Archive for July, 2011

Eating more fruit and veg

We all know we need to include more fruit and vegetables in our diets. The government encourages us to eat at least 5 portions a day, some people aim for 10. Fresh, organic produce is best, but sometimes it is hard to afford enough for your diet. How can you quickly and cheaply add extra fruit and vegetables to your meals?

Here are some ideas I like. What are yours? Let me know in the comments below.

– Start using sweetcorn. It’s cheap and really versatile. You can include in it salads, jacket potatoes, scrambled egg, pasta, pizzas… and three tablespoons count as one of your five portions! You can also do this with peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas.

– Get sprouting. Growing your own sprouts is cheap, easy and incredibly nutritious. Check out my favourite sprouting company here: www.livingfood.co.uk

– Eat vegetables as snacks. When you’re feeling peckish, have some carrot sticks, celery with peanut butter, a stuffed pepper, a sweet potato or broccoli, tomato and cheese. Vegetables really are amazing once you explore all the different combinations and flavours. Don’t be afraid to experiment with various spices, too!

– Have a piece of fruit at breakfast every day. Eating it in the morning is refreshing and gets it out of the way. Bananas are cheap and almost everyone likes them, but also try pink grapefruit, kiwis and pineapple to help you feel ready for the day.

– Try eating fruit as a pudding. Have tinned fruit with cream for an inexpensive, quick and delicious end to a meal, or a baked pear with cinnamon.

– Add a spoonful of dried fruit such as raisins, banana chips, figs or prunes to your breakfast cereal or yogurt. They are really high in fibre but you might not want to eat too much due to the high sugar content. Just one spoonful of dried fruit is equal to one portion of your five a day and works out very cheap.

-Get into juicing. There’s a wealth of information out there about this really useful health-enhancing activity and you can make yourself wonderful vegetable juices to boost your intake of nutrition.

What do you like to do to increase the amount of fruit and vegetables you eat?

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Is it really important to drink lots of water?

We’ve been told for years to drink 6-8 glasses, or 2 litres, of water a day. Apparently it flushes all the toxins out of your body and gives you clearer skin and a healthy glow. But is it really that important?

An Iranian doctor, Dr. Batmanghelidj, went a step further and claimed that correct intake of water actually cures diseases. It might be worth checking out his books if you’re interested in this subject, and his website is here: www.watercure.com

Dr. Batmanghelidj recommended we drink roughly 2 litres of water a day, or take our body weight in pounds, divide it by half, and drink that amount of water in ounces. So, if you’re 100 pounds, you should be drinking 50 fluid ounces of water each day (about one and a half litres). He recommends a glass when we wake up, before we go to bed, before and after each meal, and to include a tiny bit of salt (1/4 teaspoon in every 2 litres) to make sure we get the minerals we need.

However, some say it’s a myth that we need to drink this much water a day. Whilst it’s true that water is vitally important for our bodies, it’s claimed that we don’t need to be aiming for the 2 litre mark and can get along fine on about half of that. They also point out the amount of water present in a lot of foods we eat, such as fruit and vegetables. And of course, you can have too much of anything, including water- it’s rare, but a few people have died by drinking a lot of water in a short amount of time. So how can we round up the advice?

It seems to be agreed that the colour of urine is a good indicator of whether you are drinking enough water. Your urine should be coming out pretty much clear. You shouldn’t be feeling thirsty, and you shouldn’t be quenching your thirst with soft drinks and coffees. Everything in moderation.

I for one love drinking water- nothing else quenches thirst quite like plain, fresh water. I also love coconut water (so much that I’ll do a seperate post about it one day). There’s no doubt that we all need to drink water in place of unhealthy, sugary drinks and to hydrate ourselves, and listening to your own body should be a good indicator of whether you’re drinking enough.

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Cutting down on refined sugar

There are so many health reasons to cut down on sugar, but it’s difficult when so much of it is around.

I’ve managed to go without refined sugar entirely for six months. I felt great, stopped craving chocolates and cakes, and my skin was the best it had been for years.

My favourite ways to reduce the amount of refined sugar I eat:

– Using dark unrefined sugar. It is better for you, with vitamins and minerals that refined sugar doesn’t have, and a distinctive caramel taste. In those times when you really want to use sugar, it’s a far better choice than white refined sugar.

– Try experimenting with natural sweeteners such as honey and molasses, which have their own wonderful health-properties.

– Use dextrose, or glucose, instead of sugar. It is absorbed by the body more efficiently and is cheap and easy to buy.

– Eat dark chocolate, which is full of antioxidants and raises serotonin levels to make you feel happy, rather than milk chocolate bars with lots of sugar.

– Have a fruit salad, which will give you vitamins, fibre and antioxidants in addition to some more natural sugar.

I find the best way to cut down on sugar is to take it easy. If you find it difficult, restrict yourself to one sweet thing a day. Remember that sugar is addictive- once you stop eating so much of it, you’ll want it less!

Here is an interesting article on the dangers of sugar: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/04/20/sugar-dangers.aspx

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The benefits of drinking tea

We all know the importance of hydrating ourselves throughout the day by drinking lots of fluids, and the benefits that certain plants can have on our health.

Drinking tea is the perfect way to combine the benefits of water with the health properties of plants. Warm or hot water also helps cleanse and relax us more than cold water, gives special relief for when our throats are dry or sore, and is extra comforting. It’s a great addition to a regular habit of drinking pure, fresh water.

So what teas could you be drinking? Here is a list of some of my favourites!

Black tea

Black tea

Yes! Even regular, black tea is good for you. Here in the United Kingdom, we drink a lot of black tea with a splash of milk, or Earl Grey tea without milk (and maybe a slice of lemon). It’s not often thought of as a health food. The fact is, however, that black tea is rich in antioxidants and may even help reduce against stroke and cardiovascular disease. So, enjoy!

Green tea

Green tea

Everyone now seems to be aware of the fact that green tea is good for you, but why is it so popular? Rich in antioxidants, it has been associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, kidney stones, cancer, dental cativities and eye disease. It increases your metabolism and may also help to increase bone density and mental functioning.

Chai tea

Chai tea

I love Chai tea. It’s such a comforting warm drink, especially when it’s cold outside. Chai is a blend of black tea, spices and milk. Chai tea uses a variety of different Indian spices which are great to include in your diet for their health benefits (particularly to help fight infections).

Redbush/Rooibos tea

Rooibos

A popular drink from South Africa, this tea can be drink with or without milk. It has a lovely smooth, refreshing taste, is high in antioxidants, low in tannin and caffine and has anti-fungal properties. It is also linked to the decrease of allergies, nervous tension, digestive problems, asthma and skin problems such as acne.

White tea

White tea

White tea is basically green tea, but younger and less fermented, allowed to dry in natural sunlight with a lovely delicate taste. I like to drink white tea in the morning when I get up due to its light, refreshing flavour. It has pretty much all the benefits of green tea, and can help the immune system, reduce cholestrol and decrease high blood pressure.

Camomile tea

Camomile tea

Famous for its ability to relax and soothe, this beautiful flowery tea is said to reduce anxiety and tension, aid sleep, soothe the digestive system, fight infections and ease mentrusal cramps. Try this tea if you’re feeling stressed, or before you go to bed. However, due to its relaxing effect on the womb, avoid it during pregnancy.

Jasmine tea

Jasmine tea

A very aromatic tea, jasmine has been linked to the treatment and prevention of cancer and anxiety and also reduces cholestrol and fights infection.

Nettle tea

Nettle tea

Nettle tea is a fantastic addition to a healthy diet, fighting infections, digestive problems, skin problems, allergies and urinary tract infections. It is also good for the muscles and joints and is often used to cleanse and detox.

Dandelion tea

This traditional infusion has been linked to aiding digestion, cleansing and purifying the blood, relieving bloat and water retention, reducing inflammation, reducing high cholestrol, boosting immunity, fighting infections, disease and memory loss!

My personal favourite tea company is Teapigs, at http://www.teapigs.co.uk. They sell really good-quality teas in spacious ‘tea temples’ to allow the tea to really get absorbed into the water.

Wherever you go to buy your tea, get experimenting! Drinking tea is a great way to add variety to a healthy, natural lifestyle.

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A great breakfast

We all know by now the importance of starting the day with a nutritious, satisfying breakfast. Everyone should eat breakfast to ensure they get the most out of their day. In fact, it’s often referred to as the most important meal of them all.

But what does a healthy breakfast look like?

Here are some of the things I’ve learnt about having a healthy breakfast. Do you have anything to share on this topic? Let me know in the comments below.

– Drink some water before you eat breakfast. When you wake up, have a glass of fresh water, some herbal tea, or my personal favourite- warm water with lemon juice. It helps to gently wake up and cleanse the body after your sleep and gets your digestive system prepared for food. Now I’ve started doing this, I couldn’t imagine eating straight away. If you have any specific digestive issues such as irritable bowel syndrome you may be surprised at how much better you feel by doing this simple thing.

– Don’t get stuck on thinking a healthy breakfast has to be fruit, milk and cereal. Dairy products and wheat are two of the most commonly troublesome foods, and it might be worth experimenting to see if you feel better cutting down on them. Also, eating a lot of fruit in one go can make you feel sick and cause havoc with your blood sugar levels. So why not…

– …Broaden your mind. Why not try having a meal you’d normally eat at lunch for breakfast? It will expand the range of possibilities and there’s no reason why you can’t eat some salad at breakfast. Make it colourful and put a smile on your face and some energy in your body as you start the day.

Some of my favourite breakfast combinations:

– Poached egg, button mushrooms (cooked in coconut oil) and salad (especially raw baby spinach leaves)

– Wholegrain rice cereal with flaxseed and raw honey (tastes a bit like Sugar Puffs!)

– Scrambled egg with beetroot/spinach/cheese/sweetcorn/anything, with wholegrain corn crackers

All complemented with a herbal tea and a piece of fruit. So refreshing and energising!

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The Nemki philosophy

 

 

 

 

 

What led me to start ‘Nemki’?

Well, as you may already know, I create handmade fabric products with organic fairtrade and recycled materials. I love making things, especially taking the time and care to finish everything to a high standard. I also love producing and buying things that are truly unique, a rarity in this world of mass-production.

However, it’s about more than just the things I make. It’s about a healthy body and mind, enriching our everyday existence with the beauty of the natural world, and a knowledge of our power as consumers. It’s about connecting with others who feel the same way and seeing what we can do to encourage a healthier, happier society, an appreciation of the world around us and a better relationship between us and the natural environment we depend on. It’s about improving the conditions of the workers who make the things we buy, exploring natural products rather than encouraging chemicals, and… just celebrating making the most of life!

If you agree with these aims, tell me what you do to play your part. Do you have any ideas to share?

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