Mushrooms have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries but it is only in the last few decades that scientific studies have revealed some of their health benefits. There are over 100 types of mushrooms but some of the most studied for their health benefits are Shiitake, Cordyceps, Maitake, Oyster, Lion's Mane, Enoke, Reishi and Chaga.
Mushrooms contain important vitamins, minerals and enzymes that have been shown in numerous scientific studies to boost the immune system. They also contain bioactive molecules that have anti viral, anti inflammatory and antioxidant abilities.
Due to their immune boosting properties, there has been a lot of research into the effect of mushrooms in Cancer prevention. Some studies have suggested that mushrooms can inhibit tumor formation and stop cell mutation whilst protecting healthy cells and increasing the bodies capacity to detoxify itself from harmful substances. According to the medical journal 3 biotech , "mushrooms anti-cancer compounds play a crucial role as a reactive oxygen species inducer, mitotic kinase inhibitor, anti-mitotic, angiogenesis inhibitor and lead to apoptosis, and eventually checking cancer proliferation."
In 2000, a report published by Cancer Research UK and the University of Strathclyde looked at different types of mushroom and cancer. Pure extracts of exotic mushrooms such as shiitake, enoke, maitake and oyster were shown by researchers in China, Japan and Korea to have anti-tumour properties and be capable of stimulating the immune system to fight disease. In addition, the use of medicinal mushrooms was found to reduce the side effects of both chemotherapy and radiotherapy, including sickness and hair loss.
Another study published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology looked at the effects of chaga mushroom on cancerous human liver cells. The research reveals that chaga extract may be able to prevent liver cancer cell growth, which it has been thought make it a potential treatment for cancer in the liver.
Medicinal mushrooms have also been shown to have special fighting abilities against deadly multi-resistant bacterial strains and microorganisms responsible for gut and skin problems. Interestingly, some substances present in antibiotics such as penicillin and tetracycline are derived from mushroom fungal extracts.
Many types of mushrooms help to lower cholestrol levels naturally, support energy and improve brain function. Mushrooms such as Reishi are also considered to be adaptogens that lower cortisol and help your body to deal with stress and anxiety. Reishi mushrooms have also been shown to improve memory and concentration and because they contain lanostan, an antihistamine, they can also be beneficial for arthritis and soothe muscle aches.
Cordyceps mushrooms can help to increase stamina and endurance due to their ability to help the body produce ATP. These mushrooms are also used as an adaptogen to increase energy and reduce fatigue. A 2010 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine demonstrated that supplementation with Cs-4 (Cordyceps sinensis) improved exercise performance and contributed to overall markers of wellness in older adults.
The study into medicinal mushrooms is a vast subject and there are many other health benefits and ongoing studies and research in the area. If you would like to learn more about medicinal mushrooms, pop into the shop and ask to speak to our nutritional therapist at Nourishing Insights, 44 St Andrew Street, Aberdeen.
A subject that we're getting more and more questions about these days is how food intolerance can impact sports performance. Testing is growing in popularity as more and more of our top professionals have found that removing foods that they are intolerant to can have a big impact not only on their health but also their performance. In the Tennis world, it was Djokovic who famously removed food intolerances in his diet and he credits this for his ability to remain at the top of his profession.
Food intolerance is estimated to effect 45 percent of the population and can show itself in a variety of symptoms, for example, headaches, migraines, IBS, eczema, joint pain, unexplained fatigue among others. More on food intolerance and health can be found here. One of the difficulties for sports people and a common trap that they can fall into unwittingly is that they can follow diets that can become quite repetitive and find themselves eating allot of the same foods which can itself lead to food intolerance. An example of this would be eating a high number of eggs as it is a protein rich food. But if we become intolerant to this food, we can find ourselves with various symptoms, fluid retention and sub-optimal sports performance. Another common intolerance is to dairy products, so imagine the number of sports people out there who are regularly consuming whey based proteins in shakes and protein bars who may be impairing their performance without realising it. Intolerance to specific foods can also lead to challenges around weight management, so if you are finding that you are struggling to lose weight even although you believe that your diet and exercise program is optimal, it may be that you have underlying food intolerance which could be driving inflammation and leading to some challenges around losing weight. Typically people find that they lose a few of those extra pounds fairly quickly after removing problematic foods as they lose fluid retention and going forward find that they are better able to maintain an optimal weight for them.
A number of studies have indicated that a risk factor for food intolerance in sport can result from very intense training which can impact our immune system negatively and lead to impaired intestinal barrier function which allows food proteins to find their way into our blood system. One study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine concluded that "sports performances and health in elite athletes depend on food intolerance in many ways. The elimination diet for 3 months significantly improved health, body composition and faster lowering HR after cardiopulmonary testing."
The particular test that we offer is from the Lorisian laboratories and they have a number of case studies after working with a number of high profile sports professionals and sports teams, notably Newcastle United and Wigan Warriors Rugby League Team. Some examples of individuals are marathon runner Paula Radcliffe, Professional rugby players Peter Stringer and Rob Vickerman, triathlete Matt Perry, International Hockey Player Mike Shaw and runner Dani Rowlinson.
Paula Radcliffe found out she was intolerant to egg, chicken, wheat, tomatoes and dairy and said,
After I cut these foods out of my diet, I was able to run without doubling up in pain. I have a lot more energy and I am back to my normal self. It truly made such a difference to my life and I would recommend it to anyone else suffering from symptoms like these.
England Rugby 7's player Rob Vickerman had always followed a protein rich diet designed to help fuel his training and assumed the foods he was eating were the best possible choices to compliment his exercise. He said,
At no point throughout my professional career did I even think about awareness of my nutritional make up. I, like many of my peers ticked the usual boxes of high protein quantities, low carb and fats without really knowing what was good for me or why.
Rob Vickerman is a classic example of someone eating the very foods he was intolerant to and in very high amounts which led to some health challenges. He says,
To overlook what fuelled me meant I was perhaps missing the most important information contributing to my performance. I used to react somewhat 'typically' after taking protein shakes, seemingly no different to the majority of my teammates. I never questioned this, nor the fact when I had eggs I would have a similar reaction, bearing in mind I was having 20-30 eggs a week.
Triathlete Matt Perry also benefitted his sports performance after taking the test. He said,
I have lost over an inch from my waist and lost 17lbs in weight. My energy levels throughout the day are higher; I am more focussed and clear headed. Also in my first triathlon of the season I knocked 17 minutes off my time from last year... A simple test and re-education on your eating habits can turn your life around.
Are there any other tests relevant to optimising sports performance?
One that I recommend is the Optimal Nutritional Evaluation which is a simple and convenient urine test which analyses key nutritional biomarkers including antioxidants, B vitamins, minerals, digestive support and amino acids. The report also gives advice not only on any nutritional deficits you may have but also suggested nutrients and optimal dosing for you to rectify any deficiencies or imbalance.
Our nutritional status is impacted not only by what we eat but what we absorb of what we eat. We may therefore require further support in the form of digestive enzymes and probiotics. As excessive sport is known to impact free radical damage, we also need to be mindful of optimising antioxidants in the diet. Another factor which we can't underestimate in sport is stress, not only because it impacts performance but also because it can have a negative impact on our digestion and absorption of nutrients. Another test which may therefore be appropriate in some cases is cortisol. It is well known in sport that mind set and keeping stress under control can be pivotal in taking us to the next level.
For further information for individuals or for teams contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01224 969637. We are open Tuesday to Saturday.
This week we are very excited to have become Aberdeen's very first stockist of Kaerlig Beauty. These beautiful liquid soaps are truly natural - no parabens, no alcohol, no colour and a pH of 7 - the same as water! Available in 3 colours Red, Blue or the unscented Naked. We've invited Amy to take over the blog and tell you all a wee bit more about her products and how she ended up making soap in the first place!
Hi - Amy Alexander here from Kærlig Beauty. I am thrilled that Nourishing Insights are stocking Red, Blue and Naked, my soaps!
These small runs of luxury liquid soap were born as a direct result of my experiences with breast cancer. After being diagnosed with triple negative cancer, an operation, chemotherapy (the dreaded hair loss), sickness and radiotherapy quickly followed and three people, in particular, took the brunt of it all. My very own heroes, 51, 17 and 16 picked me up and I owe them so much. They did not complain and got used to sickness being an unwanted companion. I am still cross that I couldn’t protect them all from seeing me poorly.
After treatment, I was somewhat surprised that I didn’t bounce back quickly. To put it bluntly, I was ravaged by treatment. Unlike so many others, I was not brave! Aside from the forced menopause, pain and sheer exhaustion, my skin was so thin, so dry and quite frankly, so ghastly. And to top it all, my hair was non-existent, although a wonderful wig helped me feel more like myself.
My college background is in lecturing sociology and psychology. I recognised the impact that the illness and treatment was having on my mental health. I wanted to take back control. Soap-making was a therapeutic hobby and so it made sense that the fight back would start there.
I kicked back. No more whining. No more avoiding the mirror. I signed up and completed a Diploma in Organic Skin-Care and embarked on a joyous journey that now includes a ‘big girl laboratory’, terrifying EU testing regulations and countless failures. I tell you what though, 51, 16 and 17 always smelt pretty good, even if my soaps didn’t look as smart as they do now!
The soaps are all locally made in Strichen, Aberdeenshire. They contain jojoba, castor and coconut oils and are loaded with extra glycerine for a real boost of skin-friendly. The stylish (modest, aint I?) glass bottles each have a colour assigned to them after countless sniff tests. What do you imagine Blue and Red to smell like?! The exception is Naked, more about her later.
Each is packed with essential oils: Blue smells so fresh, of spearmint and lime; Red is grapefruit and bergamot. It is rather boastful, I know, but they are lovely. The fragrance lasts ages! Oh, and they are truly natural - no parabens, no alcohol, no colour and a pH of 7 - the same as water!
What about Naked? Well, as the name suggests, it is naked, a pure soap. No fragrances, just gentle wonderfulness. A soap perfect for people who have sensitive skin. This is the soap that cleansed my skin so gently after treatment.
What makes these soaps stand out is the sustainability factor. I detest plastic and really wanted to help my customers be able to re-use, thanks to a cost-friendly refill pouch, a stylish product. And of course, the glass bottle will last for years.
I have been a vegetarian for almost 30 years and although sustainability was important, so was being cruelty-free. I didn’t want to make and use a product that had involved animal testing at any point in the supply chain. These soaps are proudly vegan!
And finally, the name is simply Danish for ‘caring’. I have a great deal of admiration for the Danish culture. I love the strong sense of family, of being present and of appreciating others and our world. And of course, the Danes are known for their cool style. I’m a bit of a fan!
What do you think your favourite colour will be?
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a common women’s health condition affecting 1 in 10 women in which cells from the endometrium (lining of the uterus) appear and flourish outside the uterine cavity, usually on the ovaries. Symptoms can worsen at certain points during the menstrual cycle as cells are influenced by female hormones. Symptoms can include pelvic pain, painful periods, painful intercourse and infertility. Usually this condition is diagnosed after a laparoscopy of the pelvic cavity although pelvic ultrasounds are also used to detect endometrial tissue outside the uterus.
Risk factors for endometriosis include: family history, a diet high in trans-fats, use of intrauterine devices, and unbalanced oestrogen levels.
Symptoms are often managed with hormonal medication to suppress the natural menstrual cycle, plus painkillers to manage the associated discomfort. Occasionally progesterone creams may be prescribed. The most aggressive treatment is surgery, with some women opting for a hysterectomy.
The naturopathic approach to endometriosis is focussed on:
· Reducing inflammation
· Enhancing detoxification (especially of excess oestrogen)
· Reducing symptoms
Inflammation is a huge driver for endometriosis. The Nurses Health Study II found that women who consumed the most trans-fats (hydrogenated vegetable oils often used in processed foods) were 48% more likely to be diagnosed with endometriosis. Women with the highest consumption of omega-3 fatty acids were 22% less likely to be diagnosed with endometriosis. Reducing the amount of omega-6 fatty acids at the same time as increasing omega-3s also helps reduce inflammation. Ideally we would have an omega-6:omega-3 ratio of 3:1 however the western diet is closer to 16:1!
Foods that are high in omega-6 and should be avoided include sunflower, corn, soybean and cottonseed oils. In addition to this opt for grass-fed meat as livestock fed a grain-based diet high in corn and soya produce meat high in omega-6.
Foods that are high in omega-3 include: Oily fish like salmon and mackerel; flax and chia seeds; organic free-range eggs; extra virgin olive oil; and walnuts. Some people may also benefit from supplementing with an omega-3 oil in the short term while they make dietary changes.
Yes, we are talking about poo here! Actually detoxification involves the gut and the liver but it’s vitally important to make sure that we move our bowels at least once every day if we want to facilitate optimal detoxification. We also want to make sure that we are having a normal bowel movement. On the Bristol stool chart below we should be aiming for a 3-4. If you are having anything other than that pop in and have a chat because there are lots of things you can do to support healthy bowel function. Constipation is a common problem in hormonal imbalance across the board and we need to get to the root cause to eliminate this risk factor properly.
Increasing the amount of vegetable-based fibre in the diet is vital if we want to support our gut bacteria as this is what the good bacteria feed on. Increasing our intake of vegetable fibre has been shown to help clear excess oestrogen from the bloodstream. Cruciferous vegetables are particularly good at this so increase your intake of: broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale and cauliflower. Supplementing with DIM and the right B vitamins can support detoxification of hormones promoting balance. Endometriosis often involves higher oestrogen over progesterone (which tends to be low), another commonly used herbal supplement which is used to rebalance the hormones is Vitex.
Studies have shown a significant reduction in symptoms in women who move away from eating higher-glycaemic carbohydrates (bread, pasta, rice, cakes, etc.), reduce caffeine and increase their intake of Omega-3 fatty acids. Caffeine can have be a problem for many women with endometriosis with one study showing consuming 150-225mg of caffeine per day (about 1-1.5 cups of coffee) increased the risk of endometriosis by 20% and those who drank more than 225mg of caffeine had a 60% increase.
Turmeric has been shown to reduce inflammation, support blood sugar (important when you’re trying to reduce food cravings), reduce pain and support liver detoxification making it a key supplement in the support of endometriosis.
Food intolerance also play a part here in that if we continue to eat foods which we are intolerant to we add to the picture of inflammation. One of the biggest drivers in endometriosis is gluten and studies have shown a significant reduction in symptoms following a gluten free diet. However, when IgG food intolerance testing is done, we can see a further reduction in symptoms. Other food triggers can be dairy, soya, yeast, eggs, corn, peanuts, cane sugar and also foods in the nightshade family eg tomatoes, potatoes etc. Endometriosis has a strong link with IBS so following the anti-inflammatory protocol above and an elimination has been found to be supportive of both conditions.
Massage therapy can also help reduce symptoms. An Iranian study showed that massage of the back, sacrum and abdomen lead to a significant reduction in painful dysmenorrhea caused by endometriosis. Abdominal massage can also stimulate peristalsis in the large intestine therefore support detoxification. In addition to this abdominal massage can also help to breakdown scar tissue and adhesions.
In all cases risk factors can be individual and an appointment with a Nutritional Therapist can help you uncover the triggers and drivers of your condition and support you with an individualised protocol.
Cardiovascular Disease typically refers to all diseases of the heart and circulation. For example: congenital heart defects, atrial fibrillation, heart attack, and coronary heart disease. There are many risk factors for cardiovascular disease including congenital defects, high blood pressure, excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, diabetes and stress.
While little can be done about congenital conditions, the good news is that by making lifestyle changes you can help to reduce your risk. Walking for just 30 minutes each day has been shown to reduce your risk by 20%, compared with those who were sedentary. Daily exercise can also help manage your blood sugar which is another risk factor.
What we eat of course is also important. Reducing the amount of processed, inflammatory foods in your diet will reduce your risk factors. Enjoying a wide variety of fresh fruit and vegetables daily, foods high in omega 3 fatty acids like salmon, and nuts and seeds and good fats like avocado all help to support the heart and keep it ticking. To learn more about how Nutrition can help, make an appointment with a Nutritional Therapist.
Stress and Anxiety
But what are you doing about reducing stress and anxiety? We know that stress and anxiety raise levels of stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones increase the rate of breathing, heart rate and blood pressure sending the body into the “fight or flight” response. When you live under constant stress the increased demand on your heart begins to cause serious damage. If that wasn’t bad enough studies have shown a link between stress and a change in the way blood clots, increasing the risk of heart attack.
So how can massage help?
Many of you will have experienced the stress relieving effects of a massage. But do you know how it works? Massage stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, lowering cortisol and adrenaline and pulling you out of the “fight or flight” scenario. It also increases dopamine and serotonin (our happy, feel-good hormones) and lowers excitatory hormones like norepinephrine and epinephrine (too much of which can lead to feelings of anxiety).
Massage also helps to lower cortisol and adrenaline by promoting relaxation and improving sleep. When we get restorative sleep the body is able to recover and the stress hormones return to normal. In addition, massage is a wonderful way to reduce pain levels. When we are in pain, the stress response is activated and our cortisol and adrenaline levels shoot up. Massage helps to calm us down, reducing blood pressure and therefore the strain put on the heart by elevated stress levels.
What the studies say…
To book your appointment email Harriette at email@example.com or call us on 01224 969637.
Chen, W.L., Liu, G.J., Yeh, S.H., Chiang, M.C., Fu, M.Y., Hsieh, Y.K.(2012). Effect of Back Massage Intervention on Anxiety, Comfort, and Physiologic Responses in Patients with Congestive Heart Failure. J Altern Complement Med
Jamali S, Ramezanli S, Jahromi M. K, Zare A, Poorgholami F. Effect of Massage Therapy on Physiologic Responses in Patients with Congestive Heart Failure. Biosci Biotech Res Asia 2016;13(1)
University of Bonn. "Anxiety Linked To Blood Clots: Fear That Freezes The Blood In Your Veins." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 March 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080325111800.htm>.
January can so often be a time where people intend to make radical changes and become a new person. Unfortunately time and again the enthusiastic plans we have for the new year so often fall by the wayside. After all, who wants to go running on a dark evening? Or eat a salad when there is snow on the ground?! In nature the vast majority of plants and animals use winter as a time to rest and restore ready to bloom again in the spring.
So why not take January and February to really think about what you want to achieve this year and make a plan? Then go for it come the spring when the nights get lighter and nature comes alive. That's not to say you can't make a start now but make them small and realistic. Here are our top 5 things to do more of in 2018!
1. Go for walks in the woods.
Getting out for a walk in nature is a wonderful way to exercise in a calming and rejuvenating way. Spending time in nature has been shown to improve mood, boost the immune system, reduce stress and improve sleep. But I bet you didn't need a study to tell you that?!
2. Stay hydrated.
An oldie but a goodie... how many of us actually drink enough each day to achieve optimal hydration? Try and drink more water or herb tea throughout the day. Remember caffeinated drinks don't count towards your hydration goals as they are dehydrating. An easy change to make this month would be to swap just one of your cuppa's for a herb tea to help keep you hydrated.
I didn't think that meditation would be for me. But then I tried it and loved it. It can be so hard to find time for ourselves to just chill when life is so busy with work, children, dogs to walk, houses to clean, bills to pay... I'll stop before our blood pressure goes up! It's really worth just carving out 5-10 minutes a couple of times a week (or every day if you can) to just take a breath and chill. It doesn't need any equipment, it doesn't have to cost anything and you can do it anywhere. I really like the headspace app but I'd recommend trying a few (lots of videos on youtube) and finding one that suits you.
4. Eat more Greens.
Green vegetables like kale, cabbage, sprouts and broccoli are so good for us. Packed with fibre to feed our good gut bacteria and B Vitamins like folate which can improve brain function and support fertility. If you just can't face eating your greens why not try Pukka's Clean Greens an organic daily blend of 11 super-rich green foods including Nettle, Kale Sprouts and Wheat Grass Juice.
5. Make your bed.
This will probably seem like such a random addition but hear me out. By making my bed each morning before I leave the house I know if nothing else goes right I have at least achieved one thing. It also encourages me to try and make my room a little more organised and less of the dumping ground it could so easily become. It's also lovely at the end of the day to walk into my room and see a nicely made bed ready for me to curl up in with a good book and a sleepy tea. Maybe you do this already? If not try it and let us know how you get on.
For this final piece in my 12 days of Christmas. I’m thinking about rhythm and how it impacts our lives and health and can be a force for good at many levels of our consciousness as humans. Some of these, you may not have considered. I hadn't a
great deal and yet I know I am naturally drawn to this very natural phenomenon of rhythm in a variety of different ways and I find each one necessary and comforting.
At the centre of our own our being is the drum that beats all the time and is part of our daily rhythm, just there doing its thing. From the beginning of life in the womb, we have always had that rhythm.
I remember being first aware of my heart beating as a very small child and found it a strange concept, scary even. But one things for sure, we need to rely on it every moment of every day. Rhythm is something we feel and bring in to dance and music and even walking, marching and language. The power of rhythm is quite remarkable as it can help soldiers march better and stronger even when exhausted and it can get
a baby to sleep.
Rhythm is also part of language and speech. Poetry is a wonderful example of rhythm in the written word and it’s something that has the power to bring us together as humans in a way that general everyday language and speech cannot. Reading poetry much like listening to a beautiful piece of music can soothe the soul and heal the sad and burdened. In our overly technological age of memes and quips lacking depth and sincerity, finding our way back to rhythm in beautiful and and carefully crafted language can be as good as a massage. Another wonderful thing about poetry is that in our fast paced modern lives, its slow and gentle paced rhythm simply slows us down with it, taking us on a journey into a deeper sense of
self and ultimately bringing a sense of peace.
Whether we literally take up drumming, play another musical instrument, join a choir, walk, dance like no one is watching, read some poetry or listen to a waterfall, connecting with that natural rhythmic force can calm and heal in a profound way.
Choose your rhthym. Find your beat. Feed your soul.
“Rhythm is our universal mother tongue. It’s the language of the soul.” - Gabriella Roth
This one refers to the 11 faithful disciples. This made me think of antioxidants as these are truly faithful disciples in our diet as they mop up free radicals preventing the oxidative damage associated with chronic disease from cancer to heart disease to dementia. Science is quite clear that we need the best variety of these to maintain optimal health and prevent those diseases of the modern age. We can experience free radical damage from poor diet, taking medications, chemicals, toxic working
environments, cleaning fluids, cosmetics and more. Antioxidants protect us from the effects of this at cellular level. Some of the best antioxidant foods to include as your 11 disciples are......
Don't forget antioxidant rich herbs:
Traditionally this refers to the 10 commandments. Now if we want to stay leaping throughout the year one of the most important ways of achieving this is to de-stress. One of the things I’ve noticed with clients is that we are all stressed to a greater or lesser extent and whether we think we manage it well or not, we all of us (myself included!) need to observe the commandments of relaxation and stress relief to stay on top of our health and prevent unnecessary health challenges.
One of the things I see a lot in my work is that often period of stress and particularly if there is a trauma, we can find ourselves developing symptoms we didn’t have before or even a new condition! So I was having a think about 10 commandments for stress management all of which are evidence based. These are simply.....
Go for a walk! It only takes ten minutes to release those endorphins which you’ll be glad to hear reduces our stress hormones. Walking in green spaces also offers a few moments of meditation and peace.
Deep breathing. I especially like the alternate nostril breathing used in yoga sessions as breathing deeply in one side and out through the other can help get us into a parasympathetic state. It only takes 5 minutes and makes a dramatic difference.
Meditation is something I never did until this year. I didn’t believe I could! But actually thanks to great apps like 'headspace' and 'calm' it’s actually quite easy to take a few moments of quiet and calm the mind. No this doesn’t mean switching the mind off (we can’t actually do that any more than we can ask our hearts to stop beating). It just means letting the thoughts float away without actually taking them on. The research on the benefits of mediation is enormous and something to be ignored at our peril!
Bring nature into the home! House plants are great as air purifiers but also bringing nature into the home brings calm. A study at Washington State University demonstrated a drop in blood pressure when house plants were brought into offices!
Kissy kissy! Apparently those who kiss more have less stress (Or maybe those who are less stressed kiss more!) Northwestern University studied 2000 couples and found this to be the case. So better pucker up!
Music is one of my favourites. Well known as a stress reliever, it’s something we need to use more pro-actively as part of our routines. I play relaxation music now whenever I work or study and am actually listening to some now! It makes a huge difference to concentration and I think aids memory.
Laughter is the best medicine! Who needs research to prove this one?!! But ask yourself when was the last time you consciously put on a funny movie or box set of your favourite show. Spending time with friends who you know life your spirits and make you cry with laughter is medicine you can’t get in any supplement. It’s so easy to get in a rut and not make time for these things so make space for laughter. Your body will thank you!
Eat something sweet! Choose carefully here, but a little bit of dark chocolate or a carefully made piece of baking with a little honey or maple syrup can blunt cortisol. That doesn’t mean eating our body weight in ice cream when we are feeling low, but just a little something to give us a wee boost, a date, a couple for squares of dark chocolate or a teaspoon of quality raw honey.
Visualisations are a great way to imagine where you’d like to be or hat you'd like to achieve in your life. Research demonstrates you can imagine winning a sport or killing cancer cells or anything you put your mind to. The amazing thing is that this technique works and is being used in fields of health , business and sport more regularly. So simple too!!
Switch off that phone! There's no doubt about it, smart phones are one of the biggest stresses around. Remember a world when you could eat, sleep, bath, be ill, go to the loo etc etc without that thing bleeping, pinging and generally driving us mad! More and more people are switching them off at night and doing social media detoxes. We need to or we are gonna go crazy!!
Take up these tips and you will surely leap into next year!
On the 9th day of Christmas my true love said to me.....
Dancing is one of my greatest joys in life. As a child I studied ballet, tap and modern and as an adult I was privileged to teach dance for many years. When I met my husband we used to attend a ballroom dancing class and we also went to ceilidh dancing when we lived in Caithness. As everyone knows, I'm never happier than when I'm dancing.
The advantage of dancing from a health point of view is that it's truly the most wonderful exercise for mind, body and spirit! The body part we know about because we use our whole bodies, muscles and joints and cardiovascular system too. But the absolute joy we get from feeling every note of the music and expressing the beat and the emotion and the meaning in every phrase takes us into the spiritual realm, where we can forget ourselves and our worries as the music delivers us into another dimension.
The brain is also well and truly exercised when we dance as we have to remember the steps and the sequence and keep to the rhythm. Unsurprisingly, studies have shown that learning the steps to specific dance routines will increase brain function and improve memory. There is therefore great interest in encouraging dance in the elderly in various community settings for the obvious benefits of movement and balance, but also motor function and memory. One very interesting study found benefits across movement, balance and gait in people living with Parkinson's disease. What I love most about this study is that participants were randomly assigned to the Argentine Tango! How wonderful! In the words of Craig Revel Horwood....Fab-u-lous!!
The other great thing about dancing is that we don't have to go out in the cold or join expensive gyms! We just have to clear a space, turn up our favourite tunes and go for it!! The amazing thing is that in clearing such a space for our bodies to move safely, I believe we clear a space for our emotions too as we engage in what I believe to be the best form of movement, DANCE.
'Dance enables you to find yourself and lose yourself at the same time.'
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