How to Boost Brain Health and Reverse Neurological Disease Without Drugs

I came across this article by Dr Joseph Mercola and just had to share – it gives some great information…

Boost Your Brain by Kate Grainger

The less inflammatory your diet is, the faster you’re going to get well, because inflammation is nearly always a contributor to neurological dysfunction. Your brain is a really important part of your body. I’m sure no one would disagree with that. In this interview, Dr. Lee Cowden, cofounder of the Academy of Comprehensive Integrative Medicine (ACIM)*, discusses some really simple and inexpensive strategies that boost brain health and support neuroregeneration.

*The Academy of Comprehensive Integrative Medicine was founded in 2008 with the vision of educating integrative practitioners around the globe, for the most part online. “Many practitioners are so busy that they can never take the time to go to all of the meetings they need to go to, to learn what they need to learn,” Cowden says, “so we decided to start putting educational courses online.”

“Everything we’re doing this year is focused on the brain [and] neuroregeneration,” Cowden says. “With integrative medicine, we look at the causation, and see if we can resolve the causation of the illness. Once the cause goes away, usually the illness goes away.”

“The tendency of the American public is to look for a magic bullet. But really, for neurological diseases, I haven’t found a magic bullet. There’s a lot of very important pieces. I call those the foundational pieces: Diet, removing electromagnetic fields (EMFs) from the patient’s surroundings, physical activity, as well as brain games. There are a lot of other emotional issues that impact chronic neurological conditions that we need to address as well.”

Quenching Inflammation is a Key Fundamental Step

With regard to diet, the less inflammatory it is, the faster you’re going to get well, because inflammation is nearly always a contributor to neurological dysfunction.

The most inflammatory of all foods is probably sugar, followed by damaged, oxidised omega-6 oils, trans fats and processed vegetable oils. These all need to be strictly avoided. In addition to an anti-inflammatory diet, nutritional and herbal supplements can offer targeted support.

“Eating a ketogenic diet with clean fats and oils, doing some [intermittent] fasting throughout the week and getting rid of the inflammation-creating things – sugars, omega-6 oils, peanut products that have high arachidonic acid can make a great start in getting a patient’s neurological condition improved,” Cowden says.

“In 1988, I had a colleague who had a father in a nursing home in Louisiana who had advanced Alzheimer’s. He was a full-care case. In the morning, the nurses would have to get him out of bed, dress him and feed him. He was always pooping and peeing in his pants. He couldn’t remember the names of the nurses, the family members or anybody. My colleague said, “Can you give me some ideas of things that will help my father?”

I said, the problem is that it’s going to take a lot of intervention, and getting that at a nursing home is not likely to happen. He said, “I’m pretty sure it will happen, because the head nurse of the nursing home has a mother, just like my dad, with severe dementia. She wants to see if what I try on my dad works, so that she can try it on her mom.”

I recommended the following regimen: Dietary changes, supplemental nutrients and proteolytic enzymes 30 minutes before food, magnesium, vitamin D3, tocotrienols, tocopherols, bacopa monieri, other herbs, homeopathics and some things to get the metals out … chlorella … dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA). I said, “You need to get your dad out of bed and walk him every day. Get the nurses to do this. Get them to play brain games with him.”

He called me back about four months later and said, “I’ve got to give you an update on this … My dad now gets out of bed, dresses himself, feeds himself, does not poop or pee in his pants anymore. He walks around with the nurses and helps them take care of the other patients in the nursing home. Then he sits down and plays cards with the nurses, and sometimes wins. That’s a big shift in just four months’ time, [and] we’ve had lots of other cases like that with dementia.”

Can You Reverse Autism?

Cowden has also seen near-magical improvements in children with autism. A remarkable case is that of a young man named Bryan. Cowden first met Bryan’s dad when Bryan was just 7 years old. He had neither speech nor socialisation skills.

His dad was a restaurant owner who went back to school to become a naturopathic doctor in a desperate attempt to help his son after all of his allopathic doctors told him there was no hope for Bryan – he’d never graduate high school, go to college, hold a job, get married or have children of his own.

Cowden worked with Bryan’s father, and not only did Bryan start speaking within a year or two, he graduated high school at 18, played football in college on a scholarship and got B’s in school. After college, he became a massage therapist; fell in love, married and had two children. He is now helping autistic children and adult patients with neurological disease to recover. I’ve met Bryan, and this story is all the more remarkable by the fact that he’s one of the healthiest people I have ever met.

There is a very objective heart rate variability test that measures the fitness of your autonomic nervous system and a variety of other variables called HeartQuest. Bryan scored virtually a perfect score on this test. From being an autistic child at age 7 to someone who’s one of the healthiest people around is a rather dramatic example showing that if you apply these principles, they really can work.

“After his dad helped him get to the point where he was able to do a lot of things for himself, Bryan became highly motivated to eat a clean diet, to do a physical activity, to drink enough water, to get enough sleep and so on,” Cowden notes. “He lives right.”

A Simple Stress Reduction Technique That Pays Dividends

The beauty of integrative medicine is that there are literally hundreds if not thousands of tools available, and sometimes the simplest, least expensive ones are among the most effective. One fundamental aspect of good health is stress reduction. A stress reduction technique I learned from Cowden that has helped me decrease my sleep latency, allowing me to fall asleep really quickly when practised before bed, is performed as follows:

  • Place your left index finger and thumb together, then grasp a hold of these two fingers with your right hand It’s important to use your left fingers, as the left side of your body entrains the right side of your body rather quickly, whereas the right side entrains the left very slowly.
  • Place your hands on your lap and breathe deeply in through your nose. Hold your breath for one second before breathing out through your mouth. Keep breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth while visualising yourself in the most relaxing place you have ever been. Be sure to include sound, taste, touch and smell in your visualisation and not just the visual component. Really remember that place with all of your senses.

Doing this for four to five minutes before each meal will help improve your digestion and absorption of nutrients, boost your immune function and relax your body. Done before bedtime, it’ll improve how fast you fall asleep, how deeply you fall asleep, and the amount of healing your body can get while asleep as it boosts your immune function. For very little time, energy and effort, at no cost, you can get a lot of improvement. Cowden explains the rationale for these specific finger holds:

“On the index finger, on the middle-finger finger side, the dorsal surface, is the energy pathway for your nervous system. On the palm-side surface of the index finger is the energy pathway for your neurotransmitter system. On the thumb, on the outer aspect, is the pathway for your lymphatic system.

Everybody who is chronically stressed has a stressed-out nervous system, stressed-out neurotransmitters and a clogged lymphatic system.

When you hold [your left index finger and thumb] with your right hand, you’re taking the excess energy that’s usually in these other pathways and dissipating that into the pathways that run on the palm surface of your right hand. If there are areas or pathways that are deficient in energy, then energy comes out of the pathways in your right hand and goes into the pathways in your left hand.

The principle is balancing the energy pathways. The Chinese have said for 3,000 years that disease develops whenever energy stagnates. If you stagnate energy, then you’re going to have all kinds of problems, including maldigestion and insomnia …

This helps, probably more than anything I’ve found, to balance the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system.

The sympathetic is what causes the fight-or-flight. The parasympathetic, which is to balance out the sympathetic, is responsible for digestion, relaxation, sleep and the calming parts of our nervous system. So many people have almost exclusively, sympathetic and almost no parasympathetic function.”

5-HTP Boosts Melatonin and Helps Optimise Sleep

Another gem I learned from Cowden during a visit to my home was the use of 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP). My deep sleep measured at zero minutes, despite spending time at the beach daily to expose myself to bright sunshine and using blackout drapes to sleep in the dark. I also turn off all electricity to my bedroom. I thought that’s all you needed to optimise melatonin. It turns out that’s not the case when you get older. Cowden explains:

“Tryptophan, which you find in turkey and pumpkin seeds, gets converted to 5-HTP. 5-HTP is converted to 5-hydroxytryptamine, also called serotonin. 5-hydroxytryptamine finally gets converted into melatonin. However, as we age, toxins pile up in the enzymes [responsible for these conversions] and prevent those enzymes from performing the work they need to do.

You have, over time, lower and lower levels of 5-HTP, serotonin and melatonin, even though you’re doing everything else right. So, yes, we have to continually detoxify, and also, sometimes, support those enzyme systems by what we call excessive precursor supply. You boost the building blocks to make the final product.

Melatonin is not very well absorbed out of the gut. Some people take melatonin, but some people have kind of a paradoxical response from that. But if they take 5-HTP, they can actually make as much 5-hydroxytryptamine as they need to fairly easily, and then they have the serotonin and melatonin.”

Low Serotonin Will Impede Melatonin Production

Once I began taking 100 milligrams of 5-HTP about 20 minutes before bed, my deep sleep rapidly increased. Since then I’ve also painted my bedroom with grounded shielding paint that provides an ultra-low EMF environment. Turning off the electricity wasn’t enough, as assessed by measuring the electric field’s influence on my body voltage. Hopefully that’ll improve my deep sleep further.

Many are aware that serotonin is important for mood, but if you don’t have enough of it, you can’t make melatonin either, and melatonin is the most important antioxidant nutrient in the brain. As noted by Cowden, melatonin is far more important than the oral antioxidants you may take. It’s even more important than glutathione and superoxide dismutase, because it’s fat-soluble.

Melatonin provides the best protection for your neurons against free radical damage, and you need a healthy release of melatonin through the night to calm and heal your brain. The enzyme that converts 5-HTP to serotonin requires vitamin B6 as a cofactor, so if you’re taking 5-HTP and not seeing results, that means you probably need to take some coenzymated B6 (pyridoxal 5′-phosphate) sublingually to get enough of the active form of B6 to enable the conversion of 5-HTP to serotonin.

The Many Benefits of Magnesium

Another supplement that is helpful for sleep is magnesium. Cowden prefers magnesium malate, which is what I use, but you can also use magnesium threonate. There are literally dozens of different types of magnesium supplements. Magnesium threonate has the added benefit of providing some antiretroviral activity, and retroviruses tend to be a challenge inherent with many neurodegenerative diseases. Threonate is also a neurotransmitter, in addition to being an amino acid.

To avoid creating an imbalance, it’s wise to alternate between different forms of magnesium.

Cowden prefers magnesium malate because malic acid is a Krebs citric acid cycle intermediate and actually helps generate more ATP energy. If you’re deficient in malic acid inside the cell and you take a magnesium malate, the malic acid is drawn into the interior of the mitochondria and will drag the magnesium in with it. Without a doubt, magnesium is essential for mitochondrial ATP production. About 50 percent of the metabolic enzymes in your body require magnesium as a cofactor, so it’s a really important nutrient. It’s also required for conduction of nerve impulses and the contraction-relaxation cycle of muscles, including your heart muscle. There’s also compelling evidence suggesting magnesium may reduce the impacts and side effects of EMF exposure. Importantly, if you don’t have enough magnesium, your body also cannot absorb potassium. Cowden explains:

“If a person is deficient in magnesium and potassium, you can give them potassium in large amounts on an ongoing basis, and their potassium levels never come up. But if you give them magnesium and get it repleted, and then give them potassium, then their potassium levels come up.

That’s because the kidney tubules selectively hold on to magnesium. However they waste potassium into the toilet in order to retain the magnesium because apparently, the body sees the magnesium as being a more vital nutrient than potassium.

One more thing. A lot of people in the United States are on some form of diuretic medication, either for blood pressure, swelling of their legs or for some other reason. When you take a diuretic, it has a magnesium and potassium-wasting effect on the kidneys. They’re wasting both magnesium and potassium into the toilet. But most doctors only give potassium. They don’t give the magnesium.”

Alternatives to Diuretics

Diuretics are frequently prescribed for high blood pressure and/or swelling in the extremities. As in most cases, drugs are not necessary for treating these conditions.

Swelling of the legs is often due to congestion in your lymphatic system, or kidney toxicity preventing your kidneys from properly processing water. Hence the water is retained in your tissues. Sometimes, it’s just severe toxicity in the tissues.

“One of the ways the body protects itself from toxic overload is to allow water to go out into the tissues where the toxins are, to dilute the toxins. If you have enough toxicity in your legs, then you’re going to have fluid accumulation there to try to dilute those toxins,” Cowden explains. “The lymphatic system can get clogged up for lots of different reasons.

The lymphatic system is commonly clogged up in people in the United States, because they have a love affair with dairy products and wheat products, both of which produce thick sticky mucoid material in the lymphatic system, which clogs it up. If they get rid of the dairy and wheat products, then the lymphatic system becomes more fluid and able to clear toxins from the tissues through the lymphatic system.”

If you have an extremely weak heart, you may not be able to pump blood properly. This is also known as right-sided congestive heart failure. A very common cause of that is coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) deficiency.

According to Cowden, taking CoQ10, addressing any emotional issues and eliminating heavy metals will help the swelling to go away even in these more serious cases.

Why Diuretics are Not Ideal for Treatment of Hypertension

Hypertension is a more complex issue. The first line of treatment and the No. 1 recommended drug for treating hypertension is taking a thiazide diuretic. However, thiazide diuretics cause chromium wasting, which then creates insulin resistance, which in turn raises your blood pressure. As noted by Cowden:

“That seems to be a pretty oxymoronic way to do that. We really need to try to find a better solution. Most people who have hypertension emotionally feel under pressure to do something or not do something. If they can recognise what that is and resolve that emotional conflict, their blood pressure usually goes down quite a bit …

If you get the plaque reversed in the arteries, then the [arteries] are no longer stiff, so then you don’t have a systolic hypertension. You don’t need the drug, because your blood pressure comes down just by getting rid of the plaque in the arteries.

How do you do that? In the early ’90s, I was giving patients with advanced atherosclerotic disease proteolytic enzymes 30 minutes before food, a clean diet, supplements, nutrients, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin E, and reversing 80 to 90 percent plaque in the arteries down to 20 and 30 percent plaque in just three or four months.

We proved that with the ultrasound Doppler duplex imaging. If we can do that, then why are we doing open heart surgeries, carotid endarterectomies and all that other stuff? It’s because people are not educated about what’s possible. If they haven’t been told that this could be done by their medical doctor, then they don’t believe that it’s possible. Unfortunately, there are a lot of things the medical doctor doesn’t know, because they weren’t taught it in medical school.”

The Benefits of Proteolytic Enzymes

Proteolytic enzymes are an effective strategy not only for decreasing atherosclerotic plaque but also for thinning your blood and lowering your risk of a blood clot. Cowden’s father was placed on Coumadin by his doctor, which caused him to bleed profusely whenever he hurt himself working outside. Cowden suggested proteolytic enzymes instead, which his father was eager to try.

“He started that when he was about 60. He lived to be 80. He was on proteolytic enzymes 30 minutes before food twice a day for 20 years, without any more clots, without any more of the symptoms for which he was being treated with the sodium warfarin or the Coumadin.

Since then, I’ve treated several dozen other patients with the same strategy. As far as I know, there’s no peer-reviewed literature proving that this is so, but we have lots of anecdotal evidence … As far as I know, everybody has remained plaque-free.”

The enzymes Cowden uses for this purpose, in order of effectiveness are:

  1. Lumbrokinase, made from bacteria that live in the gut of the earthworm
  2. Nattokinase, a fermented soy product
  3. Serrapeptase, made from bacteria that grow in the gut of the silkworm
  4. Bromelain, obtained from pineapple stems
  5. Papaya leaf enzyme

“A person can be energetically tested for several of these enzymes to see which pair is the best pair and just rotate back and forth. Monday, Wednesday and Friday, one; Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday the other. If they do enough of those, then usually they’ll have no clot formation,” he says. Proteolytic enzymes also combat tiny clots, frequently caused by chronic infections. The infection, wherever it is located, causes your body to produce excessive amounts of fibrin, a clot-producing agent.

This fibrin can plaster itself up against the capillary walls, restricting the delivery of oxygen from red blood cells through the capillary wall into the tissues.

The above-mentioned enzymes will strip away fibrin, allowing oxygen delivery through the capillary walls into tissues. Once the tissues are no longer starved of oxygen, they can go into aerobic metabolism instead of anaerobic metabolism, and when you’re in anaerobic metabolism, you don’t stimulate cancer growth and microbial growth. So, there are many related health benefits.

Alternative Health Therapies Magazine by Kate Grainger

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Overcoming Type 2 Diabetes – The Natural Way

Overcoming Type 2 Diabetes Pic 01 by Kate Grainger

Type 2 diabetes – also known as adult-onset diabetes – does not have to be permanent. Caloric restriction and Fasting can help control blood sugar, lower blood pressure, and even help reverse type 2 diabetes. Before we get into how fasting can undo the threat of type 2 diabetes, we first need to understand how type 2 diabetes affects the body.

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Diabetes develops when fat accumulates in areas of the body that shouldn’t accumulate fat. A strong indicator, and the beginning phase is an abundance of fat in your muscle tissue. Typically this is the result of a family history, a sedentary lifestyle, poor diet, or a combination of these. This fat is called intramuscular fat. Imagine the marbling on a steak, it’s like that, only it’s inside your muscles, and causes insulin resistance — the characteristic that distinguishes type 1 diabetes from type 2. Additionally, intramuscular fat causes muscles to produce toxic fat metabolites like ceramide and diacylglycerol (DAG). These toxins also contribute to insulin resistance.

Overcoming Type 2 Diabetes Pic 08 by Kate Grainger

When you have high blood sugar, the pancreas produces insulin to lower blood sugar. Overcoming Type 2 Diabetes Pic 02 by Kate GraingerHowever, insulin resistance causes the liver to stop responding to insulin. In fact, the liver keeps producing sugar despite a high level of sugar in the blood.

When the liver accumulates fat, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) can develop. When non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is present, the liver releases fat into the bloodstream where it’s distributed to other organs and they, just like the liver, stop responding to insulin. Especially affected is the pancreas.

Overcoming Type 2 Diabetes Pic 09 by Kate Grainger

As fat builds up in the pancreas, its function is compromised; and since the pancreas is responsible for producing insulin, this is a major issue.

Predictably, insulin production drops.

Normalise your blood sugar to reduce body fat is what is needed, but many people begin insulin injections instead. Insulin injections aid in the short-term, but also contribute to fat formation. Including in the liver and pancreas, which leads to other health issues. It can feel like a catch-22 situation. Fortunately, there are alternatives…

Overcoming Type 2 Diabetes Pic 03 by Kate Grainger

Overcoming Type 2 Diabetes Pic 10 by Kate Grainger

Even though fasting, for me, is a dirty word because I love my food. For around 150 years, studies have shown that fasting provides serious benefits for those with diabetes. In the 1870’s, Dr. Appollinaire Bouchardet, an expert on diabetes during his time, noticed that fasting produced positive results for his diabetic patients.

Dr. Elliott Joslin published research (over 100 years ago) with a conclusion that fasting could reverse diabetes. He was among the first to realise that fasting detoxes your tissues and organs of fatty deposits.

Overcoming Type 2 Diabetes Pic 04 by Kate GraingerWhen you start metabolising the fat in your organs, you can restore insulin sensitivity. And once you restore insulin sensitivity, you can get your blood sugar back on track.

But it’s not all smooth sailing – there can be some complications to be aware of. Fasting with type 2 diabetes comes with a few potential health consequences, which is why you should only begin a fasting regimen under the watchful eye of a General Practitioner (doctor) or certified health professional who has experience and expertise with helping diabetics through this process. Don’t risk your health with unhealthy yo-yo dieting and fasting. Ensure you surround yourself with the right people to support you to success.

Ideally, have your blood tested throughout the day to monitor your blood composition and overall health.

Overcoming Type 2 Diabetes Pic 11 by Kate Grainger

Fasting works similarly to bariatric surgery, a gastric surgery that effectively reduces the size of your stomach. Some studies have found that bariatric surgery helped around 73% of patients go into diabetic remission. This kind of surgery, however, is invasive and comes with all the risks of surgical procedures training the patient to manage nutrition afterwards.

Overcoming Type 2 Diabetes Pic 05 by Kate GraingerPersonally I’d try the post-bariatric surgery eating philosophy to see if it yields results before resorting to solutions found in an operating theatre.

After seven days of reduced calorie intake (about 500-600 calories a day), fasting glucose normalises. Furthermore, after two months on this diet, your pancreas can start producing a normal level of insulin to control blood sugar.

Overcoming Type 2 Diabetes Pic 12 by Kate Grainger

In recent years, medical and nutritional researchers have found that reversing pancreatic damage is possible. Once you clean out the fat, the insulin-producing cells start pumping out insulin again. Fasting can undo the damage to your liver and pancreas to the point that they begin to function normally again.

Because it takes a few months to detox your organs of accumulated fat, intermittent fasting is the way to go.

With a fasting diet, you can sustain the fast long enough to get rid of the excess fat deposits that lead to type 2 diabetes. Monitor your blood sugar and blood pressure. Break your fast if your blood sugar exceeds 300 mg/dl or drops below 70 mg/dl.

A reduced-calorie plant-based diet may also help repair the damage from diabetes. Remarkably, one study found that a well-planned vegan diet can lower insulin dependence by over 60% in just two weeks — without losing any weight.

Overcoming Type 2 Diabetes Pic 13 by Kate Grainger

Small changes lead to small improvements, moderate changes yield moderate improvements, but significant changes lead to extraordinary results:

Do what’s right for your body. Follow a healthy diet to supply energy to an active lifestyle. Cut out or reduce refined sugar, starches, and meat and cheese — all of which are consistently shown to promote diabetes.

You can restore your health with a little determination, the right support team and observing your dietary intake. Accept the challenge to transform your life today.

Overcoming Type 2 Diabetes Pic 06 by Kate Grainger

Alternative Health Therapies Magazine by Kate Grainger

Kate Grainger 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Amp up your vitality

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One of my friends recently posed a question – besides grabbing some greens at salad bar, I don’t really eat as healthy as I should and cooking balanced meals seems like a lot of work. Any ideas?

 I know for me – since I’m not doing a lot of meal preparation as much of the time I only have to fend for myself it would be easy to fall into the trap of snacking on low nutrition or sugary foods constantly. But I’ve found a few ways to help avoid that without feeling like I’m spending hours in the kitchen. Apart from gabbing a piece of fruit instead of a biscuit (and believe me sometimes I stare at each in contemplation before deciding on the worse choice) here are some tips to help swing your diet to the nourishing end of the scale. We all want that trim body and alert mind – well this may help:

“Eat the Rainbow”

 I’m sure you’ve all heard of that saying before – basic macronutrients are relatively easy to get in wholesome formats—fish and eggs provide protein; avocado and nut butters provide fat; and sweet potatoes and brown rice provide carbs. But healthy bodies need a vast array of minerals and vitamins that act as co-factors in the complex panoply of biochemical pathways that comprise tissue building and repair. And that’s why veggies are so important.

Fresh vegetables are high in key micronutrients that get processed out of packaged foods. Most vegetables are goldmines of fibre, minerals, and vitamins. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Veggies are also packed with natural pigments: red is lycopene; orange and yellow are bioflavonoids; green is chlorophyll; and blue is anthocyanidins.

This rainbow display of naturally occurring pigments is important for plant health. Plants are constantly exposed to the elements, and over the eons, they developed pigmentation that not only allows them to become more complex (and thus more adaptable to their environments), but also protects them from radiation from the sun’s rays. And when humans eat those plant colours, we gain

some of their protective prowess against radiation and other agents of cellular damage. This is the single most important reason to make the eff ort to eat 1–2 cups of vegetables at least twice daily.

Plan Ahead

 I spend a few hours and cook up a few meals or prepare cold/salad meals – usually to last me a week of snacks, lunch (even dinner). One large meal will give me four portions. It stops me from overeating, ensures my ingredients are fresh (and organic), I get to include all the desired food groups to satisfy a balanced meal. And best of all, it’s ready at a moment’s notice during the week ahead, and I don’t have to bother with instant noodles or something like that when I’m low on energy and couldn’t be bothered cooking.

 

Also I prep raw food and seal them in baggies to freeze, later I can steam them with a protein of my choice If I am in the mood to create a meal (almost) from scratch. It’s all about reducing the time I spend in my kitchen for when I’m feeling lazy and likely to grab something less nutritious.

Amp up your vitality Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle and Kate Grainger

Soups & Smoothies

Another terrific way to prepare veggies (or use them up before they’re past their prime) is to make soups and smoothies. If you don’t own a slow cooker, get one. They’re wonderful for cooking vegetables and spices together for a long time over low heat. This gentle heating opens the plants’ cell walls and allows their myriad healthy elements to meld together. And there’s nothing better than coming home to the aroma of a stew or thick soup that has been slowly cooking all day.

I quickly wash and chop up a variety of veggies, throw them in to the slow cooker with either chicken or another meat of choice, season and leave it to cook while I’m at work. When I get home, dinner is served! There are also enough portions left over to freeze meal sized servings to last a week.

Needless to say my freezer is well stocked with a plethora of healthy meal choices!

I’m not one to make smoothies, but my friend loves them – her favourite tool for making smoothies is a Vitamix blender, but most other blenders will also do the job. Her favourite smoothie is base roughly two parts  water, 1 part yogurt, and either lemon juice and salt for a savoury shake, or cinnamon and honey for a sweet one. The sweet blend can also feature fruit – try bananas, blueberries, or mango chunks – but cooked yam and a little maple syrup are also nice for a change. A savoury blend can feature spinach, kale, cabbage, sprouts, garlic, tomato, cilantro, radishes, and/or any leftover cooked veggies. She says a nice thick smoothie makes a good meal replacement for calorie conscious days, and can also serve as a wonderful snack or appetizer.

Top of the Morning

And who says you can’t have veggies for breakfast? Consider keeping a glass container of finely chopped onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, celery, and maybe grated carrot of jicama in your fridge to easily toss into an omelette or tortilla – or even over a bowl of warm whole grains.

If you plan on having whole grains for breakfast (e.g. oats, buckwheat millet, etc) soak them overnight using 4 parts water to 1 part grain. This makes them easier to cook- and digest. This ‘soupy’ porridge (known as cnongee in Ayurvedic medicine) is a perfect vector for any number of toppings. Try something simple such as raisins and cinnamon, or go fancier with pecans, sprouts, and a spoonful of kimchi, pickled beets, or marinated artichoke hearts, plus a big pinch of arugula.

So there are many quick ways to include more fruits and vegetables into your diet – it just takes a little imagination, some preparation, and fun experimenting J

I’d love to hear any easy, low preparation methods you have used to amp up your diet – share your tips below in the comments section..

 Alternative Health Therapies Magazine by Kate Grainger

Kate Grainger & Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Pomegranate – Steeped in Mythology, but very Medicinal

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The pomegranate is such an unusual fruit, and had been speculated to be the Tree of Life, and there are beliefs that it was the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden Its Latin name literally means ‘seeded apple’. It is a symbol of hope, one of the ‘three lessed fruits’ in Buddhism, and a symbol of resurrection in Christianity. It’s easy to see why this odd morsel has remained in our culture throughout history when steeped in such strong belief systems.

It has an amazing history and features in ancient Egyptian tomb paintings. Numerous papyrus references state that it was used as a medicine and a food, and refer to it as a religious symbol and a symbol of fertility. Thus it became a food recommended for the childless woman, and was grown in early places of worship. Pomegranates were also said to have grown in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

But regardless of the mythology and its origins, I am fascinated by the rearing and properties of this humble fruit and how it can benefit our health.

MEDICINAL USES

 Ancient Greek physicians used pomegranate juice and seeds to treat bronchitis, as an anti-inflammatory, as a cough suppressant and for diarrhoea and dysentery. Medical research today confirms all the above uses, as well as pomegranate’s benefit in cases of night sweats, atherosclerosis, asthma, tonsillitis and chest ailments. It also strengthens the capillaries and, surprisingly, activates bone regeneration. I’ve used it in my skin creams to clear acne, to regenerate the skin, to give it a glow, and to soothe sunburn.

Pomegranate is rich in antioxidants and is a superb treatment for prostate problems, particularly prostate cancer, and it slows the rate of tumour formation. The fruit and juice are simply incredible during menopause and post-menopause, and the dried seed contains oestrogen-type compounds. Researchers have found that the ellagic acid in fresh pomegranate seed juice helps to prevent the earliest chemical reactions within the body that may lead to breast cancer, particularly in families where breast cancer is a reality, and scientists and doctors have recorded reduced incidence of breast cancer with pomegranate intake.

CULINARY USES

 Pressed pomegranate juice, drunk immediately after juicing and with no sugar or preservatives added, is like drinking gold – it is so valuable for all age groups. Eat a teaspoonful or two of the sun-dried seeds daily and add them to seed and spice mixes. In a grinder, mix equal quantities of dried pomegranate seeds, coriander seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. Grind this over plain breakfast yoghurt or porridge; in this way you can enjoy pomegranate seeds all year round. The brilliant fresh seeds can be sprinkled on salads and fruit salads, and are used in smoothies and beverages, in baking, and as a food garnish. The taste ranges from sweet to sour, depending on ripeness and cultivar.

ANC Pomegranate 02 by Kate Grainger.jpgCULTIVATION

 The little trees need to be spaced two to three metres apart, closer if you want a hedge. Plant each tree in a large, deep hole filled with good, old compost mixed with topsoil. Add a cup of rock dust, sprinkled around the hole, as you sink the tree into it. Fill the hole with water to wet the roots thoroughly; then build a ‘dam’ around it to retain water. I find that sinking a metre-long, wide plastic pipe into the hole at an angle helps to get water deep down to the roots. Insert a hose into the pipe once a week. Water at least three times a week in the summer and once or twice a week in winter. Dig in a small barrow of compost around each tree, three times a year, to ensure a good fruiting crop. The spring flowers are vividly orange and indicate a rich harvest. We sell the little trees throughout the summer, reminding each buyer of their blessing and symbolism of life, longevity, fertility and wisdom.

PROPAGATION

 Strip off a short twig with a little ‘heel’ and press it carefully into a pot or bag of moist, rich soil. Keep it shaded and protected, and water daily or on alternate days, depending on how well the soil holds moisture. The young tree should be ready for planting in about three years. There is something infinitely satisfying about propagating pomegranates.

HARVESTING AND PROCESSING

 Dry the ripe seeds spread out on a tray in a warm place. Shake the tray daily to ensure even drying and, once dry, store the seeds in a glass screw-top jar.

Alternative Health Therapies Magazine by Kate Grainger

© Kate Grainger & Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Take a good look at yo’self!

Take a good look at yoself Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpg

I decided it was time to get serious about my #healthgoals and take a proper stab at losing some weight and increasing my endurance… that’s the Pageant way of saying I felt fat and needed to do something other than starvation.

I’ve managed to let 20kgs creep on my hips and thighs over the past 2 years. Now I’m at the point where I don’t feel attractive in my clothes anymore. So I started to eat clean* and expected the weight to melt away like it did in my 20’s

The results: Bitch you’re delusional!

You’re practically middle-aged! You work as a writer. Sitting on your dimply ass banging away at a keyboard all day. The most amount of exercise you get is lifting a weak cup of tea to your lips in a poor excuse for a bicep curl.

Snap out of it!

Sorry about that – I was watching RuPaul’s Drag Race and the inner Diva emerged. But in truth I think I needed to be read. I’ve been telling my friends I was on this health kick, and I have been for many years. Making sure I was eating the right food, and the right amount of food. Getting regular exercise. But nothing happened. Instead, I actually got fatter. What the Hell?

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Looking back I think it was because as soon as I got a little bit uncomfortable, or just started to sweat in the workouts, I had decided that was enough.

Duh! Have you not watched any weight loss television show? Do you not see the thousands of Gym’s and Weight Loss Centres all around? Doesn’t that tell you that slimming down isn’t that easy?

I didn’t want to believe it. I wanted to be that one in a million girl that never has trouble managing her weight… like I said – delusional!

So what am I doing to change it? Well I did the gym thing, and it was too easy to skip when the weather was bad, or I had a packed schedule. And every now and then, I’d cheat on the meal plans – only because I was continually re-stocking the pantry with biscuits to temp me. One snack here and there adds up to a lot of biscuits by the end of the week.

I stopped buying foods that I shouldn’t eat. And I bought an elliptical. That helped. A lot. But it didn’t all magically happen from there. I had months of stop-start with the healthy lifestyle I had pictured for myself. It is true that weight loss is about training your mind. Finding that strength inside to keep going.

So after many, many, many, many, many (well, you get the picture), many failed attempts; I’m finally starting to see results. I have a system that works for me. Controlling what I eat isn’t too hard for me, so the perseverance came from working out. Every day. I started with an attainable goal, half an hour of walking, and each week increased the intensity. Now I’m running 10km mist mornings in 45 mins followed by some sit-up and stretches. And I feel great.

It’s not about me having lost any weight, in fact I wasn’t weighing myself at all. Just the fact that I’d achieved something I thought impossible makes be happy. Things aren’t jiggling as much on the elliptical anymore, so I know I’m toning up. Though I have to also be careful with my expectations… suddenly fitting back into a size 8 after a week is. What? You say? DELUSIONAL!

But I’m hoping for half a kilo or maybe a whole one… So what are the results?

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After being on the regimen for 6 weeks I’ve lost 2.5kgs and an inch from around my thighs and waist. So I finally feel I’m on the right track. Something is working! So my journey with continue through the Australian winter, and who knows, maybe come spring I’ll feel confident enough to don a swimsuit again (of course after I tame the native forest that has populated my legs under pants in the chill).

So to anyone who is wants to change the way they think about their weight – don’t worry about the number on the scale. Not at the start. Begin to develop a daily habit of exercising and cleaning up the type of food you consume. By no means have I jumped straight into an extremely healthy diet, and daily workouts, it took me a few months of building it up slowly to get to the point where I’m starting to see results. That’s because I have no motivational trainer, have a low tolerance for pain and discomfort, and let’s face it, not exercised regularly beyond breaking out in a sweat for many (too many to count) years. I work at a sedentary job – so yes, I am a marshmallow. It was more beneficial for me to get into a routine, and build from there.

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Once you’ve trained you brain that this is what you do every day, it is not going to fight back to slip into old habits. IT will also allow you to increase the intensity or length of your workouts every few weeks without feeling like you’re about to die.

Well that’s the start of my journey to a happier, healthier body and mind – I hope it can help someone else along a similar path. Go for it!

*Eating clean is a term used by nutritionists regarding consuming foods if their most natural state. For me, it meant cutting out things that came in packets – those notorious biscuits, chips, anything processed. I also made an attempt to reduce the amount of sugar intake, the number of cups of tea/coffee. I also had one day (usually Saturday) where I didn’t follow any rules as a reward/relax. And let me tell you – I stopped wanting junk/fast food and actually craved healthy meals as sugary foods left me feeling sluggish and headachy.

I wasn’t strict about the routine or eating plan simply because it would be unrealistic to expect me to follow it – I’m a rule breaker, so leaving some leeway keeps me on goal.

Casey Carlisle Contributing byline

Alternative Health Therapies Magazine by Kate Grainger

© Casey Carlisle & Kate Grainger 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Choosing nature’s brew

Came across an old article from the Townsville Bulliten I was interviewed for discussing the comparison of homeopathic medicine against traditional medicine. While it only opens a general discussion without going into case studies, it’s great to see a dialogue opened about all options of prevention and cure of ailments…

ANC Newspaper Article by Kate Grainger