The Thirst Trap: Why You Need to Drink Enough Water  

Water; the transparent potion that makes everything better. Also known as RMS Titanic’s bitter enemy. We all know it’s crucial to stay hydrated, yet many of us treat water like an optional extra rather than the life-sustaining essential it truly is.  
Let’s be honest – do you order water at the bar? How about when eating out in a fancy establishment? Water seems to take a back seat, especially when there’s coffee, carbonated beverages and (*hushed voices*) beer or wine available.  

It almost feels geeky to promote a rollicking adventure from the world of hydration, but there’s a myriad of dangers when dehydration strikes. Quite frankly, you need to guzzle that H2O like your life depends on it—because, spoiler alert, it kind of does! 

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The Desert Inside You: What Is Dehydration?

That’s desert. Not dessert. A cream éclair cannot help you here.  
Imagine your body is a vast, lush garden. Now imagine what happens when you forget to water it. Suddenly, that garden is more like a desert. Dehydration occurs when you lose more fluids than you take in, and your body starts to run on empty. The consequences? Dry skin, headaches, fatigue, and even more serious health issues. It’s like your body’s way of saying, “Hey, could you throw me a bone—or at least a glass of water?” 

Your body is pretty good at letting you know when it’s thirsty. Your inner communications send out a wealth of SOS requests, and these early signs warrant some attention.  

  • Dry mouth and bad breath (hello, dragon breath!). 
  • Dark yellow urine (think of it as nature’s highlighter). 
  • Headaches and dizziness (the world is spinning and not in a fun way). 
  • Fatigue (your couch has never looked so inviting, and getting back up is nearly impossible). 
  • Dry skin (resembling a reptile’s rather than anything human). 

Ignoring these signals is like ignoring your car’s low fuel warning—eventually, you’re going to end up stranded, and in this case, it’s your health that’s at stake. 

The Hilarity of Hydration: Why Drinking Water Is a Laughing Matter

Let’s face it: the idea of drinking more water isn’t exactly riveting. But when you consider the alternatives, it suddenly seems a lot more appealing. Dehydration can lead to some pretty unfunny situations, so let’s dive into the reasons to keep those fluids flowing. 

  • Brain Fog: The Unintended Comedy of Errors 

Ever had one of those days where you walk into a room and completely forget why? Or you can’t remember where you put your keys, only to find them in the fridge? Perhaps forgotten to collect your partner from the airport?  
Dehydration can cause serious brain fog, turning you into the lead character in your own farcical non-comedy. Your brain needs water to function properly; otherwise, you’re just one step away from starring in “Dumb and Dumber.”  

  • The Mood Swing Merry-Go-Round 

Feeling cranky? Snappish? Like you could bite someone’s head off for looking at you the wrong way? 
You might just be dehydrated. Lack of water can mess with your mood, making you irritable and anxious. So, before you snap at your coworker or yell at the TV, try drinking a glass of water. It’s a lot cheaper than that impending lawsuit.  

The Domino Effect: How Dehydration Wrecks Your Body

When you skimp on water, it’s not just your mouth that suffers. Dehydration has a domino effect, leading to a cascade of problems throughout your body. 

  • Digestive Drama: The Constipation Chronicles 

Water keeps everything moving smoothly in your digestive system. Without enough H2O, things can get a bit backed up, leading to constipation. It’s like trying to flush a toilet with no water—not a pretty picture. Or smell. Keep hydrated to avoid turning your intestines into the equivalent of  Western Sydney gridlock.  

  • Kidney Conundrums: Stones and UTIs 

Your kidneys are the body’s natural filtration system, and they need plenty of water to function properly. Without it, you risk developing kidney stones, which are about as fun as they sound. Imagine passing a tiny, jagged rock through your urinary tract—yeah, ouch! Dehydration can also lead to urinary tract infections (UTIs), making every bathroom trip a painful ordeal.  

  • Muscle Mayhem: Cramps and Weakness 

Muscles need water to stay happy and functional. Dehydration can lead to cramps and muscle weakness, turning your workout or sports participation into a living nightmare. Instead of feeling the burn in a good way, you’ll be feeling the burn of lactic acid build-up and wondering why you thought that spin class was a good idea. And, from my own experience, crying – or eating cream eclairs while crying – doesn’t help. 

The Beauty of Hydration: Water's Anti-Aging Secret

Want to look younger without resorting to expensive creams? Drink more water! Hydration is one of the simplest and most effective beauty secrets.  

  • Skin Deep: The Fountain of Youth 

Dehydration can make your skin look dry, flaky, and more prone to wrinkles. Think of water as nature’s moisturizer. By staying hydrated, you keep your skin plump, elastic, and glowing. So, the next time someone asks about your skincare routine, just tell them it’s 70% water and 30% good genes.  

  • Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow: The Hydration Hair Hack 

Lustrous locks aren’t just the result of good shampoo or a voodoo hex. Dehydration can lead to dry, brittle hair that’s more likely to break and fall out. By drinking enough water, you ensure that your hair stays strong and shiny, reducing those dreaded bad hair days and keeping your radiant glow firmly in check.  

Hydration Hacks: Making Water More Fun

If the idea of drinking plain old water sounds about as exciting as watching paint dry, fear not! There are plenty of ways to jazz up your hydration game. 

  • Infused Fun: Flavourful Water Ideas 

Add a little pizzazz to your water with natural flavourings. Throw in some slices of lemon, lime, or cucumber. Go wild with berries and mint, or add a celery if you need to attest for historical sin. It’s like a spa day in a glass, but without the need to steal towels or secretly pour that enzyme shake down the toilet.  

  • Hydration on the Go: Portable Water Solutions 

Carry a reusable water bottle with you everywhere. There are tons of stylish, insulated options that keep your water cool and refreshing all day long. Plus, it’s an eco-friendly choice that’s good for you and the planet.  

  • Tech-Savvy Sips: Apps and Gadgets 

There are plenty of apps designed to remind you to drink water throughout the day. Some smart water bottles even track your intake and light up when it’s time for a sip. Because who doesn’t need a little tech encouragement to stay hydrated? What an age we live in.  

Debunking Myths: The Truth About Hydration

There’s a lot of misinformation out there about hydration. Let’s clear up a few common myths so you can hydrate smarter, not harder. 

  • Myth #1: You Need to Drink 8 Glasses a Day 

The “8 glasses a day” rule is a bit of an oversimplification. The truth is, hydration needs vary from person to person based on factors like age, weight, activity level, and climate. Listen to your body—if you’re thirsty, drink! Don’t keep going when you feel as though your body is calling for an H20 time-out, water intoxication is a thing – and it can leave you feeling bloated and unwell.  

  • Myth #2: Caffeine and Alcohol Don’t Count 

Caffeine and alcohol have a diuretic effect, even if they still contribute to your overall fluid intake. A balanced approach is best—enjoy your coffee and cocktails on occassion, but make sure water is your main squeeze. Looking for a quick win? Try some soup, it’s always a good way to get some hydration going, especially if savoury is more your style.  

  • Myth #3: Clear Urine Equals Perfect Hydration 

While clear urine can indicate good hydration, it’s not the only factor to consider. Aim for a pale straw color. If your urine is dark yellow, it’s time to up your water intake. But if it’s completely clear, you might be overdoing it a bit.  

Our Advice: Drink Up and Stay Hydrated

So, there you have it—a deep-dive into the dangers of dehydration and why you need to drink enough water. From avoiding brain fog and mood swings to keeping your skin glowing and your digestive system happy, staying hydrated is essential for your overall health and well-being. 

Remember, water is your best friend, your secret weapon, and your ticket to feeling fabulous. So, grab that water bottle, raise a toast to good health, and keep those fluids flowing. Cheers to hydration! 

Got questions? Reach out to us.

Our Bittersweet Relationship with Sugar

If you live with diabetes, the dangers of high blood sugar will remain prominent. Put simply – regular stretches of high blood sugar levels can result in permanent damage to parts of the body. And we aren’t talking about your fingernails and nostril hairs, either.

After long periods of sugar consumption, your eyes, kidneys, nervous system, and blood vessels take a pounding. Not to mention the catastrophic effect it has on your heart, liver and brain.

However, it’s not just those with Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes who can suffer from that sweet, granulated issue of Hyperglycaemia (the technical term for high blood glucose).

We are all at risk. It’s fair to say that sugar offers a bittersweet relationship with our health. While moreish (having been proven as more addictive than cocaine) and available in plentiful quantities, sugar can cause a wide range of health issues and behavioural torment.

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Our societal dependence on sugar is also capitalised by big companies seeking to exploit our weakness for confectionary and sweetness, but that doesn’t mean all sugars are bad for you.

At the risk of upsetting the applecart, natural sugars are perfectly safe as an inclusion of our modern diet; so long as it’s in moderation. Sugar occurs naturally in all foods that contain carbohydrates – including fruits and vegetables, dairy produce and grains.

Eating these foods is considered common sense by most nutritional experts. I mean, how could any sane dietary guide not worship the high amounts of fibre, essential minerals and antioxidants served up by plant-based foods?

There’s also protein and calcium in dairy products, and they are good for you (ignore what those pasty vegans bemoan). Natural sugar offers a steady supply of energy to your cells, and as your body slowly digests these foods, those gently-burning carbohydrates act akin to a battery pack.

A healthy dose of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains has also been shown to reduce the risk of chronic diseases – such as heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers. So, what’s the problem then?

In a (deliciously sweet) nutshell, we eat too much sugar that isn’t natural. From refined glucose to fructose syrup and all those lovely additives, we subject our bodies to sugars that we aren’t designed to process.

Our Problem With Sugar

Lots of sugar, piled on a spoon, surrounded by sugar cubes in the background.

It’s no secret. Contemporary society consumes too much of the wrong sugar. There’s very little in the way of natural substance in the added glucose that food manufacturers inject into products for increased flavour and extended shelf life.

In the Australian diet, according to recent batches of research, top sources of refined sugar come from soft drinks, cereals, chocolate/confectionary bars, flavoured yoghurts and most processed foods.

Some of you may give an audible sigh of relief, having steered clear of these foodstuffs and subsequently patted yourself on the back. But hang on a minute – don’t celebrate your nutritional triumph quite yet. All those ‘bad sugars’ are also – sneakily – present in items that you may not realise are sweetened.

Supermarket items such as bread, cured meats, pasta sauces, condiments and even those ‘healthy ready meals’ are all laced with added sugar. The result? We all unknowingly ingest secret sugars.

According to the National Cancer Institute, adult men eat an average of 24 teaspoons of added sugar every 24 hours. That’s the equivalent of 384 calories, which would take most people 45-minutes of gym activity to burn. As each day builds up and the weeks melt into months and years, that’s a lot of required activity just to neutralise the effect.

All that sugary goodness has a direct impact on obesity and the national diabetes epidemic, too. And, here’s the thing – you likely already know that. What will come as a surprise to most of us is how the enforced taste for sugar effectively, and slowly, tears your body down from the inside – especially your heart.

Such A Sweetheart

A heart symbol constructed of sugar cubes on a blue background.

There have been countless studies undertaken to highlight the correlation between heart health and sugar intake, but one of the scariest undoubtedly remains a published report from 2014, nestled deep within JAMA Internal Medicine.

Over the case of a 15-year study, Dr. Hu and his colleagues determined that people who received 17-21% of their calories from added sugar had a 38% higher risk of cardiovascular disease, compared to those who instead received 8% of their calories from added sugar. The result of cardiovascular disease? You got it. Death.

It doesn’t take a mathematical genius to therefore deduce that the higher the intake of added sugar, the higher the risk of heart disease and fatality.

That being said, there’s still widespread debate as to exactly how sugar actually affects heart health. The whole process isn’t yet understood, but it appears that indirect connections to the ol’ ticker are at play.

Here’s an example. High amounts of sugar can overload the liver, which metabolizes glucose in the same way it deals with alcohol – converting dietary carbohydrates into fat.

As the sugar overload continues, and a greater accumulation of fat builds up, there’s a greater risk of fatty liver disease – a major player in the development of diabetes; which in turn pumps up the danger of heart disease.

Then there’s the impact that excess sugar on your blood pressure, alongside chronic inflammation. These two aspects are the cornerstones of the pathway to heart disease, but there’s one extra attribute you should be aware of. Brace yourself.

Soft Drinks: Sugar's Nasty Party Trick

Excess sugar consumption can come from any number of dietary options, but the biggest culprit remains sugary beverages.

Feeling as though you’ve been unable to shift your weight gain lately? That’s because your brain is being tricked, and you won’t be able to lose those pounds anytime soon.

The likes of Coca-Cola confuse your body and, as a direct consequence, shutters all appetite control. Liquid calories are nowhere near as satisfying as solid food, leaving you to consume more and yet still feel hungry. Dozens upon dozens of extra calories enter your system, making it oh-so-easy to gain weight as you plunder the supplies.

Take heed. Heart disease can also lead towards a heart attack or a stroke. Think about that the next time you reach for an easy can of liquid sugar.

So, How Much Sugar Is OK?

We said that 24 teaspoons of sugar is a tad excessive. What’s a safe amount to therefore eat? Aha! You won’t catch us out that easily – especially as there’s no definitive answer, bearing in mind that you require natural sugars for dietary nutrients.

There is also no formal amount of sugar from the Institute of Medicine and their strict RDAs (Recommended Dietary Allowances). If you do go digging, then you can get a feel for what the human body can filter.

The American Heart Association has suggested that women do not exceed 100 calories (roughly 6 teaspoons/24 grams) of added-glucose intake, and men should not exceed more than 150 calories (9 teaspoons/36 grams). To put that into perspective, that almost matches one can of Coca-Cola per day. That then begs the question; how can you keep track and ensure you don’t indulge with added sugars?

You’ll have to remain vigilant. We would recommend reading the labels on food packaging to look for these culprits:

· corn sweetener

· brown sugar

· corn syrup

· fruit juice concentrates

· high-fructose corn syrup

· honey

· invert sugar

· malt sugar

· molasses

· syrup sugar molecules ending in “ose” (dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, sucrose).

A Lifehack For Staying Control

There is no need to suddenly cut these ingredients from your diet and go cold turkey, but it might be worth considering a reduction in the frequency of purchase. It would also be wise to note the total grams of sugar per serving, alongside the suggested number of servings (usually found in the small print beside the nutritional information on the back).

There’s a method and reasoning to that madness. For instance, packaging for a microwave-ready meal may state “Only 10g of sugar per serving!”, but should you delve behind that claim, you’ll find that the entire meal consists of two, three, or four servings.

It’s easy to get carried away and eat the whole thing, as usually there’s not much substance to them, and – BOOM – you’ve successfully devoured up to 40g of added sugar. Just like that.

And what of tea and coffee? I’m glad you asked. A study produced in May 2017 showcased that two-thirds of coffee drinkers, and one-third of tea drinkers, put sugar or sweetener in their hot beverages. That accounted for more than 60% of the sugar-based calories that those individuals received.

Personally, I find that quite scary, as I enjoy quite a number of tea/coffee breaks each day. Each cup has two sugars, meaning that I’m likely to be dead next week. Probably best that I burn all the bags of delicious, delicious sugar in my cupboards. Yet – being overzealous in attempts to cut down on added sugar can also be unwise.

By this stage, you are already addicted to the white stuff, and you’ll turn to other foods to satisfy your cravings. Popular rebounds include white bread, rice, and comfort foods high in saturated fat and salt (sodium).

It would be a lie to state that we don’t all crave a bag of chips when steering away from sweet treats. Ready Salted are the best, and I’ll die on that hill. All these comfort foods can also cause havoc with your heart. Is there any win to be had here?

The answer is yes, and we’ll be exploring that next time.

Speak with us. We are here to help.

Energy Drink: How much is too much?

To understand the rabid popularity of society’s answer to sleep – the uncompromising ‘energy drink’ – you first need to re-establish the concept of peer pressure.

We’ve all been there in youth. Feeling the enforcement from our equals, friends or family to engage with something that you’d rather not. Once you cave in, there’s often no going back. Especially when introduced to deep-fried goods. Not that I’m using that as an excuse. *cough*

Extreme modern-day peer pressures don’t really involve enslavement to fish and chips, but rather showcase innocents becoming trapped in a single moment’s yield, habitually addicted to cigarettes or illegal substances, or partaking in criminal activity.

But now there’s a new kid on the block – it’s perfectly legal, and it can be found in a can; festooned with attractive labels that veil an array of ingredients destined to brawl with your internal organs.

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The Great British Health Service witnesses a yearly average of 1500 adolescents (aged 12 to 17 years) staggering into the emergency room for an energy drink-related emergency. From extreme dehydration to heart complications, and even self-harm courtesy of a toxic blend of can-sponsored anxiety and insomnia, energy drinks have demonstrated an ability to cause serious issues for young people.

Asking for a friend – is that because older individuals can handle each can of energy drink with more processing power?

In a word: no. It’s mainly because of a marketing switch – as can be highlighted when delving into the drink’s promotional campaigns, arguably driving a keen round of peer pressure among children and teenagers.

On the flip side, the drinks wouldn’t be legal if they were inherently dangerous. So – what’s the story?

What Is An Energy Drink?

An energy drink comes from a family of liquid products that typically contain enough caffeine to spice your eyeballs and inject your soul with an abundance of vibrancy – without the need for other, added, caffeinated dietary supplements.

You may believe that such a beverage is a modern phenomenon, but no. The first energy drink reportedly appeared on the North American market in 1949, marketed as Dr. Enuf. The vein-popping dose of canned energy largely remained on the shelves of Americana until the drinks range was launched in Europe for 1987.

Australia, and the rest of the world, quickly followed suit, with Red Bull taking the globe by storm following a 1997 promotional campaign. The booming energy drink market has since grown dramatically, attracting various companies and establishing an array of brands that promote a sexualised and energetic lifestyle.

Annual consumption exceeded 5.8 billion litres in 160 countries by the time 2013 rolled on round. Needless to say, it’s a multi-billion-dollar industry. And the youth are paying for it.

Targeting The Young

Manufacturers appear to have moved away from a consumer focus on athletes and sporty individuals, instead opting to aggressively market in places that remain popular with teens and young adults. According to various reports, 66% of consumers are aged between 13 and 35 years old.

That’s right – children aged 13 (and oftentimes younger than that) are indulging in highly-caffeinated beverages with all the nutritional value of asbestos-flavoured rubble.

In the United States, energy drinks have become the second most common dietary supplement used by people under the age of 30. A third of that age bracket opts to purchase energy drinks on a regular basis; a theme that can be translated from any country in which these drinks are sold.

From the Kingdom of Audi Arabia to Canberra – it’s a trendy drink that sells the lifestyle we’re told we need. And that’s the peer pressure today’s younger generation are subjected to. I know of the dangers, because I’ve previously suffered from it.

While stranded in the computing library throughout panicked cramming for university exams, alongside the accompanying dissertation study and also working various night shifts to fund myself, I caved into the ‘energy drink’ trend.

It’s easy to look back and criticise, but when everyone in the vicinity – including those whom you look up to – are tanking the energy drinks and surviving with more literary and cognitive success, as a vulnerable teen, it’s inevitable that you’ll get swept away. Monkey see, monkey do.

Of course, as with any dietary fad I’ve attempted to join, it didn’t go well. The energy drink didn’t seem to bolster my vibrancy at all. Instead, I lived in fear of the toilet, never quite sure when another gut-wrenching sprint to the communal bathroom was due.

My stomach churned like a brick-filled washing machine on a spin cycle. Within a couple of weeks, I’d bailed on energy drinks completely. Yet, my flatmate had more success and could stay awake for over 24 hours each go.

Until, that is, we were sat in the emergency room with said flatmate suffering from chest pains; spooked into seeking immediate medical attention courtesy of several nightly binges. With fellow students consuming vast quantities of energy drink as a style choice, and others coming to depend on the substance when burning the midnight oil, my flatmate had tried to keep up with the fashion and paid the price. And then there’s the fashionable alcohol and energy-drink mix.

Those brainwashed by advertising – in this case, on television, on the internet, through sports sponsorships, video games and in shops – were always going to be easy pickings, and brand loyalty always adds to the blend.

Yet, the laddish craze of crafting drinks such as a ‘Jägerbomb’ (Jägermeister taken with a shot of Red Bull) not only encourages a deep-rooted peer pressure to enjoy energy drinks, but also embeds it into our cultural DNA for a generation. The internal fight – where the caffeine pumps your heart faster and the alcohol tries to slow it down – can result in frightening palpitations.

From my honest experience, the energy drink isn’t consumed by those seeking the taste, largely because it tastes like sour beer and stale lava, nor does the ‘energy hit’ affect everyone in the same way.

The only energy heightened for me involved the actions of my colon. Yet, thanks to some very clever advertising that utilises the culture of youth, consumption appears to continue on the increase – despite claims from purchasers that the drinks are somewhat expensive.

So, what’s going on? Answer: It’s a fashion trend more than a drink. And that means it defies the laws of common sense.

But – here’s the question that Google Trends and SEMrush tell us people are searching for: how much is safe to drink?

I mean, let’s get one thing perfectly clear – energy drink (just like most things) is not inherently dangerous in sensible quantities. But what about those who substitute meals and sleep with a can of spritely-looking energy drink? Well…

How Much Energy Drink Is Too Much?

Energy drinks are designed to give an “energy boost” to the drinker through a combination of stimulants and boosters – the major constituent of which is, naturally, caffeine. The majority of brands also add large amounts of glucose/sugar, with other ingredients including:

“taurine, methylxanthines, vitamin B, ginseng, guarana, yerba mate, acai, maltodextrin, inositol, carnitine, creatine, glucuronolactone, and ginkgo biloba”.

All those natural* ingredients aren’t to be found in the nutritional guidebook, and those with a health-conscious attitude certainly protest the adverse health effects. However, it’s somewhat difficult to answer the question of ‘how much is too much’.

There are limited comprehensive publications that detail the safety of binging on energy drink, but delving behind the headlines makes for interesting reading. Without naming brands, certain manufacturers claim their beverages are “natural dietary supplements,” thus not subject to the regulations that apply to each nation’s food products.

As such, it’s difficult to gauge exactly how much caffeine you’re downing with each can of luminous energy drink, but the sky-high amounts speak for themselves; a typical 16-ounce energy drink contains between 150 to 280 milligrams of caffeine.

Larger cans have up to 500 milligrams of caffeine. I know these are just numbers on a page, but when compared to soft drinks and sodas the difference is alarming. There is typically around 35 milligrams of caffeine per average can of soda.

Would you consider downing five cans of sugary pop and proclaiming you haven’t overindulged? Even if you are that way inclined, there’s one extra aspect to contend with. And that’s guarana – a South American plant used by most brands as a more potent form of caffeine.

One gram of guaranine, a derivative of guarana, is equivalent to 40 to 80 milligrams of caffeine. Always bear that in mind when clocking the caffeinated content – it’ll be stronger than stated.

To offer some practical advice, if you feel dehydrated, burdened with a headache or as though your heart is having a party all to itself, then get some water and stay off the energy drink.

Side effects of too much caffeine:

  • Increased heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart palpitations
  • Insomnia
  • Dehydration
  • Restlessness
  • Caffeine withdrawal; associated with headache, marked fatigue, anxiety, tremors and irritability.

So – what’s the conclusion? From a personal point of view, I’d encourage you to stay clear, especially if you already suffer from health conditions that can be amplified by the wrong ingredients. From a nutritional perspective, there doesn’t seem to be much benefit, either.

Seriously, don’t substitute a meal with these things. Have some food. Buy a coffee. Stay out of the emergency ward. And don’t believe that the folly of youth will protect you – I’ve seen what it can do.

Don't Worry. We've Got Your Back.

Struggling to get your diet back on track? Reach out to us. We can help – we’ve been in your shoes, and proudly offer a non-judgemental service destined to make you healthier. 

Can you get Omega-3 from anything other than fish?

Can you get Omega-3 from anything other than fish? I have a phobia of eating fish – known as Ichthyophobia. And because my diet has been a tad poor, I certainly haven’t been getting enough Omega-3. My joints are aching, and my nutritional sat nav has gone AWOL. Time to face some fears.

As a consumer, it’s easy to clock that Omega-3 fatty acids suffer from the media’s fashion trend. They fall in and out of favour, largely depending on which study or ‘online expert’ owns the headlines that week.

Some claim that Omega-3 is good for the brain, while others claim consumption of fatty acids deteriorates our grey matter into a Zombie state. Reports contradict themselves, circling around whether Omega-3 does or doesn’t prevent heart disease, cancers or physical ailments.

Conflicting reports claim that foods containing fatty acids can aid in the personal fight against encroaching arthritis, whereas other publications declare that they make little-to-no difference. At all. What can get lost in translation is this – Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients for the human body to function effectively.

Regardless of opinion on those debated aspects above, what has been accepted by almost everyone is the impact Omega-3 has on the improvement of blood vessel function, prevention of blood clots, and a direct influence on gene expression; embellishing your ability to function.

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Here’s the clincher – although these fats are crucial for a healthy lifestyle, your body doesn’t produce Omega-3. You need to source them from your food, but you won’t find these necessary fatty acids in the likes of chocolate, bread or cakes.

Sadly, that delicious slice of deep-fried Victoria Sponge (with heaped servings of ice cream and sprinkles) does not help in the fight against joint pain, heart disease or encroaching arthritis. Chips don’t aid your defence against deteriorating brain matter. Grabbing a dirty burger is unlikely to prevent physical ailments. Sad face.

What you really want to be eating comes from Neptune’s pantry. Top sources of Omega-3 can be found in fatty fish; herring, mackerel, salmon, tuna and sardines. Feeling adventurous? You can also enjoy chomping down on seaweed, or swallowing fish oil, cod liver tablets or algal oil supplements.

And that’s where I had a problem. This all makes sense on paper, and I can’t disagree with the facts, but I’ve always had an aversion to fish.

Unless it’s been dipped in batter and served alongside a mountain of hot chips, then fish dishes have always been viewed as trouble.

Even then, I’ve usually been forced into ordering butterfish and chips. Although we both know that I’m lying when I say that. Sigh.

Going Vegan for Omega 3

Vegan Omega-3

It’s funny how our childhood trauma can follow us into adulthood when it comes to food. As I watched a bone jettison itself across the floor following the Heimlich Manoeuvre from my father, I vowed never to touch fish-based dishes ever again. So, in trying to improve my diet without venturing into that dreaded marine food group, I did

something that I’d never before contemplated. I went vegan. After doing some research and praying to God that I didn’t have to risk eating fish again, I discovered that – courtesy of a growing proportion of our population taking this turn – veganism is no longer shunned during Omega-3 discussions.

The good news was this; certain plant foods offer alpha-linolenic acid, which potentially does the trick. The shopping trolley was soon filled with kale, spinach, Brussels sprouts and various assortments of nuts.

The bad news was this; even if I feasted on these greens in a single sitting, the results would be lackluster. Due to complicated maths and conversion rates between the three main types of Omega-3 fatty acids – Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) – it would be a largely wasted venture. And nobody wants to overdose on sprouts for no good reason.

Turning to fresh and unexplored options in a feverish bid to avoid the inevitable, I went in search of algal oil, which is derived from algae. According to the experts, it contains both DHA and EPA and can almost claim to be equivalent to the oils found in Salmon. But then things got scary, as you need to find a brand that avoids contaminants such as mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB).

I’m sure that there are loads of safe and trustworthy online sources to get a hold of these supplements, but – stupidly – I became spooked. It triggered an overload following the bombardment of recent new healthcare terms. I tapped out.

That mantra was enhanced when reading about fish oil’s blood-thinning effect should you take more than 3 grams per day. So, as predicted, I was going to have to confront my childhood phobia and actually eat fish. Yikes.

Facing Fear. And Fish.

Seafood has one of the most distinguishable smells. And with every meaty whiff of fish, I’m transported back to that ridiculous mental block. I’ve taught myself to hate everything about it – the smell, the texture, the appearance.

And so, to aid my progress towards a healthier diet, it was time to face a meal of salmon and vegetables. All the veg was consumed in a sad effort to postpone the inescapable, and then the moment could be put off no longer.

My throat squirmed, and my face seemed to screw up into something Picasso would be proud of. The salmon may have been baked with asparagus and tomatoes, but it tasted like death warmed up. I could feel sweat materialising across my brow, each swirl of my jaw searching for any trace of thin bone.

Convinced that I was fatally close to a repeat of that haunting childhood memory, I stopped. Until someone reminded me why I was doing this, and how important Omega-3 is for my joints and wellbeing. They had a point.

Why Omega-3 Matters

Because Omega-3 fights inflammation and decreases inflammatory markers within the joint, there’s an aurora that fatty acids can prevent stiffness, joint pain and a dependence on painkillers/medication. Evidence suggests that Omega-3 may even protect against cartilage loss.

And, when looking at the rising cases of disability in Australia, that kind of assistance is priceless. According to studies, one in three adults over the age of 45 will develop osteoarthritis, with increasing numbers affected by rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis or osteoporosis. When reading that 75% of those with osteoarthritis live in constant pain, suddenly that Salmon doesn’t seem so terrible. But there is a voice at the back of my head: “could Omega-3 fatty acids really help keep that condition at bay?”

Although the media may scream of contradictions, when you delve behind the headlines, the research looks promising. Omega-3 supplements have been found to impact joint pain in a positive fashion – reducing discomfort and improving function. Perhaps there was a way to avoid digesting Nemo after all. Yet, there are some other things to note in the studies.

These supplements have to be used in conjunction with, or as an alternative, to conventional anti-inflammatory painkillers. And even then, it’s not a one-dose-fixes-all in regards to current joint pain. Nutritional experts appear divided when discussing Omega-3’s influence on clinical improvements, but one thing seems certain – the long-term effects depend on other aspects of life.

For instance, I couldn’t (sadly) get away with a sugary diet, lack of exercise and high-stress lifestyle and expect Omega-3 supplements to counteract all my evils. I also couldn’t expect those fatty acids to fix any lingering muscle pain from a sedentary lifestyle.

For that, osteopathic services offer a more direct and tangible solution to ailments such as lingering back pain and difficulty with knee ache, torment from neck pain and the like.

So, with a little guidance from the team at Focus Osteopathy, I’m going to tackle my fear of eating fish for the greater good. Omega-3 seems to be wildly beneficial for preventing future joint pain, and those fatty acids certainly appear to keep things like Gout at bay.

Guidance From Focus Osteopathy

That guidance from the nutritional boffins at Focus should keep me on the right track, as it’s not quite as simple as “eat all the fish and eat it now”.

Fish oils are known to increase blood sugar levels, and that can have a nasty effect on anyone with diabetes or relevant health conditions, and can potentially clash with certain medications.

Too much Omega-3 over a small time stretch and you can also incur nausea, headaches, heartburn, toxicity towards Vitamin A and even insomnia. Not to mention bad breath and an irritating taste left in your mouth. Although that could just be my cooking talents.

On the plus side, this will all assist in vanquishing my phobia of fish as a meal. And it means I don’t have to opt solely for vegan options to gain my Omega-3 requirements.

After all, as previously stated, nobody wants to explain an overdose of Brussel Sprouts to St.Peter at the pearly gates. Can you imagine trying to hang with Amy Winehouse or Janis Joplin, using that claim to fame?

Looking for dietary advice? Reach out to us.

Vol1: I’m Stuck In A Dietary Rut.

Ok. It’s time for some blunt and brutal honesty.

I’m not eating correctly. In fact, my staple diet is frightful and I’m ploughing headlong into a future riddled with health problems. There – I’ve said it. But it doesn’t feel good.

Rather than seek help, I’ve been slowly spiralling into a continued regime laced with all the wrong substances – excess salt, excess fat, excess carbohydrates. My weekly sugar consumption could floor a concrete rhinoceros. Chocolate is my addiction. Fried goods are my comfort.

The thing is, I’m not obese, but I’m certainly no athlete. I’m far from lazy, but I don’t burn calories through sports or the gym. My time is spent frantically keeping pace with modern life – lurching between stressful situations at work and a demanding social life, amid the anxiousness fed by contemporary society and the cost of living.

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The exhaustion that seemingly prevents any progress towards fitness and nutritional balance is not a physical one.

It feels like subconscious fatigue in my mental state. Spending far too long at a desk, often bored, and reaching for convenience foods when the short lunch hour takes place, before tackling the manic and lengthy commute home doesn’t fill me with motivation to exercise.

Instead, I’ve got one thing on my mind – and that’s sitting on the couch and resting. That notion feels ironic considering that I’ve been sat down most of the day.

Yet, the couch doesn’t aid any physical weariness, it simply allows my brain to switch down. Almost as though my mind is sparking out and rebooting, I can find myself staring into space for prolonged stretches until my awareness kicks back in. I’m running on empty. I’m catatonic with the wrong carb.

That mental state saps me of the energy that I’d rather utilise for climbing out of a self-inflicted rut. I can trace my current condition back to a failure of commitment. Not to a relationship, but to routine.

Getting home at different hours each day has left me at the mercy of ‘easy wins’ – dinner from a packet that’s far from fresh cuisine. If I don’t turn to the takeaway menus first.

Stuck in a nutritional rut

Plate of poor diet foods - burger, pizza, fatty products - on a purple background.

When I eat, I typically get into a frenzy. I don’t really look at what I’m eating. I open the cupboard after a carb-heavy dinner and it’s just next, next, next.

My brain fog sends me in search of sugar and carbodhyrates, and even though I purposefully place fruit within easy reach, I automatically bypass the good stuff in favour of brain-appealing crap.

When I’m left alone, my calorie consumption goes through the roof. I swear that my late dinners and midnight snacking cause my poor sleeping habits, and when I wake up tired and feeling rough, I turn straight to sugary cereal for sustenance.

It feels good at the time, but that’s my addiction being fed – not my body. I don’t believe that my stomach gurgles because it’s happy. I honestly feel uncomfortable in my own skin.

Even then, when I’m beyond stressed and my appetite dwindles, I use coffee and sugary drinks as a substitute for food. I know it’s unhealthy and I shouldn’t be eating the way I do, and it absolutely plays on my mind, but there’s a series of mental hurdles that seems to prevent any form of positive change.

And as I’ve learned, the problem remains the comfort food that I depend on. My addiction to sugar, and my mental state, keep me stuck in this never-ending cycle of tiredness, stress, lack of exercise and an appalling diet. My portion control and choice of meal have also worsened following a family bereavement; trying to stay strong as support for others absolutely heightened my reliance on comfort eating.

I need help, which has led me to the doors of Focus Osteopathy and their functional nutrition. I’ve agreed to document my journey with their nutritional guidance to demonstrate how life can be regained by eating correctly – even if it may prove difficult to kick the habits of a lifetime.

It's time for change

Man eating a large burger devoid of nutrition and goodness

But you know what? I’m ready for the challenge.

I don’t want to watch my life pass by, yearning for a better quality of existence. I need to grab control. I’d kill to feel more human, rather than simply existing from day to day, surviving on ill-formed concepts of food and staggering around almost hollow-eyed with exhaustion.

Speaking with the team at Focus felt more like a therapy session. There was no judgement when I explained about my secret eating, or how opening the fridge feels like meeting a friend, or how I snack out of frustration and apathy. Or how I steer clear of healthier options when eating out – I know I should, but my worry that I won’t feel satisfied always means I order a burger or a pizza.

Instead, I received heartfelt compassion. My one-on-one with Focus Osteopathy’s dietary nutritionist opened my eyes to how I’m starving my body of what it really needs, and helped me to understand where my eating choices are coming from. I wasn’t patronised by an ‘eat less, move more’ mantra.

The team knows that it’s more complex than that. It was refreshing to find professionals who grasped the mental health aspect of a nutritional deficit.

It’s all manageable if I commit to a regime change, and as I’m going to showcase, eating the right things apparently doesn’t mean I have to skimp on taste. I don’t have to eat gruel and snack on grass clippings.

So here goes. I’m going to be following personalised dietary advice and trying to regain control. I’m not sticking my head in the sand and pretending that this will feel easy.

I am braced for days when I return to my comforts and suffer the subsequent guilt trip. I won’t be going cold turkey on the sugar, salt or fat; as that’s also dangerous to swing completely in the opposite direction.

It’s not about punishing yourself, as I’ve been told. It’s about creating a staple diet that provides healthy doses of what your body requires to be fit and healthy.

And if I can do it, I’m pretty sure you can, too. My journey starts here, and I’d like you to join me – courtesy of the support and knowledge bestowed upon me by the team at Focus.

Finally, don’t think this is fictional. I’m very much real. I’m Scottish, in my early 30s, and you can find out more about me through my social media profiles. And, yes, that is me in the picture above – not during my finest moment! 

My first report won’t be long in the making. Watch this space…