem to be particularly susceptible to cholesterolproblems. Eating lots of unprocessed food with high levels of soluble fibre andomega-3 oils helps. Normal cholesterol levels promote good blood flow to somevery important parts of your body!

·        Fertility: Making healthy babies needs healthysperm. The old tale about oysters and sex going together actually has a lot oftruth in it. Sperm production uses a lot of zinc, and oysters contain a largeamount of this mineral.

·        The prostate is an important focus for malehealth. This gland is wrapped around the urethra, the tube which carries urinefrom the bladder to the penis. As some men age, the prostate tends to enlarge,perhaps because of hormonal changes that occur in late middle age. Prostatesize becomes a problem if it enlarges enough to force the bladder to becomesmaller, or even to obstruct the urethra. This can result in a decreasedstrength of urine stream, and increased frequency of urination, plus relatedproblems in this area of the body.

·        Gout can sometimes appear as a man ages. This isa disorder of uric acid metabolism. A person with gout can’t process the highlevels of uric acid, so it tends to be deposited in far-flung areas of thebody, especially the big toe. Naturopaths find that men presenting with goutoften have a very high-meat, high alcohol diet and poor liver function.


So, guys, its time to take control of your health and makean appointment with your health professional for a complete check up and adviceon the best way to get healthy. And remember, there IS a good reason to havehigher energy levels!

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The Super-Fast, One-Pan Spinach Omelette

Tuesday, November 25, 2008
A big thank you to Diane J for contributing this great idea for a fast healthy protein breakfast using just one pan!

1. Spray a frypan with oil and heat.
2. Throw in a handful of baby spinach leaves. Put the pan lid on to help the leaves wilt faster.
3. Arrange the leaves into a circle.
4. Pour over a lightly salted beaten egg.
5. Have an egg flip handy to push any escaping egg back into the wilted leaves.
6. Flip the 'omelette' after a couple of minutes to cook the other side.

Done! Enjoy with some sliced raw tomato and cucumber.

I like to use lots of pots though, so I've enjoyed this dish with some home-made baked beans too!
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The Magic Of Herbal Teas

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Before liquid herbal extracts and herb tablets were widely available, people regularly used herbal teas to treat their symptoms. You can use them as a refreshing alternative to coffee and black tea, or as a simple home remedy. 

When using as a beverage, just pour over boiling water and infuse for a couple of minutes for a delicate flavour. To use therapeutically, infuse for 15 minutes, making sure that the pot or cup is covered. This prevents evaporation of some active constituents like essential oils. The resulting brew will be much stronger, so feel free to add more hot water to make it palatable.

 Here are six of the best:

Licorice root: 

This tea is naturally sweet. It will nourish your adrenal glands (important for your stress response) and is a natural anti-inflammatory. Note that it will also tend to increase blood pressure in large quantities, so if you suffer from elevated blood pressure you should use it only occasionally. Steep the licorice for at least 10 minutes for the best effect, as it takes time for the active constituents to emerge from the root.

Ginger root: 

Fresh ginger is a great way to wake up. Cut up about one teaspoon of fresh ginger root and pour over hot water. Add a little honey to sweeten. Ginger is traditionally used as an anti-nausea remedy, and is safe to use in pregnancy in moderate quantities. It will also boost your peripheral circulation and is naturally warming. Great for those of us who suffer from cold hands and feet!

Peppermint leaf: 

Another great anti-nausea herb, refreshing peppermint will help your digestion too. Some people who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome find that peppermint calms their abdominal bloating.

Camomile flowers:  

If you have trouble getting to sleep at night, try a camomile tea in the evening. This is one of the 'relaxant' herbs. Another great way to use it is in your bath water, for a calming effect. (Hint: It might help calm the kids in their evening bath too.)  Either use tea bags or tie the dried camomile in a muslin bag. Don't throw the camomile flowers loosely into your bath water or they will stick to you and you will feel like you're bathing in grass clippings!

Lemon Balm leaves: 

This is a great anti-stress herb with a subtle lemon flavour. Make yourself up a cup of lemon balm tea to sip on just before you embark on that long list of stressful phone calls!

Green tea leaves: 

A fantastic anti-oxidant tea, and very refreshing. You can buy jasmine enhanced green tea too if you find the plain variety lacking in flavour.

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Don't feel like exercising today? Meet the exercise gremlin!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008
The decision has been made. You are going to get fit, feel terrific, boost your energy and improve your health. You might be planning to walk briskly 60 minutes every day, as a first step to regaining your fitness. You buy a new pair of walking shoes and a great outfit, and head out the first few mornings. Exercising feels great. You can feel your mood improving with each passing day, and your energy levels through the day are rising.

And then something odd happens. You wake up one morning with the exercise gremlin perched on your shoulder. This creature appears for most of us 2 to 3 days or 2 to 3 weeks into a new exercise regime. His mission is to deter you from training, so he offers a range of plausible reasons why you should not bother to train today: Its too cold, too hot, its raining, you are tired, you are too busy, the reasoning goes on and on. He sounds persuasive, and it can be easy to give in, pull the blankets back over your head and stay in bed.

After a couple of days like this your training program is in tatters, and you are back to your unfit, unmotivated self. How do you stop this gremlin from wrecking your best intentions? And why does he appear in the first place?

It's all about change. We are psychologically programmed to take actions which keep us feeling safe and secure. Change, whether forced on us or of our own choosing, is uncomfortable because it takes us out of that safe comfort zone. With change, its natural to feel challenged. The exercise gremlin is just your subconscious, urging you to stay safe: Stay the same as you always have; that way you will stay secure.
How soon the exercise gremlin appears depends on your personal level of comfort with change; if you usually find it difficult to change, the gremlin is likely to appear within the first day or two of training; if you are comfortable with change, he might not appear for a couple of weeks.

There is really only one effective way to outwit the exercise gremlin, and that is to ignore him. When he lands on your shoulder the moment you think about training, remind yourself of your goals. Recognise the gremlin for who he is, resistance to change, and head out to training anyway. It takes about six weeks for him to disappear. By then you will feel so much better that he will be easy to ignore when he does appear.
By the way, its easier to ignore the exercise gremlin when you can see and feel results from your efforts: So do not be afraid to enlist support from a professional trainer, individually or part of a group, to find the right level of training for you. You will get faster results this way, making it easier to say goodbye to regular visits from the exercise gremlin.
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The Power Of Raw Foods

Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Would you like to make a big positive difference in your nutrition with a minimum of effort? All you have to do is access the power of raw food.

Although some fruits and vegetables really have to be cooked to be edible (potato and rhubarb spring to mind instantly), there are many that will lose most of their nutrients if you overcook them.

We had a joke in naturopathic school about the 'old' Australian style of boiling vegetables until they were mushy and colourless: You could cook your veg this way, but you would benefit most if you then threw out the vegetables and drank the water they were boiled in – as that was where all the nutrients went to.

Vegetables do sometimes need to be cooked. Many contain phytic or oxalic acid, naturally occurring plant chemicals which deter insect pests. This phytic or oxalic acid will get in the way of mineral absorption, and also prevent us from absorbing the minerals in the plant. So by lightly cooking foods like silverbeet we're actually helping our digestion.

Because its hard to tell which vegetables have high levels of oxalic or phytic acid and which don't, the trick is to only lightly cook your veg, so that the phytic/oxalic acid is destroyed but the cooking hasn't continued long enough for nutrients to escape. A general rule of thumb for non-root vegetables like beans, carrot, broccoli and cauliflower is 90 seconds cooking, either steaming or stir frying. Obviously some vegetables need longer cooking to make them palatable – like brussels sprout, potato and pumpkin.

Fresh fruit actually tastes better when its raw, and its so easy to prepare. By choosing to eat your fruit raw you're including more vitamin C and other antioxidants in your diet. 

On a day-to-day basis, here is how you can increase the proportion of raw fruits and vegetables in your diet:

- leave the cans of fruit and vegetables on the supermarket shelf. Head for the fresh food department instead. Ideally, choose organic for better flavour and nutrition.
- avoid dried fruit – its really high in sugar
- when buying yoghourt, buy the natural variety and add your own fresh fruit.
- Make sure you enjoy 2-4 pieces of raw fruit every day.
- Choose a salad for lunch – either as a meal on its own, or as part of a salad sandwich.
- Use chopped fresh carrot and celery sticks for dips rather than crackers.
- Lightly steam or stir fry your dinner vegetables for only about 90 seconds so they're cooked but still crisp.

Naturopaths often refer to the 'life force' in raw fruits and vegetables, as these foods contain the optimum levels of vitamins and minerals. After a few weeks of choosing raw rather than cooked food, you'll find that your wellbeing starts to improve naturally.

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How Can I Eat All That? Easy Ways To Get The Fibre You Need

Monday, November 17, 2008
Talk about ‘enough’ fibre in your diet, and many people imagine struggling through mounds of chaff-like grains, and unappetising quantities of beans and vegetables. In reality its easy to maintain a good intake of fibre, and enjoy the benefits. 

The presence of fibre in food enhances your well being in many ways. It helps form soft, bulky stools, which are easier for the intestines to move along and pass out of the body without strain. By slowing down bowel transit time, nutrients like vitamins and minerals have a better chance of being absorbed into the bloodstream. 

The bulkiness of foods that are naturally high in fibre makes them more satisfying, so you don’t have to eat so much to feel full. You’re less likely to snack on high fat, sugary foods if you’re feeling quite satisfied from your last meal.

There’s basically two different kinds of fibre in food; ‘insoluble’ and ‘soluble’. Insoluble fibre passes through the gut mostly unchanged, just absorbing water as it travels along. Humans don’t possess the digestive enzymes to be able to break these tough fibres down, so its main role is to create bulk.

Soluble fibre forms a soft gel-like substance during digestion. This variety of fibre has the ability to slow down the absorption of cholesterol and glucose, so is of particular interest to people interested in managing their cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

You need 25-35g of fibre in your diet every day. The best sources are whole grains such as oats, legumes and fruit.  To check, look at what you ate in the last 24 hours. Did you choose whole grains or white, processed grains? Did you eat at least two pieces of fresh fruit? Your bowels will show you too – a person with adequate fibre intake has large, bulky stools, and daily bowel motions.

It might seem easier to just reach for a fibre supplement, but there’s not much in them beyond fibre. By eating whole foods, you get the benefit of the vitamins and minerals in the food as well. 

Any one of these food choices will supply you with 20% of your minimum daily fibre intake: Four vita brits or weetbix; 50g popcorn; 100g canned baked beans; two large apples; 150g carrots; 50g almonds. 

For example, a diet with a high fibre cereal or baked beans for breakfast, some nuts, three pieces of fresh fruit every day, plus a salad will see you well on the way to an adequate fibre intake.

Remember that drinking water is essential – aim for two litres of pure water every day. 

If you want to improve the amount of fibre in your diet, start slowly and increase gradually over a week or so. A ‘bloated’ feeling or pain may indicate an underlying food intolerance. Increased levels of flatulence may indicate too much bad bacteria in your bowel. If increasing your fibre consumption causes discomfort or pain, you should consult with your health professional.

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Olwen Anderson @olwenanderson


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