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Why adopt the whole food plant based diet? Talking with Dr Meridee Flower

In the early days of Atticus Health, where we began at Carrum, we used to have a walking group, where doctors, patients and other staff of the clinic all went for a walk.  Sound crazy.  I don’t think so – it was probably some of the best medicine we’ve delivered.

Lifestyle Medicine and the whole food plant based diet

Really is about your diet, exercise and overall state of mind, coming together to help you be your best, physically and mentally.  A great advocate of lifestyle medicine, is our very own Dr Meridee Flower.  She is a GP who consults at Atticus Health William Street, in Melbourne’s CBD.  Here Meridee talks about led her down her own journey to embracing lifestyle medicine, and indeed, why she now passionately recommends it to her patients.  In particular, Meridee discusses the meaning and virtues of a whole food plant based diet.

Here is the full podcast

To learn more about Dr Meridee Flower and the team at Atticus Health William Street, click here.

And here is the full transcript

Floyd Gomes: 

Hi Everyone, today we’re talking with Dr. Meridee Flower, who joins me here at Highett Victoria. For the purpose of talking about the whole foods plant diet, which is something she’s very interested in, and perhaps, you know, we really should listen to why, and see if we can become equally as interested. So, without further ado, I’d bring on Dr. Flower. Welcome.

Meridee Flower: 

Meridee. Thanks, Floyd, lovely to be here.

Floyd Gomes: 

Oh, it’s great to have you here. Really? merodio I know you’re a busy person. Indeed. You know, busy sometimes I understand even riding your bike a lot.

Meridee Flower: 

Yes, I, well, this is a lovely term in this COVID pandemic. I think riding my bike is the adventure that we all need to have during the lockdown.

Floyd Gomes: 

Yes, indeed, indeed. But really the the diet I say that a little bit in jest and all the same. You know, the idea here of talking today is about lifestyle medicine.

Meridee Flower: 

Yes.

Floyd Gomes: 

And that’s really about diet and exercise, things that a lot of people have heard before. The fact is, they’ve heard it before, probably because it’s true.

Meridee Flower: 

Yes, it’s true.

Floyd Gomes: 

And then on that note, melody, what are your thoughts about diet, and indeed, your own journey, down the path of the whole foods, plant iron?

Meridee Flower: 

Okay, um, I got interested in diet, I think from a young person, when my father had a heart attack at the age of 50. And at the time, his ECG suggested he had an old In fact, and he recalled at 35, he had had a similar chest pain experience. And he was a little bit overweight, he had been a smoker, he had high blood pressure and high cholesterol. He was a stressed and busy executive. And he was managed at home in those days, you were his GP treated him. And I can remember him in bed at home and the whole family became interested in what might have contributed to this outcome. And at that time, we discovered the Pritikin diet and which at the time was, again, a little bit out there in terms of unclear whether that’s the way forward but looked promising. And we modified our fat intake and gave up salt and my father took all the right pills. And he ended up living until he was 85. Having had multiple, triple bypasses and stents and medications, so I’m, understandably concerned about my genetics with that family history. And so I’ve had a special interest, I think, in what lifestyle will protect me from this pathway?

Floyd Gomes: 

Meridee, and as you described, it was really some of those things decreasing salt. And you mentioned the Pritikin data. I’m not too conversant with that. What was that about at the time?

Meridee Flower: 

Well, Nathan Pritikin turned up and basically identified saturated fat as the problem. And he was ahead of his time. And subsequently, I think his diet definitely showed that saturated fat has a role. But unfortunately, as a result of focusing on saturated fat, he well didn’t appreciate sugar as much as we needed to. And all the low fat foods became high sugar foods, and we didn’t really benefit from that change either.

Floyd Gomes: 

I see so he really just made a swap, which is, I suppose, where we find ourselves now. Yeah, as you described with a lot of sugar and a lot of foods.

Meridee Flower: 

Yes.

Floyd Gomes: 

Now, let’s hone in a bit. The topic today is the whole foods, plant diet or plant based diet, and how long have you been subscribing to this particular diet for Meridee,

Meridee Flower: 

I started switching to this diet. About five years ago, I joined a lifestyle medicine organization. And this is health practitioners around the world who are looking at what is it that keeps us well rather than focusing on how do we manage illness and As part of that, diet is a factor. We can’t forget, however, you have to include exercise, social connectedness, love, meditation. But I hear at the moment, we’re just talking about the dietary component of wellness. And I believe the evidence is becoming pretty confident that ideally, we are plant based animals, we need to focus on eating plant based foods. If we really want to serve our bodies well and protect ourselves from diseases caused by lifestyle,

Floyd Gomes: 

Sure. And you know, it really is something that a lot of people probably out there realize about themselves that they’ve got to improve their lifestyle and their health may hinge on that. And yet, it’s very hard to do.

Meridee Flower: 

Absolutely, absolutely. I agree. I mean, we use food in so many ways we show love with food, we celebrate major events in our life with food, we socially connect over food. So food represents so many different things to us all. And then along came the combination of sugar, fat, and salt, and in combinations that you don’t find in nature, and so apparently, our brains do not have the skills with which to know how to modulate the intake of these foods. In nature, we have pure sugar in honey. But you can’t sit and eat back at loads of honey, but combining fat and sugar. It’s it’s just not found in nature. And we really don’t have mechanisms which to modify our, if you like love of these foods, and the food industry knows this because they’ve spent masses of money and in experimenting, what particular combinations are going to make us most likely to buy their products. And it’s very easy to become quite attached to these foods, because to go without them gives us withdrawal effects effectively.

Floyd Gomes: 

And now that you mentioned withdrawal effects, if I’m interested in moving towards a plant based diet, how should I do that? Do I go slowly? Or do I go cold turkey? What’s the best way?

Meridee Flower: 

It’s a interesting question, and it depends very much on who you are and what you’re trying to achieve. I think for me, I needed the information. So I’ve just read and read and read and there’s a couple of resources. Forks Over Knives is a great website nutritionfacts.org Michael gregers work. There’s an Australian based Melbourne based actually website, whole food plant based health.com.au. That is a great resource. So it’s really finding out the information. I think that’s the most motivating aspect for me, I guess it’s also what your needs are, it depends what you’re seeking. If you are feeling less than perfect if you’ve got aches and pains from possible arthritis, if you’ve got a risk that you’re going to develop diabetes, or you’ve developed diabetes, or your doctors telling you that your blood pressure is up and you tend to feel a bit puffed when you run all of these, I think are really motivating reasons to consider looking at your lifestyle. And every step towards a whole food plant based diet is the move in the right direction. So I mean, let me I guess, help understand what we mean by whole food plant based diet. The whole food part is effectively saying nature has provided us with food. Let’s try and respect the food in its the way that nature provides it rather than processing it adding preservatives, flavorings, colorings, and also, for example, with grains, the more we refine them and make them into flour, the more they bypass our natural digestive system so that we get rapid rises of blood sugar by eating white flour products as opposed to a whole grain bread. So this is the whole Food part of it. plant based is effectively choosing foods from plants and avoiding animal products. Now, you don’t have to go 100% in this direction, even just taking a step, such as replacing one meal a week with meat to make it a vegetarian meal and test the waters. I think it’s a case of try it out and see how it feels.

Floyd Gomes: 

Sure so that’s a really good idea as opposed to start, say one day, a week because there are families out there who have kids and so forth. And at the end of the day, that’s sometimes a really challenging thing, breaking those habits. But that’s a good tip, isn’t it starting one day a week for plant based meal? And or plant base day, I should say,

Meridee Flower: 

Yes, I really respect it’s a busy world out there. And if you’re managing children and work and trying to find time just to get everything done, that has to be done, it’s very hard to contemplate a whole new lifestyle when it’s also new and alien and it just doesn’t feel comfortable. Plus, also, if you do proceed to reducing your dependency on fat and sugars, there is a process of withdrawal symptoms I can remember the night I decided I wanted to remove sugar from my life. And for the next five weeks, I would be crawling through the cupboards wondering if I had dropped a chocolate down the back of one of the coffee caps, getting the Milo can out and eating a few scoops of Milo from the can, anything for my sugar. And I was heavily dependent on my bananas and my dates and dried fruits to get me through that phase. In the whole food plant based diet, were very happy with fruit, you do not have to limit it. Lovely research studies have suggested or demonstrated that diabetics can eat two servings of fruit a day or four servings of fruit a day and their blood sugar levels remain the same. So nature has provided us with these sources of sugars in packages where they don’t get instantly absorbed and pressure, our diabetes vulnerability. They metabolize in a way that the sugars are gradually absorbed, and not as much of a risk to our health as processed sugar as an act as sugars, and honey.

Floyd Gomes: 

Through meridian. Once again, it comes back to water. What was the issue of motivation? And have you got any tips for our listeners? who think this is all a great idea, but their motivation indeed waxes and wanes? And yeah, as a GP? What would you say to that person?

Meridee Flower: 

we have to be so loving and respectful of ourselves. I think there’s no point flogging yourself, and then feeling a sense of failure and giving up. It’s recognizing that life is busy, life hopefully as long as time and to gently nurture yourself and decide how you want to go forward. And to get support. It’s great when you can do it with other people. We are social beings. So finding someone else who’s interested in joining you along the journey. I mean, I can remember when I went home and decided, Okay, I’m going to try this out. And suddenly I go home and I’m a meat and three veggie girl from way back. And I’m thinking, Okay, I’ve got dinner to provide. And I’ve only got whole foods and plants to provide dinner out of it and I had to learn a whole new way of cooking and it doesn’t come easily. And it’s not straightforward. It takes learning. And it is discovering a new way to cook and a new way to think. It’s preferentially using no oil. So if anything, I’ll use an oil spray on saucepans. Or, I’ve switched to potentially sauteed onions in a little bit of stock as opposed to frying them. So there’s a lot of different strategies, but it takes a little bit to learn these and so it’s giving yourself the opportunity to learn that gradually without feeling hopefully overwhelmed or traumatized by the journey. But the motivation is really I couldn’t it blew my mind after about three weeks of changing my diet how physically well I felt. Mentally, physically, spiritually, it just absolutely transforms your energies and the studies have shown is it it makes a difference to brain function. There’s just a few really, moments that really were stunningly interesting to me. One was an image of blood cells red blood cells circulating through the blood vessels of a hamster. So someone had a camera and took a photo and video footage within the hamster cheek of the red blood cells circulating through their little blood vessels. And it’s amazing to watch because blood cells rush around these blood vessels about 25 kilometers an hour. And then they fed the hamster a serve of cream, so a fully full fat meal, which the hamster lapped up, and they monitored the blood circulation. And within minutes of eating this food, the cells start to slow down to the point that they almost slow to walking pace. Now that is very, very confronting to see, and this is happening to every time you eat a fatty meal. The blood cells slowing down so they can’t deliver oxygen to your cells as effectively and thereby you become sleepy. And how many times have we eaten a meal, and shortly after feel sleepy and you’re yawning and want to have a snooze. And it’s effectively this fat slowing down the red blood cells supplying oxygen to the brain. And I thought to myself, gosh, I don’t want that. I like my brain having its oxygen. And so the consequences of switching to the diet, I used to get so puffed when I went out for a jog, and I suddenly stopped getting puffed, I still get sore legs, and I’m still not particularly athletic, but I was so amazed at how much it changed my breathing.

Floyd Gomes: 

Wow. So you could visualize the blood slowing down which is very confronting. I’m just thinking, as you talked about the hamster about my puppy, an Australian Shepherd who has on more than one occasion jumped up onto the kitchen bench, and overnight, there goes all the butter. Of course the butter is then found somewhere in the house on the floor. So I guess his blood cells slowed down for a period of time you’d say.

Meridee Flower: 

I bet the puppy had a ball.

Floyd Gomes: 

Yes, he did. Yes. Can I just say, according to him margarine is as good as butter.

Meridee Flower: 

That’s the gorgeous things about puppies.

Floyd Gomes: 

Yes. But no, I take the point that’s that’s really confronting and what you’re saying I suppose this is an interesting phenomenon. It is a chicken and the egg. And I suppose this is a case of your diet, having a bearing on on how you can exercise and your ability to do that. And vice versa really isn’t like they both come full circle. And I suppose if you can make one change than the other feels better, and it feeds back.

Meridee Flower: 

Yes. Interestingly, I believe when you start loving and respecting yourself when you start giving yourself permission to do your best. And thereby you make changes. And these changes physically make you feel better, you then feel more inclined to proceed in it’s just a self fulfilling prophecy. But it isn’t easy. It’s not. That’s undermining the I guess the advantage of being a doctor every day I see people coming in with high blood pressure diabetes, it’s very reinforcing that I don’t want this pathway. And so I get a constant prompt to say, I could eat this cake. Or I could resist this cake, and thereby resist having to take pills for my high blood pressure. It’s a great advantage, being a doctor and seeing that every day. Whereas if your life is not involved in health and constantly seeing the consequences of poor diet, I think it’s a lot harder to so easily address these issues.

Floyd Gomes: 

Yeah definitely you see that in front of you all the time. Now, these days with people having more to do with their home environments and essentially working from home. What do you think? Is there an opportunity there? Indeed, we’re allowed to exercise. I must say when I go outside and I see more people outdoors, I’m really quite taken aback to say well, that’s, that’s great. You know, I’m seeing all these people on the streets and outdoors. What do you think about our current times and the appropriateness of making these changes?

Meridee Flower: 

Yes, it’s it’s an opportunity, isn’t it? We have a great upheaval in our times. And so I guess, with times of great change, there’s an opportunity there to sit back and decide whether you want to make change. I am I agree with you nothing like lockdown to them go out and see all these people around and feel uplifted by other humans, other humans having to walk the same journey. And there’s a real sense of connectedness that I think perhaps we were losing by our busy lives and rushing here and there and not really paying as much attention to other people that we now get the opportunity to do, because we’re all forced into a slower well, less, less variety, I guess, but perhaps more socially connected ways. But I’ve heard people saying that they’ve really enjoyed time at home to start cooking their own meals. And a lot of people as a result are putting weight because the meals, they’re choosing to cooker, the gourmet recipes that are often demonstrated by shifts on television that involve quite a high fat, high sugar, high high salt intake. So we don’t really get a lot of television representation of foods that are much more kind and healthy to us. And I think there’s a little bit of a, I guess, the adverse consequences of companies wanting to make profits and sell their products. And as a result, what we’re seeing on television has been influenced by that rather than what really is the foods that we need to eat if we want to be remain? Well,

Floyd Gomes: 

It does come into play isn’t that what you’re exposed to be it from your own upbringing along the way, or the media has a big influence isn’t even looking at major sports and so forth. That sponsorship just goes hand in hand all the time, which we’re so we’re so used to now that we don’t even think twice?

Meridee Flower: 

Yes, I do think it’s quite interesting looking at the impact of industry on what information we’re given. I love it. One of my core greggers videos on his website is about the tobacco industry. And it started become evident that smoking was bad for us in 1912. And in 1930, I think the association with lung cancer was made in in 1950, Richard Doll came out with really good evidence that smoking caused lung cancer. And in 1965, the American AMA and American Medical Association came out would not endorse the Governor General’s report that smoking caused health problems. They refused to endorse it that year. But that year, they also got 10 million American dollars in funding from the tobacco industry. And, you wonder whether that was real related to their refusal to endorse the evidence that smoking and lung cancer were related, and I think the same applies to food. Now, the food industry is representing their products in a way that describes them as full of health, but because of course, they’re not about to disclose the evidence that actually, it would be safer not to eat their food.

Floyd Gomes: 

Yeah, sure. So I suppose these things, take that momentum to swing and keep moving in that direction. But there are so many people on the boat as you said. I’m gonna just play the devil’s advocate here a little bit and sort of try to a couple of concerns that might be there among listeners. And fair enough. So eating only plants as in the vegetarian diet, as it were. You know, we understand that we get a lot of iron from mate, am I going to become iron deficient?

Meridee Flower: 

Yes, it’s an absolutely reasonable concern. And the interesting thing about iron deficiency is an equal number of meat eaters present with iron deficiency, as vegetarians do. And to me, it’s a lot more complex than whether you eat meat or not. The problem we have is the haeme iron, which is the iron that you get in animal products, is actually quite significantly linked with cancer. Bowel cancer is much more common in meat eaters, and many other cancers as well. So whilst iron is definitely a very good source, I mean, sorry, whilst meat is definitely very good source of haeme iron, it may not be the iron that you really want to be getting. And there are plenty of good vegetarian sources of iron. So it is a challenging topic. It is. We have been fed stories about what our source of iron should be. But when you actually unravel these stories, you’ll often find that there’s a food industry behind the story. And the actual science does not necessarily reflect that truth.

Floyd Gomes: 

Sure. So as far as again, it needs that deeper probing along those lines, Dr. Flower, can we think about any other supplementation that you might need If you choose to only eat vegetables.

Meridee Flower: 

veggies good go fully whole food plant based diet, then definitely vitamin B 12. supplements are recommended. Vitamin B 12 is inherently in animal products and not in plant based products. That’s really it. There’s a lot of research going on and questions about the benefits of other supplementation. I definitely know we could do with looking at our vitamin D here in Melbourne. Interestingly, there’s not many studies in the world have shown vitamin D supplements have made the great health benefits we hoped they would. And I suspect it’s got something to do with the sunshine that we get vitamin D from has other health benefits. And perhaps we actually need the sunshine. But we also have to be very, very cautious about not having an overdose and increasing our skin cancer risk.

Floyd Gomes: 

Yeah, definitely. So it is a balancing act. And on that note, as well. I’ve always subscribed to various 80/20 rules. Can it apply here. Can I be good 80% of the time on the whole foods plant diet and go wild for 20? Will my blood cells still be running, or will they start to walk?

Meridee Flower: 

I guess that’s respecting being human, is it not?

Floyd Gomes: 

Yeah,

Meridee Flower: 

I guess I feel that 80/20 is far better than 50/50. So

Floyd Gomes: 

Thank you.

Meridee Flower: 

Any move in the right direction is a positive step. It really depends where you’re coming from. If you’re someone with high blood pressure and high cholesterol and heart disease, you may want to go 100% because the benefits to your

Floyd Gomes: 

Yeah, definitely I I think the human body is health are so enormous. There’s a beautiful study in the States. Dr. Estland, this is in 1999 and he took 18 people who were going to die because their arteries in their heart were so severely blocked with plaque and they’d been having multiple heart attacks. And he actually delivered the food to them. So he this was a very tightly controlled study where he restricted what they ate while they agree to it, but they stuck to what he provided. And he provided whole food plant based diet, and they effectively 100% reversal of their coronary artery disease. In other words, they had no blockage of their arteries and 20 years later, they’re all still alive. Whereas the control group, the population of people who did not change their diet, something like 56% had had another heart attack in the following 12 months. So the benefits of going for the hundred percent whole food plant based diet is out there. Science has proven it. But ofcourse, we’ve all got different genetics and different vulnerabilities and and different aims and desires in life and I respect that and I think it’s a case of each individual determining what it is they want and it’s a little bit like saying is it okay t smoke a couple of cigarettes week I guess. And I guess it’ all dependent on how much thi might be a bit extreme but ho much poison your body ca metabolize and process an that’s a bit of an exaggeratio when it comes to food I thin each person has to choose thin actually very forgiving. I suppose we push it pretty hard really don’t we.

Meridee Flower: 

It is, it is. And who wants to live forever? I certainly don’t but I do enjoy whilst I’m alive feeling well, feeling energized. I definitely one thing that over this COVID pandemic I’d studied a course on this nutrition diet, a masterclass in nutrition by Michael Klaper and after doing this I decided okay, I was having milk in my coffee and I was having yogurt on my breakfast that I would drop those and go 100% whole food plant based diet out of interest, and I was surprised I had been getting joint pains in my fingers and waking up in the morning getting out of bed feeling like I was an old woman. But a bit of stiffness, it wasn’t too bad. It lasted about 10 minutes, but it was every morning. And lo and behold, I’ve stopped having any joint pains in any stiffness. And it makes me wonder was the dairy that I did have in my diet at that point contributing? And this is what the evidence is suggesting. So I guess it’s probable, but you have to live the experience, I feel to know whether it’s something that will benefit.

Floyd Gomes: 

Yeah, definitely. And I just listening to you talk about your you know, how you described a bit earlier, that we’re a social being, you mentioned to me before this podcast about how you can see a GP in a group setting and, you know, go through some of the lifestyle medicine types of presentations with a GP, do you want to just talk about that a little bit more that that’s different to what we’re used to as a one on one consultation with a doctor?

Meridee Flower: 

Yes, you’re what you’re taught referring to a shared medical appointments. Now, this is a opportunity that the lifestyle medicine organization is really promoting. And there are doctors around who are doing this, particularly with patients with diabetes, in actual fact, where they get patients meeting together for an a medical appointment, so they are turning up to see their doctor for an appointment. But instead of going into a room where it’s just the doctor and the patient, it’s the doctor in perhaps 10, or 15 patients, all whom have diabetes. And one by one, the doctor gives a five minute consultation with each individual. So the individual presents their problem, and the doctor responds. But in doing so, the response is heard by everybody. But at the same time, there’s opportunity for discussion amongst the group and sharing of ideas and insights. And initially, I guess, people were apprehensive about how this would work. But we are social beings and people are really encouraged by sharing their journey with other people, it would seem and it’s a very successful model. And, and it works apparently, very effectively. Now, it would be a lovely way to present this whole food plant based diet model. But no, I haven’t actually started doing so at the moment. And I guess that’s an opportunity for the future. There’s definitely already a couple that run the whole food plant based health.com.au website, Jenny and Malcolm who I know and they run retreats lasting over a weekend, where you can immerse yourself in this lifestyle and hear speakers and the foods provided by a dietitian. Not happening over COVID obviously, they’ve I think they’ve changed their program to a web zoom based course. But there is opportunities to try the diet out in that way if people are interested.

Floyd Gomes: 

That sounds very very interesting to me because I suppose every time I see a junk food ad, it’s generally a group isn’t a very rarely an individual, you know, you’re on the beach or the with a bucket of chicken. So it’s probably refreshing to think that maybe there’s an opportunity as a group to to get together and talk about some healthy options and live those experiences out as a group.

Meridee Flower: 

Absolutely. And have fun at the same time.

Floyd Gomes: 

Yeah, and you know, not not need the bucket of chicken. Look, I think this has been a very, very stimulating conversation. I certainly feel like there’s always room to improve in life and, you know, nine times out of 10 your diet is such a fundamental one and as you described the idea of really combating some of those ill healths or things that can go wrong with your body through lifestyle as opposed to taking pills, it’s it’s just got so much promise. I think that I just like to ask you, just so I can also get a little bit of, you know, some good vibrations coming my way but what do you do to stay fit in terms of an exercise regimen? Meridee, I know you’re a pretty fit person.

Meridee Flower: 

I guess so. I have always like walking the dog and I always walked for a long time and then about oh, I think it was about 10 years ago. My house When decided he was overweight, he couldn’t walk 10 yards without a back pain interfering with exercise. He was a stressed busy executive working really long hours, and he decided to join a triathlon club as you do. There’s the BRW triathlons I think that’s what it’s called where businessmen get together and suddenly do a triathlon out of the blue and I think they probably have quite a few heart attacks along the way. But um, he decided he was going to do this triathlon and I had no idea what a triathlon was at the time and was pretty gobsmacked and overwrought, actually, with what was required. And so to join him on the journey, I guess his loyal wife. Well not to be left behind, I decided I was going to take up running and I’d never been a runner. In fact, I had this mindset that I couldn’t run. And I was just so impressed. I joined the club and coach around the Tan, or not the Tan, around Princess Park in Carlton. And I turned up on the first day, and this was a group of runners who were training for anything between a five mile run or the Boston Marathon. And I ran, I think, about 200 meters and thought I was gonna have a heart attack. And I expected to be laughed at and the coach said, “wow, that’s amazing Meridee well done.” Anyway, so I kept turning up, and I ran a kilometer. And then the coach said, “You’re the most improved today,” he was a wonderful coach. And I shortly after, well, shortly, a few, I guess, a month or two into the group I was running with a few people about three to five K’s and feeling very puffed. But the coach just kept saying how amazing that was. And what I found is it was just so different. And to suddenly realize I had limited my life by saying I couldn’t do something and to realize it wasn’t true was a breakthrough for me. So since then I did triathlons and we do regularly go running and, and cycling. And I’ve also got a zoom class, I do it weightlifting throughout the whole COVID pandemic, a series of exercises on mats and with weights and socializing and exercise I believe is the only way really to sustain a regular exercise program. And it’s all become self fulfilling. It just happens now. And in fact, it’s I look forward to the social get together and we accidentally exercise throughout it.

Floyd Gomes: 

Wow, that sounds like such a real way to live indeed a lifestyle. And we’ve sort of come full circle now going from diet and talking about now exercise. And that’s another thing I’ve noticed with COVID. Everyone’s into their gardens. I think that’s terrific. You talked about vitamin D, and it’s, every time I’ve seen a garden, I sure sometimes I’ve come for a skin check, and that’s probably the downside having too much sun, but geeze, they’re pretty fit.

Meridee Flower: 

I think we get a lot more from our garden than just exercise.

Floyd Gomes: 

That’s true. That’s true.

Meridee Flower: 

It feeds the soul it watching a plant grow and connecting with nature, I think is absolutely essential for well being.

Floyd Gomes: 

Yeah, that’s right. And clearly you clearly you like your garden too.

Meridee Flower: 

I’ve got a veggie patch, a new veggie patch, thanks to COVID

Floyd Gomes: 

Oh, nice, nice. I think that’s again, one of those, the silver linings about, you know, the situation we find ourselves in, so refreshing to see even when they are describing new developments and so forth, the adding back of gardens and the value of green spaces. Indeed, I was doing a little bit of reading recently on the idea from a GP standpoint of green prescribing, but at the end of the day, yeah, once people connect with nature in that way. Indeed, with the COVID veggie patch, it’s again, just as a positive thing. And I guess in your case, you can get that dual benefit of eating your hard work.

Meridee Flower: 

Yes, I have a problem ever getting into the kitchen. It always gets into my mouth before I get there.

Floyd Gomes: 

God, there you go. That really is full circle. And look, I think that it’s been a real eye opener for me hearing you talk with such passion about the whole food plant diet and beyond, as you’ve described lifestyle medicine. It’s not easy. The fact is, it’s not easy, but I think that you’ve talked about information a few times and I really respect that as in, if you can immerse yourself in material, then indeed hopefully some of that rubs off after a period of time and all of your input today i’m sure has helped our viewers that way so yeah, before we sort of wrap up, Dr. Meridee Flower, do you have any other parting words for our listeners?

Meridee Flower: 

Oh, I like to thank Floyd for the opportunity to come and speak today and to spread the word that you don’t have to be unwell and you don’t have to accept that pills are your only choice. I think if you’re diagnosed with high blood pressure, knowing that you could potentially if you choose, completely reverse the whole disease process by lifestyle changes for some people, really lovely news. So thanks, Floyd.

Floyd Gomes: 

My pleasure. And thank you again, Dr. Meridee Flower for joining us today and I hope everyone’s got something out of it. And yeah, best of luck with making some of those changes and catch you next time.

Meridee Flower: 

Bye.

Dr Hardik Solanki – Talking Addictions

The basics of addiction and substance abuse and how a GP can help.

Here’s the link to the full podcast

Here’s a dashing photo of Dr Hardik Solanki…

Here’s the transcript:

Floyd Gomes: 

Okay, welcome, everyone. Thanks for tuning in. You’re listening to street clinics. And that’s our cheesy intro. And yeah, so today we’ve got Dr. Hardik Solanki. Welcome.

Hardik Solanki: 

And we have got Dr. Floyd Gomes.

Floyd Gomes: 

Thank you. Thank you. It’s always nice to be introduced, hopefully in the affirmative. So yeah, look, Hardik, thanks for joining.

Hardik Solanki: 

My Pleasure

Floyd Gomes: 

Yeah, and look, I mean, I did talk to you a couple of weekends ago, actually. And we were talking about this topic. And it took me so much away that I thought apart from a doctor, audience, let’s bring it out there to a public audience. And that’s the topic of something you’re interested in here. Trading patients who have addictions. So, do you wanna let everyone know what it is? You do? And indeed, why you do it?

Hardik Solanki: 

Yeah, pretty sure. You know, halfway through the conversation, I was thinking you’re going to, you know, want me to talk about addiction of riding motorcycles. But yeah, let’s talk about addiction in general. So, I do have a special interest in addiction medication, especially for you know, people who are struggling with opioid andto some degree, non opioid addictions like alcohol, or marijuana, or benzodiazepines, as well. So we do see a fair bit of patients struggling with addiction at our Hastings clinic. And we sort of, you know, worked out that there was a lot of community demand for the services. And another interesting thing is that the second base of operation for Frankston and Mornington, area, alcohol and drug services besides Frankston is Community Center in Hastings. So there you go, there is a bit of need for assistance with addiction related issues in the community. And that’s why, you know, we have been helping quite a lot of people with this issue in the area,

Floyd Gomes: 

Sure, and doctors lanky, can you elaborate to the listeners, what do you actually do to help them?

Hardik Solanki: 

So first of all, it’s important that we understand what exactly addiction is. So addiction is, you know, anything that you do, you know, continue to do, or keep doing over and over again, despite knowing for the fact that, you know, it’s harming you in some way shape or form. So, basically, what we do is, you know, we help patients, you know, work out, why they are addicted to something, we try and get to the bottom of you know, what exactly is happening in their life that you know, and they can’t, you know, stop doing this harmful behavior and work out a way or a strategy that they can overcome this sort of an issue. So, it depends on you know, what type of addiction it is. So, there are, you know, addictions which are classified majorly into two categories, one is physical dependence and another one is non physical dependence type. So, what do you mean by physical dependence, so, there are certain things that, if you, you know, keep using over a long period of time, your body becomes accustomed to it, and you feel like you cannot survive without that. So, things like, let’s say, coffee. A coffee can cause physical dependence. Nicotine can cause physical dependence. Alcohol can cause physical dependence, and a lot of opiates can cause physical dependence. And my wife keeps telling me that tim tams also cause physical dependence. So, she’s a doctor, so I think I should listen to her advice.

Floyd Gomes: 

Yes.

Hardik Solanki: 

I enter on the other side, we have got, you know, non physical dependence, medication medications or behaviors, things like you know, gambling, or, let’s say, marijuana, smoking pot, or benzodiazepines. So, we have a quite a different approach of, you know, treating addictions in different ways, depending on what type of addiction it is. So for example, a lot of us know that we helped a lot of smokers quit smoking, by giving them nicotine replacement, it can be in terms of patches, can be in terms of you know, oral medication or nicotine laced chewing gums. On the other hand for things like opiates, we do have opioid replacement therapies in form of oral medications, sublingual films, and nowadays even injectable medications and for non opioid. Sorry for non physical dependence type of addictions we have got other ways to help patients overcome their problems as well, which mostly relies on cognitive behavioral therapy, working out what other mental health issues that a person is struggling with and such other related things.

Floyd Gomes: 

You mentioned that headache during COVID mental health has been very important topic. All these lockdowns have affected people in other ways, gender generally for the negative. And what have you noticed then about addiction during this time? Has there been a link to that increasing mental health problem with increasing addictions?

Hardik Solanki: 

Yes, so I believe so. With my experience with you know, seeing patients in community, especially during, you know, COVID lockdown period where, you know, we are all basically stressed, for one reason or the other. If it is because of you know, the current restrictions, or maybe, you know, someone in the family is adversely affected because of loss of job or a family member being unwell, or other situations, we all have been to a certain degree been quite affected, there haven’t been many other avenues for us to sort of, you know, help ourselves in current restriction scenarios, such as you know, a lot of people have missed their physical therapy sessions for chronic pain, like seeing a physiotherapist or the chiropractor, or whoever. And all those things have sort of, you know, led to patients feeling quite stressed. And in those scenarios, especially when there is you know, nothing much else to do, other than, you know, sit at home and maybe watch some TV, a lot of people have fallen prey to doing activities, which are more self gratifying, whether it is you know, indulging in their addiction, or maybe, you know, eating too much. And I guess, you know, all these things have sort of changed us quite a bit.

Floyd Gomes: 

You don’t have much to do, I suppose he kind of stuck at home. That can happen, isn’t it?

Hardik Solanki: 

Yes.

Floyd Gomes: 

Yeah. So really stuck.

Hardik Solanki: 

Yep. So, unfortunately, Iso kilos is a real problem. And so is, you know, sort of, you know, Iso drinking or, you know, Iso playing video games, or, you know, Iso, you know, other forms of substances you abuse is also quite real.

Floyd Gomes: 

And, Dr. Solanki, you know, before we wrap up here, can you just let everyone know, why have you chosen to be involved in this space? What’s, what’s your purpose here? It’s always good to understand. What is it?

Hardik Solanki: 

So, my past experience in my life, growing up back in India, I did notice, you know, quite a lot of harmful effects of addiction in and around my family. I have had, you know, people in my extended family who have struggled with alcoholism, and seen how it has sort of, you know, adversely affected their life. And that always made me sort of, you know, be a bit more sympathetic about, you know, people struggling with these issues. And when I came over to Australia, especially started working here in Hastings, I noticed that there was a significant amount of addiction issues on top of the mental health issues. There were and that sort of, you know, harped me back to my times back in India as well. And that’s why I decided that, you know, I think this is something that I can you know, help my community with and can be a very rewarding experience once you can help someone get over their addiction.

Floyd Gomes: 

Well, thanks for that Hardik. I can see working with you obviously I can sense your passion in that and yeah, I’d say that if anyone has any issues with addiction. Yeah, come on down to Hastings and see Dr. Solanki he’s certainly in a position to guide you and if he can’t directly help you there are different services that we can help you get in touch with. So yeah, look thanks, everyone for listening. I’d like to thank our guest speaker again today Dr. Hardik Solanki for Atticus Health in Hastings. Thank you.

Hardik Solanki: 

My pleasure.

Floyd Gomes: 

And great and yeah, look, that is it. That is Street Clinics another e isode. We will see you next t me. For now take it easy

 

If you need any help with beating addictions, or know someone who does, feel free to book in to see/ talk to Dr Solanki at Atticus Hastings – 03 5979 7777

You can learn more about Dr Hardik Solanki by clicking here.

Direct Chemist Outlet joins the team at Bangholme

Atticus Health is very happy to welcome Direct Chemist Outlet, who are setting up a same-day delivery service at our Bangholme Clinic, 440 Frankston Dandenong Rd, Bangholme.

The webinar below introduces the Pharmacy services on offer and details the simple instructions to set up an account and arrange same day delivery of your prescription medications.

We are also pleased to introduce a new GP, Dr Shish Malgwa, to our Bangholme community.  Shish is a highly experienced GP and a very welcome addition to our team.   He will be consulting at Bangholme on Monday and Wednesdays and is available to assist with all your medical needs.

What You Need To Know Before Your Next Run

It’s great that so many people have started running during COVID.  After all, running can be enjoyable and beneficial to your body. So we did this podcast with our Atticus physio, David Ronan, to tell you what you really to know if you’re starting out with jogging.  Hopefully it’ll help you:

  • Avoid injury

  • Run faster

  • Run further

  • Choose the right footwear

And, hopefully it’s fun to listen to all the same!

Here’s a link to the podcast:

Here’s the video of the warm up exercises mentioned in the podcast: 

For those who rather or need to read, here’s the transcript of the podcast: 

Floyd Gomes: All right, great. Thanks for joining us. I’m Dr Floyd Gomes from Atticus Health. And with me, I’m joined today by David Ronan our in house physio. And indeed, what we’re talking about today is running during COVID. It’s a fact that one of the few things you were allowed to do is go jogging, which is great if you’re a jogger and not so great if you’re not a jogger. But certainly an opportunity if you’re willing to have a go and get into it. And I’ve seen a lot of people do just that. And we thought that it would be great then to have David who is a very experienced physio just go through some of the things to look out for, if you’re getting into running for the first time. During covid, what we can do to really make sure we don’t get injuries and indeed get the benefits out of out of running. David, I know actually is a long distance runner himself. And I’d say that I was long distance runner, probably rather a short distance runner now. But indeed, it’s something I share a passion for equally. And so without further ado, I might bring David on. And yeah, take it from there. So welcome, David. It’s great to have you here.

David Ronan: Thank you, I think you’re being a bit modest. My understanding is you have done a marathon, which I never have, I’ve only done a couple of half marathons. So you might be the more experienced runner in this conversation. But I do agree, I have seen a lot of runners out on the street. During the last six months or so particularly on all the nice running tracks, they’re getting very crowded, but I think that is a positive thing. So if we’re talking about new runners who have never done any running before, probably the best advice I could give is to start slow. The key to running successfully and to improving is to run consistently without getting injured, the best way to do that is to do the majority of your running quite slow. Most runners who do well, recreationally or professionally probably do about 80% of their sessions as what they would say easy. There’s many different ways to measure that. But a pretty simple metric that most of you could do would be something under about 70 or 72% of your maximum heart rate would be a good starting point. So the majority run should be relatively stress free. So that would be the first piece of advice start start slow, run slow most of the time. Second thing I would say is try and do a little bit of strength training. The evidence around strength training is pretty strong. Out of all the things you can do to help your running it will make you quicker. There is a good study a couple of years ago that showed doing strength training twice a week to set your two sessions per week for runners. So people who could do a 25 k run in 21 minutes. The guys who did their strength training twice a week improved by about 45 seconds over only six weeks. That’s quite significant in a relatively short period of time. And strength training has also been shown to decrease injury risk by about by about a half or sorry, by about a third for all sports injuries by about a half for overuse injuries. So most of our running injuries will normally be overuse injuries.

Floyd Gomes: That’s good to know. Thanks for that, David. So you’ve talked about strength training. I suppose for someone like me, I haven’t done various exercises, so do you want to just let us know here? What do you mean strength training?

David Ronan: Very good question. So generally look, you could get very detailed into it. But generally speaking, you want to strengthen the muscle strengthen the muscles that are involved in running so look, the majority of your body’s involved but primarily we’re thinking calves, quads, hamstring gluteals, you know, and then core musculature after that. A common mistake that most runners will make is they think because running is an endurance event, they should be doing an endurance type dosage. So low weights high repetition, when in fact it’s the complete opposite. As a runner, you really getting your endurance dosage by doing your running. So you should still start quite slowly with that and don’t lift really heavy weights day one of course, you should be trying to eventually get to a point where you’re getting tired after, you know five to seven repetitions of an exercise not 15 to 20 reps. If you’re thinking specific exercises that will help most people really basic ones like your squats, lunges, calf raises. If you’ve got machines, things like a leg press can be quite good. So they don’t have to be anything too complicated.

Floyd Gomes: That’s great David, squats, lunges and calf raises. These are all the things my colleague, Dr. Solanki recently told me to tell me to do. And I sort of laughed it off. When he told me and I did him, and he did say, I’d be so and I was very sore. I’d really say that I did this have good sword places I did, though I couldn’t be so. So look, that’s very interesting. And you mentioned something there that I think is really important to realize, that strength training is actually what you need to do to sort of balance what you do in a running sense, which is where you get your endurance workout. That’s actually news to me. And it probably makes sense. Maybe that’s why I was such a mess after that marathon, apart from the fact that I had a wedding reception to go to that night itself! But look, that’s very good to know. And David, you know, just before this, we made a video, that video was for, to sort of go with this podcast, but you went through a few exercises to warm up before a jog. Could you just let us know a little bit more. I mean, it’s obviously a podcast, it’s hard to see. But you want to just talk us through how do you warm up before you go running.

David Ronan: Of course, um, so the warm up for running, I would say the best thing you could do is actually start off with a with a light walk is as good as anything else. And then the next step after that, if we think about what we’re trying to achieve from a warm up, we’re trying to a achieve some elasticity and warming the joints. So they’ve got a little bit more range and a little bit more give. The other thing is we’re trying to increase your neuromuscular control or coordination. With static stretching, there’s a little bit of evidence that it’s actually detrimental to be done right before a run, you have a little bit of weakness. And the theory behind that is there’s a little bit of nerve compression from the static stretches that, you know, for half an hour or so your muscles don’t fire quite as well. So the things we went through today, we did something we did a walking lunge, so and so that’s really trying to use those running muscles. But it’s also requires a little bit of coordination. So we’re trying to switch on that and sort of neuromuscular facilitation, we did some legs, swing throughs with with our whole leg. So working out through range of motion, just trying to yeah, essentially get a nice range of motion. And we just did some marching exercises as well with sort of high knee and high arm lift. Again, just encouraging those running muscles to be to be working well for when we start.

Floyd Gomes: That’s great. That’s useful to know. And as he said, that’s, that’s really news to me. So there is some controversy about stretching before going for a run. Wow. And I suppose maybe we can think if we can post any links or anything like that, that might be useful for people who are interested who might want to flesh that out a little bit more. Now, David, something on my mind, I live near Beach Road. And at the end of the day, I’ll see all the cyclists out there. And you know, that’s said to obviously be less jolting on your body and your joints and maybe specifically your knees running. Is it good for us? Are we gonna get osteoarthritis early? What do you think?

David Ronan: I’m glad you asked that Floyd. So people who run live longer, that is a fact that’s come out quite recently, I can try and find the links for that. But I’m pretty sure it’s from the British Journal of Sports Medicine. In terms of arthritis, most of the evidence is actually quite good for running. And that’s assuming you don’t have a prior injury going on that confounds things a little. But up until you’re doing elite mileage, which is 100 plus miles a week, which if you’ve got a full time job, and you’re doing more than sort of, you know, 100 Ks or 100 miles a week, good luck to you. For most people a light or moderate amount of running is very safe and actually people who do that tend to have less arthritis than their peers is my understanding of the latest research there. If you’ve had a professional running career, yes, you are more likely to have arthritis which I guess makes sense.

Floyd Gomes: Well, that’s great because for me, my knees they feel alright, but every time I’ve got on a bike with those small little seats, there’s problem, so I guess I’ve got to get that bike well fitted. But look, that’s very useful. And David, I suppose fleshing this out a little bit more than Yeah, running on on any particular surface. You know, traditionally we run on the footpath some people run on the beach, on the grass, anything thing better or worse? about where we should be running?

David Ronan: Yeah, again, good question. It’s it’s probably condition dependent to an extent. If you have a knee injury, you’re probably never going to love running, you know, fast downhill on a hard surface. On a soft surface, you need to generate more of your own force. So for example, if you have plantar fascia injury, and you’re running on the beach, a lot of load through your plantar fascia is probably not going to be great for you, but the impact forces will be lower. So if you have knee arthritis, and you’re running on a soft beach, the impact forces in your knee will actually be lower. But you need to generate more of your own muscular force. So they’re the two things you’re weighing out. As a general, a little bit of a mix of terrain is good, I wouldn’t recommend running on sand all the time. But running on something like a trail, most of the time would be pretty safe. You know, running on a path or concrete for a proportion of the runs is normally quite safe. But you wouldn’t want to do it all the time, either.

Floyd Gomes: Sure. So having that little bit of variety is probably good for the training. And just, yeah, once upon a time there was that trend, I suppose, to have minimal footwear. Now we’ve gone the other way. We’re sort of got these soles that in the heels are high and everything makes you a few inches taller indeed, which, which is pretty good for me. But at the end of the day, which is true, is it good to have minimal sort of footwear and the soles or these big heels better? What are your thoughts?

David Ronan: That’s a very controversial question.

Floyd Gomes: That’s what we’re here for David, I like controversy.

David Ronan: So so without getting into probably the performance benefits of the latest bunch of Nike shoes that lie and keep showing you what, sorry, ran under two hour marathon and for the standard shoe that you can buy on off the shelf, they’ll talk about heel drop, which pretty simply is just the difference between the back of the heel on the front of the shoe, you’re not getting rid of load with different shoes, you’re shifting load. So if you have a large heel, it’s very hard to not land on that heel, that can be somewhat protective of your calves and your Achilles tendon. But it does tend to load up through your knee joint and your hip joint and probablythe lower back a little bit more. If you have a flat shoe like a racing shoe, you generally land a bit further along so closer to the mid foot, your calves will work a bit harder. So if you have sort of recurrent calf strains, they’re probably not a great shoe to begin with. But it will be protective of your knee and have your hip to an extent. So with the really minimalist shoes, there’s never a completely right or wrong. But if you’re used to wearing say, a leather work shoe all day and running, in a ASICs, kayano, which is quite a big shoe. I wouldn’t recommend just going and doing four runs a week in a minimalist shoe. But if you wanted to slowly transition over a period of time, you probably could, depending on your background.

Floyd Gomes: Yeah, sure. And that really what you’re saying is, I remember the the controversy was, whether it is good to to step off your heel, or is it better to step off your forefoot. People looked at different runners around the world? And who does what to try to work that out? Basically, David, what’s your opinion about that?

David Ronan: Well, you’re shifting load is the difference. So most of the elite runners will run sort of mid foot, they’ll have what’s called a very high cadence. So cadence is just your steps per minute. An average recreational runner might run between 160 and 170 steps per minute, or, you know, slightly more or slightly less, whereas an elite runner might run over 200 steps per minute. What that means is relative to how far they’re pushing themselves off, they’re not stepping as long, although they probably are still stepping further than us just relative to how far they can spring each time. Again, there’s no better or not better, but for certain conditions there is definitely better. So again, for knee injuries. If you run more of a mid foot or four foot there’s less loading forces through your knee, but your calf works harder. The alternative if you’ve got calf injuries and you’re running on your forefoot, or if you have a history of say metatarsal stress fractures, you probably don’t want to run on your forefoot so much. So as you really shifting the load, you know, getting rid of the load. So there’s no there’s no one answer for everyone.

Floyd Gomes: That’s great. Thank you, David. And for the record. Dave’s got a pair of ASICs on so you know, I think I’m gonna buy some ASICs cuz David’s a good runner and he’s wearing ASICs not that way sponsored by anybody. But that’s the fact. And anyway, look. Thank you for joining us, I hope that’s been helpful. As I said, there is a video that will be out demonstrating some of those warm up exercises. And indeed, we’ll make a transcript of this podcast. And yeah, look, I think it’s actually great to see so many people out and about in their local community running or cycling, or walking. I think that’s one of the up shots of, you know, the current time and yeah, once again, I’d actually encourage you to run or get into some form of exercises, but certainly, jogging could be one of them. And I hope this once again, has helped I’d like to thank in wrapping up here, David Ronan, once again, he’s our in-house physio at Atticus Health, for joining us. So thank you, David. And, yeah, if you have any questions or anything like that, wherever you find this post this podcast, this video, this transcript, I’m sure there’d be a link. Thanks and have a great day.

I hope all this helps, and best of luck with your running this spring, it’s awesome that you’re into it!

Floyd

A New Telehealth Paradigm

Telehealth is here to stay.  To what degree remains uncertain, but it is – here to stay.  And we want to part of that bright future.

And so, at Atticus Health, we have created a specialised work environment to support motivated doctors wanting to develop their telehealth acumen.  Our professional work environment is located at the Atticus Nucleus – 260 Highett Road, Highett, Victoria.  Features of Atticus Nucleus include:

  • A dedicated professional office
  • Automatic height adjustable desk
  • A 24 inch dual monitor set up
  • Internet via fibre at 1000 mbps
  • A receptionist directly outside your office door available at all times
  • Ample under cover carparking

But Atticus Nucleus isn’t only about work, it’s about having a bit of fun, staying fit along the way and allowing yourself to chill out.  So you’ll also find:

  • A competition grade table tennis table
  • A gym
  • A rooftop deck
  • A fully automatic coffee machine
  • End of trip facilities including a secure bike cage and shower
  • A highly convenient location near cafes, Woolies and Highett train station

Atticus Health has been a leader in the delivery of telehealth services and we look forward to growing our dedicated telehealth doctor team.  If you are interested in being a part of that bright future, please get in touch.

To apply, please email Dr Floyd Gomes – fgomes@atticushealth.com.au

Garnering Gardening Goodness (say 10 times fast!)

When I was a kid, often on the weekends we had two choices:

  1. Do the weeding
  2. Accompany mum to a nursery to check out plants

I didn’t know that mum was a “mad gardener” at the time, but on reflection – I think she was/is.  She did have a little vase on her kitchen window sill with picked flowers from the garden regularly.  And although I didn’t know it consciously, the influence of her love of flora rubbed off on me, profoundly.

As a kid growing up, I suddenly came to realise that I could spot a geranium from a begonia from a camelia from an agapanthus (they hide lots of snails) from a hydrangea, and so on.  I didn’t quite talk about my x-ray vision then.  I stuck to playing sports, watching all the wrong movies, Nintendo and anything else that earnt me real street cred.

But as I walked down the streets of East Bentleigh and I could name many if not most plants, I always felt strangely surrounded by friends, and it was very comforting and mustered a degree of curiosity.

It was Aristotle who developed the first classification of animals and marveled at the joy of being able to do so.  And indeed, Prince Charles is famous for talking to his plants.  There is something in all of that, which strikes a chord in me. (Don’t you dare leave now!)

To this day, some of my greatest achievements I hold to be the trees I’ve planted.  Whenever I get a chance, I drive past an old house, to see the little sapling (the memory of which often remains vivid) now as a great tree and I get a certain rush every time.

We talk about being grateful sometimes, as if it were a chore, a bitter pill.  A wishful and covert credit in the “me” account, quite in contradiction to the whole point.  And in our suffering at various moments of our life, someone “well meaning” but all the same accidentally condescending, will offer the clichéd advice of “count your blessings”, “there are other’s worse off than you”.  I do it myself with my kids when I sense they’re dwelling on first world problems.  And sometimes it works.

However, when I walk down a street, and my eyes immediately turn to each plant, many of which I can and care to still name, I notice their changing form – sometimes healthy, sometimes sick.  I feel something.  And in spring, when I see plants bloom, there is no longer a division between subject and object.  I am present and in awe of their ethereal display.  I am so grateful and it brings me sheer joy – all, at once.

With no real effort on my part, an appreciation of nature, I can confirm, has made an absolutely positive contribution to my state of mind, at every step.

Whatever your age, I hope you too can connect with the natural world.  And if you’re a parent, consider instilling in your kids such a thing, because you may just endow them with a most precious (and perhaps secret) gift for life.

I wish you all the very best this spring!

Photo: Atticus Jindivick with Bryan Goodwin our neighbour at the Jindi Caf and passionate gardener at the property!

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