Welcome to the first two of my Heart Highlights. I thoughts I would start with a series of herbs that are often used to help treat menopausal symptoms. Red Clover is used to help with more traditional menopausal symptoms, whereas Brahmi can improve cognitive function that goes along with ageing. This can be helpful for almost anyone.
Before taking herbs, make sure you discuss them with your Naturopath to make sure they are appropriate for you and do not interfere with any other drugs of supplements you may be taking.
We are very lucky in Australia to have the day-to-day freedoms that we do. In most other countries at the moment, they continue to be restricted on where they can go and how many people they can interact with. But with these freedoms and interaction comes the transmission of bacteria and viruses. We are entering into cold and flu season where your body is more susceptible to getting sick.
So here are some tips to keeping healthy this winter.
Sleep is the most important activity your body needs. When sleeping, your body restores, heals, and creates important hormones. Get to bed early and stay there for at least 7-8 hours each night. Avoid caffeine after noon to ensure you get a good quantity and quality of sleep. Read my blog article “Having Trouble Sleeping?” for more advice.
Psychological stress is associated with a greater risk of depression, heart disease and infectious diseases. Take time out – exercise, garden, meditate, whatever it is that helps you to relax.
What would one of my articles be if I didn’t mention exercise? Exercise is important for everyone. To keep your immune system at its best you want at least a brisk 30-minute walk each day. If you are an avid athlete, you also need to take care, as very high intensity exercise can put a strain on your immune system.
Our bodies are composed of 70% water. Proper hydration is important for the optimum functioning of all your body systems. Increase your water intake slowly getting up to 2L per day.
Hot-Cold showers are an excellent way of improving your immune system, increasing circulation and elevating energy levels. After finishing your regular shower routine, do 20 seconds of cold and 1 minute of hot. Alternate 2-3 times, ending with cold. The increase in circulation will also help decrease sensitivity to the cold.
There are several supplements you can take to help boost your immune system. Daily zinc supplementation has been shown to shorten the duration and severity of the common cold, reduce the incidence of acute lower respiratory tract infections in preschool children by 45% and reduce the incidence of pneumonia by 41%.
Vitamin C is found in high concentrations in immune cells and is quickly consumed during an infection. It is a natural antihistamine and has been found to reduce the severity and duration of the common cold and upper respiratory tract infections.
More than 80% of the body’s immune system is in the digestive tract. A lack of good bacteria in the digestive tract can cause a reduction in the immune system allowing increased infections. Take a good quality probiotic to prevent bad bacteria from taking hold.
Vitamin D has a direct effect on the immune system. Vitamin D stimulates the production of natural antibiotic proteins thus killing more bacteria. Insufficient levels are related to a deficiency in our immune system to protect us against infections.
If you get sick, try warming socks. You will be surprised at how effective they are!
These are just a few suggestions for staying healthy this winter. For personalized advice, contact your local naturopath. Let’s stay healthy this winter!
Breakfast. This is a surprisingly contentious issue for such a simple meal. Some people say to always eat it while others say to never eat it. And yet another group say to eat it sometimes. So, what is right for you?
Well, that’s just the thing. We are all different and what is right for one person is not going to be right for the next. Here are some things to consider as you think about whether you should eat or skip breakfast.
Do you feel light-headed and hungry in the morning? Then you should eat breakfast. Don’t force yourself to wait until later because someone else said it worked for them. Make yourself something healthy with a good portion of protein and some healthy fats and you will start the day off right.
Are you completely exhausted and stressed? (Think mum of young kids who is barely keeping it together or other completely rundown equivalent). You should eat breakfast. Skipping breakfast adds stress to your body. This can be a good stress for some that can help get the right hormones motivated and going, but if you are already exhausted, it is too much and will just make you more tired.
Are you skipping breakfast but then eating something sweet at 10am? Then you should really eat breakfast. Craving sweets means that your body wanted protein earlier but didn’t get it. Try having breakfast with a good portion of protein and your morning tea sweet cravings will start to dissipate.
Do you wake up feeling like the last thing in the world you want is to eat food? Then you should probably skip breakfast and wait to eat until later as long as your lifestyle allows you to eat something healthy later in the morning. Eating an early lunch around 11am can be a good option if it works for you.
Whether you are eating or not eating breakfast, is it working for you? Do you wake up feeling great? Are you feeling satisfied in the morning? Then keep going with what works. You don’t have to change just because your neighbour had a great experience with the opposite.
Also, some days you might want to eat breakfast while others you don’t. That’s ok. Some days it might be more appropriate to eat it based on what you ate the night before, your energy level and what you have going on that day.
If you think you should be eating breakfast, but it still doesn’t sound appetising, try starting with something lighter or even liquid. These tend to go down easier. A protein shake, some chia pudding or yogurt tend be easier options first thing in the morning.
Most people I see as patients have issues with fatigue and energy so I usually recommend breakfast. But if you are feeling ok, then you can try experimenting with skipping breakfast and see how you feel.
So, what are you going to do tomorrow? Will you have breakfast and if so, what will you have?
Stool, poo, number 2, bowel movement, poop, whatever you want to call it, you should be looking at it! I know this makes some people squeamish, but it is so important. Your digestion is the cornerstone of your health and your stool gives you a lot of clues about what is going on in there. To learn more about what happens in your gut and how important all the little bacteria friends that live there are, check out my article 10% Human.
So, what should you look for? To start with you want to check the consistency. Check out this chart to give you an idea of what you are looking for. Too hard or too soft are both indications of trouble brewing. You want your stool to look like Type 4.
You also want to look at size, colour and frequency and if there is any mucus or undigested food in there.
Check your stool for a few days and if you have any issues you really want to sort them out as issues in your gut are associated with health issues in all other parts of your body. The solution depends on what the problem is. Every problem has a different solution. It is really best to talk to a naturopath if you think there is anything going on with your digestion so that you can get the right answers and be on the road to a healthier you.
Is there a connection between dairy consumption and nasal secretions? (we’re talking snot here people).
There is much controversy around dairy and its health benefits versus drawbacks. I’m not going to get into the whole thing today. I just want to talk about nasal congestion and dairy. Many people will try to say that no matter what you should always consume dairy for its calcium content. There have been studies in the past, but I found a recent one clearly showing that drinking dairy increases nasal secretions.
The participants had no allergy nor intolerance to dairy, and all had a history of persistent nasal mucous secretions. All participants went completely dairy free for 6 days and then after that had either a dairy smoothie or soy smoothie each day for 4 days. All participants had less secretions during the initial stage. The dairy smoothie group had significantly increased nasal secretions compared to the soy group. This was a double blinded study meaning that neither the researchers nor the participants knew who drank the dairy and who drank the soy.
So, if you have persistent nasal secretions (or lots of snot), or have a cold, it might be worth taking dairy out of your diet for a few days and see what happens.
There are two different kinds of exercise – incidental and planned. Planned is when you go out to just do exercise. When you go for a run, to the gym, for a bike ride, boot camp etc. Incidental exercise is all the exercise that you get through your day-to-day activities: walking to the train, walking to school, walking around the office, running after the kids in the backyard.
Planned or structured exercise is great, but this doesn’t always fit into the day. One of the barriers to exercise is that people often don’t feel like they have time to go to the gym for an hour. Whereas planned exercise takes time, incidental exercise is often done while doing other things and it can be really helpful for our health as we do it more often. Any amount of exercise is beneficial and lots of short spurts of exercise can have the same effect on your health as a longer session.
I like to turn planned exercise into incidental. Don’t get me wrong, I love to just go for a bike ride or walk the dog. But I also like to go out with purpose. I have a bike trailer that I used to use with the kids but now I take it to the shops to get groceries instead of driving. And the kicker is no matter how tired I might be; I have to make it back. Really this only adds about 10 minutes each way, but now I have incorporated exercising into shopping.
The kids’ school is about 10 minutes away. If I walk there and back that’s 20 minutes. If I do that twice a day, at least 3 days a week I’ve done 60 minutes of walking! So I’ve made a big dent into my 150-minute goal and I haven’t even gotten started on my planned exercise yet.
Some other ways you can add incidental exercise into your day are parking further from the train and adding a 10-minute walk there and back each day. Take the stairs instead of the lift or escalator. Do squats while brushing your teeth – 2 minutes per brush, 2 brushes per day times 7 days equals 28 minutes of exercise and you haven’t taken time away from anything else in your day.
The possibilities are endless. You just have to be creative and see what fits into your lifestyle. So, what are some ways that you get incidental exercise?
This recipe is certainly a family favourite. I had to fight off little hands in order to take pictures for this post! This is a different kind of chocolate pudding in that it tastes amazing while being loaded with healthy ingredients. It is also very easy to make, just blend all the ingredients together. We like to mix in some fresh fruit just before eating, but you can also just eat it plain. If you have any leftover it also freezes well, although I rarely get any into my freezer!
So why is this pudding so healthy? The ingredients are loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, good fats and fibre. How could you go wrong?
Cacao powder is considered a ‘super food’ in the media. It differs from cocoa in that it hasn’t been roasted. This retains its natural vitamin, mineral and antioxidant content as well as being a good source of protein, chromium, potassium and magnesium. Watch out for cheap cacao powder though. I once bought a cheap version and it tasted awful.
Cinnamon is a super tasty way to add a bit more healthiness into your pudding. It can help lower resting blood sugar, it contains lots of antioxidants, has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties and it may even improve your memory (I think;)
I know many of my readers are in Australia, so you may not understand the beauty that is maple syrup, but trust me there is no substitute. You need to get 100% pure Canadian maple syrup, not a sugar knock off. While maple syrup does still contain glucose and fructose, it is much lower than regular sugar and has a lower glycemic index. It is also high in antioxidants, riboflavin, zinc, magnesium, calcium and potassium. Oh and did I mention it tastes fantastic!
We have all heard that bananas contain lots of potassium, but did you know they also contain calcium, manganese, magnesium, iron, folate, niacin, riboflavin and B6? Now enough of this explanation as to why this pudding is so healthy, lets make it!
1 ripe avocado
1 ripe banana
1 teaspoon cinnamon
5 tablespoons cacao powder
5 tablespoons real maple syrup
Put all the ingredients in your blender.
Blend all the ingredients until smooth.
I have a Vitamix. I would suggest using either a Vitamix, Thermomix, or Kitchenaid processor to ensure you get a smooth texture.