NUTRITIONIST, HERBALIST, ACTIVE LISTENER
For this edition of a seat at the table we spoke to Steven Judge, a naturopathic practitioner devoted to guiding you back to balance with the help of nature’s wisdom anchored in nutritional and herbal medicine. He explains the connection between physical and mental health and shares his top tips to help you start your journey back to balance.
“Nutritional Medicine is the foundation for our physical health.”
Steven’s journey to become a complementary health practitioner was sparked by an intuitive whim one day and a google search for ‘nutrition course Sydney’. Without knowing exactly what naturopathic nutrition entailed, he enrolled into studying Nutritional Medicine at the Australasian College of Natural Therapies.
After developing a very strong foundation in nutrition he decided to deepen his studies with herbal medicine. He says he is glad to have chosen to study nutritional medicine first as it is the foundation for our physical health and he still holds great fascination for nutritional biochemistry especially its influence on mental health.
In clinical practice he discovered that a lot of clients benefit greatly from the synergy of nutritional and herbal medicine. Clients often require the aid of herbal medicine to feel better fast to support them while they address necessary long term changes to their diet and lifestyle.
“Our mental health is inextricably connected with our physical state of health.”
As a naturopathic practitioner, Steven focuses on an individualised, patient-centered approach. This entails detailed consultations and investigative case-taking, alongside thorough testing to ensure that all potential underlying causes are considered and addressed within the treatment plan. Tailoring a regimen to each client’s personal needs and circumstances is at the heart of Steven’s approach in clinic and naturopathy in general.
When working with clients, Steven always begins with fortifying the physical body and dealing with the “low hanging fruit” – diet, environment, sleep, gut health, nutrient deficiencies, exercise etc. – before considering deepening the work as it is important to begin with regulating the nervous system via the physical body.
Everybody’s journey will be different and may involve changes in lifestyle, addressing deficiencies, dietary modifications, restoring your gut microbiome, reducing toxic exposure, establishing good sleep hygiene and building a support network and being part of a strong community.
Today the inter-relationship between body and mind is well established and we know that our mental health is inextricably connected to our physical state of health. Therefore, someone’s chronic anxiety may be related to a combination of poor blood-sugar control, Vitamin B12 deficiency and caffeine intolerance. For someone else feeling anxious or depressed may be due to an imbalance in their gut microbiome. A lot of factors may contribute to the picture of physical and psychological imbalances. This is not to say that other social, economic and emotional factors are not important as well but it is almost impossible to restore wholistic wellness and wellbeing without addressing physiological imbalances that are directly linked to our mental health symptoms..
During the last 18 months throughout the pandemic Steven has witnessed a substantial increase not just in physical stress responses such as digestive conditions as well as fatigue and insomnia but also a spike in anxiety and depression. All of these conditions are associated with the onset of reduced stress tolerance and overwhelm. “There is only so much our nervous system can handle, when we push our threshold for stress it manifests in the body as symptoms”, Steven says. Despite moments of his own feeling of overwhelm throughout the pandemic, Steven is driven by his desire to help others. It is a true privilege for him to be able to be there for his clients during such a pivotal time.
“It’s crucial to meet yourself where you are right now and only try to change one thing at a time.”
Although each person’s needs are unique, we asked Steven where we could all start to support ourselves to feel better and more balanced in mind and body.
Here his top tips:
- It’s crucial to meet yourself where your are at right now and only try to change one thing at a time.
- Get back to the very basics! That could be prioritising drinking enough filtered water every day, walking every morning before work or setting an intention to cook nourishing home-made meals.
- Healthy eating has become confusing and overwhelming in recent years for so many of us especially if you are feeling exhausted, anxious or depressed. Find a simple formula that works for you and your life. For most people that is making sure to eat protein + healthy fat + fibre for each meal. Steven keeps his fridge and pantry stocked with organic protein from meat, fish, legumes, tofu, nuts and seeds. As well as high quality organic oils such as extra virgin olive oil, ghee, coconut, avocado, macadamia and cod liver oil. He combines all these with fresh seasonal organic fruits and vegetables for simple nutritious meals.
- Add a restorative practice to your daily routine: meditation, yoga, a walk in nature are a great start.
- Practice good sleep hygiene religiously. Unplug from devices and avoid blue-light from screens at least 2 hours before bed.
- Establish your support network or community. Feeling lonely has a detrimental effect on most people’s mental and physical health. Call a friend and go for a walk together for example.
Steven is currently offering a free e-book called: “The Mind-Body Blueprint” via his website stevenjudge.com.au with even more insightful information and guidance on how to nourish your mental and physical health.
Click below for a pdf version of this interview:
Editor: Rita Ince
All images used with permission from Steven Judge.