The Acid vs. Alkaline Diet – Is It a Real Thing?

The acid vs. alkaline diet debate in the nutrition world has been raging for decades. Like most fads, it comes and goes in popularity.  This diet like many others, ebbs and flows depending on whether the world is short of news or not.

The premise of this diet sounds simple enough.  However, what makes a food acidic or alkaline isn’t what you’d think.

Take A Second

Think of a common food that you perceive to be acidic.

Like me, lemons might have popped into your mind. Yes, lemons are acidic because they contain citric acid.  

However, when we are talking about your body’s acid/base balance, what makes a food acidic or not, is based on how your kidneys deal with it. Herein lies a major problem with the acid vs. alkaline diet.

What Actually Happens

When the nutrients in a food reach your kidneys, they produce more ammonium (acidic) or more bicarbonate (alkaline). Scientists have created a way to measure and rate foods based on this, called the Potential Renal Acid Load (PRAL) score. Foods that produce an acidic response have a positive PRAL score and foods that produce an alkaline response have a negative PRAL score.

Fish, meat, cheese, eggs, and grains are considered acidic and have a positive PRAL score; vegetables and fruits are considered alkaline and have a negative PRAL score.

The main fear regarding an acidic diet is bone loss due to your body releasing minerals from your bones in order to optimize your body’s pH, but this is not proven.

The hard evidence to support the stringent adoption of an alkaline diet (shunning meats, cheese, and eggs for an abundance of vegetables) is lacking.

If you follow the guideline of eating fruits and/or vegetables at each of your meals while also making them the centerpiece of your dishes, then you will hedge your bets towards your diet being alkaline. Their alkaline nature aside, you can never go wrong eating more fresh produce.

Acid vs. Alkaline – The Play Off

  • An acid producing diet does not leach calcium from your bones
  • Blood pH is tightly controlled between 7.35 and 7.45 – slightly alkaline (diet has little or no influence on this)
  • The body regulates pH independent of the diet consumed
  • The promoter of the diet, Robert O. Young was sentenced to prison for practising medicine without a licence. End of story.
  • An alkaline diet does not prevent or cure cancer
  • Supporters of this diet use the pH of urine as their measuring stick (so to speak) but this does not tell you anything about blood pH 

 

Cooking Up A Storm – A Vital Skill Set

Given what I do for a living, it is probably not a surprise to hear that cooking is a rather large part of my life.  I seem to spend many hours in the kitchen dreaming about what I will make, hatching plans and then whipping something up.

As a kid, I learnt to cook by simply being in the kitchen and watching my mum or my Nan whip up all kinds of delicious meals and baked goods.  Licking the beaters after butter and sugar had been creamed, was one of my top skills in the early days. It was an important job but thankfully I have progressed.

Cooking Up That Storm

Cooking is such an important skill and one that absolutely everyone needs.  If you can cook, you can look after yourself, save money and be in control of your health and well-being. I am very passionate about Australian kids cooking, both at home and in school. The hugely positive effects of learning this skill lasts a lifetime.

With recent changes to our collective lifestyles, it is heartening to see many people have embraced cooking in their everyday routines.  

Baking bread, vegetable growing and whipping up cakes have been huge topics of conversation across social media channels. This all makes my heart sing.

Staying Well

Recently I teamed up with HBF to produce several short cooking videos, which was a lot of fun.  The short clips feature pizza scrolls, granola cups, blueberry chia jam and a smoothie.  If you would like to check them out, just click here

What Are we Doing When We Aren’t Cooking?

There are some interesting food trends that have occurred while Australia has been in lockdown.  Yes, we have been cooking more but we have been supporting local cafes and restaurants too.

Deliveroo, the online home delivery food service, have released some stats that reveal some of our eating habits as a nation while in isolation. There are other delivery services like Uber Eats but one would expect similar patterns to be reported.

Australia’s official crisis meal is Fish and Chips.  This iconic meal has seen a 597% increase in orders. Wowzers.

As a nation, we have been ordering food in on Friday nights, rather than Saturday nights. Saturday night was previously the most popular evening to order takeaways.

Ice-cream has hit top of the charts too, with a 139% increase in orders reported.

Some of these figures and trends really surprise me.  I was expecting pizza and burgers to hit the top of the charts and felt stressed at the thought of that ice-cream melting before it arrived!

What about you?  Have you been cooking more, ordering in more or mixing it up? 

 

 

 

The Up’s And Down’s Of Energy – How To Stay In The Middle

Imagine this energy scenario.  Its mid afternoon and you are attempting to do your best productive work.   The problem is, for the past couple of hours, you’ve been dragging your feet and quite frankly, a good lie down on the carpet is getting more appealing by the minute.

You start wondering how you are going to make it through till the end of the day until you hear THE voice.  The voice that says, “Go and get something with sugar in it or people WILL be hurt.”

This sounds rather dramatic but given how you are feeling, it makes a lot of sense.  You then begin the search for something that is quick and easy and chock full of energy to get those blood sugar levels up and running.  Obvious choices pop into your brain. Sadly, none of which you actually have – a chocolate bar, a handful of lollies or a can of soft drink.  Unfortunately in circumstances now totally out of your control, you do have to raid a colleagues desk drawer, your child’s coveted lolly jar or as a last resort make a dash to a vending machine, which thankfully contains every treat known to man.

Phew.

Once you have inhaled that sugar, crisis averted. You now feel on top of the world and ready to tackle anything or anyone that comes your way.

All is well for 30 whole minutes and your productivity is on fire.

And then boom, shortly after you have finished congratulating yourself, the fire is well and truly extinguished and you are back to where you started.

This my friends, is the daily story of SO many people as a result of blood sugar levels being uncontrolled and is one of the factors that can lead to ‘presenteeism.’ This is one way of describing what happens in the body when the lights are on but no one at all is home. And there is definitely no production of anything useful about to happen.

Have you ever experienced this 3pm slump?

This tiring phenomenon is a result of your blood sugar levels taking a nosedive. It can be due to consuming the wrong type and amount of carbohydrate, inadequate protein or a combination of both.

Let’s Start With Carbohydrates for Energy

Good sources of carbohydrate include cereals, pasta, rice, some fruit, potato, sweet potato, corn, milk, yoghurt and most legumes. It is also found in sugary foods such as lollies, chocolate, soft drink, biscuits, cakes and other similar goodies. No matter in what food form they start, all carbohydrates eventually get broken down into glucose.

It’s All In The Speed

Once upon a time, carbohydrates were classified as simple and complex based on the speed of digestion.  It was assumed that ‘simple’ carbs were digested quickly (lollies, soft drink, cordial, honey etc) and ‘complex’ carbs were digested more slowly (breads, cereal, rice and pasta, fruit and vegetables).  We now know as research has progressed that foods do not fit neatly into these categories.

Carbohydrate foods are now classified according to how quickly they are digested and absorbed into the bloodstream as glucose.  This is known as the Glycaemic Index (GI) but only refers to carbohydrate foods. Low GI foods are digested and absorbed slowly and high GI foods quickly.

The Ups And Downs of Energy

The GI is the clue as to how carbohydrates can have a direct impact on our energy, mood and outlook.

If we keep throwing carbohydrate rich food in, without adding enough protein, you will never feel satisfied and your blood sugar will be up, down and all around.  Highs and lows can abound alongside your mood. Think about all those emoji’s – if you don’t get the balance of carbohydrates and protein right, you will likely experience all of those little guy’s faces.

At the moment, in this quarantined world of ours, carbohydrate in the form of rice, pasta and baking products are flying off the shelves.

By themselves or without enough protein, there are more energy downs than ups straight ahead.

And Here Is The Good News

Adding other nutrients into the mix, can rectify the 3pm low blood sugar slump scenario that we talked about earlier.

Many aspects of a meal can affect the overall glycaemic index including fat, fibre, protein, cooking methods and processing of the food. This is reflected by what is known as the Glycaemic Load.

When you put protein and fibre into the mix with carbohydrate, the end result is more stable blood sugar levels. There will also be a sensation of feeling satisfied for longer without the extremes of hunger and emotion.

This means smooth sailing straight ahead. How are your energy levels today?

 

The Power Nap – A Secret Health Weapon

The Power Nap And The Yo-Yo

A power nap and a yo-yo don’t have much in common at first glance but trust me, in this case they do.

One of my most prized possessions when I was in primary school was my Coca-Cola Yo-Yo.  Complete with the original string, this item is now vintage.  So, it was with great excitement that I set out to meet and interview the 1960 State Yo-Yo Champion, Barry Marshall from the infamous West Australian mining town of Kalgoorlie. 

Every Saturday, Barry competed in local competitions and as State Champion was the envy of his mates when rewarded with boxes of the much sought after Coca-Cola. His location and skill-sets have changed over the years and the stakes much higher but this man is still winning prizes.

An Important Discovery

Professor Barry Marshall is an Australian Physician, Nobel Prize laureate in Physiology or Medicine and Professor of Clinical Microbiology at the University of Western Australia.  After decades of the medical fraternity believing that ulcers were caused by stress, spicy foods and too much acid, Marshall and Robin Warren showed that the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is the cause of most peptic ulcers. This discovery has provided a breakthrough in understanding a causative link between Helicobacter pylori infection and stomach cancer.

The meeting of these two physicians was a true pivotal moment for science.  Warren had become aware of the existence of a unique curved bacteria, Helicobacter Pylori and he invited Marshall to pursue this research together.  In 1984 after several years of research, rejection and criticism from medical researchers, Marshall decided to take matters into his own hands and used himself as a guinea pig.  Without discussion, most notably with the ethics committee, Marshall drank a Petri dish containing cultured H. pylori, expecting to develop perhaps years later, an ulcer.  

This happened just three days later. The infection was successfully treated with antibiotics and the rest is history. It was certainly an unusual method of proving a point but Professor Marshall decided that it was easier to ask for forgiveness rather than get permission!

Nowadays, these types of ulcers are detected by more traditional methods via breath tests, which were also developed by Professor Marshall.

Power Nap – The Most Important Tool

This award-winning scientist rates sleep as his most important performance-enhancing tool and knows that he needs eight quality hours per day. Marshall spends four to six months of the year travelling for research and speaking and this does impact on his ability to get enough sleep.   A strategy is firmly in place though, as Marshall takes a power nap on a daily basis.  If sleep has been short the night before, he resolutely schedules an empty time in the day precisely for this purpose. His naps vary in length between one to two hours and Marshall has developed a specialist skill that enables him to power nap anytime, anywhere in the world and on any surface. 

Sleep deprivation can be torture and has been used as a weapon for centuries. When tired, your body acts as though you have a blood alcohol level of 0.05, although being tired isn’t quite as much fun as having a glass of wine!

The jury is still out on the exact amount of sleep required but most people need 6-8 hours per night to be effective and perform at their peak.  The variables in determining how much sleep we need include: age, state of health, the weather, physical activity, employment challenges and your emotional state. Each of us innately knows how much sleep suits our own body. It doesn’t mean that we listen!

The Rebels

There are publicly stated exceptions to the rule.  This includes Margaret Thatcher (four hours), Winston Churchill (five), Bill Clinton (five to six), Leonardo da Vinci (five), Napoleon Bonaparte (three to four), Madonna (four), Silvio Berlusconi (two), P Diddy (less than four), Martha Stewart (two to four) and Donald Trump (three to four).

These politicians and celebrities have bragged about how little sleep they need – with the implication being that they are tougher, more productive and more suitable for leadership because of it. But are they really based on some of the questionable behaviours?

Sleep is directly related to stress and resilience. If you don’t get enough sleep, you get stressed and being stressed lowers your resilience. Sleep deprivation also negatively impacts your ability to utilise food and blood glucose. Alarmingly, it also accelerates the ageing process.

No one is entirely sure why we sleep. We do know that it helps with rest and rejuvenation – of both mind and body. Growth hormones peak during sleep as do many enzyme reactions. Experts agree that we need it and that it is a learned behavioural pattern. 

Sleep Phases

Sleep is an active process involving two primary phases. Active sleep is called REM (Rapid Eye Movement) and quiet sleep is known as NREM (Non Rapid Eye Movement). 

The quiet sleep phase (NREM) accounts for 75-80% of the night and has four stages in each cycle throughout the night.

  1. This phase lasts 5-10 minutes. Body activity starts to slow down – muscles relax, temperature drops, breathing is regular, your mind can wander and you are easily awakened.
  2. There is bodily movement; you are soundly asleep but easily awakened by noise. We spend 50% of the night in this stage.
  3. Your body is almost totally relaxed and not easily awakened.
  4. The deepest level – muscles completely relaxed, little body movement, and you awaken very slowly from this fourth stage. 

The active part of our sleep (REM) is where dreams occur. Nervous and mental activities increase with body temperature and heart rate is also increasing. The characteristic darting of the eyes occurs during this phase of sleep. This occurs predominantly in the last third of the night.

How do you get good sleep?

  • Stick to a regular sleep schedule
  • Exercise regularly – but not 4 hours before bed
  • No napping after 3pm
  • Get up and do something if you are having trouble getting to sleep…rather than staying in bed and being restless
  • Make sure your bedroom is sleep conducive (the right temperature, dark and comfortable)
  • A warm bath or shower before bed can be helpful to attain restful sleep
  • Turn around the LED clock – watching the brightly lit numbers is not going to help get you to sleep
  • Try relaxation or meditation techniques – e.g. breathing deeply and progressive muscle relaxation.
  • Minimise alcohol, caffeine and tobacco before bed if they affect your ability to sleep well
  • Turn off the TV, computer or other devices at least 1 hour before bed
  • Try drinking a warm milk before bed, as it is conducive to restful sleep due to its tryptophan (protein) content

In the glaring light of a tired day, it is often tempting to give in to what is commonly known as the ‘nanna nap’. Many peak performers take a daily nap to keep their brain functioning at peak levels and like Barry Marshall, actually factor this into their day. 

In some European countries it is considered usual practice to down the tools each day after the midday meal for a power nap. Given that our productivity takes a nosedive when we are weary, a planned nap could be a possible performance enhancing strategy. Research has found that a nap lasting around 26 minutes will increase your performance. A nap lasting 45 minutes will increase cognitive performance for six hours. 

Are you a power napper?

All About Bread – An Easy Delicious Loaf For You To Make

Bread making is in my family genes.  My grandfather was a baker in the tiny West Australian country town of  Yarloop and I can imagine that he would have been one of the most popular people going around because of it.  

My grandparents had a small general store as well and as a kid my Dad used to hop on his bike and deliver the groceries in the township.  I can almost smell the delicious aroma of fresh bread wafting behind him as he pedalled furiously through the streets of Yarloop.

In a spot of poor timing, by the time I was interested in food and baking, Alzheimer’s had whisked away my grandfathers memories.

I would so love to talk to him about his tips and tricks for the best loaf, especially as he had a great interest in healthy food. His idea of a treat for the grandkids was a shredded wheatmeal biscuit or a slice of Roberts Dark Rye with a scrape of honey.  I appreciate the sentiment now but at the time it was not gratefully received!

I’ve been baking bread for around 15 years in my trusty Breville Bread Maker. I do have to keep an eye on it because now and then it does ditch itself off the edge of the bench when dough mixing gets a bit vigorous. However, it still delivers a fantastic loaf of bread.

Despite this, I have always looked at Artisan hand shaped loaves with a kind of longing. My bread is usually tall and square reflecting the shape of the tin inside the machine.   Cutting the appropriate sized slice of bread (i.e. not a doorstop) can indeed be challenging. 

A few weeks ago, my friend Corrine over at Sweet Perfection passed on a recipe for ‘easy’ bread that required no kneading or intense upper body exercises.   Corrine makes the best celebration cakes you will ever see and is very much a fine details kind of gal, so I was a little worried about the effort I would have to go to. My worries were unfounded.

For the past two weeks, I have baked that bread almost every day to try and perfect my little hand made loaf and yesterday I think I got there. The crust was satisfyingly crisp with a perfect crumb on the inside. 

Easy Bread

Ingredients

3 cups bread flour or plain flour 

1.5 tsp dry yeast 

1.5 cups warm water

Pinch of salt

Method

  1. Mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl.  
  2. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water (the temperature where you can stick your finger in and it feels like a nice warm bath)
  3. Mix the yeast and water into the flour with a wooden spoon until the dough come together into a ball.  This will literally take just moments and the dough should be a bit or a lot sticky – I find this depends on the day and the flour.
  4. Cover the bowl with Glad-Wrap and put into a warm spot (but not in the sun) in the house for 2-3 hours.
  5. Prior to baking the bread, pre-heat a large French Oven casserole pot and lid (Chasseur, Le Creuset or similar) at 220 degrees for 30 minutes.
  6. When the dough is ready, cut a piece of baking paper that is big enough to fit the bottom and sides of the pot, place on a flat surface and lightly dust with flour.
  7. Scrape the dough from around the sides of the bowl and gently ease the dough upside down out of the bowl and onto the baking paper.
  8. Using a plastic spatula, move the outside edges of the dough into the middle. This should require no more than four movements.
  9. Carefully take the pot out of the oven, remove the lid and place the dough on the baking paper into the pot. Replace the lid.
  10. Bake on 200 degrees for 40 – 45 minutes and VERY carefully remove from oven.

You now have an amazing loaf of bread!

Don’t be scared that there are ten instructions in the above method as it literally is a five minute job but I wanted to be very clear about each part.

I have been using Premium White bread flour and Purple Wheat flour from All About Bread in Greenwood but you could try any flour that you have or can get!

You can serve this delicious bread with your favourite spread or just by its good self.  If you haven’t tried my Blueberry Chia Jam, to go with it, you should.

So, now I wait for the photo’s of your bread to come rushing at me!

 

 

Five Simple Tips To Energise Yourself Right Now

How are you all going in the energise department right now?

Just to be clear about what this actually means, the definition of energise is ‘to give vitality and enthusiasm to.’

There are many factors that impact our ability to energise ourselves. Right now, I know that for many people, the physical distancing that we are required to do can be really tough.  If you are a world champion hugger like my mum (hi mum), then the absence of physical contact is a visceral loss.  This absolutely affects our energy is so many ways.

Along this journey of physical distancing, we have had to adapt and find new ways to do things.

I have gathered a few ideas that I thought might be handy to share.

Interested?

1. Is Everyone An Expert?

No sirree. You may have noticed that the amount of information and news that is available to us 24/7, is quite simply overwhelming and at times SO depressing.  There are plenty of claims about magical foods, potions, pills and even infrared devices (give me strength) being able to cure COVID-19 but they just don’t.  

We can eat well, move everyday, get enough sleep and reduce our stress to stay healthy but there is nothing magical about that.  

An interesting view on experts by scientist Asker Jeukendrup, can be found here. It is a super interesting look at who to trust when filtering information about anything at all.

2. How To Energise Your Day By Staying On Track

When your daily routine gets disrupted, it is too easy to start drifting off into the sunset.  By the time you realise this has happened your train has quite literally derailed. Picking those good habits up and establishing routine again can be a struggle. For ideas on how to avoid this, you can check out this article that I shared with the Flying Solo business community about exactly that.

3. I Got To Move It, Move It

I felt super sad when my regular gym and yoga studio’s had to shut their doors.  Such a hard road for small businesses. In good news, so many of these clever, creative people have rapidly adapted and are now available online for the world to see. The perfect way to energise.

Fitness

One of my favourites finds in the fitness space has been The Body Coach, Joe Wicks.  Coach Joe may look like and sound like Russell Brand (without the swearing) but he is a veritable ball of energy.  When schools in the UK closed down, he decided to run a PE class every week day at 9am for kids and their families. He has been doing this since mid March to huge live audiences but you can watch them anytime as they are recorded.  There are other types of classes available on his YouTube channel and there is something for everyone. I have been dragging the whole family into the toy room every afternoon at 4pm for Joe’s workouts.  I would like to say they do this willingly but I would quite frankly be lying.  

Once started, we have a great time laughing and sweating together BUT I do need to remind them that exercise feels best when it is OVER. Does it tick the energise box?  Yes, indeedy.

Don’t forget to get outside for some fresh air too.  

Yoga

I have a few faves in the yoga department and that includes The Yoga Vine, North Beach Yoga, Nest Yoga and Yoga with Athanae.

There will definitely be a style of type of yoga amongst these three that will suit you because they are just fabulous.

4. Put Your Head In a Book

Right now is the ideal time to make your way through the pile of books that you always promise yourself to read.  Reading is one of my favourite things to do and although it is a non-moving activity, energise me it does.

Currently, I put aside 30 minutes each day to a non-fiction book for professional development and often read a novel at night.  Right now, I am reading The Blue Zones by Dan Buettner (watch this space for my round up on that one) and The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa.  

Of course, there are audiobooks galore if they are your thing. Then there is Dymock’s Books who have just started a live author collaboration that you can listen to here.

For the wee ones, children’s author and comedian David Walliams, conducts a reading each day, which is highly entertaining and can be listened to here.

5. Around The World With A Spot of Culture

It is understandable if you are feeling a bit hemmed in, especially as travel is out right now.  Great news though, you can go wherever you like virtually. There are some amazing live streams (including bears catching wild salmon) that you can check out in real time right here.

Now for a spot of culture.  The Australian Museum and the British Museum are offering virtual tours of their collections from the comfort of your home with no admission fee either!

Staying well and energised in out current situation can be a challenge but there are many different ways of tackling both your mental and physical health. 

I would love to hear what you are up to and if there are ideas you have that others would benefit from – fire away!

Legs Up the Wall – The Daily Yoga Pose for Instant Calm

Legs up the wall may seem like an odd phrase, but for me these words conjure up a feeling of calmness. Legs up the wall is one of the handful of yoga poses that I actually felt comfortable attempting when my LONG journey into this age old activity began several years ago.

Funnily enough this article you are currently reading is one that I wrote almost 12 months ago. At that time we we collectively had no clue that in 2020 we were going to be presented with super gigantic challenges to the way we live our lives.

In view of this, it seems like the perfect time to remind you all of legs up the wall. 

Although the popularity of yoga continues to grow worldwide,  many people perceive that yoga is something potentially difficult and boring and would rather get stuck into a boxing session or other high cardio activity. Once upon a time this was me (although I do still love running, walking and stair climbing) but after finding my groove with yoga, I now understand that it is one of the best workouts available to us all.

I won’t lie and say that it has been all unicorns and rainbows.  It hasn’t and yoga and I have had a long history of shared emotions running both hot and cold. For many years I loved the idea of yoga but the actual reality of being able to do it, did not align with my physical (in)capability.  The turning point for me came with the right teacher, which then led to calm and acceptance of what my body could do, not what it couldn’t and the balance of these two is ever-changing believe me!

We will get to legs up the wall in just a moment but there are three things I have learnt through my yoga adventures, applicable to anybody trying to change any aspect of health and life that might just be handy to you right now. Especially now.

What We Want Or Need Is Not Always Available To Us

I will never forget a yoga class that I attended some time ago when the teacher asked us to align ourselves into a position that looked even trickier than usual to me.

While we were all silently attempting the impossible (to me), the teacher announced that this particular pose was ‘not available to him today.’ I had to smother hysterical laughter at this point because for me, it was never going to be available, that day or any other. But you know what? We all have days when a particular behaviour, skill or practise is simply not available to us and sometimes we just need to accept it.  This doesn’t mean you have failed, it just means that investing your energy in something else that IS available to you and achievable today is a wiser choice. Plus, what is not available to you today might just be there for you tomorrow.

There Is Always Turbulence In Our Lives

A howling easterly wind roaring around outside scattering dust and leaves every which way is one kind of turbulence but there are many ways disruption and distraction turn up in our lives.

The turbulence that we experience in our day-to-day lives can obviously be a lot more serious than a strong wind. It could be problems with your family, friends, health issues, financial concerns, job insecurity, moving house, relationship breakdowns or any one of life’s stressful events. All of these and more, represent turbulence. Quite often, turbulence or a shake-up in our lives is just what we need to take the first step toward real change for our physical and mental well-being. It is possible and often vital to acknowledge the turbulence and do it anyway.

Of course, right now in 2020, the kind of turbulence we are all experiencing will be go down in the history books.

Use Your Edge

A few years ago I was standing in line waiting to order in a cafe and noticed an interesting quote scribbled along the front of the coffee machine.  The author was anonymous but it simply stated,

“If you are not living on the edge, you are taking up too much room.”

To me, living on the edge has a negative connotation.   However, renowned Yoga Master and author Erich Schiffman, talks about ‘the edge’ in another way in relation to stretching in yoga. Schiffman explains that, “If you don’t go far enough, there is no challenge to the muscles, no intensity, no stretch, and little possibility for opening. Going too far, however, is an obvious violation of the body, increasing the possibility of both physical pain and injury. Somewhere between these two points is a degree of stretch that is in balance: intensity without pain, use without abuse, strenuousness without strain. You can experience this balance in every posture you do. This place in the stretch is called your edge.”

But what about applying that edge to other aspects of our daily life, where we tend to remain within a familiar but limited comfort zone by staying away from both our physical and mental edges? Schiffman suggests that staying within that zone would be fine, “Except that as aging occurs these limits close in considerably. Our bodies tighten, our range of movement decreases, and our strength and stamina diminish. By consciously bringing the body and mind to its various limits or edges and holding it there, gently nudging it toward more openness with awareness, the long, slow process of closing in begins to reverse itself. The range expands as the edges change.”

Legs Up The Wall

What is this legs up the wall you say?  

This yoga pose would have to be one of the most accessible to us all and can be achieved anywhere and anytime as long as there is a wall.

I could explain to you in writing how to do legs up the wall but it would much easier and less confusing for you all if you watch Adriene in action here as she demonstrates this pose perfectly.

Legs up the wall is an excellent restorative pose that improves circulation and is instantly restful for your legs, feet and lower back.  It is also such a wonderful pose to do just before you go to bed for a restful sleep or even during the night if you wake up and can’t back to sleep.

It is also perfect during the day if you are at work and need to take a breather – close the door and take just 10 minutes to regroup and reset before tackling the next part of your day. Especially important right now if you are finding it hard to carve out any space in your mishmash of working and living from home.

Resting in this position will greatly improve the flexibility in your hamstrings and is a stealthy way of getting some meditation in your day too – you can’t go anywhere else at the same time and it puts you in the perfect mindset to do so.

What about you – do you have a wall in mind?

 

 

Boosting Immunity With the Goodness Of Lupin Flakes

Every one of you reading this right now will agree that our current world of stress, anxiety and uncertainty is unsettling. 

Good news though – the one thing you CAN control is how you look after yourself – what you choose to eat, how to move, when to get some shut-eye, how to deal with an overload of stress and remembering the good old mechanism of breathing – remember that one?

In the food and nutrition realm, you will see some crazy coo-coo claims being made about what you should do to prevent or cure you from a viral infection. 

You may have also read about foods that boost immunity and they are usually foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals.  It is absolutely true that these nutrients assist our immunity.

Enter lupin flakes. These little yellow flakes of goodness tick many of these boxes in the vitamin and mineral department. They also have some unique superpowers in the boosting immunity department that other foods simply do not.

Lupins are a unique legume that contain 40% protein plus 40% fibre with a small amount of carbohydrate and fat and are completely gluten free.

The Super Boosting Immunity Powers of Lupin Flakes

Good Gut Health

The intestinal tract or gut is a very busy place. There are around 500 species of bacteria hanging out in your gastrointestinal tract, mostly in the large bowel.  Not only do they live there in peaceful coexistence with us, they may actually help. These bacteria keep out disease-causing bacteria and viruses, keep our immune system healthy and maintain the lining of the bowel.

Under some circumstances, the normal mix of these bacteria gets disrupted. Not surprisingly, stress is a major factor that upsets this balance.

Our gut wall houses around 70% of the cells that make up our immune system, so gut function is super important.  This is where probiotics and prebiotics start to shine.

Probiotics are live bacteria that are naturally found in our gut and in some foods. They improve our health by reducing the number of harmful bacteria that may survive in our gut. 

Prebiotics on the other hand are very different. They are mostly soluble fibres and resistant starches that act as fuel for our good bacteria in the large intestine. They get the party started by being fermented by gut bacteria and boosting the balance of our microbiome to be healthier.

Hello lupin flakes. Lupin flakes are a rich source of prebiotics due to their high content of resistant starch. This means they are super powerful bacteria and rather clever at boosting immunity.

Power Up With Protein

Did you know that protein is essential for the repair and regeneration of cells and one of the front-runners for fighting viral infections?

Protein is made up of amino acids, which are just like building blocks similar to Lego. Amino acids are classed as either essential as they cannot be manufactured by the body. These are only accessible through food or non-essential.

Inthe plant world, it can be truly difficult to get enough of these essential proteins. Legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, red kidney beans and other similar friends contain just 5-8% protein.  Lupin flakes boast a mighty 40%!

Lupin flakes are multi-faceted too as they can be used as an alternative to meat but do just as well as an alternative or addition to rice or pasta.  These starchy foods contain only 3-7% protein, so once again lupin flakes storm to the front. And you can actually purchase them, unlike many other foods right now!

For ideas on how you can incorporate lupins into your day and boost your immunity at the same time – check out some recipes of mine here and a ton from The Lupin Co right here.

To purchase the lupin flakes, you can check out stockists or order online by clicking here

Stay well everyone and keep in touch – I am here.

Overnight Oats – How to Make This Simple Super Breakfast

Right now in this rapidly evolving food landscape of ours, Overnight Oats aka Bircher Muesli is one of the simplest and cheapest breakfast ideas you could whip up.  

If you don’t have oats you can also use natural muesli with the added bonus of a few extra bits!

Oats are a fabulous source of resistant starch – it’s no surprise that as the name would suggest, resistant starch is resistant to digestion and nourishes our gut bacteria. This special starch is a prebiotic and basically gets the party started by fuelling the probiotics in our large intestine. The good bacteria that are produced as a result of the starch being fermented in our gut, naturally help us to maintain our intestinal health.

This recipe for Overnight Oats serves two people but I usually batch it up and multiply the recipe by at least five to feed the locusts that live in my house.  

Depending on how you prefer to operate, the Overnight Oats can be made in individual containers or like me, a large container that will hold the weeks worth.

Overnight Oats

INGREDIENTS

2/3 cup rolled or quick oats

2/3 cup plain natural or Greek yoghurt

1 cup water 

2 tsp chia seeds

2 tsp shredded coconut

1 medium apple, grated

1 tbsp natural yogurt to serve

 

METHOD

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Cover and place in the fridge overnight.

To serve, spoon into bowls and top with a dollop of natural yoghurt and fresh fruit of choice such as:

  • 1/2 cup berries (fresh or frozen) or 
  • 1 small sliced banana or
  • 1 passionfruit 

These are all equivalent to one serving of fruit but you could also combine a variety of fruits to make up one serving and add variety to your breakfast each day.

For some other simple breakfast ideas, you can check these out here. 

Breathing In and Breathing Out – Bring That Stress Back Into Line

Breathing in and breathing out, breathing in and breathing out.  Right now, this is one thing we can do whilst our world experiences so much angst.  

Without diminishing or belittling the gravity of all affected or who have lost their lives to COVID-19, I am struggling to comprehend the actions and thought processes of some of my fellow humans who are in full panic mode.  When panic surrounds you, it can be difficult to remind yourself not to join the proverbial party. Please keep reminding yourself because this is important.

One of my lovely friends Cath of Conscious Business, has just shared a quote by Seth Godin who has said, “Panic is a choice and so is productive generosity.”  

It sure is.

With the global events that are happening all around us, it is important to remember that there are many things that we CAN actually do to look after ourselves and those around us.

One of the most simple things we do have control over is looking after our wellbeing and the act of simply breathing to keep stress levels at a healthy level.

A few years ago, as a result of self induced stress, I forgot about the importance of breathing and wrote about it on this blog.

I went looking for it today and decided that it was perfect timing to share it again.  

The moment in time that I wrote about eventually passed, as will the current world health events.  

A Story to Tell

Three years ago I experienced something new. It was overwhelming and both a physical and mental storm. I experienced an anxiety attack.

To me, it sounds silly because in the scheme of things, what I was anxious about did not warrant my reaction. If I think about the times or events in my life that should have been more likely to produce such a severe reaction – the weekend in question should not have featured even for a second.

My then 13-year-old daughter, had her first gymnastics competition for the year. She had been in the National Development Program since early primary school, so it was not a new thing. And let me just establish that this girl was a seasoned professional and a total poker face when it comes to competition – she trained for 18+ hours each week and knew her stuff.

Despite this, over recent years – my nervousness and anxiety with competitions had been increasing.

But one particular weekend most certainly took the cake. I made myself physically ill with stomach pains, nausea and a migraine as a result of my anxiety and irrational thinking. I found myself holding my breath at various points of the day – and this was before the competition even started!

There was no sympathy at home either because I was very careful to hide this anxiety – nobody needs that kind of negative energy before they start swinging around bars and pirouetting on beams do they?

My husband is the anti-thesis of anxiety and not many things get his heart rate over 80 bpm. He just reminded me that our girl had done all the preparing and she was fully able to do the doing. Great.

Just before the competition started – one of the other parents who was sitting quite a distance away from me (and clearly had a telescope) called my name – quite fiercely I might add. I turned around and she calmly looked at me and said – ‘breathe.’ Oh yes indeedy, thanks for the reminder.

There are many things that we can do to reduce stress levels in our lives – getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising, meditation and so many other ideas from expert people who are far more qualified than I to provide advice on how to manage anxiety.

But you know the one thing that is available to all of us, 24/7? Breathing.

Of course, breathing is something that we do without a seconds thought and yet, when we feel anxious or upset we often start with the whole shallow breathing thing or interval breathing (my fancy way of describing holding ones breath). Every week when I go to my yoga class, its all about the breath. Lets face it, it is almost impossible not to feel calm after yoga (unavailable poses aside) simply because the focus for 75 minutes has been breathing.

Anxiety presents itself in all kinds of circumstances – the work place, at home, sport, in relationships and so many other nooks and crannies. Clearly, deep breathing alone is not the cure-all for anxiety and stress but the beauty of engaging the breath is that you can access it anywhere, anytime without anyone being aware.

Taking three deep breaths in and out through your nose automatically induces calm. Research shows that blood pressure starts returning to appropriate levels, lungs work more efficiently, your brain can do its thing and a churning stomach works a lot better when oxygen is circulating.

Try the simple routine below to dial down the anxiety in three breaths.

The Power of Breathing to Take Down Anxiety

  • Close your eyes. Take a deep breath in through your nose (with your mouth closed) and get every last bit of oxygen in that breath. When you reach the end of that breath, hold it for as long as is comfortable and then let it all out through your nose not your mouth. We are going to do two more of these breaths.
  • Again, take a deep breath in through your nose and get every last bit of oxygen in that breath. When you reach the end of that breath, hold it for as long as is comfortable and then let it all out through your nose.
  • For the last time, take a deep breath in through your nose and get every last bit of oxygen in that breath. When you reach the end of that breath, hold it for as long as is comfortable and then let it all out through your nose.

What about you? Do you have a breathing routine that you find to be effective for reducing anxiety?