Here at Nourishing Insights looking after animals is just as important as people. Did you know that we stock a variety of products to support your four legged friends health needs?
We discovered the ranges when we were looking for something to support the family dog Penny who is 15 and still going strong! Sadly Penny has been blind for many years but she hasn’t let it get the better of her. Recently though she has become a little more distressed and gets anxious when we leave the house. Thankfully we found a natural solution in CALM from Higher Nature’s Pets range. This powdered formula suitable for dogs and cats can be easily added to food making administration straight forward. CALM contains Theanine to increase feelings of calm, Tryptophan helps reduce anxiety and improves sleep and Magnesium which is a natural relaxant. (To read more about the benefits of magnesium click here.)
There are many reasons why our pets may feel anxious including:
But there are products out there to support them. In addition to CALM we also stock Lamberts Dog Calming Tablets. These beef and liver flavour tablets contain:
Penny has greatly benefited from taking a supplement as she is much less anxious and is no longer waking distressed in the night.
Other ways of reducing anxiety in dogs include diffusing chamomile and lavender. In a study by Graham et al, “Dogs spent more time resting and less time moving upon exposure to lavender and chamomile than any of the other olfactory stimuli.” Suggesting that it can have a calming effect.
Playing music can also reduce anxiety in dogs. A 2012 study showed that kennelled dogs who listened to classical music spent more time sleeping and less time barking or crying compared to those who listened to heavy metal or no music at all.
To find out more about our pets range pop into see us at 44 St Andrew Street, Aberdeen, AB25 1JA. Always consult your vet before using any supplements if your pet is taking other medication.
Some of you may have heard that a number of companies have switched from using folic acid to methylated folate in their prenatal supplements. We thought we would explain what the difference is and why it matters which form you take it in.
What’s the difference?
Folate is a water soluble group of B vitamins (also known as vitamin B9) these are naturally occurring and most commonly found in green leafy vegetables, eggs and liver. Folic Acid is the synthetic oxidised version of this and is commonly found in supplements and used to fortify foods.
Why do we need it?
Folate is necessary during rapid cell division and growth which unsurprisingly means that we double our requirement for it during pregnancy. Inadequate folate levels are also associated with the following:
So why does it matter which form I take it in?
In order to convert folic acid into the folate that we need, it has to undergo reduction and methylation in the liver. Unfortunately, around 40% of the population have methylation issues particularly those with an MTHFR SNP (Methyltetrahydrofolate Reductase Single Nucleotide Polymorphism). Therefore, to ensure you are getting enough folate it would be preferable to supplement with bio-available folate rather than folic acid to ensure you are getting what your body needs.
Are there any other benefits?
A study by Bentley et al, found that mothers who supplemented with folate, compared with those taking folic acid, had increased haemoglobin levels at the end of the 2nd trimester and at delivery and that cases of anaemia were lower.
Other defects such as cleft palate and tounge tie are also being linked to MTHFR and poor methylation. Therefore, supplementing with folate may help reduce the occurrence of these conditions (although genetics has its role to play).
Is it only pregnant women who need to be aware of this?
Folate deficiency has been found to be high in a range of psychiatric disorders including depression, dementia and schizophrenia. Epileptics taking anticonvulsants are very often low in folate as these drugs inhibit folate absorption. As mentioned above elevated homocysteine levels are a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and stroke. Therefore people at risk of these conditions due to symptoms such as hypertension or those with a family history of cardiovascular disease may wish to consider supplementing with methylated B vitamins. You may also want to consider asking your GP for a homocysteine blood test to assess your risk.
Which foods should I increase to provide folate?
Dark leafy greens are tops such as spinach and romaine lettuce. In fact the word folate actually comes from the latin word 'folium' meaning foliage, so it's no surprise that the leafy stuff is going to be an excellent source. Also broccoli, cauliflower, sprouts, beans, peas, lentils, nuts and seeds, avocado and asparagus give good amounts. Citrus fruits are also high in folate along with papaya. In short, as long as you eat a goodly array of vegetable and fruits and really emphasise the green varieties you will boost your folate levels well. What you may be less aware of is that liver also gives us an excellent source of this valuable nutrient.
(Testing for MTHFR SNPs and other genomics testing is available through our clinic. Homocysteine testing is also available and allows us to optimise your B6, B12 and folate to maintain health promoting levels, reducing risk factors for disease and also to optimise fertility and healthy pregnancy for mum and baby. Enquiries through email@example.com)
More on our support for Fertility here
I am one of those strange women who, if she knew nothing else about what she wanted from life, it was that she wanted children. However, when my husband and I started trying it wasn't all plain sailing.
We decided just to go for it but not to put any pressure on ourselves - if it happened then great, if not we would try again next month. I'd always had a slightly longer cycle than normal but around the same time as we started trying, they started to get longer and longer until they stopped completely. My weight also increased although I hadn’t changed my diet and have always eaten well. I had also noticed that I had started to develop acne out of the blue and facial hairs started popping up which was very distressing. Eventually I took myself off to the GP and got checked out. Sure enough I was diagnosed with Polycystic ovaries syndrome (PCOS). Well, I felt like all the wind had been knocked out of me. The one thing I longed for more than anything in the world and I felt like I had lost my chance. Of course I hadn't and PCOS is by no means the end of the road but at the time I just felt devastated.
PCOS is strongly linked to insulin resistance and the doctor offered me metformin and hormone treatment. I decided I didn't want to go that route as I'm the kind of person who sees drugs as a last resort and would rather try something natural first. First stop was to the most knowledgeable person I know when it comes to natural health my mum!
I was relieved to hear that I could manage my condition without pills and with a few changes to my diet I should be back on track in a few months. The first thing I did was to deal with food intolerances which had been a driver in my weight gain. In addition I knew that the insulin like growth factor in milk plays right into the hands of insulin resistance and hormonal imbalance. I also avoided refined carbohydrates in my diet (not that I'd eaten many before) and focussed my meals around a low glycemic index approach. This meant mainly meat/fish and veg, in fact good old fashioned cooking! Of course I still treated myself to the odd slice of gf/df cake, after all food is to be enjoyed! But on the whole I was good and followed mum's advice. There are supplements you can take to support this transition and make it easier as you can support your blood sugar control, cravings and other needs. Because PCOS often overlaps with other conditions, this can vary according to your own history. In my case I already had underactive thyroid and IBS. Underactive thyroid is often associated with PCOS due to the sluggish metabolism, weight gain and resulting insulin resistance. Whatever else you may need to include into your own protocol, chromium is my favourite! (However, check for drug nutrient interactions before taking anything and ask your clinically trained Nutritional Therapist what is right for you.)
After my diagnosis in August I was delighted when by October my periods had returned and the extra weight I had put on was starting to drop off. It was like peeling off a fat suit and I began to recognise myself again. As you can see from the photo below taken at a dear friend's wedding before I made some simple lifestyle changes I was very inflamed.
If you would like more advice regarding blood sugar management, thyroid support, PCOS or fertility you've found your way to the best place. Nourishing Insights' team of Nutritional therapists are clinically trained and specialise in Women's hormones with advanced training and postgraduate training in fertility. Our no stone left unturned approach is first class and we have a range of functional tests including comprehensive hormones to support you. More on fertility here
In today's modern world the one thing that seems to escape us is sleep. But are we our own worst enemy? How many of us start the day with a large coffee or tea and continue to top up our caffeine levels throughout the day and then wonder why we can't sleep at night? Or how about spending our evening watching box sets and scrolling through our phones?!
If we want to improve our sleep there are a number of things we can do to help.
1. Reduce Caffeine.
By all means start the day with a cuppa but try and avoid caffeine after lunch time as it can leave you feeling wired. Instead try herbal teas, hot water and lemon or why not try a 'Beet It' shot if you're really flat? 'Beet it' is a concentrated beetroot shot which provide nitrates which convert to nitric oxide. Studies have shown that this can increase stamina and endurance in sport and lower blood pressure. My personal favourite is green tea. Green tea has around 15mg caffeine and also contains the calming amino acid L-theanine which is often found in sleep remedies. It's a great way to reduce caffeine and take something which has many health benefits including being cancer protective.
Tip: Reduce caffeine gradually over a couple of weeks and drink lots of water/herb teas to offset headaches.
2. Increase protein.
Many people make the mistake of reaching for caffeine when that 3 o'clock slump comes. What we should actually be doing is balancing our blood sugars by having good quality protein throughout the day. Feeling tired? Try some nut butter on an oatcake, or carrot sticks and hummus to give you a boost. It's important to include protein in your evening meal and supper if you are struggling to sleep as we need the amino acid tryptophan for the manufacture of both serotonin and melatonin. A late snack of a handful of nuts or a small glass of almond milk or organic cows milk can help promote sleep as they provide us with tryptophan. Watch out for those sugary night time snacks as often we can wake up in the night due to a blood sugar dip. If you we want to get to sleep and stay asleep, this is a great tip to keep in mind. It's also the reason why a nightcap of your favourite tipple doesn't work as alcohol tends to spike blood glucose and as a result we can wake hungry in the night.
3. Exercise daily in daylight
Another way to ensure good melatonin levels is to take a walk during the day, perhaps on your way to work or on your lunch break. Research has shown that early exposure to sunlight ensures an earlier release of melatonin at night which ensures good sleep onset. This is because daylight increases the brain's release of serotonin which lifts our mood and this converts to melatonin to prepare us for sleep as darker light triggers the release of melatonin. You can see why walking in the daylight is a great mood booster also! Just as an observation, I wonder whether the trend towards exercising in gyms with artificial light has had an affect on our circadian rhythms due to a lack of exposure to natural light! These factors also explain why we all need a good routine when it comes to sleep hygiene and circadian rhythm. Any slight change in these hormones can be very disruptive to the whole of our endocrine system.
4. Turn off that device.
How many of us spend our evenings catching up on TV shows or scrolling through our phone's attempting to read the internet?! (I blame instagram!) But all that blue light before bed hugely reduces our melatonin production and sends our circadian rhythms out of whack. We can reduce our exposure to blue light by downloading f.lux to our computers. This app dims our screens to match sunlight outside. Remember to turn off the TV and put away your phone at least two hours before bed time. Why not read that book you've had sat by your bed for 6 months? Or have a relaxing bath?
5. Epsom Salts Bath
Magnesium is really important in helping us to sleep as it reduces cortisol, the stress hormone, which can keep us awake at night. It also allows our muscles to relax helping us to really feel rested. Sadly around 80% of us are deficient in this vital nutrient. Having an Epsom Salts Bath is a lovely way to relax and top up your magnesium levels. Add a mug full to your bath and relax for 20 minutes to absorb the full dose. Then make sure you dab dry rather than rub as you don't want to wipe off all your magnesium. If you have trouble sleeping you may find you are deficient in this mineral. We recommend a supplement to increase your levels in the short term. Come and speak to us to find out which one would be best for you.
If you are having trouble sleeping and would like to know more about any supplements which can support you e.g. Valerian, Tryptophan etc., pop into our shop at 44 St Andrew Street, Aberdeen, AB25 1JA and chat to our Nutritional Therapist, Beverley. It is not advisable to take anything without checking drug nutrient interactions first. We look forward to welcoming you.
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“I did Nutritional Therapy with Beverley and it was life changing. I highly recommend it!” Allison Blakely (Glasgow)
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