Toxins are ubiquitous.  We can’t escape them…

… and that’s just a sample.

We are exposed to toxins daily – our air, food and water – nearly 2 million years (Chris Organ – Harvard University) of relative purity has not prepared us for the post-industrial toxic burden.  300 years of ‘progress’ vs 2,000,000 years of evolution.

So how do we KNOW if we are detoxing and these toxins aren’t accumulating in our body, messing with our cells, our bio-synthesis, our neuro-pathways, our minds and our children’s health?  Especially important in these unusual times. 

Some clues.  

Do you have stubborn weight or belly fat you can’t lose no matter what you do? Feel bloated?  Experience mysterious lethargy, moodiness, unstable blood sugars?  Have excess gas?  Irregular bowel movements?  Or kids who are anxious, moody or exhibit unruly behaviour?  Or perhaps you feel like something just isn’t right? …

Most of us don’t realise that some of these ailments can be the result of a body weighed down with toxins.

Why?  The body cleverly stores toxins in our fat cells or organs as a protective mechanism when in overload.

Most of our organs e.g. lungs, skin, liver and kidneys are known for some form of detoxifying mechanism.  If we’re exposed to a lot of toxins our organs can become clogged or sluggish, and we can’t properly filter these inflammatory and disruptive toxins efficiently – hence their ‘fallback’ storage in our fat cells.

What happens?    Toxins can then re-enter our blood stream rather than being naturally excreted from our body.   When in the blood stream the body does the next best thing and stores the toxins in our fat tissue until the body CAN efficiently excrete the toxins.

We may be healthy and eating well but if our liver and organs aren’t working at full capacity, our ‘systems’ – immune, nervous, endocrine (hormone), respiratory, lymphatic, reproductive, circulatory, digestive, etc – can be impacted … which helps explain WHY;

  1. we can’t reach our ideal weight, and infact mysteriously keep putting weight on!
  2. our energy remains unexplainably low
  3. our digestion is weak and we experience bloating, constipation, reflux or irritable bowel symptoms
  4. our immunity is compromised.  We seem to be constantly sick or get every bug ‘going around’.
  5. we feel uncharacteristically irritable or anxious or
  6. our stress response is hard to manage and more akin to a short fuse.

Could it all be so intricately linked to this one menace … toxins?   Yes!   Especially if you’ve tried everything else to ease your ailment, it could be time to consider detoxification.

Our children

My biggest concern is for our children who are likely to have inherited or been exposed to the recent onslaught of industrialised toxins.

Here’s how.   Some toxins stored in our fat tissue are then cleansed from our bodies in breast milk while nursing our babies.  Toxins are also transferred in the womb, through the placenta.   As our children tend not to carry a lot of fat, these toxins can then quietly sit in their organs e.g. the liver and the brain, the fattiest organ of all.   Heavy metals like mercury, aluminium, cadmium, arsenic and lead.  These are toxins that I have (had) and both our children and at disruptive levels.

Our experience is another reason I feel it’s so important to share and be aware of this information.   Not alarmed.  The more we know the better we can do.

So if the body cleverly stores these toxins – why worry?   Because life is full of change and at times stress and these triggers can compromise our immunity and with our protective mechanisms down, we fall sick.  Perhaps I’m over simplifying, but if there are toxins we can control, let’s do that – for ourselves and especially for our children.  

Prevention is better than the cure. 

Some common everyday toxins we’re exposed to include;

  1. heavy metals
  2. radiation
  3. chemicals and other environmental pollutants. There are so many to include here. Most common exposures are in the household including cleaning, personal hygiene and beauty products
  4. inflammatory foods
  5. microbial infections
  6. stress and toxic thoughts

Heavy metals

Let’s focus on heavy metals as these are most easily identified in the body with hair tissue analysis and are very common. It’s a big topic, which I introduce here.

‘But I don’t have heavy metals’ I hear you say.   You may not know you do, but it is highly likely that in-fact you do – inherited from our environment, our parents and even their parents.

Some sources include;

  1. Mercury amalgams. Most of us, our parents and their parents had dental amalgams – fillings containing mercury
  2. Vaccinations
  3. Corn Syrup. Found in many packaged and processed foods.
  4. Plastic toys
  5. Cookware
  6. Big, deep water fish e.g. tuna and marlin
  7. Aluminium products
  8. Cleaning and beauty products
  9. Insecticides and herbicides and many more.

We can see how easily most of us in the Western World are harbouring a scourge of toxicity that the body masterfully deals with … until it can’t.   Until those ‘quiet’ clues it’s been giving us i.e. the weight gain, lethargy, digestive complaints, skin irritations or breakouts, anxiety, depression and so on and that we’ve ignored for so long or we’ve been far too busy to listen to – finally make us STOP and listen.   ‘Thank you Mother Nature’.

Those quiet clues that become louder and louder until ‘all of a sudden’ we HAVE to stop and listen because we physically can’t go on and we’ve become sick.

It doesn’t need to be this way. The best way to detox is to take time each day to check in with our bodies wisdom. How do we FEEL? What do we need? More rest, better food, less food, more joy, more regular movement, more fresh air, sunshine or even just time to breathe deeply and be grateful.  

These simple choices support our detoxification channels naturally and in todays world need to be an integral part of our lives.

Prevention is better than the cure.

It’s almost impossible to escape toxins. We can however be aware of what we’re exposing ourselves to and make toxic free choices plus ensure our bodies detoxification pathways are firing and gracefully support our body function – naturally.

17  ways to detoxify naturally;

  1. Reduce inflammatory foods (gluten, dairy, refined sugar, processed foods)
  2. Increase whole, organic foods
  3. Add lemon, fermented foods, dark leafy greens, beetroot, chlorella, garlic, sprouts, coriander – especially
  4. Try liver and other organ loving foods and herbs e.g. milk thistle, dandelion root, burdock root, slippery elm, licorice root.
  5. Add good fats
  6. Drink filtered water
  7. Sleep
  8. Upgrade cleaning, personal hygiene and beauty products to natural products
  9. Remove electronic equipment from the home – especially the bedroom
  10. Review radiation exposure in the home
  11. Move regularly
  12. Turn the wifi off before bed
  13. Use essential oils
  14. Get more sunshine
  15. Cleanse or detox carefully (see below)
  16. Eliminate toxic thoughts!
  17. Listen to our bodies and what they need

If any of these are new to you, you don’t need to jump in and upgrade all these choices at once!   Choose 1 or 2 that resonate, upgrade your choice, and start to integrate it until it’s just a way of life, then turn your attention to your next best choice.

And if your symptoms are chronic or you sense toxicity is an issue for you or your family seek medical advice and work with your Doctor or Health Practitioner on a detoxification program.

Or join me on my online ‘gentle cleanse’, my next LIVE round kicks off on the 19th of October, check out the details here or email me at kate@katebarnes.com.au.  I’d love you to join us.

 

 

Emerging out of the grey of a slow, cold winter, for many of us rather than feeling the joys of spring, we’re feeling heavy and sluggish and have been sick, actually… really sick.

70-80% of our immunity lies in our gut, so a significant part of staying healthy is about a healthy gut.

Healing the gut is the number 1 focus for healing everything … almost.  While it’s not the only consideration, the health of the gut must be the number 1 consideration.  

Our kids and I have all been diagnosed with gut issues i.e. leaky gut and nasty parasitic infections, yet without obvious symptoms.    My daughter, however, had very bad eczema as a baby and my energy and immune system literally crashed when the children were little ones.

Symptoms I now know were linked to poor gut function and other imbalances.

You might be thinking, ‘I’m healthy!  Why have I got gut issues?’

We’re all work in progress, but I reckon I’ve had gut issues for a while, and the health of my gut and my husbands’ has affected the health of our childrens’.

For me personally, the following may have contributed;

Other factors contributing to gut dysfunction;

Unknowingly many children are starting life with compromised gut function. If parents haven’t actively detoxed for heavy metals and rebuilt their microbiome, our kids are inheriting a handsome dose of toxins and an under performing gut flora that can quickly set the scene for gut dysfunction, malabsorption, autoimmune and inflammatory disease.   

I don’t like to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s a reality and far better to know and to do something about it sooner than later.

And there is good news!  The gut will heal and so will the body.

Have a listen to my gorgeous client, Callie and her inspiring story.   Cal shares how she helped her 3 year old son, Bowen recover from a severe allergy to eggs.  How she trusted her mothers instinct and her number 1 tip for creating a healthy home. 


When the gut is functioning well, the foreigners i.e. toxins, heavy metals, parasites, viruses, bacteria etc. can pass right on through, while the body naturally does its thing.

Are you dealing with a form of gut dysfunction?  Or perhaps you are but you don’t know you are.   It’s highly likely. 

Other than the obvious gut symptoms e.g. irritable bowel, reflux etc.  Other clues / symptoms to consider;

Unless you’ve already identified an issue and taken action to restore it, it’s time to start rebuilding your gut health, gently, gradually, one step at a time and help safeguard your future wellbeing.

It doesn’t have to be difficult and the earlier you take action the better.

Learn more about protecting and restoring your gut health at my next Enriched Living Workshop, ‘Gut Health.  Simple steps to healthy digestion & a long life’    We’re going on a fun and informative journey of the digestive system.  You’ll learn commonly missed aspects to great gut health, plus lots of ideas for recipes and remedies to begin repairing your gut and your families.  Simply.  Naturally.

Seats are limited.  Register ASAP.

And have a listen to Callie’s story.

Remember learning about European explorers, who travelled on their long journeys with certain foods like sauerkraut, to help prevent scurvy?  An illness caused by a Vitamin C deficiency. 

… we’ve known about the vital roles nutrients play in promoting health and how deficiencies are instrumental in contributing to illness for a very long time.


If any of our family are unwell or ‘run down’, while there’s no fear of scurvy, I always ‘add in’ a good dose of Vitamin C either with native plants or a good quality supplement (details below) to help fight infection and aid our recovery.

Along with our food and lifestyle choices, it works.  I can’t remember the last time any of us, even the kids who are 13 and 15, went to the Doctor.

So with the change of seasons on the way and bugs aplenty, it’s a good time to consider adding vitamin C into your meals & routine.

And this ESSENTIAL Vitamin is so much more than an immune booster!  Vitamin C is involved in protein metabolism and collagen synthesis i.e. it’s needed to help make these molecules accessible for the body to absorb and use.  It’s also vital for other critical functions including our happiness and youthful skin.

In this post discover 8 great reasons you need Vitamin C daily, especially with the change of seasons, how we become deficient AND simple ways to get more into your day.  

Why Vitamin C is essential in your daily diet.

  1. The body doesn’t produce vitamin C i.e. we simply must get it from our diet i.e. itis an essential nutrient.
  2. It is a water soluble vitamin which means our bodies don’t store it and we need to ingest foods with vitamin C on a daily basis to maintain the amount our bodies require.

6 more good reasons.

Other than immunity, Vitamin C is necessary for these vital functions;

  1. Healthy, youthful skin.  It helps produce collagen which is great for our skin and thereby helps to prevent premature aging.   Collagen is necessary for strengthening bones, joints, tendons, and ligaments.
  2. Wound repair and maintaining the health of our bones and teeth.
  3. Absorbing iron.   It plays a role in helping our body absorb iron which is necessary for good energy and keeping our blood well oxygenated.  If your iron is low, perhaps vitamin C is actually low?
  4. Preventing cellular damage through it’s function as an antioxidant.  Antioxidants protect our cells against free radicals which we are exposed to everyday.
  5. Builds and maintains healthy blood vessels, helping them dilate and potentially helping reduce high blood pressure.
  6. Brain health and happiness.   Vitamin C helps make neurotransmitters (chemicals assist communication in the brain) including serotonin i.e. our happy hormone!

Why we may not get what we need;

  1. Caffeine.   Drinks and food containing caffeine such as coffee and tea can inhibit the absorption of vitamin C plus the diuretic effect of these drinks mean we excrete the vitamin C in our urine.
  2. Medications.  Certain medications, antibiotics and birth control can reduce the amount of Vitamin C in our bodies.
  3. Stress.  Prolonged stress also depletes Vitamin C and this is why we should take extra Vitamin C during periods of stress.
  4. Deficiencies in our food.  The amount of Vitamin C found in food depends on the variety of the plant, soil condition, climate its grown in, the length of time since it was picked, how it’s stored, and then, how the food is prepared.  For example, if you heat fruits and vegetables, or store them in water for a longer period of time, or expose them to light, Vitamin C is denatured and is then less available to your body.

 

9 Signs of Deficiency.

  1. Easy bruising
  2. Swollen gums
  3. Bleeding gums
  4. Slow wound healing
  5. Gingivitis
  6. Dry and splitting hair
  7. Rough, dry, scaly skin
  8. Nosebleeds
  9. A weakened immune system e.g. inability to shake coughs and colds

The best source.

Our food.  Especially fruits and vegetables, in their whole form, fresh and local;

Eating foods in their most natural and whole forms give our bodies more nutrients and the ‘co-factors’ i.e. the other nutrients and enzymes that allow those nutrients to be easily and effectively absorbed by our bodies.

While many of us turn to supplements first, it’s important to emphasise the best source of any vitamin, mineral, or nutrient is fresh, raw and local food sources.

However, in saying that, with the change of seasons I always add in a Vitamin C supplement.

Specific foods to be adding in;

  1. Fermented and pickled vegetables e.g.  a simple sauerkraut, a basic kimchi and pickled carrots.
  2. Dark leafy greens e.g. kale, silver beet, spinach and other vegetables e.g. broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts etc.
  3. Herbs e.g. coriander, cilantro, parsley and basil.
  4. Fruit.  Commonly think of oranges, better fruits to choose with more vitamin C; berries e.g. blueberries and strawberries, papaya, kiwi fruit, pineapple and lemons. And the foods with the highest amount of vitamin C are;
  5. Native plants. Camu Camu, a fruit from the amazon and Kakadu plum also called, gubinge or billygoat plum and is grown in the North of Western Australia in the Kimberley.  These foods usually come in a powdered form and can be found at your local health food store.  If you’re in Australia try the gubinge before the camu camu, it is extremely high in Vitamin C, is a whole food i.e. more absorbable plus you’ll be supporting our local businesses!

These foods can easily be added into our meals or another easy way to add them in, is in smoothies.  I’ve got lots of great smoothie ideas on my site. Check them out. 

Handful of Blueberries

 

Supplementing: If we need to supplement be certain that the supplements are high quality, they are bioavailable i.e.  in a liquid form (e.g. a lioposomal vitamin C) or powdered, with few ingredients, are free of additives, fillers, or synthetic ingredients and are preferably bottled in glass.

And THE best ways to boost our immune system overall… sleep well, move more and stress less. 

Key Messages

  1. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient and it’s needed in our diet daily, even for our children.
  2. The best source is through breast milk babies (mother), food, fresh, local, raw, gently steamed, however many of us aren’t absorbing well…
  3. Check for any factors that may be inhibiting absorption (listed above).
  4. If you do supplement. Look for a good quality brand in a liquid or powdered form.

And some more inspiration and information on boosting our immunity simply;

A checklist for great immunity.  24 tips to nurture and nourish.

14 tips your immunity will love.

7 tips to improve gut health.

 

Be curious. Experiment. Listen. Be enriched.

 

A bowl, a spoon, a box of cereal and a bottle of milk, that’s breakfast. Done. As soon as the kids can pick up a box they can make breakfast. There are no pots or pans to wash up and minimal preparation time. Infact you don’t even really need a kitchen!   Brekki in a box easily shaves 15 – 20 minutes off the morning routine, gets us out of the house and on with our day.  It’s easy and convenient.

But with this convenience and the promise to save our precious time has come the demise of our health, our family unit and importantly an energetic connection to our food.

Exaggerated? I don’t think so. Let me explain.

Last week we were all in the kitchen making brekki. Someone on eggs, someone on bacon and someone making tea, (I was acting sous chef).   This moment made me so happy. It was chaotic, but we were all in there together in our little kitchen cooking, chatting, creating and connecting. A humble meal that had the power to bring our family together, create memories and connection. Our tummies were full and so were our hearts.  For me, it was the perfect way to start the day.

(Btw there are many mornings that are definitely not so perfect… and I’ve thought how a box of cereal and milk would be SO much easier)!

And after a chat with my gorgeous neighbour it got me thinking.  We all know the importance of a good breakfast, but many of us still find it difficult to break up with breakfast cereals. Why is that?

It’s much more than the ease of getting it ready.  There are a few, very good reasons.  

In this post I share a new perspective on our attachment to breakfast in a box.   It’s about time, convenience, billions of dollars and importantly, the emotional bonds of childhood.

breakfastA brief history.

Some form of porridge has been enjoyed as breakfast for centuries. The arrival of packaged cereal in a box
is only recent, in the early 1900s, with Kelloggs Cornflakes.   Kelloggs cornflakes originally began life as a health food created by a Doctor, John Harvey Kellogg, to nourish patients at his Sanitarium.

‘His brother Willian K Kellogg  worked for him for many years until, in 1906, he broke away, buying the rights to Cornflakes, to set up the Kellogg Toasted Corn Flake Company’. A savvy entrepreneur, ‘William Kellogg discarded the health food concept, opting for heavy advertising and commercial taste’. (wikipedia)

How cereals make billions and why we have such a strong emotional attachment to them.

  1. Cheap ingredients.  Breakfast cereals use very cheap ingredients packaged into a convenient product that we believe we don’t have time to make ourselves, which means they can be sold at a higher margin and become very lucrative products.‘The breakfast cereal industry has gross profit margins of 40-45%’ (wikipedia)
  1. Global appeal. The arrival of TV created cereals as a global brand and allowed corporations to begin advertising directly to consumers and into our homes.
  1. Emotional appeal. To sell more they created friendly characters to sell their products. Characters that are still linked to the cereals today e.g. the coco pops monkey, cornelius (corny) the rooster and Tony the tiger.   Because of the childhood connection and love of these characters and the cereals, there is an emotional attachment that’s automatically passed on from one generation to the next.It’s also usually the food we are weaned on.   So then as we get older, life gets hectic and our responsibilities change, we want to hold onto things that are a constant and that give us comfort.   ‘The bonds we make in child hood are the hardest to break’.
  1. Social acceptance.   Australia’s breakfast cereal products market is worth over $1.2 billion annually, AFN Australian Food News 2012.   (probably more in 2016).  Today, 94% of us have a box of cereal in our cupboard. 100 years ago, nobody did.   Fast forward to today and we all eat them or have eaten them. They are socially acceptable.I grew up eating Kelloggs cornflakes every day, they were part of my childhood.  Except on a Sunday when one of my fondest memories is of Dad getting in the kitchen and making a massive cooked breakfast with eggs, bacon, mushrooms, tomato and… fried toast. Then we’d all sit around the table and eat together.  I realise now, how a simple act had so much power in what it created.
  1. It’s VERY hard to say ‘no’.   There is more money spent on marketing cereals than any other food.   The advertising targets children and mothers. In my research a quote given was, to get one product to market, the research took 2 years to get it right, and then $3M pounds was spent on marketing and advertising that one product alone!Then add in the emotional appeal, the convenience and as a parent it’s very, very difficult to say, ‘NO lets trying something new for breakfast’ – I know.  

Transforming the fabric of food and family life.

Until breakfast cereals arrived there was no such thing as convenience food. Breakfast cereals, Cornflakes, heralded the beginning of convenience.   Then with women entering the workforce more in the mid 1900’s and mornings becoming time critical, it was at a time in history that was ripe for anything that saved time i.e. convenience and cereal in a box.  It was marketed as being good for us. We didn’t know otherwise and had no reason to question it.

Breakfast in a box took off at lightning speed, leaving its nourishing country cousin, the cooked breakfast, far behind back in the paddock, our bodies depleted and families fragmented.

‘The number of different types of breakfast cereals in the U.S. has grown from 160 (1970) to 340 (1998) to 4,945 (2012)’. (wikipedia)

For busy women entering the workforce breakfast cereals and convenience food offered a perfect alternative to cooking.   It was understandable, and one that the billions of dollars spent on advertising, made very attractive but without realising WHAT that meant for the wellbeing and socialisation within our families.

An amazing breakfast / brunch we had with family that was whipped up by our cousin in the middle of the South African bush. Fond family memories of a magical time and place. (Don’t think the memories would be quite so fond with a box of cereal)!

So is breakfast in a box really that bad nutritionally? … Yes.

Most of us know this, but here’s a quick recap on what this ‘food’ really is.

  1.  A disruptive food. By the time a cereal is refined and processed the nutrient integrity is destroyed. There is literally NOTHING LEFT e.g. the germ and the bran is stripped away, natural fats become rancid and any protein-based nutrients that are left become denatured.  Ingredients are added to give it taste and flavour e.g. sugar, together making it a very difficult ‘food’ for our bodies to recognise, potentially contributing to inflammation, blood sugar swings and digestive complaints.
  2. A dead food. After processing the grain that’s left is nutrient void and basically a dead food. Cheap additives, sugars, salts and vegetable oils are then added to give it ‘taste’.
  3. A filling food.   We can feel satiated after having cereal and milk for breakfast, but perhaps it’s more because our bodies physically can’t use that food and it sits there in our digestive systems not being able to be properly absorbed.   OR perhaps we are absorbing it and at 9 or 10am we’re starving – literally, because our bodies just aren’t getting the nourishment they need.
  4. A foreign food. It is fortified with many nutrients that we need. However, those nutrients are isolated nutrients. They are not packaged in a form i.e. as a whole food, with the co-factors e.g. other nutrients, enzymes, fats and proteins that together give the nourishment our bodies need and can recognise for easier absorption and digestion.

11 tips to help break up with cereal. 

  1. Start slowly.  e.g. start with a cooked breakfast on the weekend. Start to build up to a couple of times a week and so on.
  2. Sacred time.  It does take a little longer to prepare a nourishing breakfast, but think of the greatness that goes along with it and start with meals that don’t take long to prepare like a breakfast smoothie or this simple and delicious buckwheat breakfast parfait (both blender meals).
  3. Upgrade.  Find a couple of recipes you all love and start with those or choose a better quality cereal, (see below for ideas).
  4. The vibe.  Notice the vibe in the family when you all start the day with a more nourishing breakfast?   The energy? The discussion? The kids mood at the end of the day?
  5. Be curious. About your choices. If you love cereal and find it hard to break up with it, why? Is it the convenience or is it the emotional connection and because it’s all you’ve ever known?
  6. Experiment.  Think of any new choices as an experiment and notice how those new choices feel when you make them.
  7. Prepare.  Think about what you’re having for breakfast the night before and soak some grains or just know what you’ll be doing to help save time in the morning.   Keep the fridge and pantry well stocked.
  8. Share.  Talk with your family or friends why you want to make new choices. Get them involved and supporting you.
  9. Give choices.  Give the kids a couple of choices to choose from eg an omelette or a smoothie tomorrow morning and get them to help you make it.   Check out lots more quick and easy ideas on my website.
  10. Take it slow. Sometimes we forget to notice as we hurry on with our days how everyday choices are impacting the fabric of who we are and how we connect with our families. Take time to reflect.
  11. Celebrate.  Any little or big wins along the way.

How to choose a better box of breakfast cereal?  

  1. With fewer ingredients.
  2. With ingredients you recognise i.e. no or very few numbers.
  3. Uses whole food ingredients e.g. nuts, seeds, groats, spices and good fats
  4. Uses natural sugars for sweetening e.g. whole fruits, honey, brown rice malt syrup, maple syrup etc.
  5. Avoid refined sugars e.g. glucose syrup, high fructose corn syrup or corn sugar.

Then to prepare a good cereal breakfast e.g. a muesli soak it overnight to help release any anti-nutrients and make it into a porridge or a bircher muesli the next morning.

Summary

It’s a complex and very lucrative web that big business has spun to lodge breakfast cereals firmly in our hearts and our homes.   The lifestyle, the emotional connection, the convenience and the advertising all make it extremely difficult for us to part company with it.

But it, along with convenience foods generally, has come at a cost.  The demise of our health, our family unit and our energetic connection to our food along with creating a breakdown in the socialisation that naturally comes with preparing, cooking and eating a meal together.

I know many of you already start your day with a good breakfast, but for many of us it’s still a very hard choice to make, especially as time is of the essence in our busy lives.   And at the end of the day it is our choice.   But perhaps it’s time to stop and have a good look at those choices and why we’re really making them.

What is this important meal of the day creating in your home?  

Is it the emotional connection you want your children to be passing onto their children?

Is it adding to the busyness of every day life or is it allowing you the chance to stop, prepare for the day and connect with loved ones?

Is it fuelling busy bodies or growing bodies with the nutrients they need for peak performance, achievement and happiness?

Is it the emotional bond of your child hood that you’re hanging onto?

Whatever you decide or wherever you’re at, the most important thing is to take the time to really enjoy your food and to connect with those around you.   In joy. 

 

Let’s bring breakfast back.   To keep us motivated and inspired with this busy, time poor and important time of the day, join me in ‘The Great Breakfast Adventure‘ a FREE 5 day discovery to The Best, most energising & simplest breakfast for the whole family.  Includes my ebook ‘Brainstorm the best Breakfast’ with over 30 pages of tips and new recipes to try.   Details here.

All you need to know to fill your heart and your families tummies to get the day off to the best start possible.

Details here.

References.

Choice review of 204 ready-to-eat cereals in 2015

The food that makes billions (documentary)

How familiar are you with the word ‘microbiome’? …  

Going back 5 years, it was a rare word and not one I’d come across.  Fast forward to today, unless you’ve been on a deserted island, it’s likely you’ve heard of it and for good reason.  

This ‘invisible organ’ is at the heart of our wellbeing and quite possibly shaping our evolution. 

In my research I was struck by just how fundamentally important these microscopic bugs are to our existence.   Let’s discover exactly WHAT the microbiome is and WHY we need to start paying it a lot more attention.

 

What is the microbiome?

Together, these tiny bugs work extremely hard on our behalf and in all that I’m learning, deserve  deep respect.  So much so, I wonder if this microbiome of ours, has and is, quietly guiding our evolution?

4 reasons our microbiome may be guiding our evolution.

1. We need their genes.   While the genes of our microbes give them ‘life’, their genes also help us survive, e.g.

The genes of our microbiome outnumber the genes of our very own body by about 100 to 1.

Consequently, it’s like we have two sets of genes!  The ones we inherited from our parents and the other acquired i.e. our microbiome.  

Geneticist, Seth Bordenstein says, “Arguably, the microbiota are as important as genes.”

2. An ancient relationship. Animals and microbes have lived together for as long as animals have been in existence and long before humans walked the earth.

Almost every cell in our body has a form of bacterial ancestry.

3. It changes within 24 hours. Our gut flora (microbiome) changes day to day, depending on what we’re exposing it to.  We need to keep feeding it daily to maintain its healthy integrity.   Changing our diet can change the composition of the bugs in our gut within 24 hours!

4. Diversity is the key. Generally, a lower diversity or different types of bacteria in our microbiome relates to an increased risk of disease’, ‘Increasing diversity reduces chances of disease e.g. inflammation’. Dr Justin Sonnenberg, Scientist.

And this…

“We’ve discovered that there’s this class of chemicals in the mother’s milk that is there, not for the baby to digest, but for the microbiota to digest. The mother actually laces her milk with a kind of dietary fibre that’s a class of molecules you can’t find anywhere else on the planet. They’re not even present in cow’s milk.” ~ Dr Justin Sonnenburg, Scientist.

Right from birth our bodies intuitively know how important it is to not only nourish our babies, but our babies bugs, our microbiome. Showing just HOW fundamentally important our gut flora is.

With our modern lifestyles and choices the diversity of this ancient and mutually beneficial relationship is steadily diminishing – perhaps along with our natural evolution as a species.

“Throughout our lives, we help shape our own microbiomes — plus they adapt to changes in our environment.  For example, the foods you eat, how you sleep, the amount of bacteria you’re exposed to on a daily basis and the level of stress you live with all help establish the state of your microbiota” ~ Dr Axe.

IMG_1747 (1) Years ago, my Dad piled up this heap of dirt at the farm, especially for the grandchildren to play on.  They still have hours of fun on it, plus it’s the perfect way to nourish their bugs – just as nature intended.

A few more important roles of our microbiome.

Eliminates toxins.  Certain benefical bacteria can prevent or inactivate toxins released by harmful bacteria, from entering our blood stream. Some may also inactivate toxic molecules that we ingest.

Digests food and helps with colon and gut health. The majority of our gut microbes live in the colon and some of them specialise in fermenting fiber e.g. in legumes, fruits, and vegetables, and the byproducts of this activity helps to nourish the cells lining our colon.

Some bacteria produce a chemical that provides an energy source for our cells. It also helps to strengthen the connections between the cells of our intestinal lining, reducing the likelihood of a leaky gut.

Supports immune health. This is one of our microbiomes most important roles. Our gut microbes can teach the immune system to recognise and attack harmful invaders. It can determine how quickly we fight off illness e.g. a respiratory infection or the flu.

Anti-inflammatory function. Some bacteria release compounds that have a calming effect, preventing inflammation and keeping the immune system from overreacting.

Supports brain health. Bacteria in the intestine make some of the same molecules that are known to transmit signals in the brain e.g. serotonin (our happy hormone) and melatonin (our sleep hormone) – effecting our mood, behaviour and our sleep.

Increasing evidence supports the primary role of the gut microbiome in influencing stress-response patterns, most notably cortisol (stress hormone) production and its regulation.

Supports metabolic health. Along with what people are choosing to eat, there is more and more research showing the link between obesity, metabolic disease and the microbiome.   With the diversity of our microbiome having a direct affect on our metabolism – the lower the diversity, the lower the metabolic rate, the lower the energy levels experienced.

In summary, the gut is our home to optimum health and our microbiome appears to be the heart of that home. 

IMG_1698

So what creates a healthy microbiome in the first place?

1.  Mothers own healthy microbiomes, natural births and breastfeeding set the scene for passing on a healthy microbiome to our babies.

2. Our food and lifestyle choices and exposures.

For many of us, this introduction to life for our babies isn’t always possible, that’s okay, (and it wasn’t for my babies either).  The body is incredible and the microbiome can be repopulated, keep reading as I share how…

Then what disrupts this complex and intimate system?

13 common microbiome disruptors.

  1. Processed foods
  2. Lack of fermentable fibre (see below)
  3. Unhealthy animal products e.g. that have been raised in poor conditions and fed inferior foods
  4. Refined and processed sugars
  5. Medications, antibiotics and contraception
  6. Unmanaged Stress
  7. Caesarians at birth
  8. Formula fed babies
  9. Over sanitisation / cleanliness of our environment
  10. Lack of good quality sleep
  11. Lack of time outdoors
  12. Age
  13. Chemicals and other toxins in our environment that are designed to wipe out bacteria. 

Various cleaning supplies including sponges on a white backgroung with copy space 

Loving our microbes is a fundamental strategy for disease prevention and for kick-starting our wellbeing.   Thankfully it’s not hard.  Infact, it’s easy, start with one new choice at a time.

5 easy steps to love our bugs and prevent disease.

  1. Real food
  1. Un-sterilise our world

     3.  Control chemical and toxin exposure

     4. Move more 

     5.  Sleep well

Fecal Microbiota Transplant (FMT):  If you or a loved one suffers from a chronic digestive complaint or one you cannot find a solution to, perhaps investigate the possibility of an  FMT.   A procedure in which your microbiome is replaced with a donors microbiome.

In summary

Perhaps there are no good or bad bacteria. That potentially harmful microbes become dangerous once they ‘overpopulate’ or start to outnumber the more beneficial bugs, which can happen when any of the above factors are out of balance.  Also consider that there is research that shows some of our so called harmful bugs may in fact have a role in stimulating a healthy immune system and also have a part to play in our microbiome.

While much of the science on the microbiome is in its infancy, the important role it has to play in our wellbeing is not.  The microbiome has provided a beneficial relationship to our species for eternity.

What we expose our gut and our microbiome to is going to directly impact our vitality and our ability to ward off chronic illness.  And many of these environmental exposures we CAN control.   Our health is very much in our own hands.  

By improving our diet, eating plenty of bug-loving foods and probiotics, lowering our stress, and exercising regularly, we can support our body’s microbiome, simply.   Going to war against ‘bugs’ is not the answer, we need to respect the intimate relationship that we have evolved with them.

Whatever we are exposing ourselves to daily, let’s consider not only how it protects our physical body, but also how it protects our microbial community.  In doing this we will protect our childrens futures and the natural course of our evolution at the same time.    

What can you start doing today to nourish your microbiome better?  Is it more time outside, opening the windows, eating more fibre rich foods?  What will it be?  Choose one and start enjoying adding it into your routine.

References

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24388028

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0009898115000170

http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/backseat-drivers/

http://www.mercola.com

http://www.chriskresser.com 

http://www.draxe.com

As a scientist, mother, health coach and passionate health advocate my mission is to help keep you or anyone else who is keen to learn more, inspired on their personal journey of growth and wellness with choices that;
  • become ‘second nature’.
  • prevent costly doctors and specialist appointments now and in the future.
  • before we know it have become just a (very enjoyable) way of life’ and we can trust, knowing we are deeply nourished and no longer harbour fear for our future health.
Deep down, we all understand this and that this important knowledge is best learnt in our homes and at our tables, passed on by our mothers and primary caregivers. As it always has been and as we, as mothers, instinctively do. I believe, we have a lot of this knowledge already, but at times it feels ‘smothered’ or non existent with ALL that we have going on, physically, mentally and emotionally. However, deep down, our inner knowing, our intuition is a compass ready to guide us through the busyness, frustration, overwhelm and tiredness and return us once and for all to a place of innate happiness and vitality. When you get that ‘gut feel’ trust it.
Prevention is better than the cure.
 
I make it sound easy. It’s not. It’s hard to do and for good reason.
Here are 5 reasons why (and it’s not what you think)…  plus my favourite actions to stay on course. 

5 reasons we’ve lost our inner compass.  

  1. We are overwhelmed. With all the information at our fingertips that we are bombarded with daily it makes it confusing to know just what to do.
  2. We are time poor.  We work – out of home and in our homes and simply don’t have time.
  3. The real knowledge (wisdom) has been diluted and lost over the generations.
    Buried in messages of convenience / junk food companies and corporate greed accompanied by a social conditioning or a belief that others can ‘fix it’, rather than taking ownership of our own livelihoods.
  4. We feel isolated or even judged.  When we begin to make new choices that feel right but differ to the ones our extended family and friends are making, whether its real or not, we can feel frustrated, uncomfortable, stressed and disillusioned.
  5. We have lost community.  Community that gives us connection, confidence and knowledge.  A connection brought together within a ‘village’, or ‘tribe’ with elders, who knowingly gave guidance with the wisdom (knowledge) and tradition of their ancestors.
This can make life seem hard.  But we do have choices.

9 favourite actions to ‘trust your gut’, save time and energy.

These actions or choices also create good energy,  free up my time and will allow you to feel and trust your inner compass, your intuition and make life more fun.  Perhaps one or two things will resonate and help you too;
  1. Don’t worry or think about food.   It becomes second nature.   Simply, keep to foods in their most simple, whole and natural form i.e. if it hasn’t been picked, pulled, plucked or caught then generally don’t eat it.
    When I don’t have to think so much about food, it frees my time and my mind!
  2. Do a big shop on the weekend.   This fills the fridge and pantry with essentials for the week ahead. I have ours topped up once a week with an organic veggie home delivery from ‘the organic collective’.   I love having a full fridge ready for the week ahead (although I wish it lasted longer)!
  3. Rotate favourite meals regularly.  I share three of our newest favourites in kitchen medicine below, the best ever shepherds pie, lemon and coconut macaroons and a persian love cake with a modern twist.
    Thinking of food in this way, takes a lot of the guess work out of it and the time and energy that we can spend (or waste).
  4. Exercise the ‘no’ muscle. I do this by saying ‘no… thank you’ to anything that drains my energy and time.
    Energy is precious and it’s better for everyone when I retain it and keep overwhelm at bay.
  5. Put yourself first as much as possible.  Even writing that and declaring it openly still brings up feelings of guilt.  Why?  It’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity.
    When I put myself first and value my time and who I am, it puts me more in control of my day.  It fuels me, gives me energy and creates confidence.  
  6. Surround yourself with energisers not vampires.   You know those people that when you finish a conversation or a chat you walk away feeling lighter and brighter than before you met them. It’s those people and those activities.  Spend time with them and doing that.
  7. Spend time outside everyday.  Either walking to school with the kids, walking the dog, an exercise class or cycling to the shop.  Move.  Outside. So much goodness in this. 
  8. Get up.  Early.   I usually try to get up half an hour or an hour earlier than everyone else in the house.  This time is sacred to me.  I use it to meditate, read, exercise, whatever I feel like doing.
    My day goes SO much better when I’ve started it with this time to myself.  If you haven’t tried this one yet, give it a go.  Just make sure you go to bed early the night before.  That’s the key to a good day.  
  9. Learn.  Continually.  Either with courses, coaches, neighbours, community, mentors, mistakes, books and blogs and of course children.  I LOVE learning and lucky for me… my hubby is incredibly patient. 

I’ts taken me a long time to get to this.  It doesn’t happen overnight and you may already be doing a lot of them, or not.  Choose one or two that really resonate and start adding them into your life-style!

Now I’d love to hear your thoughts.  What works for you?

Why see a health coach when there are so many qualified health practitioners and time and money is limited?

This is such a good question and the answer isn’t always obvious. I found it hard to answer myself and had a client help articulate it for me!

As a health coach, scientist and mum, I want to know about your concerns holistically i.e. as a whole person, what underlying triggers are disrupting your wellbeing? i.e. what’s the root cause or creating the disconnect or the discontent? I do this by developing a relationship with you, listening and understanding ALL aspects of your life, especially as mothers. With so many factors impacting our health – our introduction to life as babies, stress levels, sleep deprivation, lifestyle, toxins, microbiome, environment, connection, movement, inadequate nutrition, I get a thorough picture of your life before offering guidance or recommendations that will ultimately empower you in the choices you make. I help you bring wellness back into your home and create a place where the foundations for great health are created. Something as women, mothers, nurturers we innately understand but often become disconnected from.

We need to take this time initially to REALLY learn what’s going on.

My intention, and promise, is to create lifestyle choices that surpass the need for medication and excess supplementation. I promote lifestyle medicine which is about prevention – using real food and lifestyle choices to support the bodies natural healing mechanisms. My approach pays high regard to the wisdom of our ancestors while incorporating current research that is shaped by the needs of our modern lives. It is NOT a quick fix, we need to learn what our bodies need and a quick fix, bypasses this important learning. I believe our health is a life long journey. And this is what I offer through my programs.

In cutting out expensive doctors and specialist appointments and medications, while not having to rely on Dr google and heresy, and in becoming more productive in our life my clients make an investment in their future, their families future and save both money and time. At the same time they quickly gain incredible knowledge that can confidently be passed on from one generation to the next, and one kitchen to the next, just as our ancestors did.

This is my motivation and I feel incredibly lucky to do what I do and to work with incredible women. Including the 2 beautiful and super talented women and mamas who helped create this pic. Check out their work, they are awesome. Thank you Lisa Quinn-Schofield at Featherhorse Studio and photographer, Jody D’Arcy.

and if you’d like to learn more about my coaching, please contact me for an initial complimentary consult or visit my website to schedule a time for us. http://kateb.wpengine.com/contact/

 

According to the WHO ‘Methylmercury (a form of mercury) is the major source of body burden in children worldwide’. All forms of mercury are toxic.

It’s with personal experience and frustrations that I’ve discovered just how invasive and damaging Heavy Metals (HM) can be, especially Mercury.

HM are ubiquitous i.e. everywhere and most of us are carrying them in some shape or form. Mercury, Aluminium, Lead, Arsenic, uranium, cadmium, a few of the common ones.

Let’s focus on Mercury. It’s one of the most common and one I’ve had most experience with and researched.

It’s a topic that’s close to my heart, as it’s something each member of our family has dealt with, in particular our eldest child and has had a defining part to play in their developmental challenges.

In my video and post you’ll learn;
  1. what Mercury does to the body and why it’s SO hard to pinpoint
  2. why it can be linked to chronic illness, mental disorders, immune disfunction, digestive issues and much more.
  3. 8 major sources of mercury.
  4. 5 things I wish I’d known that could’ve saved us time, money and angst.
  5. 11 things we can do daily to support our bodies to detox naturally and WHY.

This is often an overlooked topic and trigger to illness and as Dr Chris Shade, one of the worlds leading expert in mercury and glutathione says,

‘Overall, mercury has a very strong ability to upset our entire system, which is part of the reason why toxicity symptoms are so difficult to pin down to mercury’

Mercury toxicity is far more common than we realise and has devastating consequences, especially on our neurology (brain) and immunity.  There IS good news though, because with the right tools and fuels – we CAN – ship it out.

Importantly, if we don’t detox, it can lead to issues later on in life as stress takes hold or as our bodies age.   And of even greater consequence is that these toxins accumulate in our bodies as they are passed on from one generation to the next, crescendoing the impact on the vitality of future generations.  Watch the video here.

We need to detox heavy metals, not only for our own health, but for the health of future generations.  

A snapshot of what Mercury does in the body;

  1. Inhibits cellular function. Mercury will also grab onto cell membranes, which leads to shattering of the membranes.
  2. Robs us of key nutrients. Mercury has a great affinity for sulfur and zinc especially and so can rob us of these key nutrients that are vital for many different chemical pathways e.g. zinc for skin and our immunity and sulfur is critical for us to detox well.
  3. Disrupts our immune system.
  4. Disrupts our nervous system. This is key. Think anxiety, irritability, mood swings, depression, muscle abnormality, anything stimulated by the nervous system eg eyesight, language, hearing, fine motor skills etc.Dr Chris Shade a mercury and glutathione (detox) expert from the University of illinois and one of the worlds experts on mercury detoxification. says “Neurologically, Mercury can take you into depression, or it can take you into anxiety,”. “Similarly, it can make you hyperactive, or it can give you chronic fatigue.”
  5. Disrupts our gut health. Mercury, especially from dental amalgams, can accumulate heavily in our digestive tract where it attaches to your gut lining and can contribute to that imbalance of good v bad bugs. (dysbiosis) .
  6. Detoxification pathways.
  7. Our brain health most importantly the neurological development in our children.  Commonly toxins store in our organs and our fat tissue. For children, as they don’t carry much fat tissue, the brain is a prime suspect and therefore the central nervous system is the most vulnerable.
  8. Metals can be used by some pathogens (bad bugs) to strengthen their ‘armoury’ , making them very very hard to penetrate and bring back into balance.
  9. The nature of Heavy metals also target our kidneys, liver, heart, pituitary and thyroid glands, and increase our risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

Overall, mercury has a very strong ability to upset our entire system, which is part of the reason why toxicity symptoms are so difficult to pin down to mercury.

Not to alarm but to be aware. If you are struggling with an illness or issue you can’t get to the bottom of and haven’t considered toxicity, it might be worth considering.

It was certainly the case for us.

Insights

I am a great believer the body and the mind together can naturally deal with toxins, including heavy metals, it’s incredibly clever, and it has the mechanisms to do it. In a healthy, strong body.

BUT the reality is most of us do not live in a way that our stressors are low enough (busyness, relationships, emotions get in the way daily) or that our energy is clear enough to be able to do this naturally.

And until we are there, which can take a lifetime, I think it’s important we support our bodies with small steps to daily detoxify, feel better and continue our evolving progress of wellbeing.

Unless we detoxify from these metals, they continue to accumulate and pass on from generation to generation, causing devastating neurological and immune problems along the way.

Our Story

Has to do with all of us, but in particular our children.

We have had a frustrating and challenging time over the years trying to get to the bottom of their development.   As a 5 year old development within their body stopped when they were 5 years old.   It’s fine now, development progressing and they are  by all means a super healthy, happy child.

It wasn’t always this way and we have definitely had our challenges.   A longer story for another time.

I discovered there were 4 key elements at the heart of the issue inhibiting development.

  1. the functioning of their brain,
  2. high exposure to heavy metals,
  3. a leaky gut and
  4. microbial infections, fungal, bacterial with helico bacter and parasitic, h. blastocystis – a very nasty parasite and hard to get rid of.

They had it all going on. How did I discover this. I listened to my gut instinct and we did testing. I knew there had to be a cause for the challenges that presented, and despite being told there was nothing that could be done. I found answers. The testing we did Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis and stool testing and working with a good health practitioner.

Let’s focus on Mercury. When we first tested, it was barely negligible and under the ref. range of her hair tissue analysis.

Liquid metal blot isolated on white background

Fortunately we were with a Naturopath that understood it’s not OK and there is no room for heavy metals.

We started a detox protocol and the metals started to come out. Over the space of a year her levels for mercury, lead, arsenic, rose. Mercury was incredibly high, thankfully now we are almost there.

As mentioned, Mercury is a potent neurotoxin.
At the same time, despite their good diet, their nutritional profile for key nutrients was very low. Heavy metals (along with the imbalance of bugs) can rob the body of these nutrients.

WHO 3 Key facts;

  1. Exposure to mercury – even small amounts – may cause serious health problems, and is a threat to the development of the child in utero and early in life.
  2. Mercury may have toxic effects on the nervous, digestive and immune systems, and on lungs, kidneys, skin and eyes.
  3. Mercury is considered by WHO as one of the top ten chemicals or groups of chemicals of major public health concern.

Sources of Mercury.

Different types of mercury, affects the body differently

All forms of mercury are more or less toxic to humans, because it is widely distributed in the body and many systems are affected.

The toxic effects of mercury vary according to:

The fetal brain is the most sensitive human tissue to damage from this powerful neurodevelopmental toxin. Certainly explains some of the challenges we had to deal with.

Not going into detail re some of the effects, but you can imagine.

What is more concerning is if there is NO heavy metals detected as it may mean the body isn’t detoxing well and pathways are compromised.

 5 things I wish I’d known.

  1. elimination organs must be functioning well eg gut, liver and kidney
  2. if there is leaky gut, and it’s highly likely there is, it needs to be worked on and healed
  3. we all detoxify differently, based on the efficinecy of our detox pathways, this needs to be taken into consideration.
  4. They MUST be removed gently. Be patient
  5. Glutathione is a critical player in detoxing. The glutathione system is the core for proper detoxification. Glutathione is our master antioxidant and detoxifier. It binds to the metals to pull them out of the body, but needs lots of help from different nutrients and enzymes to do this. Good nutrition is key plus healthy elimination organs e.g. gut, liver, kidneys.

You have to have all parts of this going and working well.

I wish I had known a few of these things first up, it would’ve saved us a lot of time and money.

11 things we can do.

  1. Conduct a hair analysis test to get a baseline. More comprehensive testing involves blood and urine testing.  (different forms of mercury that will settle in different areas of the body).
  2. Remove the source of exposure. Primarily, Seafood or amalgams, packaged foods.
  3. Optimise our diet to give the body the nourishment it needs and can support detoxification and get the job done.   Antioxidant rich foods eg blueberries and goji berries, vitamin C, green tea,  good fats to help eliminate toxins from fat cells, good, healthy protein sources and dark leafy greens especially eg a morning green smoothie is a great way to start the day, support the liver and flood the body with nutrients (if tolerated).
  4. Start healing the gut. Bone stock, gelatin, zinc, aloe vera, prebiotic foods, chia seeds, remove dead foods, processed foods, sugars, inflammatory foods eg gluten and dairy. Stick to whole, natural real foods. Good bugs.
  5. Restore and strengthen kidney and liver health a with foods such as avocado, turmeric, dark leafy greens, bitter foods eg rocket and dandelion greens. herbs eg milkthistle. Supplements and essential oils eg lemon.
  6. Rebuild the microbiome, fermented foods, leafy greens, prebiotics, or a probiotic. Bring the bugs back into balance.
  7. Promote and support detox pathways e.g. glutathione, a master antioxidant is important.  Sulphur rich foods eg Whey protein, onion, garlic, leek, eggs and cruciferous vegetables support our glutathione system. Mercury likes to pair with Sulphur especially, making it especially important to increase the level of these foods.
  8. Introduce foods that chelate HM, coriander, chlorella, parsley, sulphur rich foods onion, garlic, leek, eggs and cruciferous vegetables
  9. Amino acids from protein sources are also important eg fish, eggs, clean red meat.
  10. Alpha lipoic acid, powerful antioxidant found in some vegetables, the best sources are clean red meat and organ meat. Sulphur and ALA both help stimulate our glutathione levels.
  11. Lemon and lemon essential oil. Make sure it’s a good quality lemon oil, it’s a powerful detoxifier.

Other things to do.

If you do suspect heavy metals and want to investigate it further, find a good health practioner experienced in the area.

Detox needs to be done carefully, gently and properly as can go onto cause further damage.

Be patient, it takes time and be comforted knowing food and lifestyle choices can heal.

If you want to talk to me about my experience and next steps, I am very happy to share. I would love to help you save costly and unnecessary time and money.   Pop some time in our diaries here or email me for a 30 minute consultation on kate@katebarnes.com.au.

Watch the video here.

References

 

How long does it take to make or break a habit? 3 days, 21 days, 28 days, 90 days? Why is it we see so many ‘health’ professionals tease us with promises of making health induces habits in 21 days and curing our problems in 28 days? Where does this actually come from?

Keen to find out just how long it takes to make or break a habit, I went searching for the science… and what I uncovered was pretty eye opening to say the least… let’s just say it has to do with moving house and getting nose jobs! No seriously…. read on…

The Myth

We’ve been told so many different things about how long it actually takes to make or break a habit, but where does this really come from. As far as the science is concerned it seems this myth stems back to a book released in 1960 called “Physco-Cyberneticks” from Maxwell Maltz. Yeah, my eyes glossed over just reading the title. It seems Dr Maltz observed that patients who recovered from plastic surgery took around 21 days to get used to their new look. He also observed amputee patients experienced the ‘phantom limb’ phenomenon for about 21 days, along with observations that it takes around 3 weeks to settle into a new house. The end.

Hang on… what? 

Is this all there is to support 21 days to make a habit, how long it takes to adjust to a nose job or a new house? Seriously?

The theory is Maltz used the word habitualise, meaning to get used to, and that’s how an observations of nose jobs became the worlds most believed myth.

The Truth… Based on real evidence

So, it turns out a few skeptics out there with science backgrounds who put this habit breaking myth to the test. In the book Making Habits Breaking Habits Jeremy Dean shares a university study  from London that asked the question how long does it take to form different habits. He tested a handful of habits over 84 days with varying results. Depending on a few things, like the habit itself and how often the student performed the task depended on how long it took to form an automated habit. The average was more like 66 days to form a healthy habit with some variations within that. Wanting to drink more water, that might take about 20 days. What about eat more fruit, that might take you around 40 days to form a habit… and exercise proving the hardest reported still not a habit after the 84 days.

Another study looking more at breaking habits, whilst this one was about addiction, as we know from the habit sliding scale, a  bad habit is only a short stroll from a full blown addiction. Researchers at Yale University found the neural connections started to rewire in the pre-frontal cortex (the part of the brain responsible for self control and decision making) after 90 days. It could in fact take up to 388 days. Author Jeremy Dean shares one recorded study of trying to break a food habit taking a full 388 days before it was habitualised and automated… WHAT? That’s a lot of 21-day programs before you see a result!

How long is a piece of string?

So, the answer is not 21 days, it’s not even 90 days, the answer on how long does it take to make or break a habit is… It depends. It depends on the habit, how often you perform it, and how much support you have around you. However you can bet if your bad habit is food for fitness related, you’re looking between 66 and more than 90 days, perhaps even up to 388 days. Its not all doom and gloom though, you can influence the outcome and speed up this result with these habit hacks.

Break my habit stat – your top tips to breaking a habit faster than you can say choc chip cookie!

The good news is your brain can’t tell the difference between imaginary and reality… so the more you visualise yourself breaking the habit the more your brain takes this as ‘practice’ speeding up the process up to 15 times faster thank non-visualisation.

How to Visualise

Firstly, identify all the possible scenarios that could get in the way of breaking or making your habit. See the cheat sheet for some examples.

Secondly, imagine the PROCESS not THE OUTCOME. You need to image the process of breaking/making the habit. For instance, imagine yourself getting up to exercise when you’ve had a bad night sleep, when its raining, when you feel good, when you feel bad, imagine all of the scenarios you outlined in step one.

Thirdly, make your visualisations as real as possible, what can you see, sense, taste, smell, feel. Who are you with, where are you, what are you doing? Make it as real as you possibly can.

And finally, practice practice practice. Do this visualisation for 15 minutes every day. If you can’t do it in one sitting, do it in 4-5 minute blocks throughout the day. When you’re communiting, when your waiting for your computer to start up or shut down, when your on hold, when you taking a ‘function’ break. Take any and every opportunity to visualise visualise visualise.

Written by Melitta Hardenberg.  Melitta is Chief Habit Breaker at Breaking Bad Habits.

Melitta is passionate about realising potential, in particular helping to make the connection between physical, mental, emotional wellbeing and executive brain performance.  Whether it iworking with an individual one on one, or working with leaders to improve productivity and engagement.   Helping others realise their ultimate success is what motivates he every day.

Find Melitta at http://www.getfitandfocused.com.au and on Facebook.

‘Oxytocin connects us to people.  Oxytocin makes us feel what other people feel.  And it’s easy to cause people’s brains to release oxytocin.  Let me show you.  Come here.  Give me a hug.” ~ Paul J. Zak. 

With Valentines Day around the corner let’s talk about an incredibly powerful, health-giving chemical that’s fundamental for life and love and is so simple to activate!

The love hormone a.k.a. the cuddle chemical – Oxytocin.

What is it and how does it work?

Oxytocin is a hormone that acts as a neurotransmitter (gives signals) in the brain.  The hormone’s influence on our behavior and physiology originates in the brain, where it’s produced and is then released into the bloodstream.  Like antennas picking up a signal, oxytocin receptors are found on cells throughout our body and makes us feel good.

In women, oxytocin is released during labor, facilitating birth and breastfeeding and it is released by both men and women during sexual intercourse.

The number one way of acquiring oxytocin, is through skin-to-skin contact with another person i.e. simply with touch and closeness.  Even having a meal with other people can elevate our oxytocin levels.

‘Oxytocin has a powerful effect on infants, but brings greater bonding and mental and physical health for everyone’.

5 reasons to activate our ❤️hormone;

  1. It’s ability to counteract stress.  The more oxytocin our pituitary gland (in the brain) releases, the better able we are to handle life’s stressors.
  2. The more receptors in our brain for oxytocin, the more likely we are to fall in love and remain monogamous.
  3. Oxytocin decreases the level of stress hormones (primarily cortisol) that our body manufactures and lowers our blood pressure in response to stressful and anxiety producing situations.
  4. Oxytocin has also been found to lower cravings of drug and alcohol addiction, as well as a desire for sweet treats!  And,
  5. There’s emerging science suggesting that oxytocin has the power to keep our heart in good shape, and potentially heal it from damage by reducing cell death and inflammation!

With stress being a major contributor to illness it makes sense to consciously try raising our oxytocin levels on a daily basis or just taking a daily dose of hugs!  

It really is the love hormone and love… is fundamental for human life.   How’s your oxytocin?   

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Touch on our bodies, along with positive social interactions supports increases in oxytocin levels and we don’t need to be in an intimate relationship to produce oxytocin.

7 simple ways to lift our cuddle chemical, lower stress and live longer;

  1. Holding hands.
  2. Kissing and hugging.  The recommended dose of hugs is at least 3x a day and I’m pretty sure you can’t overdose on giving or receiving them.
  3. Nurturing others.
  4. Getting a massage or choose a favourite essential oil and give a massage to your partner and/or children.
  5. Practicing breathing exercises and yoga, and,
  6. if you have a pet, just a few minutes petting the dog or cat can help release our body’s “happy” hormones, including oxytocin.
  7. Giving gifts – the process of thoughtful engagement in choice of gift and actually giving it.

It’s incredible that with simple touch and engagement with others we have the power to protect ourselves from disease.

Feelings of love/connection, a sense of belonging is one of our most basic human needs.  It makes sense that if we don’t have regular touch and love in our lives, we are not going to live our fullest and happiest lives.  

As a Robbie Williams fan his song ‘Feel‘ is a great reminder.  Have a listen.

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When we get busy we forget to slow down enough to enjoy touch and connection with those that are near and dear to us.  It’s easy to do, but it’s not healthy and it doesn’t feel  good.  Slow down and enjoy touch, it’s imperative to life and love.

Activation challenge:  When you’re engaging with people, especially on special occasions take some time to really connect with them, partners, children, family and friends and if it feels right when you see them, give them a hug, but at the very least engage with them meaningfully and watch yours and their oxytocin rise.  Take a moment and feel it…
It feels good!
And then there’s always chocolate to get us feeling good too!   Browse some of my favourite chocolate recipes on this site.  There are so many and most of them take very little time to prepare.  Enjoy.
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