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 pop in and see us at 44 St Andrew Street, Aberdeen, AB25 1JA or call 01224 969637 to book an appointment with Beverley our Nutritional Therapist.
The season of Advent is upon us, marking the start of four festivals of light that continue through Christmas to Ephiphany and close with Candlemas in February. Traditionally Advent is a time for reflection on the year that has just gone, to give thanks for the good and to prepare for Christmas and the year ahead. Sadly this period of much needed quiet and relection is so often lost in the modern world, drowned out by the loud voice of consumerism as adverts proclaim only x shopping days left, buy your turkey now, buy this magazine and gain the secrets to a perfect Christmas!
This year I think it's high time we took back Advent and said no thanks to the noise and the nonsense. What is the point in stressing over what to buy someone when the reality is most people already have everything they could ever want? Feeling stressed about cooking Christmas dinner? Why? It's basically exactly the same roast you cook every Sunday only on a slightly bigger scale. Just cook your turkey or other joint, take it out the oven and cover with baking parchment and 2 tea towels and leave to rest for an hour. That's your oven free for roast potatoes, parsnips and even yorkshire puddings! Just chuck everything else in a steamer and if all else fails piping hot gravy can resurect anything. Chill out - you have got this!
In this modern world 'busyness' has taken over and the one thing most of us wish we had more of is time. So let's give the gift of time this Christmas and make being truely present our goal. Put away that iphone (you really don't need to be checking your work emails!) and get your pinny on. Set aside an afternoon to make mince pies with your family, and allow yourself to be mindful, feel the cold butter as you rub it into the flour, laugh at your kids if they hurl some flour at each other, it's ok, it's 2016 we have hoovers! Snuggle up with a Christmas movie, a hot cup of tea and your yummy home made mince pies. Or wrap up warm and get out of the house letting the cool air clear away the cobwebs and bring the colour back to your cheeks.
If you're stuck for gifts why not give a voucher for a massage or a facial? Literally give the gift of time so your loved ones can stop and just be.
So let's take Advent back, let's relish putting up our decorations, remembering all those Christmases past, happy times with loved ones, the joy of finding that tin foil covered yoghurt pot bell you made when you were two that somehow is still in one piece over 20 years later. For many, Christmas can be a sad time as they remember those who are no longer with us but I prefer to think that Christmas actually brings us a little closer as that box of decorations rekindles memories, and with it their spirit around the tree.
As we start each day with the opening of a new window on the calender, let's take just a moment to think of something or someone we are thankful for this year. To reflect on the things we have done well, some things maybe not so well and what we really want to achieve in the year ahead. Above all don't get stressed, enjoy the run up to Christmas, the light shining in the darkness and that feeling of expectation as the day approaches. After all the most important thing on Christmas Day is the people that are around your tree not the presents that are under it.
Do you spend summer a snivelling mess constantly searching for a hankie? Hay fever is a sure fire sign for many that summer is on it's way, that first tell tale sneeze in late spring as everything starts to bloom. Yup it's tissue time again. If like me you can't leave the house without a packet of tissues at this time of year our salvation may have been found....Probiotics!
Researchers at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine have reviewed 23 studies analysing the most up to date data on the use of probiotics in the treatment of hay fever. They concluded that in the majority of studies patients symptoms improved significantly by using probiotic compared with those who don't.
So there you have it, teeny tiny microorganisms are the answer we've been looking for! There are a number of different options available and we usually advise on particular strains of bacteria based on other health challenges.
Other foods that can worsen symptoms are caffeine and alcohol and foods that contain histamine e.g., red wine, cheese, chocolate, and tomatoes. Wheat based foods can add to the inflammation for some and dairy products can increase mucus production as can sugar and excess starchy foods. Then there are those foods which are individual to you and these can be tested for via IgG Food Intolerance testing.
Foods that support hayfever sufferers are those that reduce inflammation. Oily fish which increases our omega 3 fatty acids is anti-inflammatory. We can also supplement with this especially over the season. Incorporate ginger, rosemary and thyme into your cooking. Make ginger teas from fresh ginger and nettle. These foods will help counteract a runny nose and itchiness.
Raw honey bought from local farms and bee keepers has been spoken about for a while and many have found taking a spoonful a day to be extremely helpful during pollen season.
Supplementing vitamin C is helpful as it’s a natural anti-histamine. Most important is ensuring a rainbow diet with lots of flavonoids and a good range of nutrients.
Another natural anti-histamine is quercetin found in foods such as red onion, peppers and citrus. This can be supplemented but if you are on medication, please contact a Nutritional therapist as it does have some drug nutrient interactions.
Tumeric is another favourite of ours for hay fever support as research published in the journal Molecular Nutrition and food research 2008 demonstrated that turmeric prevented mast cells from releasing histamine.
Oil of oregano has been shown in animal studies to prevent histamine release due to its component rosemarinic acid.
Two of our favourite products for hay fever prevention combine the above to take best advantage of the latest science. These are quercetin plus and Epigenar Curcumin oregano quercetin complex.
Whichever you go for, we hope that you will soon be able to leave your hankies at home!
Finding the perfect turkey can be difficult at Christmas, especially if you are trying to find an organic, free range turkey that comes in on budget. Thankfully here at Nourishing we have done the hard work so you don't have to!
Our No.1 choice this Christmas (and where we have ordered ours from!) is Gazegill Organic Farm in Lancashire. Here their turkeys are hatched at the beginning of the summer and then slowly fattened on organic feed over 6 months, as nature intended. The turkeys live in large barns and are actively encouraged to run in the farm's fields. This allows the turkeys leg muscles to develop properly helping it to happily walk about and carry it's ever increasing and yummy breast! They are killed and hung in the traditional way ensuring a wonderful flavour and succulent, tender meat. Prices start at a very reasonable £54 for a small turkey to feed 10-12 up to £72 for a large to feed 14-16 with leftovers. Gazegill still have turkeys available and they will deliver straight to your front in time for Christmas.
Having shopped around Gazegill give you excellent value for money and match or beat many high street retailers and other organic farms on price. However, what Gazegill give you extra is complete traceability from field to plate and a friendly voice at the end of the phone if you have any questions about their farm or delivery.
If your budget doesn't quite stretch to organic turkey then you might want to consider buying 2 organic chickens. You could even smother them with different flavoured butters to make the table more exciting. For example cover one with a lemon butter and one with a garlic and chive. And who doesn't want to smother things in butter at Christmas time?! If you are dairy free then just make your 'butters' using coconut oil or goose fat for extra crispy skin.
Whichever bird you choose for your Christmas feast, remember the key word here is Organic which means extra Omega three fatty acids for health and extra taste for a perfect and truly nourishing Festive meal for your family. Enjoy x
Well it's been a few weeks now since I planted out my garden so I thought I would post a few pictures and let you see how it's getting on. Amazingly, everything is still alive, even the basil which I have to admit is looking a bit pasty but it's the longest I've ever kept one going so I'm proud!
The salad leaves are thriving and the mix of sunshine and showers we have had the last few weeks seems to be just what they need. I'm looking forward to my first harvest of leaves tonight to make a yummy salad with last nights left over roast chicken!
I think I am now a grow your own convert and will be ordering the autumn/ winter garden later on in the summer. If I can do it so can you!
Last week we posted about where to buy your organic produce from but have you ever thought about growing your own? I have tried and failed to grow my own many times, I always seem to be blighted by the weather, slugs, caterpillars, seeds don't germinate etc etc and the only things that I ever manage to grow are potatoes and fruit bushes. Basically things you can't go wrong with. I am eternally envious of those green fingered few who seem to be able to grown anything and wish I could do the same!
This year after hearing about Rocket Gardens I thought I would try again. Rocket Gardens send you out your very own, organically grown mini plants, lovingly tucked up in a bed of straw, packaged into a box and sent straight to your door. Not wanting to get ahead of myself I ordered the window box garden. It arrived last week and I was very excited to unpack my box and plant my mini-plants out in plant pots (after I nipped to homebase to buy some more, clearly underestimated how many plants I was getting!). You could plant them straight into the ground but I'm lazy and pots are easier to weed!
My box contained:
Dwarf French Green Beans x 3
Mixed lettuces x 10
Rocket x 10
Mizuna x 10
Spinach x 10
Golden streak mustard x 10
Spring onions x 10
Beetroot x 10
Basil x 1 pot
Parsley x 1 pot
Chives x 1 pot
We are now a week on and I haven't managed to accidentally kill them! In fact they seem to be doing well and that's with a whole week of cold and rain. The only things that aren't outside are the green beans and basil as it is still too cold for them to go out just yet but they are happy enough on the kitchen windowsill and growing away. Hopefully my luck with this years crop will continue and I will be harvesting yummy salad leaves all through the summer! Will let you know how I get on.
I have even bought some strawberries and planted them in a hanging basket away from slugs and Molly (the puppy) who would eat them! If I can do it so can you! Why not pop along to the garden centre or order a lovely organic garden from Rocket Gardens.
Nowadays the Supermarkets have a good range of organic fruit, veg and meat but if you want real traceability, good value and to help fund sustainable agriculture and land management and the local economy then you can't beat buying direct. Not sure where your local organic farmer is, or if you can buy direct from them? Well here is a wee directory put together by the lovely folk at SRUC (formerly SAC) who have made life a bit easier for you! Just click on the file below.
For those of you in England I have added a few links to some great suppliers we have bought from and recommend!
www.gazegillorganics.co.uk - Organic, rare breed meat and raw dairy products from their herd of Dairy Shorthorn Cows in Lancashire!
http://www.fordhallfarm.com/ - Fordhall in Shropshire was one of the pioneers of organic farming and developed a foggage grazing system which allows their livestock to graze year round. Supplies organic and free range meat.
www.hookandson.co.uk/ - Stars of the Moo Man documentary and suppliers of raw dairy products from their dairy farm in Hailsham.
This week marks the second week of Fairtrade fortnight which this year is launching their Make Bananas Fair campaign. Bananas are the UK's most popular fruit with each of us consuming 100 per year. They are also one of the most important commodities in world trade being the fourth most important food crop after rice, wheat and maize as well as being a staple food for some 400 million people. However in Britain banana's are at the heart of the supermarket price war with one supermarket trying to undercut the rest meaning that the price of production often not being paid by British supermarkets.
We have one of the most highly concentrated grocery markets in the world with four national chains controlling 70 per cent of the market. However, only one of the 'Big Four' were given the green light by the Fairtrade foundation after research by the Ethical Consumer Research Association showed that it met an overall score of 88/100 for social, economic and environmental good practice and transparency with respect to the bananas they source. Sainsbury's, The Co-op and Waitrose scored the best with 85% or above with Marks and Spencer, Tesco and Asda coming in next with 69%, 65% and 49% and Morrisons, Lidl and Aldi trailing in behind.
So what does this mean in reality? Well what it means is that if bananas had kept in pace with a Mars bar they would now cost £2.60 a Kilo instead of 68 pence per kilo which is the current market price. Similarly a banana can be grown on the other side of the world and shipped to the UK to be sold at 11p when an apple grown in Hereford is sold for 20p. Does something sound not right to you about these figures? If like me it does to you then look for the Fairtrade logo next time you are shopping to make sure that you are paying a fair price to those you grow our favourite fruit. Banana's are full of Potassium, Vitamins A, B6 and D but remember they have a high glycemic index which makes them a great source of energy before sport but I'd just have them in small quantities if you are more of a couch potato.
Don't forget our own producers in the UK are feeling the price war squeeze too so by sustainable organic food where you can direct from the producer to really support our local economy.
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“I did Nutritional Therapy with Beverley and it was life changing. I highly recommend it!” Allison Blakely (Glasgow)
44 St Andrew Street, Aberdeen, AB25 1JA
Tel: 01224 969637
Opening Hours: Sun- Mon: Closed Tue to Sat: 10am-4pm
Late night appointments available on Thursday evening on request.