We hear the word “stress” a lot.
What exactly is it?
Stress is the body’s physical, mental or emotional reaction to any change that requires an adjustment.
Whilst short bursts of stress can act as a positive stimulating driving factor if it becomes chronic it is one of the most damaging things we can do to our body lowering our immune system and undermining our ability to repair and cope with our environment often leading the way to serious dis-ease.
Finding ways to manage it with foods and natural supplements is the answer.
The best foods for helping your body cope with stress are called adaptogens.
These support your adrenal system and stave off fatigue and weight gain (due to increased cortisol).
Having had glandular fever and ME when I was younger I know what it feels like to have a stressed out low energy body and finding foods that can help you cope both physically and emotionally are key.
I thought I would share my tried and tested favourites which are:
Chaga mushroom is a type of fungus that grows mainly on the bark of birch trees in cold climates.
It can be purchased as a powder or whole pieces. I usually simmer up the powder for 10-15 mins, strain and drink. It is not unpleasant to drink and I find it very restorative and supportive.
Whilst an acquired taste for some over the years of adding it to homemade chai I have got used to it and don’t mind chewing it raw.
Helps to regulate hormones like cortisol helping your body cope.
Highly anti-inflammatory and excellent for leaky gut something a lot of people suffer with unknowingly.
Nettle is super nourishing for anyone experiencing stress or burnout.
Contains antioxidants great for reducing stress related inflammation.
Vitamin B complex and iron help support energy levels.
I dry the tops and powder them down. Add fresh tops to smoothies or collect the seeds and have them on my porridge or munch on them when out walking.
The goji berry is known to harmonize and increase the Jing energy of the adrenals resulting in enhanced stamina and strength and I was prescribed these mixed with raisins as a tea to drink daily by a Tibetan herbalist. I found it very effective and drink it a lot just because I love the taste!
Is known as arctic or golden root.
You can take this as a supplement and I would recommend this alongside supporting your system with the foods above.
It has a positive effect on the immune system and helps with depression.
So let that stress go! Take a deep a breath and try some of the above and let me know how you get on x
How often do you think about the effect your gut is having on your brain?
The link between our gut and our brain was an unknown in the mainstream for years but recent studies show conclusive evidence between the health of our colon and the state of our mental health as well as our skin.
Did you know the very thought of eating releases digestive juices into your gut?
The “ butterflies” we feel in our stomach when we are nervous or the sick feeling we have when we are anxious should all send alarm bells that our thoughts and our bowel are intrinsically connected.
Jeroen Raes of the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology drew on medical tests and GP records to look for links between depression, quality of life and microbes lurking in the faeces of more than 1,000 people. He found that two kinds of bugs, namely Faecalibacterium and Coprococcus, were both more common in people who claimed to enjoy a high mental quality of life. Meanwhile, those with depression had lower than average levels of Coprococcus and Dialister.
Probiotics are a type of bacteria found in your gut that play an integral role in almost every aspect of our health.
So how can we support these good bacteria?
I have a few suggestions for you below that are simple to incorporate into everyday life and support your friendly bacteria.
Kefir is made by adding a culture of milk grains to milk and letting it for ferment in a warm place.
My preferred choice for a ready made version of this is a goat based kefir called Chuckling goat which you can find online.
This is a fermented carbonated drink made from water kefir grains. Unlike the milk kefir it is made by combining water, grains and sugar together for 48 hours until fermentation occurs. You can buy the grains easily online.
Kvasse is a traditional fermented beverage originating from the Ukraine commonly made from stale bread or beetroots. It is a great support for the liver.
Try making it with beetroots!
Kombucha is a fermented tea that has been around for thousands of years, first brewed in China. The ingredients are yeast (usually from a scoby), sugar and black tea left to ferment for a week.
Saurkraut is fermented cabbage thought to have originated in China as a way of preserving food so as to not spoil but now more popular with germans.
Sauerkraut fermentation is the process of microorganisms on the cabbage digesting its natural sugars and converting them into carbon dioxide and organic acids.
Kimchi is a fermented vegetable dish most familiarly made with cabbage and spices. Kimchi is often mixed with other vegetables like radish, onion and garlic.
Because the vegetables in Saurkraut and Kimchi are fermented they have excellent probiotic qualities.
Probiotics in fermented drinks and food reduce inflammation in the gut, aid digestion, support the liver and immune system. If you can do one thing for your health by advice is to love your gut!
The positive effect of improving your gut health on your mental health was shown in a study documented by the BMJ.
“Overall, 11 of the 21 studies showed a positive effect on anxiety symptoms by regulating intestinal microbiota, meaning that more than half (52%) of the studies showed this approach to be effective, although some studies that had used this approach did not find it worked.”
The start of the year and the start of a great many good intentions for so many of us but lets not make it all so hard that we crack in the first 48 hours!
I find getting back into the groove as hard as anyone else so I thought I would share a few of the things I do and the products I use to get the year off to a great start.
Exercise takes many forms but for me during the winter months he least offensive of them all is walking.
I love walking outdoors across Dorset fields and up a good hill with Isla the whippet.
I have a circuit I do each morning, which gets the heart pumping enough to make me sweat whilst taking in the views.
Walking has been shown to increase cardiovascular fitness and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke whilst managing diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Simple yet effective stuff.
I encourage you to find a 30 minute walk you like with a decent bit of incline on part of it and make it part of your daily ritual.
My favourite kind of exercise! You don’t have to move, its social and you feel amazing afterwards.
The Swedes swear by it and so do I.
The quickest way to detoxify your body and get the blood moving round your system is by a sauna. It increases metabolism and has been shown to reduce pain, reduce stress and improve immune function.
I mix in 3 cold showers during my 15 minute sauna sessions down on the Dorset coast which is amazing for the circulation.
Make sure you bring a 2 litre bottle of water with you for afterwards to flush out your system and rehydrate.
Find your nearest health club and add a weekly sauna to your routine and really feel the difference in your energy levels and notice the glow of your skin.
Detoxing and inoffensive, replace your ribena or fruit juice for something a bit more cleansing such as birch syrup. It is loaded with a number of amino acids, enzymes and antioxidants and its easy to add to a glass of water.
It will help with hydration and act as a diuretic flushing out acids in the body.
As a knock on effect it supports immune function.
Grab a bottle and add a dash to your January routine.
If you look carefully in the hedgerows and backsides you will see the first shoots of spring represented in the nettle tops. It feels earlier than ever!
They support all the organs of elimination in the body – liver, kidney and skin and help remove uric acid build up which can cause arthritis. They are also a great support for those suffering from allergies or anaemia due to their iron content.
A great way to stay hydrated and detoxify.
Make a pot of nettle tea every morning on waking as part of your daily ritual.
I leave you with a quote:
“Only you have the power to effect change in your life”
Wishing you a happy and vital New Year x
I love Christmas time. The warm air from the open fire moving the smell of the pine needles on my Christmas tree through the house, and cosy creative evenings with Michael Buble playing in the background.
However I do find it sad to know that 6 million Christmas decorations are thrown away each year and a staggering 14% of people even throw away their artificial Christmas trees each year rather than reusing the next.
The worst offenders are Christmas cards. Each year the average household discards 24 Christmas cards once the festive period is over. It takes 1 tree to make 3,000 Christmas cards. Using the first estimate, 1 tree is only enough for 176 people to send cards to their loved ones. This then means that 1 billion Christmas Cards will end up in bins – the equivalent of 33 million trees!
So how can we combat this shameful waste?
- Buy Christmas trees that still have their roots so you can plant them out the rest of the year and bring them back in next December.
- Send digital Christmas cards or hand made ones made from paper/card waste.
- Avoid plastic Christmas decorations and make your own
Making Christmas decorations from natural or waste items is very satisfying and something I love to do.
My favourite is to use old music paper. You can usually find it in charity shops, if not in your attic. Here are a couple of ideas of what to do with it.
Music paper hearts
Cut out a heart shape and hole punch at the top to thread some ribbon and form a bow. Then use some hemp string or yarn to form a loop for hanging.
- Wet a regular tea bag and run it over the pages of music paper you want to use. You will get 6-8 decorations per sheet.
- Cut out perfect squares with 5 or 6 cm edges.
- Use a lighter to scorch the edges and roll them like a scroll so the music paper is on the outside.
- Tie with a bit of ribbon or coloured rope washed up on the beach as I have used!
Enjoy exploring your creativity! x
Summer is here and as much as we try and avoid getting burnt chances are it will happen at least once over the next few months when you least expect it on an overcast day or whilst down by the coast where the rays reflect off the water. (more…)
We are becoming far more familiar now with the importance of healthy nutritious food that often skincare can be seen as something separate and less important. The trouble is what we put on our skin is in many ways more important as we absorb 90% of it and unlike what we eat which has the enzymes in our saliva and digestive system to break it down it is absorbed straight into the bloodstream on your skin.
Lets start off with a universal truth, which is that you are entirely the creator of your own reality with your thoughts, feelings and beliefs.
With this in mind we need to be aware of what we are saying and thinking and believing to make sure they are in line with our goals and desires.
Thank you for being interested in what’s happening in my newsletter this month.
This was a newsletter I put together last year but it is a subject which I try to highlight as much as I can. When we spend so much time and effort on trying to eat healthier food, why do we place toxic products onto our skin. The skin will still absorb this into our body. (more…)