Tag Archives: free radicals

Best Anti-Aging Secrets

anti aging 2

It seems like one of life’s ironies that just as you are getting your act together in your thirties you start to notice the first small visible signs that you are getting older.

You have a great relationship, your career is on track, you are starting to really make it in the world and you notice that little crinkles that were cute in your twenties are starting to get deeper and turn into proper crow’s feet. The telltale signs of long hot summers are starting to show as brown spots.

Hormone changes are at the bottom of these changes. Our bodies are designed to carry babies through our teens and twenties and after that our reproductive hormones start to decrease. Most hormone changes start about thirty and continue right on through menopause.

After the age of twenty-five we don’t produce as much human growth hormone (HGH) either and this means that we stop replacing cells as fast, collagen production slows and our skin becomes loose and dull. By the time we are thirty our levels of growth hormone might be only about twenty percent what they were when we were eighteen.

As oil production drops, older skin is not able to retain moisture as well as younger skin causing loss of elasticity and producing wrinkles. The decreased collagen in your skin results in thinner less flexible skin which is more likely to damage and is slower to repair.

If you nurtured your skin right through your teens and twenties, stayed out of the sun and off tanning beds, avoided any high living, ate perfectly and didn’t smoke you’ll probably look amazing at thirty. But, chances are you spent lots of your twenties out in the sun, a glass of vino in one hand, a cigarette or burger in the other. By the time you reach your thirties your earlier vices will become evident, you can see it in your skin. The normal effects of the hormonal changes in your body will be worse.

But don’t despair. There is still time to repair the damage and to turn those fine lines, saggy skin, blotches and dryness around.

HELP! HOW TO SLOW DOWN AGING

We’ve all heard anti-aging advice from our mothers since we were small. Brush your hair one hundred times, drink lots of water, eat lots of fruit and veges, get eight hours sleep and lots of exercise. While these are all important there is more to it.

There are two parts to supporting the regenerative processes of your skin and slowing the processes that cause it to age.

When we are identifying the causes of aging skin and hair we need to consider both the internal and environmental factors. Of course beauty does come from within and if we are not putting the right things into our body it will show up straight away on our skin.

Free radicals are produced by your body and are a natural part of metabolism. Your body can deal with a certain amount. But when you make poor food choices, are exposed to chemicals in your environment or the products you use on your skin and hair, you produce many more free radicals, far too many for your body to deal with, and this results in inflammation.

Free radicals are known not only to be the cause behind many chronic and serious diseases, but they also affect your skin by causing inflammation, destroying cells, and causing pigment changes.

 

smoke-258786_640

EXTERNAL CAUSES

In your everyday life your skin is exposed to many harmful toxins, from those found in air pollution (both indoors and outdoors) to those in your moisturizer. There are the obvious toxins like petrol fumes or those used in nail salons, but there are also a myriad of others that are not at all apparent. And many environmental toxins can affect our skin through pathways that include our gut, our liver, our kidneys and our lungs. No matter which way the toxin affects us, it creates free radicals in our body that lead to inflammation and the resulting signs of aging showing on our skin.

SUNLIGHT

Too much sun exposure can dramatically age the skin. It produces broken capillaries, wrinkles, age spots, dry, thickened, pigmented skin. Known as photo-aging, skin aging is accelerated by exposure to UV radiation. Wearing sunscreen may not be the best answer to the problem of UV exposure, as the chemicals in the sunscreen can actually react when they come in contact with the suns rays to speed up skin damage and promote aging.

Vitamins A and C are helpful in reversing the damage caused to your skin by the sun’s rays. Whether you take a supplement, eat lots of foods rich in these vitamins or find them in the products you apply to your skin, they will benefit. But don’t use products full of harmful chemicals simply because they have vitamins added. There will not be enough vitamins in the product to counteract the damage caused by the chemicals.

Eat a Rainbow
Eat a Rainbow

DIET

Antioxidant rich diets  are the answer to slowing down the aging caused by free radicals, by both reducing them and producing beneficial anti-aging results for your skin.

Foods that are denatured, pesticide-ridden, genetically modified, processed are essentially ‘dead’ foods and toxic to your body.

SKIN CARE PRODUCTS

Read your makeup and skin care ingredient labels carefully.

Some chemicals in most makeup products are endocrine disruptors and mimic hormones. Makeup, skin care and hair care products should only contain natural products. A good rule is if you can’t eat it don’t apply it.

Be careful of synthetic cleaning products as they contain dioxin which also disrupts the endocrine system and interferes with the immune system.

 

ANTI-AGING SKIN CARE REGIME

Avoid soap or foaming or gel cleansers. They strip the natural oils from your skin and cause aging. Try a quality, chemical free, milk cleanser, or make one your self. Any cleanser that leaves your skin feeling tight needs to be avoided as it could lead to dry, flaky, irritated skin.

Select a moisturiser that will help your skin by keeping it hydrated and protect it from the dehydrating effects of airconditioning and heating. BE CAREFUL, many chemicals are added to leave your skin feeling moist and soft but are actually dehydrating. If the humidity is less than 65% these humectants will draw moisture to the skin from the cells below the surface instead of from the air, which naturally causes the skin to dry out.

NOURISHING OILS

As an alternative a light application of a vegetable oil such as jojoba, coconut, almond, apricot kernel, camellia, avocado or olive will nourish your skin and can be used as an alternative to face creams.

Even those with oily skin can use oils as a skin moisturiser. Vegetable oils, particularly jojoba, nourish your skin without causing pimples, acne or blackheads, which are caused by a combination of factors.

Jojoba oil is a liquid wax which was used to treat skin conditions like acne and eczema in folk medicine. It is said to be closer to human sebum than any other oil which makes it an ideal choice for skin care. Strange as it sounds to put oil on oily skin, it works because chemically oils break down oils.

Gently massage a few drops of jojoba oil into your face. Place a warm washcloth over and allow it to cool before wiping off the oil. Rinse the cloth and apply a few more times until the oil is gone.

Don’t use these oils around your eyes, instead choose rosehip oil which is rich in omega 3.

EXFOLIATION

Exfoliating helps to remove dead skin cells but needs to be done gently or it will accelerate aging and cause inflammation. Natural options include oatmeal ground in a blender with almond or rice milk added. Form it into a light paste and gently massage into your skin before washing.

 

TREATING WRINKLES

While it is important to take steps to minimise wrinkles forming the challenge becomes how to get rid of those you already have without resorting to toxic skin care. Here are a few home remedies you can try out to reduce wrinkles.

  • Coconut Oil is one of the best home remedies to minimise wrinkles and it is easy. Simply gently rub organic coconut oil over your face and neck before going to bed. It is rich in antioxidants and vitamins and has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Coconut oil contains an essential emollient to reduce wrinkles and make skin firmer and softer.
  • Aloe vera contains malic acid to improve the elasticity of your skin to reduce wrinkles. Simply cut the leaf off and extract the gel. Apply to your skin and leave on for twenty minutes then wash off with warm water.
  • Ginger is high in antioxidants and helps inhibit the breakdown of elastin. Drink ginger tea twice a day or eat a piece of finely chopped ginger mixed with a tablespoon of honey every morning.
  • Cucumber cut into thin slices and placed on the skin can soften the skin and help remove wrinkles.
  • Vitamin E massaged into the skin daily can help remove wrinkles (simply break open vitamin E capsules)
  • Rosehip oil patted gently into your face reduces wrinkles.
  • Apple is very high in malic acid. Mash a boiled or stewed apple. Add one tablesppon of honey and some milk powder (if you have it). Apply to your face and leave on for at least fifteen minutes before washing off. Apple improves your skin’s elasticity.

 

Above all avoid products which include parabens, parrafin, mineral oil, propylene glycol, sodium lauryl sulphate, or acrylamide.

These preventions and treatments are not just for those in their thirties. Everyone will benefit from a natural skin care regime and no matter what your age you can always slow down the aging process.

While you can’t stop the aging process entirely, taking a few simple steps can certainly slow it down and give you glowing skin along the way.

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.

skin cream-194116_640
Source articles
http://swiftcraftymonkey.blogspot.com.au/2012/02/question-does-glycerin-draw-water-from.html
http://www.livestrong.com/article/155700-jojoba-oil-for-acne-prone-skin/                       http://www.top10homeremedies.com/home-remedies/home-remedies-for-wrinkles.html

 

 

 

 

 

20 Awesome Superfoods You Need Everyday (Part 2)

Following on from 20 Awesome Superfoods You Need Everyday (Part 1) here are some more foods to complete your list. Some of these are not quite so ‘traditional everyday’ as those included in Part 1 although some are, but as all of them are readily available now there is no reason why they should not be foods that feature regularly (or at least sometimes) on your table.

 

superfood collage

 

11. GARLIC

The Aliium family contains a number of excellent foods to support your health. They all stimulate glutathione to protect the liver, but the one that really stands out is garlic. It supports the circulatory system by reducing blood triglycerides and total cholesterol, while raising good HDL levels, lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of blood clots. It is well known for its ability to fight infection – virus and bacteria, and boost resistance to colds and infections especially when they are stress related. But garlic also fights tumours, and can help protect against certain cancers, particularly stomach cancer. It helps fight neurological disease like Alzheimer’s and can reduce toxins to improve detoxification. But, you must eat garlic raw to get the benefit as cooking destroys the beneficial constituent, allicin. Chew some parsley afterwards if garlic breath is a problem.

 

12. SWEET POTATOES

So much healthier than white potatoes, if you do eat carbs substitute sweet potatoes wherever you can. They are packed with vitamin C and rich in vitamin A and potassium for heart health. A great source of fibre to help regulate your digestive system, with three grams of fibre in every hundred gram serving, they also help stabilize blood sugars and are reasonably low in kilojoules.

 

13. COCONUT OIL

Coconut oil is now available everywhere and it is worth making the switch from other oils. Although it is a saturated fat, it is a medium-chain fatty acid type, which means you digest it differently than other animal saturated fats so it is not stored in the body’s cells. These types of fats are actually helpful for weight loss as they can help you feel full and boost your metabolism more than other fats. Coconut oil has antimicrobial properties and can help protect against viruses and bacteria. It aids digestion, reduces cholesterol and importantly boosts thyroid function and helps control blood sugar.
Coconut oil is one of the best cooking oils you can use because it has a relatively high smoke point, and and so is better suited to high temperature cooking than many other oils, including polyunsaturated and olive oils. Read The Good Oil for more about the benefits of different oils.

 

coconut oil Phu Thinh Co

14.TURMERIC

A lsit of Superfoods that did not contain this marvelous herb would be sadly lacking. Antioxidant, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory it has been an important medicinal herb for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine. Research suggests that the curcumin in turmeric protects against cancer and Alzheimer’s as well as improving circulation. Turmeric is a wonderful anti-inflammatory and has great use in reducing the pain of diseases such as arthritis. Read Glorious Health From Golden Turmeric to find out more about the power of this mighty herb.

 

15. CHILLI

Hot chillis get their heat from the the active component, capsaicin. They also contain antioxidant carotenes and flavonoids and about twice the amount of vitamin C found in citrus fruits. Red bell peppers while containing lower levels of capsaicin than chilli, are a wonderful rich source of vitamin C with twice as much as an orange, to help clear out free radicals as well as keep your skin and blood vessels healthy.

 

16. POMEGRANATES

As this is pomegranate season a Superfood list would not be complete without this glorious fruit. With up to three times the antioxidants of red wine and green tea the juice and seeds reduce the risk of heart disease. Their ORAC score lists pomegranates as the richest source of free-radical scavenging antioxidants and this makes them a powerful tool to prevent those diseases with a strong inflammatory basis like arthritis, heart disease and cancer. Find out how to use pomegranates on Hail The Pomegranate

pomegranate-open-196800_640

 

17. DARK CHOCOLATE

When you select carefully, chocolate is good for you! Dark chocolate, at least 70% cacao, is loaded with flavonoids antioxidants to reduce the risk of heart disease and help prevent signs of aging. But, only real cacao contains the antioxidants. As well as lowering blood pressure, improving blood flow and improving general heart health to prevent strokes and heart disease, cacao can also help fight diabetes. Containing many compounds to boost endorphins and serotonin, the feel-good hormones, chocolate really can lift your spirits.

Even better is to look for chocolate made from Raw Cacao which is truly the Superfood of the gods. Avoid high-sugar varieties of chocolate as sugar decreases the health benefit of even dark chocolate.

Go ahead and enjoy some raw organic chocolate
Go ahead and enjoy some raw organic chocolate

 

And here are some Superfoods that are NOT everyday but ones you really need to try.

18. KALE

Kale is probably one of the most nutritious vegetables you can eat, with an amazing level of nutrients in relation to its kilojoule value. Related to broccoli this dark green leafy vegetable is high in nutrients including vitamin B, A, folate, iron and beta-carotene. A great source of protein and packed with fibre, kale is low kilojoule and very high in vitamin C, containing twice the RDA. It contains ten times the RDA of vitamin K and three times the RDA of vitamin A. Try making it into kale chips if you are more likely to eat kale that way. Beneficial to stomach, liver and the immune system.

 

19. CHIA SEEDS

One Superfood that is appearing on menus more and more frequently is the chia seed. Rich in antioxidants, vitamins A, B, E and D, many minerals and fibre, they are also extremely high in calcium and omega-3. Chia seeds are a wonderful food for weight loss as they suppress appetite and level out blood sugars. It is a Superfood in every sense of the word.
However, chia has been a low-cost staple food of the Peruvians for centuries and the current high demand for chia by the west has taken a significant toll on the local food supply resulting in it now being unaffordable for the indigenous population. There is an urgent need to produce this food in a more sustainable way that protects the Peruvians from  nutritional deficiencies and allows everyone to receive its benefits.

 

20. SPROUTED SEEDS

The most live, pure, nutritious food imaginable. Most people are familiar with alfalfa but there are many more available and they are really easy to grow yourself for extra fresh sprouts. Sprouts are powerhouses of goodness containing the highest density of concentrated nutrients needed to give the plant an early growth spurt. As the seed sprouts the nutrients can increase up to 2000% and they are passed on to you. Read Snacking On Superb Sprouts to discover their benefits.

Sprouting in jars
Sprouting in jars

 

I’d like to finish by mentioning Green Superfoods.  Certainly not traditional or everyday in any way, but Green Superfoods contain the highest concentration of easily digested nutrients and they are starting to become better known if not yet mainstream. Foods such as spirulina or chlorella act as a power packed alternative to a multivitamin to redress many dietary indiscretions. They contain a wide range of concentrated nutrients, and are taken as a dietary supplement in powder or tablet form. I love them! You can read more at Spirulina, The Supergreen Solution

If you’d like to break out with a few different Superfoods try spirulina, kefir, quinoa, black rice, kelp and the other seaweeds, dandelion, flax seeds, goji berries or some of these treasures from South America.

What are your favourite Superfoods? Which ones do you choose to have some of every day?

autumn cornucopia bought

 

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://foodmatters.tv/superfoods
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/09/10/top-ten-best-superfoods.aspx
http://man.bodyandsoul.com.au/health+nutrition/nutrition+advice/7+superfoods+for+supermen,24531

Top 11 Superfoods That Can Save Your Life

 

20 Awesome Superfoods You Need Everyday (Part 1)

awesome superfoods

There are many new and exotic Superfoods arriving in our shops every day. Foods with excellent health track records in their country of origin are finding their way into all manner of products. New recipes calling for these exotics appear every single day. But this week a client who is very diet conscious, always seeking out the foods that give her the most benefits for each mouthful, brought up the subject of ‘Everyday Superfoods’ – good traditional foods that are easy to find wherever you happen to be eating.

This particular client wanted to know just what some of the best plain and simple Superfoods are. Although she regularly eats a wide array of exotic Superfoods, including acai berry, spirulina, maca, edamame, and others, she wanted to know about Superfoods that she can access every day, whether she is at home, work or eating out with friends.

Superfoods is a recently coined term used to describe a group of foods that are light in kilojoules and very dense in nutrients, particularly antioxidants and other essential nutrients that we are unable to make for ourselves. Another requirement of Superfoods is that they are foods found in nature. They are thought to have many extra health benefits and are considered highly beneficial because they provide a solid dose of nutrients for each mouthful.

Superfoods fall into different food categories. Many are vegetables, particularly the green leafy types, or fruits. Many nuts are considered Superfoods because they are rich in antioxidants to clean up free radicals that cause inflammation in your body.

Free radicals are a normal part of metabolism and your body has mechanisms in place to deal with those ones. But free radicals are also produced in your body in response to environmental factors like pollution, tobacco smoke, charred food, trans fats, electrical appliances, mobile phones and can quickly cause much damage that can lead to serious chronic disease.

 

10 BASIC EVERYDAY SUPERFOODS

These are such common foods, now nobody has any excuse not to include as many foods from this list as they can every single day.

 

1 BLUEBERRIESEnjoy some superfoods to honour your beautiful temple!

The deep blue colour of blueberries is the give away that they are rich with antioxidants, ranking highly on ORAC, which measures the antioxidant value of foods. An anti aging superstar, they are one of the best sources of flavonoids around to help preserve memory function  and slow down loss of motor coordination. High levels of the cancer fighting antioxidant, ellegic acid and studies have shown them to have greater cancer fighting capabilities than other fruits. Many recent studies have shown they slow the growth of certain tumours. Anti-inflammatory

 

2 SPINACH

Long before we became aware of the benefits of antioxidants Popeye was onto their awesomeness. Spinach is loaded up with antioxidants and truly a simple Superfood. It contains vitamin C, betacarotene, as well as lutein and zeaxanthin to protect your eyes, with lots of vitamin K for cardiovascular and bone health, as well as iron for strong hair and nails.

3. BROCCOLI

Well known as a nutrient packed vegetable with cancer fighting properties, broccoli is loaded with vitamin C, folic acid and carotenoids (vitamin A) to protect from free radical damage, improve immune function and reproductive health. Broccoli contains high levels of vitamin K to build strong bones and help blood clotting. It also contains significant amounts of fibre, vitamin B2 and potassium.

4. AVOCADO

Delicious avocados are an excellent source of healthy raw monosaturated fat.  They contain nearly twenty nutrients including fibre (10 to 17 grams in each fruit), high levels of potassium, vitamin E, B vitamins, folic acid and lutein for healthy eyes and skin. They protect from heart disease, cancer, diabetes, eye and brain disease. They help stabilize blood sugars, are great for heart disorders and assist with tissue regeneration.  In addition avocados help you properly absorb other fat-soluble nutrients.

5. ALMONDS

Raw almonds are loaded with good (monosaturated) fats and fibre to lower cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Rich in phytochemicals to promote heart and vascular health and a great source of minerals including magnesium, potassium, calcium and vitamins E and B6, they make a great afternoon snack. Munch on them in place of other less healthy options.

6. LENTILS & BEANS

All beans and legumes are beneficial. They are low in fat with lots of iron and B vitamins (including folate). A great complex carbohydrate, they are filling but low kilojoule. They contain magnesium and potassium for heart and circulatory health.  They are an excellent source of protein, and with a low GI they help control rises in blood sugar. Combined with complex grains like oats or barley they provide all the essential amino acids needed for a complete protein.  Perhaps the most nutritious legume is lentils. Also, they are inexpensive! Add them to your diet every week.

apple heart bought7. APPLES

The humble apple is often overlooked in the plethora of new Superfoods around. Apples are loaded with quercetin and catechin, both powerful antioxidants, to protect cells from free radical damage. Apple peel is where most of the nutrients lie so don’t peel them. They are also a great source of fibre. You may like to consider eating organic apples as they are one of the foods that regularly appear on the Environmental Working Committee’s DIRTY DOZEN list of the foods that are most highly sprayed with pesticides.

8. SARDINES & SALMON

Wild caught salmon is packed with omega-3 essential fatty acids to lower cholesterol and your risk of heart disease. It also contains vitamin D and selenium for healthy hair, skin, and nails. Farmed salmon on the other hand, (the only salmon available in Australia) is low in omega-3 and contains contaminants, so to get the benefit of eating salmon you need to make sure it is wild caught. Unfortunately as all salmon in Australia is farmed, the only wild caught one I have ever found is one brand of tinned salmon from Alaska. Wild caught salmon comes from Scotland, Alaska and Canada.
With just as much omega-3 as salmon, sardines are a much better choice in many ways. They are always wild caught so do not contain all the contaminants that you find in farmed salmon. Also being so small you can eat them up bones and all, and they are extra good as then you also get a hefty dose of calcium.

9. EGGS

Eggs are a powerhouse of valuable nutrients, especially if they are organic. They contain the highest quality nutritional protein of all foods containing about 6 grams, and loaded with nine amino acids, eleven vitamins and minerals. These include vitamin A and folate, naturally occurring vitamin B12 for healthy red blood cells, choline for memory and brain development and lutein and zeanthine for protection against eye disease.
Eating eggs for breakfast gives you a great start to the day and studies show that it may lead to you eating fewer kilojoules through the day because they rank highly on the satiety list.
But forget about eating the whites only, it’s the yolk that holds all the nutrients.
By the way, the link between eating eggs and blood cholesterol is an old myth and studies  have shown there is no connection.

10. OATS

Whole grain oats are one of the best sources of both soluble and insoluble fibre to metabolise fats  and promote healthy digestive system. They are low glycaemic to help control blood sugar levels. As well as helping improve your skin, they are brilliant for those suffering from stress and tiredness.  No wonder we’re always been told to eat porridge for breakfast, oats are rich in niacin (vitamin B3), vitamin E and antioxidants.  Packed with protein, they are a great way to kick-start your day.

 

Check back here for Part 2 next week when I’ll give you 10 more basic Superfoods, incuding some that are newer and not quite so common, to eat everyday.

 

What are your favourite Superfoods? Which do you choose to make certain you have some every day?

veg and nuts

 

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://foodmatters.tv/superfoods
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/09/10/top-ten-best-superfoods.aspx
http://man.bodyandsoul.com.au/health+nutrition/nutrition+advice/7+superfoods+for+supermen,24531

Top 11 Superfoods That Can Save Your Life

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

Spirulina, The Supergreen Solution

super spirulina

Spirulina is one of my favourite superfoods because it is one of the most nutritious plant-like organisms known to humans. I regard it as the ultimate superfood powerhouse. Although there are other super-greens such as chlorella, spirulina is almost like the supergreen equivalent of a “multi-vitamin”, a great all-rounder. Its nutritional benefits are both vast and impressive, making it an invaluable food especially for vegetarians, vegans, anaemics, diabetics and anyone who is nutritionally compromised.

Spirulina is one of the oldest life-forms on the earth and it helped produce our oxygen-rich atmosphere billions of years ago. Actually a blue green algae, it is a 100% natural and highly nutritious micro water plant. It is found in both the ocean and large warm alkaline fresh water lakes.

Spirulina is so nutrient dense you could survive on it and water alone.

Health Benefits

Spirulina earns its superfood powerhouse status because it has the highest concentration of digestible vegetable protein (60-70%) with a perfectly balanced combination of essential amino acids. This is more protein than you will find in beef, chicken or soybeans.

One of the most common vitamin deficiencies found in a vegan or vegetarian diet is vitamin B12. When you consider that Spirulina also contains large amounts of Vitamin B12, which is very difficult to find in other plant foods, it is easy to understand why it makes such a great choice for vegetarians.

Spirulina is loaded with other nutrients in addition to B12. It is very rich in iron, which is a mineral that is very commonly deficient. Spirulina also contains calcium, magnesium, and Vitamins A, B, C, D, E and K. There are also small amounts of a number of other minerals. There is no use in ingesting lots of minerals if they are not absorbed, but Spirulina actually improves mineral absorption and so the abundance of minerals it contains can be utilized properly by the body.

Spirulina is a wonderful plant source of the essential fatty acids linolenic acid (omega-3) and GLA (omega-6), offering a great source for anyone who cannot get their essential fatty acids from fish oil.

There is always some concern about the effect on processing and shelf storage on nutrients. But Spirulina only grows in extremely warm conditions and it has the ability to withstand the high temperatures that are always involved in processing, able to retain its nutritional value unlike many other plant foods which deteriorate at these temperatures.

It only contains 3.9 calories per gram and still has all of these great benefits. It is a low calorie, nutrient dense

The immune boosting qualities of spirulina can never be over stated. With its unique ability to fight infection, enhance cellular functioning, and even keep cancer at bay, it has a wide range of uses.

Here are some ways that Spirulina is beneficial:

  • Boosts energy – it is a source of life force or vitality
  • Protection against viruses including flu, herpes, mumps and measles
  • Promotes healthy nerve tissue
  • Increases antioxidant protection to fight free radicals
  • Improves digestion and gut health Improves age spots, eczema, acne, rashes
  • Fights the ageing process,
  • Curbs the appetite to help weight loss
  • Aids glaucoma, cataracts, poor vision
  • Improves allergies & respiratory function
  • Helps to detoxify radiation out of the body
  • Plus it fights heart disease, reduces arthritis, osteoporosis, diabetes and depression, and lowers bad cholesterol

Because it is so easily digested it packs a powerful punch when it comes to all these benefits.

What to look for

Good Spirulina has no side effects, and this is one product that you need to be absolutely certain of the quality. Contaminated blue-green algae is incredibly toxic to the system and can cause a range of fresh health problems such as liver damage. Because Spirulina easily absorbs nutrients from water, if the water contains pollution or heavy metals, these will be highly concentrated in the Spirulina cell. If this happens, then this kind of Spirulina is no longer suitable for human consumption. There are a number of Spirulina products on the market that are of questionable quality so select carefully. Either research well or buy from a qualified practitioner.

 

Spirulina Tablets
Spirulina Tablets

Spirulina comes in powder or tablet form and it is easy to tell if it is good quality or not. Quality tablets are made without sugar, starch fillers, animal parts, preservatives, stabilizers, and colours. They are a uniform dark green colour without any light coloured specks. You can take up to about twelve a day, and some people take even more. But start out with three and increase to six over a couple of days. You can take them all at once or spread over two doses. The recommended dose for adults is 5-10 per day.

When I am going on a long-haul flight I take lots of Spirulina on the day of the flight as well as the day before and the one after. It is part of my ‘flight regime’ to help overcome the bad effects of air travel.

Powder is a better choice if you want to add spirulina to smoothies, juice or other foods. 100% pure powder is also a uniformly dark green colour.  You feel the effects very quickly because the powder is easily digested. Because Spirulina is a natural food and NOT a supplement you can’t take too much. If you take more than you need it is like overeating. You can take two or more tablespoons a day but a good way to start is with one teaspoon (5 grams) added to drinks or other foods. The drink or smoothie colour will change to dark green but it doesn’t really affect the flavour. You can gradually increase the amount over time to two teaspoons (10gms) per drink.

I use the brand Hawaiian Pacifica made by Microorganics in my clinic as I know it to be high quality and free from toxic heavy metals. Just for the record, I have no affiliation with this company or product, and only recommend it to you to help your health. (I also like this one personally as it is easy to swallow)

If you are very run down or have a debilitating illness keep the amount you take low. You will get enormous benefit from the smaller amount and the smaller quantity will not push your body too fast or too hard.

Avoid alcohol, soft drinks or coffee for about 30 minutes after taking the spirulina as these will destroy some of the nutrients and enzymes.

People with hyperparathyroidism or phenylketonuria should not take spirulina.

Spirulina powder
Spirulina powder

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.australianspirulina.com.au/spirulina/spirulina.html

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/07/01/spirulina-the-amazing-super-food-youve-never-heard-of.aspx

http://hecticlifehealthygirl.wordpress.com/2011/02/12/what-is-spirulina-and-what-are-its-health-benefits/

http://www.naturalnews.com/033698_spirulina_superfood.html

http://www.naturalnews.com/041164_spirulina_superfood_supplements_immunity.html

http://www.naturalnews.com/036101_spirulina_superfood_nutrients.html

Related articles

Delicious Recipes Using The Superfood – Spirulina (susansmithjones.com)

The Good Oil

Olive oil from Imperia in Liguria, Italy.

It has long been held that fat is bad for you, all fat that is. But in fact not only are there many fats that are not bad for you, many are very good for you, and you will actually be less healthy if you are not getting enough of the right kind of fat. Good fats promote a healthy and well-functioning cardiovascular system, a healthy nervous system and are useful for maintaining weight. They help to both protect and maintain good clear skin and healthy hair, support your immune system, can help regulate blood sugars, your thyroid,  and even protect against cancer.

Most people know that olive oil is regarded as a healthy oil but there are whole new breed of oils available that may be better choices, particularly when it comes to using oil for cooking.

There is a temperature reached during cooking with oil called the smoke point, which is the point at which the oil is compromised, both in taste and nutritionally. Bluish smoke starts to rise as the oil is close to burning. It is the temperature where the oil starts to break down chemically, and it varies from one oil to the next, depending on whether it has been refined or not and the extent of refining, as well as the origin of the oil. When the oil breaks down it creates trans fats. Oil that has been damaged by overheating is bad for you because it is chock full of free radicals, which we already know are the basis of disease . Any oil with a low smoke point should not be used for cooking at all.

Before we go on to which oils are best for which purpose it’s worth knowing that there are three different types of oils – monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and saturated. Some oils contain more of one type than another and it is important to know which is which. For a long time the advice has been that saturated fats are bad for you and polyunsaturated are good for you. But it is not as straight forward as that.

Many oils today are refined. Refined versions of the oils have a higher smoke point but they are REFINED, which means that chemicals and high heat were used in the processing to extract the oil, which drastically damages the nutrients, rendering them harmful. Hydrogenated vegetable and seed oils are man made and you need to avoid them. You may know these better by their other name – trans fats.

Extra-virgin oils traditionally came from the first pressing of the fruit, seed or nut, but now the term is more likely to mean the oil is ‘pure’. These days cold-pressed oils are unlikely to actually have been pressed, and cold-extracted is a more accurate description. The oil is extracted using centrifugal force and very low heat, about 28-30C, low enough not to damage the oil. The speed at which the oil is extracted helps to preserve the antioxidants.

The stability of the oil is the important factor when it comes to heating the oil during cooking, particularly extra high heat used to fry. Saturated oils are the most stable, mono-unsaturated are pretty stable, and polyunsaturated are the least stable. Polyunsaturated oils are the worst to cook with – including safflower, sunflower and canola. These polyunsaturated oils contain lots of omega 6 fats which when damaged, form artery clogging trans fats. They also cause many other serious health problems.

Oils 2

So how do you know which oils are best for what?

It all depends what you are going to use the oil for. If it for dressing a salad then you would look for one with a nice taste, but if you want to cook with it you would need to carefully consider whether the oil will stand up to the heat. If you will be frying food, then the oil needs to have a high smoke point.

It is better to select oils that are unrefined as they are going to have more nutrients and less additives so will be healthier for you. It’s not worth buying cheap oils as in the long run they will cost you with your health. Generally, the pricier the oil the more likely there was care taken in the manufacture.

Here is the lowdown on some of the better edible oils you can use in your cooking.

COCONUT OIL

Coconut oil is almost all saturated fat, and so has been the most maligned and misunderstood oil for a long time, but it is actually one of the healthiest oils, a nutrient packed superfood. The love affair with coconut keeps growing every day and you can read lots more about this wonderful oil right here.

It has a high smoke point, 180ْC (350ْ F) and is very shelf stable and is the very best choice when you want an oil that is stable even when it is heated. In addition coconut oil also promotes heart health, helps maintain stable cholesterol and even helps you to lose weight.

Coconut is almost entirely saturated fat, but unlike the saturated fats you find in animal products coconut oil is not absorbed the same way by your body and so does not pose the same problem to your health. It is rich in medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs). These are easier for your body to break down and digest, they put less stress on your digestive system and body organs, they are immediately converted into energy in your liver rather than being stored as fat, and they stimulate your metabolism to help you lose weight. Long chain fatty acids, LCFAs, do not have these benefits and are more difficult to digest. Coconut oil is converted to energy like a carb but without the insulin spike effect in your bloodstream of carbs. It doesn’t get stored in the body – your body either uses it or gets rid of it. One special feauture of coconut fat is that 50% of the fat is lauric acid which has wonderful health promoting qualities and is able to destroy virus and bacteria.

AVOCADO OIL

Avocado oil has a high smoke point – 200 degrees C, so you can use it to cook at very high temperatures without compromising the properties of the oil. It has been proven to fight heart disease and effectively lowers bad cholesterol (LDL), helps with diabetes, cancer, skin and hair problems. It contains a healthy beneficial balance of omega-6, omega-3, and omega-9 fats as well as the antioxidant vitamin E. The vitamin E level will be higher in cold-pressed versions as they will have undergone less oxidation. Avocado oil is also used frequently in skin creams as a moisturizer.

MACADAMIA OIL

I recently saw macadamia oil referred to as the ‘new olive oil’. But I actually think it is better. It is about 80% monosaturated (good) fat and is one of the healthiest oils available for cardiovascular health, much higher than olive oil. It has a high smoke point at 220ْ C (430ْF) which makes it a healthier oil to use for cooking. It is 85% monounsaturated fats and has a two year shelf life.

Here is why this All-Aussie nut is so good for you. It enhances heart health, helps to reduce the build up of plaque and prevents atheroschlerosis, reduces the risk of heart disease, helps with blood sugar regulation for diabetics, and helps your nervous system function well.

Unrefined avocado, macadamia or coconut oil are all healthy choices
Unrefined avocado, macadamia or coconut oil are all healthy choices

WALNUT OIL

The smoke point of unrefined walnut oil is 180ْ C (350F), slightly lower than either coconut or macadamia oil, and easily damaged at high temperatures, so one to avoid for frying. It has a nutty flavour and is great in salads and smoothies. Unrefined walnut oil contains high levels of monounsaturated oils such as omega 9 which keeps your arteries supple and helps prevent atherosclerosis and heart disease. It is also high in omega-3 and omega-6 to reduce inflammation, and to lower the risk of blood clots and erratic heart rhythyms. Research from Penn State University showed that wanuts and walnut oil could maintain healthy blood pressure even during stressful times. It is an excellent source of vitamins B1, B2, B3 and vitamin E. It can help prevent eczema and alleviate other skin problems. It is one of the best sources of antioxidants of the tree nuts.

OLIVE OIL

Olive oil is indeed a healthy oil but not when it comes to cooking. It is a monounsaturated fat which makes it more stable than polyunsaturated fats, but on a cellular level it is not so stable and has been associated with increased risk of heart disease and breast cancer when it is heated. But, it is a great oil to include in an unheated state. The smoke point varies depending on how olive oil is made. Extra Virgin olive oil is 160ْ C (320F). Virgin is higher at 220ْ C (420F) and extra light 240ْ C (470ْ F). The rise in smoke point corresponds to how refined the oil is – the less refined the lower the smoke point. Extra virgin olive oil is a very perishable oil and can go rancid quickly, every time it is exposed to the air it oxidizes.

My choice for high heat cooking is avocado, macadamia or coconut oil. But as usual be careful of the quality. Most commercial oils are refined and contain chemicals from the processing so watch out for cold pressed and extra virgin oils. It’s especially good if it is in a dark jar as this helps protect the oil from light damage.

Remembering that the smoke point for each variety of oil is variable, and that it is always better to avoid refined oils, here is a rough guide for a few oils.

Unrefined Oil Type

Smoke Point Centigrade

Smoke Point Farenheit

Unrefined Canola, sunflower, safflower,

160

225

Unrefined peanut oil

160

320

Extra virgin olive oil

160

320

Walnut oil, unrefined

160

320

Coconut oil, unrefined

180

350

Macadamia

200

390

Avocado

190-200

375-390

Refined Oil Type

Canola, sunflower, safflower, refined

220

430

Virgin olive oil (refined)

220

430

Extra light olive oil (refined)

240

460

Walnut oil, semirefined

200

390

Coconut oil, refined

230

450

Rice bran oil

250

480

Peanut oil

225

440

Before I finish, just a quick word about RICE BRAN OIL which has appeared in Australian shops over the last few years. Promoted as a ‘Natural Oil’, it is not quite as natural as you would think, and is a good example of how advertising may be misleading. It has a very high smoke point, no additives listed, and the makeup of rice bran oil sold here in Oz is 47% monounsaturated, 33% polyunsaturated and 20% saturated, so it would seem a reasonably healthy choice.

However, rice bran oil is a refined oil that comes from Thailand. It is subjected to very high temperatures and chemicals during processing. It is not a cold pressed oil, like olive and some of the nut oils. On the bottle the oil it is labeled as extra-cold filtered, which is a manufacturing process that results in the removal of the saturated fats, and is not the same as cold-pressed or cold-extracted.

So go ahead and enjoy your oil, just make sure you are selecting The Good Oil.

good oils 2

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://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/10/22/coconut-oil-and-saturated-fats-can-make-you-healthy.aspx

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=george&dbid=56

http://www.naturalnews.com/031801_avocado_oil_healthy_fats.html

http://www.livestrong.com/article/481198-is-walnut-oil-healthy/

http://www.medicaldaily.com/articles/870/20100804/seven-great-benefits-of-walnut-oil.htm

http://foodmatters.tv/articles-1/what-oil-is-best-to-cook-with-and-which-oils-should-never-be-heated

http://www.naturalnews.com/004653.html

http://www.naturalnews.com/010125.html

http://macadamias.org/pages/health-benefits

http://changinghabits.com.au/_blog/Changing_Habits/post/rice-bran-oil–the-healthy-alternative-or-so-you-think/

Sample Some Superfoods From This Southern Treasure Chest

I remember quite clearly when the catchphrase of all the campaigns to save the Amazon Rainforest from widespread clearing, was that we were destroying the World’s Pharmacy.

But now it appears this was only a part of the picture. As more and more fantastic Superfoods appear in the West it seems that the entire South American continent is a veritable treasure chest of foods as medicine. Perhaps we now need to say instead that the entire South American continent is the biggest room in the World’s Pharmacy.

So many of the wonderful new healthy foods we can add to our diet come out of the countries of South America.
So many of the wonderful new healthy foods we can add to our diet come out of the countries of South America.

So many of the wonderful new healthy foods we can add to our diet to either replace problem foods, or simply to send our health zinging, come out of the countries of South America. Foods such as quinoa, maca, raw cacao and chia all have their origins in that part of the world.

The superfood heartland, where chia, quinoa and other superfoods are cultivated in terraces around Cusco, Peru  Photo credit: Liana John
The superfood heartland, where chia, quinoa and other superfoods are cultivated in terraces around Cusco, Peru
Photo credit: Liana John

Following on from last weeks postabout free radicals, here are twelve wonderful Superfoods from the South and Central American treasure chest that would be fantastic additions to your menu.

Quinoa  Credit: Alisha Vargas
Quinoa
Credit: Alisha Vargas

Quinoa (keen-wa) has swept into our diets as a fantastic replacement for gluten grains.  Only a few years ago it was quite difficult to find but it is available on every supermarket shelf now. It has been grown for at least 6,000 years in the Andes of Peru. It was sacred to the Incas and famous for giving the Inca warriors super-human strength. It is gluten free and a great source of magnesium, iron and phosphorous as well as rich in fibre and folate. Technically it is not a grain but a seed, but it can be used just as you would a grain in your cooking. It’s really easy to prepare and quick to cook so makes a great addition to the menus of busy working families.

Chia seeds
Chia seeds

Chia Seeds were originally grown by the ancient Aztecs, Incans and Mayans for health and strength. They are chock-full of omega 3 (the one you need more of), actually one of the highest sources around, as well they have lots of fibre (4 teaspoons provide 30% of the daily requirement) and calcium. They are the highest source of protein compared to other seeds and grains. They are easily absorbed and this enables you to take in lots of the nutrients. They help with tissue growth and regeneration and are great during pregnancy and lactation, as well as for athletes.   

Amaranth plants
Amaranth plants

Amaranth (Kiwicha) has been around for a long time, and was a staple food for the Incas.   I remember a fellow Community Garden member experimenting with it about ten years ago. The next season every single plot in the garden had amaranth growing in it, so there shouldn’t be any difficulty of you would like to try growing some yourself here in Melbourne. Like quinoa, amaranth is a pseudograin, not really a grain. It has been used in its puffed form in health snack bars for some time and the flour, which has a rich flavour, is also available. Nutritionally it is similar to quinoa – high in protein and all amino acids, but also amaranth is rich in iron with 29 percent of the RDI of iron in just one cup, making it a great addition to a vegetarian diet. It also contains the minerals manganese, magnesium, phosphorous and copper.

Lucuma
Lucuma

Lúcuma is another fairly new food to appear in our markets. It is a large, sweet fruit  with a creamy citrus flavour, from the highlands of Peru, Bolivia and Equador, where it has been harvested from ancient times. It is considered one of the lost crops of the Incas but is still very widely eaten today. Its fruit tastes a little like maple syrup and sweet potato and it makes a wonderful low-sugar sweetener. It is very nutritious, rich in beta-carotene and niacin (vitamin B3), iron and calcium. The fruit is dried and ground to a powder. I have to say it is YUM combined with raw chocolate!

Lepidium meyenii
Lepidium meyenii (Maca) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Maca Powder is another of the superfoods of the Incas and grows at 4,000m above sea level in the Andian highlands of Peru. It has been a medicinal food in that area for over 2,000 years. The harvested root is loaded up with protein, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and other minerals, vitamins and all the amino acids. Maca has some amazing health benefits as it is an adaptogen which supports and heals the adrenal glands. It is great for offsetting the effects of stress, gives an amazing energy boost, and can improve insomnia. But one of the most common uses is for balancing hormones when there is an overabundance of environmental oestrogens involved. It is also a powerful aphrodisiac.

Just note that there are certain contraindications for Maca. If you are pregnant, breastfeeding or being treated for a hormonal issue consult your practitioner before using it.

Acai berries Credit: Cametaora
Acai berries
Credit: Cametaora

Acai (ah-sigh-ee) grows only in the Brazilian rainforest and coastal Colombia. This small purple berry is related to the blueberry and cranberry, and like them, is very rich in antioxidants which reduce oxidative stress. They stimulate the immune system and boost your energy. They can be helpful in preventing heart disease and cancer, and may help reduce cholesterol levels. They are associated with reduction of blood sugars, and assist with cognitive and mental function. It is frequently used in many healthy foods as well as smoothies and juices. Lots of beauty products now contain acai oil due to the high antioxidant content.

Ripe raw cacao pods
Ripe raw cacao pods

Raw Cacao can be considered a superfood, a healthy food, which was originally found in the Amazon Rainforest! It has been cultivated for over 3,000 years by the Incan, Mayan and Aztec peoples. Unlike the highly processed, fat-full, dairy-full, high sugar versions made by Cadbury etc, raw cacao is good for you. It comes as a powder or cacao nibs and can be used through your cooking as well as eaten raw. Keep milk away from it as many studies show that milk neutralizes the healthful properties.

Raw cacao really can be considered a true superfood. (woo hoo! Love my chocolate) It is very high in antioxidants as well as minerals which help with mental alertness, heart health and physical stamina. In addition it increases serotonin uptake in the brain which creates a sense of euphoria and counteracting stress.

I like to think of it as my favourite vegetable.

Dried camu camu seeds
Dried camu camu seeds

Camu Camu is another amazing food from Peru and like the acai, it is a berry. It provides  great support to the immune system and helps to ward off viral infections, especially when you are more stressed or anxious than normal. It contains bioflavonoids, amino acids, vitamin Bs (thiamin, niacin and riboflavin), plus it has sixty times more vitamin C than an orange. It will promote healthy gums, eyes, skin and supports the nervous system (brain) and the circulatory system (heart).

Macqui berries Credit: Mona Vie
Macqui berries Credit: Mona Vie

Maqui (mock-ee), Chilean Wineberry, is yet another powerhouse berry and comes from the Patagonia region of Southern Chile. It is known for its detoxifying properties and the benefits bestowed by its  antioxidants. It was used by a tribe of warriors, the Mapuche Indians, who were attributed with great strength and  endurance. The deep purple berries are loaded with antioxidants, with more than three times those found in acai. Maqui berries are very powerful so you only need half as much maqui as you would other berries. They have the highest ORAC score of any berry in the world. The ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) unit, ORAC value, or “ORAC score” is a method of measuring the antioxidant capacity of different foods and supplements.

The Maqui berry protects your immune system, skin, cardiovascular system, bones and joints. It also detoxifies the digestive system and restores metabolism to maximum capacity. They renew cells and help improve many diseases as well as fighting the effects of ageing.

Purple corn Photo credit: Randen Pederson
Purple corn
Photo credit: Randen Pederson

Purple Corn has been grown in Latin America for thousands of years. It is another food very rich in antioxidants, containing more than blueberries. Its gorgeous colour has been used as a naturalfood colouring, and it is often used in Peru to make chichi morada – purple corn drink.

Mesquite pods
Mesquite pods

Mesquite is actually from Central America, Mexico. The long pods are ground up into a low-glycemic, gluten free flour with a sweet nutty taste, which bakes up just like wheat flour – use it instead of half the wheat flour in the recipe. It can be used in raw desserts as it doesn’t need to be cooked. You can even add a spoonful to smoothies for a sweeter flavour. It is rich in soluble fibres and a great source of calcium, iron, zinc, potassium, manganese and lysine. Because it is in fact a legume and not a grain it is higher in protein than grain flours. It sits low on the glycemic index and won’t cause blood sugar spikes.

Inca Berries, or goldenberries, are golden berries about cherry size, which resemble    a raisin when they are dried. They are high in phosphorous, vitamins A, C, B1, B6 and B12, and are very high in protein for a fruit (16%)

In order to get the most from your South American Superfoods buy only ones that are organically certified. If the foods have been commercially produced they will carry chemical residue and much of the benefits will be lost.

You now have lots of information about some magic foods you can try out. If you need some ideas about how to use them there are lots of recipes and ideas out on the web so do a search.

But, you also need to actually get your hands on some of these magic goodies. I don’t normally recommend specific products but this week I am making an exception. The Loving Earth  company stocks most of these brilliant superfoods from the South American Treasure Chest, as well as creating a range of wonderful products that make use of them. Plus, on their website they have some amazing, delicious recipes which use all these foods. They also sell many of them in their raw state, including Maca powder, Raw Cacao, Camu Camu Powder, Purple Corn Extract and Chia seeds.

They also operate from an ethical basis. From their website…”The company is based on the philosophy that the earth is a living organism, (and) eating foods in their pure, minimally processed states, foods that are grown organically in a sustainable way, is one of the most significant ways in which we can live this philosophy.”

They support Fair Trade 100% and most of their foods are Australian Certified Organic.

Just in case you are wondering, I don’t take any payment from Loving Earth, in fact they don’t even know that I have written this about their products. They are just some products that I’ve tried and loved and I believe they are a company well worth your support. You can find their products in Health Food shops or can buy online.

Superfoods are the way of the Health Future. However, taking superfood supplements on their own are never going to be enough to turn around ill health. But by including a range of them as some of the dietary changes that are part of wider changes you make to build your own great health, they are certainly a powerful and effective addition.

Do you have a favourite South American Superfood? How do you use it? Post it in the comments below…we’d love to hear.

South America is a treasure chest of wonderful superfoods
South America is a treasure chest of wonderful superfoods

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 trying any of the treatment suggested on this site. 

Source articles

http://www.besthealthmag.ca/eat-well/nutrition/7-south-american-superfoods

http://www.maquiberrybenefits.com.au/maqui_berry_anti_aging.php

http://www.age-well.org/maqui-berry.html

http://www.amazonhub.com/Superfoods-of-the-Incas/superfoods-of-the-incas-medicine-natural-buy.html

http://foodsforlonglife.blogspot.com.au/2011/01/omega-3-power-seeds-chia-hemp-and-flax.html

http://www.amazonhub.com/Superfoods-of-the-Incas/superfoods-of-the-incas-medicine-natural-buy.html

http://www.desthealth.com/products/vitamins-supplements/maqui-berry-active-60-capsules

http://www.thewellnesswarrior.com.au/2012/09/superfood-profile-camu-camu

http://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-food/mesquite-powder-health-benefits-tips-and-recipes

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mesquite

http://www.naturalnews.com/029562_mesquite_flour_superfood.html

http://www.vegparadise.com/otherbirds1002.html

Free Radicals Are Bad, Right…But Why?

I often mention free radicals and antioxidants in my posts because they are such a fundamental part of the disease process. But there was a time when I was not exactly sure what free radicals were or why they were a problem, although I was aware they were not good.

So that you have an understanding about just why I mention them so often, this week I would like to offer you a brief explanation of what free radicals actually are and what they do, and the role antioxidants play in all this.

The major source of quality antioxidants is fresh, raw, highly coloured plants
The major source of quality antioxidants is fresh, raw, highly coloured plants

Firstly it’s important to be aware that free radicals are a significant part of a process called oxidation, and that they are everywhere, not just in our bodies. They are responsible for the destruction of many objects in the world around us. They cause metals to rust, paint to fade, apples to brown, oils or meats to turn rancid, our skin to burn and coins to turn green, a process known as oxidation. Oxidation is a normal chemical process, and it happens right throughout nature. It is the interaction between oxygen molecules and the different things that they contact which damages cells and leads to the effects we can see.

Rusty metal
Metal rusted after oxidisation
An apple turning brown as it oxidises after being cut
An apple turning brown as it oxidises after being cut
Old copper turning green as it oxidises
Old copper turning green as it oxidises

HOW DO FREE RADICALS FORM?

To understand how free radicals come about we need to do a quick detour into the wonderful world of Chemistry 101.

All our cells are made up of lots of different molecules and molecules are made up of atoms. You might remember from school that atoms are made up of a nucleus, neutrons, protons and electrons. It is the electrons in the molecule that are involved in chemical reactions and they are the ones that bond atoms together to form molecules. They circle around the atom and form layers, or shells (forming a new layer as each one fills up) It is the number of electrons in the outermost shell that becomes important. If the shell is full up the molecule stays as it is, it is stable. But if the outer shell is not full then the molecule has to try to balance out that shell by either gathering or losing electrons to fill up or empty out the outer shell – it is better to lose the shell if it isn’t full. Another option is to share the electrons in its outer shell with another molecule that also needs extra electrons, by joining up, or bonding, so they both have full outer shells. Sometimes the bonds are weak and split which can leave an odd unpaired electron floating around, and this is a free radical.

Free radicals are unstable atoms or molecules that contain unpaired electrons. The ideal is to have all electrons paired so the free radical goes on an aggressive rampage to replace the missing electron by stealing an electron from another molecule.

The free radical is such a problem because it is unstable and highly reactive, and it goes on a rampage to capture other electrons so that it can become stable again. It will steal the electron from the closest stable neighbouring molecule. That molecule then becomes a free radical itself, because it is no longer stable, and so a chain reaction occurs. When this process starts in a cell it creates a cascade that damages the living cell. It would be simple if the cell was just killed off because the body would simply produce another one, that’s an ongoing process. But the problem here is that free radicals damage the DNA and injure the cell instead, and this provides the start of disease. The cell very quickly mutates, grows abnormally and reproduces abnormally.

QUICK SUMMARY

Just in case I lost you in that explanation here is a summary. Free radicals are toxic chemicals that damage body cells and lead to a cascade effect of damage in more and more cells, which then leads to disease. Unhealthy and damaged cells lead to an unhealthy and damaged body. Disease arises when there are damaged cells, damaged tissues and damaged organs.

“Scientists now believe that free radicals are causal factors in nearly every known disease, from heart disease to arthritis, to cancer and cataracts. In fact, free radicals are a major culprit in the aging process itself”

                                          Lester Packer, Ph.D., The Antioxidant Miracle

WHY FREE RADICALS ARE A PROBLEM

The real danger to you lies with the chain reaction that occurs, because it means that it is not just one cell that gets damaged but a whole horde of them. The free radical creates a snowball effect where each molecule steals from its neighbour to replace the electron stolen. And it all happens very quickly, so quickly that the body’s defense system cannot keep up. It gets overwhelmed and enters a state called oxidative stress.

When attacks from free radicals keep happening in your body the result is chronic disease. Free radicals adversely alter lipids, protein and DNA and trigger a number of human diseases.

Free radical damage is now thought to make a significant contribution to all inflammatory diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer, heart disease, cataracts and arthritis.

Your body is constantly under attack from free radicals

Here are just a few more – arthritis, vasculitis, lupus, stroke, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, emphysema, gastric ulcers, hypertension and pre-eclampsia, muscular dystrophy, alcoholism, smoking-related diseases, and many, many others.  Research suggests that free radical damage to cells leads to all the changes associated with ageing, and the associated diseases

It is quite normal for free radicals to occur within your body. In fact the body creates and uses free radicals to neutralize bacteria or virus cells. They are produced during normal metabolism. They are produced during excessive exercise, although wise exercising can help improve your capacity to deal with free radicals. They are also the result of inflammation, whether that is initiated to fight off infection or the result of long-term chronic problems.

But there are many things in our environment that can also produce free radicals when we are exposed to them – air pollution, radiation, pesticides, herbicides, X-rays, some drugs, industrial chemicals and particularly cigarette smoke. You can even trigger high free radical production by drinking excess alcohol.

ANTIOXIDANTS TO THE RESCUE

This is where antioxidants come into the picture. Normally the body is able to deal with free radicals but when their numbers increase significantly so that they outnumber the antioxidant defences, the body is unable to keep up and damage occurs. Antioxidants are very stable molecules and so are capable of donating an electron to the free radical to stabilize it without becoming a free radical themselves – they are electron donors. They are needed to maintain the critical balance with free radicals, to keep them to levels that your body can deal with. They are way your body fights rampant free radicals.

Your body can make some antioxidants, but not all, and importantly, this ability declines with age. Supplementing the body’s own production with external sources of antioxidants can make a huge difference to how it copes with oxidative stress.

Free radical damage increases with age.

There are many foods where you can get antioxidants to protect your body from free radical damage. Over the next few months I will talk about individual antioxidants but you can read about some of them here. Here is a list of the different types of antioxidants. The ORAC score assigned to a food is a measure of just how effective it is at neutralizing free radicals. The higher the score the more powerful an antioxidant it is.

Red raspberries are a powerful antioxidant
Red raspberries are a powerful antioxidant

Being conscious of including lots of high quality, antioxidant rich foods in your diet is a way to make sure that you get a regular, steady supply. Fruit and vegetables are the key to this because they are high in antioxidant nutrients. Legumes, nuts, herbs, spices and whole grains are some other sources. Phytochemicals that act as antioxidants are more abundant in fresh foods, and raw foods.

‘Eating a rainbow’ is the way to bring a comprehensive range of antioxidants into your diet. That is, eating lots of a wide array of different brightly coloured produce.

Bearing in mind that pesticides and herbicides are a source of free radicals themselves, it makes sense to eat organic fruit and veges as often as is possible. If you can’t afford to buy organic produce then start growing your own. Good eating is intricately interwoven with good gardening. You can grow some produce on a balcony or in a courtyard, and even if you simply supplement the commercial component of your produce it is going to make some difference. In addition, you know the produce has not been sitting around in a store for some time, that it is fresh.

There are also a number of Superfoods that have wonderful antioxidant properties including spirulina, acai, mangosteen, raw dark chocolate, many berries, beans, apples, plus many others.

It is worth noting that there are lots of different types of antioxidants and each has a different role, able to work at a different level of defense. Some such as vitamin C, stop the reaction before it starts, preventing the formation of free radicals. Others including the most potent one for this, Vitamin E, scavenge free radicals to break the chain. Others promote the decomposition of the damaged cell. You need a variety of antioxidants as your cells are protected by the combined efforts of lots of different antioxidants.

Amongst the vitamins, vitamin E, vitamin C and beta-carotene are antioxidants. They must be found in your diet as your body can’t manufacture them. Although Vitamin C, E and A all have antioxidant properties remember that many vitamin supplements are made from synthetic forms of the vitamin, and the value of using these man made versions raises questions, as they have been found to be detrimental to your health, particularly vitamin E. Look for natural sources of antioxidants in preference.

So you can see if you want to keep away the many chronic diseases caused by free radical damage that plague us today you need a broad range of good-quality foods rich in antioxidants in your diet on a regular basis to do the job.

What are your have favourite sources of antioxidants?

 fruit smile free use

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.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3249911

http://www.healthchecksystems.com/antioxid.htm

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/how-antioxidants-work1

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_antioxidants_in_food

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/05/16/all-about-antioxidants.aspx

Get Down To Earth Again And Do Some Grounding

This year I decided to ditch my footwear inside the house, ever since reading up on Barefoot Earthing or Grounding. This is a radical new health practice that is quickly gaining momentum as word about its benefits spreads. Its impact can be quite far-reaching and yet it is incredibly simple to do, costs nothing, is always available and feels great.

Have you ever noticed how good you feel when you take off your shoes to walk barefoot?  Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hlkljgk/5760553436/
Have you ever noticed how good you feel when you take off your shoes to walk barefoot?
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hlkljgk/5760553436/

Have you ever noticed how good you feel when you take off your shoes to walk barefoot? Well it seems there is a scientific explanation, and research into the practice of Grounding has found that it can significantly improve all sorts of health problems. It can help your energy levels, reduce stress, improve your sleep, decrease muscular inflammation and stiffness as well as other chronic pain, reduce anxiety, improve circulation, prevent free-radical damage and associated premature ageing and even heal injuries faster. It brings you back into a state of equilibrium where your body is best able to heal itself. Those who use the practice on a regular basis report great results. I am certainly finding I have less aches and pains whenever I walk round without shoes than when I leave them on.

It all has to do with electrical fields.

These days we live completely immersed in electro-magnetic waves (EMFs) from a huge number of everyday items including our mobile phones, computers, wireless technology, huge numbers of electrical appliances, and even compact fluorescent lights. The air in our houses, our workplaces, our schools and in some outdoors places is full of electro-pollution, harmful positive ions produced by this multitude of electrical contraptions that surround us. These positive ions are contributing to ill health.

Electrical stress is now recognized as a significant contributor to many health problems and in fact a new chronic illness, “Diabetes Type 3”, has been coined to describe the effect of illness believed to be from electropollution. Surrounding yourself with sources of negative ions helps to rebalance this disharmony, as does being in places where negative ions are in abundance.

The surface of the earth is electically conductive and has a permanent supply of free electrons sitting just above the surface. The charge on the earth surface is negative and anything that is close to the surface will also carry that charge

Your body also has an electrical field, sometimes referred to as the biofield or the aura. When your bare feet are in contact with the earth negative electrons can easily pass into you. Grounding helps to prevent a build-up of harmful electrons in your body as well as promoting a discharge of the positive ions from your body into the earth. Simultaneously you receive a flood of free electrons from the earth. These neutralize the free radicals in your body which cause inflammation and are responsible for many health problems. The flood of electrons immediately ‘re-balances’ you, which is why you feel so good when you walk outside barefoot.

In case you got lost in that explanation, simply, standing on the earth rebalances the electromagnetic field of your body, helping to strengthen your immune system, and boosting both your health and your wellbeing.

For most of our existence humans have gone barefoot and often slept directly on the ground, things now are very different. As well as being surrounded by electromagnetic pollution we are cut off from receiving the rebalancing benefits from the earth because the shoes that we now wear have rubber and synthetic soles that insulate and block transmission of the natural beneficial energy of the earth. Think how rubber gloves can provide protection from electrical shock.

 HOW TO GROUND YOURSELF

  • Take your shoes off and go barefoot on grass, beach, bare earth, even concrete when it is laid directly on the earth (but not if it is painted or sealed) whenever you can
  • You need to walk around on the earth for about thirty minutes to gain the benefit
  • Swim in lakes, rivers, or the sea
  • Wear shoes with leather soles
  • Purchase and use one of the indoor grounding mats or an earthing bed sheet.

By the way, the reason I am able to benefit from earthing when walking barefoot indoors is because my floor is unglazed slate sitting on a concrete slab which is set directly onto a rock shelf on the side of a hill. You would not get earthing benefit in a home above the ground, or with glazed tiles, or a layer between the concrete and tile, or with other floor coverings.

If you would like to read up on Earthing also then get a copy of the book EARTHING – The Most Important Health Discovery Ever?  by Clint Ober, Dr Stephen T Sinatra and Martin Zucker.

Remember though, Grounding is not a substitute for medical treatment and if you have a medical condition you need to consult your healthcare provider.

Taking your shoes off and walking barefoot in the sea helps to rebalance your energetic field.
Taking your shoes off and walking barefoot in the sea helps to rebalance your energetic field.

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.earthing.com/category_s/1823.htm

http://www.barefoothealing.com.au/

http://www.wellbeing.com.au/article/Features/Body-Health/Barefoot-earthing_1054

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/11/04/why-does-walking-barefoot-on-the-earth-make-you-feel-better.aspx

http://www.naturalnews.com/028967_electropollution_diabetes.html

What is Biofield Therapy?

Find The Rainbow Connection With Antioxidants

Rainbow in a wok
Rainbow in a wok

As I tossed my dinner in the wok tonight and marveled at the gorgeous array of colours, I was reminded of how bland the meals that I was served as a child always looked in comparison – always brown meat with some white (potato) and green (peas or beans) and maybe a touch of orange or red. The vegetables changed a little but always seemed to have the same look about them.

The message today in a nutshell is that when you always eat a ‘rainbow’ of fruit and vegetables with a naturally high color intensity you can be sure that you are getting a wide range as well as a good quantity, of antioxidants.

Now, if all you want to know is the ‘what you need to do’ or you are too short of time today, then there you have it, be conscious to always EAT A RAINBOW and you will be sure to get a broad range of nutrients, including antioxidants, to help you combat free radical damage in your body.

But, if you would like to know ‘the why’ and the nitty gritty details, then read on

Cells need oxygen to metabolise vitamins and minerals but when oxygen isn’t metabolized thoroughly it results in extra oxygen molecules hanging round which form free radicals. When you get a sudden rush of free radicals they cause a chain reaction that causes damage to the cells and leads to disease.

The body has its own antioxidant defence system of free radical scavenging enzymes but when there is too much stress put on us from our toxic environment and lifestyle our body gets overwhelmed by free radicals and we get sick. These scavenging enzymes need support from many minerals and vitamins that are not made by the body and must be gained from our food. Unfortunately, because there are so many stresses on the body from our modern world we now need far more antioxidants than were ever needed in the past.

SO WHAT EXACTLY ARE ANTIOXIDANTS?

Antioxidants are substances that remove potentially damaging oxidizing agents in a living organism. They are capable of neutralizing the effects of free radicals before they are able to cause damage in the cells and tissues of your body, and they are found in the form of vitamins, minerals, carotenoids and so on. Antioxidants have protective effects and can lower the risk of diseases such as cancer or heart disease.

Eat a Rainbow
Eat a Rainbow

There are a number of different antioxidants that act in different ways and you can often tell which they are and what they will do by the colour of the food in which they occur.

There are over 4000 compounds with antioxidant properties – here are some of them:

antioxidant

colours

foods

  vitamin C  various oranges, citrus fruits, capsicum, mangos, kiwifruit,  strawberries, blackcurrants
  vitamin E  various avocado, nuts, vegetable oils
  beta-carotene  orange, yellow, green carrots, sweet potato, mangos, apricot, pumpkin,
  anthocyanins  red, blue blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, dark grapes, eggplants
  catechins  tawny, red cocoa, red wine, green tea, chocolate
  cryptoxanthins  orange mangoes, red capsicum, pumpkin
  lycopene  red tomato, watermelon, guava, strawberry, pink grapefruit
  lutein  yellow, green spinach, corn, gold kiwifruit, leafy greens
  flavonoids  various tea, green tea, citrus fruits, apples, red wine
  selenium  white brazil nuts, seafood, sunflower seeds, rice
  isoflavenoids soy products, lentils, milk
  lignans  white seeds, nuts, vegetables, broccoli, kale, wholegrains
  manganese  red, green nuts, berries, shellfish, legumes, leafy greens, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds
  polyphenols  green, red thyme, oregano, rosemary, ginger, red wine
  phenolic acid  various apple, citrus fruit, oats

But these are just some of the foods associated with antioxidants. Some of the best overall sources are berries, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pomegranates and ginger.

AND FREE RADICALS…?

Free radicals are molecules that are produced in our body as a result of our everyday life which cause oxidative stress in the body and basically feed off other cells to survive. In fact your body produces free radicals as a by-product of metabolism. Your body also produces a limited number of antioxidants to neutralize them, but when your body becomes overloaded with free radicals caused by outside stressors it is unable to cope and succumbs to a variety of illnesses. The cells of your immune system are the most likely to suffer damage initially and you may not even notice the effects, but left unchecked eventually the DNA held within the cell will become the target of the free radical damage. DNA acts as the ‘command centre’ of your cells so when it is damaged there can be significant and far-reaching effects.

Free radical damage accelerates the aging process and fosters many diseases including cancer, heart disease, arthritis, atherosclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis, Hypertension, Diabetes, cataracts, macular degeneration, and almost all chronic degenerative diseases. Ultimately the effect of free radicals is to shorten your life.

There are many factors in our life in addition to ageing and basic metabolism that can increase free radicals production.

  • The Western Diet creates a free radical bonanza! It is full of fats, processed foods, pesticides and chemicals, and with an emphasis on meat, dairy foods, sugar, processed ‘white’ grains, coffee and alcohol, that are all excellent free radical promoters. In addition it is deficient in fruits and vegetables, the source of antioxidants.
  • The chlorine in the water we drink results in free radical production
  • The air we breathe is loaded with a multitude of pollutants, including tobacco smoke whether you actually smoke or not. We are surrounded by substances such as lead and asbestos and all these are producing free radicals
  • Fats in the diet, in the form of trans-fats, animal and other forms of fats. Many people consume excess quantities of fat, with it contributing around 30% of western food intake. Simply put, the more fat you eat the more free radicals are produced, and some fats are worse than others
  • Pesticides are big producers of free radicals. They are found in large quantities in animal fat and present a significant free radical source if you are eating a meat-rich diet. These pesticides are stored in your body in fatty tissue. Non-organic fruit and vegetables also carry lots of pesticides
  • Free radical producing chemicals are found in solvents, cleaning products, glue, paint and thinners, as well as perfumes, and even prescription medications.
  • Ionizing radiation from sunlight, X-rays or electro magnetic fields is another source. Body cells are very sensitive to radiation and even very mild exposure will set off the chain reaction within the cell.
  • Even mental stress, including anger and anxiety can increase the presence of free radicals.

So, this is just another reason to get your daily dose of pesticide and chemical-free, antioxidant-rich, RAINBOW of fruit and vegetables! Be conscious of the foods you need and take the time to enjoy the beauty of a colourful diet.

Who doesn’t love Kermit? Enjoy The Rainbow Connection with Kermie.

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.healingdaily.com/conditions/free-radicals.htm

http://www.naturaltherapypages.com.au/article/the_power_of_antioxidants#ixzz2HoOfDp34

http://www.naturalnews.com/024710_antioxidants_fruits_antioxidant.html

http://www.naturalnews.com/036992_antioxidants_best_sources_foods.html