Category Archives: Get Your Mind Right

Understanding Nutrition and how to Eat right

What is a Paleo Diet, and is it Good for You?

Click here for the original InShape News article.

What is a Paleo Diet?
A paleo-based diet is based on raw ingredients, and is often referred to as the ‘caveman’ diet due to the hunt and gather nature of its ingredients. In today’s modern times our ‘hunting and gathering’ tends to be done at the local supermarket or grocer, so think of it as a diet that focusses on home grown or organic seasonal ingredients and generally no- or low-processed foods in recipes made from scratch.

What do you eat on a Paleo Diet?
The paelo-based diet generally consists of meats, fish, nuts, leafy greens, regional veggies, and seeds with some healthy fats and a small amount of fruit.

Meats and fish: Importantly when it comes to meats, it’s a holistic view of the animal that counts rather than focussing on muscle meats (generally the cuts you find at the butcher). So you should include offal, or the internal organs of animals, in your diet. These include hearts, livers, kidneys, brains, trotters, etc. which are richer sources of nutrients than muscle meal. Bone broth is also an important component of a paleo-based diet, and especially good for gut health and addressing allergies. Use a vinegar (with a mother) to help extract the minerals and simmer for at least 24 hours – get Pete Evean’s recipe here or simply watch Paelo Star’s Fast Bone Broth video here.

Nuts: Nuts should be ‘activated’ where possible – soaking them in filtered water to remove impurities and phytic acid, and then dehydrating them. Find out more in this video from The Internet Chef.

Vegetables: the paleo way of life should focus on a vegetable-rich diet (up to 70%) supplemented with some meat, fish, nuts. All vegetables including root vegetables and especially leafy greens are welcomed and eaten in abundance.

Fats: Fruit-based fats are good and used in most meals. These include coconut oil, avocado and olive oil. Nut oils are less often used as the oxidate quickly and are difficult to extract. Coconut oil has the highest smoke point and is good for cooking.

Fruits: Fruits are generally high in fructose and are ‘sometimes’ foods if you chose to adopt a paelo-lifestyle. If you think about our pre-farming ancestors they did not have ready access to bananas, mangoes or even apples. They were not only seasonal, but spasmodic in access. So keep your fruit intake to under 3 pieces a day.

Fermented foods: Fermenting vegetables is one of the new paelo crazes as it increases the nutrients of the vegetables 100-fold and makes them more bio-available. New to fermenting? Check out the Fermenting Queen of Australia, Kitsa Yanniotis’s fermenting recipe video here.

What can’t you at on a Paleo Diet?
In two words – processed foods.
That means no grains, no sugar, no dairy.
Yep, no rice, no pasta, no legumes, no soy, no refined sugar.

What can you replace these with?
Paleo substitutes may seem difficult at first, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes easier. Substitutes include cauliflower rice, Zucchini or squash ‘pasta’, dried fruit, coconut flour, nut meal, flax meal, nut milks and coconut cream. You can check out more substitutes at Paleo Grubs here.

Is a Paleo Diet good for you?
If food is medicine (and it is), then what we eat is who we are, and a paleo way of life makes a lot of sense. Check out PictureFit’s Video here which explains both sides of the paleo story.

It’s well known that a diet rich in the right vitamins, minerals, micro and macro nutrients can repair most, if not all, ailments in the body. In fact, if you ask Australian Paleo Ambassador and Chef Pete Evans he will tell you it’s the only way of eating that is good for you. Check out his ‘Paleo Way’ introductory video here.

Experience has shown that a paleo-style diet eliminates the high inflammatory foods that cause issues and pain in the body. Paleo advocate Dr Sarah Ballantyne (aka The Paleo Mum) provides a lot of evidence-based assistance for autoimmune sufferers on her website.

Are there issues with a Paleo Diet?
There are two main issues with a paleo diet – accessibility and scientific evidence.

Accessibility: The real pitfalls with a paleo-based diet is that it can be time consuming – everything has to be made from scratch. There are plenty of shortcuts once you are familiar with the preparation and cooking techniques, but generally you need to plan ahead: organic foods do not have the same shelf-life as conventional packaged foods, and it can be really hard to find paleo foods when eating out. Paleo diets, due to the organic and grass-fed nature of ingredients, can seem expensive and out of reach of many of those in need of a healthier diet.

Scientific evidence: The Sceptical Nutritionist tries to debunk the paelo diet here with claims from evolutionary biologist, Professor Marlene Zuk, that the paleo diet lacks any rigorous scientific research to support its health claims. They further cite Dr Christina Warriner, archaeological scientist, who states that there was no ‘one way’ of eating when it came to our ancestors, and that due to thousands of years of evolution, the modern cultivated foods we grow bears little likeness to those our ancestors ate.

But having said that you can read well-respected Paleo Grubs article “7 Scientifically Proven Benefits of the Paleo Diet” here and PaeloDietEvolved’s “15 Benefits” including scientific links here.

Is there a wrong way to go paleo?
For sure! For many people paleo is about losing weight or addressing an ailment of the body (arthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, adrenal fatigue, diabetes, heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome, etc.). And whilst a true paleo-lifestyle may address and even alleviate many of these conditions, it will only help people to lose weight if the portion sizes and meat to vegetable ratios eaten are truly paleo in nature.

For example, there are now a lot of paleo and raw food ‘treats’ on the market. These contain a lot of concentrated fructose, from dates, dried apricots and prunes or other fruits. We know from last month’s article that there are lots of dangers associated with a high fructose diet. So switching from processed foods to a diet rich in these paleo snacks is not the right way to start, and it’s not truly paleo anyway.

Do you have to count calories on a Paleo Diet?
That is one of the biggest advantages of a paleo-lifestyle – there should be no need to count calories – as long as you do it right.

However, having said that, there is a need to constrain portion sizes and eat more appropriate meal sizes. Restaurants are well known for trying to give you ‘value’ with cheap nutrient-depleted meals rich in bad fats, salt and sugar to make them taste better.

The biggest issue with people on a paleo diet is that they over-eat protein. A small palm sized pieve per meal is all you need. Oh and lots of veggies!

I want to go paleo, but where do I start?
If you’re unsure of where to start, don’t worry, there’s plenty of resources available to help. You can simply search for ‘paleo’ on the web or in your favourite bookstore.

My go-to paleo resource is chef Pete Evans, because he explains things simply, and his recipe books look beautiful. Eat Drink Paleo’s Irena Macri also has some great resources and My Paleoish Life has some fantastic recipes and a new cookbook coming out soon.

If you want something to ‘digest’ immediately then check out Paleo Chef Pete Evan’s “The Paleo Way – Putting It All Into Practice” video here.

Happy hunting.

P.S. if you want more information on the difference between raw, vegan and paleo diets check out this article from PositivehealthWellness here.

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Paleo Challenge #3

I feel like crap. I’m still craving sugar and I’m thirsty.

Lots on today … I get writing and update my blog. Still thinking about breakfast and decide to give paleo pancakes a try. I don’t have any coconut milk. I decide to use almond milk, egg whites and SteviaSlim and add 2 spoons of raw cocoa powder to the mix. They take a long time to cook, especially one at a time. The air is thick with the smell of chocolate and coconut.

The day was pretty busy and so I never got back to this post until much later. I did manage to get in a quick mostly-paleo dinner before heading off to MTC’s Faith Healer starring the amazingly talented Colin Freils and Alyson White.

Sadly after this post I got a bit sidetracked, things got hectic, I had some bad medical news and I fell off the paleo wagon. Whilst I tried to maintain my mostly-paleo ways I can’t say that things since have gone to plan. Mentally it’s been a real struggle. Emotionally it’s been tough. Physically things have gone downhill.

As a result I couldn’t continue this experiement.
I did write my article on all things paleo – it’s coming out soon – watch for the post.
And in May I have recommited to a paleo lifestyle, not just for combatting my adrenal fatigue, but for combatting a number of other women’s issues including suspected candida. It’s time to get back on the wagon, kick my bad habits for good and make the healthy lifestyle change for me.

Paleo Challenge #2

Feeling good today, slept well and had good result on my morning weight in, which always puts you in a good frame of mind and spurs you on for the day.

Did yoga *ouch*, my gratitude journal, and got the dogs out to the ‘G’ for a good off lead run (they always run well after a chiropractic treatment). Back home, hydrotherapy, body brushing and time to hit the computer for a few minutes before heading to lunch with my wonderful husband for our weekly catch up meeting.

Great meeting and lunch with my husband. Avoided the bread and the wine. Still feeling good. Delicious scallops, green salad and amazing pan-fried mulloway. Watched hubby eat dessert and drink a fine fortified tokay.

Home again, hit the office and start knocking off tasks, getting lots done (but never enough). That old adage “right now my to do list is so long I’ll never die” applies.

Snacked: activated nuts, choc paleo balls, raspberry coconut chia pudding (all home-made). Still peckish. Hmmm. Try to avoid the urge.

Massage at home from our good friend (and qualified masseuse) Grace. Eat dinner: aromatic coconut vegetables and bbq’d chicken thighs. Remaining chia pudding hit the lips after adding activated pepitas, walnuts and cocoa nibs. Crunchy.

Still peckish …inca berries …activated almonds …1/3 of a banana …home-made sugar-free (paleo) hazelnut kisses and lots of water. I decide to send the rest of the kisses to hubby’s work mates tomorrow.

Watch TV and give the dogs a cuddle. Still peckish …nectarine …cup of hot tea. The sugar cravings are overwhelming. Is this withdrawal? I feel like a drug addict. My self-control has boarded the bus and is leaving. I trawl the fridge and the cupboards for suitable sugar-laiden snacks like an addict searches the streets for a fix. I can’t find any.

But later that night I give in …a serve of Moser Roth Dominican Republic 75% cocoa with quite a number of prunes. My addiction is sated for the time being. I go to bed.

Results:
Weight: -0.7kg
Water: 3.0 litres
Stopped eating: midnight
Added sugar: 6g (just over 1 teaspoon)
Sleep: 4h 52m

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Paleo Challenge #1

Over the years since I shed all that weight I’ve come to realise three things: 1) maintenance is more difficult that shedding the weight ever was; 2) I have a number of food intolerances that seem to get worse as I get older that need to be managed; and 3) I have some addictions that I need to deal with – specifically an addiction to refined carbohydrates (including sugar).

In preparation for an article on Paleo Living that I’m writing for InShape News next month I thought I’d do a 30 day paleo test and go 100% paleo for at least 30 days, testing my bloods before and after and tracking my weight and body fat. so with the tests done I’ve embarked on just this.

On reflection the diet I mostly used to shed all that weight was paleo: lean proteins, lots of vegetables, a few nuts and a little fruit. For the most part I ditched all grains and most dairy. And I exercised. Boy did I exercise. I went to the gym 3 days a week and most days I jogged 13kms (which is the same distance as the City to Surf). It was hell on my body during the maintenance phase and I eventually developed painful bursitis in both hips.

In recent years I’ve relaxed my exercise routine and my diet and the results have not been all that I hoped … not only has more than just a little weight crept back but in November 2016 I developed adrenal fatigue (also known as chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia).

So 2017 is time for change … time to rethink and recommit to a healthy eating plan that is not arduous, lets me socialise with friends easily, and a plan that I don’t have to weigh, measure and track what I eat to keep a stable weight.

Enter this Paleo Challenge.

To be completely transparent, I’ve been moving towards a paleo diet for many months, eliminating refined sugars and reducing grains, flours and dairy. But one of my weaknesses is bread products like fresh sourdough (often spelt or gluten free) and more recently I discovered an amazing French baker nearby that makes all sorts of delights (think brioche, almond croissants, pain au chocolate) from imported French flour – a strain of wheat that doesn’t bloat me (Australian wheat is very high in gluten and isn’t very well tolerated). It’s been a delight to indulge but the indulgences have been too frequent. And knowing all too well that food IS medicine, I need to clean up my act and walk my talk.

So today, Day 1 of the challenge I started on this journey. I felt really good today and was easily able to stick to my paleo plan. I skipped breakfast to induce glycolysis (the burning of glycogen stores) and began with a late lunch of sweet potato, carrot and avocado egg skillet. Delicious.

Dinner was a crock pot creation of aromatic coconut norwegian salmon and vegetables (no rice) inspired by chef and paleo king Pete Evans, and a raspberry coconut chia pudding adapted from Kari’s recipe at Get Inspired Everyday (I simply switched out the dates for SteviaSlim to lower the fructose count, and I didn’t have any dates on hand). I didn’t feel any need to snack or eat after dinner. Slept well.

Results:
Weight: OMG
Water: 2.5 litres
Stopped eating: 8.30pm
Added sugar: 0g
Sleep: 6h 08m

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Is Fructose Good or Bad for You?

Click here for the original InShape News article.

I have a sweet tooth.
Oh boy do I have a sweet tooth.
It’s gotten me in trouble on more than one …ok, I confess …many occasions.
Having quit refined sugars and I’ve had to look for alternatives.
And so this got me thinking about fructose as a replacement sugar …is it good or bad?

What is fructose?
Fructose is a plant sugar, a simple carbohydrate found in fruit and vegetables. Yep, that’s right … vegetables too. In fact vegetables with the highest levels of fructose include green beans, asparagus, leek and onion …but virtually all vegetables contain some fructose.

But it’s fruit, combined with additionally high glucose, that really takes the cake. Star fruit is the worst culprit at 8% fructose and a massive 7% glucose – that’s 15% sugar! Other high-fructose fruits are those you’d suspect due to their sweetness: apples, kiwi, bananas, mangoes, oranges, pineapple and stone fruits. You can check the fructose and glucose levels of foods here.

How is fructose different to sugar?
Fructose IS a sugar …don’t be misled otherwise. Fructose only differs from refined table sugar (which is sucrose made from the sugar cane plant) in that sucrose is 50% fructose and 50% glucose. Fructose is, well, 100% fructose sugar. The difference is it’s metabolised slightly differently by the body (and we’ll get to that later).

But what’s causing outrage and concern is the refined version of fructose and other sugars found in packaged products and take away foods. Look on your ingredient label: fructose, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, high fructose corn syrup, corn sweetener, glucose, anhydrous dextrose, maltose, cane juice, dehydrated cane juice, evaporated cane juice, cane crystals… these are the culprits of ill-health and obesity. These sugars, concentrated and devoid of any nutritional counterparts (like fibre), are added unwittingly to our convenience foods to make them more ‘palatable’.

And let’s not forget flour: corn, wheat, rice, maize, tapioca, coconut, etc… which are added as fillers and binders to our packaged and processed foods, all of which contain sugar and simple carbohydrates (which convert to sugar very quickly once eaten).

This means we’re eating more sugar than ever before in the history of humanity.

Feeling sick yet?

How is fructose metabolised?
According to Wikipedia, whilst glucose is metabolised ‘widely’ in the body, fructose is almost solely metabolised in the liver. So eating high amounts of fructose not only means you’re eating high amounts of sugar, but it’s putting a serious load on your liver …often the very thing you’re trying to detox.

Fructose is also serious stuff for those suffering fructose malabsorption or FODMAP (Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides and Polyols) where the short chain carbohydrates including fructose cannot be digested properly due to deficient fructose carriers in the small intestine’s enterocytes. This results in indigestion, excessive flatulence, bloating and distension, fatigue and impaired brain function.

And it’s the volume of all sugars combined that now adds up to alarming amounts in almost all diets. So switching to a non-refined fructose diet is not the panacea. But it can be the easy and important first stepping stone to switching to a no added sugar (of any kind) diet.

How much sugar is enough?
Harvard Health Publications recently reported on studies that explain why we should limit our sugar intake to around 10% of our daily calories. More simply, men should eat no more than the equivalent of 9 teaspoons of sugar, whilst women should aim for 6. That’s 45g for men and 30g for women. Which means 200g of Star Fruit equals the daily allowance for women. No tea, no coffee, no lattes. Frightening, eh?

Why do we crave sugar?
It’s been well reported that sugar is actually more addictive than heroin or cocaine? In fact studies, including those by Dr Mark Hymon, have shown it’s up to eight times as addictive. So it’s no wonder western affluent countries are turning into obese nations …it’s a true epidemic and it’s happening right now without any sign of reversal.

Just like any drug, cravings for sugar (insert your favourite ‘ose’ here) require more and more of it to sate our appetite for this modern day heroin. And it’s contributing to a plethora of diseases like obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

What happens if we have too much sugar?
OK here it is …bottom line …first you’re going to get fat. Really fat. There’s no avoiding this one. No amount of exercise or dieting is gonna fix it. And then you’re going to get sick. Really sick. And here’s why.

When the body metabolises glucose it releases insulin to control the chemical reaction induced by eating high amounts of glucose. Insulin tells the body to ‘store’ the glucose rather than burn it. So though metabolism glucose is converted to fat and stored in the body …and usually in those places you don’t want it.

Sadly, when it comes to diet, we’ve been lied to for many years. Robert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology, debunks the last 30 years of nutritional information and explains the damage caused by a high sugar (including fructose) / low fibre diet in “Sugar: The Bitter Truth”.

And even I Quit Sugar’s Sarah Wilson agrees ….whilst fructose isn’t metabolised in the same way, and doesn’t cause the same sort of spike in blood sugar and insulin production, it still contributes to your overall calorie count. So remember that Star Fruit you gorged out on that contains 50% glucose? Guess what …your fat reserves just got added to. And they’re gonna keep getting added to until you make a choice.

What can I do to reduce the effects of fructose and sugar?
So you’ve decided to reduce your sugar intake … start slowly and track your sugar consumption and aim for it to be 10% of less of your calories a day. When sweet cravings hit choose low-fructose naturally occurring sweet foods like berries. Remember sugar is present in almost all foods including dairy. Read food labels and ingredient lists.

The optimal solution is to quit all added sugars, processed foods and sweet beverages, but this isn’t always practical. So minimise fresh fruit consumption and avoid all dried fruits where possible. Eat complex carbohydrates (e.g. quinoa, teff, amaranth) and ditch simple carbs (e.g. potatoes, rice, wheat, flours, bread). Eat mostly fresh vegetables, 50% raw, and some lean protein. Drink plenty of filtered water … boring I know but your gotta drink 45mls per kilogram of body weight …that’s 0.69 ounces per pound of body weight. It’s how I lost 70kg (150lbs) so I can vouch that it works.

Even though I’ve quit refined sugar, over the years my sweet tooth has gotten the better of me and I’ve let too much alternative sugars and this addiction creep back into my life. Tired of the illness and added girth it has caused me, I’ve decided it’s now time to take a stand and quit …this time for good.

For some, including me, this is gonna be rough…

What sugar replacements are safe to use?
If you need to sate your sweet tooth (and I still do) then don’t go for the maple syrup, rice malt syrup, agave, honey, molasses or coconut sugar or nectar. The truth is all of these substitutes are virtually the same from a sugar-perspective and will ultimately add to the girth of your backside. And even worse are the artificial non-calorie chemical sugar substitutes like SplendaTM which mimic sugar and trigger the same chemical responses from the body even though they have no calories.

Instead try getting used to the liquorice-like flavour of Stevia. It’s a natural plant product rich in steviosides, which have a negligible effect on blood glucose, but are up to 150 time as sweet as sugar. It’s more recently been combined with a benign sugar alcohol called erythritol and granulated into a more palatable product under labels like NativiaTM and SteviaSlimTM.

It doesn’t taste the same, I don’t get the same ‘sugar’ high, but it’s gonna help me kick this habit …and fructose …for good.

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

On a mission to find delicious interesting paleo breakfast recipes I came across OneLovelyLife’s site and have adapted one of their recipes to an individual serve for my tastes. It’s kinda American, kinda Christmas-y and pretty delicious.

PumpkinPieSmoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1 banana (frozen if preferred)
  • 100g cooked, cold butternut pumpkin
  • 250mls Coco Quench Organic coconut milk
  • ½ tsp vanilla bean powder
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp fresh or ground ginger powder
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • Stevia to taste

Method:

  1. Put all the ingredients into your blender or Nutri Bullet
  2. Blitz until thoroughly combined
  3. Drink immediately and enjoy.

Nutrition

  • Serves 1
  • 268 Calories
  • 9.3g Fat (6.3g Saturated)
  • 5.6g Protein
  • 51.5g Carbohydrate
  • 3.1g Fibre
  • 29.1g Sugar

Love Your Life

Yesterday I witnessed the aftermath of a drug overdose. The last few minutes of this man’s life were spent on the concrete floor of a public toilet, and I was jolted into a sense of sadness and waste.

A life of what ‘could have been’ was no longer, and it got me thinking about addiction. We all have it – our addiction to something …. drugs, alcohol, food, sex, bad relationships, Facebook …. You might try to deny it but you do have one, at least one, and probably more than one. Addictions come in all shapes and sizes and they’re not necessarily bad, or good – they just are. They’re those overwhelming compulsions to subconsciously do something you perhaps consciously would chose not to do. Like opening the fridge and staring into the back of it hoping the light will go ‘on’. It’s biting your fingernails, smoking, drinking, and checking the car door is locked or the oven’s off three times … just to be sure, to be sure, to be sure.

It’s not the addiction that fascinates me, but rather the evolution of addiction. Why are our brains wired this way? What experiences (or nature or nurture) lead us down a particular compulsion? Not loved enough as a child, or perhaps loved too much? And why do those exposed to the same ‘trauma’ turn to different forms of relief, escapism, coping mechanisms, dependencies? And I start to wonder whether there’s any correlation between incident and addiction.

As an NLP and Hypnosis practitioner I’ve studied this stuff quite a lot. But I’m still looking for the holy grail, the ultimate answer, the ‘quick fix’ to the problem – if we could only rewire our own brains, take control of the subconscious without falling into the abyss, imagine all that we could create and achieve … it might even be … Limitless.

Yesterday was a reminder for me to be present and fully engaged with my own life, and to practice gratitude. I’m most grateful for my network of family and friends, who care enough to ride the waves of life with me and provide between us a conduit of unconditional support … whatever form that might take in each unique relationship. Sure I love my possessions, but it’s this connection that is, by far, the most significant thing that I’m grateful for.

Over the last 6 months as I wake up the first thing I see is a sign by my bed that says “I love my life”. I repeat the words to myself as a morning ritual, even when I find it tough to say it (which incidentally is happening less and less). I follow it up by thinking about all the things I’m grateful for … everything until I can think of no more (and sometimes that takes a while). Then I plan my day, prioritise and set myself up for a day or achievement and success. This morning ritual is a conscious habit I’m creating … rewiring my brain gradually.

But this man, whatever circumstances led him to that toilet yesterday to get his last ‘fix’, his final escape, doesn’t get that chance. But you do. So if there’s anything I can advocate to you, it’s to practice gratitude and love your life, no matter where in your journey you are. You might think your life could be better, but I can almost guarantee it could be worse. So make the most of it …. LOVE your family, LOVE your friends and, most importantly …

… LOVE your life.

Ultimate Chia Latte Recipe

Chai Mug

After sampling a few Chai Latte’s recently in various establishments I came to a couple of conclusions: 1) I love the taste of the complex range of spices, 2) I wanted to make my own at home for a pre-sleep hot toddy and 3) I wanted to go back to basics to avoid the naties and suger laiden issues with pre-mixed and commercial offerings.

So here it is – my sugar free, caffeine free, lactose free, gluten free, gloriously delicious Chai latte mix perfect for just about any occasion, especially a cold Winter’s night.

This recipe is also a perfect egg-free replacement for creamy calorie laiden eggnog, just add a splash of bourbon, brandy or your favourite liquer on Christmas day for added festive spirit. Maybe we should call it spice nog.

Ingredients
½ teaspoon Stevia powder
3 tablespoons Nativia sweetener
4 teaspoons vanilla bean powder
4 teaspoons ground ginger
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cardamom

Optional
½ teaspoon white pepper (optional for a little kick!)

Method
1. Place ingredients in bowl
2. Stir until thoroughly mixed
3. Place in an airtight jar

To Use
Stir in 1 heaped teaspoons of your chai mix to a mug of hot milk – low fat, almond, soy, rice, lactose free or whatever you desire.

Slowly sip and enjoy!

chaiIngredients

#chailatte #chaimix #recipe #chairecipe #chaiobsessed

Notes

  • if wanting to produce a mix where water only is added add 2 cups organic non-fat dry milk powder (lactose free if possible) and use about 2 tablespoons of your chai mix to a mug of hot water.
  • If you’re wanting the Chai flavour of tea, simply add ½ a teaspoon of instant tea, or brew half a mug of strong black tea and use this with half a mug of milk.
  • If you’re wanting the Latte flavour of coffee, then add ½ teaspoon of instant or decaff coffee granules, or add a shot of espresso to your hot milk.

Health Benefits of Turmeric

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image17696189Is turmeric really the next miracle drug? What is it and why is it so important to our health?

Turmeric is a rhizomatous plant of the ginger family, so you use the bulb just like you do ginger. It is generally grown in India and it’s used prolifically in Indian cuisine as well as in food colourings and dying.  When not used fresh, the rhizomes are boiled, dried and then ground into a deep orange-yellow powder. Turmeric has a distinctly earthy, slightly bitter, slightly hot peppery flavor and a mustardy smell. It’s main ingredient, curcumin, also responsible for its bright yellow colouring, is at the root of the purported health benefits of turmeric (pun intended).

Turmeric is a great spice addition to your dishes, but be warned it does tend to stain everything yellow. You can prevent most of this by cleaning everything immediate after use especially by using a vinegar bath to reduce staining. It might even be helpful to get a separate set of cooking implements specifically for your curries and dishes containing turmeric. You can buy turmeric in pill form instead, but like all spices and herbs their health benefits are better when it’s used and digested normally rather than as a supplement.

Following is a list of the main 9 health benefits of turmeric, and why you should include it in your diet:

1. Weight Management and Digestion:

You’ll be interested to know that one of the main health benefits of turmeric is its ability to help control your weight. It does this by increasing your metabolism. Specifically it’s the curcumin in turmeric that stimulates the gallbladder and produces bile, which improves digestion and helps digest fat. Studies have found it treats indigestion by reducing symptoms of bloating and gas.

In fact research suggests that curcumin may provide an inexpensive, well-tolerated, and effective treatment for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) such as Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis. Researchers believe curcumin achieves these effects due to antioxidant activity as well as inhibition of a major cellular inflammatory agent called NF kappa-B. More importantly this component of turmeric was effective at a concentration as low as 0.25 per cent, an amount easily ingested by simply enjoying turmeric in flavorful curries.

2. Happiness Agent:

The health benefits of turmeric have been used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for literally thousands of years, including as a treatment for depression. More recently researchers with the Department of Pharmacology of Government Medical College in Bhavnagar, Gujarat, India performed a clinical study comparing the effects of 1000-mg curcumin from turmeric and Prozac (20-mg fluoxetine). The study determined turmeric was as effective as Prozac in treating major depressive disorder without the dangerous side effects often found in Prozac use.

Turmeric-Root-and-Powder-1024x6663. Heart Health Promoter and Stroke Suppressor:

Preventing oxidation in the body is the key to preventing coronary disease, heart attack and stroke. Curcumin may be able to prevent the oxidation in the body, specifically related to cholesterol, helping to stop the build-up of LDL (“bad” cholesterol) in the blood vessels. Turmeric is also a good source of vitamin B6, which is vital in keeping homocysteine levels (a cellular process byproduct) from getting too high.

In research published in the Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, when 10 healthy volunteers consumed 500 mg of curcumin per day for 7 days, not only did their blood levels of oxidized cholesterol drop by 33%, but their total cholesterol dropped 11.63% , and their HDL (good cholesterol) increased by 29%.

4. Anti-Inflammatory Agent:

Inflammation is simply the body’s natural response to injury or infection, often causing localized redness, swelling, or heat. Whether it’s temporary or chronic inflammation, the health benefits of turmeric may be able to naturally alleviate the symptoms.

Studies have shown that turmeric is a natural painkiller and may help in the treatment of psoriasis and other inflammatory skin conditions, particularly as it speeds up wound healing and assists in the remodeling of damaged skin. When researching how curcumin works, researchers also found curcumin prevents the formation of the inflammatory chemical cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2). The curcumin in turmeric was also able to neutralize free radicals, important in many diseases, such as arthritis, where free radicals are responsible for the painful joint inflammation and eventual damage to the joints. Turmeric’s combination of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects explains why many people with joint disease find relief when they use the spice regularly.

In a recent study of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, curcumin was compared to phenylbutazone and produced comparable improvements in shortened duration of morning stiffness, lengthened walking time, and reduced joint swelling. Early research shows it may help with inflammation of the eye (uveitis), inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis) and multiple sclerosis (see below). Whilst further research needs to occur it is thought that turmeric’s natural anti-inflammatory qualities mean it may work just as well as some anti-inflammatory medications, without the side effects.

5. Liver Love:

A recent study reported that “turmeric may increase detoxification systems in addition to its anti-oxidant properties.” Specifically the study was conducted to evaluate the effects of turmeric on the liver’s ability to detoxify xenobiotic (toxic) chemicals. It found the levels of two very important liver detoxification enzymes (UDP glucuronyl transferase and glutathione-S-transferase) were significantly elevated in those fed turmeric as compared to controls.

When researching how curcumin works, researchers also found it induces the formation of a primary liver detoxification enzyme, glutathione S-transferase (GST) enzymes. Test subjects given curcumin for 14 days showed at 16% increase in the liver’s production of GST, and malondialdehyde (a measure of free radical damage) decreased by 36%.

turmeric montage6. Multiple Sclerosis Reliever:

In Asian countries, such as India and China, where foods spiced with curcumin-containing spices like turmeric are common fare, reports of MS are extremely rare. It was thought that curcumin may block the progression of multiple sclerosis by interrupting the production of IL-2. IL-2 is a protein that signals for the development of neural antigen-specific Th1 cells, immune cells that then launch an attack on the myelin sheath which protects the body’s nerves.

In a recent study with the experimental autoimmune disease EAE, researchers gave animal test subjects (mice) injections of 50 and 100-microgram doses of curcumin three times per week over a period of 30 days, and then watched the mice for signs of developing MS-like neurological impairment. By day 15 those who had not received curcumin developed EAE to such an extent that they displayed complete paralysis of both hind limbs. Those given the 50-microgram dose of the curcumin showed only minor symptoms and those given the 100-microgram dose appeared completely unimpaired. And the good news is the doses of curcumin that protected the mice against the development of EAE were roughly equivalent in human terms to those found in a typical Indian diet.

7. Cystic Fibrosis Fighter:

Cystic fibrosis is a fatal disease afflicts about 70,000 children and young adults worldwide who rarely survive beyond 30 years of age. It attacks the lungs with a thick mucus, causing life-threatening infections, damages the pancreas and interferes with the body’s ability to digest and absorb nutrients.

Researchers now know that cystic fibrosis is caused by mutations in the gene that encodes for the transmembrane conductance regulator, a protein known as CFTR. Under normal circumstances it travels to the cell’s surface and creates channels through which chloride ions can leave the cell. However faulty genes cause the protein to be abnormally shaped thereby preventing it’s function and leading to a build up of chloride in the cells resulting in mucus production.

An animal study published in the Science (April 2004) suggests that curcumin can correct the most common cystic fibrosis mutation, which is called DeltaF508. When mice with this DeltaF508 defect were given curcumin it corrected this defect, resulting in a DeltaF508 protein with normal appearance and function. Further studies at Yale have also shown curcumin can inhibit the release of calcium, thus allowing mutated CTFR to exit cells via the calcium channels and helping to prevent build up of chloride-driven mucus.

Researchers are still determining the correct doses for human trials as well as any adverse reactions with cystic fibrosis medications, and warn that patients should not self-medicate with dietary supplements containing curcumin. However adding more turmeric to your diet may yield some benefits.

8. Cancer Fighter:

The most promising and wide-ranging health benefit of turmeric is its potential to fight, and prevent a range of cancers including colon cancer, prostate cancer, childhood leukemia and generally inhibiting cancer cell growth and metastases. If this is true then turmeric could be the panacea we’ve been looking for.

It’s the antioxidant action of curcumin and its ability to protect cells from free radicals that can damage cellular DNA that’s at the root of these claims. This is particularly promising for the treatment of colon cancer where cell turnover occurs every three days. Cancer cells can form much more quickly in the colon due to this rapid turnover of cells where mutations in the colon cell DNA can result. Research published in the August 2006 issue of Clinical Gasteroenterology and Hepatology reported that curcumin reduced both the size and number of precancerous lesions in the human intestinal tract. In another study researchers concluded, “The results show that curcumin mixed with the diet achieves drug levels in the colon and liver sufficient to explain the pharmacological activities observed and suggest that this mode of administration may be preferable for the chemoprevention of colon cancer.”

turmeric-powder1Interestingly curcumin may also helps the body to destroy mutated cancer cells by enhancing liver function, inhibiting the synthesis of a protein thought to be instrumental in tumor formation and preventing the development of additional blood supply necessary for cancer cell growth. All this means curcumin prevents cancer cells from spreading through the body where they can cause more harm.

But colon cancer’s not the only target for curcumin. A recent study reported “… that turmeric may increase detoxification systems in addition to its anti-oxidant properties… Turmeric used widely as a spice would probably mitigate the effects of several dietary carcinogens” including breast cancer. In a recent study, published in Biochemical Pharmacology (September 2005), human breast cancer cells were injected into mice, and the resulting tumors removed to simulate a mastectomy, after which mice were given no treatment, the cancer drug paclitaxel (Taxol), curcumin or a mixture of Taxol and curcumin. After five weeks, only half the mice in the curcumin-only group and just 22% of those in the curcumin plus Taxol group had evidence of breast cancer that had spread to the lungs, compared with 75% of the mice that got Taxol alone and 95% of the control group developed lung tumours, proving that curcumin is a breast cancer fighting agent. In fact lead researcher, Bharat Aggarwal reported “Curcumin acts against transcription factors, which are like a master switch. When we turn them off, we shut down some genes that are involved in the growth and invasion of cancer cells.”

But the health benefits of turmeric don’t stop there. In a study published in Biochemical Pharmacology (September 2005, University of Texas laboratory researchers studied human non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma cells. They showed that curcumin inhibits the activation a regulatory molecule, known as of NF-kappaB. NF-kappaB signals genes to produce a range of inflammatory molecules (including TNF, COX-2 and IL-6) that promote cancer cell growth. The study also showed curcumin suppressed the spreading of cancer by causing cancerous cells to suicide in the lungs. It’s early days but the University of Texas is conducting phase 1 clinical trials and are also looking into curcumin’s chemopreventive and therapeutic properties for multiple myeloma and pancreatic cancer. Other research groups are investigating curcumin’s effects on oral cancers.

And let’s not forget prostate cancer. Scientists tested the effects of curcumin and phenethyl isothiocyanates (a phytochemical abundant in cruciferous vegetables including cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, kohlrabi and turnips) on prostate cancer. When tested singly they found both phenethyl isothiocyanate and curcumin greatly retarded the growth of human prostate cancer cells. But when it came to well-established prostate cancer tumors it was only when the two were combined that they significantly reduced both tumor growth and the ability of the prostate cancer cells to spread or metastasize.

9. Alzheimer’s Preventer:

Move over cancer, dementia is the new kid on the block when it comes to our ailing health in old age. As of 2013, there were an estimated 44.4 million people with dementia worldwide and it is expected that this number will increase to an estimated 75.6 million by 2030.

Alzheimer’s disease results when a protein fragment called amyloid-B, a protein fragment snipped from another protein called amyloid precursor protein (APP). In a healthy brain, these protein fragments are broken down and eliminated. In Alzheimer’s disease, the fragments accumulate, producing oxidative stress and inflammation and forming hard, insoluble plaques between brain cells. It’s believed the health benefits of turmeric may prevent and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease by removing these amyloid plaque buildups in the brain.

turmeric spoonStudies of elderly Indian populations whose diet turmeric is a common spice show very low levels of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s. It is thought that oxidation in the brain is a major factor in aging and responsible for neurodegenerative disorders and dementias including Alzheimer’s disease. Research published in the Italian Journal of Biochemistry (December 2003) suggests curcumin induces a protective system (called the heme oxygenase pathway) which when triggered in brain tissue, causes the production of the potent antioxidant bilirubin, which protects the brain against oxidative (free radical) injury.

Further research by UCLA has shown that curcumin inhibits amyloid-B aggregation and dissolves amyloid fibrils more effectively than the anti-inflammatory drugs ibuprofen and naproxen. Researchers found that curcumin crosses the blood brain barrier and binds to small amyloid-B species, preventing them from clumping together to form larger plaques. And another study revealed turmeric’s most active ingredient, bisdemethoxycurcumin, actually boosts macrophage activity to normal levels in Alzheimer’s patients, helping them to clear existing amyloid beta plaques.

Dosage and Side Effects:

The recommended daily dose of turmeric powder is 500-mg. To minimize side effects avoid doses in excess of 1500-mg. Fresh turmeric roots can be taken in a dose of up to 3-grams.

Excessive or inappropriate intake of turmeric can lead to a range of mild conditions including allergic reaction, gallbladder problems, stomach and gastrointestinal problems, Bleeding, Liver Problems, drug interactions and uterine contractions. Pregnant women and those with such conditions should minimise intake of turmeric. It should also be stopped 2 months prior to any surgery due to its interference with blood clotting.

Recipe: Body Blitz Warm Berry Porridge

Warm Berry PorridgeMy Body Blitz Program is a 2 week kick-start to help overcome cravings for sugar, fat and carbohydrate.

My diet is specifically designed to remove common food allergies as well as those foods that cause inflammation in the body.

By committing to just 2 weeks you can not only reduce the desire for non-healthy foods, but you can lose centimetres and shed kilograms!

This diet is offered complementary to my coaching clients, but feel free to enjoy the recipes and let me know what you think!

This recipe is portion controlled for a single serving, but to cook for more than one or to enjoy the next day, simply multiply each ingredient and cook in the same manner, adjusting your cooking times slightly for the extra volume.

For a little variation, switch out the fruit for any of your favourites on the allowed list.

Total Time:

20 minutes (approx)

 

Ingredients:

30g Raw Rolled Oats

1 tspn Mixed Spice

1 tspn Cinnamon

10g Fresh Ginger, minced

200mls Water, fresh filtered

40mls Coconut Cream, light

Stevia to taste

80g Mixed Berries, fresh or frozen

 

Method:

1. Put all the ingredients except the coconut cream and berries in a microwave-proof bowl.

2. Microwave on low (450 Watts) for 10 minutes.

3. Add the coconut milk and stir well.

4. Microwave on high for 1 minute so ingredients integrate.

5. Warm frozen berries in the microwave if required.

6. Top porridge with fresh or warmed berries and serve.

 

Number of Servings:

1 serving

 

Nutritional Information

1 serving contains:

261 Calories

10.9g fat (of which 6.5g is saturated)

3.0g protein

39.1g carbohydrate (of which 7.7g are sugars)

6.9g fibre