Monday, November 23, 2015

6 Ways to Instantly Stimulate Your Vagus Nerve to Relieve Inflammation, Depression, Migraines And More

I was bumbling through Facebook and I found this very interesting post. Anything about inflammation stops me dead in my tracks and has me hooked, as I work daily to manage my RA symptoms without the use of pharmaceutical drugs. I had NO IDEA that I even had a Vagus Nerve and no, it didn't have anything to do with a holiday is Las Vegas (darn!) 

When I see "6 ways" I want to know what they are quickly, without reading through the gumph, so here they are in a nutshell - the six ways to instantly stimulte your vagus nerve to relieve inflammation, depression and migraines:
  1. Slow, rhythmic, diaphragmatic breathing. Breathing from your diaphragm, rather than shallowly from the top of the lungs stimulates and tones the vagus nerve. [I don't know when last I did this!]
  2. Humming. Since the vagus nerve is connected to the vocal cords, humming mechanically stimulates it. You can hum a song, or even better repeat the sound ‘OM’. [easy enough to add to my daily routine]
  3. Speaking. Similarly speaking is helpful for vagal tone, due to the connection to the vocal cords. [ok there's no problem here]
  4. Washing your face with cold water. The mechanism her is not known, but cold water on your face stimulates the vagus nerve. [this may take some getting used to!]
  5. Meditation, especially loving kindness meditation which promotes feelings of goodwill towards yourself and others. A 2010 study by Barbara Fredrickson and Bethany Kik found that increasing positive emotions led to increased social closeness, and an improvement in vagal tone. [Grrr that old addage that states "if you don't have time for 5 minutes of meditation then do 20 minutes" is nagging me. Gotta find time to do this, I'm reading more and more about the benefits of meditation]
  6. Balancing the gut microbiome. The presence of healthy bacteria in the gut creates a positive feedback loop through the vagus nerve, increasing its tone. [I'm getting into this, just got my first Keffir grains to make my very own Keffir]

Here's a link to the original article: Stimulate your vagus nerve

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Gut Cleansing or Flushing - a dirty job but someone's gotta do it

One of the many things that the experts agree on, to become more healthy, is to sort out your gut. I've recently learned that even serotonin (the happy hormone) is produced in, wait for it...... your gut!! Who knew? Apparently some is produced in the brain but the vast majority is in the gut. Reduced serotonin is to blame for many depressive people. Because most people are eating processed foods, some genetically modified, with wheat and gluten and all the other nasties like pesticides, hormones, colourants and additives, most guts are compromised.

A compromised gut means that the beneficial mucous coating that lines the intestines has worn away and the walls of the intestines are allowing toxic substances (which were on their way to be excreted from your body) to instead, be leaked into your body to roam around and cause havoc! Some people are affected more than others. In order to resolve this issue, we need to change our diets and start to do all the healthy things our mothers told us to do, like drink water, eat lots of fresh fruit and veg etc. But we cannot just start this one day and expect all to be well...... no, we have to start with a clean slate gut.

How do we get a fresh clean gut? I'm glad you asked. We need to flush it out, removing all remaining rubbish in our intestines that have built up over some time. Warning - this is not going to be pleasant especially if you've been eating badly like me. There are many ways to do this, there are master cleanses that you can do for days on end, there is the more palatable prune juice and then there is my personal favourite - the salt water flush. Remember prune juice and the salt water flush MUST be done first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Then don't plan to go out for a few hours.

The salt cleanse doesn't taste great, I'll be honest. The salt solution is pretty much a saline solution which is similar to the saline already in your body and therefore the salt and water are not absorbed by the body, it is literally used as a flush to go straight through. While surging forth (excuse the pun) the salt water takes all the cr*p with it and you get a very watery diarrhoea. It starts within an hour of taking the solution and is over within about 2 hours thereafter. You will probably go to the bathroom around 6-8 times. If you have no reaction, then you need to use more salt and if there is too much of a reaction, use less salt. Here is the recipe, I really do urge you to try this:

1 litre of lukewarm water
2 tsp of sea salt (Please note!! NOT IODISED SALT)

Mix together and drink as quickly as possible (all of it within 10 minutes). Then ensure you have a good book and an extra toilet roll and you're ready to go (literally!)

It's best not to do this flush too often as you don't want to dehydrate yourself or lose valuable minerals, but it would be beneficial once or twice a week until your bowel is good and clean and fresh. Did you know that poop is not supposed to smell? Yes! Apparently foul smelling waste matter is the result of food remaining in the gut for too long and rotting - eeeewwww. So until you get to this heavenly plane of fresh-smelling faeces, your bowel requires attention. For a fun read that I just couldn't resist writing after seeing a sign from a swimming pool, click here.

I will endeavour to write more about gut health as our health really is "all about the gut" and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realise that toxins floating around our bodies (free radicals) are not good for anybody. My body (being a Leo) is already screaming and picketing outside with a sign telling me to make changes, but yours may be a little shy, keeping it quiet but later allowing the problem to develop into cancer or a plethora of other silent beginning diseases that remain undetected for many people until it's too late.

Start slowly, but start.

Check out this great website that I found to help you on your merry gut-healing way 4 steps to heal leaky gut and autoimmune disease

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Relieve Allergies & Congestion With Your Fingers - Wow!

Skimming through my Facebook news feed this morning, I almost skipped over a video for allergy and sinus relief because I don't really have allergies and my sinuses are feeling just peachy. I thought it must be the drainage with salt water thing that I saw on Oprah many moons ago, when I rushed out to get a nettie pot, but something made me click on it and thank goodness I did! This could be life-changing especially to parents that's why I thought it deserved its very own blog post. If I see something awesome I just HAVE to share!

This video shows chiropractor Dr Mark Lynch explaining that your sinuses drain right down to your clavicle bone (those boat type bones at the top of your chest) and how even slightly blocked sinuses can cause headaches at the back of your head due to insufficient drainage. This hit home to me as many times in the past I have felt that my face was puffy with sinus inflammation, especially when I get a cold. The gunk (my scientific medical term) sits in my face! Under my eyes, on top of my eyebrows and my neck always feels swollen and then most times it becomes infected and I'm onto the dreaded antibiotics again. I remember one year I was on them 8 times, so I've had enough of them and do anything that I can to avoid them like the plague for me and my family.

In this one simple video, this Dr has explained and shows how to drain your sinuses using your fingers! That's right, not even pouring salt water into your nose! I'm not dissing salt water flush outs but if anyone has ever tried doing this to a small child, you will know that more water ends up on the floor than in their nose and if you do manage to get it into them they swallow half of it and think you're trying to drown them so eventually you give up. Even the nasal sprays are like competing in Fear Factor for my kids. So according to Dr Lynch you can use your fingers to prevent the head cold and sore throat from progressing if you use these tips when you can feel it coming on. Furthermore you can increase your immune system when you're going into a crowded, germified (again my personal medical terminology) environment like a concert, aeroplane or Home Affairs! It just makes sense doesn't it?

To quote Dr Lynch:
"It promotes good health and it's free! Even just doing the tapping at the bottom of the neck and rubbing downward on the side of the neck muscles is a major part. So fast and easy. I do it at red lights. Yes you can do it with both hands, but not when driving! It's perfect for moms with young children. And on that note perfect for older people who don't get enough exercise to move the lymphatic fluid in their body. The other parts are more finesse pieces and more specific for sinus / eye pressure. This helps detox the body naturally and simply along with helping your immune system function at a higher level." 
Well that all sounds good to me! Thankfully our family has come through the winter with only a runny nose here and there (although I'm touching wood because winter isn't over yet), but I'm keeping this video close and I intend to teach my children how to do at least the neck drainage techniques and I think we'll practise them in the car! I'm going to make up a game with a song to make it more fun.

Dr Lynch apologised for the poor quality video as it is his first attempt at a video. I hope there are many more to come Dr Lynch!

Dr. Mark demonstrating sinus drainage for allergy relief. Also a technique to help not have a sore throat or to hurry it up and get rid of it. This does increase your immune system function overall too.
Posted by Mark Lynch on Wednesday, May 13, 2015

I hope this helps you and your family stay healthy.

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Saturday, June 20, 2015

My Journey (and some cool health lists to get you started)

Well it seems to have been eons since I last posted on this blog site, but this doesn't mean I've been standing idly by, waiting for my health to improve. I have been actively trying to make myself healthier. It has been a long hard trek, but slowly I am getting results. Life gets hectic with 3 little ones and work, so I don't get to post as often as I'd like, but I am still healing heading in the right direction.

The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don't want, drink what you don't like, and do what you'd rather not. - Mark Twain
My life for the past 5 months has changed completely. I have increased my movement (walking more and doing some VERY light exercise that doesn't affect my joints which are not happy chappies). I have eaten a whole lot of things that I thought I would never eat! See my blog post A Doctor's home cure for Arthritis. I have cut out sugar in all forms, wheat, gluten, carbs and alcohol and am eating mostly organic veggies and grass-fed meat wherever possible. I am also not eating any processed foods or foods that my grandmother would not be able to identify.
I have some tips for anyone wanting to follow the same sort of path. Be warned it is not easy, but well worth the effort.

1. Get your mind right 
If your mind isn't right, don't bother. Your mind is your strongest ally and your greatest enemy. If you are not 100% committed to do this, quite simply, you are setting yourself up for failure. You can get inspiration from others, but you are the only one who will be there, day after day, lifting you up or bringing you down.

2. Surround yourself with like-minded people
This is critical. You cannot do this on your own BUT this doesn't mean that you have to have support from those around you. Whaat? That doesn't make sense, does it? Well actually it does. When I say "surround yourself" it doesn't mean that you literally have to be surrounded, you can surround yourself with social media. My family are not very keen on doing what I'm doing, so I have joined some Facebook groups that inspire me, show me how others are battling with the same issues and how they have overcome them. There is one in particular that is awesome called Sleek Geek.

3. Prepare to fail
Again this may seem crazy but it isn't. Any strict eating plan cannot be adhered to 100% for the rest of your life without unhappiness or a complete change of friends. For me, the trick is to prepare for the failures and work them into your routine. For instance, if I go out for dinner to a restaurant or a friend's house and there is no organic food (that's pretty much every time), then I eat what is available to the best of my ability. I don't want to become a hermit and say no to invitations out, due to dietary restrictions that I have placed on myself for a disease that I have, so I prepare to fail FOR THAT MEAL ONLY.

4. Don't allow failure to become permanent
When I am invited out, I may have carbs and sugar and gluten but I don't go crazy and say "what the hell, I'm cheating anyway" and order fettuccine Alfredo. I try to eat as close as possible to what I am allowed.  I am aware of every mouthful of the items I'm not supposed to consume and I don't allow it to become a full on binge. Perhaps my host has prepared a lovely meal, then I eat the meal. If there is a beautifully homemade pudding as well, I will have a small helping, or maybe a large one, but that is it. Usually if I have "cheated" on the meal, then I will resist chocolate afterwards. It is imperative that I don't just let go, because then I will never get back on track. I am an addict so I can very easily slide back down that slippery slope.

5. Make each meal as nutritious as possible
If you are eating non-nutritious food, then what is the point? As I am typing this, I have just consumed 2 slices of amazing gluten-free bread. Wow it was amazing, I haven't had bread for months and this was like eating white bread. I was so excited to be given this as a gift, that I toasted and ate 2 slices with butter for breakfast. It was divine. It was allowed. But the nutrient value was pretty much zero. Therefore I won't be doing that again. Next time, I need to add an egg and some avo or something to make it more nutritious. So when I can do better, I will, but that doesn't make this breakfast any less enjoyable. It's over. It's not a failure, it's a learning curve and I am in charge. I saw it for what it was, I ate it and now I move on to be better next time.

6. Make your meals and your life more interesting
I struggle with this. I often eat the same thing over and over again due to convenience and then become bored. Spend time finding new ways of doing things and alternate meals. My downfall is sweet things, so I have to plan to avoid these. I know that if I sit and watch TV at night, then I want to eat chocolate but if I sit at my PC then I don't (see, I'm eating bread instead ha ha). I try to laugh more and do more interesting things than I used to do. This also keeps my mind off "comfort eating." There are also plenty of websites with avid cooks who give great ideas including healthy sweet things (it is best to avoid even natural sugars as they are addictive). Whichever way you want to eat, there is someone on the web who is dedicated to helping you live and cook in that way. Some are extremists, but do what resonates with you - find your own balance.

8. Plan
My absolute downfall is allowing myself to get too hungry. I get home and devour everything in the house. Getting too hungry without access to quick, good food is a disaster waiting to happen. Last week I allowed myself to get too hungry and everyone was having hot dogs, so I had one. It wasn't even nice and I felt bloated afterwards, so I hopped onto the walker and walked it off. It made me feel like I was repenting for the sin! I hadn't planned. Now I try to always have boiled, peeled eggs in the fridge and a quick handful of nuts to get me over the just-got-home starvation period. If I was orgaised I would have veggie sticks all cut up but hey I'm just not that organised! I also make egg muffins on Sunday, which last me quite a few days and now soup is my latest go-to-quick-fix for winter. (See the link to the lists of soup recipes - and everyting else - at the bottom of the page).

8.  Move and Sleep 
My motto is "You don't have to run a marathon, just move more than you did yesterday". I have a disease that many people do not understand, hell I don't even understand it properly. Some days I am pain-free and others I can hardly walk. So to tell me to go and join a club where I will be pushed to do certain exercises at a certain rate, is unrealistic. I understand that other people don't get this. Fortunately with age comes wisdom and I know what I can and can't do. Do I need motivation? Hell yes!! Do I need someone to tell me to do more? Definitely! But it is a tad difficult trying to explain to someone who saw me running yesterday, that I can't even walk today. So I need to be my own advocate. That being said, I also need accountability. Don't use not being able to do it as an excuse. Do something else, but do it. Get off your ass and join other like-minded people and get some accountability. My FitBit is my accountability and I strive to do as well as I can (because it has a great memory with a graph! Yikes I can hobble run but I can't hide! Moving intentionally is critical to success. Do something you enjoy. I compete with myself all the time - I'm weird that way. Along with movement comes sleep - huh? Isn't it just the opposite? Well yes it is, but without sufficient sleep you are sabotaging your efforts. Make sure you get enough sleep for your body otherwise you will be too tired to do any of the above and then emotional eating looks soooo good.

9. Be Brave
People are going to tell you that you can't do it. You've always been a certain way. You can't eat like that forever, it's not sustainable to eat that way, but it's not their life. You need to stand up for yourself in a way that you feel comfortable. That may mean speaking up and confronting the negativity or it may mean ignoring comments, keeping your head down and focused, depends on your personality. Look at yourself in the mirror and say "I will never be like this again. I have only one body and it deserves to be nourished and treated properly and that starts NOW!"

10. Health is a journey, not a destination
We will never "get there" and be able to eat unhealthily again. We will never be able to just lie on the couch all day eating chips. Health is a constant journey of choices. If we make too many bad choices, our health suffers, too many good choices and we may suffer socially (no Christmas pudding or birthday cake makes life dull). Life and health is a balancing act. We need to keep the balance right in order for our bodies and minds to function optimally. When you fail (and you will fail, no it's not negativity, it's reality), you get up. Don't look back, only look forward. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow hasn't happened yet, the only time you have is now. Choose wisely now and prepare to choose wisely tomorrow.

The human body is an amazing thing, it can be abused for years before showing signs of wear and tear, therefore one or two bad choices won't derail your healthy plan unless you allow those choices to lead to more bad choices.

The 3 things you can do as a first step are 1. Move more, 2. Eat real food and 3. Start NOW!

Sounds so easy! GET OFF THE COUCH!!!

I may not get it right every day and that's ok. Life happens. But I am important enough to keep trying, trying to be the best that I can be. For myself, for my family and to fulfil my purpose of being put here. I'm not here to exist, I'm here to live, love and experience life to the fullest! See my post On Purpose

Good luck on your journey! We all have different finishing lines, but we will all finish. Life is the strangest journey of all, the winner is the one who crosses the finish line last, in good health, sound mind and humour in tact.
I stumbled across this fabulous link that uses 24 diagrams showing how EVERYTHING works. How to make a quick soup, how to make a smoothie, what does one serving of fruit look like, what to use as substitutes in recipes. what is and isn't Paleo, everything you need to know to get started and keep going. I know that I will be referencing this often. Hope you enjoy it!

Ta da!! Here it is!!   Eating Health is Super Easy

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Coke vs Fruit Juice

How much sugar is in Coke
I found this disturbing picture when I was searching for some marketing material for my marketing lectures. I've never been a great Coke fan but when I was pregnant I would have sold my soul for a glass of ice cold Coke, so I understand the attraction. I am also married to a closet Coke addict, who given half a chance will have Coke every day.  When I met hubby waaaayyyy back in 1991 he was drinking more than 2 litres of Coke A DAY yikes!  We all know that Coke is not good for you but only when you see the sugar content in "real" terms does it really hit home. Hubby was consuming almost 30 tsp of sugar per day! Amazing what a young body can cope with and still function optimally.

I've read some real horror stories on how you can clean your toilet with Coke and how bad it is for you because it leeches all the calcium and nutrients from you bones and if you leave a tooth in Coke overnight it dissolves! So it's kind of a no-brainer that when you drink Coke your body is put under a large amount of strain, not only to accommodate all that sugar but also to digest and remove all those chemicals from your body.

But let's be honest, it's not only Coke, it's pretty much all sodas or cool drinks as we refer to them here in Sunny South Africa. But what is the alternative? Diet Coke? Reading about sugar substitutes makes it even scarier, especially for those with a history of cancer in the family, so you're pretty much screwed if you have a prominent "cancer gene" as well as a "fat gene" because, as my granny used to say, "you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't!" Read Sweet Poison if you haven't already.

Non-nutritive sweeteners are no-nos in our family, but the "fat gene" is an unwelcome visitor, so I am very frustrated. What do we give our kids to drink?

Fruit juices are laced with sugar, even when the label states "no sugar added". Did you know that 100% pure fruit juices are concentrated pure juice to ensure that the drinks are sweeter? That's how the manufacturers can claim that it is 100% pure! Only problem is that instead of drinking all the water that has been removed, which would fill you up so you can't drink tons of it, the remaining pulp has been turned into a syrup with a tiny bit of water added and then served as a health drink, or at least a healthy alternative! I always wondered how the fruit juices tasted better than the fruit! Sigh - where do we turn?

Let's all drink WINE!!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Why aren't the FDA stepping up? Or is this another Killer in our Kitchens like Aspartame?

I came across this study showing Branded foodstuffs in the US which contain large amounts of harmful food colourings / dyes.  Shockingly enough, these are products marketed for children to consume and the FDA have agreed that the levels are too high but have done nothing to rectify it.

Here in South Africa no study has been done that I am aware of, although some of these sweets are available here. My kids (and I) have eaten these at parties or when we are out with friends (we don't buy them as a norm) but it really makes you wonder how safe all the rest of our food is.

The number of allergies and intolerances in children has sky-rocketed over the past 2 decades and there are many more cases of neurological disorders reported than ever before.

Now I must apologise to Nestle. About 5 years ago (just when my children were starting to have birthday parties) Nestle changed Smarties from beautiful, brightly coloured orbs into dull, lifeless, pathetic little things and I was mad!! Just when I was about to start making bright cakes with bright Smarties!! They said it was because they wanted to reduce the amount of dye in the products and I was livid!  Who cared about the dye? Hadn't we all grown up eating Smarties and we were all fine? NO. Over the years the dyes were made cheaper and nastier and we didn't know the difference, we're consumers, not food technologists!! We rely on regulators such as the FDA to take decisions on our behalf, so I have changed my anger to direct it where it is due, at the organisations put in place to protect us and our children from harmful foods and additives. So Nestle I apologise because you were trail blazers and although I don't know what's in those colours now, I'm sure it's a lot less harmful than they were.

Of course I also only started educating myself and began caring when my daughter began to be one of the affected ones and the impact of these foreign ingredients forced our family to start questioning everything we ate. This put us on the path of seeking REAL food without the weird stuff.  See The Eczema Chronicles for updates.

Interestingly, on Saturday, for the first time I saw protesters at our local mall protesting GMO seeds. Maybe there are more people becoming aware.

To read the study click on the link below.
Study showing Brands with harmful dyes

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Stinky Stuff

One of the things I really hadn't given a second thought to, when I started trying to be more healthy, was what we put ON ourselves. I was so pre-occupied about what we put IN ourselves that this little gem didn't cross my mind. I remember Mrs Sharples, my standard 6 (Grade 8) Home Economics teacher, warning us about wearing anti-perspirant deodorants. She made sense at the time, saying anything that stops the sweat from leaving your body cannot be a good thing as it forces your body to absorb it and release it in another way. Agreed, but at the tender age of 13 she was speaking to bullet-proof teenagers who were boy-crazy and were only interested in smelling nice, so that that boys would like them and girls wouldn't tease them. We were not very receptive.

When I stumbled across this article Top 7 Ingredients to avoid in a deodorant, I decided to check my deodorant's ingredients and low and behold, mine has 6 out of 7 of the toxic ingredients! Seeing as I have been using deodorant for MANY years (I'm not going to say how many, but a lot), this can't be good for me, putting these chemicals on my skin day in and day out. Mitchum deodorant advertises that their product is so effective that you can skip a day. The reason for this is that the chemicals remain on your skin even after washing, again a bit of an eye-opener. 

Okay so this article makes sense and I think I should make a change, scan down to what they suggest......


What do they recommend? Not shaving! Apparently openiong up the hair folicle after shaving is the kiss of death, allowing the toxins free access to your pit and lymph nodes. Otherwise? Washing your pits with soap and water twice a day! Seriously?? Who has the time to do that? I can just picture me, excusing myself from a meeting and nipping into the bathroom at work for "the wash". Seriously, how would I do it? Have one arm in my blouse, the rest of the top around my neck, my bra wound around the blouse already around my neck, while I lean over the basin and wash my arm pits one at a time, trying not to splash on my bra, top, shoes etc! Lovely image. And then I suppose I would either have to bring my own bar of soap or dispenser to work or use the pink standard-issue soap from the hand wash dispenser, boy I'd love to smell like that all day *not*.  Then do I have to hang under the hot-air blower to dry off?  I can see those promotional prospects disappearing before my eyes as I get labelled as the whack-job in the office. OK to be fair I may already have that title........

Googling this topic has been interesting! Apparently I can even make my own deodorant wahahahahaha *pause* wahahahahahaha. I'd love to spend my weekend making my own deodorant *not*.

Why is EVERYTHING healthy so damn INCONVENIENT?? Well it does seems that way. Okay, way down at the bottom of the article it does state that you could find some natural deo and I think I've seen a Salt Crystal one somewhere long long ago and there are quite a few on the internet. So I suppose I better start looking around to see where on earth I can find a natural deo without importing it from Germany. If I find one I'll let you know! 

Until then....... to stink or not to stink? That is the question!!