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Why are you really taking The Pill?

The oral contraceptive pill was the first drug in history approved for long term use, and today Australian and American women have one of the highest rates of oral contraceptive use in the world.

The most common reason women choose to take The Pill is for contraception, however a growing number of women are prescribed it to treat other conditions such as acne, period pain and pain, commonly associated with Endometriosis and irregular or absent periods, associated with PCOS – poly cystic ovarian syndrome. Yet these symptoms are in fact an indication of underlying hormonal imbalances, for which the pill does not target the cause of & can in fact exacerbate.

Many women are under the misconception that the synthetic hormones in The Pill – oestrogen and progestin – are the same as human hormones, but in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Despite what your doctor may tell you, the pill is not an effective way to balance your hormones. I see many women in my practice who complain of a myriad of side effects experienced both on the pill,  as well as when they stop taking it, that did not exist prior to doing so, or returned with a vengeance. These include cystic acne, weight gain, irregular or painful periods, headaches and migraines and mood swings just to name a few. The reason for these lingering symptoms?…..the long term effects of taking synthetic hormones.

Many folk don’t realise that The Pill also damages the vital intestinal flora colonies ( good bacteria ) that regulate much of our digestive and immune function. A significant reason why so many women develop thrush, bloating and IBS whilst taking it.

Even more alarming, The Pill has been proven to either cause or is linked to, blood clots (causing DVT – Deep Vein Thrombosis), weight gain, reduced libido, depression, abnormal blood cholesterol, insulin resistance, diabetes, Autoimmune disease and cancer, yet doctors continue to prescribe it as a healthy and safe form of contraception for women.

Consider the fact the medical profession are now weary of prescribing synthetic HRT for menopausal women, after links were found to oestrogen dependant cancers, yet The Pill, despite containing similar synthetic hormones is being consumed by women in many cases, for far longer periods than women on HRT in their menopausal years. The Pill was in fact listed as a class one Carcinogen ( cancer causing agent)  by the Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a division of the World Health Organization and researchers at the prestigious Mayo clinic, concluded The Pill increases the chance of breast cancer in young women by 150%.

For those women taking The Pill as a means to regulate or induce an absent period, you may be interested to learn that the bleed you experience on The Pill is not actually a real period, but rather an artificially induced bleed, thanks to the artificial hormones – oestrogen and progestin. So if you suffer from irregular periods or fail to menstruate at all (commonly due to Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome or stress from excess weight loss) and you have been prescribed the oral contraceptive pill to induce a period, this will prove futile in treating the underlying cause of the problem and in many cases exasperate the underlying hormonal imbalance.

The recent introduction of the continuous -dose Pill where women only experience 2-3 bleeds per year is far from a healthy option. I see many women who have opted to take this form of contraception for convenience, because they simply ‘don’t like being put out by their period’. My response ….ask yourself this…..if nature intended us to have 12 menstrual cycles per year, then how unnatural is it for the body not to shed the lining of the endometrium just a few times a year? In this day and age of increasing ‘unexplained infertility’ in women, we need to be doing everything we can to ensure our hormones are naturally and healthily balanced so that when the time comes to conceive, our fertility is intact.

So now you’re probably wondering about alternative healthy contraception options to The Pill ? Well that’s a whole other post, so I will save that for next time, but in the mean time if you are taking The Pill for whatever reason, then at least combine this with taking a quality probiotic formula to maintain healthy gut flora.

I’d also love to hear your thoughts and experiences with taking The Pill, so feel free to post your comments below so your fellow readers can share in your experiences.

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Mango, Macadamia & Snow Pea Salad

 

Summer’s fast approaching and that means mangoes! I have whipped up this delicious salad to spice up your next lunch and the toasted macadamia’s add an amazing flavour with the snow peas and mango. I must admit, I do not eat a lot of fruit, aside from grapefruit, lemons, strawberries, blue berries and raspberries with the odd banana in a protein shake, because I don’t like to over do the fructose (the naturally occuring sugar in fruit) so I go for the lowest sugar fruits. So mangoes are a bit of treat for me and I really enjoy them in a salad here and there. Enjoy!

What you’ll need…

  • 1 ½ cups of peeled snow peas
  • 1 ½ – 2  cups baby spinach leaves
  • ½ a mango cheek – peeled and thinly sliced
  • ½ an avocado thinly sliced
  • ½ cup of roasted macadamia nut halves
  • ¼ cup coriander leaves

How to make…

  • Blanch the peeled snow peas in a little boiling water for 30 – 60 seconds or until still crispy then drain boiling water and transfer snow peas to ice cold water to maintains crispness.
  • Add snow peas, baby spinach, sliced mango and avocado to a mixing bowl and toss to combine.
  • Transfer mix to a salad platter and arrange
  • Top with toasted macadamia nuts and coriander leaves
  • Drizzle dressing over salad when ready to serve and garnish with extra coriander leaves and cracked pepper.

Dressing

  • ¼ – 1/3  cup Cobram Estate olive oil
  • Juice of 1 medium orange
  • Juice of 1 small or half a large lemon
  • 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
  • Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Method

  • Add all ingredients to a screw top jar and shake or to a jug and whisk with a fork.
  • Serves 4 as a side
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Feeling a little bloated? Could this be why?

It appears many of us are suffering from the ‘bloats’ as I like to call it. I’m talking about that most uncomfortable of sensations experienced within our abdomen or gut after eating. Pretty much every patient I treated over the past 13 years suffered bloating to some degree, sadly more often than not.

So is bloating a normal symptom when it comes to digestion and if not what does it indicate?

Bloating is a phenomena associated most commonly with the western diet. The US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, are apparently feeling the pinch from the bloat more so than countries who do not adhere to the common western diet. So why is this happening and how can you stop it? Well the good news is relief is close at hand, providing you follow a few simple tips!

Bloating is most commonly experienced after consuming a meal and for some, almost every meal is followed by bloating, lasting up to a few hours. For others it may be experienced more sporadically, depending on what foods have been consumed. The trick in this case is to pay careful attention to what foods you have eaten when it occurs, so you are more likely to identify the culprit and make an effort to avoid it.

The cause of bloating can be attributed to a variety of factors including:

  • Over eating
  • Poor digestion processes – insufficient production of pancreatic enzymes and hydrochloric acid and sluggish bowel movements
  • Eating foods that we may be ‘intolerant’ or sensitive to, such as gluten containing grains – wheat, rye, oats, barley, kamut and spelt
  • Eating processed foods and artificial additives such as preservatives and flavours, including MSG, artificial sugars and yeast – contained in bread, beer & wine
  • Insufficient intestinal flora colonies – I’ll explain more about this later in the post.

However bloating does not always result from eating ‘unhealthy foods’, but also seemingly healthy foods, such as grains and vegetables can contribute to this issue. When our food is ineffectively digested, it can end up fermenting or ‘rotting’ within our intestine. The fermentation process produces gas, resulting in abdominal distension / bloating and even more embarrassingly…flatulence. So you could say you are literally brewing your own alcohol within your intestine in the case of undigested, fermenting food!

The undigested or ‘rotting’ food also promotes the growth of Candida – a naturally occurring fungus that resides within our intestine. The more Candida growing within our intestine, the less space on the intestinal wall for our good intestinal flora or pro biotics, to inhabit. Inadequate pro biotic or intestinal flora colonies will impact on the function of virtually EVERY cell, within every organ and body system, causing a detrimental effect on our overall health and wellbeing.

In addition to the links with ineffective digestion and bloating, the consumption of foods containing ‘allergens’ – substances which the immune system interprets as being ‘ foreign’, can trigger an inflammatory immune response. This inflammatory immune response can result in a variety of symptoms, including bloating, flatulence, constipation or lose bowels – IBS, sinus, hay fever, headaches, even fatigue and mood changes.

So the real key to eliminating bloating is to avoid foods that our immune system will react to, most commonly gluten, cows diary, yeast, sugar and artificial additives and processed foods as well as to maintain effective digestive function and healthy probiotic colonies within our intestines.

My top tips for eliminating bloating…

  • Avoid foods containing gluten, yeast, sugar and artificial ingredients
  • Chew your food slowly and in a relaxed environment, not on the run, standing or whilst multi-tasking like working at your desk or stressed
  • Avoid drinking water 20mins either side of meals to avoid diluting stomach acids
  • Combine your foods correctly – avoid combining high starch foods such as grains with dense protein foods: eg meat or chicken with potato or rice
  • Avoid over- eating or within 3 hours of going to bed
  • Eat smaller, more regular meals
  • Take a quality digestive enzyme to aid digestion
  • Replenish your intestinal flora colonies with a quality probiotic
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Lunch With Friends…

I am often asked how I overcome the issue of being served food I am intolerant to when eating at friends or social events. Personally this is something I don’t get to uptight about, because I subscribe to the 80:20 ratio when it comes to eating. Meaning if I eat something here and there that is technically not on my list of recommended or tolerated foods, as long as I am not straying more than 10 – 20% of the time, I tend not to experience any negative effects with my digestion ( like bloating or tummy aches) or the auto immune condition I suffer – Hashimoto’s.

Take lunch with my girlfriends Sal and Viv on Sunday, we all brought along a dish and the host Sal, (that’s the other Sal), cooked up a beautiful sweet potatoe and sage pie and spinach and leek quiche. (You can find my gluten free adaptions for the sweet potatoe & sage pie here). They were both an absolute taste sensation and although they contained wheat, cow’s dairy and honey – ingredients I would normally avoid in my day to day eating, I did not get hung up about eating them as I avoid gluten, cow’s dairy and sugar 80 – 90 % of the time. But I did choose to give the crusty bread on offer a swerve , as I knew this would be ‘gluten overload’ for me.

Because I ate gluten, cow’s dairy and sugar on Sunday, I’ll be sure to avoid foods containing these allergens for the next few weeks. I do this to prevent triggering an inflammatory immune response that could ignite symptoms associated with my auto immune, or for others you may experience symptoms associated with IBS, skin conditions, headaches, even depression and anxiety can be exascerbated from eating gluten, sugar and artificial additives in particular.

When it comes to recipes containing wheat, cow’s dairy and sugar, remember you can pretty much always find ingredients to substitute these with. Once you get a handle on working with the gluten and cow’s dairy alternatives, there will be no need to feel like you’re missing out, or that you are some freak of nature when it comes to food and I guarantee your friends won’t know the difference when you serve up some GF, DF and SF recipes!

My final tip regarding eating foods that you are intolerant to – as I mentioned it’s important to avoid the offending food such as gluten or cow’s dairy, for a good 4 weeks after consumption, to completely recover from the impact on your immune and digestive system, although this time frame may vary from each individual, depending on the degree of sensitivity – so test this out for yourself.

I see many folks eating foods they are intolerant to a couple of times a week under the misconception they are ‘avoiding’ it, but in reality this level of intake is too much if you are trying to eliminate the effects food intolerance’s and allergies are having on your health. So be sure to keep a close eye on just how often you are eating high allergenic foods such as gluten and cow’s dairy, as well as sugar, as you may be suprised at just how often these foods are sneaking into your diet!

If you eat what’s right for your body at least 80% of the time, then those social occasions when it is just too hard to pass up on the foods that are not so great, will be less likely to impact on your health, or weight for that matter.

And remember, when it comes to healing from the effects of food intolerance’s and allergies, it is just as important to ‘fix your gut’  in conjunction with avoiding the offending foods. This is because the state and function of your digestive system has a direct impact on your immune system’s reaction to foods likely to trigger intolerances and allergies.

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Sweet potatoe and sage tart

Gluten Free, cane sugar free, vegetarian, Diabetic Friendly, Anti – Candida, medium GI

This delicious recipe comes from my friend Sal, who served it along with a spinach and feta quiche, so I have adapted both these recipes, replacing the cream with sheep’s yogurt and wheat based pastry with gluten free flour. I also swapped the honey for a healthier sweetener – rice syrup because it is fructose free, unlike honey which is 50% fructose. So this recipe has a lower GI and is low allergy for those avoiding gluten and cow’s dairy like me. There is rarely a time you can’t adapt a recipe to be gluten, cow’s dairy and sugar free, and not have to compromise on flavour. All it takes is a little practice and understanding of what ingredients you can substitute in their place.

To make the gluten free pastry you’ll need…

  •  180 g gluten-free self-raising flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon Celtic sea or Himalayan salt
  • 90 g butter, chilled and cut into cubes
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup cold filtered water

How to make…

  • Place the flour, salt and cubed butter into a food processor and process until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. (If you don’t have a food processor, rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips).
  • Mix the egg yolk with the lemon juice and combine with the water.
  • Make a well in the centre of the bowl and pour the egg, water and lemon juice mix into the well and mix with a metal spoon until smooth.
  • Add extra water if necessary to bring the dough together but be careful not to add too much.
  • Knead the dough into a ball, and cover with cling warp and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, preferably 2 hrs before using.
  • Grease a pie dish with virgin coconut or olive or grapeseed oil.
  • Use a rolling pin to roll the pastry on a chopping board, lightly dusted with gluten free flour until it is about 1 cm thick.
  • Lay the rolled pastryover the greased pie dish and press it around the rim of the pie dish and brush with a little water.

For the filling you’ll need…

  • 750 grams sweet potatoes, peeled
  • 1/2 cup plain sheep’s yoghurt (if this is not avilable in your area then A2 yoghurt is a far better choice than standard cow’s milk yoghurt)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 table spoons chopped sage
  • 1 table spoon rice syrup
  • 2 t.sp’s ground cumin
  • 1 t.sp ground nutmeg
  • cracked black pepper to taste

How to make …

  • Cook the peeled and chopped sweet potatoes in a saucepan of boiling water until soft, drain and place in a food processor and blend for around 1 minute.
  • Allow to cool before adding the sheep’s or A2 yogurt and process until smooth.
  • Stir through beaten eggs, sage ( leave a desert spoon aside to garnish the pie at the end), rice syrup, cumin, nutmeg and cracked pepper to taste.
  • Spoon mix into the pastry shell and sprinkle with remaining sage leaves.
  • Bake in a preheated oven at 180 – 200 C for 35 – 45 minutes or until pastry is golden and filling is set.
  • Allow to stand for 5 minutes before cutting.
  • Serves 4- 8 people depending if it is the main dish or a side with a quiche and salad.
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It's not just a healthy diet, but a way of life, so you can feel better than you have ever felt before .
SJ-SIG-II