Healthy Living

Is Fish Oil Making You Sick?

Don’t be silly Laura.

Fish oil is anti-inflammatory, prevents cardiovascular disease, reduces arthritic pain, improves brain function,  helps improve skin tone and appearance and is just generally good for you!

Well yes, that is all true. If you’re taking the right fish oil.

Do you get fishy burps after taking your fish oil?

If you do, I have two suggestions for you:

1)      Stop taking it with hot drinks and/or hot food

2)      Chuck it in the bin

It may seem a bit dramatic to tell you to throw away your fish oil supplement but sadly, some fish oil supplements sold in stores are doing you more harm than good.

Rancid fish oil causes disease.

If you get fishy burps after you take your fish oil capsules then chances are, the oil is off. Rancid oils are oxidised (opposite to anti-oxidants) and are very harmful for the body.

One of my reps recently encouraged me to chew one of his companies fish oil capsules. I was hesitant. I really didn’t want to be left with a fishy taste in my mouth all day.. And who wants to see a Naturopath with fish breath?!
He saw me turn up my nose and immediately popped a capsule in his mouth and started chewing. Well, I didn’t want to be a wimp, so I copied. To my amazement I could not taste one iota of fish! In fact I quite enjoyed my fish oil capsule, it was kind of like a lolly! And at no point in the rest of the day did I get any hint of fishy after taste.

The reason I could chew this fish oil capsule so easily is because the oil was clean, pure and fresh. During the manufacturing process it had not been left out in the open air being exposed to oxygen and going rancid.

I always tell my clients, “If there is only one supplement you are going to spend more money on it should be fish oil”. This is not a sales pitch. I’m not salesy at all. In fact, I mostly prescribe liquid fish oil because its a lot cheaper than capsules (and easier to take). This advice is simply because I want to help you improve your health, not make you sicker!

The other problem with bargain basement fish oil is Mercury. Cheap fish oil usually comes from large fish. Large fish are known to retain high levels of heavy metals. Hello toxic fish oil! This is particularly concerning when we are feeding nasty fish oil to kids (often in the form of equally worrisome chewy, coloured fishies). I hate to think that we are filling these little people with such toxic substances.

When you are buying fish oil, read the packaging. It should state on there somewhere that it is from a sustainable source and from small fish.

And for the record; Krill oil is not equivalent to 6 fish oil capsules in 1 (cleverly marketed) capsule. Fish oil is fish oil and no other oil, including krill oil, matches its supreme power.

OK, I got a little bit carried away with my creative writing at the end there. But seriously, don’t believe the hype. Krill oil has been proven to be great for cardiovascular disease. But fish oil has been proven to be amazing for so much more!

Why I follow the 80/20 principle

It's time to set the record straight.

Sometimes people say things to me like "Laura! You're a Naturopath, you can't eat/drink/say/do that!" And it always shocks me when they do, because I feel like I'm pretty open about who I am and what I do. I purposely post photos of coffee, wine, chocolate etc on my Instagram and Facebook pages and I don't pretend to be a fanatical Naturopath.

My policy is that I will never ask a client to do something that I wouldn't be willing to do myself.

I think that's pretty fair.

I look after myself very well. My partner and I cook our meals from scratch, I drink at least 2 litres of water a day, I buy as much organic produce as I can, I eat lots of veggies and fruit and I'm very aware of what foods and drinks my body can't tolerate and I avoid them.

But sometimes I just want to eat malteasers! And sometimes I drink one too many wines and sometimes I eat takeaway. Yes, I am human.

Have you heard of the 80/20 principle?

I haven't always been a Naturopath. I was once a child who loved kingston biscuits, musk lifesavers and rainbow paddle pops. I was once a teenager who went to backyard parties and drank waaaay too many alco-pops, and I was once a twenty-something who spent too many nights at cargo bar drinking QF's and cowboys!

Yes, I'm a reformed sugar addict and binge drinker. And my health did suffer for it.

Now I like to do things in moderation (most of the time). And I like to subscribe to the guideline of 80% for the body and 20% for the soul. This means that while I mostly fill my body with nourishing, nurturing food and beverages, sometimes I'll have a treat.

This principle works really well and I know a lot of Naturopaths and health professionals who also follow this, or similar guidelines. And this is what I expect of my patients.

Having a balance of the foods that love your body and the foods that you love helps you to be happy and healthy in the body and the spirit.

Following the 80/20 rule means that you don't need to feel guilty about having a treat. Give it a go and let me know what you think.

And for the record, when people try to chastise me for having a treat, my usual answer is:

I’m a Naturopath, not a saint.

Is Irritable Bowel Syndrome Getting You Down?

One of the main things I treat in my clinic is the gut. Recently I’ve been seeing a lot of people come in with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) so I thought it was high time I set the record straight about you and that irritable little gut of yours!

Why is your gut so irritated? AKA What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

In my opinion IBS is a shrug the shoulders “I don’t know” condition. This means you’ve had every test under the sun and nothing shows up. You’re not a coeliac, you don’t have crohn’s disease, there’s no diverticulitis, no cancer (thank goodness), nothing showing up in your bloods and nothing that can give you a medically diagnosed condition.

Hurray there’s nothing wrong with you! But something’s still up.
This is when people often receive the “I don’t know” shoulder shrug and “It’s IBS” diagnosis. Which is fine. If we have to put a name on it, Irritable Bowel Syndrome is just as good as any.

What happens next? Are you stuck with IBS for life?

The problem many people encounter once they are told they have IBS is that everything goes quiet. There are no more tests to be done and you’re sent on your merry way with this name for your condition but no solution.

It bothers me that people believe that having IBS is just something they have to live with. “Oh I have IBS which means I get constipated for four days and then have explosive diarrhoea for one day and then I’m normal for a week or two and then I get constipated again.”

Really? You live your life like this and you think it’s normal and OK?

Enter the Naturopath!

Luckily, there are a lot of people who are not willing to settle for a life full of stomach cramps, bloating, running to the toilet and generally feeling crap (pun intended)!
This is when people end up in my clinic saying that I’m their last option and they have heard that a Naturopath had helped a friend of a friend of a friend who had a similar problem. Yep, this is what we do.

How can I help you?

I was explaining what I do to someone the other day and I told them that I think of myself as a “Health Detective”. Pretty corny I know but I actually had to give myself a pat on the back for finally finding the words to explain what I do!

IBS is a condition where the detective work really comes in to play. No two cases are ever the same and it takes a lot of questioning and investigating to get to the bottom of what is causing the problem.

Just as the symptoms can vary dramatically from person to person, so too can the cause. This can range from stress, anxiety and nervousness, to food intolerance’s or an imbalanced diet or it could be that your digestive system isn’t keeping up with its job description and it needs a bit of retraining to remember how to digest and process your food. My job is to work with you to discover what the cause is and then help you to get your body back into balance so that IBS is a distant memory.

What do IBS treatments involve?

Obviously each person will have a different treatment plan based on what is causing their issue. Some of my patients just need to make a small change to their diet and *BOOM* irritable bowel syndrome is a thing of the past. Others need to take herbs to improve their digestive function and others need to start stress management practices like yoga and meditation while I give them herbs to nourish their overactive nervous system.

The key message here is that there is a reason that you have an irritable gut and there is ALWAYS something we can do to calm it down and help it be a bit more friendly and cooperative.

So you have a choice. Live with IBS and deal with the unpleasant symptoms, or join the growing number of enlightened beings and see a Naturopath who can help you on your path to freedom.

If you can't go 100% organic is it worth going organic at all?

Not everyone has easy access to organic food and I often get asked by my clients if it’s worth buying some foods organic and the rest non-organic.

The short answer is:

Yes.

The long answer is:

Organic food, in my opinion, is real food. It has been farmed without the harsh chemicals that are used in conventional farming. These chemicals might be pesticides, fertilisers, weed killers, hormones or antibiotics that if used in the farming process will undoubtedly result in us ingesting those chemicals with the food.

Filling your diet with as many organic foods as possible will lower your exposure to these chemicals, and reducing chemical load on your body has a great impact on your health and wellbeing.

Organic food contains higher levels of nutrients which will help to keep you well and reduce your need to take supplements such as multivitamins and minerals.

Organic food is happy food. This is relevant to vegetarians and carnivores alike. Organic vegetables have been grown in fertile soil, at the proper pace and are usually available seasonally (when they’re fresh). The welfare standard of organic meat is considered to very high plus the animals are not fed waste and genetically modified junk. Generally they are allowed to graze on grass, the way nature intended.

Organic food tastes better. Do the taste test, you’ll see what I mean. If you want strawberries that make your taste buds tingle, apples that taste like an orchard and milk that tastes like your childhood – go organic.

What about the cost? The second most common thing I hear when it comes to organic food is “but it’s so expensive”. My thought on this is that organic food represents the real price of food. Obviously if a carrot has to be left in the ground longer to grow without chemicals, it means that the farmer has a slower rate of production and therefore needs to charge more to cover costs and make a living. I’m cool with that.

Choosing to buy organic is about prioritising your health and quality of food over things like getting your nails done and buying new clothes every week. I choose to spend my money on organic food and to be honest I don’t think the price is that different. Organic fruit and vegetables generally last longer so there is less waste and eating food that makes you healthier means that you potentially will spend less on health care and medications in the future.

So if you’re wondering if you should venture down the organic route when you’re at the supermarket, give it a go! Your meals will be tastier, more satisfying, healthier and fresher and there is no harm in mixing a bit of organic with a bit of conventionally farmed food if that is all that’s available. At the end of the day no matter how your food is farmed, fresh is best and we can just take baby steps from there 

What is a Naturopath?

As a Naturopath, I am a Herbalist and Nutritionist…. With a few extra hidden talents

Every now and then it gets brought to my attention that not everyone knows what a Naturopath is! These are things you forget when you work in the industry!

Each Naturopath is different as we often continue to study throughout our careers to add extra tools to our belts. But generally a Naturopath is someone who works with natural medicines including Herbs, Vitamins, Minerals, Homoeopathics and Flower Essences.

In addition to the above modalities their studies should have included Nutrition, Iridology, Counselling, Pharmacology (to learn about pharmaceutical drugs and how they interact with natural medicine), Anatomy, Chemistry, Biochemistry and courses about symptoms of disease. The older courses, like the one I studied also included body work such as Remedial Massage.

Your Naturopath should have an industry recognised Advanced Diploma or Bachelor level qualification and they should be registered with an association such as ATMS or NHAA. Registration with one of the associations means that their qualifications meet a high standard and it should enable them to provide you with private health fund rebates. It also means that your practitioner is monitored to ensure they keep their knowledge up to date with courses and seminars every year.

As a Naturopath, I believe that it is my role to work alongside other health care practitioners whether that be Acupuncturists, Energetic Healers or GPs. I don’t believe that a one size fits all approach should be taken to health care and I think that every form of healing has its place. Usually its just about finding the right practitioner to suit your needs.

When you are looking for a new practitioner, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Your health is your most important asset and you should feel confident that you have the right person looking after you.

10 reasons to eat Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are likely to help balance blood sugar, improve heart health, reduce inflammation, aid weight loss and improve digestive function. All fantastic reasons to include them in your diet!

I am a little bit obsessed with chia seeds at the moment. I add them to my oat bran of a morning, make puddings, put them in my banana muffins, choc mint brain power bites, smoothies, yoghurt, salads and pretty much anything else I can think of!

Here are 10 reasons why you should add
some chia seeds to your diet:

  1. They are high in fibre which improves digestive function and bulks up the stool to make bowels more regular
  2. Chia seeds contain all 8 of the essential amino acids making them a complete protein. Protein helps with muscle repair, blood sugar balancing and appetite regulation.
  3. They are high in antioxidants so they help to destroy disease causing free radicals.
  4. Chia contains good amounts of lots of essential nutrients including calcium, iron, vitamin c and potassium.
  5. They are mucilaginous which means they secrete a gel like substance that is nice and soothing and healing to the gut – put some chia seeds in a small amount of water and watch it turn to jelly. Now imagine this in your digestive system. So good!!
  6. Can be used to substitute egg. Yep! If you’re allergic to egg you can mix chia seeds with water so it goes all jelly-ish and use that in place of egg in your recipes! To make Chia gel mix 1 part Chia seed with 10 parts water, stir, then let it sit for around 10 minutes
  7. Chia is full of omega 3 ALA fatty acids which are anti-inflammatory and good for cardiovascular health as well as arthritis sufferers. If you’re a vegetarian you can use chia seeds as one of your non-meat or fish sources of omega 3.
  8. Chia slows the digestion of carbohydrates to glucose which provides a slow release of energy to keep you going and going and going.
  9. Chia seeds have been shown to increase HDL cholesterol and lower Triglycerides as well as lower blood pressure all good news for heart health.
  10. Chia seeds are gluten free so can be enjoyed by coeliacs and those with gluten sensitivities.

If you are a naughty person who doesn't drink water, you will need to start if you are going to include chia seeds in your diet. A lack of water may result in constipation due to the high fibre content.

While chia seeds are an amazing superfood to include in your diet to boost overall health and nutrition, if you do have any medical conditions such as diabetes or heart disease, you still need to seek professional medical advice for your condition.

Giveaway - Closed, sorry!

The lovely people at The Chia Cohave given me one prize pack to give away to a lucky Burton Health friend :)

The pack includes:

  • 1 x 150g black Chia
  • 1 x 150g white Chia
  • Sunscreen
  • Jute bag with recipe card

Just head over to the Burton Health Naturopathy Facebook page to enter. You will need to 'Like' our page and comment on the competition picture to tell us how you will use your chia seeds if you win. Winner will be drawn on Monday 26th August. Good Luck xx


A Naturopaths view on coffee

A question that comes up a lot in my clinic is “can I still drink coffee?” or sometimes it can be a statement “Don’t tell me to give up coffee, because I won’t!”.

Coffee is something that ignites passion in
the hearts of many!

So what is the answer when it comes to your cappuccino, latte, macchiato, flat white, espresso etc? My standard answer is pretty much in line with my whole approach to health: everything in moderation.

It’s important to have balance in our lives and our diets and if coffee makes you happy I’d be reluctant to say you can never have it again. Having said that, there may be cases where I suggest that people do cut it out because it is making their condition worse, for example women suffering menopausal hot flushes, or someone with anxiety or migraines.


My general compromise for a person without these conditions is: 1 good quality coffee per day. What do I mean by good quality coffee? Coffee made by running water through ground coffee beans with an espresso machine, plunger etc. Instant coffee is not OK as it is high in a chemical called acrylamide which has been shown to cause nerve damage and some research suggests that it is carcinogenic (cancer causing).

Studies have shown that if you drink 1 cup of coffee daily your concentration improves. However, more than one coffee daily can reduce your ability to absorb nutrients so no more than one is the rule I impose. Personally, I can’t even drink that much. If I start having one coffee every day, after a few weeks I start to get heartburn and what I describe as a livery taste and smell on my breath. So for me, 2-3 per week is my limit.

Coffee really is a substance that can divide opinions because there are good sides to coffee or more specifically caffeine but there are also bad sides and in my opinion, the bad usually comes from over consumption. So let’s break it down to the good and the bad of that delicious black elixir.

Good:

  • As stated above, one cup of coffee per day can help improve concentration and learning.
  • Caffeine extracts are used in a lot of fat burning pills to increase metabolism. Studies suggest that caffeine does help with fat loss if used short term.
  • Contains antioxidants

Bad:

  • Coffee consumption can result in deficiencies of vitamin B1 and other vital nutrients in the body
  • Caffeine has been shown to contribute to insulin resistance therefore has the potential to hinder weight loss.
  • Coffee can exacerbate anxiety, hot flushes, migraines and long term over use can lead to dysfunction of the adrenal gland.
  • Coffee increases blood pressure

Now, you've probably noticed that I've missed one important point from my good list and the main reason why most people tell me they drink coffee; to wake up in the morning. The reason I haven’t added it to the list is because I don’t agree with it. I understand that it feels like coffee is the only thing that gets your brain started in the morning and you just can’t function until you've had a cup but you’re wrong.Caffeine is addictive and this is your addiction talking.

Out of the patients I’ve taken off coffee, whether it’s for a 6 week cleanse or because of a medical condition, 99% of them tell me that they feel better when they’re off coffee, once they’ve made it through the withdrawals of course. Their energy is better and lasts longer, their bowel function becomes more regular, solid and less urgent, their appetite is more balanced and their general feeling of well-being is improved. If you think you’re not addicted, why not stop for 2 weeks and see how you go?

Do you really like the taste of coffee but want to cut out the caffeine? Lots of decaffeinated coffees are made by using chemicals to strip out the caffeine which is not ideal. But you can get decaffeinated coffee that has had the caffeine removed using a Swiss method that is natural (the green beans are immersed in water until there is only 1% caffeine remaining). I recently came across Adelaide company Baristador coffee who make organic coffee in three levels of Swiss decaffeination 70%, 30% and 1% (Decaf). I have been trialing the 1% and 30%. Both are delicious and I have noticed that I am not left feeling dehydrated, jittery or “livery” - this is exciting!

So, you’ve decided your coffee intake is acceptable, you’re not addicted and you’re happy to just have one cup per day. The next question is when is the best time to drink your one cup of coffee per day? I recommend no coffee after midday.

If you are using coffee/caffeine to enhance your performance at the gym then the research points towards drinking coffee before you work out. This is supposed to increase your energy and make you burn more calories. As we know, coffee increases blood pressure as does intensive exercise so I would not recommend this practice for you if you have high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease, please speak to your health care practitioner before using coffee to enhance your work out.

I think, in the morning, with or after breakfast is a pretty reasonable time to have your coffee. On an empty stomach you may find that it makes you jittery so ensure you have something else in your belly. And my number one rule when it comes to drinking coffee – for every cup of coffee you must add an extra glass of water (in addition to your daily requirement) as coffee is dehydrating and must be processed by the body so let’s help it out by flushing the body with pure water to hydrate the cells and aid detoxification.

The info above is my general advice for fit and healthy people. If you have any medical conditions please speak to your Naturopath or health care provider to get a specific answer as to whether you should be drinking coffee or not.

Interview with Steve Davis from Baristador Coffee

1. Why did you decide to start making reduced caffeine coffee?

A few years ago, I went to a naturopath in Adelaide for a general check-up. At the end of the consultation she was telling me she wanted me to abstain from caffeine for six weeks. I knew my head was nodding as she spoke but inside I was shaking my head and thinking, there is no way I'm going to subject myself to vial, decaf coffee.

At that time, I had been perfecting an espresso blend for myself and decided to experiment with a new decaf bean my coffee supplier had obtained. It was much more pleasing than I had experienced previously but it wasn't until I met my current coffee roaster that we were able to extract its full flavour.

With friends 'pestering' me for my blend, I decided to start Baristador Coffee to make it available as a coffee service, rather than a full on coffee conglomerate!

2. What health benefits have you seen since you started drinking Baristador coffee?

I initially found that just going cold turkey from full caffeine coffee to decaf, led to hideous headaches and a really unwell feeling. But as I moved forward with my new health plan in conjunction with my exercise physiologist who encouraged me to move away from my carbohydrate-intense diet towards a more protein-forward diet, I found I 'needed' the caffeine hit less.

In fact, these days I never drink coffee for the caffeine, I drink it for the flavour.

At the same time, I know that fear of the withdrawal symptoms can stop some people from easing off their caffeine reliance, which is why I crafted the 30% less caffeine, 70% less caffeine and decaf options, to make it easier to 'come down'.

3. What is the difference between the decaffeination method of Baristador coffee compared to traditional methods?

A local Naturopath, Phil Sheldon, discussed Baristador Coffee with me on his radio show and was quite impressed by my decision to use a Swiss Water Method decaf coffee. Traditional decaf is made by using chemicals that Phil says are virtually identical to those used in dry cleaning! I couldn't think of anything worse; no wonder that style of decaf tastes awful.

In the Swiss Water Method, the beans are immersed in water releasing some of the oils and the caffeine. The caffeine is naturally removed from the water, and then the beans are resoaked to restore their original flavours before being dried, roasted, etc.

It is worth noting that this natural method does result in some trace elements of caffeine remaining, but I would much prefer that than dry cleaning fluid residue.

4. What is the key to making really good coffee?

This is a personal question, in many ways, because it comes down to your preferences and palate.

Some rules of thumb are:

  • Use fresh coffee. Coffee that has been roasted, ground and stored in an airtight bag with a one-way valve for letting unwanted gases escape, can stay fresh, unopened for quite a few months - around 6 months, in my opinion. However, once opened, I suggest using it in 2-3 weeks at the most. Note that some of the coffee you see in supermarkets has already spent 3-12 months in storage and      transit!
  • Fill your container. Whatever coffee appliance you use, do not skimp on the coffee. Fill the coffee holder to its maximum height. Most appliances and makers have a specific capacity and to reduce the coffee you use can lead to too much      extraction and lead to the coffee becoming bitter.
  • Warm your utensils. It really does make a difference if  you warm cups and makers before making coffee.
  • Store in a cupboard. In a proper bag like we use at Baristador, keeping your coffee in a dark, cool cupboard is perfect. I recommend NOT using a fridge or freezer because the condensation that occurs every time to remove and replace your coffee can spoil your coffee very quickly.

Perhaps the best advice is to point you to my most popular blog post ever: Three reasons why your cup of coffee tastes bitter 

5. Do you have an interesting coffee fact or quote you’d like to share?

Actually, I have a surprising book. It is called, The Various Flavors of Coffee: A Novel, which I picked up on impulse in an op shop. It is an exotic story about a man involved in the beginning of the organised coffee culture in the 1800s. I learned a few things about coffee, blushed during a few scenes and was quite moved in parts. Not what you expected, I'm sure.