Nadine Hennequin is one of Nimbus Co’s Chinese Medicine practitioners. Located in our Byron Bay infrared sauna studio, Nadine has a passion for holistic and integrative healthcare with a particular interest in gut health. We discuss food as medicine, the correlation between diet and mental health and how we can promote a healthy gut.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO STUDY CHINESE MEDICINE?
Throughout my school years my passion was dancing. I wanted to be a doctor of sorts and with the injuries that came from dancing, my physiotherapist became the person who got me back on track. I did work experience at the Australian Ballet but sadly, physiotherapy wasn’t open to me. However, this led me to study a medicine with a rich tradition that views a human being as having a ‘mind body’ experience within the world. Chinese Medicine looks at a person and what is happening in the context of the place they reside, the climate and season, cultural and social background, their work, lifestyle and diet. It is so deep and intricate that I’m constantly learning.
CAN YOU ELABORATE ON THE CONCEPT OF FOOD AS MEDICINE?
Utilising food as medicine is so powerful and is something we can all employ on a daily basis. It takes an understanding of what our needs are, where to source the best food available and how to prepare it. It can be helpful to have a sense of which foods are cleansing and alkalising, and which foods are nutrient-dense and nourishing. We need both but at different times in our lives there can be an emphasis on one side and being open to what the body needs can make supporting this balance easier. Emphasising certain food groups can also be key, especially when it comes to the brain, nervous system function, energy levels, mood and sleep.
WHAT IS THE LINK BETWEEN OUR DIET AND MENTAL HEALTH?
We have a lot of scope to influence our mental health through diet. We are predominately made of microbes which determine what we eat by sending messages to our brains, affect how we digest our food and impact our nutrient absorption. Some of the requirements of the brain and nervous system are high quality protein, fats including omega 3 essential fatty acids, B vitamins, vitamin D, antioxidants, magnesium, zinc, iron and much more. There are so many layers to this but put simply, when assessing one’s mental health with consideration of their constitution, history, current diet and lifestyle, a seasoned practitioner can usually pinpoint some adjustments to support healthier neurotransmitter production, as well as clearance from the body. Specific nutrient-dense foods and sometimes supplements can be advised to assist in achieving improvement to mental health conditions. Depending on the situation, further support from mental health practitioners may still be required.
WHAT CAN LEAD TO IMBALANCE IN THE GUT MICROBIOME?
Stress! We can eat the highest quality food and drink the holiest of spring water, but if we are stressed, not getting enough deep sleep, not moving our bodies regularly, are living in a mouldy home, working in a toxic environment or putting our liver under stress, then our bodies cannot keep up all of the processes required for healthy functioning! Environmental toxins, including heavy metals that end up inside us, are damaging to our microbiome and tax the liver. When we are stressed and in a perpetual state of being ‘switched on’, we cannot digest, have sex or sleep. Instead we have an overabundance of stress neurotransmitters that leave us feeling wired and with a liver that’s over-burdened.
WHAT ARE SOME SIMPLE WAYS THAT WE CAN PROMOTE GOOD GUT HEALTH?
To promote good gut health we need to reduce stress and put in healthy management practices;
~ Eat a diet full of fresh organic vegetables and fruit, good quality protein, fibre, healthy fats and support the liver with nutrient-dense and antioxidant-rich foods
~ Herbal teas, exercise, baths and infrared saunas also support detoxification
~ Drinking non-chlorinated or non-fluoridated water and moderating alcohol consumption
~ Eating traditionally fermented foods to support the body with helpful microbes, and to keep the opportunistic and pathogenic ones in check
~ Plenty of sleep before midnight by giving yourself an early bedtime
Nadine Hennequin, Chinese Medicine practitioner ~ @nadine.danceofvitality
You can find Nadine at our Byron Bay infrared sauna studio; Practitioners Byron Bay — Nimbus & Co.
For more information on Nimbus Co and our infrared saunas; Nimbus Co | About — Nimbus & Co.
INTERVIEW WITH NADINE HENNEQUIN