Protein powders and how to chose the right one for you …

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There are so many protein powders on the market making all sorts of claims.
Weight loss. Muscle gains. Improved stamina. The list goes on. So how do you know which is the best product for you ?

What’s important is to know how much protein you need, how much you can safely digest and what form of protein powder works best for your body.

When choosing a protein powder consider the following :

Look for a quality product. You usually do get what you pay for. Those super cheap supermarket powders are often filled with artificial sweeteners, flavours, additives and colours. All of which reduce the amount of quality protein in your powder and are things we all should be generally trying to avoid in our foods.

Look for a complete protein. There is a misconception that plant based proteins are not complete and therefore not usable to the body. Good quality protein powders, whether they are plant or dairy based, should have a balanced profile meaning that the necessary amino acids for them to be usable by the body are present.

Many people find that whey based proteins can cause digestive upset – bloating, flatulence, diarrhoea or cramping. Plant based proteins can be a better option for those who find dairy based proteins difficult to digest. Good quality plant based proteins often contain amino acids making them even more efficiently digested and far less likely to cause digestive issues.

Take care with the amount of protein per serve when choosing your protein source. For most people 20-30mg of protein per serve is enough and all that the body is able to digest and use at any given time. Products with more than this amount per serve can be a waste of money as anything over this amount can tax kidney function and usually gets flushed through your system quickly without actually providing any extra benefit.

My preferred protein powder is Prana Protein and this is the only protein product I stock. It is plant based, has amino acids included and there is a wide range of products depending on what you are trying to achieve. As an added bonus they taste delicious and work well in other recipes like protein balls. Recipes below …

How to eat protein balls and still be able to pay your mortgage….

Lemon Coconut Protein Balls … a variation on a well loved theme …

Darcy’s excellent dinner … power bowl magic

Is there anything better than when you’re sitting around reading the Saturday paper in front of the fire and your utterly lovely daughter says “I’ve made a bit of dinner, want some ?’

The answer, hell yes please.

This is what came my way two minutes later ….

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Super yummy, healthy, nourishing.  The beauty of this kind of meal is that you can use whatever you have at hand and zing it up with her crazy good dressing.

In this version we had brown jasmine rice, steamed sweet potato rounds and spinach, fresh julienned carrots, seared tofu and thinly sliced nori. The nori really makes a difference so make sure you include it !

Darcy’s Power Bowl Sauce

2 tablespoons white miso paste
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon tahini (we used black tahini but white is fine too)
1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon maple syrup
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger

Mix it all together with a whisk and pour over your choice of yummy things.

 

 

Blood tests come back normal but you still feel bad ….

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Does this scenario sound familiar to you ? You don’t feel well. Something doesn’t feel right in your body.  You go to the GP, get some blood tests done and they all come back within the ‘normal range’. The GP tells you everything is fine and that’s that. You go home feeling like it must be in your head. No one has taken how you feel seriously. You still feel crappy, tired, down, sore or sick but there’s no ‘evidence’ so nothing gets done about it. You are within the ‘acceptable level of health’ but is it acceptable to you ?

If I had a dollar for each time I looked at a set of blood results and saw that things were not, in fact, all ok, I would be a lot wealthier than I am. It is rare for me to see a completely normal, unremarkable set of bloods. There is almost always something out of kilter or at least off the mark enough to indicate where there may be a problem.

The ‘normal ranges’ set for most pathology tests are not accurate for everyone.  They are based on averages of a wildly diverse group of people. For instance, your iron results might look normal on paper but would you still feel they were accurate if I told you that they were based on a reference range sourced from a group of men or women ranging in age from 18 – 69 years with little consideration given to factors such as disease, hormone status, level of activity or specific diets which all impact on peoples ability to use and store iron ?

Same goes for thyroid function. Natural health practitioners estimate that 10% of adult women are in the sub-optimal or low functioning range yet the stated ‘normal range’ doesn’t back this up. Standard testing accepts a thyroid stimulating hormone range of    0.5 – 4.0 mIU/L.  Anything below 1.0 or above 2.0 rings alarm bells for me. People may have many, many signs of thyroid dysfunction but if the tests are ‘in range’ you go home without any support for what can be a very difficult health issue.

So if you are feeling below par and want to know why book your appointment, bring in your paperwork and lets find some answers and solutions.

 

 

One for the boys … the magic of testosterone

 

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Are you one of those men who doesn’t really pay much attention to your health ? When was the last time you felt really good ? Had a routine blood test ? Had a check up ?

Lately I have been encountering a number men who have a sadly common list of symptoms. They feel unwell, low or just not themselves somehow. Some have seen their GP but been told that everything is fine. They are testosterone deficient and it’s really dragging them down but they are being sent home without answers and it’s a crying shame.

Testosterone is a hormone that helps men feel good. It’s great for maintaining muscle mass, bone strength and density, sexual function, libido, production of sperm, confidence, good mood and energy.

At around age 40 testosterone starts to naturally decline but in healthy men this should only be by around 1-3% per year. Other reasons for declining testosterone are high cholesterol and blood pressure, too much sugar intake, poor sleep, obesity, stress, low levels of exercise, too much alcohol and some medical conditions like diabetes.

So what are the symptoms of low testosterone ? Low libido, erectile dysfunction, osteoporosis, low mood/depression, reduced strength and muscle loss, infertility, sleep problems, reduced energy and confidence and weight gain, especially around the belly region.

Why isn’t it being picked up by doctors ? I have seen a number of pathology results lately which place men in the ‘normal’ range according to their blood results. The problem with these reference ranges is that they are so wide you could drive a truck through them, they are based on sampling of men aged 18-69 with a host of varying health conditions and they don’t relate specifically to your age group. The ‘acceptable level of health’ has been set so low that many men are suffering unnecessarily.

A testosterone result of 8.5 might put you in the ‘normal’ range but normal for who ? A 65 year old man with diabetes, an 18 year old boy, a 45 year old athlete ? While pathology testing is useful it’s just as important to look at your symptoms and see if they match up.

So what can you do ? Make sure you aren’t inhibiting your testosterone production with the factors mentioned before – sleep, stress, obesity etc. Ensure that you have a good intake of healthy fats like olive oil, avocado, coconut oil – healthy cholesterol is the building block of testosterone and low fat diets are not your friend. Get some exercise – especially HIIT and weight bearing/lifting. The good news is that if you are trying to increase your testosterone you need to have more sex – I haven’t had anyone complain about that yet.

There are lots of ways to naturally increase testosterone. Ensuring adequate levels of zinc, potassium, vitamins A, B6, C and E is important. There are also a number of herbs which are very effective in getting things running well again.

So if you recognise yourself here don’t just put up with it. Come and see me – we can get you back on track again.

No time for breakfast…

smoothie with blueberries, banana and cereal

Are mornings a stress filled rush hour for you ??? Getting ready for work, school or uni, making lunches, feeding children, finding sports uniforms, feeding pets, hanging out washing … Things can feel pretty frantic. Not the best way to start the day.Your cortisol levels are naturally at their highest in the mornings so adding in a frantic schedule can cause a skyrocket of stress hormones.

You have two choices – streamline what you need to do or get up earlier. Either way you need to make time for breakfast. When you skip breakfast your body is literally running on empty and the effects can be hard and wide reaching.

As I said, cortisol levels are highest around 7am. When you eat breakfast your levels decrease and you can avoid that jittery, anxious, nervous feeling that often comes mid morning when you’ve not eaten.

You also need to eat to restore glycogen and level out blood sugars. This has a positive effect on your mood, hunger and helps avoid that ‘hangry’ feeling where your body is crying out for sustenance and making you irritable and cranky.

Regularly missing breakfast is also associated with increased risks of heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol and blood pressure and increases your risk of weight gain/obesity.

When you skip meals, especially breakfast, your body can go into famine mode and start trying to store energy. Eating breakfast helps you to avoid this and increases your metabolism throughout the day making weight management easier.

The best breakfasts include some protein, healthy carb and  fats e.g. eggs, avocado, oats, nut butters. If that all sounds like an impossible dream why not give a smoothie a go. Its ready in minutes, you can take it with you, it suits those people who don’t really feel all that hungry in the morning and, when made well, has all the things you need to power you through till lunch.

My current obsession is with Prana protein powders which are plant based and taste fantastic. For a super smoothie which provides you with fibre, carbs, good fats, hormone balancing effects, blood sugar modulation, antioxidant rich berries and is completely delicious give this one a go ….I sometimes can’t wait till morning so will have it for dinner too but that’s another story….

Ripe organic blueberry. prana

My favourite breakfast smoothie

1/2 frozen banana
lots of ice
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 cup water, add more as necessary to get the consistency you like
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 heaped tablespoon of vanilla creme or coconut Prana protein powder
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon maca and cacao powder

Place all of this in your blender, whiz it up and you’re good to go.

You can play around with the fruits and milks to find what you like best.

SPECIAL OFFER FOR MARCH APPOINTMENTS !!!!

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SPECIAL DISCOUNT OFFER FOR MARCH APPOINTMENTS !

 

Get $25 off your appointment ! This offer is available to the first 15 people who book an appointment in March. Offer ends Sunday 8pm.

Respond by email to info@naturocath.com.au to claim this offer.
Follow me on Facebook , like and share this post and you could get your appointment for FREE

Note : Does not include herbs or supplements

 

 

 

 

The lowdown on cortisol …

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Most of us know that there is a link between stress and cortisol levels but there’s a lot more to this little steroid hormone than you may think.

Cortisol is produced in two ways – in response to stress and as part of our natural sleep and wake cycle. It peaks at about 8am to help us rise and shine and get active for the day.The levels drop throughout the day with the low point happening at around 4am before it ramps up again for our daily wake up call.

Cortisol plays a big role in our stress response. Cortisol helps us deal with stress by shutting down some  functions to allow the body to direct all its energy to dealing with the stress. This cortisol reaction is supposed to be short term and just long enough to deal with the source of stress. Unfortunately our lives can be anything but stress free and when stress is chronic this becomes a problem.

How does cortisol affect us ?

  • It stimulates glucose production and slows insulin meaning you end up with lots of sugar in your blood. Thats great if you actually have something you’re trying to run away from but not so good when you’re just sitting around feeling stressed about how to pay your bills.
  • Cortisol hinders the immune system when levels are high making your body more susceptible to infections and bacteria. Have you noticed how you always get sick when your stressed ?
  • It also slows bone formation and decreases calcium absorption so when its too high there’s no bone growth and no muscle growth.
  • It causes high blood pressure and decreased blood flow to organs
  • Too much or too little cortisol messes up thyroid hormones
  • Leads to increased stomach acid and reflux
  • Makes us less fertile and more likely to miscarry
  • Changes our metabolism and makes us hungry and less able to realise when we are satisfied

Our body has a system that is meant to regulate cortisol levels by shutting down production when things get too high. Unfortunately when we are stressed all the time the system gets mucked up and can’t regulate properly  – kind of like insulin resistance when we flood our bodies daily with sugar. The result is that our cortisol levels become unhealthy and high or  low at the wrong time of day leaving us feeling out of kilter.

Ways to lower cortisol

  • Regular exercise – not marathon running – try yoga, pilates, walking, stretching
  • Meditation, relaxation, breathing exercises
  • Get enough sleep
  • Listen to music you love
  • Drink black tea – about 3 cups per day
  • Get a massage
  • Learn some stress management techniques
  • Avoid all alcohol
  • Eat nutrient dense food – especially those high in magnesium, vitamin C and B vitamins.
  • See a naturopath for help doing all of the above ! There are some great herbal medicines and supplements that can support you back to healthy cortisol levels.

My new favourite salad… beetroot, pumpkin and walnut

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We are heading towards warmer weather so what could be better than a new salad to try. Quick to pull together, satisfying, healthy – Nothing beats a big healthy salad for nutrients, taste, weight management and freshness. This one is my new favourite .. I hope you like it too.

Beetroot, walnut and pumpkin salad

3 cups diced pumpkin
3 beetroot – peeled and diced
2 cups walnuts
1 tablespoon of butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon of paprika or chilli
Small block of feta cheese
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar ( I used a balsamic glaze because I like the sticky sweetness of it )
1 tablespoon honey
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
Lots of salad leaves – whatever you have in the garden or fridge is fine.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Place pumpkin and beetroot on a lined oven tray and bake until tender – around 30 minutes depending on the size of your pieces.
Melt butter in frypan and add walnuts tossing to coat. Add in salt, brown sugar and chill or paprika and stir until sugar is melted and nuts are coated well. Place walnuts on a baking tray and bake in oven for 8 minutes until golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

To make dressing mix together balsamic, honey, lemon juice and olive oil. I put them all in a jar and give them a good shake.

Place salad leaves on a large platter.Drizzle over dressing, toss through to coat leaves. Add pumpkin and beetroot. Crumble feta over the top. Add walnuts. Serve.

You could vary this by adding some orange or tangelo segments, blue cheese, avocado or pine nuts instead of walnuts. Mix it up to find the version you like best. Make sure you send me your winning variations in the comments section.

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The weather is warming up ….. Smoothie Time

smoothie with blueberries, banana and cereal. the toning. selective focus

Whether you are trying to get some extra nutrients into your diet, lose some weight or change up your breakfast routine you need to make smoothies your new best friend.

Quick to pull together, nutrient dense and so many variations that you’ll never be bored.
I swear by smoothies and have one almost every day. Lately I have been adding in some Just Greens or Just Reds powder for an extra boost and I am really noticing the difference. ( I don’t get paid to endorse these products – I just really like them )

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For even more oomph try adding some omega 3 sources like a teaspoon of flax, walnut or chia oil. Spirulina is a great source of amino acids and iodine. Probiotics found in live yoghurts or available in powder form is great for gut health. Protein powders can also be a huge help, especially when recovering from exercise. Use a clean powder like rice, pea or pure whey powder.

Whenever I speak to people who tell me they are too busy to eat well I steer them towards smoothies. If you have some frozen fruit and a blender you are off and racing. You can easily adjust the calorie level to suit your health goals and its easy to add in ingredients that you may be needing at specific times. 

To make things even easier and more time efficient you could try making up some freezer smoothie bags. Put the ingredients in the blender with some water or milk and you have breakfast ready in under a minute.

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Here’s a few of my favourites …. Use frozen fruit where you can or add lots of ice. Add enough water and ice to these recipes to get the consistency you like. Mix it up – there’s no hard and fast rules here. Add what you like and get blending.

My favourite smoothie
1/3 cup each of frozen mango and berries
1/2 small frozen banana
1/4 cup unsweetened apple juice
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons Just Reds powder
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 big handfuls of greens – spinach, celery, parsley, kale

Chocolate almond smoothie – for when you feel like something a bit sweet
1 cup almond milk
2 tablespoons chocolate protein powder
3 medjool dates
Lots of ice

Creaky joints smoothie – great for arthritis or any type of joint pain
1 stick celery with leaves
Small handful of parsley
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 peeled orange
1 cup cubed pineapple ( frozen is good)
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

Liver Boosting Smoothie – great of you have been exercising a lot, taking medications, using alcohol, eating processed foods or too much fat
1 small beetroot
juice of a lemon
big handful of kale
1/2 cucumber
1 orange

Digestive Help Smoothie – for IBS type symptoms
1 cup honeydew melon
1/2 cucumber
1/2 cup plain yoghurt with live cultures
1 teaspoon psyllium husks
1 teaspoon grated ginger
2 teaspoons honey

Stomach Settler – for an upset tummy
1/2 frozen banana
1/2 avocado
1 teaspoon chia seed
2 teaspoons honey
fresh mint

Lean muscle building smoothie – great for after the gym
1 orange
1 frozen banana
1 teaspoon chia seeds
2 teaspoons spiralling or Just Greens powder
1 cup water or coconut water
2 tablespoons clean protein powder

Recovery smoothie – replenishes after exercising and promotes recovery and muscle repair
1 banana
1 cup almond or rice milk
1/2 coconut water or water
2 tablespoons clean protein powder
1 teaspoon each of flax seeds, chia seeds and LSA
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon nut butter

Mega Green smoothie – so many minerals, anti-oxidants, immune boosters and liver supporters to keep you feeling great
1½ cups water
10 spinach leaves
5 kale leaves, stalk removed
3 celery stalks with leaves
1  apple, cored and chopped
1  pear, cored and chopped
1  banana frozen
Juice of ½  lemon
1/2 avocado
big handful of parsley

Blended green smoothie with ingredients on wooden table

Warm Kale and Pumpkin Salad …

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This salad ticks all the boxes. Warm and hearty, fresh and tasty. Leftovers are great for lunches. You can add whatever is in your fridge to change it up – feta, other vegetables, cranberries or pomegranate, nuts. With raw kale, barely cooked green veggies, healthy carbs and seeds you can’t go wrong.

Warm Kale and Pumpkin Salad
2 cups cooked quinoa or brown rice ( I like to use some of both)
2 cups cubed pumpkin or sweet potato
2 cups of mixed green veggies – beans, asparagus, broccoli, zucchini
3 cloves garlic- leave skin on
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cup stemmed and finely chopped kale
3 spring onions, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons of seeds – pepita, sesame, pumpkin
1 small bunch of kale, finely shredded
Sliced avocado
FOR THE DRESSING:
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp honey
pepper to taste

*** Tip – If you like a creamy dressing place some of the avocado into the dressing ingredients and whiz in a blender.
Directions:

Put quinoa or brown rice on to cook as per packet directions.
Preheat oven to 180 C. Place chopped pumpkin/sweet potato and garlic cloves on trays in a single layer. Drizzle over a little olive oil and roast till soft – about 20 mins. Give them a shake every now and then to make sure they crisp up on all sides.
Place prepared greens in a pot of boiling water until almost cooked then remove from heat. Leave lid on to keep warm.
Chop kale and spring onions.

Make the dressing by whisking the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside.

When the pumpkin is done remove garlic cloves and set aside. Spoon the pumpkin and greens into a large serving bowl. Gently stir in the quinoa/rice and the cooked green vegetables. Add onions and kale.
Trim the end off each garlic clove and push the roasted garlic out and mash. Whisk the garlic into the dressing. Pour the dressing onto the vegetables/rice/quinoa and toss to coat.
Season with salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle over seeds and serve immediately with sliced avocado.