A healthy kids brain


By Naturopath and Nutritionist Shannon Stokes

Anxiety and depression in kids are becoming more and more prevalent and diagnosed earlier and earlier. But there is a lot to it, and I think a lot of factors are being missed. Luckily….there are countless areas in our children’s lifes that we CAN control to ensure their nervous system is functioning at optimal levels!!!

I could literally harp on about this for hours (for those who have been in consultation with me know just how passionate I am about children’s health)

For now let’s look at factors contributing to our tiny people’s mood changes.

1. Nutrient deficiencies

To start off with, the recommended daily amounts of essential nutrition is not being met. Full stop!

And scarily, these government recommend amounts are so ancient that they are merely focussing on preventing scurvy for example. Don’t we want to live a few steps above scurvy?

That aside, this western processed diet is lacking so much, that we aren’t even meeting the basics. So, with that being said are our kids getting important brain nutrients like essential fatty acids, b vitamins, zinc, magnesium, and prebiotic fibres? They are also fussier and so the vicious cycle begins! Essential nutrients for mood regulation are being missed. Fact.

Gosh, then there are absorption issues. (More on this another day) and so on.

2. Inflammation

Our tiny tigers are more inflamed than ever before. Depression and anxiety in my eyes are multi-faceted but also an inflammation disorder. Sugary and refined processed foods are inflammatory! Brain on fire baby. But luckily this can easily be rectified, via diet or supplements (until we sort those fussy banshees out). ?

3. The brain and gut connection

A two way street, a lot of neurotransmitters are made in the gut (think serotonin our happy hormone) if our gut is under-functioning, or we have an over load of the wrong bacteria causing inflammation in the gut and then the gut-brain-axis is disturbed. This again is a complex topic I am super passionate about.

4. Intolerances and allergies. Again inflammation!!!

Removing foods that the body and immune system are flagging as “foreign” and fixing the gut integrity can do wonders for little ones! Don’t go eliminating foods without speaking with a professional. We need to ensure our kids are staying nourished throughout this process and that it’s done correctly.

Kids are more anxious and moods are ever changing, and ever challenging. Mood changes are normal, but ask yourself, are they a little wild, are they showing anxious behaviour? Could we look a little deeper at what’s causing this?

Getting the right advice is really important when it comes to children’s health. Little changes can make a huge impact and improve how they feel, learn and grow.

Shannon Stokes is a children’s health expert here at the Natology clinic.

To find out more about Shannon or to book in click here:

The Natology Team


Nutritional information and some basic survival techniques by Shannon Stokes and Sarah Henschel from Natology.

The journey to becoming pregnant is a magical one. Its either a ‘surprise’ I am here type scenario, a long awaited and joyous time. The journey itself is nuts! Pregnancy is a whole other kettle of fish, a completely natural yet unnatural experience. Getting pregnant, staying pregnant and just being pregnant is an insane journey, and that is just the beginning.

You are a Mumma! Congratulations, the baby is here you have been through a marathon of hurdles. You now have that little bundle of joy in your arms. Perhaps you are feeling those kooky love spell feelings straight away, or perhaps you think, oh what have I done? All totally normal feelings.

How does one survive through this sleep deprivation? The healing of the whole birth thing is one thing, but then perhaps breastfeeding is hurting or sterilizing a bottle seems to take forever and a day at 3am. You aren’t alone, this period is earth-shatteringly exhausting, scary and exciting all rolled into one. Cue the 4th Trimester! So Mumma, whilst we learn to look after this baby, we are here to help YOU make some tiny changes in your day to keep you thriving.

It starts with you and ends with you. Upon your first morning wake up, (ok, so the first moment you get up for the day) refresh your self with a big glass of filtered water, and take a deep breath. That’s it for now. No matter what is happening, this is a must! Then tick it off daily as it is non-negotiable.

Below are some of our favourite 4th trimester survival guidelines for all new mums and even dads.

1. Do NOT stop your multi, in fact, this is a time to ensure your nutritional status is up with that of the very best it has ever been. Even if you aren’t breastfeeding;

2. Eat foods rich in good fats, think avocado, coconut oil, nuts seeds, oily fish such as sardines, salmon, good quality extra virgin olive oil drizzled on everything;

3. Make sure you are having macronutrients with each meal and at least a palm size portion of protein at each meal. (macronutrients are the essential nutrients needed in large amounts to sustain energy and basic health. The 3 macros are Protein, Fats and Carbohydrates);

4. Take a quality probiotic daily;

5. Don’t focus on trying to lose the baby weight, give yourself a break;

Invest in an SRC Recovery compression garment! They are an absolute lifesaver, super comfortable and an absolute miracle tool to help your body recover from the pregnancy.If you are suffering from abdominal separation or have had a c-section, these shorts help to speed up the wound healing, regain strength and reduce swelling. It really helps to stay mobile and support your body in that precious time after birth.

7. Ask for things, ask for help!It could be as simple as for a box of nappies to be dropped off. Use that ‘new mum’ thing a little..;

8. Say no! if you aren’t up for visitors then say no, if you aren’t up for your cousins and nephews coming over and running a muck, just say no, but don’t feel guilty or think twice about it, they will understand…. And If they don’t, then they will get over it;

9. Spend 5 minutes a day with your legs up the wall, relax those hips and lower back, take 10 deep breaths. (Again, non-negotiable);

10. Spend 10 minutes a day minimum outside in bright morning day light to ensure your body knows its day time and to help regulate those sleep /wake hormones;

11. Don’t feel guilty, if you want to look at your phone while feeding bubs, do it. If you want to stay in bed, do it. Indulge a little and enjoy doing it. Stop feeling guilty. Guilty feelings radiate negative energy. If it has been a few weeks in a row then, maybe ask for a little help from a loved one and reach out if you are feeling low. remember those hormones have just been for a rollercoaster ride;

If you aren’t coping, reach out. You will be surprised to know that a lot of mothers find the fourth trimester insanely hard. No matter who you are, how together you think everyone is, its not the case. Speak up and your tribe will answer;

Enjoy those long loving stares into your babies eyes, explore their features and be fascinated with the whole process. This too shall pass. Everyone struggles and if you think that it’s all too much, please reach out. It does get easier and it does get better.

With love

From the Natology team

Shannon Stokes
Naturopath and Nutritionist @ Natology


Sarah Henschel
Naturopath and Nutritionist @ Natology


Click here to find out what you can do to prevent post-pill acne

Certain types of oral contraceptive pills are designed to suppress the oil glands in your skin and when you stop the pill your hormones surge again which increases the oil production again. This generally lasts fo 6 months, which can be really annoying when you are trying to flaunt your beautiful blemish free skin on a selfie.

Here’s what you can do to prevent the post pill-acne blues:

1. Make sure you don’t just come off the pill and hope for the best. Prevention is best and you should really start treating the underlying cause a couple of cycles before you stop the pill.

2. Treat stress and sleep issues as they may have been causing stress levels to push a hormone called Androgen up. This hormone causes our skin to break out mainly around the chin area and the back. Androgen also throws your menstrual cycle out of balance and can cause long cycles and might mean you are not ovulating (anything longer than 35 days is considered too long).

3. Avoid cow’s milk – it contains hormones which mimic oestrogen (cow’s milk is for feeding baby cows, so they can grow big and strong). So that means hello almond milk lattes and goodbye cheese, yoghurt and ice cream. While you are at it, also avoid sugar as it spikes insulin which makes acne worse as it affects how your ovaries respond to hormones.
That means no sugary fruit, juices, chocolates, lollies or sweet alcoholic drinks – yes, wine and champagne are sweet alcoholic drinks too.

4. Get your hormones checked 3 months post coming off the pill – anything earlier will give you a false reading as your body will still be affected by the hormones in the pill. A good test is the DUTCH – hormone test as it assesses all hormone levels including Androgens and Adrenal hormones which hugely affect your skin.

5. Make sure your digestion works and you stay clear of food allergens – any bloating or skin flare ups after food should be noted and checked out. You can get your food allergies tested via a simple blood test with us at Natology.
Take bitter herbs and zinc to get your stomach acid levels up – this usually gets rid of any bloating after meals.

Want to find out more on how to keep your skin looking fresh even off the pill? Book in for a free chat to a Natology Naturopath here.

How pimples can pinpoint health issues

Did you know that each area of your face represents an area of your health?
What is pimples could be a side effect of that annoying bloated tummy you have had since that trip to Bali last year?

Let me tell you about a naturopathic trick called Face mapping…

Let’s look at each area of the face and explore what underlying health issues might be causing acne.

Forehead – small red pimples are often seen in this area, this section represents the liver. If you have been constipated for a few weeks or longer or have been drinking too much, had anti-biotics or any type of drugs from an illness – this area will affected. The first thing here is to avoid triggers, get your diet cleaned up, water, water , water and a really good liver detox.

To get a skin detox tonic made up from Natology to help clear your skin up Click here

Cheeks – if your skin generally breaks out in this area it might be a food allergy. Are you drinking too much milk? Has bread been part of your diet too much? What about colourings in foods (smarties, Coke Zero, jelly babies).. More specifically, this area represents the small intestines, if you have experienced IBS, bloating and tummy pains. This is something to get checked out thoroughly.

To order a Food allergy test or get checked for IBS causes Click here

jawline – this one is well known, if you skin tends to break out in this area it is often due to a hormonal issue. Try to play closer attention to when the skin looks more inflamed or the texture of the pimples changes. Is it closer to your period or more mid-cycle, ovulation plays a big part here. Long cycles more than 33 days or PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) can be an underlying cause. Try to avoid coffee and sugar and reduce stress as a first line of defence to give your hormones a chance to balance out. A great App is www.Kindara.com.au which allows you to track your cycle and share it with your GP or health care practitioner to gain an accurate picture of your hormonal status.

Shoulders, chest and back – this area is another hormonal sign. Generally this is caused by high Testosterone levels. Too much stress can trigger high Testosterone levels in women.

To check out our hormone testing options Click here

If you would like to have a comprehensive appointed online or at our Brisbane or Sydney clinic click the link below:

To book an appointment in our Sydney or Brisbane clinic click here:

To book a Naturopathic Skype/Phone consult click here

Food intolerances and IBS

How do we know what foods to avoid when it comes to IBS?

Many of us have experienced bloating and stomach cramps after eating too much triple cheese pizza at a party.
The aftermath of what was going to be a fun time amongst friends with that bottle of expensive vino you bought at that fancy new bottle shop around the corner can often result in swearing off A.cheese B. Gluten for weeks. Then you think, was it the wine after all? IBS, which is short for irritable bowel syndrome feels like this every single day which often results in confusion around what to eat and maybe even eliminating entire food groups.
Bloating, cramping and frequent toilet visits are the norm.

Fortunately you can get tested for food intolerances. The test is a simple finger prick test and it can give you information about 96 foods. The lab can check those food molecules against reactive anti-bodies in your blood to then generate an accurate report on each food and your body’s response.

Generally it takes 2-6 months of eliminating food for you to be able to eat these foods again without showing a reaction.

If you want to find out if food is triggering you:

Order your test kit here

This test can be done at home and includes a phone/skype consult to help you get back on track straight away.

Nutrition tips for fussy eaters

Getting Kids to have the right nutrients can be stressful for everyone involved and both our toddlers have gone through phases of fussiness since they started solids. Here are our top tips for fussy eaters:

1. Listen to cues from your baby or toddler. Babies thrive on a bit of a routine, but at the same time
it is really important to listen to them and find out when they are hungry and offer the evening meal at
a realistic time. Bubs are usually hungry around 4.30 or 5pm. Offer the main evening meal then. It is more
likely to be eaten at this time rather than 6pm or later when they’re getting tired and cranky.

2. A toddler may need a little bit of down time before main meals so they can “come down” from
playtime and transition to eating time. A table setting and hand washing routine may help with this
(at the daycare our boys go to, they do a few ‘yoga’ stretches before lunch). Often you are likely to get a
negative response if we pull them away from doing something fun, just like us adults get frustrated
when we’re pulled away from the middle of an episode of Suits.

3. Try not to get too hung up on the time of day your child eats or how much they eat at each sitting,
listen to them and get to know their hunger cues. Do they get whingy, cranky, hangry or manic when they
are hungry? If they have a bigger morning tea than breakfast, roll with it.

4. Don’t worry if you child decides on breakfast for dinner sometimes. If they occasionally want fruit
and cereal for dinner and meat and vegetables for breakfast, it doesn’t matter as long as both meals
are nutrient dense and it’s doable of course.

5. Don’t expect your child to eat well or very much if they are overtired or are a little under the weather.

6. Kids won’t starve. Their tummies are roughly just the size of their fist so serve just small portions
initially and then top it up with more later if they want more. Smaller meals are less overwhelming to
little tummies.

7. Kids are rapidly growing little tigers and have super fast metabolisms, they don’t need much to feel full
so never fuss or insist they eat more when they say they are full.

8. All snacks should be nutrient dense. Try not to offer “empty calories” to them in between meals, try
to offer something which is protein-rich. Hummus, boiled eggs, cheese, coconut yoghurts, bliss balls, or
homemade muesli bars are great snack options.

9. Stop all snacks and drinks at least one hour before mealtime (especially dinner). A hungry kid, and
even the most picky kids are more likely to eat their meals.

10. Have a safe food at every meal. If you know they love rice or noodles or carrots, try to add one of
their safe foods in small amounts so they don’t feel overwhelmed with ALL new foods at a meal time.

11. Lead by example. Kids are more likely to eat something if they see someone they admire eating
it. If we say we don’t like something, chances are that’s what they’ll say when presented with the
same food.

12. Don’t stress. This is the biggest tip. Having a fussy eater or even just a day of fussy eating can make
you want to pull your hair out but as long as you’re serving good, wholefoods, your child will be just fine
even if all they eat is cheese for a day. Always keep in mind that kids go through growth phases
where they will eat like they’re training for a marathon followed by a period of not eating all that much.
This is normal

This article was written by our Naturopath and Nutritionist Shannon Stokes.
Shannon loves to help Mums and bubs get health and on track with the right diet.

To book an appointment with Shannon please click on the booking link on our homepage.

Put the Spring in your step!

Can you believe that this time next week Spring will be on our doorstep? Neither can we! We (an everyone else on this planet) absolutely love Spring and cannot wait to shake ourselves out of that Winter Hibernation…

We’re feeling so buzzed about the season ahead, we’re going to share our top 4 tips to shake things up and get ready for sunnier days.

1. Spring Clean – We know, we know, super cliché but hear us out… Spring cleaning is super important not just around the home but in your fridge too! Toss those extra sugary chocolatey treats that are reserved for sweater weather and start to bring some fresh produce back into your life. Strawberries, cherries, pineapples and honeydew are all coming into season so be sure to stock them up while they’re at their best!

2. Re-energise – Okay, it’s time to peel yourself off the couch and get back into things. If you’re finding it a little difficult to get yourself going grab one of our Natalogy Energy Tonics that will help boost your immune system while giving you a natural dose of energy.

3. Move – We’re always told to get ‘Summer Ready’ but everyone knows that the tortoise beats the hare in the end. No, we’re not saying walk around at snail pace, we’re saying you should pace yourself and start moving now. It’ll help both your body and your mind to be in the best shape they can be!

4. Get Outside – Grab a picnic blanket, your friends, kids, fur babies, anyone that’ll come with you and get outside. This season truly is magical so take every chance you can to soak in a bit of Vitamin D (considering sun safety first, of course). Fresh air is great for your mental health and being outdoors will easily lend itself to Tip 3 so let’s get multi-tasking and list ticking!

We’d love to hear about your Spring plans or what you’re favourite thing to do this season is! Head on over to our Facebook or Instagram pages and share your top tip with us!

The gut-brain connection in a nutshell.

We work closely together with a team of psychologists because so many physical ailments are caused by stress and anxiety. The brain and all of our organs communicate and can cause an array of symptoms if we don’t look at both.

Lets look at it this way:

In African wild life sanctuaries many go to see the ‘big five’ (leopard, lion, elephant, rhino, and buffalo), in mental health the ‘big three’ are depression, anxiety, and stress. Unfortunately the prevalence of mental health issues is increasing at a faster rate than the speed at which wildlife is declining in Africa.  The first of the ‘big 3’ we will explore is that of anxiety. 
A ‘whole person’ approach to treating anxiety
Anxiety plays a role in signalling that self-protective action is required to ensure safety and thus cannot be labelled as globally pathological. However when we experience anxiety in the absence of any real threat our capacity to function effectively is impaired and quality of life is diminished. Anxiety is not our default state and chronic anxiety that is always there impairs optimal functioning. 
Three specific psychological mechanisms that are often a focus in treatment include:

1. Reducing ‘future orientation’. Anxiety is a ‘future oriented state’. Mindfulness skills can enable us to become more ‘present focussed’. 
2. Behavioural strategies to manage hyper-arousal. Diaphragmatic breathing is one important behavioural strategy. When the body is tense breathing is affected even before panic begins. 
3. Identifying and influencing thought patterns related to anxiety.  Thoughts can be both the result and trigger for anxiety states.  Thus the relationship between thoughts and feelings is bidirectional.  Consciously influencing thoughts can result in a significant reduction in anxiety.  Catastrophising thought patterns often begin with “Oh no!”.  These cognitions block us from a realistic appraisal of threat.   Anxiety is often associated with difficulty in perspective taking that has been referred to as a tendency to ‘over care’.  For example, nobody likes the idea of sudden unemployment however becoming preoccupied with this future possibility amplifies distress. 
Three physiological mechanisms in the body that are related to anxiety include:

1. The HPA axis is the communication between our hormones and stress. Anxiety confuses our hormonal system and elevates stress levels even when we are asleep. Anxiety related hormones such as cortisol can easily be measured in the blood or in saliva and might be a key factor in solving the underlying cause of chronic anxiety. Once diagnosed, hormonal imbalances can be significantly reduced by supplementing with Magnesium, as it has a direct effect on lowering stress hormones in the blood. 
2. The brain and the gut are connected through a ‘nerve highway’ called the Vagus nerve. The gut is covered with many nerve endings and researchers now call it our second brain because of the tight knit connection the brain and the gut share. Anxiety releases stress chemicals which affect the nerve endings in the gut. This results in an inability to digest food properly. Stress chemicals switch off digestive juice secretion which often results in cramping, bloating and bowel habit changes. Long term IBS is often a result of Anxiety and can be treated successfully by restoring the gut lining with Glutamine, probiotics and Food therapy. Gut Function tests and Food sensitivity testing can be useful in restoring healthy function.
3. Low levels of a neurotransmitter called GABA is implicated in anxiety. Low levels of GABA contribute to anxiety and sleep issues. GABA is made from Protein sources such as meat and eggs but we need Vitamin B6, Magnesium and Zinc. If these are lacking, anxiety and agitation are often more prevalent. Get your levels of Vitamin B6 and Zinc checked regularly to rule out imbalances.


Wade Jacklin – Clinical psychologist @ 4Life Psychology
Sarah Henschel – Naturopath and Nutritionist @ Natology

Zesty Zucchini soup

Zesty Zucchini Soup

Serves 3-5

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
Pinch Celtic salt and freshly cracked pepper 1kg zucchini, trimmed and chopped
1 large handful baby spinach
3 cups natural vegetable stock (homemade is much better than commercial!) Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon organic apple cider vinegar
Melt oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, cooking, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes or until softened. Add turmeric and seasoning, then cook, stirring constantly for 30 seconds or so. Reduce the heat slightly and add zucchini, then cook, stirring frequently, for 5-6 minutes or until the zucchini is beginning to soften.
Add the stock, zest, juice and vinegar and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until the zucchini is very tender. Add the baby spinach and allow to wilt.
Remove from heat and allow to cool a little, then puree in a food processor or blender. Return to the saucepan over low heat, and warm to desired temperature before serving.

Thyroid blood spot tests

Have you ever wanted to know if your metabolism is slow because of hormone issues?
Maybe you really hate blood tests (don’t worry, so do I and who can raise their hand with me for being notorious for fainting before the needle even comes close?).
Fear not, there are other options. Most our patients including myself are ok with a finger prick blood test (and for those of you who are not, there are even thyroid urine tests available – go figure..).

What is the Thyroid gland and why would anyone want their Thyroid function tested?

Positioned just over your wind pipe in the middle of the throat, the thyroid is a sensitive, butterfly-shaped gland that controls our metabolism, cell growth and repair, energy production and much more. And like the delicate winged creature, the thyroid can be influenced by the slightest of changes.
Disruption to itʼs balance can manifest in a range of symptoms including:

– Anxiety and depression – Unusual weight loss or weight gain – Menstrual irregularities, including infertility – Fatigue and lethargy – Memory loss, confusion and brain fog – Muscle weakness – Lower digestive disturbances – Heightened sensitivity to hot or cold – …. and the list goes on!

Thyroid abnormalities are increasingly prevalent in our current society and the causes are diverse. So what can disturb the equilibrium?

– Consistent stress – Environmental toxins encountered daily
– Fluoride – Chloride – Most plastics (including Teflon)
– Synthetic perfumes and body products – Chemical fertilizers and insecticides
– Hormonal changes including pregnancy and menopause

As you can see, we are exposed to these common elements regularly.
Nutritional deficiencies can also cause thyroid disfunction, those include:

– Iodine – Zinc – Selenium – Vitamin D – Iron – And the amino acid Tyrosine

In some cases the immune system could be attacking the thyroid gland, resulting in inflammation, destruction of the gland and reducing itʼs ability to make hormones. This is called Hashimotoʼs disease, which is treated differently to other hypothyroid conditions so it is essential to ascertain if this is the underlying factor to your symptoms.