Saturday, February 16, 2019


What better way to resurrect my neglected blog endeavors than with a post about the extraordinary power and wisdom of the female body! Admittedly, the latest findings that show a woman ‘actively’ seeks out the most robust and healthy sperm to fertilize her egg, are not entirely new. In fact Francesca Naish and I wrote of this in our very first book, The Natural Way to Better Babies, which though still in print, was published way back in 1996!

‘So what?’ Well, apart from confirming the human body’s innate wisdom, it confirms the absolute importance of actively and positively preparing for your child’s conception. Think about it! Do you want your body to be searching for the absolute healthiest of an extremely healthy bunch, or would you be happy with the lackluster leading man in a very lackluster lot? It’s a no-brainer girls (and guys)! And maybe, just maybe, that innate feminine wisdom is actually at the heart of your failed attempts at conception if your partner’s sperm are showing lackluster form only. That wise female may just be hanging out for something much better.  As the Guardian article so succinctly puts it ‘natural fertilization is a brutal game!’

So here’s what to do to ensure the healthiest possible swimmers! Excellent preconception diets (with robust supplementation), supported by toxicity and stress-free lifestyles (both his and hers), are the starting point. Those critical four months immediately before conception are the real first trimester, when everything must be squeaky clean to ensure not only an easy, healthy conception, but to increase the likelihood that your child will live a life free of chronic degenerative disease. The effects carry across generations too! Conversely, poor preconception health (his and hers) and compromised pregnancy nutrient intake in addition to lifestyle and environmental toxicity contribute to poorer reproductive outcomes, increasing the chance of a child who will suffer a life-time of less than robust physical and mental health. This is fact - not supposition!

The female body is uniquely designed to weed out the weakest, slowest sperm. The steps you can take to ensure that
a plethora of super-fit, supremely strong swimmers are vying to fertilize a fabulously health ovum are entirely in your hands!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Blockbuster Medical Breakthrough?

After 35 years promoting preconception healthcare for both prospective parents as the best way to ensure a beautiful, bright, happy, healthy baby, the so-called ‘Blockbuster Medical Breakthrough’ by the Victor Chang Institute leaves me frustrated and for once almost lost for words.

Let me explain. My work in the area of preconception health was inspired by the work of UK-based Foresight - Association for the Promotion of Preconceptual Care. That initial inspiration led to a best-selling, 4-book series with co-author Francesca Naish, recently 2 updated, simplified books, ebooks and 3 associated mini ebooks (all published by Penguin Random House). The recommendations for both prospective parents are simple:
  • In place for a minimum period of 4 months prior to conception
  • Abundance of ALL essential building blocks
  • Absence of ANYTHING that is potentially toxic.

ALL essential building blocks is the key I want to emphasis - singling out one nutrient, in this case Vitamin B3, suggesting it is the holy grail to prevent miscarriage and heart defects does nobody any favours. 

Here is an excerpt from The Natural Way to Better Babies - Preconception Healthcare for Prospective Parents. This was my first book with Francesca Naish, published in 1996, it is still in print and explains the importance of all vitamins, essential trace elements, amino and fatty acids - singling out one has the capacity to cause deficiencies in others! Of course you’ll also read that the link to deficiencies of B-complex vitamins and miscarriage, heart defects (and more) is hardly new!

My frustration? The importance of preconception healthcare as a way to transform the health of the next generation is undisputed. The research is clear. For a family to enjoy a lifetime of better health, their journey must start before conception. Foresight ’s work (established in the UK 40 years ago) has involved researchers & research institutions from around the globe.
  • Professor David Barker physician, epidemiologist and originator of the Barker Hypothesis stated that ’Preventing heart disease & type 2 diabetes needs to begin before a baby is even conceived.’
  • In 2006 the US CDC stated ‘If you want to prevent any damage to the baby while the foetal organs are being formed, you need to take action before that time.’
  • Professor Rodney Dietert from Cornell University, Health Scientist and Author and many others have identified a raft of health issues that can be linked to the disturbed seeding of the infant microbiome with a delivery by Caesarean yet C-sections are now performed at many times the rate of the WHO recommendations.
The foregoing snippets are just the tip of a massive iceberg. So how about a visionary government committing to a program that not only encourages but rewards prospective parents for following a preconception program? Believe me, throwing a bit of extra vitamin B3 into a supplement is not the answer!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Reflections on International Women's Day 2017 #BeBoldForChange

A fabulous gathering of intelligent, creative, successful and switched-on women gathered for a breakfast and panel discussion on International Womens' Day, with the theme to be explored? #BeBoldForChange.

There was provocative discussion of the female attributes that regularly stop women from putting themselves forward for advancement, the frequent dismissal by male counterparts of women seeking top jobs, the lack of mentoring for very able and high-achieving women, the need for or usefulness of male/female quotas, the many reasons corporations do better with greater diversity, the ways to encourage our daughters (and sons) to do things differently in the future … and so much more. 

All valid, all sensible, all thoughtful and hopefully encouraging, perhaps even inspiring, for the many women who have fought and continue to fight gender discrimination, wage inequality and so much more in their working lives. But listening to it all, I wondered if an important piece was missed. 

If I were to #BeBoldForChange I would suggest that mothering be restored to a place of greater prominence in women’s lives. Let’s face it, we are uniquely designed and equipped to shape the next generation! No one else can do it as well or as completely as we can. No boardrooms, no institutions, no coterie of blokes can be as powerful as women who embrace mothering as the most important career they will ever do. Shaping the next generation starts well before conception (of course you might expect me to get on that soapbox) but at every step of the way to becoming a mother, there is a chance for that power to be diminished (by procedures mostly developed and prompted by the blokes).

Yep, the (mostly) fellas try to take it away from us … try to disconnect us from the power that we alone have, try to make less of the miracle that is becoming a mother! It can start with IVF, a process increasingly commonplace, it’s furthered with the plethora of prenatal diagnostic screenings, with the monitoring and management that accompany labour and birth. It continues with the advice that is dished out by the various experts, often advice that conflicts with a mother’s powerful gut instinct, it’s exacerbated when women aren’t given time to bond with their baby, when social, commercial or whatever pressure sends them back into the workforce leaving their infant to be cared for by others. The mere fact that women are expected to return to work within months rather than years diminishes the value of their mothering role and the importance of their influence in those early years! No wonder mothering is no longer seen as the most important career you'll ever have - no wonder having a baby is often perceived as just another ‘run on the board.’

And before I have a bunch of magnificent women (mothers or not) turn on me, mothers need all the support they can get. Because that was another theme of the Panel Discussion - we gals have got to stick together!

Mothers need support for securing enlightened and meaningful maternity leave, for ensuring that taking time out for a mothering career does not mean they fall off the ladder of their professional career. They need help to make job-sharing a viable, sensible reality, they need work-from-home options, they need start-work and go-home times to be realistic in terms of what’s required to get their family fed, watered and otherwise taken care of. They need to be able to attend Sports Carnivals and be around with the kids during School Holidays without fear of ramifications in the workplace.

Equality for women is about a great deal more than ending gender discrimination in all its forms and ensuring there are more women on boards. If we truly hope to change the world and I know women will be the ones to do it, we have to go back to the beginning and conceive, birth and nurture healthy, happy, emotionally secure children. We need to take the time to do that when it has the greatest impact - the first 2-3 years of the child’s life! Then we can step back into the workplace, secure in the knowledge that we’ve put the strongest possible foundations in place for the physical, mental and emotional health of the next generation. Who knows, we may even decide that sitting on the Board in the Boys Club isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. After all ... when you get to the end of your life, will you wish you’d spent more time at the office? Probably not ... but you might wish you’d spent more time with your family.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

More on the mighty Mediterranean diet

The marvellously varied  Mediterranean diet keeps turning up in research and proving its many benefits.

Sticking to foods that typically make up the Mediterranean diet may prove to be an effective approach in managing ADHD, a Spanish team has deduced. The study doesn’t identify cause and effect, rather it focuses on very specific dietary strategies that can help families with children suffering from ADHD.

Wondering exactly what constitutes the Mediterranean diet? Think - Spanish, Italian, Greek, Turkish, Middle Eastern. Think - very high in fresh vegetables and fruit (red, orange, purple, green), whole grains, legumes, seafood and mono-unsaturated fats from olive oil, olives and nuts such as walnuts and almonds. Also think - much reduced meat and dairy!

The Mediteranean diet has also been demonstrated to boost brain power in seniors.
This study that should be dear to every baby-boomer’s heart - on the subject of memory and improving cognition, the Mediterranean diet rears its healthy head once again. Yep, the benefits of olive oil, lots of red, purple and green vegies, plus seafood, nuts and legumes is undisputed. In other words, the things to avoid are red meat and dairy, those saturated fats that make up such a big part of the typical Western diet. 

Additionally important for the baby boomers, study shows the Mediterranean diet is able to cut the risk of heart disease by 30 percent.

What can we deduce from all of this? It's simple - these particular, traditional eating habits should be enshrined as a healthy legacy for all ages and life stages! That means before conception, during pregnancy and breastfeeding too. And while I’m on my soapbox, if Mum breastfeeds for an extended period (remembering that WHO recommends a minimum breastfeeding period of two years) the large variety of Mediterranean-inspired taste sensations that her baby will enjoy through her breastmilk will promote sophisticated tastes and eating habits in her toddler!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Vaginal birth, skin to skin, breastfeeding for long term health!

Put simply, a normal vaginal birth, with constant skin to skin contact and breastfeeding for an extended period has more benefits than even the most committed could have imagined! Rodney Dietert, Professor of Immunotoxicology, at Cornell University says that the bacteria with which we, as humans have a symbiotic relationship (also termed our “microbiome”), turns us into a “super organism”New research into the critical role of that microbiome indicates that the manner in which we birth a baby has a profound impact on the microbiome's proper establishment and subsequently on the long term health of the individual. In short, the way in which a baby enters the world could be the major determining factor in whether he or she will enjoy a lifetime of good health or not. 

Martin Blaser, Head of The Human Microbiome Project at New York University 
confirms the one single fundamental factor that is driving humanity’s extraordinarily rapid decline into ill-health and chronic disease. Others such as Katrina Ray,  Acting Chief Editor of Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology, asks “are we more microbe than man?”  Nature, The Weekly International Journal of Science talks of “Our Other Genome”, and both highlight what appears to lie at the heart of our global health crisis...the compromised health of our bacterial co-travellers!

Martin Blaser explains that while our own human cells number 10 trillion, the cells of the bacteria with which we co-exist number an astonishing 100 trillion and for hundreds of thousands of years bacterial and human cells have existed in peaceful symbiosis. This symbiotic relationship is responsible for the equilibrium and health of our bodies. Then enter the era of modern medicine and surgery, which brought with it the use of ever more powerful and frequent antibiotics, it brought the rise and rise of Caesarean sections and also the use of antiseptics and antibacterials, all accompanied by a significant loss of diversity in our miraculous bacterial ecosystem. In fact it is estimated that we have lost about 30 percent of the diversity of what constitutes ninety percent of our super-organism. 
Outnumbered 10:1 by microbial cells, we are also outnumbered 10:1 by the information-carrying material in that microbial DNA. Our microbial and human cells actually work intimately together, communicating across species to foster good health. At least that’s what happens with an optimally healthy microbiome. Conversely when the microbiome is compromised, health outcomes are too. Very simply, our ecosystem is degraded and our immune system never matures correctly. An optimally healthy microbiome does much more than digest our food. It is responsible for the integrity of the gut lining, for vitamin synthesis, for hormone balance, for energy metabolism (controlling our weight), neurotransmitter production, mental and emotional balance and much, much more and restoring and ensuring its optimal health and biodiversity is vital for the health of humankind. Restoring the health of the microbiome is #1 health-promoting activity whether you’re planning for conception or want to enjoy a healthy old age (or something in between). 
And Progurt is my choice of product for restoring the microorganisms you should have been born with. Progurt contains Human Probiotic Isolates™ (HPI ). These are probiotic strains identical to those found in a healthy human gut from birth, unlike other probiotics that contain animal and plant strains. They consist of Lactic Acid Bacteria (LAB) and Bifidobacteria including beneficial strains of Lactobacillus Acidophilus, Lactobacillus Bifidus and S. Thermophilus. 

The beneficial effects of probiotics are attributed to the characteristics of specific strains. Probiotic strains must be resilient in order to survive in the intestinal tract in which they are dwelling. The probiotic stains must be able to withstand human stomach acid, in order to make it to the intestinal tract. They must also be able to withstand human intestinal fluids, and they must be able to colonize the human intestinal tract to exert their greatest benefits. Progurt’s unique formulation using multiple viable probiotic strains of Human Probiotic Isolates™ (HPI) makes it the logical choice if you're serious about your family's long-term health. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Mediterranean diet boosts brain power in seniors

The traditional Mediterranean diet of fruit and vegetables, nuts, fish and wine could prevent neurological degeneration in later life, say researchers at the University of Edinburgh. This recent study is music to my ears. 

This comes on the heels of an earlier study showing the Mediterranean diet is able to cut the risk of heart disease by 30 percent. These studies make it clear that these particular eating habits should be enshrined as a healthy legacy for all! Of course generations have lived by its precepts and many more regularly enjoy this fine cuisine in its multiple guises. 

Interestingly, the so-called “landmark” study, which began in 2003 was terminated in 2011, cut short because the findings were so significant and because those following the standard “low fat diet” as recommended by the American Heart Association were at such a disadvantage! How’s that for damning the dietary pundits ...?

Wondering exactly what constitutes the Mediterranean diet? Think ... Spanish, Italian, Greek, Turkish, Middle Eastern. Think ... very high in fresh vegetables and fruit (red, orange, purple, green), whole grains, legumes, seafood and mono-unsaturated fats from olive oil, olives and nuts such as walnuts and almonds. Also think ... much reduced meat and dairy!

Oh and along with food lovingly prepared from a cornucopia of fresh ingredients, you’ll usually find a fine glass of red wine and convivial surroundings in that Mediterranean mix!  
On the subject of that glass of red wine, I still recommend that prospective parents avoid in the 4 months leading up to conception and that pregnancy and breastfeeding periods remain an alcohol-free zone. Learn all the reasons why in my free webinar.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy linked to autism

Vitamin D deficiency in pregnancy is linked to an increased risk of autism in children by the age of six, Australian researchers have found, who argue low cost supplementation for at-risk mothers is merited.

If you’ve been following my blog posts you’ll have seen plenty emphasising the importance of Vitamin D before conception and during pregnancy as a way of reducing the incidence of toxemia (high blood pressure of pregnancy) and premature birth. Optimal Vitamin D status confers a large number of other, more general health benefits (adequate immune status and protection from cancer among them) and now this study from Australian researchers at the University of Queensland Brain Institute and The Erasmus Medical Centre in The Netherlands adds another potential benefit to the growing list!

The researchers however suggest that supplementation, not sun exposure, is the answer because of the high risk of skin cancer in countries like Australia. I agree that supplementation has a role in ensuring Vitamin D status in high latitudes where sun exposure during the winter months cannot ensure Vitamin D adequacy, but in Australia, the recommended, unprotected exposure to the sun is hardly sufficient to lead to skin cancer. Ironically, if Vitamin D levels were adequate, skin cancer may not be an issue at all.

While we’re on the subject of supplementation, I'm always frustrated with the studies that take one nutrient and show how important it is during pregnancy. The reality is ... all the trace elements, vitamins, essential fatty acids, amino acids and various co-factors are important! AND making sure you and your partner enjoy optimal nutritional status across the board before you conceive and maintaining that status during pregnancy and beyond, will do more for your baby’s intelligence, birthweight, learning and behaviour issues and everything else, than supplementing with single nutrients in isolation!

More on all of the above in my new 5-Point Better Babies Webinar Program. Watch the free introductory webinar.