Category Archives: Wellbeing

One Week into the Daniel Fast & Loving It!

Just over a week ago my Church Pastor announced that he would be doing the Daniel fast for 21 days and asked the congregation to wave their hands if we would like to join. I decided that I would like to do the fast as I think it is an opportunity to deepen my spiritual journey, focus my mind and control what I put into my body; together with like-minded people.

triune

 The Daniel Fast is described as a powerful spiritual experience to help followers of Jesus Christ develop a more intimate relationship with their Lord, seek answers to prayer, and grow in the love and knowledge of the Saviour.

It is a partial fast, meaning that you do not abstain from food, you eat a restricted diet where all meat, fish, sugars, dairy, animal products, fried and processed foods are eliminated from your diet. You are only allowed to eat fresh vegetables, fruit, legumes, oats, wholemeal rice and pasta and minimal amounts of oil.

daniel fast 1

I did some research on the fast and found that many health benefits have been recorded.  A few of them have been listed below:

    • Bloating (intestinal) – gone
    • Body- detoxified
    • Blood Pressure – improved
    • Concentration – enhanced
    • Cholesterol – lowered
    • Cravings (sugar, refined carbohydrates & savory) – overcome
    • Depression – lessened
    • Diabetes – improved
    • Energy levesl – better
    • Excessive night-time urination – disappeared
    • Fertility – increased
    • Fluid retention – gone
    • Food allergies and addictions – recognised and overcome
    • Good health – renewed and maintained
    • Hair and nail strength – improved
    • Headaches – disappeared
    • Hot flushes – disappeared
    • Immunity to recurring illness – strengthened
    • Insomnia – disappeared
    • Irritable Bowel Syndrome and stomach complaints -disappeared
    • Menstrual problems and PMS – disappeared
    • Mind – clearer and sharper

After the fast my main aim is to keep processed food out of my diet along with sugar and white flour.  On the odd occasion I will have desserts or things that I fancy but I am not going to return to having the levels of sugar and chemicals that I was unconsciously consuming before.

eat clean

As I am vegetarian and I also do not eat any dairy productsI was expecting the most challenging thing in the fast to be that I could not have sugar and also that I would not be able to eat bread but surprisingly I have not been tempted to have either. I do not miss chocolate and sweets which has been a real eye opener.

chocolate

I think this may be due to the fact that fruit contains natural sugars which satisfy my sweet tooth and the whole wheat rice and pasta is very filling. I am enjoying this 3 week journey and embracing each day. When the 3 weeks is over I am definitely going to continue some elements as I have been wanting to eliminate processed foods for sometime, but without taking small steps it can seem daunting.

The Daniel fast has certainly made me more conscious of my food choices when shopping and when preparing meals. Although many of my meals are cooked from scratch it has highlighted the fact that I also opt for quite a few sugar laden sauces. I have had to change my usual repertoire of recipes and look around for inspiration using natural ingredients.

daniel fast 4

Over the next few days I am going to share some of the recipes that I found really tasty with you so that you can give them a try.

spiritual awakening

If this level of clean eating is something that you fancy giving a try maybe set yourself the task of trying it for 3 days, and then when the 3 days are over you may want to push it to 5 and so on. Sometimes it is best just to start and think about each day as it comes rather than setting goals that we will not achieve. My reasons for this fast are religious but I have shared the details with you as I know that there are many of you would welcome the health benefits. If you decide to give it a go I would love to hear from you.

Vegan Power Plant-Based Diet Protein Myth Busted!

Since August 2013 I have eliminated meat and dairy from my diet and now follow a plant based diet.  I have really been enjoying it and I have found that it encourages me to be much more adventurous in the kitchen rather than just eating protein and carbs for dinner with a portion or two of veg. My decision to follow a plant based diet was made after researching some of the things that are contained in our everyday foods and how they effect our bodies. I came to the conclusion that a high percentage of the foods that I was eating were actually harmful to my body in the long run. I was also eating many of them out of habit, not because I particularly enjoyed them.

I have reposted this article by Eric Dubay from Happy Healthy Homepage as it is an interesting read and it contains all of the reasons why I have decided to follow a plant based diet. I hope that you enjoy reading the article as much as I did.

 

“The idea that humans must consume animal flesh and excretions (meat and dairy) as part of a balanced diet is a monstrous myth long symbolized and propagated by our unhealthy FDA food pyramid.

 
The entire top three levels of the regular pyramid (meat, dairy, refined fats/sugars) are not by any means necessary or conducive to good health. There is not a single vitamin, mineral, nutrient, phyto-nutrient, amino-acid, fatty-acid, protein-chain, omega, or any other such elusive vital ingredient to health, not a single thing found in meat or dairy products that cannot be found, in greater abundance and more optimally, in the plant kingdom. For instance there are more omegas in seaweed than in fish, over twice as much protein in spinach than steak, and four times more calcium in sesame seeds than in milk. An actual healthy food pyramid would look something like this picture.

Meat and dairy products are highly acidic, fattening, cholesterol-laden, artery-clogging, lymph-clotting, mucus-forming, constipating, difficult to digest, and full of worms, parasites, bacteria, metabolic waste, hormones, and chemicals. Eggs are actually unfertilized avian menstrual cycles, otherwise known as chicken periods. Milk is the puss and hormone-filled mammary excretions of a female cow and meant to nourish her young. None of these animal bits and pieces are beneficial or necessary for human consumption.

There is not a single chronic disease or deficiency exclusive to vegans. However, heart disease, cancer, tumours, cysts, MS, diabetes, and many other major health problems have all been cured by switching to a 100% vegan diet. Some of the strongest animals in nature like gorillas, elephants, moose, rhinos, hippos, and giraffes are all vegetarians. The idea that you need to eat another animal’s flesh to be strong is a ridiculous superstition. Shaolin martial monks, arguably the toughest men on the planet, are all strict vegetarians.
 
Our human anatomy is undeniably designed to subsist on plant foods and not on animal flesh; literally every aspect of our bodies proves we are herbivore/frugivores and not carnivore/omnivores
 
 
To begin with, humans and other natural vegetarians have 4x longer, convoluted intestinal tracts perfect for slow digesting fruits and starches, whereas omnivore/carnivores have 4x shorter intestines to quickly push out the acidic, putrefying animal flesh they eat.
Humans have alkaline saliva ptyalin to pre-digest grains, alkaline urine, and weak stomach acid whereas all omnivore/carnivores have acidic saliva, acidic urine, and 10-1000x stronger hydrochloric stomach acid essential for digesting meat.  
All natural flesh-eaters also secrete the enzyme “uricase” necessary to metabolize the uric acid in meat, but uricase is not produced by our human bodies.

Humans have lateral jaw movement and flat molars for grinding grains and vegetables whereas natural flesh eaters have no lateral jaw movement and scores of huge fangs for biting and ripping. Humans have short, weak fingernails whereas carnivores and omnivores have long, strong, sharp claws for cutting through skin and flesh. Humans must take in Vitamin C from our food whereas all carnivores and most omnivore’s bodies produce their own Vitamin C.  Natural omnivores and carnivores also have a microbial tolerance far higher than humans.  For example the botulinum toxin which is deadly to humans but is easily and safely digested by natural flesh-eaters.
 
Humans eating a high fat diet become obese, lazy, and diseased whereas natural flesh eaters stay trim, energetic and absolutely thrive on their high fat diet.  Human vision is easily able to differentiate various colors making it simple to discern ripe from unripe plant foods, whereas the color vision of most omnivore/carnivores is far less discerning. Humans sleep only 6-12 hours a day like most herbivore/frugivores, whereas most omnivore/carnivores sleep 18-20 hours a day. Humans sweat from pores all over our bodies whereas all carnivores and most omnivores release perspiration from their tongues. Humans have single births and two mammary glands whereas most all omnivores and carnivores birth litters of several babies have have rows upon rows of mammary glands.
Again, there is not a single chronic disease or deficiency exclusive to vegans, nor a single vitamin, mineral, nutrient, phyto-nutrient, amino-acid, fatty-acid, protein-chain, omega, or any other such elusive vital ingredient to health, not a single thing found in meat (or dairy) products that cannot be found, in greater abundance and more optimally, in the plant kingdom.  Put simply, humans are biologically built vegetarians.
In using comparative anatomy to determine what man was ‘meant’ to eat, we should look at the species most similar to man, namely the anthropoid apes – chimpanzees, gibbons, gorillas, and orangutans. Of all animals, man’s digestive organs and teeth most closely resemble these apes. In captivity, some of these animals will eat meat if forced to rather than starve to death. But in the wild, all eat a vegetarian diet. Another strong clue that man is naturally a vegetarian is the fact that vegetarians in general are much healthier than omnivores. The American Dietetic Association has acknowledged that vegetarians are less at risk for a number of chronic diseases, including heart disease, some types of cancer, obesity, high blood pressure, and adult-onset diabetes … Eating a healthy diet goes far beyond cutting back a bit on red meat. In a recent study of 6,500 Chinese, Dr. T. Collin Campbell of Cornell found that even though the Chinese overall eat only a fraction of the animal protein Americans do, those who ate the least animal protein nonetheless had lower risk of disease than the average Chinese. Dr. Campbell concludes, ‘We’re basically a vegetarian species and should be eating a wide variety of plant foods and minimizing our intake of animal foods.‘” -Glen Kime, president, Vegetarian Society of Washington, D.C.
 

All omnivores and carnivores eat their meat raw, tearing through fur/skin, and lapping up the nutrient-rich blood with their tongues. A true omnivore like a bear will take a fish out of the water and swallow it whole, uncooked, scales, bones, fins, head and everything. When a lion kills an herbivore for food, it tears right into the stomach area to eat the raw stomach, liver, intestines, and other organs that are filled with blood and nutrients. They will NOT eat cooked meat. For most humans, the smell and taste of raw bloody meat is putrid, so in order to consume it they must first clean, cook, season and marinate the flesh in various vegetarian herbs and spices to make it palatable.

The final point I would like to make on how we as humans were not meant to eat meat is this. All omnivorous and carnivorous animals eat their meat raw. When a lion kills an herbivore for food, it tears right into the stomach area to eat the organs that are filled with blood (nutrients). While eating the stomach, liver, intestine, etc., the lion laps the blood in the process of eating the dead animals flesh. Even bears that are omnivores eat salmon raw. However, eating raw or bloody meat disgusts us as humans. Therefore, we must cook it and season it to buffer the taste of flesh. If a deer is burned in a forest fire, a carnivorous animal will NOT eat its flesh. Even circus lions have to be feed raw meat so that they will not starve to death. If humans were truly meant to eat meat, then we would eat all of our meat raw and bloody. The thought of eating such meat makes one’s stomach turn. This is my point on how we as humans are conditioned to believe that animal flesh is good for us and that we were meant to consume it for survival and health purposes. If we are true carnivores or omnivores, cooking our meat and seasoning it with salt, ketchup, or tabasco sauce would disguise and we as humans would refuse to eat our meat in this form.” -Dr. Akilah El

 
 

Finally, plain moral decency and ethics should be reason enough to end this animal holocaust. Can you imagine if aliens came to Earth and treated humans the way we treat cows, pigs, and chickens? If aliens kept us locked together in tight cages, fattened us up, cut our noses and balls off, raped our women, chained down our children, then killed and ate us when we were the most tasty, would you see anything wrong with that? And for the anti-war meat-eaters out there: Need I point out the hypocrisy? If you kill innocent, defenseless animals every day just because you like the taste, then go around pretending you’re “anti-war,” you’re only fooling yourself.”

 
 “As long as there are slaughterhouses, there will be battlefields.” -Leo Tolstoy

Recognize meat for what it really is: the antibiotic- and pesticide-laden corpse of a tortured animal” -Ingrid Newkirk

A man of my spiritual intensity does not eat corpses” -George Bernard Shaw

A human can be healthy without killing animals for food. Therefore if he eats meat he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite. And to act so is immoral” -Leo Tolstoy

Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages” -Thomas Edison

The Amazing Health Benefits of the Moringa Tree

Earlier this year I heard about the moringa oleifera tree for the first time.  I am always interested in hearing about natural products and moringa has far to many health benefits to be ignored.  Often referred to as the ‘miracle tree’ Moringa Oleifera is one of nature’s best kept secrets which has been overlooked by the western world for far too long.

Moringa gives you the following:

– Increased energy
– 47 antioxidants
– Better endurance
– Increased focus
– Mental clarity
– 36 anti- inflammatories
– 25 multivitamins

Moringa has been used in other parts of the world, such as Asia and Africa, for many years. Due to its high nutritional content it has been used to help fight the battle against malnutrition. The Western world is slowly but surely beginning to the health benefits that it has been missing out on.

Moringa oleifera capsule with green fresh leaves on white backgr

Moringa can be consumed in powder form, used in juices, smoothies or sprinkled over cereal or salad. It can also be taken in capsule form, or you may like to drink the tea. I have been taking the capsules and also drinking the tea. I have noticed a tremendous increase in my energy levels, I am able to keep up with my energetic toddler with much less effort. Even on nights when I get less sleep than I require, I wake up feeling refreshed.

moringa flow chart

Moringa seeds are also pressed in order to produce moringa oil which is an excellent moisturizer which contains numerous anti- inflammatories and antioxidants which help to fight against free radicals which produce wrinkles. I have also used moringa oil and I love it as it is not greasy and it is easily absorbed into my skin.

Gram for gram it has been found that moringa has:

Moringa_Nutritions

With all of the health benefits listed there is little reason not to give moringa a try. You cannot overdose on moringa and it is a great product for all of the family to try. Always make sure that the moringa that you buy is 100% organic and has not been mixed with any other ingredients. Source of Health sell organic moringa products and also have an excellent range.

Video

Kony 2012

Joseph Kony, the guerilla group leader, has been at large killing the innocent children of Uganda for too long.  He needs to be arrested and brought to justice. Please take a few minutes out of your day to watch this short video and I guarantee that you will want to support the Kony2012 Campaign and do what you can to make a difference.

Alternatively you can look at the Kony2012 website http://www.kony2012.com.

How to Beat the February Blues

Winter is now in full force, with snow falling, shorter days, longer nights and spring seeming like it is ages away.  Even the most positive of people can be left feeling down.  Maybe you over indulged over Christmas both with food and financially and now is the time to tighten your belt and be more disciplined, neither of which are particularly fun. Following my tips below will help you to have a much more positive outlook on February and help you to get through to the warmer months.

Develop an Attitude of Gratitude- Everyday think of something that you are grateful for. It can be something large or small.  Doing this each day will help you to focus on the positive things in your life and help you to see that you have a lot to be grateful for. 

Exercise is a natural mood booster.  Whilst it is cold you may not want to exercise outside but it is a great time to look into alternative options.  Why not dust of some of the exercise dvd’s that you have lying around the house. Alternatively, log on to Body Rock Tv which has excellent high intensity interval training workouts uploaded daily; or Cross Fit which has numerous exercise suggestions and videos to watch.  The great thing about both of these websites is that they are free, motivational and can be done in the comfort of your own home.  Aim to do at least 30 minutes of exercise, a minimum of 3 times per week.

Stop Complaining- this is something that most of do numerous times a day without even recognizing that we are doing it.  Be more aware of the complaints that you make throughout the day and try to stop doing it.  Give yourself the goal of having a complaint free day and once you achieve that keep moving the goal post.  Aim for a week and then even a month.  Popular belief is that anything you do for 30 days becomes a habit.  It would be a great achievement to be complaint free for 30 days.

Organize a Gathering with Friends- Whilst its freezing outside it is a great time to have your friends round and have a nice evening in.  Its cheaper and cosier than going out, with the added benefit that you don’t have to consider wasting money on transport or entry fees to Clubs. Do not take this as an opportunity to over indulge in alcohol though.  A few social drinks are fine but bear in mind that alcohol is also a depressant, and rather than improving your mood it can actually make you feel worse. 

Find Time to Relax- Most of us get so caught up with looking after others and day to day commitments that we forget to make time for ourselves.  Make some time each week to pamper yourself and relax. This does not have to mean spending lots of money, it can be something as simple as having a candle lit bubble bath, reading a good book for 40 minutes, laying back and listening to your favourite album. Even though you may think that there are not enough hours in the day for you to do this, you will be more productive at the things that you have to do if you priortize relaxing and making tme for yourself.

Get Sufficient Sleep- This is something that we have all heard before yet only a few of us ensure that we get enough sleep each night. Being sleep deprived can make you more irritable and short tempered, it can also make things seem so much more depressing.  Make an effort to get a minimum of 7 hours sleep per night and you will soon noticed how much more refreshed you feel.

The suggestions that I have given to alleviate the February blues can be applied and practised throughout the year.  Each day, work towards a more positive, relaxed, healthy and productive you.

Surprizes that I have Found During Pregnancy

At 30 weeks pregnant I have had quite a few surprises along the way.  I naively believed that if I continued healthy eating and exercising, as I have done for the past 10 years, that I would not need to gain any more than 10-15lbs throughout the duration of my pregnancy.  I also thought that I would only gain weight around my breasts and stomach. 

 

I have since learned that your body has a weight gaining plan that it will stick to regardless of whether or not you are happy with it!  I have always followed a healthy balanced diet with lots of fruit and veg, so my complete aversion to anything healthy in the first trimester took me by complete surprise.  During the second trimester I experienced hunger that I did not know was possible, and found that I rarely made it through the night without having to make a midnight snack which consisted of carbs, carbs and more carbs.   It really has been a learning curve. 

Whilst I am aware that weight gain is necessary and important for the growth of my baby, and breast-feeding afterwards, it doesn’t make it any easier to see the scales go up on their own accord.

The last time I weighed myself was at 6 months pregnant and I was still within the governmental recommended weight gain , but I have decided not to weigh myself again and just continue to eat healthily and exercise.  I am now 7 and a half months pregnant and this seems to be working just fine.

I do not have a set weekly routine for exercise but I do aim to be active no less than 4 days per week.  My activities include the following:

  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Exercise bike
  • Cross- trainer
  • 3 mile outdoor power walks
  • Treadmill
  • Rowing machine
  • Stepping machine
  • Resistance training with medium weights

Being pregnant has made me much more adventurous with the cardio machines in the gym.  Usually the majority of my cardio work would be done in Spinning classes.  Whilst some women continue with Spinning, I have chosen to stop until my baby is born because I find it far too demanding and I have no control over my heart rate.  I always aim to keep my heart rate in the region on 140BPM as my Midwife advised.

Pregnancy is an exciting time and not one that should be over shadowed by giving too much thought to weight gain. Our bodies let us know that our needs no longer take priority, the babies do.  The baby will take what it needs and leave us the remainder.  The most important thing to do is enjoy and appreciate this time, make healthy food choices wherever possible, and aim to get some exercise each week. 

Amazing Health Benefits from Regularly Eating Apples!

We have all heard the saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”‘ but there really is a lot of truth behind this phrase.  Research and studies are constantly revealing the many health benefits that apples have.

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Research has found that apples can reduce the symptoms of asthma.  Wheezing, coughing and a tight chest are caused by inflammation and sensitivity of the airways.  Adults who eat at least two apples per week can reduce their risk of asthma by up to one third. Similarly, children of mothers who ate apples during pregnancy were significantly less prone to asthma during their first five years.

Osteoporosis is a condition that is linked to ageing, the menopause, and people who do too little or too much exercise.  A French study (performed on rats) found that a compound called phlorizin, found only in apples, prevents the bone loss that is associated with inflammation. 

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Apples are a great, inexpensive, easily transportable, and readily available snack.  They have numerous health benefits and should be incorporated into your diet as often as possible. 

  • Pectin contained in apples is known to help you to feel fuller for longer.  It also reduces the risk of colon cancer and helps to maintain a healthy digestive tract.
  • Ripe apples contain approximately 80% water and almost no fat.
  • Apples contain flavanoids which can help prevent coronary heart and cardiovascular disease. 
  • Apples help to prevent tooth decay as the juice of an apple can kill approximately 80% of bacteria.
  • Apples help to promote hair growth and contribute to inhibiting age related problems such as wrinkles.
  • A recent study at Florida State University found that women who eat apples every day for a year or more are able to decrease their cholesterol levels by up to 14%. This is an excellent reduction.

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With so many health benefits packed into such a small piece of fruit, try to incorporate apples into your diet as often as you can.  It is important to remember to chew apples thoroughly as swallowing chunks, not properly chewed can put a strain on the stomach.

About.com have some delicious low-fat apple recipes that you may want to try, click the link below to view them.

http://lowfatcooking.about.com/od/fall/tp/lowfatapples.htm