Thursday, 25 December 2014

Clinic hours During Festive Season

Recharge time (source - creative commons)
Time to recover and recharge is an important part of maintaining health.  

In this busy life it is more difficult to create a work life balance, so we all need to take every chance we can get.

As many businesses and people do at this time of year we have a little slow down, so we can recharge too.

The Be Smart Get Supple clinic will be open on the following days over the festive season:
Saturday December 27th 8:45am - 12:30pm
Wednesday December 31st 1-6pm
Saturday January 3rd  8:45am - 12:30pm
William and Trevor will be available during these times.

Brendon will be on leave from December 25th and Return Monday January 5th
Rodney will be on leave from December 25th and Return Tuesday January 6th
Valerie will be on leave from December 25th and Return Tuesday January 6th 
Core Nutrition Dietitians will return on Tuesday January 6th

We have an answering machine to take messages when the office is closed and one of our friendly reception staff will get back to you as soon as possible.

Please have a safe and relaxing holiday - Enjoy families and friends

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Seven tips to a peaceful Christmas

Image source

Christmas Greetings

Christmas has descended upon us again at lightning speed.

If you are anything like me you don't feel that you are ready and that there is still too much to do before the day comes.

But make sure that you step back and give yourself perspective.  Regardless if you believe Christmas to have a religious meaning or not, it does give us a chance to come together with friends and family and look at the year.  To forgive each other for wrongs, shed grudges, and enjoy time with people who are important to us.

It is a time to think of others and how we are so blessed. Whilst spare some time to share with those less fortunate.

Also spare a thought for those who are going to find this a tough Christmas as they have lost love ones and are still dealing with the pain of that loss.

Some hints to prevent Christmas from consuming you...

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Mental Health Week

Mental Health Week
6th - 12th October 2014

‘Mental health refers to someone’s emotional and social wellbeing.’ as defined by the National Youth Mental Health Foundation

A healthy mind is essential for a healthy and happy life, it enables us to cope with life’s challenges, strive to reach our potential and form positive relationships with those around us.¹

It is recommended that to develop and maintain a healthy mind you should

Credit: magnetas via freeimages
  • Be active: There is significant evidence that exercising is not only good for your physical health but also your mental wellbeing. It is believed that it improves mood by releasing ‘feel good’ chemicals in your brain.²
  • Lower alcohol intake
  • Connect with family and friends: Surround yourself with people that make you happy
  • Challenge your mind
  • Get adequate sleep: For more info and tips click here
  • Practice stress relieving techniques³

Credit: anitapatterson via Everystockphoto
As a parent, we want our children to grow up into happy, social and responsible people, with the ability to rationally deal with life’s challenges. It is now accepted that our early childhood experiences have a lasting impact on us. While there are many factors that contribute to mental health, as care givers there are some things we can do to support our children’s mental health for now and in the future.

  • Develop supportive relationships with the adults in your child’s life, such as family, friends and early childhood workers.
  • Help your child to understand and manage their feelings. Talking about how they feel and showing that their feelings are understood and respected can help them develop coping skills for later in life
  • Provide support, encouragement and reassurance to help your child cope with challenges.4
  • Let your child know that you love them just as they are, this helps build self confidence and a feeling of security.5

What is mental illness?
Mental illness is an umbrella term used for a large number of different mental health problems, generally affecting a person’s memory, thoughts, feelings, actions and how they interact with others. Mental illness can affect people from all different backgrounds, age groups and gender.
Often the exact cause of the mental illness is unknown but generally it is a result of a combination of physical, mental, social and environmental factors.

Some of these contributing factors may include
  • Stress
  • Biological factors, eg. genetics and hormones
  • Use of drugs and alcohol
  • Low self esteem and/or negative thought patterns
  • Social factors such as abuse, isolation, family breakdowns or financial problems6

In South Australia, 1 in 5 people are suffering from a mental illness, with depression and anxiety disorders being the most prevalent.
We touched on depression during Men’s Health Week (don’t worry ladies this info is also useful for you too!) so click here to find out more.

Credit: click via Everystockphoto
Stress and Anxiety
Feelings of stress and anxiety are a part of everyday life and in small amounts it is actually useful, for example it can act as a motivator, help you avoid dangerous situations and solve problems.7

BUT for some these feelings can become long lasting, excessive and extremely distressing to the point where they can interfere with persons relationships, work, general happiness and enjoyment of life.

The Natural Stress Response  
When we encounter a stressor or something that we view as a threat there is a series of physiological reactions which occur. It starts with a small area of the brain (the hypothalamus) being activated. This initiates the release of hormones, particularly adrenaline and cortisol from the adrenal glands. Adrenaline is responsible for increasing your heart rate, blood pressure and energy supplies, while cortisol increases glucose supply in the blood and the brain’s use of this sugar. Cortisol also weakens other body functions such as immunity, digestion, reproduction and growth so that more resources are available to fight-or-flight the perceived threat.  This much of why long term unmanaged stress can lead to:
  • Frequent illnesses
  • Poor digestion
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Infertility issues
  • Degenerative diseases
  • Poor healing of injuries
Ideally this stress response is usually self regulating, once a threat has passed the adrenaline and cortisol levels return to normal and the other functions resume their activities.

However, if this response is activated over an extended period of time, resulting in the over-exposure to the stress hormones you are at significant risk of anxiety as well as other physical and mental health problems.8

Anxiety is a completely individual experience, meaning it affects everyone differently. Some common symptoms include
  • Racing heart
  • Butterflies in the stomach
  • Obsessive thinking, worry and behaviour
  • Digestive disturbances
  • Wobbly legs
  • Sleeplessness

Remember these feelings are in the right amount at the right time are natural and healthy UNLESS they prevent you from functioning in your daily life.9

The exact causes of anxiety are not fully understood but as previously mentioned it is often a combination of factors that lead to the development of anxiety.

Some factors that increase people’s chance of suffering from an anxiety disorder include
  • Family history of mental health issues
  • Stressful events
  • Health problems: Ongoing illness may trigger anxiety.
  • Personality factors: It is believed that people with particular traits, such as perfectionism, nervousness and low self-esteem, may  be more likely to suffer from this disorder   
 It is important to recognise that everyone is different and what one person finds distressing another can manage quite easily. Sometimes the causes cannot be identified, however it is essential that you recognise the signs and seek help immediately.    

What can you do to help minimise your worries?
Unfortunately, for many of us those anxious tendencies will be with us long term but there are a number of management strategies to help you cope so that it no longer interferes with your life.

E-Therapies: There are many online websites that offer free help and support for those suffering from anxiety. These therapies have been shown to be as effective as traditional face to face support. The aim of many of these services is to educate people on identifying and adjusting their thoughts and behavior patterns that may be contributing to their anxiety.10 
  • The BRAVE Program: They have 2 programs designed for anxiety in children or teenagers. They have also designed resources and information for parents so that you can best support your kids in managing their anxiety.
  • MindSpot: This is a program to assess and treat anxiety and depression in people over 18 years. Clinical trials of this program, run through Macquarie University, found that 95% of participants report that they would refer a friend to this online service.

Credit: dcarson924 via Everystockphoto
Massage: When we are worried and stressed our body tends to build up tension in the muscles, massage can help release this tension. If you are feeling sensitive and irritable massage can help stimulate the relaxation response by soothing the nervous system.

Acupuncture: The aim of acupuncture treatment is to return the body to a state of balance. To help combat anxiety it does this by activating the relaxation response in the body and by deactivating the analytical part of the brain, which is responsible for anxiety and worry. Acupuncture also helps reverse some of the changes that occur in the body as a result of stress.11                   

Research has shown that acupuncture has the ability to reduce stress as it regulates the hormonal response of stress. Regulating the hormones during stress, helps to maintain the balance within the body.12 Put simply it helps the body reduce the stress chemicals and increase the ‘happy’ hormones.

Gut Health: There is accumulating evidence that the health of your gut may influence your psychological health. Research has discovered that anxiety and other mood disorders may be a consequence of chronic inflammation in the body with the gastrointestinal tract significantly contributing to this inflammation. Improving the integrity and flora balance within the gut will help minimise the inflammatory response which can help alleviate symptoms of anxiety. Gut health can be improved through dietary modification and supplementation. Core Nutrition are university trained Dietitians that can help minimise and control your anxiety through appropriate and individualised nutritional advice.13

If you are feeling anxious, constantly stressed or have been diagnosed with a mental illness, call us on 8346 3495 to book an appointment.

  1. Mental Health Commission (2010). What is mental health?
  1. Mental Health Foundation (n.d.). Exercise and mental health
  1. SA Health (2012). Healthy mind
  1. KidsMatter (n.d.) Promoting mental health in early childhood
  1. SA Kids (2014). All you need is love. SA Kids Parenting Magazine January/February 2014, Free Run Press, pp.12-15
  2. Mental Health Commission (2010). What is mental health?
  1. Good Health (2014).  Health handbook: Anxiety. May 2014, p.p 86-87
  2. Mayo Clinic (2013). Chronic stress puts your health at risk
  1. Jean Hailes For Women’s Health (2014). Anxiety, vol 1, p.p 2-5
  2. Good Health (2014).  Health handbook: Anxiety. May 2014, p.p 86-87
  3. Good Health (2014). Therapies for a happier life. May 2014, p 113n    
  4. Health CMI (2014). Test reveals acupuncture controls hormones to reduce stress
  1. Metagenics (2014). Happiness begins in the gut. Update, April/May 2014, p.p.16-17

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Boost your chance of a successful pregnancy - Fertility week

Fertility Week
1st-7th September 2014
Image Credit: Every Stock Photo

The decision to start a family is both an exciting and scary time. It is important that you ensure that you and your partner’s health is at it’s best for a healthy bundle of joy.  After all it is not just about having a baby, but rather creating the best possible starting point you can.

Preconception Health

When deciding to start a family it is important to consider the health of yourself and your partner, as this will directly affect your ability to conceive and the health of your baby. Most of these health factors are lifestyle related so you are able to make small changes to improve your wellbeing. Couples should start their pre-conception health at least 3 months prior to trying to conceive.  If there are existing health concerns or long term poor lifestyle it may be important to start earlier. This is especially important for the male as sperm takes around 72 days to produce and mature.
Typically these changes should continue throughout pregnancy and when breast feeding, or longer term for reducing your own risks of other diseases.

Clean, Drink, Face, Female, Fitness, Girl, Glass
Some general lifestyle factors that can help improve your chances of conceiving include:
  • Eat a well balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Drink a minimum of 2L of water per day
  • Avoid strong chemicals that reduce fertility such as Alcohol, caffeine and tobacco.
  • Exercise regularly
  • Maintain a healthy weight

Nuts, Vegetables, Fruits, Plants, Flora
Image credit: publicdomainimnages
What should you be eating?
It is a great opportunity to ensure that you are eating a well balanced diet, based on vegetables, fruit, legumes, whole grains, fish, red meat, poultry and dairy. Whilst minimising your intake of refined and highly processed foods. This will help ensure you acquire all the nutrients essential for optimal fertility. Sometimes it can be difficult to know how to incorporate these foods into our daily life, particularly when food intolerances or allergies are present.¹ The dietitians at Core Nutrition can help you ensure that you and your partners diet is optimal to encourage conception.

Women’s Pre-Conception Health
  • Folate: When deciding to start a family, it is recommended that  women begin taking a folate (A.K.A folic acid) supplement, under the guidance of your health care professional. It is a B-group vitamin that is essential for the early development of your baby’s nervous system. While folate can be found naturally in some foods, such as cereals, green leafy vegetables, legumes and fruit, it is very difficult to ensure that the recommended dietary intake of folate (400mcg) is consumed. This is because the way in which food is stored, prepared and cooked affects the level of folate available for your body.²  
  • If you are having issues conceiving it might be that your body can’t use folate properly. Many people do not have a the right enzymes (MTHFR) to utilise folate to the fullest and may require activated folate (folinic acid) to significantly improve their chances.  Some good quality supplements (such as Biomedica Natal Care) include this already, whilst many of the common supplements do not offer any support in this area. Many dietitians and specialists are not familiar with the extent of impact that this problem can have, so it is important to see someone who knows.  The Dietitians from Core Nutrition have a deep understanding of the body wide issues that a problem with this enzyme can cause.

Did you know?
Recently it has been found that men trying to start a family should ensure they have adequate consumption of folate as it has been found to  improve the rate of conception and most importantly the health of their baby. Animal studies have shown that male folate consumption increases pregnancy rates by 32%.³

  •  Iodine: During preconception and pregnancy it is recommended that 220mcg of iodine is consumed. Iodine is a mineral that is vital for the healthy development of your fetus, it helps to prevent intellectual disability as well as affecting their hearing and motor development. It can be found naturally in seafood (ensure it is low mercury), eggs and seaweed as well as some vegetables grown in iodine-rich soil. If your intake is inadequate a supplement can be taken, under the guidance of your health care professional.⁴

Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM): Up to 12 months prior to pregnancy, TCM can help prepare the body to and improve ability to conceive and carry the baby to full term by promoting optimal gynaecological health.⁵

Men’s Pre-Conception Health
Although it is often left up to the women in the partnership to worry about conception and pregnancy, the active improvements in males makes a huge difference to the overall success of the conception preparation.

Aside from the general lifestyle improvements above here are just a few other suggestions that are more specific for the guys (well - partly):

Walnut, Hazelnut, Nut Shell
Image Credit: fotometin
  • Walnuts: Eating two handfuls of walnuts per day has been shown to improve the health of sperm because they contain nutrients that are critical for sperm development and function. Interestingly, folate is one of those nutrients.⁶
  • Antioxidants: Vitamin C, E and Coenzyme Q10 has been found to improve the concentration and motility of sperm in infertile men. Remember before starting any supplements you need to speak with your healthcare professional first.⁷
  • Keep your genitals cool: Avoid saunas, spas and using your laptop on your lap, creating heat in this area can lower sperm count.⁸
  • Relaxation and stress management help as reducing stress chemicals improves the regulation of the reproductive system, and improve sperm health.
  • Something really important that is often missed is that even if you don’t conceive right away enjoy the practice.  In our busy lives make sure there is time for sex in the relationship not just to get it out of the way when you are both tired at the end of a busy day. Make time to enjoy sex at times where you rested and fresh. Take time to understand and fulfil each others needs in this area and enjoy the intimacy.  After all you can’t hope to conceive naturally without it.

Having trouble conceiving? You’re not alone, 1 in 6 Australian couples suffer from infertility issues.⁹ A recent study has shown that 46.2% of women surveyed (aged 36 to 40) had successfully used Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to conceive.¹ยบ

What is infertility?
Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive after trying for a year or an inability to reach full term in pregnancy. It is important to note that infertility affects both men and women. This can be a very traumatic and upsetting revelation but there is hope, with a variety of treatments that can successfully help couples conceive.

Acupuncture and Infertility
Research has found that acupuncture can help with fertility issues as it assists in the regulation of hormones and normalises endocrine secretions. The use of electro-acupuncture as well as Traditional Acupuncture methods are believed to significantly improve the levels of regulatory substances found in the blood, directly resulting in the improvement of the structure of the ovaries in women.¹¹

Not only can acupuncture be useful to treat women’s infertility but studies have also shown that acupuncture can help improve the motility and structure of the sperm as well as the quantity, increasing the likelihood of fertilisation occurring.¹²

Assisted Conception and Acupuncture
Often lifestyle changes and health improvements are all that is needed to help get the body back into balance and improve fertility.  Sometimes becoming a parent requires more outside help. Fortunately with advances in reproductive technology there is hope for couples who may be infertile. One of the most common and complex fertility service is IVF.

In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) is the technique of pharmaceutically stimulating a woman's ovaries, surgically collecting the eggs, fertilising them with sperm and then placing them back into the uterus. This hopefully results in a successful pregnancy. It doesn’t have the best success rate alone being less than 30% in Australian  30 year olds and decreasing considerably as the age increases.13

IVF is not a simple process and often can be quite challenging due to a strict regime and strong drugs involved. Many participants find it can be a stressful and emotional time, with the addition of strong hormonal drugs amplifying these emotions.

Fortunately using some of the above lifestyle improvements along with Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture can significantly improve the outcomes and make for a more smooth process.

It is well documented that Acupuncture and TCM is highly effective for increasing the chance of a positive pregnancy outcome when combined with other medical fertility treatments, such as IVF.³

Each person will have individual requirements, however it is often suggested that weekly acupuncture appointments are started at least one month prior to the embryo transfer and one or two sessions (if possible) on the day of the transfer.14

Studies have found that acupuncture during assisted reproduction, increases the success rate of implantation and increases the pregnancy rate. They have also found that it reduces perceived stress and anxiety levels and those women who have acupuncture tend to report better health.15

If you are trying to conceive naturally or using medical treatments, please call us on 8346 3495 to make your TCM appointment with Brendon Supple or dietary advice with Core Nutrition and increase your chance of success.

1. Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond (n.d.)
2. State Government of Victoria (2014). Folate for women
3. Metagenics Update (2014). Sperm need folate to win the race, p.6  
4. State Government of Victoria (2014). Iodine
5. Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond (n.d.)
6. Good Health (2014). Incredible edibles, p.68
7. Kobori Y, Ota S, Sato R et al (2014). Antioxidant cosupplementation therapy with vitamin C, vitamin E and coenzyme Q10 in patients with oligoasthernoszoospermia. Arch Ital Urol Androl, 86 (1):1-4
8. American Pregnancy Association (2012). Preconception health for men
9. The Fertility Society of Australia (2014).
10. South China Morning Post (2013). 1 in 3 success rate for fertility herbs
11. AACMA (2014). Acupuncture regulates sex hormones in PCOS. Health CMI
12. The Acupuncture IVF Support Clinic (2014). Research and reviews: Acupuncture and Sperm
14. Repromed (n.d). Complementary therapy
15. The Acupuncture IVF Support Clinic (2014). Research and reviews: Acupuncture and Sperm

Images used under the creative commons licence