Archive for August, 2011

Dry skin brushing

Here is a simple technique with some amazing health benefits. All you need is to buy a good-quality body brush (cactus hair is recommended) and just use it to invigorate your skin before a shower. It will draw toxins out of your skin, so it’s important to have a shower after you dry-brush.

How do you start? Well, start from the soles of the feet and work your way up. Always help the blood and lymphatic system out by stroking towards your heart, not away from it. Dry-brush the soles of your feet and then, in upward strokes, go up your ankles, lower leg, knees and upper leg, trying to touch every bit of skin. Repeat with the other leg, brushing upwards all the time, until you get to your stomach, where you should gently brush clockwise (from your point of view, looking downwards). Brush up your back and your arms but as you get above the heart, brush down to the heart.

You can also dry-brush your face with a more delicate brush.

So, what does it do for you? Here are some of the biggest benefits to dry-brushing:

It encourages circulation and helps rid the body of toxins, as the skin is our largest organ and many toxins are released through it.

It strengthens the immune system, encourages healthy emotions and a calm state of mind.

It tightens the skin, helps reduce cellulite, gets rid of skin cells and gives you more of a glow.

It helps with muscle tone and regulating fat deposits.

You can find more detail on dry skin brushing here: http://www.jashbotanicals.com/articles/skin_brushing.html

I really recommend this technique, it’s so easy and incredibly helpful for the body!

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Drink healthy

You may be eating healthy meals and getting exercise, but you may still feel bored or confused when it comes to what you should be drinking.

Hopefully this will give you some inspiration!

Water

Yes, everyone knows water is the number one healthy drink, but what’s the best way to drink it? Apparently with a pinch of pink Himalayan rock salt! The rock salt gives the water essential minerals to help you recover any electrolytes lost, which is a more complete method of hydration.

It’s also really important to drink a glass of water after you wake up in the morning to cleanse before you eat your breakfast. Filtered water is usually recommended over tap water, which often has a lot of chemicals in it, or bottled water, which isn’t always regulated well and can contain residues from the plastic bottle it was kept in.

Coconut water is another option. Of course, it’s more expensive, but it has a lovely delicate taste and is naturally full of electrolytes to replenish your body.

Tea

Not just tea, but all kinds of infusions, such as camomile, nettle, dandelion… the list goes on. There are so many different flavours and so many different benefits to gain from drinking herbal teas. The warmth is also great for cleansing and relaxing your whole body. Whether you have a cold (lemon and ginger), are feeling stressed (camomile), or simply have a bit of a sweet tooth (liquorice and peppermint), there’ll be a tea for you. Well worth experimenting with the different types on the market. I’ve done a seperate post all about my favourite teas- check it out for more information.

Fruit juice

I actually added this one in because most people think it’s a healthy drink. However, there’s an awful lot of sugar in fruit juice, and if it’s concentrated and pasturised too you’re not really getting much nutritional benefit at all. Juice your own, or try vegetable juice which has less sugar.

Vegetable juice

If you’re serious about a natural, healthy lifestyle, it’d be a good investment for you to get a juicer and to read up about vegetable juicing, which is a great way to give yourself an extra boost of all the nutritional properties of vegetables. No matter what you’re looking for, there will be a vegetable juice that will hit the spot, and there are loads of dedicated communities of juicers online who will give you advice and recipes.

What’s your favourite healthy drink? Let me know!

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The benefits of rosehip oil

Rosehip oil is absolutely great to use on your skin, and yet a lot of people don’t know about it. I use an organic, cold-pressed rosehip oil on my skin as a natural moisturiser every night after I take off my makeup, and here’s why!

– It is full of antioxidants such as vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E which protect your skin from aging, sun damage and free radicals.

– It is high in essential fatty acids including omega 3 which help to retain your skin’s youthfulness and vitality, encouraging cell regeneration and collagen production.

– It is often used as a treatment for skin issues such as eczema, acne, sunburn, photo-aging and scars. In fact, using rosehip oil on the skin every day for 5 months visibly reduces sun damage to your skin- one of the only treatments that actually reverse photo-aging!

– It also contains tannin which helps to reduce the size of large pores.

I would recommend you go for an organic, cold-pressed rosehip oil in a glass bottle to maximise the benefits you will get from this wonderful moisturiser. Make sure you put the lid on after you’ve used it each time and use it up within 6 months so it retains its nutrients.

Do you use rosehip oil? What do you think?

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Reducing the amount of pesticides you eat

Now, of course eating organic foods reduces the amount of pesticides you eat. Eating organic also reduces the chemicals the workers are exposed to and reduces the impact of chemicals on the environment and wildlife. Organic food is also often reported to have more nutrients than conventionally-produced food. However, sometimes organic isn’t available, or you can’t afford to buy the organic version of everything you need. Never fear- some fruits and vegetables retain less chemicals than others, so you can still reduce the amount of nasties you are being exposed to.

Fruit

The fruit with the least amount of pesticides present are pineapples, mangoes, cantaloupe, kiwi, watermelon and grapefruit.

The fruit with the most amount of pesticides present are apples, peaches, strawberries, nectarines, grapes and blueberries. You might want to make the extra effort to buy these organic.

Vegetables

And for vegetables, those with the least amount of pesticides on are onions, sweetcorn, avocado, asparagus, sweet peas, aubergine, cabbage, sweet potatoes and mushrooms.

The vegetables with the most amount of pesticides are celery, spinach, bell peppers, potatoes, lettuce and kale. Again, these may be the ones you’d like to make extra effort to buy organic.

Fruit and veg washes

Did you know you can buy special washes, natural and organic, that safely remove chemicals and other nasties from your food? I didn’t, until I accidentally came across this one day in my local health food store: http://http://www.leafliving.com/store/bentley-organic-salad-fruit-and-veg-wash-500ml/ This might be another option for you, and is also great for washing organic produce to get rid of any possible residue of fertiliser. These washes are really cheap and last for ages! There are many different brands selling these washes, so have a look around and see which suits you.

Read about the list of foods with the most pesticides in more detail here: http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary/

and here: http://www.mindfulmum.co.uk/2009/healthy-baby/nutrition/top-10-uk-fruit-and-vegetables-to-buy-organic-for-baby/

Happy eating!

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Healthier ways of eating ‘junk food’

Sometimes we all need a bit of comfort food. If you are craving crisps, chocolate, cake or the like, here are some healthier alternatives you may want to try!

Crisps

Vegetable crisps are a really tasty way to get a wider range of nutrients than your regular potato crisp. You can buy them pretty easily nowadays, or you can make your own. I like to make my own because I love to cook, and you have greater control over what you make!

How do you make your own? Well, just take some root vegetables such as beetroot, sweet potato, parsnips or carrots. You don’t need much to make some crisps. Preheat the oven to about 200c. Slice very thinly, perhaps using a peeler. Dry the slices and put into a bowl so you can sprinkle them with extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil. Lay the slices out on a single layer on a baking tray or baking sheet and sprinkle them with some sea salt, cracked black pepper or any seasoning you wish (why not try a hint of chilli flakes)? Remove them carefully and leave to cool.

I’d cook the vegatables seperately as they each take a different amount of time to cook. Parsnips and carrots take about 4 mins whilst the sweet potato will take up to 7.

Apple/pear crisps are another option. Again, these can be found in a variety of health-food shops and supermarkets, or you could make your own. Make your own by getting some fresh apples or pears, slicing them very thinly across (without peeling or coring), and squeeze lemon juice as you peel to stop the slices from going brown. Throw away the top and bottom slices. You’ll need to preheat the oven to 110-120c, and then spread the slices evenly on a wire tray, baking for 2-4 hours until they are dry and crisp (remember to turn them over halfway through). Why not try making them even sweeter by adding a bit of honey and/or cinnamon?

Chocolate

Dark chocolate is one of the healthiest ways to eat chocolate. It improves your mood and is full of antioxidants. Try to find the darkest chocolate you can for the maximum benefit. If you find it a little bit too strong, try gently melting it in your mouth instead of chewing it. It should help get rid of your chocolate cravings.

Hot chocolate can be made with some pure cocoa powder (again, all the benefits of dark chocolate), milk (dairy or almond) and a bit of raw honey or unrefined muscovado sugar. I take about 1tsp of cocoa powder and add a little cold milk, just a splash, to help dissolve the powder. Mix it up until you get a creamy texture. Then add warm milk, or a mixture of warm milk and freshly boiled water, and finish with the honey/sugar and perhaps a drop of vanilla essence or mint!

Flaxseed and cocoa is another healthy way to get your chocolate fix. Take two tbsp of flaxseed and mix into into rice cereal to make chocolate cereal or a natural yogurt to give it a hint of chocolate. I use this: http://www.linwoodshealthfoods.com/productdetails/13/ground-flaxseed-cocoa-strawberries-blueberries.aspx

Raw chocolate is another option. You can buy raw chocolate at www.rawrchoc.com. Raw chocolate retains even more nutrition as it hasn’t been damaged by cooking, so you absorb even more minerals, antioxidants, enzymes and vitamins.

Cakes

Have a look at the kind of cakes you like to eat and see if you can alter the recipes by substituting regular flour for wholegrain/gluten-free (like brown rice or quinoa flour, with added guar gum to help it rise), sugar for raw honey, blackstrap molasses, plain dextrose or unrefined sugar, and margarine for coconut oil or olive oil. You can also have a look around raw food sites for cakes that you don’t need to cook! There really is a whole world of delicious, healthier food out there to explore.

I love to make cakes with peach slices or banana. You can also add in some pure cocoa powder to make it chocolatey.

Another thing I love to eat when I have junk food cravings is brie with grapes (try adding turkey too). You can put it on a sandwich or in a salad. The brie has a creamy, fatty texture and the grapes add sweetness, so it should help kill your cravings for fat and sugar, and will give you more nutrients than a cake will.

Have you got a recipe you’d like to share?

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The benefits of spirulina

You may have heard of this as a wonderful ‘superfood’ and health-booster. But what is it exactly? What does it do, and how do you take it?

Basically, spirulina is blue-green algae, one of the most ancient forms of life that turn sunlight into energy. It has been eaten by humans for a very long time and is now used as a nutritional supplement, often in the form of tablets or powder. It’s about 60% protein and contains high levels of many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It has been claimed to do pretty much everything in the way of health- strengthen the immune system, protect heart and brain health, inhibits cancer, reduces signs of aging, protects against allergies and arthiritis, lowers cholestrol and blood pressure… the list goes on!

It depends on the individual how much you may want to take. 2 grams of spirulina is said to be enough to produce benefits.

Do you take spirulina? How much do you take, and have you noticed any effects yet?

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