PEACE OF MIND

NATUR­OPATH AN­THIA KOUL­LOUROS ON HOW TO CLEAR THE MIND AND PUT THE SPRING BACK INTO YOUR STEP.

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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’.

MIND-NOUR­ISH­ING NU­TRI­ENTS

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.”

HELP­FUL HERBS

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.

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