The Prevention of Childhood Obesity Must Start Before a Couple Conceives.

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The key to preventing obesity in future generations is to make their parents healthier before they conceive, leading health researchers suggest.

In a series of papers, published in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, the researchers say that the time before couples conceive represents a missed opportunity to prevent the transmission of obesity risk from one generation to the next. They argue that a new approach is needed to motivate future parents to live a healthier lifestyle.

There is now a wealth of evidence that the risk of obesity and its associated conditions, such as heart disease diabetes and some cancers, could impact the developing baby. In turn, when the child becomes a young adult they may pass the risk of obesity on to their children — it is a vicious cycle.

The nature of this problem is not adequately appreciated. Many young people, whilst appearing outwardly healthy, are nonetheless on a risky path to obesity and chronic disease and more likely to pass this risk to their children, the researchers warn. Many pregnancies are unplanned, and the special needs of adolescents and young people at this important time are not sufficiently recognised. Far from helping them to prepare and plan for pregnancy and parenthood, many public health programmes assume that their needs are similar to the general population and require no special measures or provisions.

In a comment piece accompanying the research papers, Professor Mark Hanson of the University of Southampton, says an entirely new approach is needed that engages parents-to-be and encourages them to be part of the solution.

Engaging future parents in leading healthier lives will not only promote their health later, but will give their children a healthier start to life.

Getting couples to have a healthier diet and lifestyle and manage weight is all part of the Shen Therapies Fertility program and something we have always promoted. We know that the health of the parents gets passed onto the offspring and why we are so focussed on helping a couple be the healthiest they can be. So many couples are choosing to overlook the obvious because it is all too hard. Well… so they think. A moderate weight loss of 10% body fat, or an increase for those underweight, can increase a couples chances of conception by 50%. That is huge.

This is why we have helped over 12,000 babies into the world and it is because we get the parents healthy before they try to have a baby. Healthy parents produce healthy babies.

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.

Do You Have PCO or PCOS?

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Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

The most common gynaecological complaint that I see in my clinic these days is Polycystic Ovaries/Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). Some women only have the cysts (PCO), while others have no cysts but have the syndrome (PCOS). Some have both. The one thing that they all have in common is that they all have insulin resistance. For the sake of this article I am going to call this complaint PCOS so people don’t get confused. If you or someone in your family suffers from Irregular cycles, gets hormonal acne, gets extra hair etc, then there is a good chance they have it. They also need to get it looked at and treated early before it affects future fertility. You only need 1-2 of the symptoms to have the syndrome too.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a reproductive disorder characterised by multiple cystic growths on the ovaries. PCOS develops when the ovaries are stimulated to produce excessive amounts of male hormones (androgens), particularly testosterone, either through the release of excessive luteinising hormone (LH) by the pituitary gland or through high levels of insulin in the

blood (hyperinsulinaemia) in women whose ovaries are sensitive to this stimulus. It can also be caused by oestrogen dominance too.

PCOS is characterised by a complex set of symptoms with research to date suggesting that insulin resistance is a leading cause. A majority of patients with PCOS (some investigators say all) have insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a common finding among both normal weight and overweight PCOS patients. Many years ago it was thought that you had to be overweight to have PCOS, but now we know that many normal and underweight women have too. Their elevated insulin levels contribute to or cause the abnormalities seen in the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis that lead to PCOS. Specifically, hyperinsulinaemia causes a number of endocrinological changes associated with PCOS too. Anyone with polycystic ovaries does have a more than 50% chance of developing diabetes later on as well

Despite the link between insulin resistance and diseases states like PCO/PCOS, there is also a genetic link and this is mostly through the parental mode of inheritance. Someone in your family blood line will have had this disease. Some may know about it, others may not. Many of our parents and grandparents generation thought that menstrual irregularities were just a normal part of life and many were told it was normal and that they just had to suck it up. This is why we have so many issues with common gynaecological conditions today not being diagnosed properly, because some of this ignorance is still filtering through the medical system, or being passed down as what women class as normal. Menstrual irregularities are not normal and women need to know this. The other thing that we need to teach women, is that once a disease like PCOS, endometriosis is expressed out into the body, it is there. It is then up to the woman to get help in treating and managing the disease. The good thing with PCOS, is that it is now known to be reversible through diet and lifestyle changes, but in order to do so, one must be very strict in what one eats and how one keeps the body healthy, both physically and emotionally too.

PCOS is the most common cause of oligomenorrhoea and amenorrhoea, although 20-25% of normally menstruating women have PCOS. These women may have reduced fertility and an increased risk of miscarriage.

Risk Factors

Major causative factors and risk factors that can contribute to the incidence of PCOS include: Insulin resistance
Obesity

Please note that women of normal weight, or those underweight, or lean can still have PCOS. PCOS is not limited to those that are overweight.
Family history of PCOS

Family history of diabetes Stress
Nutritional deficiencies High glycaemic load diet Sedentary lifestyle

Symptoms & Signs

Common signs and symptoms of PCOS include:
Irregular menstrual cycles – i.e., oligomenorrhoea or amenorrhoea
Infertility, generally resulting from chronic anovulation (lack of ovulation)
Elevated serum (blood) levels of androgens (male hormones), specifically testosterone, androstenedione, and dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEAS) Central obesity – “apple-shaped” obesity centred around the lower half of the torso Androgenic alopecia (male-pattern baldness)
Acne, oily skin, seborrhoea

Hirsutism ( Excess hair growth), Hair Loss,  Acanthosis nigricans
Prolonged periods of PMS-like symptoms Sleep apnoea

Multiple cysts on the ovaries
Enlarged ovaries, generally 2-3 times larger than normal, resulting from multiple cysts Chronic pelvic pain
BGL dysregulation – e.g., hypoglycaemic episodes, diabetes, etc
Hypothyroidism

*Please be aware that sometimes only 1-2 symptoms are needed for diagnosis. Some women are actually asymptomatic and would not even know that they have PCO, or PCOS. While PCO and PCOS can affect fertility, not all women with this disease will struggle to have a child either. Like other gynaecological issues like endometriosis, the symptoms do not always correlate to the severity of the disease

Diet and Lifestyle

Dietary and lifestyle changes are a must in the management of PCOS. The world health organisation recommends that dietary and lifestyle changes are the number one treatment for PCOS along with other therapies

By consuming reduced amounts of low glycaemic index carbohydrates, keeping protein levels up to maintain muscle mass and eating ‘good’ fats, insulin levels are reduced and fat stores can be accessed as fuel for energy production (thermogenesis).

The Wellness/Zone/Paleo/Primal style diets that I promote in my clinic help women with PCOS to maintain steady blood sugar and insulin levels and will assist in weight loss and also maintain body mass for those underweight. A diet composed of mainly low-GI foods combined with regular exercise will also help to combat the effects of insulin resistance. This is why the Paleo/Primal style diets are the best diets to follow. To be honest people with PCOS should get rid of grains altogether. Years go, we would have just called these style of diets clean health eating, but now we have names attached to them
Refined carbohydrates including sugar, sweets, fruit juices, white breads, pasta and should be avoided. These foods have a high glycaemic index and are damaging in any amount for PCOS sufferers. What PCOS sufferers need to know is that they do not metabolises sugars like other people and that even the smallest amount of it can play havoc with their bodies and their hormones. Basically it is like being highly sensitive, allergic, or intolerant to sugar. Women with this disease really need to keep this is their minds. Sugar and refined foods should not be consumed at all.

A diet high in vegetables (non-starchy), small amounts of Low-GI fruits, essential fatty acids and lean protein sources provides essential phytonutrients, antioxidants, magnesium and helps to control inflammation and hormonal dysregulation.
Smoking cessation is the highest priority in currently smoking patients.

Regular resistance training, or high interval exercise, is a must too (starting slowly and increasing as patient’s fitness improves)

Treatments

Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal medicines, Nutritional supplements etc, are also a big part of the treatment on a complementary medicine level and can help dramatically.  There is lots of research to support use of supplements and complementary medicines that can help PCO/PCOS. At my clinic I also have our own herbal medicine formulas to treat PCOS too. Some women may need a combination of complementary medicine treatments alongside medical treatments too and this is something I assess in my consultations with women.

Medically, insulin-regulating medications (metformin), hormone treatments (Pill, HRT) are used to regulate the cycle, control insulin resistance and prevent further cysts developing. There are natural supplements you can use that are far better for you and without the side effects of Metformin.

You can also now get a procedure called “Ovarian drilling” to laser the cysts and help with the healing of the ovaries in severe cases. Some women may need surgery to help this disease and some women also have other gynaecological conditions such as endometriosis at the same time as having PCO/PCOS and this again warrants surgical intervention. Disease states like PCOS and Endometriosis often go hand in hand and are often triggered by the same causal factors.

While many women are put on the oral contraceptive pill (OCP), please remember going on the pill does not fix this problem, it just masks it. You don’t want to just mask a condition, with out treating it at the same time and this often what leads to long term issues with fertility later on.

This is why anyone with irregular cycles should see a women’s health specialist like myself, or a gynaecologist, not just your GP. You need to see someone who specialises in this area and knows what to look for and how to treat it properly.
If you need any help or advice with PCOS, or irregular periods then message, email, or phone my clinic and let me help you get the help you need to get on top of this disease that affects women all around the world.

Take care

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr (Reproductive Medicine & Women’s Health Specialist)

“The Brisbane Baby Maker” & “Women’s & Men’s Health Crusader”

“Leaving No Stone Left Unturned”