Jaki’s Nutritionist Column

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Jaki’s Nutritionist Column 2018-12-13T10:53:11+00:00

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Let’s talk about… choice

Over the Christmas period, and into the holidays with no lunchboxes to fill, our pantries and fridges will probably look quite different. Apart from the usual leftovers from get-together dinners and Christmas meals, most of us will turn to quick, no fuss ideas to keep the family fueled during our break.

I would like us to take a minute and think about the foods we choose at this time. Maybe we could take a little extra time to provide things that feed our bodies in a more natural and holistic way. If you and yours enjoy barbeques over the summer, perhaps choose free-range, organic meats – and [for complete info] just have less to balance any extra financial outlay. Mixing it up with bean burgers, (using organic fibre-rich buns), or veggie kebabs will help.

Even thinking about the soy sauce in your marinades can make a big difference. Many varieties contain very high sodium levels, as well as wheat, colours, flavour enhancers and preservatives. We use organic Tamari which contains soybeans, water and salt. Its still quite high in sodium so I just use less, and the key for me is that is has no wheat. Coconut aminos is another option, which contains neither wheat nor soy – just coconut sap and salt. It still has that lovely umami flavour but we find it tastes a little weak or diluted, so prefer the tamari, but its all about choice.

If your family enjoy pancakes for breakfast (and who doesn’t), think about using a different flour for example spelt, buckwheat or almond, or just swap your usual brand for an organic, unbleached variety, or just use oats. I have a refined sugar free and gluten free (depending on choice), recipe that we have used for years; place a cup of oats (or any flour) in a bowl with 1tsp of baking powder, a pinch of salt, and a dash of cinnamon. In another small dish mash a banana and add a beaten egg, 1tsp of vanilla, and around 1 cup of milk of choice. Mix all this together and add to the dry ingredients allowing to sit for 10 minutes or so (if you can). Add either coconut oil or ghee to a sauté pan and cook away.

This brings us to another choice – maple syrup. Many of the syrups that are available are simply maple flavoured rather than having any resemblance to the authentic Canadian variety which is made from the sap of the Maple tree. Price is a good indicator, with the flavoured syrups being as low as $4 and the real deal costing up to $12 – again using less is always a good idea. Try adding raw almond slices, berries or fresh peaches etc for sweetness and balance.
Other ideas involving choices are:

  1. Find some cheap second-hand pots and grow two or three varieties of lettuce over the summer. Everyone loves the home-grown benefits (accessible, pesticide free, fresher). Plant a Pyrethrum plant nearby to ward off the unwanted bugs.
  2. Place a jug of water in the fridge in the morning, with some sliced cucumber, a handful of strawberries and a few sprigs of mint. Make a mini goal of drinking it empty by the end of the day.
  3. Sunblock – knowing the difference between chemical and mineral sunblock and making your choice. In the chemical variety, it is wise to avoid ingredients that science and studies have deemed harmful; oxybenzone, avobenzone, and retinyl palmitate. Within the mineral variety, there are so many options (always read labels), but mostly you need to be looking for titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Shade and good skin health always helps too (lots of vitamin D and omegas).

Let’s use the less harried time of our holidays to make some different choices regarding the foods we eat and the environment we live and play in. I wish you all meaningful and happy holidays, shared with people you care about.

Let’s talk about Macrobiotics

The word macrobiotic can be broken down into two separate words – ‘macro’ meaning large, long, or great and ‘bios’ meaning life.  It is the science and art of health and longevity, encompassing a holistic system that focusses on the relationships and effects of our diet, lifestyle and environment.  

This ‘environment’ links the foods we choose to eat, our climate and geography, and our daily social interactions.

Some basic principles of the macrobiotic approach to nutrition and health are:

  1. The inclusion of whole, living, natural organic foods in the diet for their increased concentration of nutrients, and in addition because they contain living energy that interacts with a person’s own energy once consumed, and alters it as a result
  2. That all foods have an energetic direction.  As foods grow the energy is imparted in different directions. As examples, root vegetables are considered grounding and settling, assisting in the feeling of relaxation and providing strength to the lower abdomen, whilst leeks and spring onions help to move energy up through the body, imparting a feeling of lightness, sending energy to the head and chest.   
  3. The acid/alkaline principle in terms of foods consumed.  This describes the principle where a balance of body acid and alkaline levels are sought and achieved via the foods we eat to maintain health.   Over acidity is thought to lead to ill health, and this is at the core of the macrobiotic approach to nutrition. Balance is achieved by consuming approximately the same amounts of grains (acid forming) and vegetables (alkaline forming).
  4. The Sodium and Potassium balance.  It is considered that these are two of the three (Chloride is the third), primary electrolytes needed in the body.  The principle is one where these electrolytes are balanced accordingly to maintain essential functions within the body such as muscle contraction and relaxation, the maintenance of normal blood pressure, the nerve impulse movements, and heart beat regulation. A typical modern diet is high in sodium (mainly from foods with bar codes), which increases the risk of strokes, heart disease, hypertension and kidney disease.  Potassium rich foods include fruits, brown rice, yoghurt, salmon, and porridge oats, while examples of sodium rich foods include breads, butter, miso, and cheese.
  5. Some lifestyle recommendations include; drinking and eating only when thirsty and hungry, chewing food properly until it liquifies before swallowing, using only natural materials for storing and cooking food in such as wood, glass or china, avoiding microwave ovens and electric hobs (gas is preferred), purifying all water before drinking or cooking, and avoiding caffeinated, alcoholic and flavoured drinks.

The macrobiotic approach further expands on the links between Traditional Chinese Medicine and our growing knowledge of beneficial fresh, whole, organic, seasonal eating. At its core it advocates a natural way of eating, but as always, it does not answer all the questions and should not replace the advice of your health practitioner.  I like to think of this approach as less of a diet, (which are always restrictive), and more of a lifestyle that is centered around eating local, organic, and seasonal produce.

Healthy Sleep Habits

Simple habits to ensure a more restful, effective sleep

Adequate sleep is vital for re-generation of the body and mind, and for long term health. Chronic sleep deprivation can accelerate aging of the brain, cause neuronal damage, and produce night time cortisol elevations.

Many sleep issues can be improved with a healthy sleep regime. Eliminating factors that impair sleep–such as alcohol, caffeine, tea and chocolate, can have significant benefits in terms of the quality of sleep experienced.

The following is a list of simple habits and attitudes that can help establish a process of sleep re-education.

  • Do not engage in strenuous exercise, heavy meals or hot baths (spas) within one hour of going to bed; all of these increase body temperature. A lukewarm shower or bath however, can relax muscles.
  • Exercise should take place in the morning or early evening, and be of moderate intensity. Aim for 20 minutes of aerobic exercise at a heart rate of between 60-75% of maximum – with the maximum rate calculated at 220 minus your age in years.
  • High protein foods, and those containing tyramine – found in ham, bacon, pepperoni, aubergine, raspberries, soy sauce, red wine, avocado and nuts may impact your sleep if eaten too close to bedtime and may be better options for lunch.
  • Conversely, foods containing tryptophan (which converts to serotonin in the body) such as bananas, dates, tuna, nut butters, yoghurt and milk, and carbohydrates such as cereals or bread may encourage drowsiness and sleep.

“Sleep is that golden chain that ties our health and our bodies together” – Thomas Dekker

  • A warm milk with cinnamon, or herbal tea such as Artemis Deep Sleep Tea which is calming and relaxing may encourage good quality sleep.
  • Avoid stimulants such as alcohol before going to bed. Alcohol may get you to sleep initially, however it will disturb your sleep later on, preventing you from entering the deeper restorative stages of sleep, causing you to wake during the night instead.
  • Avoid nocturnal hypoglycemia by following a balanced diet throughout the day – containing plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, complex carbohydrates, and sufficient hydration.
  • Never skip meals, have a balanced breakfast, a nutritious lunch, along with sufficient hydration throughout the day, and a lighter evening meal to maintain optimal blood glucose levels throughout the day, avoiding peaks and troughs.
  • Avoid alcohol consumption, as it severely stresses blood glucose control
  • Meditation, relaxation exercises, (such as progressive), soothing music, or simply just a period of calm deep belly breathing before sleep can calm the body and mind and can all help alleviate stress and anxiety.
  • Avoid exposure to blue light (cell phones, tablets, television) before bedtime, as it can confuse circadian rhythms and trigger awakening rather than the sleeping process.

Let’s talk about fibre…

Fibre is only present in plant-based foods and is often removed during the refining and processing of many convenience foods. Fibre is vital in the body as it provides for proper movement through the digestive system, and it provides food for the beneficial bacteria in the bowel, and these are vital for immunity and overall health. Ideally a minimum of 25 grams of fibre should be consumed daily (for an adult), to ensure gastrointestinal health. There are two types of fibre; soluble and insoluble – and both are equally important to colon health.

Soluble Fibre: An important role of soluble fibre is that of the binding to substances within bile that is secreted from the gallbladder and into the small intestine. Apart from containing bile salts, cholesterol and lecithin, bile also contains other substances that the body needs to eliminate via stools. These substances might include hormones, toxins and/or heavy metals. When soluble fibre is present in the small intestine as bile is secreted, it binds with these substances and transports them to the large intestine for excretion via the bowels. When there is no soluble fibre present, these substances are instead reabsorbed back into the bloodstream. Soluble fibre forms a jelly like substance and is particularly helpful in lubricating the bowel for easier transition. Great sources include: linseed (flaxseed), oat bran, rice, seaweeds, mushrooms, apples, barley, nuts, legumes, and psyllium. Other lubricating foods are spinach, pears, prunes, peaches, apricots and honey.

Insoluble Fibre: This provides the roughage that our bowel requires to bulk up the stools, allowing them to move more easily through the colon – ensuring for a healthy transit time of between 12 – 24 hours. Without this process, there can be an increased absorption of toxins again, from the bowel back into the blood stream. Insoluble fibre is mostly found in the bran of whole grains (such as brown rice), kidney beans, lentils, and linseeds, andalso in vegetables such as peas, beans, celery, onions, spinach, kale and corn.

Ensuring you get your daily dose of both soluble and insoluble fibres will provide the foundation for effective digestion and the effective removal of waste products from the body. A diet high in fibre increases the frequency of bowel movements, decreases the transit time and the absorption of toxins. It is also a preventative factor in several diseases of the colon such as constipation, diverticulitis, haemorrhoid’s and IBS.

Try this nourishing soup that I make for my family on these cold winter days. It is chocked full of fibre, calcium, magnesium and antioxidants – plus its gentle on the digestion.

Some fibre rich foods to include in your diet

Let’s talk about eggs….

Eggs are a dietary mainstay – in fact I’m sure many of you will relate to the saying – “If there is an egg in the house there is a meal in the house.” They are a wonderful source of complete protein, meaning they contain all the essential amino acids necessary in correct proportions to support our biological function.

When extremely low-fat diets were at their peak it was not uncommon for people to use only the egg whites, which are a great source of protein, however, the majority of the nutrition actually lies in the yolk.

All of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D and E and K are kept in the yolk. Eggs are one of few foods that naturally contain Vitamin D, a vitamin which is essential in mood regulation, immune function and bone health. Considered by nutritionists as a powerhouse of nutrients they also contain the specific eye healthantioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. These two nutrients are carotenoids that areused to reduce the risk of macular degeneration, one of the leading causes of blindness in older adults. They also protect the eyes from ultraviolet light in the summer.

Eggs have a good amount of  cholinetoo which is an essential component of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter found in the brain involved in our memory and muscle control.

The consumption of eggs was discouraged for many years due to their perceived role in elevated cholesterol.  For many years people were told that the dietary cholesterol found in foods such as eggs, butter and red meat caused high blood cholesterol levels when consumed.  So, let’s look at cholesterol….

Cholesterol

Cholesterol looks a bit like candle wax, it occurs naturally, our body produces it, and it is vital for [more great information] the production of hormones and vitamin D.  It is carried around our blood stream by lipoproteins, two of which are discussed with more prominence – High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) and Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL).  

HDL is responsible for gathering up excess cholesterol and taking it back to the liver to be excreted. It is often described as the “good” cholesterol because of this process. LDL on the other hand is often described as the “bad” cholesterol, as it is the lipoprotein that carries cholesterol around the body, and when it becomes in excess, can cause heart related diseases.

Dietary cholesterol (obtained by foods) and blood cholesterol (that the body makes itself) are two very distinct things.  Blood cholesterol is produced primarily by the liver, which constantly makes around 800-1500mg each day, and is closely regulated by the body.  Recent research conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health has indicated that if you have a diet high in cholesterol containing foods such as eggs, the body responds by making less.

Their studies also showed that moderate egg consumption of one a day does not increase heart disease risk in healthy individuals and can be included as part of a healthy diet. Worth considering is what you would normally serve eggs with as the “extras” typically found in a big breakfast,(such as processed sausages, bacon and hash browns) are likely to have more of an impact on your cholesterol levels than the eggs themselves.

As with most things not all eggs are created equal. The diet of the hen laying the eggs can significantly affect the nutritional quality of the egg. I encourage the use of SPCA approved Free Range Eggs or ideally Certified Organic eggs, not only because they ethically raised and are nutritionally superior, but they also taste better.

Some studies have found that free range hens which have been pasture feed or forage for their own food also tend to produce eggs with higher nutritional quality. Further studies have even found higher levels of vitamins and omega 3 fatty acids when compared to the standard factory eggs. These nutritional differences are a contributing reason as to why the yolk of an organic or free-range egg is usually a deeper orange or yellow.

From a cooking perspective eggs are as versatile as it gets. From simple cooking methods such as poaching, boiling  and scrambling, to forming delicious frittatas and omelets. Eggs also emulsify desserts and dressings. If you are struggling for a meal – eggs are a great place to start. 

From a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, eggs strengthen the blood and increase energy by promoting digestion and enhancing kidney function.

Quick and easy ways to eat eggs:

If you’re pressed for time hard-boil an egg the night before. In the morning slice it on top of your choice of bread (hopefully Purebread) with avocado and a sprinkling of yeast flakes.  Or dip your boiled egg into some hummus, and then sesame seeds (black or unhulled for extra calcium). Two quick and nutritious breakfasts. Scrambled eggs topped with salmon and a squeeze of lemon is also great.

Or for a nutrient dense power breakfast sauté or steam a bunch of spinach and drizzle with olive or avocado oil. Sit poached eggs on top and serve with lots of flat leaf parsley. A delicious way to start the day.

The following frittata is good at any time of the day… as a breakfast, lunch or after school snack, served hot or cold. It will increase your vegetable consumption, and provide protein from the eggs, as well as numerous vitamins and minerals from all the vegetables. Just change the veggies with the seasons, and what you have at the ready.  Great to keep in the fridge ready to go!

Soups, glorious soups!

As the winter months draw nearer, and the nightsare becoming cooler, it’s time to arm ourselves against the inevitable coughs, colds and flu that the season brings.

The first defence in our immunity is a healthy gut microbiome, which is something that we have all heard about recently. Healing and sealing our gut and encouraging many and varied strains of healthy bacteria to live therewill go along way in guarding against the nasties.

Not only is soup beneficial in this way, but it places less of a strain on our digestive system, as the intestines don’t have to work so hard to breakdown the particles of food as with a normal meal. We also retain all of the vitamins and minerals that are present in the vegetables and proteins we choose as our base. Choosing to begin the process with organic olive oil or ghee also gives us the benefits of healthy fats as well. Good soups are anti-inflammatory, immune boosting, digestive friendly, detoxifying and can be full of antioxidants.

I like to make a big pot of soup on a Sunday evening (enough for ten, even though there are only four of us), so that we have plenty left over for the week. I keep the soup in the fridge, so that anyone can have a bowl or mug whenever they need as pick me up or if they are in a rush and need something nourishing and quick. All of my recipes have a common theme – they start with the base or vegetables of choice (with accompanying spices), then stock is added, and then they are blitzed, nice and simple!

By keeping the ingredients list small, and the method nice and simple, you can mix n match seasonal vegetables, andutilising what is readily available. I also keep several containers of home made chicken or vegetable stock in the freezer which often go into the soup still frozen – or you can keep your pantry stocked (pardon the pun) with the excellent salt reduced tetra pack versions. Some supermarkets have pouches of fresh stock which is also very good.
Who can resist a beautiful bowl of soup with freshly toasted bread of choice – made even tastier with a clove of garlic rubbed over it after toasting.

Try the following recipes to get you started…. all of them will serve at least eight portions (depending on your appetite). They all freeze really well too.

Managing Stress

Jaki has relocated to the beautiful Thames!

It has been quite a stressful time for the whole family, so I have put together a handout on managing stress – and found taking my own advice really worked!

Anyway, life is settling down and I am going to be building up a new practice from Thames in Wilson Street.

What is stress?

Stress can be defined as “anything that threatens the health of the body or has an adverse effect on its functioning, such as injury, disease, depression or worry”.

Stress within our comfort zone can help with sitting exams, going to an interview, and keeping us safe if danger is near, but if it becomes overwhelming it can affect our outlook and relationships with others, having a negative result on our lives…

By recognizing the signs & symptoms of negative stress we can reduce the impact and influence positive change.

Signs & symptoms of stress

Mental – anxious thoughts, worry, memory issues, unable to concentrate, poor judgement.

Emotional feelings of loneliness, isolation, or of being overwhelmed, irritable, of feeling down often, or agitated.

Physical – rapid heartbeat, unexplained aches and pains, diarrhoea or constipation, dizziness, frequent colds or infections.

Health implications

  • Digestive issues
  • Sleep problems
  • Skin conditions such as eczema
  • Reproductive issues
  • Depression & anxiety
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Weight issues
  • Heart disease

Get moving

Rhythmic exercises such as walking, dancing, aerobics, running and swimming are great choices as stress relievers. When you add mindfulness into the activity (focusing your attention on the physical sensations as you move), you can gain greater benefits.

Connect to others

Talking with another person can release hormones that relieve stress when you are feeling anxious or pressured. Face to face communication of the positive kind can soothe and calm the nervous system, as can being, helpful and friendly to others, as it provides stress-reducing pleasure. It is also a great way to meet other people.

Engage your senses

Find out what works best for you – is it walking after its rained, having a relaxing massage, listening to music, smelling the food you are cooking, patting your dog or cat. By engaging our sight, sound, taste, smell and touch senses we can relieve stress. Try to find the sensory input that has the most effect on you.

Get plenty of sleep

When we are tired, our stress can increase by altering the way we think and view the world. Restricting caffeine, alcohol, and eating regular planned meals in a relaxed manner can benefit sleeping habits.

Allow for relaxation time

Relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing activate the body’s relaxation response, a state of restfulness that is the opposite of the fight or flight or stress response.

Extra nutrients needed

  • Vitamin C – (berries, broccoli, peppers) excretion is increased during times of stress.
  • Zinc – (oysters, nuts, eggs) strengthens and supports the immune response.
  • Magnesium – (brewer’s yeast, avocados, nuts) key nutrient for nervous system balance.
  • Taurine – (eggs, seaweed, brewer’s yeast) regulates mood & stress.
  • Omega-3 EFA’s – (avocado, nuts) protects the brain during stressful times.
  • Vitamin B complex – (brewer’s yeast, dark green leafy vegetables, nuts) required for both energy & relaxation, plus nervous system balance.

The Liver

As our liver plays such key roles in the body in terms of detoxification, I have written a “Part II” as a follow on from last month’s article.

Supporting the healthy function of our liver aids the body in its natural detoxification processes in the elimination of toxins, and to encourage this we need to supply it with vital nutrients for the appropriate pathways to work effectively.

There are two very distinct phases of detoxification that the liver performs; Phase I – the preparation phase which reduces toxins into smaller molecules so that they can be dealt with more effectively in the next phase, and Phase II – which takes these reduced toxins, joins them to other molecules rendering them water soluble, toeither nutralise or excrete them from the body.

Inflammatory chemicals and free radicals are a side effect of the first phase of the detoxification process, and must be neutralised by antioxidants (by eating a rainbow a day) or they can build up and cause damage to the body.

The one litre of bile that the liver manufactures each day serves as a carrier for many toxic substances to be transported to the intestines.  Here it is bound with dietary fibre and then excreted with our bowel motions.  So, a low fibre diet results in re-absorption of toxins back into the blood stream (this will be discussed further next month).   Bile is also a carrier for cholesterol and excess calcium, as well as an emulsifier for fat and fat-soluble vitamins in the intestines, which improves nutrient absorption.

Optimal Phase I detoxification nutrients

Antioxidant nutrient Whole food source
DIM (phytonutrient) helps destroy excess oestrogen and hormone disrupting chemicals such as pesticides. Cruciferous vegetables – broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, bok choy, kale, cauliflower
Bioflavonoids: Anthocyanidins – blueberries

Quercetin – red onions, apples

Polyphenols – green tea

Silymarin – milk thistle

Vitamin B2 Brewer’s yeast, liver, egg yolks, vegemite, mushrooms, almonds
Vitamin B5 Brewer’s yeast, liver, egg yolks, sunflower seeds
Lecithin Peanuts, oranges, cauliflower
Antioxidants:
Coenzyme Q10 Spinach, raw nuts and seeds, oily fish
Vitamin C Citrus, berries, capsicum, broccoli
Selenium Raw nuts (especially Brazils), seeds, fish
Beta-carotene Kumara, carrots, butternut squash, peaches
Vitamin E Raw nuts, seeds, fish
Glutathione & N-acetyl cysteine Onions and garlic

Phase II detoxification involves a process defined as conjugation (joining together), which is achieved by the following six specific pathways: –Glutathioneconjugation, Amino acid conjugation, MethylationSulfationAcetylation and Glucuronidation.

Supportive whole food sources for each of these pathwaysare:

Optimal Phase II detoxification nutrients

Glutathione conjugation:

Relies on B(brewer’s yeast, salmon, sunflower seeds, bananas, vegemite), and is enhanced by brassicas

Glutathione: Avocado, asparagus, walnuts, carrots limonene:citrusSulphur: onions, garlicselenium: Brazil nuts, meat, fish, prawnsvitaminB2:,egg yolk, brewer’s yeast, and zinc:shellfish, oysters, nuts, eggs
Amino acid conjugation:

 

Protein rich foods: Eggs, nuts, seeds, animal proteins, quinoa, chickpeas.
Methylation:

 

Methionine: Soy, cheese, fish lecithin: peanuts, oranges, cauliflower, choline:eggs, liver, peanuts,methionine, betaine, folicacid: dark leafy vegetables,

B12oysters, liver, sardines

Sulfation:

 

Garlic, onions, egg yolks, red capsicum, broccoli, Brussel sprouts.
Acetylation:

Assisted by vitamins B2, B5, and C

Brewer’s yeast, egg yolks, almonds, whole grains, liver, citrus, berries.
Glucuronidation:

Enhanced by fish oils and limonene containing foods.

Fish,citrus, brassica plant family: broccoli, cauliflower, kale, bok choy

Three common signs and symptoms of inadequate Phase II detoxification include; Congestion: allergies, asthma, bronchitis

Stagnation: constipation, migraine headaches, mood swings

Toxicity: fatigue, eczema, acne

So, to summarise, we need to look after our hard-working liver so that it can rid our body of unwanted toxins.  As well as the food we eat, we also need to consider our skincare, deodorant, perfumes, make up, shampoos, hand and body lotions, and the cleaners we use around the home etc.  Eating organic fruits, vegetables, whole grains and activated nuts, plus staying adequately hydrated will go a long way in supporting the liver.

Next month we will look at dietary fibre and its impact on our health…

As always, for the love of food….

Jaki

A few words on detoxification…

As winter, and traditionally the time to slow down and rest leaves us, spring arrives with its promise of fresh starts and rejuvenation. This is the time of year when many will undergo a detoxification protocol in an effort to slough off some of the heaviness of winter.

The word detoxification is a noun – in that it is the name of several linked processes acting every day to promote the excretion of harmful substances (toxins) from within our body. Many use the word as a verb –something that we should ‘do’ or something we need to ‘action’ instead, but our body naturally detoxifies itself regularly – through the liver, kidneys, intestines and the skin.

The liver is the primary detoxification organ, and it processes nearly two litres of blood every single minute, filtering toxic substances as it follows a fourteen-day cycle of replenishment of our physical selves. As well as our liver, around 25% of detoxification occurs in the intestines, so it is also vital to have a healthy functioning digestive system.

Unless you have been advised by a qualified practitioner that you need specific help in one of these areas (and it is a guided process), I recommend caution before embarking on a detoxification protocol. Instead, support your body daily by eating well, sleeping well, and moving well.

The most effective way of supporting our detoxification processes naturally is to reduce the number of foods we eat that come out of a packet, jar, or box, that have a long list of ingredients and include preservatives, artificial flavours, and flavour enhancers. Ideally, we want to avoid any type of chemical in our foods (by choosing organic), likewise for our skin care, cosmetics, shampoos, and cleaning products.

Supporting our internal detoxification through diet and lifestyle choices is easier than you think, and other enhancing practices include:

  • Eating slowly, putting down your knife and fork between bites
  • Refraining from drinking with meals – this dilutes digestive juices in the stomach and intestines, hindering effective digestion and nutrient absorption.
  • Being aware of alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine intake as well as medications, which can all burden the nervous and digestive systems and impair effective liver detoxification.
  • Increasing antioxidant intake for healthy liver function such as; vitamin C (broccoli, berries), vitamin E (nuts & seeds, avocado), selenium (brazil nuts, seeds), Beta-carotene (carrots, apricots, pumpkin), Co Q10 (spinach, nuts & seeds), plus Glutathione & N-acetyl cysteine (found in garlic and onions).
  • Increasing intake of plant nutrients such as DIM (found in broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower), which assists in the detoxification of herbicides, dioxins, PCB’s, and pesticides.
  • Increasing intake of bioflavonoids which protect the liver from damage and include foods such as berries, red onions, apples, green tea and milk thistle.
  • Including sour and bitter foods such as tomatoes, lemons, rocket, dill, kale, apple cider vinegar with each meal to encourage the digestive process.

Following are two great salads (one warm), that have many of the necessary nutrients to support natural detoxification.

Fresh Coleslaw with Mustard & Ginger Dressing

Real chicken stock has natural properties to soothe and calm the nervous system (as well as numerous other benefits), its high in potassium, magnesium and calcium, as well as glycine (a brain neurotransmitter).

Click here for Fresh Colesaw Recipe

Warm Rice & Quinoa Salad

We often have this with a piece of baked salmon with crispy skin as pictured.

Click here for Warm Rice & Quinoa Salad recipe

Why organics for me?

In my role as a health practitioner, one of my core beliefs is that what we put into our bodies on a regular basis, has a huge impact on our overall health and enjoyment in life. Organic foods are pesticide residue free –  a key reason for including them in our diet, and why they are beneficial to our health.

We are all aware of the numerous studies conducted which detail the negative effects of pesticide residues in our bodies and overall health. Studies have compared organically and conventionally grown foods and found that “organic crops contained significantly more vitamin c, magnesium, iron and phosphorus and significantly less nitrates than conventional crops”.

Of course, another piece of the health puzzle underpinning what we choose to eat, is the other vital factor that often gets overlooked – absorption.  This is the process whereby all the important nutrients such as vitamin and minerals contained in our foods get utilised efficiently during the digestive process. If your digestive system is not in a healthy state to receive and utilise these nutrients, there will be reduced benefit derived from them.  

Our bodies are in a constant state of trying to maintain homeostasis (keeping all processes in balance), but it can be a losing battle if we are making poor dietary choices such as consuming a diet high in processed and/or packaged foods, or if we are on long term medications, or if we are ingesting pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals along with our foods.  Even stress can have a significant impact on how our bodies receive nutrients (and stress can cause us to lose some in the process).

In terms of organic foods, it’s what’s not in the food that matters…things like synthetic fertilisers and pesticides (rather than natural or companion planting practices), antibiotics, yeasts and moulds.

Chicken stock

Real chicken stock has natural properties to soothe and calm the nervous system (as well as numerous other benefits), its high in potassium, magnesium and calcium, as well as glycine (a brain neurotransmitter).

Click here for Chicken Stock recipe

Bone Broths

Nothing compares to home-made bone broths – they are rich, fragrant, and glistening with nourishment.  They offer many health benefits that pre-packaged stocks and broths can’t rival, and they are so inexpensive when compared to their nutritional value.  Bone broths are rich in many bioavailable minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon and sulphur, are plus they are very high in the amino acids glycine and proline.

Glycine is used in liver detoxification, supports digestive function, and acts as a neurotransmitter that has a calming effect on the brain.  Proline is used by the body to prevent infection from e-coli and campylobacter, plus it is essential for the joints for tissue repair and wound healing.

There are many and varied bone broth recipes available, and this is mine.  You could use chicken carcasses (frozen from roast chicken dinners), beef or lamb bones, or just vegetable if you prefer – vegetable broths will just have differing nutritional properties than the ones where bones are used.  I use my slow cooker, and make the broth on a Sunday night, for daily drinking for the rest of the week.

Click here for Bone Broth recipe