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Ryan Huxley introduces nutritionist Freya Gibbs, guest blogger, who this week advises on healthy lifestyle changes with food.


Swell, swell and more swell. Sometimes it is a delightful treat indeed being a north coast surf rat. Huge south swells accompanied by equally intense south wind gusts made the back beaches of Byron untenable over the weekend.

Luckily the shire is blessed with a directionally diverse coastal quarters (we even have a west facing beach strip at Little Wategos), so the crew and half the gold coast descended on the north facing breaks of ‘The Pass’, ‘Main Beach’ and ‘Belongil’. With only three legitimate banks to choose from the lineup resembled a hyperactive seal colony. Still with super fun walls; the occasional hollow cavity; an aquamarine seascape; and Mount warning ascending skyward amid a descending sun I would be a greedy man to complain. In fact weekends like this that require greater than 2 surfs per day also necessitate Surfbodysoul Yoga and Pilates; sound nutrition and adequate hydration. My good friend and equally talented nutritionist and naturopath ‘Freya Gibbs’ is always on hand to answer the gamut of culinary questions amongst our group of friends, ranging from mundane and mediocre to the most poignant and complex. Freya will be joining the team at Surfbodysoul as a regular guest blogger, in the process educating our global surfing tribe on the virtues and benefits of good health. Lets take a peak at her intriguing and informative first piece.

Why do we so often perch in the water to stare at the horizon, all the while knowing that the waves won’t be coming ’til tomorrow? Routine, escapism, addiction or is there something more?
Thallasotherapy was a term coined by the ancient greeks which recognised the healing potential of the ocean. The use of seawater as a healing medium is common across many traditional cultures and more recently, has been shown to contain trace elements of minerals such as magnesium, calcium, potassium, sodium and iodine. Research suggests that the absorption of these minerals via the skin, through a process called trans-dermal absorption, may be responsible for the time-honoured healing powers of the ocean. All of these minerals, intricately involved in musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, immune and nervous system function, are essential to your well-being.

It’s not only the seawater we have to thank for the healing, as we owe just as much to the experience as a whole. Biophilia (bio: life, philia: love) is the theory of humans’ instinctual connection with nature and the associated health benefits. It seems that stepping out of our concrete jungle every now and again to be part of the natural world has a lot more to offer than we might have first thought. ‘Therapeutic use of nature’ is believed to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, pain, and improve general well-being.
Though we’d like to believe the water and waves to be our panacea, there’s a lot we can be doing when we’re on terra firma to improve our surfing, too. Besides the all important stretching and strengthening exercises, the most basic, and often first to be overlooked, is diet and nutrition. Without the right nutrients, our cells start to suffer and our physical and mental health becomes compromised. Magnesium, for example, is a key mineral involved in energy production, muscle contraction and relaxation, bone density, and healthy blood pressure. A diet deficient in magnesium may in fact be the reason for your constant fatigue or persistent muscle cramps. Including green vegies (e.g. kale, spinach, brocolli), wholegrains (e.g. brown rice, oats), cacoa (real chocolate), nuts and seeds in your diet is a good start to ensuring you are consuming enough magnesium.

And magnesium is just the tip of the how-to-eat-well iceberg. Make sure you eat good quality protein (organic lean meats, oily fish such as sardines, eggs, legumes, nuts and seeds) with each meal, a rainbow of colours from the fruit and veg department (the natural variety of colours means a good spectrum of nutrients and antioxidants), and plenty of good fats (avocado, flax oil, olive oil, coconut oil, chia seeds, nut oils, oily fish).

Most of all, don’t be overwhelmed by the idea of a dietary overhaul. It’s about awareness and making small changes over time to improve your health. Taking care of your body out of the water means you’ll really get to reap the benefits of your next biophilic thallasotherapy (surf) session.

Freya is a qualified Nutritionist(BHsc Nut Med), Naturopath (BHsc Nat), and accredited member of the Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS). As a naturopath and nutritionist, Freya provides dietary and lifestyle recommendations, as well as nutrient and/or herbal medicine prescription. In addition to being trained in evidence based practice, Freya also draws on traditional knowledge and use of herbal medicines where appropriate. Freya is passionate about integrated healthcare and enjoys working alongside other health professionals in the interest of clients’ wellbeing; providing true holistic, tailored health management. Whether it be treating acute or chronic ailments, assisting in detox and weight management, or improving energy and athletic performance, Freya can develop individualised dietary plans and treatments to address your needs. She lives and works in Byron Bay, Australia, where she loves experimenting in wholefood cooking, surfing and practicing yoga daily.

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