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Archive for March, 2018

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Investigate your health with these blood tests!

Posted on: March 28th, 2018 by thealife_admin in No Comments

Our team of practitioners at The A Life are passionate about holistic care. This means that we want to know everything about you and get to the root of your health issue so that you can bounce back into thriving health as soon as possible.
In this process, we will most likely send you for some important blood tests to get an overview of your metabolic, nutritional and detoxification parameters. These simple GP tests can tell us about your baseline health and alert us to any concerns that need further investigation with more specialised tests.
The following tests are those that we find most useful in clinic…

Full Blood Count

This gives us a run-down of all your red and white blood cells, liver enzymes, kidney function markers, immune activity, electrolytes and hydration status. This is where we can start to identify kidney problems, infections, liver inflammation and anaemia.

Iron Studies

Your iron storage, free iron levels and the proteins that carry iron are measured. We can pick up iron deficiency anaemia or iron storage disorders, liver inflammation and infection.

Vitamin D

With our slip, slop, slap culture and indoor lifestyles, most Australian’s are deficient in vitamin D. This is so important to test to prevent osteoporosis, pregnancy complications, seasonal affective disorder and cancer.

Active B12

Vitamin B12 is one of our important vitamins for our nervous system, detoxification and methylation. Low levels present with fatigue and mood changes. Deficiency can contribute to anaemia. Poor dietary intake and poor absorption of this important nutrient are very common.

RBC folate

Folate is necessary for so many complex systems such as DNA expression, cell division, neonatal development, detoxification and methylation. Low levels can impact mental health and fertility.

Thyroid Studies (TSH, T3, T4, rT3, TPOAb, TAb)

Who isn’t tired from time to time? But if it’s all the time or maybe you fluctuate between wired and tired, perhaps your thyroid is playing havoc with your health. A hypo-functioning thyroid can cause hair loss, dry skin, stubborn weight gain, irregular menstrual cycles and significant fatigue. Hyper- thyroid presents as hyper-activity, anxiety, heart palpitations and sudden weight loss.

Fasting homocysteine

How well we methylate determines how well we deal with oxidative stress, inflammation, detoxification, hormone balance and neurotransmitter (serotonin, dopamine, melatonin etc) production. Homocysteine is an important marker of how well some important methylation pathways are working and the level of inflammation and oxidative stress we are under.

Fasting glucose & insulin

Knowing your baseline blood sugar and insulin responses is important to pick up hypo or hyperglycemia and pre-diabetic states. It is particularly valuable to understand the underlying drivers of hormonal conditions such as Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).

Post prandial insulin

Measuring insulin after a meal can provide a more accurate indication of how you tolerate glucose load.

Lipid studies

Knowing your cholesterol levels give us as physicians, a good idea about your liver and gall bladder function, digestive health and your diet.

Celiac antibodies & celiac gene

In our clinical experience measuring celiac antibodies in the blood is not enough. Some people have one or both genes for Celiac Disease that predispose them to developing the condition but it’s not yet active in the blood. This is still something we need to know about! We want to know if you’re likely to develop intestinal damage, malabsorption and be at risk for intestinal cancers. Approximately 40% of the population have one or two genes predisposing them to this disease. Often, clients report having no symptoms when eating gluten but come back positive.

If you have a health complaint, feel like you are not thriving or have a cluster of symptoms that have never been looked into thoroughly, it may be time to do some investigating with us. The first step to health is knowing what health looks like now, then we can work as a team, putting the pieces of the puzzle together so that treatment targets the root cause rather than just the symptoms.

Pork Pesto Zoodles

Posted on: March 19th, 2018 by thealife_admin in No Comments
Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 1
1 medium – large zucchini, spiralized*
2 tbsp. homemade pesto**
100g Pork Steak***
5 button mushrooms, quartered
5 cherry tomatoes, halved
EVOO (Extra virgin olive oil)
Optional: Parmesan to serve


1. Rub the pork in EVOO and place on a medium heat pan. Cook for 4-5 minutes on each side (depending on the thickness of the meat).

pork pesto

Rubbing the meat with oil will reduce the amount of oil you use to cook with, while also preventing the meat from sticking to the pan and giving it a nice brown finish. 100g of pork will also reduce down to approx. 70g of cooked meat.

2. For those that have a spiralizer, take the time now to spiralizer your zucchini and place it in your serving bowl; and put it aside.

3. While your pork is cooking, place the pesto, and a tbsp. of EVOO in a small sauce pan on a low heat. Allow it to heat and soften. After a minute, add in your mushrooms. Stir occasionally to ensure the pesto coasts the mushrooms and doesn’t stick to the pan. When you’re 1 minute off the pork cooking (or your protein of choice), add your cherry tomatoes to the pot and stir to combine with your pesto. You want to add them right at the end, so they still have a fresh crunch.

4. Once your pork is cooked, cut it into bite size pieces and place it in the pot with the pesto and veggies. Stir to ensure an even coat.

5. Place the pesto and veggie mix on top of your zoodles. Grate parmesan on top if you wish!
(I would have but had none in the house 💔)

Cooking for more than one? 
Simply multiple the recipe out, per the number of people you are catering for. Four people? 4 zucchini’s, 400g of pork and so on and so forth.

How can I make it vegan?
Simply swap the protein for tempeh or tofu (or your preferred vegan protein) and opt for nutritional yeast instead of parmesan to top.

* You can buy a little or big spiralizer and do this yourself. Alternatively, Coles and Woolies (I believe) seem to be stocking pre-spiralized veg – zucchini, carrot, sweet potato etc. There is some nutrient loss through the processing, however it’s better than no veggie at all!)
** Homemade pesto recipe: 1 bunch of basil, 1-2 tbsp. cashews, 1 tbsp. EVOO – blend and voila. You can also use any nut of your choosing – pine nut, almond, walnut etc.
*** You could use any protein of your choice: chicken breast, tofu, tempeh, salmon etc.

What are the benefits?
Zucchini’s are a great source of fibre and water, which can help relieve constipation, feed good bacteria and support with hydration. They are low in energy, are a valuable source of vitamin C and contain useful amounts of vitamin A, potassium and folate (B9).

Zucchini’s are also rich in flavonoid antioxidants such as zeaxanthin, carotenes, and lutein, which play a significant role in slowing down aging and preventing diseases with their free radical-zapping properties. Some studies have shown that the starchy components in squash may have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, and insulin-regulating properties.

Cashews contain tryptophan, the amino acid that converts to serotonin in the body – the happy, feel good hormone!

Not to mention you’re getting around 2.5 serves of veg in with this bad boy! You’d be surprised at what a serve of veg really is. Who wants to learn more about that?

If you’d like one-on-one support to get your health on track and create a meal plan specific to your needs then book in with me for a nutrition consultation; where we will evaluate your current diet, health state and how we can use medicine as a tool for optimal health. Head here to book an appointment. I can’t wait to work with you!

The balance of stress… part one

Posted on: March 8th, 2018 by thealife_admin in No Comments
We all feel a bit stressed sometimes, in 2014 it was estimated that 1 in 4 Australians reported suffering moderate to severe levels of stress. We can assume that the stress being reported in this instance was chronic psychological stress, which, like the stress on your lungs from smoking, is tough for your body to adapt to and probably best minimised or avoided where possible.

But is all stress bad and is all stress equal? Is the stress we experience training in the gym equal to the stress from multiple nights of poor sleep?
We can look at stress from a few different perspectives, this article would like to explore the idea of healthy stress (eustress) and unhealthy stress (distress). Often the difference between the two is the amount of stress rather than the type of stress. A famous saying from pharmacology comes to mind ‘All drugs are poisons, what matters is the dose’.

When thinking about healthy stress let’s use the example of someone who is smart enough to enjoy lifting weights. When she/he first began lifting they started with an empty bar, over time they were able to add more weight to the bar as their body adapted to this stimulus and became stronger. Eustress is the stimulus that drives a positive change, in our example the adaptation is building strength and co-ordination so that our lifter can handle heavier weights. However, if the lifter started with 100kg on the bar in their first session the body may have been injured (distressed) as it was not given the opportunity to adapt to this load.

We could draw an analogy between stress from training and stress from sun exposure. A little bit of sun is good for us and if we repeatedly expose ourselves to enough sunshine we will develop a tan. However if we stay outside too long in one go we will get burnt. It’s all about finding that delicate balance between stress and recovery.

Managing The Dose

We can think about stress in terms of reaching an optimal level.
On the far left of this diagram we have no change due to insufficient levels of stress. In the middle we have eustress and on the far right we have distress. Our body has the amazing capacity to adapt to given circumstances but only to a point, going beyond this point causes one to move away from a positive outcome.

Generalised Stress

Stress acts on the whole organism (you!) it is not specific to one area of your life, thus stress from other areas in your life will affect how much you can productively achieve in the gym. The dose of stress that amounts to eustress and the dose that amounts to distress will be unique to both the individual and their current circumstance. For example, perhaps our weight lifter friend lifted 130kg in their last training session but today they are feeling sick, had a poor night’s sleep and have been working overtime. Thus their stress curve has been shifted across to the left (red

curve) and today they should only lift 120kg. 120kg is the better choice for today because their body is managing other stresses, today 130kg might be too heavy and put them at risk of injury. Over time if the lifter wants to progress, they will have to learn to manage their work stress, their sleep and their health to the extent that they can. However, when the lifter has been unable to manage those outside stresses, it is important that this is accounted for in their training otherwise they risk adding to their distress, rather than stimulating an improvement.

Stimulus (Training) and Adaptation (Improved Awesomeness)

We have discussed small incremental doses of stress and how everyone at a given time has a different capacity to handle stress. We also need to think about recovery in between bouts of stress and how important this is in making progress. To revisit our sun burn analogy; we know the optimal amount of sun exposure per day is approximately 15 minutes​2.​ Instead of getting 2 hours of exposure in one sitting, we can allow the skin to recover and adapt between bouts of ‘stressful’ sunshine by spacing out our exposure across a week. This way we’ll top up our vitamin D levels (maybe even develop a tan) without the risk of sunburn.

Resting after a given stress (eg a training session) allows the body to heal and adapt creating stronger and more resilient structures. As with the amount of stress that one can handle, the amount of recovery a person requires is individual to both the person and their circumstances. When we do not have adequate recovery we cannot adapt and progress, we may even regress. The latter scenario is called ‘over-training’ or ‘under-recovery’, it’s the training equivalent of leaving my Irish boyfriend in the desert with no sunscreen.

Stress in the correct dosage, followed by a period of recovery is healthy and necessary in making progress. Without stress there would be no motivation (or stimulus) to change (or adapt) and without change one can’t become more awesome.

What’s measured is managed. Try to have some measurable goals that will require you to pay attention to your stress levels. You will learn a lot about yourself and may even surprise yourself with the stress tolerance that you can develop applying progressive increments of stress, recovery and adaptation

Stay tuned for my next blog where I’ll discuss what types of stresses we can adapt to and some types we are better off minimizing or avoiding altogether.  You can also see Fauntine for Osteo treatment at the studio, by booking in here.

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