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The truth behind organic vs free range chicken

I recently went on a mission to learn more about the production methods behind  organic chicken compared to free range, because of the common misconception that free range chicken and eggs are the same as organically produced. I believe much of the confusion amongst consumers, around the  term “FREE RANGE” stems from labelling that can infer a product is organic, but to be officially certified organic, a product must display the official logo.

My organic chook expedition lead me to Inglewood Farms in South West Qld and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised to discover their impressive operation was not only aimed at supporting the welfare of the chickens and land through organic, sustainable farming methods, but their organic ‘paddock to plate’ approach aims to provide consumers with the healthiest, organic chicken possible. Inglewood Farm’s chickens have 42% more sheds space, than their free range cousins, whilst having access to consume their natural diet from bugs and worms. Livestock that consume a diet as close to nature as possible, are far superior for our health than that which is tampered with by humans, through the addition of artificial additives, chemicals, hormones or anti-biotics. I also checked out the organic feed used to supplement the chickens diet and I’m happy to report that even this has been nutritionally balanced in order to produce the healthiest, quality chook possible.

To simplify the key differences between free range vs organically reared chickens, I have included the table below to illustrate.

So as you can see although both free range and organically reared chickens see the light of day and feel the dirt under their feet, compared to their caged reared hens, this is where the similarities end.

My big gripe with non-organic chicken, is the fact they are exposed to antibiotics for the purpose of enhancing growth and preventing and treating infection from microbes such as coccidiosis.  As humans we have already overdosed on antibiotics which has lead to the serious and growing phenomenon of antibiotic resistance.  So we don’t need to add further insult to injury by consuming foods that have been exposed to antibiotics.   Chicken is a regular staple for so many,  and is one such food I recommend you always buy organic to avoid exposure to antibiotics, as well as other chemical additives contained in the feed non-organic chickens consume.

But aside from increasing the spread and risk of antibiotic resistance, there is also the impact antibiotic exposure has on our guts! For those of you who have purchased a copy of my e-book Eat Yourself Healthy In 28 days, you will have learnt more about the impact our digestive system has on our overall health.   Damage caused to our intestinal wall through medications such as antibiotics,  has a systemic impact on the function of every cell within our body, primarily because of the pivotal role our intestinal flora (good bacteria ) colonies, play in maintaining our immune, brain and digestive health. My advice when it comes to food, is if you wouldn’t choose to eat or drink chemicals then why eat foods that have been exposed to them? Because as you all know ‘you are what you eat’, which is the most important reason for choosing chemical free organic chicken.

Ill be trying out the Inglewood farms organic chicken next week so I’ll be sure to share the recipe, but in the mean time, here is a link to one of my most popular chicken recipes, perfect for the fresh fig season!

What are your thoughts eating  organic vs free range chicken?  Are you concerned by what goes into your food?

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My Bali Food Trail


I recently took some much needed ‘time out’ to visit my favorite home away from home, Bali. It was my first trip back after I spent nearly 6 months living there in 2011 to make a decent dent on my upcoming book.  Perhaps one of the things that resonates most with me, aside from Bali’s laid back pace of life, is the organic and whole food movement that has really taken off there since my maiden voyage 13 yrs ago. I feel like I am in whole food heaven when I am in Bali and I swear I eat twice as much because the food is so cheap and there is so much fresh organic produce to choose from! But I rarely feel guilty for doing so, because it’s hard to go wrong when you’re eating the right proportions of healthy food.

So for those of you who may be visiting and are on the hunt for some of Bali’s best healthy food haunts, and perhaps a bit of yoga thrown in for good measure, then follow my Bali food n yoga trail below and you won’t go wrong!

When I arrive in Bali I head straight for Canggu, it tends to be less chaotic than Seminyak and has some great cafes, including my all time new favourite, Betelnut located on Batu Bolong, just up from the beach. I ate many a meal here, in fact nearly every breakfast, thanks to being able to maintain my morning ritual with the Green Goddess vege juice. I was also pleasantly surprised to discover they offered the gluten free bread I taught a local Balinese bakery to make from red rice, during my time there in 2011. Apparently it’s become quite a hit and goes beautifully with Betelnut’s ‘big breaky’ of poached eggs, homemade baked beans, avocado and mushrooms or as a gluten free option for any of their burgers.  The laid back Aussie owners  – Justin and Gypsy – are really conscious about using fresh, organic produce in their meals and it really shows in the flavor of their food. Too many Balinese warung’s (cafes) cook with palm oil or worse still, cook with second hand oil from the bigger restaurants to fry their food, so I am really mindful of where I eat when in Bali for this reason. I highly recommend Betelnut’s signature dish, the Betelnut salad pictured below and their fresh lime and lemon grass ‘Cooler’ is a sure fire way to experience immediate relief from the Balinese heat!

Betelnut Salad

If you’re about on a week end, I recommend heading to Deuss Ex Machina for their ‘Sunday Sessions’ where you can kick back on the outdoor lounges and catch some laid back live music and grab a bite to eat.  They also sell a pretty amazing array of artwork in their adjoining store and of course, you can dream about escaping to the open road on one of their uber cool motorbikes, made on site.

Now if your looking for a little wind down time in Bali and want to combine yoga, massage, good clean food, topped off by a swim in a beautiful pool set amongst a tropical oasis, then I suggest you spend a day at Desa Seni. This is where I do yoga when in Canngu and the best part is their pool and café are also open to the public during weekdays.  I also book in for one of the most relaxing Balinese massages you’ll ever experience with Muli at the Desa Seni spa and grab a few acupuncture sessions with Dr Sladek who is the resident acupuncturist hailing all the way from Austria and has over 25 yrs experience. One session with him had me snoring on the table, yes it was a little embarrassing!

Mocktails by the Desa Seni pool

After I’ve had my fill of ocean time in Bali, I head to the mountain town of Ubud.  There is something in the air up there that really forces you to relax when you take a trip into the country side. The area itself is considered to have a strong spiritual energy according to the Balinese, and I have to admit, I tend to agree after some rather ‘bizarre’ experiences while I was living there back in 2011 and before you ask…..NO! There were no magic mushrooms involved!

Ubud is renowned for it’s amazing rice paddy terraces and farms, and if you’re looking to get right amongst it then I recommend heading to Organik Sari.  Set amongst the lush green rice padi’s, this cafe is well worth the 1 km stroll from the bustling Ubud town centre.  Your efforts will be pleasantly rewarded, after you have braved the winding pathway shared by many  a moped to the open sided cafe. They serve a mouth watering array of cold drinks to wet your whistle in the Balinese heat – choose from the Padi Sunrise – lemon, soda water, mint rosella iced tea, or if a smoothie is more your style then I recommend the banana, avocado and mango with fresh mint & cashew nuts. Organik Sari’s food will truly tantalize your taste buds, whilst nourishing your soul thanks to the fresh organically grown ingredients from their very own organic garden. My pick – the house special – Sari salad with organic chicken. You can even choose your own dressing ranging from tahini lemon; Thai w coconut lemon and olive oil or avocado. And the best part is you can eat like a king for just shy of $10! If you’re a gardening enthusiast, you can even pick your own salad and vegetables from their organic garden and have them prepare your own special creation. Sit back and relax, as you sip on your freshly picked coconut and become mesmerized by the tranquility of the surrounding rice padi’s and mountain back drop, peeking through the clouds. But be prepared, as the peace and quiet may be rudely interrupted by the lone rooster perched below.

Sari Salad

Yoga and Ubud are pretty well synonymous, so when in town, I head to the Yoga Barn.  I like to put myself through my own mini spa and yoga retreat by staying near by and after my yoga session, I head to their amazing raw food café ‘Little K’ to refuel. But be warned… their raw food deserts are not to be missed nor over indulged in, as they do use high fructose sweeteners such as dates and agave, so small servings here and there only for these is my advice! The Yoga Barn also has a wonderful Ayurvedic spa named Kush which I love to head to for a traditional Shirodhara massage where  they drizzle the oil over your forehead and massage your crown for the most amazing relaxation and tension release for the nervous system.

I’d love to hear about any of your favourite healthy hangs in Bali so be sure to post any suggestions in the comments section below!

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Tired? Run down…? Could this be why?

If you have been feeling tired and run down lately then perhaps one of the reasons is because you are B12 deficient. B12 belongs to the group of B vitamins, essential for our neurological, immune, reproductive and thyroid function as well as energy production. Deficiency in B12 is very common and often misdiagnosed because the conventional blood test for B12 uses a range that does not assess for functional B12 deficiency.  B-12 deficiency can take years to become clinically evident, meaning deficiency can set in long before acute symptoms appear.

I assess every patient for B 12 deficiency and the majority of those end up being prescribed B12 because they return a far from optimal level. I put the high percentage of low B12 results down to the fact that most of my patients suffer from poor gut function, in particular leaky gut syndrome – a condition where the lining of the intestinal wall has become excessively permeable over the years from a variety of causes, including excess use of antibiotics and other common medications, and poor digestion.  Leaky gut syndrome contributes to poor absorption of nutrients from our food, including B12 which is absorbed through the gut.

B12 is in fact the largest vitamin, making it difficult for the body to absorb.  For this reason B12  is best taken in a sub lingual form – such as a B12 spray along with a multi B complex because B vitamins are what we refer to as synergists, meaning they all work in synergy with each other and supplementing with a single B vitamin in isolation will lead to a deficiency and imbalance in the others.

B12 deficiency is typically common in vegetarians and vegans, as well those who have taken or use use ant-acid medications, type II diabetes drugs such metformin and in people over 60.

Over-diagnosis of B12 deficiency is of little consequence because it is so safe to supplement with, however  undiagnosed B12 deficiency can have very serious impacts on our health , particularly in regard to neurologic damage.

B12 deficiency can cause or is associated with:

  • Neurological disorders
  • Brain fog, memory problems and cognitive degeneration
  • Premature aging
  • Learning disabilities in children
  • Stroke and heart disease
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Cancer
  • Male and female infertility

Dietary sources of B12 include:

B12 is found exclusively in animal foods, such as liver, seafood, eggs, beef, lamb, and cheese which is why so many vegetarian and even more so vegans are at such high risk of B12 deficiency. That said, meat eaters can be just at risk of B12 deficiency due to poor gut function.

So if you are feeling tired and run down and can’t find answers as to why, then my advice is to  have your B12 levels assessed, remembering that conventional lab testing run off very different ranges, so aim to have your level around 6 x’s above the conventionally recognized deficiency level.

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Could the kale craze be making you fat?

If you have been looking for ways to get healthy then you may have jumped on what I term the ‘kale craze bandwagon’ being peddled by a plethora of food coach’s of late, without the technical training to understand the flip side to their recommendations.

Kale is known as a cruciferous vegetable, belonging to the Brassica family, also joined by cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower and bok choy.

Now it’s a fact that the cruciferous family of vegetables are rich in vitamins, soluble fiber and selenium, with potential anticancer properties, thanks to the presence of a recently discovered compound known as Indole-3 carbinol (studies reveal this may influence cancer incidence due to its ability to alter estrogen metabolism), BUT cruciferous vegetables such as kale are also goitrogens, meaning they can induce goiter formation in people with an iodine deficiency, because they contain an enzyme that interferes with the formation of thyroid hormones.

I test every single patient’s iodine level and we are witnessing what I would describe as an epidemic in iodine deficiency, along with suboptimal thyroid function as a result. This is largely due to a poor dietary intake, especially as we are either eating refined salt that contains no iodine, or cutting salt from our diet in fear of clogging our arteries from eating too much sodium.  You can read more about the health effects of salt here. 

By loading up on too much kale by adding it to as many meals as possible from salads,to green juice, kale chips and kale this and kale that, you may be over doing this superfood and impairing your thyroid function. A high intake of cruciferous vegetables can inhibit the incorporation of iodine into thyroid hormone, and also the transfer of iodine into milk by the mammary gland.

Cooking cruciferous vegetables like kale for 30 minutes significantly reduces the amount of goitrogens, making them perfect for slow cooked soups and casseroles vs eating them raw, especially if you have an underactive thyroid.

So the key with this group of anti cancer vegetables is BALANCE. Yes it’s healthy to include this group of super green’s in your diet, BUT do not go overboard and be aware of your OVERALL dietary intake of all the cruciferous vegetables, especially if you have a diagnosed, or even suspected under active thyroid issue and best to cook them than consume them raw.

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