Christmas should be a happy time, time spent with friends and family, but we all tend to get caught up in the business of the Christmas period and end up stressed, anxious and with never ending “to do” lists. One way to help with stress levels is gratitude. There is always something each day we can be grateful for, be it waking up pain free, having the love of your family, that smile a stranger gave you when passing, the sun shining. Finding things to be grateful for can help our mental health. By focusing on positive thoughts rather than the negative ones can help reduce the affects of our stress hormones.
Below is an advent calendar for you to download and use this festive season, but rather than just counting the days until Christmas I challenge you to fill in at least one thing you are grateful for each day.
Embrace Nature, Embrace Health.
Welcome to autumn – not a time to be sad that summer is over, but a time to admire the beauty of nature all around us. This is the season of stunning autumnal colours. Stop and take a moment from your busy life to enjoy what nature has to offer..
Nature truly has healing powers – from the wonderful plants that nourish us through the food we grow and eat, to the beautiful herbal tonics we can make using plants to help support organs and body system. Who hasn’t tried echinacea when struck down by the cold or flu? (By the way echinacea has many other uses too). Come and see our Naturopaths and Herbalists at Simply Great Health here on the North Shore to find out more.
Just being outside amongst the plants has healing powers too. A number of studies have found that by getting into nature, and better still, living in close proximity to “green space”, a number of health benefits may be experienced. A recent Spanish study published in the International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health, 2018, found that “Greenspaces have been associated with reduced cancer mortality among young women. Mechanisms explaining the beneficial effect of green spaces include increased levels of physical activity and reduced exposure to air pollution, which have been both associated with cancer development” (2018).
A study published in BJ Psych Int. found that “Individuals have less mental distress, less anxiety and depression, greater wellbeing and healthier cortisol profiles when living in urban areas with more greenspace” (Barton & Rogerson, 2017).
The Japanese have taken the natural healing of nature a step further and have what they call Shinrin Yoku, which translated means forest bathing. A practice of being connected with nature, recognising and utilising this wonderful health resource provided by our forests and countryside. It is a place where we can engage all 5 of our senses as we wonder through the bush. It would seem to not only help with blood pressure, memory and concentration but also seems to support a good night’s sleep. What a great way to unplug from technology, reconnect with our senses while at the same time getting some exercise and fresh air.
So as we are still enjoying such fine weather, why not take some time to get out into nature, enjoy some of our wonderful bush and give yourself a health boost at the same time. The best part is it won’t cost you anything. Give it a try this weekend and enjoy the benefits!
O’Callaghan-Gordo, C., Kogevinas, M., Castano-Vingals, G., Aragones, N., Delfrade, J. Fernandez-Villa, T., … Nieuenhuijsen, M.J. (2018). Residential proximity to green spaces and breast cancer risk: The multicase-control study in Spain (MCC-Spain). Int J Hyg Environ Health, 221(8), 1097-1106. doi: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2018.07.014
Barton, J. & Rogerson, M. (2017). The importance of greenspace for mental health. Retrieved from www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5663018
Buying organic fruits and vegetables can at times seem more expensive than buying from your supermarket. So we’ve put together a list to help you allocate your budget to the foods that should be bought organically, and which foods have less pesticides and chemicals and are ok to buy conventionally if your budget doesn’t stretch.
The clean 15 list shows you the best vegetables to buy organically to limit exposure to pesticides. A lot of the ‘clean’ produce has thick skin, allowing the produce to protect its edible parts from pesticides, meaning it’s safer for eating and better for you! Think strawberries (on the dirty list) vs. avocados (on the clean list).
Have a read below for your next shopping trip 🙂
Click here to download your printable version!
Small steps can make BIG differences. All too often we are overwhelmed by issues, we feel we can do nothing to help when maybe all it takes are small steps to initiate some change. We see and hear about enormous islands of rubbish and plastic floating in the ocean and the devastating effect this has on our marine life. We see horrific pictures of birds dying through starvation as they are not able to feed due to bits of plastic impeding them and whales full of plastic. What can we do about this? Surely this problem is too big for me as an individual to make any sort of a difference. But, every time we take our reusable bags to the supermarket that is one bag less to pollute our landfills and oceans. Every time we take our reusable coffee cups to café’s that is less plastic to pollute our environment.
We now have a serious world-wide problem with dying bees and decreasing bee populations. Without bees our agriculture would suffer, bees pollinate plants. It has been estimated that approximately one third of our global food supply is pollinated by bees. Really they provide a free pollinating service to our farmers so are a vital part of our food supply. Also life would be somewhat dull without colourful flowers and plants again pollinated by bees. Let’s stop using toxic sprays that kill bees and plant flowers to help support and feed them. Again small steps that can have big positive outcomes.
Let’s finish with the Star Fish Story adapted from The Star Thrower, by Loren Eiselsy (1907-1977).
A man was walking along the beach one morning as he did most days. A big storm had passed through the day before and left the beach covered in starfish, hundreds of starfish as far as the eye could see. Away in the distance the old man spotted a young boy bending down, picking up something and throwing it into the ocean. As the boy came closer the man called out asking what the boy was doing? The young boy paused, looked up and replied “throwing starfish back into the ocean. The storm has washed them up onto the beach and if left here they will surely die as they cannot return to the ocean by themselves.” The old man replied “but there are thousands of starfish on the beach, you really won’t be able to make much of a difference”
The boy bent down and picked up another starfish and threw it into the ocean. He turned to the man and said “I made a difference to that one, and that one” as he threw yet another starfish into the ocean.
We can all be that boy, throwing back one starfish at a time, not letting big seemly unsurmountable tasks overwhelm us. We too can make a difference. Think today what can I do to make a positive change to my family, world and environment 🙂
Today it is Winter Solstice – our shortest day and according to tradition, this is the time to plant your garlic cloves so they can be harvested on the longest day, December 21, just in time for Christmas. A great Christmas present for our health read below for some of the therapeutic benefits from eating garlic.
There is definitely more to the humble garlic bulb than meets the eye. This herb has been valued across many cultures as a medicine, food, flavouring and preservative. It is one of the oldest cultivated plants with written records dating back to Ancient Egypt detailing its medicinal use. Hippocrates cited its numerous uses therapeutically, it was given to the original Olympic athletes, therefore we can possibly regard it as our first performance-enhancing drug. It has also been used in Chinese medicine for the last 3,000years.
Today we use garlic as a delicious ingredient that adds nutritional punch and wonderful flavour to many dishes, but we also recognise and use garlic therapeutically. This could be due to the sulphur containing compounds such as the pungent and volatile allicin. This has been shown to have antimicrobial actions so helping our bodies fight colds, flu along with yeast infections such as candida.
Did you know garlic and its constituents have strong antioxidant properties, they are capable of scavenging those harmful free radicals that can be so damaging to our bodies? Garlic has also been shown to indirectly help our own internal antioxidant systems. Definitely another plus for including garlic in your diet.
Studies have also indicated garlic to assist with cardiovascular health as it seems to have a protective effect against atherosclerosis, helps naturally to decrease cholesterol levels, and helps lower blood pressure.
In this toxic world we live in, garlic can also assist us. In vitro tests have shown “garlic to prevent cadmium and arsenic-induced oxidative stress” (Braun & Cohen, 2015)
And there’s more … nutritionally garlic is a good source of B6, vitamin C, manganese, selenium, phosphorous, calcium, potassium, iron and copper (Murray and Pizzorno, 2005)
Don’t miss out, get into your garden or just use some pots and plant some garlic, your body will love you for it.
Garlic Aioli Recipe Ingredients 1 large egg, 1 1/2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of white wine vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 3/4 cup of virgin olive oil (divided), 1 garlic clove.
Method Combine egg yolk, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 minced garlic clove in a medium bowl. Whisk until properly blended and colour should be bright yellow.
Using 1/4 teaspoon measure add a 1/4 of a cup of olive oil to the yolk mixture, a couple of drops at a time, whisking constantly. Note this takes around 4 minutes.
Gradually add remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil, ensuring it is added in a slow thin stream, whisking all the time until the mayonnaise is thick and lighter in colour. Cover and chill. It can be kept for two days. Use as a dip for your favourite vegetables or whenever you would use mayonnaise.
Note Raw egg is not recommended for infants, the elderly, immune compromised or pregnant woman.