Holistic Health and Hormonal Harmony with Dr. Sally Chapman
Recently, we were lucky enough to score a recording date with director of Health Change and integrative medical practitioner, Dr Sally Chapman. We wanted to go deep below traditional medical paradigms to discuss her areas of expertise in holistic health and hormones. In today’s blog we condense Sally’s golden knowledge for you, but if you are left hungry for more, head over to our Find Your Feet Podcast available for FREE on iTunes and Soundcloud.
Through our Find Your Feet Podcast we chat with extraordinary people who willingly share their powerful stories and insights to help us all along our journeys of self-exploration and unlock a more meaningful life.
Sally graduated from the University of Tasmania in 1989 with a degree in medicine. She quickly realised that the orthodox methods for treating illness were effective but did little to improve wellness. She began wondering how she could move beyond just treating illness in the body to support others to thrive and live truly authentic and invigorating lives. Sally’s interest in holistic health was sparked at a time in her life where she thought, “things can’t get any worse.”
Her cup was full with commitments to her two daughters; working as a general practitioner; coaching the Tasmanian dragon boat racing team; and even managing to keep physically fit herself! Finding time to relax and nurture herself with love became increasingly difficult- a situation many of us can relate to. Sally’s body responded by shutting down vital hormonal processes and creating unbalance in her body. An invaluable experience that has allowed her to connect deeper with her clients.
Sally’s successfully established holistic practice in Clarence, Tasmania, combines her traditional medical knowledge with integrated and functional medical principles that were learnt through postgraduate study. Integrated or holistic healthcare combines traditional medicine with evidence-based complementary practices. Approaches to treatment depends entirely on the patient’s individual needs. Sally works with each patient independently and, depending on the circumstances, her simple prescription of ‘love… do… hope’ might be all that is needed to help begin the journey to achieving optimal wellness.
In a world that can be so physically demanding, we cannot underestimate the power of slowing down and listening when our bodies ask for rest. They are working hard to keep up our relentless modern lifestyles. Every time we listen to their calls for rest, we simultaneously improve our wellness and may lessen our chances of disease. Win-win!
Hormonal imbalances can go years without being diagnosed. Unlike having the flu where the nose is noticeably running, we are coughing, have persistent headaches and take time off work to recover. The bodily symptoms caused may seem acute and manageable. When we experience a lack of vitality and energy, it is comforting to know there is a root cause that we can modify.
Some physical symptoms of hormonal disruptions include: feeling low in energy; a low libido; easily irritated or stressed; or an inability to stay asleep at night. These indicators of imbalance could be attributed to a variety of lifestyle choices and we may we even accept them as ‘normal’ due to their high incidence levels in our modern-day lives.
Elevated oestrogen levels are increasingly prevalent in women of the western world. Even Sally herself has experienced this common imbalance. Some forty years ago it was extremely uncommon for a young girl to reach puberty before the age of 12. Nowadays, it is considered normal and we wondered what could be the changes causing this radical shift? Sally attributes the overabundance of xenoestrogens “coming into the body on a daily basis through the food chain”, as well as external environmental factors to be causing this change.
Xenoestrogens are endocrine disruptors our bodies can absorb from everyday objects such as plastic containers, make-up and foods covered in unnatural chemicals. Oestrogen is produced in the fatty adipose tissue throughout our bodies including our brains, ovaries and the cells that sit just underneath our skin. The more adipose tissue our bodies carry, the more oestrogen we produce. A combination of greater levels of oestrogen disruptors in our environment and holding more fat than necessary creates stress in our bodies. Our automatic system needs to work harder to try and expel the excess oestrogen and maintain equilibrium.
“Our modern lifestyles are not genetically equipped for the chemicals that we now have in our bodies. We don’t have enzymes that break down funny things like pesticides and herbicides, we never did, we weren’t created with them, we didn’t evolve with them, we haven’t manufactured new enzyme factories inside ourselves, our genetics don’t actually do that and it’s a lot to cope with…it’s providing a lot of un-wellness which is different to illness, right down the generational chain and it’s now going into the next generation.”
Maintaining a healthy weight and minimising exposure to harmful environmental chemicals will help our bodies balance healthy hormone levels. We can assist our bodies through eating an abundance of whole foods, vegetables, fruit, and selecting organic where possible. Sally suggests viewing food as a ‘way to wellness,’ and not to focus on a specific diet. Rather, she suggests finding foods that we love to eat and that increase our energy. Then incorporating them into our meals as much as possible.
Sally believes in using spices and herbs, “not only for flavour but for intestinal health.” Adding cinnamon to our morning oatmeal will help reduce inflammation in the body and manage blood glucose levels. Herbs such as parsley also contain highly concentrated levels of non-heme iron. Non-heme iron is easily absorbed and parsley can be easily added on top of almost any meal to increase our daily iron intake...except maybe oatmeal…
Whether or not we should consume pharmaceutical supplements is a well debated topic. Sally believes that it is unnecessary unless there is a notable deficiency that cannot be improved through diet change alone. However, if your diet is abundant with fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and water, and you are still experiencing un-wellness, Sally believes, “it’s really hard to do harm with low level supplements.” Supplements can be effective at increasing vitamin & mineral stores that may not be easily available on plant-based diets such as B12, or lost through exercise, such as magnesium.
Sally stresses those of us who live by the ‘sweat it out’ or ‘live tough’ mentalities, should be aware we are at a greater risk of mineral deficiencies in zinc, potassium, sodium and magnesium. These minerals exit the body through sweat and may need to be resupplied through diets or supplements. This is by no means a reason not to exercise, just a caution that too much of anything will have side effects.
Sally encourages us to look after ourselves with love by resting properly, eating well and living with compassion. Living this way improves our vitality and can help us maintain healthy exercise habits. She believes regular self-love has the power to bring us a greater sense of happiness and livelihood - more than any prescription drug!
Sally lives by her advice and is driven by her passion for health and wellbeing, actively prescribing cheeky doses of ‘love… do… hope’ to her own life. Her advice to anyone struggling with health issues is to “Give yourself time, wellness won’t happen overnight, it’s a journey… You seed a thought and from that seed, changes grow.”
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If you want to learn more about Dr. Sally Chapman or book an appointment to see her visit the Health Change website: http://www.healthchange.com.au/ or like the clinics page on Facebook for some extra health and wellness inspiration: https://www.facebook.com/healthchange.com.au/