Monday, January 31, 2011

Me, Feb Fast, Alcohol & Fertility

This year for the first time, I'm taking part in Feb Fast. I'm not doing this because I need time off alcohol - I'm doing End of Body Summer Cleanse anyway. I am doing this because I see first hand how alcohol can affect the body and most relevant to me and my practice, affects fertility.

Feb Fast is a program run to encourage people to pause, clean their body and raise awareness and money to assist resource centres around Australia. You can read more here.

Alcohol consumption is up there with stress when it comes to being a fertility zapper. We know that by cutting out alcohol, we increase a couples chance of conceiving by up to 50%. We also increase their health at the same time; a huge bonus! This may be more relevant to men, who are often able to drink more than women can. Our recommendation for couples who come into the clinic with fertility in mind, is two standard drinks per week many of us would be guilty of far more than that, especially during a weekend.

Over the month of February I will be writing more about Feb Fast, alcohol, fertility and health. I encourage you to think about taking part - there are so many great reasons to participate both for the individual and for the greater community. I'm on team for Sarah Wilson - her team last year raised over $8K. Top effort that.

If you can’t survive the month - you could always support me here. (hint hint, nudge nudge - I would love that!)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Good Food Friday Treats :: veggie burgers

Each week we get a delivery box of produce from Aussie Farmers Direct. I'm not kidding you when I say I'm like a kid at Christmas when this arrives. I get a present every Wednesday, waiting on my door step for when I get in from work. A box packed full of the best local produce - no stress and for the same price I might pay if I took a trip to the market. Aussie Farmers have introduced an organic range recently - this has completed our little love affair. Check out their website for delivery locations and variety of produce they have on offer. I get the large box of veggies which can last up to 2 weeks (even though I get a weekly order). The quality is second to none.

At the end of each week, I take a look in my fridge and aim to use up most of what is left to make room for the new box of fruit and veg that is eagerly on it's way. This week I whipped up a batch of lip smacking veggie burgers. These were so full of flavour, the mixture saw me eating it out of the bowl! You could add or subtract any veggies from the base mixture - and best of all they are free of gluten - perfect for the weekend BBQ.

Nat's Veggie Burgers

4 peeled potatos
1 cup of peas (I prefer fresh but frozen are ok)
2 grated carrots
8 mushrooms (I used button), chopped
2 diced shallots
1/4 cup basil shredded
1 nob of butter
salt and pepper to taste
Coconut oil to fry

In a steamer, steam potatoes until almost soft. Add peas and cook until both peas and potatoes are very soft.
Mash together peas and potato with a potato masher. Add butter, carrots, mushrooms, shallots, basil, salt and pepper and mix well.
Scoop small handfuls of mixture and work into a patty shape and size of your choice. Repeat until the mixture is finished. Cover and place in the fridge for 30 minutes).
Heat a tsp of Coconut Oil in a fry pan and cook patties in batches.
Serve with Salad or in between bread to make an awesome burger.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

talking fake stuff :: artificial sweeteners

original image here

If you think about it, nothing fake is ever that great. Fake tans are bad. Fake handbags, not so great. Fake chesticles, (aka breasts) very often bad! (although some may argue that one, especially those who enjoy the sport of spectating) I'm yet to come across anything good that is pretending to be something else. At the top of this list of bade fakes is fake sugar - really bad!

Aspartame is horrible stuff. So horrible in fact that it was denied eight times by Food and Drug Administration Department (FDA), before it snuck through a loophole and made it's way into food. If you're scratching your head wondering what I'm talking about - I'm talking fake sugar aka artificial sweetener.

Let's talk about the side effects:

Memory loss, nerve cell damage, migraines, reproductive disorders, mental confusion and brain lesions, blindness, joint pain, Alzheimer's, bloating, nervous system disorders, hair loss, food cravings and surprise surprise, weight gain!

Let's talk ingredients:

Aspartame contains a substance called methyl alcohol which, once ingested turns into a formaldehyde - a deadly neurotoxin. Some sweetners also contain Phenylalanine. Phenylalanine naturally occurs in our brain, however high levels of this can lead to seizures, depression and schizophrenia. It is pretty simple to see there is no way known that any of this stuff is good.

Let's talk weight:

The whole point of fake stuff like this is to combat the weight gain associated with sugar consumption. There has been evidence to suggest that these products actually stimulate appetite and therefore increase food intake. On top of that, there is actually no clear evidence to support the theory that these products are useful in weight reduction. There really is no point is there? You are far better off having the real thing, although in most cases steering clear of high sugar foods is the best option.

I have written about cleansing and keeping your body more alkaline than acidic. Acidic forming foods lead to acidic bodies - resulting in lowered immunity, greater illness and a host of other issues. The upcoming End of Summer Body Cleanse I'm running, is one of the best ways to get your body clean and alkaline - sweeping out all the gunk that has formed over time.

My best suggestion is to stick with real sugar - nature has provided us with some great options. Mayple syrup is my personal pick. It tastes wonderful and in its pure form it is nutritious. Depending on how you are using it, raw cane sugar is also a good choice. It's all a matter of combination and what foods you are putting together.

Base your diet around whole food and you really can't go wrong.

A good thought to have is if it isn't off the land, it is probably isn't very good for your insides. What you put into your body - you can expect out of it.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Nutritious v New-trick-ious.

image here

I've just watched the umpteenth breakfast cereal advertisement selling foodstuffs (I love that word) promoted as highly nutritious, full of this and that, promising you can travel to the moon and back and then some. Well, I have one word for all of this. Fib. From now on I am re-labeling these sorts of products as new-trick-ious.

These ads are fibbing. They are telling Big Fibs!

It's not just limited to breakfast cereals - these advertising tricks are everywhere. Unfortunately we often believe them and who can blame us? The products always look awesome, and why shouldn’t we believe their claims? However these very fibs are making us extremely unhealthy, contributing to poor diet and unhealthy guts. A result of these choices is one that I see every day at the clinic - decreased fertility in men and in women. With this in mind, I want to talk a bit about food choices. Anthelme Brillat-Savarin said, "Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are" (wiki answers told me so) - what a clever man he was! With this at the forefront of my mind, today I am not so good. This hasn’t really been as a result of a fib, but as a result of my breakfast choice.

This morning I went for breakfast to my favourite haunt. They serve the most lip-licking breaky dish my tongue has ever placed it's buds on. I asked for it to be served on the gluten free bread however they had unfortunately run out. I decided to suck it up and order it anyway, choosing to eat just half the bread serve. I thought this would be okay and that my tummy would be fine. I was wrong. I sit here now, bloated and I am actually in pain - with a stretched, tummy gurgling ache.

So here I sit bloated and I am inflamed. I'm gluten inflamed to the max. My little gut is working overtime to try and process the culprit and as a result I am really tired. When this happens as a one off - my body is fine. I cope okay with gluten in dribs and drabs but to include large portions of this at every meal sets my gut into a crazy spasm. If this crazy spasm is maintained every day, body systems just like the reproductive kind, are compromised.

A chain of events occur from the gut, bowel and beyond. Because the bowel and the uterus are innervated by the same nerve supply, if one be placed under strain (requiring more energy) the other misses out. This yin/yang struggle sees the reproductive organs excluded or substantially deprived .This results in a less fertile woman. Fellas - don't think you are exempt here - your fertility also starts with your gut. Healthy sperm rely on all the good stuff taken from your food. It's equally important both parties are eating themselves fertile.

Not everybody reacts to gluten, although I suspect that the majority of us function better with less of it in our diets. We don't all fit the same bill when it comes to what works best in our diets however, when it comes to fertility, in the clinic we suggest that all our patients follow our fertility eating plan. As health professionals we know that the right combination of essential protein, carbohydrate and fat, is one of the best ways to maximise a healthy gut and therefore gain higher fertility. The gut is the pivot point of our health once we get this little baby working properly and many of our health concerns are no longer.

Learn from my lesson, don't be tricked into eating foods that are hindering your health. If you're unsure, ask a professional, read up - and educate yourself. Know what the side of the box really means. New-trick-ious food is everywhere. Be vigilant!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Good Food Friday Treats :: Fruit Salad with Coconut Dressing

Summer fruits are in full swing and I must say I am a massive fan. This time of year the fruit is so wonderful and delicious - my fridge is overflowing with produce. In fact, I had to get a new fridge. The fruit and veg section of the old one collapsed! That's how much I pack in there!

This recipe isn't any ordinary fruit salad. It has a dressing on it which is absolutely delicious. It contains coconut milk which has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine. It is as a remarkable medicinal food used to treat a host of issues including mouth ulcers and works equally well the on gastrointestinal tract to treat any types of ulceration.

This is good enough to add to the table at your next dinner party - your guests will walk away happy and most of all with a healthy belly full!

Fruit Salad with Coconut Dressing

2 blood oranges (orange oranges would be ok too)
1 pineapple
2 kiwi fruit
1 apple
1 banana
175ml unsweetened coconut milk
1 tbsp honey
juice of 1 lemon
seeds from 1 pomegranate
1 tbsp chopped mint

Peel and slice the oranges, pineapple, apple, banana & kiwi fruit and put into a large bowl.
Add coconut milk, honey and lemon and stir well. Taste and add more honey or lemon if desired.
Lastly, place pomegranate seeds and mint on top before serving.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

End of Summer Body Cleanse - Come join me!

May it be known, that these images are taken from hayley at little pinwheels blog, who joined me for the Spring Cleanse. How awesome is this food! How awesome is a good cleanse? VERY awesome.

You all should know by now that I love nothing more than a good, wholesome cleanse. Many of you would be familiar with my Spring Body Cleanse - a program I ran in 2010 on the blog, to help clean out those tummies and to prepare for the warmer months. The response last year was amazing - I was flushed with testimonials singing the cleanse’s praises. One reader wrote to me a very special thanks - she had fallen pregnant and had attributed it to her new healthy ways - post cleanse. Well, I'm back with another - just as awesome as the previous one was, but specifically tailored for now - after too much Christmas turkey.

In the clinic, we encourage patients to cleanse their bodies at appropriate times of the year. The warmer months are ideal to do so, because the body requires less fuel and responds well. Smack bang in the middle of the warmer months are Christmas and New Year - times of major indulgence. With this in mind - now is a perfect time for a little clean out, to get the inner workings back into order for the full on year ahead.

The End of Summer Body Cleanse isn't too different from the Spring cleanse - foods and recipes differ slightly but the main aim of alkalising the body for maximising gut function remains the foundation. If you are interested why don’t you take a peek back at a few of these links.

What do you think? How do you feel? I put the challenge out there - who will join me for the End of Summer Body Cleanse?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Male Fertility :: Are his swimmers up to scratch?

original image

Men are as equally important as women when it comes to fertility - perhaps even more than you think. In the clinic we often treat both partners to achieve maximum results, as we know men make up approximately 60% of the equation when it comes to health and fertility. Quality of semen has decreased by up to 50% in recent years - men are ejaculating half the amount of sperm they were in the past - this may be one reason why we continue to see infertility rates rise. (Andrew Orr, 2010.)

Fortunately, men's reproductive function is usually very easy to treat with Chinese Medicine (CM). Western Medicine often falls short in being able to offer treatment for sperm issues and is increasingly acknowledging need to turn to alternative therapies to assist in treatment.(Medscape -Curr Drug Metab. 2005; 6 (5): 495-501-Mechanisms of male infertility: Role of antioxidants)

There is so much we can offer in the clinic to improve men’s fertility, sperm quality and overall reproductive function. It is important to remember that fertility isn't separate from overall health - so if semen analysis results suggest that your partner’s swimmers are struggling, there is a good chance that there are other areas of his health that would benefit from some treatment - as well as diet and lifestyle changes.

It is important we look at each case individually as there are several elements of sperm that can show up as problematic. Motility, Abnormality and Low Sperm Count are all important aspects that need to be considered. Levels of these may vary between males. This knowledge allows us to make our treatment specific, achieving quicker results. It is imperative that I study each males semen analysis results. Levels of just 14% (of motility, count & morphology) are considered fine by fertility doctors. This figure can certainly be improved, which in turn brings about substantially higher chances of conception, and much healthier sperm. If only 14% are doing what they are supposed to - what are the other 86% doing? Maybe swimming in the wrong direction? It's certainly worth investing into.

Men handle stress differently to women. Stress is a major contributor to fertility, as is poor diet, inadequate exercise, excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, generally poor lifestyle habits and constitutional weakness. Many of us can tick a few of these boxes, and so changes can be quickly seen once these areas are addressed.

As with all good treatments, CM is about making positive long lasting changes without nasty and toxic side effects. Sperm take 120 days to fully regenerate. Whilst this may sound like a long time, the outcome during and beyond this time can be quite remarkable. In any case, from the instant that positive changes are made, the body begins repairing and increased fertility can be certain.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Good Food Friday Eats :: Beetroot & Fetta Salad

image from taste

This is one of my all time favourite Salads - perfect for this weather. I first tasted this at a friends BBQ and year ago - I think I've made it at least 100 times since!

The main ingredient in this beauty is Beetroot. Beetroot is jam packed full of potent antioxidants and minerals. It's awesome for your heart and cardiovascular system, it lowers blood pressure and assists in treating stress as it is high in B vitamins.

Put this on the menu at your next BBQ and watch everybody ask for the recipe!

Baby Beetroot & Fetta Salad

4 baby beetroots trimmed (or a tin is ok too)
1/2 cup persian fetta
1 large handful of rocket leaves
1/4 cup of walnuts
juice of one lemon
1 tsp crushed garlic
3 tbs olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

~ Prepare baby beetroots - in a roasting pan, place 250ml of water add beetroot and place in an oven pre-heated to 180 degrees. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour. Then allow to cool. Once cool slice into wedges (into eights).
~ In a bowl combine beetroot, fetta and rocket.
~ To prepare the dressing, place lemon, garlic, oil, salt and pepper and shake well to combine. You will find the dressing with become thick and almost creamy like.
~ Pour dressing over and toss salad.
~ Sprinkle walnuts over the top and serve immediately.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Floods, fires and beyond.

I had a post all set to flick live this morning on male fertility, but as I sit here watching the news and live coverage of the floods roll in, my heart is telling me it's best left for another day.

I can't quite explain how I'm feeling. I know I'm extremely sad and my heart is broken for our fellow Australians in Queensland. I can't even begin to imagine how they feel. I can compare this situation to times in the clinic where I see couples battling drawn out fertility journeys - I can see their pain and my heart hurts so much for them - but it is not a feeling that I, myself has experienced. I don't want to pretend I know - simply because I feel like that's not fair either.

I do believe in the power of prayer and so, that's what I can do. I can ask. I'm asking for safety of Australians right across the board today and every day, through floods and fires and beyond (lets not forget our neighbours in Western Australia and the fire situation either). Buildings can be rebuilt. Lives cannot. My sincere prayer and hope is that no more lives are lost.

I'm so proud to be Australian. We are an awesome community - one and many, and as we pull through this hard time, I hope that I can be a strength to others that need it. The support I'm seeing on twitter and facebook is nothing short of amazing. My fellow blogger's are pulling out the goods too - here are two of my favorites who write of the reality of the floods:

You can show your support -
Register at The Red Cross to let family and friends know you are safe, donate and keep informed

and finally - as a devout reader of Sarah Wilson - she shared something yesterday which has stayed in the front window of my mind since. "We are at our most lonely and anti-human when we fail to take part in a tragedy." Keep pulling it together Australia - you are awesome.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Are you disposable?

Giving my body the respect it deserves allows me to believe it will look as good as this vintage fridge. It might be old, you can see it's old, but its well looked after and will probably last a very long time.

Over the holidays I had a string of meltdowns. First the fridge died. Then the vacuum called it quits. Finally - and the most devastatingly - my old n' faithful hair straightener decided her time was also up. Whilst I sat wondering what I had done to deserve such a ridiculous (not to mention, costly) string of events, I started thinking that now days, things are made to be disposed of. Long gone are the days of 30 year old fridges and vaccum cleaners that your Nana passed down. Thing's are not made to last. Well... at least, some things. It made me realise that at times, we treat our bodies no different to a disposable fridge. Unlike the fridge - your body is built to last a lifetime as long as we afford it the care it needs.

Potentially if we serviced the fridge, vacuum cleaner and hair straightener – if we oiled their bits and bobs - treating them with the respect these life saving gadgets deserve, they might last longer. Your body could probably do with this same level of care and service. This care would shine through the whites of your eyes and the glisten of your healthy glowing skin.

What I am saying is this - don't treat your body like a vaccum. If it's anything like my vacuum, I put off emptying it's innards for as long as possible, I let it fly around the room behind me like a rally car whilst I suck up yesterday's crumbs, and I have never once considered servicing it. Not ever. What I do realise is that my body needs me to make sure I treat it right. I'm in charge of my decision making brain and my actions.

Don't fall into the trap of thinking your body will withstand repeated bashings and flying around like my vacuum. We all know we can not live forever - but I can bet my bottom dollar that when we treat our bodies with the love and respect they deserve - in the form of healthy living – our bodies will live for a long time and give us many reasons to be grateful. Be kind to your body; feed it well, rest it well and your body system will work well - including those reproductive bits. There is one thing I repeat to my patients - your body is a very smart mechanism. It knows where to direct it's attention to keep your vital organs working. However, your reproductive organs aren't vital. Your body will work without them and if these reproductive parts aren't working well, it's a sure sign that your body is saying 'we can't focus your energy on here right now, so we will simply switch it off.'

A more fertile you, starts with you (and a little help from me).

Friday, January 7, 2011

Good Food Friday Eats :: Pesto Pasta Salad

Martha Goes Green - a vegetarian cookbook, hit our shelves at The Pagoda Tree a month back. Boy has this little gem walked out the door - we have just received our 3rd shipment! Even if your not a vegetarian, you will love this book. The recipes are so delicious, I can't stop sharing them!

My recipe today is straight out of Martha. If you're looking for a gluten free option, substitute the pasta accordingly.


Pesto pasta salad

serves 4

  • 400g penne pasta
  • ½ Tbsp oil
  • ½ red onion, sliced
  • ¾ cup sliced black olives
  • ¾ cup roughly chopped sundried tomatoes
  • ½ cup roughly torn basil leaves
  • 4 Tbsp pesto
  • 2 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted
  • 200g feta cheese (optional)

Cook penne in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente (firm to the bite). Drain pasta and set aside to cool. Heat oil in a small to medium sized pan. Add onion and cook until soft. Remove from heat and add olives, sun dried tomatoes, basil leaves and pesto and stir to combine. In a large bowl toss together cooled pasta, pesto mixture and toasted pine nuts until thoroughly mixed. If desired, serve topped with crumbled feta.


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