Tag Archives: depression

Food Intolerance – The Lowdown. Are Food Intolerances Leaving You Washed-Up?

The number of people recognizing they have one or more food intolerances have been rising dramatically over the last decade, with more and more people becoming aware that they have problems with certain foods. Many more are not willing to even entertain the possibility that food intolerance may be causing their symptoms.

Food Intolerance
The reality is that as the body demonstrates an adverse response after they eat particular foods more and more people are becoming aware that they have problems with certain foods.

Many people live with the debilitating symptoms of food intolerance for years without anyone being able to diagnose their problems. In spite of extensive testing nobody seems able to help them. Often it is only after eliminating a particular food from their diet that they discover where their problems come from, and the extent of damage that food is causing to their body.

 

FOOD INTOLERANCE OR FOOD ALLERGY

For many the distinction between allergy, intolerance and sensitivity is not clear, but they are actually very different.

Food intolerances involve a completely different response by the body to food allergies. In food allergy the immune system identifies an ingredient as harmful and reacts by creating antibodies. Read more about allergies here.

Food intolerance is limited to the digestive system and occurs when food is not properly digested and ferments inside the gut. Where this gets confusing is that digestive dysfunction often causes dysfunction in other parts of the body and so symptoms from intolerance can appear throughout the body even though they arise from the gut. They can be quite diverse ranging from depression to weight gain, chronic fatigue, eczema, thrush and many more.

Food sensitivity is a delayed food allergy and can be particularly difficult to recognize. These are the least predictable reactions because you may be able to eat a food sometimes with no consequences but at other times develop symptoms like nausea, cramps or reflux. Fructose malabsorption is an example of a sensitivity.

While food allergies are more common amongst children, food intolerances are more prevalent in adults, partly due to stress, alcohol, the use of various medications which all compromise the digestive system, as well as to the decrease in digestive enzyme production as you age.

The onset of problems caused by food intolerance and sensitivity is generally not as rapid as that of allergy. Reaction can occur from about thirty minutes to even a few days after the food was eaten.

Where food allergies can produce fatal anaphylactic responses, food intolerances are not life-threatening, but they can lead to many chronic diseases such as thyroid disease, heart disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and other autoimmune diseases.

Many of those with food intolerance are actually able to eat small amounts of an offending food without too much problem. Dairy foods are a good example of this. According to the Food Intolerance Institute of Australia, in December 2013 75% of the population were intolerant to dairy foods like milk, yoghurt, cheese and ice cream, and most of these people were completely unaware of it.

Often it is the very foods that are not tolerated well by the body that are the foods that you crave the most. Nobody really knows why we crave foods we do not tolerate although there are a number of theories. As a good rule of thumb any food that is regularly craved should be treated as suspicious.

It can take some time before a person is willing to accept that they may have food intolerance. For many it is not until their symptoms become unbearable that they will even consider the possibility. This may be more so if the food is also one they crave.

 

INTOLERANCES CAN SUDDENLY APPEAR AS AN ADULT

It is not uncommon for there to be no apparent problem with foods during childhood and for symptoms to appear as an adult. Typically, but not always, lactose intolerance symptoms appear in adulthood.

The most common food intolerances are dairy, gluten, wheat, additives, fructose, yeast, although many other foods including alcohol can be the culprit. Sometimes it will be a whole food group that is the problem, such as the dairy group or nightshade foods (potato, tomato, capsicum, eggplant, chilli), or just single foods from different food groups.

Generally avoiding a food that is not tolerated allows the digestive system a chance to heal from constant irritation and the person quickly recovers, feeling happier, more energetic and able to live their life fully.

food tree-157673_640

 

SOME CAUSES OF FOOD INTOLERANCE

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

This is a chicken and egg situation…does the IBS cause food intolerance or does constant irritation and inflammation of the gut from food intolerance cause IBS? The symptoms are constipation, urgent diarhoea, and cramping.

Food Additives

Many additives including sulfites found in dried fruits, wines and the salads from salad bars, cause asthmatic reactions in many people. Additives are often a big contributor to ADHD and result in a wide range of symptoms including migraines.

Coeliac Disease

Coeliac disease is interesting as it is actually a gluten intolerance which resembles an allergy, because the immune system is involved as well as the gut. The symptoms are mostly digestive but can lead to many other symptoms through the body.

Specific Foods Or Food Groups

Certain foods, particularly dairy foods (milk, cheese, ice cream, yoghurt, cream) and grains containing gluten (wheat, spelt, barley, rye and oats) are often the most poorly tolerated. There are many other foods over a wide range of food groups that also cause symptoms of intolerance.

Enzyme Deficiency

Different enzymes are needed to digest particular foods. If production of any one enzyme is deficient, then the food it breaks down is not tolerated.

Processed Food

The processing of foods particularly grains, milk and soy products seems to play a part in food intolerance as the process makes the foods difficult to digest, leading to irritation of the digestive tract and a whole range of symptoms.

 

IDENTIFYING FOOD INTOLERANCE CAN BE VERY DIFFICULT

Often the symptoms of intolerance are very mild and so go unnoticed. Or, because of the time delay between when the food is eaten and when the symptoms occur, they are not connected with any particular food, or are attributed to a completely different cause.

When the problem is with a food that you eat every day, or even many times a day, it becomes virtually impossible to make the connection between the health problem and the food, unless the food is totally removed from the diet for a period of time, whereupon the symptoms improve or disappear.

If you have intolerance to more than one food it makes it extremely difficult to isolate all the foods or food groups that may be responsible for their unpleasant symptoms. Removing just one food only gives partial improvement at best.

Frequently it can take some time, even days, for the negative response to become evident. Given that you will have eaten a number of different foods in the intervening time it becomes virtually impossible to isolate the culprit.

 

SYMPTOMS OF FOOD INTOLERANCE

Symptoms caused by food intolerance can be mild or severe, specific or vague. If you suffer from persistent symptoms, or ones that recur more than twice a week, and they are not caused by another condition, you could suspect you are not tolerating one or more foods.

  • Bloating after meals or in the evening
  • Headaches, migraines
  • Eczema, skin problems
  • Asthma or cough
  • Nasal congestion, sinus pain, nasal discharge
  • Chronic diarrhea, IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), constipation
  • Belching after meals, indigestion, abdominal pain
  • Muscular pain or weakness, generalized aching, back pain
  • Stiff, swollen or painful joints
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Poor concentration, memory loss
  • Depression
  • Repeated Urinary Tract Infections
  • Candida or thrush, vaginal irritations
  • ADHD
  • Food cravings
  • Low or no energy, tiredness and drowsiness
  • Poor balance, dizziness
  • Weight gain
  • Autoimmune disease, Type 2 Diabetes, Psoriasis

Bloated green man

 

GETTING ANSWERS

Keeping a food diary can help you identify problem foods. Over the course of two to three weeks record every single food or drink you eat as well as any symptom that occurs. By looking at the list of food intolerance symptoms it is obvious that it is very easy to miss symptoms, as well as difficult to make the link with the offending food.

If a certain symptom always occurs after eating a particular food you can recognize which food seems to be the culprit. Then it is necessary to totally avoid that food for about ten days and to see how you feel. If that food is a basic like gluten, wheat or dairy it is essential to read every label, as these foods all occur in many processed foods and are not always obvious because they may be listed under many different names.

It can be quite difficult to conduct an elimination diet on your own and is much easier under the care of a Natural Health Practitioner.

TESTING FOR FOOD INTOLERANCE

Testing, such as the Scratch Test, is normally conducted to detect allergies and it measures the response of IgE anti-bodies, that is, the response of the immune system. It detects a true immediate allergy.

Because food intolerance involves a different and delayed response a Scratch Test will not pick this up. Many people are left confused after a Scratch Test when they get negative results for foods they felt sure were problematic. Often they have an intolerance rather than an allergy.

While blood spot tests used to test for food intolerance check for specific anti-bodies to specific foods, they are not always definitive, as many people react with foods in which the antibodies do not show up on the test. When this occurs eliminating the suspected food and noting the response, can be a way to identify whether the food is a problem or not.

I conduct testing in my work (no, not a Vega machine) which indicates whether your various body systems respond negatively to a food. While it does not distinguish between allergy and intolerance it does identify problem foods. Usually the person is sensitive to a number of foods, not just a single food. I find that if the foods indicated as being a bigger problem are totally removed, the other foods are usually better tolerated, as long as you do not overindulge.

BEWARE HIDDEN DANGERS!

Wheat, soy, corn and dairy, are foods frequently found to cause reactions and are ones that are commonly added to many other products. In processed foods they are often not simply called milk or wheat, but go by a vast array of pseudonyms. Go Dairy Free provides a list of other names for milk proteins. Wheat-Free.org lists alternative names for wheat in foods. To actually stop eating the offending food, at least for long enough to allow your digestive system to repair, you need to be quite vigilant about avoiding it in ALL foods, including where it may be hidden.

The length of time you need to avoid the food depends on how bad your reaction was. It may take six months of total avoidance and then only very occasional exposure to keep you healthy.

But, most people don’t miss the problem food after it has been removed for about a month as they feel so much better, and as the chemical process that sets up cravings for problem foods is broken they no longer even want to eat the food.

food intolerance 20387733_s

Disclaimer

All information and opinions presented here are for information purposes only. They are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation with your health care provider. Do not use this article to diagnose a health condition. Speak to your doctor if you think your condition may be serious or before discontinuing any prescribed medication. Please consult with your health care provider before following any of the treatment suggested on this site, particularly if you have an ongoing health issue.

Source Articles
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/food-allergy/expert-answers/food-allergy/faq-20058538
http://www.bodyandsoul.com.au/weight+loss/diets/do+i+have+a+food+intolerancer,18769
http://nourishholisticnutrition.com/could-hidden-food-intolerances-be-sabotaging-your-health/

Hidden Dairy: Foods, Medication, and Beyond

http://www.customfitnutrition.net/allergy.html
http://www.ift.org/knowledge-center/learn-about-food-science/food-facts/food-allergens.aspx

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6 Natural Remedies For Depression

natural remedies for depression

Along with the outpouring of sorrow that occurred this week with the news of the death of Robin Williams there has also been much discussion about depression – the nature of the illness, reminders to offer our support to those suffering with it, of ways to deal with it.

Clinical depression is a serious illness that needs treatment from a professional western or alternative health practitioner. However many of the symptoms of mild depression can be helped significantly by a variety of natural treatments that you can do for yourself or which a Natural Health practitioner can take you through.

There are many symptoms associated with mild or subthreshold depression including ongoing fatigue, poor sleep, appetite irregularities such as lack of appetite or comfort eating, a lack of interest in relationships events or celebrations, low self-esteem, anxiety, an inability to find motivation, or a feeling of being cut-off from life.

 

1. MINDSET

There have been studies done that confirm that a persons perception of life becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. While depression is not all in the mind your frame of mind is really important for recovery. I am not suggesting you can just ‘snap out of it’. But, while acknowledging that there is something wrong, losing the depression label is a first stepto recovery.

When you buy into defining yourself with a label placed on you by someone else, whether it is a doctor, family or a friend, you relinquish your personal power and undermine your ability to get well. If you allow your thoughts to focus on the label, you accept for yourself the role of someone who is mentally unwell. It may seem simplistic but changing your mindset and making the decision to overcome your illness is the first step that allows you to move forward.

One way to do this is to carefully examine how you are affected by the people you mix with. Tuning into how you feel after spending time with a particular person allows you to sort out any that may be contributing to your low feelings. If you regularly feel disheartened after time spent with anyone it is better for your frame of mind and wellbeing to minimize time with that person.

What your feelings tell you about your relationships with others can come as a real surprise. But acting in congruence with your feelings can turn around your mindset, lift your mood and support you in getting well.

It is also worth asking yourself if your low feelings are linked to your life. Are you expected to sell out your integrity in your work? Are there problems in a relationship that you may need to end? Do you have creative outlets? Feel spiritually disconnected? Is your body restricting you?

Being honest with yourself may help you find the source of your depression. Sometimes having a counselor, psychologist or life coach to help you work through these and define a pathway to change makes things easier to achieve.

 

Learn how to choose the best Homeopathic remedies for acute illnesses

 

 2. HOMEOPATHY

Many natural therapies have a good record with alleviating the symptoms of depression. Acupuncture, herbal therapy and EFT are just a few.

Homeopathy also offers many options for depression. The Homeopathic remedy used depends on the particular symptoms you experience, as everyone’s experience of depression varies slightly, in both the expression and the emotions and thoughts and experiences behind it.

Homeopathy taken in accordance with homeopathic prescribing principles is particularly good at changing your mindset. It allows you to lift your head out of the depressive thoughts and start to move forward.

There are many Homeopathic remedies for depression. One of the first to consider for depression with obvious anxiety is Arsenicum album. These people are often quite particular about describing every little detail of their symptoms. They are often very worried that an illness has been missed and have often undertaken lots of investigative tests.

Another commonly used remedy, Ignatia, is a good remedy when depression follows bereavement or shock. These people are very emotional with lots of sudden mood swings and sudden tears or they may frequently sigh deeply. They don’t want sympathy and often take well meant help as criticism.

A person needing Natrum muriaticum responds differently to grief as does one needing Ignatia. This person builds a barrier and won’t release any emotion through crying. They hate sympathy from others although they are empathetic themselves and will readily care for others. They can be very sensitive and easily move into a lower mood from stimuli such as music.

As you can see Homeopathic prescribing is quite particular and individually selected. Two people may react to a similar experience in very different ways and so require very different remedies. There is also the potential to make symptoms worse if the wrong remedy or potency of remedy is taken. Consulting a Homeopath who can match the correct remedy to your particular symptoms can result in significant improvement.

 

3. FOOD

Food most definitely affects our mood. What we eat and when we eat can have a huge effect. Staying away from caffeine, sugar, fatty foods and alcohol is a great place to begin as these foods actually make depression worse. Don’t keep them in your pantry and you will be less tempted by them. You will feel a lot better if you simply don’t eat them.

Replacing the poor junk foods with nutritious foods moves you towards recovery faster. The top foods to fight depression are:

  • Omega-3 is often lacking in depressed people so eating oily fish and other foods high in omega-3 can make a significant difference. One study showed taking just 1 gm of fish oil a day made a 50% difference in symptoms of depression. Take between 1-3 gm a day. Other omega-3 rich foods include walnuts, chia seeds and flaxseeds.
  • Brown rice is rich in B vitamins as well as trace minerals. Brown rice is great for reducing mood swings due to sugar-highs and lows. Don’t use ‘quick-cook’ varieties as they don’t have the same benefits.
  • Leafy greens are a great source of folic acid, one of the B vitamins helpful for symptoms of depression, as well as magnesium.
  • Bananas are high in tryptophan which is used in the body to make serotonin, the happy hormone. Other foods to enhance serotonin are healthy fats like coconut oil, protein rich foods especially free range turkey and wild caught fish high in omega-3.
  • Don’t skip meals and help keep your blood sugars stable.

depression2

4. SUPPLEMENTS

  • Many people actually suffer from a disorder known as Seasonal Affected Disorder (SAD) which is the result of insufficient exposure to sunlight and as a result, they have low Vitamin D levels. This disorder becomes worse as winter progresses and can persist through Spring until levels of Vitamin D build up in their body again. Taking Vitamin D as a supplement through the winter months can dramatically help SAD sufferers. Consult an Alternative Health Practitioner who will work out how much Vitamin D you actually need, it varies from one person to the next.
  • The B Vitamins are linked to a whole range of emotional disorders and if your levels are low taking a supplement can be a great way to keep your spirits up. Take 50 mg of a Vitamin B complex each day rather than individual B Vitamins as each one works better when the others are all present.
  • Magnesium deficiency can be another factor behind depression and mood disorders and there are many who have a deficiency of this crucial mineral.
  • SAMe can be very effective for treating depression. Take 200 gm on an empty stomach.
  • The herb St John’s Wort has long been used for depression. Check with your doctor before using as it can interfere with some pharmaceuticals. Don’t take this if you are taking anti-depressants

 

5. LIFESTYLE

Getting enough exercise is essential to beat depression, no matter how little you feel like it. Pushing yourself to get out for a walk will help improve your spirits. Even exercising along with a DVD in your living room is good.

The effect of meditation on depression has been well-documented and it is known to greatly improve the symptoms. There are many different ways to meditate from simple breathing techniques LINK that you can do in just a few minutes, through guided visualizations, walking meditations, mindfulness LINK and binaural beats. It is all a matter of working out which is the right one for you.

 

6. HORMONES

It may be there is a physical cause for your depression. If your hormones are out of balance your mood will be hugely affected. Finding out your levels of thyroid, adrenal and sex hormones are wrong can offer some clues. Armed with the results, visit your natural health practitioner who can then work toward rebalancing your hormones naturally without resorting to pharmaceutical medicines.

Moving yourself out of mild depression requires a combination of strategies. Making lifestyle changes, dietary changes, examining your relationships and your behaviours all play a part. Seeking out professional help to put these strategies together to achieve the balance you need to move forward can set you on the path to recovery faster.

active-84646_640

Disclaimer

All information and opinions presented here are for information only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation. Please consult with your health care provider before trying any of the treatment suggested on this site.

 

 

Source articles
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/owning-pink/201103/11-natural-treatments-depression-md-s-tips-skipping-the-prozac
http://www.britishhomeopathic.org/bha-charity/how-we-can-help/conditions-a-z/beating-the-blues/
http://www.bodyandsoul.com.au/health/health+advice/treating+depression,7821

 

Stressed? Relax The Natural Way

dear stress1

Stress has become such a permanent part of people’s lives that many stressors are now considered a normal part of everyday life, or regarded as a necessary evil of modern life.

The world, and our place in it, has developed at an alarming pace. Although we’re still adapting to the world, it’s at a much, much slower rate. Our bodies and reactions are completely out of synch with our world. Our brains tell us stress is just part of living a modern life, but our bodies tell us the opposite. 

Ongoing chronic stress is now considered the number one hurdle to good health.

Stressors can be physical, such as illness or violence, extreme heat or even noisy neighbours. They can be caused by lifestyle practices, such as work stress, alcohol abuse or poor sleep habits. Or the stressors can be emotional, originating in your mind. These can be the most complex and lead to the greatest impact.

Stress can have many widespread effects on the body. Sometimes anxiety develops as a result of ongoing stress. But the effects of even low-grade stress are significant:

  • Blood pressure increases
  • Muscles tense up
  • Breathing rate increases
  • Heart rate increases
  • Brain waves slow down

Of course these are all signs of the ‘fight-or-flight’ response kicking into action. This is fine in the short term but detrimental to your health when they are ongoing.

When stress is ongoing it leads to widespread problems through the whole body.

  • Weight Gain – Stress alters the way fat’s distributed in the body, depositing it around the midriff where it poses the most danger to health.
  • Faster AgeingA study from the University of California found chronically stressed mothers aged faster. Another study linked prenatal exposure to the mothers stress to accelerated ageing in the child.
  • Affects Brain Cells – A Stanford University study found brain cells shrink in the chronically stressed.
  • Serious Disease – Stress is known to increase free radicals incidence which leads to the development of serious chronic disease.

RECOGNISING STRESS

While anxiety is often the effect of stress, not everyone who’s stressed is anxious. People who suffer from stress often appear calm. So it’s worth learning to recognize other body cues that occur when you’re stressed. If you learn to notice and recognize the signs in your body you can take steps to reverse them.

Do you recognize or experience any of these signs that you are under stress?

  • Your neck gets tight and stiff and you develop a tension headache at the base of your skull.
  • Your shoulders and back tighten.
  • Your chest wall feels constricted. If you cross your arms to compensate it simply further constricts your breathing.
  • You get a feeling of a tight ball or knot in your belly.
  • Your jaw clenches, your forehead tightens, as do your lips.
  • Your fingers feel tight, your hands clench.
  • People looking at you can easily see your stress – your shoulders hunch, your head bows, your face is clenched and you may even seem to be wearing a defeated air.

signs of stress and how to reduce stress

You may even experience some more serious problems which include palpitations, stomach upsets, sleep problems, impotence, reduced sex drive, raised blood pressure or a stroke or heart attack.

Perhaps most importantly, stress has been shown to lead to an increase in free radicals throughout your body. Free radicals lead to inflammation and are now seen as the forerunner of serious chronic and autoimmune diseases such as cancer, SLE lupus, other autoimmune disorders, ageing, cataract, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases.

 

YOUR DE-STRESS TOOL KIT

While it can be virtually impossible to eliminate many ongoing, underlying stresses from your life, adopting some simple techniques to use in times of increased stress can help you feel better in moments. When you take steps to reduce your stress response you also create an immediate effect on the stress hormones released through your body. Having a few tools suitable for crisis control can restore your sense of wellbeing and help you cope in difficult situations.

Being able to reduce stress and anxiety without having to fall back on medications will help build your health in the long term.

Some techniques will work better for you than others and so it is worth searching out those that you find most effective. Try any technique you come across, even the esoteric ones, you can never be certain which will work for you. Allow them all the benefit of the doubt and give them a fair try. It is likely you will need to combine more than one technique, so be on the watch for any improvement and don’t reject anything if it is only partially helpful, it will still be making some difference.

Learn the technique before you are caught in a difficult situation. Memorise it and  practice it – you need to be able to use the skills automatically. Most important, don’t give up – stress can make you restless and inclined to not stick it out.

There are many ways to manage the symptoms of stress. Acupressure, massage and diet are some of the better known. Flower essences and homeopathic remedies are excellent and very effective. Herbals are available in many forms. But there are also certain simple techniques and practices that you can do wherever you happen to be, right in the moment you need help.

SIMPLE TECHNIQUES TO USE

Relax

Often when your muscles are tense you are not even aware of it. Relaxing is a very basic and simple technique which will not only help you to release the tension, it will also bring you awareness of the state of your muscles.

Sit, stand or lie. Tense up one set of muscles in your leg or arms as tight as you can. (You can even start with just your toe muscles to be more effective). Then let them go so they are quite limp. The contrast between the two states will show you what ‘relaxed’ actually feels like. Concentrate on that feeling as you then tense and relax the other muscle groups in your body – your toes, feet, legs, buttocks, back, abdomen, hands, arms right through to your head. Pay particular attention to your jaw and forehead.

Breathe  

Ninety percent of people breathe inefficiently.

Before you begin, reassure yourself that consciously controlling your breathing is one of the simplest and most effective ways to control anxiety and stressful feelings, and to diminish the effect of stress on your body.

Find somewhere quiet, clear your mind and start breathing deeply into your abdomen. Place your hand on your belly, you should feel it rise and fall. Breathe slowly and don’t raise your shoulders.

If you struggle, breathe as you count backwards from fifty. Breathe in on ‘fifty’, out on forty-nine and so on. Keeping your mind focused on synchronizing your breath with the numbers slows down your breathing and forces you to breathe deeper.

You can read more about the technique of deep breathing, and learn how to make effective breathing a normal, unconscious part of your life here – “Mastering The Breath Of Life”.

 

image: Shawn Rossi
image: Shawn Rossi

Smile

Frowning triggers the release of stress hormones and smiling decreases them. In addition, smiling causes the release of endorphins, the chemicals that make you feel ‘oh-so-good’.

Stretch

Simple but very calming! Do it as slowly and gracefully as you can. There are three co-ordinated actions involved:

  • Controlling your breath
  • Raising your hands and arms
  • Stretching your whole body from toes to fingertips

Stand. Let your arms, wrist and fingers go limp. Bend your knees slightly, entwine your hands loosely and turn your palms upward.

Slowly breathe in. Raise your hands towards your mouth and start to straighten your legs.

Slowly breathe out, turn your palms outward and stretch your body. Slowly exhale totally, reach your arms up, face your palms to the ceiling. Stand on your toes.

Now reverse the action

Repeat at least five times, slowly. Take a few minutes afterwards to relax and do nothing.

Affirm

Your subconscious is a powerful force. Affirmations tap into your subconscious and are extremely effective if they are worded well and are used routinely. Given the impact and complexity of emotional stresses, affirmations are a useful tool because your subconscious cannot tell the difference between what is real or what is not, it only knows and directs according to what you tell it. If your thoughts are always that you can’t cope or you have no money, that’s what your subconscious believes and will direct accordingly.

The exact words you use form your affirmations are very important and can make or break the effectiveness of the affirmation. It is just as important that they become a regular part of your day and so the way you integrate them into your life needs to be considered.

Keep your statements in the present tense, as if they already exist. “I want to…” or “I can…” or “I will” relate to what you want to achieve and are not as powerful as “I am” or “I (do)” which relate to a state already in existence.

You will find some guidelines to creating and using affirmations here.

It can be useful to consult a practitioner to set up an affirmation technique that really works for you.

Visualise

If you are a visual person imagining a big screen showing a scene that you find calm can be useful.

Close your eyes and choose an image that reflects how you would like to feel, perhaps an idyllic tropical island or a peaceful waterfall.

Next imagine this image on a big screen in your mind.

Keeping your eyes closed ‘examine’ the image – the long stretch of beach, the ferns beside the water.

When you see it clearly, step inside. See yourself in the scene as if you are really there. Notice what you are wearing, what you can hear, smell. Feel the sand or grass, the breeze in your hair.

Once you feel you are really in the scene, reach for the ‘controls’ of the screen and turn up the volume and picture. As everything around you becomes brighter and louder and your physical feelings more intense, you become calm and relaxed almost immediately, as if you were really there.

Relax, keeping the calm with you.

tropical-paradise

Release

One of the most common symptoms of stress is a clenched jaw and clenched teeth. Releasing the jaw is a simple technique to release much of the tension of stress.

First become aware of the tension in your jaw. Clench tighter, then release it.

Lightly press your tongue against the roof of your mouth behind your teeth.

Part your lips slightly and feel your jaw relax.

Repeat several times a day.

Tap

The Emotional Freedom Technique, or tapping, is SO simple and SO effective. Anyone can teach themselves the basic routine and use it to create all types of changes. It can be very effective for creating calm.

It simply involves a routine of tapping on acupressure points in the body, while saying a set of statements. The process lodges any change in thinking within the subconscious. Changes occur with EFT extremely quickly.

Discover the basics of EFT, watch a demonstration and learn how to do the basic technique yourself right here. If you would like to learn more, many EFT practitioners run free information and demonstration sessions.

Eat

If all else fails eating small amounts of DARK chocolate helps calm anxiety. The theobromine in chocolate helps to elevate your mood and the tryptophan in dark chocolate improves your levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that influences mood and contributes to feelings of wellbeing.   Many people with anxiety are known to have low levels of serotonin.

Stress and the inflammation that results are now seen as the forerunner of serious chronic and autoimmune diseases. It's time to change that right now.
Stress and the inflammation that results are now seen as the forerunner of serious chronic and autoimmune diseases. It’s time to change that right now.

Importantly, remember to try the techniques out when you are feeling ok. Get to know them so you can move straight into doing them whenever you need, without having to think them through. If you struggle to remember what to do it will only add to your stress.

Do you have a technique that you find really helps when you are feeling stressed?

Leave a reply below and tell us about it.

Disclaimer.

All information and opinions presented here are for information purposes only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation. Please consult with your health care provider before following any of the treatment suggested on this site, particularly if you have an ongoing health issue. 

Source articles

Wilson, P. Instant Calm, Penguin, 1995

Hartley, A. Love The Life You Live, Hart Publishing, 2000

A Winter’s Tale: Does Your Winter Mood Need A Lift?

Winter Girl Blowing Snow by Petr Kratochvil

Enough is enough! Yesterday was a day of bitingly cold winds, hail showers and snowfalls on the nearby ranges. Eleven weeks in and I am over the Winter Wonderland Magic.

I was chatting to a man in the supermarket register queue last night as he added some gorgeous coral coloured roses to his pile of groceries. He said he just needed some warm colours around his house to remind him that winter would not go on forever, that spring is nearly here. I felt so inspired, I bought some too!

Winter is eleven weeks in now and it seems we are all feeling over it. The joy of curling up with a warm drink, cosy slippers, a heat pack in front of a movie or with an engrossing book is past. I want to go outside without rugging up, to plant my spring vegetables, to enjoy a salad again, to get to the end of the day without cold feet and to enjoy some sunny evenings.

Even though we are at the tail end of winter this is the time that Winter Blues shows up for many people, as the accumulated stresses of winter start to affect them. These days winter blues are recognised as a disorder known as SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) which is caused by a lack or not sufficient sunlight.

To help get us over that last hump in the winter road and to keep us going until the warmer days of spring arrive I have gathered some ideas to help lift our spirits as winter heads on out.

First up, a couple of warm drinks with a difference. I love herbal teas and I have a whole cupboard devoted to their storage – the tea cupboard. But, even with my wide choice, as well as the basic green tea back-up, I am bored. Here are a few new yummy hot drink ideas I have come across to spice things up when tea is just not going to cut it any more

Hot chocolate!  Chocolate is recognized as a mild stimulant and if you choose your chocolate wisely you get all the benefits of antioxidants, flavonoids, vitamins and minerals. Here are two DELICIOUS chocolaty drinks to warm your insides and your mood.

The first is from Tara Bliss at Such Different Skies

hot choc smoothie

This PIPING HOT CHOC WINTER SMOOTHIE is thick, creamy, decadent and not-naughty.

1 banana

1 heaped Tablespoon raw cacao (don’t use drinking chocolate or cocoa…it’s absolutely worth GETTING some Raw Cacao INSTEAD)

½ teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon chia seeds

2 medjool dates or some honey

1 cup boiling water OR warm almond milk OR dandelion tea

(you can add peanut butter, oats, cinnamon, coconut or maca)

 Blend, Pour, Guzzle Buzz.

 haute hotchocoalte

SUPERFOOD HAUTE CHOCOLATE from Sarah Britton at My New Roots

2 Tablespoons raw cacao powder

2 teaspoons maca porder

1 Tablespoon coconut sugar

Pinch sea salt

Pinch cinnamon powder

Pinch cayenne pepper

Pinch ginger powder

Small piece vanilla bean, scraped (optional)

1½ cups milk of your choice or water

Boil water or warm milk on the stove and let cool slightly. If using raw nut milk do not heat above 42ْ C

Whisk in dry ingredients. Serve immediately with a cinnamon stick, if desired.

Not only is this hot choc yummy but all the spices are wonderfully warming circulation stimulants to warm you through to the fingertips and toes.

                DANDELION CHAISPICED DANDELION ROOT TEA

                1 teaspoon -1 dessertspooon organic roast dandelion root per cup.

1 cinnamon stick (or a pinch of cinnamon powder)

Ginger root, chopped up with the skin left on

Add any of these spices to taste: star anise, bay leaf, black peppercorns, green cardamom seeds slightly crushed, cloves, dried orange peel, dried raspberry leaf, fennel seeds, peppercorns, vanilla bean, licorice root.

Place all ingredients and water in a pot, bring to boil and simmer for 5-10 minutes.

You can keep any leftover in the fridge and add water and reuse.

Add some honey and your milk of choice if desired.

It tastes great black, but may be too strong for if you are not used to it.

 Aug 22 040

HOME MADE LEMON AND GINGER TEA is so easy to make and head and shoulders better than any from a tea bag.

2 cups boiling water

Juice of ½-1 lemon (about 60ml)

2.5cm piece ginger root, grated

A couple of spoons (or more) of honey to taste

Add the ginger to the boiling water. Simmer in an open pan for about 15 minutes. Add the lemon juice and the honey to the ginger water. Strain into your cup.

Or you can add all the ingredients to the water and pour into a thermos and let the mix sit for 20 minutes before straining and drinking.

This is a good option if you are still trying to throw off a winter cough. The lemon is high in vitamin C to boost your immune system. Ginger and honey also help the immune system.

ROOIBOS, sometimes called red tea, is one with heaps of health benefits. It comes from South Africa and has a fairly robust flavour. We recently tried one with added honey at work and it was very popular.

Looking out the window at the pots of flowers on my deck today, it struck me that the  colours of late winter are lavender, the colour of the rosemary in full flower, and golden yellow – think daffodils. Bringing a bunch of winter daffs in for your desk or bench will brighten your mood, reminding you the season is about to change. Yellow is the colour of spring and it is considered cheerful and optimistic.

There have been a number of studies done which show that the colours you surround yourself with will have a great impact on your state of mind. In the Stadium at the University of Iowa, the visiting teams locker rooms are painted all-pink and have been for thirty years, because pink is a tranquil colour that is known to calm and pacify. If the Home Team then painted their own locker rooms red which stimulates a faster heart rate and breathing, they would no doubt benefit from an emotional energy boost.

Using colour is a great way to lift your mood and one very simple way to use colour is to swap a bright cheerful coloured silk scarf for your woolly, black  winter scarf (of course you have a black scarf if you live in Melbourne!). Avoid blue because it lowers the pulse rate and body temperature.

Vitamin D is a wonderful mood lifter and if you are feeling a bit low taking a quality vitamin D supplement is a great move. In many parts of the world it is almost impossible to get sufficient sun exposure to meet your needs during the winter. Vitamin D is involved in so many body functions, but at this time of the year it often becomes very obvious that you have a deficiency of this vitamin when your mood drops. It is really worth having your blood levels tested with a simple blood test, as then you will be able to calculate how much vitamin D supplement you need to take.  Optimum levels are >75 nmol/L. If your levels are significantly lower than this (and a large part of the populations are, even here in ‘sunny Australia’), then you will need to take quite a bit of supplement to bring the levels up again.

Another vitamin that plays a crucial role in keeping up good spirits are the B group of vitamins. Vitamin B deficiency is linked to a range of emotional disorders as well as many other body functions. Opt for 50mg daily of a Vitamin B-complex rather than selecting individual B vitamins as these vitamins work much better synergistically when all the ‘B’s’ are present.

Other supplements that are critical in dealing with depression and mood disorders are selenium, magnesium and iron. A multi vitamin and multi mineral can address any deficiency you may have.

Socialising is a great way to pick up your mood. Maybe this is the time to do something with your friends out of the ordinary. Hold a fondue party, or dust off the board games, particularly the ones you loved as a child, like Twister, Pictionary, Monopoly or Charades. Or combine a pot-luck night with a game night. Or maybe your friends would enjoy a ‘Funny-Home Video’ night or a Karaoke night.

Even though it is cold try and get outside for some exercise. It is tough to exercise in the winter, and arriving home in the evening just as the sun goes down and the cold closes in is not much incentive to head out to the gym or go out for a walk. But exercise goes a long way towards relieving the stress of the day. The endorphins released during exercise improve your mood and help you sleep, and the effects can last for a number of hours.

One problem of the colder weather for many people is that they crave starchy or sweet foods more than normal which increases their blood sugar levels, making them feel blue. Remember that the foods you eat are a strong contributor to your mood. A poor diet will cause an imbalance in your body and make you feel worse. Add more fruits and vegetables, including raw as much as possible. Use complex grains, organic meats when you can and eggs and ignore those cravings for white flour and sugars.

Natural light is one of the best ways to avoid the blues and to lift your spirits. You can now get full spectrum light globes in Australia and there are energy saving versions available. They provide the full range of natural light from infra-red to ultra-violet. The benefits are well established and they reduce many health problems such as headaches, nausea and fatigue. In your home open the curtains wide to let the sun stream in on any day that is a little warmer, particularly where you cannot install full spectrum light globes.

After being closed up for months on end houses get stale. Freshen up your surroundings and your mood at the same time with essential oils. There are some that have anti-depressant properties including bergamot, lavender, geranium, jasmine and clary sage.  Others that are good mood lifters are sweet orange, neroli, and ylang ylang. Using high quality essential oil in an aromatherapy diffuser releases them into the air in the form of water vapour, which is the best way for them to spread through your home. You can also add them to a bath (or a foot bath) or add a few drops to a carrier oil and use as a massage oil.

Here’s to the arrival of spring…

 Copy of daffodils

Disclaimer.

All information and opinions presented here are for information purposes only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation. Please consult with your health care provider before following any of the treatment suggested on this site, particularly if you have an ongoing health issue. 

Source articles

http://www.naturopathic.org/content.asp?contentid=262

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/5-natural-ways-to-beat-the-winter-blues.html?page=2

http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/wellness_articles.asp?id=341

http://www.bodyandsoul.com.au/sex+relationships/wellbeing/beat+the+winter+blues,9093

Could It Be Your Thyroid Causing Your Poor Health?

For many people an underactive thyroid slows them down and leads to a host of other unpleasant symptoms.  Most of those people are never diagnosed with the disorder. Many are never treated. Many fail to make the changes in their diet and lifestyle that can really help ease their symptoms. Most go on living their life in a debilitated state.lust for life

The Thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland in the middle of the front of your throat. It’s purpose is to release hormones that help in the regulation of many body functions – metabolism, heart rate, maintaining your core temperature, healthy skin, your weight, fertility and more. It slows you down or revs you up to make you more energetic. It also activates your immune system. It plays a part in most of the body’s physiological processes, so when it is out of balance, so are you. In fact every cell in your body has receptors for thyroid hormones.

Sometimes the thyroid does not work as it should and, depending on whether it is pumping out too many hormones or too few, it becomes under- or over-active, what is known as either Hyperthyroidism (too many thyroid hormones in the blood) or Hypothyroidism (too few).

Thyroid conditions can be quite common and it is estimated that about thyroid20-25% of the female population may suffer from hypothyroidism. An estimated 30% more of people over the age of 35 may suffer from “subclinical” hypothyroidism, where they either have no obvious symptoms, or their test results are within the ‘normal’ range but they have mild symptoms of low thyroid function.

Many people live with the symptoms of low thyroid function often for years, where their thyroid gland works sluggishly without them even realizing it. With too few thyroid hormones in the blood the body processes start slowing down, and so do they.

However, there are some telltale signs to look out for. Here are some of them, although there are many more:

  • Fluid retention or swelling in the legs, feet, arms or face
  • Cold hands or feet, poor circulation and intolerance of cold
  • Dry skin, acne and eczema
  • Lethargy, fatigue, poor stamina and sleeepiness
  • Forgetfulness, slow cognitive function, brain fog
  • Depression
  • Constipation, indigestion
  • Weight gain, or difficulty losing weight
  • Poor brittle, slow-growing nails and hair, hair loss
  • Heavy periods, irregular cycle, PMS
  • Infertility, low libido
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle and joint aches and pains
  • Food cravings, food intolerances, hypoglycaemia
  • High cholesterol/ triglycerides, palpitations, high or very low blood pressure

Illnesses where symptoms seem vague or scattered could actually be providing warning signs that you have a problem with your thyroid. Diseases and syndromes such as chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, menopausal symptoms, muscle and joint pains, IBS, PMS, heart disease or depression, which all have a wide variance in the symptoms they present with, may be improved when underlying thyroid issues are redressed. Sometimes an underactive thyroid can be due to an autoimmune disease, Hasimoto’s disease.

However, low thyroid function may actually not be the root of the problem. There is a strong relationship between your adrenal and thyroid glands and it is very common for adrenal fatigue to go hand-in-hand with hypothyroidism. In many cases the adrenal glands become weakened, leading to a malfunctioning thyroid gland. If treatment is only directed towards the thyroid gland and the adrenal issues are not addressed then the person’s health will simply not improve. It’s important to reduce stress in your life as both the adrenals and the thyroid are very sensitive to stress. Practicing meditation, yoga, qi gong, or relaxation techniques will go a long way to reducing the stress response and support the action of these glands.

Two hormones, T4 and T3 are produced by the thyroid. T3 is the active form of thyroid and is the one that does the vast majority of work in the body. When levels are low enough the traditional approach is to use synthetic hormone, but they only contain T4 and the problem with this is that most people have difficulty converting T4 into T3.

Thyroid hormone levels can be tested with a blood test. If symptoms are vague and do not point directly to a disorder, testing will probably be done alongside other blood tests.

The normal range for tests is 0.5 to 5.5 IU/ml.

The problem for many people is that they suffer symptoms of low thyroid function when their measured levels of the hormone are between 2.0 IU/ml and 5.5IU/ml – levels that are considered to show ‘normal’ thyroid function. They are told their levels are normal and left with no explanation or treatment for their symptoms. When it comes to thyroid hormones setting the boundaries of ‘normal’ for thyroid levels is very misleading as there really isn’t any ‘normal’ level…the levels change depending on factors such as age or health.

All the different hormones of the body work together in a delicate dance and when one is not working all the others are affected also.
All the different hormones of the body work together in a delicate dance and when one is not working all the others are affected also.

All the different hormones of the body work together in a delicate dance and when one is not working all the others are affected also. Many reproductive hormone-related symptoms may be experienced when thyroid hormones are low. PMS, infertility, fibroids, ovarian cysts, endometriosis, heavy bleeding, menopause symptoms, fibrocystic breasts or even post-natal depression may all result.

Low thyroid function can easily be confused with the symptoms of menopause. While symptoms such as hot flushes, period irregularities, weight gain, night sweats and insomnia are often experienced during peri-menopause or menopause, night sweats and insomnia in particular, may also be key symptoms of low thyroid function. Using hormone replacement to deal with these symptoms simply makes the problem worse, as the oestrogen in the medications interferes with the thyroid hormones further, impairing the thyroid function even more. This in turn slows down metabolism and leads to weight gain. It is a vicious circle.

As usual it is easy to point the finger at poor diet and lifestyle as contributing factors to thyroid dysfunction and sugar, processed foods, stress, lack of exercise or toxic environments all play their part.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Low thyroid function can be addressed in a number of more natural ways.

I treat many people (mainly women) for low thyroid function with huge success using carefully selected Homeopathic remedies, reversing their debilitating symptoms and allowing them to live a normal life. But with this being a complicated chronic issue it is not one that can be self-treated and requires prescribing by a fully-trained professional Homeopath.

But luckily there are a number of things that you can do as a first-line defense for hypothyroidism, and using natural methods avoids the side effects of medications.

DIET

A well balanced diet that is made up of unprocessed, unrefined whole foods, with organic or biodynamic vegetables, fruits, meat and dairy, is the best way to combat hypothyroidism, if you also include the following guidelines.

It’s so important that you stay away from sugar and caffeine which simply cause thyroid burn-out. If going ‘cold-turkey’ is too hard then cut back more gradually. Cut out refined and processed carbohydrates as well as they behave just like sugar when they are metabolized in your body.

Make sure to eat protein as it transports thyroid hormone into your cells. Include nuts, nut butters, legumes, quinoa, and less frequently and in smaller quantities eggs, meats, fish and dairy.

Good fats help to create hormone balance (including thyroid hormones) – avocados (one of my favourite good fat sources), coconuts and coconut milk and oil, olives and olive oil, raw nuts and nut butters, organic butter and yoghurt, organic egg yolks, flax seeds. Avoid trans fats.

Make sure you are getting enough Vitamins and minerals, especially Vitamin A, Vitamin D, the Vitamin B’s, iodine, selenium, zinc, copper, iron and omega-3 essential fatty acids. Organic produce will be higher in vitamins and minerals as long as it isn’t old and wilting.

Thyroid hormone production is just another of the many functions of Vitamin D which is produced in the body from sunlight. This is yet another reason to have levels of this crucial vitamin tested and maintained, and you may actually need to supplement this.

Cut out gluten especially if you have Hashimoto’s as the gluten mimics thyroid tissue and aggravates the autoimmune response

Watch out for foods that interfere with thyroid function especially those containing goitrogens and don’t eat them unless they are cooked – cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, turnips, spinach, strawberries, peanuts, millet

Get tested for food sensitivities, especially if you find there is a food or food group that you crave, as eating these foods sets up an autoimmune response in the body.

The thyroid gland requires iodine to make thyroid hormones so iodine deficiency may be a contributing factor to hypothyroidism. Many people are deficient in iodine so include more sources of iodine in your diet like seaweed (kelp, dulce, nori), shellfish, saltwater fish, eggs, yoghurt, mozzarella cheese

SUPPLEMENTS

Supplement with probiotics as good thyroid function depends on healthy gut flora

Add vitamins and minerals particularly if you are not getting adequate amounts in your diet.

Other supplements that help thyroid activity and the manufacture of thyroid hormones are Tyrosine, Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), magnesium citrate and Potassium iodide. Look for these in a combined thyroid supplement.

HERBS

Ashwaganda is a herb that can help to improve the level of T4 hormone and guggal Commiphora wightii to convert the T4 into the active T3. Guggal has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine and is now difficult to source due to its scarcity after overuse – you may want to reconsider using this herb for this reason.

Exercise lowers insulin levels and increases thyroid function
Exercise lowers insulin levels and increases thyroid function

EXERCISE

Exercise lowers insulin levels and increases thyroid function. Work out or walk for 40 minutes three times a week, and make sure you get out of breath.

Disclaimer 2

Source articles:

http://www.thyroid.org/what-is-hypothyroidism/

http://www.drnorthrup.com/womenshealth/healthcenter/topic_details.php?topic_id=59

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/01/02/Many-Symptoms-Suggest-Sluggish-Thyroid.aspx

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-3139/13-Ways-to-Treat-Hypothyroidism-Naturally.html

http://vistamaglive.com/the-low-thyroid-epidemic-in-canada

http://www.doctoroz.com/blog/lisa-lynn/3-ways-boost-thyroid-function

http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/hypothyroidism-000093.htm

http://www.elliotthealthcare.com/low_thyroid.htm

http://www.naturalendocrinesolutions.com/articles/truth-protein-carbs-fats-thyroid-health

 

Combat Stress In Your Life With Meditation

The pace of life has increased exponentially over the last few years and we are all living with increasingly rising stress levels
The pace of life has increased exponentially over the last few years and we are all living with increasingly rising stress levels

“We are fragmented into so many different aspects. We don´t know who we really are, or what aspects of ourselves we should identify with or believe in. So many contradictory voices, dictates, and feelings fight for control over our inner lives that we find ourselves scattered everywhere, in all directions, leaving nobody at home.
Meditation, then, is bringing the mind home.”
Sogyal Rinpoche

Stress plays a major part in the development of many illnesses. It is known to affect many body functions including the reproductive system, cause eczema and psoriasis, cause dry mouth or ulcers and musculoskeletal pain as well as affecting the immune system as a whole.

The pace of life has increased exponentially over the last few years. As we all take on more and more in our lives and the influx of information bombards us faster and faster, we live with increasingly rising stress levels – whether their cause or focus is on our work, our family , finances, or the health of ourselves, our parents as they age, our family or our beautiful planet, or any of the myriad of commitments we all have in our life. Some may even be stressing about whether they are allowing enough “download” time to counter the stress they have. Almost all of us, including children, are affected to some degree.

DE- STRESS

One of the ways that I often suggest to clients to offload the effects of this stress in their life is to adopt the practice of meditation. Some say they have tried it but just can’t maintain focus. But for others the idea is somewhat daunting and many dismiss the idea out-of-hand. Introducing something new requires planning, and for them to allocate scarce time seems to only escalate their problem. For others it is all just a bit ”woo-woo” and uncomfortable.

But the fact remains that meditation is a wonderful way to de-stress, and it does not have to be difficult, or to require big chunks of your time, or to actively involve “chakras”. You do not need to join a class, it is entirely portable. And it does not have to include burning incense, crystals, difficult yoga poses or the need to “get it right”.

There are many different ways that the benefits of meditation can be obtained and it’s simply a matter of finding the one that fits you and your life, and then making that a regular part of your day.

There is a misconception that in order to meditate you need to completely shut down your mind. But for most people the mind chatter just keeps on intruding, constantly pulling them out of that calm, quiet, thought-free place we all seek.

The truth is that in order to be able to meditate in that way takes many, many years of practice. For the majority thoughts wander in and out, and it’s ok. The key is to accept that your thoughts will wander, and to simply consciously pull them back again whenever they do, by focusing once more on the meditative technique that you are using.

The thing is, meditation does not have to be a big major undertaking. Sure there are yogis who can sit and meditate all day. But there are also others who do it throughout their day in bursts of a few minutes. And many more who allocate a set amount of “me-time” when they are able to do their practice, and re-group.

MINDFULNESS

The enlightened Buddist monk Thich Nhat Hanh advocates doing walking meditations, which offer you the opportunity to transform an everyday practice into a healing and nourishing way to develop mindfulness, awaken your consciousness and to bring some peace into a life all too often over-run with stress. Basically they are meditation in action. You become mindful of the action of walking and try to keep your mind focused on the experience of walking and breathing. This makes it a lot easier for “monkey minds” to deal with as it gives the flighty mind something on which to concentrate. You can hear him explain it here and watch him demonstrate this form of meditation to a group of followers. It is a good form of meditation for women, who often benefit from active meditation as it is more yang, or masculine. I learnt the practice of this powerful technique from this wonderful Walking Meditation Kit – comprising book, DVD and CD which you can buy from Amazon. Meditation Oasis has clear detailed instructions for doing a walking meditation to get you started right here.

If you find you prefer active meditation Osho offers a number of  dynamic meditations you may like to try.

Many people prefer a guided meditation as they find having a voice directing the practice helps them to maintain their focus. Here is a simple ten minute relaxation meditation that I came across recently. I like it for its simplicity, her gentle, soothing voice and because it incorporates conscious muscle relaxation – perfect for releasing stress. I believe this is one you could even do at your desk if things start to get on top of you at work.

If you are having difficulty actually relaxing any muscles in these meditations one tip is to tighten each muscle momentarily. This allows you to relax the muscle on release. Use this technique until you are able to relax the muscles at will.

BREATHE

One of the simplest ways to start meditating is to practice consciously watching your breath, often called mindfulness . It comes out of Buddhist tradition but is not ‘religious’ in itself. It is all about ‘being present’ and allows for your mind to do its own thing while you develop, over time, the ability to detach from the thought. That sounds complicated, but in fact it is very simple. Here are two variations of a calming and simple meditation that focuses on the breath, again from Meditation Oasis. Breathing Meditation is one of the simplest forms of meditation and yet is also one of the most powerful. You may discover you never need to look any further!

Of course there are many different types of meditation that can be used to fulfill all sorts of purposes. Many have heard of Transcendental Meditation which derives from Hinduism. Zazen meditation involves just sitting for long periods. Kundalini is gaining in popularity and focuses on the rising stream of energy that exists in humans. Guided visualizations can be a very powerful way to opening your awareness. I use these in my Women’s Circles often with wonderful results. They involve concentration on an image or imagined environment or experience. Another form of meditation that I have found particularly powerful is the practice of Qi Gong, a Taoist meditation technique. Of course there are others as well and you may like to investigate some once you have established a regular meditation practice in your life.

I am a big fan of not taking on big loads – maybe it is the inner sloth, who knows. But if there is an easier pathway then I am always willing to give that option a go. And one way that always makes things a little easier to achieve is to break tasks down into their smallest bites and to then tackle those one at a time. If the prospect of meditation seems a bit daunting to you then start small. Start out by adopting a five minute breathing meditation, or if that is too much make it three minutes. Or start by doing a quick body relaxation every day at your desk or before the kids come home from school, or before going to bed at night. Or maybe even do it for a few minutes a few times through the day.

Soon you will find that it is easy to meditate.

“Meditation is the dissolution of thoughts in Eternal awareness or Pure consciousness without objectification, knowing without thinking, merging finitude in infinity.”
Voltaire

This is how I picture myself meditating...but it is far more likely I will be sitting in my car catching a few brief moments to centre my breathing before plunging back into the chaos of life
This is how I picture myself meditating…but it is far more likely I will be sitting in my car catching a few brief moments to centre my breathing before plunging back into the chaos of life

Disclaimer.

All information and opinions presented here are for information only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation. Please consult with your health care provider before trying any of the treatment suggested on this site. 

Source articles:

http://www.iam-u.org/index.php/8-basic-kinds-of-meditation-and-why-you-should-meditate-on-your-heart http://www.wildmind.org/walking/overview

Drink Warm Lemon/Lime Water To Kickstart Your Day

lemon lime water

 

While most people know that it is really important to keep themselves hydrated but most don’t realise they can take that one step further for better health simply by drinking lemon water or lime water first thing in the morning.

Tomorrow, March 22, is World Water Day and while it is about water co-operation practices, what better day is there to start to improve our own personal hydration practices?

 

HOW POOR HYDRATION AFFECTS YOUR BODY

The way you begin each day is really important as it sets up whether you either increase or reduce your resistance to disease. Starting out each day being properly hydrated obviously stops dehydration, but it also has many other health benefits. These include kick-starting your digestion and toxin elimation for the day  and helping prevent adrenal fatigue. Adrenal fatigue is becoming far more common in these times of high stress living.

Adequate water intake is essential for the proper elimination of toxins from your body. When you’re dehydrated it becomes really difficult for your body to eliminate waste products which leads to a toxic buildup. You start to feel stressed, to get constipated, to develop arthritis, get outbreaks on your skin and many more problems.

In addition your body stores more fat when you’re dehydrated due to added stress on the kidneys and liver so they do not perform at their best.

 

A SIMPLE WAY TO BOOST YOUR HEALTH

One very simple practice to boost your intake of water that can be surprisingly helpful comes from Yogic or Ayurvedic practice, where it was used to stimulate the digestion and eliminate the toxic slime, called ama, that builds up in the gastro-intestinal tract.

It is the simple practice of drinking a mug of warm water with lemon or lime squeezed into it first thing in the morning. This helps to activate your body’s detoxifying process and also its natural cleansing processes.

 

Lemons and limes are one of natures great gifts and including them in your morning routine has huge health benefits
Lemons and limes are one of natures great gifts and including them in your morning routine has huge health benefits

 

7 REASONS TO DRINK LEMON WATER

1. Helps your liver eliminate toxins

Your liver loves warm lemon/lime water because it purifies and stimulates your digestion and toxin elimination by liquefying bile and inhibiting excess bile flow. The liver is able to produce more enzymes from lemon/lime water than from any other food to promote better digestion.

Your liver works very hard and is crucial to the function of many other body processes – a little lemon/lime support and nurture leads to a healthy and happy liver.

2. Helps digestion

Warm lemon/lime water increases the acidity of your digestive system as it’s very similar to saliva and the digestive juices in the stomach which break down food. It improves your body’s ability to absorb nutrients. An extra benefit of this process is to help with reducing hunger, great for weight loss.

3. Helps elimination of toxic wastes

Warm lemon/lime water helps your bowels to eliminate naturally and easily, reducing constipation. It also helps dilute accumulated the uric acid which causes arthritis or gout when it builds up in the body.

By supporting the liver in its detoxifying role it helps prevent acne.

It gently flushes your kidneys and cleanses your lymphatic system, another channel for the elimination of toxic waste products.

4. Balances pH

Lemon/lime water has an alkylizing effect in the body. Yes, even though they taste acidic they have an incredibly alkaline effect inside your body once they are metabolized! Even drinking lemon water just before any meal will help your body maintain a higher pH than if you didn’t drink it.

When your body has a higher internal pH, that is, it’s more alkaline, it’s far more resistant to most major (and minor) diseases which thrive in an acidic environment. Cancer cells for example breed better in an acidic environment.

5. Protects your cardiovascular and nervous systems

Lemons and limes are high in potassium which is a mineral that works alongside sodium and is vital for the smooth working of the nervous system and brain. Low potassium levels can lead to depression, anxiety, forgetfulness and brain fogginess as well as muscle cramps and heart arrhythmias. Potassium is crucial for heart health and can help prevent stroke.

6. Boosts your immune system

Lemons and limes contain good ratios of calcium and magnesium in plentiful quantities. These minerals work together to prevent many health problems. One lemon has 30.7mg of the antioxidant Vitamin C which is great for fighting off colds and chest infections. Lemons and limes have very high levels of the antioxidant Hesperidin which is anti-inflammatory and believed to have anti-cancer activity.

7. Helps weight loss

Lemons are high in pectin fibre which helps fight hunger cravings. By cleaning out toxins and internal waste they help speed up weight loss, and in addition promote quick bursts of energy. Because the effect works proportionally, the more you drink the more weight loss should speed up. If you replace your other drinks with lemon water you also have the advantage of a zero kilojoule drink.

 

HOW TO TAKE LEMON WATER

Take lemon water first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, before eating or drinking anything else. Squeeze half a lemon or lime into half a glass of warm water, stir it and drink. The water will turn cloudy when you add the lemon or lime. It’s good to then wait between half to one hour before you eat to get the best results.

  • Don’t use bottled lemon or lime juice – use fresh fruit.
  • Make sure the water you use is pure – filtered or spring water
  • Make sure the water is warm – don’t use cold water as it is very hard on the digestion, slowing it down. Don’t use hot water either as it will kill the enzymes in freshly squeezed juice
  • Don’t add sugar or other sweeteners

If you want even more from your lemon/lime water you could really spice up your metabolism by simply adding a pinch of ground cinnamon and a pinch of ground ginger. The cinnamon is a great addition if you have any issues with blood sugars.

 

This is such an easy habit to adopt, it’s cheap, easy and certain to build your health. Try it out for a month and see how it can radically change how you start your day.

Which of the benefits that warm lemon/lime water offers would be the one to get you started on drinking it daily? Tell me in the comments below. Or is you already know and love lemon water what benefits have you noticed?

Warm lemon water to boost your health all day long
Warm lemon water to boost your health all day long

Disclaimer.

All information and opinions presented here are for information only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation. Please consult with your health care provider before trying any of the treatment suggested on this site. 

 

Source articles:

http://www.naturalnews.com/033383_lemon_juice_digestion.html#ixzz2IZ0L8XRo

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-4769/Why-You-Should-Drink-Warm-Water-Lemon.html

http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/fitness/weight-loss/weight-loss-myths-will-drinking-lemon-water-help-you-lose-weight.html

http://factslist.net/2013/01/why-you-should-drink-lemon-water-in-the-morning/

http://www.livestrong.com/article/519038-potassium-and-the-nervous-system/

http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/potassium-000320.htm

http://nutritionistheprescription.wordpress.com/2012/03/24/start-your-day-with-lemon-or-lime-water/

 

Good Morning Sunshine: Just How Much Vitamin D Are You Really Getting?

Here comes the sun

Sunny days are here again but are they really going to lift your spirits, or your health? Vitamin D deficiency is often the result of inadequate exposure to sunlight. It is essential for a healthy immune system and plays a role in many functions within your body. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to many illnesses including depression and schizophrenia. So it’s vital you maintain healthy levels with this information.

Chances are if you had a blood test for anything recently, the level of Vitamin D in your blood was tested at the same time, and if you are one of about 70% of us “Sunburnt Country-ites” your levels were below the level needed for good bone health, or worse, like 30% of the country your levels were deficient. So what does this all mean, and probably most importantly, what are the implications of this?

You all know that one of the reasons for this situation is that over the last few years Australians have been urged to ‘Slip, Slop, Slap’ all the time, or even to avoid going out in the sun altogether. Now with the discovery of just how widespread the problem of low Vitamin D levels is, and growing awareness of the important role that it plays in the prevention of so many diseases, the advice regarding sun exposure has suddenly been dramatically changed.

Vitamin D is n fact not actually a vitamin but rather a hormone which is made by your body.  But it needs sunlight to trigger production of the Vitamin D precursor in your skin.

There are two types of UV light rays, UVA and UVB.  Both can trigger skin cancers, but UVA have long wavelengths that reach into the deeper layers of your skin while UVB rays are shorter and only get into the surface layers. More importantly, UVB rays are the only ones that contribute to Vitamin D production. UVB rays are more intense in the middle of the day and decrease at either end of the day while UVA rays stay constant through the day. This is why the recommendation has changed and it is now is to get your sun exposure at lunchtime. By going out in the sun at that time you get more exposure to the UVB rays relative to the UVA rays and so get greater Vitamin D benefit from the same exposure, “more bang for your buck”, so to speak.

Evidence  shows that our connection between sunlight exposure and melanoma has previously been far too simple as it seems that Vitamin D is the factor that actually assists our bodies in not developing skin cancers. This actually makes good sense when you remember that we evolved to live harmoniously with sunlight long before sunscreen came along. By always coating in sunscreen and avoiding the sun we do not have adequate levels of Vitamin D to gain the protection we need.

Short exposure in the middle of the day is best

The new recommendation is to go out in the sun in the middle of the day, with face and arms uncovered, for only the amount of time that it takes for your skin to just begin to feel like it is going to start ‘pinking up’. Of course this is going to differ for each of us, with fairer skinned people needing very little exposure and darker skinned maybe three to four times as much. Every time we are outside we have some sun exposure, and even when inside cars or buildings we are getting exposure as UVA rays can pass through glass. Unfortunately, UVB rays that activate Vitamin D do not pass through, something worth remembering when the sun streams through the car windows.

The most recent figures that I have for the number of Australians deficient in Vitamin D are about 30-50% with 75% having levels too low for optimal bone health. These high figures are very surprising for citizens of the Sunburnt Country. I read recently that in order to get enough sun exposure to maintain adequate Vitamin D levels in Melbourne during July one would have to be outside in the middle of the day, fully naked for twenty minutes. As the temperature at lunchtime in July is often no more than a mighty eleven or twelve degrees, I will not be trying that out. Because those with dark skin need so much more time to get adequate Vitamin D from sun exposure they are more at risk for Vitamin D deficiency.  Obviously it is easier to get sufficient exposure further north and more difficult down in Tasmania.

I normally stress that vitamins and minerals are best obtained from foods. Although there are small amounts of Vitamin D available in a few food including oily fish, mushrooms, and eggs (you would need 10 a day to get enough Vitamin D), as well as dark green leafy vegetables you will never be able to get anywhere near what you need from your diet and the form occurring in plants is not really useful.

During the twentieth century Vitamin D deficiency was mainly associated with rickets, a disease where bones soften and weaken. At that time it was recognized that this Vitamin played a big part (along with calcium and phosphate) in maintaining good healthy bones. But as we have become more aware of the many body processes that involve this amazing vitamin we are also becoming more aware of the far reaching impacts of its deficiency.

There are so many health problems in which Vitamin D deficiency is now known to play a part including SLE (Lupus), heart disease and high blood pressure, diabetes, PMS, Rheumatoid Arthritis and osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, teeth problems, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, autism, mental health, migraines, MS, skin problems like psoriasis, infections, colds and flu, Hypothyroidism and diseases which have fat malabsorption such as Coeliac Disease. Even chronic pain – bone pain, muscle pain, back pain – can be due to a Vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D deficiency is also quite common in children and has been shown to be linked to an increased likelihood of developing allergies. Late teething, irritability and poor growth are all a sign of a deficiency and even seizures and asthma seem to be linked.

It is now becoming more common to suspect vitamin D to be ‘the’, or at least one of the most crucial factors in the prevention of a large number of diseases. There has also been research conducted into Vitamin D and cancer prevention   Interestingly, and not surprisingly, research so far has shown that the doses required to prevent serious diseases are much, much higher than RDA’s (recommended daily amounts) and it is worth remembering that an RDA is set at the level needed to keep you alive, not the level required for good or optimum health.

Vitamin D allows your body to absorb calcium through the small intestine and plays a crucial part in the prevention of osteopeania and osteporosis, however, many people have taken calcium supplements for a long time without the necessary Vitamin D to actually absorb the calcium properly. Vitamin D turns out to be a major factor in keeping this disease at bay.

After getting the results of their blood tests many Australians find they require Vitamin D supplemets. Supplement quality varies! You can get them in the form of a capsule, tablet, liquid or as a drop that you place on your hand and lick off. Another great source is cod liver oil. In the past it tasted vile but these days it comes in fruit flavours to hide the fishy taste. Cod liver oil also provides you with vitamin A and EFA’s as a great bonus. But again, quality varies.

It is always really important to take a good quality supplement, whatever type of supplement it is. Basically, with supplements you get what you pay for. Poor quality products are often just a waste of money, especially if your body is excreting them because they are not in a form that you can absorb properly. And just because the product is advertised as being a ‘best-seller’ or ‘more popular’ does not mean it is even remotely any good!

Many people come to me after having been tested for Vitamin D levels and I keep seeing that the amount of Vitamin D supplement that most have been prescribed is inadequate to address their own personal Vitamin D deficiency and raise the levels in their body sufficiently. As is usual with the prescribing of supplements, a ‘one dose fits all’ use of Vitamin D

Get out and soak up (some of) those rays

is not appropriate or likely to get the best outcome possible. It needs to be tailored to the individual. Many doctors have not had the training in nutrition that is gained in Complementary Medicine (CAM) Courses, and which provides knowledge of the intricacies of vitamin/mineral interaction that enable the tailoring of supplement prescribing to an individuals needs.

So even though the days are lengthening and we can get out and soak up those rays, the reality is that your Vitamin D levels may still be below par. If you find you are craving carbohydrates more, your spirits are low or you are showing any of the signs linked with a deficiency, head off to the GP and have a talk about having your levels tested. Then if they are lower than optimal get some expert advice from your CAM practitioner about the dosage you personally require as well as which high quality supplement will improve your Vitamin D status. If you are hunkering down to face winter in the Northern latitudes it is even more important to be on top of your Vitamin D levels as they normally drop over the winter months.

Disclaimer.

All information and opinions presented here are for information only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation. Please consult with your health care provider before trying any of the treatment suggested on this site.