Healthy Mind & Mood







     Have you been told you have Adrenal Fatigue?   The term "adrenal fatigue" is probably not an accurate way to describe the symptoms it is referring to. And this term is criticised by the medical profession and is not a medical term or diagnosis.  However, fatigue is real. The term "adrenal fatigue" usually refers to the deep exhaustion and often associated physical symptoms, after a period of stress and/or trauma. Some people just cannot function normally or are even bedridden, just from fatigue.  Adrenal insufficiency IS a diagnosable medical condition (Addison's Disease), but this is usually not what we are referring to when we talk about adrenal fatigue.  The issue with the term "adrenal fatigue" is that it is referring to the adrenals sort of burning out and it's not quite like that. The adrenals, hypothalamus and pituitary glands are all connected (HPA axis) and there are feedback mechanisms in the body which regulate all hormones. When we are stressed for months or years- and this is becoming increasingly normal- the body is continuously flooded with stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenalin.  Long term exposure to these hormones is not good for the body, so it downregulates their production after some time. It stops producing so many of them- it is actually an intelligent mechanism by the body to stop long term damage from being flooded with hormones which are meant to only be produced for short periods.  But when there are less of these hormones in the system- and these can be measured in blood and salivary tests- we feel exhausted and just can't keep functioning at the level we were functioning before. Adrenaline and cortisol make us hyper-functional for a while ( in order to run away from that tiger)- but eventually, we do collapse and feel exhausted and wonder why we can't keep going like before.  Can you see this is the body's protection mechanism- to keep us safe and to slow us down? And do we listen? Usually not! We just want a magic pill to be able to get back up and keep going! We take herbs and supplements and do the minimum of rest in order to "get back to normal". As if the symptom is the main problem.  If you use herbs that help support the adrenals and build tolerance to stress (adaptogens) avoid taking steps to reduce stress in your life, or change the way you handle will only head toward a deeper burnout further down the track. Herbs need to be respected too. They have their place but they shouldn't replace a good evaluation of one's stress levels.  Stress breeds stress. When we are stressed, we feel we HAVE to keep going at that pace. But it's rarely actually true, it just feels like it. And if it is true, then there are many ways to ameliorate the stress. Fatigue after long term stress is a gift. It is the body's message, hey, its time to slow down, this isn't working any more.  So I suggest we stop using the term "adrenal fatigue" and just refer to it as fatigue. Deep fatigue, from being stressed or going through trauma.  Fatigue can also be related to so many other things of course- chronic virus infections, or many different health conditions. But "adrenal fatigue" as it is commonly used, refers to that fatigue that happens after long term stress.  This level of fatigue is becoming more and more common, unfortunately.

Have you been told you have Adrenal Fatigue? The term "adrenal fatigue" is probably not an accurate way to describe the symptoms it is referring to. And this term is criticised by the medical profession and is not a medical term or diagnosis.

However, fatigue is real. The term "adrenal fatigue" usually refers to the deep exhaustion and often associated physical symptoms, after a period of stress and/or trauma. Some people just cannot function normally or are even bedridden, just from fatigue.

Unravelling Stress

Unravelling Stress

We all know that chronic stress isnt good for us, that it can lead to anxiety, depression, weight gain, heart attacks, cancer, and all sorts of physical and psychological disorders.  We tend to think that stress is a necessary part of survival in these times, with financial stresses, health stresses, business stresses, parenting stresses vying for our energy. We tend to feel that stress is a given part of modern society, a necessary survival mechanism, and we feel trapped by it, and by default, by the situations we find ourselves in that apparently cause us to stress. It is certainly normal to feel stress, but is it actually necessary? 

Feeding our Microbiome

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Feeding our Microbiome

You may be aware that you have possibly 10X more microbes in your gut that you have cells in your body and that they can weigh up to 2 kgs. We each may have up to 170 species, but the species can vary considerably, although a few key ones tend to predominate. 

Did you know that ever single person has a unique composition of gut microbes- as unique as your fingeprint? 

In the last 5 years, the research around gut health and probiotics and microbes, has exploded, and it takes a lot to keep up with it. I recently did a workshop with Dr Jason Hawrelak who is a Naturopath who did his PhD on gut microbes, and I find this topic fascinating. 

Researchers are now realising that the widespread use of antibiotics, along with the western diet, have both contributed to devastation of our inner ecosystems. This is having far reaching health and psychological impacts that scientists are are only just beginning to grasp. We are just learning what the loss of key species and the imbalances in our gut flora, actually means. 

Our gut bacteria:

  • help us digest food
  • prevent attack by unfriendly microorganisms
  • synthesise some vitamins like B & K
  • facilitate absorption of minerals
  • neutralise toxins 
  • play an important role in the immune system
  • play an important role in mental health and mood

Imbalances in our gut flora can lead to conditions such as: 

  • Ulcers
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Autoimmune conditions
  • Allergy, asthma, diabetes
  • Obesity and metabolic syndrome  
  • Liver diseases
  • Systemic infections
  • Cancer
  • Depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions

Having a wide variety of friendly microbes leads to a certain resilience against bad health and also pathogenic microbes. Whether we were born vaginally or by caesarian, breastfed or bottle fed, has a huge impact on the types of microbes that grow in us for the rest of our life! What we eat every day also determines the balance and variety of microbes in our gut. When we travel, especially to third world countries, we may pick up new bacteria. When we change our diet, our microbes change. When we eat a variety of foods that our microbes love, they thrive, leading to resilience, health and wellbeing, on every level. 



So how do we feed our microbes well? 

Have you heard of pre-biotics? They are becoming pretty popular lately. Our microbes love to feed on what we call indigestible starches. These are the fibre parts of plant food that we can’t break down for energy. The ones that have been extensively researched and officially called prebiotics, are called Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) and Galactooligosaccharides (GOS), and inulin. They are virtually calorie free (because they are indigestible to us) but they provide food for gut bacteria to thrive. 

Food sources of FOS include onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, dandelion and chicory root, and jerusalem artichoke. 



Food sources of GOS include legumes (chickpeas, black beans, lentils etc), brassica family, beetroot, rye sourdough, sunflower and pumpkin seeds and LSA mix. 


Other prebiotic-like foods that have been researched include: brown rice, carrots, blackcurrents, cacao powder, almonds and green tea. 


Resistant starch is another type of prebiotic- like food, and there are various types of this. Rice and potatoes, when cooked then cooled provide resistant starch. Grains, seeds, legumes (whole, not as flour), green bananas and raw potatoes all provide food for healthy microbial balance in the gut. 

One of the best things you can do for your gut health, and overall wellbeing, is to eat a wide range of plant foods, with plenty of raw foods. Dr Hawrelak encouraged us to eat more than 40 varieties of plant food each week for a healthy gut. Polyphenols are the antioxidant nutrients in fruits and vegetables which give them their different colours- we need to eat lots of green, yellow, red, black and purple foods, but basically lots of colourful plant foods. In the 40+ varieties, brown, red and black rices are all different, as are red and green apples or grapes- because the different polyphenols and other nutrients all feed different microbes. 

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Some people cannot tolerate lots of plant foods, and they may need some special protocols to heal their gut, but please do not think that because you have some gas from eating something different, such as some beans, that you are intolerant to them. Not at all- it’s just that your gut microbes are not used to them yet. Eat them daily for a few days and your gut will adapt- literally, the right microbes will proliferate to digest the new food as long as you keep eating it. Especially if they are presoaked and cooked well. 

This is one reason why restricted diets designed to kill off pathogens- candida diets, , parasite cleansing protocols or diets for SIBO (small intestinal bacteria overgrowth), are not meant to be long term diets. They are meant to be used short term (max 3 months generally) for a specific purpose, then move to a broad diet as soon as possible. Also, the protocols for these conditions often include strong antimicrobial herbs which when used long term (some people mistakenly stay on these protocols for a year or more) do as much damage as long term antibiotics, on the microbiome. 

Where do fermented foods fit in? They are helpful, but you can’t just eat fermented foods on top of a bad diet. They have to be part of a wider approach. While fermented foods do contribute probiotic microbes to the gut, it has been shown, just like with probiotics, these do not generally stay more than a week. That is why the focus is shifting to prebiotics- the foods which feed the microbes so that they thrive. 


Conditions like IBS, candida, Crohns, Diverticulitis, SIBO and many others, definitely need individualised protocols, but for most people who are relatively healthy, adding in more variety of plant foods, and limiting processed foods and too much dairy fat and animal protein, will go a long way to building health and resilience to disease. 

The world of our microbiota, our inner ecology, is fascinating and we are only really at the frontier of understanding it. However, the principles of healthy eating that are ancient and tradiitonal are only reinforced with all this explosion of research and new understanding. Eat a mostly unprocessed, mostly plant-based varied whole foods diet, as our ancestors did, and you will build a good foundation for your health, wellbeing and longevity. A healthy microbiome is absolutely essential and central to our health and wellbeing, and worth nurturing. 

12 Tips for a Healthier Christmas Season

12 Tips for a Healthier Christmas Season

Here are some tips for maintaining some simplicity, peace, calm, health and joy around this time of year. You can end 2017 feeling energised instead of exhausted because after all, it is holiday time for most of us. 

The Forgotten Art of Rest and Convalescence

The Forgotten Art of Rest and Convalescence

Do you suffer from fatigue, exhaustion, even extreme exhaustion? I come across many people who are burning out, stressed, anxious, and don’t know how to heal and stop themselves from feeling so overwhelmed, so fatigued. 

Herbs for Anxiety and Stress

Herbs for Anxiety and Stress

This article will explain some ways to deal with acute or chronic anxiety and stress in a safe and immediate way with herbal medicine. Often, when we are in an anxious or otherwise distressed state of mind, we can forget the resources we have available to us to calm our activated nervous system. I work with herbs, nutrition and other simple but effective tools, but this article will just focus on a few of the herbs. 

Mood Boosting Herbs in your Garden

Mood Boosting Herbs in your Garden

We have access to so many herbs and supplements internationally, that we often forget about the humble herbs that surround us in our own gardens and our neighourhood. I have a passion for growing and wildcrafting herbs and learning to use them in food and as medicines. There is a healing power in being in touch with the plants in our own environment, of going into the garden and picking some leaves or flowers, and preparing something healing for ourselves or our loved ones. It doesn’t always have to come processed as tablets in expensive bottles.