Reduce Thyroid Antibodies - A Key Vitamin You Need to Know About.
reduce-thyroid-antibodies-sonia-mcnaughton-naturopath-nutritionist-newcastle-thyroid-womens-health-hormones-mayfield.png

Taking a Vitamin D supplement lowered thyroid antibodies in Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism and this may just help you feel better! (3).

So many people who see me have been told there is absolutely no way to reduce thyroid antibodies and yet there are scientists working on this problem at this very moment and publishing papers like this one to give us all hope and a direction to follow.  

The Vitamin D & Hashimoto’s Story So Far:

We’ve known for some time that low vitamin D status was associated with the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the US, UK and Australia  – an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.   

What we’ve not known was if increasing vitamin D levels would have any impact on Hashimoto’s (1,2)

This Is Brand New Information:

Women with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism taking the number one medication prescribed for hypothyroidism, levothyroxine (also called Oroxoine, Thyroxine, Synthyroid, Tirosint, Levothyroid), were studied with promising results. When Vitamin D was taken as a supplement their thyroid antibodies reduced (1).

Why Should I Even Care About Antibody Levels?

Have you been told you don’t need to be concerned with your antibody levels because you are on a thyroid hormone replacement?  Yet the larger the number of antibodies the greater the immune attack on your thyroid and the worse you might feel (3,4). 

Don’t think the prescription for thyroid medication is lowering antibodies because that is not what it is doing.  Levothyroxine (that is Oroxoine, Thyroxine, Synthyroid, Tirosint, Levothyroid) is increasing the amount of thyroid hormone in your body but it is doing nothing to calm the antibody attack on your thyroid gland.

People with high Hashimoto’s antibody levels have been found to experience:

-      Chronic fatigue (3)

-      Dry hair (3)

-      Chronic irritability (3)

-      Chronic nervousness (3)

-      A history of breast cancer (3)

-      Early miscarriage (3)

-      Lower quality-of- life levels (3)

-      Worse mental health (4).

Do we shout this from the roof tops?

The study was only on 34 women which is not a big number. It does though build happily on the picture started research on 218 Hashimoto’s hypothyroid sufferers given a Vitamin D supplement (2). 

Pop a Pill or Sit in the Sun?

Vitamin D is made in our body after being exposed to sunshine so I would love to issue a prescription for time in the sun* for Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism for you!  Except a study done in sunny Crete in Greece on 218 Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism sufferers found when they were given a Vitamin D supplement they ended up with lower levels of antibodies attacking their thyroid (2).

This means we simply do not know if more time in the sun will have any impact at all.  For predictable results in reducing thyroid antibodies via Vitamin D this study suggests taking a supplement.

The Bottom Line:

It still is early days to make a definitive recommendation so when that happens I like to do a pro’s and cons comparison.

Pros:

•          Keeping your Vitamin D in the optimal range may just mean lower thyroid antibodies, less immune attack on your thyroid, and a better quality of life.

•          Good quality Vitamin D3 supplements (with Vitamin K2) could be cheap insurance for your health and wellbeing.

•          Healthy Vitamin D levels are correlated with better health outcomes in general.

Cons:

•          It is still early days in the Vitamin D story for Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.  When larger, better quality studies are done it may be found that Vitamin D supplements do in fact not reduce thyroid antibodies significantly.  Which means the money spent on Vitamin D supplements may have not helped you achieve your health goal of reduced thyroid antibodies.

I’m inside right now but I’m going get outside, arms and legs bared for a spot of sunshine today!

In Health

Sonia x

Research Study Details (1):

People studied: 34 women with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and normal vitamin D status (serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels above 30 ng/mL) who had been treated for at least 6 months with levothyroxine.

Method used: 2 groups, receiving (n=18) or not receiving (n=16) oral vitamin D preparations (2000 IU daily).

Testing: Serum levels of thyrotropin (thyroid stimulating hormone), free thyroxine (T4), free triiodothyronine (T3) and 25-hydroxyvitamin D (Vitamin D), as well as titers of thyroid peroxidase (antiTPO antibodies) and thyroglobulin (Tg antibodies) antibodies were measured at the beginning of the study and 6 months later.

Results: Low Vitamin D levels were found to be linked to higher thyroid antibody levels, that is, an increased attack on the thyroid. Higher Vitamin D levels were found to be linked to lower thyroid antibody levels most especially the anti-TPO antibodies.

Research Study Details (2):

People studied: 218 Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (HT) patients whose thyroid function was within normal levels: 180 females and 38 males aged 35.3 ± 8.5 years.

Methods used: The 186 vitamin D deficient HT patients received vitamin D3 orally, 1200-4000 IU, every day for 4 months aiming to maintain serum 25(OH)D levels ≥ 40 ng/mL.

Testing: Anthropometric characteristics (height, weight, waist circumference), systolic and diastolic blood pressure, serum concentration of 25(OH)D, thyrotropin (TSH), free thyroxine (FT4), anti-thyroid peroxidase (anti-TPO), antithyroglobulin (anti-TG), calcium and phosphorus levels and thyroid and kidney sonographic findings were recorded and measured before and after supplementation. 

Results: After 4 months of supplementation a significant decrease (20.3%) of thyroid antibodies (specifically anti-TPO antibodies) was found suggesting supplementation with Vitamin D3 couldbe a valuable treatment option for those with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. 

*Obviously protect yourself from sun cancer by never letting yourself burn, and while we are talking common sense, there is little benefit in exposing your face.  Rather take your long sleeve shirt off, roll up your pants and get sun on your arms and legs.

If you have been given medical advice to avoid the sun you must follow that advice as a priority.

Never look directly at the sun.  


References:

1. Krysiak, R., Szkróbka, W., & Okopień, B. (2017). The Effect of Vitamin D on Thyroid Autoimmunity in Levothyroxine-Treated Women with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and Normal Vitamin D Status. Experimental and Clinical Endocrinology & Diabetes, 125(04), 229-233. doi: 10.1055/s-0042-123038

2. Mazokopakis, E. E., Papadomanolaki, M. G., Tsekouras, K. C., Evangelopoulos, A. D., Kotsiris, D. A., & Tzortzinis, A. A. (2015). Is vitamin D related to pathogenesis and treatment of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Hellenic Journal of Nuclear Medicine, 18(3), 222-227.

3. Ott, J., Promberger, R., Kober, F., Neuhold, N., Tea, M., Huber, J. C., & Hermann, M. (2011). Hashimoto's thyroiditis affects symptom load and quality of life unrelated to hypothyroidism: a prospective case–control study in women undergoing thyroidectomy for benign goiter. Thyroid, 21(2), 161-167. 

4. Watt, T., Hegedüs, L., Bjorner, J. B., Groenvold, M., Bonnema, S. J., Rasmussen, Å. K., & Feldt-Rasmussen, U. (2012). Is thyroid autoimmunity per se a determinant of quality of life in patients with autoimmune hypothyroidism?. European Thyroid Journal, 1(3), 186-192. doi:  10.1159/000342623

Sonia McNaughton
Spring & Pollen - Are You Ready for Hay Fever Season?
spring-pollen-sonia-mcnaughton-naturopath-nutritionist-newcastle-thyroid-womens-health-hormones-mayfield.png

It’s Spring and the pollen count is rising... If you have hay fever, medically known as allergic rhinitis, Spring brings pain with its brightly, blooming beauty: itchy eyes, ears, nose, and throat, sneezing, runny nose and nasal congestion.

Picnicking in the park on Father’s Day was magical: the poppies with their brilliant colours and stems so tall and proud, the pansies swaying like ballerinas with tutus dancing in the wind and the magnolias pouring their rich scent the air.

But for those with hay fever it is the season of pain, red noses, tissues & brain fog.  Here is my evidence based naturopathic approach to calming hay fever symptoms. 

Nutrients:  Natural antihistamines have been shown to give relief to hay fever symptoms:

•          Quercetin

•          Bromelain

•          N-Acetylcysteine (NAC)

•          Vitamin C and bioflavonoids.

Herbs:  Stinging nettle was found by 58% of participants to be effective in relieving their symptoms of hay fever and 48% of them found it equally or more effective than their previous medicine!

Show Me the Science!

Bromelain is a nutrient found in Pineapples that has been found to be an effective mucolytic agent in respiratory tract diseases making the mucous in your lungs, less thick, sticky and easier to cough up.

The therapeutic dose for allergic rhinitis ranges from 400-500 mg three times daily (of an 1800-2000 m.c.u. potency) taken on an empty stomach preferably if no concerns..

Side effects are very unlikely but if they occur include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, menorrhagia, and metrorrhagia.

Pineapple allergies beware - Bromelain must not to be taken by those allergic to pineapple!

Quercetin a nutrient in a wide variety of vegetables and herbs has been shown to inhibit inflammatory processes.

In a Japanese study of mast cells from nasal mucosa of individuals with perennial allergic rhinitis, quercetin significantly inhibited (antigen-stimulated) histamine release. Quercetin’s impact was almost twice that of the synthetic non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drug, inhaled to prevent asthmatic attacks and allergic reactions, sodium cromoglycate at the same concentration.

The recommended dosage for allergic rhinitis ranges from 250-600 mg, three times daily, five to ten minutes before meals. Taken with bromelain may enhanced actions.

N-Acetylcysteine (NAC) is a natural amino acid derivative that protects cells and cellular components against oxidative stress.

NAC has been documented as an effective mucolytic agent in individuals with chronic bronchitis, cystic fibrosis, asthma, sinusitis, and pneumonia.

A dosage of 200 mg twice daily was found to decrease symptoms of chronic bronchitis. NAC helps to reduce the viscosity of mucus so it may be more easily coughed up.

While specific research on the use of NAC for allergic rhinitis has not been conducted it is recommended because of its affinity for mucus membranes, both as an antioxidant and mucolytic.

Recommended therapeutic dosages range from 500 mg to 2 gm daily.

Vitamin C has been found to influence histamine levels in the body. It appears to prevent the secretion of histamine by white blood cells and increase its detoxification. Histamine levels were found to increase exponentially as Vitamin C / ascorbic acid levels decreased.

In a study on the effectiveness of intranasal vitamin C, 48 subjects received either ascorbic acid/Vitamin C solution or placebo sprayed into the nose three times daily. After two weeks 74% of subjects treated with Vitamin C were found to have decreased nasal secretions, blockage, and oedema. Improvement was seen in only 24 % of placebo treated patients.

ContraIndicated when there is a tendency to experience kidney stones.

Side effects: Vitamin C is nontoxic and virtually free of side effects however whenever taking Vitamin C it is common to experience diarrhoea and abdominal distention at the start and with any increase in dosage.  Always start dosage at the low end and increase gradually.  For allergic rhinitis, a dosage of at least 2 grams per day should be administered.

Stinging nettle / Urtica dioica :  

A randomised, double-blind study using 300 mg freeze-dried Stinging Nettle in the treatment of allergic rhinitis found 69 patients who completed the study rated it higher than placebo.

58 % rated it effective in relieving their symptoms and 48% found it to be equally or more effective than their previous medicine!

Side effects with Stinging Nettle are rare and when they occur are typically allergic and/or felt as gastrointestinal distress.

If you suffer from hay fever the naturopathic approach can provide a natural alternative for getting you out of pain and keeping you symptom free.  I always recommend a consultation rather than just taking the advice off a blog, even mine as every person should have their own individual prescription to get safe results quickly and effectively.

In health,

Sonia x


References:

Thornhill, S. M., & Kelly, A. M. (2000). Natural treatment of perennial allergic rhinitis. Alternative Medicine Review, 5(5), 448-454.

Clemetson, C.A. (1980). Histamine and ascorbic acid in human blood. Journal of Nutrition, 110, 662-668.

Kelly, G.S. (1996). Bromelain: A literature review and discussion of its therapeutic applications. Alternative Medicine Review, 1, 243-257.

Mittman, P. (1990). Randomized, double blind study of freeze dried urtica dioica in the treatment of allergic rhinitis. Planta Med, 56, 44-47.

Murray, M.T. (1996).  A comprehensive review of vitamin C. American Journal of Natural Medicine, 3, 8-21.

Otsuka, H., Inaba, M., Fujikura, T., Kunitomo, M. (1995). Histochemical and functional characteristics of metachromic cells in the nasal epithelium in allergic rhinitis: Studies of nasal scrapings and their dispersed cells. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 96, 528-536.

Podoshin, L., Gertner, R., Fradis, M. (1991). Treatment of perennial allergic rhinitis with ascorbic acid solution. Ear Nose and Throat Journal, 170, 54-55.

Rimoldi, R., Ginesu, F., Giura R. (1978). The use of bromelain in pneumological therapy. Drugs Under Experimental & Clinical Research, 4:55-66.

Taussig, S. (1980). The mechanism of the physiological action of bromelain. Medical Hypotheses, 6, 99-104.

Thornhill, S. M., & Kelly, A. M. (2000). Natural treatment of perennial allergic rhinitis. Alternative Medicine Review, 5(5), 448-454.

Sheffner, A. (1963). The reduction in vitro in viscosity of mucoprotein solution by a new mucolytic agent, n-acetyl-l-cysteine. Annals of New York Academy of Science, 106, 298-310.

(1980). Long-term oral acetylcysteine in chronic bronchitis: A double-blind controlled study. European Journal of Respiratory Diseases, 111, 93-108

Sonia McNaughton
Tired, Teary & Sluggish?
tired-teary-sluggish-sonia-mcnaughton-naturopath-nutritionist-newcastle-thyroid-womens-health-hormones-mayfield.png

Feeling tired, teary & sluggish?  Can’t lose fat or gain muscle? 

You might have hypothyroidism. 

A whopping 5% of the total population have hypothyroidism and as you age your risk increases.  In your 50’s and 60’s 10% of the population have hypothyroidism.  Plus it’s more common in women than men (2, 3). 

Subclinical hypothyroidism, a hard to detect form that may still cause symptoms, is even more common with up to 10% of the adult population and in women over the age of 60 over 20% (1).

The most common cause of hypothyroidism in Australia is an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.  In Hashimoto’s the immune system is over active and attacks the thyroid gland causing hypothyroidism.  Hypothyroidism is when your thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone for your body to function normally and fully (2).

If a family member has an autoimmune condition including Type 1 diabetes or Coealiac disease you are more likely to end up with Hashimoto’s (1).

Medically recognised signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

•          Exhaustion

•          Feeling drowsy, close to sleep and sleeping for long periods of time, called somnolence

•          “Brain fog” -  memory loss and slower thinking times

•          Intolerance to cold

•          Constipation

•          Depression

•          Weight gain

•          Menstrual disturbances including heavy periods

•          Dry, thin and pale skin

•          Puffiness below the eyes

•          Carpal tunnel syndrome

•          Calf stiffness

•          Hearing impairment

•          High cholesterol levels.

If you suffer from any of these it may be worthwhile testing your thyroid.

In health,

Sonia x


References:

1. Kalantari, S. (2007). Subclinical hypothyroidism. International Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, 5(1), 33-40. Retrieved from: http://endometabol.com/?page=article&article_id=2092

2. Topliss, D.J. & Eastman, C.J. (2004). Diagnosis and management of hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. Medical Journal of Australia, 180(4), 186-193. Retrieved from: https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2004/180/4/5-diagnosis-and-management-hyperthyroidism-and-hypothyroidism

3. Vaidya, B., & Pearce, S. H. (2008). Management of hypothyroidism in adults. British Medical Journal, 337. doi:10.1136/bmj.a801

Harris, P., Nagy, S. & Vardaxis, N. (2012) Mosby’s Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing and Health Professions: Australian and New Zealand (9th ed.). Sydney: Elsevier.

Sonia McNaughton
What to Believe When Choosing a Supplement?
choosing-supplement-sonia-mcnaughton-naturopath-nutritionist-newcastle-thyroid-womens-health-hormones-mayfield.png

Is it all just expensive pee? How do you know what to believe when choosing a supplement?

Do vitamin and mineral supplements even work? Isn’t popping a nutritional or herbal pill an expensive way to colour your pee yellow? There is so much conflicting information about supplements in the news and on social media how do you work out the fact from the fiction?

Almost every day a client will tell me they are taking magnesium for their period pain/ mood disorder/ sleep issues / muscle soreness/ constipation but it is not working and they are upset because of the wasted time, money and failed expectations. .  

I typically ask my clients to bring in all the supplements they are taking or have lurking in a cupboard so I can eyeball and educate.  As we work our way  through the bags and bags of pill bottles most women have at home we talk about:

-     what each ingredient in the supplement has been studied for

-     if it is in fact useful for what they were hoping it would do

-     what dosage to take to reach the health goal desired

-     best time of day to take the supplement

-     with or without food

-     medications interactions

-     other supplement interactions

-     how long they should take the product.

Most of my clients have never been given this information and yet they have bought literally hundreds and hundreds of dollars in supplements that are not working for them.

So let’s set the record straight about how to sort the good from the bad!

Here’s what you need to know and ask before you get out your wallet, find your credit card and invest your pay packet in what could be the most helpful thing you did in your journey to wellness or very expensive pee.  

1.       What dose and for how long?

If the person recommending the supplement cannot answer or research how much and for how long you should take it - do not buy what they are selling! 

Good quality scientific research done on humans always states dosage and duration with the results achieved. Why would you spend money on something that has not been researched on humans?

If you are shopping online you need to hunt down the research yourself or read blogs where they describe the research- there is a reason why the product you are buying is cheaper online there is no need to build in the cost of staffing.

2. Who were the people the study was performed on?

If the person recommending the supplement cannot answer or research if you match the population the nutrient was studied on - do not buy what they are selling. 

Have you heard iodine is useful in thyroid conditions? Let’s talk about it!

Do you match the population the nutrient was studied on: does the amount of iodine a healthy Japanese person eating a traditional diet equate to the amount of iodine needed by an Australian, American or British person with Hashimoto’s or Graves eating a standard western diet with an anglo-saxon ethnicity?  

Dosage:  Should you take more or less iodine if you are not of Japanese ethnicity eating a fish & vegetable diet?

Do you take more or less iodine because you have a thyroid condition but the Japanese population statistic does not specify if they factor in autoimmune thyroid conditions?

What is your weight as compared with average weight of the Japanese people studied?

Have you asked yourself what if it goes horribly wrong? Does the person selling you the iodine accept the very real consequences of the guess they made if you end up in hospital with the symptoms of a heart attack? Do you?  

Using another very common weight loss example I see regularly: 

is a weight loss supplement researched only on fit and healthy men aged 18 - 21 mean weight loss can be expected by a post menopausal woman aged over 55 on multiple medications for chronic conditions living a largely sedentary life? If you choose to take the supplement studied only on fit, young men with large amounts of muscle on no medications do you take more of the supplement or less of the supplement? 

3. When did study participants take the supplement?

A supplement may only be beneficial at one stage of a disease or condition and not another, so studies done at different stages may have different results.

Some supplements are better at night or in the day. Some are boosted by being taken with food and others need to be taken on an empty stomach to even have an impact.

For example Vitamin C may be an increase the amount of hormones your body gets from thyroid medication whereas calcium or iron may reduce the amount of thyroid medication absorbed.

4. How did researchers measure the supplement’s effectiveness?

If you are told a herbal remedy gives you more energy what does that mean? Is it sleeping less or sleeping more, mental acuity or physical energy? Is one more important to you than another?

5.  Was the ingredient studied the same ingredient that is in the supplement?

A study done on the impact of a plant on the weight loss of women with Hashimoto’s was from the plant’s dry seed pounded into a powder and put in a capsule. If you take a liquid form of that plant extracted into alcohol should you expect to get the same results?

The answer to the question do supplements even work is - YES! As long as the right supplement, in the right dose is matched with the people studied in the research.  If not there it is a lucky draw if you are helping or harming your health.

The Harvard School of Public Health published a guideline to shoppers on how to work out if a supplement might be useful to you or not and it is this article that started the conversation with you.  Jump here to read their article.

Have you ever been given advice on a nutrient or herb that you later found just simply did not work for you?

In health,

Sonia x


References:

Harvard School of Public Health (2018). “Supplement Studies: Sorting Out the Confusion” Retrieved from: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/supplement-studies/?utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=Social&utm_campaign=Chan-Twitter-General

Sonia McNaughton
Feeling Stressed, Tired or Irritable? A Herbal Miracle May Just Help!
feeling-stressed-tired-sonia-mcnaughton-naturopath-nutritionist-newcastle-thyroid-womens-health-hormones-mayfield.png

Winter getting you down? A herbal tonic called Rhodiola rosea is a natural pick-me-up to help you cope with feeling overwhelmed, exhausted and down.

Rhodiola  has been used for hundreds of years in many different cultures for its anti-stress, anti-fatigue and antidepressant properties. 

A 2016 review of the scientific studies on Rhodiola found evidence to support its use with people who have:

•          stress induced depression

•          depressive disorders.

(Amsterdam & Panossian, 2016).

How does it do that?

Rhodiola has been found to produce a variety of mediator interactions with neuroendocrine-immune and neurotransmitter receptor systems likely to be involved in the cause of depression.

Show me the Science

The Study Details: 

•          146 people with diagnosed major depressive disorder in 2 randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials.

•          714 people with diagnosed stress induced mild depression (diagnosed as asthenic syndrome or psychoneurosis) from 7 open-label studies.

Is it safe?

- Never come off medication or change your dose without your doctor or psychologist’s approval as a blog post cannot constitute medical advice for your own set of individual circumstances.

- The scientists in the study found Rhodiola was well-tolerated with a favourable safety profile.

- As a trained herbalist I do however caution if you are trying to fall pregnant, are currently pregnant, or lactating unless you are under the care of a trained herbalist you are best not to use Rhodiola.  I also caution my caffeine loving clients that Rhodiola in combination with caffeine may cause unpleasant side effects.

In health,

Sonia x

NB:  Never come off medication or change your dose or without your doctor or psychologist’s approval as a blog post cannot constitute medical advice for your own set of individual circumstances.


Sonia McNaughton
Increasing Milk Supply for Nursing Mothers with Herbal Tea
increasing-milk-supply-sonia-mcnaughton-naturopath-nutritionist-newcastle-thyroid-womens-health-hormones-mayfield.png

It’s world breast feeding week so what better time to look at the evidence and scientific research behind nursing mothers’ teas for increasing milk supply.

Fenugreek:

Fenugreek tea given to breast feeding mums were found to produce significantly higher amounts of breast milk, have babies who lost the least birth weight, and experienced the shortest time to regain their birth weight as compared with mums given apple tea. 

And for all my statistic-loving readers significance achieved in each measurement (p < 0.05).

Do you know a nursing mother?  A gift of fenugreek tea might be very appreciated if she is struggling to produce enough milk.

Check out what Australian Breastfeeding Association say about Fenugreek here: https://www.breastfeeding.asn.au/bfinfo/galactagogues-substances-claimed-increase-supply


Sonia McNaughton
A Healthy Delicious Fast Lunch
healthy-fast-lunch-sonia-mcnaughton-naturopath-nutritionist-newcastle-thyroid-womens-health-hormones-mayfield.png

Keeping on track with my 2019 goals gets hard when I’m time poor!  What I need is a quick and healthy meal to help me stay alert, calm and full throughout my busy afternoon while lovin’ my liver.

Challenge accepted!

Carrot & Beetroot Salad (with thanks to Everyday Cookbook)

Ingredients:

1 carrot

2 beetroot (raw)

1/2 green apple

1/4 red onion

Method:

Blitz together in food processor / Thermomix 3 secs (speed 5 for Thermie lovers).

Dump into large bowl & take 1 serving for lunch. Cover tightly and enjoy the rest with dinner.  I don’t find I need a dressing with this salad as the beetroot, carrot, apple and onion all get very moist when you process them together.

This salad is paleo, AIP (autoimmune paleo protocol), thyroid friendly, Mediterranean diet friendly, low calorie, low fat… this salad could join the United Nations it crosses so many different diet boundaries! 

I add a tin of Wild Alaskan Pink Salmon to this meal to boost the protein, calcium, essential fatty acid content and most importantly for me personally balance my blood sugar levels so I stay energised and calm all afternoon!

I drain the tin into a sink and with a fork mush the bones into the salmon flesh so they become one with the salmon.

Making the salad and adding the salmon takes only a few moments so really most of my 5 minutes is spent cleaning up!  I rinse the food processor bowl and drain it on the sink and pop my leftovers in the fridge.  I also had time to spare to take a quick pic & upload to Instagram. 

Do you have a healthy ‘go-to’ lunch idea you can make in less than 5 mins? I’d love to hear it!

In health,

Sonia x

Sonia McNaughton
How to Make Salmon Taste and Smell Delicious

What’s a naturopath to do when she gags at the thought of salmon?

4 years of studying naturopathy indelibly imprinted the seemingly endless health virtues of the humble fish fillet on my brain.  The only problem was I had never been introduced to a piece of fish that was not battered and deep fried that didn’t make me gag.

I outed my loathing of all edible aquatic life forms in a class only to be scorned like cream-bun on the Biggest Loser.  How could a naturopath not love fish?

A fellow mature age student, Amanda, sidled up to me one day and furtively whispered the words that changed my life….. “my fussy five year old will eat salmon if I put it in baking paper, drown it in soy sauce, poke a garlic clove in it and then wrap it up like a birthday present.” 

Challenge accepted!

I dropped past Aldi on the way home and before you judge my economical shopping choice, after years of projectile vomiting from even the smell of cooking fish I was not prepared to invest serious $ into the wild caught variety for an experiment with so little chance of success.

My first ever attempt to eat salmon I cooked. So momentus the occasion I recorded it for posterity, well actually, for the paramedics if they needed to confirm my last meal.

I laid the fish on some baking paper, sprinkled the slippery sucker liberally with Tamari (wheat free soy sauce), crushed a garlic clove with the side of my knife as taught by my Nonna, poked small pieces of garlic along the length of the fillet and then wrapped the baking paper up like a parcel-the-parcel. No more than 2 minutes in preparation!

10 (no-fishy-smell-at-all) minutes later I opened the now browned paper, gingerly tasted a teeny-tiny morsel, and cue angels singing, it was d.e.l.i.o.u.s. 

Yep you got that right, not only was it edible, it was scrumptious….. ahhhhhh…..this must be what golfers’ experience with a hole-in-one.

Even better no preparation mess, no cooking dishes to clean -just throw the paper in the bin.

What is even more interesting is my former “if it is not from a cow or a pig it’s not food” husband and I have started to become more adventurous with fish discovering a genuine love for the delicate flavour. In fact on the stove now is a fish curry of sorts bubbling away ready for my dinner. 

It seems my journey-with-fish was how naturopaths describe introducing broccoli to a 3 year old – you’ve just gotta keep trying no matter how many times they throw it on the ceiling. 

I’ve gotta share with you, for the sake of total honesty, I still very rarely order fish when eat out because if it is not perfectly fresh I do vomit just a little in my mouth.

So what’s my recipe?  Well I challenge you to cook fish this week the way I first learnt it and hopefully everyone in your family will love it as much as mine.

Salmon En Papillote

Salmon En Papillote or ‘salmon cooked in paper’ for those of us who don’t speak french.

Per Person

Ingredients:
1 fish fillet (try a strong tasting fish like salmon to truly appreciate how good at masking flavour this recipe is),

A good dousing of tamari/soy sauce

1 garlic clove

1 knob ginger (optional)

1/2 lemon

splosh of extra virgin olive oil.

Recipe:

•          Lay a large piece of baking paper (I used Glad Bake here) on your kitchen bench (not alfoil, not a chicken roasting bag, it must be baking paper).

•          Place your salmon fillet in the middle.

•          Check there are no pesky bones poking out and if you find one pull that sucker out.  If you are a MasterChef fan of course you will have the kitchen-tweezers at the ready.

•          Slice small nicks and cuts along the meaty body of the salmon.

•          Take at least 1 garlic clove and squash it under the side of your knife, peal off the skin and throw the skin away and slice the smelly clove roughly.

•          (If you have ginger, take a thumb-sized nob of ginger and slice roughly.)

•          Stuff bits of ginger and garlic into those nicks you previously made.

•          Douse the fish roughly 2 tbspns in tamari (wheat-free soy sauce) or soy sauce (for those of you still blithely eating wheat – no judgement).

•          Hold up the 2 ends of the paper nestling little-fishy in the middle still on the bench.

•          Gradually fold/roll the two ends together down so you create a tightly wrapped parcel.

•          Fold/roll the sticky-out ends in towards the fish and then finish with the other side.

•          Pop your carefully rolled parcel in a warmed oven on approx 180C/medium for approx 10-12 minutes.

•          While that’s in the oven why not multi-task! Put a saucepan of water on to boil and chop up a sweet potato into small bits and place in salted boiling water.  On top of the boiling water add a steaming basket and cook your favourite green veggies.

•          When you take the fish out of the oven be careful opening the parcel as steam will flood out.  If you are serving this to bubbas pull out the bits of garlic and ginger.  Those pieces have really done their job in infusing flavour in to the flesh and can now be discarded that is thrown in the bin - do not eat them unless worried about vampires later that night.

•          Drain your veggies and mash your sweet potato.  I don’t cook with dairy ‘cause otherwise I snore like a rhinoceros so I add extra virgin olive oil to transform my mash to creamy goodness. You use whatever fat suits your body - oil, butter, ghee, cream.

•          Pop the fragrant morsel of fish on your mashed sweet potato and add your veggies on your plate. I always top my vegies with a teaspoon or so of raw extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.  Lemon on any food but especially vegetables helps make the iron content more absorbable – so important for women struggling with fatigue.

•          Or if you want to serve this the fancy-smancy french restaurant way keep the parcel closed and take it to the table on the plate. Diners do feel very compelled to utter exclamations of wonder when they open their own parcel – always good for the chef’s ego.

So why spend so much time talking about a recipe which I am sure for the average home cook sounds incredibly simple and basic?

Most people I see in my clinic don’t eat fish at all let alone regularly enough to get the endless inflammation lowering and mood boosting benefits of fish (that has not been deep fried). 

When I delve into why they don’t eat fish inevitably they either don’t know how to cook it or there is a family member who threatens to stage a full scale riot if a piece of smelly fish is cooked in the house.

For me it is very sad to hear a whole family is missing out of all the goodness of fish because of previous bad experiences.

Fish has strong evidence behind it as being not only good for your heart, but also in fighting mild to moderate depression, inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and the list goes on. All up this simple meal provides:

•          heart loving omega 3’s in the salmon and monounsaturated fats in the extra virgin olive oil

•          bowel loving and tummy filling fibre and nutrients in the veggies

•          dense in protein and healthy fats means it keeps you feeling full longer. 

In fact I dare and double-dare you to reach for a chocolate when you are on the couch critiquing the efforts of those handsome boys on My Kitchen Rules after this meal.

Now on to a more serious matter…talking about MKR I don’t think the blonde dude looks at all like his cousin Thor, do you?  Maybe if he took his shirt off?

For more heart healthy recipes check out these babies on the Heart Foundation’s site.  They even provide videos for step by step instruction.  http://www.heartfoundation.org.au/recipes/pages/videos.aspx

I’d love to swap a heart healthy recipe with you if you have a fail-safe fish dish? 

In health,

Sonia x

Sonia McNaughton
PCOS, Obesity, Infertility & Facial Hair Linked To Vitamin Level
pcos-obesity-infertility-vitamin-sonia-mcnaughton-naturopath-nutritionist-newcastle-thyroid-womens-health-hormones-mayfield.png

Women with PCOS have been found to have worse symptoms if their vitamin D* levels were low.  That is worse obesity, lower pregnancy success, excess facial hair as well as a long list of other problems. 1;2.

Unfortunately an alarming 6785% of PCOS women have been found to have extremely low levels of vitamin D in their bodies. 2.

So it’s time to talk about a thorny issue for all Australians … sunshine exposure.

I’m sure most Aussies have known someone who has been diagnosed with a sun cancer of some type and we’ve certainly taken the message to stay out of the sun to heart.  I regularly see clients with extremely low vitamin D levels who look at me in horror when I suggest their skin feels the warm rays of the sun on a daily basis without sunscreen**.

But here’s the thing…  Whilst your body gets most of the vitamins and minerals it needs from the foods you eat only a few foods naturally contain any vitamin D so it’s almost impossible to get what your body needs just from unprocessed food 3. 

I certainly don’t mean baking yourself like a rotisserie chicken! In fact your skin can make Vitamin D quickly, particularly in the summer. You don’t need to tan or burn your skin to get vitamin D.  You only need to expose your unprotected skin for around half the time it takes for your skin to turn pink and begin to burn. Whilst how much vitamin D you make from the sun depends on the time of day, where you live in the world, your age and the colour of your skin the more skin you expose the more vitamin D is produced. 3.

Strange though it might sound some of us struggle to make Vitamin D from the sun.  For this reason I encourage you to get your own Vitamin D level checked via a simple blood test your doctor can prescribe or your naturopath can order for you.

*Vitamin D is made in the body after it has been exposed to the sun, eaten in foods and can be consumed in a supplement.

**Please be sun safe and use your common sense. Never let yourself burn. If you have been given medical advice to protect yourself from the sun you must follow that advice as it has been personalised to your own body and circumstances.  

In health,

Sonia x

References:

1. Kotsa, K., Yavropoulou, M. P., Anastasiou, O., & Yovos, J. G. (2009). Role of vitamin D treatment in glucose metabolism in polycystic ovary syndrome. Fertility and Sterility, 92(3), 1053-1058.

2. Thomson, R. L., Spedding, S., & Buckley, J. D. (2012). Vitamin D in the aetiology and management of polycystic ovary syndrome. Clinical Endocrinology, 77(3), 343-350.

3. Vitamin D Council (n.d.). How do I get the vitamin D my body needs? Retrieved from: https://www.vitamindcouncil.org/about-vitamin-d/how-do-i-get-the-vitamin-d-my-body-needs/

Sonia McNaughton