One of the biggest health issues of the modern world is Type 2 Diabetes. I often refer to it as the The King’s Disease to my clients, even though I know that traditionally gout was known as that in earlier days. However, like gout, Type 2 Diabetes is a result of access to nutritional excess, although I use the term ‘’nutritional’ very loosely in this situation. Type 2 Diabetes is often caused by a long-term imbalance of insulin resulting from a diet high in sugars, processed foods and low in vitamins and minerals.
This is where the concept of insulin and blood glucose comes into play. When we consume foods that are high in sugar (and I am not only talking about traditional table sugar – I am talking about refined foods, white flour, fast foods, fast carbs) our bodies convert that sugar (or carbs) into glucose. Now, the speed at which the glucose hits our bloodstream is also dependent upon glycemic index of these foods, but that can be a topic for another day. The point is that the crappier the food, the faster it turns into glucose in our bloodstream, the more insulin our pancreas has to pump out in order to meet the demands of the glucose, the bigger the sugar crash afterwards. Which then quite often has the person reaching for another quick snack in order to deal with the dropping sugar levels. And round and round we go! Long-term cycles of this will eventually turn into an exhausted pancreas and damaged insulin receptors, which then leads to Type 2 Diabetes.
Exacerbating the yo-yo experience of our poor pancreas in response to this poor diet is the fact that most people in this modern day and age do not get nearly enough exercise. Cardiovascular exercise increases our bodies’ abilities to deal with the sugar rises and falls and helps to modulate insulin levels. This, coupled with a diet that is high in colourful fruits and vegetables, low in animal products (choose leaner cuts of meat instead) and high in slow carbs such as lentils and nuts and seeds creates a controlled release of insulin, without the dips and spikes.
In order to avoid Type 2 Diabetes, the most effective way is to just eat well and move your butt. Invest in choosing colourful fruits and vegetables; choose lentils and nuts and seeds over potato chips and cookies. Have organic lean meats instead of burgers and French fries. Choose to walk through the park instead of taking the bus – better yet, cycle to and from work – that is a guaranteed work out on a daily basis! Your body wants to work for you. It wants to create a working, functioning system that will serve you through your life. Your job is to give it the appropriate fuel in the form of antioxidants, fibre and delicious nutrients, not trans-fats and 500% your daily intake of sugar and sodium. Like you would instantly take your car in for a check up when it starts to show signs of wear and tear, do the same for your body. If you are craving sugar, having skin breakouts, experiencing bloating and fatigue after every meal, your body’s abilities to digest and maintain appropriate insulin levels may be the issue. Take care to avoid the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes and start feeding yourself healthfully.
There is nothing more frustrating than welcoming a long-awaited summer season with sneezing, sniffling and swollen itchy eyes. What a lunch-bag letdown, eh? Hayfever debilitates hundreds of thousands of people during the time of year that we all want to enjoy. Here are a few tricks of the trade in order to help alleviate your hayfever with diet and hopefully make those sunny days not such a nightmare. Here is a list of foods to avoid when you are suffering from hayfever symptoms:
1) Wheat – This is probably the biggest culprit for allergies – and not only for hayfever sufferers. I could probably expand this to include all gluten-containing products, but that is not the case for everyone. In Eastern philosophy, wheat is very damp and mucous-forming. Plus, it seems that a lot of people are actually intolerant to wheat, although it may not show as sneezing and dry eyes, but more as digestive symptoms and brain fog. The point is that wheat is hugely not-tolerated by a huge population and as a result, can wreak havoc on the immune system. Give your body a break during allergy season and cut down the bread.
2) Dairy – Another huge culprit and again, Very Mucous Promoting. Have you ever noticed the loogies that build up in the back of your throat after having an ice cream or any creamy dish? Now imagine that on top of your allergy symptoms. Many people cannot tolerate the casein contained within the milk, which also causes imbalances in the immune system. Let’s be honest here – ingesting hormones and antibiotics that the cows have been fed is also going to cause problems with your liver function and immunity, both of which are very important in keeping allergies at bay.
3) Oranges – Surprised? Citrus fruits in general, besides lemons, are mucous forming as well. If your hayfever symptoms consists of blocked sinuses and post-nasal drip, I recommend that you stay away from oranges, orange juice or anything of the citrus fruit persuasion. Trust.
4) Alcohol – This is a no brainer. Alcohol depresses your immune system. Alcohol is extremely high in sugar and sugar depresses your immune system. Hayfever (and allergies in general) is an imbalance in your immune system. Long story short – stay away from alcohol. Besides, it won’t mix well with the antihistamines that you’re probably popping like Grace Slick in the 60’s.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of foods that you should avoid when you have hayfever. However, it does eliminate a lot of major allergenic food groups and most people experience a huge shift when they reduce or eliminate these foods. I am not saying that this will cure your hayfever altogether. You will definitely have to see a naturopath or a health practitioner to work with you and your immunity needs in order for that to occur, and it may take years. But I can say that from clinical experience, these are always the first foods that I have my hayfever suffering clients eliminate with positive results.
One of the things I love best about being a naturopath is finding fast and delicious ways to get my clients to a) try new foods and b) make delicious new combinations. Trying to get my patients who are used to a ‘’meat and two veg’’ type of diet (particularly in England – oh my god don’t even get me started) to add salads to their meals was a challenge. Especially when the available produce was lettuce (boring) tomato (less boring, unless you’re in Italy) and cucumber (also kinda boring!).
This is where you have to remember your herbs. Herbs are a delicious way of adding well-needed flavour to your salads PLUS you get the added benefit of the various phytochemicals contained that have a myriad of health benefits. Here are 5 herbs to add to your day for health, vitality and of course their flavour!
1) Coriander – this aromatic delicious green leafy herb has this perfume-y taste and scent that is unmatched in the herb world. It adds freshness to any salad, a depth to broths and dips and detoxifies your liver and blood while you’re enjoying it! Studies have shown coriander to be beneficial to your cholesterol levels and is great for indigestion.
2) Parsley – This bitter herb is extremely high in vitamin C and antioxidants and is also a great addition to salads. In fact, you can make a salad using parley as the primary ingredient, like in Middle Eastern tabbouleh recipes. Extremely cleansing for the blood, cardio protective and helps to protect against environmental toxins, parsley makes a great addition to any soup, sauce, salad or even as a garnish! Excellent at beating halitosis – particularly after a garlicky meal!
3) Garlic – My absolute favourite herb – garlic is stinky but it’s just.so.good. Research behind its benefits for the heart, cholesterol, as an immune booster helping to fight colds and flu’s, as a blood thinner, as an anti-oxidant – the list goes on. The liver loves garlic and so do most dishes in the world. Garlic adds a lovely heat to everything so go ahead – who cares about the breath?
4) Ginger – This warming root herb is excellent for digestive issues and creaky joints. Not only that, it’s high in anti-oxidants, making it a vital addition to your daily diet for health and vitality. Ginger is particularly effective as an anti-nauseant, safe for pregnant women who may be suffering from morning sickness. Have it as a tea or add it to broths, marinades, coleslaws and stir-fries.
5) Basil – This pungent and sweet leafy green is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and also quite good for the cardiovascular system. Not only that – how can you say no to pesto sauce? Add basil to pasta sauce, as a topping on your favourite pizza, wrap or salad.
Next time you decide to make yourself a boring salad with the same old vegetables, turn to your herbs in order to add a bit of zest and flavour to the dish and also to give a boost to your health and vitality! Remember your herbs!
Many of my clients ask me about doing a liver detoxification or a full body cleanse in order to lose weight, or clear up their skin. It’s interesting that so many people believe that a detox is purely for cosmetic purposes. What I often tell my clients is that weight loss and a clearer complexion are merely beneficial side effect of a cleanse. There are actually many more reasons why a yearly cleanse is beneficial and how a clean body leads to a clean mind, clear emotions and allow you to live a fuller, more enriching life, full of vitality and health.
Here are more reasons why a yearly cleanse will increase your productivity and quality of life:
1) Boosts Your Immunity – When our bodies become overburdened with toxins from the environment, stress, radiation, chemicals and pesticides in our food and water, our organs eventually become too overburdened to function efficiently. What ends up happening is that our livers and kidneys are working overtime in order to filter out the sludge and other biochemical processes get left behind. We become vulnerable to every single cold and flu bug out there. Cleansing our bodies allows us the time to filter out the waste and toxins while only ingesting high quality nutrients. This resets our toxic load to zero and allows our immune systems to recharge and therefore function much better as a result. This increases your productivity because less sick days means more time that you can actually do the things that you need to do!
2) Emotional Baggage – I often warn my clients that with a detox, it is not only the physical crap that comes out – it’s also the emotional. When we are detoxifying, our organs and cells release all the toxicity that has built up – but our minds and our hearts also release the emotional toxicity that we have been holding onto. Those emotions that have created that dependence on sugar or alcohol suddenly need to be dealt with because you are no longer able to use those very things in order to numb them. By cleansing your body, you are cleansing your mind and becoming more self-aware and open to growth.
3) Healthier Relationship with Food – as I mentioned above, many of us have emotional attachments to food and eating. When you are placing yourself on a detoxifying diet, you are restricting yourself to foods that are nutrient dense and low in toxins and eliminating any ‘’filler’’ foods such as sugar, alcohol, caffeine and comfort carbs. This means that all that emotional eating – that dependence on cakes and cookies to compensate for the stress, boredom or sadness – becomes unbearingly obvious. These yearly cleanses force you to face your eating habits and from here you can become aware and make a choice. You can choose to recognize and work on it and free yourself from this dependence.
4) Healthy Gut, Healthy Body – When we do a cleanse, we are literally giving our guts a break and allowing them to get rid of all their toxic burden. Our guts house 80% of our immune system, help to eliminate hormonal by-products and help to absorb nutrients that we need. By cleansing, we allow our guts the freedom to eliminate without needing to filter or assimilate hard to digest foods. During a cleanse we then allow our guts to regenerate and allow our immune systems to recharge. Healthy gut leads to a healthy body.