What The Naturopath Said

My health and wellbeing blog - get my thoughts, how-tos, recipes and tips!

7 Tips For Instant Energy

Before you reach for that coffee, read this!

Boost Yours Now

Avoid Unhealthy Snacking with a Protein-rich Brekkie

You’ll be surprised at what a difference it makes to your energy and your appetite!

 

Read How

Vitamin C Flush

Boost your immunity and support healing with this Naturopathic technique.

Here's How

The Green Smoothie

Green Smoothies are sooo good for you – try one today or take your own recipe to the next level with my tips!

 

DIY Recipe Tips

Sugar Causes Brain Damage

And your memory will suffer for it!

 

 

Read How

Healthy Reasons to Eat Chocolate. Yes. CHOCOLATE!

This divine superfood has soooo many health benefits.

 

Enjoy.

Lower Your Risk of Stroke…. With a Cuppa!

Great news, an enjoyable daily ritual provides health benefits too.

Read How

Sugar is Bad for your Brain

Why the sweet stuff is ruining your IQ.

 

Find Out Why

Eating Fruit And Vegetables Increases Your Attractiveness

So it turns out eating fruit and vegetables increases your attractiveness… and I don’t just mean you look great sitting there eating your salad. Beauty, or others perception of your beauty, is linked to your fruit and vegetable consumption! We all know that eating fruit and vegetables are good for health, energy and vitality – and that good nutrition and beauty are related. But now research from University of St. Andrews (UK) demonstrates that fruit and vegetable intake is associated with healthy glowing skin. In this study[1], the scientists followed the dietary patterns of students over a period of six weeks: These students filled out food frequency questionnaires which provided data around fruit and vegetable consumption (no offence to potatoes but they were not counted as vegetables in this study) They recorded the change in skin colour and compared perceived attractiveness among these students At the end of the study, they found that students who ate more fruits and vegetables had a healthy golden skin. On the contrary, students who reduced the amount of fruits and vegetables they ate looked less attractive by the end of the study. NB: there was no make-up allowed, or tanning of any sort. How Much Do I Need To Eat? You don’t have to double your fruit and vegetable intake to achieve this either. Adding just 2-3 extra portions had a noticeable effect on attractiveness within a period of six weeks. Researchers determined: eating an additional 2.91 portions per day would make you look healthy eating an additional 3.3 portions of fruits and vegetables would make you look attractive On average, one portion of...

12-Hour Fasting – A Key Strategy For A Longer, Healthier Life

You’d be hard pressed to find someone who didn’t know that if you want to be healthy, you should eat primarily healthy food. But what you might not know is, the timing of what you eat matters just as much as what you eat; and there is growing evidence that 12-hour fasting is so protective of health that it can even attenuate the effects of a high-fat diet. What Is 12-Hour Fasting? Also called time-restricted feeding (TRF), 12-hour fasting confines food consumption to a 12-hour window or – put another way – is the practice of, during a 24-hour period, maintaining a 12-hour window where no food is consumed. In practice this may mean that any and all meals/snacks are consumed between 7am and 7pm, with no food being consumed between 7pm and 7am (or 8am-8pm as another example). Some studies actually define time-restricted feeding as an 8-9 hour period, which also shows benefit although not as realistic or easy to achieve as 12 hours. But Why? There has been a lot of research done on many different types and variations of fasting, but I like this particular type of fasting for both what the evidence says, and the logic behind it. There was a time when, in all likelihood, humankind rose with the sun – and days effectively ended with sundown. With no electricity, and only flame for light, food preparation and consumption would have been mostly confined to daylight hours. Nowadays, with access to electricity, we can make meals in the dark well before dawn, and – especially given the long hours some of us keep – make dinner well...

Is Your Nut Milk Giving You Leaky Gut..?!

Firstly let me say – if you are making your own nut milk and not adding carrageenan, then you don’t need to freak out. But if you’re like me and buy commercially made nut milk, it’s time to look at the label more closely. You see in order to keep the water and the nut bits together, along with any other additional ingredients – manufacturers must use an emulsifier (or two) so that it doesn’t all seperate out and become unpleasant to use. The trouble is one of the most commonly used emulsifiers – carrageenan – is bad news for our gut, and our health. Carrageenan – A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing At first glance carrageenan looks innocent enough. Derived from seaweed it appears to be a natural and innocuous choice, as far as emulsifiers go. But this ingredient, also referred to as e407, is nowhere near as harmless as it first appears. According to R. A. S. Hemat, in Principles of Orthomolecularism, even in the 1940s carrageenan was recognised as a ‘dangerous allergen’ with granulomas, immunodeficiency, arthritis and other inflammation being attributed to its ingestion. A search of the literature revealed its effects on reducing stomach acid was first reported in the early ’60s, as was ‘carrageenan-granuloma’ – defined as a mass of granulation tissue, typically produced in response to infection, inflammation, or the presence of a foreign substance. Carrageenan was also used to induce oedema and abscesses to test anti-inflammatory drugs (including steroids) [1,2] although this was through sub-cutaneous injection, not oral ingestion. Interestingly, however, even sub-cutaneous injection of carrageenan caused gut inflammation[3]. A little later, animals fed carrageenan developed ulcerative colitis...

Fermented Foods – Skin Friend or Skin Foe?

In recent times there has been a huge increase in awareness of how important gut health is, and when it comes to skin – gut health is everything. And with this increase in awareness there has been a subsequent rise in consumption of fermented foods like sauerkraut, kim chi, kefir, kombucha and yoghurt. Fermented foods are a great, whole food source of probiotic bacteria and, in turn, their benefits to our insides. But did you know they might be doing your skin more harm than good…? Let me explain… If your gut is already in pretty good nick, fermented foods will only add to the health and wellbeing of your microbiome – and this will be good for your skin. However. If your gut is compromised in any way, consuming fermented foods may make your skin worse. This is because fermented foods are one of the biggest dietary sources of histamines. An intolerance to, an excess of, or issues with metabolism of histamine frequently can express itself on the surface of the skin through a number of symptoms, including but not limited to hives, eczema, rosacea and acne[1]. This is called histamine intolerance[2]. In one study[3] researchers found that a histamine-free diet improved a number of allergic conditions and, upon reintroducing histamine-containing foods there was a clearcut recurrence of eczema in half of the patients affected! No surprises then that a study found higher histamine levels aggravated eczema[4], and another[5] found that some atopic eczema patients had lower levels of a key enzyme that metabolises histamine – diamine oxidase. In the case of acne I see patients who present...

The Art + Science of a Coffee Nap

You’d be hard pressed to find someone who, when the mid-afternoon slump hits, has not reached for a coffee to get them through the rest of the day. But have you ever been so tired that coffee just didn’t help that much? If at all? There’s a reason for that, and even better – a solution. Enter… The Coffee Nap!   I know it sounds weird, but stick with me. I’ll explain exactly how it works and how to do it. Basically we have receptors in our brain that, when caffeine molecules bind to them, stimulate the brain and trigger the release of adrenaline which gives us that pick-me-up we all know and love coffee for. However, if we are particularly tired and run-down, perhaps working some long days, or even skimping on sleep – caffeine can find itself competing with adenosine for those receptors[1]. Adenosine is a compound our body naturally produces that plays a role in triggering sleep[2,3]. Levels naturally build up over the course of our day and, ultimately, it initiates the first stage of a sleep cycle and the rest of the sleeping hormone cascade follows suit. This is great when we flop into bed at the end of the day, but highly inconvenient if we have a truckload on the to-do list that just can’t wait. The trouble is, both adenosine and caffeine bind to the same receptors[4] and if adenosine is ‘occupying the toilet stall’ so-to-speak – caffeine has no way of getting in there and doing its’ thing. This is why, when you’re really tired – no amount of coffee seems to help....

Why ‘BPA-free’ might just be… B.S.

For those of us who are conscious of the endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) found in plastics – we know that bisphenol-A (BPA) is a xenooestrogen and can have a negative effect on our health. But if you’ve not yet heard about BPA, or have no idea about what an EDC is – let me fill you in. Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are mostly man-made, found in various materials such as pesticides, metals, additives or contaminants in food, and personal care products. And BPA is just one of them. Close to 800 chemicals are known or suspected to be capable of interfering with hormone receptors, hormone synthesis or hormone conversion – but only a fraction of those chemicals have been investigated. United Nations agencies have warned that the disease risk due to EDCs may have been significantly under-estimated. The UN Environment (UNEP) and World Health Organisation (WHO) are aware of their link to early breast development, poor semen quality, low birthweight in babies and rising cancer rates and have called for more research. If you’re interested you can find the full report here. BPA is BAD   BPA is one of the more publicised EDCs and was first recognised to have oestrogenic activity (hence the label ‘xenooestrogen’) like a synthetic drug in 1936 long before it was used to form polycarbonate plastic and resins in the early 1950s. Interest and concern about the health effects of BPA have been growing, following reports that the health effects seen in exposed animals are also on the rise in humans. These include breast and prostate cancer, regional decline in sperm counts, abnormal penile/urethra development in males,...

After Work Yoga Poses

If you’re anything like me, you juggle long days at work, family and friends (and maybe kids?!), all those fun grown-up responsibilities and trying to find some time and space for yourself amongst all of that. Sometimes, when I get home from a particularly big day, I just want to collapse into a heap and snooze for a week! Fortunately that doesn’t happen all that often, but when it does I have a couple of yoga poses that I find so beneficial. They help me feel centred, calm and relaxed afterwards – and even energise me enough that I can feel like a normal human being again. So next time you come home tired and worn out, why not give one of these ago and see for yourself? Viparita Karani (Legs Up The Wall) This pose is incredibly rejuvenating. It’s actually one of the most powerful of all the restorative poses and so effortless. This pose can help to boost your energy and it’s also great  for grounding your energy bringing you down to earth if you’re a little bit jumpy. And as this pose is very calming, and I recommend it to my clients who are suffering from insomnia as it helps you slow down and still your mind. It’s also brilliant for lymphatic drainage so if you’re legs are swollen and heavy from standing or flying, this pose is for you! Start by holding this pose for 2-3mins and gradually build up to a longer session of 10-20mins. Instructions: Place the long edge of the yoga bolster (or one/two pillows) a couple of inches from the wall Sit to the side of a wall Press into...

Alcohol and Weight Loss do NOT go together!

Now.. as President of the Chardonnay Fan Club it pains me greatly to say this.. but in the battle of the bulge, alcohol is not your friend. So much so that, eliminating alcohol is one of my top tips if you are following a weight loss program of any sort.   Now this doesn’t mean you must abstain forever but there is no point in eating well, following an exercise program, and doing everything else right – only to undo all your efforts with a glass of your favourite poison. Whilst each drink contains approximately 100-150 empty calories, that’s not the only reason I recommend you opt for an alcohol-free stint in order to get the results you want…   Alcohol Inhibits Fat Burning Studies indicate that alcohol blocks the body’s ability to oxidise (burn!) fat and speeds up its ability to store fat – YIKES. [1] [2] It appears that just over 2 standard drinks down regulates fat burning by 73% which is bad news if you’re trying to slim down. Alcohol Lowers Testosterone So this one is more for the boys, and gentlemen – this is a biggie. In one study alcohol was found to suppress testosterone levels by almost 7% in just 3 weeks.[3] This is bad news if you’re trying to build muscle. In another study testosterone levels dropped, on average, by 23% between 10-16 hours after the guys started drinking. This study also found that cortisol levels were elevated, on average, by 36% and growth hormone was heavily suppressed. [4] This perfect storm sets you up for muscle loss and fat gain. It also appears that if you’ve...

Want Your Own Yoga Studio?

  I really want to share with you one of my all-time favourite apps, Yoga Studio, because it quite honestly has changed my life. I use it almost everyday and I love it because: it doesn’t matter if you’re a complete newbie with no yoga experience at all, or a regular yogi looking for some extra inspiration – there are classes for every level of experience all of the classes are guided by a yoga teacher who instructs you on how to do the poses (there is extra information on the poses which is helpful if they’re new to you) you can select which class you’d like to do based on your goals (flexibility, relaxation or strength for example) and you can even opt for the one that best suits your schedule -> there are classes that range from a quick 10-minute stretch all the way up to an hour it is also possible to choose what background music you’d prefer for your session..I love the ambient flute so much I’ve not even tried out the soothing guitar, birdsong or ocean waves yet all of this is completely portable As I travel a lot, and not every place I stay in has a gym (or a climate conducive to exercising outside), this app has been a godsend. If all else fails I can at least do a yoga session in the comfort and privacy of my hotel room! Given a casual yoga class may cost $20 or so, and a monthly pass to a yoga studio might cost as much as $100+ dollars, the Yoga Studio app is worth every single cent...

Sugar Shortens Your Life

If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time you will know I am President of the ‘I Hate Sugar Club‘ but, given we’re in the midst of the silly season of socialising, I thought this article on the hazards of sugar was timely. What am I talking about? Well, the American Journal of Public Health recently published an article (16-10-14) that revealed an association between drinking sugar-sweetened soft drinks and the presence of shorter telomeres. Now, don’t worry if you’re thinking ‘telo-what?!’ – allow me to explain. Telomeres are caps at the ends of chromosomes that naturally shorten with each cell cycle. Increased telomere shortening has been associated with oxidative damage, inflammation and chronic diseases, including diabetes. Basically the shorter the telomeres, the shorter the life of the cell… and ultimately you. This study included 5,309 men and women between 20-65 years of age enrolled in the 1999-2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and the researchers: Analysed the participants 24-hour dietary questionnaire responses for sugar-sweetened soft drink, diet soft drink, noncarbonated sugar-sweetened beverage and fruit juice intake Measured white blood cell telomere length (at UCSF lab of study coauthor and Nobel Prize winner Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD) Researchers found that increased sugar-sweetened soft drink intake was associated with a reduction in telomere length.   “It is critical to understand both dietary factors that may shorten telomeres, as well as dietary factors that may lengthen telomeres,” noted lead author Cindy Leung, of the UCSF Center for Health and Community. “Here it appeared that the only beverage consumption that had a measurable negative association with telomere length was consumption of...

Boost Your Happiness in 6 Simple Steps!

Gabrielle Bernstein is a life coach, author and all-round spiritual gangster of self-love. Bernstein has written three books including Spirit Junkie and teaches a practical application of self-love, forgiveness, and a holistic approach to spirituality (primarily from from the metaphysical text A Course In Miracles, by Marianne Williamson). In 2009, Bernstein was featured in the New York Times as a “guru” for the next generation and I absolutely love her recommendations on boosting happiness. #1 Be Nice To Yourself “Sometimes the biggest bully you know is you,” says Gabby. “Every thought is an affirmation either lifting you up or knocking you down—your thoughts speak louder than words and you should use them wisely.” The most important thing to watch out for? Negative thoughts that you might not even realise you say over and over in your head. “Do your best to reframe those thoughts in an empowering way,” says Bernstein. “For instance, if you’re constantly thinking, I’ll never reach my desired weight, change that thought to, I am taking powerful steps towards my desired weight; it’s that simple shift in your thinking that can create a miracle.” #2 Stop Binging On TV “We can spend hours sucked into a show or series rather than use that time for creative projects,” says Bernstein, who suggests taking a TV break and replace it with something more inspiring. “Go for walks around your neighbourhood, write in your journal, read a new book, or try a fun new fitness routine,” she says. The higher purpose: To reclaim lost hours while on your couch and get stimulated in more complete ways, so that in the...

7 Tips For More Energy, Instantly!

One thing I consistently hear from clients is they feel tired all the time. For some it’s waking up feeling groggy and taking a few hours (and a few coffees) before they reach full speed, for others it’s hitting the wall at 3pm and struggling all the way home from there. And some people spend all day feeling like they’re pushing the proverbial up-hill with a stick. And whilst there are many reasons why you might be feeling flat, drained and unmotivated – here are a few basic tips you can incorporate into your daily routine to put some bounce back in your step. #1 Eat a Power Breakfast Instead of heavy grains, bread or pastries, or the typical high-GI cereals that are so popular – opt for a protein and fat-rich option instead for more sustained energy. And for a quick, convenient week-day option you can’t beat a morning smoothie; it’s an ideal breakfast because it’s a breeze to prepare, easily digested and can be packed with healthy fats, protein, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients! Whey protein is my preferred protein source, and coconut oil is a great source of healthy fats. The potential for flavour and nutrient combinations are endless but if you feel a bit stuck –  click here for some recipe inspiration. #2 Drink Water Feeling tired is often an early sign of dehydration; we’re similar to a car battery in that when we start to dry out, energy production falters. So think twice before you reach for a coffee or energy drink and try a tall glass of water instead. Have a bottle filled with H20 with you at all times (on your desk or...

Vitamin C Flush

Why Do We Need Vitamin C? Vitamin C has many important roles in the body, including supporting the production of collagen within the tissues. Many of us are not eating enough Vitamin C-rich foods and sadly, our food supply contains less and less Vitamin C because of premature food harvesting, artificial ripening, and food processing. Nobel Laureate Dr. Linus Pauling was perhaps the best known advocate of the benefits of Vitamin C. According to Pauling, Vitamin C can help fight the effects of ageing, fight cancer and provide support for healing of all the body’s cells. It may also be able to kill harmful bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites within the body when present in sufficient concentrations. Finally, it helps fight the effects of flu, allergies and chemical exposure. When damage occurs to the body, Vitamin C helps rebuild the tissue and minimise scarring associated with the injury It is involved in the biosynthesis of hormones It also maintains the integrity of connective tissue – cartilage, capillaries, bones and teeth Vitamin C also supports the immune system – it helps your body fight infections and reduces the effects of environmental pollutants An extremely powerful antioxidant in itself, Vitamin C also helps regenerate other antioxidants like glutathione and vitamin E It also helps your body deal with stress Fun Facts Vitamin C is one of the most important vitamins your body requires and the only way to get Vitamin C is through diet. Almost all animals and plants synthesise their own Vitamin C but there are a few animals that cannot make their own vitamin C – including guinea pigs, some monkeys, a species of bat...

Sugar Causes Brain Damage

A poor diet is not good for your body, or your brain. Added sugar is one of the single greatest dietary problems we face, not only because sugar is added to so many things but because it’s so addictive we can get hooked on it and actively seek it out! A new study in Neurology helps elucidate exactly how sugar damages our brain. It suggests that eating a lot of sugar or other carbohydrates can be hazardous to both brain structure and function. Diabetes, which is characterised by chronically high levels of blood glucose, has been linked to an elevated risk of dementia and a smaller hippocampus, a part of the brain critical for memory. This new study sought to identify whether glucose had an effect on memory even in people without the disease. In the experiment, researchers at the Charité University Medical Center in Berlin evaluated both short- and long-term glucose markers in 141 healthy, nondiabetic older adults. The participants performed a memory test and underwent imaging to assess the structure of their hippocampus (this part of the brain is critical for remembering!). Higher levels on both glucose measures were associated with worse memory, as well as a smaller hippocampus and compromised hippocampal structure. These findings indicate that even in the absence of diabetes or glucose intolerance, higher blood sugar may harm the brain and disrupt memory function. An earlier study demonstrated that high blood sugar can actually shrink your whole brain, not just your hippocampus! Future research will need to identify how glucose exerts these effects and whether dietary or lifestyle interventions might reverse such pathological changes. Let’s hope so! [Source: Scientific American Volume...

Lower Your Risk of Stroke…. With a Cuppa!

Who’d have thought that a humble cup of tea could provide such powerful benefits? Of course its famous cousin Green Tea has had plenty of press, but regular old black tea…? Well, according to researchers, black tea is pretty powerful stuff too! Lenore Arab and her colleagues reviewed five meta-analyses of human studies of tea or flavonoid consumption and cardiovascular disease or stroke published between 2001 and 2011. (The disease-preventive properties of tea have been attributed to its flavonoid content.) The meta-analyses included 15 case-control studies, 43 cohort studies, and 1 cross-sectional study involving green and/or black tea intake. Significant Benefits A 21% lower risk of both stroke incidence and mortality from stroke was observed among those with high tea intake in comparison with low, and for those with a high intake of flavonoids, the risk was 20% lower A similar reduction was associated with each three cups of tea consumed A search for new studies published subsequent to the meta-analyses included in the current research revealed additional studies that supported the protective effect of tea-drinking against stroke In a supplement to the December 2013 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that covered the Fifth International Scientific Symposium on Tea and Human Health, researchers from UCLA report their conclusion of a protective effect for tea drinking against stroke Protective mechanisms for tea suggested by the authors include a reduction in blood pressure and improved endothelial function. “Considerable observational human evidence suggests a preventive association of tea or flavonoid intake on specific subcategories of cardiovascular disease,” the authors write. “When the outcome is restricted to stroke incidence or mortality, the association...

Cancer Prevention Guidelines

The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) have established guidelines that they say could significantly reduce the risk of dying prematurely. The results of a study described in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (online 03-04-13) suggests that following these guidelines really works! European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition Study A team of European researchers examined data from 378,864 people, which included men and women between the ages of 25 and 70. During the study (1992-2000) men were scored on their adherence to six WCRF/AICR recommendations (see image to the left). Women were scored on the same criteria, with the addition of breastfeeding their infants for up to six months. Over a median of 12.8 years, 23,828 deaths occurred. Among men whose scores were highest at 5-6 points and women who scored 6-7 points, the risk of dying over follow-up was 34 percent less than those whose scores were lowest at 0-2 points for men and 0-3 points for women The reduction was greatest for respiratory disease, followed by circulatory disease and cancer Each point increase was associated with a 13 percent lower risk of dying over the follow-up period “Results of this study suggest that following WCRF/AICR recommendations could significantly increase longevity,” authors Anne-Claire Vergnaud and colleagues conclude. My Thoughts I think, for the most part, these guidelines are very doable. Here’s my take: Daily physical activity is certainly a healthy habit you want to cultivate, and this coupled with choosing high quality, nutrient-dense foods will ensure your body maintains a healthy weight Avoid energy-dense, nutrient-less items masquerading as food – they are highly...

Preserve and Protect Your Brain with Fish Oil

Fish oil is the biggest selling nutraceutical supplement in the world, and for good reason. There is an incredible amount of evidence for its health benefits and, given omega-3 fatty acids are an essential component of every single one of our cells’ membranes, it’s no surprise that I believe everyone should be taking it either! One of the key indications for fish oil is cognition and brain health. Docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA for short, is a prominent fatty acid in our brain that is critical for optimal function. And this report just adds to what we know about how good omega-3 fatty acids are for our brain. Higher Omega-3 Levels = Less Brain Shrinkage With Age On January 22nd of this year, the journal Neurology® published an online report that  revealed an association between higher levels of the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and greater brain volume in older age. “These higher levels of fatty acids can be achieved through diet and the use of supplements, and the results suggest that the effect on brain volume is the equivalent of delaying the normal loss of brain cells that comes with ageing by one to two years,” commented lead author James V. Pottala, PhD, of the University of South Dakota in Sioux Falls. The study included 1,111 participants in the Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study, which was a subset study of subjects enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative. Subjects were between the ages of 65 to 80 years upon enrollment. Blood samples were analysed for red blood cell fatty acid levels (the best way to measure...

Healthy Reasons to Eat Chocolate. Yes. CHOCOLATE!

Chocolate Lovers Rejoice Good news for all the chocolate lovers out there (including this one!), new research has found this divine food has even more health boosting advantages than previously recognised. Not only does it enhance both cardiovascular and mental well-being, but it also lowers body mass index (BMI) and insulin resistance. However, before consuming chocolate with wild abandon, it’s important to discern between the different varieties – and choose only superfood grades for ultimate benefit.          Food of the Gods (and Mere Mortals too) Relished for over 3,000 years, chocolate (also known as cacao in its purest form) has been used as a potent tonic, aphrodisiac and mighty food across cultures and continents. The ancient Aztecs raised cacao worship to new levels, reserving it for royalty and specific ceremonies. Europeans stumbled upon the delights of this strange ‘almond’ while exploring the New World and quickly adopted it as a remedy for fevers, mental fatigue, tuberculosis, poor digestion and gout. Fast forward to the present day and modern research has uncovered still more health-enhancing features of this magical bean. Live your Bliss with Chocolate Containing a cornucopia of beneficial compounds, cacao has been shown to alleviate a wide-range of health complaints. But to reap the benefits, only high quality chocolate will do. Focus on raw, organic, dark cacao. And remember, the higher the percentage of chocolate, the lower the sugar. Below are some of the perks associated with this tasty superfood. Cardiovascular – Of all the known edibles, cacao ranks the highest in beneficial antioxidant polyphenols that curb heart disease. A study at the University of California Department of Nutrition in...

Breakfast in a Cup – The Green Smoothie

So over summer I’ve switched up my brekkie routine somewhat. Along with my regular Whey Less smoothies, I’ve been enjoying green smoothies as well!  If you haven’t tried a green smoothie yet, I highly recommend you do! It’s a great way to get extra fruit and veg into your day – and it’s a wonderful way to wake up and start off on a healthy footing (not to mention they’re delicious and convenient!). There are innumerable variations of the green smoothie, and I’ll share with you exactly how to come up with your own perfect creation. But first – let’s take a look at my go-to, everyday recipe!   My Green Smoothie 100 ml of chilled, filtered water 125 ml coconut water 1 tsp coconut oil 1 scoop of Whey Less Natural*** 1/2 banana (frozen pieces** – this gives the smoothie a beautiful, ice-cold, creamy thickshake texture) 1/2 mango (frozen pieces**) A good handful of spinach (the green bit!) 1/2 tsp vitamin C powder (this boosts the vitamin C and antioxidant levels in my smoothie. I use this one because it’s a brilliant formula and it adds a fruity, zingy flavour – YUM!) 2 tsp greens powder (this is a nice, added extra that supercharges my smoothie. I use this one because it contains over 34 organic ingredients that include nettle, spirulina, alfalfa, kale, fermented flaxseed/quinoa/lentils and kakadu plum, maca, beetroot, mesquite, acai, pomegranate, and probiotics AND herbals antioxidants green tea and rosemary!!) Green Smoothie Basics If making one feels a little intimidating, please don’t let it put you off. There are no hard and fast rules to how these things should go but a great formula...

A Brand New Start – NY Resolutions

Happy New Year Everybody!! I just love the fresh, vibrant new energy that the beginning of a shiny New Year brings. The dawn of 2014 was particularly special as January 1st also coincided with the New Moon – the ideal moon phase for new beginnings. A New Year gives us an opportunity to… redefine our priorities redefine our purpose redefine our life’s vision re-establish worthwhile goals (don’t waste your time on goals if they don’t take you towards your vision – don’t be afraid to scratch a few things off the list!) bury the past and move into a future that we haven’t created yet – leave your baggage in 2013 Concluding our lap around the sun is the perfect opportunity to not only set new goals for the New Year, but also a great time to pause and reflect. Looking back on 2013 and recalling lessons you may have learnt, as well as goals you’ve ticked off the list, provides a great foundation from which to prepare for a Brand New Year. Take Time to Reflect on 2013 So looking back on 2013, whether it was wonderful, awful, or somewhere in between – there will be pieces of gold hidden in the days and months gone past. So what did you achieve in 2013?  What did you do well? Grab a piece of paper and write three columns: Practical Goals Achieved Internal Growth Achieved What I loved most about 2013 e.g. graduated a course e.g. learnt how to say no e.g. becoming a parent e.g. completed a 5km fun run e.g. conquered your fear of heights   e.g....

Stress Transformation; 7 Tips from Deepak Chopra

If you were to eavesdrop on the conversations taking place around you, stress would likely be one of the most common words you would hear. People talk about feeling stressed about their work, the economy, global politics, deadlines, their relationships, and just about everything else. Many suffer from the emotional and physical consequences of chronic stress, which include accelerated ageing and increased rates of heart disease, anxiety, cancer, depression, migraine headaches, and other serious disorders. While stress is considered an epidemic problem, I’ve never believed that it exists in the environment or in external situations. At the Chopra Center, we define stress as our response to what is happening. It’s not the overdue payment, traffic jam, or fight with our spouse that causes stress – it’s our thoughts and the story we tell ourselves about an event or circumstance that create the emotional upset, racing heart rate, shallow breathing, surging adrenalin, and other symptoms of the stress response. The analogy of a surfer is useful here: If you’re a skillful surfer, every wave is an exhilarating adventure or at least an opportunity to learn something new. If you’ve never learned how to surf, on the other hand, every wave is a terrifying potential disaster. Surfing the Waves of Change Fortunately, learning how to deal effectively with stress doesn’t require any athletic ability – it’s a skill that anyone can learn. With a little practice, instead of continually being triggered into a stress response by outside situations and thoughts in your mind, you can learn to spend more time in your own natural state of well-being. Here are a few...

Want Diabetes..? Have a Sugary Drink!

One sugar-sweetened soft drink a day can increase a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 22 percent, researchers in Britain say. Dr. Dora Romaguera of Imperial College London and researchers from the InterAct consortium analysed the consumption of juices, sugar-sweetened soft drinks and artificially sweetened soft drinks collected in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. The study, published in the journal Diabetologia, found roughly one can of a sugary drink drunk per day increased the risk of type 2 diabetes by 22 percent. This increase in risk fell slightly to 18 percent after accounting for total calorie intake and body-mass index suggesting the effect of sugar-sweetened soft drinks on diabetes is not purely linked to body weight, Romaguera said. People who drank more artificially-sweetened soft drinks were also more likely to get type 2 diabetes, but this association appeared to be because participants with a higher BMI tend to drink more artificially sweetened drinks and are also more likely to develop diabetes, the study said. However, drinking pure fruit juice or diluted juices, sometimes with additives was not associated with diabetes risk, the study said. “The increase in risk of type 2 diabetes among sugar-sweetened soft drink consumers in Europe is similar to that found in studies in North America,” Romaguera said in a statement. [Source: Sugary drinks may increase risk of diabetes. 26-04-2013. Life...

Avoid Unhealthy Snacking with a Protein-rich Brekkie!

A protein-rich breakfast can significantly improve appetite control and help to reduce unhealthy snacking in the evening, new research says. Eating a breakfast rich in protein significantly improves appetite control and reduces unhealthy snacking on high-fat or high-sugar foods in the evening, according to the first ever study to the impact of breakfast consumption on daily appetite and evening snacking in young people. Led by Professor Heather Leidy from the University of Missouri-Columbia, USA, the research shows that consumption of high-protein breakfasts leads to increased satiety – of feelings of fullness – along with reductions in brain activity that is responsible for controlling food cravings. The high-protein breakfast also reduced evening snacking on high-fat and high-sugar foods compared to a normal protein breakfast from ready-to-eat cereal was consumed or when breakfast was skipped, Leidy said – adding that such a shift in dietary habits could help to battle rising levels of obesity. “Eating a protein-rich breakfast impacts the drive to eat later in the day, when people are more likely to consume high-fat or high-sugar snacks,” said Leidy. “These data suggest that eating a protein-rich breakfast is one potential strategy to prevent overeating and improve diet quality by replacing unhealthy snacks with high quality breakfast foods.” Research Details Leidy and her team studied 20 overweight or obese adolescent females aged between 18 and 20. Participants were split to either skip breakfast, consume a high-protein breakfast consisting of eggs and lean beef, or to eat a normal-protein breakfast of ready-to-eat cereal. The breakfasts consisted of 350 calories and were matched for dietary fat, fibre, sugar and energy density. The team...

Travelling Tips; Wellness Away From Home

Travelling Is Fun! Whether you’re going near or far, for work or for pleasure – there’s always a new adventure to be had. But with this break from your routine, and being away from home and all its comforts, you can lose some of the daily healthy habits and rituals that keep you feeling good. I’ve recently wrapped up several months of travel for work and thought I’d share with you some of the things I take with me, and do while I’m away, that keep me feeling my best.   Healthy Food I eat incredibly well, and enjoy the occasional indulgence – and this applies when I’m at home as well as away. But eating well away from home can be a bit tough. Without my fridge and cupboards stocked with fresh, healthy options I’m forced to rely on either what I’ve packed – or what I can get nearby. Plane food is the pits and in-room dining menus can be pricey. I always pack snacks/meals for the plane and I also carry a brekkie kit for healthy mornings that cost a fraction of the buffet. With the right forethought and preparation you can prepare all kinds of elaborate, fresh and nourishing meals and snacks for the plane and for when you reach your destination – but below is my ‘Lazy Girl’s Guide’ to keep it simple and easy: Nuts and Seeds: a ziplock bag with your favourites is a handbag must-have and will keep you going when there is literally no other option. A sprinkling of dried fruit and/or dark chocolate can keep things interesting too. Water bottle: a...

Healthy Holidays – Your Survival Guide

It’s the holiday season. I’m pretty sure that many of you are going to party a little bit, and no, I’m not going to try to discourage it. During this time of year, many of us break from our routines somewhat, drink a little (more) alcohol, eat a lot of food, and even forget to exercise. But please don’t be too hard on yourself; it happens to almost all of us. It’s okay to indulge a little and have some fun especially if it’s only a “once-a-year” occasion. However, it can’t hurt to take some precautions and practice a little moderation as well. If you’re looking to minimise the damage, here are some survival tips to help make this time of year both enjoyable and bearable.   Holiday Party Pitfall #1: Alcohol So you like to have a drink or two — or three — at the holiday parties. Big deal. But is there a way to drink moderately without causing excess strain on your body? The answer is yes. Again, I’m not encouraging you to drink, I just want you to be prepared for it, in the event you do. The first rule is to drink moderately. Pace yourself, and try to drink as little as you can. The less you drink, the less havoc it will cause your body. Not exactly a revelation, I know. Try to be selective in your choice of drinks. Red wine, for example, contains beneficial nutrients like resveratrol that can protect your body. Skip the drinks with artificial flavours and colours, and those that are high in sugar (cocktails and soft drink...

Protein Supplements Boost Muscle Mass in Young and Old

A meta-analysis of 22 clinical trials shows that protein supplements are effective for boosting muscle mass and strength gains during resistance exercise in both younger and older subjects. Data from 680 individuals revealed that protein supplementation was associated with average increases in fat-free body mass of 0.69 kg, and average increases in leg press strength of 13.5 kg. “Dietary protein supplementation represents an effective dietary strategy to augment the adaptive response of skeletal muscle to prolonged resistance-type exercise training in healthy younger and older adults,” wrote Dutch researchers in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. “Because the gains in fat-free mass and 1 repetition maximum leg press strength are also observed in an older population, it seems evident that protein supplementation represents an effective and robust strategy to improve the benefits of resistance-type exercise training to support healthy aging.” Debate Protein supplements are extensively taken by many athletes to build and maintain muscle. While this is generally accepted, the Dutch researchers note that there is “much discrepancy in the literature regarding the proposed benefits of protein supplementation during prolonged resistance-type exercise training in younger and older populations”. Their meta-analysis is claimed to be the first to examine protein supplementation in relation to the adaptive response of muscle strength, and seeks to resolve any debate over the effectiveness for young and old. Led by Luc van Loon from Maastricht University Medical Centre, the researchers analyzed data from 22 randomised control trials. The average protein supplement dose was 42 grams per day, and the majority of the studies used whey or milk proteins. Results showed that, compared to placebo, both free-fat...

Omega 3 Improves Your Memory

The journal PLOS One published an article on October 3, 2012 that reveals a benefit for supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids on working memory in young men and women. University of Pittsburgh researchers led by Rajesh Narendran of the Department of Radiology tested the effects of a supplement providing 930 milligrams eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and 750 milligrams docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in 11 men and women between the ages of 18 and 25. Evaluation of working memory (via an “n-back test”), positron emission tomography (PET) imaging of the brain and tests for red blood cell fatty acid levels were conducted before and after the six month treatment period. Participants experienced an increase in plasma omega-3 fatty acid levels and improvement in working memory at the end of six months. “What was particularly interesting about the presupplementation n-back test was that it correlated positively with plasma omega-3,”observed Bita Moghaddam, whose lab conducted the research. “This means that the omega-3s they were getting from their diet already positively correlated with their working memory.” “Before seeing this data, I would have said it was impossible to move young healthy individuals above their cognitive best,” he remarked. “We found that members of this population can enhance their working memory performance even further, despite their already being at the top of their cognitive game.” Although the researchers had suggested increases in dopamine storage and a protein involved in decision making in a particular area of the brain as mechanisms supporting omega-3’s effect on cognitive function, PET scan results failed to support the hypothesis. “It is really interesting that diets enriched with omega-3 fatty acid can...

Exercise may Protect against Future Emotional Stress

Moderate exercise may help people cope with anxiety and stress for an extended period of time post-workout, according to a study by kinesiology researchers in the University of Maryland School of Public Health published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise (see also University of Maryland). “While it is well-known that exercise improves mood, among other benefits, not as much is known about the potency of exercise’s impact on emotional state and whether these positive effects endure when we’re faced with everyday stressors once we leave the gym,” explains J. Carson Smith, assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology. “We found that exercise helps to buffer the effects of emotional exposure. If you exercise, you’ll not only reduce your anxiety, but you’ll be better able to maintain that reduced anxiety when confronted with emotional events.” Smith, whose research explores how exercise and physical activity affect brain function, ageing and mental health, compared how moderate intensity cycling versus a period of quiet rest (both for 30 minutes) affected anxiety levels in a group of healthy college students. He assessed their anxiety state before the period of activity (or rest), shortly afterward (15 minutes after) and finally after exposing them to a variety of highly arousing pleasant and unpleasant photographs, as well as neutral images. At each point, study participants answered 20 questions from the State-Trait Anxiety inventory, which is designed to assess different symptoms of anxiety. All participants were put through both the exercise and the rest states (on different days) and tested for anxiety levels pre-exercise, post-exercise, and post-picture viewing. Smith found that exercise and quiet...

Breakfast in a Cup

Frozen Raspberry Vanilla Frappe For quite some time I have been obsessed with my Banana, Cinnamon and Oat Smoothie and I’ve found it hard to choose something else for brekkie but this morning I got up and the last banana was beyond brown and I had to go for something else. Overdue for supermarket shopping I found my options were somewhat limited, but I always keep frozen berries (raspberries, blueberries and strawberries) in the freezer so that’s where I turned. This smoothie is ridiculously quick and easy, and on a day like today when the weather was quite balmy – so yummy and refreshing!!   Recipe 150 ml of chilled, filtered water* 25 ml organic cream (Yup, you read that right. Cream. I will explain later**) 1 1/2 scoops of Whey Less French Vanilla*** 1/2 cup frozen raspberries Blend, blend and blend! If you’ve read my earlier recipe forgive me for repeating myself here, ignore the rest of this article, and enjoy your smoothie – but for anyone who is scratching their head, read on. Notes: * about the chilled, filtered water. I am personally not a fan of ice-cold drinks but typically smoothies are made with milk cold from the fridge. Omitting this and using room temperature water means it can be a bit tepid and meh. So the chilled water gives the smoothie the right mouth feel and flavour. ** about the organic cream. I do sometimes make my smoothies using straight milk (organic of course) but when you use this blend of water and cream you end up with roughly the same amount of fat but half the sugar content. This is a nifty little option...