Endometriosis Awareness – Ending the Silence

Endometriosis Awareness 

This month is Endometriosis awareness month and I have been invited to be a guest speaker for Endometriosis Australia and their endometriosis awareness campaign called “Ending the Silence.” Our aim is to bring awareness about this disease that is often overlooked. It is an issue myself as an endometriosis expert feels very passionately about. I treat women suffering from this disease every day and I hope that one day, endometriosis can be a word of the past.

Through awareness and education, let’s try and get women the early intervention and help they need sooner, rather than later.

What is Endometriosis
Endometriosis, which is an inflammatory gynaecological disease, by which endometrial like tissue grows outside the endometrium. It can spread outside the endometrium into the pelvis, bowel and intestines. It has even been known to get into the brain, joints and around the heart.This disease affects 1 in 10 women, often causing immense pain for them.

According to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologist Guidelines for the Management of Endometriosis, it can cause the following symptoms:

Heavy Menstrual Bleeding
Period Pain
Pain with sex
Ovulation Pain
Irritable bowel like symptoms
Bladder issues
Chronic fatigue
Pain with bowel movement

The disease can also cause other symptoms such as :

Bloated belly that looks pregnant around your period (known as endo belly)

Bloated belly that looks pregnant and you are told it is from certain foods, but it isn’t, or may be a combination of food and inflammation from endometriosis (also known as endo belly)

UTI like symptoms that aren’t a UTI

Bleeding from the bowel with your period

Low Iron with no explanation

Being told you have IBS, but you don’t have IBS

Migraines/Headaches that are worse around your period

Irrational mood swings

There are so many other symptoms that could also be pointers to endometriosis. 

This disease can also play major havoc with hormones and the libido. Many women with can have pain on intercourse which further lessens the desire around sex.
Women with endometriosis often have painful periods and can’t get out of bed, so if you experience this, there is a good chance that you actually have it.
Women with endometriosis can also have other hormonal disturbances such as mood swings, fatigue, restlessness etc. They can also have other symptoms such as migraines, headaches, dizziness, constipation, pain with bowel movements, joint pains and all manner of symptoms created from the inflammation that endometriosis is caused by and also creates

How Many Women Suffer from Endometriosis?
Endometriosis has now reached an all time high in its ever-growing presence. While the current research says that 1 in 10 women are affected by endometriosis, as an endometriosis expert, I believe, as do many others, that these figures may be grossly under exaggerated. Research also shows that a significant portion of women affected with endometriosis are asymptomatic (no symptoms) and may only ever get diagnosed if they are having issues with having a baby, or they may never be diagnosed at all. In addition to this, many women diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome actually have endometriosis and not IBS.

Many women have also been told period pain is normal and hence many never seek help for a condition that can be debilitating on their life and those around them. Women who suffer period pain and other menstrual related symptoms caused by endometriosis are often ‘missed’ and ‘dismissed’ by multiple healthcare professionals and it can take up to 12 years from onset of symptoms to a definitive diagnosis being made. Women with period pain caused by endometriosis have to live a life of pain, trauma and physical and emotional torment. Many of these women are barely getting through a day, let alone a whole month of exhausting symptoms related to this disease. Some sadly even turn to suicide.

The Western Medicine Approach on the Causation and Treatment of Endometriosis
To date, Western medicine does not know how or even why it occurs. The only solution that has been offered in the past was to laser it. This usually has a recurrence rate of up to 80%. Recently many doctors have been treating this disease by excising (cutting it out), which offers better relief with less recurrence. I do need to stress that when a surgeon is needed, it needs to be done by an advanced trained laparoscopic surgeon, who has had extra specialised training, and is an expert in endometriosis excision and management, and is not just any gynaecologist. This is where many go wrong and haven’t had the disease treated properly.

Despite the increased success in treating endometriosis through a surgical procedure, it still usually recurs in a majority of women.

So why isn’t the medical option alone working?

Primarily it is because they are just treating the symptoms and not the cause. You can take away most physical symptoms very easily, but if the real cause isn’t addressed at the same time, you have no chance of a full recovery. This includes emotional factors. In addition, many of the hormones that women are put on after surgery, mask the problem and can actually make it worse. By actually stopping the period, like many of these hormones do, there is an increased risk of further endometriosis growing. Sure, while you have no period, you have no pain or symptoms, but internally it is still there waiting to flare up again. Oral contraceptive pills containing estrogen must be avoided as they only add to making the problem worse. Progesterone only options should be looked at rather than a combined pill, if using hormones. These treatments also have limitations that include side effects in some women and contraceptive action for women desiring to conceive.

The Traditional Chinese Medicine Approach on the Causation & Treatment of Endometriosis
Firstly, I can only pass on what the Chinese have known and studied for 10,000 or more years, much longer than western medicine. They had the body and its internal organs mapped out longer before medical science in the west did.
In Chinese Medicine, they believe the liver governs the menstrual cycle, and that it also governs our emotions.They believe that through poor diet, lifestyle, medicines, environment etc, that these can then cause disruption to an organ in the body. Emotions such as anger, frustration, resentment, stress, irritability etc, can also cause the liver to be in disharmony. In Western Medicine terms, we know that poor diet and emotional factors can unlock predisposed hereditary issues, or dispositions through DNA recoding. Yes, diet can affect your DNA coding and so can emotional issues. Similarly we can reverse some disease states, and reprogram DNA coding through a healthy diet and fixing our emotional health.

When the liver is in disharmony, the Chinese believe it can cause blockages in our system. Western medicine now also believes that emotions can cause physical symptoms and we often see this is psychiatric, or body-mind medicine. These blockages then cause what we call stagnation. The Chinese believe that when the Qi (energy) becomes stagnant, it causes what they call Liver Qi Stagnation, and this is the cause of many gynaecological conditions such as endometriosis and PMS. As the Qi stagnation is left long term, it then affects the blood and turns it stagnant too. Imagine damming a river and the longer the water sits, the more stagnant it becomes because it no longer flows. This is where the Liver Blood Stagnation comes from and what they believe endometriosis is manifested from. When we look at endometriosis, it does present as blood clotting and pain. Basically it is like a varicose vein that has all that old, stagnant blood in it. The circulation is no longer moving and the blood now turns dark and causes pain.

Chinese medicine believes that not only is diet and herbal medicine needed to move the stagnant blood and help prevent the disease coming back, it also believes that the emotional component behind it also needs to be addressed. In Chinese medicine they use lots of warming and blood thinning herbs that are also anti-coagulants, but are also anti-spasmotics. The Chinese medicine also has herbs to help the liver function and also help with emotional wellbeing.

Chinese VS Western Medicine
The only difference between Chinese Medicine and Western medicine is the treatment principles. Chinese medicine looks at treating the cause of the issue, which means the symptoms get sorted by addressing the cause. Western medicine only treats symptomatically and therefore the cause of the issue is often not treated. That huge difference is why Chinese Medicine does get such great results. But like anything, it also depends on who you see and their experience in that field. But, I must stress that both medicines are equally as important and both are needed to get the best results possible. It is about a team effort and using a multi modality approach. It is also about finding your rich team too. I will talk about this now. 

Dr Andrew Orr’s Recommended Approach to Treating Endometriosis
Endometriosis has a highly variable disease state, and thus a multi-modality approach is needed to treat it. Targeting different pathways is likely to be important to move toward precision health (personalized medicine) in endometriosis. People with endometriosis need a team of people looking after them, not just one person and one approach.
For severe cases you will need to see a good advanced laparoscopic surgeon to get as much of the endometriosis cut out (not lasered). Surgery is a much needed option if the pain is severe because it helps get rid of the endometriosis that can be seen. However, it does not deal with the microscopic implants of endometriosis that can’t be seen, and this is why endometriosis is likely to occur again. This is where the Chinese Medicine can help. You then use the Chinese medicine to treat the microscopic implants of endometriosis and stop it progressing further and therefore treat the cause. This will be the primary treatment after surgery and help stop it from recurring. This can be done along side medical hormone treatments as well.

Following the correct diet can also aid this healing process. The modern Western diet consists of many foods with high GI levels, causing inflammation to the body and therefore fueling conditions such as endometriosis. There are all sorts of diets out there attesting to be the cure for endometriosis, but half are them are actually making it worse. Unless the diet is about reducing grains, high GI carbs, sugars, and increasing proteins, then it isn’t going to help endometriosis.

Lastly, see a good counsellor. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine will help both the physical & emotional side, but sometimes solution-based talk therapy is needed for the best results. I provide clients with a list of preferred gynaecologists and counsellors within my appointments with them.

To support my view on the treatment of endometriosis, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists guidelines for treating endometriosis now states that Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine is a recommended therapy. A multi modality approach really can help, but for anything to work more effectively, you too, have to make a commitment.

Who I am and Why this Means so Much to Me
I am a Reproductive Medicine and Women’s Health Specialist, and an Endometriosis Expert with over 20 years of experience in Women’s Health Medicine and treating and managing endometriosis. I know all too well the trials and tribulations women have to go through before someone actually listens and gives these poor women a proper diagnosis. I also have loved ones with this disease and have also lived with a chronic painful disease too. While I may not fully understand and feel what women with endometriosis actually goes through, I do know what it is like to live daily life with a painful chronic inflammatory disease that can rule your life on every level. 

The one thing I do want all women to know is that “Period pain IS NOT normal” and all too often women are told that period pain is normal. Nothing could be further from the truth. We need to educate women and young girls that period pain is not normal.

I have a motto of “Leaving No Stone Left Unturned” and I apply this to every patient I see with period pain, and those potentially suffering from endometriosis. I would like to see better education and awareness for the general public, but I would also like better education and awareness for healthcare professionals. I would like to see all healthcare professional use my motto and make sure that no woman is ever missed, or is dismissed with this horrible disease ever again.

I would like to conclude with one last message “ Women need to know that period pain IS NOT normal and that early detection and early intervention and treatment is the key to treating any disease properly.”

Lets end the silence about this horrible disease. Please support Endometriosis Awareness and this month please support Endometriosis Australia with their High Teas to promote endometriosis awareness. These High Teas will be run nationally on March 25th and in every capital city and some smaller cities also. Please see the Endometriosis Australia website for details (www.endometriosisaustralia.org) 

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

The Brisbane Baby Maker, Endometriosis Expert and Women’s Health Crusader

“Leaving no Stone Unturned”

“Period Pain IS NOT normal”

Vitamin D deficiency increases risk of chronic headache

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Date: January 4, 2017

New studies have shown that Vitamin D deficiency can increase the risk of chronic headache, according to a new study from the University of Eastern Finland. These new findings were published in he journal – Scientific Reports.

The researchers from the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study, KIHD, analysed the serum vitamin D levels and occurrence of headache in approximately 2,600 men aged between 42 and 60 years. The research showed that in 68% of these men, the serum vitamin D level was below 50 nmol/l, which is generally considered the threshold for vitamin D deficiency. Those with low levels of Vitamin D were more prone to Chronic headache occurring at least on a weekly basis.

In Australia over 97% of the population are known to be Vitamin D deficient. This is because we are now staying indoors longer and sunscreens are also blocking some of the absorption on this necessary vitamin. Plus, you need to be outside in the sun at certain times of the day, for certain periods, without sunscreen on for proper absorption to occur. Our diet is another source of vitamin D and we are also lacking there.

Vitamin D deficiency is also linked to other chronic disease states and is a big part of people developing osteoporosis. Vitamin D is very much needed for healthy bones and also a healthy immune system

At Shen Therapies we can help people with all sorts of Vitamin, Mineral and Nutrient deficiencies and help you get back to optimum health in no time. We also carry a high potency Vitamin D supplement that will get your Vitamin D levels back to where they should be. We can also send you for blood tests to get your vitamin D levels checked too.

When was the last time you got your Vitamin D levels checked?

Parental obesity linked to delays in child development

Date- January 2nd 2017

Over 70% of adults in Australia are now overweight, or obese and not only did this pose significant health impacts for this adults, but studies are now showing that the genetic mode of inheritance is now having a huge physical, psychological and developmental impact on children of these adults.

 

Children of obese parents may be at risk for developmental delays, according to a study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health. The investigators found that children of obese mothers were more likely to fail tests of fine motor skill — the ability to control movement of small muscles, such as those in the fingers and hands. Children of obese fathers were more likely to fail measures of social competence, and those born to extremely obese couples also were more likely to fail tests of problem solving ability.

The study, appearing in Pediatrics, was conducted by scientists at the NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).

The researchers noted that studies indicate that obesity during pregnancy may promote inflammation, which could affect the fetal brain. They also added that some studies have indicated that obesity could affect the expression of genes in sperm and this is passed on via the genetic and paternal mode of inheritance.

Because of the link between parental obesity and developmental delays being confirmed, physicians should be taking parental weight into account when screening young children for delays and early interventional services.

At Shen Therapies, lifestyle and weight management is part of our Fertility program and a major focus for the couple with their preconception care. Healthy eggs and healthy sperm come from healthy parents, which then goes on to make healthy children. I

If you need help with lifestyle, weight loss and help getting ready to have a baby, then call us at Shen Therapies today. We have helped over 12,000 plus babies into the world with our high successful Fertility Program and we can help increase your chances of having a successful pregnancy by 96.1%.

 

 

 

 

New Type of Migraine May Be Due to Low Iron

As a women’s health specialist, on a daily basis I see women who have migraines and some are related to their menstrual cycle and some aren’t. Many migraines are blamed on all sorts of things from intolerances, certain foods, alcohol, preservatives, hormones and whatever else people may think that is causing their head to pound.

I know I have successfully treated Migraines for years and it does require and individualised approach and a multi-modality approach of many things.

But there is a type of Migraine that I do see often and is easily treated with a simple supplement. I often see this is vegetarian, vegans and women whom have had prolonged, heavy menstrual bleeds. A new study has given this migraine a name and also confirmed a treatment that I have used for years.

In a paper published in the journal Headache, Anne Calhoun, MD, and Nicole Gill, DO, Carolina Headache Institute Durham, North Carolina, describe a new type of headache dubbed “end-menstrual migraine.”

Many women who have migraine toward the end of menstruation may be best treated with iron supplements, a new study suggests.

They believe that end-menstrual migraine is not hormonally mediated but rather causally related to menstrual blood loss, resulting in a brief relative anaemia with consequent migraine. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), this type of migraine was identified thousands of years ago and long known to scholars and doctors of TCM. It was called a blood deficient headache, or migraine, because is was often seen after a loss of blood, or those who were anaemic (blood deficient)

According to the researchers: “This is migraine which occurs at the end of the menstrual period — maybe on the last few days of bleeding or after the bleeding has stopped,” Dr Calhoun, who runs a menstrual migraine clinic, explained online. “It is not the same thing as menstrual migraine, which generally occurs on the day or two before menstruation or on the first day or two of bleeding and is known to be hormonally mediated. If migraine occurs 5 days or more after the onset of bleeding this is not classic menstrual migraine.”

The menstrual migraine is very common, is normally caused by the withdrawal of estrogen, and can be treated with hormone therapy, or naturally with hormone regulation. But, this new ‘end menstrual migraine’ is different. Women getting this type of migraine will not respond to hormone treatment, or hormone regulation. Some women have both menstrual and end-menstrual migraine. Up to 25% of women will have this type of migraine.

The best way to fix this type of Migraine is with iron supplements and iron rich foods. In Traditional Chinese Medicine they would use blood-tonifying herbs that are rich in iron.

With any type of migraine, you should always consult your healthcare practitioner to check what is causing them. Many times it can be a combination of things that require several different modalities of treatment to get the best results.

At Shen Therapies we can treat all types of Migraines and will help you get the best results possible and get your quality of life back. 

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

 

 

 

 

Could your health issues be coming from your Thyroid?

E5PRGR Doctor examining the thyroid gland of a patient.

Thyroid issues are common, especially in women and especially if there is a family history of thyroid disorders in your family. When your thyroid goes out of balance, it can cause all sorts of symptoms and issues in your body. You need to know what to look for.

When Your Thyroid Goes Awry

Does fatigue drag you down day after day? Do you have brain fog, weight gain, chills, or hair loss? Or is the opposite true for you: Are you often revved up, sweaty, or anxious? Your thyroid gland could be to blame. This great regulator of body and mind sometimes goes haywire, particularly in women. Pregnancy and post partum is when it can also go haywire too. Getting the right treatment is critical to feel your best and avoid serious health problems.

What Is the Thyroid Gland?

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the front of the neck. It produces hormones that control the speed of your metabolism — the system that helps the body use energy. Thyroid disorders can slow down or rev up metabolism by disrupting the production of thyroid hormones. When hormone levels become too low or too high, you may experience a wide range of symptoms.

Symptom: Weight Gain or Loss

An unexplained change in weight is one of the most common signs of a thyroid disorder. Weight gain may signal low levels of thyroid hormones, a condition called hypothyroidism. In contrast, if the thyroid produces more hormones than the body needs, you may lose weight unexpectedly. This is known as hyperthyroidism. Hypothyroidism is far more common.

Symptom: Swelling in the Neck

A swelling or enlargement in the neck is a visible clue that something may be wrong with the thyroid. A goiter may occur with either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. Sometimes swelling in the neck can result from thyroid cancer or nodules, lumps that grow inside the thyroid. It can also be due to a cause unrelated to the thyroid.

Symptom: Changes in Heart Rate

Thyroid hormones affect nearly every organ in the body and can influence how quickly the heart beats. People with hypothyroidism may notice their heart rate is slower than usual. Hyperthyroidism may cause the heart to speed up. It can also trigger increased blood pressure and the sensation of a pounding heart, or other types of heart palpitations.

Symptom: Changes in Energy or Mood

Thyroid disorders can have a noticeable impact on your energy level and mood. Hypothyroidism tends to make people feel tired, sluggish, and depressed. Hyperthyroidism can cause anxiety, problems sleeping, restlessness, and irritability.

Symptom: Hair Loss

Hair loss is another sign that thyroid hormones may be out of balance. Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can cause hair to fall out. In most cases, the hair will grow back once the thyroid disorder is treated.

Symptom: Feeling Too Cold or Hot

Thyroid disorders can disrupt the ability to regulate body temperature. People with hypothyroidism may feel cold more often than usual. Hyperthyroidism tends to have the opposite effect, causing excessive sweating and an aversion to heat.

Other Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism can cause many other symptoms, including:

  • Dry skin and brittle nails
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands
  • Constipation
  • Abnormal menstrual periods

Other Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism can also cause additional symptoms, such as:

  • Muscle weakness or trembling hands
  • Vision problems
  • Diarrhea
  • Irregular menstrual periods

Thyroid Disorder or Menopause?

Because thyroid disorders can cause changes in menstrual cycle and mood, the symptoms are sometimes mistaken for menopause. If a thyroid problem is suspected, a simple blood test can determine whether the true culprit is menopause or a thyroid disorder — or a combination of the two.

Who Should Be Tested?

If you think you have symptoms of a thyroid problem, ask your doctor if you should be tested. People with symptoms or risk factors may need tests more often. Hypothyroidism more frequently affects women over age 60. Hyperthyroidism is also more common in women. A family history raises your risk of either disorder.

Thyroid Neck Check

A careful look in the mirror may help you spot an enlarged thyroid that needs a doctor’s attention. Tip your head back, take a drink of water, and as you swallow, examine your neck below the Adam’s apple and above the collarbone. Look for bulges or protrusions, then repeat the process a few times. See a doctor promptly if you see a bulge or lump.

Diagnosing Thyroid Disorders

If your doctor suspects a thyroid disorder, a blood test can help provide an answer. This test measures the level of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), a kind of master hormone that regulates the work of the thyroid gland. If TSH is high, it typically means that your thyroid function is too low (hypothyroid). If TSH is low, then it generally means the thyroid is overactive (hyperthyroid.) But just measuring TSH levels is not enough. People with thyroid disorders can have normal TSH levels and the other thyroid hormone levels and this is why thyroid antibody testing is probably the most important testing to be done. High thyroid antibodies mean you have a thyroid condition and your thyroid gland is under attack. Hopefully doctor will want to check all the other thyroid hormones in your blood. If he/she doesn’t, make sure they do. They should always check TSH, Free T3, Free T4, Reverse T3 and Thyroid antibodies. In some cases, imaging studies are used and biopsies are taken to evaluate a thyroid abnormality.

Hashimoto’s Disease

The most common cause of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto’s disease. This is an autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks the thyroid gland. The result is damage to the thyroid, preventing it from producing enough hormones. Hashimoto’s disease tends to run in families. This is why thyroid antibodies needs to be checked because people with Hashimotos disease can actually have normal TSH levels and normal Free T3, Free T4 and reverse T3 levels.

Other Causes of Hypothyroidism

In some cases, hypothyroidism results from a problem with the pituitary gland, which is at the base of the brain. This gland produces thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which tells the thyroid to do its job. If your pituitary gland does not produce enough TSH, levels of thyroid hormones will fall. Other causes of hypothyroidism include temporary inflammation of the thyroid or medications that affect thyroid function.

Graves’ Disease

The most common cause of hyperthyroidism is Graves’ disease. This is an autoimmune disorder that attacks the thyroid gland and triggers the release of high levels of thyroid hormones. One of the hallmarks of Graves’ disease is a visible and uncomfortable swelling behind the eyes. Again this is why testing thyroid antibodies is so important.

Other Causes of Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism can also result from thyroid nodules. These are lumps that develop inside the thyroid and sometimes begin producing thyroid hormones. Large lumps may create a noticeable goiter. Smaller lumps can be detected with ultrasound. A thyroid uptake and scan can tell if the lump is producing too much thyroid hormone.

Thyroid Disorder Complications

When left untreated, hypothyroidism can raise cholesterol levels and make you more likely to have a stroke or heart attack. In severe cases, very low levels of thyroid hormones can trigger a loss of consciousness and life-threatening drop in body temperature. Untreated hyperthyroidism can cause serious heart problems and brittle bones.

Treating Hypothyroidism

If you are diagnosed with hypothyroidism, your doctor will most likely prescribe thyroid hormones in the form of a pill. This usually leads to noticeable improvements within a couple of weeks. Long-term treatment can result in more energy, lower cholesterol levels, and gradual weight loss. Most people with hypothyroidism will need to take thyroid hormones for the rest of their lives.

Treating Hyperthyroidism

The most common treatment for hyperthyroidism is antithyroid medication, which aims to lower the amount of hormones produced by the thyroid. The condition may eventually go away, but many people need to remain on medication for the long term. Other drugs may be given to reduce symptoms such as rapid pulse and tremors. Another option is radioactive iodine, which destroys the thyroid gland over the course of 6 to 18 weeks. Once the gland is destroyed, or removed by surgery, most patients must begin taking thyroid hormones in pill form.

Surgery for Thyroid Disorders

Removing the thyroid gland can cure hyperthyroidism, but the procedure is only recommended if antithyroid drugs don’t work, or if there is a large goiter. Surgery may also be recommended for patients with thyroid nodules. Once the thyroid is removed, most patients require daily supplements of thyroid hormones to avoid developing hypothyroidism.

What About Thyroid Cancer?

Thyroid cancer is uncommon and is among the least deadly. The good thing with thyroid cancer is that it is encapsulated, so it won’t spread. Once the thyroid gland is removed, the cancer is removed also. The main symptom is a lump or swelling in the neck, and only about 5% of thyroid nodules turn out to be cancerous. When thyroid cancer is diagnosed, it is most often treated with surgery followed by radioactive iodine therapy or, in some cases, external radiation therapy

Complementary Medicine For Thyroid Issues

There are many complementary medicines that can assist thyroid issues and Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal medicine has successfully treated thyroid disorders for centuries. There are also supplements and other herbal medicine to assist thyroid function, or balancing the thyroid hormones. Diet and lifestyle changes are also very important for thyroid health, as is working on the gut to reduce inflammation in the body and assist the immune system as well. There are also compounded natural thyroid medications we can discuss with you also

At Shen Therapies, we specialise in all hormone issues and can help you with thyroid testing, blood tests etc  and thyroid management.

Alcohol & Binge Drinking May Cause Breathing Problems & Problems with Your Lungs.

alcohol affecting your health

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alcohol affects nearly every major organ in the human body, including the heart, the brain, the liver, pancreas, and kidneys. A team of researchers from Loyola University has found that binge drinking may be the reason it’s hard to catch your breath and can also make it harder for the lungs to breathe.

A recent new study has revealed that excessive alcohol consumption  affects the balance of nitric oxide levels in the lungs. Nitric oxide is a naturally produced gas that helps fight bacterial infections in the lungs. The Study revealed that the more a participant reported drinking, the lower their levels, which then showed that their bodies were less equipped to kill bacteria and fight off lung infections. Excessive alcohol drinkers were considered women who consumed more than one drink a day on average and men who had more than two drinks a day. This criteria alone, of what excessive drinking is, is going to shock people as many Australians and Americans drink way more that this daily.

The study’s lead author Dr. Majid Afshar, a pulmonologist at Loyola University’s School of Medicine commented that “Alcohol appears to disrupt the healthy balance in the Lung and Lung doctors may need to take this into consideration.”

One out of every four Australian and Americans drinks to excess and this leads to a frightening statistic of six alcohol poisoning deaths every day. Researchers will continue working to unravel the complex relationship between alcohol consumption and the human body.

The safe alcohol limits are defined as 4 standard drinks per week for a female and for men it is 2 standard drinks in one sitting, with at least 2 alcohol free days per week.

Next time you are struggling for breath, just remember it might be the amount of alcohol you are drinking. It may also mean you need to drop the drink and get fit and healthy too. Let’s not forget that many alcohols contain preservatives and sulphytes that may also cause breath problems too. Like I always say, a little bit of alcohol (mainly red wine) is good for the body, but a lot of it is going to cause problems with your health.

A Special Kind of Pill for Better Health and Increased Fertility

Chill PillSeveral weeks ago I mentioned that I was going to talk to you all about a special medicine and a special kind of pill, that can not only help you with gynaecological and other healthy issues, but it can also help with fertility and being able to fall pregnant. I was going to post this up straight away, but then I had to think more about it, because I know when you mention this subject, people can take a message with the intention of helping the wrong way.

So what is this special pill that I am talking about and not yet available on the market?

Well, it’s called a “Chill Pill” and many of us need to be taking it often, or learning to administer it often.

Now, before anyone gets all up in arms about this and what I am about to say, I need you to listen and take the personal out of this and just hear the reasons why. I have been on the other end of stress, where it almost killed me, literally and I know how it then affected my health and then exacerbated pre-existing health complaints I had. So I am coming from a place of understanding, but also a place of wanting to help people through my own experienced personally, but also what I see in clinical practice daily. I was one of those people who kept saying that weren’t stressed, or that I don’t feel stressed, yet all the while my body signs were saying something different. Like any change we need to make, the first part is admitting there may be something wrong in order to enact that change.

The sad fact is that 9 out of 10 people report being stressed and 41% of people feel they experience unhealthy levels of stress. Stress and the body’s response to it, can affect people in different ways. Small amounts of stress that are easily resolved can help to keep us motivated and achieve our goals. The difference with long term or chronic stress is that it can affect the whole body in a negative way. It is the long grade, low grade stress (or busyness) that often creeps up on us and causes issues. Many people do not even know they are stressed, or that stress is a big factor in their current health issues, because they are either so used to it, or their health issues takes over and they cannot even begin to see the correlation.

The harsh reality of many problems in life is that we are ultimately responsible for our own well-being. Not all people will want to accept this, as it is so much easier to blame someone or something else for our dilemmas.

Nearly every problem we experience in life may have an element of stress to it bought on by ourselves and our busy lives, with many of us not consciously knowing it is at play. That means everything from a common cold to a long-standing illness. Everyone reading this will be by now squirming in his or her seats as the harsh reality of such a statement hits home. But the real problem with this is that it is true. I know I had to face this reality with my own health issues. We do cause many of our own health problems, or exacerbate them, either consciously, or subconsciously.

The problem with any health matter is getting people to become responsible for their own self. So much illness is completely preventable if we would just take responsibility for our own actions. It is so much easier to blame someone, or something else with comments such as “ I have tried everything”, “That didn’t work for me”, or “I’ve been everywhere and nothing can help me”. The problem with many of these statements is that they are all just excuses not to take responsibility for our actions. Maybe it isn’t that the methods you are trying aren’t working. Maybe it is simply a matter of nothing will ever work unless we make that all important change for ourselves first. Sure, some disease states are hereditary, or someone have a predisposition for them, but even so, once the illness, or disease is expressed in the body, it is our responsibility to do what we can to control it. Yes, sometimes it doesn’t seem fair, I get that, but sometimes you just have to admit there is an issue that isn’t going away in a hurry, or keeps being flared up, because you need to make some changes in your life to better manage this issue. I know this is something I had to learn myself. Boy did I fight the reality of this in the beginning too.

Stress is also a major factor in many couples not being able to conceive. Stress affects cortisol levels and the adrenals and this then has an effect on testicular and ovarian function. Stress can affect both sperm and egg quality and high stress levels also affects our hormones and our immune system. Stress also has an effect on the uterine environment, which can affect implantation, affect circulation in the uterine lining, activate high number of natural killer cells and also increase the risk of miscarriage. High stress levels also exacerbate, or fuel many gynaecological and men’s reproductive health issues too.

Looking for the ‘Off ’ Butt on

Stress can affect each of us differently. Perhaps you are suffering from anxiety, feeling worried, depressed or irritable; even feeling exhausted and overwhelmed can indicate you are under stress. As well as affecting your ability to cope, stress may also be causing a disruption to your health. When under stress for a length of time, you may be more susceptible to tension headaches, high blood pressure, frequent colds and flus, digestive disorders or a worsening of an existing condition. So you can see, there are many reasons why it is so important to manage your stress now, take that “Chill Pill” before it starts impacting your health and wellbeing.

How Resilience Begins

Some people seem to deal with stress better than others. That doesn’t mean that the rest of us need to continue suffering. The ability to increase your resilience to stress is something that can be learned and helped with talking to a counsellor, or psychologist etc. There are supplements, nutrients, and vitamins to support your body’s individual stress response system too. Many people are lacking key nutrients because of our highly processed diets now and we also know that gut health, and a healthy microbiome is integral to psychological wellbeing and our moods. Taking a strain specific probiotic and a prebiotic daily can improve gut health and improve your immune system and psychological wellbeing. Omega 3 oils, multivitamins, melatonin, St John’s wort, passion flower, chamomile and many other herbs and nutrients can assist with coping with stress and its impact on the body. Don’t buy vitamins or supplements off the shelf at the chemist or supermarket as these are so inferior and contain lots of fillers and additives that aren’t good for you. Always see a qualified healthcare practitioner to get proper advice on what nutrients and supplements are needed for your health complaint. By the way, Dr Google is banned in my clinic. Dr Google is not a reliable way to find out about healthcare products and illnesses. Only a trained healthcare professional should be giving you that advice.

Some people may be in such a bad state that medication may be needed to get them over their first hurdles and develop some resilience and coping skills. This should always be done in conjunction with talk therapy as well. To be honest, most of us could do with talking to a good counsellor or psychologist to get some coping strategies to deal with work, business, health, or life better.

Lifestyle Tips to Help Manage Stress

Managing your stress is essential for long-term health and vitality. With proper support, a variety of stress relief techniques can be introduced, in conjunction with a

healthy eating plan to help you stress less. These may include:

  1. Exercise: Daily movement is essential for brain health. Aerobic exercise including running, swimming or walking is proven to decrease stress hormones. Resistance exercise is also great for stress relief, burning fats, increasing lean muscle and keeping you healthy.
  2. Enjoy the benefits of spending some time in the sun. Being in nature for 30 minutes per day can help reduce stress hormones and assist recovery after a stressful situation.
  3. Meditation and/or yoga can help to increase relaxation whilst benefiting not just the mind, but also the body. Learning to unwind is important for reducing stress.
  4. Favourite pastime: create time for YOU! Do something that you love, like listening to music, enjoying a candle lit bath, watching a movie, or starting a creative project – these fun activities can help you become more tolerant of everyday stress.
  5. Get creative and express yourself in as many different ways as feels good; singing, dancing, and art projects are but a few ways to do this.
  6. Eat seasonally, fresh and organic as much as possible. Include protein at every meal with a variety of fruit and vegetables.
  7. Include good fats such as omega 3s from fish, nuts and seeds, and olive oil to help with brain health and mood regulation.
  8. Drink plenty of water, a minimum of eight glasses per day and avoid excessive alcohol, caffeine, sugar and salt.
  9. See a counsellor, or psychologist to get some coping strategies in place.
  10. Acupuncture has been shown to be as effective as medications for stress and equal to the effects of talk therapy in several major studies.

Stress Less for Good Health

Our modern lifestyle is inescapable. The stress of it however, is manageable. This is why I mentioned the magic “Chill Pill”. All people have to do is take the advice and administer it often. You aren’t born stressed and being stress isn’t a part of you. It is a learnt behaviour that can be changed. You can become more resilient to the symptoms and long term effects of stress through the aid of individualised lifestyle and dietary changes, together with nutrients, supplement and in some cases medicines that your healthcare provider can help you with. Talk therapy such as counselling and psychology is an integral part of leaning to cope with stress and dealing with it better too. Supporting a healthy stress response will allow you to feel more energised, resilient and ready to tackle life, so you can maintain the state of health and wellness that you deserve. I hope that helps everyone and please remember to take off those superwoman/superman capes regularly, allow space to just breath and shut off the mind and just have some you time. It is OK to just sit there and not feel guilty about it. People need to learn to switch off the “busyness” and close down the 100 boxes they have open. It is Ok just to sit in peace and quietness and not feel guilty about it. Actually, your body needs to do this to maintain your inner health, but also your psychological health.

When was the last time you allowed yourself the space to just be, just take some quite time and let the world pass by for a little while without worrying about it?

Take care and relax and don’t work too hard. We work to live, not live to work.

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

 

Are Gluten Free Products Healthier For Us?

Are Gluten Free Products Healthier For Us?

Each day we are seeing more and more gluten free products lining the supermarket shelves. Today you can get everything from gluten-free bread, chips, pizza bases, cookies, cakes and other gluten-free products. But are there benefits to cutting out gluten, which is found in most of our grains such and wheat, oats etc?

While many consume gluten in many of the foods and products they are consuming daily and don’t realise the the affects on their health and digestive system, for many it is also a molecule that can wreak some serious havoc when consumed by the wrong person. But while many people look at gluten free products as now being a health food, the fact is that many of the gluten free products people are consuming, have more additives, have less vitamins and minerals, and contain more sugars than the gluten containing products. Should we just be going grain free instead of trying to use gluten frre products? Are these gluten free products healthier for you?

With marketing focussing more and more on the sales of gluten free products and the high prices that are charged for these products, we really need to look at what are in these products and ask the question…… Are these products really healthier for us?

I would say no, but let me explain why.

What Are Grains and What Do They Do To Our Health?

The word “Grains” does cover many of the common foods we eat now. Grains include wheat, corn, rye, rice, barley, oats, amaranth, buckwheat, millet and sorghum – and many others. These grains are used in so many products these days and part of the reason we are having so many problems with health issues. Bread, pasta, breakfast cereals, cakes, biscuits, pastries, crackers and so many other refined products consumed by many of us are all made with these inflammatory grains.

Let’s not forget that we give grains to cattle and livestock to fatten them up, make them grow faster (due to the hormone response from insulin) and add more fats into the meat for extra flavour.

The grain is the reproductive part of plant; it therefore needs to protect itself to enable future generations. The big difference with fruit; which is designed to be eaten by humans, is that when digested seeds are consumed, they are then spread further to ensure future generations.

As part of this overall protective mechanism, grains contain anti-nutrients, such as phytates, lectins, and other incomplete proteins. This is our major problem with grains. Even when gluten is removed from food products, these other inflammatory agents remain and most people are complete unaware of this and how much they are causing problems with their health and disruption to their digestive systems.

Phytates bind to minerals, vitamins and enzymes preventing them from being absorbed in your body. The Lectins found in grains have a significant impact in the gut, resulting in inflammation and poor absorption of nutrients – as well as insulin & leptin resistance. The inflammation that these anti-nutrients cause, is now known to be the cause of many modern diseases. But lets not forget that many of our grains that we consume daily are also genetically modified and this in itself is causing major disruption to our health and bodily functions. This alone could be a major factor in the increase of many disease states we are now seeing.

Refined grains are converted to sugar very quickly, which requires insulin to bring down the blood sugar level in the blood. High insulin levels cause the body to store fats and then stop the burning of fats. The high insulin also causes inflammation and insulin resistance – which is the cause of many of our health conditions. It can be the cause of anything from PCOS, Endometriosis, Depression, Diabetes, Heart Disease and many other health issues in this modern day. Consuming such a high carbohydrate load with every meal results in unstable, fluctuating blood sugar levels and this then results in hunger that is satisfied by consuming another high carbohydrate meal.

There is also differences between what we term as “Carbs”. “Good carbs” are fresh fruits and vegetables and naturally growing foods in their normal form. “Bad Carbs” are basically anything that is refined – (Breads, cereals, flour products, sugar and most of our packet based foods)

So What is Gluten and why is it so bad for our health?

Gluten is another protein that causes a lot of problems and is found in wheat, barley, rye, spelt, kamut, and oats (other grains have similar, troublesome proteins). Gluten is the only protein in food that’s indigestible and those who suffer from celiac disease experience adverse side effects from consuming  and — in severe cases —  touching  gluten. Gluten can slip through the intestinal lining, causing chronic damage, inflammation, nausea, diarrhea, stomach pain, and vomiting in these sufferers. There’s also evidence suggesting that people without coeliac can have a sensitivity to gluten, which still causes complications and forces them to live on a strict gluten-free diet. Whilst a lot of people may test negative for the autoimmune disease Coeliac, there is evidence to suggest most people do not handle this incomplete protein well.

Gluten causes gut irritation and inflammation and many people will not even realise that their problems are caused by gluten. Gluten has been linked to many autoimmune and health conditions.

The problem with Gluten Free products is that they are still highly refined and they still cause inflammation, due to high insulin, even with the gluten removed. The inflammatory lectins and leptins are still there too. Many gluten free products are also full of additives, fillers, binding agents and lots of sugar. Currently, there are no medications, treatments, or cures to successfully treat any form of gluten intolerance. But so long as they don’t consume any foods containing gluten molecules, both coeliac disease and gluten sensitivity sufferers can live a relatively normal and otherwise healthy life.

But the bottom line is that Gluten-free diets don’t necessarily mean you’ve chosen a healthier route when you run the risk of losing out on essential nutrients.

This is why a grain free, not gluten free, is the best option. If you truly want to be gluten free, just don’t eat the wheat grain, or other gluten containing and inflammatory grains in the first place. The best thing any person could do for their body, as the first step towards better health, would be to cut wheat grain from their diet completely. You will be much healthier for it in the long run.

If you do want to know more about how to follow a wheat free/grain free diet, then give Shen Therapies a call and book in a health and wellness consultation today.

Are We Over-Feeding Our Children and Killing Them with Kindness?

obese child

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ever year of practice, I see children becoming more over weight, more sedentary and being sick more often. Even the children that are not overweight are suffering from more compromised immunity and being set up for an adulthood impaired by illness. Many children see even come into my clinic eating countless packets of tiny teddies, crisps, lollies and all sorts and mum and dad are trying to tell them that the children eat a balanced diet, or they cant understand while their child is sick all the time. Some children quite literally have not eaten vegetable, or fruits and only eat small selections of packet and highly processed foods.

We have gone from letting children climb trees, play in the streets with friends, climb on play ground equipment and hovering over their every move, for fear they may be in danger, or hurt themselves. Thus the term “Helicopter Parent” is born

While we have gone from over protect them in the playground, we have gone to under protecting them in the lunch box, breakfast bowl and dinner plate. While being over concerned about how they may, or may not die in the playground, we are actually starting to slowly lead them to an early grave through the kitchen and their bellies.

Before we go any further, I do know that there are parents with children that do have genuine special needs and how hard it can be for them to make changes. But, even so, I have seen many of these parents make small changes for the better of their children. So if they can, we all can. Plus, there are always circumstances that are contrary to what I am talking about, I get that, but this is more about other children and other parents, who actually do have a choice in what they are putting in a child’s mouth.

Children are now eating more refined foods, more inflammatory grains, more junk foods, more sugars, more sweet drinks, more processed foods that every before. What once was a treat a few times a year, is now a staple foods source for many children and adults. While children once rode bikes and played in the playgrounds and streets, they are now sedentary and the only exercise they get is with their fingers on the controller of the play station, or X-box. Because of this, children’s muscles aren’t being moved properly, they are developing properly, they are more immune compromised and many just are not getting the vitamins, amino acids, proteins, good carbohydrates etc, needed to maintain proper health. Many children are now eating over 100gms of sugars in their diet daily.

Parent’s seem to come up with all sorts of excuses as to why their child eats the way they do, yet never seem to be taking control and actually doing something about it. Denial, defeat, blame and just not wanting to deal with the cries and demands of a child that hates change is all too much and thus the cycle continues. We bury our heads in the sands, the wine glass, the TV, the social media scene and pretend that life is grand. Many parents will even try to convince you that their child will eventually shoot up, lose the puppy fat, grow out of their fussiness and be OK. But, all the while each year their child has grown more overweight, had more illness and cant even walk to the end of the street and back. We are quite literally failing our children, by giving into them and their every demand. Like I said before, if parents with special needs can make changes to a child’s diet and lifestyle and make the effort, often under difficult circumstances, then we can make those changes for other children. It is a choice. But this isn’t about judging parents either. This is a point of saying that they need help, they need to change and educating them on what they need to do to help their child’s future. Help is always here, if you want to receive the help that is being provided.

Childhood obesity is a growing epidemic that not only puts children at risk for a lifetime of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, infertility and many other health issues, but it also creates a huge financial strain on our health system as well. According to a new study published in the journal Obesity, one out of every four children in Australia is overweight, or obese by the time they start school, and it’s costing our health system millions of dollars each year.

In this study, researchers from the University of Sydney in Australia collected all of the medical tests, diagnostics, medicines, and hospital admission data from 350 children in Australia at ages 2, 3 and a half, and 5 years old. They found that the health care costs for obese and overweight preschoolers were 60 percent higher than costs for healthy kids. Obese and overweight children were also nearly three times more likely to be admitted to the hospital for respiratory disorders, ear conditions, nasal issues, colds, flu’s and other disease states, due to poorer immune systems.

The study’s lead researcher Alison Hayes, associate professor of health economics at the University, has stated, “Childhood obesity is a serious public health issue, and is becoming an increasing problem in children under five years old. In addition to the health impacts of childhood obesity, there are major economic impacts, which may occur earlier than previously thought.”

She also says, “We know that children who are obese, or overweight, in early childhood are more likely to be obese, or overweight in later in the their childhood, adolescence and adulthood, which can lead to serious chronic diseases that have a huge impact on our health care system. This can also have impacts on families and future generations too. Early prevention of obesity is important to improve children’s health, but we need to be having more prevention and education to ease the costs and burden on the healthcare system too. We really need to get serious about this crisis in our nations health and start to take our heads out of the sand about an increasing worrying epidemic.

The researchers also noted that throughout the world, 6.9 percent of children under the age of five are either overweight or obese; however, countries such as Australia, America, and the UK have rates as high as 23 percent. According to the Centers for Disease control and Prevention, over the last 30 years in America and countries like Australia, obesity has nearly tripled among children and quadrupled among adolescents.

Children are now being raised in a world that is very different to what it was in our parents generation, 40 to 50 years ago. Parents are now feeding children more refined foods, more junk foods, more sugars, more grains, more fast foods, more sweet drinks, more sugar drinks etc, than every before. What once was a treat to a child 40-50 years ago, is now an every day occurrence, with many children consuming processed foods, sugary foods, grains, and junk foods with every meal. It is really out of control. Some children are not getting fresh foods and sustainable foods in their diets at all. Some children do not even know what some of the basic fruits and vegetables are.

We have become all too lazy when it comes to feeding our children. Childhood obesity is a disease of the environment. It’s a natural consequence of normal kids with normal genes being raised in unhealthy, abnormal environments and this was one of the findings of this landmark study.

According to the Obesity Society, overweight and obese preschoolers are five times more likely to grow up to be overweight and obese as adults. The most recent estimated annual medical costs for obese adults were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight adults. In order to lower the rates of obesity in future generations, we really do need to be looking at preventive measures and better education for children and their parents. We do know that many obese, overweight and unhealthy children have parents that over also overweight, obese, or have unhealthy eating habits and sedentary lifestyles.

This ever-growing issue might seem complex, but we need to start really looking at ourselves as parents and we also need better education in schools and the educations systems. The solution to lowering obesity rates and soaring healthcare costs is teaching adults and healthcare professionals what a healthy diet. We need to be looking at preventative measures and being more proactive, rather than reactive.

We need to get parents of overweight or obese children to consult with a qualified nutritionist and show these parents on ways to improve their everyday diet, which includes cutting empty calories and foods high in bad fats and added sugars. We need to educate parents what an actual good diet looks like and start following more of a clean eating, grain free, lower GI, primal based diet. When parents often question the use of grains and refined foods, I often ask them “How do we fatten up cattle???? ….. We Feed them grains”

Besides teaching adults and children to be eating better, we also need to teach them to be healthier on the inside, as well as outside and also the importance of exercise and also accessing healthy vitamins, probiotics, prebiotics, omega oils, amino acids and drinking water. Good education about eating starts at home and we can’t keep blaming others for all of our problems. These days we have more access to online education about our health than we ever have. It is time we take our heads out of the sand and start admitting that we have a big problem that every parent needs to recognize along with all our healthcare providers as well. We also need some of the organisations promoting health care to get with the program and stop promoting out of date education that is actually increasing the health crisis, not helping it.

At Shen Therapies, we can help parents with diet and lifestyle choices and help keep their children healthy into adulthood too.

Source: Hayes A, Simpson J, Chevalier A, D’Souza M, Baur L, and Wen LM. Early childhood obesity: Association with Healthcare expenditure in Australia. Obesity. 2016.

Gestational Diabetes

What-is-gestational-diabetes

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is diabetes that occurs during pregnancy. I am seeing more and more of this during pregnancy these days and it is definitely on the increase, most probably due to our high carbohydrate diet and lack of proteins.

Diabetes is a very common condition where there is too much glucose in the blood. Insulin (continuously produced in the pancreas) is the hormone responsible for lowering blood glucose levels. Insulin transports glucose from the blood stream into cells of the body for energy. Due to our poor diets these days, we are now putting ourselves at more risk of gestational diabetes and also type 2 diabetes, which can occur one you have had gestational diabetes.

In pregnancy, the placenta produces hormones that help the baby grow and develop. These hormones also decrease the action of the mother’s insulin. This is called insulin resistance. Because of this insulin resistance, the need for insulin in pregnancy is two or three times higher than normal.

Insulin resistance can also be hereditary and if there is a family history of diabetes you have high chance of having insulin resistance by default. Women with PCOS and those doing assisted reproduction (IVF, IUI, ICSI etc) also have higher risk of developing Gestational Diabetes. Consequently, during pregnancy, the mother’s body needs to produce higher amounts of insulin to keep her blood glucose levels within the normal range. If her body is unable to produce more insulin to meet her needs, gestational diabetes develops. After the baby is born, the mother’s blood glucose levels usually return to normal

Unfortunately many women think they can eat whatever they like during pregnancy and this also puts a greater load on insulin and insulin sensitivity, leading them to be at more risk of gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes is very much a preventable disease and strict diet needs to be adhered to for optimum health of mother and child.

Definition Depending on the specific population, abnormal maternal glucose regulation occurs in 3-10% of pregnancies. Recent studies suggest that the prevalence of diabetes among women of childbearing age is increasing in the Western countries. To be honest the rates are probably up around 50% these days, given how many people are seen with this disease. Australia is now one of the fattest countries on the planet and our diabetes levels have increased exponentially.

This increase is believed to be attributable to (1) more sedentary lifestyles, (2) changes in diet, (3) continued immigration from high-risk populations, and (4) the virtual epidemic of childhood and adolescent obesity presently evolving.

Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is defined as any degree of glucose intolerance with onset or first recognition during pregnancy. Untreated GDM can lead to foetal macrosomia, hypoglycaemia, hypocalcaemia, and hyperbilirubinaemia. In addition, mothers with GDM have increased rates of caesarean delivery and chronic hypertension

To screen for GDM, a 50g glucose screening test should be done at 24-28 weeks of gestation. This is followed by a 100g, 3-hour oral glucose tolerance test if the patient’s plasma glucose concentration at 1 hour during screening is greater than 7.8 mmol/L.

Normalisation of glucose levels in women with gestational diabetes will reduce the risk of complications such as macrosomia, birth trauma, need for caesarean section, and neonatal hypoglycaemia. If diet modification fails to improve glucose values, insulin therapy may be needed. Oral hypoglycaemic agents arecontraindicated during pregnancy

Subsequent pregnancies can be affected, and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes is increased. If maternal glucose levels are uncontrolled, the infant can suffer central nervous system defects, organ failure,  cardiac or renal anomalies asphyxia, respiratory distress, increased blood volume, hcongestive heart failure, hypocalcaemia, hypomagnesaemia, hypoglycaemia, or hyperbilirubinaemia, or the child may be stillborn. The effects of Gestations Diabetes are not good.

Aetiology / Risk Factors

  • Family history of type 2 diabetes: having a first-degree relative with type 2 diabetes leads to lifetime risk of 40%; similarly 25% to 33% of all type 2 diabetics have a family history of the condition.
  • Age older than 40 years
  • Excess body fat, particularly truncal obesity with waist circumference >88 cm
  • Sedentary lifestyle with diet high grains and refined carbohydrates
  • Glucose intolerance, dyslipidaemia, hypertension
  • History of gestational diabetes
  • History of polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • History of assisted Reproduction (IVF, IUI, ICSI etc)
  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, Pacific Islander, Indian or Chinese, African American, Hispanic American, and Native American descent.
  • Low birth weight and/or malnutrition in pregnancy may cause metabolic abnormalities in a foetus that later lead to diabetes.

Symptoms of gestational diabetes Gestational diabetes usually has no obvious symptoms. If symptoms do occur, they can include:

  • unusual thirst
  • excessive urination
  • tiredness
  • thrush (yeast infections).

Management and Prevention of gestational diabetes

Health professionals such as an Endocrinologist, Nutritionist, Naturopath, or Diabetes specialist can help you understand what you need to do and will support you in managing your gestational diabetes. The same principles apply for the prevention of Gestational Diabetes as well. Some advice may include:

  • Diet – You need to follow a strict Low GI diet and the best diet to follow is a grain free diet such as the Paleo/Primal/Zone Diet. This way you are cutting out the inflammatory foods that spike your blood sugars and then spike your insulin. Basically you should be having 5-7 small meals per day. You need to have 2 serves of nuts per day, 2 tablespoons of healthy oils per day (coconut, olive oil etc), only on serve of starchy carbs per day (rice, potatoes etc-No wheat grains at all), every meal or snack should have some form of protein in it (meats, fish, avocado, cheese, nuts etc), 5 serves of veggies per day (including salads), 2 pieces of low GI fruit per day (Berries, Strawberries, Apples etc), 8 glasses of water per day and some form of electrolyte daily.
  • Physical activity – such as walking, yoga, pilates etc, helps to keep you fit, prepares you for the birth of your baby and will help to control your blood glucose levels. Check with your health care professional before starting a new or particularly strenuous exercise regimen
  • Monitoring your blood glucose levels – is essential. It gives a guide as to whether the changes you have made to your lifestyle are effective or whether further treatment is required. A diabetes nurse educator can teach you how and when to measure your blood glucose levels and discuss the recommended blood glucose levels to aim for. Your health care profressional, or diabetes educator, can help you link in with the National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS) for cheaper blood glucose strips. Regular contact with your health care practitioner, diabetes educator, or doctor is recommended
  • Take a good multivitamin, some omega 3 oils, a probiotic and an insulin regulating formulation to help with staying healthy, providing adequate nutrients to the baby and help in preventing gestational diabetes. Acupuncture is also great in the prevention on gestational diabetes.
  • Insulin injections – may be needed to help keep your glucose level in the normal range. In Australia, blood glucose lowering tablets are generally not used in pregnancy. Insulin is safe to take during pregnancy and does not cross the placenta from the mother to the baby
  • Education – including information and support from your diabetes educator or doctor, regarding the action of insulin, insulin injection technique, insulin storage, signs and symptoms of hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose levels) and its treatment, as well as safe blood glucose levels for driving.

After the baby is born (If you have Gestational Diabetes)

After their baby is born, most women will no longer need insulin injections, as gestational diabetes usually disappears. Breastfeeding is encouraged. The best way to control GD and prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes in the future is by diet and lifestyle changes Blood glucose levels are measured before breakfast and two hours after meals to make sure that these are within the normal range. An OGTT is done six to eight weeks after the baby is born to make sure that the mother no longer has diabetes. Following the birth of your baby, it is important that your baby’s blood glucose levels are measured to make sure that their blood glucose is not too low. If it is, this can be treated by feeding your baby breastmilk, or formula if necessary. A baby whose mother had gestational diabetes will not be born with diabetes. However, they may be at risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. This is why all children should be shown healthy eating habits from a young age so that they reduce the risk of inheriting disease states from their parents.

Reducing your risk of type 2 diabetes

Women who have gestational diabetes have a high chance (almost one in two) of developing type 2 diabetes within 10 to 20 years. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented, so it is important to take steps to reduce your risk. You should:

  • maintain a healthy eating plan
  • maintain a healthy weight for your height
  • engage in regular physical activity
  • have a follow-up blood test (OGTT) every year.

Things to remember

  • Gestational diabetes is diabetes that occurs during pregnancy.
  • When the pregnancy is over, the diabetes usually disappears.
  • Women who develop gestational diabetes have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • A healthy lifestyle with a grain free diet, is important for both mother and baby to reduce their risk of diabetes in the future.
  • In future pregnancies, an OGTT will be performed early in the pregnancy to make check that your blood glucose levels are in the normal range. If this test is normal, then a repeat OGTT will be done, usually between 22 and 28 weeks gestation.

Prevention is the best way to deal with gestational diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes. Preconception preparation with good foods, good supplements, exercise and a healthy lifestyle should be adopted before trying to fall pregnant. These healthy eating and lifestyle changes should then be followed into the pregnancy as well. At Shen Therapies we can help you with gestational diabetes and also prevention of this condition also.