Lisa Fitzgibbon: A naturopath with real oomph

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Like so many natural health practitioners, naturopath Lisa Fitzgibbon, says the job chose her.

Having trained and then worked in advertising both in New Zealand and the UK, Lisa started to feel a distinct disconnect with her chosen profession at the time.

“Let’s just say after five years in the industry it stopped sitting well with my philosophies on life and I knew I needed to change,” she explains.  “It wasn’t too long after this realisation that I decided to retrain and embarked on a three-year degree in naturopathy.”

Studying naturopathy as a career path was also brought on by a serious health issue at the time, after waking one morning completely unable to move from severe pain and stiffness throughout her whole body.

“All my muscles had gone into an excruciating spasm,” explains Lisa.  “This affliction seemed to come on overnight and I woke up feeling like I had been in a car accident.”

Scared and not knowing what was happening to her body, Lisa embarked on a journey to get to the bottom of what might have been wrong and as it transpired she had a significant intolerance to gluten, dairy and even carrots!

“The whole subject of nutrition and its effect on us, fascinated me and while I’ve been healthy ever since, it was certainly a turning point for me,” says Lisa.

Lisa describes her naturopathic philosophy as very different to most other natural health practitioners. She challenges the health benefits of green smoothies, chia seeds, super foods, kombucha and raw baking etc and advocates just a simple and balanced diet and lifestyle.

“Most food trends and extreme diets become fashionable and then just huge marketing scams.  They often make claims that are quite daft when you think them through,” explains Lisa.   

“I believe that I have a strong, new take on health – one that is altogether more balanced and far easier to stick with.”

“For example, I don’t mind if my clients have a little sugar, caffeine, and alcohol in their diet so long as it’s in moderation of course.  I discourage excessive exercise or subscribing to extreme diets of any kind.  Most importantly, I tell my clients to stop being so worried or obsessed with their health- that’s my job!”  

“I like to think that I bring my clients back to reality,” she says.

Lisa is a qualified and registered naturopath, medical herbalist and holistic nutritionist.  She has recently set up OOMPH, a new clinic in Grey Lynn.


The sour wine: apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar (acv) is much like an aperitif
Taken before a meal, it enhances digestion by activating the body’s enzymatic functions, and by powerfully increasing digestive secretions. This leads to better food breakdown and better nutrient absorption. Nutrients heal the body — regardless of the ailment. This could explain the long list of potential cures that are claimed for this sour wine:

• It promotes digestion
• It alkalises and detoxifies the body
• It regulates blood sugar levels and aids weight loss
• It reduces high blood pressure and cholesterol
• It reduces pain (e.g. muscle soreness and arthritis)
• It improves the appearance of the skin (e.g. age spots and pimples)
• It assists with allergies and colds

How does it work?
The actual nutrient content of ACV cannot be easily established. Fortunately, this doesn’t actually matter. You don’t take ACV to get nourishment from the product. You take ACV to activate your digestion and more efficiently extract the nutrients from your food!

Apple cider vinegar is essentially acetic acid. This is what gives it its sour taste and pungent smell.

What to look for in an acv
If you’re currently imbibing ACV, or you’ve been thinking about it, here are some of the words that should feature on the label on your bottle of sour wine:
• Organic
• Raw
• Unpasteurised
• Unfiltered
• ‘The Mother’
If it’s the ‘good stuff’ it will appear brown and murky — delightful, huh?

Read the instructions, but don’t follow them
On the back label of your ACV, it tells you to dilute your ACV in a glass of water, and to sweeten it with honey. This is not how I advise you take it for your digestive health. The manufacturers of vinegar are generally not health experts — but they are really good marketers! Who would drink their product if they didn’t encourage you to mask the flavour?

It’s supposed to ‘put hairs on your chest’
ACV is better drunk concentrated, because it will then promote concentrated digestive secretions. If you have this sour wine diluted in a glass of water, it will also dilute the digestive secretions that you are trying to strengthen.

It’s not meant to taste good  
Don’t add sweetener to your ACV. To promote digestion you need it to taste sour – that’s the whole point! The ‘sour’ is what encourages your digestive enzymes and secretions to kick in.

How to take acv to promote your digestive function:
If you have digestive issues this is how you should take it:
• Take it 15-20mins before a main meal
• Take 1 tsp to 2 Tbsp as required, but no more than 3x daily
• Combine it in a 1:4 ratio with filtered water e.g. 15 ml of ACV to 60 ml filtered water (cold or warm). Warm water can make ACV taste slightly sweeter.

(Note: In most cases, you shouldn’t need to use a digestive aid every day, let alone 3x daily. And certainly not for any length of time (not more than three months)!  If this is the case, then I would advise you to seek the help of a qualified, experienced, and registered naturopath or medical herbalist.)

Disclaimers/Footnotes  
ACV may interfere with some medication e.g. thyroid, blood thinning, anti-diabetic, heart, diuretic, and laxatives.  Therefore, do your research, and ask your doctor’s advice before you commit to the daily, long term use of this product.

Long-term excessive use of ACV could lead to low potassium levels, and to low bone density.

If you experience mild detoxification symptoms from the use of ACV, reduce the amount of the product taken, or dilute it in more water. Build up slowly to a higher/stronger dose. If symptoms persist, please discontinue use.

Lisa Fitzgibbon is a naturopath and medical herbalist. She runs a private practice: OOMPH-Realistic Holistic Health, in Grey Lynn (Auckland, New Zealand). She also writes a popular blog about health: www.lisasaid.sothe-sour-wine

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