Claudette's Specialties: Female and Male Hormonal Imbalances, PMS, Period Pain, Fibroids, Polycystic Ovaries/Syndrome, Endometriosis, Menopause, Prostate Problems, Low Libido, Natural Fertility Management: Contraception, Overcoming Infertility Problems (females and males), Preconception Care, Sex Selection, IVF support, Pregnancy Care: Pregnancy nutrition and remedies, Miscarriage support, Birth preparation, Doula: Childbirth support, Post-natal care for mother and child.

Sugar: Sweet Poison or Natural Treat?

With all the media coverage recently on sugar and Sarah Wilson's interview on 60 Minutes, I thought it would be apt to raise some questions: Is sugar really that bad for you? What does it actually do in the body? Why do I crave it? What alternatives can I use that are healthy? But I love my sweet treats, so how do I get rid of these cravings??!

I think it's really important not to demonize sugar. Sugar is a natural part of our food chain and our taste buds but the difference comes down to quantity and quality. In today's epidemic of obesity and diabetes, we do need to re-evaluate the way we eat and what we eat. Sugar is extremely addicitive (some equate it to heroin!). I have little sugar in my diet nowadays but like everyone, I fall off the bandwagon too occasionally and it's usually because I'm overtired, been pushing it too hard or feeling emotionally depleted and down. Many women think they can eat sweets and not put on weight if it doesn't contain any fat. This is a huge misconception as excess sugar that is not burnt off will be converted and stored as fat.

Is sugar really bad for you?
The problem with sugar is that it is hidden in so many foods nowadays under the guise of corn sweetener, dextrin, sorbitol. Soft drinks contain 6-12tsp of sugar in every can! Manufacturers know it will get people hooked on their product and keep buying it. Unfortunately as well, there are some really poor quality sugars being used in commercial products because they are cheap but they do a lot of damage in the body, such as high fructose corn syrup used in soft drinks, sweets, cheap chocolates and commercially baked goods. Basically we do not need sweetness in every meal or every day - we need to go back to a sweet being a treat! Side effects of sugar include....
  • Raises blood sugar and insulin levels, causing insulin resistance and eventually diabetes
  • Sugars which are not used for energy production will be stored as fat, increasing the risk of obesity
  • Causes inflammatory reactions in the body which is a precursor to cardiovascular disease, arthritis and  auto-immune diseases. Men who drink 1 sweetened beverage a day are 20% more likely to die of a heart attack: American Heart Association Feb 2012.
  • Leaches nutrients and minerals out of the body, leading to insulin signalling problems, depression, fatigue, hyperactivity, eating disorders, mental fatigue, memory problems and increased risk of osteoporosis later in life. Teenagers playing sport and drinking soft drinks have 7 times higher rate of bone fractures!
  • Sugar suppresses the ability of the immune system to function adequately, making the body vulnerable to infections while viruses, candida and bacteria feed off sugar as their energy source
  • Cancer cells employ a process called "aerobic glycolysis" almost exclusively for their energy production. They are, therefore, reliant on glucose sugar for their growth and metabolic needs 
Why do I crave it?
Sugar never makes you feel full, as opposed to fat, so if you have a little, you will continue to want more. You crave sugar if your diet is nutritionally lacking in minerals, especially chromium and magnesium, needed to control your blood sugar and insulin levels. If you have used up all your nutrients through stress, exercise or a lack of sleep, you will also start to crave it as a quick fix to keep you going but this depletes the body in the long term. Most people also crave sugar to satisfy an unfulfilled emotional need or to suppress their feelings. We have been trained by media and society that it is easier to turn to a tub of ice cream than ask our partner, friends, family or a qualified therapist for emotional support.

Are there any healthy alternatives?
  • Fruit is high in fructose, although it does contain lots of wonderful vitamins, minerals and antioxidants so I suggest to limit your fruit intake to 3 medium-sized pieces a day (size of your fist). Make fruit-based desserts or milkshakes/smoothies and use fruit as a snack.
  • Stevia is a natural sweetener extracted from the leaves of the South American Stevia rebaudiana plant.   It contains no calories so will not upset your blood sugar levels or rot your teeth. It is 300 times sweeter than sugar and depending on the quality of the product, there can be a slight bitter after-taste which can take getting used to. It is sold in granule, liquid and tablet form and being heat stable, can be used in baking cakes and biscuits. It is more expensive than sugar but being sweeter, less is needed. 
  • Raw honey contains anti-bacterial qualities and some antioxidants with health benefits that have been revered through the ages. I hate to admit it but an old habit of mine was to drop walnuts into the honey jar and scoop them out - raw honey and walnuts, healthy right? Not quite. Honey has a very high glycaemic index because it has a high glucose content so a limit of 1 tsp/day is recommended, for naturopaths too! Heat-treated honey such as the commercial brands of Capillano and Allowrie do not have the health benefits and are just pure sugar so avoid.
  • Maple syrup comes from the sap of maple trees and as such has some antioxidant and mineral content, making it slightly lower glycaemic than sugar. Unfortunately Golden syrup does not have the same health benefits as it is a refined by-product of sugar manufacture.
  • Blackstrap molasses is very nutrient and iron rich by-product of sugar manufacture and as such has a lower glycaemic index with a strong taste. Great for those who are anaemic!
  • Rapadura is a traditional unrefined whole cane sugar before the molasses and sugar crystals are separated so it is a dark brown colour and still contains many nutrients. It is excellent for baking and can be bought from health food stores or Asian stores. Don't be fooled by brown sugar which has still been refined and then up to 10% molasses added back into it to give it its brown colour. This is not enough to give it much health benefits. 
  • Chocolate. If you crave chocolate a lot, it means your body may be lacking in magnesium which helps the muscles relax. For a special treat, choose a good quality, dark chocolate which will have less sugar and more antioxidants and hopefully, better quality fat as well! Eat less of more expensive quality chocolate rather than a cheap commercial chocolate everyday. Be aware it does contain caffeine so eating dark chocolate at night can keep you awake. 

What about artificial sweeteners?
Artificial sweeteners are very difficult for the body to breakdown as they do not exist in nature. Hence, there has been a lot of controversial toxic effects. Aspartame, the main ingredient in Equal and NutraSweet, is responsible for the most serious cases of poisoning because the body actually digests it. Recent studies in Europe show that aspartame use can result in an accumulation of formaldehyde in the brain, which can cause damage to your central nervous system and immune system and hence, is linked to MS, lupus and fibromyalgia. The FDA admits this is true but claims the amount is low enough in most cases that it shouldn't raise concern. I think any amount of formaldehyde in your brain is too much! Adverse reactions to Splenda include skin rashes, panic attacks, dizziness, numbness, diarrhoea, swelling, headaches, muscle cramping, bladder issues. Read the ingredients labels: any numbers 950-957 are artificial sweeteners. Studies have shown that those who use "diet" products for weight loss actually increase their weight by 50% over 7 years! San Antonio Heart Study

How do I break my Sugar Addiction? Eating protein in every meal helps control your blood sugar levels and reduce cravings so make sure you include some fish, eggs, meat, chicken, beans or dairy in each meal. Eat more dark green leafy vegetables and salads which contain minerals to stabilize blood sugars. Add cinnamon to any desserts, cereals, smoothies or treats which reduces insulin spikes. Eat more fibre which fills you up and some good quality oils as fat makes you feel full. Every time you crave a sugar, drink a glass of water instead - you'll hydrate your glowing skin at the same time!

Look at why you crave sugar. Do you need to improve your diet? Are you lacking in vitamins and minerals? Are you running away from your emotions? Do you need to get more sleep? Do you need to put some relaxation into your daily schedule? Are you working too hard or pushing your body too much? Do you need more emotional support? Are you suppressing something you'd rather not face?

Breaking the habit takes about 3 weeks for most people so hang in there! Then it is more about the 90/10 rule - 90% of the food to nourish the body and 10% for the soul. We are all human so as I say to clients, of course you can have a sweet treat but it's once a week and not an all-out binge. Once you've broken the habit, you'll be amazed at how much more balanced, energetic and positive you feel both physically and emotionally. Life will take on a new sweetness!

Warding Off Winter Colds & 'Flus

Winter is definitely here and now is the time to get focused on your health so as to keep that spring in your step and smile on your face. With shorter winter days and the drop in temperature, there is every good reason to laze around and snuggle up with winter comfort foods. As important as it is to listen to our natural rhythms of the body during these cold winter months, it is also important to nourish the body so it doesn't start lacking in vital nutrients and succumbing to colds and 'flus. It started to hit me this week with a headache, extreme fatigue and sore throat so I promptly put all my own advice into action!

Prevention is Better Than Cure

  • Winter is the time for root vegetables, hearty casseroles, soups, porridge, bone broths and stews so pull out your slow cooker to create a feast for the week. Pile in your vegetables of every colour, protein of choice whether it be beef, chicken, fish, beans or lamb and lots of herbs and spices for a nutritious, tantalizing meal. 
  • Cut back on all sugar whether it be the sugar you add to your tea or coffee, soft drinks or energy drinks, sweets, lollies, ice cream, alcohol and chocolate bars. Sugar suppresses your immune system and all viruses and bacteria feed off sugar. Hydrate your body with a hot cup of soup or herbal tea instead!
  • Although the wind chill factor can be high, grab your beanie and get outside in the warm sun for a walk. Vitamin D exposure is essential for proper immune function and to lift your mood. 
  • Regular moderate exercise keeps your metabolism boosted. However, avoid pushing it to extremes as too much cardio exercise can tax your immune system at this time. 
  • Echinacea is a herb that boosts the first line defence of your immune system so taking an Echinacea supplement throughout winter gives your immunity an edge. There are different species of Echinacea: E. augustifolia root is the most potent species, E. purpura is the most common, while E. pallida has no therapeutic value. Echinacea tea is virtually useless as the therapeutic compounds you need are not extracted by water alone.
  • I also recommend 1 tsp of Vitamin C powder each day or a hot lemon and ginger drink every morning. Vitamin C combined with a little Zinc and Vitamin A is even better.
  • Swap your daily coffee for a freshly squeezed orange juice or carrot and ginger juice from your local juice bar or vegetable shop. Bottled juices have lost any therapeutic benefit in the bottling process so eat your fruit instead.  
  • Keep warm. As simple as this may sound, keeping your kidneys and your chest warm ensures that vital body energy and heat is not lost and catches a chill. Grab a scarf and wind a sarong around your mid-riff for extra warmth.
  • Create a positive outlook on life! Expecting the best and converting problems into opportunities is a life skill that can be learned by everyone and has been shown to raise the immune system.

Remedies to the Rescue

  • Gargle with salt and water, chew fresh ginger slices, sip on hot water and fresh lemon juice. Unfortunately the squidgy bottle of lemon juice you buy in the supermarket has lost its potent vitamin C content - add lemons to your shopping list or grow a lemon tree!
  • Shake a few drops of Eucalyptus essential oil or Tea Tree oil in your morning shower, a hot bath, or oil burner to clear your nose, head and chest.
  • Eat as much onions, garlic and horseradish as others can tolerate from you! These vegetables are naturally antibiotic. To disguise the taste and make an effective cough syrup, slice an onion and pour 1 Tb of raw honey over it. Keep it in the fridge in an airtight container and in 24 hrs you have a sweet antibiotic syrup. One teaspoon of the liquid syrup helps kill any germs!
  • If your chest, nose or sinuses are clogged up or you suffer from allergies or asthma, reduce dairy, especially milk, as it will only create more mucous.
  • Chicken and vegetable soup. Revered in many cultures for thousands of years, chicken soup works wonders as the convalescent food to fortify the body and immune system. Make a big pot and take it in a thermos or lunch box to work for lunch or simply heat some up when you get home from work each night. 
  • Sleep is when the body repairs itself and can channel its resources into fighting infection so sometimes we have to go home, turn off the mobile and go to bed. Allowing our bodies to rest and heal is an age old prescription that most people ignore or override by throwing back a few cold and 'flu tablets to keep working but eventually it catches up with everyone. Winter is the time when our body naturally wants to hibernate so if you can feel the onslaught coming like I did this week, an early mark for much needed sleep is better than a week or two of a full blown 'flu or chesty cough and succumbing to antibiotics. 
  • There are now clinical trials demonstrating the positive effect of herbal medicines on the immune system by increasing Natural Killer cells, phagocytes, lymphocytes and interferons as well as demonstrating anti-viral activity. My own magic mixes usually include Echinacea, Andrographis, Thyme, Astragalus, Reishi & Shiitaki mushrooms. See your qualified naturopath or herbalist as products vary enormously in quality so you don't waste your money or your health.


    Insomnia Keeping You Awake?

    Having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep? Insomnia often results in daytime fatigue, irritability and difficulty remembering things with an estimated 10 and 25% of the population suffering from insomnia. Chronic irritability can disrupt work and relationships, while fatigue is a factor in vehicle accidents and poor health. Groups who are particularly at risk for sleep deprivation include night shift workers, physicians, truck drivers, parents and teenagers.

    Signs and Symptoms

    Insomnia can be categorized into four separate conditions. Sleep onset insomnia is inability to get to sleep which may be caused by environmental factors such as central nervous system stimulants including caffeine, alcohol, smoking, irregular sleeping times and stress. It may also be caused by biological factors such as pain from an injury or illness or difficulty breathing.  Sleep rhythm insomnia is where a person is wakeful at night and sleepy during the day. This is common in shift workers, jetlag, head injuries and sleep apnoea (cessation of breathing while sleeping). Early morning awakening (EMA) is a third type of insomnia which usually has to do with mental/emotional states, such as depression, anxiety or extreme stress. Finally, sleep maintenance insomnia is difficulty remaining asleep throughout the night which again is often attributed to your mental or emotional state and stress.

    Natural Remedies
    Herbal medicines provide enormous relief from insomnia and help to rebalance natural sleep patterns. Valerian is the most commonly used herb for insomnia, particularly in Europewhere it is well researched and has a long traditional use. It is now supported by the World Health Organisation (1999) as treatment for restlessness and sleep disorders. Valerian is sedative, anti-spasmodic, relaxant and reduces anxiety. Mexican Valerian is best used for maintenance insomnia. Passionflower, Hops and Zizyphus are also commonly prescribed herbs for both insomnia and anxiety and combine well together. As with all herbal medicines they can take one to two weeks for their full effect and are best taken one hour before bed with a repeat dose in the night if necessary. There are no problems of tolerance or dependency. The potency of the herbs does depend on the quality and quantity of the herb so they are best prescribed by a qualified health practitioner, particularly if there are other medications involved.

    Nutritional supplements can also help calm the overactive nervous system. Calcium and magnesium have sedative effects when taken in the evening. Even a cup of warm milk or a piece of cheese after dinner is calming as it provides calcium. However, avoid bedtime snacks of grains or sugars which raise blood sugars and inhibit sleep. Homeopathic melatonin is also useful for jetlag.

    Self Care
    It is essential that accumulated stress is managed appropriately so that the mind and body can unwind prior to sleep. You might try a warm bath with lavender oil in the evening, chamomile tea, 15 minutes of stretching before bed, gentle lovemaking, listening to white noise or relaxation CDs. Some people find the sound of white noise or nature sounds, such as the ocean or forest, to be soothing for sleep. Reading something spiritual or religious or praying also helps people to relax. Remove the TV from your bedroom, eat at least two hours before bed and do not have a large, heavy dinner. Avoidance of stimulants such as caffeine, smoking and alcohol is obviously essential.

    Exercise during the day demonstrates well researched benefits for insomnia as does meditation and yoga. Findings suggest that meditation for as little as 15 minutes a day can raise melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland that induces drowsiness and sleep. Sleep in complete darkness as even a small amount of light in your bedroom can disrupt circadian rhythms (normal sleeping patterns) and melatonin production. If you get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, do not turn the light on as melatonin production will cease immediately for that night. For some sufferers of insomnia, these measures may be enough. Otherwise see a qualified health practitioner if symptoms persist.

    Sweet dreams….

    Sperm Busters & Boosters

    A Danish study concluded that between 1938 and 1990 sperm concentration has fallen from 113 million per milliliter (ml) to 66 million per ml—a decrease of almost 50 percent in fifty years. Based on these statistics, male infertility is on the rise. Why is this? What can you do about it so you don't end up shooting blanks?

    Avoiding known factors that damage sperm while increasing those that boost and protect sperm is the key to high numbers of good quality sperm long term. Male factors represent approximately 40% of the reason some couples have difficulty conceiving so it's time to do some homework men!

    Natural treatments with diet and lifestyle changes, herbal medicines and nutritional supplements can make a dramatic improvement in sperm parameters. However, you need at least 3 months of targeted treatments for the beneficial effects to follow through as it takes 100 days to produce and mature sperm.

    Sperm Busters:
    • Plastics disrupt hormonal balance by exerting an oestrogenic effect. Avoid using squishy plastic containers No. 5 or plastic cling wrap, especially for hot foods. Use a water bottle which says on it BPA-free (you can buy from Kathmandu or camping shops) or use a stainless steel bottle.
    • Mobile phones snuggled up close to your privates is not a good idea. Sperm are particularly vulnerable to radiation damage so try carrying it in your top pocket instead, place it on the corner of the desk rather than on your body when you can, and switch it off at night so you get at least 8 hours when your body is not being radiated by the mobile constantly picking up a signal.
    • Phytoestrogen foods Excessive intake of foods that naturally contain plant oestrogens will not help your testosterone-driven sperm production! The main ones are beer and soy. Be aware soy is now an additive in many processed and packaged foods so eat natural whole foods - the basics: vegetables, protein, salads, fruit, grains.
    • Medications such as anti-depressants, steroids such as Prednisolone and anabolic steroids actually decrease fertility so seek alternatives or avoid.
    • Hot is not sexy Cotton boxer shorts are better than briefs, stop crossing your legs and avoid heated car seats. Squashing the testes for long periods can harm nerves and impede blood flow so long hours of cycling on narrow bike seats has been shown to reduce male fertility. If you love cycling, keep it short and fast instead and try mixing it up with some other sports.
    • Toxins We are surrounded by chemicals in our environment nowadays from cleaning products, pest control, building materials, paints to heavy metals so try to avoid wherever possible by asking or doing some investigation yourself into alternatives, wear protective clothing, masks or ventilation, especially in the workplace. 
    • Stress Chronic stress exhausts your adrenal glands, reduces testosterone and causes inflammation in the body which damages sperm as well as all other body cells. Find an outlet for your stress whether it be exercise, meditation, nature, creativity but more importantly, change your thoughts and perspective on your life. Life is wonderful and you are great!
    Sperm Boosters:
    • Zinc is the number 1 male fertility mineral. It is essential for all aspects of fertility (both male and female) from testes and prostate development, sperm count, motility and morphology to DNA replication for genetic material. Highest food sources include beef, lamb, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.
    • Healthy Diet The healthier your diet, the better your fertility. Keep it simple with lots of fresh, unprocessed meals of vegetables, salads, protein, fruit, Omega 3 oils which provide all your nutrients and antioxidants. Start cutting out junk food, cigarettes, alcohol, caffeine and sugar.
    • The Good Oils These are oils with anti-inflammatory properties that make up the cell membranes of sperm, keeping them supple and fluid for fertilisation to occur: oily fish such as salmon, trout, sardines, mackerel, avocado, extra virgin olive oil, flaxseed oil, nuts and seeds.
    • Be Cool As mentioned above, keep it cool, wear breathable cotton and avoid daily saunas and hot spas. 
    • Pump Your Muscles When you build muscle, you boost your testosterone levels so include some weight training or resistance training, rather than all cardio exercise - mix it up for benefits all round.
    • Think Sexy Your thoughts and emotions have an enormous impact on your testosterone levels. One study tested men before and after watching a football match, showing a rise in testosterone level after the game. You are the star of your own life - get out there and embrace it!
    Whether you envision being a father now, in 10 years' time or you already have children, everything you do accumulates in the body to create your health. Start making changes today - your own health, the legacy of your future and health of your prospective child will thank you for it!

    Easy Winter Chicken Casserole

    Slow cookers or the old fashioned term, crockpots are seeing a resurgence in modern cooking. This recipe is really easy  (fool-safe), will boost your immune system and ward away winter chills and infections. The best part is you come home from a busy day to the house filled with the delicious aromas of tonight's dinner already cooked for you!

    Nutrients are destroyed when food is cooked too fast or at high temperatures so using a slow cooker makes the food easier to digest, highly nutritious and quick to prepare when you have little time. I make this at least once a month for chilly nights. It tastes amazing with the chicken literally falling off the bone and makes enough to feed the whole family or keep in the fridge as leftovers for the next few days/nights as I do.


    • 1 whole organic chicken - not just free range as they are still fed grains that are sprayed and genetically modified soy to fatten them up, ask your local butcher, markets or Coles/Woolworths sell them now at reasonable prices. Using a whole chicken means you have the bones and ligaments as well as the chicken meat which provide numerous minerals and nutrients - always preferrable!
    • 1/4 cup of pearl barley - very warming and adds extra low glycaemic carbohydrate for winter in the form of whole grains, contains gluten so if coeliac substitute with millet, rice or sweet potato
    • 1/3 cup of quinoa - South American seed that is now grown in Australia, is gluten free, high in protein like lysine as well as calcium, phosphorus, and iron. Choose whichever colour appeals to you - white, red (higher iron content), black and rinse with water before use.
    • 1 strip of Kombu seaweed - high in minerals, especially iodine which is low in Australian soils (Hence the high level of hypothyroidism in Australia), helps remove heavy metals and toxins from the body
    • Fresh sprig or 1 tsp dried thyme - adds flavour to chicken, anti-bacterial for lungs and all winter respiratory infections
    • 1/2 Japanese pumpkin - easier to cut and more flavour than Butternut or Gray pumpkin, lots of betacarotene for your eyes and all body cells
    • 1 brown onion - onions are perfect antidote for any coughs and colds - you'll realise how potent they are when you chop it up! 
    • 1Tb of apple cider vinegar - the acid helps breakdown the bones and meat to secrete the minerals we need making it easier to digest. Apple cider vinegar is naturally fermented so it still retains its natural antimicrobial and healing properties
    • Any other vegetables you like or have in the fridge to use up - carrots, celery, parsnips, etc. As there are already carbohydrates with the barley and quinoa, I would not suggest adding potatoes but you could substitute instead
    • 1 bunch of parsley - add at the end once taken off the heat as so delicate to add extra minerals especially iron
    • Miso paste - stir in 1 Tb to crockpot if serving all for dinner or 1 tsp to individual plates if going to keep some and reheat at a later date as it is destroyed by cooking. Adds flavour, salt and minerals. Easily digested as traditionally fermented. Use whichever type you like but the lighter the colour, the cooler the effect so dark brown barley miso is generally for very cold climates. If you skip the miso, the add sea salt and pepper!
    Rinse barley and quinoa with water quickly by swirling in pot and throwing excess water out. Place in crockpot and chop Kombu seaweed into 2cm strips with scissors into pot. Rinse chicken and place whole into pot. Throw in thyme, chopped pumpkin into 3-4cm chunks, diced onion, apple cider vinegar and add enough filtered water to cover chicken. Cook on low heat with lid on for at least 8 hours but sometimes I leave it for 12 hours and it has been fine so long as there is enough water, it never dries out. 

    Remove from heat and gently cut up the chicken in the crockpot into quarters - should just fall away from the bony carcass by now. Mix 1 Tb of miso paste in cup with hot water and stir into crockpot if serving it all for dinner or 1 tsp to individual plates if going to keep some and reheat at a later date as it is destroyed by cooking. Also stir in 1 bunch of chopped parsley for extra fresh greens. You could even add spinach or baby spinach here instead as the heat in the casserole will wilt it perfectly without needing extra cooking. You can experiment with your own flavours eg adding lemon rind/halves, lentils, etc

    The beauty of slow cookers or crockpots is their ease to use without slaving over a hot oven or when you are time poor with all the nutrition still kept in tact and easily digestible. Most come with a small recipe book so you can experiment with tagines, breakfast porridge, soups, stews, desserts and curries. They sell them at Kmart, Target, David Jones and all major department stores from $60. Winter bargain!


    Tune into 99.3FM Radio Saturdays 7-10am

    Accentuate The Positive Radio Show 

    with presenter Karen Swain 9.45am Saturdays

    Claudette is now a regular guest on Accentuate The Positive radio show every Saturday morning 7-10am, giving the latest nutritional research and health tips to make you want to spring out of bed every morning!
    Latest talks include the health wonders of beetroot, nuts to bring out the smile in you, why water is the elixir of life and more...


    Butter or Margarine - which is better?

    There is so much conflicting media about whether it is better to eat butter or margarine or even to decipher which is which, with the multitude of "spreads" on the supermarket fridge shelf. When margarine was invented it was seen as the revolutionary health product with a big HealthyHeart tick to promote it but recent research now shows otherwise.  

    Margarine is made by passing hydrogen gas through liquid oils in the presence of a metal catalyst of nickel and aluminum to make a semi-solid state to which yellow colouring is added to make it look like butter. Many margarines claim they are rich in Omega 3 oils, essential fatty acids, made from healthy olive oil but even if they start with these products, the hydrogenation process destroys these beneficial fatty acids, converting them into trans fats. The finished product is low in Omega 3 oils, high in trans fats. Trans fats are synthetic fats that are fairly new to our food chain due to modern processing methods so we are only seeing the effects on our health in recent years. They cannot be broken down and used by the body but instead cause free radical damage to our cells. Trans fats make platelets sticky, increasing the likelihood of a clot in a small blood vessel causing strokes, heart attacks or circulatory occlusion. They can also increase blood cholesterol levels by up to 15% and blood fat levels up to 47%. Unfortunately, the HealthyHeart criteria is simplistically based upon the out-dated research of saturated fat content without any measurement of trans fats, creating enormous misleading confusion for the public. Also in Australia food companies are not required to list the amount of trans fats on the nutrition label so we have no way of knowing how much trans fat we are eating. There is no upper safety limit for the recommended daily intake of trans fat, simply that “it should be as low as possible”. However, New York City Council has been very proactive, passing laws a couple of years ago to limit the maximum amount of trans fats in all foods cooked and sold in NY city. To demonstrate this imminent health concern, adding 1 steak to your diet everyday, you increase your saturated fat by 5%, which increases your risk of a heart attack by 17%. By adding one teaspoon of margarine to what you normally eat each day, you increase your trans fats by 2%, but your risk of a heart attack increases by a shocking 93%.

    Butter has received an enormous amount of flack in the past 30 years since margarine was invented but the tide has changed in recent times as more research is done into different type of fats and their function and effects in the body. Butter
     is mainly saturated fat, 9% steric acid, 19% oleic acid, 38% palmitic acid and low in Omega 3 oils. In excess these acids can interfere with the beneficial anti-inflammatory effect of omega 3 oils. There was also concern about the cholesterol content of butter as 100gm of butter contains about 250mg of cholesterol. However, recent research shows that only 20% of cholesterol comes from a diet of high cholesterol foods, while the other 80% of cholesterol is made in your body to carry around sugars and poor quality fats, such as trans fats, from processed foods. The good thing about butter is it is easily digested being a natural product, helps improve some strains of good bacteria in your gut for digestion producing butyric acid and being a solid at room temperature, it does not oxidise or go rancid easily with high temperatures, causing damaging free radicals in the body cells when eaten. Therefore it can be used in frying and other high heat applications. Of course, it needs to be eaten in moderation (1tsp/day) and yes, it is difficult to spread unless it is at room temperature or spread on hot toast! You can blend your butter with olive oil at home to make your own spreadable butter or try alternatives like mashed avocado, humus, drizzled olive oil, tahini, nut spreads.

    If there is one thing you do for your health, do not consume margarine or any other "olive oil spread". Despite millions of dollars of marketing to convince us otherwise, the fact remains that butter is a natural product made from cow's milk, while margarine does not exist in nature and has to be made in a laboratory. Would you rather eat synthetic chemicals or food?

    Feel Like It's All Work, No Play?

    Time is the essential commodity nowadays as we realise that the work/life balance it crucial for both health and happiness. Life without the play factor is pretty dull, unfulfilling and deadening. Personally, I had always thought that the solution was to do everything faster, with time as my enemy, so then I would have more time for personal interests like sport, relaxation, friends and family, until I read a quote from The Universe, TUT's Adventurers Club:

    "The trick to blending work and play lies not in what you do, but in how you view what you do. See work as play and see play as important - very important"

    This hit me like a brick - I get it! I've always been passionate about my work and practice but even still there are always areas that you don't like doing, like your tax for instance, so rather than feeling trapped in a never-ending cycle which you can't get out of, it was to change my attitude and feeling towards it instead. It didn't change what I had to do but this simple reminder took an enormous pressure off and turned my work into enjoyment. I now have this stuck to the wall above my desk and if I ever feel myself groaning over any aspect of my business, I look at this and I feel the shift inside so it suddenly seems to become easier, certainly more fun and I get it done faster too.

    Obviously this is easier said than done when you have spent years ingraining a habit or our inner critic that I like to call the “gremlin”. At the The Conscious Club the other week I heard the neuroscientist, Dr Joe Dispenza from the movie What The Bleep Do You Know? talking about breaking the habit of the mind and recreating what you want in life. As he reiterated, the key is the combination of thought and emotion which makes it so powerful. Once you have the feeling, the action follows more easily. This applies both for the positives and negatives in our lives. It creates choice between your thoughts and emotional reactions. But if you've never known what it feels like to sing from the rooftops, it can be difficult to visualise and feel the joy that would accompany this. This is where I have found the ThetaHealing comes in as a tool to retrain the brain what these feelings feel like Simply repeating any affirmation or goal is not going to get you anywhere very fast - the key is to visualise and feel like you've already achieved it now in your life!

    Prioritising play is also a fairly new concept as most of us were brought up in a society where play was seen as frivolous that should be placed well after work. However, research shows that employees who work less hours to enable more free time for relaxation and families, get the job done faster and more efficiently because they're more motivated, relaxed, happier and thereby, feel more fulfilled in their jobs. Hence the saying, if you want a job done, give it to a busy person - they've got less time at the job but they actually achieve more. Interestingly, more high profile executives are putting this into practice such as Facebook's CFO Sheryl Sandberg who leaves work at 5.30pm everyday to be home for her children. 

    What can you do to bring more play into your life?
    Question whether you are taking on too much and preventing others from doing their fair share. You may be blaming them unnecessarily for not taking on more responsibility or beating yourself up for not getting everything done, although it maybe unrealistic. Be clear with your boundaries and learn to say No. Doing things you don’t want to only creates stress so change what you do or change your attitude as stress is the number cause of most health problems I see in my practice. Ask yourself these questions: What am I most grateful for in my life right now? Who do I love? Who loves me? What am I committed to in my life right now? What am I most happy about in my life right now?  What am I proud of in my life right now? What am I most excited about in my life right now? What do I enjoy most in my life right now? It does not have to take loads of time or money to have fun. Smiling and laughing occasionally is a start and helps to keep the "gremlin" at bay.


    Yoghurt Boosts Sexual Performance

    Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have made a surprising discovery that yoghurt boosts sexual performance of male mice and even increases the size of their testes! This was an unexpected result as they were actually studying the influence of probiotic diets on obesity. However, the yoghurt eating mice had 10x the active follicle density - giving them thicker, shiny hair, 5-15% heavier testes, faster insemination of their partners, and even developed a "male swagger" pointing their testes outwards. Females eating the yoghurt gave birth to larger litters and were more efficient at weaning their pups. Now researchers at Harvard University are studying the link between yoghurt intake and semen quality in humans with similar results. Source: The Week.

    The Pill - What All Women Should Know

    The Pill is a convenient and effective contraceptive of synthetic, powerful hormones (various combinations of oestrogen and progesterone) used to override and suppress the body’s own production of these hormones. As a result, ovulation does not occur as the ovaries are suppressed and the eggs unused. These hormones are involved in cell replication, bone density and the body’s production of other hormones, such as DHEA and testosterone.

    What many women don't know are the unwanted side effects of the Pill which are more common than women realise and become accumulative in nature as most women stay on the Pill for years at a time. These include:
    Vitamin and mineral deficiencies. I advise all women taking the Pill to take a multivitamin each day but unfortunately the Pill actually affects how these are absorbed as well. Palan PR et al, American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology 2006 v194:e35-e38
    Increased copper and vitamin A storage, so that there is a risk of toxicity from too much.
    Increased risk of blood clots and high blood pressure: do not smoke whilst on the Pill!
    Increased pigmentation of the skin, causing brown skin marks.
    Decreased liver clearance ability, impairing liver function, causing a build up of toxicity in the body
    Increased risks of reproductive cancers. Meta-analysis of case-control studies has found that use of oral contraceptive drugs is associated with an increased risk of premenopausal breast cancer, especially with use before first full-term pregnancy in parous women. Kahlenborn C, Modugno F, Potter DM et al. Mayo Clin Proc 2006; 81 (10): 1290-1302.
    Reactivation of the body’s production of hormones upon cessation of the Pill may be delayed or dysfunctional, causing hormonal irregularity and imbalance as well as infertility
    When used for purposes other than contraception, it does not correct the underlying causes of the hormonal dysfunction that will reemerge once the Pill is stopped.
    Increased tendency to develop vaginal infections including candida.
    Can trigger or exacerbate migraines and/or headaches.

    Cautions to be aware of:
    Antibiotics, anti-epileptics, anti-fungals, vomiting, severe diarrhoea decrease its effectiveness: additional contraceptive measures should be employed during this time!
    Do not smoke whilst on the OCP as blood clotting is increased significantly by both the Pill and smoking. Spontaneous, fatal heart attacks and strokes of seemingly healthy women in their 20-30 years have been reported when using both drugs.


    A women's hormone-free, safe, effective and easy-to-use contraceptive that actually works! FemCap is a reusable, latex-free, FDA-approved contraceptive cervical cap. It’s easy to insert and remove yourself, not as bulky and more effective than a diaphragm and doesn’t need to be fitted by a gynaecologist. It’s not sold in Australia yet as our market here is so small but easily available with comprehensive notes & DVD by post.

    Natural Contraception

    Claudette also teaches Natural Contraception using temperature and cervical mucus charting together with your lunar dates. From her clinic, Claudette sells the Natural Fertility Management kits for both conception and contraception as well as helping women re-establish hormonal balance and regular cycles again after coming off the Pill, breastfeeding, around menopause and other hormonal conditions affecting the reproductive system such as PCOS, endometrisois, fibroids, period pain, fertility problems or a total absence of periods.

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