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Amanda is a functional nutritional medicine practitioner, blending science and nature to help achieve patient-centred outcomes. She earned her Bachelor of Health Science, Nutritional Medicine in 2013 in Australia, and has been in private practice since then.
Providing nutrition and lifestyle support and modification based on a clients specific needs, she considers the whole, unique individual, their life stage, current dietary and lifestyle practices, stress, environmental factors and goals.
With local and international clients, Amanda is recognised for her expertise in nutritional medicine, compassion, honesty and simple approach to health and well-being.
Vaga Nutrition is here to support you, your health and well-being from a whole person approach.
Nutritional Medicine bridges the gap in health care and takes a bespoke approach to health, healing, prevention and wellness, aiming to help restore the body’s natural ability to heal.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) affects millions of women around the world. It is considered an endocrine and metabolic disorder.
Women with PCOS have a tendency to have a greater production of androgens, and results from blood tests may show elevated levels of luetinizing hormone (LH) due in part to reduced levels of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH).
While PCOS is found to originate primarily in the ovaries, other factors can increase the risk of development. These include obesity, thyroid disorders, and blood sugar abnormalities. It may also have a genetic component.
An indicator of a primary ovarian problem is where only one ovary is polycystic, while hormone imbalances from other endocrine organs usually affects both ovaries.
Typical signs and symptoms of PCOS include
- Multiple cysts on the ovaries (as seen on ultrasound)
- Painful, irregular or no menses
- Hair loss/altered hair growth
- Insulin resistance/blood sugar dysregulation
Ovarian estrogen (estradiol) levels are decreased while the androgens are increased. Androgens prevent ovulation and normal follicle development, which can lead to small cystic follicles rather than mature ones.
Greater body weight and obesity causes an increase in androgens, which enhances estrone production. With this comes a higher androgen conversion in fatty tissue which may affect PCOS. High estrone production causes increased LH production and lowered FSH production. LH triggers ovarian androgen production.
Hypothalamic secretion of gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) to inappropriate levels increases the pituitary production of LH and androgens. High androgens lead to high LH.
Lowered FSH reduces the capacity of follicular cells to convert androgens to estrogen, which causes imbalance.
Sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) is the protein that carries estrogen and testosterone, while increasing androgen levels and obesity. This causes unbound testosterone to be found in serum circulation.
There is a greater risk of insulin resistance (IR) with obesity and PCOS due to the reduced sensitivity of insulin receptors to insulin. This means that insulin doesn’t have the ability to transport glucose to the cells which increases blood glucose levels.
Reducing weight by as little as 5% can alter the severity of PCOS and help regulate the menstrual cycle and blood glucose levels. Increasing protein rich, lower glycemic index (GI) foods and monounsaturated fats also helps to improve weight and regulate hormones.
Vitamin D can be helpful where there is insulin resistance. Along with calcium, vitamin D helps improve androgens and blood pressure.
Zinc and selenium may also help in improving symptoms of PCOS.
While PCOS is primarily an ovarian issue, as mentioned, other factors may increase the risks of development. If you experience PCOS, having a full thyroid hormone profile test is important to determine whether there is any thyroid involvement.
We all have those irresistible cravings for chocolate now and again. There is no denying that a good chocolate-eating session can make us feel really good, but what does it really mean?
Chocolate is a remarkable food with amazing properties. The problem with it arises when we munch tirelessly on blocks or bars of milk chocolate, loaded with caramel or some other sweet and gooey goodness. This kind of chocolate is usually VERY high in sugar and trans-fats, and artificial colors, flavors and preservatives. It really messes with our blood sugar (glucose), and can create an environment in the body where we cannot stop having these sweet treats (sugar addiction).
Now, for something positive about chocolate.
A small helping of dark or very dark chocolate once in a while is ok. Consider when you usually crave chocolate. Most likely around times of stress or, for women, PMS. Chocolate stimulates the ‘reward’ parts of the brain, leaving us feeling good, satisfied, and congratulated ‘for a job well done’. It can also be a form of reward when we suffer low self-esteem (this is for another post).
Chocolate from cacao beans, is rich in nutrients and ‘feel-good’ components.
- Theobromine. This component has a similar structure to caffeine, except it’s effects are much more gentle. It is found primarily in dark chocolate. It acts as a stimulant, diuretic and relaxant all at the same time. Theobromine doesn’t affect the central nervous system in the same way caffeine does, and can help in the relaxation of the muscles in the lungs. Theobromine can also be found in coffee, tea, yerba mate, guarana and the kola nut.
- Phenylethylamine (PEA). This substance has similar effects on the body as amphetamines. It helps in the production and release of noradrenaline and dopamine. It may help to increase mental acuity and focus, with increased feelings of well-being and ‘happy’ mood. Patients with ADHD often present with lowered endogenous PEA.
- Anandamide. This acts on the central nervous system and immune system. It also displays effects in the peripheries (arms and legs) and the brain. Anandamide helps to increase feelings of bliss and can aid in pain reduction, improved mood and memory, regulate the appetite and assist in fertility.
While I don’t suggest we all go out and buy masses of chocolate, a small piece of organic, dark chocolate or raw cacao nibs can certainly be beneficial in improving mood, cognition and well-being.
It is important to recognize your triggers for chocolate cravings and, for women especially, be aware of your menstrual cycle. Any changes to blood glucose regulation that see you reaching for excessive and unconscious amounts of sweets may be a sign of other health problems.