Could a Lack of Bread be Affecting Your Brain?

In Australia, wheat is easily the most common grain in our diet. Wheat (as well as rye, spelt, and barley) contains a group of proteins called gluten. Unfortunately, gluten Intolerance is a common condition, with 14% of respondents in one survey reporting a sensitivity to wheat. Some of the symptoms of gluten intolerance include

  • Bloating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation, diarrhoea or smelly faeces
  • Headaches
  • Tiredness or fatigue
  • Skin problems
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Brain fog

Many people with digestive issues will try avoiding gluten, and will often feel much better as a result. However, could this be causing them other problems instead?

Iodine deficiency is one of the three most common nutritional deficiencies, and the World health Organisation has said that Australia’s population has higher levels of iodine deficiency than normal. To combat this, in 2009 it became compulsory for iodine to be added to bread in Australia.

Iodine is very important for proper thyroid function, Your thyroid controls the rate of activity of the cells of your body, so if it is underactive, everything slows down, including your energy and metabolism. Hormones produced by the thyroid are important for brain function and development, growth and healing. So if your iodine levels are low, you can develop

  • Increased weight
  • Low energy or fatigue
  • Hair loss
  • Constipation
  • Low fertility
  • Poor memory or concentration
  • Depression
  • High cholesterol levels

Iodine deficiency can seriously affect children, especially at the foetal, newborn or infant stages, as their brains need thyroid hormone for proper development. A lack of iodine may cause a miscarriage or premature birth, and children with low iodine are also more likely to have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

A world-renowned endocrinologist and expert in the field, Professor Creswell Eastman said that “Iodine deficiency has re-emerged in Australia in the last 10 years and it is now a significant public health problem. We know that 50 per cent of Australian women are iodine deficient so they are putting their pregnancy and foetus at great risk.”

Prof Eastman said mums with the worst cases of iodine deficiency could knock 15 points off their child’s IQ.

Unlike nutrients such as iron, calcium or vitamins, iodine does not occur naturally in specific foods. Instead, it is the level of iodine in the soil determines the level of iodine in the food, and so iodine deficiency occurs when the amount in the soil is low.

If you are trying to avoid gluten you may have a low iodine intake (especially if you avoid iodised salt as well). Please note that we are not advocating that if you are sensitive to gluten you should be eating bread! However, with any restrictive diet it is important to ensure you are getting enough of the right nutrients. If you would like to check if a lack of iodine or any other nutrient is affecting your health, you may like to book in a session with one of our naturopaths. Or even better, book in for a free Comprehensive Assessment, to find out what is going on in your body, what is causing any problems, and the best way to sort them out.

Foods to Reduce Hayfever

Lady with hayfeverWhile many of us are enjoying the mild and pleasant weather this time of the year, for some people spring can be a time of suffering. Some of the symptoms of hayfever include

  • sneezing attacks
  • a runny or blocked nose
  • itchy, red or watery eyes
  • coughing
  • sinus pressure
  • itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears
  • loss of smell
  • pain around the temples and forehead
  • headaches
  • earaches
  • tiredness or fatigue

Basic Causes

When you have hayfever, your immune system sees a harmless airborne substance as potentially harmful. Your immune system then produces antibodies to this substance. The next time you come in contact with it, these antibodies signal your immune system to release chemicals such as histamine into your bloodstream, which cause the symptoms of hayfever.

So the most common treatments for hayfever are antihistamine medications.

What is Histamine?

Histamine is a chemical produced by your body to

  • help your immune responses
  • help your stomach digest food
  • assist your central nervous system to function correctly

(As a neurotransmitter, histamine communicates important messages from your body to your brain.)

However, histamine’s main role is to cause an immediate inflammatory response. It serves as a ‘red flag’ to your immune system, notifying it of any potential attackers.

Histamine causes your blood vessels to swell, or dilate, so that your white blood cells can quickly find and attack the infection or problem. The build-up of histamine may give you headaches and leave you feeling flushed, itchy and miserable. This is a part of the body’s natural immune response, but if your body doesn’t break the histamine down properly, you could develop what is termed a histamine intolerance.

Because it travels throughout your bloodstream, histamine can affect your gut, lungs, skin, brain, and the entire cardiovascular system, contributing to a wide range of problems in the body. (Due to the many areas affected and the diverse symptoms, it can often be difficult to pinpoint and diagnose the cause of the problem in these cases.)

The body controls histamine levels by producing an enzyme called diamine oxidase (DAO). But if too much histamine or not enough DAO is produced, allergies will occur.

Foods can have a major influence on histamine levels, by containing histamine themselves, by causing the body to release histamine, or by blocking the release of DAO by the body.

Foods to Avoid

Histamine-Rich Foods

  • Fermented alcoholic beverages, especially wine, champagne and beer
  • Fermented foods: sauerkraut, vinegar, soy sauce, yogurt, kombucha, kefir, etc
  • Vinegar-containing foods: pickles, mayonnaise, olives
  • Cured meats: bacon, salami, pepperoni, luncheon meats and hot dogs
  • Dried fruit: apricots, prunes, dates, figs, raisins
  • Most citrus fruits
  • Soured foods: sour cream, sour milk, buttermilk, soured bread, etc
  • Aged cheese including goat cheese
  • Nuts: walnuts, cashews, and peanuts
  • Vegetables: avocados, eggplant, spinach, and tomatoes
  • Smoked fish and certain species of fish: tuna, anchovies, sardines, mackerel, mahi-mahi

Histamine-Releasing Foods

  • Alcohol
  • Bananas
  • Chocolate
  • Cow’s milk
  • Many artificial preservatives and dyes
  • Nuts
  • Papaya
  • Pineapple
  • Shellfish
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Wheat germ

DAO-Blocking Foods

  • Alcohol
  • Energy drinks
  • Black (regular) tea
  • Green tea
  • Mate tea

However, there are a number of foods that can help to reduce your histamine levels. Please note that freshness is the key with these foods when you have a histamine intolerance.

Foods to Have

Low-Histamine Foods:

  • Fresh fruits: mangos, pears, watermelon, apples, grapes, kiwifruit, cantaloupes
  • Fresh vegetables (except tomatoes, spinach, avocado, and eggplant)
  • Freshly cooked meat, poultry (frozen or fresh)
  • Freshly caught fish
  • Eggs
  • Leafy herbs
  • Herbal teas
  • Gluten-free grains: rice, quinoa
  • Pure peanut butter
  • Dairy substitutes: coconut milk, rice milk, hemp milk, almond milk
  • Cooking oils: olive oil, coconut oil

Raising your DAO levels is also important in combatting hayfever.

Causes of Low DAO

  • Gluten intolerance
  • Leaky gut
  • Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth(SIBO)
  • DAO-blocking foods: alcohol, energy drinks, and tea
  • Genetic mutations (common in people of Asian-descent)
  • Inflammation from Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and inflammatory bowel disease
  • Medications:
    • Antihistamines (Allegra, Zyrtec, Benadryl)
    • Histamine (H2) blockers (Tagamet, Pepcid, Zantac)
    • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, aspirin)
    • Antidepressants (Cymbalta, Effexor, Prozac, Zoloft)
    • Immune modulators (Humira, Enbrel, Plaquenil)
    • Antiarrhythmics (propanolol, metaprolol, Cardizem, Norvasc)

Although histamine blockers seem like they would help prevent histamine intolerance, these medications can actually deplete DAO levels in your body, so will make the hayfever worse in the long run.

Treating Hayfever Naturally

Basic Level

Try to remove as many of the ‘Foods to Avoid’ and increase the ‘Foods to Have’ as much as you can, starting 1-3 months before the hayfever season. But most importantly, find the root cause for the histamine intolerance. If you are on a medication that is causing the intolerance, check with your doctor if you can be weaned off this medication.

If you have a histamine intolerance, you may not have to try to avoid these foods forever. It can be a short-term solution until your histamine or DAO levels return to their optimal ranges. (Depending on your unique make-up, you may find that you tolerate some foods better than others.)

Advanced Treatments

We have covered how different foods can affect your histamine levels, but why do some people have hayfever and others don’t? Almost any over-reaction by the immune system (such as allergies, food intolerances, or auto-immune disorders) has its origin in the digestive system. The two most common causes are

  • Incorrect gut bacteria. You may have heard of taking probiotics to help your immune system. Recent research shows that the correct bacteria in our bodies provides vital help with many of the body’s basic functions, including growth, digestion, and self-defence. The probiotic strains Lactobacillus rhamnosus LGG and lactobacillus paracasei (LP-33TM) both help to stimulate the production of anti-inflammatory chemicals. They also stimulate the production of regulatory T cells, which can reduce IgE levels, the antibodies produced by your body when you have an allergy. (For example, one double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial on 425 subjects with allergic rhinitis compared the effects of LP-33TM or placebo over a five week period. The LP-33TM group demonstrated significant improvements in their Rhinitis Quality Of Life (RQLQ) score, nasal and ocular symptoms.)

These probiotic strains are not normally available over the counter; instead they must be prescribed by a qualified therapist trained in this area, such as a registered naturopath.

  • Leaky Gut Syndrome. This is another very common cause of allergies and food intolerances. Under normal circumstances, the epithelial cells that line your small intestine are joined tightly to each other. This makes the lining of your intestine nearly leak-proof, and only fully digested food molecules are allowed to pass through. If there are strong stresses on these delicate structures, these tight joins may start to separate, creating gaps between the cells. These gaps make your gut ‘leaky’, and then large, undigested food molecules can pass through into the body, where they are collected by the bloodstream and lymph vessels of your intestine.

When your immune system spots these large molecules, it decides that they are too big to be digested food, so it must be a foreign invader into the body, such as a virus or bacteria, and it attacks them. If your immune system over-reacts every time you eat something, eventually it may start reacting to other proteins it becomes exposed to, such as those in pollens, dust, etc., and then allergies such as hayfever develop.

(There are other causes for hayfever, but they are less common.)

Free Assessment Offer

If you are suffering from hayfever and would like to treat the real causes of the problem, we suggest booking in for a Comprehensive Assessment at our clinic. We can then have an in-depth look at what is happening in your body, what is causing the problem, and what can be done to sort it out. (Terms and conditions- the Assessment is a completely free service, with no obligations whatsoever.) Most people find their assessment very helpful, interesting and informative.

A Healthy Microbiome for Better Gut Health, Immune Health, and Mood Health

Roles of the Microbiome


The ‘microbiome’ is a popular topic at the moment for anyone interested in their health and well being, but what exactly it is? You may have heard about the good bacteria living in your digestive system, and might have thought about taking a probiotic to support them. Your body contains an internal community of a massive 38 trillion microbes (not just bacteria), and this community is referred to as your commensal microbiome, or microbiome for short. The guts of it is, when your microbiome is healthy it helps make you healthier, and when it is unhealthy it makes you less healthy.

When healthy and balanced, your microbiome has a range of wide-reaching effects on your health, such as creating important vitamins you need, helping to control and boost your immune system, assisting with waste elimination through healthy bowel functions, and even affecting your mood and mental state.1

However, diet, lifestyle and other factors can reduce both the number and the diversity of these organisms in our gut. This can create an environment where pathogenic (disease causing) organisms have the opportunity to establish themselves and ‘take over’ parts of your digestive system. This state of imbalance is termed ‘dysbiosis’, and often results in a broad range of health issues, including digestive problems, nutrient deficiencies, or a compromised immune system (which can lead to food intolerances, allergies, or frequent infections).

The following are the most common diet and lifestyle factors that can have a negative impact on the health of your microbiome.

Five Ways You can Upset Your Microbiome

  1. Eating a low fibre diet: as your gut microbes rely on the fibre in your food for fuel, a low fibre diet leads to a reduction in the diversity of your microbiome.(Evidence shows that those who eat more than 30 different types of plants/vegetables each week have a much more diverse microbiome compared to those who consume 10 or fewer types.2
  2. Alcohol intake: the consumption of alcohol can result in dysbiotic changes in your intestinal microbiome, and also triggers gastrointestinal inflammation.3 (If you’re consuming more than one standard drink per day, your microbiome’s probably keen for you to abstain a bit more often.)
  3. Unmanaged stress: when you are stressed, the release of the stress hormone cortisol plus adrenaline sensitises your body to inflammation, including gut inflammation.4 This disrupts the gut environment, compromising the conditions your beneficial microbes need to flourish.
  4. Leading a sedentary lifestyle: lack of exercise has also been linked to reduced microbial diversity in the gut (another good reason to get your body moving).
  5. Antibiotic use: a round of antibiotics leads to some of the core commensal organisms being destroyed. Antibiotics are designed to kill off bacteria, but unfortunately many of the good ones are destroyed as well. This leaves the gut susceptible to microbiome imbalances and dysfunction.

Improving Your Microbiome

Avoiding or addressing the diet and lifestyle factors mentioned above is important for improving the health and diversity of your microbiome. However, perhaps the most important thing you can do to help, is to consume a diet rich in plant based fibres, which will provide a great food source for the beneficial organisms to flourish.

Microbiome Foods Table

Figure 1: Foods that Feed Your Microbiome

If ‘bad’ (pathogenic) bacteria and other organisms have established in your gut and are creating dysbiosis, there are specific natural products to correct this. For example, antimicrobial herbal medicines can be used, including pomegranate (Punica granatum),5 nigella (Nigella sativa),6 and myrrh (Commiphora myrrha).7,8 These herbs work to eliminate unwanted organisms in the gut.

Then, to regenerate and rebuild the health and diversity of your microbiome, specific probiotic strains can be used. Some of these include

  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus (LGG): one of the most studied probiotic stains in the world, research shows taking LGG promotes the growth and function of key core commensal bacteria.
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae (boulardii) (SB): multiple investigations have shown that boulardii reduces antibiotic-associated loss of bacteria, whilst also supporting the rapid restoration of the microbiome after antibiotic use.9
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus (NCFM)10 and Bifidobacterium animalis lactis (Bi-07): are two strains also highly indicated to protect and support a healthy microbiome.11

So even though diet, lifestyle or antibiotic use can upset your microbiome, there are plenty of natural medicines and diet options to restore it’s health as well, and improve the wellbeing of your whole body.

Free Assessment

If you have any digestive or immune problems, or want to improve your mood or general health and well being, we offer a free Comprehensive Assessment, to establish what is going on in your body, what is causing the problem, and the best way to sort it out. (Terms and conditions- the Assessment is a completely free service, with no obligations whatsoever.) Please call us on 3376 6911 if you have any questions at all, or ring or book online if you would like to make an appointment.


The above table and much of the information in this article is from a Metagenics blog titled ‘5 Ways You Might Upset Your Gut Microbiome and What to Do About It’.

1. D’Argenio S. The role of the gut microbiome in the healthy adult status. Clinica Chimica Acta. 2015;451(Part A):97-102.

2. Buschman H, Bright D. Big Data from World’s Largest Citizen Science Microbiome Project Serves Food for Thought. [Internet]. San Diego (CA): UC San Diego School of Medicine. 2018 [cited 2018 July 05]. Available from:

3. Engen PA, Green SJ, Voiqt RM, Forsyth CB, Keshavarzian A. The Gastrointestinal Microbiome: Alcohol Effects on the Composition of Intestinal Microbiota. Alcohol Res. 2015;37(2):223-36.

4. Guilliams TG. The role of stress and the HPA axis in chronic disease management. Point Institute, Stevens point (WI). 2015;80.

5. Abdel-Haffez E, Ahmed A, Abdellatif M, Kamal A, Toni N. The efficacy of pomegranate (Punica granatum) peel extract on experimentally infected rats with blastocystis spp. J Infect Dis Preve Med. 2016;4(1):1-6.

6. Salem EM, Yar T, Bamosa AO, Al-Quorain A, Yasawy MI, Alsulaiman RM, et al. Comparative study of Nigella sativa and triple therapy in eradication of Helicobacter pylori in patients with non-ulcer dyspepsia. Saudi J Gastroenterol. 2010 Jul;16(3):207.

7. Fathy FM. Effect of mirazid (Commiphora molmol) on experimental giardiasis. J Egypt Soc Parasitol. 2011 Apr;41(1):155-77.

8. Basyoni MM, El-Sabaa AA. Therapeutic potential of myrrh and ivermectin against experimental Trichinella spiralis infection in mice. Korean J Parasitol. 2013 Jun;51(3):297-304. doi: 10.3347/kjp.2013.51.3.297.

9. Moré M, Swidsinski A. Saccharomyces boulardii CNCM 1-745 supports regeneration of the intestinal microbiota after diarrheic dysbiosis – a review. Clinical and Experimental Gastroenterology. 2015;8:237-55.

10. Anderson JM, Barrangou R, Hachem MA, Lahtinen SJ, Goh YJ, Svensson B, et al. Transcriptional analysis of prebiotic uptake and catabolism by Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM. PLos ONE. 2012;7(9):e44409.

11. Mäkeläinen H, Saarinen M, Stowell J, Rautonen N, Ouwehand AC. Xylo-oligosaccharides and lactitol promote the growth of Bifidobacterium lactis and Lactobacillus species in pure cultures. Benef Microbes. 2010 Jun;1(2):139-48.

Green Tea a Potent Anti-Viral Treatment

Green tea is an anti-viralA group of compounds in green tea called catechins are known to have antiviral properties, and a study has found that taking green tea liquid or powder was an effective preventative for viral infections. The study was published in the Journal of Biological Engineering, and the authors concluded that green tea extracts ‘demonstrated potent viral inactivating activity’.

(Note: whilst it is likely that green tea and green tea extracts provide effective prevention against a broad range of viruses, there is no evidence to date that they are effective against the COVID-19 virus.)

We recommend gargling with freshly made green tea, and then swallowing the tea, every day.

The Detox Superhero

Overpowering Toxins with Sulforaphane

The Detox Superhero SulforaphaneModern life is bustling with innovative technologies for a convenient living; online access to news and information, timesaving transport, fast foods, cleaning products that make your home sparkle, and cosmetics that leave us feeling ‘our best selves’. This improved way of living, however, is accompanied by increased exposure to a multitude of chemicals, pesticides and electromagnetic fields, which have the capacity to cause tissue damage and disturb our delicate hormonal balance. A build-up of these toxins can overburden the body, leading to fatigue, weight gain, digestive disturbances, and hormonal disorders.

Fortunately, these effects can be offset using the superhero nutrient sulforaphane, which stimulates toxin elimination. It also reduces the fall-out from toxic exposure by strengthening antioxidant defences.

The War Against Toxins

The battle between antioxidants and toxins is much like a war between good and evil. Toxins create molecules known as free radicals, which cause damage to our cells: a process known as oxidative stress. Conversely, antioxidants are substances that can neutralise free radicals, thereby protecting our cells and tissues from damage.

Our body also neutralises and eliminates toxic substances via detoxification, with the liver primarily responsible for eliminating the toxins we are exposed to. Whilst the liver is an efficient organ, it can benefit greatly from detoxification support to prevent it from becoming overburdened by constant toxin exposure. This is where sulforaphane plays a key role, enhancing the body’s detoxification processes and reducing damage caused by free radical exposure.

Sulforaphane Saves the Day

Sulforaphane is an ingredient made by the body from nutrients found within cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage and kale. Sulforaphane increases antioxidant protection by stimulating the antioxidant defence system within the body that protects against the effects of oxidative stress.

Additionally, sulforaphane enhances detoxification activity in the body by inducing enzymes involved in metabolism of harmful toxins by the liver, promoting their elimination.

The Elusive Hero

Providing your body with sulforaphane is not as simple as adding a few extra spoonfuls of broccoli to your dinner plate; you need to provide your body with the right ingredients to make it. The main ingredient is glucoraphanin, found primarily in broccoli seeds, however you also need myrosinase, found in high concentration in broccoli sprouts, to ‘activate’ it (Figure 1).

How Sulforaphane is made

Figure 1: Sulforaphane is made from glucoraphanin, with a little help from myrosinase.

Although broccoli does contain both glucoraphanin and myrosinase, you would need to consume almost two cups of raw broccoli each day to attain enough for a beneficial amount of sulforaphane. For those who prefer cooked broccoli, the heating process destroys myrosinase, so while cooked broccoli can give you glucoraphanin, there is not enough myrosinase to convert it into sulforaphane in the body.

Additionally, vitamin C is needed to turn on myrosinase, making it a vital ingredient for sulforaphane production. Therefore, whilst this hero ingredient is formidable in the face of its toxin foe, its strength can remain elusive given the wrong circumstances. A carefully crafted supplement derived from seed and sprout, containing glucoraphanin, myrosinase and vitamin C, provides the building blocks for sulforaphane production, ensuring your antioxidant superhero steps out of the shadows and shines!

Time for a Spring Clean

If you are feeling sluggish, tired, and less than your best, a detoxification can help you to make a clean start to Spring with renewed health and vitality. We can provide you a safe and effective professional detoxification program, tailored to your individual needs.

To find out your current toxicity level, you can complete our online Comprehensive Toxicity Questionnaire.

If you are interested in finding out if toxins may be causing problems in your body, we offer a free Comprehensive Assessment at our clinic. It will also allow us to identify what is causing any health issues you may have, and the best way to resolve them. Most people quite enjoy their Assessment, and find it very helpful and informative. There is no cost or obligation whatsoever for an Assessment, and you can give us a call or book online.

(Acknowledgement- much of the content of this article is from a blog by Metagenics, a highly regarded research and practitioner-only supplement supplier. )

Healing Diseases with Foods

Healing diseases with foodWhen we think about healthy foods, we usually look at them in terms of the important nutrients, vitamins and minerals in them. These are vital to our health, but the benefits of good foods go beyond these alone. Everything you eat or drink has an effect on your body in some way! Of course, the effect is usually very mild, but over time the foods you eat can have a profound influence on your body and how it works. Food can even be used as a medicine to treat various diseases.

Here is a small sample of different foods and a few of their effects.


  • Very good for the kidneys.
  • To help control appetite, eat celery between and during meals.
  • As it is very high in silicon, it helps damaged joints, bones, tendons, ligaments and arteries.
  • As it makes the blood more alkaline, it is useful for arthritis, rheumatism, gout, and nerve inflammations.
  • Can be helpful to reduce blood pressure (including during pregnancy).
  • Excess celery (such as large amounts of celery juice) can affect the kidneys.


  • Garlic has strong antiviral and antibacterial properties. It increases sweating as well, so is very beneficial at the start of a cold.
  • It keeps the walls of the blood vessels clean, so that cholesterol doesn’t build up on the inside of them. (Garlic doesn’t lower cholesterol levels, but does decrease the risk of it blocking the arteries.) However, because of this cleansing effect, those on vegetarian diets with low cholesterol levels shouldn’t have too much garlic, as it may thin the walls of their blood vessels over time.
  • Garlic also promotes the growth of healthy bacteria and helps get rid of bad bacteria in the guts.
  • When eaten, it helps to keep mossies away!
  • Excess garlic can decrease mental concentration, so best not to overuse it.


  • Pears are very moistening to the body, especially to the lungs and large intestine. So they can work well at getting rid of a dry cough (though they may moisten the phlegm so it can be coughed up).
  • Also very good for constipation caused by the large intestine being dry.
  • Pears can decrease gall bladder pain and inflammation.


  • The tea made from boiling fresh ginger is very good for the early stages of a cold.
  • Ginger is great for weak digestion. However it is very warming, so not suitable for people whose bodies run a little hot. (Could cause constipation in these cases; if this happened, they could then use pears to correct it. J)
  • Ginger is good for nausea, vomiting, morning sickness, and for period pain which is improved with heat.  As a general rule, the cooler a person’s body runs, the better ginger will work for them. (If you dislike the taste of ginger, it is probably not right for you.)

Dandelion Tea

  • Dandelion root tea (available in teabags from some supermarkets) is great for cleaning the liver and detoxifying the body. As it helps release toxins from the liver, it is important to make sure that you also drink enough water when using it, especially since it is also a diuretic.


  • Contains the enzyme bromelain which improves digestion of proteins. It is used to treat sunstroke, indigestion, anorexia, diarrhoea, and excess fluid. (Not to be used if you have stomach ulcers.)

As you can see from this small sample, there is far more to food than just a bunch of nutrients! As Hippocrates, the founder of modern medicine is believed to have said, “Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food.”

If you have any questions about a particular food and how it affects the body, please let us know.

Is Green Tea Your Friend or Foe?

How Something that is Good for Most People can be Harmful for others

Is green tea your friend or foe?Green tea is well-known for its health benefits. It is loaded with antioxidants and a variety of nutrients that have been shown to help brain function, assist with fat loss, may reduce risk of cancers, reduce your risk of heart disease, and many other impressive benefits.

So shouldn’t everyone drink green tea?

Everyone’s body works a little differently to everyone else’s. Some people naturally have more energy, have better eyesight, or better circulation, while others may react to certain foods, have dryer skin, or catch colds more easily. No two bodies ever work exactly the same.

One of the effects of green tea is to block the enzyme that breaks down histamine in our bodies (diamine oxidase, or DAO). Histamine triggers inflammation in the body, and typically causes allergy symptoms such as sneezing, redness, itching, etc. (Anti-histamine medications are often used to decrease these symptoms.) It also causes the reactions when you have a food allergy.

If you don’t produce enough DAO and are unable to break down your histamine properly, you could develop a histamine intolerance. Some common reactions associated with this intolerance include

  • Headaches or migraines
  • Nasal congestion or sinus issues
  • Fatigue
  • Hives
  • Digestive issues
  • Irregular menstrual cycle
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

In more severe cases of histamine intolerance, you may experience:

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Tissue swelling
  • High blood pressure
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty regulating your body temperature
  • Dizziness

So if you have high histamine levels, it is best to avoid foods that contain a lot of histamine, foods that cause the body to release histamine, or foods that block DAO.

Foods High in Histamine

  • Fermented alcoholic beverages, especially wine, champagne and beer
  • Fermented foods: sauerkraut, vinegar, soy sauce, kefir, yogurt, kombucha, etc
  • Vinegar-containing foods: pickles, mayonnaise, olives
  • Cured meats: bacon, salami, pepperoni, luncheon meats and hot dogs
  • Soured foods: sour cream, sour milk, buttermilk, sourdough bread, etc
  • Dried fruit: apricots, prunes, dates, figs, raisins
  • Most citrus fruits
  • Aged cheese including goat cheese
  • Nuts: walnuts, cashews, and peanuts
  • Vegetables: avocados, eggplant, spinach, and tomatoes
  • Smoked fish and certain species of fish: mackerel, tuna, anchovies, sardines

Foods that Release Histamine

  • Alcohol
  • Bananas
  • Chocolate
  • Cow’s milk
  • Nuts
  • Papaya
  • Pineapple
  • Shellfish
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Many artificial preservatives and dyes

Foods that Block DAO

  • Alcohol
  • Energy drinks
  • Black tea
  • Green tea

Everything we eat or drink has an effect on the body in some way. Because every body functions a little differently, what is good and beneficial to one person’s health might be no good for someone else. For example, pears help to moisten the lungs so they can be helpful if you have a dry cough, but excessive use of pears during pregnancy may increase the risk of a miscarriage in some people.

If you are interested in finding out what foods are ideal for you, and for addressing any health problems you may have, we have two excellent naturopaths at our clinic. We also offer a free Comprehensive Assessment, to see what is going on in your body, what is causing any problems, and the best way to sort them out. (Terms and conditions- the Assessment is a completely free service, with no obligations whatsoever.) If you would like to have one done, please book soon while this offer is still available.


Why are My Iron Levels Low All the Time?

Low iron can make you feel tired and fatigued all the timeDo you suffer from any of these?

  • Tiredness or fatigue
  • Feeling weak
  • Getting tired easily during or after physical activity
  • Pale skin
  • Get injured easily
  • Brittle nails
  • Low immune system
  • Irritability
  • Body aches
  • Chest pains, a fast heartbeat, or shortness of breath
  • Headaches
  • Fainting, dizziness or light-headedness
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Hair and skin problems
  • A sore tongue
  • Unusual cravings, such as ice, dirt or starch
  • Poor appetite (especially in infants and children)

If so, you may be deficient in iron.

How Your Body Uses Iron

Its main use is to transport oxygen in your body, but it supports many other body and mental functions as well.

  • Iron is essential for red blood cells to carry oxygen
    One of the most important functions of iron is in the creation of haemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells, which transports oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Without enough iron your body can’t get enough oxygen, leading to you feeling tired or exhausted.
  • Iron helps convert food to energy
    ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) is the body’s primary energy source, and our cells require iron to convert the energy from nutrients into ATP. (This process is known as cellular respiration.)  Low iron means less ATP, which is another reason why low iron levels can make you feel tired and fatigued all the time.
  • Iron helps maintain a normal immune system
    Iron is necessary to produce and mature your immune cells (especially lymphocytes), which protect us from bacteria and viruses.
  • Iron contributes to normal brain function
    Iron plays an important role in maintaining normal cognitive function, including memory, concentration, alertness, learning, intelligence, language, and problem solving. Maintaining a good level of iron in our bodies helps us to ensure our brain is performing correctly and at its best.

What Causes Low Iron

Some of the common causes of iron deficiency include

  • Lack of iron in the diet – there are two types of dietary iron, haem iron (found in animal tissue) and non-haem iron. The body absorbs haem iron much more easily than non-haem iron. Dietary intake of iron could be inadequate for a variety of reasons, including a poorly balanced vegetarian diet or fad dieting.
  • Low ability to absorb iron – healthy adults absorb only about 10% -15% of dietary iron, but some people’s bodies will absorb even less. Iron is absorbed through your stomach and small intestine, so if these are not functioning well it can cause problems. Often surgery to these areas (including a gastric bypass or gastric band) will also affect how much iron you can absorb.
    The iron in plant-based foods is much harder to absorb than the iron in animal foods. So if you’re a vegetarian or vegan, it’s important to understand how to prepare iron-rich foods to make sure you absorb as much iron as possible.
  • Exercise – people who train a lot are prone to iron deficiency, because regular exercise increases the body’s need for iron in a number of ways. For example, iron is used to make new red blood cells, and hard training increases the rate of red cells being produced. Iron is also lost through sweating.
  • Inflammation – this is often overlooked as a cause of low iron, and one we commonly see in our clinic.
  • Blood loss – iron deficiency easily occurs in situations of chronic blood loss. Common causes include heavy menstrual periods, regular blood donation, regular nosebleeds, chronic disorders that involve bleeding (such as ulcers, hiatus hernia, bowel polyps or bowel cancer), and certain medications, particularly aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • Increased need – an adolescent growth spurt, pregnancy and breastfeeding are situations when the body requires more iron. If this increased need isn’t met, a deficiency can quickly occur.
    Babies need breast milk or iron-fortified formula for the first year. Those who have cow’s milk instead are more likely to develop an iron deficiency.

Why does inflammation matter?

In 2000, scientists discovered a compound called hepcidin, and deemed it the “Master Regulator” of iron metabolism.1 Essentially, hepcidin controls whether iron can get into and out of cells. This affects a few key processes related to iron metabolism:

  • Iron absorption from the digestive tract
  • Iron recycling from damaged cells
  • Release of iron from storage

Typically, hepcidin levels are increased when there is a high level of circulating iron. This reduces absorption of iron from the diet, reduces the amount of recycled iron released into the system, and converts more iron into the storage form, ferritin. All of this helps to protect the body from iron overload.

Inflammation can also cause hepcidin production to increase.2 The increase in response to inflammation helps our bodies defend against invading bacteria, viruses, or other pathogens. Foreign invaders need iron to survive and thrive, just as we do. Therefore, the body responds by increasing hepcidin levels, causing much of the available iron to be converted to ferritin and put into storage. The lack of iron in the blood suppresses the ability of these invaders to grow and multiply.

Ferritin levels are usually a good measure of your overall iron status, but in the presence of inflammation, they may act as an immune response marker instead of an indicator of your iron stores.

However, inflammation in the body can come from other sources apart from invaders. These include strenuous exercise, a niggling injury, contraceptive pills, digestive problems, allergies or food intolerances, inflammatory bowel disease, excess weight, autoimmune diseases, poor diet, stress, and lack of sleep.

Understanding Your Blood Test

Your blood test will often include your levels of

  • Haemoglobin – which the red blood cells use to transport oxygen from your lungs to the cells of your body
  • Serum iron – measures the level of iron in the liquid part of your blood.
  • Transferrin – transferrin is a protein in your blood that transports iron, and your body produces transferrin according to your iron needs. When its iron stores are low, the transferrin levels should increase, and your levels should be low when there is too much iron. (Usually about one third of your transferrin is being used to transport iron.)
  • Total Iron Binding Capacity (TIBC)– this is a good indirect measurement of transferrin. (A pathology lab will normally measure either the transferrin levels or the TIBC.)
  • Transferrin saturation: this is the percentage of transferrin that is filled with iron.
  • Ferritin – ferritin is the main protein your body uses to store iron, so this is a measure of the amount of iron stored in your body

The balance of these readings is often helpful in determining what is causing your low iron.

In many types of iron deficiency the transferrin and TIBC may be high. Remember that the TIBC and transferrin are not measuring the amount of iron in the blood but the ability of the blood to carry iron. When the body lacks iron, it increases the amount of transferrin to gather as much of it as it can.

(Women using the contraceptive pill will often have high transferrin levels as well.)

On the other hand, those with chronic inflammation usually have low transferrin (or TIBC).

Here is a summary of the typical test results for the common types of iron deficiency.

Iron deficiency caused by Serum iron Transferrin or TIBC Transferrin
Low intake, low absorption, blood loss Low High Low Low
Chronic inflammation Low Low Low Normal / high

This chart is only a very general guide. For example, after strenuous exercise, your demand for oxygen will have increased, so your levels of transferrin will be higher short term. But if you over-exercise over a long period, the chronic inflammation may cause your transferrin levels to become low. And over time, if your body is not absorbing iron as fast as it is losing it, your ferritin levels will also become low.

So interpreting blood tests correctly requires careful evaluation, and a knowledge of the person’s diet and lifestyle.

Improving your iron levels

Obviously, the most important thing is to identify and address what is causing the problem. Having said that, some of the more common considerations are

  • Diet– an increase in foods that contain plenty of iron in an easily absorbed form is often important.
  • Absorption – it is very common to find that the person’s digestive system is not absorbing iron easily, so improving digestion is necessary most of the time.
    The tannins in tea and coffee bind to the iron and interfere with absorption, so cut back on the amount of these you drink, especially around mealtimes.
  • Address any inflammation or infection – low grade inflammation can occur almost anywhere in the body for a variety of reasons, however the digestive system is a very common source.

Taking iron supplements

Don’t take these if you don’t need to.

  • Unnecessary iron supplementation can interfere with your body’s absorption of other minerals, including zinc and copper.
  • Some prescribed iron supplements can cause constipation, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, especially if they are taken on an empty stomach. Some can even cause internal bleeding (making the iron levels worse instead of better!).
  • About one in 300 people have haemochromatosis, which is an inherited disorder that causes the body to absorb more iron than normal. Excess iron damages their body’s tissues and increases their risk of cancers and heart disease. People with this condition need to limit how much iron they consume.

The best iron supplements are easily absorbed by the body, and contain extra vitamin C to increase the absorption rate. They contain a bio-available form of iron, and are very unlikely to cause any of the side effects associated with some of the others.

If your iron levels seem to be low all the time, just check with your doctor first to make sure there isn’t anything serious happening. Then we can check what is going on in your body and recommend the correct diet, supplements or treatment for you, to help you get your energy and spark back again. We even offer a free Comprehensive Assessment, to perform a detailed check of how your body is working and the best way to sort it out. (Terms and conditions- the Assessment is a free service, with no obligations whatsoever.) So if you would like to enjoy better energy and better health, please give us a call.


  1. [1] Park, Christina H., et al. “Hepcidin, a urinary antimicrobial peptide synthesized in the liver.” Journal of biological chemistry 276.11 (2001): 7806-7810.
  2.  [2] Ganz, Tomas, and Elizabeta Nemeth. “Iron sequestration and anemia of inflammation.” Seminars in hematology. Vol. 46. No. 4. WB Saunders, 2009.

Peanut Allergy Breakthrough

No more peanut allergies?

Improving Digestion May Be the Way to Solve Allergy Problems

In a recent study by Australian researchers, children with strong peanut allergies were given a daily mixture of peanut powder and a probiotic. In 80% of cases, the children stopped having any reactions to the peanuts, and 70% of them still had no reactions 4 years later.

This is great news, and we are very pleased that the medical profession is becoming aware of the strong link between digestive health and the state of the immune system. There has been some good research in this area in the last few years.

Every case is different, however in our Brisbane Naturopath Clinic we usually find that a major factor in food intolerances and allergies is a condition known as ‘Leaky Gut Syndrome’. This is where the small intestine absorbs particles of food that are too large, and when they enter the blood, the immune system thinks they are a foreign invader and attacks them. The bacterial balance in the large intestine also plays a crucial part in the health of the digestive system (which is why giving the probiotic was so helpful in this study).

If you have digestive problems, food intolerances, allergies, or an auto-immune problem, consider taking advantage of our free Comprehensive Health Assessment.

Herbs to Improve Your Memory

If herbal medicines can help people with dementia and Alzheimers to retain and improve their memories, it stands to reason that they’d be able to help the rest of us maintain and improve this aspect of our health. Here are some herbs that have been shown to have a positive effect on cognitive function.

Ginkgo Bilboa

The Journal of the American Medical Association has published studies showing the positive effect of this herb on dementia leading to Alzheimers. It’s particularly effective in patients whose memory problems are the result of aging.


Studies have shown that ginseng is fantastic for all aspects of cognitive function, including memory. It’s easily available over the counter, but consult with a herbalist to ensure you’re getting the right dose and a good quality supplement.


Rosemary is an herb with a lot of carnosic acid; it’s an antioxidant, and goes directly to your cerebral vascular tissues to dilate them and improve memory. Just smelling rosemary has been shown to have a positive effect.


Scientists from the Universities of Newcastle and Northumbria performed trials which proved that those given sage performed much better on a word recall test than those given a placebo. Sage makes a great addition to many savory dishes, especially soups and stews.

Make an online booking here:
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Valued at $120, your Assessment will help to uncover:

  • What is going on with your body
  • What is working properly and what is not working properly
  • What is causing the problem, and
  • The best way to get it sorted out

All this will be fully explained to you, and you can ask as many questions as you like. That way we can be sure to give you all of the right information, understanding and advice you need. Terms and conditions: This is a free, no obligation offer.


62 Looranah St,
Jindalee QLD 4074
07 3376 6911


Winner Business Achievers Award 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011 & 2012
Inducted into Business Achievers Hall of Fame 2009
LPA Outstanding High Achievement Award 2011
Mt Ommaney Small Business Award (Health & Fitness) 2018 & 2020


We help provide care and accommodation to young disabled people through regular support of YoungCare (by donating the proceeds of our Gift Voucher sales)

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