Natural Skincare: This week on Real Health

This week on Real Health we  explore the root of common skin conditions in order for healing and skin health to take place from the inside out rather than hopelessly treating the symptom or occurrence on the outside of the skin.

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We look at the ingredients on skincare products, discuss the microorganisms living on the skin, and look at how our negative emotions affect our skin.

Tune in on The Home Channel DSTV Channel 176 this week at the following times:

Mon 18:00 | Tue 23:00 | Wed 10:00 | Thu 14:00 | Sat 09:30 | Sun 08:00

Beetroot antioxidant smoothie!

Last week on the show, I made a super easy smoothie, that is high in anti oxidants. These nutrients are important, especially when we start looking at how our environment affects our body, on a cellular level. Before I get into the deliciousness of the smoothie, let’s look at some VERY simple science to understand what this smoothie is going to do for us:

What are free radicals?

A free radical is an unstable molecule that is sometimes produced in our body from certain normal cellular reactions, or they can be introduced into our body from our environmental toxins, such as cigarette smoke, pollution, tap water, medications, alcohol, radiation, or perhaps a poor diet.

When this free radical is in our cellular environment, it attacks our normal cells, by an oxidising reaction. By oxidising our cell, it “steal’s” an electron, and destabilises the structure of our cells, leaving our cells damaged. By now, we know that a damaged cell, means lowered function to the tissue and organ as well as to many important systems, such as our immune, nervous and cardiovascular systems. This damage appears to be a major contributor to development of over 50 diseases! If you have ever watched Despicable Me 2, and have seen those purple, crazy minions- then that would be an embodiment of a free radical 🙂

We naturally balance the fight between healthy and unhealthy cells in our bodies. Our body is quite capable of punching those free radicals in the face. But, when our body is overwhelmed by too many oxidising reactions, this is where trouble can start.

What is a an antioxidant?

Let’s break it up- “Anti” meaning against, “oxidant” meaning the bad guy (haha). So an antioxidant is really like an elite team that scavenges the body for trouble makers, and then eliminates them. Antioxidants are also naturally produced by the body and/ or we can get them through foods. They are critical to our body’s defense system.

Antioxidants are capable of  deactivating free radicals before they attack cells. If you suffer from a chronic disease/ autoimmune disease, it is safe to assume that free radicals have contributed to the development to your pathology.

Beware of high dose antioxidant supplements, as they may overload the system. It’s a delicate balance. Try get your antioxidants instead from whole foods, which is better for absorption.

So now, that smoothie…

The smoothie I made is very simple. The ingredients are of course, are very important. Most raw fruit and vegetables contain high amounts of antioxidants. I have selected simple ingredients that you can use, wherever you live! This recipe is vegan, vegetarian.. and should fit most ‘diets’.

Ingredients and method:

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  • 3-4 medium sized strawberries
  • 50g of blue berries
  • 3cm of fresh ginger root (wash thoroughly, and leave skin on)
  • 3 tablespoons of flax seed
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • 1 large de-veined spinach leaf
  • 1/2 a large beetroot (wash thoroughly, and leave skin on)
  • Water for consistency

Liquidise in your smoothie maker of choice. I prefer a watery consistency, so I add about 1 cup of water. The serving size is approximately 600ml.

Many plant substances such as “phytonutrients,” or “phytochemicals” possess antioxidant properties. Spinach, beetroot and berries provide copious amounts of these. I prefer to give my veggies a good scrub and leave the skin on, as the nutrients sit under the skin. The skin also provides extra fibre. As mentioned on the show, turmeric requires a fat for absorption- therefore the addition of the flax seed as it provides this fatty medium.

I hope you enjoy the natural earthy taste of this smoothie. I try have this smoothie three to four times a week. Mother nature is quite awesome in trying to help us maintain our health- embrace the gifts!

 

 

A quick and easy green based smoothie

This morning I had a delicious smoothie, that I thought I have to share.

I know many people cringe at the thought of putting veggies into a smoothie… It is the only way to reap the full benefit of a raw meal! Veggies (as well as fibre) stabilise the blood sugar levels, as opposed to just a fruit based smoothie. This recipe makes one litre. I usually have 500ml for breakfast and reserve the other half for the next day or an after gym meal.

Ingredients:

Serving size: 1 litre ( or 2x 500ml cups)

  • 1 stick of celery (insoluble green fibre )
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder (anti-inflammatory)
  • 1/4 cucumber (fibre and potassium)
  • 1/2 cup grapes (anti- oxidant and adds natural sweetness)
  • 1 golden delicious apple (fibre and adds natural sweetness)
  • 3 tablespoons of plain full cream organic yoghurt (good fat and protein, probiotic boost and also adds creamy texture)
  • 3 tablespoons pomegranite seeds (high in vitamin B & C, fibre and sweetness)
  • 1 cup spinach leaves (high vitamin A and lots of green insoluble fibre)
  • Water for consistency

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Method:

  • Rinse and roughly chop up the fruit and vegetables
  • De-seed the apple and grapes
  • Chuck everything into a liquidiser/ smoothie maker and switch on

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  • Add water gradually for desired consistency. I prefer a liquid like consistency that I can drink easily
  • Make sure that the ingredients are well blended. Nobody likes chunky bits at the end!
  • Pour into a glass and drink up!

 

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Non Alcoholic Hot Toddy Recipe

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Ingredients for the hot toddy

I decided to share this very easy recipe with everyone who watched the show this week on Real Health. All the ingredient can be found in your local spice shop or your pantry!

It’s a great for warming up the chest and throat, and helps your body fight off any signs of a cold.  There are variations that add brandy, however, this is safe for everyone, including children and pregnant woman.

The beneficial qualities:

  • Turmeric acts as a wonderful anti inflammatory
  • Cinnamon is an antimicrobial 
  • Black pepper promotes sweating and helps rid the body of toxins
  • Ginger eases pain and acts as an anti- inflammatory
  • Cayenne pepper is a mucous decongestant and a natural pain reliever
  • Raw honey contains Propolis which has antibacterial and antiviral qualities
  • Lemon has lots of vitamin C and has immune boosting properties

Ingredients: 

  • 2 cups of water
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground (or fresh) turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon bruised black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon raw honey
  • slice of lemon

Method:

  • In a small pot, add the water and gently heat on a medium heat
  • Add the turmeric, cinnamon, black pepper, ginger and cayenne pepper
  • Let the ingredients simmer for five minutes
  • Remove from heat and strain into a cup
  • Add honey and lemon
  • Ideally served had warm/hot
  • Sip and enjoy!

How to help your body naturally with colds and flu

This month has brought in some very sick patients. This has to be the worst cold and flu season I have seen in a few years. Strange symptoms with fast moving disease pictures. It’s especially scary for mother’s with young children as the symptoms progress rapidly. My best advice would be to see a qualified homeopathic doctor as soon as possible, and ask for a few days off for sick leave in order to recover. If the infection gets really bad, a good homeopath will refer you to a GP for antibiotics.

Here is my guide to surviving this snotty season:

  1. AVOID dairy. Bacteria love dairy as it provides nutrition for them to thrive! Dairy also amplifies the production of mucous in the body. Please try your best to avoid milk, yoghurt, cream, etc.
  2. AVOID sugar. This is the obvious sugar (as in the granular type you sprinkle over everything), as well as added sugars in foods we eat- tomato sauce, prepacked foods, cereal’s. This also includes wheat products- white or brown. These are simple sugars that break down into simple glucose sugars. Unfortunately this may be difficult to avoid… but try your best. Sugar puts a huge strain on our immune system (read this article I previously wrote on sugar: https://yeshthehomeopath.wordpress.com/2014/08/19/how-junk-food-and-sugar-affects-weight-gain/) and actually dampens our recovery process.
  3. AVOID sugary medicines. I am also not a fan of cough mixtures and lozenges as they contain high amounts of glucose. Please read the labels to see if there is sugar in the content. Opt for natural cough mixtures and natural lozenges that are sugar free.  Be aware of the addition of artificial sweeteners as well to these ‘healthier’ options. This must be avoided as their nutritional content is zero, and they only add to the toxicity in our bodies.You will easily find sugar and artificial sugar free products in a health shop.
  4. AVOID alcohol and caffeine. Alcohol and caffeine both dehydrate the body, slowing down other bodily reactions and weakening the immune system. Water is essential for almost every chemical reaction in the body, so when your body is under strain with a disease, every little bit of water counts. Your body also uses a lot of water to temper your fever… so give it what it needs.
  5. INCREASE your sleep. I find ‘enough sleep’ is a relative term in today’s modern lifestyle… However, when you are sick, there is no way for your body to recover if you don’t get downtime. During your sleep cycle, the body gets an opportunity to detoxify as well as regenerate. This is when the parasympathetic nervous takes over and nurtures your sick body. Also, I’m sure you already feel sleepy and listless, so learn to listen to your body and please do get at least 10-15 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period in order in order to recover quicker. You will probably relish it too.
  6. WASH your hands regularly. I know this may sound basic, but many people easily forget this, more so when you are sick! So, after you blow your nose, wash up. If you sneeze of cough, AVOID doing so in your hands. It is an art to practice this, but allow your cough/sneeze to fall into your inner forearm/ inner elbow as you block. This will avoid germs on your hands, and prevent you from spreading it around your home and office. Be conscious of the way we potentially spread germs in an environment, and by no means am I promoting O.C.D like behaviour!
  7. AVOID gym and strenuous exercise. This relates to the sleep point. Allow your body some down time and let it recover without being put under more stress. Gym’s also are a huge breeding zone for bacteria and viruses, so best to avoid this place until your body is stronger.
  8. INCREASE your fluid intake. So the doctor recommends you increase your fluid intake when you have a cold/flu. What does this mean? Water? Juice? Tea? Energy drinks? Again, try to avoid energy drinks and fruit juices. These both contain lots of sugar, and some of the energy drinks contain caffeine. These serve no purpose in your recovery. The answer would be (if you haven’t caught on from my article yet!)  lots and lots of water! Let it be room temperature water as this is more soothing for the throat. It can get quite boring after a while, so here are a few idea’s:
  • 1 cup of warm water, 1 teaspoon of raw honey, 1/2 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger root, half a slice of fresh lemon
  • 1 cup of warm water, steep in a green tea bag, 1 teaspoon of raw honey
  • A hot toddy- See recipe on my blog!

And last, but not least, replenish your spiritual reservoir as you feel your body starting to recover. I recommend visiting your reiki healer for a healing and recharging session. If reiki isn’t your thing, go for a soothing aromatherapy massage to help push out the last bit of toxins into your lymphatic fluid, so you can aid the detox process.

Take care of you 🙂

My favourite- Brilliant Vegetarian Breakfasts!

I am a HUGE breakfast fan. Especially because it sets the tone for your eating habits for the rest of the day. Being vegetarian has posed some challenges with eating a healthy breakfast but one can be innovative! I  am not a fan of popular breakfast cereals- i.e shredded wheat, popped rice, corn flakes, bran flakes, milled maize/ soya porridges etc. These tend to be overly refined, as well as contain too many preservatives, additives and sugar/ sugar substitutes. Processing a whole grain (eg. rice, wheat, maize or soya) removes most of the natural nutrients, hence little to no nutritional value. My opinion- it’s better to get nutrients from whole foods!

I have compiled a list of breakfast basics that are wholesome and nutritious for breakfast. Try these:

Traditional Rolled oats:

Yes- the old fashioned ones. They are large, round and un-cut. Just from looking at different oat brands on the market, you can see rolled oats are a bit different. Rolled oats are pressed flat or rolled with heavy equipment to shorten their total cooking time. Steel cut oats appear rougher. They haven’t been rolled, but they have been chopped with steel blades. Instant oats are more refined (hence the loss of protein  and fibre, and the addition of flavourants, sweeteners etc.). In South Africa, you can find rolled oats only at a health shop as local retail stock steel cut or instant oats.

They contain soluble and insoluble fibre which keeps you fuller for longer. I cook on the stove top, with water and a tad bit of organic milk (almond or coconut milk), stir in some MCT oil, sometimes raw cacao powder, teaspoon of cinnamon, some raw nuts and about half a cup of diced fruit. This is also a great opportunity to stir in some 100% whey protein powder or hemp seed powder to keep you fuller for longer.

Not all are created equal- Eggs:

As long as they are free range or organic, they will be amazing! An organic egg get’s the label if the chicken was only fed heart eggorganic food (animal or grain), which means it was not fed grains (mostly Genetically Modified corn) laced with pesticides. The 90’s idea that eggs are unhealthy and promote heart disease is a outdated myth. Fats from animal sources contain cholesterol, but it is not completely harmful.

They are an excellent source of healthy fat and protein, and contain some essential amino acids (tryptophan and tyrosine) that are greatly beneficial to the body. The best way to eat them is either poached, sunny side up or soft-boiled. Scrambling your eggs oxidises the cholesterol in the egg yolk, which may in fact harm your health. Try support local and organic egg farmers, but if you absolutely must purchase your eggs from a commercial grocery store,go for the free-range organic.

Pair your eggies with a complex carbohydrate, such as rye toast with butter, or rye crispbread. Veggies are always another great substitute for rye bread. I would recommend two eggs per serving.

Slurping goodness- Smoothies:

My favourite for an on-the-go/ lazy-easy breakfast! There are some who would say this is unhealthy, due to all the sugar from fruit. This I agree with. That’s why, it is so important to understand and follow the simple rules for smoothie slurping:smoothie

1) Always combine one veggie, two fruit, fresh ginger root and a green (such as a spinach leaves, kale leaves, broccoli, cucumber, celery etc.).

2) Always add a scoop of healthy protein powder (Organic whey/ hemp protein/ yellow or green pea powder, Chia seeds)

3) To get the real health benefit, don’t add sugar, sorbet, ice- cream or honey. It’s not dessert, okay!

An example of a healthy smoothie: 1 medium sized beetroot, 1 small green apple, 3 tblsp frozen or fresh blueberries, 2cm peeled ginger root, 1 cup baby spinach leaves. It’s also nice to add 4 tblsp of full cream, organic plain yoghurt, or 100 ml Coconut milk/ almond milk or rice milk for a creamy texture. Use water to change consistency.

Healthy Fats to add to your breakfast:

Fats are an essential part of our diet. We have recently discovered the differences between a healthy and an unhealthy fat. Healthy fats play a huge role in helping you manage your moods, keep you satiated, and most importantly- helps you stay on top of your mental game early in the morning. Fats keep you fuller for longer and stabilise blood sugar levels better than carbohydrates.

Here is a brief list of healthy fats to add to your breakfast:

– Half a medium sized avocado,

– Three tablespoons of full cream cottage cheese (Unflavoured),

– Half a cup of full cream natural yoghurt,

– A handful of raw (unroasted, unsalted) almonds/ macadamia/ cashews/ sunflower seeds/ pumpkin seeds/ sesame seeds/ linseeds,

– A tablespoon of butter or ghee (clarified butter) on your toast or to fry your egg in,

– A tablespoon of nut butter. I like eating this plain or you could have it on a slice of toast.

Idea’s for a healthy, nourishing vegetarian breakfast:

1) Half a cup of natural, greek yoghurt with two tablespoons of vegan cacao protein powder, a handful of mixed raw nuts, kiwi fruit

2) Two soft boiled eggs, one slice of rye toast with fresh tomato and a twist of black pepper.

3) Half a cup of rolled oats, made with water, full cream milk and three tablespoons of vegan cacau protein powder, three tablespoons of desiccated coconut.

4) Two slices of rye toast with cottage cheese, black pepper and chives, and a small fruit (peach, plum, apple etc).

5) Green smoothie (spinach leaves, green apple, ginger root, half a cup of natural greek yoghurt, pinch of cinnamon, water).

6) Half a cup of rolled oats, made with water, full cream milk, sliced banana, and stir in two tablespoons of almond nut butter.

Happy Breakfast to you!

How junk food and sugar affects weight gain

It is now a well known fact (though there are many in denial about this) that junk foods and sugar are the most addictive ‘foods’ in our society today.

 Here are some ways to check if you or someone you know is addicted:

  • You accumulate fat around the abdominal area, and battle to get rid of it,
  • You crave sugar, refined carbohydrates (white flour based foods) and junk food,
  • You can’t control when and what you eat,
  • You feel irritable and annoyed when you don’t have a quick fix of sugar in close range,
  • You hide your addiction, and eat when no one is around.

Identify with any of those? I know I used to. The sugar craving is a vicious circle.You feel compelled to eat junk and sweets on a regular basis. The problem with these foods is the impact it has on our insulin level- as well the long term consequences to that.

Interestingly- research shows that there is a huge challenge in overcoming refined carbohydrate consumption. Apparently humans want to eat these foods and seem unable to stop based on the growing obesity epidemic. This has been proven in many studies whereby we have developed an overwhelming desire to consume unhealthy food, no matter how hard our intellect tries to avoid it.  It is now known that the limbic reward/pleasure system is activated by refined carbohydrates. So basically, we consume comfort foods for their hedonic purposes, because it has a drug like effect on our body, similar to recreational drugs.  It is the most exhilarating feeling for all our cells- which leads to the addiction.

The weight gain/ science part to it all:

Insulin Resistance

Everything we eat is able to be used to create glucose in our bodies. Carbohydrates, by definition, are sugars, and all sugars are easily converted to glucose. The amino acids that make up proteins can be converted to glucose via an enzymatic process called gluconeogenesis. Fats can also be converted to glucose-  glycerol. So, no matter where it comes from, the glucose from our meals then ends up in our blood to travel around our bodies to the tissues that need it.

Insulin is a hormone that is produced by the pancreas. It is released into the blood whenever blood levels of glucose become elevated (eg. after you have eaten a meal). Insulin unlocks the door of the cell for glucose to be used by the body cells to produce energy.  When the cells can’t open in response to glucose, the glucose remains in the bloodstream, causing high blood glucose levels, despite insulin in the bloodstream.  The pancreas is actually working overtime to produce more insulin because the body’s cells are resistant to the effects of insulin. Without insulin, cells will literally starve to death due to no glucose.

Other conditions associated with Insulin resistance are:

  • Abdominal obesity
  • Fatty Liver syndrome
  • Diabetes Type 2
  • Acanthosis nigricans
  • Skin tags

 Weight gain or Obesity

It is common knowledge that excess glucose from refined carbohydrates is  converted into fat. One of the ways the body keeps this mechanism going is through shifting the gut flora. Before grains became refined , our gut flora was exposed only to lean meat, vegetables, fruit, tubers, nuts, and thereafter whole grains and legumes. When the gut is exposed to refined carbohydrates and excess processed fats, an inflammatory response begins. After the meal, there is an inflammatory response caused by the over absorption of food by the gut bacteria.  One of the types of gut bacteria has an outer covering called the endotoxin- this is what the body ‘inflames’ over, which may lead to insulin resistance. Another finding is that over time, this gut bacteria flourishes when exposed to continuous refined carbohydrate consumption, which means greater absorption of calories as well as an increased risk of insulin resistance and obesity.

Studies have shown that  obese individuals demonstrate increased activation of brain reward circuitries in response to junk food.  This means that in obese individuals, their brain gets more excited than the average person, when exposed to junk foods. Weight gain or obesity is inevitable unless the pleasure factor- food-seeking behaviour is somehow resisted.

One can’t disregard the obvious sedentary lifestyle many lead. Most South Africans are couch potatoes. A survey revealed in 2003, 62% of men and 48% of women 15 years or older  followed a sedentary lifestyle. This lifestyle has also been associated with breast cancer, colon cancer, osteoporosis, stress, anxiety, depression and ageing less healthily. In South Africa, nutritional surveys have also shown that urban dwellers  frequently consume a diet that is high in trans fats, refined carbohydrates and added sugar. However, people living in  rural areas tend to  follow a more traditional diet.

The following trends have often been found in the typical urban diet:

  • A low  intake of  fresh fruit and vegetables
  • A high intake of processed animal fat, eg. high trans fatty acids
  • Overall increases in the calorie  intake, which leads to obesity and weight gain
  • A high and increasing alcohol intake
  • A low fibre intake because of a low intake of fruit, vegetables and legumes

A diet make-over is really needed in our country. Education about food choices are vital in changing the weight gain epidemic .

I will be writing a new article soon about food choices  and how we can make small changes to better health.