Tag Archives: Nutrition & Nutrients

Magical Magnesium

My sister is lucky and has a beautiful bathroom with a big, deep bath in it, and so this week I ordered her a bulk order of Epsom Salts for her long, deep bath soaks. She knows, like most people, that they are a great way to relieve tired and aching muscles and bring on a great sleep. But what she doesn’t know is that Epsom salts are rich in magnesium, a mineral that can be poorly absorbed internally.

Epsom Salts are a great way to relieve tired and aching muscles and bring on a great sleep
Epsom Salts are a great way to relieve tired and aching muscles and bring on a great sleep
Photo credit: Monica Arellano-Ongpin

Magnesium is often deficient in our diets but soaking in a bath containing Epsom salts can be a way to boost your magnesium levels, because it is absorbed very easily through the skin.

Most of the population does not get enough magnesium. In 2000 the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (in USA) found that the figure of deficiency was as high as 80% of adults, a figure most likely mirrored here in Australia. This figure is significant because the mineral magnesium plays a part in thousands of functions in your body, and it is also one that is easily depleted. Also, deficiency is often not detected because it manifests differently in each individual.

The mineral magnesium, plays a vital role in building and maintaining good health, working in conjunction with many other nutrients, particularly calcium and Vitamin D.

Most people know that they need calcium. And there is also growing awareness of the importance of Vitamin D. But the third side of this triangle is perhaps not so widely known about. Magnesium also plays a part in this picture, and while magnesium deficiency is quite widespread due to deficient intake, it is frequently not addressed with diet or supplementation in the way that calcium is. head-30160_640

Magnesium, calcium and vitamin D work in unison in the body. All three require the others to actually do their job, and it does not matter if you are getting adequate amounts of one of them, without all three it will not be able to do its job. Which means taking calcium supplements without adequate magnesium is not much use. Your body needs about twice as much calcium as magnesium, but many people actually have much, much more calcium and many times less magnesium.

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant element in your body. It helps to regulate over three hundred enzymes, it plays a vital role in muscle control, in sending electrical impulses along the nerves, in energy production and also it assists in the elimination of toxins.

Many common diseases of our modern life can be rooted in a magnesium deficiency, and it can lead to heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, arthritis and joint pain, digestive disorders, chronic fatigue, or illnesses resulting from stress. Magnesium deficiency has also been shown to contribute to SIDS. Long term chronic magnesium deficiency damage can even be fatal.

When we talk of muscles everyone usually thinks of those in the legs or back, and most people have experienced muscle cramps at some time, often in the legs or feet. But how many think of their heart as also being a muscle? Low magnesium levels can affect the efficient working of your heart, in the same way that they can lead to cramping of your leg muscles.

Here are some early symptoms of a magnesium deficiency:

  • Restlessness
  • Muscle cramps, tremors & twitches
  • Restless or fidgety legs
  • Pain in the feet

Some other indicators of a possible magnesium deficiency:

  • Migraines, cluster headaches 
  • Anxiety, stress & panic attacks
  • Fatigue, sluggish
  • Poor sleep & waking up tired – difficulty falling asleep or waking with muscle stiffness
  • Low energy levels
  • High blood pressure & cholesterol levels
  • Period pain & PMS – deficiency can also lead to infertility and pregnancy problems
  • Nervousness – heightened sensitivity to external stimuli like lights and noise, with exaggerated emotions
  • Irritability of the nervous system – depression, restlessness, psychiatric conditions including bipolar and epilepsy.
  • Kidney stones
  • Poor memory & confusion
  • Calcium or potassium deficiency
  • Autism spectrum, ADD/ADHD, other neurological conditions

 

Magnesium Foods

Magnesium can be obtained from a number of foods. Good sources of magnesium are

Continue reading…

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://truththeory.com/2013/04/02/16-signs-youre-magnesium-deficient-symptoms-of-low-magnesium-levels/

http://truththeory.com/2013/04/02/16-signs-youre-magnesium-deficient-symptoms-of-low-magnesium-levels/

http://www.ancient-minerals.com/magnesium-sources/dietary/

16 Magnesium Deficiency Symptoms – Signs of Low Magnesium Levels

http://unames.com/floating/epsom.htm

The Magnesium Factor, Seelig, Mildred. 2003

Find The Rainbow Connection With Antioxidants

Rainbow in a wok
Rainbow in a wok

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

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

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

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

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

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

SO WHAT EXACTLY ARE ANTIOXIDANTS?

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

Eat a Rainbow
Eat a Rainbow

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

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

antioxidant

colours

foods

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

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

AND FREE RADICALS…?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Disclaimer.

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

 

Source articles:

http://www.healingdaily.com/conditions/free-radicals.htm

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

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

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

Treat Time with this Delicious Dessert for Christmas

Christmas has arrived in my household. It was a little slow in appearing this year but the tree went up three days ago and now it feels more like Christmas time.

The Christmas Tree in the corner of my living room
The Christmas Tree in the corner of my living room

We always celebrate on the night before Christmas when we meet for the family dinner, and like most families there are long-held food traditions. One which my boys hold on to most vehemently is the inclusion of Summer Pudding in the menu. To them, Summer Pudding, a delicious, light, berry-bright dessert that celebrates the height of summer is synonymous with Christmas. This suits me fine as it is a breeze to make.

Christmas and New Year is a time when it is all too easy to overeat, or to eat poorly, when eating out more often means that keeping up your normal healthy food choices becomes very difficult, so it is great to find a festive dessert that is delicious as well as being reasonably healthy, as desserts go.

The other benefit for me, and no doubt many of you, in these times when so many people are on restricted diets is that it fits the bill for many of them. In our family, we have to cater to a wide range of diets from the ‘meat and potato’ eaters to Vegan, and include gluten-free and dairy-free along the way, which is quite a tall order. Summer Pudding can be very easily adapted to fit these as well as being suitable for nut-free and egg-free diets also. The only negatives are that it really does need refined white bread and some sweetening.

The recipe normally calls for fine wheat bread but I replace this with  gluten-free bread. Some gluten-free breads are still as heavy as rocks but increased public demand has forced manufacturers to improve their product and there are some around now that taste just fine.

I replace the white castor sugar normally used in the recipe with coconut palm sugar, although as I was out of it today I had to use Panela which is unrefined cane sugar. In addition I cut the sugar content dramatically, as too much makes the dessert taste sickly and overwhelms the slight tartness that sings fresh berries. Do not leave all the sugar out though as it needs a little.

So here is my Super- Easy Antioxidant Rich Delicious Summer Pudding recipe adapted to suit restricted diets.

Serves 6 – But you can increase the quantities as needed and use a cake tin instead of the bowl for larger quantities.

Don’t stress too much about the berries – sometimes I use more or less of one or another. But, strawberries and blueberries don’t work well so leave them out. Normally I go out to the hills a few days before Christmas to pick my berries but this year didn’t have time and used mostly frozen berries from my last ‘picking’ with a few fresh ones thrown in. As long as you don’t over heat them they are fine.

1 Loaf of stale white gluten-free bread (GF bread stales quite quickly and will do so if left out on the bench for an or so)

300g raspberries

125g redcurrants

100g blackberries

100g boysenberries

1/3 cup coconut palm sugar

Line a bowl with plastic wrap, letting it hang over the sides.

Let the edges of the plastic wrap hang generously over the edge
Let the edges of the plastic wrap hang generously over the edge

Place the fruit in a saucepan with the sugar, and gently heat until it just starts to boil. Remove from the heat. Put the raspberries on the top as they are softest and will break up the easiest.

The berries release lots of juice as soon as they are heated.
The berries release lots of juice as soon as they are heated.

While the fruit is heating, cut the crusts from the bread and  line the bottom and sides with it. I use triangles on the bottom (as this will become the top) and tightly fitting rectangles for the sides. Take some care to make sure it fits snugly.

Cut the bread pieces so they fit snugly together
Cut the bread pieces so they fit snugly together

When the fruit has heated fill the lined bowl with the fruit, and cover the fruit with a lid of bread. I usually pour some of

Cover the berries with a lid of bread pieces
Cover the berries with a lid of bread pieces

the remaining juice over the bread lid and trickle some down the edges between the bread and plastic. Save any left over juice.

Fold the overhanging plastic over the bread lid and place a plate on top and weigh it down. You can use a can to do this.

I use these gorgeous antique weights but a can of food will do the job perfectly
I use these gorgeous antique weights but a can of food will do the job perfectly

Place in the refrigerator overnight.

To serve, turn the pudding out on a plate. If there are patches that have not absorbed the juices and are not ‘berry-juice red’ pour the reserved juices over them to patch them. Slice the pudding just as you would a cake.

The finished Summer Pudding
The finished Summer Pudding

Even if you are not celebrating Christmas, or your menu is already planned, try out this yummy treat, I am sure you will love it as much as we do.

Optimise Your Digestion With These Juicy Options

Juices can deliver a whopping great punch of valuable nutrients and enzymes into your body quickly and easily
Juices can deliver a whopping great punch of valuable nutrients and enzymes into your body quickly and easily

I am really excited tonight and feel like all-my-Christmases-have-come-at-once, as this afternoon I picked up my new slow juicer. I have been waiting quite a while for the shipment to arrive as it has sat in a container on the docks for a while. But today it is here. And no, it is not a Christmas gift, it just happens that it has arrived right at this time. The juicer I have chosen is a cold-press masticating type.

There is plenty of evidence about the benefits of juicing, provided the juice is prepared in a way that does not destroy the nutrients and enzymes. Juicing plays an important role in detoxing the body, and in facts underpins many natural health plans for the treatment of a wide range of diseases including cancer. But it also makes sense to include it in any plan for healthy living.

One if the main reasons to add home-made juice to your diet is that it can deliver a whopping great punch of valuable nutrients and enzymes quickly and easily, although this depends on the type of juicer it is made in.

You’ve heard this before but micronutrients are quickly damaged or destroyed by heating and cooking. In an ideal world we would all totally avoid processed foods and eat only fresh organic fruit and vegetables. But this is not always possible for lots of reasons. Most of us also make the choice to indulge in foods and drinks that are not health-wise, especially at this time of the year when it can become very difficult to make consistently good food choices.

So why juice?

Dr Mercola sums it up nicely in three points:

Juicing helps you absorb all the nutrients from the vegetables

Juicing allows you to consume an optimal amount of vegetables in an efficient manner

You can add a wider variety of vegetables in your diet

And to this I would add that juicing encourages people to eat breakfast. One of the big battles I frequently encounter at work is to get people to reverse their practice of not eating before they leave for work or school – the body is an engine and needs fuel to function!

Most people have poor or impaired digestion, whether they recognize it or not, as a result of prolonged regular poor food choices. For some this is obvious in indigestion, bloating, gas, cramping, or IBS, but for many more the effects are not so apparent. But poor digestion always equates with poor health. Over time it leads to many chronic health problems that range from fatigue to lung and heart problems and include a diverse range of many more. If you are not absorbing nutrients – vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats and carbohydrates – your body will simply not function properly. You need each of these nutrients to some degree, and some part of your body will suffer if you are deficient in any one of them.

Poor and impaired digestion results in poor and impaired immune function.

If you do suffer from poor digestion it is well worth taking fresh home-made juice before eating a meal, about twenty to thirty minutes, because the enzymes in the juice will actually act as an aid to help with your digestion. When taken on an empty stomach the juice is assimilated immediately, the nutrients absorbed, and the enzymes able to work efficiently.

The quantity of raw vegetables that we should optimally eat is big. Even the relatively modest amounts recommended by Government bodies are more than most people who come to see me for health advice and treatment regularly eat. Many of these people are in tune with good health requirements (to varying degrees), and eat more vegetables and fruit than most of the rest of the population, but still are not eating enough. Juicing allows you to increase the amount of raw vegetables and fruit that you consume substantially.

If you take a moment to work out what vegetables and fruits you eat you will almost certainly find that you are eating the same ones every day, with a variation thrown in only occasionally. Very few people actually manage to sustain a good rotation of the vegetables they consume. This may lead to a preponderance of some nutrients and deficiency of others in your diet. But one result that is not often appreciated is that it can also be responsible for the development of food allergies and intolerances. When you juice you can create a far more diverse diet because you can add in those vegetables and fruits that you don’t particularly like and so would not normally consume.

I mentioned before that the quality of the juice depends very much on the type of juicer used. The cheaper versions all use a centrifugal action. They are cheap to buy and quick to use. The problem is that their action heats the juice and causes significant nutrient loss. Juice made in these machines oxidizes quickly (in the same way that cut apple turns brown as it oxidizes) leading to free radical damage in your body. If you leave these juices sitting they will turn brown fairly quickly. I guess that if all you want juice for is the taste with no awareness or consideration for the consequence of consuming poor and damaging food then that would not be an issue!

Masticating juicers on the other hand, deliver a cold-pressed product which has not been damaged by being heated.

Bearing in mind that a juicer is an investment – an investment in your health what do you need to look for when purchasing a juicer?

Well firstly you want one that will deliver a high quality juice which is loaded with nutrients and enzymes

Another important factor is how easy it will be to clean, as if this is difficult you simply won’t use it.

A good warranty will ensure that the juicer can handle seeds, skins and cores without burning out.

The factor that really sets the best juicers apart is how much juice they can extract, as in the long run a machine that produces more juice from the same quantity of produce will save you money

Lastly make sure the engine is going to be strong enough to deal with juicing for the family.

One bonus you get from juicers is that you can also use them to make smoothies which are often a great way to retrain your body to eat breakfast. I often get clients to start slowly at reintroducing the practice as once their body gets used to eating in the morning they find they want to eat sufficient and can’t do without. Many who say they can’t eat in the morning find they are ok with a smoothie to start off the ‘re-training’. Another bonus is that it so easy to add superfoods like Spiulina or Chlorella powder, or wheat or barleygrass to the smoothie to really powerhouse your breakfast and get your body fired for the day.

You can add Superfoods to a basic green smoothie to give a power start to your day
You can add Superfoods to a basic green smoothie to power start your day

When you choose your vegetables for juicing it is important to remember that any pesticide residues will be concentrated. Choose organic produce wherever you can, but if you need to restrict the amount of organic foods you buy then make sure you select only organic versions of any of the foods that appear on the “Dirty Dozen®” http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary   list which is a guide to pesticides in produce for shoppers. There is also a list of the fifteen ‘cleanest’ veges and fruits on that link.

If you, like many parents, are worried about the amount of fruits and vegetables that your kids are eating try them on home made juices from a wide variety of organic vegetables and fruits and know that they are probably getting the nutrients they require.

One drawback from lots of juice in your diet rather than whole fruit and vegetables, is that the fibre contained in the produce is discarded. Insufficient fibre is a common problem in western diets and leads to digestive health problems. Fibre also helps you to feel full and satisfied. In order to stop the development or exacerbation of the very health problems you are trying to fix you need to add the fibre back into your diet via the juice, or else by adding it to soups, stews or salads.

Juicers range in price from very cheap to thousands of dollars. My new masticating juicer cost a few hundred dollars. I know it won’t be as good as the ones I have dreamed of owning but it is quite sufficient to get my family started on this yummy health practice and to get them away from commercial juices.

There are lots of juicing recipes about but you don’t need them as it is good to experiment with your own creativity. Here are some simple ideas to get you started.

Here are some great tips for juicing, including juicing for a large family.

And here is one last hint – Chew your juice, never gulp it down! You will absorb it better when it is mixed with saliva.

Have fun trying out juicing for your household. I’m off to stock up on some fresh organic produce so I can get going.

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://greensmoothierevolution.com/

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/11/13/benefits-of-juicing.aspx

http://www.livestrong.com/article/535545-the-disadvantages-of-juicing/

Spring Is Here – Detox Time

Spring Cherry Blossoms

With the arrival of September comes the stirring of Spring down here in Oz. (For my Northern hemisphere followers there are also steps that you need to take to deal with the change from the warmth of Summer into the cool of Autumn and I will post some pointers for you next time).  Doors and windows are thrown open at the first hint of a warm day letting light and air pour through rooms that have been closed up throughout the dark depths of winter. Second-Hand Shops are flooded with donations as cupboards are cleaned out and goods are discarded. Intentions are set and with the new mindset changes begin to happen. Dogs get walked more frequently, meals start to include more fresh, raw produce, gym programs are set and personal trainers are hired, and many people undertake a detox program to rid themselves of the winter “blahs” and get their energy surging and their bodies trim for the seasons ahead.

Your body’s natural detox system is awesome when it is functioning at full power. But when something breaks down, the toxins are simply not eradicated and build up inside you, stressing every system in your body and leading to lots of health problems that can include bad skin, allergies or arthritis.

At work this week I have begun the Spring Detox Programs and now is the time to consider starting these in your life also. Toxic overloads build up over time and obviously cannot be dealt with by simply eating fruit over a weekend. Also,  doing only a juice fast or detox diet may cause more harm than good, as your metabolic processes will slow down dramatically, and this includes waste removal. The toxins within your body are stored in the fat cells. Increasing  exercise without making any other significant changes can release these toxins into your system as the fat breaks down, but not necessarily adequately flush them out of your body.

To detox properly you need to put a number of things into place and commit to making long-term changes rather than just a 2-day or even week long quick-fix.

There are many ways that you can go about this.

First be honest about what you need to change. Do you smoke? Drink lots of coffee, or soft drinks, which also often contain caffeine, or worse, aspartame? Are you binge drinking, or drinking alcohol on most nights? Are you addicted to sugar or foods high in saturated fats? Are you too sedentary? Are you stressed? Even though you don’t take stress “into your body” it is still very toxic to all your body systems, particularly if it is ongoing.

So to create an effective detox you need to work with the natural body detoxifying processes. At the same time limit the amount of toxins you are exposed to so that you reduce the stress on your detox system, while also strengthening it at the same time.

 

Fresh, raw, organic vegetables
Fresh, raw, organic vegetables

The first line of defence against toxin overload is in limiting what you put into your mouth. This usually means giving up coffee, sugar, bread, milk alcohol and red meat, but if doing this stops you being able to detox in other ways then it won’t be all that good (although I always maintain even small steps are useful to a certain degree and sometimes the best way to get started). In spite of this, to effectively detox you do need to reduce the toxin intake from food. Eating only organic food is the best option but if it is not possible, at least try to always eat some selected organic foods. You also need to add foods to your diet that will stimulate the liver, bowel and kidneys so they work better, as well as foods that neutralize free radicals like berries, kidney beans, avocadoes, cherries, spinach, red cabbage, sweet potatoes, broccoli, green tea, nuts, ginger, cinnamon, turmeric and kiwi fruits to name just a few .

Here are 5 Great Springtime Detox Diets you might like to try. There are lots of  “Top 10 Detox Food” lists around. This list suggests general food groups and this one specific food items, and both are great places to get ideas for changes you can make. But remember they are just a start and you should aim to expand on these lists.

Juicing is a another great way to get optimal health and well worth including in your nutrition plan. How often are you getting the 7-8 serves of fruit and vegetables you need every day, and do you know how big a serve actually is? Juicing offers a way to help you meet those requirements. You can add veges that you don’t normally eat and get a wider range of nutrients and also this means you are able to rotate your foods more. Here is a nice comparison of the different types of juicers available. Check it out before you get one. And then check out these good recipes to get you started. Celery, fennel and cucumbers are good veges to start with as they are easy to digest.  You can add lemon or lime, cranberries or blueberries, or fresh ginger to boost your health and get a great flavour burst. As you get the hang of it you can add superfoods to your juice like Spirulina (my own fave “multi-vitamin” superfood), chlorella, barley grass and maca powder. Use organic veges and fruit, especially if they are one of the ones included on the “Dirty Dozen©” list . Also, drink the juice straight away as it is very perishable. If you need to you can store it for a day in the fridge, in a container filled right to the top so there is no air to allow oxidation to occur. The only drawback about using lots of juices in your diet is that you lose the fibre that is in the fruit and vegetables when you juice them, and so you will need to be very conscious of maintaing a high level of foods with a high natural fibre level in the other foods in your diet.

While exercise is essential to a good detox, gyms are not always helpful or healthy. Their environment is one that for many people simply builds their stress levels and negates any health benefit they would otherwise gain. Running or walking in the open air, or swimming gives you the benefit of aerobic exercise away from the stressful environment.

Eastern exercise like yoga, t’ai chi and qi gong are wonderful ways to exercise as they offer you so much. You will gain all the benefits of other aerobic exercises as well as much, much more. Yoga for example, teaches you to breathe properly, it stretches your muscles which in turn releases toxins, it balances your inner body energy, or chi, it helps to reduce your stress and it stimulates your lymphatic system. It is also very calming for most people and leaves them feeling at peace as well as envigorated. There are many types of yoga and you are sure to find one that suits you.

Detoxing is not just about what goes on inside your body. It is also important to attend to your external body. You are going to like this! Massage, body-brushing and heat treatments are some great ways to stimulate detoxing from the outside.

About half a kilo of toxins leave your body each day, carried out through your skin in your sweat, but this can only happen if your pores are clean. Also, if you are you are using an anti-perspirant then you need to be aware that it will be blocking some of the major drainage pores of your body. The pores can also be blocked by a build-up of dead skin cells that sit on the surface of your skin. Normally they are shed, but this doesn’t occur as well as you age. So, removing these cells is important to detox and body-brushing is a good way to do this. Here is how to do it. Body salt scrubs on dry skin will also help. I make a delicious one from Himalayan Salt and essential and vegetable oils.

Sauna and steam treatments are another way to remove toxins. By the way, when smokers leave a sauna they often leave a yellow tar residue which has oozed out of all their pores on the towels and a fine layer of black tar under the benches. Is that an incentive to stop smoking? I hope so.

Massage detoxes the body in two ways. Firstly, by reducing stress which if prolonged depresses your immunity and therefore your resistance to infections. Reducing stress  can also help reduce cravings. Secondly, it stimulates blood circulation and lymphatic flow, which feeds more nutrients into the cells and removes more waste from the cells. There are a few different types of massage, and while all will be beneficial manual lymph drainage is the most beneficial for detoxing.

 

So, armed with these few tips to get you off and running, start formulating your Spring Detox plan today so you can get it underway quickly and head out on the path towards a lighter brighter spring you.

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. 

Telling Tales on ‘Taters

For the last few days I have had a very earthy food at the front of my mind- potatoes, ever since I traced a weird kitchen smell to an old onion in the back corner of the basket of root vegetables that sits in the bottom of the pantry. While I was searching for it I also found a decent number of potatoes that had put out nice healthy strong roots from their eyes, so past their best eating days. Now, these weren’t any old potatoes, they were all organic, and of a few different varieties.

These days I try to incorporate as much organic food into our diet as I can, but like most of us, am constrained by things like the cost and availability. But I have been gradually making the switch from normal produce over to organic fruit and veges for a long time now and potatoes are one vegetable that I now always buy organic. Root vegetables were one of the types that I started to change fairly early on as I figured that they were sitting surrounded by soil that was full of chemicals for all their growing life so maybe that meant they carried more of the pesticides. Now however, I am aware that potatoes, along with various other vegetables like carrots (another of those root vegetables) and celery, is one of the “Dirty Dozen™” – the produce that is deemed to have the highest levels of residual pesticides. The Dirty Dozen™ is a list that is produced each year by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), and while it is compiled in the USA and relates to USA produce I have no doubts that it is also a reflection of commercial farming practices here in Australia.

I have just finished reading the excellent “Botany Of Desire” by Michael Pollan in which he examines the notion that plants use man to further their own survival just as much as man uses plants. He does this by telling the story of four different plant species that have benefited by our desire for what they offer, namely, the apple for sweetness, the tulip for beauty, cannabis for intoxication and the potato for control. I found it an enthralling read.

The potato has come a long way from its early existence on the slopes of the Andes of South America. In recent times it has been targeted for Genetic Modification and Monsanto produces genetically modified strains that have been widely grown for many decades.

Pollan decided to plant some of Monsanto’s GM potatoes alongside ‘normal’ potatoes in his own garden and then to compare the differences bewteen the two types over the same season. His research took him into organizations such as Monsanto, the FDA, the EPA, and the Union of Concerned Scientists. It also allowed hin to visit three Idaho farms (Idaho is an area of arid scrubby desert where farming is only possible with the aid of irrigation).Two of the farms he visited were growing a mix of Genetically Modified and normal commercially grown potatoes and one farm was organic. The comparisons were striking.

Now I have a real problem with eating any GMO foods and do not consume them knowingly. My preference would be first organic, then commercially grown and last GM. What absolutely horrified me though, as I was reading about the potato in Pollans’ book, was the extent of the fertilizer and pesticide regime that the farmer outlined as the normal program he uses on the commercially farmed crop. The spraying program is huge. It begins in early spring with a soil fumigant and followed throughout the growing season with pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers both sprayed and introduced through the irrigating water.

But two of the practices that the farmer mentioned he would not change were really concerning. The first was that from mid summer the crop needs to be sprayed every two weeks with an organophosphate called Monitor to prevent a virus that causes small brown spots appearing on the tuber. The spots are purely cosmetic, but the Fast Food Companies are far and away the largest buyers of all potatoes grown and they don’t want brown spots on their long, golden, perfect fries, so the crops need to be sprayed. Monitor is deadly, in fact it is so toxic that the farmer and his staff will not enter the field for any purpose for five days after the spraying. This is an arid, irrigated area and even if the irrigation system breaks down he will not go into the field… he would rather lose the whole crop than risk contact with this deadly chemical. Not all potato varieties are susceptible to the virus and so not all are sprayed with Monitor, but this is an example of the extreme danger associated with chemicals that are widely and routinely used both in potato and other food crop production.

The other telling practice that Pollan reports was that in the farmers domestic garden where he grew the food for the family’s own consumption, many of the plants, including the potatoes, were grown organically, and he admitted that when they purchased any commercially grown vegetables from the market they ‘wash and wash and wash’ them before eating them.

Pollan makes the interesting observation that organic farming is much more than simply substituting good for bad. ‘The organic farmer’s focus is on the process rather than on the product’. This process is built on maintaining balance and harmony with the environment.

Having read the details of the strength of the chemicals used in farming potatoes as well as the huge extent of the program, I now have a firm resolve to avoid anything but organic potatoes. I have gone from an ‘it’s a good thing to eat organic potatoes’ to ‘I definitely will eat only organic potatoes both at home and when I am eating out’ attitude thanks to this book. This will be better for all my family.

The EWC has just released the 2012 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™ in the last few weeks and it is well worth taking a look to see for yourself just which foods belong in the ‘Dirty Dozen Plus™’ this year and which ones are in the ‘Clean 15™’. If like me you like to include as much organic foods in the family diet as possible but cannot manage to go totally organic then this might help you decide where to make the best changes to build your family’s better health.

And as for the potatoes I planted, I needed to get them into the ground very quickly in between rain bursts, so I did not actually do any of the soil preparation that I normally would do before planting at all. In fact, I simply popped them into slots I dug in the middle of a weedy slope of heavy clay soil. New growth on potatoes can be quickly and easily decimated by winter frosts but hopefully the new growth on these plants will be nicely protected from the frosts that roll down our hillside through July by all the weeds that I left in the ground above them, and come spring the luxuriant growth of the potato plants will in turn smother those very same weeds. And as a bonus the potatoes should break up that heavy soil sufficiently for me to follow them later with another different but fussier crop. I will keep you posted.

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. 

 

© Catherine Bullard and Happy Holistic Health, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Catherine Bullard and Happy Holistic Health with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.