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Why You Should Be Eating Organic

Glynis Barber: Why You Should Be Eating Organic

Once upon a time, in 1985, there was a furtive group of people who had a common purpose. Their numbers were small, and people scratched their heads when they heard about their ‘peculiarity’. This group consisted of some leftover ‘hippie types’ and Prince Charles. Their ‘peculiarity’ was that they wanted to eat organic food.

The naysayers in the 1980s sounded very much like the naysayers today – the main argument being that organic food has the same nutritional content as conventionally-grown food. In fact, research at Stanford University in 2012 famously showed this to be true. However, I’ve always been taken aback by this argument. I don’t eat organic food because of what it does contain, but rather because of what it doesn’t contain. It seems blindingly obvious to me that consuming chemicals on a daily basis is going to have an adverse impact on your health. And if by any chance organic foods do contain more nutrients, that’s a bonus.

Low and behold it’s now been found that organic fruit and veg contain higher levels of beneficial phenolic phytonutrients. They also contain more antioxidants which play a critical role in the prevention of diseases. Organic berries, for example, appear to suppress the growth of cancer. Organic foods also have much lower levels of cadmium, a known carcinogen that has a number of negative effects on human health. Eating organically-raised meat also reduce your exposure to antibiotic resistant bacteria which in turn may minimise your risk of illness.

Pesticides, on the other hand, are associated with a whole host of medical problems. Research has shown an increase in allergic reactions and high sensitivity to foods and the carcinogenicity of pesticide-covered foods has led to concern and debate for many years.

There’s also another big benefit to organic farming – it improves soil diversity and the communities of life that exist within the soil. These are vital to our health and to the nutritional value of the food grown in the soil – It seems like a no-brainer to me.

My top tips

1. Buy organic versions of the ‘dirty dozen’

Apples, celery, bell peppers, peaches, strawberries, nectarines, grapes, spinach, lettuce, cucumbers, blueberries, and potatoes.

2. Eat organic eggs

These have been found to be more nutritious than non-organic eggs which are also far more likely to be contaminated with disease-causing bacteria like salmonella.

3. Stick to organic meat and dairy

It’s been found that these contain markedly higher levels of omega 3 fatty acids. According to Professor Chris Seal from Newcastle University, diets high in this are linked to reductions in cardiovascular disease and improved neurological and immune function.

Rachel x 

Five Things I Wish I’d Known Before Becoming Chronically Ill

Finding out you have a chronic illness — one that will, by definition, never go away — changes things profoundly, both for you and those around you.

Image result for sick

Seven years ago, I got sick and I never got better.

What I thought was me being run down from working shifts in a hotel and overdoing it in the gym turned out to be a whole host of autoimmune conditions that had not been picked up. That was until one day I ended up in A&E as a Heart Attack patient.

At the time I was twenty five years old – terrified! But thankfully had a wonderful team of nurses and doctors that saved my life.

Following that hospital admission I was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis, Asthma, Hypothyroidism (with a Goitre,) and Anemia.

Since that hospital stay, I’ve had Bronchoscopies, biopsies, CT scans, MRI scans, X-rays, DEXA scan, countless blood tests, antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, COX-2 inhibitors, steroids, DMARD’s, biologics and many, many other tests, drugs and hospital admissions.

My conditions are still not completely managed and I am currently waiting to start a new class of medication called Jak inhibitors. 

When I was originally diagnosed, I didn’t realise how much my life would change. There’s no conversation about that foggy space between the common cold and terminal illness, where your disease won’t go away but won’t kill you.

None of us know what “chronic illness” means until we’re thrown into being sick forever ourselves.

Chronic illness not only causes painful physical symptoms, but also mental ones that linger even when the disease is well controlled. There is trauma related to certain aspects of illness or treatment, and fear of outcomes like death or disability, For many people, there are financial uncertainties. Plus, there’s anxiety over loss of autonomy and control.

Chronic illness also increases the risk of depression, a 2007 World Health Organization survey  found a higher likelihood of depressive episodes among those with chronic health conditions than without.

It’s hard to be a good employee when you need extended periods off. It’s hard to be a good friend when you cancel plans last minute. It’s hard to be a good partner when you barely have the energy to get out of bed. No matter how much you try to explain, people expect you to get better — and when you don’t, they resent you, consciously or not. Some relationships end entirely, casualties of an unfair, misunderstood and often invisible illness, while some get stronger as you find your true support system.

But most significantly of all, your relationship with yourself changes. You grieve a version of yourself that doesn’t exist anymore, and a future version that looks different than you’d planned.

You might have to give up career goals, hobbies and family plans, learning a “new normal” in their place. In trauma therapy this is called ‘integration,’ the task of integrating a new reality into one’s life and worldview. This emotional work can look a lot like grief therapy for a passing loved one.

Try to be patient as you get to know the new version of yourself.

People are compelled to offer advice about chronically ill bodies because they’re convinced a fix must exist. Here are a few of the things I’ve been told, unsolicited, to try over the years: yoga, meditation, essential oils, acupuncture, CBD oil, prayer, bone broth and [fill in the blank with the latest fad]. These work great in conjunction with medical treatment — my rheumatologist recommends regular massages, for example — but the advice is offered as a cure or a better alternative to whatever I’m already doing. And let’s face it, no amount of broth is going to fix my immune system or repair my joints.

Chronically ill people research their diseases like crazy! Often trying more treatments than they can count. In many cases, great scientific minds can’t crack a cause or cure. So unless someone asks for your advice, don’t offer it – period!

Maybe it’s because I naturally have a thirst for knowledge, but when I was diagnosed, I went straight into research mode . Learning as much as I could helped me feel a sense of control, so I bought books and spent hours reading studies and forums online. I made lists of questions for my doctors, I expected my friends and family to be as gung-ho as I was, but turns out, most of them never even Googled my disease. It was up to me to learn and teach — friends, family, bosses, partners — through conversations, books with passages marked, emails highlighting new research, and social media posts.

Chronic illness is really lonely.

Loved ones try their best, but your fellow “spoonies,” as they’re affectionately called, intimately know the challenges of forever sickness and thanks to the internet, it’s easier than ever to connect with them in support groups and chronic illness communities.

It took me five years to join an online community. I pridefully thought I could go it alone, but that was like being lost at sea and ignoring a rescue ship. Now, I tell all newly diagnosed folks to join a support group right away — it doesn’t just help you feel less alone, but it connects you with resources and provides a place to ask questions and share stories without shame.

Living with chronic illness makes every day a little harder, but it also makes every day a little sweeter. Though I don’t know what my future holds, I’m overwhelmed with a gratitude I didn’t have before my diagnosis — some days I marvel at just being alive!

The challenge is steep, but the mission is to grow into this challenge, create meaning, and be the best person you can be.

Rachel x

How To Detox For Better Brain Health

Detoxification is an essential cellular function. When the body detoxifies, it packages debris in the form of foods and toxins so that it can be easily excreted from the body. We eliminate this debris through various mechanisms such as our gastrointestinal tract, genitourinary tract, respiratory tract, and our sweat glands, and it requires the function of multiple organs such as the liver, lungs, gallbladder, skin, kidneys, and yes, the brain!

Why organs like your brain suffer most from toxins.

Our body’s detox pathways also require a variety of nutrients that act as cofactors for the enzymes involved in this multi step process. These include activation, oxidation, reduction, hydrolysis, conjugation, methylation, and recirculation. Because it’s so complex, detox requires significant amounts of the body’s energy supply.

When our body is assaulted by the exposure to pro-inflammatory foods, alcohol, tobacco, medications, and foreign substances such as drugs, heavy metals, chemicals, persistent pollutants, and microorganisms, our natural detoxification systems can be overwhelmed and unhealthy metabolites can accumulate and ultimately trigger mitochondrial dysfunction, metabolic deficiencies, immunotoxicity, and resultant neuroinflammation (also known as inflammation in the brain). As a result, the body’s energy is diverted and metabolically active organs such as the brain, the heart, and the muscles start to suffer. It is then we start to feel unwell and experience not only chronic fatigue and weakness but slow processing and cognitive difficulties.

How to detox for better brain health.

So what can you do to start detoxing your brain from the effects of contaminants, toxins, and inflammation?

Here are some suggestions:

1.   Eat a diverse variety of fruits and vegetables.

Colors represent different vitamins and nutrients, so include ginger, turmeric, garlic, beets, broccoli seed sprouts, and herbs such as thyme and rosemary in your diet each day. Consume dark leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables regularly. Other important food groups include nuts, seeds, legumes, and fatty fruits such as avocados and bananas – .

2.   Include complex forms of carbohydrates.

While it’s best to stay away from simple and processed carbs, complex carbohydrates are an important energy source for the brain, as the glucose molecule—broken down from whole grain and starch sources by the intricate mechanisms with our body’s catabolic pathways—is the preferred energy source of the brain and its cells.

3.   Incorporate interval eating patterns into your meal plans.

Allowing the body to take a break from digestive duties will help divert energy from the gastrointestinal tract to the organs recruited for detoxification pathways. This can take the form of a simple intermittent fasting plan.

4.   Try to minimize exposure to toxins and contaminants as much as possible.

Eat organic when you can to minimize exposure to pesticides, herbicides, and farm chemical residues. Use eco-friendly cosmetics, personal care products, and cleaning agents.

5. Target your supplementation for additional detox capability.

You can do this with supplements like milk thistle for liver support, Coleus forskhii for respiratory support, ubiquinol and NAD+ for mitochondrial support, L-glutamine for gastrointestinal support, and N-acetylcysteine for additional antioxidant support since detoxification results in reactive oxygen species, which are damaging to our cells. For increased brain support, consider the use of plants such as Lion’s mane, Boswellia, and Macuna pruriens. For more information on how exactly to use these supplements and in what dosage, speak to an integrative physician, naturopathic doctor, or other supplement-savvy health care practitioner.

6.   Daily movement and exercise.

Run, walk, hike, go to a yoga class, dance, and cycle. However you can manage, sweat each and every day and it will support your detox pathways and your brain.

7.   Deep breathing exercises with episodic rapid breathing.

Did you know that breathing exhales waste by-products? It’s true. Rapid breathing (like in this video) also results in alkaline urine, which can help you better excrete other toxin metabolites as well.

8.   Maintain good hydration.

Fill up that reusable water bottle at least a few times a day. Proper fluid balance keeps blood and lymph moving through the kidneys and leads to better elimination of toxins through urination.

9. Aim for 20 minutes in nature each day.

Research is clear that immersion in nature improves mental clarity, decreases stress and anxiety, and has beneficial physiological effects such as lowered heart rate and respiratory rate and decreased blood pressure. These improved physiological parameters can only help the body during detoxification. So, go for a hike, walk through the park, or sit in your garden for a few minutes each day.

10. Sleep at least seven to eight hours each night.

During restorative sleep, the brain is able to repair cellular damage from toxins and other exposures. Make sure you’re giving your brain a chance to slow down and repair itself every night by getting enough sleep.

 

Rachel x

Seeing Thngs

As some of you know I am a brand ambassador for Seeing Thngs which is a movement designed to represent the importance of balance in our daily lives. Embracing all athletes, yogis, mothers, CEOs, and beyond to help encourage the world to live with a positive perspective, while having a solid grounded foundation. Incorporating an active lifestyle is the secret ingredient to the seeing thngs movement.

Their Symbol

The triangle represents harmony and stability, linking our past, present and future with a grounded foundation. The eye represents the window into our souls, reminding us to always follow our hearts with a clear vision. When we trust this symbolic accordance, the universe guides us to exactly where we are meant to be.

Their Mission 

Is to empower women worldwide. It is so important that, as women, we lift each other up and encourage one another to live our best lives. They embrace the female body with a positive mindset, remembering how essential it is to love everything about oneself. Believing that what you give, you get back, so for every item purchased they donate to women in need.

CHARITIES

Every time they receive a purchase they either donate clothing or a percentage of sales to charities that embrace and empower women. Aiming to donate 10% of profits. They choose a different charity each month that encourages, and uplifts women.

They are always looking for new charities. Send any recommendations to info@seeingthngs.com
       
Make sure to use my discount code racheld10 at the checkout to receive 10% off all purchases.
Rachel x 

Vegan Cacao and Peanut Butter Energy Balls

These energy balls are so gooey and delicious, I am currently obsessed with them! If you’re looking for an easy on-the-go snack to power you through the day, these are a great option!

They take just ten minutes to make and only need six simple ingredients.

Ingredients

100g pitted dates, about 6 large dates

45g roasted peanuts, about 1/3 cup

40g smooth peanut butter, about 2 heaped tablespoons

8g porridge oats, about 1 1/2 tablespoons

7g cacao powder, about 2 teaspoons

Method

Place the dates in a food processor and pulse until they form a smooth paste.

Next add in the oats, peanut butter, salt and raspberries and pulse again until they are well combined. Finally add in your roasted peanuts and pulse until they reach the consistency you desire – I like to have them a little chunky for a nice crunch.

Take a tablespoon of the mixture and roll into a ball. Continue doing this until the mixture has finished.

Place the rolled balls into the fridge for around 1 hour before serving. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Rachel x

 

Please note: This recipe and image was taken from http://www.deliciouslyella.com, no copyright infringement intended just a huge fan of these energy balls. 

Who Gives a Crap Toilet Paper

100% Recycled Toilet Paper - 3-ply - Double Length Rolls

Who Gives A Crap was started when three friends learnt that 2.3 billion people across the world don’t have access to a toilet. That’s roughly 40% of the global population and means that around 289,000 children under five die every year from diarrhoeal diseases caused by poor water and sanitation. That’s almost 800 children per day, or one child every two minutes.

So in July 2012, Simon, Jehan and Danny launched Who Gives A Crap with a crowdfunding campaign on IndieGoGo. Simon sat on a toilet in their draughty warehouse and refused to move until they had raised enough pre-orders to start production. 50 hours and one cold bottom later, they’d raised over $50,000 (see the video here!)

They delivered their first product in March 2013 and have kept growing ever since. Not only is their toilet paper made from 100% recycled materials, with no inks, dyes or scents they also donate 50% of all profits to help build toilets and improve sanitation in the developing world.

Rachel x 

 

Please note: This is not a sponsored post, I really admire the company and the work they are doing – plus it’s a great product! 

Home Is Where The Health Is

Home Is Where The Health Is

We spend so much of our lives in our homes, yet  do we ever really consider their role in supporting our health? Here are a few simple tips for making your home environment healthy as can be.

In the kitchen

Swap plastic for glass

It’s really important to swap all plastics out of the kitchen, Use glass or stainless steel water bottles, glass food containers and steel lunchboxes. Teflon non-stick pans should be swapped for steel or something from Greenpan (greenpan.co.uk) which makes brilliant frying pans. Plastic water bottles may contain bisphenol A which, we all know can be an endocrine (hormone) disruptor.

BPA has been proven to leach into food, enter our bodies and mimic the hormone oestrogen. Because of this some experts believe it may be fueling the rise in hormone-driven cancers. It’s also implicated in obesity, neurological disorders as well as thyroid problems, male infertility and asthma. Currently, the charity Breast Cancer UK is campaigning for a ban on BPA use in food packaging – it’s already banned for use in baby products in all EU countries and a total ban for all food products in France. Avoid ingesting this toxic health hazard by using glass containers to store food, and never heating, microwaving or freezing any food contained in plastic – always spoon food out into glass or porcelain. Some companies have stopped using BPA in tin linings, but the majority still do. If in doubt, google a tinned product before you buy it. Keep clingfilm away from food too. Try sustainable food storage Bee’s Wrap instead (£15, notonthehighstreet.com) and never heat food wrapped in tin foil – aluminium leaches into the food and this heavy metal is implicated in Alzheimer’s disease.

Swap regular for organic

And of course, what you put in your pans to cook is even more important: Organic food is higher in nutrients and lower in pesticides which may be toxic. If cost is an issue, concentrating on the dirty dozen and clean fifteen (the crops that have the most vs the least pesticide residue) is a very good start.

Swap white for brown

White bread, pasta and flour should be swapped for wholegrain as the nutrients and beneficial fibre is contained in the husk which is removed during the refining process.

In the garden

Swap out the weedkiller

If there’s one change you need to make it’s this: get rid of glyphosate. What’s that you ask? It’s the potent toxic ingredient in weed killers like Roundup and it’s implicated in all kinds of horrible diseases like Parkinson’s and cancer. Recent independent studies showed farm workers exposed to glyphosate or Roundup are at least twice as likely to develop lymphoma (cancer of the lymphatic system). Roll up your sleeves and yank weeds out, or pour boiling water on them to kill them first.

In the bathroom

Swap antibacterial cleaner for natural

There’s a new warning about infertility, and your household cleaner is in the frame. Researchers at the University of California have found that exposure to common products damages human cells. Certain hand wipes, disinfectants and mouthwash contain things called quaternary ammonium compounds which kill germs by dissolving their cell membranes. But the latest findings suggest they do this by damaging the powerhouses of cells, known as the mitochondria, and they do the same to our cells too. This means the sex cells needed to start a family are at risk. Offending products named in the study include Tesco Fresh antiseptic disinfectant, Dettol surface cleaner and antibacterial wipes, Lemsip Max All In One Liquid, plus various Colgate mouth products. Also check all of your products for the ingredient triclosan – linked to cancer and used in Colgate Total, for example.

The solution? Go natural of course! There are hundreds of DIY cleaning product recipes online, or try Dr Bronner Sal Suds Biodegradable Cleaner (£8.95, dolphinfitness.co.uk), and all-purpose cleaner which you can use for laundry, cleaning surfaces, washing the dishes, mopping the floor, or to clean bathrooms and sinks.

In the living area

Swap man-made for natural

Embrace the principles of biophilic design, the idea of using natural materials to bestow wellbeing benefits upon inhabitants and improve the human connection to nature. It’s backed by science, with several studies proving that homes based on biophilic design has wide-ranging psychological and physical benefits, from improving sleep to reducing stress levels. Using natural materials, like silk or wool, or even water-based finishes, can do a lot to reduce toxins in the home, many artificial materials give off toxins throughout their lifespan, creating poor indoor air quality, and as a result negatively impact on the overall health and wellbeing of the occupants.

Throughout the home

Use eastern wisdom

A healthy home is one where the positive qi energy is flowing calmly and smoothly around each room, without obstruction. Large pieces of furniture that block doorways or routes around the house should be repositioned or removed. Systematically declutter under the bed, stairs and in any junk rooms or cupboards. Even if you can’t see the mess, it will still be stagnating the energy flow!

Boost natural light to stimulate the qi. Regularly clean windows and mirrors, and position mirrors to maximise the light in all rooms. Brighten darker rooms with lighter coloured paints, wallpaper and fabrics. Nature in your home will also uplift the energy. Use houseplants with soft, rounded leaves or fresh flowers. Avoid artificial ones and quickly remove any that are dying or dead. Natural, non-synthetic scents and oils will help stimulate or slow down a room’s energy. Carefully choose energising or calming fragrances to harmonise with the desired function of each space.

Rachel x

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