What does Climate Change have to do with my health?

I learned something kind of terrifying this morning; did you know that Climate Change can cause a drop in the nutrient status of our crops (by 3-17%)?

Nutrients that I already see deficient in the majority of my clients (iron, zinc and protein) have been shown in a recent study to be lower in staple crops of wheat, corn, rice and soybean when grown under field conditions at the elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration predicted for the middle of this century.
While the study only looked at a few foods, I can’t help but wonder, if we are already deficient in these nutrients, how will the rising carbon dioxide levels effect us in the future? And how will it effect other foods we grow to eat? How can we possibly replete the nutrients we have lost if our food has lower levels of the nutrients themselves?
wind-farm-1747331_1920

I have always been concerned for our environment, and do what I can to reduce my own waste and carbon emissions. I feel so lucky to live on a planet that can sustain life and be as beautiful as the Earth is. It grows the most amazing plants and animals that we can eat and generally enjoy, provides oxygen for us to breathe, oceans and rivers for us to swim in, and we really do act rather ungrateful to it in return. Just seeing the effects of this on our animals is heartbreaking enough, and while I already worried for the future of our planet, from a clinical perspective, this data just adds more fuel to the fire of why we should really start giving a shit about Climate Change and taking real action to stop it.

Iron

Iron deficiency occurs most commonly in women, and can have a number of causative factors, like gut dysfunction (eg. Coeliac disease, low stomach acid, dysbiosis), poor dietary intake (38% of women aged 19-50 don’t meet the recommended dietary intake guidelines for iron in Australia) or excessively heavy blood loss in periods (eg. endometriosis). Most women who experience it have a tough time bringing their levels back up, even with supplementation. And while in general, the most commonly prescribed form of iron (ferrous sulphate) is not an easily absorbed form (and certainly not the form that I prescribe in clinic), the deficiency still exists long before we start to look at how best to replete it. As we age, our risk for iron deficiency anaemia increases.
Iron deficiency causes:
  • Fatigue
  • Pale complexion
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations
  • Dry skin, hair and nails
  • Restless legs
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Poor immune function, resulting in frequent infections
  • Anxiety
  • Pica: cravings for strange items like ice, clay, dirt, chalk or paper
  • An increased risk for preterm delivery during pregnancy

Zinc

Zinc deficiency is something I see in 99% of my clients, both women and men. Again, it’s caused by poor dietary intake (more than one in three males (37%) and one in ten females (9%) have inadequate zinc intake), but high levels of stress (hello, Western lifestyle) are usually the main causative factor for the clients I see in clinic.

Zinc is important for:

  • Stomach acid formation – so we can break down and absorb our nutrients (in particular, protein, minerals and B12)
  • Adrenal function – so that we can adequately deal with the stresses of our daily lives
  • Wound healing – if you ever have purple scarring (such as stretch marks) it’s highly likely your zinc levels are insufficient)
  • Immune function – immune cells require zinc to repel infections and help you recover quickly
  • Our sense of taste and smell
  • Fertility (especially in men) – zinc is crucial for sperm production and motility, so if you have a low sperm count, you’re likely to be zinc deficient
  • Regulation of testosterone – zinc has a role in improving levels of free testosterone (as opposed to testosterone bound to Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG)) to prevent prostate cancer
  • Thyroid function – zinc is required for the production of thyroid hormones, the hormones in charge of our metabolism. Those effected by thyroid conditions are likely to be zinc deficient

Protein

Protein deficiency is something I see in most of my clients again, mostly from poor intake because we are commonly skipping meals, calorie counting or too busy to eat high quality protein sources. Despite what you may think, vegans and vegetarians aren’t the only people who commonly are not getting enough protein in their diets.

Protein deficient clients are often:

  • Anxious
  • Fatigued
  • Depressed
  • Have poor body image and self-esteem
  • Have low stomach acid and poor digestive function in general
  • Have major sugar and coffee cravings every day
  • Don’t sleep well, if at all
  • Catch every illness going around
  • Are overweight or have trouble losing body fat
  • Lack motivation and drive
  • Are at a higher risk of type II diabetes, anxiety disorder, major depression, osteoporosis

Protein is one of our macronutrients, meaning it is one of the 3 major nutrients that supply our body with energy. Amino acids (the building blocks of protein) are what our body uses to create neurotransmitters that make us happy, calm, motivated and sleep well. Protein gives our muscles strength so that we can stand up and go and adventure in the world we live in, sends messages within our body to keep it functioning well, helps us to detoxify waste products and foreign toxins, helps us grow and repair tissues and regulates functions in our body that keep us alive, like pH and the ability to clot our blood.

So, what can possibly do to improve our health when our country’s government really couldn’t give a crap about Climate Change?

Start at home;

  • Make changes to your habits with food and food waste
    • Start a compost bin and put your food scraps in there
    • Grow your own vegetables, or at the very least, grow your own herbs
    • Eat more vegetables (at least 5 serves per day) and get as much organic/Biodynamic/spray free produce as you can, and as locally as you can (supermarkets import from all over the world, meaning a humble tomato could have huge carbon milage points compared to one grown in the same state as you)
  • Reduce your reliance on plastics
    • Buy yourself a reusable coffee cup/straw/cutlery/lunch box and make the effort to actually use them
    • Refuse take away containers and opt to eat in or bring your own container to take leftovers home
    • Buy foods in bulk from bins where you can serve yourself
    • Buy a bamboo toothbrush instead of a plastic one
  • Eat a wide range of foods to improve your nutrient intake
    • Nuts, seeds, legumes, meats, vegetables, fruit, wholegrains, eggs, dairy
    • Find recipes for healthier versions of your favourite store-bought items to make at home
    • Meal prep so that you have snacks and lunch on hand, instead of skipping meals
    • Try something new – like quinoa, dandelion greens, buckwheat, tiger nuts, banana flour, chia seeds, almond milk
  • Make an appointment with me
    • If you feel like you need more guidance with your diet, you’re concerned about your symptoms and the way you feel, that is what I am here for. My whole job is to guide you toward a diet and lifestyle that is in tune with who you are and what you need. And I’m bloody good at it!
  • Talk to your politicians
    • If you aren’t happy with the job that they are doing, let them know. Find an email address and tell them how you feel. We can’t expect our politicians to change if we keep putting up with them, then going on social media to have a whinge. Being proactive is the only way to get results with that, unfortunately.
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50 Didsbury Street, East Brisbane, QLD 0437300865 mirandaswellness@outlook.com Tuesday 10am-6pm Wednesday 10am-6pm Thursdays at Empire Bodyshop 468 Chambers Flat Rd, Logan Reserve 10am-7pm
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