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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Is bloating getting you down?

Bloating is a very common complaint, and one that I see in my clinic very often.

It's also a reason why people seek an allergy or intolerance test.  If you find out which food is causing the bloating, you can stop eating it and all will be OK, right?  Not necessarily.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thoughts turning into chemicals

The body, and especially the brain, is a completely amazing thing.  This thought is never far from me, but I was reminded of it particularly yesterday whilst at a lecture, when the lecturer stated that 'thoughts and feelings are converted into chemicals in the body'.

At first this statement may sound far-fetched; it is often difficult to quantify thoughts and feelings, and to think that they turn into chemicals can be hard to believe.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Note About Cancellations

Just a quick note about cancelling or postponing your appointment.

If you need to change your appointment, please, please, please try to give me at least 24 hours notice.  If you change your appointment with less than 24hrs notice, I will charge you a cancellation fee.  It's not something I like doing, but I am running a business and I lose money when clients cancel their appointments with short notice, so I have no choice.

I understand that there can sometimes be urgent, unforeseeable circumstances that prevent you from attending your session, and when this is the case please do speak to me.  I am a reasonable person!  I will often waive the cancellation fee if you can re-book and attend another appointment within the week, and in certain situations I won't charge you at all.  But the key thing is to let me know what's happening.

Thank you.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Have you had your flu vaccine yet?

I've written about flu vaccines before.  And I'm going to do it again.

Because of the nature of my work, I subscribe to various blogs and news alerts related to natural health.  Lots of what I've been seeing recently has been anti-vaccine.  Most dissenting voices claim that vaccines are not as effective at preventing disease as most people believe they are.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Why Closing Your Eyes is Good for You

Melatonin is a hormone released by a tiny gland in the brain called the pineal gland.  If you've heard of it, it's probably in relation to sleep problems, jet lag and circadian rhythms.  Indeed, melatonin does help to induce the sleep cycle; it is produced by the pineal gland in the absence of light stimulation (ie. in the dark!) which is why humans generally find it easier to go to sleep in dark rooms.

But it's not just sleep that melatonin is involved in, it has a range of other beneficial actions in the body.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Denmark's 'Fat Tax'

In the news this week, we have heard that Denmark is the first country to introduce a fax on foods containing more than 2.3% saturated fat.  This includes things like butter, oil, cheese and some meats.

The aim of the tax is to change the behaviour of the Danish people, prompting them to choose foods which contain lower levels of saturated, and will therefore be better for them.

I am not an expert in public health policy like this, but I can see so many flaws with this approach.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Autumn allergies

Summer is traditionally thought of as the season of allergies - people allergic to pollen can suffer with miserable symptoms at this time.  But allergies can be due to some surprising things that affect us all year round!  Since my last newsletter there has been a huge surge in requests for allergy tests and I have been seeing some very enlightening results.

Of particular interest to me are the results that show a person having a reaction to a food that they considered to be very healthy; I've seen things like rice, broccoli and leeks come up in a test.  In these cases the people had always believed a particular food was healthy, but in reality it wasn't actually that good for them.

Not only can we test for pollens and foods, but also animal fur, dust mites, food additives, antibiotics and analgesics.

If you want to know more, have a look at my website or drop me a line.  And don't forget that if you have private health insurance, your policy may cover for these allergy tests.

Don't make me laugh

I saw a piece on the news this week about laughter yoga.  I’ve heard about it before and I’m actually dying to try it!  To some people it might look a bit silly, but those who have tried it attest to its wonderful benefits, and the fantastic feeling it gives you.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Allergy Testing from wherever you are!

If you are looking for a reliable, accurate and scientific allergy test, I work with one of Europe's leading diagnostic laboratories who offer a whole range of allergy testing.

The method used is blood testing, and you can get a blood sample taken by your Practice Nurse or a local clinic which is then sent back to the laboratory for analysis.

The results are then sent to me, and I am now offering results consultations over the phone which are free of charge.  So if you are not local to my London clinic, you can still access my allergy testing services.

Please contact me for more information.

Candida Part II

Following on from my previous post about Candida, I thought I'd follow up with some more of my thoughts on this common condition.

Candida can't be blamed solely on antibiotic use, or a sugary diet, because many people have had lots of antibiotics in their lives without any adverse effects or traces of Candida.  So what makes individuals susceptible to systemic yeast infection?  Why does it happen to one person but not another?

I think stress plays a huge part.  Stressed individuals, in general, are not in as robust health as people who are relaxed and carefree.  They can't be.  If the body is busy pumping out stress hormones, and keeping itself in an almost permanent state of fight or flight, it can't get on with the housekeeping duties of staying healthy.  Stress can also suppress the immune system, which is an important factor in the progression of Candida.

And 'stress' covers a whole spectrum of situations; worrying, anxiety, fear, depression, oppression, misery are all stressful conditions that affect the body.

So if you think you have some of the symptoms of Candida, as well as nutritional intervention, addressing the stress is equally important.  Have you ever tried meditation?  It's something I recommend quite frequently...

Resting your mind is as important as resting your body

Keyed up?
Highly strung?
A worrier?
Always 'on the go'?

I am starting to understand that these feelings underlie most health problems.  When I speak to a new client, and we discuss what kind of symptoms are bothering them, it nearly always turns out that they would describe themselves as 'a worrier', or sometimes people are very aware that generalised anxiety is a part of their daily life. Or often a stressful job is cited as the cause of daily anguish.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Candida (or yeast overgrowth)

The condition known as Candida is something that those in alternative medicine circles are very familiar with.  ‘Candida’ refers to an overgrowth of yeast in the body (Candida albicans is the name of the species of yeast), which causes some very unpleasant symptoms.

Everyone has some yeasts in their digestive systems, but when you don’t have enough good bacteria to keep the growth of the yeast under control, it can grow to levels which start to cause symptoms.  One of the most common symptoms is bloating; yeasts have the ability to ferment sugars, a reaction which produces gas, and consequently bloating and flatulence.  Other symptoms of yeast overgrowth are thrush, athlete’s foot, rashes, foggy headedness, depression, lack of energy, diarrhoea, constipation, the list goes on.  These are symptoms alternative medical practitioners see regularly in their clinics (myself included). 

Candida is often linked to antibiotic use because antibiotics can reduce the levels of beneficial bacteria in your digestive system, which then leaves the door open for yeasts to multiply. 

The usual treatment for candida involves an impossibly strict dietary regime, coupled with nutritional supplements to help bring the body back to health.  The main feature of the ‘impossibly strict diet’ is the complete avoidance of sugar in all forms. 

My colleagues and I are all taught the anti-Candida diet during training, and I have used it in the past and when it works, it works really well.  But throughout my years in practice, I have met many people for who the diet does not work.  I have met several people who have been on the diet for a year or more, and are still not feeling better.  Now, my rule when it comes to food and diets is ‘only avoid certains foods if it makes you feel MUCH better’, otherwise it’s just not worth it.  What’s the point of following a diet that a) is stressful, and b) is not making you feel better?  And in fact, I have seen research that sugar in the diet doesn’t actually increase the population of candida anyway!

Over the years my approach has evolved to focus more clearly on supporting the body with real foods, rather than excluding them.  I also teach intuitive eating principles, which help my clients to break free from using rules to choose their foods, and to trust their instincts more.  I believe this is one of the best methods to nourish the body optimally.  Supporting the immune system is really important when faced with Candida symptoms; after all, the only reason that its there in the first place is because theres been a breakdown of the body’s own defences, so rebuliding them is key.  Probiotics (‘friendly bacteria’) are usually the mainstay of any nutritional treatment programme.

Kinesiology is useful to work alongside nutritional therapy; it works on the subtle energy system in the body and facilitates healing on a different level.

So if you, or someone you know, think they have Candida, please don’t go to the internet and put yourself on an extreme diet.  I think the body responds best to gentle support, rather than harsh deprivation.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

How do you choose what to eat?

I really like the Beyond Chocolate Principle ‘Eat Whatever you Want’ because it can be very liberating to choose whatever takes your fancy, and not be shackled to a particular eating plan or diet.  It allows us to be responsible for what we put into our bodies, rather than relying on what someone else tells us to eat.  But it can be quite terrifying for some people, who worry that if they only ate whatever they wanted, they’d live on a diet of chocolate, chips, crisps and cakes and balloon to the size of a house, with cholesterol levels going through the roof. 

In reality, this doesn’t really happen because you probably wouldn’t feel that great if you didn’t eat anything green or crunchy at all, and would be hankering for a salad or some steamed vegetables after a while.
But it can be difficult to decipher exactly what it is that your body wants to eat at any given time.  It can take practise to tune in to find out what would feel most nourishing, satisfying and tasty.

In a recent newsletter from Geneen Roth, she talks about how sometimes we can get confused about what we really want to eat, and describes food as falling into two classes; food can either be a ‘beckoner’ or a ‘hummer’.  Hummer foods are foods that hum to you as you are driving home from work, or as you are thinking about what to cook for dinner during the day.  They are foods that you might have been thinking about for a while, foods that you really fancy eating.  Foods that you plan to eat because that’s what you really want.

Beckoners, however, are foods that hadn’t even crossed your mind until you saw them.  They can pounce on you.  For example, the cakes that someone brings into the office that all of a sudden seem very attractive, even if you’ve just eaten lunch and hadn’t been thinking about cake at all.  Beckoners can strike at any time, and can be quite powerful.  And their influence can over-ride even a very powerful desire for a hummer food.

What’s the magic solution to stop succumbing to the lure of beckoners?  There’s never magic involved, and there’s rarely a quick fix.  The first thing to do, as with any aspect of your relationship with food, is to notice what’s happening.  Can you tell the difference between a beckoner and a hummer?  How often do the beckoners strike?  Does a beckoner food take the place of a hummer food that you’d been planning to eat?  How do you feel after you’ve eaten the beckoner food?

Once you start to explore your relationship with these foods, you will probably learn a lot more about what it is that your body really wants to eat, and how powerful outside influences can be in deciding what to eat.

Take it slowly, and listen to your body.

For more on this, you can read Geneen’s full article here.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Why I don't ask my clients to fill in a questionnaire

When a new client makes an appointment to come and see me, they often ask if they need to fill in a questionnaire before they come.  This is a very valid question as lots of practitioners require their clients to fill in a form about their health before they come to the session, so that the practitioner can see at a glance what the main issues are.  This can save time.

I much prefer to get the information I need about my clients by asking them.  For me, looking at a questionnaire is very dry information and I need to have an exchange with a client to get the depth of information I need.  Even if I did ask my clients to fill in a form before they came, I would still need to question them to extract more details than a form can tell me.

I also find that people don't always reveal the real reason why they have decided to seek help straight away.  Very often new clients will tell me that they are looking for help with, for example, a sore shoulder, but after we've been chatting for a few minutes, it turns out that what's bothering them more than anything is low self esteem or anxiety.  This is one of the main reasons why I work the way I do; I like to be able to get to the root of the issue, and to find out what's really going on inside someone's body.  And I don't think that looking at a sheet of ticked boxes helps me do that.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Reliable Allergy Testing

When prospective clients call to make an appointment for allergy testing, they often ask 'how accurate is it?'.  There's no definitive answer to that question because all methods of allergy testing have their strengths and weaknesses.  However, I have found that for those people who want a well researched scientific method of testing for their allergies, having a blood sample analysed by a specialist laboratory is the best way.  And best of all, these tests are often covered by your private medical insurance.

As a qualified Nutritional Therapist, I have access to one of Europe's leading diagnostic laboratories who use cutting edge testing methods to ascertain whether your immune system is reacting to particular substances.  A whole range of different options are available, depending on what you want to be tested for.  Before testing, all clients have a 30 minute consultation with me so I can fully assess which test will be most valuable for them.

If you would like to find out more about my allergy testing service, please do drop me a line.

Any questions, please give me a shout.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Energy MOT

We all have things we 'ought' to do every day/week/month to keep us healthy.  How many people have bought a juicer with the intention of making a fresh juice every day?  Or started a regime of dry skin brushing?  And most people have some kind of exercise equipment lurking in the house somewhere.  I, like most of us, have been through these regimes - some things have stuck with me, some things have fallen by the wayside.

Some of the things that have stuck with me require no equipment, foods or unpleasant tasting drinks and I still do them regularly.  I am talking about techniques you can do to yourself to keep your energy system free flowing and vibrant.  I usually do some of these techniques before I see clients to make sure I'm feeling balanced and energetic.  These are some of my favourites.

Cross Crawl
This really simple exercise is one of the first things taught on any kinesiology course.  It helps to stimulate both hemispheres of the brain and is said to help co-ordination.  The exercise involves marching on the spot, and as you lift each knee, you touch it with the opposite elbow.  Easy.

Three Thumps
This technique was developed by the Donna Eden (the queen of energy medicine!) and it can give you an instant energy boost whilst balancing energy in the meridians.  It consists of tapping three sets of energy points on your body; just below your collar bone, in the centre of your breast bone and at the bottom of your rib cage.

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)

EFT is more than just a daily tonic, it is a therapy in its own right.  But you can use it on yourself to help resolve worries, fears or just uncomfortable emotions.  Again it involves tapping specific energy points on the body.  There are many places on the internet you can find instructions on how to do it but  I learnt EFT from this tiny book: EFT in Your Pocket.  It's a great technique to learn and it works instantly.  I was actually amazed the first time I tried it!

Tapas Acupressure Technique (TAT)
TAT is similar to EFT in that it works on an emotional level and that it involves holding acupressure points (no tapping though).  It again can be used to release stuck emotions and negativity.  To download the free instructions and for more information, visit the website

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Making life easier in the kitchen

Over the years I have bought my fair share of kitchen gadgets because I am always on the hunt for time saving devices.  Many of them have been disappointing and end up taking up valuable shelf space, gathering dust.

Recently however, I have brought some fantastic new kitchen tools into my home!  And after using them for a couple of months, I can confidently report that they are in regular use with no opportunity to gather dust.

The most versatile of my new purchases is the Kenwood Compact Food Processor.  This really does save lots of time when cooking and preparing food, and has allowed me to make all kinds of foods that I never made before; coleslaw takes a couple of minutes to prepare (and is so much more delicious than shop-bought versions).  And preparing onions, mushrooms etc for something like a bolognese sauce also takes just moments. It makes light work of pretty much anything that needs chopping or blending .  Very pleased with this purchase!

And to go with the food processor, I also bought Jamie's 30 Minute Meals.  I've never actually bought one of Jamie Oliver's books before and this one does not disappoint.  I, like most people, have recipe books on my shelf that have only been used a handful of times, but I have made at least five recipes from this book (some of them a couple of times) within a few weeks of owning it.  I really think it's an amazing book - the food is delicious and the recipes are presented as a complete meal, with side dishes and sometimes desserts too.  Last night I made chicken satay with fiery noodle salad - YUM.

Something that I am using several times a week is my new Zyliss garlic press.  I find that garlic presses are often fiddly to use and clean, and I have been searching for a perfect solution to crushing garlic for some time. The unique thing about the Zyliss press is that you don't have to peel the garlic cloves before you press them.  So you just put the whole clove in - no peeling or cutting required - and crush!  The skin is left behind in the press and you throw it away.  Rinse the press to clean it, and that's it.  This is the best garlic press I have ever used!

My Joseph Joseph Citrus Reamer is another new addition to my kitchen.  Although not quite so pivotal when preparing food, I do love this gadget.  I use it for squeezing lemon juice onto salads or onto food; it catches the pips and is easy to rinse clean.

The last item on this review is not new, and I've owned it for a few years.  It's a Hamburger Maker and with the start of BBQ season it's been getting a lot of use.  Home made burgers are miles better than shop bought versions in terms of taste, but also in terms of nutrition.  When you make anything at home you know that nothing dodgy is going into it.  And if you are not keen on beef, you can use this burger maker with any other kind of mince (turkey, lamb etc) or fish.  I have even used it with a chickpea mixture too.

Monday, April 18, 2011

How dangerous is the sun?

There is an alternative school of thought emerging that sunscreen use is not protecting us from skin cancer as we once thought it could.  Skin cancer rates have increased over the past 50 years, as have rates of lots of other cancers.  Use of sunscreen has also risen over this time.  Dr Briffa provides an excellent account of this here.

Some people say that sunscreen itself is involved in the rise in skin cancer due to the chemicals it contains.  Others believe that blocking out the sun’s rays can leave us depleted in Vitamin D (sunlight is needed for Vitamin D production) which is essential for many processes in the body.  Our skin also produces melanin which protects us from sunburn and damage; avoiding the sun totally means that we don’t get to develop this protective pigment.  Alongside these suggestions, I hypothesise that the same factors which have led to a rise in the other cancers could also be involved in the increase in skin cancer; smoking, nutrient depleted diet, increased alcohol intake, exposure to more toxic chemicals, and constant low-level stress. 

The sun is necessary for all life on earth, and in recent years awareness of the importance of vitamin D has come into the medical spotlight.  Suddenly many people have a vitamin D deficiency and are being prescribed supplements.  And the health news that comes my way cites Vitamin D as being responsible for preventing many diverse diseases.  So the sun is definitely important in keeping us healthy in this respect. 

But say that this way of thinking is all wrong, and we do in fact need sunscreen to keep us safe from dangerous UV light and the potential to develop skin cancer.  Does this then mean that the human race is going to be dependent on man made lotions in order to keep us safe?  Are the likes of Ambre Solaire going to be superpowers who we rely on to keep us alive?  Eventually the human race evolves only to be kept from decline by manufactured products?  It’s an interesting concept, and one that I don’t subscribe to.  It doesn’t seem right to me.

I think it’s important to radiate health from the inside.  Your skin (and the defences it provides) is formed from inside the body with substances that you’ve eaten.  I believe that overall health is an important factor in keeping skin healthy, rather than relying on pasting on chemical protection from an outside source.  Your body is an amazing machine that runs on good food, water, sunlight, fresh air, movement and happiness.  Looking after these areas generally stands you in good stead. 

Of course, sunburn is not healthy, and I am not advocating a cavalier approach to sun exposure.  The sun is very powerful and needs to be respected, but perhaps not shyed away from. 

If you have any concerns about skin cancer and skin health, please visit your GP for advice.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

10% Discount Pai Skincare Rosehip BioRegenerate

Pai Skincare make fantastic natural products, which are especially suited to skin sensitive or problem skin (but also great for anyone wanting to use products made without chemicals), and they have just launched a new product: Rosehip BioRegenerate.

With daily use Rosehip oil conditions the skin, improving skin firmness, elasticity and suppleness.  Clinical studies show Rosehip is effective at improving the appearance of scars, stretch marks, sun damage and fine lines.

To promote the launch of this new product, Pai are offering a 10% discount on any order containing Rosehip BioRegenerate.  Just enter the voucher code 'bioregenerate' when you check out.  But hurry, this offer ends on 30th April 2011!

Monday, April 04, 2011

My diet is healthy, but I still have high cholesterol. Why?

Most people associate high cholesterol levels with a diet high in fried, oily foods, but it seems that more and more people are finding out they've got high cholesterol, despite eating a relatively low fat diet.  So what is the dietary advice if you already avoid foods high in fat?

Well actually, only a small amount of cholesterol in the body comes from the diet - most of it is made by the liver regardless of how much you eat.  Cholesterol is an important substance in the body and is used for the manufacture of certain hormones and for healthy cell membranes.  It also is a component of bile which is needed to digest fats properly and to absorb fat soluble vitamins such as vitamin A and vitamin E.  It also has a role in syntehsising vitamin D in the skin in response to sunlight.

When bile is produced by the liver, it is released into the digestive system where it gets to work digesting fats.  It is usually then excreted with the faeces, and more bile is made from cholesterol to replace it.  Foods rich in soluble fibre soak up the cholesterol-rich bile acids like a sponge, and ensure they are transported out of the body.  This is a really important part of keeping cholesterol at a healthy level, and as a nutritional therapist, I will always want the bowel to be working efficiently when a client has high cholesterol levels.

It is important to note here that there are two kinds of fibre: soluble and insoluble.  Soluble fibre is the important type for lowering cholesterol levels.  It dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance which mops up the cholesterol-rich bile acids.  On the other hand, insoluble fibre acts more like a brush, sweeping debris through the digestive system.  Foods that are good sources of insoluble fibre include oats, beans, lentils, linseeds and apples.

As well as including these foods, it can sometimes help to take a supplement to improve bowel function and to help the changes happen more quickly.  I recommend Colon Support Formula and also Psyllium Husk Powder.  Flaxseeds are a really good source of soluble fibre and contain some essential fats, and are really easy to sprinkle on your breakfast cereal.

In addition to including the right kind of fibre in your diet, it also helps to increase your intake of healthy fats (the type of fats found in fish, nuts and seeds).  So if you have high cholesterol levels, rather than avoiding fats totally, I would recommend you include oily fish as often as you can.  If you are vegetarian, flaxseed oil is the best vegetarian source of omega-3 fatty acids, and if you don't like fish, then a capsule of fish oil is a good idea.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Mastering Mastication

I can't believe I've not done a proper blog post about chewing.  It's long overdue, so here it is.  

First of all, some reasons why chewing properly is a good idea:

  • The action of chewing mixes the food with important enzymes in the saliva and is the first step of chemical digestion.  This step is shortened or missed out when you don’t chew properly.
  • Sensors in your mouth tell the brain that food is on the way, the brain then sends messages to the stomach to produce enzymes and acid.  Chewing food switches the stomach on so that it’s ready to receive food.
  • Making the food into smaller pieces by chewing makes it much easier to digest than sending large pieces of food to your stomach.  The teeth are an important part of the digestive system.  The stomach is a muscular bag which can’t break food down into small pieces like the teeth can; chewing makes the work of the stomach much easier.
  • It can help with many digestive problems, especially bloating and indigestion.
  • Chewing helps you taste your food properly, so that you can have a more enjoyable experience.  
  • Research has shown that chewing your food allows you to feel full more quickly than usual, therefore helping to curb overeating.  I wrote about one such study here.
  • And best of all, it’s completely free and you can start right now.

But it’s probably not really news to you, as most of us know that we should chew our food properly.  It’s just that it can be difficult to remember, and from what I see in my clinic, it does seem to be a really hard habit to change.  I think our modern diets are partly to blame actually; it now seems that most meals can be eaten with just a fork, and food comes in portion sized packets, ready to eat and go.  Think of, for example, a bowl of pasta with pesto - very soft and easy to eat, and could almost be eaten without chewing at all!  In times gone by, our food would have been a lot tougher and chewing would have been needed much more than it is now.

To get used to chewing properly, I think it helps to be aware of what your digestive system is doing for you, and the task that your stomach has to achieve.  Because we can’t see our digestive system, it can be easy to overlook the task it performs for us.  It’s quite amazing really – it can turn a roast dinner into energy that allows us to run around in our daily lives, all without any input from us.  I think that’s quite a feat.  

And I speak from experience because I used to eat my meals very quickly, and was almost proud of the speed with which I could finish.  But I am now used to chewing and taking time over eating.  It certainly didn’t come quickly though; I've been practising this for a number of years.  And now, the idea of bolting food and finishing before everyone else seems like such a waste of food!  I’d much rather take the time to eat thoroughly so that I can properly enjoy what I’m eating, and there’s the added benefit of knowing that I’m doing my digestive system a favour too.

So if your stomach could speak, I reckon it would say ‘Please chew your food so that I don’t have to work so hard.  I’ve got a lot to do to keep you going, and it would be really nice if you could do your bit for me.  Thanks.’

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

What is kinesiology again?

Although it’s becoming more and more popular, there are still a lot of people who have never heard of kinesiology, so I thought I’d write a post to shed some light on it.  First of all, most people get stumped on the pronounciation; it’s ‘kin-easy-ology’.

Modern kinesiology is a complementary therapy which was developed by a chiropractor, and it’s basis is a mixture of chiropractic and acupuncture.  There are many different types of kinesiology practised today, and although the procedures and techniques may differ slightly, all kinesiologies encompass some kind of muscle testing and the procedures are acting (in part) on the acupuncture meridians (or energy channels) in the body.  Unlike acupuncture, needles are never used.

The therapy works by identifying what causes a weakened muscle in the body (usually a muscle in the arm), and then correcting this weakness.  The weakness might be due to a stressful thought, an emotional feeling, a pain in the body, an irritating substance, or any other ‘stressor’.  One the stressor has been identified, it will be corrected using a bioenergy technique to rebalance the energy around that stress.  The techniques used in a session might involve the use of magnets, flower essences, essential oils, foods and biochemical substances.

No two kinesiology sessions are ever the same; even when two people appear to have the same concerns, the kinesiology procedures will be different and unique to them.  It’s important to note that the kinesiology practitioner doesn’t decide what needs to be done in a session because all the procedures are chosen by muscle testing the client, so effectively their body chooses what it needs.

The whole session is carried out with the client lying fully clothed on a couch.  It’s totally painless, and occasionally clients feel particular sensations whilst the corrections are carried out.  My clients sometimes report feeling tingling, warmth or cold, or seeing colours when their eyes are closed, although this doesn't happen all the time.  Most people leave the session feeling relaxed and calm.

Kinesiology has developed a reputation for ‘finding out what’s wrong’.  This is actually incorrect, and a kinesiology practitioner will never diagnose what a particular problem is caused by.  Rather, by using kinesiology the practitioner can help to identify what you need to help you restore your body’s natural balance, so that you can have a vibrant sense of well-being.

More information about kinesiology in general can be found on the Kinesiology Federation website.  The branch of kinesiology that I practise is called Health Kinesiology, and there is a wealth of information on the Health Kinesiology UK website.

Please call me if you would like to find out if kinesiology is appropriate for your situation.  I am always happy to chat.

Natural approaches for healthy skin

I often get clients who are troubled by skin problems.  Things like rashes, eczema, psoriasis and acne.  Although not life threatening, skin problems can be quite distressing to the sufferer – your skin is the only organ your body has that is on display to the world.

There are myriad causes of skin complaints, but in my opinion, the issue usually starts from inside the body.  The skin is responsible for eliminating various toxins from the body, and therefore much of what is going on inside the body can be reflected in the appearance of the skin.

Many natural treatments for skin problems often target the digestive system first.  For example, psoriasis can often be helped by improving the levels of good bacteria in the digestive system.  Similarly, other skin problems can be due to food allergies which are acting in the gut; the lining of the digestive system is a bit like your ‘internal skin’ so keeping it healthy and happy can have a knock on effect on your external skin.  

A general state of inflammation in the body is also a factor in many skin conditions, and inflammation can be eased with a variety of anti-inflammatory nutrients including aloe vera and omega-3 fatty acids.  In fact it has been found that aloe vera applied topically is more effective than steroid cream in helping psoriasis*. My favourite Aloe Vera gel is this one made by Jason available here.  The aloe vera juice I recommend most frequently is made by Nutrigold.  Aloe vera juice has more of a 'whole body' anti-inflammatory effect, whereas the gel applied topically acts locally on the skin.

Essential fats, including omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and nuts, are also helpful where the skin is dry or itchy.  A good all round supplement containing omega 3, 6 & 9 fatty acids is OmegaSmart from Nutrigold

Another nutrient that features prominently in any skin improvement programme is Zinc.  Zinc helps regulate the production of hormones in the body, which is especially useful in cases of acne which have a hormonal element.  It also is closely involved in protein and collagen synthesis, both of which are important for healthy skin formation.  Zinc is abundant in many foods such as meat and poultry, sea foods, oats, beans, nuts and pumpkin seeds, but many factors can hinder zinc absorption so taking a supplement is a good way to ensure you’re getting enough of this useful mineral.  Fortunately, zinc supplementation is fairly inexpensive and can often show improvements fairly quickly. 

If you do have sensitive skin, this can be exacerbated by the chemicals found in skincare products.  We are not always aware of how many chemicals we expose ourselves to, and pasting them onto an already sensitive skin is not a good idea.  In fact, I think even if you don’t suffer from skin problems it’s still better to use chemical free skincare products to limit your overall exposure to artificial chemicals.

One of my favourite brands is Pai Skincare.  All Pai products are suitable sensitive skin types and are made organically with totally natural ingredients.  Their products contain natural skin soothers such as Chamomile, Rose and Rosehip which calm, hydrate and regenerate troubled skin without causing irritation.  My favourite product is their Avocado and Jojoba cream.  They also offer free samples on their website (plus p&p). 

Another excellent brand is Green People.  They have a huge range of organic products, including babycare products and a men’s range.  Their products were developed because the founder of the company had a child with skin that was reacting to chemicals in widely available toiletries.  So again, Green People products are safe for all types of sensitive skin.

If you do have trouble with your skin, before trying natural approaches, do get it checked out by your doctor.  Your GP should always be the first port of call when you have a concern about your health.

*Choonhakarn C et al, A prospective randomized clinical trial comparing topical aloe vera with 0.1% triamcinolone acetonide in chronic plaque psoriasis. ICD 2009

Friday, February 25, 2011

The kinds of foods that nutritionists *shouldn't eat*

I am often asked if I eat this or that, to which I reply ‘I eat everything’, which includes lots of things that nutritional therapists really shouldn’t eat.  But that’s not hard really, seeing as some NTs have a fairly long list of foods you shouldn’t eat, including things like tea (builders, obviously, not nettle), mayonnaise and tomatoes.  But I also eat things such as butter, chocolate, white bread, and crisps which I’m fairly sure would be off limits for some of my colleagues.  [Actually that’s not true, I believe that everyone eats chocolate even if it is in the legendary realms of ‘just a square of organic dark’.]

I have heard lots of nutritionists say that eating these and other kinds of forbidden foods is fine ‘in moderation’; it’s the kind of phrase you hear on news programmes when a nutritionist is speaking about the obesity epidemic or some other public health problem related to food.

My question is what does ‘in moderation’ mean?  Who is the moderator?  Who says how much you’re allowed to have?  Do you have to check in with the Food Police to make sure you’ve not overstepped your quota?  I think it can end up feeling like any amount of these off-limits foods is too much.

Really, your own body needs to be the moderator.  I think it’s great when you can develop your own sense of how much you need of anything.  My friends at Beyond Chocolate call this ‘Be your own guru’.  Who else has the right to dictate rules about what’s appropriate for your body?  Trust yourself.  Your body loves you (because you keep it alive) and it only wants foods that are going to make it feel great.  And yes, sometimes that is a bag of chips with plenty of salt and vinegar!  Sometimes it’s a roast dinner with loads of green veg.  And sometimes it’s a lentil soup with a side of quinoa salad.  It could be anything at any given moment.

Personally, I don’t believe it’s possible to purposefully limit or exclude certain foods from your life indefinitely.  Sometimes it’s not even possible to do it for a short while.  Although I meet plenty of people who believe that they should be doing so, mainly because of the ‘in moderation’ message and resulting confusion.  So when they inevitably slip up from this impossible regime, they feel bad about themselves.  But still the cycle continues, eating these ‘bad’ foods regularly, whilst desperately trying not to, and feeling guilty about it.  And my point is that chocolate (or other forbidden food) is here to stay.  It’s here forever, and there’s nothing the Food Police can do about it, so you might as well get used to it.

So once you’ve established that it’s highly likely that you’ll continue to eat chocolate (or other ‘naughty’ food) for the rest of your life - whether you think you should or not - you might as well make peace with it, rather than eating it and feeling guilty.  How can you make peace with a food?  First try being honest with yourself and accept that you enjoy and eat this food regularly.  Be aware of what you’re eating, and how you feel before, during and after. 

If you can accept that you are going to eat chocolate regularly (probably for the rest of your life), you might as well enjoy it.  Buy the best you can afford, enjoy it and eat it slowly – if you’re doing something you love, surely you want it to last as long as possible to fully appreciate the experience?  And why not buy you’re favourite chocolate and your favourite foods to have when you fancy them, rather than depriving yourself and then ending up buying some nasty sweets at the petrol station or local shop (which you might not particularly enjoy) because you’re so desperate?  You may worry that if you allow yourself to eat this way, you will end up with an incredibly unhealthy diet, but what usually happens once you give yourself permission to eat it, it just becomes normal.  Just another type of food that you love, that appears on the shopping list each week.  No urgency or sneaking food.  No stress or guilt.  And your body would soon start to grumble if you fed it a mono-diet of chocolate, and would soon be craving something green.

After reading this, you may well be wondering what kind of nutritionist I am if I encourage my clients to eat chocolate!  Well, this is only part of what I do and my role as a nutritional therapist is to help you find peace with food, and to learn to nourish your body with exactly what it needs.  I also help people with all kinds of health problems that can be rectified by changing how they eat, and through using carefully selected nutritional supplements.  My earlier blog post here explains more.

PS: I do sometimes drink nettle tea and eat quinoa salad.  They're quite nice.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Is your saucepan toxic?

Nearly everyone has a non-stick saucepan in their kitchen.  And for good reason - they make life much easier.

But it has been known for some time that the material used to make the non-stick coating - PolyTetraFluoroEthylene or PTFE - can release toxic fumes when heated to high temperatures.  A particularly nasty chemical called PerFluoroOctanoic Acid or PFOA is released in these fumes and is potentially carcinogenic.  Not nice at all.  How do you know if you're cooking at the temperature at which this toxic chemical is released?  Well, you don't really unless you habitually cook at a lower temperature or have a thermometer handy to check the temp.

I realise that when you start to investigate, a lot of modern time-saving inventions turn out to be toxic or unhealthy, and usually I take a balanced view, believing that 'there's only so much you can do' to protect yourself from the hazards of modern living.  However, for me, cooking with plastic or a non-stick coating that's potentially toxic has never felt particularly great and I am very glad to have found a solution.

A whole range of cookware is now available which is completely free of the toxic non-stick coatings.  GreenPan manufacture saucepans and cookware which are coated with a non-stick ceramic lining made of minerals, rather than plastics containing PTFE.  The ceramic coating is completely safe at high temperatures and has fantastic non-stick properties.  The whole range is available online here, but my favourite is this wok which is on its way to me as I type!

I think it's great when products like this come along because you don't need to change the way you live to get the healthy benefits.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Eco-Friendly Valentine's Gifts

I love Nigel's Eco Store.  It's great for finding unusual gifts and things for the home, and as a bonus everything is environmentally friendly.

They currently have a lovely selection of Valentine's gifts available.  I particularly love this silvered tea light holder made from recycled glass by a fair trade cooperative in India.  Lovely.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Seven in Eight

New figures released by Cancer Research tell us that one in eight women will get breast cancer.  Apparently the charity’s figures show that breast cancer rates have risen from one in nine, to one in eight.

This is very sad news for women, and another sign that the pattern of health and disease is changing in our society.  It’s the long term, chronic diseases that prevail - diseases caused by ‘lifestyle factors’ and genetics, rather than infectious diseases.

There is a lot I could say about how to protect your cells from damage through healthy eating, or about how this statistic is misleading, but this news made me think of another way in which this information will affect women.

How many ladies will now be thinking ‘it could be me’ on hearing this stark statistic?  How many will now feel compelled to reduce alcohol intake or increase exercise in an attempt to reduce their risk?  [increased acohol consumption and lack of exercise have been cited as important risk factors in developing the disease].

Many of us know from first hand experience that when we are spurred on to adopt a new ‘healthy regime’ it will often fail after a short while, leaving us back where we were with old behaviours, along with added guilt about how these behaviours maybe slowly killing us.  And we may be feeling like failures for not having the resolve or the motivation to look after our health properly.

But even if you do manage to continue a new healthier regime, how will you ever know if you’re doing enough?  Maybe you’ll still have the guilt and fear despite exercising regularly, drinking less alcohol and getting your five-a-day.

Sadly, in my opinion, news like this generates a great deal of fear among the population.  And it's another item on the list of 'Things We Should be Doing'.  In this respect, I think most people would be better off without hearing news like this, and it may actually be affecting people's health in a way that is often overlooked.

Through being trained in kinesiology, I am very aware of the impact that negative emotions (both extreme and subtle) can have on the body.  Holding the body in a vibration of fear is not healthy in any way.  But because it can be very difficult to measure the effect that energy and emotions have on the body, mainstream medicine doesn’t accept this view.  Kinesiologists (along with many other energy workers) would tell you that the influence is immense.

Of course I’m not saying that this kind of news should be censored so as not to upset people, I’m just commenting on how I think it could affect people.  There’s no easy answer. 

Except how about an alternative headline:

‘Seven in every eight women will not get breast cancer’.  

I think it sounds better.
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