Hi. As always I hope your day has been amazing! If it hasn’t or if you aren’t feeling so great then I truly hope that the information listed here will help you feel empowered to improve your life and energy in some way.
In May I interviewed podiatrist Dr. Brie Shepherdson and Naturopathic Doctor Stephen Cabral. They shared some fantastic knowledge to help us feel energized in various ways. The Energy Boost episodes covered Brazil nuts which are so good yet potentially dangerous and how to check if you really are having enough water.
May has also meant that the cold and flu season has begun here in Australia, with my son having a run of bugs he’s bringing home from daycare which I have been personally keeping under control with some foods from our garden. If you would like to know what they are and how I use them, scroll down to the bottom of this article.
Key takeaways from May podcasts that will impact your energy
Refer show notes of each episode for supporting articles and studies if not listed here.
Podiatrist Dr. Brie Shepherdson – click here for show notes and the podcast
How Thong Use Can Lead to Knee, Hip and Back Pain
Thongs or flip-flops are easy and convenient but unfortunately there does seem to be a few long term issues when wearing them for long periods of time and if you are doing a lot of walking in them. Your toes are grabbing and gripping on to the end of the thong to keep them in place which can lead to the clawing action of your toes lasting long-term, as well as causing arch strains and pains in your feet. This can then affect your knees, hips and lower back. The fact that most people typically wear flat thongs compared to their common shoes and sneakers that have a very slight heel lift, results in your calf muscle overstretching and working harder whilst wearing thongs which can also result in lots of pains and problems. Dr. Brie suggests that simply by not wearing thongs or sandals and being in a more supportive shoe for a period of time in many cases will actually settle down a lot pain and discomfort for people. Then it’s a case of just wearing thongs in moderation and re-assessing how they affect you.
When You Should Replace Your Thongs (and Regular Shoes)
Thongs are not all that different to regular shoes when it comes to deciding when you should replace them. There are two points that you should always check. The first is around the base of the heel where you are striking on to the ground. As soon as that starts to get quite an uneven wear pattern then it’s generally time to change them. The other spot to look for especially with flip flops, is underneath the ball of your foot just before your toes. As soon as you start to notice quite a lot of grooves developing in this spot, it’s also a really good time to get a new pair.
What to Look for When Purchasing Thongs
A thong that has a slightly wider strap compared to a little thin wobbly one will give your foot more support. Buying a brand with a molded foot bed can also be beneficial for many people in reducing excessive strain of the foot that’s associated with regular flat thongs. If your feet happen to be very flat or have a very high arch, it will make it difficult for shoe fitting in general and it’s recommended to have a chat with a podiatrist to teach you what to look for when purchasing footwear. In regards to materials Dr. Brie has treated people that have suffered contact dermatitis from wearing thongs and seemingly cheaper brands tend to use cheaper materials, with often the dye being the cause of irritations. If you are someone with sensitive skin, then thongs with a fabric style of strap may help in reducing issues related to the absorption of chemicals or dermatitis type reactions. Some recommended brands of thongs/sandals by Dr. Brie are Scholl Orthaheel (Australia only) Birkenstock (Amazon link) and Fitflop Australia.
Dr. Brie recommends children be allowed to go barefoot where safely possible as it’s extremely beneficial for their development. Some studies are suggesting that children wearing thongs is closer to barefoot which may be a better option compared to wearing shoes, although Dr. Brie believes more research is still needed to confirm this. In regards to shoes it is important that children are wearing the right size to obviously avoid any squashing of their feet. Making sure there’s a thumb width between the end of their big toe and the end of the shoe is what’s generally recommended. Another important issue for children concerns the fact that they usually have very narrow heels that can lead to their foot not being adequately supported. A sandal that has an adjustable strap around the back to fit their heel is a great option to stop their foot from slopping around so much, giving them more control and being beneficial for their development. Dr. Brie recommends Keen Footwear (this brand is only available in Australia) Sandals for children.
EB18 – click here for show notes and the podcast
What are some of the great benefits of eating Brazil Nuts
Many raw nuts have great health properties but Brazil nuts are way up there at the top end of the nutrient dense nutty goodness scale. They are high in the antioxidant vitamin E which is required to maintain cell membranes and protect the health of our skin – which keeps us looking good on the outside. They are an excellent source of several B-vitamins, which range in functions from improving brain health to boosting metabolism and they’re high in minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc as well as being a complete protein source.
Why selenium as found in Brazil Nuts can be so beneficial for us
Brazil nuts are possibly the richest known natural source of selenium, an essential trace mineral that helps our bodies to produce antioxidant enzymes as well as assisting in many other important roles in the functioning of our body as follows:
- Assists with thyroid function and possibly may reduce the autoimmune destruction of the thyroid gland
- Its antioxidant properties improve the function of vitamins E and C which helps amongst other things to decrease the ageing of skin.
- Studies have shown selenium to boost testosterone levels in men and improve sperm production and motility.
- May help in increasing our immunity against certain pathogens
- Could help in achieving a healthy cholesterol ratio by raising HDL and lowering LDL
- May increase the potency of stem cells – the building blocks for parts of our body
- Various human studies show that selenium may be protective and improve survival against various types of cancers such as breast cancer, prostate, esophageal, colorectal and lung cancers and with the last 4 types of cancers there was an over 50% reduction in cancer rates.
Why too many Brazil Nuts can be harmful to adults and children
Just 50g of Brazil nuts, roughly 10 nuts, may provide up to a whopping 1742% of the recommended daily intake of selenium, although this figure can vary greatly depending on where you live (the amount of selenium in the soil and hence transferred to plants varies around the world) and where the nuts are grown. Overdosing on selenium can cause selenium toxicity known as selenosis, with severe symptoms such as hair loss (alopecia), nausea, vomiting, fatigue, irritability and nerve damage. No more than around 2 to 4 nuts/day is what most experts recommend for adults and no more than one per day for kids to be on the safe side.
Brazil Nuts can also be high in phytic acid which might interfere with the absorption of some nutrients like iron, zinc and calcium found in the nuts or in other foods that you eat at the same time. Possibly soaking the nuts could help to reduce their phytic acid content but this may mean you end up missing out on the benefits of phytic acid such as it being an antioxidant plus potentially being anti carcinogenic and maybe helping to prevent kidney stone formation.
Moderation is the key here and to also consume Brazil nuts either soaked or by themselves to avoid interfering with nutrient absorption of other foods.
The importance of storing Brazil nuts correctly
Due to their high polyunsaturated fat content shelled Brazil nuts can quickly become rancid, so it’s important to store the nuts in airtight bags or containers which will help the nuts last 2-4 weeks in the pantry if cool, dark and dry, 9mths in the refrigerator and 1 year in the freezer. If they’re sitting in those big plastic tubs in the supermarket and health food shop then they are most likely turning rancid and best not to spend your money on something that will zap your energy. Also, roasted, toasted, or cooked nuts have the delicate fats within them damaged and thus can actually be harmful to your body, but I do admit that freshly roasted nuts can taste delicious, so I save eating them for special occasions and then I really make sure to enjoy them!
Naturopath Doctor Stephen Cabral – click here for show notes and the podcast
Concerns Regarding Antibiotics
A large percentage of our immune system resides in our gut and taking antibiotics wipes out not only the bad bacteria, but also the beneficial bacteria which can set us up for immune dysfunction in the future. Whenever possible Dr. Cabral suggests using natural medicine to treat simple things like a runny nose and cold rather than turning to antibiotics.
Treating Common Colds and Flus in Children
Products such kids Echinacea, Vitamin C, Natural cough syrup called Naturnex, liquid Vitamin D for children can all be options recommended by a health care practitioner once you see an onset of a cold or flu. If you notice symptoms getting worse such as the child’s glands are getting swollen or they are getting a raspy or deep cough, then you should take your child to get re-assessed.
Dealing with Various Childhood Health Issues
It is definitely possible to fix the cause of (rather than treating the symptoms) of childhood health issues quickly and cost effectively. The easiest way to do this is through an elimination diet. The food we put in our children’s (and our) bodies affects so many things from mood, concentration and overall health. By simply eliminating certain foods medical issues such as psoriasis and eczema can be reversed and by following a more stringent corrective diet such as the GAPS protocol to help rebuild a child’s immune and digestive systems, Dr. Cabral has seen children on the autism spectrum go from non-verbal and no eye contact with their parents, to speaking to and looking at their parents again.
Urinary Tract Infections
Antibiotics will kill the bacteria causing urinary tract infections, but they won’t fix the reason why these bacteria keep going to the bladder and causing the infection. Something that can be missed is that colon based bacteria can make its way into the bladder itself causing an infection. Typically E.coli bacteria is the cause of urinary tract infections and a natural protocol Dr. Cabral recommends for his patients that he’s found to be very successful is D-Mannose cranberry extract, Vitamin C and Grapefruit Seed Extract (not recommended for young children). He then focuses on repopulating the gut with good bacteria and eliminating the most common food sensitivities that could be aggravating the gut like gluten, dairy, soy and corn and then re-introducing them again one at a time to see if the infection returns.
Three Ways to Feel More Energized
- Eat your meals within ½ hour of the same time each day unless you are doing intermittent fasting. It helps your body deal with the insulin spikes a lot better and it gets used to this pattern of eating and sleeping and generally functions a lot better. Dr. Cabral had severe insomnia which he eventually fixed by going to bed within the same ½ hour each night and waking up within the same ½ hour each morning.
- Start your morning with a smoothie. The human body was not meant to wake up to a huge breakfast. A third of your energy is required to digest your food, so if you consume a big breakfast, then get in the car and drop the kids off to school and become stressed, our digestive system turns off and that food sits there like a brick. We then become tired and thus grab a coffee instead of water because we’re tired and need the energy.
- Try a seasonal detox. When you allow your body to change with the seasons it gives you an energy boost and can help you preemptively fight off those allergies, gearing your body up for the next season.
EB19 – click here for show notes and the podcast
Why water is so important
A major part of our body is made of water, somewhere between 40-80% depending on where you are in your life and a study showed that while we sleep we may loose up to around 1 litre or a quarter of a gallon of water. So when you take into consideration that research shows that just a 5% drop in our body’s fluid levels can lead up to a 30% drop in our energy levels and you do the math; a 70kg or 155lb person is possibly waking up with around a 12% drop in energy levels.
Once I knew the impact that dehydration was having on my energy levels first thing in the morning and the fact that it really is such an easy thing to do, I made it a habit which has stuck and I feel so much better for it.
Why drinking too much water can be harmful
There are many articles on the WEB focusing on over drinking and it is definitely true that too much of anything usually isn’t good for you. Water is no exception and drinking too much water can lead to a severe condition known as hyponatremia with symptoms ranging from nausea, malaise, lethargy, headache, and in extreme cases seizures and coma.
How to check if low morning energy is due in part to dehydration
A recent study has come up with 3 simple things we can do each morning to check if we are adequately hydrated.
- Jump on a set of scales first thing in the morning and check whether you have lost more than 1% of your body weight since yesterday morning
- Check if your urine is a darker colour
- Are you thirsty?
The researchers stress that none of these things by itself is a reliable indicator of dehydration. However, if you answer yes to any two of these questions, you are likely to be dehydrated. If you answer yes to all three, you are very likely to be dehydrated and hence feel less energized.
What’s been personally working for me this month
I’ve been constantly dealing with my son’s runny and snotty nose this month as we approach winter and experience more of the common colds and flus which hopefully those of you in the Northern hemisphere are not dealing with. The little fella has been great really just playing as usual although constantly asking for dad and mum to clean his nose. Even though it is a bit of a pain when he comes home with a new bug and snotty nose from daycare, it’s obviously great for his immune system to get a good workout while he is young.
Even though I have been getting a few of his bugs, I’m not going down hard and getting zapped of lots of energy like I would in years gone by. I personally believe the reason why is thanks to a combination of a vegetable and herb from our garden.
Fresh Oregano and Garlic
These two combos are so awesome, providing us with antiviral, antibacterial and anti fungal properties that can help us combat colds and flus which has been working for me. Another great go to for me used to be Grapefruit Seed Extract, although it is difficult to source here in Australia at the moment.
Even though I can stomach raw oregano and garlic by themselves, I’d rather enjoy eating them instead of forcing them down. The easiest way I do this is by dicing them up and throwing them into a salad or mixed vegetable dish which I absolutely love.
I hope through my personal experience and through the information gathered from the podcast episodes, you have found something that will make a difference in helping you or someone you care about, feel more energized. Peace.
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