The Pitfalls Of A Holiday

I recently went on a wonderful holiday to an island.

The island had three restaurants to choose from for all meals. One, a Japanese option, the other two best described as Australian fast food. The Japanese was lovely and healthy; unfortunately was only open four of the days. The other two were open all the time. Salad options were sold out by 11.30am leaving only fried foods (chips, sweet potato chips, calamari etc) as our limited option.

It made me realise how much fruit and vegetables I consume regularly. I thought I was ‘normal’ in this aspect. Upon reflection of my holiday, it seems I may not be!

In our line of work as a chiropractor we are here to help people achieve optimal health and wellness. Diet is a key factor to how well we function. Ideally, we need to aim for 5-7 servings of fruit and vegetables per day. Both fruit and vegetables are a great source of water and fibre and therefore extremely beneficial for our digestive tract. Some examples of fruits and vegetables high in water and fibre content include; blueberry, apple, orange, peach, pineapple, broccoli, cabbage, celery, cucumber and lettuce. 1

Many studies show the benefits of regular intake of fruit and vegetable in our diet. One study of men who ate 110 grams of apple a day (an averaged sized apple) had half the risk of a heart attack compared to those who ate less than 18 grams per day.2

Another study resulted in a reduction by 20% risk of developing colorectal cancer by the addition of one daily serving of vegetables.3 Another reason to increase your intake of leafy greens is it is significantly associated with a reduced incidence of type 2 diabetes.4

A high intake of fruit and vegetables have been associated with a reduced incidence of cancer and cardiovascular disease.5

Hopefully these studies will spur us all onto increasing our fruit and vegetable intake. Aside from the poor food choices I did have a lovely holiday. I hope that this year we all get a nice break away and relax somewhere.


[1] Cooperative extension service, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, ENRI-129, December 1997.
[2] Ness, AR, Powles, JW. Does eating fruit and vegetables protect against heart attack and stroke? Chemistry and Industry, Oct, 21, 1996; 792-4
[3] Franceschi, S. et al. Food groups and risk of colorectal cancer in Italy. Int. J. Cancer 1997 72:56-61
[4] Carter, PC, et al. Fruit and vegetable intake and incidence of type 2 diabetes mellitus: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ 2010; 341: C4229
[5] Pomerleau J, Lock K, McKee M. The burden of cardiovascular disease and cancer attributable to low fruit and vegetable intake in the European Union: difference between old and new member states. Public Health Nutr 2006; 9: 575-83

Can Allergens & Irritants Impact The Health Of The Body?

Last week our Healthy Living Blog post by Sarah, “Allergy or Intolerance” introduced the difference between an allergy and an intolerance, and linked both to gut health.

An allergy refers to the body’s reaction to the proteins within the eaten food (immune system). This food is harmless to most people.1

An intolerance or sensitivity is considered a ‘chemical’ reaction (digestive system) to a substance, commonly food, and does not show up on a traditional allergy test.

Why should I care? I can cope with the symptoms of my intolerance!

It’s not as simple as a tummy ache, bowel changes, or even a mild rash. Regularly exposing your body to allergens or irritants can have significant impacts on the health of the body.

Exposure to an allergen creates an inflammatory response in the digestive system, creating an increase in intestinal permeability (aka Leaky Gut Syndrome). This increase in gut permeability creates a change in the way our metabolic and neuroendocrine systems function.

The metabolic system is responsible for life sustaining chemical reactions, which ultimately fuel the body’s energy and chemical needs.

The neuroendocrine system involves the interaction between the brain and the body’s hormonal regulation and helps to regulate and balance our body’s daily functions. 

Changes in these two systems result in a pro-inflammatory state, which can contribute to immune system dysfunction and the development of a wide range of chronic conditions3.

The intestinal microbiome has been identified as a triggering/mediating factor in autoimmune conditions4 (including Graves’ disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, systemic lupus erythematosus, and psoriasis); some rheumatoid conditions5 (rheumatoid arthritis and spondyloarthropathies), and potentially some types of cancers6.

It’s not all bad news. By choosing healthy lifestyle factors we may better promote a healthy gut microbiome2.

Where possible, avoid processed foods. The additives and preservatives often contained in processed foods are designed to slow the growth of microflora and bacteria. They are designed to prolong the shelf life of a product, however once ingested, can also wreak havoc on the balance and growth of the bacteria integral to a healthy gut microbiome. By consuming a wide variety of foods, you may increase the diversity of nutrients and microflora your gut is exposed to; thus helping to maintain a balance of the 2100+ organisms7 that make up our gut microbiome.

Illustration: Mitch Blunt

There are a range of supplements and programs that can be followed to improve gut health and potentially reduce not only the symptoms of your intolerance but also help to address the root cause.

Speak to you practitioner to find out what approach would be best in your situation.


[1] Metagenics Allergy and Reactivity Reduction Program: Clinical Guide
[2] Shanahan F, van Sinderen D, O’Toole PW, Stanton C. Feeding the microbiota: transducer of nutrient signals for the host. Gut. 2017;66(9):1709-1717.
[3] Fitzgerald, F. and Hodges, R., 2021. The Role of the Microbiome in Immune-Related Diseases | IFM. [online] The Institute for Functional Medicine. Available at: 
[4] Opazo MC, Ortega-Rocha EM, Coronado-Arrázola I, et al. Intestinal Microbiota Influences Non-intestinal Related Autoimmune Diseases. Front Microbiol. 2018;9:432
[5] Yeoh N, Burton JP, Suppiah P, Reid G, Stebbings S (Mar 2013). “The role of the microbiome in rheumatic diseases”. Current Rheumatology Reports(Review). 15 (3): 314
[6] Fasano A (Jan 2011). “Zonulin and its regulation of intestinal barrier function: the biological door to inflammation, autoimmunity, and cancer”. Physiological Reviews (Review). 91 (1): 151–75 
[7] Thursby, E., & Juge, N. (2017). Introduction to the human gut microbiota. The Biochemical journal474(11), 1823–1836.

Allergy Or Intolerance?

What’s the difference when it comes to food and what can I do about it?

Sometimes it seems that everyone has an allergy or intolerance to some sort of food these days. Do people actually mean allergic or do they mean intolerant when they say “I’m allergic to….” ?

An allergy refers to the body’s reaction to the proteins within the eaten food (immune system). This food is harmless to most people.1

An intolerance or sensitivity is considered a ‘chemical’ reaction (digestive system) to a substance, commonly food, and does not show up on a traditional allergy test. Intolerances can cause similar signs and symptoms1.

Symptoms are widespread and non-specific and include1:

  • gastrointestinal symptoms,
  • skin complaints,
  • respiratory issues,
  • fatigue,
  • headache,
  • migraine,
  • cognitive deficits,
  • neurodevelopmental disorders,
  • anxiety,
  • depression,
  • joint pain,
  • muscle pain, and
  • endocrine disturbances

Whatever the cause, allergies and intolerances can be very debilitating. There are some risk factors that increase your chances of having allergies and intolerances1.

  • Family history of allergies
  • Personal history of allergies
  • Digestive disorders (e.g., hydrochloric acid deficiency)
  • Dysbiosis and/or liver toxicity
  • Exposure to environmental allergens and/or toxic compounds

While some of these are out of our control, there are some factors which we can influence to reduce reactivity. Most practitioners will primarily focus on the health of the gut.

I found out first-hand the power of the gut in relation to allergies and intolerances.

At age 21, I had my first set of antibiotics due to strep throat. Pre antibiotics I had no issues with any foods. I chose not to eat a lot of bread and milk as I felt they made my tummy look bloated. Over the next few years following this set of antibiotics, I noticed that I could no longer tolerate wheat, then gluten, then all dairy products, then yeast, soy, corn, mould and coffee.

In my late 20s, I was at the point where even tiny amounts of these foods would cause me to become very ill with migraines, eczema, cognitive issues, fatigue and stomach upset. I avoided these foods for around 7 years.

At age 30, I contracted my first ever bout of gastro. I took a ton of probiotics and colostrum and resumed life as normal. Once I could eat again, I noticed that I didn’t get sick when I accidentally ate some gluten. Then I tried some of the other foods I was sensitive to….no, they were fine as well!

My naturopath and I were both flummoxed. The only thing that made sense was that the gastro had completely wiped my previous gut bacteria profile. The probiotics and colostrum had re-established the gut bacteria in a way that made my gut less leaky and more able to tolerate my previously problem foods. Full disclosure – I do actually have a dairy protein allergy so that’s still an issue for me.

Now I’m certainly not suggesting that you go out and get gastro, but my story highlights the importance of gut health in relation to allergies and intolerances.

If you aren’t addressing the root cause (the gut), your only real options are to avoid that particular food/substance or suffer, the later not being ideal.

If you aren’t sure what is setting you off, there are a few ways you can discover this. Traditional medical allergy testing is an option; however, it may not show anything as you could be suffering from an intolerance – see your GP for this testing. If you are experiencing symptoms of anaphylaxis, or severe symptoms please see your Doctor.

Other options include kinesiology and bio-resonance testing.

There are a range of supplements and programs that can be followed to improve gut health and potentially reduce not only the symptoms of your allergies and intolerances but also help to address the root cause.

Speak to you practitioner to find out what approach would be best in your situation.


[1] Metagenics Allergy and Reactivity Reduction Program: Clinical Guide

Please contact us if you would like specific references

Australia’s Health Status

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has released a new report1

“Australia’s Health 2020” summarises the current health status of various populations, the impact on our health care system, and helps to focus our efforts on improving each Australian’s overall health and longevity.

To read the full report titled ‘Australia’s health 2020: data insights’ The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) press HERE.

Key Findings

We are living longer! The average life expectancy for men is 80.7 years, and 84.9 years for women. That’s the 9th and 7th highest life expectancy in the world for men and women respectively.

The leading cause of death varies with age. In people <44yoa injuries are the leading cause, whilst in >45yoa cardiovascular disease and cancer are the leading cause.

The main burden of disease (cause of premature ill health) also varies with age.

This information is reflected in the AIHW report1 infographic below.

So why does my Chiropractor care?

You may notice that injuries (green), musculoskeletal conditions (yellow), cardiovascular disease (CVD) (orange)  and mood disorders (purple) are a main theme of ill health in Australian adults, and asthma (blue) and birth trauma (pink) are a main theme in children; Chiropractic care can address the severity of symptoms across all domains and impact on overall health and quality of life across all ages and life stages.

Healthy Kids
We tend to forget that even an ‘easy’ birthing process is a huge physical trauma for a newborn. However, unlike the mother, a baby can’t express what is sore or wrong! Much like an adult can benefit from Chiropractic care for issues associated with joint restrictions/spinal subluxations, so can a newborn.

Press HERE for more information about Kids and Chiropractic.

In older children, Asthma is the largest burden of health. Whilst Chiropractic care can’t cure or treat Asthma per se, by treating spinal and ribcage subluxations, muscular imbalances, and adding breathing pattern rehab; Chiropractic care may help to improve an asthmatic child’s quality of life.

Your chiropractor works primarily in assessing and reducing the severity of symptoms sustained from acute injuries. From rolled ankles, sprained wrists, or knee or shoulder pain; to whiplash and concussion; your chiropractor will address the joint, nerve, and muscle function of the region and focus on returning you back to optimal health as soon as practicable.

Musculoskeletal Conditions
This is a chiropractor’s bread and butter! We routinely address issues arising from joint restrictions/spinal subluxations, and their impact on the function of the nerves and soft tissues. One key to healthy aging, and minimising the burden of disease is to maintain a healthy spine and neuromusculoskeletal system.

Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)
At Caring Hands Chiropractic we advocate for routine physical and aerobic exercise, and optimal nutrition through a varied diet and supplements. This is because these factors play a large role in the prevention of CVD and its risk factors, including obesity and sedentary lifestyles. These factors, in combination with maintaining a healthy spine further help minimise the risk of developing CVD.

Press HERE for more information about thoracic spinal manipulation and pulmonary function in stroke patients.

Mood Disorders
Whilst we aren’t psychologists, Chiropractors are trained within a biopsychosocial framework of health; meaning we understand that the physical body and the emotional state of the mind are intricately linked; pain in one can influence pain in the other, and vice versa. All of our Chiropractors are substantially qualified in providing individually suited stress management strategies, with Sarah additionally trained in NET (Neuro-Emotional Technique).

Have any questions? Please don’t hesitate to ask! The team at Caring Hands Chiropractic love what they do, and are passionate about helping others reach their wellness goals.


[1] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2020. Australia’s health 2020: in brief. Australia’s health series no. 17 Cat. no. AUS 232. Canberra: AIHW.  Available from


Magnesium is a very important mineral that is involved in many bodily functions.

Unfortunately, magnesium deficiency is quite common in Australia, largely to a lack of it in the soil – if it’s not in the soil, it can’t be in our food.

Magnesium intake has been shown to be inadequate in teenagers aged 14 to 18 years (61% of males and 72% of females), and adults over 19 years of age were found to have inadequate magnesium intake (41% males and 35% females) [1]

Magnesium deficiency can cause and/or contribute to symptoms such as:

  • Muscular pain and cramping [2]
  • Headache and migraine [3] [4]
  • Insomnia [5]
  • Fatigue [6]
  • Hormonal/thyroid imbalance [7]
  • High blood pressure [8]
  • Stress [9]

There are some foods that are traditionally high in magnesium such as:[10]

  • Salmon, Halibut, Atlantic mackerel, Atlantic pollock
  • Spinach, Swiss chard, Edamame, Tamarind, Potato with skin, Okra
  • Black-eyed peas (cooked)
  • Tempeh (cooked), Soy nuts, Tofu
  • Cooked beans (black, lima, navy, pinto, chickpeas)
  • Almonds, Cashews, Flaxseed, Peanut butter
  • Quinoa

It’s always a great idea to try and increase minerals from food sources. However, if you are experiencing symptoms of magnesium deficiency then it’s best to chat to your practitioner as you may need a supplement.

What supplements are available?

There are many, many magnesium supplements on the market. An important thing to consider is bioavailability (the ease the body can absorb something). For example, magnesium oxide is not well absorbed by the body and can sometimes end up being an expensive laxative. On the other hand, forms such as magnesium bisglycinate and magnesium citrate have much higher bioavailability and thus you will absorb more.

There are options such as powders, tablets, sprays and Epsom salts.

At Caring Hands Chiropractic, we offer practitioner only supplements. These only use the highly bioavailable forms of magnesium and specific formulas are available that address all of the issues above. Talk to your practitioner to find out which is the right type and formula for you.

It is important to note that you should talk to your doctor or practitioner before starting anything new.


[1] Gropper SS, Smith JL. Advanced nutrition and human metabolism. 6th ed. Belmont (CA): Wadsworth, Cengage Learning; 2013. p. 443-449.

[2] Braun L, Cohen M. Herbs and natural supplements: an evidence-based guide. 4thed. Vol 2. Sydney (AU): Elsevier/Churchill Livingstone; 2015. p. 677-692.

[3] Sun-Edelstein C, Mauskop A. Role of magnesium in the pathogenesis and treatment of migraine. Expert Rev. Neurother. 2009;9(3):369-379

[4] Teigen L, Boes CJ. An evidence-based review of oral magnesium supplementation in the preventive treatment of migraine. Cephalalgia. 2015 Sep;35(10):912-22

[5] Yunus MB, Masdi AT, Calabro JJ, Miller KA, Feigenbaum SL. Primary fibromyalgia (fibromyositis): clinical study of 50 patients with matched normal controls. Sem Arthritis Rheum. 1981;11:151-171.

[6] National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements [Internet]. ODS; 2016. Magnesium. 2018 Mar 2 [2018 Mar 5]. Available from:

[7] Braun L, Cohen M. Herbs and natural supplements: an evidence-based guide. 4thed. Vol 2. Sydney (AU): Elsevier/Churchill Livingstone. 2015. p. 1101-1124

[8]  Braun L, Cohen M. Herbs and natural supplements: an evidence-based guide. 4th ed. Vol 2. Sydney (AU): Elsevier/Churchill Livingstone; 2015. p. 970-76

[9] Liu J, Head E, Kuratsune H, Cotman CW, Ames BN. Comparison of the effects of L-carnitine and acetyl-L-carnitine on carnitine levels, ambulatory activity, and oxidative stress biomarkers in the brain of old rats. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2004 Nov;1033:117-131


Stand Taller Live Longer

The relationship between posture and health is not surprising since posture is the physical end result of how your body deals with the millions of inputs to your brain from your environment. The brain receives inputs from the nervous system every single second. Our posture is how we have adapted to these inputs of the life we are living.

Posture is more than just standing upright and telling someone to stand straight with their shoulders back. Improving posture means strengthening how the body balances and how it moves.

Many people with back problems say they have poor posture. They are usually right. Mechanically related back problems are a large and growing health concern for modern society.

To read a report titled ‘The Manga Report, A study to examine the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of chiropractic management of Low Back Pain’ 1993 Kenilworth Publishing, Pran Manga et al press HERE.

Posture is dynamic and it is a trade off between flexibility and stability. Postural balance is the ability to control your body’s position in space and keep your body upright and stable especially when challenged. Poorly balanced posture requires more energy to stay upright, causing some areas increased stress and further wear and tear.

Different motions cause different muscles to strengthen and others to weaken with neglect. Our body changes with our habits. Squatting is a great example, as children we can squat comfortably with our heels on the ground and whilst some of us can still do it as an adult the majority of us become deconditioned. This is typically due to prolonged sitting. Those of us that cannot squat without lifting our heels is a sure sign of adaptively tight leg muscles. Our habits are what we do every day. It is not surprising that the more we sit the tighter we get and studies are now showing that 50% of all computer workers are suffering pain. (US Dept of Labour 1991)

Everyone has probably heard as you age you get shorter?

According to a 20yr study there is a strong correlation between losing height and mortality. Researchers at the university of London divided 4,200 men aged 40-59 into 4 groups depending of how much height they had lost over the 20 years. Men who had lost over 3 cm of height had 1.45 times the risk of dying than those losing less than 1cm. The author speculated that the physical restrictions of the lungs and abdominal organs caused significantly greater risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and respiratory mortality. In other words; stand taller, live longer.

To read a paper titled ‘Height loss in older men – associations with total mortality and incidence of cardiovascular disease’ by S. Goya Wannamethee PhD; A. Gerald Shaper, FRCP; Lucy Lennon, MSc; Peter H. Whincup, FRCP, PhD, press HERE.

Improving posture means strengthening how you balance and reduce the mechanical load upon the body.

Chiropractic is helpful at reducing the mechanical load placed on the body and improving alignment. Strong posture comes from our core muscles. These are the inner most muscles that connect and stabilise the torso over the pelvis.

Speak to your chiropractor today about how you can strengthen your posture to stand taller and live longer. 

Detox Your Home

This month we are talking all things DETOX.

About 2 years ago, following some pathology that showed a decrease in my thyroid function and an increase in my estrogen, I decided to have a real look at the products and items in my home and how they were affecting my health. My journey was a long one. It took me some time to reach the point I am currently at.

My advice when embarking on this journey is don’t expect to do it all in one go. Replacing every cleaning and self-care product in your home is expensive, so I just replaced things as they ran out or broke.

Areas to consider.

Plastic containers. These contain hormone disrupting chemicals. DO NOT heat plastic, or put hot food into them as this liberates these chemicals. There are many glass containers available. I found Kmart and Ikea the most cost effective. You can also repurpose old jars.

Self-care products and makeup. A typical product will contain 15-50 chemicals. Considering most women use an average of 9 self-care products per day this means we are potentially putting up to 550 individual chemicals on our bodies each day1 ! Have a look for more natural makeup and self-care brands or if you have time you can make your own.

Cleaning products. These obviously contain a ludicrous amount of chemicals and artificial fragrances. Have a look at the environmental working group for green cleaners2. Many are readily available from the super market.

Food. Conventionally grown foods are typically produced using pesticides. Where you can, buy organic. If it’s not in your budget to buy completely organic then consider buying items from the “Dirty Dozen”3 list from the environmental working group. This lists the produce with the heaviest pesticide residues. Another consideration is buying as many foods as you can with no labels or as little recognisable ingredients as possible.

References: 1. Australian Academy of Science 2. EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning 3. EWG’s Dirty Dozen