Dare To Be Healthy

So I’m sitting in front of my laptop about to write this article, I look out the window and realise it’s the middle of March and still no sign of spring. I bet you’re all Spring2wondering like I am what’s happened to spring. With the very limited amount of sunlight, hardly any at all if I’m being honest, we need to look to boosting our bodies with supplements. Where am I going with this? Vitamin D – the “sunshine vitamin”.

Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin because it is produced by the skin in response to exposure to sunlight. We cannot get adequate amounts of Vitamin D from our diets so for those of us who live in a climate that has less sunshine, we need to supplement to keep our Vitamin D levels at its best.

So why do we need Vitamin D? We all know as we’ve been taught over the years that along with calcium, vitamin D builds strong bones, which is true to an extent. Here’s how it really works – vitamin D is actually crucial for the absorption of calcium in your intestines. It is activated in the body by the liver and kidneys before it can be used. Without adequate Vitamin D, the body cannot absorb calcium which means taking calcium is ineffective. Vitamin D also prevents osteoporosis, depression, prostate and breast cancers and affects diabetes and obesity.

How do we know if we have adequate levels of vitamin D or are deficient? Some symptoms of mild Vitamin D deficiency include feeling tired, vague aches and pains, and a sense of not being well generally. In more severe deficiency known as “osteomalacia”, symptoms include more severe pain and weakness. Weakness of the muscles may cause difficulties in moving around, bones can feel tender when moderate pressure is applied – according to Andrew Weil M.D., “if it hurts to press firmly on your sternum, you may be suffering from chronic Vitamin D deficiency”.

Children are more prone to infections such as respiratory infections if deficient in Vitamin D. Breathing can be affected due to weakness in chest muscles and ribcage. It can also cause irritability and poor growth, and in more severe cases muscles spasms in babies.

Research has shown that a high number of people in the UK (in the winter and spring, 1 in 6 adults) and some other countries like Canada and some states in the USA are vitamin D deficient. This is because these countries lie further from the equator to have enough UVB rays from sunlight to make vitamin D.

There are some other instances where the body would not be able to make the necessary vitamin D such as:

  • Elderly people who have thinner skin than younger ones so are not able to produce as much vitamin D which leaves them at risk of deficiency
  • People who have darker skin e.g. Africans, Afro-Caribbeans are not able to make as much vitamin D. They may need 20 to 30 times as much exposure to sunlight than those with fair skin.
  • People who stay indoors a lot or those who cover up their bodies a lot e.g. wearing a veil or burqa are also at risk of deficiency.
  • Using sunscreen could potentially lead to deficiency especially those with SPF (factor 8 or above). Our bodies can produce vitamin D on their own when exposed to sunlight but the skin must be free of sunscreen, sunblock and clothing which all interfere with the process.
  • Vitamin D deficiency can also occur in people with medical conditions which can affect the way the body handles vitamin D and also people on certain types of medication.

To find out if you are vitamin D deficient, go to your doctor and ask to have a blood test done. Chronic vitamin D deficiency cannot be reversed overnight. It takes months of vitamin D supplementation and exposure to sunlight to rebuild the body’s bones and nervous system so it would be a good idea as part of daily routine to supplement and eat foods that have some amount of vitamin D present to prevent becoming deficient.

Oily fish like sardines, tuna, salmon, mackerel and cod liver oil are the best dietary source of vitamin D. Milk and some cereals are fortified with synthetic vitamin D which are not adequate for the body. A person would have to drink 10 tall glasses of milk every day in order to just get the minimum levels of vitamin D into their diet, so I wouldn’t recommend relying on those.

While we are still without sunshine for now, and throughout the year, I would recommend getting vitamin D supplements to boost health and body. Eat healthy and exercise, and when spring and summer come around, get out there and get your free prescription of the sunshine vitamin – you totally deserve it!

Peace and Fabulous Health!

IMG_1516Happy Pancake Day!

2 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 cup coconut sugar (you can usealternatives like maple syrup)

1/4 tsp salt
1 – 2 cup almond milk (depending on thickness)
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
5 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp vanilla

½ tsp. cinnamon

1. Mix dry ingredients together.

2. Beat eggs in a separate bowl.

3. Add milk, oil and eggs to dry ingredients.

4. Mix well, pour batter in hot skillet (I use a little bit of oil spray, so it won’t stick) until surface is bubbly, flip to cook the other side.

Strawberry Sauce

2 cups strawberries (chopped, you can blend in a food processor if you want it smooth, I like to have some bits in!)

1 tbsp. coconut sugar

1 cinnamon stick

Place all ingredients in a small sauce pan, add a drop of water and cook until sauce begins to thicken, about 10-15 minutes.

Place pancakes on a plate, top with strawberries and sauce, enjoy!

Felt really good this morning, full of energy, clear head and best of all, I had the best night’s sleep in ages. So detox for one more day, sunny Sunday morning, most of the snow all gone and weather slightly warmer than the last few days. Usual routine of lemon water, yoga and smoothie. Was tempted to just sit in front of the TV to watch the Australian Open Men’s finals but had to press record cause I had some writing to catch up on. Here’s my smoothie recipe for the day:

2 handfuls of kale

1 pearIMG_1501

3 celery sticks

3 brocolli florets

Handful of alfalfa & broccoli sprouts

½ lime

Cup of water

Got through the smoothie all day with loads of water and detox tea. As this was an unofficial detox day, I had dinner – baked salmon with mixed vegetables (broccoli, carrots, baby corn and green beans) topped with garlic, lime and herb dressing (home-made of course)!

I’m so glad I did an additional day of detox even if just to prolong the benefits a bit longer. But that’s not where I’m going to stop – I’m now more focused on my eating habits and lifestyle, and more aware of what I do and what my body needs.

Whatever detox program you adopt, always be careful with it and listen to your body. Be aware of good changes to adopt, and changes that don’t work for you, just let go of them. You will reap such awesome benefits in the long run.

Peace and Fabulous Health!

So third and final day…at least that’s what I thought. Woke up feeling a little more clear-headed but with a slight migraine nothing too major and the sore gums still. I didn’t feel too bad; the good effects kind of outweighed the migraine for the moment so I carried on with my routine. Glass of lemon and warm water, did my yoga and meditation and then made my juice for the day. Here’s the recipe:

Handful of kaleIMG_1491

1 avocado

Handful of parsley

1 apple

2 celery sticks

Cup of water

Really wanted to improve my skin as it was looking all dry and also to get some good fats in, this is why I threw in the avocado. This of course all goes into a blender, cannot juice avocado – very bulky smoothie (add water to thin it out a bit).

Because the migraine was lingering a bit, decided to have a salad earlier than I would have and besides I was catching up with a friend I hadn’t seen in what felt like forever (only a few weeks!), so went to lunch and was very good and had only the salad and loads of water. That seemed to get rid of the migraine totally, got home and carried on with my smoothie, water and green tea. Day 3 over and done with, woohoo!!

So what was supposed to be a 3 day detox turned into four days. Woke up the next morning and felt really good and decided to carry on with my detox for one more day.

Peace and Fabulous Health!

Woke up feeling quite hungry, as expected but couldn’t stop now, already starting to feel a bit lighter. So as usual first thing lemon and warn water to cleanse me from the night before and get my metabolism started.  Then yoga and meditation for about 40 minutes and then made my juice for the day. Here’s the recipe:

3 celery sticks

Handful of parsleyLemon

1 pear

2 handfuls of kale

1 inch ginger

½ lemon

1 kiwi

So what do the new ingredients parsley, pear and kiwi do for you?

Parsley: is one herb that is usually just used for garnishing food. It is rich in carotenoids, chlorophyll, calcium, Vitamins A, B, C and iron. Parsley is known for its blood-cleansing and healing properties. It is a strong diuretic, anti-inflammatory and a powerful antioxidant. Parsley neutralizes toxins in your liver, inhibits abnormal cell growth (preventing tumours and cancers), and boosts the immune system.

Kiwis have similar properties to bananas, as well as contain vitamin E which helps improve skin radiance. They also help cleanse and energize our bodies.

Pears are an excellent source of soluble fibre and contain vitamins A, B1, B2, C, E, folic acid and niacin. They are also rich in copper, phosphorus and potassium. The high vitamin C and copper content act as good antioxidants that protect cells from damage by free radicals and are critical in building the immune system.

Towards the end of the second day, I started getting the sore gums. Not quite sure why this happens but it always does. Guess it’s the body’s way of letting you know it’s awake and responding to the detox!

Peace and Fabulous Health!

Health

Health is Wealth

Hey folks, hope you’re all good and keeping up with your New Year’s resolutions to get healthy and lose weight this year! Oh wow, it’s almost the end of January already – I figure a few people might have or are on the verge of giving up on the healthy living – please don’t, you’re doing so well!It’s been a busy start to the year for me so wasn’t able to start my detox right at the beginning of the year. Have now started…better late than never, and will be writing about the experience during the process for the next 3 days. Did I mention, you’ll be in need of the bathroom all day, you will have the urge to wee (urinate – one way our bodies get rid of toxins) a lot, so do this when you know you’ll be home most of the time.

Here’s my first day!

Day 1 of detox

My first day of detox was a tough one for me which was surprising as I tend to detox at least one day a month. I had the urge to actually quit half way through the day but stuck it out with all the willpower I could muster up. I started the day with a glass of warm water and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice which I usually do every morning.

So what am I juicing today? Green juice, it’s had to be – even though there is   a specific juice I make for my detox, I decided to start with that and change it up slightly each day. Here’s the recipe which can be found in my book “Healing Foods Healthy Foods” called cleanse smoothie:

2 handfuls of kale

1 cucumber

5 celery sticks

1 inch ginger

1 lemon

½ yellow bell pepper

Here’s what the ingredients contain and how they help cleanse you:

Ginger: is high in antioxidants and also has anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger contains ginerol, a compound that is thought to relax blood vessels, stimulate blood flow and relieve pain. Ginger also helps to ease congestion and cleanses the body.

Kale: has anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and antioxidant properties. It is packed full of fibre, vitamins A, C, E, K, B vitamins, copper, magnesium, iron, calcium and copper.

Cucumber: is a very good source of vitamins A and C, and folic acid. The skin is rich in fibre and a variety of minerals including magnesium and potassium. Cucumber is a top choice as a diuretic. It can help control constipation, stomach disorders and acne.

Celery: is high in vitamin A, B1, B2, B6 and C, and ample supply of potassium, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, iron and essential amino acids. Celery helps flush the body of excessive carbon dioxide and reduces acidity.

Lemon: is a powerful antiseptic and anti-microbial, which destroys bacteria in your mouth and intestines while clearing mucous build up. High in vitamin C, they will support your liver, improve your absorption of minerals, promote weight loss, cleanse your blood, and alleviate indigestion.

Yellow bell pepper is packed full of vitamins B and C, beta-carotene, folic acid, potassium, iron, calcium and magnesium. Good for cleansing the liver and intestines.

I have left out the apple this time as I didn’t want to sweeten the juice, it actually tasted ok! Juice the lot in a blender or juicer (you’ll need to add some water if making in a blender). I tend to make about a litre of it or enough to last me the whole day. In between I drink a lot of water, green/detox teas to really cleanse out my system.

Towards the end of the day, I had a green salad with extra virgin olive oil and lime dressing. I have to go through the action of actually chewing something cause my body from experience refuses to function otherwise (will not be able to sleep)!  Woohoo…so proud of myself I got through the first day and didn’t give up!

Peace and Fabulous Health!

Happy New Year to you fabulous folks!

So we’ve all partied and over-indulged in everything and anything that was put in front of us over the holidays, now it’s time to focus on ourselves. With the new year, we all want to wipe the slate clean, think about what the year will bring to us and also want to get fit and healthy, right? I know at the top of that New Year’s resolution list for so many is to ‘Lose Weight’.

How do we lose the weight, get fit and stick with it for the whole year and beyond, and not just the beginning of the year? Here’s the thing, I think the focus should be taken off the weight loss and put on getting healthy and prevent getting sick. When we do that and start eating healthier and exercising, the weight subsequently drops off – I hear you say, easier said than done, but trust me, it’s definitely do-able when you change your mind set.

We need to think about this new journey as a lifestyle change and not to go on one of the numerous diets that are available – and there are so many. The reason I say that is because diets don’t necessarily work for everyone. We’re all unique individuals and metabolise differently, that is why one type of diet might work for one person but would not necessarily work for the other. Also, diets are temporary – what happens is that we tend to follow the diet guidelines for the duration and once that’s done, the tendency is to return to what was being done before the diet and you’re back to square one and probably worse.

Think of the lifestyle change as a process of growth and learning – learning about yourself, what foods work for and nourish your body and what doesn’t. It has a lot to do with nutrition and exercise, but also to do with balancing your emotional state – where you are in life and where you want to be in your career, relationships etc. With the New Year 2013, this is kind of a good time to reflect, meditate, detox/cleanse and be ready to take on what the year has in store for you.

Here’s what I do at the beginning of the year – I detox my body for about 3 to 7 days depending on how I feel and how much damage was done over the holidays (see my blog for last year’s detox, still working on this year’s)! This is a juice detox (green juices mostly) which has all the ingredients to cleanse and nourish at the same time. I also do yoga and meditate during the detox which calms me and also helps with the cleansing process. After the detox period, I start re-introducing other foods back into my diet, foods I have discovered actually work for me (more vegetables, whole grains etc.) and cut back a bit on the juicing.

The key here is to find out what works for you and in order to do that, you have to be open to trying out new things. Juicing is one of the best ways to get started – that’s how I got started and it’s now a huge part of my healthy lifestyle. You can find a lot of juice recipes including the detox/cleanse juice on my blog (Dare to be healthy), or in my book ‘Healing Foods Healthy Foods’ to get you started. Also, try to find an exercise or activity you absolutely enjoy – when you find an exercise or activity you enjoy, tendency would be that you would carry on doing it without having to think twice about it or talk yourself out of doing it.

Juicing will not only cleanse and nourish your body the natural way but will also aid in weight loss if done correctly. I have focused quite a bit on juicing and detox here but there are other aspects that go into creating a healthy lifestyle which I will address in other upcoming articles so look out for them.

If you’d like more information on my health programs, please visit my website. I wish you awesome health and success on your new healthy lifestyle!

Peace and Fabulous Health!

Gloria

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