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Foods and Vibration General Health Lifestyle Super Foods

Herbs & Spices: Health Benefits

I’m a big fan of herbs and spices for good reason. They’ve been used for generations both as food and to treat all sorts of ailments, and there is plenty of scientific evidence to support their medicinal properties.

Medicinal Properties

Over the past decade or so, research has shown a diverse range of health benefits from herbs and spices, that is due to their bioactive constituents, including flavanoids, polyphenols, sulfur-containing compounds, tannins, vitamins and minerals. Spices and herbs such as clove, rosemary, sage, oregano and cinnamon are incredible sources of antioxidants due to their high phenolic content and it is evident that frequent consumption of these herbs and spices is linked to a lower risk of death from cancer, ischemic heart disease and respiratory diseases (1).

There is also a growing body of research demonstrating that commonly used herbs and spices have particular antimicrobial properties i.e. they kill off bacterial, viral and other microbial infections (2). This also means they are a good way of keeping a healthy balance amongst the beneficial bacteria and yeasts that live in our gut. As a nutritionist this is of particular interest, as the microbiome really is the centre of our physical health. You can download a handout at the bottom that gives you an idea of which herbs and spices help with which kind of microbes.

Dried or Fresh?

I know lots of people who dedicate a whole area of their cupboards to herbs and spices, and use them haphazardly when cooking. But lets face it, how many of them remain at the back of the shelf collecting dust! It really does takes a concerted effort to add them daily to your food, but I promise you it is worth it.

Aim for fresh herbs wherever possible, as they retain more of their medicinal properties than dried ones. Spices are usually the dried or ground variety – so just try and find organic if you can. With herbs, you can even grow your own – even if you cheat and start with a ready grown pot and just keep it going. They look really pretty in the kitchen! Some are easier than others – I find parsley, mint, chives and rosemary good ones to start with. When you grow your own and make a connection to them, they grow according to your own needs – so will always be better than anything you find in a shop. But if that’s not possible, then just show appreciation for the herbs you have bought and this will still be beneficial. Think of all those reiki experiments, and the effects that showing love has on food and water – the more love and gratitude you hold for the foods you grow and eat, the more the energies of those foods mesh with your own energies – the Law of One in action!

With any herbs and spices – particularly the dried ones, it’s best to start with the ones you know, then slowly branch out and experiment with other flavours. It may mean actually following the odd recipe or two (yawn), but once you understand how the flavours work in cooking, it shouldn’t be too much effort. As I’ve discovered on a number of occasions, you can overdo it with some. Once when I was going through a particular cumin and coriander craze, my poor dad suffered (ever so politely) through a pretty revolting bowl of soup. So definitely its true that sometimes you can have too much of a good thing.

The Wonders of Garlic!

Probably the two top herbs and spices from my point of view are coriander and garlic – I’ll do a separate post on coriander at some point as there is much to say. But for now I’ll just mention a bit more about garlic – which most people seem to like unlike coriander! Garlic to be fair is hard to classify as either a herb or spice, as technically it’s a vegetable. However, it’s usually listed when we talk about herbs and spices and is used in tiny amounts due to it’s incredibly powerful flavour.

Garlic has always been used for both its culinary and medicinal purposes since the ancient Egyptians. Hippocrates even mentioned using garlic for many conditions, including parasites, respiratory problems, poor digestion and low energy.

So what is it about garlic that makes it such a powerful medicinal food? A whole head of raw garlic doesn’t have a strong smell. However, if you crush or chop it then you really get a powerful odour. In fact, it’s really important to crush garlic before using it. What happens when you crush it is that the cells of the plant are destroyed, which causes a release of a compound called alliin. If the garlic is left for a few minutes, the alliin will react with an enzyme to create another compound, allicin. Allicin is what gives garlic its pungent taste and smell and is thought to be responsible for its healing properties. The strong smell and taste might be off-putting for some people, but don’t forget, the strength of these chemicals is what keeps the bugs away too! When garlic is heated in cooking, or undergoes processing of any sort, some of the active ingredients are lost. The best way to use garlic is to crush the cloves and leave for 6-8 minutes and then add at the end of cooking. Of course there are issues with this, as the odour remains pretty strong. Nice if you are single, not so great if you aren’t!

References:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30651162/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15180577/

Categories
Lifestyle Super Foods Uncategorized

Top 3 Nutrition Tips

In my work as a naturopathic nutritionist I always look at each person as an individual, and so there is no one diet that fits all. However, there is definitely advice that tends to come up again and again. So here are my three top nutrition tips!

Tip One: Eat More Fruit and Vegetables

OK, I hear your hearts sink a little, but believe me I’ve searched high and low for a healthy diet centered around increasing your pastry count, and they just don’t exist. In fact, given how many 1000s of diets and nutritional approaches out there, the one thing they all have in common is “eat more vegetables”. There are many areas of controversy in the nutritional science world, but this isn’t one of them.

Fruit is also incredibly important for our health, although I know some people advocate against too much fruit. Ok, if you have a serious issue with blood sugar levels then I probably would take into account someone’s fruit intake but I personally feel most people could do with eating more fruit and not being made to feel bad about crunching down on an apple. I seriously doubt anyone has diabetes from eating too many plums! Plus, substituting processed sweet snacks for a bunch of grapes is probably more appealing to many people than carrot and celery sticks.

So, why are fruit and vegetables so important? From a straight forward, scientific point of view, they are packed with fibre, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. There is currently a lot of research into the potential role phytonutrients play in disease prevention, particularly cancer and heart disease. What the studies show is that isolating specific phytonutrients and giving them in high doses is not so successful, whereas if you get high quantities through eating enough fruit and vegetables they are much more effective. And really why should this surprise us? Nature usually finds the most effective way of providing us with what we need.

From an energetic point of view this is also clear – the minute we start messing with what nature provides, the frequency changes. A fresh, organic apple (or any piece of fruit you can think of) holds a high vibration – whereas a processed, sugar-laden apple puree doesn’t. Or even extracting one element of the apple (e.g. apple pectin) and taking it in high quantities – whilst this can definitely provide some benefit, it’s important that this doesn’t become a substitute for eating fruit and veg in their whole form. We can learn a lot from our fruit and vegetables – left to their own devices, they grow in perfect harmony. When we eat fresh fruit and vegetables, we are taking this harmony into our system.

The best advice around fruit and vegetables is to eat a rainbow of colours. Variety is the key, and the different colours support the different chakras. People often over estimate how much they have, so it can be helpful to keep track for a week or two. You can download a tracker below to help. Fruit and Veg Tracker

Tip Two: Include Oily Fish in Your Diet

Oily fish include salmon, mackerel, herring, anchovies and sardines. All the good press they receive is well deserved for a number of reasons. They are an excellent source of protein, minerals such as iron, calcium, iodine and selenium, and fat soluble vitamins such as vitamin D and A. But what I want to focus on are the omega 3 fatty acids they contain. Omega 3 fats are hugely beneficial for our health, often due to their role in lowering inflammation which is associated with pretty much any condition you can think of. They have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, through keeping our heart and blood vessels healthy. They are also are known to support healthy brain function, healthy skin and a strong immune system. Aim for 2 servings of oily fish every week. Do make sure you look for the MSC label, which recognises sustainability with fishing practices.

Tip Three: Reduce Your Sugar Intake

Despite a misguided fat-free campaign, the anti-sugar message is now finally starting to take off. The problem with sugar is that it’s not just in the obvious things like sweets and cakes, but is also hidden in most processed foods including sauces, crisps and ready meals; therefore it becomes very difficult for people to judge just how much they are having. Our bodies are only designed to deal with a certain amount of sugar, and if we overwhelm our system, then our blood sugar levels rise too high and our body is forced to store it as fat. Although we are incredibly adept at dealing with high blood sugar levels, long term our system just can’t keep up and this is a big factor in the development of type 2 diabetes.

To start with, look for the obvious offenders like sweets and biscuits – but I’m not advocating you never have them because there really is nothing wrong with the odd bit of cake or biscuit with a cup of tea. Plus, the minute you tell yourself you “can’t” have something, then if you are anything like me, that’s all you can think about! It’s about getting it in balance and making sure you have plenty of healthy foods, like fruit and vegetables, in your diet. As you reduce the sugar in your diet you’ll crave it less, and the highly processed sugary foods won’t actually taste as nice. You’ll find you would rather go for the occasional treat with good quality ingredients, rather than the cheap, chemical laden versions – there is chocolate cake and there is chocolate cake after all! And these days it’s pretty easy to find really delicious options, such as raw chocolate or Nakd Bars.

Final Point

So this is a little extra tip, based on my own experience. It’s great to focus on making healthy changes to your diet, I’m all for it, but it’s also important to do it in a relaxed way. Build things up slowly and make changes you enjoy – a few changes made consistently can go a long way. Making extreme changes and feeling guilty about eating any foods that aren’t strictly speaking highly nutritious isn’t great for self-esteem and can lead to getting a bit obsessed by it all. Some people with a medical condition or significant symptoms do require more drastic changes – I see this in my practice, but most people can realistically aim for an 80/20 type of balance – this way you can’t go too far wrong in any direction.

So over the next three months, why not try taking these tips on board. You could start on all three at once, or introduce a new one each month, starting with the one you feel would be easiest. Whatever works for you. The most important thing is to see making these changes as a choice, rather than something being enforced on you. That way you are much more likely to stick to them long term.

Good luck!

Olivia

Categories
Anthony William Lifestyle Stress and Relaxation

Celery Juicing

So only a few weeks to go till 2021 and I thought it was about time to do a blog on probably the quickest way to give yourself an injection of nutrition. Before I go any further into the wonders of celery juicing, I need to give credit where it’s due and say that this information comes from Anthony William. However, whilst I used to think it was going to be the cure all for everyone, I’ve now come to realise that as with most things, it very much needs to be integrated into people’s diet in individual ways, that takes into account where each person is at. And I’ve also realised that overdoing it can lead to a few problems – but more on that later.

The wonderful benefits of celery!

So why is celery juicing so good for improving health and overcoming chronic conditions? Celery contains numerous mineral salts that our bodies are dependent upon to function properly – you can taste this in the distinct, salty flavour celery has. Through juicing celery you get the benefits of more of these chemicals in one go – let’s face it, how many celery stalks can you munch your way through on a daily basis? These chemicals are thought to help with inflammation, and also restore stomach acid levels, which means it’s potentially a good thing for anyone with gut related problems or autoimmune conditions. These salts also support the adrenals, which are often overworked. From my own experience, I know it’s helped with headaches, skin health, gut health and restless legs – I definitely notice an improvement in energy levels when I do celery juicing on a regular basis.

How much juice do you need?

Now here is where I differ from Anthony William. He recommends 16oz/ 450ml a day on an empty stomach, even if you have to build up to it slowly. This part is really important – it’s powerful stuff and for a lot of people that would be far too much and would send you running to the nearest loo! So yes, building up slowly is good and most people will then be fine on 450mls. A lot of people then feel because they can manage this, why not have that 2 times a day, or even 3? I’m not saying this wouldn’t be a good thing for some people, but I tried that and I can tell you first hand it was too much for my gut which became a little unbalanced for a few months afterwards. So my personal view is less is more! Better to have a small glass once a day.

Is it for everyone?

Just because celery juicing is great for most people, it doesn’t mean it’s for everyone. Firstly some people can’t stand the taste and it’s just too much for them. But also I’ve had a few clients who say they even if they start with a small amount, it just doesn’t suit them and they don’t feel good from it. So my feeling is that it isn’t going to be for everyone across the board, but for the vast majority of people, a small glass of celery juice a day will do wonders for your health! Do just make sure you build up slowly, and if you don’t mind the taste, it works best if you just sip it slowly rather than down it in one go. Always make sure you have it on an empty stomach – some people find first thing in the morning is best but I personally can’t hack it that early, so prefer it later on in the day. If you can then do get organic celery – luckily in the UK organic celery is pretty cheap and readily available.

So maybe make celery juicing part of 2021!

Categories
Lifestyle

Nutrition and Dental Health

Nutrition and dental health isn’t the most exciting subject. Brushing teeth, flossing, taking care of your gums – yup, not a page turner. But it’s something close to my heart as I’ve had problems with my teeth in the past, not due to lack of brushing I might add. I’ve finally started to take seriously after seeing the dentist and hygienist who both got kind of cross about it! But I get their point, poor dental health is a big problem and I’ve since found out that despite it being fairly well known that cardiovascular disease and diabetes can contribute to gum disease and oral decay, were you also aware that this relationship may be cyclical. Poor dental health can actually contribute to disease states? It turns out that oral health, diabetes and heart disease are all very much intertwined – so nutrition and dental health might not be quite so tedious after all.

Research

Researchers evaluated over 600 senior citizens who had no prior incidence of cardiovascular disease and found a definitive link between periodontal bacteria and thickening of the arteries. (1) This wasn’t a new discovery actually. A few years before this a Clinical Microbiology Reviews article explained possible mechanisms for this connection between oral health and heart disease. (2) These mechanisms come down to infection (from bacteria which release toxins into the blood stream from the mouth), and an inflammatory response from the body. It’s well know that heart disease, diabetes and atherosclerosis are all connected to inflammation. So really these mechanisms mean that not only do the diseases lead to poor dental health, but poor dental health may lead to more widespread disease, potentially contributing to diabetes and heart disease. And the minute you start talking bacteria, toxins and inflammation, then this becomes much more exciting to naturopaths!

So sorting out your teeth is pretty crucial really. How to do this? Well being a nutritionist the first thing I’ll focus on is making sure you are getting enough nutrition in your diet. On a quick side note, we’re going to leave the usual debate about fluoride as I’d rather do a whole blog on this subject at some point. In a nutshell though it’s important people realise fluoride is known to be a neurotoxin and hormone disrupter – so really is best avoided. I like the mineralizing toothpastes, such as Georganics. But there are many good ones out there now.

Key Nutrients for Dental Health

Despite the arguments around fluoride, there are a number of minerals and vitamins that we can all agree on are important for teeth – which means that nutrition plays a large role, not just in terms of how the wrong foods negatively affect your teeth and gums, but also how eating the right foods can help.

The list of nutrients needed for proper dental health is fairly lengthy, and includes Calcium, Magnesium, Iron, Zinc, Vitamin A, B2, B3, B12 and Vitamin C which would all be covered in a healthy diet based on whole foods and plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. If it helps to zone in on some key nutrients then you could try the following three:

Calcium
Vegetables – collard greens, spinach, kale, watercress, onion, garlic, celery, broccoli
Fruit – oranges, dried figs, apricots & prunes
Nuts & Seeds – almonds, sesame, Brazil, pecan, sunflower, chestnuts
Grains – rye, quinoa, barley, rice
Dairy – yoghurt, cheese, whole milk
Other – tofu (made with calcium sulphate)

Magnesium
Vegetables – beet greens, spinach, peas, broccoli, celery, tomatoes, cauliflower, sweet corn, onion
Fruits – dried figs, apricots & prunes, banana, pineapple, orange, blackberry
Nuts & Seeds – almonds, cashews, Brazil, pecan, sunflower
Other – buckwheat, millet, rye, barley, tofu, molasses

Vitamin C
Vegetables – red peppers, kale, broccoli, red chilli, greens, Brussels sprouts, watercress, cauliflower, spinach, asparagus, okra, peas, cabbage, tomatoes,
Fruit – guava, persimmons, papaya, mangoes, cantaloupes, all citrus fruits, all berries, kiwi
Legumes – lima, black-eyed, soy

Damage to Teeth

Nutrition and dental health isn’t just about getting the nutrients needed for strong teeth, but also the foods we need to be wary of due to their negative effects on our enamel and gums. I think it’s safe to say we all know by now just how damaging sugar is for our teeth – whether this is sweets, cakes, fizzy drinks (the WORST!!!) or even eating a lot of white carbs such as bread and pasta etc. So obviously we need to cut back on sugar if we want to support dental health. It’s not just due to the role sugar plays in plaque formation, but also due to the more widespread issues of inflammation and cardiovascular health, as discussed at the start of the blog.

This brings up the subject of the sugar in fruit. Despite all the fruit fear around, fruit is incredibly healthy. It’s a high vibrational food source, full of light and healing properties. Fruit also contains an abundance of the nutrients needed for strong teeth. But whilst I don’t worry about the effects of the sugar content on things like cardiovascular disease and inflammation, I do worry about the sugar content in terms of plaque formation. Ultimately, fruit does contain sugar which bacteria in the mouth can act upon. I’ve heard people argue otherwise, and even Anthony Williams (who you probably realise by now, I very much follow) says that whole fruits aren’t a problem. But given my history of fillings and extractions, I verge on the overly cautious side and after eating any fruit I always have something savory or I carry ginger slices around with me to have afterwards. Given how healthy root ginger is, even if it’s not needed, it’s still going to be doing me the world of good anyway, so why take the risk?

So to sum up, a healthy diet, one that is low in sugars but contains a few portions of fruit a day, is a good move towards dental health. Of course many factors contribute to poor oral health, including smoking, stress, some medications, broken or defective fillings, poor fitting bridges, cracked teeth, underlying immune deficiencies – this list goes on. But a healthy diet is still a basic thing to focus on and build from.

Brushing and Flossing

Now in terms of brushing, flossing etc, what’s the deal there? I’ve heard many different things, but given that within 3 months I turned my dental/gum health around by about 80%, I feel that these recommendations would be good advice for anyone (most of which come directly from my dentist and hygienist).

Buy a decent electric toothbrush – I use Oral B 4000 – which is pretty high powered (get as high a power as you can afford).

Brush your teeth before breakfast (you want to do it first thing in the morning, to scrub away any of the bacterial build-up over night). You need to brush for 2 minutes – most electric toothbrushes have timers on.

Brush in the evening too but here comes the boring part. Before brushing, you need to floss. Firstly with interdental brushes (e.g. the TePe brushes – just find ones that fit through the gaps), and then with regular floss. Only then do you brush with the electric toothbrush.

I have heard concerns about flossing spreading infections and creating inflammation. I feel open to changing my views on this, but for now I know it’s helped me keep my teeth in a better state, but I am cautious when I floss not to overdo it.

Added things you can do (which I do) include using a water flosser – this isn’t something the hygienist raved about (not because it was bad, but because she didn’t think it did much). However, this is where I took on a bit of info from Anthony Williams, who said they were a great thing to use as a way of massaging the gums, which increases blood flow and therefore improves gum health (all makes perfect sense).

I also use essential oils in a home made mouthwash. There are a huge number of of DIY recipes you can use, but I literally just have a small glass of water and add a drop of orange, clove and peppermint. Swish it around for a few minutes and then spit it out. You can use coconut oil too, along with the essential oils – as a form of quick mouth rinse, or for oil pulling. Oil pulling involves swigging coconut oil around in your mouth for about 10 minutes, to help pull out the bacteria build up. It feels great after and makes perfect sense, I just can’t be bothered at this stage to swig it round for 10 minutes, but if you can then this is an excellent thing to do too! Essential oils have many uses and I recommend them to many clients if they feel so inclined – have a look here for more information.

So don’t wait till you’re in the dentist’s chair, start work on improving your dental health now. Honestly, you won’t regret it. If it seems like too much hassle, then simply picture yourself cleaning your dentures every night!!!!

Olivia 🙂

1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2812915/
2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC88948/