Posted in Health and Well Being

What sort of chocolate is good for you at Easter?

Posted by Dr Michelle Woolhouse on 23 March 2018
What sort of chocolate is good for you at Easter?

If you are like me you love to eat chocolate.  However, not just any chocolate. I like to eat the varieties that are often referred to as "superfoods."

When Easter comes around we are ready for that chocolate hit. Why not have a chocolate choice that is both healthy and absolutely delicious?

There is substantial scientific evidence to support the health benefits of cacao and dark chocolate.


Cacao has a reputation for being one of the great superfoods.  Known as one of the purest forms of chocolate.  Highly antioxidant, rich in magnesium and minerals.

The health benefits of Cacao include:

Antioxidants: Cacao beans contain flavonoids.  Flavonoids are a type of antioxidant.  Cacao has more flavonoids than any other food that are consumed.  Ingested flavonoids can provide anti-inflammatory support.  Supporting the immune functions, it also attacks free radicals that can lead to serious diseases such as cancer, strokes, heart attacks and high blood pressure.

Magnesium: Every cell in the body contains and requires magnesium to function. Magnesium fights acid build-up.  Increasing magnesium creates many health benefits including increasing energy, calming sensitivity to pain, relieves muscle aches, aiding digestion and assisting in building good bones and teeth.

Natural Mood Booster: Raw cocoa contains anandamide, a substance that assists with inducing euphoria, it also contains phenylethylamine (PEA), which is a mood enhancer.  PEA helps stimulates the central nervous system to release endorphins.  PEA increases alertness, increases the ability to focus, elevates mood and helps to speed up metabolism and boosts memory. Raw cacao also contains theobromine, an alkaloid providing an energy boost which may also help to reduce stress.

What about Dark Chocolate?

The general consensus is that dark chocolate typically contains between 70 to 99 percent pure cocoa or cocoa solids.

The health benefits of dark Chocolate include:

Protection from Disease-Causing Free Radicals: Free radicals are unbalanced compounds created by cellular processes in the body, especially those that fight against environmental toxins we're exposed to on a daily basis. Antioxidants are the compounds that are believed to neutralis e free radicals and protect the body from their damage.

Potential Cancer Prevention: It may be hard to believe, but that tasty dark chocolate you eat and love may also help you ward off cancer. That's right one of the benefits of dark chocolate is its potential as a cancer-fighting food.

Heart Health: Flavanols are the main type of flavonoid found in dark chocolate. According to Cleveland Clinic, research has shown that flavanols have a very positive effect on heart health by helping lower blood pressure and improving blood flow to the heart as well as the brain. Dark chocolate flavanols can also help make blood platelets less sticky and able to clot, which reduces the risk of blood clots and stroke.

Better Cognitive Function: Previous research showed that "acute as well as chronic ingestion of flavanol-rich cocoa is associated with increased blood flow to cerebral grey matter and it has been suggested that cocoa flavanols might be beneficial in conditions with reduced cerebral blood flow, including dementia and stroke.

Blood Pressure and Blood Sugar Aid: A study published in 2015 compared type 2 diabetics' consumption of white chocolate versus high-cocoa, polyphenol-rich dark chocolate. The subjects consumed 25 grams (a little under one ounce) of dark or white chocolate for eight weeks. The researchers found that not only did dark chocolate lower the blood pressure of the hypertensive diabetics, but it also decreased fasting blood sugar.

"Eat two squares of dark chocolate at least 80 percent cocoa per day. Based on the best evidence, it would be close to the No.1 food you can eat. It has powerful anti-ageing capabilities. In laboratory studies, it has been shown to reduce ageing by up to 80 percent. The four people who lived the longest on earth have all eaten dark chocolate" 
Dr Avni Sali | Director of the National Institute of Integrative Medicine

Chocolate Smoothie

  • 1/2 teaspoon cocoa   
  • 1 frozen banana,
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup of almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds

Cocoa Balls 

  • 2 Medjool dates
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut, plus 1/3 cup extra for rolling
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup cacao powder
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds

-Place dates in a medium bowl and cover with water. Stand for 1 hour. Drain and discard seeds.
-Process dates, almond meal, shredded coconut, coconut oil, cacao powder and chia seeds until mixture comes together. Transfer to a bowl and stand for 20 minutes for chia seeds to soften.
-Place remaining coconut in a shallow dish.
-Roll level tablespoons of mixture into balls. Roll in coconut to coat.

Posted in: Preventative Medicine Health and Well Being Family GP  

Skin protection

Posted by Dr Michelle Woolhouse on 20 February 2018
Skin protection

Plus, tell-tale signs of when you need a GP to check your skin.

As beach-side residents, we all know the importance of protecting our skin from dangerous ultraviolet (UV) radiation during summer. After all, overexposure to UV rays while at the beach, playing sports or even visiting fruit farms and wineries can cause wrinkles and skin and eye damage. It can also lead to skin cancer.

In fact, Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, with two in every three Australians diagnosed before age 70.

Furthermore, anyone can be at risk of developing skin cancer 9.2 per cent of people diagnosed with melanoma are aged under 40, according to Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data.The issue is, Australia has the highest UV index in the world, and it's the UV radiation in the sunshine that causes your skin to burn. There is UVA and UVB, which both cause skin damage and increase the risk of developing both common skin cancer and melanoma. However, UVA penetrates your skin much deeper.

When sunburn can occur in as little as 15-minutes and will continue to develop for 24 to 72 hours after exposure to the sun your best form of skin protection is to follow Cancer Council Australia guidelines:

  • Slip on some sun-protective clothing that covers as much skin as possible.
  • Slop on broad spectrum, water resistant SPF30+ (or higher) sunscreen. Put it on 20 minutes before you go outdoors and every two hours afterwards, or after swimming, exercising or towel drying. Sunscreen should never be used to extend the time you spend in the sun.
  • Slap on a hat broad brim or legionnaire style to protect your face, head, neck and ears.
  • Seek shade.
  • Slide on some sunglasses make sure they meet Australian Standards.

Dos and don'ts of Vitamin D
If you are concerned this method of skin protection will prevent you from meeting your vitamin D requirements don't be.

Dr Michelle Woolhouse, Whole Medicine founder and principal GP, says vitamin D requirements are not as hard to achieve as people think.

"While sun exposure is important for good health, the harms of UV radiation in Australia far outweigh the risks of vitamin D deficiency," she says.
"For most people, adequate vitamin D levels can be reached through regular incidental exposure to the sun."

During summer, when the UV reaches damaging levels, a few minutes of sun exposure on either side of the peak UV periods before 10am and after 3pm is enough to get your vitamin D fix.

When to check your skin
Regularly checking your own skin for changes is essential, while an annual examination by your GP is recommended no matter what your age.

Keep an eye out for:

  • Any crusty, non-healing sores;
  • Small lumps that are red, pale or pearly in colour;
  • New spots, freckles or any moles changing in colour, thickness or shape over a period of weeks to months, especially those dark brown to black, red or blue-black in colour.

If you notice any changes, act quickly and don't worry, you're not alone Cancer Council Australia data shows GPs have more than one million patient consultations per year for skin cancer.

To book a skin check at Whole Medicine call 03 5986 4229 or visit our convenient online booking portal. Our doctors are qualified to perform minor skin surgeries including biopsies (removing a small sample of tissue for examination). We also have access to the best specialists, hospitals, procedures and investigations. P.S. Check out the SunSmart App, which lets you know when you do and don't need sun protection, making it easier to be smart about your sun exposure all year round.

P.S. Check out the SunSmart App, which lets you know when you do and don't need sun protection, making it easier to be smart about your sun exposure all year round.

Posted in: Skin Health Health and Well Being Family GP  

5 back to school health tips

Posted by Dr Michelle Woolhouse on 30 January 2018
5 back to school health tips

Easy ways to help your child stay healthy as term one kicks off.

There's no doubt the start of the school year is an exciting time, but it also means an increased risk of exposure to viruses and illness for your child. Here are five things you need to know to help your family stay healthy as term one gets underway.

1. Physical Factors
While classroom learning is an integral part of every child's school day and a level of digital activity is also accepted staying active is one of the best ways children can remain physically and mentally well.
The Active Healthy Kids Australia recommendations are a good guide for how much exercise your child should do:

  • Children and young people should accumulate at least 60-minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity every day.
  • Physical activity that strengthen muscles and bones should be included at least three days per week.
  • For additional health benefits children and young people should engage in more physical activity up to several hours every day.

2. Sleep Matters Most
Sleep is the golden elixir of any young person's life. It is vital for brain development, emotional regulation, optimal detoxification, hormonal stability and cellular and immune repair. On the flip side, sleep can be negatively impacted for a variety of reasons including emotional health, nutrition, behavioural patterns, physical obstructions and gut issues. Contact Whole Medicine if you are concerned you child may have sleep issues.
The Sleep Health Foundation recommends:

  • School aged children aged between six and 13 get nine to 11 hours a night
  • Teenagers aged between 14 and 17 get eight to 10 hours a night.

3. Better Behaviour
Behavioural issues that are outside normal functioning can impact on family harmony, school learning, social functioning and mental health. Looking holistically at a child can reveal some underlying issues at play. Supporting brain growth and function with lifestyle, nutrition, diet and other factors can support children. Having access to specialists and referral networks is also vital for the whole family.

4. Food Confustion
If you're confused over what to include in your child's lunchbox or what constitutes healthy food, you're not alone. The latest Royal Children's Hospital National Child Health Poll found parents are struggling to understand how much sugar is added to foods and what impact it can have on children's mental and physical health.
Good food is vital for your child's brain development at school. See the Australian Dietary Guidelines for information about how to help your child enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods from the five food groups.

5. Screen Time Limits
While watching TV and playing computer games are common activities for kids, the Australian Government Department of Health warns children who spend long periods of time inactive are more likely to have poor physical, social and intellectual development. Instead of your child spending hours on watching TV and DVDs or playing computer and electronic games, encourage them to stay active and healthy by setting consistent screen time limits.

If you are concerned about chronic infections, food intolerances, attention issues or learning behaviours as the school year gets underway, book an appointment with a Whole Medicine GP today.

Posted in: Children's Health Health and Well Being Family GP  

A 2018 New year message from Dr Michelle Woolhouse

Posted by Dr Michelle Woolhouse on 9 January 2018
A 2018 New year message from Dr Michelle Woolhouse

"It is always a special time, when a new year opens up to us all. As we say goodbye to the challenges and good times of the previous year, we start to look ahead with possibility, commitment and hope. Just before Christmas, the staff of Whole medicine (nee Peninsula Holistic General Practice) gathered together to do just that; say goodbye to the old and welcome in the new. Many patients over the Christmas period have been positively commenting on the new website, the new sage green branding and signage and have been asking us why we decided to change the name. So let us tell you all the reasons why...

We decided to change the practice name and update the website ( because we wanted to be more committed to the whole person and the whole community. Over the years we have been focusing on our expanded approach to medicine, which was becoming so popular, people were travelling from all across Victoria and even across Australia to come to see our GP's. Even though this is a humbling indication of how valued we are, we felt we were not able to service these patients well enough because of the distance and inadvertently we were jeopardising the accessibility to the clinic for our dedicated, local patient base. We also felt unable to service all the needs of our local patients, for example our patients felt unable to access our services when they needed a pap smear or were acutely unwell and would therefore need to go elsewhere.  We don't think this is good medicine, as it is beneficial for patients to have a doctor who understands all their needs, one who they can see when they are acutely sick, one who can look after the whole family and help them navigate all the screening and prevention interventions they need to do.

The other issue for our patients was our accessibility points: What we discovered was that even though we believe in offering a time honoured system of medicine- this meant many local families felt that the 60 minute new patient appointment and associated costs were too much to justify if they were not significantly unwell. We wanted to change that too.

So, we as a group discussed these issues at our meetings, over coffee and around the tables over the preceding months. We talk about what good medicine meant to us, we talked about the importance of integration and we talked about what our values were as doctors and as a business. These discussions lead us to make some changes that we hope will help us to be the best medical group to help service our local community and stay committed to the Whole person model of care we are all so passionate about.

The changes we have made:

  1. New and more affordable access points to the clinic so that we can accommodate your children, your family and increase our reach to the locals that want to be a part of this expanded and integrative approach to health care.
  2. We have decreased our new patient appointment times and fees to suit a whole range of different people's needs.
  3. We have a stronger focus on community medicine, such that we have zoned the clinic and give preferential access to those on the Mornington Peninsula.
  4. We have dedicated 100K to chronic disease management and wellness coaching to help you achieve your health goals.

So this is why Peninsula Holistic became Whole Medicine. So along with the new name, comes a new approach, new accessibility, new commitment and new innovations.

Whole medicine is dedicated to helping our community  be well, because we know a strong and healthy community will strengthen the health of the individual too.

Welcome to Whole Medicine, and make 2018 your year to Be well...

Posted in: Women's Health Preventative Medicine Men's Health Children's Health Skin Health Chronic Illness Health and Well Being Family GP  

Women's health at Whole Medicine

Posted by Dr Michelle Woolhouse on 19 December 2017
Women's health at Whole Medicine

Looking after the health of women is vital for the overall wellbeing of our community.
Here's how Whole Medicine can help.

When it comes to the health of our Mornington Peninsula community, women are particularly important.

The reason being many women not only look after themselves, but they also provide much of the care and nurturing for their children, partner and ageing parents.

What's more, women support each other as friends and when they fall pregnant, meaning their health is reflected more widely in the community.

"It's the long-lasting affect women have on those around them that makes us passionate about supporting women to be well because, ultimately, we know this makes for more well people," explains Dr Michelle Woolhouse, Whole Medicine founder and principal GP.

It's also important that women take time out of their often-busy schedules to check on their own physical and mental health parameters, regardless of age.

To help females be proactive about screening, prevention and good health, here's a simple guide to women's health at Whole Medicine.

Physical Health

Hormonal balance
Women's hormones change over time and are affected by stresses, life patterns and even your thoughts. Hormonal balance helps mental, reproductive and physical health, which is why our doctors help women to better understand how to create balance for optimising overall wellbeing.

Breast health 
Regular breast checks are just the beginning; breast health, lactation success, hormonal balance and managing the lumps and bumps that breasts can get are all part of what we do at Whole Medicine. 

Family planning and fertility
Planning a family is an exciting and challenging time in our lives. But, for most of our fertile years, contraception is not only important for preventing unwanted pregnancies, but it also plays a significant role in your long-term health.

Staying well during pregnancy is the goal of every woman. Regular check-ups with your family doctor to address your physical and mental health, as well as your nutrition, can help you to feel prepared for the next stages.

The impact of the change in hormones experienced during menopause can affect your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing. Having support and knowing some of the strategies you can use during this time can help make life easier.

Pap smears 
Regular pap tests have been one of the most successful screening interventions in medicine. We encourage all women to have them regularly. We offer a reminder service to help you manage your important health interventions like this one.

Thyroid disease 
Thyroid disease is on the rise due to increasing strain on our lifestyle, increases in toxin exposure, stress, diet and gut immunity issues. The thyroid gland is paramount for your vitality it underpins your energy levels, brain function and detoxification capacity. Thyroid disease can be well managed with an integrative approach.

Sexual health 
Vaginal health, libido issues, infections and other sexual issues are important for any woman's overall health. At Whole Medicine, our family doctors take these matters seriously and are sensitive to your needs and concerns.

Mental Health

Health retreats
Often women need time away from their usual responsibilities to relax, recharge and refocus. That's why Whole Medicine is hosting a health retreat in February called Wise Radiant Me: A Wellness Weekend for Women. The retreat is about replenishing your body, mind and soul with healthy eating, meditation, yoga and insightful self-help techniques. "This is a chance to help women learn to ground themselves and develop practical tools to support long-term health," says Dr Woolhouse, who will co-facilitate the retreat with intuitive therapist Caroline Hales.

Work-Life Balance 
Balancing work, life, family and personal time is often challenging for many women. This juggling act is impacting on some women's mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. Up-skilling and gaining support in managing this important aspect of our lives plays a big role in regaining or sustaining your best self.

Women often feel stressed, and it feeds on itself until before you know it, you are experiencing negative mental, physically and emotional cycles. Having some time to reassess, reflect and develop more skills can help turn a negative cycle into a positive one.

Make some time for your health find out more about the Whole Medicine Health Retreat in February or sign up for The Big Health Check.

Posted in: Women's Health Preventative Medicine Health and Well Being  

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