Tag Archives: health

10 Top Brain Foods

The brain can be a very demanding muscle and giving it what it needs will pay massive dividends to the mental health of both you and your family. A sharp, focused brain with clarity of thought will make you more productive, produce higher quality results while saving you both time and energy. If you have a difficult decision to make about your finances, relationships or future then why not start off with your brain functioning in top gear? It may be that you just want to stay sharp-witted, improve memory or stave off mental decline. All you need to do is make some changes to your weekly shopping list and soon you will start to think more clearly!

Blueberries

Blueberries. Source: http://www.oregonberry.com

1. Blueberries

Studies have discovered that berries can help fight major conditions such as heart disease, cancer and infections. In particular, blueberries, strawberries and acai berries can help protect the brain; preserving memory and other mental faculties. Dr. Poulose, a researcher from the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (USDA-ARS) stated: “The good news is that natural compounds called polyphenolics found in fruits, vegetables and nuts have an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect that may protect against age-associated decline.”

2. Coffee

Coffee Beans

Enjoy a guilt-free morning coffee!

The risk of dementia can be cut where coffee blocks the damage that cholesterol can inflict on the body. The 2008 report from the BBC stated that coffee can lead to a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Dr Jonathan Geiger from the University of North Dakota says, “Caffeine is a safe and readily available drug and its ability to stabilise the blood brain barrier means it could have an important part to play in therapies against neurological disorders.” Perhaps that daily cup of coffee could be having more long term benefits that you thought!

3. Salmon

Dr Byrne from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Medical School states that: “There are certain ‘brain foods’ that seem to have a benefit on the brain. New research shows that Omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in salmon and other fish, may build the brain’s gray matter”.

4. Eggs

Eggs are a good source of choline, which has been found to be vital for healthy cells, liver and brain. In fact choline not only helps improve brain function but can also help with memory retention. With many people lacking adequate amounts of choline in their diets it seems like eggs are a great, accessible source.

5. Flax seeds

Increasing evidence supports the notion of increasing the amount of omega-3 healthy fats in our diets. Omega-3 can be found in fish oils and flax seed oil. It has been reported that these Omega-3 healthy fats can be good for your brain and overall mood.

6. Avocado

Steven Pratt, MD, and author of Superfoods Rx: Fourteen Foods Proven to Change Your Life states that avocados are almost as good as blueberries in promoting brain health. Avocado is a fatty fruit but this is a monounsaturated fat which can actually contribute to healthy blood flow.

7. Spinach & Green leafy vegetables

The journal of American Heart Association found that there is a clear link between a high folate diet and reduced risk of strokes. In fact, spinach is high in folate and a great natural source. Some neurologists have recommended eating organic spinach 3+ times a week as a brain tonic!

8. Walnuts & mixed nuts

Walnuts have a high concentration of DHA, which is a type of Omega 3 fatty acid shown to improve brain performance in adults while helping stave off cognitive decline. One study has even suggested that mothers who get enough DHA in their diets have smarter children.

9. Dark chocolate

So, what makes dark chocolate such a great brain food? The answer is found in the flavonoids that it contains. The cocoa, high in flavonoids, has been found to help keep your heart and brain healthy. In fact, the Salk Institute has found initial evidence that eating dark chocolate can help improve brain blood flow which in turn can help improve memory.

10. Acai Berries

Like blueberries, acai berries contain a compound called polyphenol that can trigger the brain to clean and recycle toxic proteins that can lead to memory loss and mental decline. Dr Shibu Poulose, from the Human Nutrition Research Center on Ageing, stated: “In aging, microglia fail to do their work, and debris builds up within the brain. This research has shown that the polyphenolics in berries have a beneficial effect. They have been seen to restore the brains normal housekeeping function.”

Tell us about any other great brain foods that you eat to keep your cognitive sharpness at its peak. Also, why not read the following books to understand more about how some of these super foods can help keep your mind and body healthy into old age:

Pumpkin is King!

As October begins to step into full swing, many of us will begin to notice an increase of pumpkins available on our supermarket shelves. What many of us fail to realise is that a pumpkin is not just for hollowing out and creating an award winning design! Pumpkins really are incredibly good for you, and offer more health benefits than many of us may realise. They’re also a fruit and not a vegetable, but you already knew that right?

Pumpkins – The real super food

So why are they so orange? Well first and foremost, pumpkins are loaded with the invaluable anti oxidant beta-carotene, also found in carrots and sweet potato. This has been known to reduce the risk of many diseases including cancer, whilst helping to protect us against long term illnesses such as heart disease. Pumpkins are also a great source of fibre, potassium, and magnesium which all help to keep our bodies running like a well oiled machine.

The seeds found inside pumpkins have been used since colonial times to assist with digestive problems, and even as an addition to medicine. The oil found inside the pumpkin seeds has a high level of both magnesium and zinc which has been proven to offer various health benefits from extra bone protection to anti inflammatory benefits for those suffering from arthritis. A study of approximately 400 men ranging from 45-92 years of age published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed a clear correlation between low dietary intake of zinc and osteoporosis at the hip and spine.

Incorporate Pumpkin into your diet today!

There’s plenty of ways you can incorporate pumpkin into your diet starting today! The seeds are widely available and make an excellent accompaniment to any breakfast cereal, but the fruit itself is at the height of season in October so grab them fresh whilst you can! If you’re lucky enough to get a pumpkin with the flowers still intact, be sure to not throw them away – They taste delicious!

Remember, pumpkins are not just for decoration! For more information on healthy vegetables you never knew existed (or did but just choose to ignore), check out this book from Michael Pollen.

The Lemon Detox!

Continuing on from our “Importance of Detox” article, we though we’d start with what we consider the most difficult detox of all – The Lemon Detox. Utilised by some of Hollywood’s biggest stars including Angelina Jolie, Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow, the Lemon Detox is not designed for the faint hearted. So what does it consist of? Well, you abstain from anything that resembles solid food and survive on Natural Tree syrup diluted with filtered water, lemon juice, cayenne pepper or ground ginger.

What is the Lemon Detox?

The idea follows the eating philosophy of “grazing” – sipping the interesting concoction only when you feel hungry, aiming to take in at least 8 to 10 glasses a day. The Natural Tree Syrup is made from a variety of South East Asian palm syrups and the very best Canadian maple syrup, supplying your body with necessary vitamins and minerals. The lemon juice is added for it’s alkaline properties, whilst the cayenne pepper and ginger combined help speed the process of metabolism, improving overall circulation and the removal of toxins. The detox is expect to last 3 days, but has been known to go right up to 7 days. Pretty epic is you ask me.

When do I start?

The Lemon Detox is nothing new and is now widely available from most health food stores. However, if you do plan to take part in something as extreme as this, please consult your doctor or GP first. If your doctor gives you the go ahead, but your still worried about the entire process, you can book yourself in with the professionals at your local health spa. They’ll help you through the detox, whilst keeping you relaxed throughout.

The Lemon Detox

The Lemon Detox

A word of warning – This detox can cause “cold turkey” from caffeine which causes headaches, tiredness and constipation. Not the most encouraging words, but still worth a shout if you’re committed.

Are you ready for the Lemon Detox?

Sweat: a natural miracle!

We may associate sweating with lengthy workouts at the gyms, meeting a certain work deadline or that desperate dash for the bus as it pulls away. Sweating is in fact an incredible natural reaction that our bodies utilise when our core temperature gets a little too high. Sweating is started by either our sympathetic or parasympathetic nervous system. Each system is responsible for different bodily functions – But not all sweating is the same.

Steam Room vs Exercise

It is important to note that our bodies utilise different type of sweating depending on circumstances. For example when we induce sweating through the use of a steam room or sauna, also known as hypothermia therapy, the body can benefit from more detoxification benefits. Dr. Michael Lyon, MD of the Cline Medical Centre Detoxification programs states that “As the kidneys or liver are not used during the process of hyperthermic therapy, sweat is manufactured from lymph and toxins found therein which will exit the body via our skin during sweating”.

A closer look at our Skin

Skin – A true wonder

There are two main types of toxin that can be found when we sweat. The first is endogenous, biological waste from inside the body. The second is exogenous, chemicals and pollutants from outside of the body. During our everyday lives our bodies take in various toxin’s and chemicals including exhaust fumes, pesticides, heavy metals and general pollution to name a few. These toxins build up inside our bodies which over time can eventually lead to illness problems.

So how do we get these toxins out? Our skin of course. The skin is critical in helping our kidneys, liver and other organs control the excretion of toxins from the body through the natural process of sweating. Tissue fluid is a large component of sweat that contains most waste products as a result of cell metabolism. Furthermore, fat stores are also recognises as depositories for toxins. When metabolism increases the body works to break down fatty tissues for energy, thus causing toxins to be released into the bloodstream ready for removal from the body. Regular use of steam rooms or saunas can induce the sweating process, thus helping our bodies keep toxin levels as low as possible.

When was the last time you detoxified?

Source: Lawrence Wilson, M.D. Sauna Therapy for detoxification and Healing, 2006

Bathroom Tips: Effective underfloor heating

Jumping out of the shower first thing on a cold morning isn’t a pleasant experience, and it can only be made worse by stepping onto an ice-cold bathroom floor. That’s partly why underfloor heating is quickly becoming the popular must-have in bathroom renovations across the UK. Here’s a few points to consider when installing your new heating system.

Some materials are far more effective at heating than others, due to the levels of conductivity, but it’s important to consider a material’s ability to store heat rather than just transmitting it. Tiled floors are very good at keeping the heat stored, but if the tiles are too thick it can take a long time to heat up. The thinner the tile, the quicker the warm-up times, but it can feel cold when barefoot if the heating system is not turned on. Carpet is comfortable regardless if the system is on, but be sure to use one with a lower tog factor otherwise the underfloor heat simply won’t get through.

Real hardwood materials warm quickly, and will continue to retain a good heat level throughout the day and feels comfy underfoot even when the system is off. It is important to note that engineered board should be used in order to prevent the board from shrinking or moving when heat is passing through. Underfloor heating can be installed under solid, natural timber flooring but be careful how you lay the heating system to avoid movement issues.

One element that shouldn’t be overlooked is running costs – Cheaper to install electric systems may seem like the wallet-friendly choice short term, only to cost a significant amount to operate on a regular basis. Water-based systems aren’t the cheapest, but running costs are far lower.

Keep healthy this Christmas!

It is a well known fact that more people are ill over the winter season than any other as “cold-related” illnesses run rampage throughout the population. It’s important to remember that keeping our bodies natural defences running at maximum is key in fighting through this festive time, whilst maintaining good physical and mental well-being. Here are our top tips this Christmas!

  • Eat well, Rest Well – Make sure you are taking on board your 5 portions of fruit and veg each day, whilst getting a good nights sleep each day. This will keep vital vitamin supplies high for your immune system, especially vitamin C. A nice relaxing bath before bed, accompanied with aromatherapy will help you rest better.
  • Wash your hands – Regular washing of your hands with soap and warm water will help against carrying infections. Lathering for at least 30 seconds will reduce the risk of spreading infections.
  • Keep Warm – It is important, and often overlooked, to keep warm when the temperature starts falling. If your body is wasting vital energy maintaining your core temperature, your body can’t use energy fighting against germs. If you lucky enough to have access to a sauna, utilise it daily to sweat out any toxins your body may have taken on board.
  • Vaccinate – The flu vaccine is free if your over 65 so it is recommended that is taking advantage of. Contact your local GP surgery for more information.
  • Keep Hydrated –  As our homes get warmer over the cold periods, the air tends to be a lot dryer. It is important to take on board as many fluids as possible to ensure your body is well hydrated.
  • Keep your distance! – When someone sneezes or coughs in your vacinity, germs tend to spread very quickly. It’s a good idea to keep a tissue handy to cover your nose and mouth whenever possible – catch it, bin it, kill it!

For more detailed information on keeping healthy this season, contact your local GP today. Remember stay healthy – stay happy!