Are you affected by seasonal affective disorder

It is thought that over 2 million people in the UK suffer from an illness called SAD, short for seasonal affective disorder, which can lead to a weakened immune system and in turn other complications.

The clocks have gone back so the nights draw in earlier, meaning longer nights and shorter gloomier days.

As well as being colder with less sun to be seen, this reduction in the amount of natural light we get can profoundly effect our body clocks and mood.

 

Does this time of the year make you feel down or even depressed?

seasonal affective disorder

Many people feel down and depressed in this period of the year, since over time the number of people whose jobs are outside in natural light has decreased to about 10% of the population.

This is fine in the summer months as travel to and from work is in daylight but in the shorter winter days it’s not so good.

The opportunity for natural light is decreased so our bodies do not get enough of the hormones that make us feel wide awake.

Modern work practices like shift work have altered our body rhythms and cycles, this in turn has resulted in a rise of light deficiency symptoms.

We feel sluggish with no energy and lethargic due to the body not getting enough sunlight. This in turn leads to altered sleep patterns and maybe a lack of sleep, mood swings and a general feeling of no energy.

If this disruption is ongoing the body clock is changed to the point where the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder or winter blues are experienced.

 

General symptoms of SAD

Please note: Always see a doctor for a professional diagnosis of any condition but the general symptoms of seasonal affective disorder are…

A disrupted sleep pattern and an inability to stay awake in the daytime, caused when the hormone melatonin is produced in above normal levels.

Serotonin the hormone that affects the mood and appetite is produced in lower levels this leads to depression and possible weight gain as the craving of carbohydrates and sweet foods can increase.

Feeling anxious and unable to cope with normal routine tasks as well as a disinterest of any physical contact as well as irritability and lethargy are all SAD symptoms.

There are very general symptoms that can be experienced by anyone at anytime but if you see a pattern emerging each year when the clocks go back and the days are shorter and gloomier then you could be suffering from winter blues.

 

How to help

So what can we do to help ourselves before it becomes a bigger problem?

walking in winter sun

Well the obvious are…

Take regular exercise in daylight. Even a walk in winter sunshine can do us the power of good just wrap up warm and go around midday as this is when the light is brightest. If you can only manage the gym then try to use equipment near the window.

Regular exercise helps to keep the weight regulated especially if you find yourself craving and eating more carbs. When you are indoors keep the blinds and curtains open to make the most of the natural light.

Try yoga to reduce stress levels and help with sleep patterns as well as giving the body a gentle workout.

If at all possible take a holiday to a warmer part of the world, this breaks the normal routine and you escape the cold and duller days for a while.

 

Journaling & Vitamin D

Keeping a journal and noting down how we feel each day can have a positive effect on your mood and helps you to clear your negative thoughts.

It also makes sure we are keeping to a regular schedule, this helps improve sleep patterns and maintain a regular diet as wanting to over eat is a feeling that people who suffer with seasonal affective disorder can experience.

Take a vitamin D supplement, a study done in 2014 by the Nutrients journal found that by taking vitamin D people suffering from depression experienced an improvement to how they felt.

A study in 2015 in the Journal of Natural Medicines concluded that natural oils added to your bath could help with the symptoms of depression, especially the oil of the poplar tree.

 

Essential oils & Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy can influence and control your mood by working on the part of the brain that controls your body clock.

So try adding 6 to 8 drops of an essential oil to your nightly bath or a room diffuser.

aromatherapy oils

Bath bombs are a good option, containing essential oils and easy to use. If you do not like to use oil in the bath, there are numerous designs and fragrances to chose from making them fun as well.

If using an essential oil in a massage the chosen oil must be diluted in a carrier oil before use.

Or indulge yourself and have an aromatherapy massage by a trained therapist.

 

Citrus & chamomile oils

The citrus essential oils like grapefruit, lemon, orange sweet, bergamot and rosemary energise the body and have an uplifting and cheering action.

The floral oils like rose otto, geranium, neroli, jasmine and patchouli can help to fight off sadness and miserable thoughts, giving the user emotional support.

As sleep disruption is a common symptom of SAD try an essential oil to help promote a good nights sleep. The oil that comes to mind is lavender, but make sure you buy True Lavender as it is the best quality available.

Another oil for helping promote a good sleep is chamomile especially Roman Chamomile. Roman Chamomile is an ancient herb that promotes a relaxing, restful sleep and is great for those who need to manage stress as it has sedative properties.

Another oil that has sedative and calming actions is Sweet Marjoram, make sure it is Sweet Marjoram that you purchase though.

These oils lavender, chamomile and sweet marjoram can be mixed together to create an effective sleep blend and to fragrance to preference.

 

Eating a healthy diet

By eating a healthy balanced diet the mood swings can be avoided.

Try to include whole grains and complex carbs like white beans, walnuts, oatmeal, pumpkin and sesame seeds in your diet. You can even have chocolate but the dark 70% cocoa sort.

pumpkin seeds

Eat foods that contain protein as this helps with energy levels, try to include nuts, seeds, pulses, white poultry, seafood and dairy produce like milk, eggs and cheese.

Fruit and vegetables should always be in your daily diet but by including more berries like blueberries, raspberries and strawberries.

Studies have shown that these berries prevent an excess of cortisol being released, which too much of can effect stress levels.

 

Reduce caffeine intake

Try reducing the intake of caffeine as too much can suppress serotonin levels and sufferers from SAD need to keep the levels of this hormone up.

As well as eating more complex carbs reduce the amount of simple carbs and sugar as these foods will give you an energy boost for a short time but it drops off just as quick and lowers your energy levels.

So limit the amount of white rice, breads and sugary food & drinks you consume.

 

Recipes to help

There are some excellent recipes to be found that are quick and easy and will help you to include the foods we mention above…

 

1. Spicy Buffalo Chickpea Wraps

Try this simple but delicious recipe from Minimalist Baker, that uses chickpeas that should help with your mood…

Buffalo-Chickpea-Wraps
Picture courtesy of Minimalist Baker

 

2. Mint Chocolate Power Bars

or this tasty recipe from Green Kitchen Stories to include chocolate, pumpkin seeds and peppermint oil, all excellent ingredients for helping with the winter blues.

Mint Choc Power bars
Picture: Green Kitchen Stories

 

3. Garlic Kale and White Bean Stew

Another good food for helping with seasonal affective disorder is white beans so try this delicious winter recipe from My New Roots

white bean stew

 

Never keep how you are feeling to yourself

These suggestions to cope with SAD are meant for anyone who is just down at this gloomy time of year but if you feel you cannot cope at all please see your GP and take medical advise.

Never keep how you are feeling to yourself, remember a trouble shared is a trouble halved, so please do talk to family members or a good friend and if this is not a comfortable option talk to your doctor.

 

Simulate sunlight

There are light units that can be purchased that simulate sunlight, dawn simulator clocks too that wake you on these dark mornings with a gradual light, that is like a dawn breaking.

These units have shown improvement to people suffering from the symptoms of SAD as the light encourages the brain to make less melatonin but increase the serotonin both these hormones affect you mood and ability to feel awake.

These units are useful but are not seen as a cure as the symptoms generally reoccur the next Autumn / Winter.

 

Let Us Know

Do you suffer from seasonal affective disorder? if so what methods do you use to help? did you find the above useful?

Please let us know in the comments below…

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What does activated charcoal do?

With a variety of different charcoal products now in existence, we get asked a lot here at Calm Happy Healthy ‘What does activated charcoal do’, so we decided to put an article together to try and help shed some light.

We all want nice white healthy teeth and there are many products on the market that advertise teeth whitening properties BUT what about the chemicals they contain? and are they safe to use?

Charcoal or more precisely activated charcoal is being seen as a more natural and safer tooth whitener and plaque absorber.

 

Using charcoal for ailments is not new

The use of activated charcoal as a cleaner for teeth is not new though!

It was used by the Romans and there are recipes dating from the 19th century for a homemade toothpaste, that includes charcoal as a main ingredient.

The Egyptians used activated charcoal to help absorb unpleasant smells for septic wounds in around 1500 BC.

It is also recorded that Hippocrates used charcoal for a variety of ailments including anthrax, epilepsy and vertigo, around 400 BC.

But what is the best type of charcoal, how safe is it and what benefits can you possibly gain from using it. Let’s take a look…

 

What is the best activated charcoal?

The best activated charcoal on the market is made from coconut shells, oak branches, bamboo and other natural sources.

charcoal from coconut shells

White charcoal or Binchotan charcoal is created from mature Ubame Oak branches using a traditional Japanese method. The branches are burned at a low temperature in a clay kiln, the carbonizing occurs when the heat is increased and the branches are starved of oxygen.

However the most abundant and renewable charcoal is sourced from mature coconut shells.

Bamboo charcoal made from carbonized branches of bamboo plants, which are rapid growing plants thereby making Bamboo a fantastic sustainable source of charcoal.

 

But is it safe to use charcoal?

But is it safe? Well, a small amount of activated charcoal is fine, so for example the amount that would be used when flossing with activated charcoal products or if you use a toothbrush that has charcoal infused bristles, that is fine.

However there are toothpastes out there that contain activated charcoal and the amounts that some of these products contain verge on being too much. This could be bad, not so much for the users health as the damaged caused to the enamel of the teeth.

Charcoal is abrasive and once the enamel wears away it cannot be replaced. This thinning of the tooth enamel makes the teeth appear even more yellow.

Just be sure to check the amount of activated charcoal contained in products, and as mentioned above, perhaps a safer option for your teeth is a charcoal infused bristle toothbrush or charcoal floss.

 

The benefits of using a toothbrush with charcoal infused bristles

Activated charcoal promotes good oral health by adsorbing plaque along with the stain causing constituents contained in berries, tea, coffee and wine.

The benefits of using a toothbrush with charcoal infused bristles are that it deodorizes your mouth due to the natural antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal properties.

This also means that it will balance the PH levels in the mouth whist detoxifying, so reducing the risk of gum disease and cavities.

Floss which has been infused with activated charcoal can naturally whiten the teeth while reducing the cavity forming bacteria and absorbing the toxins that create stains on the teeth.

Other health benefits & remedies from Charcoal

What does activated charcoal do for you and your health?

Well, a variety of ailments can be helped by using or taking charcoal. It is commonly used for a variety of medical emergencies and natural treatments.

Activated charcoal has tiny pores so can trap and soak up toxins or chemicals that have been swallowed, flushing them out through the blood stream.

It can also be used in the treatment of high cholesterol, the reduction of bloating, prevention of hangovers and pregnancy bile flow cases.

 

Remove Bloating

Bloating caused by the by products of some foods can be alleviated by taking activated charcoal supplements. Try taking activated charcoal an hour before a meal that you know contains gas-producing foods, such as brussel sprouts and you should find a big difference.

 

Hangover cure?

What about a cure for that nasty hang over? The toxins that are in the body from the over consumption of alcohol are removed when activated charcoal is administered reducing the risk of alcohol poisoning. It does this by reducing the concentration of alcohol in the blood.

Studies have shown that activated charcoal can reduce bad and increase good cholesterol in a matter of four weeks.

But this must not be taken if you are on prescribed medication, as the charcoal will prevent absorption of the prescription drugs.

 

Flush Out Toxins

Activated charcoal is extremely useful in the treatment of poisoning and drug overdose and is being used in emergency units the world over for the treatment of these cases, it has been shown that activated charcoal is a better option than pumping the stomach.

It can help prevent cellular damage in the liver and kidneys due to the amount of toxins we consume just eating food and in our environment.

By taking activated charcoal the body is cleansed of these toxins and chemicals that cause the damage to our internal systems and that also contribute to pre-mature aging.

 

Insect bites, Acne & Overall Wellness

charcoal for insect bites

Most of the food that we consume is grown using pesticides.

The water we drink contains chemicals and we can also be exposed to hold spores in the air, these factors all contribute to a toxin build up in our bodies.

So by using activated charcoal routinely, our digestive tract is kept clean and healthy and this in turn helps overall wellness.

Activated charcoal has external uses as well as internal. Insect bites, acne and body odour can all be helped using charcoal.

A capsule of activated charcoal mixed with half a tablespoon of coconut oil will alleviate the discomfort after a bee sting or mosquito bite. Just dab the mixture to the affected area every half hour until the itching is gone.

 

Acne Treatment

For the treatment of acne mix a capsule with two teaspoons of aloe vera gel, apply to the face and let it dry.

This face pack will bind to the dirt and toxins that cause spots and acne, rinse the face thoroughly after the mixture has dried on the face.

 

Be Careful

Be careful of clothing, as activated charcoal will stain.

Please Note: Activated charcoal is not the charcoal that is left after a BBQ! This charcoal is full of toxins and should never be used or consumed.

If you take activated charcoal it is most important that you keep well hydrated and drink at least 12 glasses of water a day.

Always speak with your doctor before starting to use activated charcoal as a medical treatment.

 

Let Us Know…

What does activated charcoal do for you?

Do you use charcoal based toothpaste, toothbrushes or floss?  Do you take charcoal supplements?

If so we’d love to hear in the comments below what benefits or downsides you feel exist?

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Upcycling Old Used Tyres

Old tyres can be very useful items when it comes to recycling.  From tyre swings, planters, art or even houses. However, an idea we love here at Calm Happy Healthy is how to upcycle old tyres into a fantastic pair of sustainable eco sandals.

The Maasai Warriors from Kenya have been recycling old used tyres to make footwear for generations, long lasting and easy to do.

So why not have a go at making your own pair of recycled tyre eco sandals?

 

Global Tyre problem

pile of tyres

With hundreds of millions of tyres being discarded around the world each year finding a way to dispose of them is a major global problem.

Stockpiling used tyres creates serious hazards such as uncontrollable fires whilst burning tyres gives off harmful compounds into the environment.

Eco-friendly recycling of tyres is something that is being looked into. For example valorisation, which is industrial scale processing of waste materials and turning them into other products or sources of energy.

Along with this, is the idea of tyre to tyre recycling, where the material is reused to make further tyres.

 

What are tyres made of?

Trying to find efficient recycling technologies for tyres however is not easy due to their composition.

Made of rubber, steel, some additives and carbon black tyres are very difficult to break down and separate their components, making them very hard to break down.

 

How to make Eco Sandals from Old Tyres

So why not do your little bit, however small and make your own eco flip flops. Here’s how…

This first video from Urban Self Sufficiency shows how simple it can be to make your own eco sandals.

It runs through fairly fast in the video, so to help we’ve split it up into a step by step guide with images below….

 

PLEASE NOTE: Be very very careful with sharp tools. If you are not an expert with tools that are sharp enough to cut through tyres, we advise you get help. And ALWAYS wear and use safety equipment.

 

A step by step guide

Here’s a step by step guide with images of the above video from Urban Self Sufficiency….

 

1. Measure and mark enough tyre for each flip flop using another sandal you have

Measure and Mark

 

2. CAREFULLY cut away your two marked sections from the tyre

cut tyre

 

3. Take your pieces of cut tyres and draw around an existing flip flop, ready for cutting

Mark flip flop shape

 

4. Gently and carefully cut around the markings of your flip flops and trim to get nice smooth edges

cut out flip flop shape

Repeat the above for both flip flops.

 

5. Using your old pair of flip flops mark holes for straps and drill. On the underside, counter sink holes.

Mark holes and drill

 

6. In this video they use existing old flip flop straps, which you then push through the holes

push straps through

If you do not want to use or don’t have existing straps, you can also use paracord. Knotting it on the underneath and then weaving different strands together to create a braided strap.

 

7. And that’s it, your finished. You now have a fantastic pair or Eco flip flops. That should last a very long time too!

Final eco sandels

Big thanks to Urban Self Sufficiency!

 

Another video on how to make upcycled flip flops…

Here’s another great video from our good friends at The Eden Project here in the UK. Offering some insight into where rubber comes from, along with how it is extracted and a small list of products made from rubber.

This is followed by a quick guide on how to make used tyre flips flops. They do is slightly differently, drawing around a foot instead of an old flip flop, using a chisel instead of a knife (maybe safer if you are not skilled with sharp knives) and the straps are from an old seat belt, so further recycling.

 

Let Us Know

We’d love to hear in the comments below if you tried to make your own eco sandals?  How did you get on? Were they comfy? Was it easy to do?

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High Cholesterol is a Killer

With high cholesterol being one of the most common health problems in the world we wanted to take a look at how to lower cholesterol naturally.

Millions of individuals from all around the world suffer from this problem. In fact, it is estimated that roughly 1 in 6 suffer from high cholesterol levels.

This is even worse when you consider the repercussions associated with abnormally high cholesterol levels.

If you’re not careful, your arteries could become clogged or blocked. In return, this could result in reduced blood flow and increased risk of a heart attack or stroke.

So let’s see how to lower cholesterol naturally shall we….

 

How to lower cholesterol naturally

The good news is that you do not necessarily need to take medication to lower your cholesterol levels.

Within this guide, you will learn 10 tips on how to lower cholesterol naturally…

 

1. Shed Some Pounds

First and foremost, you should realize that being overweight is going to greatly increase your risk of developing high cholesterol levels.

Simultaneously, obesity can lead to a greater risk of diabetes and other health problems. It is in your best interest to always put in a significant amount of effort to keep yourself in decent shape.

Shedding as little as ten pounds could help you reduce your LDL levels by as much as eight percent.

Just remember that you should not stop eating out of the blue. Instead, you should lose the weight safely and over a period of time.

Try to lose approximately one or two pounds each week if possible. Slowly but surely is the key here!

 

What is LDL?

LDL is the bad cholesterol. Your primary goal should be to lower LDL cholesterol levels, while simultaneously elevating HDL (good cholesterol) levels.

Losing weight will definitely help you accomplish both goals at the same time.

 

2. Take Advantage of Protein-Rich Plant Foods

legumes protein

You are probably already aware of the fact that legumes like peas and beans are extremely good for you.

However, you might not be aware of the fact that their powerful healing properties have the ability to lower your cholesterol.

Not only are legumes packed with protein offering an awesome alternative to meat, but they are also nutritionally rich which also makes them extremely healthy.

Along with their ability to lower cholesterol, legumes can lower blood sugar and insulin levels.

If you are not a fan of legumes, you always have the option of turning to nuts and seeds.

However, you have to be careful when choosing nuts and seeds that are packed with salt, because too much salt can cause your blood pressure to rise above normal levels.

Raw, dry roasted, or unsalted nuts will probably be your best option when it comes to avoiding high blood pressure.

In order to avoid gaining weight, it is best to keep your daily limit at around 1 ounce a day, which averages around 175 calories.

 

3. Consume Very Little Trans Fats

Avoiding certain foods can prove to be very beneficial for those suffering from high LDL cholesterol levels.

Believe it or not, trans fats are found in almost every food known to man. Fried foods, frozen pizza, cookies, cakes, and even margarine will contain high levels of trans fats.

It might be difficult to avoid trans fats all together, but you can take steps to reduce your intake levels. Why are trans fats so bad?

Well, these chemicals will actually increase bad cholesterol levels, while lowing good cholesterol levels.

They’ll also immensely increase your risks of developing heart disease or suffering from a stroke. Always read the labels on the foods you’re going to eat.

Count the trans-fat levels and do your best to keep your consumption to a minimum.

 

4. Eat More Fibre

Another thing to remember is that eating the right foods can help you keep your LDL levels to a minimum, while pushing your HDL levels up higher and higher.

In general, it is a very good idea to consume foods that contain plenty of fibre. Soluble fibre is very important, because it will prevent your body from absorbing cholesterol.

Research has proven that consumers that eat more fibre will actually experience a drop in LDL levels.

At the same time, fibre is capable of making the consumer feel like they’re fuller. In return, this will help them avoid feeling the need to snack and could lead to weight loss.

Just be very cautious of eating too much fibre. Consuming too much could have negative repercussions, such as bloating and abdominal cramps.

Also, elevate your intake slowly and over a period of time.

 

5. Trying Essential Oils

You’ve probably heard of essential oils at some point or another.

These oils offer a wealth of health benefits, so it shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that essential oils can also help to lower cholesterol levels.

There are several different essential oils that can be helpful for people suffering from high cholesterol levels.

For instance, you will definitely want to try lavender, cypress and rosemary oil.

Lavender oil is definitely a great option. This oil is capable of decreasing stress and this in return can also push down bad cholesterol levels.

Cypress oil can improve your blood circulation, while also decreasing bad cholesterol levels.

Finally, rosemary oil possesses powerful antioxidant properties. All these of these oils are well worth your time and energy.

 

6. Consuming Garlic

garlic great for colds

Certain medicinal herbs such as garlic have been known to lower cholesterol. Garlic has been used frequently all around the world for at least 5,000 years, for example it is a big favourite in traditional Indian cuisine.

And of course, it is commonly used for a wide assortment of health complications. Garlic might cause your breath to smell funky, but it is well worth it.

This specific herb is capable of combating high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, and high cholesterol. In fact, some people believe that garlic can help to stave off colon, rectal, and stomach cancer.

Whether you’re suffering from high cholesterol or you just want to improve your overall health, you should definitely consider adding a little more garlic to your diet.

It is also thought that garlic could prove to be beneficial for combating asthma, low blood sugar, snakebites, diarrhea, and even tuberculosis.

 

7. Exercising More Frequently

Working out and exercising will be one of the wisest decisions you’ll ever make. You do not need to work out twenty hours a week, in fact, just two or three hours a week will do the trick.

If you’ve been inactive for a long period of time, you should ease into it. Start with ten minutes of exercise at a time and scale upward as you start to get fitter.

Working out for at least two hours a week, will make a world of difference.

Remember to choose exercise activities that you will actually be able to enjoy. Simultaneously, you should consider teaming up with a friend.

This combination will help keep you motivated for the long run.

 

8. Drink Red Wine

Tempranillo red grapes utilized to make red wine is rich in fiber, which as we spoke about above has been proven to lower cholesterol levels.

A previous study conducted by researchers at the Complutense University of Madrid and collaborators revealed that tempranillo red grapes effectively reduced low-density lipoprotein or LDL levels by nine percent.

Additionally, the participants who were confirmed to have high cholesterol at the beginning of the study experienced a 12 percent drop in their LDL levels.

Red wine offers many benefits, but only when it is utilized in moderation.

It is recommended to consume between four to seven glasses of red wine weekly. Please drink responsibly though!

By following this regimen, you will be able to keep optimal cholesterol levels and ward off prostate cancer, liver disease, dementia and blood clots.

 

9. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

fish

Omega-3 fatty acids have been classified as “natural health wonders of the world” and there are plenty of reasons why.

Previous studies have revealed that these fatty acids are effective in preventing dementia, stroke, heart disease and different types of cancer, as well as lowering LDL levels.

To receive the maximum benefits from Omega-3 fatty acids, it is recommended that you combine them with omega-6 fatty acids. These fatty acids will work together to keep your cholesterol levels to a minimum.

Omega-3 fatty acids rich foods include:

Physicians and other medical experts recommend consuming two to four times omega-6 than omega-3 fatty acids. Fatty acids should also make up 3 to 6 percent of your daily caloric intake.

 

10. Sleeping More

There’s one idea you may not of come across when looking into how to lower cholesterol naturally, and that’s sleeping more.

It should come as no surprise to learn that the majority of people do not get a sufficient amount of sleep each and every night.

This is very problematic, since a lack of sleep can result in serious health problems, including decreased immune system efficiencies.

Also, you should realize that sleeping more frequently will allow your body to heal itself.

Additional sleep can also help your body balance out the blood sugar levels and improve your overall health.

You should do your best to get at least 8 to 9 hours of sleep each night and why not try a quick power nap too?

 

Let Us Know…

Please let us know in the comments below if you have suffered from high cholesterol in the past but reduced it naturally…

Activated charcoal for example is another possible way to help reduce cholesterol,  but if you have any other tips on how to lower cholesterol naturally, we’d love to hear.

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Why using shampoo without silicone in is a must!

We all want healthy hair that is smooth, shiny and free of frizz. The trouble is, the ingredient that is added to our shampoos to give us the look could be damaging your health and maybe the environment… Silicone! We take a look at why using shampoo without silicone in, is a must do!

 

What is Silicone

Silicone is created in a laboratory, a man made oil and most are water insoluble and are not biodegradable.

wash down the drain

So when the residues from the products that contain these silicones are washed down the drain and into the water supply, which in turn could end up in rivers, lakes and oceans, these silicones effect not only our bodies but all life on the planet.

 

List of ingredients to look out for to find shampoo without silicone…

The culprit is silicone but on the labels you will not see it listed as that. It will be shown as one of these in the list of ingredients below.

Or anything ending with the suffix cone or siloxane, such as…

  • Dimethicone
  • Methicone
  • Trisiloxane
  • Cyclopentasiloxane
  • Dimethiconol
  • Cycomethicone

So try to avoid products that contain any of these. Be careful of greenwashing too! The process some brands use of marketing a product as green, natural and pure when it’s far from it!

 

The most common silicone in shampoo

The most common silicone added to shampoos is Dimethicone, this one ingredient is hard to remove, preventing essential oils and moisture penetrating the hair shaft.

shafts of hair

If this is not enough, it could also be responsible for itchy scalp, rashes and any burning sensations when a shampoo containing this ingredient is used.

Dimethicone can cause irritation to the hair follicle, which could lead to hair shedding. Always try and find a shampoo without silicone!

 

Hair might be shiny but bad something bad is building up!

These silicones give the hair shine, free of frizz and a smooth appearance but on the other hand are water insoluble and over time they build a layer of a plastic type barrier that will not allow moisture to penetrate.

The silicones become hard to eliminate from your hair weighing it down so it looks dull, lifeless and greasy.

It can also lead to brittle hair and a dry itchy scalp or hair even hair loss.

 

No more colouring

Colour treating your hair could become troublesome as the waterproof film that comes from the silicone build up could decrease the length of time  the dye then remains in the hair and in turn, the uptake of the colour on the hair shafts.

This also applys to any conditioning products that you might use. This could be a sign of dangerous levels of silicone in the hair.

 

Other issues with silicone build up

Blow dryers and heat – treating the hair can bake the silicones into the hair making them really hard to remove.

blow dry hair

A more serious effect of silicone build up is cancer, as silicones are not entirely suitable for human hair or skin due to the molecular differences of the oil.

 

How to remove silicone from your hair

To remove these silicones from the hair, some people use a shampoo that contains a harsh ingredient that does more damage and creates a vicious circle.

The shampoos contain sodium lauryl sulphate, a foaming agent, which strips the hair of it natural oils which protect the hair and scalp.

This leads to dry, damaged, brittle hair so a silicone shampoo is used to give a temporary fix making the hair appear healthier.

By using shampoos that do not contain either silicone or SLS ingredients, moisture can then penetrate the hair shaft allowing the natural oils that are produced by the scalp to penetrate and bring a balance to the hair by nourishing and hydrating it.

 

Natural oils return

As the natural oil production returns to normal, hair needs washing less frequently as it is less greasy looking and not weighed down by unnatural ingredients.

Natural shampoos and conditioners, those products containing plant oils and essences are similar to the oils of the hair and body so are matched to the natural balance of the body and being natural are better for the environment.

You may also like to read our article…. ‘7 natural hair care tips to help you grow the healthiest hair you’ve ever had’.

 

Let Us Know

Have you had problems with silicone build up in your hair?  Did you even know about it?

We’d love to here your thought and any suggestions of great natural shampoo without silicone in, that you love to use….

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Vitamin E

We take a look at the wide range of health benefits this essential vitamin offers and also list some foods rich in Vitamin E.

First off, what is Vitamin E?

Vitamin E is made up of compounds called tocopherols and tocotrienols and there are four of each type in vitamin E.

Most studies have focused on the tocopherol compound but more recently the compounds tocotrienol are being researched.

So to get the most benefit from Vitamin E you need to eat foods containing both compounds.

 

The Health Benefits of Vitamin E

Vitamin E is an important vitamin for the very young, the elderly and pregnant women.

By eating a healthy diet full of foods rich in Vitamin E, you should easily get enough of this very important vitamin.

pregnancy

During pregnancy it is vital that you get enough vitamin E for the development of the infant.

Vitamin E protects critical fatty acids and the control of inflammation. It is recommended that pregnant women make sure they are eating enough Vitamin E rich foods to help prevent abnormalities.

Research has shown that the tocotrienols in Vitamin E could protect against Alzheimer’s disease. Along with the taking of vitamin C, E can decrease the risk of developing some forms of dementia.

 

Vitamin E for the Skin

Age related macular degeneration is another age related condition and this could be helped, by taking vitamin E with vitamin C, beta-carotene and zinc.

Vitamin E acts as a natural anti-aging nutrient. It strengthens the capillary walls, improves elasticity and moisture in the skin.

Studies have shown that the anti-inflammatory properties in Vitamin E help maintain a healthy and youthful skin.

Taken with Vitamin C it can help to decrease the signs of eczema and acne as it helps with the healing process of the skin by speeding up cell regeneration.

Vitamin E is very effective when used on sunburnt skin as it absorbs into the epidermis layer of the skin. Sunburn is one of the leading causes of skin cancer.

 

Vitamin E is a powerful anti-oxidant

According to the National Institutes of Health, Vitamin E is a powerful anti-oxidant that may contribute to the reduction of free radical damage, which forms as a part of normal body processes.

healthy heart

These free radicals weaken and break down healthy cells, which can lead to heart disease and cancer.

Cholesterol, occurs naturally in the body, produced by the liver and is required by the body for the normal function of the hormones, cells and nerves.

But if the cholesterol oxidizes it is dangerous, studies have shown that Vitamin E can fight cholesterol oxidation due to the antioxidant it contains that reduces free radical damage, which is caused by cholesterol oxidation.

 

A balanced body

A healthy body is a balanced body, a hormonal imbalance can lead to PMS, urinary tract infections, changes to the skin and allergies, weight gain, anxiety and fatigue.

Vitamin E can help maintain a balance to the hormones naturally, this will lead to less of the conditions mentioned above.

By taking a vitamin E supplement several days before your menstrual cycle is due, PMS symptoms like anxiety, cravings and cramping can be reduced,

The powerful antioxidant in vitamin E also helps your hair. It decreases the damaged caused by the environment, promoting the circulation to the scalp keeping the scalp from becoming flaky and dry by promoting moisture retention.

Several drops of vitamin E oil used on dull, dry hair makes it look healthier.

Muscle strength can be improved by keeping your vitamin E levels good.

By promoting blood circulation it means you feel less fatigued after exercise and gives you greater physical endurance and more energy.

 

Foods Rich in Vitamin E

Getting more Vitamin E into your diet is fairly easy. The list below of foods rich in Vitamin E are shown in highest to lowest order….

 

Nuts & Seeds

almond nuts

  • Sunflower seeds gives the highest amount, just have a snack or sprinkle on a salad
  • The next highest provider of vitamin E is Almonds making it great snacking food.
  • Another nut, Hazelnuts followed closely by peanuts.

 

Fruit & Vegetables

avocado

  • Mango, nutritionally rich fruit. Known as a super fruit.
  • Avocado, a carbohydrate but full of healthy fats. Listed in our 21 superfoods post, numerous studies show it to be very beneficial to our health
  • Butternut Squash it has a sweet, nutty taste and extremely nutritious.
  • Broccoli as well as being a good source of vitamin E it is also very full of dietary fiber.
  • Spinach can be eaten cooked or uncooked. Delicious in a salad. Another good source of dietary fiber.
  • Kiwi full of anti-oxidants and dietary fiber. This fruit has more vitamin C than an orange.
  • Tomatoes known for their anti-oxidant content. Eating tomatoes has been linked to heart health. Fresh tomatoes and tomato extract are shown to lower total cholesterol.

 

Other sources of Vitamin E

Wheat germ

  • Plain wheat germ, highly nutritious, it can be added to smoothies or your dessert and even can be used in place breadcrumbs in recipes. Add a tablespoon of wheat germ oil to a recipe to get enough vitamin E in your diet.

 

Our diet should give us the all the Vitamin E that we need and it is recommended that we get our vitamins from the food we eat, so over consumption is prevented.

Reports from the NIH state that high dosages of vitamin E in supplement form can have dangerous side effects, so please always consult a health professional.

 

Some delicious recipes for Vitamin E

Have a look at these recipes. All containing foods rich in Vitamin E and offering some interesting ideas for getting more vitamin E into your diet….

 

1. No-Bake Vegan Almond Joy Bars

vegan almond bars
Image courtesy of: Running on Real food

Treat yourself to a delicious Almond bar with this scrummy recipe from ‘Running on Real Food”, although they have chocolate in they are a better dessert option due the wholesome ingredients.

 

2. Braised Broccoli with Orange and Parmesan Recipe

broccoli for Vitamin E
Image courtesy of 101 cook books

This Braised Broccoli recipe from 101 cook books not only uses tomatoes but broccoli and almonds a delicious way to get vitamin E rich foods into your diet.

 

3. Chilled Cucumber and California Avocado Soup

Avocado for Vitamin E
Image courtesy of Naturally Ella

This lovely summer soup recipe from Naturally Ella uses avocado, perfect for adding Vitamin E.

 

Let Us Know…

We’d love to hear if you try and enjoy the recipes above.

And please do let us know about your fave recipes that contain any of the foods rich in Vitamin E listed above in the comments below…

 

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The Health benefits of Vitamin C

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid is an essential vitamin. We take a look at the health benefits of this vitamin, at some wonderfully tasty foods rich in vitamin c and some recipes to help get plenty of it into your diet.

The anti-oxidant properties in vitamin C are also good for food preserving, if you see ascorbic acid on a label the shelf life is being extended by using Vitamin C.

 

Vitamin C is vital for our bodies

teeth

Vitamin C is a vital vitamin our body needs to help it make collagen, which is a component of the blood vessels, teeth, gums, skin, bones and cartilage.

It builds a strong immune system, most important in helping wounds heal and its anti-oxidant properties soak up the free radicals, which can damage the body’s cells.

This vitamin cannot cure a common cold but by taking vitamin C when you have a cold it has been shown to reduce the amount of time that you suffer.

Vit C is also great for controlling asthma symptoms, to reduce hypertension and combat strokes.

 

Heart & Skin

Use of vitamin C to prevent heart attacks has yet to be proved but some studies suggest that this vitamin may prevent them by helping to stop a build up of bad cholesterol, thereby slowing down the hardening of the arteries.

A Johns Hopkins study has shown vitamin C to have a modest result in lowering blood pressure.

As vitamin C is a powerful anti-oxidant higher levels of vitamin C have been linked to a reduction of wrinkles and skin dryness.

Slowing of the aging process, which is caused by the oxidative formation of free radicals and the effect that they have on the body. Stress, poor diet and pollution all contribute to oxidative damage.

Vitamin C helps to protect and stimulate the production of white blood cells protecting them from oxidative damage thereby helping them to function efficiently.

 

Eyes & Vit C

vitamin c for eyes

The National Eye Institute have found that vitamin C taken in doses of 500mg per day in conjunction with taking vitamin E, zinc and beta carotene supplements, slowed the progress on age related macular degeneration by 25%!

At risk persons of developing age related macular degeneration has been shown to have a reduction of 19% by slowing the visual acuity loss.

Smoking can cause a vitamin C deficiency so smokers are often advised to take a supplement.

 

Vitamin C deficiency

Vitamin C deficiency can show as bleeding gums and gingivitis. Poor healing of wounds and bruising, as well as dry, splitting hair and rough, dry, scaly skin are also signs.

Scurvy which presents a lot of the symptoms listed above, is now unheard of in the UK, BUT it is when the connective tissue, blood vessels and bones weaken and is caused by a deficiency in vitamin C.

The estimated number of adults, thought to suffer from a deficiency of vitamin C is 40% men and 38% women, but by eating the recommended 5 fruits and vegetables a day this can easily prevent the need for supplements.

 

Foods rich in vitamin c

Our body cannot store vitamin C so we need to include food in our daily diet, which contains this vitamin.

It is easily destroyed by heat and water so by eating the food rich in this vitamin raw or al dente we gain the most benefit.

In fact steaming vegetables is an excellent way to retain the maximum goodness.

The main foods rich in vitamin C are fruit and vegetables, plus superfoods such as Moringa. These ones listed are the best….

 

Fruits

berries & Fruit

  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blackcurrants
  • Kiwi
  • Cantaloupe melon
  • Mango
  • Papaya
  • Pineapple
  • Citrus fruits and their juices, like oranges, lemons and grapes

 

Vegetables

vegetables

  • Potatoes
  • Red and green peppers
  • Leafy, green vegetables
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Watercress
  • Mange Tout
  • Chilies
  • Parsley
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Tomatoes

 

The best fruits and vegetables for excellent vitamin C levels are…

kale

  • Kale, one cup equates to 134% of your daily value
  • Broccoli give 107% of your daily value when you eat half a cup cooked.
  • Oranges, one large gives you over 100% of your daily value.
  • One fruit of Guava also gives over 100% daily value.
  • A quarter of a cup of raw Red Peppers also give over 100% of your daily value.
  • But for green peppers you need to have a half a cup of raw chopped to give you over 100% of your daily value.
  • Dare I say Brussels Sprouts, but by eating half a cup of cooked sprouts you get 80% of your daily value of vitamin C.
  • Grapefruit, you need to eat half a cup of this fruit to give a daily value of 71%.
  • Strawberries half a cup will give you a 70% of your daily value.
  • Kiwi one fruit gives a daily value of 33%.
  • Moringa Oleifera – 7 times more Vitamin C than oranges

 

By including two to three of the foods rich in vitamin c from the above list, you’ll soon be getting your levels of vitamin C, required by the body.

 

 

Healthy Recipes to get Vitamin C from

To help you include vitamin C into your daily regime we have looked for recipes that include the ingredients that give the highest levels of C vitamin.

Here are 4 fantastic recipes that all contain foods rich in vitamin c…

1. Sesame Delicata Squash Kale Salad

As kale, part of the cabbage family, gives the highest at 134% for just one cup.

Have a look at this delicious squash and kale salad with sesame seeds from Naturally Ella.  A fantastic way to include kale into your diet…

sesame-delicata-squash-salad
Picture Courtesy of Naturally Ella

 

2. Gluten-Free Triple Berry Crumble Bars

This delicious gluten free triple berry crumble bars recipe has two of the high value vitamin C ingredients Strawberries and oranges. Make and enjoy!

gluten free bars
Picture: courtesy of Fitfoodiefinds

 

3. Brussel Sprout Slaw (with cranberries and pecans)

Can Brussels Sprouts ever be described as being delicious, this recipe from Lexis clean kitchen could 100% change your mind!

Brussels-Sprout-slaw
Picture: Courtesy of Lexis Clean Kitchen

 

4. Tahini Kale Caesar Salad with Whole-Grain Croutons

Or with the warm weather in mind have a look at this lovely Caesar salad from Naturally Ella, with Kale…

vegan salad
Picture:Courtesy of Naturally Ella

 

Let Us Know…

Do you think you get enough Vitamin C? Have you tried & enjoyed the recipes included.

We’d love to hear any thoughts in the comments below….

 

 

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Indian food doesn’t need to be unhealthy

When people think about Indian food, I’m guessing they tend to immediately think ‘Unhealthy’. Whether it’s palak paneer or stuffed aloo parantha, this cuisine is famous for being extremely delicious yet quite unhealthy at the same time. I’m keen to change this misconception, so here’s 3 healthy indian recipes that can help prove that theory wrong.

 

The diversity of Indian Food

Like me, many people are die-hard fans of this cuisine due to its exotic Indian spices . Each spice being different from the other in numerous ways.

indian spices

Having a diverse culture, India is blessed with extreme taste variations in food, which I believe cannot be compared to any other country in the world.

However, in this modern world, people want to eat healthy and organic food in order to avoid health issues and Indian food tends to be something they then avoid or eat less of.

The traditional ways of preparing Indian food is not only something to behold and one of the main reasons I love and admire Indian food so much, it is also the biggest factor when it comes to ensuring the Indian food you eat is healthy.

 

Good news

Well, I have good news for all those who are health-conscious and love Indian cuisine….

 

To turn Indian recipes into a healthy dish, you only need to make a few small tweaks to the recipe.

 

Tips on how to make Indian recipes healthier

So, here are few quick tips on how to make every Indian dish a healthier one:

  1. Even the famous Indian restaurants do this. This cuisine is often misunderstood, thinking all it requires is a lot of butter. But, that’s not the case. Traditional dishes were made of vegetable oils, a much healthier alternative.
  2. When using tomatoes, cook in a pan for 20-30 minutes on a low flame. This lowers the acidity, so there is no need to add sugar.
  3. Garlic and ginger are used in most dishes, so make a paste and keep them frozen. This is a quick, easy and healthy way to use them.
  4. Bake samosas instead of deep-frying them.

 

So what makes Indian food so irresistible? 

Made with rich sauces and traditional ingredients, Indian cuisine is made with such strong, unique flavours it offers a very diverse, delicious taste. I make Indian dishes in a very traditional & healthy manner meaning I can enjoy the food I love without having a guilty conscience.

Strangely it’s the mismatch of flavours that ends up being one of Indian foods biggest strengths. Some of the ingredients used are so varied and different it’s hard not to be pretty shocked when you know the extreme combinations. They should not work together BUT just do!

 

 

authentic indian food

 

A need for healthy eating 

Pace of life, growing stress issues and obesity are making it vitally important to eat a healthy diet. Whilst people know this fact, they do not tend to know the best food items that can help them achieve this goal.

A healthy diet should include consumption of carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, heart-healthy fats, high quality proteins and water.

The nutrients included in food are essential for the support of day-to-day activities. It protects the cells from the environment and even repairs them.

Protein rebuilds injured tissue and promotes a strong immune system, whereas, fats fuel the body.

Vitamins and minerals function throughout the body to support the bodies processes.

In addition to this, calcium and phosphorous are essential to strengthen the body.

A healthy diet will offer all these.

So lets take at look at 3 scrummy healthy indian recipes that help you gain many of the above….

 

3 fantastically delicious and healthy Indian recipes

Some Indian dishes, tweaked to maximise health benefits:

 

1. Indian-Spiced Eggplant & Cauliflower Stew

eggplant

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons of curry powder, 1 teaspoon of gram masala, 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds, 2 tablespoons of canola oil, 2 cloves of garlic (minced), 1 large onion (sliced), 1 teaspoon of grated ginger, 1 15-ounce of chickpeas (can), ¾ teaspoon salt, 15-ounces of diced tomato, 1 1-pound eggplant, (cut into big chunks), 3 cups of cauliflower florets. ½ cup of water (mineral is best)

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat an oven over medium heat.
  2. Add garam masala, mustard seeds, curry powder and toast,
  3. Stir them all until the spice turns dark. Transfer all of this to a bowl.
  4. Add garlic ginger, oil, and salt to the pot and then cook until it softens. Around 3-4 minutes should do it.
  5. Stir in eggplant, tomatoes, chickpeas, cauliflower, water and the spices.
  6. Keep it simmering.
  7. Stir occasionally until the vegetables are tender (takes 15-20 minutes).
  8. Serve with a dollop of yogurt.

When it comes to healthy indian recipes this one is one of the most simple, yet tasty to make.

 

2. Lemon Rice – Healthy & Tasty    

Ingredients: 

¼ cup of lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of canola oil or grape seed oil, ¾ teaspoon of kosher salt, 2 cloves of garlic (sliced), ½ teaspoon of black mustard seeds, 1/3 cup cashew or peanuts, ¼  tablespoon of ground turmeric, ½ teaspoon of cumin seeds, 1 small serrano or green Thai chilli, 3 cups of cooked brown basmati rice.

 

Directions:

  1. Combine the salt and lemon juice in a bowl until dissolved perfectly.
  2. Heat oil in a wide pot over medium-high heat.
  3. Add a few mustard seeds when these pop and sizzle , reduce the flame to medium, quickly add the chilli pepper, cumin seeds, garlic, nuts, cumin seeds, and curry leaves.
  4. After this, cover the pan as needed. Stir and cook until nuts turn brown for say 2-4 minutes.
  5. Remove it from heat and stir in turmeric, lemon juice and rice. Enjoy!

 

3. Tandoori TofuIndian Grilled Tofu

tofu

Ingredients: 

½ teaspoon of ground coriander, ½ teaspoon of ground cumin, 1 teaspoon of salt, ¼ teaspoon of ground turmeric, 3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons of paprika, 1 tablespoon of lime juice, 1 tablespoon of minced garlic, 2/3 of a cup of nonfat yogurt, 2 14 ounce packs of extra-firm Tofu, 6 tablespoons of sliced scallions, fresh cilantro for garnishing.

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat the grill at medium temperature.
  2. Put paprika, ½ teaspoon salt, coriander, cumin and turmeric in a bowl.
  3. Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat and then add lemon juice, garlic and the spice mixture. Cook for 1 minute.
  4. Cut tofu into 6 pieces; pat dry.
  5. Use about 3 tablespoons of the spiced oil to brush both sides of the tofu.
  6. Sprinkle remaining ½ of the salt over them.
  7. Oil the grill rack. Grill the tofu for at least 3-4 minutes per side.
  8. Combine the left over spiced oil in a small bowl along with the yogurt.
  9. Serve the grilled tofu with the yogurt sauce.
  10. Serve hot and enjoy.

 

Enjoy the taste of authentic indian dishes from the comfort of your own home!

 

Onions play a huge part

Onions are used in most Indian dishes, however, not many people know about its huge health benefits and how to best preserve it.

onions

Onions are rich in flavours and are high in antioxidants, such as flavonols (builds cellular antioxidant level), quercetin (lowers blood pressure), and diallyl sulfide (a compound that is responsible for promoting a healthy heart and strong immunity level).

Onion also offers Vitamin C which is very important for health. Healthy indian recipes must have onion in!

 

How to choose the best onions? 

Buy onions that are firm and do not include cuts, sprouting or bruises. The skin of the onion should be strong and shiny, it must also be tightly closed to the neck.

The smell of an unclosed onion should be mild, as strong odours indicate spoilage.

 

Storing your onions

Onions need to be stored in a cool, dry place and most importantly, well-ventilated. However, most important is that onions must be kept away from sunlight as it makes the onions bitter.

Moisture rots onions, so avoid damp places.

It is not advisable to keep the onions in the refrigerator as the lack of air circulation can spoil onions.

 

Indian food does not have to be unhealthy

Hopefully by now I have convinced you how healthy Indian can be with the right ingredients and by using more traditional cooking techniques.

And if you have never tried Indian food, you’re missing out! Every dish has something unique about it and it will be a new taste sensation!

Why not start by trying something at an Indian buffet restaurant, explore this cuisine and find the dishes you love the most. If not every dish, I’m sure you will find something you love.

Healthy Indian recipes come in all shapes and sizes and I have only just touched the surface with these 3 ideas.

 

Let Us Know

What healthy Indian recipes do you know and love? Please let us know in the comments below….

 

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What is Vitamin A good for?

What is Vitamin A good for? Well, the health benefits of Vitamin A range from maintaining healthy vision, immune function, healthy skin and cell communication.

Vitamin A, is a group of fat-soluble compounds and is a powerful antioxidant, which reduces inflammation and free radical damage.

By filling our diet with antioxidants that Vitamin A help supply the aging process can be slowed naturally.

 

Two Types of Vitamin A

There are two types of vitamin A…

1. Retinoids – comes from animal food types

2. Carotenoids comes from plant foods. Beta-carotene is amongst this type of vitamin A

The A vitamin is most important for strengthening our body’s immunity against infections, several of the immune system functions are dependant on getting sufficient Vitamin A.

 

The Health Benefits of Vitamin A

Here is some of the biggest health benefits of Vitamin A….

The immune system is boosted by the beta carotene contained in vitamin A, which as we have mentioned above, is a powerful antioxidant.

If there is a deficiency of vitamin A in the body respiratory infections can occur, common colds and flu as well as more serious illnesses like cancer and autoimmune diseases.

A vitamin A deficiency in children has been found to make them more vulnerable to infections like measles and diarrhoea.

This vitamin is critical for the normality and maintenance of organs and especially the heart, lungs and kidneys as it supports the cell growth in our bodies.

 

Eyesight

eyesight

Vitamin A plays a crucial role in our vision as it contains a critical component which supports the normal functioning of the retina.

It also helps with vision in dim light.

A deficiency of vitamin A could lead to a thickening of the cornea and possible blindness.

Macular degeneration, (age related blindness) could be prevented by beta carotene.

The National Eye Institute sponsored a study into Age Related Eye Disease and found that persons at high risk of macular degeneration, who all took a multi vitamin that included vitamin A along with vitamin C and E plus zinc and copper over a 6 year period, had a 25% reduction in the risk of advanced macular degeneration.

 

Skin Care

skincare

Our skin is dependant on vitamin A by supporting the skin cells internally and externally thereby helping skin regrowth and the healing of wounds.

A deficiency of vitamin A would result in the scaling, thickening and drying of the skin.

 

Retinoids

Retinoic acid is a metabolite of vitamin A (retinol) that mediates the functions of vitamin A required for growth and development.

Research into retinoic acid, which is important in cell development, has found that the molecular mechanisms in the acid could control cancer cells.  More research is required, as so far the results are inconclusive.

Retinoids are used orally and in cream form for the treatment of acne and even wrinkles.

A review published in the Dermatologic Therapy put forward…

“Retinoids are capable not only of repairing photoaged skin at both the clinical and biochemical levels but their use may prevent photo aging.”

Poor complexion can result from a lack of vitamin A, the lines and wrinkles are kept at bay as this vitamin helps collagen production and even contributes to healthy hair.

 

Other Health issues

The mucous membranes of the respiratory, urinary and gastrointestinal tracts could also be affected by becoming hard and dry.

Studies have been carried out on vitamin A as a treatment for other conditions like HIV, cataracts and some forms of cancer.

The University of York have carried out a study say indications are, that vitamin A could help in the treatment of certain forms of cancer like lung, bladder, breast, prostrate and ovarian by controlling and suppressing malignant cells.

Most of us get enough vitamin A from our diets but if you suffer from a digestive disorder or your diet is poor a supplement might be required.

However, this is best to be recommended by a doctor as too much vitamin A can lead to a toxic reaction.

 

Foods rich in Vitamin A –  Retinoid & Bete-Carotene

Now you know the health benefits of Vitamin A, it’s time to make sure vitamin A is included in your diet….

These foods will help do just that…

 

For the retinoid form of vitamin A include:

Dairy products

Eggs and Milk

  • Cheese including blue cheese, cream cheese, Feta cheese, roquefort, cheddar, camembert, limburger and goats cheese.
  • Eggs (hard boiled)
  • Fortified spreads
  • Butter
  • Milk
  • Yoghurt

 

Meat & Fish

trout

  • Liver including goose liver pate, liver sausage lambs liver and beef liver.
  • Tuna, trout,
  • caviar, salmon and mackerel

 

For the Bete-Carotene form of Vitamin A include:

To make sure you are getting enough of the Bete-Carotene form of vitamin A make sure you eat these, although the vegetables are a richer form of beta-carotene the fruits will provide good amounts.

 

Fruit and Vegetables

papaya

  • By eating the Swiss chard, spinach red pepper, and romaine lettuce raw the amount of vitamin per serving is better.
  • Squash, winter squash and sweet potato
  • Carrots
  • Red peppers
  • Kale, Swiss chard, spinach, turnip greens and collards
  • Cos or Romaine lettuce
  • Dried Prunes
  • Cantaloupe and water-melon
  • Mango, papaya, guava, passion fruit and apricots
  • Grapefruit, tangerine and nectarine

 

4 Delicious Recipes packed full of Vitamin A

Here are six wonderful recipes that have ingredients from the vitamin A foods that are shown in the lists above….

 

1. Spinach and Feta Pie with an Oat crust

spinach feta
Picture: Green Kitchen Stories

You must try this lovely Spinach and Feta Pie with an Oat crust recipe from Green Kitchen stories.

It includes eggs as well as spinach and feta cheese.

 

2. Grilled Mediterranean Cedar Plank Salmon

pink salmon
Picture: Skinny Taste

Salmon is sooooo good for you and this deliciously simple recipe from Skinny Taste is packed full of flavour!

 

3. New & Improved Sweet Potato Brownies

sweet potato brownies
Picture: Deliciously Ella

What better way is there to get children to eat vegetables than disguised as a cake!!

This superb recipe from Deliciously Ella for sweet potato brownies will have them fooled, and I am sure sweet toothed individuals will love them too!

 

4. Deviled Eggs

devised eggs
Picture: 101 Cookbooks

This egg recipe from 101 Cook books is for boiled eggs and includes yoghurt so just the thing to improve your vitamin A intake.

 

Let us know…

We hope you enjoyed reading about the health benefits of Vitamin A and some of the recipes mentioned above.

Now it’s time to go boost the amounts of vitamin A in your diet!

We’re sure you have lots of favorite recipes that you also use and would love to hear any ideas in the comments below….

 

 

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The health benefits of Vitamin K

Vitamin K, is an essential vitamin for our body’s health, but this vitamin is mostly overlooked. So we thought it would be a good idea to look into the health benefits of Vitamin K. We have also listed 10 fantastic foods rich in Vitamin K to help you get this essential vitamin into your diet.

 

Studies into vitamin K

A review in 2014 shows that vitamin K can improve bone density and thereby minimize the risk of Osteoporosis and the incidents of fractures.

Bones

Studies into vitamin K have shown that this vitamin could possibly help protect against cancer like leukemia, prostate, lung and liver cancers although this claim needs more research.

However, Vitamin K does protect against heart disease and varicose veins by reducing arterial calcification.

 

 

Different types of Vitamin K

Vitamin K plays an important role in our body’s blood clotting ability and modifying the protein ingested.

There are two types of vitamin K that are essential for our body, Vitamin K1 and K2….

 

K1 – phylloquinone – Goes to the liver and this helps with the blood clotting function.

When we eat green vegetables this is where we get K1 from as it occurs naturally in plants.

Studies show that vitamin K1 has had some success in the treatment of liver cancer.

 

K2 – menaquinone – This goes to the bones, blood vessel walls and tissues in the body but not the liver.

K2 is produced by the bacteria found in the gastrointestinal tract.

Research has shown that K2 and vitamin D helps to prevent the calcification in the coronary arteries, as it is a hardening of the arteries that is a common cause of coronary artery disease.

 

Trials into Vitamin K

There have been a number of trials carried out in Japan that show vitamin K2 can reverse bone loss. And in some people suffering with osteoporosis bone mass can be increased.

Evidence from the Japanese trials has shown that vitamin K2 can reduce vertebral fracture by 60% and also an 80 % reduction to hip and no-vertebral fractures.

Studies in the Netherlands have also shown that K2 controls the building of bone.

A German research group in 2008 found that K2 helped protect against prostate cancer

 

 

A list of 10 foods rich in Vitamin K

So it would seem that this mostly overlooked vitamin is not one you want to be deficient in!

To make sure you are keeping the vitamin K levels up in your body make sure you include these foods rich in Vitamin K below in your diet :

 

1. Spring onions

Spring onion

Also called scallions, these tender onion bulbs are rich in vitamins including vitamin K. They have been used in Chinese traditional medicine for many years.

 

2. Kale

kale

One of the super healthy greens, an extremely nutritious plant and an excellent source of vitamin K as well as being packed full of other vitamins and minerals.

 

3. Broccoli

Another super vegetable which is related to cabbage, kale and brussels sprouts. It is packed with nutrients including vitamin K.

It is also high in protein and fibre and is delicious raw as well as cooked.

 

4. Spinach

Spinach

Believed to be Persian in origin and by the 12th century Europeans were aware of its health benefits.

Also known as Goosefoot this leafy green vegetable is packed full of nutrients and antioxidants including vitamin K, this can be eaten raw or cooked on its own or included in other dishes.

 

5. Prunes

Dried prunes are a rich source of nutrients, one prune contains 5% of the daily intake of minerals and vitamins that is recommended.

They are rich in vitamin K and for bone health this fruit is exceptional.

Prunes work well in both sweet and savory recipes.

 

 

6. Brussels sprouts

brussels-sprouts

This small cabbage like vegetable is packed with nutrition.  A cup a day will give you your daily requirement of vitamins K and C.

Another vegetable full of protein and antioxidants.

Try roasting them as this brings out the sweet nutty flavor.

 

7. Cucumber

Belonging to the same family as the melon, cucumbers are rich in vitamin K.

Ongoing studies are showing that cucumber could help with blocking cancer cell development.

The anti-inflammatory that is contained in cucumber helps to protect the nerve cells from age related decline.

 

8. Cabbage

cabbage

Like kale and broccoli, cabbage is packed full of nutrients and vitamin K. These cruciferous vegetables are being researched for their cancer delaying properties.

Try to eat cabbage raw as cooking does cause a loss of nutrients.

 

9. Dried basil

This aromatic herb that is part of the mint family is another that is high in vitamin K.

Basil is an important medicinal plant that has been used in Ayurvedic herbal treatments for thousands of years.

Phytochemicals contained in basil have in clinical studies shown a natural prevention to cancers.

 

10. Asparagus

Asparagus

One of the top 20 foods that have high vitamin and mineral content. It can be eaten raw or cooked it has a unique savory taste.

A cup of asparagus contains 70% of your daily need of vitamin K.

Add to an omelet or great with scrambled egg.

 

 

4 delicious recipes packed full of Vitamin K

To help get more of the vitamin K rich foods into your diet have a look at these 4 recipes below:

 

1. Soy Coleslaw with Cabbage

Soy Coleslaw
Image: Shaun Hill & Great British Chefs

Cabbage is best eaten raw to keep the highest value of nutrients, so why not try this lovely soy coleslaw recipe by Shaun Hill from the website Great British chefs.

 

2. Shaved Brussel Sprout & Carrot Salad

shaved brussel sprouts
Image: Brooklyn Supper

This scrummy recipe from Brooklyn supper has shaved Brussels Sprouts in, allowing this not so popular vegetable to come into its own along with the Cara Cara, Avocado and orange tahini dressing.

 

3. Spinach and Kale Soup

Spinach and kale soup
Image courtesy of Green Kitchen Stories

Kale and Spinach are two foods rich in Vitamin K, so this recipe courtesy of Green Kitchen Stories seems like a no brainer if you’re looking to top up on Vit K!

 

4. Spring Onion Miso Soup with Quinoa & Radish Relish

Spring onion miso soup
Image: Whats Cooking Good Looking

This super delicious recipe from Whats cooking good looking has Spring onion, which contains really good levels of vitamin K, along with one of our fave superfoods Quinoa.

 

 

We’d love to know your thoughts….

If you know other foods rich in Vitamin K, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

We’d also love to know any recipes you cook and love that can help get this essential vitamin into your diet….

 

 

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Natural ways to help your hair

Do you ever feel like your hair just won’t grow any longer? Or that it looks flat and lifeless recently? They’re common issues that can be remedied with these 7 natural hair care tips, a little bit of effort, along with a few lifestyle tweaks – some of which you may not have heard of before!

 

Switch up your hair care routine

To have the locks you’ve always dreamed of, consider switching up your hair care routine; that doesn’t just mean changing your shampoo and conditioner, but styling appliances, avoiding synthetic chemicals and silicone in your shampoo along with changing your diet can all contribute to poor hair growth.

 

Looking good takes a lifestyle!

 

A natural approach to hair care

Hair care

Taking a holistic, natural approach could be the answer you’ve been waiting for to turn your hair troubles around:

 

7 natural hair care tips…

 

1. Switch to organic shampoo

While your conventional shampoo might contain an ingredient or two that promotes healthy-looking hair, organic shampoo is much more likely to contain natural ingredients selected for their hair-nourishing qualities.

Scientists have found that organically produced ingredients contain higher levels of nutrients than their conventionally grown counterparts.

The key is to go organic – not just natural – because the more nutrient dense, the better for you!

If you really want to step your shampoo up another notch, look for ones with ingredients like horsetail extract and rosemary – botanicals that have demonstrated their ability to promote healthy hair and hair growth.

 

Other benefits of switching to organic

Another benefit of organic shampoo is that it will cleanse your hair of product build up.

This is often a side effect with synthetic shampoos, where the product coats the hair instead of cleaning it, which over time builds up and weighs the hair down.

Organic shampoo cleanses and nourishes the hair, which should result in hair that is genuinely healthier, while as i said above synthetic shampoos coat the hair only giving the appearance of healthy hair.

 

2. No SLS!

Unbeknown to many, there are ingredients lurking in conventional shampoos that do your hair absolutely no favors and can actually be detrimental, not just to your hair but to your body as a whole – just another reason to go organic!

A form of marketing called Greenwashing, sells the product as natural and chemical free when this can often be far from the truth!

Genuinely organic formulations forgo the use of synthetic chemicals and pesticides, many of which have toxic effects and indirectly disrupt hair growth.

One of the top ingredients to avoid in conventional shampoo is sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). Just like a flower in the soil, when it comes to growing healthy hair, you need to create the right environment for that to happen.

But the American College of Toxicology found that SLS irritates and even corrodes the skin…so perhaps one to leave out of your shampoo!

 

3. Restrict heat

cut back on hair drying

We all know that using heat, with straighteners and hair dryers can damage your hair, but cutting out styling tools completely can seem impractical.

Instead, we suggest restricting heat whenever you can, by setting yourself goals.

If you cut down on how many times you wash your hair per week, blow-drying will consequently be reduced.

Wearing no-heat hairstyles more frequently, such as tying your hair back for a set amount of times per week will also limit the use of heat and the resulting damage.

Every effort you make counts – your hair will thank you for it!

 

4. Cut down on washing your hair

It might seem counterintuitive, but washing your hair too much strips it of its natural oils, leaving it feeling dry, prone to an itchy scalp and other issues.

Let nature take its course and limit washing your hair to 3 times per week.

 

5. Essential Oils

One of my fave natural hair care tips, use the power of essential oils!

Essential oils are attributed to a wide variety of wonderful benefits, especially for the skin and hair.

The best way to use them to benefit your hair is to have them present in your shampoo or a hair mask.

peppermint plant

In a study that tested peppermint oil versus a leading brand of hair loss treatment, peppermint oil promoted significantly more hair growth!

Tea tree oil is another great essential oil to consider. An organic tea tree shampoo can help related issues, like fungal dandruff or itching! It can also be balancing for greasy hair and help build more time in between washes.

Try adding a drop or two of your oil of choice into your shampoo, conditioner or in a hair mask and see the effects for yourself.

 

6. Eat well

Hang on“, I hear you say, “these are hair care tips!but…

If you ever needed an excuse to get munching, here’s one! Eating a healthy diet is one of the most important steps to take if you want gorgeous hair.

Vitamin C, zinc, biotin, Vitamin E and vitamin A are all essential nutrients recommended for healthy hair. You can find these nutrients in a range of foods, but especially in fruit and nuts and seeds like oranges, almonds, pumpkin seeds and tomatoes.

Remember that beauty really does come from within!

 

7. Natural hair masks

Treating yourself to a hair mask once a week can be a great way to replenish lost moisture and leave it feeling lovely and soft.

This is especially important for those of you who live in a colder climate, where skin and hair are at the mercy of the elements, resulting in moisture loss and therefore also needing a moisture-boost more regularly.

coconut oil for hair

Coconut oil is an excellent addition to your diet and your hair care routine.

Try using it as a DIY pampering hair mask, leaving it on your hair from root to tip for as long as you like, from a few hours to an overnight treatment, making sure to thoroughly wash it out afterward.

According to a number of personal testimonies, coconut oil has helped speed up hair growth and improved the condition of hair.

Research also shows coconut oil can help with the prevention of hair damage and reduces protein loss and moisturizes the hair fibres. *

 

D.I.Y Hair care and Beauty recipes

If creating your own hair or face mask, from natural products is something that you’re interested in, you may like to check out our article below that has 11 super easy to make homemade beauty recipes included….

11 easy to make DIY Beauty Products

 

Get healthy hair naturally!

With these hair care tips, healthy hair is only a few steps away and the best thing about taking a natural approach is that it does your entire body the world of good in the process!

 

Love natural? make sure you read our article on the benefits of using 100% natural soap

 

Let us know

We’d love to hear about & learn any natural hair care tips or advise that you use to get your hair in great condition and full of life….

Please join the convo in the comments below….

 

 

Sources used…

Rele AS1, Mohile RB. Effect of mineral oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil on prevention of hair damage. J Cosmet Sci. 2003 Mar-Apr;54(2):175-92.

 

 

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The Health Benefits of Vitamin B

What is Vitamin B good for? Well, it’s very important in keeping you energised and maintaining cell health. We take a look at the health benefits of vitamin B as well as foods and recipes to help you get it into your diet naturally.

 

Different types of Vitamin B

Vitamin B is a group of eight vitamins B-12 cobalamin, B-9 folate, B-7 biotin, B-6 pyridoxine, B-5 pantothenic acid, B-3 niacin, B-2 riboflavin and B-1 thiamine.

The B group of vitamins are water-soluble, can be destroyed by cooking and alcohol and are found in everything from mushrooms, beer, yoghurt and even chocolate.

Processed foods have less of the B vitamin and are therefore less nutritious, so always go for whole grain variety of flour, bread and rice.

 

A well-rounded diet

As long as you eat a varied & well rounded diet containing fruits, meats, vegetables and grains you should be getting all of the vitamin B you need.

well rounded diet

A poor diet for several months could mean that you will be B deficient, as the body does not store most of this vitamin. B-12 is the exception to this rule though as it is stored in the liver.

A bad diet could mean you are missing out on the big health benefits of vitamin B!

Not all types of vitamin B do the same thing and therefore the different types of vitamin B come from different foods.

For example, if you want to boost your B-6 you can do no better than the lowly baked potato which will give you 35% of your daily requirement of B-6 plus it has potassium and fibre to boot.

 

A list of foods rich in Vitamin B

Below is the list of the foods that are a rich source of the B vitamin in all of its different forms….

 

Vitamin B-12 rich foods

Vitamin B-12 is found mostly in meat and dairy foods. This B vitamin helps growth, red blood cell formation and regulation of the nervous system.

Those on a vegan diet could be at risk of deficiency of this B vitamin.

Eggs and Milk

Include the following foods in your diet for a good source of B-12 vitamin…

  • Eggs, cheese and milk
  • Red meat, kidney and liver
  • Shellfish and fish

 

 

Vitamin B-9 foods

Vitamin B-9 also promotes the red blood cells like most B vitamins. This B vitamin, also known as folic acid helps reduce birth defect risks.

whole grains

B9 is found in the following foods…

  • Whole grains and fortified cereals
  • Meats, liver & kidney
  • Citrus fruits
  • Fish
  • Leafy green vegetables, beets & legumes

 

 

Foods that are a good source of Vitamin B-7

Vitamin B-7 is the beauty vitamin due to its association with healthy nails, skin and hair. It helps to control high blood glucose levels so could benefit in the control of diabetes.

In pregnancy this B vitamin is vital for the growth of the baby.

cauliflower

Get your B-7 vitamin from….

  • Pork, chicken and liver
  • Fish
  • Egg yolks
  • Nuts
  • Cauliflower
  • Barley

 

Vitamin B-6 rich foods

Vitamin B-6 turns the food you eat into energy.

It also helps the body to fight infection and a deficiency of B-6 can result in anaemia, nausea, depression and skin disorders.

watermelon

So include the following in your diet to get B-6…

  • Tuna and salmon
  • Chicken breast, ground beef and beef liver
  • Potatoes, spinach and chickpeas
  • Watermelon
  • Whole grains & cereals

 

 

Foods rich in Vitamin B-5

Vitamin B-5 is also known as Pantothenic acid from the Greek word “pantothen” meaning” from everywhere”.

A small amount of B-5 is found in most food groups. It breaks down fats and carbohydrates into energy and is responsible for the production of testosterone.

B-5 has been shown in studies to reduce skin spots that are signs of aging skin and also promotes healthy skin.

Legumes

Get your vitamin B-5 by eating….

  • Legumes
  • Avocados
  • Yoghurt
  • Eggs
  • Meat

 

 

Vitamin B-3 rich foods

Vitamin B-3  is a digestive aid, promotes a healthy appetite and converts food to energy.

A deficiency in this B vitamin can result in abdominal cramps and nausea.

fish

To get your B-3 eat the following….

  • Wheat & barley
  • Peanuts
  • Fish
  • Chicken, red meat and liver
  • Moringa

 

 

Vitamin B-1 and B-2

Vitamins B-1 and B-2 both help convert your food to energy. B-1 has neurological benefits and B-2 maintains healthy eyesight.

B-1 known as thiamine is in most whole grains and breakfast cereals. Moringa Oleifera is also a great source of Vit B2 having 50 times more than bananas.

greens

To get B-2, riboflavin into the diet eat…

  • Milk and eggs
  • Dark green vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Bananas
  • Moringa

As most foods like milk and cereals are fortified with riboflavin and thiamine B-1 and B-2 deficiency is rare in the developed world.

It can be a problem in people who abuse alcohol.

 

A varied and healthy diet

As long as you have a varied and healthy diet and include the foods mentioned above your body should be getting enough of the B vitamin.

To make sure that you are getting enough into your diet have a look at some of these delicious recipes below that are vitamin B rich.

If you are over 50 or an athlete there could be a need to take a vitamin B supplement but a doctor’s advice should be sought if you feel you are vitamin B deficient.

 

3 Delicious Recipes packed full of Vitamin B

1. Grilled Salmon and Pesto

salmon for vitamin B
Photo by Emily Miller

This grilled Salmon and pesto recipe gives you high levels of B vitamins, a 3oz serving of salmon give you a 100% of your B-12 requirement.

This recipe contains B1, B3, B5, B6 and B12 and is easy to make, full of flavour and the added bonus of not being high in calories!

 

2. Pork Belly Ramen with Spring Greens

pork and greens
Picture by Brooklyn Supper

This fantastic Pork belly ramen recipe from Elizabeth at Brooklyn Supper is the perfect choice, as the pork and dark greens will really help boost your B vitamin levels.

 

3. Whole-Grain Raspberry Energy Bar

healthy Snack bar
Picture by Perry Santanachote

This delicious snack bar recipe courtesy of Daily Burn and Perry Santanachote is low in calories but high in taste and perfect for breakfast or as a dessert, try serving with yoghurt.

This easy to make snack bar has B1, B6, B9 and B3 as well as the B vitamins they have healthy fats too

 

Let us know…

We’d love to hear if you tried any of the above recipes and any other facts you know about Vitamin B, including any health benefits that you have found in the comments below….

 

 

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Natural remedies for seasonal allergies

The allergy season is once more with us. If you are one of the thousand of allergy sufferers whose spring and summers are miserable because of pollen & seasonal allergies, here are a few suggestions which could help alleviate some of your suffering.

 

How to alleviate your suffering

By wearing a hat, with a large brim and sunglasses. Not as a fashion statement but as a way to stop the pollen from blowing in your eyes.

It is the pollen that makes your eyes itch and then water.

sun hat and glasses

Instead of taking your jog or walk in the day when the pollen from trees is released, exercise outside in the evening when the pollen is not being emitted from the trees and flowers.

After being outside where your clothing has become infested with the pollens that are in the air, which in turn you then take home with you, launder your clothes and take a shower.

If you are taking medication for hay fever try taking the pills at night to see if this will help with the runny nose, sneezing and scratchy throat caused by the hay fever.

Make sure you have a cleaning appliance that has a HEPA filter fitted, so when vacuuming the pollen that has settled in the home is stirred up, which in turn aggravates your symptoms.

 

Acupuncture

acupuncture

New research that was published in the ‘Annals of Internal Medicine’, has found that Acupuncture could help relieve hay fever.

It found that sufferers who had acupuncture took less medication.

The researchers from Charite-University Medical Center, Berlin, Germany are not sure why but the thinking is that acupuncture can curb inflammatory immune-system substances involved in allergic reactions.

 

Try a Saline Rinse

Before the pollen season starts try a spritz of saline rinse up the nose to wash the pollen out. This could lead to a reduction in the amount of medication that you might have to take.

A study has shown that by using the saline rinse twice a day for three to six weeks, nasal congestion was lowered by hay fever sufferers.

 

Your Diet

A reduction of the amount of monounsaturated fats in your diet, that are found in dairy and meat products, could mean that you might not get hay fever.

A study has shown adults with a diet high in monounsaturated fat are three times more likely to experience hay fever.

A daily dose of fish oil supplement has also been found in studies to help control the chemical leukotriene, that contributes to the allergic reactions in people with allergic asthma.

 

9 natural remedies for helping with Allergies

More and more people are looking for a more natural way to treat their allergies, so here are a few suggestions to try and see if any work for you….

 

1. Honey

honey

Try taking a daily tablespoon of local honey. The nearer to your home the honey is produced the better as this helps the body to adapt to the allergens in the local environment .

Start taking the honey about a month before the pollen season starts.

This ancient remedy helps the body build a tolerance to the local pollens.

A 2011 study published in ‘Archives of Allergy and Immunology’ reported that sufferers from birch pollen were helped when given birch pollen honey before the pollen season started.

Sufferers used 50% less antihistamines compared to a group on conventional medicines!

 

2. Probiotics

A diet that contains foods that boost the bacteria in the gut helps to balance the immune system as new research has found that the presence of beneficial gut bacteria reduces the number of allergies that can be experienced.

80% of the bodies immune function is stored in the gut so by taking a good quality probiotic capsule makes sure we are getting the good bacteria required.

 

3. Stinging Nettle

stinging nettle

Dating back to medieval Europe, stinging nettle has a history of medicinal uses like relieving joint pain.

The University of Maryland Medical Centre have done studies and suggest that stinging nettle can effectively treat insect bites, joint pain, sprains and strains, urinary tract infections and hay fever.

Research has shown that nettle leaf is a natural antihistamine as it helps the body block the production of histamine naturally.

So before the hay fever starts take a freeze-dried preparation as a tea or tincture or if this is not possible, there are some wonderful nettle teas available in our marketplace.

Capsules made from dried nettle leaves are an easy and effective option too.

 

4. Apple Cider Vinegar

Another age old remedy that has a variety of uses, allergy relief being one of them is Cider Vinegar.

It has the ability to reduce mucus production and it cleanses the lymphatic system making it helpful for allergy sufferers.

The best Apple Cider Vinegar is one contain the “Mother” of vinegar, drink a teaspoon of this in water, three times a day at the first sign of your allergy.

Use an organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar that contains the colony of beneficial bacteria (“Mother”) always check the label for this.

 

5. Eucalyptus Oil

eucalyptus

Eucalyptus oil can be used in various ways to help in the allergy season.

Used in a diffuser or with your laundry detergent as an antimicrobial addition.

Add 25 drops of oil to your laundry detergent in the allergy season for an eco friendly addition to your wash.

An Egyptian study has shown that eucalyptus oil is one of the most potent in the killing of the highly allergic house mites.

If you are suffering major allergy symptoms, mix eucalyptus oil with coconut oil and use behind the ears and on your chest.

Use in a diffuser during the day or whilst sleeping.

 

6. Frankincense Essential Oil

Frankincense

Another great immune booster is Frankincense essential oil. In a study published by Phytotherapy Research it was discovered that when mice were given frankincense orally, multiple levels of their immune system were stimulated.

So for the seasonal allergy sufferer the use of frankincense will boost your immune system.

Use in a diffuser for a couple of hours a day or rub on your chest or behind your ears.

 

7. Bromelain

Published in the journal ‘Evidenced-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine’ a study into Bromelain on mice showed interesting results.

A reduction of allergic sensitization and a marked decrease in the development of allergic airway disease.

This suggests that bromelain helps to modulate the whole immune system.

It does more than mask the unpleasant symptoms experienced from seasonal allergies such as stuffy/runny nose, itchy eyes etc. Bromelain does seem to actually prevent seasonal allergies by going to the root cause an over sensitive immune system.

 

8. Spirulina

spirulina

The Conquistadors recorded that the Aztecs used spirulina as a staple in their diets as a primary source of protein.

But it is also known that spirulina can reduce inflammation that causes sinus problems.

In numerous studies it has been shown to be effective in reducing itching, nasal discharge, sneezing and nasal congestion.

 

9. Eyebright

Researchers have found that Eyebright, (part of the Figwort family) aids not only eye problems but can help with a number of other health conditions including seasonal allergies.

The natural astringent-tannins contained in the herb could help reduce mucus discharge and the flavonoids and defensive compounds in Eyebright could help in the treatment of allergies.

A great way to fit it into your diet is to drink eyebright tea two to three times a day.

 

Allergy Season

So as the allergy season returns do not automatically reach for the harmful chemicals for relief try a few of our natural suggestions.

 

PLEASE NOTE: If you are taking prescribed medication always consult with your doctor first.

 

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Love natural remedies and suffer from Bed Sores? If so don’t miss our fantastic guide to natural remedies for Bed sores article.

 

Let Us Know

We’d love to know any other natural remedies for seasonal allergies that you know of, use and love in the comments below….

 

 

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Knowing your Blood Pressure

Knowing your blood pressure could save your life! We look into how to lower blood pressure naturally by eating the right foods and living the right lifestyle.

 

Measuring blood pressure

Systolic pressure is always mentioned first and is the measurement of the blood through the arteries and ideally should be 120 or less but if your readings are between 120 – 139 this is seen as normal to borderline high blood pressure.

Readings of 140 and above are seen as high blood pressure.

Always make sure you get your blood pressure checked regularly by a medical professional.

 

measuring blood pressure

The diastolic pressure or bottom reading is the pressure in the arteries when the heart rests between beats. This reading should be 80 or less.

Readings of between 80 – 89 is normal but higher than ideal. Over 90 for repeated readings is seen as hypertension.

 

Do you have hypertension or high blood pressure?

How do you know if you have hypertension or high blood pressure? You tend not too!

Nearly one third of people with high blood pressure are un-aware.

This is why it is called the silent killer. Hypertension is the number one cause of heart related disease.

If you would like to keep a constant eye on it you can buy a blood pressure monitor like this best selling Omron from somewhere like amazon at a very good price for example this best selling monitor.

BUT as we said before if you feel unwell or think you may have high blood pressure, you MUST always get a medical professional to check your blood pressure.

So let’s look into how to lower blood pressure naturally….

 

How to lower blood pressure naturally

Is there a way to control high blood pressure without chemical intervention?

You can help using natural ways and prevention is always better than cure…

  • Weight – being overweight makes the heart work harder so even a small loss in weight can make a difference.
  • Salt – recommended daily intake of salt is less than 6g. There is a link between salt intake and blood pressure.
  • Stress – increases blood pressure. Over time high stress levels can cause hypertension.
  • Alcohol – Blood pressure can be raised by too much alcohol so moderate the drinking of alcohol. NHS recommended limits are three to four units a day for men and two to three units daily for women.
  • Caffeine – Found in coffee, tea, cola and some medicines and energy drinks. More than four cups of coffee could increase blood pressure, try decaf.
  • Exercise – Lower the risk of blood pressure by taking regular exercise. A 150 minutes exercise a week is recommended by the NHS.

 

Weight and High blood pressure

High blood pressure and being over weight are intrinsically linked. Increased body fat means the heart has to work harder when circulating the blood round the body.

If your BMI (Body Mass Index) is over 25 to 28 losing a couple of pounds makes a difference to the blood pressure.

A study done in 2014 showed that anyone gaining 5% of their body weight showed a slight rise in blood pressure. The greatest increases in blood pressure were seen if extra fat was added to the belly area.

By eating a healthy diet including vegetables, fruit, healthy fat and high quality protein as well as avoiding processed foods that contain sodium and calories you can really help lower blood pressure naturally.

That along with activity that improves lean muscle mass and sustains the metabolic rate.

 

Exercise

bike ride

Exercise is a great way to lower blood pressure. It does not have to be in a gym if you have an aversion to classes or expensive gyms, a brisk walk, swim or bike ride is a great way to try and help lower blood pressure.

As long as you break into a sweat it means you are exercising hard enough.

In a 2015 study of over weight, diabetic adults showed that a few minutes of daily exercise lowered their blood pressure.

A study in Brazil on older women with hypertension showed that a weight training programme significantly reduced the diastolic and systolic blood pressure which was maintained for an hour after the training finished.

 

Sleep deprivation

Sleep deprivation can mean cravings for junk food, over eating and an increase in stress levels.

You can also benefit from an afternoon nap, if you have time.

Adults with high blood pressure who took an hour long daily siesta saw a drop in the systolic rate of on average 5% when compared with those who did not nap.

 

Stress

Stress can be a killer as it causes the blood pressure to rise in the long and short term, so find a way that you like to relax, try yoga and meditation these have all been found to be good choices. Even just having a good laugh!

 

Relaxing with Music

relax with music

Try relaxing with music and slow breathing for 30 minutes a day to bring down blood pressure.

Researchers at the University of Florence tried soothing classical, Indian or Celtic music with 28 adults that were taking medication for hypertension.

Their average systolic readings decreased by 3.2 points in a week.

 

Drinking alcohol

Drinking alcohol can have benefits to hypertension sufferers and lower the risk of heart disease but more than one drink a day for women and two for men could have an opposite effect.

One drink equates to 12oz of beer, 5 oz. of wine or 1.5oz of a spirit. As well as being the cause of other chronic conditions high consumption of alcohol increases blood pressure and is detrimental to your health.

A 2016 study in the Journal of Adolescent Health shows that regular binge drinking in young adults have shown them to be suffering with prehypertension which can lead to hypertension.

 

Try these 11 foods that can help lower blood pressure

There are a number of foods that can help you avoid hypertension and will even help lower high blood pressure.

Research has shown that a diet rich in foods containing potassium, magnesium and calcium but low in sodium could help to bring your blood pressure to normal.

 

1. Flaxseed

A 2013 study has shown that flax seed can reduce blood pressure even if taking medication.

The four compounds contained in flaxseeds, alpha linolenic acid, peptides, lignans and fiber could singularly or all be responsible for the reduction in blood pressure this is yet to be proven.

 

2. Olive Oil

Rich in polyphenols Olive oil has been found by Spanish researchers to have an effect on systolic and diastolic blood pressure over a four month period.

 

3. Beetroot

beetroot can lower blood pressure

The nitrates in beetroot have been shown by Australian researchers to reduce systolic pressure over a 24 hour period, six hours after drinking beetroot juice.

 

4. Chocolate

Must contain at least 70% cocoa. Dark chocolate is rich in flavanols this has been shown to reduce both systolic and diastolic pressure in anyone suffering from hypertension.

The polyphenols contained in cocoa products are associated with the formation of nitric acid. This substance widens the blood vessels thereby easing blood flow.

But it must be remembered that chocolate also contain sugar and caffeine so no more that one square a day.

 

5. Salmon and other fatty fish

fish

Has a high content of omega-3 fatty acids which has the effect of lowering blood pressure.

Eating fatty fish three times a week has been linked to the diastolic pressure being reduced.

Further research is needed to confirm the amounts you need though.

 

6. Hibiscus

Loaded with anti-oxidants like phenols and anthocyanins hibiscus has been shown in a 2010 study to reduce both systolic and diastolic pressures by drinking three daily servings of hibiscus tea.

Do not exceed this amount as the manganese, copper and iron content could go above recommended levels.

 

7. Pistachio nuts

A 2013 study carried out over a 4 week period has shown that by eating a serving of Pistachio nuts (unsalted) daily reduced the systolic blood pressure.

It is not clear exactly as to why, was it due to an increase in the volume of blood pumped from the heart or did the nuts reduce the constriction of the blood vessels.

 

8. Sunflower seeds

sunflower-seeds

A delicious snack and rich in Vitamin E and magnesium. A quarter cup makes for a delicious, nutritious snack.

 

9. Beans

All kinds pinto, lima, kidney and all colours, rich in fiber, potassium and magnesium all excellent at lowering blood pressure and improving the health of the heart.

 

10. Whole grains

Three servings of whole grains has been found to lower systolic pressure. The research is not clear as to why but the findings  point to cholesterol levels benefitting from eating whole grains.

 

11. Pomegranate juice

Pomegranate juice

Pomegranate juice has been found by British researchers to be linked to the lowering of both systolic and diastolic pressures by drinking more than a cup of pomegranate juice a day, for four weeks.

The research is not clear on why but it is thought to be the potassium or the polyphenols found in the juice of this fruit.

 

Changes in your Diet

Any changes to your diet if you are on medication should be discussed with your doctor as some foods may have adverse effects.

 

How is your Blood pressure?

Do you suffer from high blood pressure?   If you already take natural measures to keep your blood pressure low we’d love to know what you do….

If you have any other tips on how to lower blood pressure naturally we’d love to know in the comments below….

 

PLEASE NOTE:- The advise above is NOT meant to replace medical advise given by a medical professional. You MUST always seek medical advise from your doctor if you think you have a problem linked to blood pressure.

 

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Detox your home & purify the air you breathe

Research by the American Society for Horticultural Science has shown that ozone is a main component of not only outside air pollution but also inside our homes and offices. As we spend nearly 80 to 90 per cent of our time inside it is imperative to our health to find ways to eliminate ozone. So we thought we’d look into the best indoor house plants to help purify the air and detox your home.

 

Research into house plants & air purification

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Detox your home

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The toxic effects of ozone on our health include lung capacity reduction, inflammation and pulmonary edema.

University researchers have found that common house plants can reduce the concentration of ozone and improve the quality of air indoors.

Other studies show that our homes contain harmful VOCs like formaldehyde and xylene.

Dr. B. C. Wolverton who researched the creation of a breathable environment for the NASA lunar habitat discovered that pollutants like ammonia, benzene and formaldehyde can be filtered out of the air by house plants.

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Volatile organic compounds

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are organic compounds that become vapors and gases. Widely used household products that are sources of VOCs in our living areas are:

  • Moth repellents
  • Air fresheners
  • Paints and paint stripper
  • Cleansers
  • Disinfectants
  • Dry-cleaned clothing
  • Pesticide
  • Wood preservers
  • Aerosol sprays

 

A great reason to try to make your own DIY Cleaning products

 

Symptoms of toxins in the air

The five main toxins that can be found in the list of products above and the symptoms that can be experienced are outlined below:

  • Xylene – The cause of throat and mouth infection, headache, dizziness and heart complications. This toxin is found in paint, vehicle exhaust and tobacco smoke.
  • Benzene – To be found in plastic, detergents, furniture wax, pesticide, vehicle exhaust, glue and paint. This toxin can cause headaches, eye irritation, drowsiness and dizziness.
  • Ammonia– This toxin can cause eye and throat irritations and is to be found in window cleaner, floor wax fertilizer and scented salts.
  • Formaldehyde – Can be found in paper bags, tissue, waxed paper and synthetic fibers. This toxin causes nose, mouth and throat irritation.
  • Trichloroethylene – Found in varnishes, paint and paint remover as well as adhesives and lacquers. It causes symptoms such as headache, nausea, dizziness and vomiting.

 

Pollutants 10 times higher indoors

VOC concentrations are up to 10 times higher indoors than outdoors and are emitted by a variety of products numbering in the thousands.

Studies have found that concentrated pollutant levels can remain in the air way after product use.

Exposure to VOCs can result in the following symptoms, although not too much is known about the amount of VOCs used in the home that can affect our health but short-term exposure of the listed toxins can cause:

  • Headache
  • Allergic skin reactions
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Conjunctival irritation
  • Dizziness
  • Discomfort of the nose and throat

 

Air purifying house plants can help counteract these harmful VOCs from our home environment plus they are a good-looking, help make you feel good, reasonably priced and powerful filters, purifying the air in our homes.

 

A study by N.A.S.A

The study that NASA carried out shows that common household plants can filter and purify the air in our homes and offices and remove the harmful toxins.

NASA suggests that every home should have 15 to 18 plants to purify the air you live in and breath.

If you live by a busy road have lots of plants to counteract the exhaust fumes.

 

Several studies have shown that 89% of harmful VOCSs can be eliminated by certain plants.

 

The 18 best indoor house plants to detox your home….

Orchids

Orchids purify the air

These truly beautiful plants are remarkably easy to look after despite their reputation for being difficult to grow.

They remove xylene, found in paints and glue, from the air. So after decorating buy an orchid for decoration and to clean the air around.

Also removes alcohols, chloroform, acetone and formaldehyde from the air.

Orchids can also be used in the bedroom as they give off oxygen at night.

 

Peace Lily

peace lily

Another beautiful flowering plant which will thrive in a shady corner whist removing harmful toxins like ammonia, formaldehyde, acetone, benzene, trichloroethylene and xylene from the air in your home.

This plant can survive low temperatures and being water deprived.

 

Anthuriums

anthurium

The large dark green leaves of this plant clean the air of toluene, xylene, ammonia and formaldehyde.

But this house plant has exotic looking flowers so good-looking as well as hard working.

 

Philodendrons

Philodendron

Rid your environment of xylene with a Philodendron. One of the best indoor house plants if you have a small amount of time on your hands as it requires very little care but is an attractive addition to any room.

 

Fern

fern

Bring a bit of the prehistoric into the home, survivors from prehistoric times the large fronds of a fern suck up the pollutants found in paint, nail polish and glue which are toluene and xylene.

A natural air purifier the fern restores moisture to the air.

 

Palm

palm

Palms are easy to grow and brighten a drab area so this make them a popular choice of house-plant.

A natural air purifier, as well as removing benzene and formaldehyde it removes carbon monoxide so if there is a smoker in the house the addition of a palm to the home is a must.

 

Schefflera

Schefflera

Another good choice of plant if there is a smoker in the house, the waxy oval leaves of the Schefflera removes the nasty toxins of benzene, toluene and formaldehyde from the air.

The plant is hardy and long-lasting, as long as the leaves are kept dust free. Wipe the leaves to keep them looking glossy.

 

Aloe Vera

aloe vera for bed sores

Well known for its health benefits its ability to heal wounds and reduce inflammation Aloe Vera can remove toxins like benzene and formaldehyde and purify the air in your home.

At night this plant absorbs carbon monoxide and releases oxygen so it’s one of the best indoor house plants for the bedroom.

 

Spider plant

spider plant

Easy to grow Spider plants are good for removing formaldehyde, xylene and carbon monoxide. So a great plant for sheds and garages as they help to eliminate the pollutants from exhaust fumes and DIY products.

 

Geranium

Geranium

A very decorative plant that removes formaldehyde in the air they can live with little water and sun but they do need lots of light to bloom.

Also a great plant to repel mosquitoes.

 

Azalea

Azalea

With so many varieties to choose from you are sure to find one for you. Azalea’s remove toxins like formaldehyde from the air.

 

Golden Pothos (also known as Devils Ivy)

Golden Pothos

Golden Pothos removes carbon monoxide and formaldehyde from the air so improves the quality of the air you breath. Can tolerate shady areas and little water but this plant is toxic so needs to be kept out of the reach of children and pets.

 

Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum

Sun loving plants that brighten any room these plants help to combat benzene and remove ammonia from the air indoors.

 

Tulips

tulips

Effective in cleaning formaldehyde, xylene and ammonia from the air this lovely looking plant comes in a large variety of colours and types so beautiful and a hard worker.

 

Lavender

Lavender

A great air purifier, with a sweet smell that soothes and calms. Lavender cleanses bad smells and lowers carbon dioxide levels.

 

Dracaena Reflexa

pleomele

Easy and slow to grow as it can tolerate low and bright light areas it absorbs toluene, xylene and formaldehyde.

 

Weeping Fig

weeping fig

A low maintenance and popular plant, that tolerates indirect sunlight.

Pollutants like xylene, toluene and formaldehyde are filtered out of the air by this plant.

 

Gerbera Daisy

Gerbera Daisy

Perfect for the bedroom a Gerbera Daisy, which loves direct sunlight removes trichloroethylene a chemical that is released from dry cleaning, adhesives and varnishes.

 

Best indoor house plants – Infographic

We’ve put together an infographic featuring 18 of the best indoor house plants for purifying the air in your home.

Please feel free to share…

We only ask you please include attribution to https://www.calmhappyhealthy.com/ with this graphic.

best house plants

Please feel free to share this image on your site using code below

 

Worried about looking after your new house plants?

Fear not, there are some wonderful books guiding you through all of the essentials such as soil, watering, placement, food and more….  (please note these are amazon affiliate links BUT do not affect the price you pay in any way)

House of Plants – living with succulents, air plants and cacti  –   by Rose Ray, Caro Langton & Erika Rax

House Plants: How to look after your indoor plants – by Isabelle Palmer

The House Plant Expert: The world’s best-selling book on house plants – by Dr D.G Hessayon

 

Let us Know

We’d love to know which houseplants you have in your house. Do you have a view on the best indoor house plants?

Let us know in the comments below…

 

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Why should you stop eating Sugar?

Obesity in the Western world is becoming a major health issue and one of the biggest culprits is sugar consumption. Over consumption of sugar means it’s essential we all start to look into ways of cutting out sugar using a healthy sugar-free diet plan.

“Free sugars” are the sugars being over consumed. Free Sugars are the additional sugars added to our foods and drinks and even found naturally in honey, unsweetened fruit drinks and syrups.

This over consumption and a more sedentary lifestyle is seen as one of the biggest contributors to current obesity issues, making is essential that we all look for the healthy food option.

 

Studies into sugar

sugar free diet

Many studies have been carried out to conclusively clarify if a diet high in sugar, especially refined sugar, is responsible for the causes of obesity, tooth decay, dementia, a causal factor in the occurrence of diabetes, dementia, sugar addiction and cardiovascular disease.

The average consumption per year in the western world is 33.1kg but these studies have remained fairly inconclusive due to the difficulty of finding a population that does not consume or is largely free from any sugar consumption.

Studies are mainly inconclusive and can even be deceptive depending largely on who carried them out. Be it independent sponsors or even funded by the sugar industry.

 

Sugar intake – recommendations

The World Health Organisation has a recommendation that free sugar consumption should be reduced to 10% of the total daily energy intake.

They also state that a reduction to less than 5% of energy intake brings additional health benefits especially in dental health.

The daily average energy consumption by an adult, due to sugars is 260 calories that equates to a large chunk of the recommended daily allowance of calories for an average healthy, physically active adult, which is 2000 for women and 2500 for men.

The UK government recommends that no more than 5% of the daily energy (calories) intake of an adult should be made up of free or added sugars, this is 30g of added sugar or seven sugar cubes.

For children aged 4 – 6 the figure is 19g and 24g for children aged 7 – 10.

 

The various labels for sugar

Sugar is the name given to the sweet, short chain, soluble carbohydrate that is found in the tissue of most plants but is extracted from the sugar beet and sugar cane plant as these have sufficient concentrations for extraction.

quitting sugar

But in the food industry sugar is shown on labels under many different names such as :-

  • Dextrose
  • Fructose
  • Sucrose
  • Glucose
  • Invert sugar
  • Corn sugar
  • Molasses
  • Agave syrup
  • Maple syrup
  • Honey
  • Isoglucose
  • Levulose
  • Maltose

So when buying ready-made items be aware of what is on the label! The higher up the list of ingredients that sugar sits, the more that exists in the product.

Ingredients contained in the product are listed in order of weight, so the main ingredient will be listed first, so the lower down the list the sugar contents are the better.

 

A guide to how much sugar

As a guide, high sugar content is more that 22.5 grams of sugar per 100 grams of food and low is 1.5 grams per 100 grams of food.

So a good way of knowing what percentage of the product you are buying is sugar is to use the 100g section of the nutritional information. If the product states that it has 7g of sugar, then that product is 7% sugar.

Unfortunately as sugar is a food preserver most shop bought products will contain some sugar of sorts.

Be aware that not all healthy food products are as healthy as they say they are. Foods labelled low-fat or low in sugar can often contain lots of artificial sugars.

And products you may think are good for you like fruit juices and smoothies can actually contain more sugar per 100ml that some of the fizzy drinks brands on the market!

So make sure you control your portions, the smaller the better.

 

Cutting out sugar – is a no sugar diet possible?

So what happens if we cut sugar from our diet altogether?

sugar withdrawal

Firstly we would like to stress – always take medical advise before embarking on a dramatic change to a diet. If you need medical advise you MUST seek that from your doctor.

Cutting out sugar altogether from our daily diet can have dramatic effects on our bodies based on the number of years we have eaten sugar and the amount consumed.

Gaining a sugar-free diet is not easy to achieve but any steps you can take to get a little closer to that will benefit your health in the long run.

 

Withdrawal symptoms from a sugar-free diet

The possible withdrawal symptoms that can be experienced and which can vary in intensity and severity in the individual are:

Appetite: An increase in cravings for carbohydrates. Changes to the amount of food required could be more or could be less but this should balance out.

Anger: Irritability and anger could be experienced if you go “cold turkey” and withdraw sugar with no cutting down the amount consumed slowly. Dopamine the neurotransmitter responsible for pleasure in the brain may be influenced by the cutting out of sugar, as the stimulation is not the same.

Sleep: Sleep can be affected in the withdrawal period due to the changes in energy levels and mood. Insomnia can result from a change to the sleep pattern. So consider relaxation exercise’s.

Shaking: The “cold turkey method of cutting sugar consumption can cause some people to experience “the shakes”. This symptom should subside as the body adjusts. It is experienced in the person who had a high sugar consumption before cutting sugar altogether.

Weight: A loss of weight is generally attributed to the removal of unhealthy foods and sugar rich drinks from the diet.

headache from sugar withdrawal

Headaches: The cause of headaches experienced when sugar is removed from the diet is the detox of the sugar from your body, as refined sugar is a toxin.

Mood: Mood can change when sugar is removed from your diet, minor depression, negativity and anxiety can be experienced as the body adjusts to the removal of sugar, but after a short time the brain will adjust.

Dizziness: Most people will not feel dizzy when sugar is removed from the diet, but in extreme case of withdrawal dizziness can be experienced.

Fatigue: As sugar can provide short-term bursts of energy when it is removed altogether a feeling of lethargy and general fatigue can be experienced in the first weeks of withdrawal. Once the first couple of weeks have passed energy levels should become normal.

Flu like symptoms: A low grade flu-like symptom is one of the more severe reactions to cutting out sugar from the diet, but everyone is different. If this is experienced it should subside after several days.

Cravings: One of the more obvious effects of removing sugar from the diet is the craving of it. These cravings can become intense and difficult to ignore. But by removing the sugar substances from sight and remaining strong and focused eventually the cravings will subside.

 

Withdrawal from sugar

There is no exact time for sugar withdrawal, it is dependent on the sensitivity of the person and the drop in dopamine levels and adjusting to doing without and craving sugar.

The length of the withdrawal period is variable for some they just feel better in a few days whilst others take up to a month to feel completely detoxified.

blueberries

To help in this withdrawal period it is recommended to consume lean protein, fruits like blueberries and apples and for extra nutrients eat nuts.

If you have been a drinker of sugary soda/ energy drinks caffeine withdrawal could be fairly large.

 

Beginning to remove sugar from your diet

Removing sugar from a daily diet has been tried by a number of people and their experiences are on-line for you to read but here are a few of their findings…

After the initial detox, the majority of people found their cravings for the sweet stuff disappeared after 4 weeks. They also found…

  • They had clearer skin
  • Their mood stabilized
  • Sleep improved
  • Craving for sweet foods diminished
  • Loss of body fat
  • Levels of energy improved
  • All round improvement in well–being and happiness
  • General weight loss
  • Improvement in asthma condition
  • Eating patterns adjusted and the urge to continuously eat disappeared

 

There are lots of sites to be found on the internet and books on sugar free diets that provide helpful advice and recipes for cutting out sugar from your diet.

But one thing is for sure, the cutting down and eventual removal of free sugar from the diet can only be a good thing.

By removing one serving a day of a carbonated beverage a weight loss of 1.1lb in six months can be achieved. That might not sound like much but most people have more than one sugary drink a day.

 

Head towards a sugar-free diet (Free sugars)

The complete removal of sugar from the diet is dramatic and if you feel that this is not for you try a more subtle approach by following a simple and slow sugar-free diet plan like the one below:

  • Stop using shop bought jars of sauces and dressings and cook fresh sauces where you are in control of the ingredients
  • Go for water or lower fat milks or no added sugar drinks. Limit the unsweetened fruit juice (150ml a day) as this still contains high amounts of sugar
  • If your preference is a fizzy drink add sparkling water to fruit juice
  • Reduce the amount of sugar that you take in your tea or coffee
  • Same goes for your breakfast cereal, reduce the amount of sugar you add until you can cut it out altogether
  • Instead of honey or jam on your toast, slice a banana or use a low-fat cream cheese
  • In your recipes, half the amount of sugar, it works for most recipes
  • Buy and eat unsweetened yogurt
  • Check those labels, pick the ones with less added sugar
  • Pick whole grain cereals not the ones coated in sugar or honey
  • Choose the tinned fruit that is in juice and not the syrup ones
  • Reduce intake of high glycemic fruits such as bananas, grapes, cherries and mango

Sugar occurs naturally in fresh milk and fruit and these sugars do not need to be removed from our diets.

It is the free sugars (not to be confused with “total sugars” that you will see on food labels) that are added to cakes, biscuits, chocolate and some juice and fizzy drinks.

One can of cola contains up to nine cubes of added sugar.

Sugar is a carbohydrate found naturally in most foods, the main value of these foods is to provide energy but sugar (free sugar) is added to lots of foods and these contain lots of calories and very few nutrients so have little benefit to the diet, so choose wisely what you eat.

 

A quick roundup

For a quick & easy roundup, we’ve put together an infographic of this article, please feel free to share…

(click on image to see full size pdf)

We only ask you please include attribution to https://www.calmhappyhealthy.com/ with this graphic.

guide to a sugar free diet infographic

Please feel free to share this image on your site using code below

 

Share you experiences of quitting sugar

Have you tried cutting out sugar?  if so what was your experience? Have you got close to a sugar-free diet?

We’d love to hear from you in the comments below…

 

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Why carry on exercising outdoors in Winter?

That’s a great question! It’s hard to think about the benefits of exercise when it’s cold, wet and probably dark so it’s understandable you’re thinking why on earth would I want to go out and exercise in this.

However, once we’ve shown you the huge benefits of exercising outdoors in the cold we think you’ll be whipping on your running gear before you can say ‘Wow it’s cold’.

Just make sure you don’t forget to warm up and do your stretches before and after!

 

Get our free 20 min warm up exercise routine infographic. Print, hang up and work out to….

(please click on image to view full size pdf)

20 min work out

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Please include attribution to https://www.calmhappyhealthy.com/ with this graphic

 

5 benefits of exercise you’ll get when it’s cold

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We’ve listed 5 great reasons why you’ll reap the benefit of exercise in the winter months if you carry on doing it outdoors .

It does not have to be running just as good for you would be a long walk, this way you can stay wrapped up and warm and still get your heart pumping.

Or why not try cycling, fast walking or if you’re in the right location how about a winter sport like snowboarding (you don’t have to be near mountains with plenty of dry slopes available.

 

1.  You’ll burn more calories

Go for a walk even when the weather is really cold – your body has to work overtime to regulate its core temperature and you may burn up to 50% more calories than you would on the same walk in summer!

But remember, go a little slower until you get warm and keep up the hydration.

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benefits of exercising outdoors this winter

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2. Elevate your mood and become invigorated

Your level of endorphins increases the harder the body has to work, so you should be left with a stronger sense of happiness after working out in the cold.

 

3. Boost Vitamin D levels

If you can get out during the daylight hours and it’s sunny then you’ll benefit just as much from winter sun as summer sun when it comes to boosting your Vitamin D levels.

 

4. Strengthen your heart and lungs

The cold air makes the heart work harder to pump the blood through your veins, strengthening it.

 

5. Make spring exercise easier!

By exercising in the cold winter days and nights your endurance performance will increase meaning when spring arrives exercise should feel that little bit easier.

 

Make sure you warm up, stretch and wear the right clothing

It’s essential to make sure you perform full warm-up and cool-down routines, the former to keep your internal body temperature elevated, and the latter to reduce unnecessary tightness than can be brought on by a chill in the air.

Here’s a video from Psychetruth showing how to do full body stretches for beginners…

[videoembed type=”youtube” url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2aBPh_2eEo” title=”1″ playbar=”1″]

 

Here’s examples of some of the stretches included, for full regime please watch the video above

1. Start with the neck muscles first forward and back then left to right.

benefits of exercise
Neck Stretches by Donnie – courtesy of psychetruth

 

2. Hold you knees and feel your shoulder stretch by putting all of the weight in your hands

benefits of exercise
Shoulder Stretches by Donnie – courtesy of psychetruth

 

3. Move from Left to right and back again with arms held out high for Rib isolations

benefits of exercise
Rib Isolations by Donnie – courtesy of psychetruth

 

4. A Flat back stretch

benefits of exercise
A Flat back stretch by Donnie – courtesy of psychetruth

 

Wear the right clothing

The right clothes when exercising outdoors in winter are essential –  they must assure thermal protection without overheating.

Up-to-date research recommends using three layers of clothing which create two successive air layers…

1st layer –  for the ones that’s touching the skin, avoid cotton. Synthetic fabrics such as Gore-tex, Polypropylene and Lycra are best – they do not retain perspiration and do not transform themselves into cold wet compresses for the chest and back, here’s a great example.

2nd layer –  warmer materials such as wool or fleece can be used

3rd layer – the fabric for the last layer has to be water and windproof. Gore-Tex is a fabric used widely for providing protection from the rain and wind. Something along the lines of this breathable Karrimor would fit the bill plus it’s nice and bright for safety.

Give special attention to protecting the head, neck and hands. Especially the head with a hat made of the same types of fabric as the 1st layer: scientific studies have proved that the skull allows the greatest heat loss.

For protecting the neck, it is good to wear polo necks or scarves made of the same material as the clothing’s last layer.

Avoid wearing several pairs of cotton socks does, too as they forbid eliminating the perspiration.

 

Make sure you also…

1. Beware of Ice!  Let’s make sure you reap the benefits of exercise without doing yourself harm.

2. Make sure you hydrate before, during and after your workout – cold as well as heat tends to dehydrate

 

If these recommendations are respected, we can not only train and reap the benefits of exercise during the cold season we can also LOVE doing it!

And if you really just cannot bring yourself to exercise outdoors this winter, why not book yourself a Fitness break to somewhere warm?

 

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Can you drink alcohol AND be healthy?

It is upon us again, the season of festivities and parties where alcohol flows freely, so the question arises can we drink and be healthy? We look into this and compile 7 healthy alcoholic drinks recipes for you to try out.

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Orange in drink

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It is a known fact that too much alcohol can have disastrous results, an unpleasant hang over, blackouts to more serious life threatening diseases.

And at the very least, regretting your actions the next day.

Ethanol (alcohol) is the active ingredient in alcoholic drinks, this is the ingredient that makes you drunk and is produced when the yeasts digests the sugar contained in grapes or grains

The alcohol consumed by us is then metabolized by the liver.

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Over time, consuming too much alcohol can result in an increase of fats in the liver cells, which in turn means the liver cannot function efficiently.

 

So can we still have a good time without a risk to our body?

Alcohol, even a small amount is never going to be good for you.

However in moderation and if you are sensible, plus use a few of the tips and ideas below, you should still be able to have some fun, release some tension (which if held in can be just as unhealthy) and keep it as healthy as possible at the same time.

It’s a good idea to mix your alcohol with water or fresh fruit juice (no added sugar) as it is the high sugar content in other normal mixers that makes the body struggle to process all of that sugar.

 

Be careful what you mix

Do not mix spirits, stick to one kind of alcohol per evening. Mixing types of spirits is hard on the head and stomach.

It is wise not to mix the grape (wine) and the grain (beer) but if you do it’s best to start with Beer, then wine.

The clearer spirits are easier on the body, so vodka, light beer and gin are better and have a lower calorific value than whiskey or red wine.

 

Eat a healthy meal before drinking AND the day after!

glass of mineral water
Drink lots of water, before, during & after

If you know you are going to be drinking, eat beforehand. Eating a snack or meal before a drink gives your body time before having to process the alcohol.

The starch or dairy in the meal coats the stomach and helps to prevent nausea and headaches.

Give your liver a rest and have days in between drinking bouts where you have no alcohol at all.

 

The day after

Eat healthily the day after you drink. You might have a hang over but it’s essential to eat healthy food that will replace the lost minerals and vitamins that the drinking depleted, meaning you lost essential nutrients.

Drink water before, during and after drinking alcohol. Dehydration is caused by drinking alcohol as it is a diuretic (the increased production of Urine), so keep yourself hydrated by drinking water in between drinks.

 

Always best to drink less

No one likes to admit that they might be drinking too much and over the festive periods, it’s easy to drink a lot more than you usually might. Just keep it in mind and as we said above, try and break it up a little.

If you really want to have a tipple though, these healthy alcoholic drinks recipes might be just what you need…

 

Some healthy alcoholic drinks recipes

If you are having guests over this festive season try a few of these healthy recipes :

 

1. Pear Rum Punch

If you like Rum this delicious Rum punch recipe from ‘Eating Well‘ will be right up your street! Be a little careful though, as it can pack a punch if you drink too much of it, as the name suggests.

pear rum punch
Image courtesy of ‘Eating Well’

Ripened pears, pureed will make a naturally sweet base for this rum punch.

1 750ml bottle of sparking wine, Prosecco for example.

½ cup dark rum

4 cups of ice

To garnish, thinly slice pears and add pomegranate seeds.

To make the pear puree which is the base for this punch combine three medium ripe pears, chopped and peeled with ¾ cup of water and ¼ cup of sugar.

Bring these ingredients to the boil in a medium saucepan.

Simmer over a reduced heat until the pears are soft (about 5 minutes).

Transfer to a blender.

Puree till smooth.

Refrigerate for 2 hours or up to a day.

 

To make the punch

In a bowl or pitcher mix the puree, rum and sparkling wine.

Add the ice and garnish with pear slices and pomegranate seeds (optional).

Serve over ice or straight.

 

2.Grapefruit Mocktail

grapefruit
Photo courtesy of Health.com

This alcohol-free grapefruit cocktail recipes from Health.com and Bridget Rush is scrummy! Slightly sharp but light & refreshing at the same time.

It could also be used as a mixer for a spirit such as vodka.

3oz Red grapefruit juice

2oz seltzer

3oz cranberry juice

wedge of lime

sprig of mint

In a shaker with ice, mix the grapefruit & cranberry juice .

Pour into a tall glass

Add the 2oz of seltzer.

Add the lime wedge and a sprig of mint.

 

 

3. The Ghost of Christmas Sparkling-Wine Cocktail

christmas
Image courtesy of ‘Eating Well’

A delicious recipe from ‘Eating Well’especially if you like Cinnamon and Honey!

The base is a cinnamon-honey syrup and topped with cranberry.

Prepare the Cinnamon Honey Green Tea syrup:

Boil ¾ of a cup of water in a small saucepan.

After removing from the heat add 6 green tea bags, leaving to steep for 5 minutes.

Remove the tea bags and stir in ¾ cup of honey.

After cooling, refrigerate for at least an hour.

Just before serving stir in 1 tablespoon of cinnamon.

This makes about 1 ½ cups.

(The syrup without the cinnamon can be made up to a week beforehand.)

 

To make an individual cocktail :

1 ounce of the Cinnamon-Honey – Green Tea syrup

1 ½ ounces of vodka

1 ounce of lemon juice

3 ounces of sparkling wine (Prosecco for example)

Ice and fresh cranberries are optional.

 

4. Bloody Mary

This lovely Bloody Mary from Greatist is simple, quick to make and fairly healthy.

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bloody mary

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¾ cup of low sodium, no added sugar tomato juice

Juice of ½ lemon

Dash of hot sauce

Dash of Worcestershire sauce

Fresh Ground Pepper to taste.

1 shot of vodka

Use lemon wedge and celery to garnish

As an optional extra for protein, add a cocktail shrimp.

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5. Mulled Wine

Mulled Wine

For a warming cheer try this mulled wine recipe courtesy of Eating Well that serves 8.

To a bottle of dry red wine add…

1 cup of water

3 whole cloves

¼ tsp ground nutmeg

1/8 tsp ground cinnamon

Pinch of ground allspice

2 strips of fresh lemon and orange peel

In a large saucepan add all the ingredients, over a low heat bring to a simmer and them let it simmer for about 20 minutes.

 

6. Low Calorie Pina Colada

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A delicious Pina Colada from Fitnessmagazine and low calorie at the same time!

1 ½ ounces cononut flavoured rum

3 ounces pineapple juice

4 ounces sparkling water

1 tbsp Coco Lopez Cream of Coconut Lite

Pour ingredients over ice and stir

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