Medicine Comes In All Forms And Surrounds Us Everyday

Have you ever noticed how your pain can sometimes temporarily disappear for a minute or two when you become completely engrossed in a great film or book and in those moments you completely forget your struggles and your relentless suffering whilst you become lost in another world? During my recovery from chronic migraines I began to realise that there were things around me that could reduce my discomfort level on a bad day. I’m not just talking about the holistic medicine such as meditation or mindfulness, no, no, no. I’m talking about the type of medicine that we all have at our fingertips, the type of medicine that surrounds us everyday, we just have to open our eyes and see it.

As I know from experience, when you are in the depths of despair and praying for a break from your condition, anything you can do to feel that little bit better in any way is worth it. So in that breath I thought I would share a few different forms of medicine that I found gave me some temporarily relief and comfort during my darkest days with chronic migraines.

Love As Medicine

So Bernie Sigel an internationally renowned expert in holistic medicine says that unconditional love is the most powerful stimulant of the immune system. So when the immune system is turned on it produces oxytocin (known as the love hormone) which helps to reduce cardiovascular stress which in turn decreases cell death and inflammation. So love really is a physical medicine friends, so time to get loved up! Remember though, this doesn’t just mean with a partner, you can receive love from friends and family which can help stimulate your healing also. Personally I know without the support of my incredible husband, family and friends I wouldn’t be where I am today. So maybe love actually is the best medicine?

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Me and my truly wonderful husband Alex

Gratitude As Medicine

This is a tough one to understand at first but once you get it then you will discover that the art of gratitude is such a beautiful way to live your life. Ok so I know when you are in relentless pain your initial response would be ‘how on earth can I be grateful at a time like this’? Well trust me friends, when you are having a bad day grab a pen and paper and starting writing down the things that you are grateful for, no matter how small. It could be the cold water you have to drink, the family looking after you, a roof over your head or even that friend who just text you checking in that you are ok. The more you become grateful for what you have the more you become content in the place you are, even if you are in pain. Knowing there are things that you are thankful for somehow gives you some peace and means that you are less focused on the pain you may be experiencing.

Pets As Medicine

Now look at that face. You cant tell me that she didn’t make you smile for just a second?
 Cute huh? Did you know that petting your cat or dog can actually lower your blood pressure, help you de-stress and relax your body by releasing the hormone serotonin into your bloodstream? And what does serotonin do? Well, it is thought to effect anxiety levels and boost your mood. This explains why when my furry friend snuggles up beside me and purrs away it almost feels therapeutic and it would put me at ease. Little Maria really did make those dark days a little brighter for me.

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My little girl Maria

Laughter As Medicine

Did you know that laughter can actually strengthen your immune system, boost your mood and diminish pain? I know, crazy right? It works like an actual drug and guess what? It’s free! It has also been shown to relax your whole body and relieve muscle tension too which I know so many migraineurs suffer from, me being one of them. So I found that any time I was having a bad day I would always, always put something funny on TV to watch. Whether it be a ‘Friends’ re run or some clips from my favourite comedian Michael MacIntyre on YouTube, no matter what it was, it had to make me laugh, which took my focus off my pain and into another world for a short while, resulting in some temporary relief.

So there we have it. A few other forms of medicine that can help you find some peace and distraction if you are living in a world of pain. I’d love to know what else helps you find some relief when you are having a bad day. Feel free to share your comments below…

#NaturalMedicine #Healing #HolisticMedicine #MyJourney #MigraineFree

 

Tips To Reduce Your Anxiety Due To Migraines And Headaches

If you’re anything like me (which I imagine you are), then you can relate to the struggle that migraine and headache sufferers have with anxiety. They pretty much go hand in hand with each other. I don’t believe it’s possible to have one without the other but if I am mistaken then I would love to be proved wrong.

Unfortunately there is no cure for anxiety so as migraine/headache sufferers know it’s just something that we have to learn to try to control and reduce as much as we can. That said, I know it’s easier said than done. How many times have I heard “Well maybe if you weren’t so anxious then you wouldn’t get a migraine”. Pah, that’s like saying to someone don’t think of a pink elephant….. Yep, you thought of a pink elephant didn’t you? Effectively that’s the best way I can explain it to people. As much as logically the brain is telling itself not to get anxious as it is irrational, the emotional brain overrides this and plays out the worst possible scenario over and over again, not being able to help itself.

The other interesting aspect to migraines and anxiety is what comes first? The migraine/headache or the anxiety? Exactly like the chicken and the egg situation. Did the anxiety cause the migraine to start or did you become anxious about a migraine because the attack had already begun? I know, frustrating huh and to be honest it’s hard to ever truly know the answer. The best we can do is try to keep our anxiety at bay as much as possible as most migraine sufferers will know that the more anxious and upset you get the worse the pain gets, so it’s super important that we try to break this vicious cycle.

So in that breath I wanted to share with you a couple of tips that I have learnt upon my healing journey that you may find helpful in reducing your anxiety.

  1. Setting Realistic Limits For Yourself

During my recovery I have always tried to push myself and step out of my comfort zone as I understand that by simply staying in my ‘safe space’ on my sofa (as nice and comfy as it is) I am never going to fully be able to get my old life back. However, sometimes I have pushed myself way, way, WAY too far with disastrous results. Like the time I flew 16 hours half way round the world to Vegas to party with my friends for our 30th birthday celebration. What the hell was I thinking? Not only did I push myself ridiculously far beyond what I could realistically achieve, it then backfired on me by smashing my confidence for months after, leaving me feel like an epic failure and super anxious to go anywhere or do anything, even if it was just down the road for a cup of tea with a friend.

By knowing your limits and being realistic about where you are in your recovery, you can then use this as a positive to aid your recovery further. So for example, you step slightly out of your comfort zone, so then you only experience a small amount of anxiety that you know you can deal with, thus the experience goes well and therefore you confidence increases. Voila! You have begun to break the cycle and then the next time you are challenged to step out your comfort zone you will suffer less anxiety due to your positive past experience. Just remember friends, small consistent steps lead to long lasting changes.

   2. Practicing Mindfulness

Now if you have never heard of mindfulness then I’m sure you are not alone. However recently mindfullness is becoming more and more recognised as a tool in treating migraine and headaches as discussed this year in The World Migraine Summit.

In a nutshell, mindfulness is being in the here and now and nowhere else. Simple. It’s just bringing your thoughts and awareness back into the body and away from the worries and anxiety that you may be feeling. This is normally done by focusing on the breath by simply listening and feeling the sensation of your body breathing in and out in it’s own natural rhythm. A great way I like to practice this is that I imagine a slow following river in my mind and as a thought or worry pops into my head I simply acknowledge it and let it go, disappearing down the river into the distance. A great way to deal with anxious thoughts I find. Just let them go and come back to the breath. You see there is no possible way to feel anxious and mindful at the same time, so the mindfullness wins and as a result you feel calm and more in control.

If you are interested in learning more there is a great free app for beginners called Headspace which gives you an insight into this kind of practice. Worth a go friends.

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3 . Use The Power Of Visualization 

So we know that with headaches and migraines it is normally the fear of getting one that causes the anxiety in the first place, but what if we could combat this and not even give it the chance to begin? What if we had already played out the scenario in our head several times over so that we have an inner confidence in ourselves and our ability to handle a certain situation? That’s where the power of visulization comes in. Every morning I meditate and spend time seeing the upcoming events in my life, big or small, play out in my mind always resulting in the best possible outcome. I feel the feelings of joy and success throughout my body and when I return after my meditation I have this inner confidence within myself which of course naturally reduces my anxiety. Personally I use Dr Joe Dispenza’s guided mediations as I find them extremely powerful but you could just do this in a quiet space with or without music, whatever you find works for you.

If you want to know more about Dr Joe’s meditations then click here to read more about the fantastic results I experienced and reduced anxiety after just eight weeks of this practice.

So there we go friends, a few tips to help you with the daily battle that is anxiety, migraines and headaches. I would love to know what other ways help you deal with anxiety due to migraines or any other illness for that matter? Feel free to leave a comment below.

 #Migraine #Headache #Anxiety #Mindfulness #Health

Surely Prevention Is Better Than Cure, Right?

Nowadays I view my illness as a blessing. A blessing for many reasons, such as immense gratitude for every healthy day I have, for being able to truly appreciate the friends and family I love and for finding a purpose in life, one in which I can help others fufill happy and healthy futures. But what if we never had to suffer in the first place? What if ‘we’ as a society took a different angle on healthcare and rather than treat the symptoms of an illness when it occurs by covering it up with a concoction of pills, we look at how we could prevent the illness in the first place? To be honest I’m not just talking about headaches, this is a much wider issue. In fact I am sure this has to do with the global obesity epidemic that is plaguing the world right now which leads me back to my original question. Surely prevention is better than cure, right?

Right! The further I delve into the health care field the more I learn how effective preventative measures actually are, however the sad thing is that they are hardly ever practiced, especially amongst our doctors. America spends trillions of dollars on treating disease but not a dime on preventing it? Someone explain to me where the logic is in that? Perhaps that has to do with the 300 billion dollar drug industry? I know, I know, it’s a taboo subject, but can you tell me that the drug companies would encourage preventative measures such a lifestyle and diet changes whereby the patient would need less or maybe no pharmaceutical drugs anymore? Just saying.

So if I were to tell you that there was this magical new drug on the market which could have the following effects on your health would you take it?

  1. It could reduce type 2 diabetes and blood glucose levels
  2. Lower your blood pressure and bad cholesterol
  3. Help control your weight
  4. Reduce your risk of certain cancers
  5. Strengthen your bones and muscles
  6. Improve your mental health and reduce your risk of depression
  7. Help you live a healthier and longer life
  8. It could reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease
  9. Prevent falls in older age

Of course you would! Well I would that’s for sure and do you know what this magical drug is? PHYSICAL EXERCISE! Yep, can you believe it? A regular moderate exercise program is enough to give you these incredible health benefits! The other amazing aspect to preventive medicine is that we normally take one pill to treat one condition, whereas preventative measures such as exercise doesn’t just treat one condition, it treats multiple and this is just physical exercise I’m talking about. What if we then throw in the mix some stress management tools, healthy eating, a regular sleep schedule and my god, you might just have yourself a chance at better bill of health.

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The view from my morning beach walk.

So I’m not telling you to negate medicine as in so many cases it is vital and the medical professionals deserve to be recognised for their amazing work but what if we could in so many cases, prevent medical treatment due to simple lifestyle changes and re-education and help reduce the strain on our health systems? My god I think we could seriously change the world from ‘sick care’ back to the world of ‘healthcare’ again.

Personally I think this would be most beneficial if we could start this early in schools. Rather than drilling into us when Henry VIII died and when the Battle of Hastings was (which I can still never remember to this day), surely it would be more effective to teach children proper life skills that they can take on into adulthood, to allow children to create a healthy and balanced life for themselves and their families in the future? Can you imagine if we taught kids in school all about healthy food and how to cook and prepare it, how to look after their bodies, fuel and nourish themselves, how to find a form of exercise that they love, how to create healthy relationships and how to manage stress. Can you imagine what effect this could have on the sick care system that we know today? I predict that there would be a serious outbreak of health! That’s what would happen.

So in the meantime as preventative measures begin to get recognised in our world today, I am proud as a Health Coach to be part of raising awareness in how effective preventative measures can actually be. Not only could we save ourselves a lot of money, but at the same time our health care systems that are currently under enormous strain could maybe start to breathe a sigh of relief.

As Benjamin Franklin wisely once said “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. And by god I think he was right.

#HealthCare #Preventatives #Medicine #Lifestyle #PhysicalExercise

 

 

How To Ensure Healthy Eating Doesn’t Become An Unhealthy Obsession

If we were honest with ourselves, I’m sure we could all admit to going through a time when we were super strict and regimented with our diet and what we ate, whether we did it to lose those 10 pounds to get back into those favourite skinny jeans or whether we just wanted to try out the latest ‘raw food vegan’ trend as one of the glossy magazines said it would leave our skin glowing. Whatever the reason, these huge shifts in dietary habits without you knowing, could quite easily go from a healthy intention to an unhealthy obsession without you even realising it.

Just have a think back. Have you ever turned down an invitation to go out for dinner with friends because the menu didn’t have anything on it that you could remotely eat on the current ‘healthy’ diet that you were adopting at the time? Well if so, just be aware that if this became a regular pattern of behaviour it could be the beginning of orthorexia nervosa, a mental condition that can end up significantly impairing one’s daily function. The disorder is characterised by anxiety, ritualistic thoughts and behaviours and excessive pickiness around food with a fixation on nutrition as a means to avoid other life situations and as a result the person may feel guilt, self loathing and socially isolate themselves. Like anything, when healthy eating is taken to the extreme it can actually become unhealthy for you. Healthy eating should compliment your life, allowing you to feel and function at your absolute best, however if healthy eating starts to dictate what you can and can’t do and limit your life then it’s no longer a healthy habit.

So in that breath I wanted to give you a couple of positive ways to help you maintain a healthy, yet balanced approach to healthy eating;

  1. 90/10 Rule 

I love this one and a rule I personally live by. So the gist of it is eating healthy and the foods you know nourish your body 90% of the time then allows you to treat yourself the other 10% of the time. Remember, it’s the choices we make the majority of the time that count. So personally I tend to eat well when I’m at home and cooking for myself but when me and my husband go out for lunch or for a coffee now and again, that’s when I will treat myself but completely guilt free! And I don’t just mean a sweat treat, it could be a slice of some homemade hot crusty bread with melted butter, a sprinkle of goats cheese on your salad or perhaps your favourite glass of red, just something you that makes you smile, otherwise what’s the point? Food is a pleasure in life and there for us to enjoy, so let’s not forget that. Life is all about balance right, which leads me nicely on to my next point.

2.  It’s All About Balance

So for me, the trick to finding balance in the way I eat is by listening to my body. Personally for health reasons I find that a predominantly plant-based diet works best for my body but this doesn’t mean that I can’t be flexible, no, no no! In actual fact I would class myself as a “flexiterrean”. Some days I tend to feel my body craving some more grounding foods, (it’s normally red meat or eggs) but I understand that this is simply my body’s way of telling me that it’s missing something. We should not be scared of cravings, quite the opposite in fact, we should embrace them and learn to respond to them, that is unless you body is just shouting “CARROT CAKE” at the top of it’s lungs 24/7 in which case that might be something you need to address! Trust me, you don’t need to spend your life counting grams of carbs, fat and protein in each meal, just trust your gut and let your body work out the rest. That’s what is was designed to do, balance itself.

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    3.  Do Not Punish Yourself

After implementing the 90/10 rule, it only works if you embrace the 10%. Go mad if you like! Have that carrot cake with the extra cream cheese frosting just because – because you can and deserve it. However if you spend the proceeding hours punishing yourself and trying to work out how many calories were in that fab slab of heaven and how many minutes on a treadmill it’s going to take you to work it off, then you might as well have not bothered. Society has taught us this cycle of depriving and starving ourselves from all of the foods we love, followed by feeling guilty and bad when we ‘give in’ to temptation. We need to break free from this negative cycle and try and create a better relationship with the food we eat and our bodies. Try practicing your 10% guilt free. It actually feels invigorating when you do.

4.  Eat Whole Foods Rather Than Counting Calories 

Who really wants to live life counting every calorie that they take in? Life is seriously too18519391_10211154526831942_1291560346_o short for that. Constantly assesing how many grams of fat, carbs and protein you are eating and writing it down throughout your day then putting it into a fancy app to calculate how many calories you have left over for diner? Urrrrrgh, not me and guess what? When you eat whole foods, clean plant based foods that haven’t been processed or refinded one hundred times over and a ton of sugar added to them, then there is no need to count calories, fats, carbs or whatever it is your counting! If you are eating a high quality, nutrient dense, clean diet high in plant foods then there is no need to worry about the the grams of this and that. Your body is getting exactly what it needs. Real food! Relax a little friends, delete that app and embrace more beautiful whole foods and your body will thank you for it.

  5.  Become a ‘Flexiterrean”

Now I think some of these obsessive habits can occur when we decide to commit ourselves to a certain ‘diet’. God there are so many dietory theories nowadays. You could be vegan or paleo, high carb or low carb, keytogenic or atkins, low fat or low protein, the list is endless but for me this rigidity in eating a certain way can bring about challenges in day to day life, especially in social situations. I sure don’t want to miss out on a friend’s birthday just because they are having it in an all you can eat meat fest of a restuarant. This is why I adopt the flexitterrean approach. Whilst adopting the 90/10 rule I would use this 10% to relax , especially in social situations so I can enjoy myself and not feel restricted. So why not give it a go? Test out your flexitterrean muscles today.

So that’s it, a few sure fire ways to ensure healthy eating doesn’t turn in to an unhealthy obsession. Remember friends, healthy living should not be ‘diet’, it should simply be a healthy way to live your life.

#HealthEating #Nutrition #HealthyHabits #CleanEating #HealthCoach

 

 

Could This Be A Cure For Your Tension Headaches?

So I wanted to fill you in friends on what’s been going on with me recently as I realised I haven’t done a blog to update you with my migraine/headache progress for a pretty long time now. The good news is that my migraines continue to decrease! Yay! I know, amazing news right? To the point now where I had two whole months migraine free in February and March, a little blip with two migraines close together and now I have just completed another month migraine free which I am over the moon about. I continue to eat an unprocessed, whole foods, plant-based diet as much as possible which I know has been a huge contributing factor to the continual reduction in my migraines.

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Now for the not such good news. Even though I have effectively been migraine free for long periods of time, my old pain has been replaced with a whole new type of pain. A flippin’ annoying daily, can’t get away from, never ending type of aching pain. Hello tension headaches! So in the past I have always been a sufferer of tension headaches but this was pre migraines and never, ever anywhere close to the extent that I am having them at the moment. You see, before I suffer a migraine my neck tightens up, it remains tight during the migraine and even after the migraine has gone it still hangs around like bad smell that I can’t get rid of! Gee thanks migraine. As a result I develop a tension headache and this is the cycle I have been stuck in now for so very long. The funny part now (well I guess it’s not actually that funny) is that I’m not even having the migraines to cause the neck pain anymore but I’m still having these daily tension headaches. I guess after four years of my neck tightening and releasing on constant repeat it has just had enough, and I don’t blame it, I have to.

So over the past few months with the advice of my doctor I have had chiropractic sessions which seemed to help temporarily but the pain would always return, physiotherapy sessions which I can only describe as four months of massaging torture and some acupuncture thrown in for good luck. It doesn’t matter what I have tried, it only seems to make matters worse as the whole of my neck feels constantly bruised and tender to touch. Most days I wake up feeling like I’ve done ten rounds in the ring with Mike Tyson even after such a simple task as going for a gentle walk.

That said, I have recently been given a beacon of hope by my chiropractor that I wanted to share with you. She advised me that several of her patients have been having a treatment through an Orthopedic Consultant that she has been working with whereby the doctor injects a mixture of cortisol and an anti-inflammatory medicine into the neck joint to help reduce the inflammation and therefore the pain. The way my chiropractor described it was that sometimes when you have had chronic pain in an area for a long time, the nerves are so used to constantly firing due to being in that overworked state, that sometimes they need resetting. She advised that three of her patients that had undergone this procedure had felt incredible results. So with a glimmer of hope in my eye, I made my appointment with the specialist hoping that this might actually be the answer.

After an MRI Scan and one x-ray later, my results came through and it was as expected. I was diagnosed with severe neck tension. The doctor explained that naturally the spine through the neck should naturally resemble a nice “S” shape, mine looked more like an “I” and like someone had put a steel rod through my neck as it was in a dead straight line. The doctor explained that the joints were under a lot of pressure, dehydrated and were surrounded by inflammation which would be causing my pain and that I was an excellent candidate for the CT guided facet injections. Finally, it all began to make sense. No wonder the flippin’ physio didn’t work as the problem was at the joint and not the muscle, the muscle was tense as a result of the tight joint.

So luckily, thanks to the amazing healthcare here in Dubai, it wasn’t long before I was at18362828_120332000631829155_1995271059_o the hospital having the treatment. It was a simple procedure that took about 40 minutes which involved having four injections into my neck, two on each side. Once the needles were in I was then put back in the CT scanner to make sure that they were exactly in the right place at which point the doctor then injected the medicine into my neck. Piece of cake if I’m honest. Well, after having three rounds of Botox with 36 injections at a time, any injection nowadays feels like a doddle.

The full treatment consists of 2-3 rounds of injections and I was advised by the doctor to book in my second set 5-7 days from the first. The third set is normally due a couple of weeks after the second. So yesterday I had round two and I have to say that over the last few days I haven’t had any shoulder pain like I normally do. None, not even an inkling! So I honestly feel like the treatment has already hugely helped me. I can however still feel some tension at the top of my neck, around the occipital area but he advised me that the third set could be put directly in to there and done as a local procedure instead of going to the hospital which is great.

It’s funny actually, as about the time that I went to see the chiropractor and she suggested these injections I had just watched Dr Joel Saper do his talk about The Neck and Migraine at The Migraine World Summit. He advised that we have to treat the problem in the neck separately to the migraine, as two different issue’s even though they do interlink. For me this was a sign from the universe pushing me to seek out these injections, and I’m so glad I did. I thought I would share this treatment with you all friends as it might be of use to others who may be struggling with severe tension headaches. Maybe it’s something that you could ask your doctor about? Well, I will keep you updated with my progress friends.

Never forgot, when you think all is lost, there is always hope out there and some kind of new treatment to try…

 #TensionHeadache #Hope #Pain #Healing #HopeVsHeadaches #Treatment

My Migraine World Summit Highlights

Wow, where do I begin? What a week it’s been. I don’t think that the Migraine World Summit could have packed anymore in if they tried. They covered everything from weather to cluster headaches, genetics, behavioural treatments, therapies for children, pregnancy, supplements, new treatments on the market, neuromodulation, mindfulness and so much more.

This being my first time to the event, I was pleasantly overwhelmed at the range of specialists that they had reached out to, to form the event. All of the speakers were at the top of their respective field and so passionate in striving to make a difference in the migraine world which I found touching to see. People out there really do care about migraine sufferers and sometimes that in itself is comforting to know. Carl and Paula the presenters also made an excellent addition to the summit as their understanding and their own personal experience of chronic migraine made the talks authentic and very relatable.

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So I wanted to share with you a couple of my personal highlights from such an amazing and insightful week at The Migraine World Summit.

The first talk I found interesting was Recognising And Treating The Four Phases of Migraine with Dr Andrew Charles. Ok, so we know we have the prodrome phase, aura phase, pain phase and then the postdrome phase. What I didn’t know before is that the prodrome phase can actually start up days before the migraine attack and this can cause food cravings, light sensitivity, sound sensitivity, irritability, neck pain and other symptoms. Now take neck pain for example, which I seriously suffer with. I always thought that if my neck tightens up it was my fault perhaps due to being too stressed or having bad posture for example but what I learnt is that this could just be the prodrome phase of the migraine beginning and that maybe I didn’t cause it after all. It was coming whether I liked it or not! So I guess it’s kind of like the chicken and the egg situation, what came first? Was it the neck pain that triggered a migraine or was it the migraine that gave me the neck pain? Interesting huh?

My favourite talk of the summit had to be Using Mindfulness To Fight Chronic Migraine. Vidyamala Burch’s story was truly inspirational and it just goes to show that you can find peace in any given situation and reduce your pain through various forms of meditation. What really hit home for me was when she said she realised that no doctor was going to be able to fix her and that she had to take responsibility for her illness. I went through the exact the same thing, at which point my healing truly began. Personally, mindfulness and meditation have completely helped to lower my pain during a migraine and have also reduced the frequency by adopting a daily practice, so I feel very passionate about the amazing work Vidyamala is doing for chronic pain sufferers worldwide. One statement that she made truly struck a chord with me and I am going to do my best to implement it into my life in the future.

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Another talk I found fascinating was Behavioural Treatment For Migraine with Professor Paul Martin. He talked about how a person’s characteristics, environmental factors and relationships can all impact tension and migraine headaches. He suggested trying natural approaches such as relaxation techniques, cognitive behavioural therapy and biofeedback. What I found truly astounding was the statistics that he presented from one of his trials. Dr Paul Martin found that there was on average a 68% reduction in headaches after using his natural therapies on his patients, as opposed to only a 27% reduction in headaches after treating someone with amtriptyline which is a very common drug used to fight migraine and tension headache. This is nearly 3 times higher that the pharmaceutical option! 3 times! I know the route I would choose if I saw these statistics. Further to that a year later when they revisited their patients, that percentage had risen to an incredible 77% of those whose headaches had reduced.

So moving on from this what I found so interesting during the event was how for the first time we heard from neurologists and headache specialists actually supporting the holistic and natural route in treating headaches. At no point did either my neurologist, GP or headache specialist at my worst ever, suggest these natural routes to help my migraines. It was only when I hit rock bottom and was told there was nothing left that they could do that I began my journey in discovering this for myself. So to see that doctors are now encouraging patients that they too can have an impact on their migraines due to migraine management techniques is a breath of fresh air to me. I particularly loved Dr Amal Starling’s acronym SEEDS during her talk Natural Methods for Migraine, as it encompasses a whole body approach to managing your condition. If you missed it then here it is:

S – leep management
E – at healthy and regular meals
E – xercise regularly
D – iary for headaches
S – tress management

And finally, what really touched my heart was how many doctors assured their listeners to never ever give up hope. Dr Peter Goasby said “You should be optimistic. Giving up means that the disease has won. If people with this problem don’t give up, then they will beat it” along with Dr Zubar Ahmed saying ” Not to lose hope. The patients that I see that improve the most are those who are persistent and do not lose hope and they are the ones that tend to do the best” which I have also personally found to be true. My unwavering faith that I WILL beat this condition I believe, has got me to where I am today.

How did you enjoy The Migraine World Summit friends and what were your own highlights? I would love to hear from you.

 

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 #Migraine #Health #MigraineWorldSummit2017 #Headaches #MigraineAwareness

 

Do Not Miss The Migraine World Summit 2017!

Calling all migraineurs! Do you feel like you have exhausted all treatment options and you don’t know where to turn to next? That you want answers to the questions that plague you daily that your doctor cannot give you or do you simply need help in explaining your condition to loved ones and how best they can support you? If so then you don’t want to miss out on The Migraine World Summit 2017.

This is a huge event for the migraine community which is being held from 23rd to 29th April and do you know the best part? Oh yes, it’s totally free! When you sign up for your free ticket you will get access to over 30 of the world’s leading experts, doctors and specialists in the field of medicine, migraine, research and science. Many of these world leading experts have waiting lists that go for months and fees that are beyond the affordability or insurance policies of many individuals. Skip the waiting list and get straight into the room with these experts. Visiting dozens of specialists in one field would take years and cost an unseen amount of money, so this is an incredible opportunity to hear from dozens of leading experts in migraine for FREE! .

Ok so you probably want to know who these leading world experts are then and how will they be able to help you? The Migraine World Summit speakers represent world-class organisations from around the world. You’ll hear from speakers from UCLA, Cleveland Clinic, Harvard, John Hopkins, Mayo Clinic, Kings College London, Griffith University and more, also from patients who are winning the battle with chronic migraine and are committed to helping others. You’ll even hear from non-medical lifestyle experts whose insights can help people live better with Migraine.

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Some of the topics they will cover include:

  • The top 10 migraine myths to bust
  • Navigating love, marriage and migraine
  • Best acute treatments you may not have tried
  • Breaking the vicious cycle of chronic migraine
  • New migraine therapies in development
  • Best and worst supplements for migraine
  • New devices that can ease pain
  • Neck and migraine: What’s the connection?
  • How to build a good relationship with your doctor
  • Using mindfulness to fight chronic pain
  • Weather related migraine
  • Natural methods for migraine control
  • Managing the excruciating pain of cluster headaches
  • Planning for pregnancy with migraine
  • Managing light sensitivity and migraine
  • Solving the puzzle of what’s causing migraines

And so much more! So all you have to do is click here to sign up today for your free ticket and you are all set for your front row seat at the world’s leading migraine event. It begins on Sunday 23rd April at 9am EST (New York time) and runs for a week.  There are roughly 6 talks in a day that are about 45 mins long on average. Once they are released they are made available to watch for up to 24 hours later, then the next days talks will be released. There are so many amazing topics being covered that it’s worth checking out the schedule for the week in advance so you can highlight your favourite and ensure that you don’t miss out. Click here to navigate to the schedule.

For those who cannot attend live, don’t worry! All the recordings and more are available to order, as well as the video, audio and transcripts on demand. Up to 50% of the funds raised from the Summit will go towards migraine charity partners who are doing wonderful work to help fund migraine research, support patients and advocate for migraine sufferers. To date, they have donated over $10,000 to migraine specific charities, groups and foundations.

So what have you got to lose friends? Don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity to discover the latest in migraine research, treatments and so much more. I’ve got my ticket, have you got yours?

CLICK HERE FOR YOUR FREE TICKET TODAY!

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#Migraine #Headaches #MigraineWorldSummit2017 #ChronicMigraine

Is The Sugar In Fruit Bad For You?

This is a question I seemed to get asked all the time. I totally get how confusing the whole sugar/fruit thing is. We are told all the time to watch our sugar intake but at the same time we are told to make sure we consume plenty of fruit to keep us healthy. After all, an apple a day keeps the doctor away! So what’s a girl to do, eat fruit or not? I know, I know, its beyond confusing so I thought I would try to clear a few things up regarding sugar and fruit so that you can eat that fruit salad for breakfast without worrying that it’s going to send you into a sugar overload.

Ok, so to answer the question “Is the sugar in fruit bad for you?” the answer is yes, but bear with me here as I need to explain why. It’s not that the sugar in fruit is bad for you, it’s that the sugar in pretty much anything is bad for you. Sugar is sugar after all. Let me break this down for you.

There are two types of sugar. Glucose and Fructose. Glucose is the body’s primary source of energy that breaks down carbohydrate type foods to form glucose so that they can be used as energy. For example grains, sweet potato and rice. Fructose is naturally occurring in many plants, fruits and vegetables also found in items such as honey and maple syrup. So when you artificially combine fructose and glucose you create sucrose which is also known as table sugar and high fructose corn syrup. If you don’t already know, this is the most harmful kind of sugar and you can eliminate this from your diet by simply eradicating all processed foods. Easy.

Ok so we know we don’t want to eat sucrose right? Great, but what is the difference then between glucose and fructose and why is fructose worse? In very simple terms glucose triggers the release of hormones that tell your brain when you are full, whereas fructose doesn’t. This means your appetite is never appeased when eating fructose (fruit sugars). Also 80% of glucose is utilised by the cells whereas fructose only converts this into harmful triglycerides which only promote fat formation. We also don’t obtain any energy from fructose so we find ourselves eating more of it to give ourselves that boost we need.

17838702_10210788713526838_212412646_oSo this might be a good time to explain why eating too much sugar can make you fat. If we eat too much fructose and our liver gets overloaded with it then it will turn to fat. The fat ends up in our blood and converts into the bad cholesterol we don’t want. This then lodges in our blood vessels and causes plaque and contributes to heart attacks. Yikes! So fat doesn’t actually make us fat, it’s sugar that makes us fat! Crazy huh? That’s why going for the full fat option in the shops is normally a good idea as the low fat option will normally have been replaced with sugar to make up for the loss of taste due to the fat being taken out. Anyway I’m digressing here.

Now you are probably thinking to yourself that you are never going to touch a piece of fruit ever again at this point. Well hold on just a minute, now I’m going to tell you the benefits that you gain from eating fruit. Yes fruit containing sugar! I know, it’s confusing. Nutrition is funnily enough the only field whereby you can get opposing studies on a subject that can both be true.

Ok so eating whole fruit has the following benefits:

  • Phytonutrients that help your body fight disease and maintain cell health.
  • Antioxidants which balance out the harmful free radicals that roam your body.
  • Fiber which helps to protect against heart disease and lowers your bad cholesterol.
  • Vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, C, D K, potassium and folate just to name a few.
  • Overall, eating a fruit filled diet can help you to maintain a healthy blood pressure, reduce your risk of a heart attack, reduce your risk of a stroke and even protect you from certain types of cancers.

When fructose in fruit is consumed moderately (1-3 whole pieces of fruit a day) most people can break this down easily due to the fiber in the whole fruit so the health benefit coming from fruit outweighs the worries about the sugar in it. You have to look at the bigger picture, it’s the added sugars that we need to worry about, not the sugar in fruit, this is unless you have a diet extremely high in fruit and not much else. I’ve had people ask me before “Can eating too much fruit cause you to develop diabetes? In actual fact yes, it can. This is caused by too much sugar in the blood which leads to insulin resistance which can then be a precursor to type two diabetes. Anyway this is only in extreme examples so nothing for you to worry about.

If you are interested however in how much sugar is in certain fruits (as it varies a lot) then I’m going to briefly introduce you to the glycemic index. So the glycemic index is the effect that a carbohydrate containing food has on your blood sugar levels. (Fruits and vegetables are actually classed as carbohydrates). So some fruits are low and some fruits are high. The higher the number on the scale the higher the sugar in the fruit and the higher your blood sugar will rise. So here are some examples to give you an idea:

  • In at the lowest we have cherries at 20 and grapefruit at 25.
  • In at the middle you have apples at 37, nectarines at 43 and berries generally between 40-50.
  • And right at the top you have papaya at 59, pineapple at 66 and watermelon at an astonishing 72!

The bottom line here is, yes fruit does contain sugar and yes in very high doses it could17858604_10210788713606840_1604457501_o be harmful to your body but isn’t that the case with everything? We need fat in our diet as without it we wouldn’t be able to absorb nutrients properly and support cell growth, but if we eat too much of it then it can be harmful to us also. Thats why as a Health Coach I promote a healthy balanced diet full of whole unprocessed foods. Try and make sure your diet consists of a combination of healthy fats and protein, good carbohydrates and a variety of whole fruit and vegetables. That way your body will get exactly what it needs in order to thrive.

Remember though friends, healthy sugars such as fruit, honey, agave and maple syrup are still sugar at the end of the day so next time your cover your healthy, vegan pancakes with a pool of maple syrup and a mountain of fruit, just be mindful that it’s still sugar. Just like everything in life, it’s all about balance.

So how much sugar do you think you eat in a day and was this helpful in clearing up the confusion around sugar and fruit? I would love to hear from you.

#Fruit #Sugar #HealthyEating #Nutrition #HealthCoach #Fructose #Glucose

How to Ensure You Fuel Your Body Correctly When Eating A ‘Free From’ Diet

Now I totally understand that the thought of making dietary changes can be daunting. I get it. You’re talking to the girl who went from a high sugar, highly processed, carb-heavy, meat and dairy based diet, to an organic, soy-free, gluten-free, processed-free, plant-based diet. Yes, I know, quite a mouthful and quite a switch but the way these changes have affected my body have been nothing short of a miracle. Previously chronic migraines ruled my life, however, I am now pleased to say that I am completely chronic migraine free, largely down to simply changing the food I consume on a daily basis. Who knew that food was so powerful and that food alone could actually heal chronic conditions, improve your energy, reduce your cholesterol, affect your sleep, lower your cancer risk, increase mental clarity, reverse diabetes and cardiovascular disease, just to name a few. Pretty amazing stuff huh?

If this is the case then surely our top priority should be providing our bodies with the correct fuel it needs in order for us to thrive? How do we expect our bodies to perform at their best if we don’t provide the tools in which to do so and yes, you guessed it, this all comes back to food!

As a Health Coach, a common question I face is how is it possible to ensure I fuel my body correctly when eating either a vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free or soy-free based diet or all of the above? And my answer? Simple – and I truly mean that! After personally adopting a plant-based ‘free from’ pretty much everything diet, I have to say it has been extremely easy to do and I honestly feel better than ever. I have more energy, I sleep soundly, I can think clearer and I never feel heavy and bloated after a meal anymore. So don’t panic friends, I promise that you will get all the nutrients your body requires even when removing soy, gluten, meat and dairy from your diet. In actual fact, you’ll be doing your body a huge favour in removing these nasties from your diet and allowing your body to function at it’s best.

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So firstly I just want to explain that we don’t actually need soy, dairy, gluten or even meat in our diets in order for us to thrive. Soy nowadays is highly processed and full of the bad omega 6 fats, dairy is full of yucky growth hormones, gluten contains absolutely no nutritional value whatsoever and meat, well don’t get me started on what’s in meat. Now I know your next question will be – “well where will I get my calcium from if I’m not drinking milk and where will I get my protein from if I’m not eating meat”? Well, in actual fact it is proven that by adopting a plant-based diet you will sufficiently consume more protein than you would if you were eating a conventional western diet and having to think “I must make sure I eat enough protein today”.

In basic terms, protein is essential for building and repairing muscles, bones and tissue in our bodies. So yes, we need protein as every function of our cells and organs are controlled by protein, but there are so many cleaner sources of it out there to choose from including IMG_3732spinach, kale, bok choy, collard greens, lentils, beans, chia seeds, hemp seeds and quinoa just to name a few. So my advice is to start your day with a green smoothie made with spinach, almond milk, a handful of fruit, some chia seeds and a couple of nuts thrown in and bam, you are all set to start your day with a punch of protein. Post workout you could grab a handful of mixed nuts and seeds, or a spoonful of almond or peanut butter and spread it over a sliced apple to help your muscles grow and repair after your workout. This is so much better than consuming a processed protein powder made with artificial soy that can be damaging to your health. This way you have naturally removed soy, dairy, gluten and animal protein and instead replaced it with clean nutritious protein. See how easy it is.

Ok so now let’s address gluten. Now I know there are so many gluten-free products on the market nowadays which is great, don’t get me wrong but just because you’re eating gluten free IMG_3715cookies doesn’t mean that they are healthy for you. Let’s be honest they are still cookies! So the best way to fuel our bodies by going gluten free is to find natural gluten free alternatives and my god there are so many out there. Gluten free grains include quinoa, amaranth, teff, millet, buckwheat, sorghum, rice, certain oats and other sources such as legumes, lentils, beans, fruit and vegetables. Through making this swap you will get plenty of fibre from the fruit and vegetables that will help to keep your blood sugar stable throughout your day so that you don’t have that sugar low mid afternoon and the urge to take a nap at your desk. By eating this way you are consuming lots of complex carbohydrates that your body can use steadily throughout the day as fuel for energy, not to mention that these natural options come with an abundance of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that help your body fight disease and allow you to thrive. Why not try some gluten free oats for breakie, made with almond milk or hemp milk, topped with some berries and a handful of nuts and seeds. This way you have provided your body with plenty of protein and complex carbohydrates which will give you a gradual, slow release of energy throughout your morning rather than perhaps a high sugar gluten-free cereal that is most likely processed and refined. Another tip would be pre work out, approximately two hours before, try eating a meal high in healthy carbohydrates which are in foods such as sweet potato, winter squash, root vegetables  whole grains, mixed with some beans or lentils so that your body can convert these carbohydrates into energy so you are able to get the most out of your workout.

Of course, the big one I hear all the time is that surely as a vegan, I must be limited in what I can eat and won’t this affect how my body functions? God no! Once again you are able to fuel your body better on a vegan/plant-based diet than you are on a traditional diet. There are so many professional vegan athletes such as the tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams and even Mike Tyson that consume vegan diets and I don’t think it affected them too badly! In fact quite the opposite, that is as long as you don’t become a “junk food’ vegan and only consume processed options such as vegan pizzas, vegan cheese and anything else that comes in a packet. Yuck! So instead, try alternatives to meat but not the processed kind. From beautiful salads, spicy chillis to delicious stews, the choices are endless.

As our needs as consumers change, the food companies out there are really beginning to17618910_10210682991403851_636816463_n listen to what we want and as a result, there are now such great healthy “free from” options out there on the market to choose from which is really exciting, even gluten-free, vegan, organic, soy-free, dairy-free options combined. Yipee! Take GoMacro for example, a leader in providing nutritious, healthy snacks which are great for when you are on the go. Check them out and order their bars online by clicking here. Pack a couple of these into your bag for the day ahead and then you won’t be tempted to stray to that naughty afternoon jam doughnut or that Snickers bar for a quick energy fix. The key is to sustain your body throughout the day by making consistent, nutritious choices that will enable you to fuel your body so you can always function at your best.

Remember friends that whole, natural foods have everything in them we need in order to flourish as individuals. Nature has designed it this way. We just need to choose these options over the processed industrial “food” we have come to know today as normal. What foods do you find help fuel your body and maintain your energy throughout the day? I would love to know.

#Nutrition #HealthCoach #FreeFrom #Plant-Based #Nourishment #Health

What Does Going Organic Truly Mean And How To Switch Whilst Keeping The Cost Down

So really, what does going organic truly mean? I have to say before I began my course at The Institute of Integrative Nutrition, I really had no idea. I guess I thought it was a bit of a phase that everyone was just going through you know? Kind of like the ‘low fat’ phase we had and now we are on to the ‘gluten free’ phase as that’s all you see in shops nowadays. But little did I know that going organic meant so much more, not only with regard to the environment but how it impacts our health.

Ok so let’s delve deeper into my original question then. What does going organic truly mean for the food we eat – plant and animals? Let me break it down for you:

  • This means that no harmful synthetic pesticides can be sprayed onto the food we eat. These pesticides also end up contaminating our water supply and our environment
  • No synthetic fertilisers can be used in the planting of produce
  • No artificial hormones can be given to any animal to speed up the growth rate of that animal
  • No harmful trans fats are allowed in any organic food product
  • The feed of the animal must be 100% organic with no animal by-products incorporated into it
  • The animal must be provided with outdoor access and pasture for livestock
  • No ionising radiation can be used
  • No GMO (genetically modified organism) feed can be given to any animal or use GMO’s to alter any human food product

And why does all this matter you may ask? Well ultimately because we are what we eat! The food we eat literally becomes us on a cellular level. It affects our skin, hair, nails, blood, tissue and our cells, so what we put into our body literally becomes who we are. In that respect how do you think harmful synthetic pesticides, artificial growth hormones, GMO’s, radiation and trans fats will affect our bodies and how we function? You guessed it, not in a good way at all. It is only going to bring sickness into our lives. Pesticides alone have been linked to blood disorders, birth defects, skin, eye and lung irritation, nerve disorders and the growth of certain cancers. Did you also know that a single lettuce can contain up to 78 different pesticides on it after washing? I know, insane right! And a single apple up to 56. Who knew? I certainly didn’t and until now I’ve been happily eating my supermarket apples (a bargain at ten for two pounds) in total bliss. Not anymore!

After learning so much I am trying to make the switch to going organic myself but as I have come to realise, this comes at a price and most of the time a high price. So I wanted to share a couple of tips with you to help making the switch to organic that little bit easier on the purse strings. So here we go……

The Dirty Dozen

Ok, so the level of pesticide residue you consume differs depending on what fruit or vegetable you eat. Some have higher levels and some lower. As a result, the Environmental Working Group came up with a great way to help shoppers make some healthy switches to organic by identifying the top fourteen highest pesticide containing fruits and vegetables. That way if you eat several of these fruits and vegetables on a regular basis from the list 17349242_10210561529447378_1143045215_othen maybe you could switch these to organic options rather than your entire food shop and it costing you a fortune. Brilliant idea or what! So here is the list friends. As you will notice they tend to be the fruits and vegetables with no protective coating and the ones that you tend to eat the skin.

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Nectarines
  4. Apples
  5. Peaches
  6. Pears
  7. Cherries
  8. Grapes
  9. Celery
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Peppers
  12. Potatoes

The Clean Fifteen

Now in opposite to ‘The Dirty Dozen’ welcome to ‘The Clean Fifteen’. As you might have guessed these are the fruit and vegetables that contain the lowest pesticide residue. So to save yourself some more pennies these would be the fruits and veggies that you would be better to buy non-organic on your shopping list. This time round you can see that most 17274040_10210561529847388_1858673149_ohave a nice protective coating around them and a skin that we don’t tend to eat.

  1. Sweetcorn
  2. Avocado’s
  3. Pineapple
  4. Cabbage
  5. Onions
  6. Sweet Pea’s
  7. Papaya
  8. Asparagus
  9. Mango
  10. Aubergine
  11. Honeydew Melon
  12. Kiwi
  13. Cantelope
  14. Cauliflower
  15. Grapefruit

Join A CSA – Community Supported Agriculture

Now if you live in the United States then this is for you. There is an amazing initiative going on in America which is encouraging the consumer to choose local, seasonal produce from an independent farmer instead of huge commercial chains. So what you do is you go to http://www.localharvest.org and enter your zip code and it will show you the closest farmer to you that is included in the scheme. You pay the farmer five hundred dollars at the beginning of a six month period and every week for the next six months you get a huge basket of local, fresh fruit and veggies delivered to your front door. This works out at roughly just twenty one dollars a week. Absolute bargain! The advantages are that you get to eat ultra fresh food, you know exactly where it came from, you know how it was grown, you get to know your local farmer and you get exposed to eating a range of new vegetables too. Win win as far as I’m concerned. As we learnt earlier, it is so important to know what’s going into our bodies and this way you will know exactly that.

Buy From Farmers Markets 

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Once again I had never even heard of a farmer’s market before my studies began but now it’s all I hear about. By purchasing your fruit and veg from a local farmer not only increases the freshness of your food, but it means that you are protecting the environment because your food hasn’t had to travel thousands of miles to get to you, burning up the world’s precious fossil fuel resources in the process. And do you know what? Produce that comes from a farmers market tends to be cheaper than in your supermarket. Especially if you buy seasonal and that’s the key. By eating strawberries throughout the summer when they are readily available and squash in the winter times you will save yourself some pennies as these foods will be cheaper at those specific times of the year. Plus you are also keeping in line with the seasons which is exactly how nature intended for us to eat.

Grow Your Own

Ok, so with this one I’m setting you a little challenge. Have you ever thought about growing your own fruit, veg and herbs before? Well maybe this is the time to give it a go for yourself? There is nothing more satisfying than picking beautifully home nurtured vegetables from your garden and then preparing them in a delicious home cooked meal. What could be better? You know exactly where your food has come from and for some reason it takes extra tasty when you have grown it and cooked it yourself. Plus not to mention you will be saving yourself a fortune. Why not give it a try?

As one of our amazing lecturers Andrea Beaman said this week, “We have our priorities all wrong nowadays. We are happy to pay eight hundred dollars for the latest iPhone but not an extra two dollars for an organic apple” ! Surely our health should come first, right?

#Organic #CleanEating #Health #Nutrition #FoodIsMedicine