Gratitude – What are 3 Things you are Grateful for?

Adding gratefulness into your daily routine can achieve all of these health benefits.

  • Quality sleep
  • Life satisfaction
  • Reduced heart rate
  • Improved physical health
  • Enhanced mental health
  • Workplace positivity

Gratitude is something I encourage many of my clients to incorporate into their daily routine. It is a fantastic way to slow down and wind down in the evening after a busy day, and to get your mind and body in a positive, calm and relaxed state before bed. I encourage incorporating these moments of reflection by listing three things they are grateful for and discussing them with loved ones around the dinner table, reflecting on them over a cup of sleep promoting herbal tea, or to write about your reflections in a journal.

Practicing gratefulness is about the little things; the lady who smiled at you down the street, the welcoming “hello” from colleagues upon your arrival to work each morning, or the giggle from a child.

Studies have shown that practicing gratitude at least once a week for 10 weeks can have a positive impact on the following aspects of health:

  • Sleep- improves sleep quality, quantity and reduces the amount of time it takes to fall asleep.
  • Life satisfaction- increases optimism, quality of life and life satisfaction.
  • Heart rate- practicing gratitude can activate the automonic nervous system and reduce heart rate.
  • Physical health- shown to reduce pain scores, disease burden, and to have a positive impact on increasing daily physical activity and exercise.
  • Mental health- greater happiness, higher self-esteem, promotes positive emotive language, strengthens relationships.
  • Workplace- shown to build positive environments and relationships within the workplace.

Listing and reflecting on three things you are grateful for each day can enrich your health and life.

 

Kobau et al. 2011, ‘Mental Health Promotion in Public Health: Perspectives and Strategies From Positive Psychology’, Am J Public Health, 101(8)

Wood et al. 2009, ‘Gratitude influences sleep through the mechanism of pre-sleep cognitions’, J Psychosom Res, 66(1) 43-48.

 

 


How to Indulge Your Taste Buds – But Not Your Waistline!

Christmas is a time to be jolly, however we are ALL guilty of overeating…. Traditionally food is best shared with family and friends and eaten slowly over cheerful conversation. Today, it is trendy to catch up over a platter and a few drinks. Here are some healthy tips for the silly season that everyone can enjoy!

This platter contains HALF the amount of calories, and is TWICE THE SIZE than the popular platter choice of French onion dip and savoys.

Look at those colours! This platter doesn’t just look great, it is power-packed with super foods, including:

– Globe artichoke for liver health, digestion of dietary fats, cholesterol balance and blood sugar regulation.

– Berries are a low sugar fruit, and incredibly high in antioxidants called polyphenols that are fabulous for cellular repair, and preventing cellular damage and aging.

– Olives are a great source of anti-inflammatory essential fatty acids.

– Loving Earth dark chocolate is made from 72% raw cacao, meaning it contains a good mineral profile including magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, potassium and manganese. It is low in sugar, vegan, dairy free and gluten free. It also contains a range of antioxidant polyphenols for cell repair.

For the Sweet Tooth…

Bliss balls are a great way to sneak nutrient dense whole foods into unassuming friends and family. Here are some healthy swaps:

  • DATES- Substitute the condensed milk traditionally used in rum balls for pitted medjool dates. The cooking properties of date are very similar to condensed milk in that they are sticky, hold dry mixture together, and have a sweet caramel flavour.
  • NUTS & SEEDS- Nuts and seeds can be blended in a food processor as an alternative to biscuits. Nuts and seeds have a large mineral complex, and also contain a good amount of fatty acids for brain, eye and skin health.
  • ORGANIC COCONUT- Shredded coconut can go through up to four stages of refining before it hits your supermarket shelf- conventional degumming, neutralization, bleaching, and deodorization. For this reason we recommend going organic.
  • RAW CACAO- Opting for raw cacao over traditional coco means you will receive more nutrients like magnesium through your diet, magnesium helps with relaxation, and makes you feel better about eating chocolate 😉

Ingredients

Makes approx. 16 balls

  • 6-8 fresh pitted Medjool dates (or 12 soaked packet dates)
  • 1 cups shredded coconut
  • 3 level tbsp raw cacao
  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract/powder

Method

  1. Blend dates first until they are chopped down into small pieces
  2. Then add other ingredients
  3. Remove from food processor and roll into balls
  4. Coat with shredded coconut

view cooking demonstration on Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/Des-Lardners-Organic-165724976826271/


Coping with the Stress of Christmas

Additional supplementation is sometimes necessary for our bodies and minds to thrive in this busy world. If you haven’t used nutritional or herbal support before; the Silly Season is a good time!

We recommend B vitamins and Magnesium.

When we are under pressure and stressed the demand for B vitamins by the body increases. Many of s are already deficient as drinking alcohol and some medications like the oral contraceptive pill (OPC) depletes B vitamin levels.

Approximately 80% of the Western population are magnesium deficient. Common signs of deficiency are muscle cramping, muscle twitching (e.g. eye lid twitch), insomnia and anxiety.

Don’t waste your money on grabbing just any product off the shelf. We offer 2-in-1 magnesium + B vitamin products specifically formulated for stress and energy. You can read more about the calming actions magnesium and B vitamins have on our good hormones in our Feel Good February Blog.


Did Santa eat too many cookies?

There is nothing worse that feeling bloated and uncomfortable at Christmas, especially when you have been working so hard to fit into that dress at the work Christmas party!

‘Sometimes’ foods turn into ‘often’ foods, with all the social outings squeezed into the Silly Season calendar.  All of a sudden your belly is swollen like a balloon, and you can’t quite work out if it was the bread, dairy or garlic in that cob loaf that caused it…

If this sounds like you, read our Beat the Bloat blog to find out how you can look and feel good again this Christmas.

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Move Towards the New Year – Exercise is Your Hero!

Wouldn’t it be great to breeze through the festive season with a stack of energy, minimal stress outs and mood plunges with great recovery from social events? One simple key to achieving this is to keep your body moving aka EXERCISING. Don’t feel tempted to let your activity level slide just because you are busy. Exercise may just be your best friend at the end of the year because it has so many great outcomes, especially when you are under pressure.

The human body is designed to move. Indisputable evidence shows that exercise improves:

  • Mental health – for control of depression, anxiety, mood swings and stress response
  • Energy production – better energy through the day and better sleep at night
  • Brain function – clearer thinking and decision making, better memory and adaptation to everyday stress
  • Gut health – helping you to recover better from overindulgence
  • Immunity – to keep those annoying colds and flus away right when you don’t need them
  • Wellbeing all year round – reducing your risk of chronic illnesses like type 2 diabetes, heart and Alzheimer’s diseases.
  • Weight management – keeping you in a healthier body composition at the end of festivities
  • Outlook – keeping you focussed on making better, more positive choices that are helpful to you. Often describe as a “gateway behaviour” i.e. exercise is a behaviour that makes you feel like making other great changes in behaviour for your health.

Keep Moving Every Day – 10 ideas

  1. Schedule in your exercise, so it is not an option to skip it! Prioritise exercise and schedule the rest of your day around it, so that it happens.
  2. Walk and talk – catch up with friends, family or work colleagues can be done while getting some fresh air and movement
  3. Family sports – swim, play a ball game, throw a frisbee
  4. Pet care – walk your dog, play fetch
  5. Dance the night away – get active at Christmas gatherings
  6. Explore nature – be adventurous during your holidays by walking, hiking, bike riding, canoeing
  7. Take the long way – use the stairs instead of a lift, park the car further away and walk to your destinations
  8. Set an alarm on your phone to remind you to move at least every hour, whether that be to get away from your desk and do a lap around the office or take an active break while watching TV / being on the computer or phone.
  9. Get your exercise clothes out – set out your exercise clothes and sneakers etc before you go to bed, one less excuse for not doing it. Take your sneakers to work too!
  10. Ask Santa for a Fitbit – if you don’t already have one, look into purchasing a device that measures your heart rate and how many steps you are doing, so that you can track and achieve a daily target (better yet – put it on your Christmas wish list). There are also plenty of fitness and exercise apps that you can access on your digital devices to help you experiment and keep track of your movement efforts for the day.

Remember to seek professional advice from a trained fitness expert to tailor a fitness program for you, especially if you have mobility issues or chronic health complaints.

 


Mind Your Liver

This time of year, and day 4 of 12 days of Christmas, I’d like to remind everyone of the huge job our livers do, processing and storing the food and drink we eat. In addition our livers also do the job of breaking down toxic and allergenic products in our diet and on our skins. Too much food and too much Alcohol is well known as a challenge to the liver, but I’ll list a few other surprise challenges to the liver.  Also I’d like to give you some advice on getting your liver in better order……………………

Moderation in food and alcohol are of course first in my advice list, to help your liver. Not everyone is good at moderation, but a few skipped meals, or delayed meals can be easier to cope with. Recent studies in animals show that restricting eating to a narrower window of the day, greatly improves health and reduces weight gains that would occur if the food were extended over the usual 24 hour timetable. Michael Moseley’s 8/16 diet is one I would recommend, and you can read about it on his website. He suggests restricting eating to 8 day-light hours only and try and do “non-eating” for a further 16 hours, which means the rest of the day. This gives your entire body system a 16 hour rest, and in particular perhaps your tired old liver.

The best tonic for the liver is a combination of tonic liver herbs, such as my Des Lardner Liver tonic (needs consult) or Fusion Liver Tonic tablets. Also Dandelion coffee too is available in store. Use 1-2 cups prior to meals or between meals for improved digestion.  Bitter herbs/foods are the simplest liver tonic and include: vinegar, lemons, olives, apple cider vinegar, ginger, and turmeric. Less common tonics are globe artichoke, rhubarb and dandelion plants, occasionally used in cooking in the kitchen.

Signs your liver is stressed, include weight changes, digestive disorders and tiredness, along with headache, muscle aches, memory loss, allergies, mood disorders, poor skin, trouble digesting alcohol, pale stools, dark urine, dark circles under the eyes and around 25 other symptoms. Any of these would suggest a more thorough questioning and testing would be wise, preferably from a natural therapists like our naturopaths. The liver generally responds well to tonic therapy and can heal itself, once the cause of the problem is located and the right repair started.

Foods to avoid or cut back after Christmas include sugar and sugary drinks, especially with Fructose, also short chain proteins that occur in some muscle building supplements, caffeine, excess alcohol as above, high fat foods, and exposure to modern chemicals. In the meantime relax and enjoy those Yuletide feasts.


Welcome to the Silly Season 2019

Welcome to the Silly Season 2019! Today is also Feel Good Friday with 15% off in-store (some exclusions apply) so perfect way to finish off your Xmas shopping or perhaps start your shopping.

Over the next 12 days we will have ideas on how to survive the Festive Season and even feel better in the process! Topics to include improving your sleep, exercise, keeping hydrated, gratitude to name a few.

Firstly, call in and receive your FREE bag of Epsom salts as our Gift to YOU. Why Epsom salts? Epsom salts is also known as magnesium sulfate being made up of magnesium, sulfur and oxygen. Originally discovered in Epsom, England many centuries ago. It has an appearance similar to bath salts and looks like table salt. It has a bitter, unpalatable taste and not recommended to consume. The benefits of Epsom salts is attributed to the magnesium and essentially a mineral we don’t get enough of in our daily diet.

We have noticed these past couple of weeks customers stating feeling anxious, exhausted due to work deadlines, real or perceived deadlines in personal life and generally wanting to cancel Xmas. Alongside of media images or television shows screening the ‘how to host the perfect Christmas dinner’. This week I watched Jaimie Oliver prepare a spectacular meal for his extended family in his beautifully, Xmas decorated kitchen then served in his magnificently decorated dining room. I know my home won’t have that same ‘home beautiful’ look! Nor am I concerned about it.

The way Epsom Salts works and why we think it is important for you to experience, once dissolved in water it releases magnesium and sulfate ions and is absorbed through the skin, important for body function. Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body with calcium being the first. Sufficient levels of magnesium is required for sleep and stress management by assisting the body to produce melatonin. Melatonin promotes sleep. It is also considered beneficial in reducing muscle soreness and cramps. In some cases Epsom salts helps with pain swelling.

So, taking a bath regularly at least once a week will help you survive the next couple of weeks…

References:

Elliot Brianna, Epsom Salt: Benefits, Uses and Side Effects Health Line Media Dec 2018

Ingraham Paul, Does Epsom salt Work? Pain Science. Com Sept 2019


To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

“To sleep, perchance to dream” wishes Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

We all crave restful sleep, but not everyone achieves this. Recent research suggests sleep

has immense repair value to us all. The Sleep Health Foundation suggests 33-45% of

adults sleep is affected. Conversely, poor sleep has a role in increasing blood pressure,

increasing blood sugar, increasing body weight by changing certain hormones,

increasing cardiac risk factors, and reducing daytime energy, researchers even suggest

many major disasters were linked to lack of sleep including the Exxon Valdez oil spill,

the Chenobyl nuclear disaster and Challenger spaceship explosion of 1986.

A complex phenomena, sleep disorders plague many and can include insomnia, obstructive sleep apnoea, snoring, restless leg syndrome and sleep behaviour disorders, such as sleepwalking, night terrors and teeth grinding. Studies reveal that less than six hours of good old zzzzzzs can increase the risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease!

Consider these tips to help resort a good sleeping pattern:

  • Spend at least 30 minutes each day outside in natural sunlight to reset your body clock. Natural sunlight, first thing in the morning stimulates cortisol production which helps you wake up as nature intended, but research also suggests we need some sunlight throughout the day too, to produce Vitamin D and fire up our immune system.
  • Learn relaxation techniques to manage stress. Ask our staff for a Relaxation Fact Sheet or our naturopaths can teach you progressive muscle relaxation at a consultation, and follow up with a wonderful CD on the technique. Our naturopaths also suggest you make a list of your stressors, worries and troubles during the day and write out a timeline for resolving them. That way you won’t take your worries to bed with you.  Taking worries to bed is a pointless exercise, as any great solutions you dream up will be forgotten by morning!
  • Limit alcohol and caffeine at night.
  • Have a calming bedtime routine such as a warm bath or shower, some peaceful music, slow deep breathing or a warm milk drink just prior to bed.
  • A Sleep diary can be downloaded at nps.org.au/sleepand taken to you doctor when you fill it in over a week or two.
  • An individualized herb mixture from a herbalist is often effective. Herbs can interact with modern medicine so bring your medication list when visiting our herbalists. Herbs we often use include withania, zizyphus, valerian, skullcap, Kava, lemon balm and lavender.  There’s lots of herbs but the ideal ones for you are best worked out at a consultation. Talk to herbalist and pharmacist Des Lardner.
  • The sleep hormone Melatonin can be prescribed by a doctor. Des suggests the liquid Melatonin drops, taken under the tongue,  is often the most effective dose form for Melatonin, as these are absorbed directly into the bloodstream, whereas slow release tablets must undergo “first pass” metabolism in the stomach and liver before they can work, which means a larger dose is possibly needed for tablets to be effective. We can send information to your doctor.

Lack of sleep catches up on you quicker than you might think. We need a decent amount of sleep to allow our body time to repair itself and regenerate energy.  So, spare a thought for sleep between the catch ups, parties and family gatherings. Aim for a proper eight hours on most nights and remember that, if you feel sleep deprived, it is okay to say no occasionally rather than burning yourself out completely. Your body will appreciate the break.


Watch Your Water

Celebration food and drink tends to be very acidic, leading to toxin accumulation, so it pays to drink plenty of water, and stay alkalised this time of year. It’s often said “the solution to pollution is dilution. “

My recommended amount of water is 2 litres daily, but varies a little with body weight and physical activity. This should be a minimum for most adults. Also that water is best in alkaline form, which is achieved by adding herbal teas (sorry not black tea or coffee) to your water.  Alternatively you can generate alkaline and filtered water using a Zazen water filter, where the water is filtered and then run over mineralized natural rocks. (These filters are sold by our staff, and are a great Christmas gift, around $600, which is cheaper than buying them over the internet. )  Our naturopaths are greatly in favour of Zazen water filters as they tick many health boxes.

Try to avoid Soda waters and soda drinks, as these are acid and have the associated problems of acid diets: – toxin accumulation and arthritic diseases like gout, fibromyalgia, muscle pains, restless legs, liver troubles and kidney troubles. Mineral water is great because it’s alkaline which is what we used to get from our reservoirs but make sure it’s not the modern effervescence type. That fizz makes it suddenly acidic, and not ideal for your health.

So along with those festive drinks, I suggest intersperse a bit more water, and also try to intersperse an occasional missed meal. Water has the advantage of making you feel full, so replacing that unneeded meal with a few glasses of old fashioned water is often easier than just skipping a meal.

If you are concerned about acidity, consider a pH test Kit, from our store. They do about 70 tests of saliva or urine. Also consider more alkaline supplements  in your diet. These include : Morlife Alkalising Greens, Spirulina,  Chlorella, and Barley Grass. Alkaline foods include grapes and celery and all fruit and vegetables. Ask about our acid-base food charts, which are about $12 in full colour, showing the acidity (PRAL value) of most common foods.

Keep drinking over the Christmas break, but make sure it’s mostly alkaline water.


Your Wellbeing 2020

Around Christmas time is a great time to look to new resolutions and improving general well-being sometime soon. What are the principles of good health? As in most things the correct answer is probably “It all depends”. Meaning it depends on your current health status. However even our fittest clients can benefit from 3 general principles. These are………………..

Firstly examine your nutrient intake. Are your eating mostly good quality food from primary food sources, like whole fruit, grains, vegetables and fresh healthy meats? Try to avoid high human intervention foods, which are so called “processed foods”. “Human intervention”( Dr John Tickell calls it “HI”) Factor requires a bit of thought, and is often a little disguised. Factors like cooking, additives, stuffing, long storage, packaging, force feed foods and foods that have had a tough time, are all HI factors.  Grapes that are air-freighted from California would be an example of the later!

If you can’t always meet these criteria, then a Multi-vitamin should be considered as a stop-gap measure. But remember a Vitamin supplement is no substitute for healthy eating.

A second area of well-being is good oils in your diet. The advertizers once rightly said “Ooils aain’t ooils”. Are you getting enough good oils in your diet? Are you getting the right ratio of oils into your diet? The body is able to manufacture all but 2 essential oils, the rest it can manufacture itself, given the right raw materials. These are Linolenic acid or Omega 3 oil, and Linoleic acid or omega 6 oil, both of which we can’t do without. Also important has now been found to be the ratio of these 2 oils and traditional society has a 1:3 ratio of these respectively whilst a USA citizen has a 1:24 ratio and often greater for these essentials. One thus gets oversupplied at the expense of the other, which has been shown to lead to inflammatory diseases like heart disease, arthritis and cancer.

You can help improve the ratios by eating more fish, sea-foods, flaxseeds, hempseeds, chia  cereal, perilla, and day old fruit and vegetables. It’s also important to obtain what you can of any of these  in the cold-pressed form or preferably in their natural form direct from the plant or source

Third path to better general health is bacteria.

Try to add more good bacteria to your diet. That is to say, bacteria like yogurt, vinegar, apple cider vinegar, cheeses, (non-processed), sour krout, Kambucha, ginger beer, and traditional foods,  these are known to be safe if prepared by old methods. Now termed probiotics, good bacteria, or what I call, good bugs, all stimulate G regulator cells in the immune system and encourage T helper 1 responses in the blood, this leads to more white blood cells and a stronger immunity noted by Dr Élie Metchnikoff as early as 1894. This leads to less infections and less allergies.

The take home message is “get your bugs up”! Also get your fish and fresh foods up! And third, load up those nutrients! Then you can expect improved general well-being in 2020.

 photograph courtesy Jonathan Borba