PEACE OF MIND
NATUROPATH ANTHIA KOULLOUROS ON HOW TO CLEAR THE MIND AND PUT THE SPRING BACK INTO YOUR STEP.
Taking care of your mind is just as important as your physical health. Here, naturopath Anthia Koullouros offers her tips to nourish and clear your mind.
It’s 6.03pm on a Wednesday and I’ve just shown my last client out of my naturopathic clinic into the winter gloom. Fortunately, she’s feeling anything but gloomy. Four weeks ago, she came to see me complaining of low energy, congested skin and bloating. Brain fog and mood swings were also part of the equation, although she saw these symptoms as somewhat innate — more a bad attitude than a sign of ill health. “We’ll see,” I said, handing her a herbal remedy, seasonal cleanse plan and trio of teas. This afternoon, I sat across from a new woman. Apart from the bright eyes, smooth digestion and flat belly, the most startling and unexpected change she’s experienced has been in her mind. She feels clear-headed, focused and sharp, like her brain is finally cooperating. She’s ticking off ancient to-dos, excelling at work and making plans for the future. Although I’m delighted to hear about her return to good health, I’m not surprised. Many clients report the same benefits. Just like any other organ, the brain needs attention, although it’s not always our first priority when it comes to health. Somewhere along the line, we separated thoughts and feelings from our physical self — but, of course, they’re intertwined. One reflects the other. Here’s how you can find the same clarity as my happy client by conducting your own spring cleanse, with a focus on the mind.
10 STEPS TO CLARITY
1. Set your intention. Before any cleanse or life change, ask yourself how you want to feel. For help tapping into authentic desires rather than false ideals, I recommend you read The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul by Danielle Laporte (Sounds True Publishing). 2. Declutter your living space. Don’t underestimate the effects of clutter on your state of mind — your external mess occupies mental real estate. Studies show that people with untidy or unfinished homes feel more depressed and have elevated cortisol, a hormone that helps the body manage stress: so take time to declutter. 3. Replace coffee with organic green tea. Green tea provides much of the stimulation of coffee, without the crash. L-theanine works with natural caffeine to improve cognition and promote a state of calm, focused attention. 4. Take a holiday from gluten. Dr David Perlmutter’s book Grain Brain (Hodder and Stoughton) highlights the effect of gluten on the brain, contributing to foggy thinking, poor memory and more. Take a break from wheat, barley, spelt and rye, and embrace gluten-free options such as quinoa and amaranth. 5. Bask in nature. There’s nothing like sun, trees and a gentle breeze to help you feel better. Plants are our partners in life, breathing in the air we breathe out: take time to reconnect with them. 6. Clean up your diet. A processed, inflammatory diet shows up as poor mental performance and cognitive disarray. Spring is an ideal time to welcome light, refreshing foods that cool the mind and increase energy. Think seasonal produce such as berries, papaya, artichoke and greens, smoothies and juices, fresh herbs and salads, zesty spring broths, grilled meats, poultry, fish and seafood with lashings of citrus. 7. Take a break from alcohol. Get your partner and friends on board and forego alcohol for a while. You’ll feel your liver smiling. 8. Say no. If it feels like your brain is a colander leaking energy and information, start saying no. No to packed calendars, crazy commitments and mental to-do lists. No to emails at 6am. No to people on social media who make you feel anxious and unworthy. What you’re really saying is yes to yourself. 9. Early to bed, early to rise. Returning to the natural cycle of light and dark helps reset your circadian rhythm — your body’s daily cycle — which is easily thrown out by a lack of sleep, inconsistent bedtimes and stress. 10. Go deeper. If you’re harbouring fear or old unproductive beliefs, seek support from a qualified therapist. I’ve seen chronic health issues turn around when clients finally face their ‘stuff’.
Like every organ, the brain has an affinity for certain nutrients. I’ve isolated them here, but they’re best ‘taken’ in their natural form: food. DHA: This long-chain omega-3 fatty acid is a fundamental building block of the brain. It’s abundant in oily cold-water fish such as wild salmon, trout, cod, mackerel, anchovies and shellfish. B vitamins: Vitamin B12 plays a role in brain and nervous system function, and is found in meat and shellfish. Vitamins B6 and B9 (folate) enhance memory and cognitive performance, and are found in sunflower seeds, fish, chicken, beef and avocado (B6) and dark, leafy greens and chicken liver (B9). Choline: This vitamin improves cognitive performance and memory, and is found mainly in egg yolks and liver. Iron: Responsible for delivering oxygen to the brain. Its most absorbable form, haem iron, is found in high levels in red meat and chicken liver. Acetyl-l-carnitine: Made by the body, it helps brain cells produce energy while protecting and regenerating them. Phosphatidylserine: A substance found in every cell membrane, it is especially prevalent in the brain. It has been shown to improve concentration, memory, learning and mood.
“Plants are our partners in life, breathing in the air we breathe out: take time to reconnect with them.”
The following herbs are some of my favourites for treating poor cognitive function. Enjoy them as teas. Bacopa: A cooling herb to combat mental and physical exhaustion, poor cognitive function and anxiety. Korean ginseng: A stimulating herb for depression, chronic fatigue and brain fog. Avoid in acute infections. Schisandra: A liver tonic that improves mental and physical performance. Chamomile: A calming herb for seasonal allergies, anxiety and insomnia. Licorice: A sweet herb for adrenal health, helping mind and body adapt to stress. Ashwagandha: An Ayurvedic herb used to boost mental and physical energy, immunity and fertility. Holy basil: Also known as tulsi, it’s traditionally used for anxiety, depression and stress. Unsure which herbs are best for you? Seek expert advice from a qualified naturopath or herbalist. They’ll also check interactions between your medications, supplements, condition and herbs of choice. For more information or to contact Anthia, telephone (02) 9380 7863 or visit ovvioorganics.com.au
Anthia Koullouros next to an olive tree — olive leaves are thought to have antioxidant properties. FACING PAGE Anthia believes in the healing properties of herbal tea.
Lavender flowers are a soothing ingredient in herbal teas, aiding sleep and relaxation.