Posted in Women's Health

When health becomes an unhealthy obsession

Posted by Dr Michelle Woolhouse on 19 July 2018
When health becomes an unhealthy obsession

This article will appear in the Mornington Peninsula Magazine August 2018 Addition.

Whole Medicine Article in Mornington Peninsula Magazine

Over the past 15 years the internet-based positive health movement has:

  • Inspired us to review our dietary habits in a fast food-loving culture;
  • Encouraged us to slow down in a pace-obsessed world; and,
  • Emphasised the importance of lifestyle when it comes to our health and well-being.

But what about when health becomes an obsession, when all we think about is being optimally healthy, when we feel stressed, anxious and overwhelmed if we can't find a healthy option to eat, or our established healthy habits are blocked for a reason we can't control? This is what we call health anxiety.

Signs of health anxiety
Do you:

  • Worry about your health constantly?
  • Feel concerned that your doctor or medical tests may have missed something?
  • Request medical tests for things the doctor doesn't believe you have?
  • Need any relevant tests to be repeated more frequently than recommended?
  • Constantly look at health-related information on the internet or in books and magazines?
  • Avoid anything to do with serious illness, such as medical TV programs, movies and visiting loved ones in hospital?
  • Frequently check your body for signs of illness, such as lumps, tingling or pain?

Health anxiety means that you are stressed about your health and are not receiving any comfort from the healthy things you are doing in your life. You feel afraid of getting an illness in the future and feel out of control with regards to preventing it.

It is common to be concerned about our health, but when it starts detrimentally affecting our mental and physical health then addressing this as an independent factor can be a very important part of the treatment program.

Managing anxiety is an essential part of most people's long-term health journeys. If you feel you would benefit from learning more about managing it and how the anxiety biochemistry may be part of the condition you are trying to treat, call 03 5986 4229 to make an appointment and speak to your GP about learning the best way to manage your health.

Posted in: Women's Health Men's Health Health and Well Being Family GP  

Looking for a new approach to weight management?

Posted by Dr Michelle Woolhouse on 30 June 2018
Looking for a new approach to weight management?

Need a kick start for your metabolism?

Over 2/3 of Australians are either obese or overweight, this is an increase of over 500 fold in the last 50 years. Our changing lifestyle, our changing food habits and our changing gut biome all play a role in this weight gain epidemic.

So is there anything you can do?

Managing a healthy weight can be a challenge for many people, most of those have tried many fad diets, some have even gone as far as using medications and surgery to assist their bodies in holding the ideal body weight.

But as much as there is no magic pill, there are some safe, healthy ways to adapt and change your lifestyle and habits to support a healthy weight.

Diet aside, are some people more prone to weight gain than others?

Well new research does suggest some people with different gut biomes are more likely to absorb more sugar and fat from the same foods, ie if 2 people eat a roast spud, one will absorb more starch than the other, therefore gaining more energy density from the food they eat.

Another reason why people put on weight more easily, is due to increase insulin resistance. When we become more resistant to the insulin in our bodies, our glucose levels gets more dysregulated. This means the body is confused about how to use the glucose from the foods we have eaten. This leads to increase stress on the body and makes the body turn the sugar to fat more easily.

The latest research

There are several aspects of diet research which are showing a lot of promise. The low carb diet is a very good way to go, as it is associated with a better long term weight loss after 6 months than a low fat diet. Fasting has been an ancient technique used across the world for a whole variety of health reasons, and some recent research has suggested that it may improve longevity, decrease insulin levels and reduce cancer inflammatory markers. A high plant based diet, is recommended for gut biome health as it is super high in nutrition and in fibre.

The other interesting aspect of diet and long term health is the research around mindful eating. What this means mean is increasing our internal ability to become more mindful helps us with better food choices, better satiety and better self esteem. It can also help us make better lifestyle choices like exercise, hobbies and seeking healthy relationships.

One of the most researched diets on the planet is the Mediterranean diet, which is a varied diet rich in plant based foods, fibre, legumes which is eaten mindfully and full of super foods. It is associated with less depression, better cardiovascular health, better cognition and better longevity.

Which one if right for me?

The general consensus for long term sustainable weight management is to find a diet and lifestyle plan that suits you emotionally, mentally, socially and culturally. We often hold so much emotion to our food choices, so a good discussion with a educated GP can be a vital stepping point to start setting some goals and kick starting your new health journey.

So if you are interested in getting a more whole person approach to weight loss, call Whole Medicine for further information on 03 5986 4229.

Posted in: Women's Health Men's Health Health and Well Being Family GP  

Out with the old pap, in with the new

Posted by Dr Michelle Woolhouse on 30 June 2018
Out with the old pap, in with the new

Well it has been a long time coming and the new "pap smear" test has arrived. It won't be called a pap smear now, as the technology has changed, so it is now officially called  a "cervical screening test", but that doesn't roll off the tongue, like a pap test does, so colloquially the term pap test will stick around for now.

So what does this mean for women....

Over the last few decades medical science has found that most women who go onto develop cervical cell changes have an associated human papiloma virus (HPV for short) infection. This infection often doesn't have symptoms and can pass between partner without anyone being aware.

There are over 100 different subtypes of HPV but we have identified that only a few will give you a higher risk of developing abnormal cells. The abnormal cells become the risk factor for cervical cancer, a cancer that we want to avoid.

The new test aims to pick up about 30% more cancer risk than the previous screening test. So this is very good news.

The pap smear was a test that took a small scrapping of cells from the cervix, these cells were taken to the lab to be analysed, if there were abnormal cells, we used to either watch carefully, or do a procedure to remove those cells before they become dangerous.

The screening test now looks for the different subtypes of the HPV virus. If the woman doesn't have the dangerous, high risk HPV subtypes she is very unlikely to go on and have abnormal cells. In addition over the last decade we have introduced the cervical cancer immunisation schedule, which is further lowering the risk for HPV infection in women overall.

Because the association between cervical cancer and HPV is so strong, if you don't have the dangerous types of HPV, you don't need as regular follow up. If you do, we follow you up more closely, offer further testing and can define the risk a lot more clearly.

The good news about all of this for our women is that the "pap test" is officially been taken over by the cervical screening test and that this test requires screening every 5 years, instead of every 2 years in the past. Testing commences at age 25 years and goes through to 74 years.

More information can be found here: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/cervical-screening-tests

Contact Whole Medicine today to make an appointment 03 5986 4229.

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

Time flies after baby arrives

Posted by Dr Michelle Woolhouse on 6 June 2018
Time flies after baby arrives

This article will appear in the Mornington Peninsula Magazine June 2018 Addition.

Whole Medicine Article in Mornington Peninsula Magazine

Time moves quickly after the arrival of your cherished baby, and as a new mum there's much to learn. What nappies to use? What signs to look for regarding over-tiredness? How to navigate the world of breastfeeding? It can be a confronting and challenging time albeit an exciting one.

The good news is there are lots of positive things you can do to optimise your baby's health and transition from a child-free adult to a healthy and capable Mum. That's where Whole Medicine can help.

Modern research shows that by looking after the gut biome of small babies and toddlers, you can help children optimise their immunity, support allergy tendencies, lower lifetime risk of some chronic diseases and even aid intelligence. A Whole Medicine six-week baby check includes heart, vision, tummy and hip health assessments, plus offers immunisation schedule navigation, optimising feeding support and arrangement of any necessary specialist follow-ups. It is also an important time for mums to have a check-up and make sure they're on track after giving birth. Issues such as post-partum health, infection, breast care, mental health and sleep are all assessed.

New mothers require even more nutrients during breastfeeding than during pregnancy. Whole Medicine offers you the opportunity to check on common nutrient deficiencies and support you through this period because personalised and researched supplementation may be important for you depending on your dietary needs, family history and lifestyle factors.

The caring doctors at Whole Medicine take great pride in offering you this vital six-week check-up service to ensure your and your baby's health are optimised during this exciting but vulnerable time of life. They also welcome new patients and families.

Book your online appointment today.

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

Is your inner critic letting you down?

Posted by Caroline Hales on 4 June 2018
Is your inner critic letting you down?

Self-talk can be described as that continuous narrative that occurs between the conscious and subconscious levels of our mind and body. It is a part of the mind that rarely shuts down, and is so familiar that we often aren't aware of these thoughts.

The messages can be benign, positive or negative in nature, and are experienced in our physical body as comfortable or uncomfortable sensations.

Our habitual reaction is often to shut down uncomfortable thoughts and sensations because we believe they may have negative consequences. Our desire for self-preservation leads us to assume that comfort is the safer option. We tend to experience these habitual reactions more acutely when we are about to say or do something outside of our usual routine or comfort zone, and they can manifest as an increased volume and intensity of negative mind messages, as well as physical body sensations such as tension, anxiousness, or a foreboding feeling that something bad is going to happen.

A simple way to work with these habitual patterns of thoughts is by bringing awareness to the body's sensations and movements -  our jaws, shoulders, stomach and back can tighten - as a response to the mind messages that are being filtered through. Rather than trying to figure out the content of the messages, we can simply begin to witness what is occurring, use breathing patterns to purposely relax our physical body tension, and harness the power of our mind to calm and assure ourselves that, right now in this moment of time, we are safe. This simple practice can have a profound and uplifting effect on the mind-body.

Negative self-talk becomes more engaged when we judge ourselves as having made a mistake, get things wrong, when we think that life should be any different to what it is right now. It can be a habitual response to turn inward and berate ourselves. Being gentle and accepting that part of being human is to make mistakes, get it wrong and to remind ourselves that often we can learn so much from these times, can reduce the intensity and hold of these negative thought pasterns.

Making a choice to speak to ourselves with positive self-talk, i.e. reassuring words and affirmations, bringing our self into the safety of the present moment with kindness. This reassuring response can contribute to building self-confidence, self-belief, and can calm our emotional reactions and support us through difficult times.

Remembering our innate goodness as a human being, engaging in deep breathing exercises, and using reassuring self-talk, offers a chance to move on faster, make amends, and to make new positive choices.

Self-talk is one of the topics that we will be covered in Caroline Hales and Dr Michelle Woolhouse's upcoming Courageously Me Women's Retreat, running from 27th - 31st August 2018. Caroline and Michelle share a passion for empowering women, and together they offer a unique blend of Western and Eastern healing methodologies and philosophies, many years of professional expertise, as well as many years of intensive spiritual and personal development work. For more information, or to book your place in this retreat, please email info@gawler.org or call 1300 651 211.

Posted in: Women's Health Health and Well Being  

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