Tag Archives: health

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

Iodine: Have You Overlooked This Essential Micronutrient?

oyster

One essential trace element that not many people ever think about is iodine. It is essential to many of the functions of your body. But many Australians are deficient in iodine. And not just Australians, as in fact it is thought that up to 40% of the world population is getting insufficient iodine.

Iodine can be found throughout the organs of your body. Highest concentrations occur in the thyroid gland and it is also found in the ovaries, skin, saliva, breasts and gastric glands although it can be detected in every organ and tissue.

In the thyroid gland, iodine along with the minerals zinc and selenium is essential for the production of thyroid hormones, particularly thyroxin. These thyroid hormones directly control the body’s metabolic processes, which in turn have significant influence on many of the body’s organs and processes including heart rate and blood pressure.

When iodine levels are too low the thyroid is unable to produce sufficient levels of hormones and you start to experience a range of symptoms such as lethargy, sleepiness, depression, intolerance to cold, dry skin, slow digestion, goiter, weight gain and slower mental faculties.

Goiter
Goiter

 

Health Benefits

Iodine has so many health benefits and iodine deficiency has been linked to goiter, hypothyroidism, obesity, cognitive impairment, heart disease, psychiatric disorders and cancer. It also causes impaired mental and physical development.

Iodine helps prevent the storage of excess calories as fat, assists in the removal of toxins and aids in the utilization of other minerals. It strengthens the immune system and maintains healthy tissues throughout the body.

Addressing iodine deficiencies has been found to very effective in the treatment of goiter, ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids, fibrocystic breasts, hypertension, obesity and diabetes.

sushi-275054_640

 

Food Sources Of Iodine

As it became apparent that more and more people were suffering from an iodine deficiency, an attempt to address the growing problem was made by fortifying a certain range of foods with iodine, including basics like bread and milk. Since 2009 iodine has been added to bread, and prepackaged bread required to list iodised salt as an ingredient.

Although iodine it is a fairly rare mineral it is present in a number of foods. The best sources are marine plants such as spirulina, seaweed like kelp, nori, dulse or kombu and shellfish. Make sure that any produce from the sea is harvested from uncominated waters.

While iodine is found in abundance in the sea it is not as prevalent in soil, and due to the toll that modern farming practices have taken means that most soils contain extremely low levels of iodine, along with many other minerals vital to good health. This transfers to low levels of iodine in crop foods. Unfortunately, the amount of iodine found in foods is completely dependent on the amount there is in the soil

Baked potatoes are a great source of iodine. Some other vegetarian sources are eggs, milk, garlic, lima beans, swiss chard, sesame seeds, soybeans, turnip greens and spinach.

Prior to the 1970’s milk was one of the foods that contributed most iodine to the diet but since the 1990’s the amount present in milk has dropped to about half due to changes in dairy processing practices.

Iodised salt was one food that provided many with daily iodine. But with firstly the awareness of the relationship between high salt intake and hypertension, and now a growing awareness of the problems with all highly processed foods including salt, consumption of this source of iodine has dropped off significantly.

If you are trying to avoid conventional salt you could replace it with Himalayan Salt in moderation, which is a viable alternative. Half a gram contains 250 micrograms, 150% of what the body requires each day.

To combat iodine deficiency dried seaweed is the food to head for. Just seven grams supplies 4,500 micrograms of iodine – 3000% of your daily requirement. Rather than having this much at one meal eat smaller quantities more frequently to maintain a regular supply.

Food                                               Iodine content (µg* per 100g)

Oysters                                                                        160
Cod                                                                                99
Sushi (containing seaweed)                                   92
Tinned salmon                                                            60
Bread (made with iodised salt)                            46
Steamed snapper                                                     40
Prawn                                                                             35
Baked turkey breast                                               34
Navy beans (1/2 cup)                                               32
Plain yoghurt                                                             31
Baked potato (1/2 medium)                                 30
Boiled eggs (2)                                                          24
Cheddar cheese                                                      23
Eggs                                                                              22
Ice cream                                                                    21
Chocolate milk                                                         20
Tuna, canned                                                              18
Canned corn                                                               17
Flavoured Yoghurt                                                   16
Regular milk                                                                13
Tinned tuna                                                                 10
Strawberries                                                               10
Bread (without iodised salt)                                  3
Beef, pork, lamb                                                         <1.5
Tap water (varies depending on site)                0.5-20.0
Apples, oranges, grapes, bananas                      <0.5
* micrograms
Source: http://www.nutritionaustralia.org/national/resource/iodine-facts

Don’t forget that you may eat substantially less than 100grams of some of these foods so you need to consider just how much iodine there actually is in the food you are eating.

Seaweed Salad
Seaweed Salad

 

How Inadequate Iodine Intake Affects You

Perhaps the most obvious, but least dangerous manifestation of iodine deficiency is goiter, a swelling of the thyroid gland which manifests as a swelling in the neck and around the larynx. Treating goiter with iodine during the first five years usually ensures that the thyroid does not suffer permanent damage.

It is well known that micronutrient deficiencies are known to affect the development of intelligence and iodine deficiency can certainly be included as one. Inadequate iodine has a significant effect on cognitive function, affecting memory.

Although iodine is recognized as a major requirement for thyroid health, it also plays other important functions including boosting the immune system, by increasing antioxidant activity.

Iodine is widely used to treat fibrocystic breast disease. It has been shown in studies to shrink caner cells when injected directly into the cells. It is essential in the prevention of thyroid cancer. It assists with flushing out chemical toxins including fluoride, lead and mercury.

Deficiency in children not only causes lower IQ but also creates issues with learning and concentration. It can be an ongoing issue when intake is too low.

 

Iodine is Required for Reproductive Health

Iodine offers lots of assistance to the reproductive organs. Sufficient levels are crucial to ensure fertility initially, as well as during pregnancy to prevent miscarriage or stillbirth, and to prevent neorologic and cognitive conditions in the baby. Severe deficiency during the pregnancy can lead to the following problems:

  • Miscarriage during the first trimester, or stillbirth
  • Gestational hytertension
  • Birth deformities
  • Neurological defects in the baby causing irreversible brain damage – cretinism, intellectual difficulties, hearing    loss and speech difficulties, short stature, deaf mutism, dwarfism

Iodine passes into the breast milk in large quantities and nursing mothers need to maintain their intake of iodine in order to prevent iodine deficiency themselves.

 

What Can Cause Iodine Deficiency?

There are a number of factors that can lead to iodine deficiency including:

Low amounts of iodine in the diet

  • Selenium deficiency
  • Pregnancy
  • Radiation exposure
  • Smoking tobacco
  • Alcohol
  • Oral contraceptives

 

Some Deficiency Clues

Here are some symptoms that could provide the clue that you are not getting enough iodine. If you suffer from these symptoms consult your health care practitioner:

  • Dry mouth
  • Dry skin, reduced sweating
  • Hair loss
  • Reduced alertness, poor perception, lowered IQ
  • Fibromyalgia, pain, fibrosis
  • Scar tissue, nodules
  • Frustration
  • Depression
  • Abnormal weight gain
  • Reduced fertility
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue

 

 

A word of caution if you live in an area where fluoride is added to the water supply. There have been studies which question the validity of fluoridation of drinking water because there is a link between excess fluoride ingestion and thyroid disease. The incidence increased where water was fluoridated as the fluoride inhibits the action of the iodine. It may be something worth thinking about if this applies to you.

Iodine supplementation is one place where you can get too much of a good thing. There are potential risks to taking too much iodine. Doses over 2,000mg a day are dangerous especially if you have kidney ailments. Too much can easily lead to subclinical hypothyroidism – ironic when you consider that hypothyroidism is often linked to iodine deficiency. Sourcing iodine from foods may be preferable to taking supplements.

Iodine is certainly one supplement where you need to make sure you achieve a healthy balance. 

 

Kelp is a rich source of iodine
Kelp is a rich source of iodine

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 following any of the treatments suggested on this site, particularly if you have an ongoing health issue.

Source articles

http://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/iodine.htm
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/06/29/iodine-deficiency-risk.aspx
http://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/minerals/health-benefits-of-iodine.html
https://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2011/oct2011_The-Silent-Epidemic-of-Iodine-Deficiency_01.htm
http://bembu.com/iodine-rich-foods

 

 

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

Maca – The Superfood Rebalancer!

Maca roots
Maca roots

Recently the herb Maca has come up frequently during consultations, so this week I would like to look at this new supplement that is rapidly gaining popularity.  Not really a supplement, it is actually a ‘superfood’ with many amazing benefits. Superfoods are those that have very high levels of antioxidants, such as blueberries, spirulina or pomegranates.

Lepidium peruvianum, or Maca, is a tuber vegetable cultivated for thousands of years in the harsh conditions high up at 4,000m in the Peruvian Andes. One of the superfoods of the Incas, it has been used as a medicinal food for over 2,000 years to increase energy, promote endurance and stamina as well as improve fertility and sexual performance in both men and women.

Maca is part of the brassica family and related to broccoli, cabbage and turnip. The harvested root has high antioxidant levels and is loaded with protein. It has more bioavailable calcium than milk, magnesium, potassium, iron, plus other minerals and trace elements, vitamins and all the amino acids. It is rich in the B vitamins and a vegetarian source of vitamin B12.

In addition to the traditional uses maca is great for offsetting the effects of stress, anxiety and fatigue. It stimulates and nourishes the hypothalamus and pituitary glands, the master glands of the body. As these are the glands that regulate all the other glands, maca can help to bring balance to the adrenal, thyroid, pancreas, ovarian and testicular glands.

Anxious

The glands in the body produce hormones that regulate many body processes including your mood, sexual development, growth, and tissue function. As well they play a role in many diseases ranging from depression to cancer

Maca is an adaptogen, responding to the individual needs of your body. It regulates as and where needed, where hormones are out of balance. This means if you are producing too much of a hormone it will regulate so production decreases, but if you are producing too much it regulates to increase production. Herbal adaptogens, are a rare class of herbs, valuable in natural health prescribing. Other adaptogens are licorice, Holy Basil, ashwagandha, ginseng, rhodiola, eleuthero and schisandra.

Unlike wild yam, maca does not introduce hormones into your body, nor are the active ingredients phyto-eostrogens. Instead it is thought that it is alkaloids in the maca that act on the hypothalamus and pituitary glands. This means that the effects of maca on the body are diverse, and not just restricted to the sex hormones.

Today the main uses of Maca are for balancing hormones, increasing energy and reducing stress. It offers significant benefits for women suffering hormonal imbalances. Studies have concentrated on the positive effects it has on the symptoms of menopause and perimenopause. However it is also very useful and beneficial for other hormonal problems like PCOS or PMS.

USES FOR MACA

MacaBENEFITS OF MACA

Maca produces benefits without the side-effects of many medications and even some herbal remedies.

  • Maca helps to balance our hormones.
  • Studies have shown that it increases sexual function and treats impotence
  • Stimulates fertility in men and women, enhances sperm production.
  • It can be very useful to regulate the menstrual cycle and ease PMS symptoms.  It relieves the unpleasant effects of menopause.
  • Maca has shown anticancer activity in the laboratory.
  • It reduces low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and decreases the levels of triglycerides.
  • It seems to reduce blood sugar levels and improve glucose tolerance.
  • Maca could provide a non-caffeine alternative for those who need an energy boost from coffee in the morning.
  • Is an antidepressant
  • Enhances learning and memory abilities
  • Supports the immune system
  • Increases energy, stamina and endurance, reducing chronic fatigue.
  • Remineralizes the body, making up for the lack of minerals in modern diets.
  • Clears acne and blemishes

MacaHOW TO SELECT AND USE MACA

Maca comes in a number of different colours, the most commonly found is yellow. Scientists have found that each colour has a different effect on the body. Black and red maca improve bone health and black affects memory and learning the best. Darker maca roots contain significant levels of iodine.

The dried root of maca comes in a powder form, tablets or capsules. It has a slightly sweet, nutty flavour and can be added to many foods such as soup, herbal tea, or desserts. You can sprinkle it on bananas or popcorn. You can mix it with honey and eat the paste off the spoon, add it to smoothies, juice or to warm almond milk with some raw cacao for hot chocolate. Added to baking maca gives a maltiness to the flavour. But don’t add to much as the flavour can be overwhelming.

Start with ½ -1 teaspoon a day and build up to between 1 and 5 teaspoons a day, over a few days. Some people may experience adverse responses when they start taking maca. These are a sign of the body detoxing and only last a few days. Cut back the amount you are taking and build up slowly.

Improvement can occur within days, even the on same day, although for most people it takes about four days or even weeks to notice changes.

You can find maca at most health food shops or online. Make certain to buy a quality, organic product. Because it is a root vegetable the growing conditions make a huge difference to the level of nutrients. Cheaply priced good will deliver an inferior product (unless it is cheap on special). Only buy reputable, organic brands of maca root. Don’t buy other parts of the plant.

The brand I recommend to my clients, although I do not sell or have any financial interest in it at all, is Loving Earth Maca Powder. It is raw Australian Certified Organic and the company has awesome 30% off discounts on their website for all their maca products through December.

Maca is generally recognized as safe. However, because of the way it works care may be needed. For example, maca balances out your hormones so they are at the required levels. If you are also taking other supplements, such as Dong Quai, Black cohosh, Vitex or phytoestrogens for womens hormones for example, to achieve similar results, these could interfere with the maca and result in an aggravation of your symptoms.

If you take too much too soon maca can actually exacerbate your hormonal symptoms and make them worse. If you are suffering the effects of stress it could exacerbate that also, causing a racing heart and insomnia. I have seen problems that are the result of taking maca. Simply exercise care, stop taking maca if you notice adverse effects or speak to your health practitioner.

If you suffer from any diagnosed illness, particularly those such as hormone related cancers, speak to your health practitioner before starting to take maca.

 Maca uses 2

Do you use maca? How quickly did it work for you? How effective have you found 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

http://www.naturalnews.com/027797_maca_root_hormone_balance.html

http://www.naturalfertilityandwellness.com/macas-fertility-benefits/

http://www.livestrong.com/article/159150-benefit-of-maca/

http://www.iquitsugar.com/a-bluffers-guide-to-maca

http://realrawfood.com/maca-history-info

Related articles

The Health Benefits Of Herbal Teas

Loose leaf herbal tea
Loose leaf herbal tea

I’m a big fan of herbal teas, or tissanes. When I started drinking them, I had a difficult time, as like many people initially I did not enjoy the taste. But I had always drunk my coffee and tea without milk and I think that this helped me make the switch. I still find herbal tea with milk added just weird (unless it is chai of course).

The problem for me was that the first herbal tea I tried was peppermint, and I tried it during pregnancy because it was recommended for treating the nausea of morning sickness. However it made me feel even sicker at the time and every since whenever I sip on peppermint tea it comes accompanied with a wave of nausea – the power of suggestion!

Peppermint is well known as a wonderful digestive – and it is, for just over about half the population. For the other half peppermint can have a very different effect. It is a herb that has a relaxing effect on the sphincters of the body. It can have that effect on the sphincter at the top of the stomach, allowing partially digested food to flow from the stomach into the oesophagus, resulting in heartburn and indigestion. It is definitely not the tea of choice for anyone who suffers from heartburn.

This is a wonderful reminder of the power of herbal tea. Herbal teas not only offer a tasty warm drink, they also deliver a dose of medication at the same time. If you have a negative sensitivity to the effects of that particular plant then you are certainly going to feel the negative effect in your body.

The medicinal effects of the plants in the tea you select can also build up. Chamomile is widely recognised as a great herb to relax people sufficiently so they can drift off to sleep. It has a soothing effect on the nervous system. But take too much chamomile tea and you could find yourself far from relaxed. Instead you become a nervous, irritable, difficult to please, pain-in-the-neck.

Herbs are a wonderful way to treat all manner of illnesses, with their prescribing origins going way back into the depths of time. But it is certainly valid to investigate whether consuming herbal teas in any quantity is going to be harmful to you. There are a number of teas that are not good during pregnancy. But there are also other health issues that may make you choose to stay away from certain herbal teas. Licorice for example can cause an increase in blood pressure and is better avoided if you suffer hypertension.

One great benefit of drinking herbal teas is that they are alkalizing when they are metabolized by the body. Too many acidifying foods create inflammation in your body, which contributes to many diseases. Balancing out these foods with alkalizing foods, including herbal teas, helps to bring your body back into balance also.

I try to vary the teas I drink in order to avoid problems from too much of any one herb in my system and so I have a whole shelf in my cupboard devoted to herbal teas. I am continually on the lookout for new ones to try. I occasionally dry my own herbs, although my current garden is not so great for growing the herbs I prefer. Growing and drying your own herbs is very easy and provided you don’t use any chemicals on them an excellent way to make your own organic teas.

My herbal tea cupboard with some of the herbal teas we drink
My herbal tea cupboard with some of the herbal teas we drink

Here are some guidelines for growing your own tea herbs. Home grown herbs are often more flavoursome than bought varieties.

If you prefer to buy packaged herbal teas there are many great brands out there, so you don’t need to buy those made by Liptons or other big companies. I love quite a few. Pukka teas are made according to Ayurvedic medicine principles and there are some great blends in their range. Tea Tonic  is the brainchild of a naturopath and herbalist Lisa Hilbert and teas in the range are formulated for good health. Healing Concepts make a big range of awesome teas, including an excellent dandelion root tea, which is great for your liver. Plus there are many other companies making great, often organic, teas. If you want quality tea that not only tastes good but is really good for you, source your teas carefully. I read a few months ago that many of the teas from a well-known and long established herbal tea company were found to contain worrying high levels of pesticides.

If you are using the herbal teas for a specific health issue you need to drink about drink two to four cups a day for a few weeks. By then you should know whether it is helping to improve your problem.

photo credit: Khairil Zhafri
photo credit: Khairil Zhafri

 

12 HERBAL TEAS TO TRY

Chamomile

One of the most popular herbal teas, it is calming and soothing and helps people who lose their appetite when stressed. It soothes tense stomachs or digestive problems like heartburn or nausea. Because it relaxes it is useful for PMS or abdominal cramps.  It is also excellent for nervousness or anxiety and is a wonderful relaxant before bed. It’s a great stress buster and usually available.

Dandelion

The part of the plant used dictates the benefit. The leaves are a diuretic and increase your urine output. The root however gives excellent liver support and helps bile secretion. It is also helpful for skin conditions. Dandelion ‘coffee’ makes an excellent liver tonic, helping it in its detox role, for those times when you have eaten too much rich food or drunk too much alcohol.

Fennel

It is often drunk by new mothers to improve production of breast milk. A good stomach tea, it eases indigestion by increasing the secretion of digestive enzymes. It increases the appetite and has been used for cancer patients to help them put weight on. Like dandelion it is also a gentle liver and bile stimulant. Also good for coughs and colds. It can be blended with chamomile for colicky babies.

Lemon Balm

Another tea helpful for stomach problems particularly cramping and it relaxes the muscles around the bowel. It also helps to lift your mood if you drink it regularly and is fantastic for the nervous system.

Ginger

Excellent for anyone with a cold or flu, especially combined with lemon. It increases blood flow and helps clear blockages. It is also wonderful for upset stomachs, nausea, indigestion and diarrhea. You can simply grate fresh ginger but will get more flavour from the dried herb.

Rosemary

Rosemary is fairly strong tasting and helps to ease joint pains and headaches. It also has antiseptic properties so is useful to relieve mouth ulcers and sore throats.

Hibuscus

Pretty dark rose coloured and delicious tasting hibiscus is great for lowering blood pressure and high levels of cholesterol. It is a diuretic like dandelion leaves, useful in cystitis. It is high in antioxidants, is a rich source of Vitamin C and strengthens the immune system. It is useful for colds, sore throats, gum disease and other inflammations of mucous membranes.

Lemongrass

Good for reducing blood pressure and improving circulation. Also an antioxidant, it boosts the immune system, calms the nervous system, helps tone muscle and tissue and detoxifies the organs. It can aid digestion particularly bloating and flatulence.

Nettle

A great tea to drink for seasonal allergies, excessive mucous discharge, difficulty or burning when urinating, and skin disorders.

Rooibos

Rapidly gaining popularity, this wonderful antioxidant tea is up there with green tea. Great for irritability or mild depression, it helps maintain a healthy nervous system. It is a broad anti-inflammatory. It is useful for hypertension, headaches, heartburn, nausea or stomach cramps. Known as the ‘complexion tea’ it is good for your skin.

Tulsi

This is one of my very favourite teas, it has a strong flavour with just a hint of mint. Tulsi, or Holy basil, has held a significant place for centuries in Ayervedic medicine. You can read all about the extraordinary benefits of Tulsi here.

Peppermint

Generally used as an excellent digestif, it reduces bloating and flatulence and helps indigestion (for some people). It can also ease stuffed-up colds. Very cooling, it can be drunk iced in the summer.

In fact many herbal teas are wonderful cooling summer drinks. When my children were small I often made them iced blackcurrant tea on hot days. They were happy to drink it unsweetened and it made an excellent fruity alternative to soft drink (soda) or cordials with the extra benefit of being sugar-free and artificial sweetener-free.

These are just a few of the herbal teas available. There are many other herbal teas and herbal blends for you to enjoy. If you find you don’t like one, then keep trying them out until you work out your preferences.

What’s your favourite herbal tea? Do you grow any yourself?

Herbal tea
Herbal tea (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.naturalnews.com/040501_herbal_teas_healing_natural_remedies.html#ixzz2Ujzot3Gc

http://blendhappy.com/herbal-tea-benefits

http://www.littleecofootprints.com/2012/05/growing-herbal-teas-at-home.html

http://www.bodyandsoul.com.au/nutrition/nutrition+tips/a+guide+to+herbal+teas,1336 1

http://blendhappy.com/herbal-tea-benefits

Related articles

Junk it!

Katrina Stairs Red Cross Pantry

Junk food! Everyone knows the term, almost everyone has their favourite, and everyone when asked to name a few would be able to name many more than a few with no hesitation at all. There are certain foods that are immediately recognized as junk foods – many ‘take-away foods’, as well lots of others, packaged and sold in supermarkets or convenience stores – potato chips, biscuits, lollies, soft drinks – are all obvious inclusions. But, what about other junk foods that are masquerading as ‘healthier’ options?

Processed foods are those that have had the ingredients altered so they are no longer in their natural state. Humans have processed their food for millennia. Any food that’s prepared by drying, grinding, chopping or cooking is processed. Traditionally this was done to make the food more digestible or to preserve it for later, when food may not be available. Grain foods were processed, and cheese, sausage and wine are just a few others.

Modern processed foods may on the surface seem far less insidious than the widely accepted ‘junk foods’. But often they are just as bad for you. No longer are processed foods the artisan foods of the past. Now foods are industrially processed in factories. In fact most of the foods in the Aussie diet are processed.

Processing may be as simple as freezing or it may be putting together a complete meal ready to heat and eat. During the process many of the nutrients that are in the original food are destroyed leaving the finished product a far cry from the original, and certainly not in line with the traditional purpose of processing. Grains are treated with very high temperatures and pressure which destroys the nutrients, denatures the fatty acids, and the process even destroys the synthetic vitamins that are added.  But not only does the extrusion process used for grains destroy the nutrients, in particular the amino acid lysine, it turns the grains into neurotoxins according to biochemist Paul Stitt in his book Fighting the Food Giants.

Processed foods often appear to be healthy. These days they may feature low-fat, low-carb, fortified with vitamins, fibre, iron, or minerals, no trans-fats, containing omega-3, high-calcium, plus many more. They may make claims to promote health such as ‘may reduce the risk of heart disease’. But they all have the flavour enhanced with excess salt, sugar or oil. Many processed foods like white bread, are essentially empty calories offering very little nutritional value, certainly far less than the wholefood alternative.

During processing part of the plant is often removed or purposefully changed. One example where you can see this is with wheat grains used for bread. The wholewheat grain forms with three layers, the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. (diagram) The bran is the layer where the fibre exists. Most nutrients and fatty acids are found in the germ. The endosperm is the starchy layer. The high nutrient density of grains only exists (and provides us with nutrients) when these layers are intact. During processing of the wholewheat grain into a loaf of white bread, most of the germ and bran is stripped away leaving just the starchy endosperm.

Take a look at the package or label on your white bread and notice all the ingredients that are listed. In the past bread was made by mixing whole milled wheat, often other grains or seeds, water, salt and a fermented dough starter, to create an easily digested, fermented bread, or sourdough loaf. Later yeast was used instead of the fermented starter. Traditonally, the bread mixture was kneaded and left to prove twice, unlike commercial breads which are only left to prove once. The extra steps in the process allowed the components of the grain, such as the phytic acid, to break down properly so they can be properly absorbed, or, as is the case with phytic acid which inhibits absorption of other minerals if it is not broken down, to prevent them interfering with efficient metabolism.

White bread packaging showing a list of ingredients which is far removed from those few ingredients found in traditional breads
White bread packaging showing an enormously long list of ingredients, far removed from those few ingredients required to make traditional breads

In commercial processed breads, the process is rushed through, with steps eliminated, and lots of other ingredients beside the basic ingredients that are needed to make home-made bread added. Preservatives, sweeteners, gluten, salt, soy flour plus many chemicals are all added to the mix.

Bread is a perfect example of the big problem with processed foods and also the pointer as to how to get around the problem. Traditional methods of food preparation allowed for the use of pure, wholefood ingredients. Home made foods did not need to have lots of chemicals straight out of the laboratory, many of which come with health cautions, added to stabilize the product and make it more appealing.

Home made food may include less than desirable ingredients, such as sugar, but at least the sugar is real sugar, and not a chemical version, and the butter is butter and not a questionable vegetable oil, or you can make the choice to replace the butter with a healthier fat option such as coconut oil. With processed foods there is no choice. You cannot opt to avoid trans fats or white sugar.

Many of the chemicals, including vitamins and minerals, that occur in a plant work together to help the plant grow and survive more efficiently, and they also work together in a synergistic balance once they enter your body and are metabolized.  But when foods are processed the natural balance between the different chemicals in the original food is upset so their effect on your body and the way in which they work, is altered. Many extra chemicals also need to be added to processed food to stabilize the product, or to make it look, taste, or feel more appealing, and these are rarely good for you

HOW TO AVOID PROCESSED FOODS

Sometimes it is difficult to know whether or not a food is processed, and the first step is to get a few guidelines to help you recognize them when they are traveling incognito. It all comes down to reading the ingredient list, because even a glance at the list will often set the alarm bells ringing. If the product has a long list of ingredients then you can be pretty sure it is processed. The case with the bread is a good example, where the food should have only a few ingredients when made according to traditional methods, often there may be eight, ten or even fifteen on the label.

If the food has a long list of ingredients where there should only be a few it is likely processed.

If you don’t recognize many of the ingredients, or can’t pronounce them, then it is probably highly processed.

If it has a very long shelf life – the ‘use by’ date is way off in the future it is processed.

If it contains trans fats, MSG, or lots of numbers it is definitely processed. In fact about ninety-five percent of processed foods contain MSG.

Take-away foods are a real trap. Aside form the obvious problem with deep frying foods like fish and chips, even foods that seem ok are loaded with highly processed ingredients. Pizza for instance, is covered in oils, processed meats and cheese. The kids menu is particularly bad, generally comprising only highly processed foods such as nuggets, chips and pasta (which is white and therefore highly processed). Salad, vegetables or a baked potato are all less processed options. Beware though of some of the ‘take-away salad chains’ as many of their salads are loaded with processed ingredients in the dressings, again take a quick look at the ingredient list.

processed foods NH

If you set out to eat more fruit and vegetables then you will find you have naturally replaced many processed foods with more natural ones without even being aware of it. Get to know when they are in season and try to eat seasonally, as that is the way you will get the best level of nutrients available.

Look for suitable alternatives – porridge made from wholegrain oats (not quick oats) or quinoa makes a great alternative to boxed cereals. Other breakfast options might be eggs with spinach, asparagus or avocado, quinoa with fruit and nuts, fruit salad and yoghurt, high-fibre-superfood fruit smoothies, omelettes with different vegetables, homemade baked beans, bircher muesli with fruit, green juice. When I have some time I enjoy stir-fried vegetables.

We are all time stressed these days, but the very best way to avoid processed foods is to make foods yourself. Instead of just watching Masterchef, get out in the kitchen yourself and cook up your own junk foods. When you make cakes, muffins or biscuits yourself you can use real eggs, butter or good oils and avoid artificial colours, preservatives and trans fats. Make your own oven-baked potato wedges and avoid the additives. You can flavour them with spices like sumac for an extra kick. Invest in a bread maker, making bread at home is so easy these days, you can even start your own sourdough bread starter.

This is the way to start back to good health through our eating, by reclaiming a few of the best practices of the past, by becoming aware enough to check out what we are consuming before wolfing it down, and by selecting foods that look like they may have come from the garden.

Simple really!

What are your favourite ‘junk food’ alternatives?

photo:  John Burke
photo: John Burke

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.foodinsight.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=wtg018sd8qk%3D&tabid=1398

http://foodmatters.tv/articles-1/dirty-secrets-of-the-food-processing-industry

http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/10-reasons-to-cut-out-processed-food/

http://www.healthy-food-site.com/processed-food.html

http://www.westonaprice.org/modern-foods/wheaty-indiscretions

Related articles

 

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)

Natural Ways To Deal With This Galling Problem

Dandelion, a classic bitter herb stimulates bile production as well as bile action.
Dandelion, a classic bitter herb stimulates bile production as well as bile action.

Gallstones are a common condition and gallbladder removal is one of the most commonly performed surgeries in Australia, where about 18,000 are performed using keyhole surgery each year.

The gallbladder is a small pear shaped pouch-like organ in the upper abdomen just under the liver, that works alongside the liver to digest foods and eliminate toxins. It is responsible for breaking down fats, mostly cholesterol, so that they can be absorbed through the walls of the small intestine.

Bile is made in your liver from recycled red blood cells, cholesterol and bile salts (minerals). The bile then passes from your liver into the bile duct and gallbladder which acts as a storage house. Here the bile is concentrated ready to be released when it is required. After a fatty meal more bile is needed to digest the extra fat and can be released quickly from the gallbladder into the intestine to help with digestion.

When your gallbladder is not functioning well it can affect your energy level, your weight, exacerbate thyroid conditions, cause bloating, gas and stomach pain and other miscellaneous pains. But many people nowadays have poorly functioning digestive systems and often regard many of these symptoms as being normal.

Many people have gallstones and are not even aware of them as they have no obvious symptoms. But for some the presence of gallstones can cause excruciating pain and other symptoms.

Bile is usually liquid, but when the different components are out of balance the bile hardens and over time forms gallstones. They can be the result of insufficient amounts of bile or an excess of cholesterol (fat) in the bile. At first the fat clumps to form a sludge. With time this sludge thickens to become first ‘sand’, then ‘gravel’ until eventually the ‘gravel’ becomes one or more gallstones, which can be as big as a golf ball. They form in the liver and most of them are carried through into the common bile duct on their way to the small intestine.

English: Opened gall bladder containing numero...
Opened gall bladder containing numerous gallstones resembling pebbles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Problems arise as the gallstones pass from the liver through the common bileduct. When a stone begins to make its way down this tube the result can be what is known as biliary colic. Pain suddenly starts under the ribs on the right side, sometimes radiating up into the back, getting steadily worse for a few hours until the stone passes out of the bile duct and into the intestines. It can be accompanied by sweating, vomiting and great restlessness. The attack passes, but will recur again later.

The next stage of gallbladder disease, cholecystitis, is similar to biliary colic but involves inflammation and fever and vomiting. The pain is often stronger and lasts longer and  jaundice occurs if the stone becomes stuck along the way. If the stone gets impacted in the neck of the gallbladder it impedes the flow of bile and the gallbladder eventually becomes infected. This is when a major attack occurs, often requiring surgery.

After the gallbladder is removed the bile drips steadily into your intestines. Because there is no longer anywhere to store it, there are no reserves for the body to draw on if it has to digest a greater amount of fat so it becomes vital not to eat large amounts of fat that will overwhelm the system.

There are a number of factors that make you more susceptible to gallstones.

  • They are twice as common in women than men.
  • It seems that oestrogen plays a role and having more children puts you more at risk.
  • So does pregnancy, obesity, liver disease, diabetes, high fat diets, the contraceptive pill, a sedentary lifestyle, family history of gallstones and some forms of anaemia.
  • Their incidence also increases with age particularly for those over sixty years old.

Some Natural Ways To Prevent Gallstones

The gallbladder works with the liver to digest food and eliminate toxins. When either of them is clogged up from poor nutrition or a buildup of toxins the cholesterol in the bile crystallizes to form gallstones. Gallstones are far more difficult to break down than to prevent, so it is worth taking steps to keep your liver and gallbladder happy.

Gallstones won’t form if you are digesting fats properly. However, removing fats totally from your diet, while it might seem like an easy option, is not the answer. Your body needs fats in order to function efficiently and therefore it is a matter of choosing better forms of fat and digesting those fats well. In fact eating fats helps to prevent the bile in the gallbladder from stagnating as it promotes the flow of bile.

HEALTHY FATS

The best approach lies with choosing healthy fats. Olive oil, coconut oil and saturated fats from grass-fed animals for instance, actually help assimilate nutrients from foods that help to maintain a clean liver and gallbladder. Select foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as oily fish or chia seeds, to reduce the toxic burden. One way to help break down the fat in your meal is to have lemon juice before you eat. Add it to warm water as a tea and drink thirty minutes before eating. It will cut through the fat making it easier to digest.

Avoid unhealthy fats and oils such as canola oil, soybean oil or other vegetable-based hydrogenated processed oils as they cause inflammation and chronic inflammation leads to chronic disease. In addition chronic inflammation causes high cholesterol. Don’t include foods high in unhealthy fats like burgers, fried foods, ice-cream, or cheese.

Raw, unfiltered apple juice is a useful way to support the gallbladder.
Raw, unfiltered apple juice is a useful way to support the gallbladder.

FOODS

Liver and gallbladder health is strongly affected by what you eat. Foods are perhaps the simplest way to make changes to your health. Here are a few that will support your gallbladder or even dissolve gallstones.

1.  Apples are a great friend for the gallbladder and eating apples is a particularly useful way to support the gallbladder. They contain pectin to soften and disintegrate existing gallstones and prevent new ones forming. Raw, unfiltered apple juice is very rich in pectin. Juicing reduces inflammation and enzymatically helps to detoxify your liver and gallbladder. Good selections to add to apples are lemons, celery, tomato and beets. Another wonderful apple juice variation is to add Apple Cider Vinegar mixed with malic acid to it, which makes a great gallbladder flush. The richest source of malic acid is apples.

2.  There are a number of foods that are perfect for offering support to the liver, and therefore the gallbladder. Green vegetables including artichokes, rhubarb, beets and cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli etc) stimulate bile  production.  Other helpful foods include green leafy vegetables, fresh ginger, and foods rich in pectin. Add them to your meals wherever you can.

3.  Diets high in refined carbohydrates are a problem because they reduce the solubility of the bile, making it more likely to ‘sludge’

4.  Eat lots of soluble fibre (apples, celery, dark green leafy vegetables) which goes a long way to help prevent gallstones forming and can even reverse them once they have formed.

5.  Having sufficient bile is also essential and some foods that promote bile production and flow are artichokes, beets, dandelion root, and turmeric.

6.  Turmeric is certainly a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory food. Adding it to your meals helps maintain a healthy gallbladder by improving the solubility of your bile, so that it is able to break down the minerals and cholesterol in it more efficiently. You can take also take curcumin (the active component of turmeric) as a supplement – 300mg of curcumin three times a day.

Support For Your Liver And Gallbladder

Because the liver and gallbladder work alongside each other, taking care of your liver also benefits your gallbladder. Reducing your toxic load greatly reduces the strain on your liver and how hard it has to work. You can do this by reducing your intake of caffeine, alcohol and unnecessary medications. In addition try to reduce any toxins you are exposed to, but don’t actually ingest. Hair care products, skin and body care products, toxic fumes, even the pesticide residue on  non-organic foods are some factors that put stress and strain on your liver. Don’t forget that you body may regard and respond to many seemingly harmless foods as toxins. Foods such as gluten and dairy foods are perfect examples.

There are a number of botanicals that you can treat your liver to. Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) protects liver cells. Dandelion root, a classic bitter herb can be taken as a tea or latte, and stimulates bile production as well as bile action. Rosemary is another herb that stimulates bile production. Both young milk thistle leaves and dandelion leaves (picked from your garden) can be steamed like spinach or added to salads.

There are many wonderful Homeopathic remedies such as Chelidonium, Dioscorea, Nux vomica and Lycopodium amongst many others, used to successfully relieve the symptoms of gallbladder attack as well as to redress a dysfunctioning liver and gallbladder and prevent more gallstones developing.

If you find you get mild pain after eating fatty foods you could take the digestive enzyme lipase to help digest the fat. But, if you provide extra enzymes as a supplement over a long period, and your body is no longer required to manufacture them at all, it may cease making them altogether. It is far better to improve the health of your body so that it is able to more easily make the enzymes it requires itself. In the long run it is the healthier outcome.

 Supplementing with lecithin is one easy way to dissolve gallstones. Make sure it comes from sunflower or non-GMO soy. The digestion of lecithin requires large amounts of bile, and in the process hardened gallstones are also dissolved. Taking even one gram of lecithin three times a day has been shown to increase the concentration of lecithin in the bile. Taking more (up to ten grams) produces even greater increases.

Lastly, increasing exercise and stretching can help prevent gallbladder disease.

Raw turmeric - a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory
Raw turmeric – a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory

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.livestrong.com/article/535096-foods-that-increase-bile-flow/

http://foodmatters.tv/articles-1/how-to-prevent-gallstones-with-everyday-foods

http://www.naturalnews.com/038571_gallstones_prevention_foods.html#xzz2HHGadpLN

http://www.betternutrition.com/gallbladder-function-nutrition/columns/askthenaturopath/1016

http://www.detoxyourgallbladder.com/gallbladder-function/

http://www.bodyandsoul.com.au/health/health+advice/what+does+a+gall+bladder+dor,18591

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

Winter Girl Blowing Snow by Petr Kratochvil

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The first is from Tara Bliss at Such Different Skies

hot choc smoothie

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

1 banana

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

½ teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon chia seeds

2 medjool dates or some honey

1 cup boiling water OR warm almond milk OR dandelion tea

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

 Blend, Pour, Guzzle Buzz.

 haute hotchocoalte

SUPERFOOD HAUTE CHOCOLATE from Sarah Britton at My New Roots

2 Tablespoons raw cacao powder

2 teaspoons maca porder

1 Tablespoon coconut sugar

Pinch sea salt

Pinch cinnamon powder

Pinch cayenne pepper

Pinch ginger powder

Small piece vanilla bean, scraped (optional)

1½ cups milk of your choice or water

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

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

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

                DANDELION CHAISPICED DANDELION ROOT TEA

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

1 cinnamon stick (or a pinch of cinnamon powder)

Ginger root, chopped up with the skin left on

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

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

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

Add some honey and your milk of choice if desired.

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

 Aug 22 040

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

2 cups boiling water

Juice of ½-1 lemon (about 60ml)

2.5cm piece ginger root, grated

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s to the arrival of spring…

 Copy of daffodils

Disclaimer.

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

Source articles

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

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

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

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