Switch Off For Better Mental Health.

We live in an age where sensory overload is a daily occurrence. iPads, laptops, smart phones, computer games/consoles, television and many other electronic devices are constantly stimulating our minds and, more detrimentally, our children’s minds.

Just driving down the street or doing the grocery shopping, we are faced with countless efforts to attract our attention – signs, billboards, ad banners, marketing ploys and other gimmicks add to our distraction. Most of our primary and secondary schools now have BYOD (bring your own device) and are equipped with wifi which is free for all students to connect to during school hours. Fortunately, some schools are now introducing meditation and mindfulness practises but the fact remains that many children are mostly “switched on” from the moment they wake to the moment they go to bed at night. Come bed time, many kids are not getting restorative sleep and rest because they have difficulty relaxing and switching off.

Busyness and busy minds seem to have slowly but surely crept into the daily lives of many people and families and I am seeing the effects of this more and more frequently in clinic. Mums and dads trying to juggle full time work, their children’s activities and schooling, social events and other commitments such as volunteering for sporting groups, at schools or in other areas of the community, not to mention trying to find time for their own health. This may present in adults as adrenal fatigue, insomnia, weight gain or loss, stress and feelings of disconnection from those around them, gut issues, cardiovascular problems and mood disorders.

For children however, it can present in other ways including anxiety, sleep disturbance, fears and phobias, issues with eating and appetite, impaired cognitive function resulting in poor concentration and memory, behavioural issues and problems with digestion.

Many children and teenagers are finding it difficult to disconnect from technology – they are more concerned about recharging their device battery instead of recharging their own battery. As parents and carers, we have a responsibility to set boundaries around children’s exposure to technology and stimulation. In addition to this, it’s important to ensure children are getting the right nutrition for their growing bodies and developing brains. Introducing healthy lifestyle habits are just as important as maintaining a healthy diet and it’s often easier to sustain these healthy habits if the whole family can adopt them.

Recently, we have seen a rise in the number of children struggling to stay focused in the classroom and finding it difficult to remember instructions and concentrate on a set task.
With the constant buzz of activity around us, it’s now more important than ever to prioritise downtime for children and teenagers. Having set times in the home where all electronic devices are powered right off can give people the space to disconnect to the outside world and reconnect with themselves.

Eating well and consuming nutrients that support the nervous system and brain health are essential for childhood and teenage development. Some basic nutrition guidelines for improving cognitive function and optimising brain health are:

• avoid sugar and sugary foods/drinks
• avoid additives, preservatives and artificial flavours and colourings
• increase hydration (filtered water is best)
• increase intake of a wide range of colourful vegetables
• choose whole food options instead of processed snack foods
• include adequate high quality protein and good fats in the diet
• include plenty of dietary fibre
• avoid stimulating foods including caffeine, soft drinks and energy drinks

Depending on presenting symptoms, specific nutrients such as zinc, omega-3’s, iron, magnesium and vitamins A, C and E may be required in supplemental dosages until balance has been restored. Nutritional supplementation should always be prescribed by a qualified health care practitioner with dosage tailored to specific conditions and based on weight/age groups.

Adopting healthy lifestyle habits are vital in optimising brain health and enhancing cognitive function. There are many ways in which we can introduce healthy habits into our lives but some of the basic ones are:

• sleep hygiene – keep a regular sleep/wake cycle, even on the weekends and holidays if possible • meditation – some people find meditating difficult because their mind wanders, but
meditation is a practise and may take some time and dedication just like any other
sport or skill to perfect
• exercise – regular exercise is required to detoxify the body of toxins which can
contribute to impaired cognition
• relaxation – schedule in time for rest and relaxation to enhance sleep and give your
mind, body and spirit the space it needs to rejuvenate
• disconnect from devices – turn off the television, tablets, computers, phones and
other electronic distractions at certain times of the day/week/weekend to open the
space for mindfulness and creativity

Learning how to switch off will nurture the nervous system and improve cognition. It’s now more important than ever before to put practises into place to ensure there is balance in yours and your children’s daily routine.

If you have concerns relating to poor concentration, impaired memory, foggy head, sleep disturbance, behavioural issues or mood disorders book an appointment with our Naturopath, Belle, who can provide a tailored health plan to address your concerns. Appointments can be made by phoning 0405 128 213 or emailing belle@nbip.com.au

You’re clenching your Jaw right now aren’t you? STOP! 

Did you know that Jaw clenching is one of the most common secondary effects of stress? 

Temporalis Muscle Joint Disorder (TMJD) consists of tension throughout the jaw joint region and accompanying muscles. It can manifest as jaw pain, teeth grinding, headaches, earaches, limited range of motion (lock jaw), inflammation, neck pain, muscle spasms and can even cause changes in facial structure from muscle development. While teeth grinding occurs mostly during sleep, jaw clenching can happen subconsciously throughout the day, adding to the above symptoms.

Square Face Syndrome is a real thing ladies! Chronic clenching of the jaw leads to hypertrophy (fancy word for overworked) of your masseter and temporalis muscles, this causes the face to take on a masculine and square appearance. Most people go to a dermatology clinic and get botox or fillers injected into the masseter muscle to give them a softer appearing face but we obviously have a more natural alternative solution. UNCLENCH YOUR JAW! 

Okay its not that easy, or perhaps the damage has already been done and you are looking more and more like your brother or your father…then Acupuncture and Gua sha shall be your saviours (along with magnesium and relaxation techniques to de-stress ) 

Jaw clenchers / TMJD sufferers im afraid it gets worse, overworked masseter muscles not only cause facial structure changes but also one of the main causes of premature neck and chin wrinkles – SIGH 

If you happen to be unfortunate genetically in the teeth department, and you have crooked teeth and or an over bite that is the cause of your jaw clenching then you do need to go and see a dentist or orthodontist and get them to address this problem, either with a mouth guard or dental surgery, because overbites tend to cause exaggerated marionette lines, chin wrinkles and a down-turned mouth and crooked teeth result in an asymmetric smile , and dimpling of the skin. So stop putting off that trip to the dentist. 

How can we help you ? 

Acupuncture needles inserted locally in and around the jaw muscles will help relax the tight masseter and temporalis muscles, ease your stress levels , and get more circulation to the area. 

Now for our favourite part : Facial Gua Sha – Not only does gua sha smooth out fine lines and wrinkles it releases fascia, relaxes muscles , move lymph and invigorates blood flow. 

I can tell you’ve already relaxed your jaw just thinking of this! 

You can get Gua Sha’d at any acupuncture appointment you make, it’s featured heavily in Andrea’s cosmetic facials, and general acu sessions, and it’s featured heavily in Chloe’s daily treatments also. 

So don’t be in pain and don’t turn square.

For bookings visit www.nbip.com.au or call 84060679 

Inflammation: Good or Bad?

The human body uses inflammation to help the body heal and to protect itself from further harm. It is a vital process, an immune response to injury or infection. When acute inflammation persists and becomes chronic that’s when the problems start. Chronic inflammation plays a role in every major disease, ranging from heart disease to obesity, stroke and rheumatoid arthritis. Inflammation is the most common reason people visit health care practitioners. Ranging from diverticulitis to gastritis and anything else ‘itis’. If it has an ‘itis’ it’s inflammatory.

The good news is, with anti-inflammatory diets and lifestyles we can not only prevent future diseases from occurring but we can improve existing conditions and vastly enhance how we feel day to day. When it comes to inflammation, food really is the best medicine. When we start healing the body by living an anti-inflammatory lifestyle, we can see positive changes in our health, such as improved mood, clearer skin, better digestion, weight loss and more energy. Even better, we reduce our risk of developing chronic diseases.

WHAT IS INFLAMMATION?

Inflammation is an entirely natural and essential process in which the immune system responds to anything ‘attacking’ the body. There are three main processes that occur; Firstly, the small branches of the arteries expand to allow more blood flow to the area, then capillaries allow protein and fluid to move between blood cells, and finally, the body releases neutrophils which are a type of white blood cell containing enzymes that digest micro-organisms. Superficially you may notice redness, heat and swelling. Tonsillitis or a scratch on the skin are two examples where we see a natural acute inflammatory response. During an inflammatory response the physiological processes that occur are all mediated by our immune system.

CHRONIC INFLAMMATION

Chronic inflammation is persistent, low-level inflammation and unlike acute nflammation, it is not something we can see. When Inflammation turns from a short-term immune response to a chronic, persistent issue, problems occur. If the immune system is constantly being disrupted and is on perpetual defence, a persistent inflammatory response occurs and it can become systemic. Chronic inflammation that serves no purpose in the body can start to actually CAUSE illness instead of its original function of healing. Even though we can’t see it there are many symptoms we may experience. 

Some of the symptoms are:

Joint pain or other aches and pains

Migraines

Fatigue

Depression

Digestive problems

Acne, eczema, psoriasis

Food sensitivities

High blood pressure

Allergies

Trouble losing weight

Autoimmune conditions such as Lupus

The list goes on….

It is now widely known that chronic inflammation is directly connected to type 2 diabetes and heart disease. A diet high in pro-inflammatory foods such as refined grains, processed meats and sugars are placing an increasing toxic load on our bodies. Fortunately, through diet and lifestyle changes we can turn it around, reducing inflammation and the demand it places on the body.

HOW CAN WE TEST FOR IT?

With the ubiquity of chronic inflammation, it’s important to know where your inflammation levels are, which can motivate us to make the necessary changes. Thankfully, a simple blood test will give us the answers. C-Reactive protein or CRP is a test we can do to determine inflammation levels. CRP is non-specific, meaning it won’t tell us where your inflammation is coming from but it will tell us if it is high. High CRP has been associated with brain inflammation, chronic fatigue, cancer, high blood pressure, sleep apnoea and more. Further testing and a thorough health history will help to determine the cause of the inflammation.

WHAT NEXT?

Book an appointment with me of course! Yes, it is optimal to see a qualified health practitioner who can look at the whole picture and give you evidence-based advice. However, you can start making some changes yourself like cutting out trans fats, refined sugars, eating more omega 3’s, getting plenty of B vitamins, and making sure to get adequate sleep and exercise. However, if you’re ready to take it up a notch contact me on bronwen@nbip.com.au or book online at http://www.nbip.com.au.