Winter Nutrition for Paddlers and Athletes

Winter Nutrition for Paddlers

I recently wrote an article for the Outlaw Paddling monthly newsletter. It looks at winter nutrition for paddlers, however it really pertains to all athletes.

Nutrition Tips to Train Through Winter

Nutrition plays a vital role in staying healthy and energetic during the colder winter months including prevention of illness, warming the system and making sure you are putting the right fuel into the tank.

Below are some tips to keep those winter cold and flus or the winter blues away:

  • Eat regular, smaller meals that have a source of protein in each meal – the regular meals, and especially the protein, will keep basal metabolic rate (our internal fire) up and keep insulin levels low so you produce energy more efficiently and don’t put on too much fat. In addition, the presence of protein in each meal, will promote the production of satiety that make you feel fuller for longer.
  • Get fuel for energy from fibre and nutrient dense sources of carbohydrates: i.e. fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and some WHOLE grains. In addition, these nutrient dense (and unprocessed) sources of fuel are rich in nutrients including vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which assist with energy production and provide a huge boost to your body’s immunity.
  • Many people use cold and flu shots as a preventative over winter. In my opinion, if you focus on good nutrition, you will get better results anyway. As well as have more energy. However, if you find this difficult, then consider the shots as an option.
  • Have 1-2 small serves of grain per day and make sure they are WHOLE grains – most wholemeal and multigrain bread is still mostly white flour. When you take the brown bit off flour or rice you remove all of the fibre and most of the nutrients which will impair energy production and function of all cells – including immune system function and recovery from training. So refined carbohydrates are essentially sugar in disguise – or empty calories that don’t give much back in return. They should be avoided!!
  • Grains will be 100% whole grain only if it says it is – don’t assume. 100% whole grains options for bread, pasta, cereals etc can be found in health food stores or the health food section of supermarkets.
  • Eat plenty of essential fatty acids – from fish, nuts and seeds, avocado, tofu and soy products and some oils (olive oil and many nut and seed oils). These help to increase muscle production and reduce body fat. Plus they are essential in energy production, reduction of inflammation and the function of the immune system.
  • Have lots of warming foods to keep you warm and keep the circulation flowing: i.e. warming herbs and condiments (pepper, cayenne, chilli, ginger, garlic, turmeric etc), soups, herbal teas, casseroles etc.
  • Whilst caffeine can be helpful during an event, more than one to two coffees per day can make you pay energy wise. It exacerbates fluctuating blood sugar levels (which need to be kept constant to maximise energy production) and is a central nervous system stimulant, so it will drain you over time if you rely on coffee or those evil energy drinks to keep you up.
  • Use a good quality supplement(s) based from whole food or plant extracts. Many multivitamin/mineral supplements that are synthetically produced are not readily bio-available to the system so, whilst the label says they are potent in lots of goodies (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants) they also have fillers etc, and you will end up urinating most of these ‘so-called’ goodies out without ever receiving the benefit of them to your system. Most of us have experienced the smelly yellow-orange wee after taking vitamin-mineral supplements. Well, that’s where the money you have spent is going if you don’t get a good quality supplement.
  • As our digestive systems evolved over a million or so years by exposure only to whole foods (except for the last 100-200 years or so) these are easily digested and assimilated and you will get full benefit from the nutrients contained in them. Examples of whole food or plant extract supplements would be Juice Plus, Vital Greens, fish oils, herbal extracts such as Siberian Red, Olive Leaf Extract, Echinacea etc.
  • My ideal supplement protocols for maximising cellular health, energy production and immune system function is as follows. I developed and followed this protocol over many years since having recovered from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome:

1. Juice Plus – high potency pure fruit and vegetable extracts. They replace the multi-vitamin/mineral supplements. Bioavailability is excellent and research has found that levels of major vitamins and antioxidants increase considerably after having used this for a month or more. See more info on Juice Plus. Users of this report fewer incidents of colds and flus and less fatigue.

2. High potency, high quality fish oils including EPA and DHA: i.e. Metagenics, Bioceuticals or Ethical Nutrients. The oil is better than capsules as it is far more potent – so find one that tastes ok and mix it in with your smoothies or salads. 95% of the Western population is deficient in Omega 3 essential fatty acids.

3. Bioeffective A – an antioxidant and antimicrobial (including antibacterial and antiviral) extract from Russian pine needle species that is also terrific for liver regeneration and support. Great for digestive health and liver health and preventing colds and flus. Available in some health food stores or at Pine Needle Products.

4. Siberian Red – a pure liquid extract (non-alcohol based) from Siberian Fir tree needles. Siberian research found this excellent as an antioxidant and adaptogen (which helps increase the body’s ability to cope with stress produced by training load, winter coldness or psycho-emotional stress) It is great for reducing fatigue and enhancing endurance and stamina. It also a potent source of highly bio-available iron for a plant source.

Available from Pine Needle Products


About 18 months ago I stumbled upon a piece of technology that I knew immediately would play a role in not only treating and healing disease, but understanding the processes that lead to optimal health or peak performance.

This technology is known as the CapnoTrainer and it measures end-tidal CO2 levels during respiration. Because CO2 plays such a huge role in determining the availability of inhaled O2 to tissues and cells for energy, and CO2 is not readily available in the atmosphere at ground level (we produce CO2 as a bi-product of metabolism), it is vitally important we maintain a reservoir or store of CO2 in our lungs at the end of exhalation (otherwise known as end-tidal CO2) so that it can be made available in arterial blood to optimize release of oxygen to our cells.

As such, the CapnoTrainer is a fantastic opportunity, via biofeedback, for us to measure the efficiency of our breathing (or respiration). The biofeedback provides the chance to verify any theoretical understanding with a first person view of breathing efficiency.

My interest in breathing stemmed from 2 sources:

  1. My involvement in sport at elite levels as both an athlete and coach for well over twenty years. I had read a couple of years earlier an article from a leading and well respected sports physiologist who had said that, given the advances in understanding of physiological training and recovery over the last twenty years or so, breathing was the area that was least understood and held the greatest potential for improvement in sporting performance in the future. So my radar was up.
  2. I have had an interest and involvement in meditation for 20 years and yoga for the last 5 years. Both of these pursuits place a huge emphasis on breathing and efficiency of breath.  As I was a regular meditator and had a regular practice in Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga, I was very open to understanding how to improve the efficiency or rhythm of my breathing.

The last 12 months, in conjunction with a colleague of mine, Mark McGrath who is a Movement Coach and Bodyworker and a leading professional in the field of Deep System Stabilisation, has involved us conducting extensive research in breathing physiology and biochemistry, the role of breathing in both disease and optimal health (or meta-health as it is often referred as), and methods to improve breathing efficiency.

We combined our previous learning in our areas of expertise with current scientific and medical knowledge of the respiratory system, and existing understandings and methods for improving breathing efficiency  (including Buteyko breathing and the work of several pioneering and leading breathing experts – including Mike White, John Douillard, Roger Price and Dr Peter Litchfield).

We verified our theories and ideas using CapnoTrainer biofeedback technology to determine if the idea or theory was replicable in the human system.

From this we developed our own system of breathing and postural retraining called Breathing Dynamics. We have been using this clinically and in courses to improve efficiency of breathing, health and performance in a variety of circumstances including:

Performance work with

  • Athletes
  • Corporates
  • Those involved with the arts.

And, in treatment of a number of conditions including:

  • Asthma and breathing difficulties
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Stress management
  • Snoring/apnoea
  • High blood pressure, hypertension
  • Allergies (eczema, hay fever etc.)
  • Fatigue
  • Digestive complaints (IBS, constipation etc.)
  • In conjunction with corrective dental work.

The results we have been achieving with clients have been both outstanding and in some cases we have been nicely surprised.

As a result of this, and the fact that breathing is the function in our body that we perform the most whilst having some conscious control over it (and therefore is possibly the most central function in the human system that we can regulate or re-train), we believe that breathing retraining is a modality that should play a major role in most holistic health practices.

Why? Because the things that adversely affect breathing the most are the stressors that we are exposed to on a day to day basis, including:

  • Postural and musculoskeletal stressors.
  • Environmental stressors – what we ingest (eat, drink, inhale etc.).
  • Psychological and emotional stressors.

These sources of stress, and the ailments resulting from them, are the direct focus of practically all of the holistic healing and medical modalities currently available.

That breathing retraining plays a major role in management and treatment of conditions addressed by these current modalities is a new concept, yet one that should be taken very seriously.

At Breathing Dynamics we offer group courses or one on one work in breathing retraining that can be tailored specifically to your circumstances or needs.

To gather further information take a look at Breathing Dynamics, send an email to Tim Altman or Mark McGrath or call Tim on 0425 739 918 or Mark on 0417 358 832.

New Naturopathic Services

I now have two new offerings to add to my clinical services available at my clinics in South Yarra and Torquay or via Skype.

  1. Nutrition is a huge passion of mine, and a major emphasis in my clinical work. I am offering to go shopping with clients to help them make correct choices and find nutritional options to ensure better understanding of health and nutrition. For example, good quality 100% whole grain breads, muesli, cereal, pasta, gluten free options, healthy snack options, good sources of lean protein and the best supplements etc.
  2. As an extension of my passion for nutrition, I am now offering guided juice fasting as a modality to clients. A very misunderstood (in the modern world), but incredibly healing and rejuvenating therapy, fasting has been described as the ‘knifeless surgeon’ or the ‘missing link in modern Western healthcare’.

Fasting has also been a very large part of my return to health from a debilitating chronic illness (which could not be treated by conventional medicine and eventually led me to becoming a naturopath) and my subsequent journey into understanding and experiencing optimal or ‘meta’ health. We offer several options for fasting than can be guided either by myself in my South Yarra and Torquay clinic or online via email or Skype (or both) correspondence.

Managing the Disorders of a Western Lifestyle

Health in a Western Lifestyle

I read a fantastic article recently that offers a thorough and, in my opinion, extremely accurate look at our Western lifestyle and its implications on health and disease. And possible solutions leading us to the state of wellness that is the birth rite of each and every one of us.

Whilst I would love to claim this as my own work, it is not. And for legal reasons I cannot cite my source, but I can say that I found the article extremely inspiring and that it perfectly represents my own views on health and my approach as a practitioner. So I thank them for such an incredibly insightful reflection of the state of health (and disease) brought about by our busy Western lifestyle.

I would like to take this opportunity to share it with as many people as possible. I seriously recommend you take the time to read it. It may just change your perspective on your health and wellness. Or reaffirm it if you have already commenced your journey to achieving what is your natural, innate level of health.

Either way I’m sure it will inspire you as much as it did me.

Athlete Nutrtion

Nutrition for Athletes

One of my main specialties is doing a lot of nutritional work with athletes to maximise performance from competition and training, enhance recovery and improve energy levels all round. The athletes nutrition is the focus (both day-to-day, pre and during competition) with Bio-Impedance analysis being a fantastic tool to very accurately monitor body composition (muscle & fat mass and water levels) and cellular heath components (looking at levels of inflammation, metabolic efficiency etc).

In addition, I use a range of the highest quality natural (and entirely legal re: WADA) supplements to enhance performance and recovery, as well as keeping the immune system robust. We have also added advanced breathing retraining methods based on Nobel Prize winning research and using pioneering biofeedback technology to maximise oxygen utilisation at the cellular level (and therefore energy production by these cells). This not only increases efficiency of the work being performed, but delays lactic acid onset.

Linked is an article I wrote for Triathlon and Multisport Magazine on athlete nutrition featured in a section titled ‘Winning Ways’.

Supplements in Naturopathics

A Naturopaths View on Supplements

As a Melbourne based Naturopath, many clients regularly ask me what I think about supplements. Particularly, are they necessary? Do they work? Do I take them? If so, which ones?

So I thought I would answer all of these questions at once. I will keep it succinct as possible, as one could dedicate an entire book to this subject.

Yes, I feel they are necessary and my clinical and personal results constantly reinforce that. We weren’t designed to take supplements, meaning that through our evolutionary history (over the last million or so years as our digestive system etc. was evolving) we did not have access to supplements; and, in the ideal world, eating a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, lean protein, some whole grains and plenty of pure water would sustain us perfectly. But we no longer live in the ideal world.

The food we eat has now changed dramatically. Instead of eating predominantly the foods (above) we were designed to, we now eat regularly eat what is cheap, fast and convenient. Many of these foods, which include saturated and trans fats, sugar and refined carbohydrates (white flour & rice, alcohol, soft drinks, juices etc.), take us so far from our homeostatic state of balance that it has been said that “in spite having more choices for food than we have had in any other phase of history, the average person in the ‘developed’ world suffers from chronic, sub-clinical malnourishment.”

The quality of the food we eat, the water we drink and the air that we breathe has changed radically since the advent of the industrial revolution. Some of these changes include:

  • Excessive farming of soils has led to these soils being deficient in minerals.
  • The advent of NPK (nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous) fertilizers, which came about due to the surplus of these minerals after WWII from ammunition manufacturing companies, led to these soils becoming further deficient in minerals other than those above.
  • The mineral deficient crops then required chemical pesticides and herbicides to offer resistance to pathogens that would otherwise previously have largely been provided by the plants themselves.
  • Many of the fruits we eat are picked before they are ripe and are then ripened in cold storage. This results in these fruits being deficient in vital phytochemicals such as antioxidants, vitamins etc.
  • Over 60,000 chemicals have been added to the food chain since WWII. Some of these include: preservatives, colourings, flavourings, artificial sweeteners, pharmaceutical medicines, growth promotants, cleaning products, air fresheners and conditioners, water purifiers, hormones, homogenisers, pasteurisers, deodorants, plastics, petrochemicals etc etc. The list goes on and on and on.

In addition, our lifestyle has also changed dramatically. Instead of being exposed to the occasional acute stressor that we either fled from or conquered and then our stress levels returned to a lower base level, we are all exposed to constant low or mid level stressors that don’t allow us to return to these lower base levels we were designed to predominantly function at. This creates a metabolic toll on our bodies.

Our lifestyle has also become far more sedentary. We now no longer exercise as a result of living. We now exercise as a past time, a social outlet or a way to keep ourselves healthy. We all know this creates a toll on our health.

So, we can see that we no longer live in a fashion or environment that is congruent with how we were designed to and which has removed us far from our homeostatic state of health or optimal living. This is where supplements can come in. We clearly need help.

I don’t use supplements as a replacement or substitute for good nutrition; i.e. fruits & vegetables, nuts & seeds etc. I use them instead as insurance to make sure I get the micronutrient and phytochemical content from my daily diet I may have otherwise have missed had I relied from modern food alone. And my clinical experience has corroborated my personal view.

I tend, however, to avoid supplements that are synthesized artificially from micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants etc.) that are plentiful in most whole foods. These include most multivitamins and minerals. They often cause you to have very expensive colourful urine, meaning that is where most of it ends up!!!! You are better off using quality supplements that will get into your bloodstream and, ultimately to your cells to benefit your health.

Instead I use supplements that are extracted from whole foods or organisms. We were designed to consume and be fuelled by whole foods as nature created them, and our nutritional and technological  knowledge is nowhere near enough to effectively simulate the synergistic value of micronutrients and phytochemicals contained in whole foods and organisms. They are more expensive, but they work.

So my preferred supplemental protocols are as follows:

  • Juice Plus – a high potency whole food supplement derived from a multitude of whole fruits and vegetables that uses a patented freeze drying process for its extraction enabling most of the nutritional value of the food to be retained intact. Several independent studies on this supplement have shown that this supplement leads to significant raises in blood levels of many major vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other phytcochemicals. To purchase at wholesale price (in 4 month lots but saving close to $20 per month), ring NSA on 02 4965 3333 or refer to and use AU001126 as the distributor number. It is not available retail. Take 2 fruit capsules in the morning (before breakfast) with a glass water, and 2 vegetable capsules in the evening (prior to dinner) with a glass of water.
  • Siberian Red – an extract from Siberian Fir (Abies siberica) needles which is an herbal adaptogen in that increases the body’s ability to adapt to high workloads or levels of stress and reduces fatigue. Use 3ml in 1 litre of water per day. See (for further information) and (to purchase).
  • Metapure EPA/DHA oil – a high potency fish oil supplement that doesn’t leave you with fish burps. The oil is far more potent than capsules. 1 teaspoon (5ml) daily with food or after food with water. Purchased from any naturopathic practitioner.
  • Bioeffective B – used in conjunction with sauna therapy. This is an oil based product derived from a variety of Russian pine conifer needle species that is applied topically to enhance the detoxifying and cleansing powers of sauna therapy. 2ml used topically on the torso or injured areas during sauna therapy (generally twice per week). Refer to Pine Needle Research (for information) and Pine Needle Products (to purchase).

Over winter to assist in prevention of colds and flus, and in times where I feel my liver needs support, I also use Bioeffective A capsules. Take 1-2 capsules twice daily. Further information and purchasing via Pine Needle Reseach and Pine Needle Products.

Meditation Research Review

There has been much research about the benefits of meditation and it is an area that is of great interest to those working in the area of naturopathics. A few years ago Tim Altman did a research review that looked into how meditation works, the effects of meditation on stress reduction, physiological and psychological changes and the five different meditation types. Read the entire Meditation Research Review.