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Your Microbiome and Gut Health

So following on from our previous blog about our Microbiome and how it affects our immunity… this blog post will just give us a more general look at the Microbiome and how it affects your gut health. A Microbiome 101 if you will…   You’ve potentially heard about the good bacteria living within your digestive system, and may have even thought about taking a probiotic to support them. Most of us have seen that Inner Health Plus Ad on TV. But what is the Microbiome? So to recap, remember, the microbiome is this internal community – encompassing a massive 38 trillion microbes (not just bacteria) – that are collectively referred to as your commensal microbiome. When healthy and balanced, your microbiome has wide-reaching health effects, such as: manufacturing important vitamins you need helping to modulate and boost your immune system assisting with waste elimination (therefore supporting healthy bowel function) and even influencing your mood   However, your diet and lifestyle choices can negatively impact the health of your microbiome; resulting in a reduction in both the numbers and/or diversity of the organisms within your gut. Disruption to your internal microbial community can then create an environment where pathogenic (disease causing) organisms have the opportunity to grow and prosper. We don’t want this outcome. This state of imbalance is termed ‘dysbiosis’, and can lead to a plethora of negative health effects, including digestive problems, nutrient deficiencies, or maybe a compromised immune system (which is what we discussed last time) – these are all common consequences when the microbiome becomes imbalanced. Here are five of the most common diet and lifestyle factors that may negatively impact the health of your microbiome. Do you answer yes to any of these?   Five ways you can upset your microbiome: Eating a low fibre diet: as your gut microbes rely on the fibre in your food for fuel, a low fibre diet leads to a reduction in the diversity of your microbiome. Alcohol intake: the consumption of alcohol can result in dysbiotic changes in your intestinal microbiome, and also triggers gastrointestinal inflammation. If you already have some gut inflammation, it’s really like adding fuel to the fire. If you’re consuming more than one standard drink per day, your microbiome’s probably keen for you to abstain a bit more often! Unmanaged stress: when you are stressed, the release of the stress hormone cortisol, and adrenaline sensitise your body to inflammation, including gut inflammation. This disrupts the gut environment, compromising the conditions your beneficial microbes need to flourish. Leading a sedentary lifestyle: lack of exercise has also been linked to reduced microbial diversity in the gut – another reason to get moving! Antibiotic use: a round of antibiotics does lead to some loss of core commensal organisms (antibiotics are supposed to kill off bacteria however in this instance the good stuff goes too). This leaves the gut susceptible to microbiome imbalances and dysfunction. Due to this disruption, up to 10% of people experience gastrointestinal side effects from antibiotic use, referred to as antibiotic-associated diarrhoea (AAD).   So if you have any of the 5 above, chances are there are some dysbiotic changes to your microbiome and you could do with some digestive support. This can be varied and depends on the individual and isn’t always supplement based. Someone may need a probiotic, another may need to use a supplement to reduce the inflammation to the gut lining (mucosal barrier). Some just may need to lay off the alcohol and eat a wider variety of vegetables. Some may need to get there butt outdoors and get moving!   My advice would be to re-read the top 5 list above, see how many of these relate to you. Then read the other blog here. At the bottom of the blog is more nutrition-based advice on improving your microbiome (and your immunity). Follow these guidelines for a solid 6-weeks. If there is no improvement you may need a more specific approach to your case.   Good Luck 🙂 Em     References: Metagenics Blog          

Immune Health – We are not alone!

Recent studies have demonstrated that around 9 out of 10 cells in our body are not yours! They’re the bugs inside you. Yes that’s right… BUGS! (…cue the dramatic music) The bugs inside us play a huge role in our immunity. These 9 ‘other’ cells make up the human microbiome; the sum of bacteria, fungi parasites living on and inside of us. Some of the most well known colonisations are; the skin, lungs, mouth and gastrointestinal tract. Interestingly, they have also been found; in plaques in arteries, in the joint fluid of rheumatoid arthritis and within areas of the brain with Alzheimers Disease. I want to be clear here; a microbial presence is unavoidable and essential to humans, it’s how we utilise them to keep us healthy which is important.   So…how do we get an infection from bugs then? Medical research is currently reframing the way we view infections. In a nut shell, this is how it works: 1) Organisms in nature and in our bodies, form colonies called biofilms, they can be good and bad. 2) Biofilms adhere to a surface (a rock in a creek, the mucous lining in our intestines, on a tooth). As the colony grows, it secretes and surrounds itself with a substance to provide protection and stability (see image below). 3) This provides resistance to our immune system attack and any antibiotics. 4) If the biofilm community is depleted by our immunity, or antibiotics, it can retain the ability to regrow from a few ‘persistor cells.’ When the environment becomes favourable (we’re stressed, inflamed, poor diet, poor sleep, suppressed immunity); it will recolonize. Then you’re in trouble!   This makes chronic infection extremely difficult to eliminate. A picture of symptoms can speak a thousand words. These types of biofilms are not detected in urine or blood. Table 1 shows you some signs and symptoms of chronic infection.     How to have a great immunity, a healthy microbiome and avoid chronic disease    It’s very difficult to summarise in such a short space, but here goes… Reduce Microbial load (improve the balance of “good bugs” vs “bad bugs”). Reframe the relationship from “kill all the bugs” attitude to one of peaceful co-existence. Reduce overgrowth of harmful microbes through, herbs, vitamins and minerals, aimed to strengthen our immune system to tip the balance in our favour. A combination of live probiotics of specific strains are very powerful in correcting the microbiome. Addressing dietary factors goes a long well. Excessive animal protein, simple sugars, gluten, casein (dairy) and chemicals like preservatives have been shown to alter the gut flora composition and change the bacteria from beneficial to toxic. Eat a diet rich in natural foods; lots of plant-based foods, with adequate protein and fats. Mushrooms- not the ‘magic’ kind! (types- cordyceps, reishi and shiitake) These are anti- fungal, anti-inflammatory and anti-parasitic. But they’re not the ones in the supermarket! Vitamin C, Vitamin Bs, digestive enzymes, gastric acid support, Vitamin D and Zinc also are very beneficial in supporting the immune system and digestion, energy production.   Now go enjoy a balanced meal with your internal flatmates! Em 🙂    

We are family

“Success is worthless if we don’t have someone to share it with; indeed, our most desired human emotion is that of connection with other souls” – Tony Robbins As we near the end of the year, it’s a good time to take a moment to reflect on the past 10 months or so. What were our successes? Our failures? Most importantly, who did we share them with? Community is a vital, but sometimes underrated, part of life. In fact, community, the theme of this month’s newsletter, is our 7th principle at Sweet7. While the other six are crucial to life (you know, like breathing), community is often the game changer. It can be the difference between someone falling off the wagon completely and someone who stumbles, falls off and gets back up again.   So what is community and why is it important? To quote the dictionary, it’s “a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.” But why is this important and what does it do for you? We’ve worked with many people over the years, and those who have walked through our doors have done so for three main reasons. These are knowledge, periodisation (or planning) and accountability. To put it simply, when it comes to fitness and nutrition, most people don’t have the knowledge to get the results they desire on their own. And neither should they! We’ve studied for years (and still do) to know how to help guide and assist you to achieve your goals. We know how to plan long term, how to account for all the various factors that occur in life and consider the fact your body adapts to your regime after about 6 weeks (give or take). Even with a basic plan of action, this isn’t something most people can do without guidance. And lastly, this cannot be stressed enough, they don’t have the accountability to stick with the plan consistently. Consistency is one of the biggest challenges to achieving your goals, and one that our clients tell us they struggle with the most. We hear ya! Consistency is hard, we too struggle to get up at 5 or 6am to get to the gym (usually to train you!), we get lazy, we can’t be bothered cooking sometimes. Everyone experiences this struggle.     The difference however, as to whether someone remains consistent or not, is their accountability. Even individual sports people have TEAMS of people supporting them. No tennis player or golfer is an individual athlete. Many top business executives, entrepreneurs and the like have teams of people to support and help them to remain healthy and able to cope with the level of stress/work/travel/commitments they often have. Consider this excerpt from the book, The Power Of Habit by Charles Duhigg. “Even if you give people better habits, it doesn’t repair why they started drinking in the first place. Eventually they’ll have a bad day, and no new routine is going to make everything seem okay. What can make a difference is believing that they can cope with that stress without alcohol. By putting alcoholics in meetings where belief is a given – where, in fact, belief is an integral part of the 12 steps – AA trains people in how to believe in something until they believe in the program and themselves. It lets people practice believing that things will eventually get better, until things actually do. At some point, people in AA look around the room and think, “if it worked for that guy, I guess it can work for me.” There’s something really powerful about groups and shared experiences. People might be sceptical about their ability to change if they’re by themselves, but a group will convince them to suspend disbelief. A community creates belief.” Exercising in a group does a similar thing. It creates community, which can often result in wonderful friendships and relationships with other people. But it has another important by-product. Competition. As humans, we often can’t help but compare ourselves to one another: “if he can do it, I can”, “I have to show up this morning because the others will know if I’m not there”, “I can’t believe she beat me in squats, I’m going to practice and beat her next week!” All of these scenarios help to create consistency. While you might say you’re not interested in getting into competition with someone else over squats, it doesn’t have to be competition, it could be as simple as not wanting to let the team down. This team effort and team focus can pull you through the tough times of your week, your month, or even your year. Even without you or them realising it.     “We know for habits to permanently change, people must believe that change is feasible. The same process that makes AA so effective – the power of a group to teach individuals how to believe – happens whenever people come together to help one another change. Belief is easier when it occurs within a community.” Many people are hesitant to attend group exercise. This can come from a negative past experience – maybe you got a sweaty armpit in your face in aerobics back in the day – or you simply would rather not ‘share’ your trainer. However, once people try it, they quite enjoy it and end up sticking to it. If this article has made you think about your consistency, your ability to train and stay on track towards your goals week in and week out, then maybe group exercise could be something to consider. At the studio – if you didn’t know – we do classes every week, both ELDOA and bodyweight-based strength classes (check out our timetable here). Everyone is welcome. We also do “semi-private” training sessions where 2-4 people are teamed up to work with us (see here). This is a fun, social and more cost-effective way to train for many people who know they need to train and get strong, but don’t particularly enjoy lifting weights. Get amongst and make the most of those community

Healthy Thoughts – Part 2

Last blog we discussed thoughts and began to draw some awareness to the mental narrative going on between those ears. As we bring attention to it and become more aware, we can then start to reshape this ‘self-chat’. The trick is having some tools to do so. I hope you have had some success implementing the two positive changes we introduced last time round. Our aim now is to build on that momentum so we’re going to raid the aisles of the psychological trade store (‘Mindful Mega10’ if you will….ahhh lame dad joke! Im not even a dad yet! :{ ) and load up our mental toolbox some more.   This week let’s start with our environment!   There is a lot about our environment that sets our thoughts and mindset in motion. Just as other people and elements in your environment help shape it, so to can you have an influence.  So, this is our third point to address: Help shape your environment Your environment influences you and you can influence it. Be aware of the negative exposures you have in your week and realise how these affect you and drag you down. Now put your thought/time/energy into the things and people that support you, uplift you, and leave you feeling fulfilled. See if you can remove some of the negative exposures and replace them with time you would consider well spent.   Being present is our next tool. I think most of us have experienced days where you feel like a passenger on the train as your mind is caught up elsewhere. When big life events occur, it can often be par for the course. However, this is not something we want to make a habit of. Life is going on all around us so let’s be aware of not standing at the window watching it go by. Being present in your day helps to remove that sneaky word ‘regret’ from your mind in those times that you do look back upon things and reminisce. Let’s centre ourselves in the moment and not let our minds run away with us. Be mindful in your day                                                                                                                                 Be present! Dwelling in the past or getting caught up in the worries of the future can easily mean you miss the gems of the present. You dis-engage with it. Before you know it, you’ve reached the end of the day feeling dis-satisfied and now you’re building a home on cynical street. How can you see the positive and build on it if you are not present to engage with it? To re-connect with the moment, re-assert your attention to your senses. All of them. The smell, the taste, what you hear and what you see. Take it in. This will help ground you.   The next point here is pivotal! It’s where the rubber hits the road with respect to how you respond when things take a turn for the worse (you’ll notice I used the word ‘respond’…not ‘react’!). The ‘Stop, Breathe, Re-focus’ rule is all about putting the brakes on when your mind is heading off the road and towards a cliff drop. Rather than testing out your base jumping skills, pull the car over and take a breather. Lets put this back in perspective, re-assess the goal, and find an opportunity within the situation.   Stop, breathe, re-focus Catch yourself when you are in a negative rant. Bring things back into perspective. Ask yourself “are these thoughts helpful to the situation?”. “Do I like how I am influencing the environment and the people around me?”  Breathe for a minute. Remind yourself of the goal and what has been going well. It may not be perfect right now, but its not all bad. Now ask yourself, what is one opportunity here?   Lets keep the headspace clear and constructive so it serves us in our quest to be the best version of ourselves. As the situation arises, draw on the right tool for the job and keep that positive headspace maintained.   (Please excuse the DIY theme that has emerged in this blog. I did not start out with this intention, but it seems to fit pretty well. And anyway, kiwis love their DIY right. It’s the Aussies that won’t “give us a hand with the job Saturday”. But “no surprises there”).      

Healthy Thoughts, Healthy Mind, Healthy Life

Thoughts…where it all begins. Health goes beyond our physical body and the food we put in it. It is also about our thoughts/emotions and how we are feeling spiritually. Don’t worry, I’m not going to get too ‘emo’ on ya! At a recent staff get together, this question came up: “Of the 7 foundational principles of health that Sweet7 stands for, which one is the most important?” The answer we agreed on was ‘thoughts’. Now this is open to interpretation, but you might say thinking is the first step. Before anything happens, you first have your thoughts. Thoughts drive your emotions, emotions drive hormones. Thoughts also drive your actions which in turn have reactions. With this in mind (see what I did there), we can now highlight how your thinking shapes your life. The law of attraction is a belief that our thoughts and what we focus on manifest as experiences in our lives. It is a universal law that has been represented in differing manners within multiple civilizations and religions throughout history. Outside of spirituality teachings there is brain and behavioural research to support the law of attraction, and its basis stems deep into quantum physics. Science and complexity aside, it is summed up by the notion that ‘like attracts like’ and all thoughts eventually turn into things.     Now I don’t want to take this law to its extreme, but I want to use this as part of a basis to help you address your patterns of bad thought, or “stinking thinking”, that lead you on a path of negativity. Have a think about the predominant thoughts of your day so far. Or even your week. What has the theme been? Has it been a theme that you are happy with? Does it fit with where you want to be and where you want your focus to be placed? If not, what can we do about this pattern? I know there are real life situations that may be driving these thoughts and themes, and you can’t just think them away.  But once these troubles have sent you into a pattern, they have a stem-on effect that impacts your thought patterns, general mood, and then your decisions and behaviour. What we need to do is turn our thinking around from focusing on what we don’t want, to thinking about what we do value and making steps in the right direction. If we are only focusing on what we don’t want as a motivator, we are essentially walking backwards. Driving away while we face what’s behind us in the rear-view mirror. But here’s the curve ball, if we are dwelling on the negative we are inviting it to chase us. We are consuming ourselves with it. We are attracting it! Have you ever heard the saying “what consumes your thoughts, controls your life”? Another important practice is to take time to appreciate the good and embrace the positive. There is current research showing that it is easier for the human brain to dwell on negativity. It is also easier to switch a positive ‘glass half full’ thought into a ‘glass half empty’ than it is to do the opposite. So unfortunately, staying positive takes work and it all starts with awareness. You need to actively recognize, accept, and re-direct the thought in order to make a change. First comes your thinking, and subsequently your mood, decision making and your actions. Here I’m going to start you with two techniques you can use to begin flipping your outlook towards the positive and creating a better mindset for yourself:     Start your day as you intend to continue it Think of the start of your day as the makings of a snowball. If you start the day on the back foot, rushing and feeling out of time and caught up in future worries, then negative thoughts will tend to ramp up as you feel you are not in control of the wheel. Here comes the avalanche!! On the flip side, if you start your day with some time to move at a comfortable pace, engage in some positive interactions, listen to or read something inspiring over breakfast, you set yourself up with the makings of a day marked by intent and fulfilment. Create a positive snow ball effect right from the get-go! (You may not always have a lot of time to yourself in the morning, so being prepared, getting to bed at a reasonable hour, and rising with time on your side will be the keys to your success here!)   Take time to appreciate things Each evening, make a list of three things you are appreciative for. Legitimately appreciative! Set some thought there. You can write these down or discuss them with your partner, friend or flatty. Whatever you feel comfortable with. See if you can balance out those complaints of the day that you bring home, with tales of the days experiences that made you thankful. Or better yet, stoked! Remember, it’s much easier to dwell on the negative. So, don’t forget the good. Spend some time soaking it up and sharing it. Start applying these techniques to your day and we will build on these foundations in the coming weeks. Let’s first see what these two points can bring to your state of wellbeing. Let’s see what kind of stem-on effect you can create in a positive direction. What have you got to lose? I mean you could always carry on the same. ‘Take the blue pill’. You already know the scenery on that path. Perhaps you’re not over it yet… If you are having trouble with that voice between your ears and some of what I’m mentioning here resonates with you, I encourage you to watch the presentation below from Alison Ledgerwood which describes her scientific findings related to the positive vs negative mentality battle. Then have a wee look into the law of attraction. It’s empowering stuff.   Here are a few books we recommend: How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy

What does sleep and cleaning have in common?

  Sleep… We all know we should get more right? We all know that we feel clearer and perform better when we are graced with the sense of being well rested and fresh. But how often does that happen? Work won’t wait. Life won’t slow down. And you can sleep when you’re dead anyway right? There are lots of topics surrounding sleep that we could get into here: How much do we need? Do our needs change? Is there an optimum bedtime? What effects sleep quality and how can we control this? What is happening physiologically to repair and regenerate your systems when you are sleeping? This week it is just one form of regeneration that I wish to highlight, and it is possibly the most important. What I want to emphasise is simple to grasp and an undeniably good reason to make sure you are getting enough sleep. Sleeping cleans your brain! Simply put, if you don’t sleep, the housework inside your head does not get done. No-one likes a messy house now do they? Check out the short clip below from neuroscientist Jeff Iliff. He clearly illustrates and explains the physiological basis behind those sleep associated ‘ups and downs’ we have all experienced.   How many of you have had your computer tell you that there are updates ready. And then the computer gives you 3 options; run updates now, set a time/date, or snooze/remind me later. So you hit not now/remind me later because you’ve got work to do now and those updates can wait. A couple of weeks roll by, perhaps a month, and now you’re noticing your computer is freezing, it’s running slower and programs keep having errors and shutting down. Well I want to put this to you: I want you to think of your brain as your computer. You are the operating system and program updates can only be done when you are not working ie. they can only be done when you sleep. The more you put these updates off, the more inefficient your brain becomes. I want you to become aware of the signs that your brain is in need of cleaning and updating; the forgetfulness, the brain-fog, the clumsiness, the stress of not feeling up to the tasks in front of you, and the need for stimulants like caffeine, sugar and carbs to pick up those energy levels. Don’t let these get away on you. Recognise the symptoms! Treat the cause! And if feeling fresh, clear headed, and performing to your best aren’t motivation enough, you might just save yourself from Alzheimers later on in life. Think about that for a moment. Now get to bed!      

All about H2O and your hydration

  Let us discuss water! Not coffee, not fizzy drink, and not that more than one standard glass of Mt Difficulty you’re pondering. Just plain, pure, good old-fashioned H2O! You’ve probably heard the saying “water is the source of all life” and this is the truth! The human body is comprised of over 60% water. That means if you weigh 70kg, then over 41 kg of you is water. The reason you aren’t sloshing when you walk is because the water is not only held as a liquid within your blood and bodily fluids but is also in your cells or attached to molecules like proteins and carbohydrates.   Water has 7 main roles within our bodies   Transportation – Water transports the likes of nutrients and oxygen, or important messages from hormones to the cells of your body, and removes cell waste products such as carbon dioxide Dissolving – It acts as an almost universal solvent. No, it cannot dissolve fats and lipids but the body has ways of transporting these insoluble molecules within water. Cleaning – Water acts as a flush for the body assisting filtering organs such as the kidneys and liver to detoxify the body. Reacting – Water is an important molecule of most of the body’s chemical reactions. Regulating temperature – Water helps cool you in a similar way to how a radiator keeps the engine of a car from overheating; Cooling fluid (blood; which is over 80% water) goes from the engine (major organs, active muscles, heart, liver, lungs, kidneys, etc.) to the radiator (skin) where heat can be dissipated. Lubricating – Water is THE major ingredient in all body fluid that is used to lubricate the body. Like a well oiled machine, we need our moving parts and tissue interfaces to be well lubricated for proper function and longevity. Padding – Water provides padding and shock absorption! Whether we are thinking about the fluid within the bursa (FYI bursa=fluid filled sacs that stop tendons grinding away against bone), or the discs of the spine which connect each vertebrae to form the spine. Water makes up the filling of these and in doing so allows you to bend, twist, jump and trim “THAT BLOODY HEDGE” without any agony.     These are all crucial functions of water, but it is the final two points I want to expand on. The relationship between hydration and the health of your joints and spine is what I am mainly interested in this week.       How Dehydration Causes Back Pain   Between the vertebrae (the irregular shaped bones that make up the spine) there are the intervertebral discs that we hear so much about when the topic of “back injury” comes up. The disc is an ingenious invention that allows for a perfect balance between movement and stability of the spine. It also works to absorb shock associated with impact which we encounter at various intensities each day (think walking, running, falling etc.)   I want you to imagine the disc as a sweet little jelly donut. It has a tough and flexible outer layer surrounding the squishy jelly centre. In this case, the jelly centre is the gel like substance that maintains the height of the disc and the space between the vertebra. This is called the nucleus pulposis and it is largely made up of, you know what, H2O.   Now with loss of disc height, or damage to the disc, the joints between the vertebrae above and below that disc have less room to move and have increased loading and compression on them. Not to mention the changes to ligament tensions and stability of these joints. Retaining height and quality of the disc is important to maintaining the relationship between all joints and structures that make up the function of the spine.     It is through the end plates of the vertebral bones above and below the disc that the nucleus pulposis (or jelly centre of your disc) is able to absorb water and nutrients to nourish the disc and retain its height and supple nature.   Now there is an obvious pre-requisite to your disc being able to absorb water from the bones above and below….there has to be water present! If you’re dehydrated your organs take priority over your discs.   If the disc loses hydration and does not get fed with the nutrients it needs, then the height of the disc will diminish and the stress on the outer layer of your jelly donut increases. It is once this outer layer is weakened, or worse, ruptured, that you hear the terms ‘disc herniation’ or ‘I slipped a disc’.       Any disturbances to the harmonious relationship between the joints of the spine have the potential to cause pain and influence wear and tear. Prevention is your best plan of attack but if you are suffering from back or joint pain of any kind, a very simple and inexpensive helping-hand lies in the fluid you maintain your body with each day.     How to Stay Hydrated   Below are a few keys to managing your hydration. It isn’t that hard of a task once you get into it…   Drink enough water – How much is enough? Well, as a rule of thumb, we suggest 30ml per kg of bodyweight per day (0.033 x bodyweight = total amount in litres/day you need to drink). However this number should be even higher if you are exercising hard and losing fluid through sweating. Another variable to take into account are the amount of diuretics in the form of coffee and alcohol that you are consuming in the day. Don’t wait till you are dehydrated – When you are training, playing sport or getting amongst any physical activity, drink water before, during and after. Adapt the amount to your thirst, how hard you are working and how much you are heating up/sweating. Be intuitive! Look at your wees! – The colour of your urine provides an insight into your hydration status. Your

What Ratios To Eat For Weight Loss

Is the food you eat working for you? Over the years in the food/nutrition industry there’s been a real focus on meal ratios, how to eat healthy, lose weight and prepare meals that are super fast, delicious and nutritious, all designed to keep up to pace with our busy lives. But there is no focus whatsoever on understanding your body and how to listen to the way it responds to what you eat.   The ratios of protein to carbohydrate to fat is extremely important to how you respond to food and therefore, how you feel, think, look and behave. So lets dive into it, shall we…     If you look at the image above you will see there is a continuum of food ratios. At one end there is a small amount of meat (this represents protein and fat) and there is a large amount of salad (this represents carbohydrate). At the other end there is a large amount of meat (protein + fat) and a small amount of salad (carbohydrate). In the middle is a balance of the two. EVERYONE sits on this continuum. Diets of the world and of different cultures sit on this continuum – there is no right or wrong, it’s what works for you. The quality of food you eat is a separate issue.   Below the continuum you will see a yin/yang type symbol – this represents optimal conversion of food to energy and optimal nutrient availability. If you think of it in car terms, it means if you put unleaded 91 into a diesel engine it won’t work and you won’t go anywhere. The same applies in your body – if you eat the wrong ratio, your conversion of food to energy will be poor and the amount of nutrients you extract will also be poor.   Of course, gut health (in terms of the balance of bugs in your intestines), the acidity of your stomach and the health of your mucosal lining of your cells are also important factors to take into consideration, but let’s just stick to ratios for now.   So, what ratio should you eat?   There are questionnaires you can do that help give you an indication of where you sit on the continuum and how you respond to food. My issue with this is that most people eat and then carry on with their lives and they don’t fully understand how their food impacts them – they just know that they lack energy or they get a foggy brain around 3pm, their sex drive is non-existent, they can’t sleep at night, wake up between the hours of 1-4am, and crave coffee in the morning. Sound familiar?   I tell most clients (and you will have seen this in our first blog) to start with a 1:1 ratio of protein to fat to carbohydrates. The portion sizes of this ratio can be found on our blog, click here. Start following this ratio for 1-2 weeks and then create a checklist of the following questions:   Within 2 hours of eating, do you: Feel hungry OR feel physically full, but still hungry Not satisfied with your meal? Crave something sweet Need to snack between meals Have a jumpy mind/ almost ADD-like behaviour Feel ‘tired but wired’ Energy drop, fatigue, exhaustion, sleepiness Feel mentally slow, sluggish Inability to think quickly or clearly Overly rapid thoughts Inability to focus Hypo traits: Apathy, depression or sadness Hyper traits: Anxious, obsessive, fearful, angry, short, irritable   Your body will talk to you in 3 different ways: your appetite and cravings your energy levels your mental and emotional wellbeing You need to listen to all three.   If you consistently eat the 1:1 ratio across ALL meals and you keep answering YES to some of these questions you need to adjust the ratios you’re eating. Remember, you only change one macronutrient at a time. You might for example, start by adding an extra 2 tablespoons/mouthfuls of protein to your meals. If that changes your reactions and the signs improve or disappear completely, then you’ve found the ratio for you. If they improve but you still experience some reactions, try adding more protein (another 1-2 mouthfuls). Alternatively, if the signs worsen, go back to eating a 1:1 ratio for 3 days. Then add 2 mouthfuls extra of carbs. If that changes your reactions and the signs disappear completely, you’ve found the ratio for you and can now play with ratios of starchy / non-starchy vegetables. If however you’re still experiencing some of the signs, you can try adding more carbs. If you add an extra 2 mouthfuls of protein or carb and it changes nothing, try adding an extra 3 or 4 mouthfuls and then follow the same process. If you get no result there, then try adding extra fat to your meals.   Yes this takes some time, but once you’ve done it a few things will have occurred:   You will have figured out exactly how much of each macronutrient fuels you best Your energy, sleep and general wellbeing will dramatically improve You will have learnt how to read your body better, so that the next time you hit an energy slump at your desk at 3pm and want to go get a chocolate bar or coffee, you’ll be able to figure out why that happened and what to do about it.   Please Note: This won’t work when you’re under huge amounts of stress, if a work deadline is due soon – wait until afterwards and you can be more in tune with your body. If you have gut problems (reflux, constipation, diarrhoea, pain, bloating etc) you will need to address these issues as well.   Good Luck!   (Article written by Emma Brake)    

Social health – Are your friends making you fat and depressed?

  The importance of your Social Networks… Do your friends make you happy? Do they make you fat?   This week I wanted to discuss the importance of having a supportive and like-minded community surrounding you. To help you take a moment to appreciate how influential your peeps can be within your experience of life.   We all know about peer pressure (especially from our teen years) and I’m sure we have all found ourselves measuring or justifying our position or our relationships against the ‘societal norm’.   Turns out we didn’t even know the half of it!   Interestingly enough even friends of our friends, people that you don’t even personally know, are having an influence on your perception and day-to day decision making. This leads us to ending up in social circles, or “clusters”, of people sharing anything from the same dietary and weight battles, to the same overall mood.   It was to my benefit and now hopefully yours, that I stumbled across this insightful TED talk presentation by Nicholas Christakis. Dr. Christakis, MD, PhD, MPH, is a sociologist and physician who conducts research in the areas of social networks and biosocial science. Next chance you have, take a quick 18 minute kick back and prepare to “free your mind” as Morpheus would say (somehow the way he plots humans into complex graphs and likens us to a quilt reminds me of The Matrix).   Nicholas Christakis: The hidden influence of social networks Makes you think right? If we have this much influence on each other without consciously knowing it, then putting some thought and effort behind who we wish to be and what we wish to impart on our community carries more weight than most of us perhaps would have believed. Nourishing our social network truly is important. Do you feel nourished and supported by the people around you? Are you in a happy square on the quilt, or a sad one? Are you becoming someone you are proud to be, or heading in the opposite direction to some of your goals and values? These are things you can have awareness of. These are things that others can influence in you. These are also things you can influence in others. How do you want to make your mark? Now I’m off to have a word with my better half about my current affinity for an evening beer.😉   Mason  

How to Walk – Do you walk like a duck?

Walking….there’s nothing to it…right? We’ve been doing it since we were 2 years old (maybe a bit later for those slow learners out there). Sure the way we walk has evolved over the years but is it something we really need to be paying attention to? YES! ABSOLUTELY! Now we’ve all seen an interesting gait or two before. Maybe you’ve noticed something weird about the way a family member or a friend walks. Or perhaps just a complete random staggering/swaying or strutting in your direction as you leave the supermarket. The classic gait that we can all identify is the ‘drunk walk’. Something we can probably all envisage and re-enact without too much trouble. Check out this entertaining link below. Which one are you? Do any of these remind you of a certain someone you know? Funny Walking Video How good is this guy? Haha the dance fight…..classic! Lets put laughs aside just a second while I ask you this.. Do you ever notice that when you walk you strike the ground heavily with your heel? This may be particularly noticeable when you are in barefeet and walking on a wooden floor where the noise carries. Or on concrete where this impact can really hurt. A heavy heel strike is likely due to overstriding which is most often influenced by tissue restrictions in the ankles or hips, sometimes coupled with hyperextending of the knee upon contact with the ground. Regardless of the cause, a heavy heel strike increases impact forces and is inefficient. Do you walk like a duck? Walking with the feet turned outwards is often due to hip restrictions associated with the glute muscles and rotator muscles of the pelvis. Maybe you notice one leg/foot is always turned out but the other is not? If there is severe tightness or imbalance in the hips, it is almost certain your low back is taking more load and impact than it should be.       While I’m quaking on about ducks, how about the Donald Duck walk (increased anterior tilt resulting from a muscle imbalance between the anterior and posterior muscles of the hips, thighs and trunk). Or perhaps you’re the complete opposite and walk with your tail tucked between your legs and your pelvis leading the body around which is once again the result of a muscle imbalance and poor posture.     Commonly addressed in our clinic is the trendellendburg gait. Where the hip drops and the pelvis sways as you walk. Often accompanied by a caving in of the knees. This is associated with weak glute and trunk muscles and increases loading on the hips, knees and low back. In short, the way in which we walk is important and can be influenced by many things; lots of sitting, old or ongoing injuries, joint and soft tissue restrictions, and our posture. These issues will be amplified once stride length + impact increases (ie. running, jumping), or when load is added (ie. carrying weight while walking or weight lifting).   Here is some reference for getting your walking back in a good state:   Alignment and Posture: The anatomical position (as depicted below) provides a basis for your standing skeletal alignment. You’ll notice the feet are pointing straight ahead and are aligned underneath the hips. The palms are facing forwards (that’s right! Forwards…We’re not monkeys) and the head, shoulders, hips and knees are aligned vertically over the feet. Obviously you do not need to emphasise the jazz hands as they are in the picture, but the shoulders should not be rolled forwards with the palms facing behind you. Walking is one of the safest and easiest ways to incorporate movement into your day. If you are walking well with good posture and technique, this will set you up for getting longevity out of your body and being prepared for more advanced and dynamic movements, whenever and in whatever form these dynamic actions may be required in your life.   Here’s a basic blueprint for good walking mechanics: Stance and set-up: Position your feet a fist width apart with your toes pointing straight ahead. Create a gentle bracing of the core by exhaling and creating a mild tucking under of the pelvis. You should feel a contraction of the glute muscles and lower abdominals here but this should not be a 100% squeeze for dear life! Think of using approx. 20-40% of your full force. It is a contraction you can maintain and that still allows you to breathe in through the diaphragm. No point having good posture if you’re fainting due to oxygen deprivation! Imagine you have a fish hook attached under the back of your head, pulling you up for the ceiling. This should feel like a lengthening of the spine. As if you are trying to make yourself taller.    Step and shift your weight onto your front leg as it passes underneath you One of the most common faults associated with walking is over-striding. When taking steps that are too long you are essentially putting on the brakes every time the heel strikes the floor. You are far better off to take slightly shorter more regular steps and have your foot contact the ground just a few inches in front of the body so that as your body weight is shifted onto that leg, the leg is positioned underneath the weight of the body. If you set yourself up following the stance and set-up sequence above, then imagine slowly falling forwards from the ankles (keeping the rest of your body in your setup alignment) and let your foot step forward to catch your weight. Good walking is actually a subtle version of this ‘falling forwards’ process.   Maintain straight feet Imagine a straight line drawn on the ground between your feet and spanning into the distance. As you take your steps, each foot should continue to land parallel to the line and at the same distance away from the line (directly underneath the hip). Now

What To Eat For Fat Loss

How do I eat my way towards fat loss? You begin with Nutrition. Nutrition is really the mother of health. Everyone has surely heard the saying “let food be thy medicine” Hippocrates. It’s one of the most difficult topics to understand, everyone seems to be so different, what food suits you, might not suit your spouse and might even make your sibling ill! There has never been such a time in history where there is such interest in food. From diets, sustainability, animal welfare, ancestral eating to eating to prevent cancer, the list just goes on and on…. and on! It becomes exhausting. What on earth should we eat? How much should we eat? What time should I eat and how many meals a day? Should I take supplements and what ones? Is sugar really bad for me? Does gluten intolerance really exist? How do I flatten my tummy? AND What should I eat for fat loss? – This has to be the biggest one we get asked. The truth is there is a lot of individuality. It really does depend on your genetics, biochemistry and environmental factors (including where you live, your preferences, your budget, your time, your family commitments). However, there are some general rules to follow A good place to start is ensuring you have some protein, starchy carbs, non-starchy carbs and fats with every meal. Yes you heard me, EVERY meal and snack. How much should I eat though? Try consuming an even ratio to begin with, do this for a few weeks and let your body adjust. Starting from an easier ratio and then tweaking it is easier to determine if that tweak actually worked for you or not. Remember, you need to eat your way to fat loss. Check out the image below for a visual on the ratios. Females try eating: 1 palm size of protein (this is equivalent of 2 eggs by the way) 1 fist of non-starchy veges (greens) 1 cupped handful of starchy carbs (potato, rice, kumara, bread) 1 thumb/ 1 Tablespoon of fat (avocado, olive oil, butter, coconut oil) Males try eating 2 of everything, so… 2 palms of protein 2 fists of non-starchy veges 2 cupped handfuls of starchy carbs 2 thumbs/ 1 Tablespoons of fat If you’re just wanting a snack then go for 0.5 of each food category. There is a great infographic of this on our facebook page, feel free to check it out Good Luck! Let us know how you get on.

Emotional Eating

Are you an emotional eater? •    Do you eat more when you’re feeling stressed? •    Do you eat when you’re not hungry or when you’re full? •    Do you eat to feel better (to calm and soothe yourself when you’re sad, mad, bored, anxious, etc.)? •    Do you reward yourself with food? •    Do you regularly eat until you’ve stuffed yourself? •    Does food make you feel safe? Do you feel like food is a friend? •    Do you feel powerless or out of control around food? Did you answer yes to any of the questions above?  Then chances are you, at times, battle with emotional eating. But if everyone emotionally eats then what’s the big deal right? Well, it all depends on the individual really. If for instance, once or twice a month you had a “bad” meal and a glass of wine with dinner when you had had a bad day or received some form of negative news, then maybe you wouldn’t be too worried about it.   When it becomes something you need to address It’s when those days become more and more frequent that they start to impact your life. Yes, they don’t do wonders for the waistline, but, more importantly, they hinder your goals. You’re often left feeling guilty about it the next day and, because you’re not achieving the goals you set yourself, you feel even worse! This can set off a nasty cascade of low self-esteem and bad decision-making in regards to food, drinking, exercise and everything else. The first step is always awareness.  So, if you answered yes to any of the questions above, then there has been or still is an issue with emotional eating. The best way to be aware of your eating behaviours is to keep two logs.  One is a food diary. Simply record everything you eat and drink and what time it takes place for a week. You’d be amazed at what you find out about yourself when you do this. My clients always discover something about their eating habits when they start recording it. “Oh I always seem to snack on bad foods around 3-4pm.” Two, an emotional eating diary. This is when you write down what you have eaten that you consider “bad”, and you then need to record what happened just prior to eating this food or what had happened that day that could have impacted your mood. Lastly, you record how you feel right after eating that food. An example might be this. Tuesday 11am – Had a second coffee – ordered a mocha instead of flat white and had a double chocolate chip muffin with butter. What happened just prior to eating this food: My colleague Jane Doe made a snarky remark at me and my boss had just returned my report to me saying it wasn’t up to scratch. How do you feel after eating this food: Full, a little sick, it was too sweet. But it tasted good at the beginning. Now I feel bad for eating it and now I need to get back to work, I have a meeting with Jane Doe. Now I feel anxious.  Once you’ve done this for 1-2 weeks, you’ll start to pick up on patterns. There will be certain days, certain times of the day, certain people in your life and certain events that all link you to emotional eating. There will even be certain foods you crave! Now that you have identified some patterns you can set some reminders and goals for yourself. Some patterns might be some the following: – I know I crave sugar after I’ve had lunch out with colleagues and we’ve whinged about our boss – I know I want wine at the end of the day when I’ve had back-to-back meetings with demanding clients – I know I crave chocolate when I’m upset with my partner – I know that when I get anxious or stressed during the day I want chocolate or carbs but at night I want alcohol These patterns could really be anything – it’s extremely individual. The important part of this task is to recognise patterns, not to analyse them. What I then do with clients is we set goals on how we can manage this. So if it’s a time management issue or just a stressful/busy day – i.e. nothing negative happened you just barely have time to breathe let alone eat well – then we look at strategies of how we can change that.  For e.g. Smoothies, protein balls or healthy snacks that are easy on the go, breathing exercises, taking a slow walk round the block before coming into the house and reaching for the wine, etc. Little things can make a difference on how you handle stress.