About chrissiealex

I love yoga, teaching and practising; I love the outdoors, all things natural; travel, meeting lots of amazing people from all over the world. I love music and how it brings up amazing memories and emotions; I love to dance, surf, run, walk... be with my family who I miss immensely being the other side of the world. Yoga classes available in Bondi beach as well as Double Bay. 6:30am and 6:30pm sessions available Tuesday - Sunday. Please contact me for more details.

Healthier Easter Chocolate yumminess

It’s Easter 🐣 so time to indulge in chocolate.. but who wants the sugar and dairy hangover the next day!?

Try these yummy recipes that are less naughty and a hellavu lot more nice…😀

Chocolate no bake vegan brownies

  I was a little short of time yesterday and had promised I would make dessert for my friend’s dinner party. So no need for baking these beauties!

Ingredients

Base

2 cups pitted dates
1 1/2 cups walnuts
6 tbsp cacao powder
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp water
1/4 + 1/8 tsp salt

Frosting

1/4 cup cacao or cocoa powder
1/8 cup pure maple syrup (or raw honey)
2 tbsp melted coconut oil
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Instructions

Combine the dates, walnuts, 6 tbsp cacao powder, 1 1/2 tsp vanilla, water, and salt in a food processor. It may seen dry but the oils from the nuts will come through.

Lightly grease an 8-inch square baking pan and press the chocolate dough very firmly into the pan.

For the frosting, in a medium mixing bowl, combine cacao, vanilla extract with the maple syrup and oil. Stir until cacao dissolved and spread evenly over dough in the baking pan.

Refrigerate brownies for at least 2 hours, to set. Leftovers, if any, can stay covered at room temperature for a day, or up to 2 weeks in the fridge, or 1-2 months in the freezer.

Enjoy!! 😀

Chocolate coconut Easter Eggs

Ingredients

Chocolate covering

50 g cacao butter
25 g coconut oil
30 g cacao powder
30 g carob powder
2 tbsps rice malt syrup

Coconut filling
3/4 cup desiccated coconut
3 tbsps Coconut milk (Coco Quench)
1 tbsp Rice Malt Syrup
1/4 tsp vanilla powder
pinch of salt

Instructions

Place all coconut bounty filling ingredients into a food processor and blitz until well combined.

In your hands roll into small balls and place in fridge.

In a medium sized bowl, melt the chocolate covering ingredients – cacao butter, coconut oil and rice syrup over a double boiler or place bowl in pan filled with boiling water, until completely melted together.

Remove from heat and stir through the carob and cacao powder ensuring there are no lumps. Continue to stir for a couple of minutes as the mixture begins to drop in temperature.

Take the coconut bounty balls out of the freezer and dunk them in the chocolate covering a few times and place in the freezer for 20 minutes. You might want to do another chocolate coating if some chocolate left.

You can use moulds and place the chocolate covering in the moulds, freeze them for 20 minutes and then add the bounty filling inside and seal the moulds together. I just didn’t have any moulds.

Chocolate

50 g cacao butter
25 g coconut oil
60g cacao powder
2 tbsps rice malt syrup

Melt the coconut oil, cacao butter and rice syrup in a double boiler. Take off the heat and stir in the cacao powder.

Add any ingredients you wish:

Nuts, chilli and salt, goji berries, inca berries.

Pour the mixture into moulds or onto a baking tray covered with greaseproof paper. Leave to cool at room temperature for at least an hour before placing into the fridge or freezer to set completely.
This chocolate will stay relatively firm at room temperature, however I recommend storing it in the fridge or freezer

Happy Easter!  Happy chocolate yumminess!  🐣🍫🍪

For even more chocolate ideas you can see my Christmas choc fest recipes here.

 

 

Happy Autumn Equinox

The Autumn Equinox reminds us to balance all parts of ourselves, the active and the passive, the known and the unknown, the outer journey and the inner journey, the seen and the unseen, the logical and the intuitive, the conscious and unconscious. From this place of Unity new doors open, new directions and new possibilities are revealed.”  Adapted from “The Alchemist’s Journey” by Glennie Kindred1

Autumn is a great time to turn inwards and reflect on what is important and where you might be out of balance. Yoga and meditation is a great practice to help this phase of rest, contemplation and renewal.
According to Ayurveda, we need to adapt to the change in seasons, as nature does, otherwise it’s hard to stay grounded during this time of change, wind and vata aggravation, and illness occurs.
Have you felt a little nervous, anxious, or difficulty focusing?  Are your bones and joints feeling a little achy?
A dedicated yoga practice at the same time everyday will also help us to stay grounded and calm the chaotic vata energy.2

Autumn in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is all about the metal elements i.e. minerals and salts and affects the lungs, large intestines, nose and mucus as well as worry, grief and sorrow.

Although a little wetter and warmer than usual so far, the lungs protect us from the dry, wind and colder climate as we move towards winter and help reduce our vata aggravation by pulling in and refining the Qi, (energy) sending it downward to nourish our roots.1

The large intestine helps enthusiasm for life, but if congested, waste goes upwards and leads to sinus and head congestion, back stiffness, abdominal discomfort, cramping and lethargy.1

It’s therefore important to stoke the intestinal fire of our gut to reduce vata with heating breathwork, twists and heating poses and heart openers to open the lungs.

An autumn cleanse is perfect to help prepare our bodies for a fuller, richer and warming winter diet and more nurturing foods.

Limit congesting foods, such as meat, dairy, gluten, sugar and refined foods; slow down your eating and be more present and mindful.

Reduce overburdening foods like alcohol, fatty foods, fried oils, sweets and chemicals/preservatives.

Increase natural, alive, fresh foods, like fresh fruits, raw or lightly steamed veggies, leafy greens and whole grains to assist in good elimination and keep the intestines well-toned.

I have been practising yoga and meditation and doing the Nutrition talks for the 40 Day Revolution at Yogatime. It’s the perfect time for a full mental, emotional, spiritual and physical overhaul, preparing us for winter. See more tips on my blog post here.

Happy Autumn! 🍂🍁🍏🥒🍆🍠🥕🌽🥗🍲

References:

1 Dr Elson Haas http://livelighter.org/staying-healthy-in-autumn-part-1/

2http://www.gaiam.com/discover/806/article/yoga-seasons-autumn/

3 The American Academy of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine

 

 

A spiritual, emotional, mental and physical transformation!

I’ve been working on and participating in a 40 Day Revolution of Yoga, meditation and diet with the beautiful, leafy boutique yoga studio Yogatime.

The structure is based on the great Baron Baptiste Yoga and, only 3 weeks in, it’s already been an incredible journey of transformation on all levels, peeling the layers as we all delve into daily meditation, yoga and looking at our thoughts, reactions and our eating habits. 😳

Baron Baptiste’s Law 8 – Remove the Rocks

Transformation means removing the rocks from our garden, the boulders that block our naturalness. Unlearn your pride, anger, fear, conditioning and your resistance and come to your natural way of being. Peeling away the toxic layers, emotional debris, self destructive patterns and beliefs. Connect back to your centre. Heal the deeper source of pain in your hearts leading you to bad habits. Soften your hearts and give up some of your old ways of being.

I wanted to share some tips I had for nutrition during the first 3 weeks of the challenge.

Week 1 – Awakening/ Presence

Being connected to your body is so important to listen to the signals your body is giving to you at every moment. With yoga and meditation you can start to be more present to how your body reacts to different foods, events and people.

Start to get curious about how food affects your body and whether you feel more energised after eating cleansing, cooling foods or whether your body feels better after building, heating foods. This can also change according to how you are feeling, the seasons or time of day.

Week 2 – Vitality

Food is so important for our mind, body and soul. However, too often these days, food is packaged, processed and filled with sugar and additives to make it more palatable to our sugar addicted taste buds.

Get back in touch with vital, energising, organic, fresh food and connect to its essence making yummy salads and vegetable soups, stews and curries. Connect to the life in the food as you chop and prepare the food with love. You will feel lighter and less toxic with more energy and clarity.

Tips to start a complete mind, body & soul detox:

1) Clean out your kitchen
Get rid of processed, packaged and convenience foods that have no vitality and are full of additives, preservatives and depleted of nutrients. Also white grains, breads, and cane sugar.

2) Restock your kitchen
Visit a farmers market where you can get in touch of where the fresh food comes from and have gratitude for the people involved in growing this alive food.

Stock up with fresh vegetables (ideally non sprayed), salad leaves, fresh fruit, fermented foods, healthy oils, sustainable/free of hormones fish and meat, eggs, nuts, seeds, nut milks, herbs & spices. Coconut flour, almond meal and grains that don’t tend to feed intestinal overgrowth i.e. quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat.

3) Reduce sugar
Sugar is immune suppressing and reduces white blood cells in infections.

Parasites, Candida, bacteria all thrive on sugar so you aggravate any bacterial overgrowth when eating sugar in excess.

Sugar can also damages organs as sugar is stored as fat around our organs, decreasing their function and causing disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity and heart issues. It is also addictive and can make us feel groggy, tired, grumpy.

4) Reduce gluten
Even if not coeliac/ gluten intolerant, as part of a detox to feel more vital and increase energy, give your body a rest from gluten.

Gluten can be irritating and potentially damaging to the gut wall, leading to leaky gut, irritable bowel, inflammation (joint pain, brain fog, depression) and lack of digestive enzymes to break down food.

It can also lead to food allergies, eczema, fungal infections, skin issues, immune issues, and digestive issues.

5) Reduce caffeine
Caffeine is an immune suppressor and can deplete vitality as it’s acidic and a diuretic, depleting essential minerals and nutrients.

6) Reduce chemicals in your household It’s good to reduce chemicals in our laundry detergents, cosmetics and cleaning products. Try environment friendly and chemical free or apple cider vinegar and bicarb of soda and some eucalyptus.

7) Detox rituals
Dry skin brushing, tongue scraping, coconut pulling to draw toxins, and neti pot are all further techniques to help detox the body of excess toxins. See my blog post here for more tips.

Week 3 – Equanimity

How to stick at the detox? Be kind and patient!

You will get cravings, headaches and feel frustrated and might fail at times! That’s ok and is all part of the process!

Meditation will be really helpful during this time to find a sense of calm during an internal storm! Know you need to experience fear, anger, frustration and blame to experience happiness and praise and joy. You have to pass through what is messy to get to the bliss on the other side.

Happy Autumn Equinox and cleansing mind, body and soul! 😀🙏🥒🍏🥕

 

Let’s Go Surfing!

bondi-bandits-surfs-up

The Surf’s up! Let’s get our favourite rashies on and let’s go surfing!

But before jumping into the ocean, here’s a few tips that I find helpful, as a fellow surfing yogi, to get limbered up so you are not too sore the next day!
1) Knees to chest and twist
yoga-knees-chest-sup
Start on the floor hugging knees into the chest to open hips in Apanasana.
Benefits:
  • Releases and strengthens your hip flexors
  • Strengthens your back and releases any tension in your spine as you press your spine flat against the floor
  • Great for your digestive system as it compresses the organs
Straighten one leg out at a time to stretch your hip flexors so you’re more steady sitting on your board out there and looking cool out in the ocean! 🙂
Take knees to one side to get a nice twist into the back body. Take the arms out to warm up the shoulders and gaze to opposite side to feet to stretch your neck. Repeat on the other side.
yoga-supine-twist
Benefits:
  • Warms up and releases the back
  • Opens the shoulders
  • Lengthens the spinal muscles for that cobra action in the ocean
  • Helps calm the mind so you can be more focused to catch those waves

Tuck chin to chest and rock up and down the spine to massage the back body and come to sit up.

2) Eagle (Garudasana) arms and Cow legs (Gomukasana)
yoga-eagle-arms-2
Bend your right knee and take the foot to left hip and left foot to right hip.
Take your arms wide and wrap the left arm over the right and cross at the elbows and draw palms together. Lift elbows and press hands away for a great stretch to the shoulders and upper back.
Hold for 5 breaths and repeat on the other side.
Benefits:
  • Opens the outer hips to help sit up on the board and keeps IT band free of inflammation
  • Stretches and increases flexibility to the legs to pop up on that wave
  • Stretches and opens the upper back and front of the shoulders for paddling fitness
  • Strengthens the shoulder and arm muscles, which will help your paddling
3) Cat cow (Marjaryasana)
yoga-cat-cow-poseyoga-cow
Come onto all fours and exhale round your spine and bring belly to spine and tuck chin to chest. Inhale lift head and open heart 5 breaths.

Benefits:

  • Stretches the back and neck
  • Lengthens the spine
  • Strengthens the shoulders and wrists
  • Increases blood circulation
  • Calms the mind
  • Eases back pain
4) Downward dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
yoga-downdog
Release hands to floor shoulder width apart and tuck toes under and press into a downdog, which stretches the whole body from head to toe.
Benefits:
  • Stretches the shoulders and calf muscles
  • Builds strength while toning the arms and legs
  • Lengthens and straightens the spine helping to prevent and relieve back pain
  • Relieves stress by helping to calm the nervous system
 5) Lunge with quad stretch
yoga-lunge-hands-interlaced-shoulderyoga-lunge-bent-knee
Step your right foot between your hands and drop your back knee to the floor. Interlace your hands into a fist behind your back.Take a few breaths to drop into your hips, especially if they are tight.
Then bend your back knee and take your right hand to the top of the left foot to open the thigh and hip flexor; rest your back leg on the soft area above your knee, not the kneecap.
Repeat on the other side. Then step up to the top of your mat.
Benefits:
  • Opens tight hip flexors, common in surfers, to straddle your board
  • Prevents pulling on pelvis and compressing lower back
  • Opens your shoulders to strengthen your paddle fitness
  • Bending the knees stretches your thigh muscle for more flexibility
6) Palm tree
yoga-palm-tree-circles
Stand with your feet hip width apart and interlace your hands into a fist above your head.
Lean to the right then left and repeat for 5 breaths. Then do circles with your hands.
Benefits:
  • Stretches the side body
  • Releases tension in the back and shoulders
7) Standing trunk rotations
yoga-sway-sides-shoulders-upper-backyoga-sway-sides-shoulders-upper-back-2

Walk to top of mat and roll up the spine into mountain pose, Tadasana.
Stand with feet hip width apart and swing the arms from side to side.

Benefits:

  • Warms up spine increasing blood flow for better manoevre in the surf

8) Wide legged forward fold (Prasarita padottanasana)yoga-prasarita-arms-interlaced-front-viewyoga-prasarita-arms-interlaced
Take legs wide and interlace your hands into a fist behind your back.

Open the shoulders onto the back, open the chest, breathe in and fold forward on an exhale and fold over your legs.

Benefits:
  • Stretches your hamstrings to help you pop up
  • Opens your shoulders for all that paddling!
  • Swing the hands from side to side to get a better stretch, like flossing between your shoulder blades! 🙂
Then release the arms and take one hand to the opposite leg to get a further twist between the shoulder blades and lower back.
yoga-prasarita-windmill-shoulder
9) Goddess shoulder opener
yoga-goddess-shoulder-openeryoga-goddess-shoulder-opener-2
Keep legs wide, turn your toes out and bend knees to open hips.
Take your hands to thighs and drop left shoulder and turn and gaze over your right shoulder
Benefits:
  • Opens shoulders and hips
  • Nice rotation in upper back to release tension
10) Standing poses, Warrior II & Side Angle pose
yoga-side-angle
Turn your right foot out 90 degrees and turn your back foot to 45 degrees. Bend the front knee and open your arms out to your sides.
Take a few breaths then take your right elbow to your knee and take the left arm straight over your left ear. Do big circles with your arm to loosen up the shoulders.
Benefits:
  • This is similar to surfing! Strengthening the whole body.
  • Strengthens and stretches the legs, hips, groin and shoulders
  • Helps with balance while building concentration and balance
  • Helps energise the whole body as well as increase stamina and concentration
  • The side body gets a great stretch and the shoulders and arms

Repeat on left side then step to top of your mat.

11) Figure 4 glute stretch
yoga-figure-4
Stand with your feet hip width apart and bend right leg and take foot on top of the left knee, opening the right knee out to the side. Sit back like you want sit on a chair to counterbalance lean forward. Take 5 breaths and repeat on the other side.

Benefits:

  • Increases blood flow to activate the glute muscle for more power in the legs
  • Stretches the glutes and hips
  • Helps balance when on the surfboard.

12) Squat (Malasana)
yoga-squat

Take your legs wide and bend deeply to sit between legs with hands together, elbows against your inner knees
Benefits:
  • Strengthens lower half of the body
  • Opens up the hip flexors
  • Stretches and strengthens the back of the lower legs as well as the back and neck muscles
  • Helps to prevent cramps in your hips while in the water from sitting on the board for long periods of time
  • Great for toning the legs
13) Cobra pose (Bhujangasana)
yoga-cobra
Lie on your belly and take the hands to the mat under the shoulders. Press the top of the feet into the floor and lift your head and chest into a baby cobra.
Benefits:
  • Great for strengthening and opening the lower back
  • Strengthens back muscles and warms up body for paddling which can take a toll on your lower back
 14) One legged pigeon (Eka pada rajakapottanasana)
yoga-pigeon
Stretch back into downward dog and step your right knee to your right hand and take the foot across the front of your mat.
Straighten your left leg out long behind you. Open the heart to open the spine then fold forward over your leg. Take 5 breaths and repeat on your left side.
Benefits:
  • Stretches the thighs and hips
  • Opens the groin and the hip flexor muscles while opening and releasing the chest and shoulders
  • Increases blood flow to your groin and hips

15) Head to knee pose (Janu sirsasana)
yoga-janu-sirsasanayoga-janu-sirsasana-2

Roll onto your left buttock and bring the right leg forward, taking your left foot inside your right inner thigh. Lengthen the spine and then fold over your right leg.

Take 5 deep breaths and repeat on your left leg.

Benefits:

  • Stretches the hamstrings and lower back
  • Twist through the lower abdomen and back to release and stretch the muscles

16) Let’s Go Surfing!

Grab your board and you’re ready to go surfing!!

yoga-ready-to-surf

References:

http://www.schooloftheworld.org/10-best-yoga-poses-for-surfers/
Yoga Journal
The Inertia

 

10 ways to reduce stress

Stress is more and more common these days but it’s so important to keep it at bay due its negative effect on the body and mind.
stressed

When we are stressed, our flight and fight response kicks in to help us run away from danger. Adrenaline kicks in and energy is directed to our limbs, eyes and blood vessels to pump oxygen around the body.

However, the organs not involved in flight & fight are switched off. Over time, this can cause digestion issues, low blood sugar, low immunity, asthma, chronic pain, as well as skin disorders, weight fluctuation, hormonal imbalances and menstrual problems.

Mental problems also develop, ranging from insomnia to anxiety and depression, mood swings and even psychosis. [1]

Tips to overcome stress

  1. Yoga, meditation & breathing techniques

meditation
Yoga
 has definitely helped me to manage my moods and calm my mind when feeling anxious.

It is amazing at releasing tension in the body and mind and also increases GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), a major inhibitory neurotransmitter that calms the mind and stops the overwhelm and anxiety, known as nature’s ‘valium’. One study found that just a one-hour session of yoga increased GABA levels by 27%. [1]

Exercise in general is vital to increase a feeling of well-being, gets you outside in nature and releases feel-good endorphins to help disperse any stress. Yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, walking, aerobic fitness all help with activating our vagus nerve.

Simple breathing techniques
Deep breathing that lengthens the exhalation can also amplify the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) response and vagus nerve tone, reducing stress and inflammation and gut issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).[1b]

Taking some deep breaths when you are feeling a little overwhelmed is amazing. Alternate nostril breathing (Nadi Sodhana) where you breathe in through one nostril at a time is amazing for balancing our nervous system as is the Brahmari humming breath. Left nostril breathing increases PNS stimulation, relaxing the body.[1b]

Meditation is amazing even if for 5 minutes a day to start. iPhone applications like Headspace are a great way to start with guided meditations for 15 minutes every day.

You can even do it while still lying in bed and taking time to reflect on the things you are grateful for in life as you wake up. If I feel a little anxious I try to sit with the feeling and try to let it disperse before going into my day. [1b]

Om chanting and mantra also slow down the breath and deactivate the areas of brain controlling stress, fear and anger. [1b,c]

dalai lama quote everyday think as you wake up

  1. Do something nice for yourself everyday

massage
Whatever it is, really let yourself indulge and don’t feel guilty.

It might simply be a pampering massage after a busy week, or getting your nails done, or taking a morning off to stay in bed and read a book.

Acupuncture and massage can stimulate the vagus nerve, especially foot massage, decreasing blood pressure and reduces stress, anxiety and chronic pain as well as improving immunity. [1d]

Run a lovely bath with some Epsom salts and your favourite essences and rest up and let your mind and body go. Tomorrow is another day!

  1. Walk barefoot

walking barefoot
Whether in the soft, wet grass, on the sand or in the ocean, this really makes me feel more grounded and less stressed.

Spending time in nature is crucial, helping us feel connected and alive, reducing anxiety and letting our stresses melt away, while watching the trees, insects and birds and smelling the flowers around you.[1b]

  1. Dance & laugh!

bridget jones singing dancing
Most importantly laugh, and shake your booty!! In fact, I found myself feeling a little lost in self-pity and self-doubt the other day. I was frustrated at my lack of motivation and energy, and thus lack of time and energy to do the things I love. I therefore took myself off for a dance! I felt my lethargy and negative thinking just shake out of every cell!Laughter also increases our exhalation breath and thus activates the vagus nerve and the PNS reducing stress, as does any positive feeling like love, gratitude, contentment, and tranquility.

What are you going to do that you love this week?!

  1. Improve your nutrition

Diet is very important as a poor diet can lead to a lack of essential nutrients key to good mental health and stress management.

Poor diet choices lead to inflammation, poor immunity, hormonal imbalances that can all lead to higher levels of stress as you are not feeling 100% and less able to manage stress, leading to mental health disorders.

Reduce

Inflammatory sugar, gluten, preservatives, excess dairy, artificial sweeteners, excess meat and caffeine, alcohol, smoking.

Increase

 

  • Vitamin B rich foods
    • Great for stress management & low mood, anxiety, depression
    • as increase acetylcholine and GABA, relaxing the nervous system and helping with insomnia (1)
  • B6 increases serotonin and is especially required in alcohol users and women on the pill (2)
  • B12 helps in mood disorders and B8 is great for brain function and depression
    i.e. green leafy veg, legumes, brewer’s yeast, nuts, seeds, good fat avocado and eggs, fermented foods, sprouted grains
    leafy greens 2
  • Omega 3 rich foods great for brain health and inflammation and critical for proper functioning of neurotransmitters i.e. fish and chia seeds, comforting root vegetables, soups, bone broths for essential minerals and vitaminsWild-Alaskan-Salmon source summertomato
  • Potassium rich foods
    • When stressed, potassium is depleted causing neurotransmitter imbalance and depression (2)
    • Great to keep mineral balance optimal i.e. bananas, oranges and potatoes

bananas

  1. Supplement where required
  • Zinc is essential for
    • the nervous system as it increases GABA
    • reducing excess dopamine and adrenaline or serotonin, thus reducing stress, anxiety, aggression (1)
    • gut health when stressed, causing irritable bowel (IBS)
  • Magnesium is amazing to help relax the mind and muscles
  • Glutamine is a precursor for GABA helping calmness and relaxation in anxiety (1)
  • Taurine & L-theanine
    • amino acids that increases GABA, serotonin and dopamine to relieve stress http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17182482
  • Adrenal herbal support to counter effects of excess cortisol
    • Licorice, Rhodiola, Rehmannia, Withania and Panax and Siberian ginseng are all beautiful herbs for stress relief and adrenal fatigue
  • Probiotics
    • Probiotics help gut micro biome and thus vagal tone, reducing anxiety and depression [1b]

There are many other supplements that would help in stress relief that are individual to each client. Ideally, see a practitioner to discuss this further or feel free to pop in the Health Emporium for a further chat.

  1. Surfing

Surfing is amazing for relieving stress and any anxiety/depression.

grant getting that one wave
I surf as part of a group called OneWave, whereby Grant manages his stress, depression and his ‘funks’ by getting out for that ‘one wave’ that makes his day a whole lot better.

Studies show how being in salt water can actually increase your serotonin levels within 30 seconds decreasing stress instantly! 🙂

  1. Write a journal

writing journal nature
Writing can really help to bring awareness to any negative thoughts that stress is creating. It helps to process unconscious thoughts and allows them to come up so they are not suppressed, causing more stress and anxiety unconsciously.

Including gratitude and creative and affirmative visualizations can also be very helpful to keep a positive outlook and reduce anxiety and stress. Any kind of positive feeling like love, gratitude, contentment, and tranquility can arouse the vagus nerve.[1b]

  1. Be around animals

dogs
Animals are amazing to cuddle and bring so much unconditional love. There is research that proves that having a pet can really help reduce the incidence of stress and even depression as stroking or cuddling an animal actually increases our levels of feel good hormones.

  1. Be kind to yourself!

We all can go through some really tough times and when these happen, be kind to yourself.

If you just want to lie in bed, do so, watch a funny movie and just let the feelings come up and feel them and be ok with them! Have a cry, but try to not judge yourself for feeling this way.Tomorrow is yet another day!

And, most importantly, it’s ok not to be ok and ask for help if things get out of control and you need to talk to someone. 🙂

References:

1 https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evolutionary-psychiatry/201303/yoga-ba-gaba

1a Theresa Vernon

1b Moksha Mantra ‘Natural ways of stimulating Vagus “Buddha” Nerve’

1c Study in International Journal of Yoga 2011

1d Journal of Clinical Neuroscience 2014

1e Alternative therapies in Health and Medicine 2011

2 Gary Null ‘A Natural Approach to Overcoming Depression

3 Hechtman L, ‘Clinical Approach to Nutrition’

4 Yoganonymous

 

Back To Nature Yoga Retreat 11-13 November 2016

Get out of the city and reconnect with nature and rejuvenate with a weekend Yoga & Meditation Retreat with Chrissie

image

Includes:
* Yin/Yang Yoga, Meditation, Pranayama, Yoga Nidra in nature
* 6 delicious, naturopath-inspired, nourishing home cooked meals & yummy desserts, snacks, teas & turmeric milks

leafy greens 2
* Cosy self-contained shared cottage accommodation
* Naturopath Ayurvedic-inspired talk/Q&A & discount voucher for a full consult
* Yoga workshop/Q&A

Kurrajong Trails & Cottages, just 1.5hrs out of Sydney, offers 100 acres of bushland and creek for kayaking, relaxing and bushwalks in your free time.

$495 all inclusive (early bird $455 by 14th October 2016)

To book, contact Chrissie at chrissiealex@gmail.com

Namaste, Chrissie 🙂

Histamine intolerance

Quote

Happy Spring Equinox down under! 🙂

Great news for many, however, for some Spring brings allergies and nasty symptoms, including:

  • Mucus & head/sinus congestion
  • watery, itchy eyes, cold and flu
  • wheezing
  • stuffy nose and itchy throat
  • itchy skin/eczema/hives
  • brain fog, insomnia
  • low immunity
  • fatigue/depression/pain [1,1b,1c,2,3]

This is due to the release of histamine when your body is exposed to an allergen. Your body sees the allergen as an attack on the immune system, and thus sends out defences, in the form of white blood cells, called mast cells.

Allergens include toxins, pollen, dust mites, dander, weeds, grass, pet hair, air pollutants & chemicals and Sydney seems to be full of them! [2, 2a]

spring allergies pollen

However, it might not just be spring allergies to blame. I have never really suffered from allergies but lately I have been experiencing histamine-like symptoms!

Some foods contain histamine or help to release histamine. Many people can cope with some histamine in the body and it is an important neurotransmitter and immune messenger molecule and plays an important physiological role in the body.

However, others are very sensitive and can develop histamine intolerance, for many reasons, including genetics, gut & immune health and inflammation.

Histamine intolerance is not an allergy as such but produces the similar symptoms above. It is often difficult to distinguish between an immediate allergy (Type 1 allergy), a delayed allergy/intolerance (Type 111 food allergy), or a histamine intolerance as the symptoms can often be identical. [2a]

Histamine Intolerance becomes a problem when the amount coming in is excessive or the amount being cleared is insufficient, causing a build up.

Further symptoms in addition to the above are signs of histamine intolerance:

  • anxiety & irritability
  • digestive problems
  • hormone imbalances,
  • PMS, nausea
  • racing heart
  • headaches, migraine [1,1b, 1c, 2,3]

Causes of histamine intolerance:

  1. Reasons for too much histamine into the body:
  • High histamine diet
    • Excess red wine, chocolate, avocadoes, sauerkraut, smoked meats/fish all contain high levels of histamine, causing problems if there’s an intolerance [4,8]

red-wine-choc

  • Food sensitivities/irritating foods
    • Allergenic foods (gluten and dairy) can actually also trigger histamine if the body recognises the food as an attack on the immune system [4,5]
    • Poor diet of refined, inflammatory foods can also cause a histamine release as irritates the gut causing an immune response
  • Gut flora dysbiosis
    • Wrong gut bacteria can actually make histamine [4,5a]
  • Hormones
    • High oestrogen levels stimulate more histamine and histamine stimulates oestrogen so a vicious cycle and hence
    • hence why more women are susceptible to histamine intolerance during ovulation, pre-menstruation and peri menopause [6,8]
  • Hypersensitive immune system thus seeing all pollen and food as an attacker causing autoimmune issues
  • Inflammation is a key to histamine release and can be linked to autoimmunity
  • Stress
    • Cortisol rises in stress which can reduce DHEA levels which can thus cause inflammation, homocysteine and immune suppression thus more histamine release
  • Menopause
    • can lead to low DHEA, contributing to inflammation and histamine intolerance [5a, 6,8]
  • Unstable blood sugars can also increase histamine [5a]

However, even gut bacteria produces histamine. So it’s not just about what you put in. It’s often an issue with your lack of ability to break histamine down! [7]

2. Causes for not enough histamine being cleared out

  • Lack of the histamine clearing enzymes
    • DAO (diamine oxidase) in the digestive system
    • HNMT (histamine N-methyltransferase) in the central nervous system [3,5a,8]
      • Either from genetic variants or lack of essential nutrient cofactors to produce the enzymes
  • Methylation impairments i.e. MTHFR gene and many others
    • DAO enzymes need methyl groups to increase their activity of clearing excess histamine thus those with decreased methyl groups (under/reduced methylation) tend to be more intolerant [4, 4a, 8]
  • Gut issues & low DAO production
    • Impaired gut mucosa affects DAO enzymes to clear histamine [1,8]
      • Leaky gut, SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), adrenal fatigue, viruses, liver issues
  • Alcohol & medications/antibiotics
    • can cause gut damage and impair DAO activity causing histamine build up
  • Hormones
    • High oestrogen down regulates DAO enzymes [5, 5a,6,8]
    • Low progesterone causes DAO down regulation [5a,6,8]
    • Birth control causes oestrogen excess and thus histamine excess
  • Parasites can overwhelm the body leading to multiple chemical sensitivities [3c]

Natural tips to reduce histamine

Conventional antihistamines can have nasty side effects on the brain, digestion and can play havoc with your thyroid, acid production and delete the body of essential nutrients. [1b]

  1. Reduce histamine producing foodshitamine-foods
  • Avoid common foods that trigger an allergic response
    • dairy, casein, gluten, wheat, red wine, chocolate, smoked foods, fermented foods
  • Avoid high histamine foods [4]
    • Alcohol (including wine)
    • Bone broth
    • Canned foods
    • Cheeses
    • Chocolate
    • Eggplants
    • Pickled & fermented foods (kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt)
    • Legumes (chickpeas, soybeans, peanuts)
    • Mushrooms
    • Nuts
    • Processed foods
    • Smoked meat products (bacon, salmon, salami, and ham)
    • Shellfish
    • Spinach
    • Vinegar
    • Salty snacks, sweets with preservatives/ colourings
  • Avoid foods that release histamine
    • Avocados, bananas and citrus fruits and strawberries and tomatoes
    • Additives – benzoate, sulphites, nitrites, glutamate
    • Raw egg white
  • Avoid gut irritating/ inflammatory foods that block DAO
  1. Eat low histamine releasing foods
  • Eat foods low in histamine
    • Coconut milk & rice milk
    • Egg yolk
    • Fresh wild-caught fish
    • Fresh organic meat
    • Fresh vegetables (except strawberries, eggplants, tomatoes and spinach)
    • Non citrus fresh fruits (avoid strawberries)
    • Gluten-free grains (rice, corn, quinoa, millet)
    • Herbal teas
    • Olive oil & coconut oil
    • Most leafy herbs
  • Eat foods high in natural antihistamines or DAO & HNMT upregulating
    • Apples (high in quercetin)
    • Fennel
    • Watercress, parsley
    • Broccoli
    • Ginger
    • Chicken, turkey and potatoes (B6)
    • High vitamin C rich fruits and vegetables (avoid high histamine fruit/veg)
    • Asparagus and liver rich in copper
    • Olive oil (increases DAO) Research shows it helps to increase intestinal lymph DAO
    • Thyme [1,3,6]
  • Eat fresh foods
    • Processed and left over food encourages bacterial growth which is more likely to increase histamine in foods [5a,6]
  1. Heal the gut to ensure adequate DAO & HNMT production
    • Repair gut lining since this is where the important enzymes live for histamine clearance (DAO & HNMT) [7]
    • Taking liver protective and histamine reducing herbs
      • Milk thistle, globe artichoke, Albizzia, Baical skullcap, nettle
    • Take a probiotic to regain good gut flora to help repair lining
    • Do an elimination diet of at least 30-60 days, reducing allergenic and inflammatory foods and allowing the gut to heal
    • Reintroduce foods and journal foods that you react to
    • Speak to a specialist to help reduce inflammation, improve gut flora and heal the gut lining with foods, supplements and herbs [7]
  2. Natural supplementation to increase DAO, methylation and immunity
    • Vitamin C
      • A powerful antioxidant that helps prevent formation of histamine and suppresses inflammation by supporting your immune system
    • B6 & copper help to up regulate DAO enzymes [5a,6]
    • B1 helps to support the hypothalamus in adrenals issues and thus helps increase DHEA, reducing histamine intolerance [6]
    • B6 upregulates DAO (meat, chicken, and sunflower seeds) [6, 8]
    • B12 helps methylation and therefore increased DAO production [5]
    • SAMe
      • A natural antihistamine that donates methyl groups, thus increases DAO, reduces inflammation, pain and histamine levels and balances a hypersensitive immune system [2]
    • Other natural antihistamines include:
      • Quercetin, bromelain, propolis, chlorella, Stinging nettle & butterburstingingnettle2_compact
  1. Reduce inflammation
    • Vitamin B9, folic acid, helps balance homocysteine.
    • Omega 3s help reduce inflammation of excess omega 6 in our diet [6]
    • Helping regulate our immune system above (autoimmune issues) will also help inflammation
  2. Promote oestrogen detoxification [8]
  3. Minimise stress and stay active
    • Stress increases cortisol and thus inflammation and affects digestion
    • Can lead to methylation issues all leading to higher risk of histamine intolerance
  4. Stay hydrated
    • Often histamine levels are higher when you’re dehydrated so drinking more water helps to dilute and flush out excess amounts
    • Hydrate your sinuses/nostrils with saline sprays and neti pots [1,1b]
      drinking water
  5. Get enough sleepto ensure optimal immunity
  6. Salt(celtic or himalayan)
    • Halotherapy
      • salt caves, where you breathe in salt infused air, are great for relaxing and soothing sinuses
    • Drinking water with 1/4 tsp unrefined sea salt
    • Dapping some salt on the tip of your nose [2]
  7. Eucalyptus oil is great for opening the sinuses and the citronella has antibacterial properties and decreases pain and inflammation [2]

I hope the above gives you some information and relief for any reactions you might be having this Spring.

It is best to see a specialist so you can get properly tested for histamine, food intolerances, allergies and methylation issues. You can then be treated on an individual basis and given appropriate diet and supplementation to heal any related gut, adrenal and hormonal issues. Good luck.

Chrissie 🙂

Sources:

1 Laura Maintz, Natalija Novak, ‘Histamine and histamine intolerance’ http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/85/5/1185.full
1b Dr Christianson ‘Are your allergies making you feel rundown?’
1c Christa Orecchio ‘New Food Research to Overcome Arthritis & Allergies’
2a http://www.imupro.com.au/food-intolerance/symptoms/histamine-intolerance-b/
2 Suzy Cohen ‘Allergies and your Genes – Histamine, Autoimmunity and DAO SNPs’
3 Suzy Cohen ‘DAO deficiency and Histamine – the unlikely connection’ MTHFR Support
3b Hermann Keppler (CNM Principal), ‘Hayfever, the natural approach’
3c Izabella Wentz ‘Hashimotos’
4 Dr Will Cole ‘The MTHFR Gene Mutation: What It Is + Why You Should Care’
4a Dr Will Cole ‘The Hidden Food Intolerance That Could Be At The Root Of Your Inflammation
4 HIT ‘Histamine Intolerance Awareness’ http://www.histamineintolerance.org.uk/about/the-food-diary/the-food-list/
5 Paleo hacks
5a Alison Vickery ‘Histamine and the nervous system’ http://alisonvickery.com.au/histamine-nervous-system/
6 Yasmin Ykelestan, The Low Histamine Chef – The high nutrient approach to healing inflammation, ‘The Menopause-histamine connection’
7 Body Ecology Diet
8 Lara Briden ‘Oestrogen and Histamine’
9 Health Benefits of Quercetin http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/health-benefits-of-quercetin/
9a Chirumbolo S, The role of quercetin, flavonols and flavones in modulating inflammatory cell function. Inflamm Allergy Drug Targets. 2010 Sep;9(4):263-85.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20887269

References:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2668525/
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24287881
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20175943
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25151997
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17569205
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27046748