Sarah Short Circuit

Heal, Nourish, Nurture

ACNEM 2017

Totally in my element over the weekend with all things Brain Health for Better Life Outcomes at the 7th Science of Nutrition in Medicine (ACNEM) Conference 2017 (except for the chilly Melbourne weather).

What is more important than a well functioning nervous system?

Prof Felice Jacka, Nutrition and brain health over the life course, discussed 10% of Australia adults and less than 50% of children eat according to dietary guidelines with a dose response to vegetable intake and health outcomes. Information of on what to eat has been muddied by industry with the productions of processed foods pushed out as healthy foods. Mental and substance disorders are the leading source of disability, there is a growing burden of dementia and cognitive disease, and an increase in prevalence of neurodevelopmental disorders all linked to diet and lifestyle. Diet quality is linked to common mental health disorders, particularly depression, with either not enough good or too much bad, both are independent factors that increase a person’s risk independent of their socioeconomic status, education, health behaviours, weight and irrespective of the form the diet takes. Genetics and early life trauma are less modifiable than diet and pregnancy is linked to the childrens later mental health. The biological pathways of how diet influences mental health include inflammation and oxidative stress, cytokines, low grade activation of the immune system, brain plasticity and gut microbiome. 70% of our immune function is our gut, with the importance of fermenting foods and fibre. Biological dysregulation (see slide).

Prof Felice Jacka ACNEM 2017

A leaky gut is many things degrading the gut lining resulting in the transportation of these factors into the blood stream and mounting an immune response. Experimental evidence suggests exaggerated stress, blunted immune system and increase blood brain barrier permeability is similar to autism and that microbiota is essential for brain development. The sources of bacteria are transient and can help out e.g. probiotics can alter anxiety like behaviours. After 4 generations cannot resuce our microbiota except by facel transplant. We can improve our diet and our mental health. Find out more at the Food Mood Centre.

Prof Felice Jacka ACNEM 2017

Prof Michael Berk, The role of mitochondrial dysfunction in mental health and nutrient treatment options, was a fascinating talk on mitochondria in a range of disorders and is an essential feature of bipolar and resting energy phase dysregulation. Many factors including diet and inflammatory markers impact on mitochondria. In mitochondria the failure to up-regulate in the presence of demand and down-regulate when the demand goes. Treatment of hyperthermia increase mitochondria and reduces depression under red lights/sauna. The use of nutraceuticals as treatments are not benign, can worsen some disorders, everyone responds differently to the same foods (recommend viewing Eran Segal).

Prof Michael Berk ACNEM 2017

Dr Felice Gersh, Estrogen and Brain Health: Exploring estrogen’s vital role linking the brain, the gut microbiome, and the immune system, made me realise just how important our hormones are to our overall health. Dr Gersh explored the vital role estrogen plays in linking our brain, gut, microbiome and immune system. Females have three times the prevalence of dementia, rapid cognitive decline, more depression, bipolar, more brain issues due to estrogen. Menopause is the end of metabolic homoeostasis. Estrogen is neuroprotective, and has played an evolutionary role in survival, telling the body you are healthy and able to reproduce. Estrogen receptors affect many organs in the body and regulate mitochondrial production. In Pubmed estrogen replacement therapy is listed as an endrocrine disruptor! Estrogen promotes neural plasticity, cognitive function and is a glucose transporter for the brain. Estrogen controls our circadian rythym, it sets the beat, and controls out autonomic nervous system. Our microbiome is diurnal also influences our circadian rythym and disease susceptibility. Circadian dysfunction can cause leaky gut and our immune system is highly regulate by our circadian rhythm.

Dr Felice Gersh ACNEM 2017

Dr Denise Furness, Nutritional genomics and mood disorders, discussed how our genes give us a risk or predisposition not a diagnosis. We are so pro-inflammatory due to stress upregulation which from our evolutionary advatage was great for infections and wounds compared to now we have different types of stress (recommended viewing Julia Rucklidge).

Dr Denise Furness ACNEM 2017

Dr Felice Jacka, Dietary intervention for adults with major depression (The SMILES Trial), asked the question “If I improve my diet, will my mental health improve?” by carrying out a 12 week RCT with people with a poor diet quality, stable, not psychotic/bipolar, tended to be treatment resistant and not vegan/vegetarian. Patients had 7 sessions starting weekly then fortnightly with a modified Mediterranean diet. The study focused on sustainable changes and has various measures of dietary adherence. Patients received a food hamper to try new foods (see slide). It was challenge to recruit to the study, there were many limitations and in hindsight it would have been great to collect samples to test the microbiome. Results showed that those in the dietary intervention had greater reduction in depressive symptoms and one third were in remission. Read more on the SMILES Trial.

Prof Felice Jacka ACNEM 2017

Dr Natalie Parletta, Evidence and practical applications for improving diet in patients with mental disorders and impact of diet on mental health from the HELFIMED study, talked how people do not make the connection between diet and our health. Over 35% of our food are from discretionary foods. The HELFIMED was a 6 month RCT on dietary behaviour change and the Mediterranean diet, including teaching people cooking skills and encouraging to eat more whole foods with food hampers, healthy menu plans and cooking support. Results see slide.

Dr Natalie Parletta ACNEM 2017

A/Prof Ross Grant, Brain Inflammation – an ageing time bomb, discussed the brain inflammation with leaky gut stimulating inflammation in the body as well as the brain and cytokines may be stimulating our vagus nerve. The hippocampus is vulnerable to inflammation and is one of only 2 areas in the brain where neurogenesis is possible.

Dr Dave Jenkins, The Professor Dale Bredesen protocol for reversing early Alzheimer’s disease, was something new to me, how we optimise not just normalise metabolic perturbations, with a lot of behaviour change required, this protocol goes against the silver bullet mindset with a team approach and 50% diet. This integrative approach is based on diet, exercise, sleep, stress and core treatments turmeric, DHA and magnesium with the objective to remove factors that cause or exacerbate damage to the central nervous system and provide with elements to protect, repair and perform to stimulate the central nervous system. Read more on the protocol here.

Dr Dave Jenkins ACNEM 2017

Dr John Hart, Cognitive decline case study, was inspiring to see such a comprehensive treatment plans including light and circadian rhythm management

Dr John Hart ACNEM 2017

This ACNEM weekend continue to support just how important our nutrition is for our mental health. Looking for a simple holistic approach to health and nutrition and want to learn more? Study new online ‘Introduction to Nutrition’ Course at your own pace – 10 modules. Learn and implement new skills, allowing you to make sustainable changes in your health and diet.

 

Introduction to Nutrition Course

You might have heard of postpartum depression

You might have heard of postpartum depression, but what about postpartum psychosis?

It’s a condition that affects 1 in 500 new mothers within the first two weeks of delivery, and symptoms include paranoia, hallucinations and delusions.

23 April at 13:14

You might have heard of postpartum depression, but what about postpartum psychosis?It's a condition that affects 1 in 500 new mothers within the first two weeks of delivery, and symptoms include paranoia, hallucinations and delusions.

Posted by ABC News on Saturday, 22 April 2017

 

Great to see ABC News raising awareness of postpartum psychosis in the Australia community! This short clip has been viewed over 45K, which is incredible!

 

Know the signs and seek help early. PANDA National Helpline 1300 729 360 panda.org.au

 

Camp

Take me back to last weekend, the long weekend, the first weekend in a very long while our little family got to escape the city and go bush! As we were packing on autopilot and as we relaxed into a simpler rhythm of camping I reflected how things have changed for the better…

  • Camp meal planning no longer involves packet rice and packet pasta but a whole heap more vegetables and knowing your butcher
  • The night before camp now includes meal prep like this amazing roasted spicy capscium dip

Happy hour around the camp fire

  • Husband did the last minute camp shopping and was horrified when he reached for the some of the foods we used to pack only to turn it over to read the gazillion numbers and non-food ingredients. Safe to say they went back on the shelf.
  • Husband was so proud when he got home from shopping with the water pack being fluoride and additive free. Next time we will double the water as we all drink it in greater quantities than last camp trip.

Fresh water

  • Making quick green smoothies for breakfast on the go rather than drive through Maccas (I use banana instead of mango)
  • Pit stops for a toilet break at Maccas confuses Master 4 ‘Isn’t this yucky food?’
  • Snacks for the road trip are no longer bags of lollies but a box of bliss balls and some mixed nuts & seeds.
  • Energy for the long road trip is fuelled by the car diffuser wafting Energy and Vitality
  • I had massively over-catered as we no longer eat many snacks and our meal sizes are smaller as they are so much more nutrient-dense
  • Setting up the campsite Master 4 remarked ‘Where is the TV?’. We were only one of two groups camping on the unpowered sites, everyone else was connected to power either camping or in caravans.
  • I discovered not 1 but 4 packs of pain-killer tablets in our camping gear, I used to have a pack or two everywhere I went. Now I rarely need them and if I do get a headache or tummy ache I reach for my peppermint oil.
  • Everyone is happy with bacon and eggs for breakfast everyday
  • I found a jar of Vegemite and a pack of gravox in our camp cooler bag and husband and I both laughed as we no longer eat these! In the bin they went!!
  • Sharing amenities with other people is an assault on the senses with the toxic personal care products people use. Waiting for shower with a row of teenage girls washing I felt myself holding my breath.
  • Preparing much of our food at home cut down on the waste we threw away, with only a shopping bag of rubbish over the long weekend and a few plastic items to recycle (any cardboard got incinerated on the campfire!)
  • Master 4 got some nasty insect bites on his hand that turned into welts and I was able to soothe the sting with lavender oil. One night I tucked him into his sleeping bag and zipped up the tent to then hear a wail of ‘Mum, I NEED my lavender!’
  • How convenient we have set our lives to be and how little we move our bodies. Walking to the amenities or the camp kitchen or the kids activities multiple times a day you certainly feel exhausted at the end of the day. Go-karting takes the exhaustion to a whole new level!
  • Being outside all day and all night exposed to the sunlight and moonlight as well as the fluctuations in temperature is a great way to reset your circadian rhythms and recharge your mitochondria. I made a conscious effort not to wear my sunglasses all weekend!
  • Total disconnect from social media and reconnecting with family was the ultimate recharge I needed
  • The realisation how light saturated we have become when you go bush and gaze up into the clear night sky to see a spectacular sight of stars.

Starry, starry night!

Already planning the next camping trip…Do you have any tips for camping while keeping in tune with a healthy lifestyle?

 

Full recovery is possible

My story of postpartum psychosis has been published in The Guardian today alongside some great new research! I am so proud of the mother I have become and proud to be a PANDA Community Champion raising awareness of postpartum psychosis in our community.

“People can mistakenly describe what women like me go through as ‘baby blues’ or ‘depression’, but I was definitely not depressed,” West says.

West received treatment after a friend told her she was not behaving like her usual self and called the National Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Helpline [Panda]. They advised that West should be taken to hospital immediately for psychiatric care, and West is now a strong advocate for the helpline.

“I have to speak up because I don’t like the thought of other families going through what we did. This has to change and to do that we need better recognition of the condition.”

Source: Postpartum psychosis: research reveals full recovery possible within weeks | Life and style | The Guardian

 

Know the signs and seek help early. PANDA National Helpline 1300 729 360 panda.org.au

Let trauma go

Podcasts have been my way of learning and discovering as I heal and recover and this episode has been no exception. I had never heard of TRE so had no idea of size the rabbit hole I was about to fall into when I tuned into Let trauma go with TRE and Sharon Mullan.

Here are my highlights from this discussion with Alexx and Sharon.

  • TRE is trauma releasing exercises that trigger the natural mechanism within out body to release tension through a shake, tremor or sometimes a stretch; connective tissue in our body releasing tension.
  • The tremor is natural to the body; always been there but has been socialised out. Dr David Berceli the founder noticed every culture does this natural physical response.
  • Tremor is coming into safety, coming out of fright, not going into threat, body is regulating as threat has passed.
  • Not enough psychologists, psychotherapists etc. in the world to deal with the number of people who are traumatised.
  • Created in communities with a tight-knit culture where people can continue to cry or continue the effects of the release had culture to look after each other, which is different to the Western culture
  • Creating safety, people don’t tremor unless they are safe, tremor comes when the body regulating back down to be able to be social engaged and calm. For people to truly heal it’s really important that people go home to a loving and safe environment.
  • Trauma is mostly physiological, only 10% cognitive, its in our body. Trauma creates an immobility and lessens their range of capability.
  • Our body chose TRE, our body is trying to guide us
  • Panic attacks are often the body releasing so fast that the mind can’t keep up so the mind blanks out, passes out

Our body has our true memory, not our mind

  • Polyvagal theory, based on safety, how do we make people safe. Introduced psychophysiology, that we don’t just have fight or flight, we don’t just have a sympathetic nervous system, we have parasympathetic nervous system where we are socially engaged or we are freezing or voluntarily being immobile e.g. meditation. When we are dissociative not have a choice, we have a traumatic reaction in our body, body has decided best for survival that we freeze, from full collapse to not saying anything, it is physiological response. Body decides it needs to go into fight or flight, it happens automatically, autonomic system. For us to survive, because we are designed to defend and survive, that it is best for fight or flight, when the threat is perceived to be too big to fight or too fast to run away then we go into the collapse, the freeze. After the traumatic experience, if did use flight or fight they are often not traumatised as they used up the energy, the freeze puts a lid on the energy. Tremor is releasing the lid, immobile to mobile, return to socially engaged.
  • Teach you to take care of yourself during the exercises, gentle, designed to make you tired
  • Trauma can be so severe that can go back into the freeze response if they talk about it. Why do I feel nothing? Because it is too scary, we are designed to not have to over-feel something again. Tremor is doing the physiological work of releasing tension, trauma and stress.
  • If we are traumatised, we are caught in the loop of our system is traumatised, through the vagus nerve we sending message to the brain and all is not well, stay on alert. Reducing the message, we are calming the system down. Calming the nervous down is for everyone.
  • Reducing tension in the body so the nervous system relaxes and the message to brain to rewire so don’t have to deal with level of constant hyper-arousal
  • All trauma has the capacity to be transformed into something more useful. It is not a disorder, it is you body doing what it does, a natural response.

Taking care of myself is within my control

  • Nurture the safe environments. It is ok to search for people and places where we feel it is ok to be ourselves
  • Trauma two biggies in childhood are neglect and parenting the parent. We are only as good as what we have been shown. Following the body, get to know ourselves, observation and kindness.

It is possible to free of your history

To find out more about TRE check out TRE Australia. Stay connected with me as I will be learning more in depth about TRE as part of my healing after my shaky start to becoming a mum.

Discover more about the Polyvagal Theory and all things stress on the upcoming Global Stress Summit with the creator of the Polyvagal Theory, Stephen Porges, discussing Developmental Stress and How to Re-Wire Neurological Safety. During The Global Stress Summit, researchers and thought leaders will teach you about the “new” science of stress, which shows that you can be in control of your experience! Don’t miss this event from April 24 – May 1, 2017, free and online!

Global Stress Summit

Mum ‘intentionally’ drowns baby

The mother of a baby girl who drowned in a bathtub has pleaded not guilty to murder, on the grounds she was suffering a mental illness at the time, but guilty to manslaughter.

Source: Mother of baby girl who drowned in bathtub pleads guilty to manslaughter

Additional source:  Mum ‘intentionally’ drowns baby over mistaken fears she had dwarfism

Another mother who did not receive the support she needed, though the article does not specifically refer to the mental illness as postpartum psychosis. It highlights the importance of having support around you as a new mum, with no mention of a husband or family only friends who were ‘fed up’ with her obsessions.

Soon after the girl was born in April 2010, the mother had begun worrying obsessively that her daughter had genetic abnormalities.

This mum was in North Strathfield, only about 10 minutes away from NSW’s only Mother Baby Unit, though it’s private. It highlights the lack of support in the NSW health system yet in the same week Queensland Health announce the first public Mother Baby Unit and the week before Bendigo, Victoria announced its new public Mother Baby Unit. How many other mothers have to reach this stage and how many more deaths have to occur before the NSW government recognises perinatal mental health and the importance of early intervention. #ActNowNSWPublicMBU

“This is an important step forward because we know that intervention during the perinatal period is critical to improving the health of mothers and their ability to care for their baby.

– Queensland Health

Every year, PANDA helps thousands of Australian families affected by perinatal anxiety and depression. We believe it’s a journey no one should go through alone. Know the signs and seek help early. PANDA National Helpline 1300 729 360 panda.org.au

Postpartum and the Thyroid

Listening to Dr Kelly Brogan on the Thyroid Sessions back in 2014 was the first realisation that my thyroid may be a piece of my postpartum psychosis puzzle. Dr Kelly discussed the triangle of psychiatric symptoms, gluten intolerance and thyroid dysfunction and this was the first time I heard a medical doctor discuss postpartum psychosis directly. Women with first episode postpartum psychosis were 19% positive for thyroid antibodies and within 9 months 67% had a higher risk to develop autoimmune hypothyroidism (1). Dr Kelly discussed how postpartum thyroid symptoms can be easily attributed to being a new mum, such as lead limbs, feeling fatigued, super forgetful, mentally disorganised which at 9 months postpartum could be symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease or postpartum thyroiditis. Postpartum issues lead straight to psychiatry, no acknowledgement of the female hormones, not even a test for thyroid function. Dr Kelly says that psychiatric symptoms are usually endocrine related: thyroid or adrenal or blood sugar regulation with insulin or leptin or your sex hormones progesterone or oestrogen. Also, zinc, selenium, magnesium and iodine are key nutrients in thyroid function. To find out more about these psychiatric pretenders I recommend reading A Mind of Your Own.

Typically when you go to your General Practitioner, the thyroid test is limited to blood test TSH, which is a pituitary hormone measure, an indirect measure of thyroid function. To get the full picture of your thyroid free thyroid levels T3 and T4, reverse T3 and thyroid autoantibodies. My GP was reluctant to do further tests as my TSH came back ‘normal’ until I showed him a copy of the research paper (1). Remember there is not one size fits all, you may have symptoms even being in the ‘normal’ range.

The Thyroid Secret is on now and I am looking forward to tuning in to Episode 7: Motherhood Interrupted to discover more about the role of thyroid in the postpartum period (starts on Wednesday 8 March 10am Sydney time).

PS: My test results including my thyroid antibodies came back all good and my GP has noted on my file to check and monitor my thyroid function  if and when I fall pregnant.

References

1. Prevalence of autoimmune thyroid dysfunction in postpartum psychosis. The British Journal of Psychiatry Mar 2011, 198 (4) 264-268

Further Reading

 

Sunflower juice

Look mummy, sunflower juice! Ahh, not quite Master 4.

When we as a family first started to transition to a healthier way of life and as I became more aware of ingredients I made sure the foods we were eating did not contain vegetable or canola oil. Just think, how do you get oil from a vegetable? Same goes for rice bran oil!

Vegetable oils, including canola and sunflower oil, are highly processed, toxic & inflammatory to our body, and are found in almost every processed, packaged food.

I use good fats like coconut oil, olive oil, butter, ghee and lard. For products containing vegetable oil I either found alternative products or now make them myself.

Wondering what ingredients may be lurking in your kitchen pantry or bathroom cabinet? As a Health and Lifestyle Mentor I can assist you to reset your kitchen and bathroom starting with checking the ingredients. I also share with you some of the food and skincare with no nasty ingredients that you will find in my kitchen and bathroom on my Shopping List.

Further Information

Click

I am about to listen to another speaker at the MINDD Forum 2015. A gentleman stands up and starts clicking his pen as he speaks. He continues to click and click and CLICK! I become irritated with all that clicking not being able to fully focus on what he is saying. Why won’t he just stop that infuriating click?

Dr Frank Golick pauses and asks “Who in the room is finding this clicking noise annoying?” Now you have my attention. Dr Golik proceeds with his talk on ‘Pyrroles: Mental Health impacts’ and as I sit there having never heard of pyrolles before it clicks. It is like Dr Golik is describing me and my health issues right back to high school.

Symptoms that I could relate to include:

  • stress intolerance
  • high irritability and mood swings
  • morning nausea which is aggravated by smells and taste (since high school for me)
  • tendency to skip or delay breakfast (I have always tended to do this)
  • difficultly taking supplements in the morning (always make me gag)
  • dry skin
  • little dream recall
  • white spots on nails (this is due to Zinc deficiency not Calcium as we all think)
  • stretch marks (who doesn’t have these especially after becoming a mother)
  • poor wound healing
  • anxiety and inner tension
  • headaches and migraines
  • tendency to stay up late (I have never been a morning person)
  • sensitive to bright lights, loud noises and smells (why I the clicking irritated me!)

There are other symptoms and traits of pyrolles though I have ticked the majority of the boxes. We all produce pyrolles, though some of us have an excess. This excess binds to vitamins B6 and zinc as well as other vitamins including manganese and B3 and leads to over excretion of these nutrients in the urine and a potential nutrient deficiency. This leads me back to my initial thoughts of nutrient deficiency triggering my postpartum psychosis.

Dr Golik continues his talk relating the symptoms and traits of pyrolles to conditions including schizophrenia, bipolar and depression. As he discussing these Pyrolle Disorder Biotypes a name keeps popping up: Dr William Walsh. Dr Walsh has a book Nutrient Power:  Heal Your Biochemistry and Heal Your Brain on the power of nutrients on mental function.

Looking into this further I look up the Walsh Research Institute to find a practitioner to get tested…

Further Information

A Quirky Journey 53: Pyroluria with Jules Galloway ND

The Low Tox Life Podcast #18: Jules Galloway – Is Pyrroles the key to you feeling better?

Functional Nutrition Academy Feb 2017 Intake

Pharmacological Lactation Suppression

Contemporary models of severe psychotic forms of mental illness assume it is triggered by dysregulation of dopamine, i.e. chemical imbalance, arising from adverse interaction of predisposing risk genes and environmental factors. All successful antipsychotic agents have the ability to act as a D2 receptor antagonist (dopamine inhibitor), raising the question as to whether those with have or at risk of psychosis are susceptible to onset or exacerbation of psychosis when prescribed D2 agonists (dopamine activator).

Early postnatal period is a time of high risk for psychosis. The underlying pathophysiological mechanisms of postpartum psychosis are poor understood.

FDA recommends against the practice of prescribing D2 agonists (activator) due to longstanding evidence about cardiovascular disease and neurological risks.

Pharmacological Lactation Suppression with D2 Receptor Agonists and Risk of Postpartum Psychosis – Dr Josephine Power, International Marce Society Conference 2016.

Reference

Snellen et al. 2016. Pharmacological lactation suppression with D2 receptor agonists and risk of postpartum psychosis: A systematic review.

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