Mindfulness and Meditation – What’s in it for me?
written by Doreen Schwegler on March 14, 2017
Mindfulness and meditation is gaining popularity in our schools and healthcare providers due to the numerous benefits to better health. It improves:
Emotional well being – by increasing resilience, reducing stress and improving mood including depression.
Mind and Brain Function – by improving cognitive skills, memory, focus and enhanced problem solving.
Physical well being such as reduced blood pressure and inflammatory conditions, improved immunity and cardiovascular health.
The two main reasons people don’t meditate is they think they don’t have time, and/or that they can’t do it properly. The first excuse is countered by the fact that it you do meditate regularly, you actually get more from your day from an efficiency perspective. You gain more focus and greater productivity due to reduced tension and clearer brain functioning. The second argument is countered by the fact that there is no ‘right’ way to meditate. The idea that meditation is trying to blank out thoughts and ‘control’ your mind is misinformed. The fact that you are allowing your brain to wander and release thoughts and emotions is in itself very therapeutic. It might take months or even years to actually get the holy grail of a ‘quiet mind’.
If you have considered learning to meditate, here are some helpful ideas to get you started.
- Try an ap. There are many free aps available for download on your smart phone. If you’ve never meditated before, I like “One Giant Mind’ or ‘Headspace’. Here are the top meditation aps from 2016: http://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/top-meditation-iphone-android-apps
- Join a meditation class. Look for a local meditation class like Yoga Freedom in Avondale Heights who run regular meditation classes. You may find a ‘Meetup’ group in your local area: https://www.meetup.com/topics/meditation/
- Practice Mindfulness when you walk. Work through each sense – feel the sun on your shoulders , the breeze on your face, your feet moving in your shoes; smell the flowers along the way; hear the birds chirping; focus on the taste in your mouth; watch the patterns the clouds make in the sky and the outline of the trees along your route. The same can be done whilst eating – really focus on chewing your food, tasting the flavours as you eat.
- Most yoga classes have some kind of meditation at the beginning or end.
Practice makes perfect – consider scheduling it into your day so it becomes a habit. Mornings are particularly good time, but any time – when you get home from work, before bed – whatever, so long as it becomes routine.
Good luck and we would be keen to get feedback on your success.
We would love you to visit our ‘All Degrees of Health’ Facebook page and tell us your experiences or tips!
How much does it cost to have a healthy baby naturally?
written by Doreen Schwegler on February 10, 2017
Couples wanting to optimise their health and boost their fertility may be fearful of the expense in seeking the help of a Natural Fertility Specialist. When you compare seeing a Health practitioner who specialises in Natural Fertility Management versus doing an IVF cycle or suffering another miscarriage, having a child with naturopathic support can work out to be significantly better value on many counts. This includes the financial, emotional and physical costs involved in doing assisted techniques, where oftentimes the underlying issues that necessitated doing IVF in the first place been not been addressed.
Doing a thorough Preconception Health Care (PCHC) workup not only increases the likelihood of a natural conception , increased IVF success and a really healthy pregnancy and baby, but helps each partner address their own health challenges like sleep or mood problems, heavy metal overload, hormone imbalance, allergies, excess weight, digestive issues or fatigue. So not only are the eggs and sperm getting the best chance of being as healthy as possible, but the prospective parents often feel healthier and happier, and hopefully improve their chances of being around to kick the footy with their grand kids!
Costs are broadly divided into 3 main things:
- Testing and
Visits usually involve at least 1 hour per partner initially, and currently costs $150 with the Naturopath. Subsequent visits are scheduled according to the cleint’s age, availability and the time frame negotiated. These visits are often covered by extras cover with private health insurance
Testing is broadly grouped into:
- Pathology tests from the GP – often some have been done, and the extra ones required are Medicare rebatable with a supportive GP. Some tests like Vitamin D and zinc need to be paid for privately.
- Optional ‘In house tests’, such as live blood testing ($60), Bio impedance testing to measure fat % and cellular health ($60), urine tests like pH and heavy metal clearance ($5/$15), and oxidative stress testing ($80)
- Optional Functional pathology testing including hair analysis to screen for heavy metals ($120), thorough urinary hormone profiles ($379), and genetic profiling ($434.50). Some of these tests may not be indicated, desired or relevant, but they are available for those who are interested.
Supplements almost always include a comprehensive prenatal multivitamin and omega 3 supplement for both partners, plus any extras as required.
The practitioner-only products we stock are matched with our client’s requirements e.g. we stock eight different prenatal supplements for females, and, for example, if our client has a mutation for the MTHFR gene, her body does not convert the folate to ‘active folate’ very effectively. So taking an across-the-counter product like Elevit could be causing more harm than good, as there is evidence to suggest that the unmetabolised folate could cause problems. Our commonly prescribed prenatal multi costs $23.95 for a month’s supply, and works out even cheaper when purchased in the 90 day size.
The omega 3 supplement is specifically designed for preconception care and pregnancy, containing high dose DHA and mixed tocopherols (Vitamin E) for healthy egg and sperm, and costs $40 for 2 months.
Oftentimes couples consider starting their preconception workup with a ‘Detox’ – see: https://www.metagenics.com.au/About/Detox
Depending on the questionnaire and time required this can cost $70-80 per week per person, and takes between 2 and 6 weeks.
Herbs may be required, and are formulated individually according to your requirements. They cost approximately $26 per week.
Whilst the natural approach may seem expensive at first glimpse, when you consider that your child’s health lasts their lifetime, and your health is one thing that only you have the power to change, I believe you can’t afford NOT doing a thorough preconception workup!
If you would like us to send you a FREE information pack, please email firstname.lastname@example.org your name and address.
6 Golden Rules for Maintaining Healthy Weight
written by Doreen Schwegler on May 31, 2016
If you have achieved your goal weight congratulations!
Now your job is to maintain this healthy weight and continue feeling the benefits of increased energy, self-esteem and be able to fit into those flattering clothes.
These 6 Golden Rules to keep you motivated and informed:
- Understand why you put on the weight in the first place, and eat according to your metabolism.
This involves eating according to your genetic predisposition, eating mostly lean proteins, nuts and seeds, lots of vegetables and unprocessed food in moderation. Treats are enjoyed for special occasions and alcohol in the form of red wine in small amounts a few times a week if tolerated and enjoyed.
2. Find the Compelling reason to stay healthy.
As well as getting relief from uncomfortable digestive symptoms, improving low mood, mental fogginess, poor sleep and reducing cardiovascular risk factors, why would you want to maintain a healthy weight? What is it you want?
– do you have grand kids that you want to be able to kick the footy with?
– are you looking for an ideal partner or want to improve the mojo in your current relationship?
– want to improve your chances of a healthy baby?
– want to be able to go shopping anywhere for clothes?
– or look great in that wedding dress?
Keeping these goals in mind can help you stay on track when temptation strikes!
3. Don’t gain more than 2 kg without resuming your program or getting professional help
It’s much easier to lose 2kg. 5 times than lose 10kg once.
Personalized motivation and support from a specialist who keeps up to date with the latest research can monitor your BMI and fat % and save you time and effort.
Address Weight Gain Drivers: “THINSO”
Toxins: Embark on a yearly or 6 monthly detox program to keep toxins at bay and ensure your environment, cleaning products and personal care products are low in chemical toxins.
Hormones: Ensure optimal thyroid function and hormone balance. If you are a lady suffer from heavy, irregular periods or a man with low sex drive or performance issues, seek professional advice to address the underlying imbalance
Inflammation: Signs of inflammation include digestive disturbances and aches and pains, but sometime there are no symptoms. Levels can be measured with a simple blood test. Inflammation is a ‘driver’ of many health conditions and there is are many natural remedies including omega 3’s exercise (not excessive), herbs like Turmeric and Mediterranean style eating to assist.
Nutrient deficiencies: Vitamin D, iodine, magnesium, zinc and calcium deficiencies can impede weight loss.
Stress: this can increase fat storage by increasing adrenaline and cortisol. Stress management techniques such as meditation, yoga or Tai Chi can be useful; and learning to say “No” effectively and looking after yourself by having enough sleep, water and exercise are good long term strategies to stay healthy.
Oxidative Stress: This lesser known evil can now be measured by our TGA approved CR3000 testing device. Assistance can be given should the levels of “attack” from stressors outweigh your beneficial ‘defences’. Fried and processed foods, as well as toxic overload and nutrient deficiencies can increase our oxidative stress. Eating plenty of vegetables, berries, green tea, small amounts of quality dark chocolate and taking specific antioxidant support can increase our ‘defences’.
4. Maintain a regular and appropriate exercise program
For some people, walking is just not enough. As we age, unless we incorporate some resistance exercise into our life, we can lose muscle mass. Depending on the individual, some people benefit from high intensity interval training, others need to be more focused on weights or pump classes and others need more calming types of gentle resistance exercise like yoga, and some benefit from a combination of all of these. Ideally having your personal Bio-impedance analysis can measure your muscle and fat %s to guide your ideal exercise regime.
5. Dump any negative belief patterns:
Sometime extra weight can offer emotional protection? Some people successfully get to their ideal weight but emotional sabotage will see them regain due to unresolved emotional patterns. Seeing a Counsellor, Hypnotherapist or Kinesiologist may assist here.
We can help you in every step of the way with personalised weight management consultants, Bioimpedence testing, hormone assesments, Kinesiology, Hypnotherapy, testing options and expert supervision.
Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
written by Doreen Schwegler on May 26, 2016
Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) involves an unusually severe sensitivity or allergy-like reaction to numerous pollutants including solvents, Volatile Organic Compound, perfumes, petrol, diesel, smoke, “chemicals” in general. Environmental triggers can include pollen, house dust mites, and pet fur & skin.
There is much debate in the medical fraternity as to whether such a syndrome exists, but it is a very real experience for sufferers, who may have to move away from the city into a low chemical environment until they can recover.
Why does it occur? It is thought to arise after a person detoxification systems is overwhelmed by toxic load. This can take the form of acute exposure (e.g. poisoning by eating heavily contaminated seafood), or chronic low grade exposure such as long term use of personal care items (like make-up and perfume), exposure to work chemicals (paints, solvents and glues), medication use and inhalation of occupational toxins (like dust, carpets chemical out gassing, building materials etc.)
How do you treat MCS?
- Investigate – there are many tests to check liver detox capacity, environmental chemical exposure and oxidative stress levels. Tests include those done in regular labs like liver and kidney function tests, those done in functional labs like Functional Liver Detox profile, Environmental Chemical exposure tests, Hair mineral analysis (to screen for heavy metal exposure), and oxidative stress test using a CR300. Genetic profiling can identify people who are genetically predisposed to not eliminating toxins as effectively as others. Some practitioners use live blood testing to visually assess what is happening in the patient’s blood.
- Avoid – minimise exposure to environmental chemical as much as is feasible. Eat organic foods grown without pesticides, drink purified water and ensure personal care items and cleaning products are free of harmful chemicals. Ensure your environment is supportive (see reference 2 below)
- Detoxify – there are specific programs to gently release chemical burden for the body. Some naturopaths supervise personalised Detox programs and prescribe products to effectively eliminate a client’s toxic burden. Far Infra red saunas may be of benefit.
- Support – counselling and emotional support is essential to give hope and effective resolution for sufferers. Nutritional support to replace required minerals, vitamins and nutrients is essential.
For sufferers, MCS is real entity that can be helped with the right investigations, treatment and support.
- http://sevencanaries.com.au for suppliers and tips on low chemical living
- http://www.buildingbiology.com.au – see 10 tops tips on the front page of this website
- http://www.buildingbiology.com.au/index.php/Biology/healthy-home-healthy-family.html A great book to read by Nicole Biljsma to keep your home and family healthy
- alldegreesofhealth.com.au An Melbourne based Wellness Centre with trained professionals, diagnostic tests, Far Infra red sauna and range of testing options to identify and correct underlying imbalance.
Article by Doreen Schwegler, BApSc (RMIT), DipApSc (SSNT). Doreen is a Functional Medicine Practitioner, Naturopath and Natural Fertility Specialist in Essendon Melbourne
Optimal Fertility Diet – 10 Top Tips
written by Doreen Schwegler on October 20, 2015
This article is based on the well researched book: “The Fertility Diet” by Jorge E. Chavarro, Walter C. Willett, Patrick J.
I have adjusted some of the information to account for food potential food sensitivities, newer information related to genetic variations in folate metabolism , issues with GM foods and lots of experience in helping couples optimise their fertility.
1. Avoid trans fats, the artery-clogging fats found in many commercially prepared products and fast foods.
2. Use more unsaturated vegetable oils, such as cold-pressed olive oil or flaxseed oil.
3. Eat more vegetable protein, like beans and nuts, and less animal protein. If you’re using tofu and tempeh, choose organic brands that are not genetically modified
4. Choose whole grains and other sources of carbohydrate that have lower, slower effects on blood sugar and insulin rather than highly refined carbohydrates that quickly boost blood sugar and insulin.
5. If you are not sensitive to dairy, drink a glass of whole milk or have a small dish of full-fat yogurt every day; temporarily trade in skim milk and low- or no-fat dairy products like cottage cheese and frozen yogurt for their full-fat cousins. This seems counter-productive considering everyone is pushing low fat dairy, but a large study (involving 18,000 women) investigating the dietary impact of food showed a link between low fat dairy and not ovulating and conceiving.
6. Take a multivitamin that contains folic acid and other B vitamins. If you have a variant in the MTHFR gene (and 40% of us do), this means folate is not the best supplement to take, as you don’t process it very well. Instead of folic acid, use activated forms such as folinic acid or methyl folate, or better still, seek the advice of someone well versed in this field.
7. Get plenty of iron from fruits, vegetables, beans, and supplements but not from red meat. I recommend you have your storage iron (ferritin) checked with a pathology test from your local GP, and consider supplementing it is very low (less than 30), or if you are vegetarian.
8. Beverages matter: water is great; coffee, tea, and alcohol are OK in moderation (small amounts of red wine can be beneficial); leave sugared sodas unopened. Herbal teas are great and I suggest no more than one coffee daily, and it can deplete essential nutrients like magnesium and B vitamins.
9. Aim for a healthy weight. If you are overweight, losing between 5 and 10 percent of your weight can jump-start ovulation.
10. If you aren’t physically active, start a daily exercise plan. If you already exercise, pick up the pace of your workouts. But don’t overdo it, especially if you are quite lean—too much exercise can work against conception.