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Nutritional health during breastfeeding

Nutritional health during lactation

Breastfeeding, or lactation, is the natural way in which the mother of a newborn can feed her child instead of relying on cow’s milk or artificial formula preparations.

For example, mother’s milk is much easier to digest, prevents constipation, lowers the incidence of food allergies, and protects the baby from infectious diseases. Nursing also promotes healthy oral development, satisfies suckling needs, helps establish good bacteria balance in the gut of the baby and enhances bonding and skin-to-skin contact between mother and child. Breastfeeding is beneficial to the mother in that it reduces the chance of haemorrhaging from the placental site, gives the mother opportunity to rest, and encourages the uterus to contract, returning to its pre-pregnant size. The quality of breast milk however, depends highly on the diet of the mother. The following are essential to a breastfeeding mother’s diet…
 
Tips:
 

– Drink between 1.5 – 2L water per day (filtered)

– Increase amount of protein

– Boost amount of friendly gut flora by consuming pre-biotic foods and taking a decent high dose broad spectrum lactation specific probiotics.

– A Multivitamin supplement high in activated B Vitamins (ie NO FOLIC ACID, but folate instead) is essential to provide both mother and baby with nutrients for growth, repair and energy.

– Eat plenty of eggs, nuts and seeds, vegetables, salads and plant proteins. Limit your intake of refined grains (white bread, biscuits, etc)

– Mum should be decreasing consumption of cow’s milk (this can increase chances of baby forming food allergies and asthma and eczema.)

– In recent studies, mothers who consumed garlic increased their babies’ desire for milk, and the babies nursed longer. Garlic is good for both the mother and the infant by increasing immune function. However, it can be a gut trigger in some infants.

– Almost all drugs have been found to enter a nursing mother’s milk including alcohol, antibiotics, antihistamines, aspirin, caffeine, Valium, marijuana, nicotine, codeine and morphine. Some of the effects of these drugs can have on an infant include diarrhoea, rapid heart rate, restlessness, irritability, crying, poor sleeping, vomiting and convulsions. In addition, some of these drugs can accumulate in an infant’s body and cause addiction.

Bone broth for mum and bubs:

– Helps broaden baby’s palate, Breast milk (and formula) are quite sweet, so offering this nutrient dense savory beverage helps to diversify your baby’s palate, strengthens growing bones & teeth, 

– Bone broth is rich in an easily digested and assimilated form of calcium & magnesium, which are essential for your baby to build strong, healthy bones and teeth, helps build connective tissue & joints, contains glucosamine and chondroitin, which are among two of the most important nutrients for joint care and will assist in the development of your baby’s joints. 

– Bone broth is also a great source of hard to find nutrients gelatin and collagen, which are key in building and supporting connective tissue. These nutrients also aid in building cartilage and bone and this is why your broth gels when cooled. Just lightly reheat before serving, do not boil as this destroys a lot of the nutrients. 

– Reduces the risk of allergies, another wonderful benefit of collagen is its ability to strengthen the intestinal lining, which greatly reduces the risk of allergies and food sensitivities. 

– Supports immunity & digestion, The specific amino acids in bone broth perform a wide variety of functions including boosting the immune system and improving digestion.

Herbs:

– Alfalfa, dandelion root and leaf, fennel, horsetail and raspberry leaf are all beneficial for promoting lactation and increasing the nutrient quantity in breast milk.
 
– Small amounts of Sage tea can be used to slightly decrease and overproduction or fast let down of breastmilk (Consult your practitioner about a suitable dosage as over consumption can reduce milk supplies too much).
 
– Nettle leaf has a tonic effect and contains iron in addition to many other nutrients. These can be found in the form of tea. Chamomile Tea taken by the mother has a beneficial effect on babies with sleep disturbance.
 
– Catnip – for mother and baby (nerve tonic and great for fatigue and depression Cinnamon and Ginger can be used as digestive aids in small doses.
 

Foods that commonly cause colic or cause aggravation:

– Brassica Vegetables not cooked enough eg broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower High sulphur foods like onions, brussel sprouts, garlic for some, eggs Chocolate, Full cream milk
 
– Soft drinks INCLUDING DIET OR ARTIFICIALLY SWEETENED DRINKS Coffee and too much black and green tea
 

Essential nutrients and where they are found:

– Essential Fatty acids (Omega oils): Fish, flaxseed oil, linseeds and their oil, olive oil, chia seeds, hemp seeds. (Flaxseed oil can be applied directly onto babies with dry skin irritations)

– Free form amino acids: Found in high protein foods such as eggs, lean organic red meat, free-range chicken, nuts and seeds, legumes (beans, lentils etc), Tofu, brown rice and vegetables. Bone broth.

– Calcium: soy, almond, rice & goats milk, sardines, salmon, green leafy vegetables, sunflower seeds and tahini, almonds, broccoli, carob, kelp & seaweeds, oats, prunes, tofu, yoghurt (low fat). Bone broth.

– Zinc: Beef, baked beans, cashews, egg yolks, ginger, herrings, liver, milk, lamb, oysters, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, wholegrains, brown rice.

– Magnesium: meat, fish, seafood, apples, apricots, avocados, bananas, brown rice, grapefruit, green leafy vegetables, kelp, lemons, lima beans, nuts and seeds, soybeans, tofu and whole grains. Bone broth

– B Vitamins: Brown rice, eggs, legumes, fish, free-range chicken & whole grains.

– Folate: Barley, buckwheat, brown rice, organic beef, free-range chicken, green leafy vegetables, legumes, lentils, mushrooms, oranges, root vegetables, salmon, tuna and whole grains.

– Vitamin C: Fresh fruit and vegetables. Excellent sources include berries, citrus fruits and green vegetables.- Vitamin E: Almonds, Beef, Corn, Egg yolk, nuts, safflower, sunflower, wheat germpage2image66057920

– Vitamin D: Fish, cod liver oil, dairy products (limit these), eggs, oats, sweet potatoes, safflower and olive oils.

– Iron: Eggs, Fish, liver, organic red meat, free-range chicken, green leafy vegetables, whole grains, almonds, avocados, kelp, chlorella (chlorophyll), soybeans, alfalfa.

– Chromium:  brown rice, lean organic meat, whole grains, dried beans, free-range chicken, corn, eggs & mushrooms.

Supplementation during pregnancy and breastfeeding is highly recommended as assimilation and absorption of minerals and vitamins from your diet can be limited, especially if you, the mother has underlying problems such as low stomach acid, hypoglycaemia, Candida, food sensitivities, imbalance of intestinal flora and parasites. It is essential that supplementation be monitored by a health professional during both pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Resources:

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24 Reminders for the last six to eight weeks of pregnancy

24 Reminders for the last six to eight weeks of pregnancy

The last few weeks of pregnancy are vitally important. Here are some suggestions for a mother during her final stages of pregnancy.

1. CRAWL ON ALL FOURS (HANDS AND KNEES) FOR FIVE TO TEN MINUTES, TWICE A DAY

This position allows optimum room for your baby to correctly place itself within your pelvis. This task is particularly beneficial if, upon abdominal examination, you find that your baby has rotated within your pelvis (into a posterior position, for example), or is yet to move down into your pelvis.

Posterior babies used to be uncommon in previous decades. It has been suggested that this is because women of these times would regularly scrub the floor on their hands and knees. This type of posture, with gravity’s assistance, encouraged babies to move anteriorly into the pelvis.

In preparation for birth we need to make a conscious effort to crawl around the house. If you feel inclined, embrace those ‘nesting urges and get down on your hands and knees and dust those neglected skirting boards and corners! Alternatively read a magazine or newspaper whilst on all fours.

2. KEEP AN UPRIGHT POSTURE

Avoid sitting in a reclined position (backward leanins) on the couch or in the ear, as these postures do not encourage correct positioning for your baby.

3. ENSURE YOUR SPINE IS ALIGNED FOR A MORE STRAIGHTFORWARD BIRTH

Due to hormonal changes and gravitational forces, pregnant women often develop specific subluxation and postural patterns. Research shows that correct alignment of the pelvis and spine contributes to a more straightforward labor with less pain and trauma for mother and child.

One particular subluxation pattern seen in pregnant women is the “Double PI Ilium/Sacral base posterior”. The pregnant mother tends to carry her head, drooping shoulders and whole upper body forward, decreasing the curve in her lower back. This results in head, neck, shoulder and back pain.

While not as commonplace as other patterns, according to Dr McCullen in her paper, Spinal Stabilization, “This type of subluxation pattern has more severe long-term consequences as the patient will be prone to protracted (long) labor, intense back pain during her labor and disordered uterine action (contractions that are inconsistent).”

Chiropractors can ensure that your spine is properly aligned and subluxation free, and regular visits while you are pregnant will diminish the chance of complications during labor.

4. PERFORM REGULAR PERINEAL MASSAGE

This is important, particularly if this is your first birth, or if you have suffered perineal tears with a previous birth. This massage, while at times painful and difficult, is one of the best methods for physically preparing the body for birth. Please ask us for our handout on perineal massage should you need techniques.

5. PERFORM PELVIC FLOOR STRENGTHENING EXERCISES

Keeping your pelvic floor strong at this late stage of pregnancy ensures quicker recovery post-birth.
A common complaint of new mothers is that no one tells them how heavy and sore their body can feel after a labor. There are few things worse than feeling as if you have to physically hold your pelvic floor as you climb a set of stairs.
So get busy with these strengthening exercises! Please ask us for our handout on pelvic floor exercises should you need techniques.

6. APPLY VITAMIN E OR JOJOBA OIL TO YOUR PERINEAL AREA DAILY

This activity helps to soften the area. If you are a new mother, your perineum has not had to stretch and accommodate for the passing of a small being before.

So help your body by encouraging elasticity. This will also be useful if you have previously experienced perineal tears.

7. APPLY OILS AND CREAMS ONTO YOUR STOMACH AND BREASTS TO HELP PREVENT STRETCH MARKS

It is beneficial to continue applying these lotions pre and post-birth, as your milk comes in and the breast tissue is further stretched.

8. BREAST MASSAGE IN THE LAST FEW WEEKS OF YOUR PREGNANCY HAS BEEN SUGGESTED BY SOME AUTHORS TO INCREASE MILK SUPPLY

With this massage you may experience some colostrum leakage; this is natural.
Knowing that you have abundant colostrum and breast milk available for your newborn instills great confidence in a new mum.

9. DRINK PLENTY OF RASPBERRY LEAF AND STINGING NETTLE TEA

These teas are available from health food stores. Use two handfuls of dre eaves and cover with boiling water in a litre jar, leave for four hours, strain and drink one cup per day. If making fresh, use three quarters of a teaspoon per cup.

Raspberry Leaf tea can be used alone or in combination with Squaw Vine, Beth Root and Blue Cohosh to help encourage a steady labor.

Stinging Nettle teas are rich in iron and vitamin K, which help to reduce the risk of hemorrhage and improve recovery post-birth. Nettles also help to reduce hemorrhoids as they are mildly astringent and strengthen blood vessel walls. Stinging Nettles are also beneficial during the first trimester.

Drink Raspberry Leaf tea regularly in the last six weeks of pregnancy as it is highly nutritious. Containing calcium, iron, folic acid and vitamin E, it prepares your body for birthing by helping to soften your cervix. Raspberry leaves consumed after labor also help milk production and hasten recovery of the uterus and pelvic area, post-birth.

10. BE PARTICULARLY MINDFUL OF YOUR DIET IN THESE LAST FEW WEEKS

In the last few weeks of pregnancy, focus on attaining enough vitamin C, B, E, K, iron, zinc and probiotics. Vegetarian mothers will also need to attain plenty of calcium and vitamin B12. Nothing beats getting these vitamins and minerals naturally from foods.

Some tips:

o  Vitamin C – attained through good quality fruits and vegetables. Vitamin C is vital for fetal development and for a mother’s increased demands of collagen for her growing breasts and stomach. Furthermore, vitamin C helps with the rate of post-labor healing, boosts your immunity and aids the body’s ability to absorb iron (sustained iron levels are vital).

o  Vitamins B – (in particular B2, B6, B9 and B12)-they may help to reduce the risk of both preeclampsia and intrauterine growth retardation.

o  Vitamin E – firstly from your diet, then in supplement form. Vitamin E is a valuable antioxidant, it protects against hemorrhoids and varicose veins, normalizes blood pressure and aids delivery.

o  Vitamin K- important for proper blood clotting and the prevention of hemorrhage.

o  Zinc – this mineral helps prevent stretch marks, perineal tearing and cracked nipples, and is important for fetal growth. Including zinc-rich foods every day in your diet may also help to prevent birth defects.

o  Iron-a pregnant mother’s diet should be rich in iron throughout her pregnancy, particularly in the last trimester. If this is your first pregnancy you may not need to take an iron supplement; with subsequent pregnancies, your blood tests may indicate lower iron levels and additional iron supplements (non-chelated) are required.

11. TRY BREATHING OUT WHEN HAVING A BOWEL MOTION

This helps a pregnant mother learn how to relax and release her pelvic floor.

12. HAVE A NAP EACH DAY

Adequate rest is important for both you and your growing baby.

“Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop” Ovid (43BC-17AD)

13. CORRECT SLEEPING POSITION

It is recommended that once you know that your baby is correctly positioned towards the front of your uterus (best checked by your midwife), that you lie predominantly on the same side as your baby’s back to encourage him/her to stay in this same position.

As you lie on your side, place a small pillow underneath your pendulous belly (i.e. between your belly and the mattress). This helps to prevent the weight of your baby pulling your pelvis forward. Then place another smaller between four knees to assist correct alignment of your spine and pelvis.

14. VISUALIZE VS IDEAL POSITION OF YOUR BABY’S IDEAL POSITION FOR BIRTH

Visualize your baby’s position for birth:

o Head down

o With their chin tucked down onto chest

o Baby’s back to mum’s belly button

o Arms tucked down and against their body

15. PREPARE YOUR NIPPLES FOR BREASTFEEDING BY GENTLY PINCHING AND ROLLING THEM

These techniques help prevent nipples becoming too sore when first breastfeeding. These methods also familiarize a woman with handling her breasts and can be performed on both sides for two minutes a day in the last four to six weeks.

A mother can prepare her nipples by not wearing a bra and exposing the nipples to the gentle friction of clothes, also by exposing the nipples to sunlight for a few minutes a day. Rubbing the nipples with wheatgerm oil or expressed colostrum (late in pregnancy) is another important preparatory step.

Don’t rub your nipples with a towel or a brush in an attempt to toughen them, as this will merely rub off skin cells and leave your nipples tender. Also avoid washing your nipples with soap as this will cause them to dry out and promote cracking when they are later stretched.

TO PREPARE NIPPLES FOR BREASTFEEDING:

PINCHING: Using your thumb and forefinger, gently squeeze just behind the nipple. If your nipple does not protrude, gently pull them outward.
ROLLING: Once you have pinched, roll your nipple between your thumb and forefinger, gently stretching it forward out of your breast.

16. CONSIDER NOT TELLING YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY YOUR EXACT DUE DATE

Being vague about when you will reach your 40 weeks gestation can be very helpful, particularly if you do go over your due date. Remember that babies initiate labor when they are ready. Being discreet avoids repeated phone calls from well meaning friends and family and helps to minimize impatience for all involved.

17. MAKE A PHONE TREE

Nominate a couple of people to call after you’ve had your baby, and then have family and friends make the rest of the calls for you.

It is often best to only let a few people know when your labor starts, as this avoids unnecessary concern and tension. You can share your happy news with your family and friends once the big event is all over. This helps to prevent added stress and anxiety for everyone involved.

18. SPEND TIME WITH SOMEONE ELSE’S NEW BABY

This helps you visualize and appreciate just how beautiful and tiny your baby will be. Hold these babies, smell them and watch them feeding as this will be you soon!

19. USE MEDITATION TAPES

Quieten your mind and allow yourself time to connect with your unborn baby.

20. RESOLVE ANY ISSUES AND ACKNOWLEDGE ANY FEARS

It is beneficial for a pregnant couple to address any fears or anxieties they may have about birth. A laboring mother’s body is less likely to relax and open up during birth if she has internal conflict or if there has been a lack of communication amongst the support team.

Sit with your partner, get comfortable and take the time necessary to allow any concerns to surface. It is completely normal for couples to feel scared or nervous. It is best to be honest and to fully prepare to not judge these emotions.

Giving birth is possibly the greatest physical and emotional challenge you’ll ever face. Creating the time and space to face fears as a birthing couple (or with your birth partner if you have asked a girlfriend or your mother) can dramatically alter your birth outcome.

As a mother, some of your fears might be that there is something wrong with your baby, or that you will feel defeated by the pain of labor. You may fear that you’ll disappoint your partner in some way, or yourself.

Your partner might feel anxious about seeing you in a tremendous amount of pain, possibly for hours, or seeing you vomit or weep with exhaustion. They may be nervous about your level of health and whether you’ll be placed in any danger.

Ask your partner how they think they will respond during labor. How will they cope speaking with doctors and midwives?

Talk about these things in advance and remember the old saying that “failing to plan is a plan to fail”. Make sure everyone on your team is very clear on your birth objectives and that they are 100% supportive. If you are feeling challenged about the labor, speak to your midwife, watch positive birthing videos or read positive birthing stories. Keep focusing on ways that you can empower yourself as a birthing mother.

Take faith in knowing that women have successfully been giving birth since the beginning of time. Our bodies are designed for birth. Allowing emotions to surface and to flow without fear will enable you to fully prepare for birth and the wonderful journey of parenting.

21. ATTEND A PROACTIVE BIRTH SEMINAR

We no longer live in tribe-based cultures where young women witness and support other women birthing. Lacking the opportunity to observe natural labor without the sensationalism and hype of the media, we often misunderstand this natural process. Proactive birth seminars can fill in this gap, reminding us of the enormity of the event, and helping us to remember that birthing should be an empowering life experience.

22. TRY NOT TO EAT FISH IN THE LAST 2-3 WEEKS OF PREGNANCY

Fish prohibits prostaglandin production, which is necessary for initiating labor. Mothers ideally should limit their intake of fresh fish entirely at this point and similarly reduce their daily intake of fish oil supplements to every alternate day.

23. TAKE SUPPLEMENTARY TISSUE SALTS

These chewable tablets are safe, highly effective and easily accessible from health food stores.

Recommended tissue salts:

o Magnesium Phosphate – useful for preventing leg cramps and heartburn.

o Calcium Fluoride–aids varicose conditions.

o Silica- helps to prevent stretch marks.

o Nat Mur (or Sodium Chloride) – helps with fluid retention.

24. WALK AROUND THE HOUSE NAKED AND LOOK AT YOURSELF IN THE MIRROR

There is little room for modesty during labor. Getting used to seeing yourself naked prepares you for the likely scenario of strangers being with you in labor and seeing your naked body working to its full capacity.

Enjoy the time ahead till your little one arrives!

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What do do if your baby is breech or posterior

What do do if your baby is breech or posterior

A BREECH BABY

Somewhere between 28 and 32 weeks, babies start to turn head first into the pelvic cavity. After 36 weeks, if your baby is still bottom first, then they will be termed ‘breech’. Some obstetricians will suggest that you prepare yourself for a caesarean and more experienced midwives are okay to deliver in breech.

Concerns for safety with a breech delivery include the possibility of compressing or prolapsing the umbilical cord, and the likelihood of the baby inhaling fluid. Other risk factors associated with breech presentation include high rate of death, neurological problems, cerebral palsy, fractures and traumatic conditions such as Erbs palsy.

WHAT CAUSES A BREECH PRESENTATION?

There seems to be a variety of contributing factors for breech presentations; a multiple pregnancy or a history of a premature delivery or breech pregnancy. Other reasons for this inverted presentation may include too little or too much amniotic fluid, an abnormally shaped uterus, growths such as a fibroids or placenta previa.

Most breech babies are born healthy. However, it is important if your caregiver has termed your baby breech that an ultrasound be arranged to assess any risks involved for mother or child. This is also pertinent if you are keen to try any activities which will encourage your baby to move into a more positive birthing position during your last few weeks of gestation.

TYPES OF BREECH PRESENTATIONS

  • Frank breech: the baby’s buttocks are aimed toward the birth canal with the legs and feet sticking straight up in front of the body.
  • Complete breech: the buttocks are down with the legs folded at the knees and the feet near the buttocks.
  • Footling breech: one or both of the baby’s feet are pointing down.

THE CHIROPRACTIC APPROACH TO BREECH BABIES AND OPTIMAL UTERUS TONE

There is no one reason as to why babies move in and out of the optimal birthing position. As the uterus is a “soft tissue”, it stretches with the growth of your baby and often in some directions more than others. The contraction of the uterine smooth muscle is known to be an involuntary action controlled and coordinated by the subconscious brain and nervous system.

Specially trained chiropractors have techniques that we utilise to turn the baby. If you would like to know more you can see the link here: LINK

ACTIVITIES FOR PARENTS TO FOCUS ON:

If an ultrasound has confirmed a breech position (and the baby appears healthy and well), bear in mind there are many different methods that may encourage your baby to turn. So before throwing in the towel along with any hopes you may have had for a vaginal birth, remember that time is on your side. Rather than feeling blue, focus on the following proactive activities:

EXERCISES:

In a breech position your baby is sitting upright in your pelvis, and ideally we wish to encourage him to tip downwards, head first. Angling your body so that your head is lower than your pelvis (so your bottom sticks up in the air) helps to create increased pressure on your baby.

This position encourages him to move crossways and then down into your pelvis, head first. It is also beneficial to Visualize your baby moving into the correct position while you perform these activities.

Knee Chest Position

Arrange yourself on all fours (i.e. on your hands and knees), then lower your upper body so that your head and shoulders rest on the floor, while your bottom remains in the air. Hold for 20 minutes, twice a day.

Breech Tilt
On the floor, in front of your sofa, gather three or four firm cushions or pillows.
Place two of these pillows, one on top of the other, against the base of the couch.
Then place a yoga mat or towel against the base of the couch, adjacent to these pillows. The mat allows for cushioning for your upper body.
The aim of this exercise is to then lie down on your yoga mat and lift your legs onto the sofa. Ensure that your bottom is touching the edge of the sofa. Then lift your pelvis into the air by pushing down with your feet and gently drag the two cushions that are next to you, in and under your legs and bottom. The cushions are meant to support your body at a 45° angle, so you may need to add an extra cushion. This task may sound difficult but with a little persistence and practice, you’ll conquer it.

Perform both of these exercises on an empty stomach, twice a day, for about 20 minutes.
  

CONSULT AN ACUPUNCTURIST, HOMEOPATH OR CHINESE HERBALIST

Combining acupuncture and dietary changes to promote an energy balance in the body can help to turn breech babies. Seck a practitioner who has skill and experience in this area. An acupuncturist will aim to realign the electromagnetic energy of the body and may use either acupuncture needles or moxibustion over consecutive sessions.

A Chinese herbalist or naturopath will be able to guide you on specific dietary changes that can promote more yang energy in your body. According to Eastern philosophies, when the body indicates too much ‘yin’ energy, your baby may also adopt this condition and breech positioning will be encouraged. “Yin’ is promoted by too many sugary, cold foods such as ice cream, chemical stimulants such as coffee and smoking, and a lack of rest. 

USING SOUND AND LIGHT

Research has shown that babies are able to hear sounds from within the uterus. Some women have had success encouraging their babies to move down towards the birth canal by using headphones playing music held low over the uterus. 

Other women use the light of a torch held over the same area to encourage their baby to move down into the pelvis towards the light source. Honestly, I would probably just shine the light source right between my legs directly onto the birth canal so as to avoid any navigational errors or fetal confusion! Take your pick

ELEPHANT WALKING

This posture is designed to encourage your baby out of a breech position. This activity involves walking around the house on your hands and feet (instead of your knees) – this is no easy task.

VISUALIZE

Spend some quiet time visualising babies in the correct fetal position.

DUCK DIVES

Jump in the pool swimming along the surface of the water. Dive and try to go vertically down towards the floor of the swimming pool. Repeat as much as you can.

A POSTERIOR BABY

A ‘posterior baby’ is positioned towards the front of the mother’s body with its spine against her spine. The ideal position for your baby pre-labor is with your baby’s chin tucked under and its spine facing to the front of the mother’s body. With a posterior position, your baby will have difficulty being able to move down and over the cervix. Dilation will be slower and the laboring mother will generally experience significant back pain and a longer labor. 

Interestingly, some posterior babies may turn or rotate into a more favorable delivery position during labor itself, particularly with active birth positions.

ACTIVITIES FOR PARENTS TO FOCUS ON:

Beyond chiropractic techniques, the following suggestions can help your baby to move into a more ideal anterior position during your pregnancy.

Specially trained chiropractors with experience in pre and post natal care have techniques to help balance the pelvis and reduce tone in the uterus.

EXERCISES

1. Crawl

Crawl around the carpeted areas of your house in 5-10 minute intervals, 2-3 times a day. You can also rest in this all-fours position and read the paper, for example.

2. Sideways Bend

While in the all fours position keep your upper body still and bring one of your hips up towards the shoulder on the same side. Start by breathing in, then a hip breathe out, tighten the muscles on your left side and draw your hip up towards your left shoulder. As you breathe in, move your hip back to the neu. tral starting position. Repeat on the other side.

3. Back Arching

While in the all-fours position, breathe in, as you breathe out, arch your back upwards and relax your head down. Keep your abdominal muscles relaxed.

Breathe in again and bring your body back to neutral.

With these activities, if you feel your baby move towards the front of your body, so for a walk to encourage the head to engage into your pelvis. 

It is recommended that once you know that your baby is correctly positioned ante-riorly (best checked by your midwife), you lie on your left side while resting, which encourages your baby to do the same.

WATCH YOUR POSTURE

Avoid sitting in reclined positions, such as leaning backward on the couch or in car seats. Research suggests that sitting upright in straight-backed chairs, straddling a chair backwards or using office kneeler chairs will encourage your baby to enter the pelvis in an anterior position.

Should you have any questions about the above, please contact us.

What do do if your baby is breech or posterior Read More »

What you need to do to prepare for the best birth (and beyond)

What you need to do to prepare for the best birth (and beyond)

WHY IS PERINEAL MASSAGE IMPORTANT?

Let’s be honest from the start, if this is your first pregnancy, then the thought of having to do perineal massage might not thrill you. Some women are tentative-and rightly so because when perineal massage is done properly, it hurts! Literature indicates the benefit of consistently massaging the perineum during late pregnancy as a birthing mother will be less likely to tear during labor. Wouldn’t you agree that encouraging your perineum not to tear is a good thing? Some women approach perineal massage half-heartedly, presuming that all will be fine. Sadly, many women are then unprepared for the likely scenario of an episiotomy during labor, because their pelvic floor and perineum will not relax and accommodate their baby. After hearing countless birthing stories, most women after birth wish that they had taken more time to prepare their bodies for labor.

NOTE TO PARTNERS: 

If it isn’t enough that women have to psych themselves up to even think of stretching perineal tissue, some mothers and midwives have informed me of their partner’s reluctance to help. All I can say is this: the scar tissue from an episiotomy could affect the remainder of a mother’s sexual life, with future intercourse being possibly painful as a result. Birthing is not women’s business-it’s family business. If a woman’s sexual pleasure is affected, so will her partner’s. So don’t be prudish or shy, work together.

Perineal stretching is also vitally important if a birthing mother has scar tissue from a previous birth. Scar tissue loses elasticity and generally remains restrictive in nature.

Factors that influence tearing:

  • The strength of your contractions.
  • The stretch ability or elasticity of your body tissue.
  • The size of your baby.
  • Position of your baby’s head
  • Your position during delivery.
  • The speed of your delivery.
  • The skill of your attendant.
  • Scarring from previous deliveries.
 

HOW DO I MASSAGE MY PERINEUM?

If you and your partner want to take a natural approach to labor, then you will have to become comfortable with looking at and touching female genitalia.

There is little room for modesty when preparing for childbirth. Watching a birth is a gilt and a humbling miracle but let’s not kid ourselves, it is certainly not glamorous.

If your partner refuses to participate or resists helping you with the massage, then this is a very clear indication that together you need to clarify your birthing preferences and objectives.

As a couple or individually you can use KY jelly, vitamin E oil or jojoba oil for massage. 

When you are performing this stretching, it is important to focus on opening up your body. Try to relax, and have confidence in your body’s ability to stretch and give birth to your baby.

When do we start? Begin perineal massage any time from 30 weeks.

How often? If perineal massage is performed correctly (it will hurt); twice a week.

Perineal massage should take 15-30 minutes.

Your mission is to stretch and massage the tissues around your vagina and perineum. To begin, wash your hands well, then lean back into a relaxed position. 

Remember, if this stretching doesn’t feel uncomfortable and hurt a little, then you are not stretching firmly enough. So be brave, take a deep breath and relax into preparing your body for a gentle and safe birth.

External Massage:

Locate the area of skin at the centre of your perineum, directly between your vagina and anus. Place your index and middle fingers of both hands opposite each other and pull your fingers out towards your thighs, dragging the skin with you. This creates tissue pull through the superficial layers of skin. 

Repeat 10-20 times.

Then turn your fingers in slightly and drag them up towards your pubic hair. Repeat 10-20 times. Then move back to the centre point of your perineum and place the tips of your thumbs opposite each other. Move one thumb up towards your vagina and the other thumb down towards your anus (this feels as delightful as a ‘Chinese burn’!).

Repeat 10-20 times.

Internal Massage:

Place two fingers inside your vagina and pull down and out slightly. Pull down firmly until you feel a good stretch. Then pull down a little bit more.

Then pull sideways firmly.

Swap hands and stretch the other side. Repeat these three directions 10-20 times.

WHY SHOULD I STRENGTHEN MY PELVIC FLOOR?

Your pelvic floor muscles are the muscles right between your legs. They make a figure of eight loop surrounding the urethral and vaginal sphincters and the anal sphincter at the rear. Unlike your uterus, these muscles are under your conscious control and need strengthening. Irrespective of your birth outcome, be that vaginal or caesarean, all pregnant women need to strengthen their pelvic floor.

A recent Norwegian study suggests that while there may be a small increased incidence of pelvic floor damage among women who deliver their babies vaginally, the major risk factors are a hurried second stage of labor, forceps delivery and epi-siotomy-not natural vaginal birth per se.

THE BENEFITS OF STRENGTHENING THESE MUSCLES DURING PREGNANCY:

• Being able to relax your pelvic floor during labor

If you practice strengthening these muscles, you will develop an awareness of where they are so that during labor vou can consciously relax this area.

To speak frankly, this will be highly useful when your midwife turns to you as your baby’s head is crown-ing, and says, “Now just let your vagina relax, let it go.” She says this just as your perineum fills with the weight of your baby’s head and you feel your body stretch to accommodate for something the size of a

frozen chicken. You will then look at her in absolute horror and confusion.

You need to strengthen these muscles in order to relax them during the crowning stage of labor.

  • Better circulation promotes better healing
    Exercising a muscle brings more blood to an area and promotes better circula-tion. Having efficient blood supply to your pelvic floor will enable these muscles to stretch easily during labor and allow for quick healing post-birth.*
  • To prevent vulval or anal varicosities (hemorrhoids) during labor
    A strong pelvic floor prevents sphincter weakness and the occurrence of subsequent hemorrhoids. The pressure on your pelvic floor during labor and the engorgement of these tissues post-labor will encourage hemorrhoids if your pelvic floor is weak.
  • Helps prevent constipation
    At some point after giving birth you will have to use your bowels. Unconsciously you may resist this urge through fear. Many mothers post-birth feel anxious that it may hurt or they may cause themselves grave injury. A weak pelvic floor encourages such fear.

ADVANTAGES OF STRENGTHENING YOUR PELVIC FLOOR POST-NATALLY:

Failing to strengthen your pelvic floor during pregnancy encourages a weakness post-labor which, over time, can be exaggerated. Complacency sets in and Pelvic floor Dysfunction (PFD) becomes a daily reality. Then as women age, they often wonder why their body feels so different.

A strong pelvic floor helps prevent the symptoms of PFD, which include:

– urinary urgency or urinary incontinence (the inability to control your bladder)

– the need to urinate frequently, a common complaint amongst women post-birth.

Urination depends on muscle coordination between the bladder and the pelvic floor muscles. These muscles are meant to relax while the bladder contracts.

However with PFD, the pelvic floor muscles continue to tighten when the bladder contracts. The result is poor urine flow. Straining and pushing to get the last drop of urine out is believed to further aggravate the muscles of the pelvic floor, resulting in a vicious cycle.

  • A strong pelvic floor helps to increase or improve the sensations experienced when making love. PFD can lessen these sensations.
  • PFD can result in a prolapsed uterus, where the uterus is no longer positioned correctly and specialist intervention may be required.

There are some wonderful products now on the market to assist with pelvic floor awareness. One such product is “EPI-NO’ by Tecsana, a home training device which helps to prevent perineal injuries and incontinence. 

PREPARE YOUR NIPPLES FOR BREASTFEEDING BY GENTLY PINCHING AND ROLLING THEM

These techniques help prevent nipples becoming too sore when first breastfeeding. These methods also familiarize a woman with handling her breasts and can be performed on both sides for two minutes a day in the last four to six weeks.
A mother can prepare her nipples by not wearing a bra and exposing the nipples to the gentle friction of clothes, also by exposing the nipples to sunlight for a few minutes a day. Rubbing the nipples with wheatgerm oil or expressed colostrum (late in pregnancy) is another important preparatory step.
Don’t rub your nipples with a towel or a brush in an attempt to toughen them, as this will merely rub off skin cells and leave your nipples tender. Also avoid washing your nipples with soap as this will cause them to dry out and promote cracking when they are later stretched.

TO PREPARE NIPPLES FOR BREASTFEEDING:

Pinching: Using your thumb and forefinger, gently squeeze just behind the nipple. If your nipple does not protrude, gently pull them outward.

Rolling: Once you have pinched, roll your nipple between your thumb and forefinger, gently stretching it forward out of your breast.

If you have any questions, please get in contact with us and good luck!

What you need to do to prepare for the best birth (and beyond) Read More »

How to relieve the digestive system in little ones

How to relieve the digestive system in little ones

Signs you little one is having some digestive discomfort

  • Squirminess or pulling legs up to the chest, body tension in the legs, arms, fists, back, or abdomen Consistent crying, often for an hour or more or crying for no particular reason

  • Reduced appetite

  • Appearing to be unhappy or fussy often

  • Unable to sleep

  • Swollen belly

  • Constipation

  • Predictable timing of crying episodes that occur especially in the late afternoon or early evening 

  • Facial discoloration such as a reddened face or pale mouth 

  • Colic episodes followed by a bowel movement or passing of gas that may bring temporary relief 

  • The baby closing their eyes tight or opening them wide, furrowing their brow, or even holding their breath 

  • Crying that disrupts eating and sleeping patterns  

Causes

  • Ingesting too much gas when feeding: poor latching, tongue or lip tie, feeding often when baby is already crying and upset so they take in more air.

  • Reflux, also silent reflux

  • Hypersensitivity or food allergies (cow’s milk or lactose)

  • An underdeveloped digestive system

  • Tension through the abdomen, stomach and neck (relates to the nerves going to the digestive system) 

How to help

  • Change or adjust feeding positions: If your little one is bottle feeding, it may be beneficial to tip the bottle up slightly or switch to a slower-flow nipple to reduce air bubbles. Additionally, feeding your baby in an upright position can reduce the amount of air they swallow.

  • Time feedings correctly: It is important to not wait until your baby is having a meltdown to feed them (Although this can be unpredictable, especially in newborns). So, make sure to look out for hunger cues as the more your baby cries, the more air they will swallow.

  • Tummy time: There are many benefits to tummy time from strengthening back and neck muscles, preparing them for crawling and walking and helping with baby gas relief due to the slight pressure it puts on their tummy.

  • Baby Burps: To help prevent a buildup of gas, burp your baby by also gently patting their back more than once during feedings.

  • Switch formulas: If none of the above methods have worked, it may be time to switch formulas. In most cases, this should be done gradually so as to not overwhelm your little one’s delicate digestive system. Several formulas are available that accommodate a range of dietary needs such as anti-reflux and hypoallergenic formulas. 

  • If you want breastmilk but are unable to, you can see the facebook page: human milk for human babies from mothers who have donated milk.

Massage

Foods to avoid for breastfeeding mums

  • Soy

  • Dairy

  • Hot or spicy foods

  • Fiber-rich foods

  • Caffeine or carbonated beverages

  • Acidic foods (Citrus fruits for example)

  • Cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, artichokes, asparagus, onions and cauliflower

  • Artificial sweeteners

  • Highly processed foods

  • Fiber: like bran, beans and whole grains.

  • Fruit: Citrus fruits, prunes, plums, peaches or apricots. We would suggest avoiding all fruits.

  • Garlic and garlic-seasoned foods like pasta dishes or garlic bread.

  • Dairy: yoghurt, ice cream or milk products.

  • All carbonated beverages including water

  • Seafood and fish high in mercury

  • Processed foods, including carbonated drinks

  • Alcohol

  • Starches such as potatoes, corn and pasta 

  • Chocolate 

Increase

As such, a healthy diet for breastfeeding mothers to avoid colic may include

  • Plenty of water to stay hydrated 

  • Non-cruciferous vegetables 

  • Whole grains 

  • Lean proteins 

  • Mushrooms 

  • Herbal tea 

  • Apple cider vinegar before each meal in warm water 

  • Probiotics

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us!

How to relieve the digestive system in little ones Read More »

Posture exercises

Posture exercises

Your posture is a window to your health

Many daily activities cause large amounts of spinal strain leading to abnormal postural change.

Postures such as sitting for long hours, using tablets and smartphones or long periods of reading are big factors, and many of these activities begin at young ages.

Good posture is not only important for your spine and preventing injuries, headaches, pain and degeneration, but the literature is clear in regards to posture and the effect on lung capacity, cognitive function, mood regulation, digestion, circulation, heart and vascular disease, stress and energy. 

In short, your posture directly influences your ability to have a healthy body that supports the life you want.

Hereby, we send you 2 exercises regarding your posture;

Pectoral stretches – 3 times

This exercise will help stretch the tight pectoral muscles in the front of the chest and bring your shoulders back and chest open. 

Why is this important? Rounded shoulders and a forward head can cause up to 30% reduction in lung capacity! Think of this next time you feel tired or have poor concentration.

1.  Stand in an open doorway. With your elbows slightly below shoulder height, place your hand and forearm on each of the door frames.

2.  Slowly lean forward until you feel a mild stretch in your chest

    Hold for 30 seconds – repeat 3 times

All Fours exercise – 3 minutes

This exercise will help strengthen the weak muscles in the spine and bring the shoulders and neck back from their forward position.

1.  Start with your arms and legs on the floor

2.  Raise one arm and the opposite leg to be horizontal

     Hold for 10 seconds – repeat with the other arm and leg

Do this exercise for 3 minutes in total, using slow and controlled movements. For the entire 3 minutes, raise your head up so that your eyes look at the wall in front of you to create the natural curve in your neck. Use a wall for support if you feel unbalanced.

If you have any questions, please get in contact with us.

Enjoy the exercises!

Posture exercises Read More »

Proven ways to treat migraines

Proven ways to treat migraines

Migraines often have common triggers. It is important for you to identify and eliminate triggers in your life. The most common triggers we see are:

  • Dehydration

  • Skipping meals (effects blood sugar regulation)

  • Meals high in carbohydrates and sugar (effects blood sugar regulation)

  • Lack of or interrupted sleep

  • Visual disturbance such as too much screen time (tv, iPad, computer, phone)

  • Poor posture

  • Weather changes

  • Sensory overload such as bright lights, loud music etc

  • Medications

  • Poor breathing or mouth-breathing

  • Stress

  • Menstrual cycle 

  • Not enough exercise or exercise is too heavy 

Particular food and drink triggers for migraines:

  • Alcohol

  • Caffeine

  • Processed foods

  • Colourings and additives to food

  • MSG

  • Aged cheese

  • Aged, canned, cured or processed meat (including bologna, game, ham, herring, hot dogs, pepperoni and sausage)

  • Aspartame

  • Beans (including pole, broad, lima, Italian, navy, pinto and garbanzo)

  • Brewer’s yeast (including fresh yeast coffee cake, donuts and sourdough bread)

  • Canned soup or bouillon cubes

  • Chocolate, cocoa, and carob

  • Cultured dairy products (such as buttermilk and sour cream)

  • Lentils

  • Meat tenderizer

  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)

  • Nuts and peanut butter

  • Papaya

  • Passion fruit

  • Pea pods

  • Pickled, preserved or marinated foods (such as olives and pickles, and some snack foods)

  • Raisins

  • Red plums

  • Sauerkraut

  • Seasoned salt

  • Snow peas

  • Soy sauce 

Lifestyle changes to be made:

  • Try sleeping or lying down in a darkened room during a migraine

  • Try to avoid things you know trigger your migraines, such as certain foods

  • Stay well hydrated and limit how much caffeine and alcohol you drink

  • Try to keep to a healthy weight

  • Eat meals at regular times

  • Get regular exercise

  • Get plenty of sleep

  • Try to manage your stress

  • Eat regularly and do not skip meals

  • Keep a regular sleep schedule

  • Exercise regularly. Aerobic exercise can reduce tension and keep your weight in check. Obesity can contribute to migraines

  • Keep a migraine journal to track what triggers your migraines and what treatments are most helpful

  • Regular adjustments to the neck and upper back. Chiropractic is extermely effective with decreasing the frequency and intensity of migraines and something we help lot in practice at Pure Health Chiropractic.

Everyday:

  • Take magnesium glycinateIt is good to have before bed as it also assists sleep however, NEVER take magnesium or any other vitamins near coffee as you won’t absorb the nutrients. 

How to choose the correct magnesium:

  • You need to find a magnesium that has a high component of magnesium glycinate

  • Make sure there are no other additives like vitamin C, colours, fillers etc.

  • Make sure there are no fillers or additives that are bad for health.  

If you are getting a migraine:

  • Take double the amount of magnesium that you normally take

  • Drink 300ml of water

  • Go into a dark room where there is fresh air away from all sensory overload and try to sleep

  • Book an appointment with a chiropractor

Proven ways to treat migraines Read More »

Eating insects, yes or no?

Eating insects, yes or no?

As of January 2023, the use of insect meal in various foods, such as bread and pasta varieties, will be legal. In this article, we share our views on this development and offer alternatives for those who prefer not to consume animal insect meal.

Eating Insects Has Ancient History

Human consumption of insects, known as entomophagy, has an ancient history dating back thousands of years among both humans and apes. Natural populations throughout human history have regularly eaten insects as a source of nutrients. Even today, eating insects is widespread in many parts of Asia, Africa and South America, where it is considered perfectly normal. In more than 130 countries worldwide, insects are a common part of the diet, with beetles, larvae, caterpillars and ants being the main favorites. Although dragonflies, cockroaches and spiders are also consumed, albeit to a lesser extent.

EU Decision Regarding Insects In Food in 2023

On Jan. 23, 2023, a European law was passed allowing insects as an ingredient in foods such as bread and pasta varieties. Not only the house cricket, but also grasshoppers, mealworms and other insects can be added to our foods in the form of flour. And there we immediately encounter the major difference between how natural populations use insects in their diet and this passed law; natural populations do not grind insects into flour to add to their products, but are seen as delicacies, to be eaten occasionally. Adding insect meal to processed products means that, proportionally, we will ingest many more insects. And the question is whether this is a healthy development or will this cause unforeseen future health consequences?

Insects, Why Not?

Eating insects may be an emerging trend, but there are certainly drawbacks. Insects contain antinutrients, such as oxalates, saponins and tannins, which are absolutely not beneficial to health. In addition, insects may contain toxins, such as cyanide or heavy metals such as, cadmium and lead.

While it is touted that commercial insects available in stores are generally safe for consumption, it is also recommended (and even considered essential) to remove the legs and wings beforehand, as they may otherwise cause damage to the intestines. Will insect meal will be free of these insect components? We have no certainty of this.

Another important aspect is the preparation of insects. They must be thoroughly heated to kill harmful bacteria and parasites, as insufficient heating can pose health risks. For our intestines in particular, a load of harmful bacteria and parasites is harmful, as it can cause a strong dysbiosis. A pathogenic load usually leads to Leaky Gut Syndrome (hyperpermeable gut). This may allow substances such as toxins and not fully digested proteins and microorganisms (bacteria) to enter the bloodstream. These substances can cause unnecessary stress to the body and a myriad of autoimmune conditions.

Although the medical literature has not currently identified any alarming dangers related to eating a limited amount of insects, the number of studies available on the subject remains limited therefore the data simply provides no certainty of what effects to health we can expect. Especially when insects are going to be eaten in large quantities (in the form of flour). Further studies are thus needed to get a clearer picture of the possible health risks.

Where Can We Start Expecting Insect Flour?

The use of cricket powder is allowed in a wide range of food products, including baked goods such as multigrain bread, crackers, granola, cookies, as well as in pizza, soups, sauces, vegetable and legume dishes, processed potato products, chocolate products, whey powder, snacks and even beer.

While the use of cricket powder is possible in meat substitutes, it will likely be limited to insect burgers, as insect protein is more expensive than plant-based proteins and not likely to be added to vegetarian or vegan meat substitutes. Nevertheless, it is still wise to read labels.

Alternatives For Those Who Don’t Want Insect Meal

To address any concerns, the law clearly states that the use of cricket powder must be indicated on the ingredient list. According to Foodwatch, the powder must be specifically described as “partially defatted powder obtained from Acheta domesticus (house cricket).”

If you prefer not to consume animal insect meal, here are some solutions:

* Look for the V-Label Hallmark on food products, which guarantees vegetarian or vegan products without insect meal as an ingredient.

* Check the ingredient list of products for the presence of insect or cricket meal if you can’t find the V-Label. Look for the following ingredients:

* Acheta domesticus (house cricket)

* Gryllodes Sigillatus (dried tire cricket)

* Locusta Migratoria (migratory grasshopper)

* Tenebrio Molitor (dried mealworm)

* Alphitobius Diaperinus (whole and ground larvae of the peip foam beetle (small mealworm)

* If an ingredient list is not available, ask the manufacturer or supplier directly if the product contains insect meal.

Check For Insect Intolerance

It is important that consumers be informed about the presence of insect meal in food products so that they can make informed choices that are in line with their dietary preferences. Especially considering that people can react immunologically to insects. Consider intolerances or allergies.

There is now an intolerance test where you can use a finger prick test to check for any reactions to insects, such as house crickets. In people who are sensitive to seafood, dust mites or histamine, it is wise to check if you also react to insects. If you would like to know, we can send you the details of where you can access these tests.

There is also a simpler solution: eat as many unprocessed products as possible, such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and organic eggs, poultry and wild-caught fish. With this you immediately bypass any insects.

Eating insects, yes or no? Read More »

How to Detox for Longevity

How to Detox for Longevity

When people hear the word “detox,” they tend to think about rehab or fad diets rather than longevity and disease prevention.
But the liver, kidneys, lungs, skin, digestive, and lymph systems all play crucial roles in detoxification that, if overburdened, can result in a toxin overload that manifests in disease and a long list of symptoms ranging from lack of energy to weight gain, fluid retention, sluggishness, and menstrual problems. Toxins are also linked to heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and dementia (the main age-related diseases).
In the last century alone, more than eighty thousand chemicals have been introduced into our environment, inundating us with a constant deluge of air pollutants, pesticides, plastics, phthalates, flame retardants, herbicides, heavy metals, and more. Over time, these toxins can slowly accumulate as our natural detox systems are pushed beyond their limits, culminating in a tipping point of toxic overload that overwhelms the body and clogs our natural detoxification pathways.
So, how can we keep up with the constant inundation of toxins and prevent this buildup in our body?

How Detoxification Impacts Aging and Disease

The body has built-in detox systems to filter and remove toxins. The liver, kidneys, digestive system, skin, and lungs all play a crucial role in this process.

Liver: Transforms toxins into less harmful compounds through enzymatic processes and transforms fat-soluble toxins into water-soluble toxins that can be excreted.

Kidneys: Filter blood to remove waste products, which are then excreted in urine.

Digestive System: Eliminates toxins through feces, with a healthy gut microbiome playing a pivotal role in this process.
Skin and Lungs: Excrete toxins through sweat and exhalation.

In a healthy body, this process of detoxification runs smoothly; however, these systems have a limited capacity. So when the “total load” of toxins exceeds the body’s ability to detoxify, our systems can overflow like too much water pouring into a glass—triggering oxidative stress, DNA and mitochondrial damage, inflammation, and disrupted gut function, the primary drivers of accelerated aging and chronic disease.

In fact, studies have linked the intake of environmental toxins to everything from obesity, diabetes, and heart disease to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, autoimmune disease and cancer.

A recent study in The New England Journal of Medicine has identified microplastics and nanoplastics as potential risk factors for cardiovascular disease, linking them to an increased risk of myocardial infarction, stroke, and death. Similarly, exposure to indoor and outdoor air pollution has been linked to increased risks of Alzheimer’s disease, accelerated cognitive decline, dementia, and frailty.

Strategies to Support Detoxification

1. Stop adding to your cup. The fewer toxins we expose our bodies to, the better. Keep toxins out of your system by eliminating ultra-processed foods, sugars, starches, preservatives and additives that clog detox pathways. Consuming smaller fish such as wild-caught salmon, sardines, and anchovies instead of larger fish that are higher in mercury will also reduce your exposure to heavy metals. (Fish to avoid include tuna, king mackerel, tilefish, shark, and swordfish.)

2. Follow EWG guidelines. The Environmental Working Group has helpful consumer guides you can reference to reduce your exposure to toxins in products like fragrances, cosmetics, and sunscreens.

3. Eat to boost detoxification. Diet plays a crucial role in supporting the body’s detoxification processes. Consuming foods rich in antioxidants, such as organic, non-starchy vegetables helps combat oxidative stress. Foods rich in glutathione (cauliflower, cabbage, kale, arugula, collards, kohlrabi, wasabi, garlic), folate, manganese, magnesium, zinc and selenium (leafy greens, legumes, and nuts and seeds like Brazil nuts and pumpkin seeds) also provide necessary cofactors to support your body’s detox mechanisms.

Choosing locally, sourced, organic foods whenever possible will also reduce exposure to harmful pesticides and provide richer sources of nutrients and phytochemicals.

4. Increase antioxidants and chelating foods. Spices and herbs that are rich in antioxidants, like turmeric, rosemary, cilantro, ginger, cinnamon and lemon peel, also support detoxification by counteracting oxidative stress—and green tea is a super detoxifier that’s not only rich in antioxidants but also supports the liver and kidneys and binds to or “chelates” heavy metals so they can be excreted from the body.

Other foods that support chelation are those that are rich in soluble fiber (chia seeds) and pectin (apples, carrots, oranges).

5. Sweat it out. Sweating is one of the most effective ways to detox, as many toxic elements are preferentially excreted through sweat. Studies have shown that sauna use is particularly effective at promoting the excretion of heavy metals and toxins, which may be a reason why frequent sauna use is associated with a reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

Sweating also increases circulation and body heat, which helps in the transport and elimination of toxins through the liver and kidneys. Engaging in activities that induce sweating also causes your body to burn fat for energy, which mobilizes stubborn fat-soluble toxins that are stored in fat cells and makes them water-soluble so you can sweat them out more easily.

6. Drink plenty of water. Adequate hydration is essential for supporting key pathways that expel toxins from the body. This includes both sweating and urination as well as the function of our liver, kidneys, cells, and digestive system. So aim for eight to ten glasses of clean, filtered water daily.

The key to detox is two-fold: avoid the bad stuff (e.g., toxins, heavy metals and pesticides) while giving your body enough of the good stuff it needs to support its natural detoxification pathways (e.g., frequent exercise, glutathione from cruciferous vegetables and amino acids from quality protein sources).

 

References

1. Schmidt CW. Environmental Factors in Successful Aging: The Potential Impact of Air Pollution. Environ Health Perspect. 2019;127(10):102001. doi:10.1289/EHP4579
2. Marfella R, Prattichizzo F, Sardu C, et al. Microplastics and Nanoplastics in Atheromas and Cardiovascular Events. N Engl J Med. 2024;390(10):900-910. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa2309822
3. Weuve J, Bennett EE, Ranker L, et al. Exposure to Air Pollution in Relation to Risk of Dementia and Related Outcomes: An Updated Systematic Review of the Epidemiological Literature. Environ Health Perspect. 2021;129(9):96001. doi:10.1289/EHP8716
4. Schmidt CW. Environmental Factors in Successful Aging: The Potential Impact of Air Pollution. Environ Health Perspect. 2019;127(10):102001. doi:10.1289/EHP4579
5. Genuis SJ, Birkholz D, Rodushkin I, Beesoon S. Blood, urine, and sweat (BUS) study: monitoring and elimination of bioaccumulated toxic elements. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol. 2011;61(2):344-357. doi:10.1007/s00244-010-9611-5
6. Laukkanen, T., Kunutsor, S.K., Khan, H. et al. Sauna bathing is associated with reduced cardiovascular mortality and improves risk prediction in men and women: a prospective cohort study. BMC Med 16, 219 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12916-018-1198-0

How to Detox for Longevity Read More »

Simple Steps to Reverse Your Biological Age

Simple Steps to Reverse Your Biological Age

There’s nothing we can do to change our chronological age or the number of years we’ve lived since birth. It’s a simple calculation that doesn’t change regardless of lifestyle, health status, or environmental factors—if you were born fifty years ago, your chronological age is fifty and not a day more or less.

However, recent advances including Nobel-Prize-winning research have made it possible to measure—and modify—our biological age, a more fluid and comprehensive metric that takes into account factors such as DNA methylation, telomere length, gene expression and inflammation levels to show how slowly or rapidly our bodies are aging or declining. Sometimes these two numbers are fairly close, yet, crucially, they don’t have to be.

Unlike chronological age, our biological age is highly influenced by lifestyle choices, environmental exposures and simple, accessible inputs such as the foods we eat. In fact, not only can we hit pause on our biological age, but we can also put it in reverse.

How we measure biological age

There are several ways to measure biological age that, viewed separately or together, can provide a detailed assessment of the rate at which the body is aging on a cellular and functional level.

The first test that was used measured the length of our telomeres. Like the plastic tips on the ends of our shoelaces, telomeres are protective caps on the ends of our chromosomes that prevent our DNA from unraveling. Telomeres shorten every time a cell divides or replicates, so measuring their length gives us an accurate clock of our rate of cellular aging—or how much time we have left until our telomeres reach a critical length and our cells can no longer replicate and inevitably decline. Fortunately, there are interventions we can make to lengthen our telomeres and in doing so, extend the lifespan of our cells.

A newer, more accurate measure was developed that measured changes in our genes—specifically, our epigenome—by assessing DNA methylation, a biochemical process that plays a vital role in gene expression by regulating whether individual genes are switched on or off. While your genes are fixed, which genes are expressed depends on the epigenome. Think of your genes as the keys on a piano and the epigenome as the piano player. As with telomere length, patterns of DNA methylation change with age, giving us insight into the age and health of our cells. Also like telomere length, DNA methylation is highly modifiable by our choices.

We can also measure the accumulation of sterile chronic inflammation (SCI). Inflammation is one of the key features or hallmarks of aging, often referred to as inflammaging. Dr. David Furman and his colleagues at Stanford University developed a tool called iAge or the immune age. Furman and his team screened more than 1,000 people from ages eight to ninety-six for the presence of pro-inflammatory cytokines—which they called the immunome. They then used artificial intelligence to correlate specific inflammatory biomarkers in the blood that can be used to assess inflammation levels and the age of the immune system. The good news is that these, too, can be reversed through simple diet and lifestyle.

How to reverse our biological age

As we often find in functional medicine many of the drivers that accelerate biological aging are rooted in the intake of too much or too little i.e. taking in too many of the things that cause imbalance in the body and not enough of those that restore balance.

Numerous studies have shown a remarkable ability to reverse our biological age by years simply by getting rid of the “bad stuff,” like stress, ultra-processed food and sugar, and giving our bodies more of the “good stuff” like exercise and critical nutrients.

In fact, a study conducted Dr. Kara Fitzgerald (podcasts here) measured the biological age of healthy males between the ages of fifty and seventy-two before and after simple diet and lifestyle modifications—and found that their biological age decreased an average of 3.23 years compared to control groups after just eight weeks!

The biological age of the control group actually increased during the study, while the age of the treatment group significantly decreased [1, 2]. Encouragingly, these results were observed after making remarkably small changes to factors such as diet, sleep, exercise and relaxation guidance and supplemental probiotics and phytonutrients.

Here are some of the steps we can take to lower our biological age

Increase methylation-supporting nutrients

– Important nutrients that support DNA methylation include betaine (found in beets), folate (found in pasture-raised eggs and dark leafy green vegetables), vitamins B6 and B12 (found in pasture-raised eggs, regeneratively-raised beef and grass-fed beef liver) and vitamin C (found in colorful vegetables, berries, and citrus)
– Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, bok choy, arugula, kale, mustard greens, watercress, rutabaga, kohlrabi, radish, swiss chard, and turnips similarly contain compounds such as sulforaphane that promote healthy aging and can turn off genes associated with cancer [3]
– Herbs, aromatics, spices and teas including turmeric, rosemary, green tea, and garlic contain polyphenols like rosmarinic acid, ECGC and quercetin, which can help modulate DNA methylation and activate anti-inflammatory pathways such as Nrf2, a transcription factor that plays a crucial role in cellular defense against oxidative stress and toxins

Avoid foods that contribute to genetic damage and dysfunction

– Sugar is extremely pro-aging in addition to being inflammatory, feeding cancer cells and bad gut bacteria, and causing metabolic dysfunction and oxidative stress
– Conventional dairy is often a significant trigger of inflammation and has been linked to cancer, autoimmune disease, and type 1 diabetes (it’s not the fat that’s the problem, it’s the allergenic proteins such as casein, antibiotics and growth factors found in milk) therefore make sure your dairy comes from a good organic source.
– Modern grains, particularly wheat, aren’t the same as our grandparents ate and are often sprayed with herbicides like glyphosate, linked to cancer, kidney disease, lymphoma, and damage to our gut bacteria. Again, if you eat it and your budget allows, always try and go for organic.

Consume quality sources of protein

– Protein is critical for preventing sarcopenia (the loss of muscle mass), which is common with aging
– Choose nutrient-dense animal proteins such as pasture-raised eggs (5-10 per week) and palm-sized portions of grass-fed, regenerative meats.

Give your body a break between meals

– Not eating for a few hours before bed supports better sleep (which is essential for healthy aging) and gives the body time to rest and repair itself through processes such as cellular recycling and renewal (autophagy) and DNA repair
– Fasting for twelve to fourteen hours between dinner and breakfast (e.g. not eating from 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m or 9 a.m) also turns on genes that lower inflammation and prevents cells from turning into zombie cells (cells that result from telomere shortening and DNA damage that stop dividing and instead release inflammatory molecules) [4,5,6]. Women need to alter this to their menstrual cycle and not fast in the week before or during their period.

Exercise four to six days per week

– While exercise is broadly associated with lifespan extension and overall health, it’s also associated with slowing age-related declines in DNA methylation
– Work your way up to thirty to sixty-minute sessions of aerobic exercise, such as biking, tennis, hiking or swimming, walking at least five days a week in addition to strength training using weights or resistance bands to preserve lean muscle mass. You can do this at home with some body weight exercises.

Manage daily stress

– Chronic stress accelerates cellular aging, shortens our telomeres, is implicated as a risk factor in nearly every chronic disease and has been shown to shorten life expectancy by nearly three years [7]
– A study on chronic stress and biological age led by Dr. Elissa Epel found that women subjected to chronic daily stress had a shorter telomere length equivalent to a ten-year difference in biological age, increasing their risk for the early onset of age-related health problems [8]
– Consider adding some de-stressing techniques like yoga, meditation sessions, even something simple and achievable such as taking 15 minutes before bed to concentrate of breathing, which have been shown to reduce inflammation-related gene expression, increase the expression of telomere maintenance genes and telomere-lengthening enzymes, and support DNA repair [9]

Supplement to support healthy aging (if you’re not getting enough from food)

– Supplementation of 4,000 IU per day of vitamin D, a crucial vitamin that a large percentage of the population is deficient in, has been associated with a 1.85 year reduction in biological age in just sixteen weeks [10]
– Probiotics that contain the gut-bacteria strain Lactobacillus plantarum 299v have been shown to increase folate production, which is known to support DNA methylation [1,2]
– Supplementing methylated B vitamins (e.g., methyl-folate, methyl B12, and the methylated form of B6, pyridoxal-5-phosphate) can help fill in any dietary gaps to support DNA methylation.

 

References

1. Fitzgerald KN, Hodges R, Hanes D, et al. Potential reversal of epigenetic age using a diet and lifestyle intervention: a pilot randomized clinical trial [published correction appears in Aging (Albany NY). 2022 Jul 27;14(14):5959]. Aging (Albany NY). 2021;13(7):9419-9432. doi:10.18632/aging.202913

2. Fitzgerald KN. Younger You: Reduce Your Bio Age and Live Longer, Better. Hachette Go; 2022.

3. Royston KJ, Tollefsbol TO. The Epigenetic Impact of Cruciferous Vegetables on Cancer Prevention. Curr Pharmacol Rep. 2015;1(1):46-51. doi:10.1007/s40495-014-0003-

4. Anton SD, Moehl K, Donahoo WT, et al. Flipping the Metabolic Switch: Understanding and Applying the Health Benefits of Fasting. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2018;26(2):254-268. doi:10.1002/oby.22065

5. Guim Kwon, Connie A. Marshall, Kirk L. Pappan, Maria S. Remedi, Michael L. McDaniel. Signaling Elements Involved in the Metabolic Regulation of mTOR by Nutrients, Incretins, and Growth Factors in Islets. Diabetes Dec 2004, 53 (suppl 3) S225-S232; DOI: 10.2337/diabetes.53.suppl_3.S225

6. Jeong JH, Yu KS, Bak DH, et al. Intermittent fasting is neuroprotective in focal cerebral ischemia by minimizing autophagic flux disturbance and inhibiting apoptosis. Exp Ther Med. 2016;12(5):3021-3028. doi:10.3892/etm.2016.3852

7. Härkänen T, Kuulasmaa K, Sares-Jäske L, et al. Estimating expected life-years and risk factor associations with mortality in Finland: cohort study. BMJ Open. 2020;10(3):e033741. Published 2020 Mar 8. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2019-033741

8. Epel ES, Blackburn EH, Lin J, et al. Accelerated telomere shortening in response to life stress. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004;101:17312–17315.

9. Giridharan S. Beyond the Mat: Exploring the Potential Clinical Benefits of Yoga on Epigenetics and Gene Expression: A Narrative Review of the Current Scientific Evidence. Int J Yoga. 2023;16(2):64-71. doi:10.4103/ijoy.ijoy_141_23

10. Chen L, Dong Y, Bhagatwala J, Raed A, Huang Y, Zhu H. Effects of Vitamin D3 Supplementation on Epigenetic Aging in Overweight and Obese African Americans With Suboptimal Vitamin D Status: A Randomized Clinical Trial. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2019;74(1):91-98. doi:10.1093/gerona/gly22

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